You take the lead

BY : ScereyahaDreamweaver
Category: Marvel Verse Comics > Avengers
Dragon prints: 1020
Disclaimer: I do not own Marvel or any of it's characters in any way, nor is this approved by them in any way, I make no profit, and this does not reflect my own attraction or sexuality in any way... I also don't own any fandom partaining to avengers or marv

""This is part of a draft of a fan fic I was writing, primarily based on the alternate dimension created by Frank Richards… where yes they all went to uni/college together… and yes Bruce was actually Anthony’s room mate. It’s written as a counterpoint to “Acceptance”. Acceptance was written as a response to how entirely -frustratingly- submissive people always -apparently- write Bruce. This frustration was voiced to me by a number of people who are fond of the pairing and I started writing that to give them something that they would enjoy reading, most especially a close friend of mine. Conversely, it’s obvious enough that most people like the dominant and submissive relationship they usually imagine them to have, and there is no cannon where it seems more true or -frighteningly in character- than the aforementioned alternate universe. “

And despite that -I probably severely undersold it- and no one has really said anything… Here is the rest… As complete as it’s going to get, just in case there are people sitting there wanting to read it and too shy to say anything.


WARNINGS include: Angst, gay sex, emotionally heavy and sometimes dark subjects and thought processes, attempted rape, strong themes of dominance, some violence, a testament to how fucked up the world is that everything in this isn’t in anyway an unrealistic or surprising thing for someone to go through, lots of fluff and affection, heart breaking cuteness, Anthony running at the mouth, abnormal levels of sincerity, people being assholes, emotionally kinky sex, strong and sometimes painfully suggestive language… and the fact that this in no way is reflective of my personal attractions, and that I refute any and all responsibility for any damages or discomfort, enjoyed or not, caused by arousal in response to this narrative."

 

Scereyaha-Earth-1: A crossover universe (not just Marvel, but all my favourite media) of everything I believe to actually be cannon, or that really should be, with the exception that there is a lot of sex, and everyone is a little less concerned with gender than in the actual series. And everyone gets a happy ending.

 

Scereyaha-Earth-2: Similar to Scereyaha-Earth-1 with the exception that it contains some alternate timelines and everything is skewed to be as kinky as possible, without actually violating my sensibilities too badly. Everyone goes through kinky angst and turmoil, but gets satisfying ending.

 

Scereyaha-Earth-3: Contains any and all timelines and events that do not fit into my first two universes, but have to happen somewhere out there anyway. May not always involve a happy or satisfying ending, ends how it needs to.

 

~*~

 

Scereyaha-Earth-1:

 

"Tony?" Bruce asked sleepily one night.

 

"Mhm?" Anthony mumbled half asleep, satisfied.

 

"Have you ever wondered what it might have been like if we had got together sooner? Remember what we were like in college?" The first part of Bruce's question was sincere, the second said with a breathy tired laugh.

 

"Mh, Sounds kinky." Anthony mumbled, getting an odd look from Bruce who raised on one arm a little to look at him properly. "You know, us, in school, what we were like then. You were adorable, and painfully nervous, I was already an ass... Sticking with kinky." he said, once he realized he was being stared at.

 

Bruce just gave him a funny look and settled back to his chest.

 

"You weren't an ass... then."

 

Bruce spoke again, after a moment.

 

"Do you think it would have worked?"

 

Anthony realized, suddenly, that he had no ready reply.

 

"Only one way to find out." Anthony said cryptically.

 

~*~

 

Scereyaha-Earth-2:

 

Bruce lowered his head a little and kept walking, hoping -just hoping- that, if he did not make eye contact, they would leave him alone . That was wishful thinking though, and he knew it.

 

"Hey Brucey! Little buddy! What's up?" One large, tanned, blond and muscular man grabbed him a bit roughly and messed up his hair hard enough to hurt.

 

Bruce wished he could say that this guy did not fit every bully stereotype through the eighties and nineties, but unfortunately he did, that and every stereotype of a jock. Most of the sports players at his school were fairly nice, at least he had to assume, since they left him alone. A lot were there on scholarships and did not want to ruin their chances of making it big, whether or not they thought that their talent would buy them favouritism, and whether or not they had any inclination to throw their weight around. This man and his flunkies, on the other hand, could not seem to reign in their raging need to dominate anyone they thought they could, and -apparently- were having problems keeping up the grades they needed to keep playing. They also seemed to think that Bruce was the ideal target, being small, too meek to be at all popular -or known, really- and incredibly intelligent.

 

"Let us take that heavy looking bag for you." said the second in command, taking his book bag off his shoulder, ignoring Bruce's attempts to stop him.

 

He was surrounded now, as they all walked in behind him, herding him off-rout. He knew he had already lost this one.

 

"You haven't forgotten about our study date have you?" asked the first. "Yeah, we're all busy with practice, but the studying doesn't do itself." another one continued.

 

Of course, Bruce thought to himself, studying did -indeed- not do itself, and him studying for them did them no good; but he imagined that what they were really on about was the homework they were still trying to pressure him into doing for them. Of course their lab work would speak for itself and Bruce was not sure how to pretend to be stupid enough to sound like them in a paper, but if he pointed out those flaws in their plan, then surely he would get the beating they kept implying he might. He had already had enough of those to know to just try to keep his head down, not that it kept him from trying to fight back each time, he just tried to avoid letting things escalate that far.

 

Across the street stood a man. He was young still, but well on his way to being quite nearly as impressive as he would be later in life. He was tall, athletically built, tanned enough and, despite being meticulously well trimmed and maintained, had a rakish charm about him; and his smile, though often kind, was always at least a little roguishly lop-sided. He arched one eyebrow -that was devilishly arched to begin with- at the scene across the street and put away the P.D.A. that he had been milling about on. He had been waiting to meet Reed, his friend, and catch a meal together before going off to do some lab work that had nothing to do with the curriculum, but the boisterous scene across the street had become incredibly interesting, and not in any good way. There was Bruce, one of the only people with a grade point average in the same bracket as him and his friends, but also awkwardly, painfully, adorably shy; and surrounding him were three of the most obnoxious, meanest, jocks in the entire school. He took in the sight of his hair messed up, his glasses slightly askew, his bag being kept out of his reach and his general demeanour of discomfort and took it as a good enough confirmation that he was not involved with them by choice. He narrowed his eyes in annoyance and sauntered over with a confident stride to put an end to whatever was going on.

 

Bruce's heart sank in his chest when he caught sight of Anthony approaching them. Anthony was in almost all of his classes, and had always seemed kind somehow, intimidating, but kind. He was terribly confident, to the point of seeming a bit of a narcissist, and had a certain reputation as a heartbreaker, but he had never once said or done anything mean to Bruce. He even, on a few occasions, had come to his defence. In class, when other students were giving him a hard time for being too smart, and not very strong or popular, Anthony was often the first person to make some snarky remark in his defence; of course those remarks often went right over their heads, and the man took any opening he could to be as sharp-tongued as possible, but it had diffused some number of awkward social situations for him and usually made him smile. Now though, he walked causally towards them with a mean look in his eye and Bruce could not think of any reason for it, if not to join in.

 

"Is everything alright here?" Anthony asked curtly.

 

Then again, it could have just been that Bruce was already panicking. That he just automatically expected anyone that large and aggressive to be mean to him.

 

"Oh everything's just fine!" proclaimed the large blond. "Right little buddy?" he went on, shaking a bit roughly at Bruce's shoulders, making Anthony need to hold back a little growl.

 

"There's no trouble, we wouldn't want any trouble, right Brucey?" said the one with slicked back, dark hair and a perpetually mean look.

 

Bruce hated when they called him that.

 

"I, I um..." Bruce stammered and then gave up on talking for a minute.

 

He was nervous now, he did not know what to make of Anthony's approach yet and did not want to make his situation any worse. If he dared to hope that he was there to help, and said anything to encourage that, if he was wrong it would only count as some kind of defiance that these men would never let him away with.

 

"We certainly wouldn't..." Anthony started brightly. "Want -any- trouble." He punctuated each of the last tree words slowly, threateningly.

 

At first Bruce was hating that he was flinching at each of his words, but then he realized Anthony was looking at the other men.

 

"Why don't you let me carry that?" Anthony said, rather than it really being a question, as he took Bruce's book bag from the other man.

 

Bruce, only then, noticed that they had stopped. Anthony had only casually approached them and yet they had stopped walking. His lack of awareness was understandable though, considering that he could feel his heart in his throat and hear it in his ears. The Brunette with the bag did not stop him from taking it, in fact, all three of them had fallen silent, subdued.

 

Anthony smirked. It seemed to him that the opposition had taken the hint. They had stopped their jovial harassment and were now narrowing their eyes back at him. He watched the gears turn in their heads. It was now two against three, and one of them was connected, popular and more than a little physically intimidating. Of course Anthony was still hoping it would not come to violence, since he was relatively certain Bruce and he were still at a disadvantage, but they seemed to decide that it was no longer worth the trouble.

 

"I guess we'll catch you later Brucey." said the first as he walked off. "Yeah, see'n as you're busy with your new boyfriend." added the one with the oily hair.

 

Bruce glared after them, but said nothing. The anxiety was dying down now, but the nervousness stayed. He still was not certain of Anthony's motives and he still had his bag.

 

"Don't let them get to you, they're just jealous that your brilliant..." Anthony trailed off waiting for a reaction, but Bruce was still staring at the ground between them, seemed to be blushing again. "And they could never land a boyfriend as cute as you." he continued, offering Bruce back his bag, only to be met with a suspicious look. "Not that I... I'm joking, lighten up, please." Anthony's tone was confident, still, but also pleading for Bruce to feel better and not think him an ass. If he had been sincere in his flirting, it would have been the lamest possible line at the worst possible time.

 

He tentatively took the bag, eyeing him warily. Anthony was surprised by how warm and soft his hands were, and how tentative the gesture was.

 

Bruce was fighting down the impulse to run, since he did not really have the situation figured out yet, and yet he would rather Anthony to the other three in any context. On one hand, he had just been rescued, and called brilliant and cute by the most brilliant heartbreaker in the school. On the other hand, he resented that he had needed rescuing and still did not know what his intentions were, and cute was not his favourite compliment.

 

"Thanks..." Bruce said, in a nervous but dissatisfied way, looking down again and adjusting his bag on his shoulder. "D-did you need something?" he asked him, both brows raised, and squinting slightly from the sun that was backlighting his knight in -what seemed to be- plain black t-shirt and jeans with a jacket too expensive for a college student.

 

His clothing, though casual, was so clean, tidy and well fitted that it seemed like he wore a business suit. Anthony watched him for a moment while Bruce adjusted his glasses and ran a hand through his hair to tidy it.

 

"What do you mean?" Anthony's words were quick and sure, but did betray genuine confusion.

 

"You don't need help with your grades do you?" Bruce tried again, suspiciously.

 

He was relatively certain the man's high academic standing was from his own genius -if not hard work, in fact, very likely not hard work- not from getting anyone else to do his homework for him.

 

"No. Of course not." Anthony gave him a suspicious look in return. "I'm shocked that you would ask that." he went on, playing at being hurt by the accusation.

 

"Then why..." Bruce trailed off, catching himself being annoyed and wanting to apologize, biting his lip.

 

"Why what?" Anthony asked brightly, and it seemed an odd question to Bruce.

 

"Why are you being so nice to me?" Bruce was looking up at him, still tentative with his brow creased out of confusion and sensitivity to the light.

 

Anthony took in his demeanour and his clothes. His clothing was all slightly too big, or seemed to be because he was so slim. His hair was boyishly pretty, being long in the front and looked playful. He looked the very archetype of sensitive, nerdy and awkward, but in the most endearing, and even cute, way. Anthony knew his eyes were normally big and dark, when not squinting uncertainly up at him. He was pale and actually, despite having such dark hair and eyes, seemed ill suited to be getting so much sun. Right now he was tugging at Anthony's heart strings because he seemed somewhat afraid of him, seemed to expect everyone in general to be mean, and yet we still bristling up at him a little defiantly.

 

"Well that's simple. I want to." Anthony said confidently, before the continued look of incredulity spurred him to keep talking. "You see, I'm brilliant and fantastic, and I get bored, so I need equally brilliant friends to keep me occupied, bounce ideas off of. You're brilliant, and seem fantastic, and I need more friends that can actually follow me in a conversation, so -to answer your question- yes, I need something, from you even. You'll have to be my friend... if you want, that is." He backtracked on his excessive confidence on the last line, not wanting to come off as too forceful, especially since he was already wrapping one arm around his shoulders and leading him away.

 

Bruce looked nervous, but walked along with him, eyeing him only a little wearily.

 

"Okay?... w-where are we going?" Bruce asked him, hands wringing at his bag strap, still not sure if he was agreeing to this whole new happening just yet, still not convinced he was safe.

 

"Ice cream, I want ice cream and you look like you could use some... or a drink, but it's a school night, so... I'm buying you ice-cream... if that's okay." Anthony kept announcing his intentions, and then nearly asking permission, not wanting Bruce to think he was still a hostage of some kind and had just traded hands.

 

"Okay?" Bruce offered again, still not sure what was going on, but far more at ease about this than what he thought he would end up with that evening.

 

On the other hand, at ease may have been an overstatement, but it was hard to be apprehensive while as confused as he was. He would ask to just go home, but he was not looking forward to walking there alone, especially since he was sure that the moment Anthony was gone the other three would come back. In fact, he was sure he was now soundly screwed because the moment they caught him alone they would feel like they had something to prove. That issue weighed on his mind through the entire process of walking, ordering ice cream and unconsciously agreeing to whatever suggestion Anthony had about where they should sit. They ate in silence for a while. Bruce wished they had got bowls instead of cones, but he had not been paying attention when they were ordered. He always felt silly with an ice cream cone, having seen way too much media where they were eaten suggestively by hot women and being the most self conscious person possible.

 

Anthony watched him slowly get through his cone with shy little nips, seeming entirely distracted with worry and yet somehow still blushing a little. His had been gone in about five bites, so he had little else to do.

 

"Something wrong?" Anthony asked him, his dark blue eyes seeming truly concerned.

 

Anthony was very aware that Bruce was still acting nervous, avoiding eye contact and glancing around -either looking for potential threats or an escape rout- and did not want to think he was making him uncomfortable. He seemed to be getting fidgety now that there was no ice cream to occupy himself with.

 

"I think... I think you're trying to help..." Bruce went out on a limb to say it. "But you know the moment they catch me alone again... it's going to be worse." The fact that he stated it like it was just a fact of life made Anthony feel flushed with anger.

 

"Well then." he started, just a little too loudly, making Bruce jump a bit and feeling bad for it. "We'll just have to make sure that you're not alone." he continued more gently.

 

Bruce was not certain quite what he was getting at, but he felt ridiculous enough as it was, being saved from big bad men and being bought ice-cream, like a scared girl. Not that he thought only women should ever need help; it was more that, any time he proved to be too weak, he was used to being emasculated with misogynistic comparisons like that. He did not really feel like he belonged sitting at the same table as the most charming and popular man in his school, like the universe had been upset somehow, and that it was only a matter of time until the world decided to have a problem with it.

 

"Oh yeah, that's right. Now I have a big, strong friend to walk me everywhere and scare the bullies away." Bruce's tone had suddenly gone from timid to bitter in what was, really, an alarming way.

 

The offhanded comment that one of said bullies had made, calling Anthony his boyfriend, still rang hot in his ears. He felt like an idiot, for having fallen into the situation he had in the first place, though he knew it was not really his fault, it having been inevitable. Even the fact that he did admire Anthony in some way, thought him charming and -at least objectively- attractive, made him cringe. He hated it.

 

Anthony tried to take it as meaning that Bruce was comfortable enough with him to voice that challenge without fearing retaliation, but that fact that it hurt a little might have been obvious. He had not meant to insult him, or make his problems worse. He could not stand the idea that anyone was being so cruel to him. he did not like the idea of anyone suffering in any way, really, but Bruce in particular seemed to be cute enough, vulnerable enough, to trigger some kind of protective instinct. Anthony had, before he realized it himself, decided that he was going to put himself between his doe-eyed classmate and any threat that he could manage. He had also decided that they were going to be friends.

 

"Bruce, I just ..." Anthony started to try to explain what it all looked like to him, what he was trying to accomplish, but Bruce interrupted him.

 

"I'm sorry." Bruce said sounding pained, confirming to Anthony that he was -indeed- being obvious, and giving him a pleading look.

 

"Thanks for your help, but I... I should be home by now and... I have to go now." Bruce said nervously, getting up from the table and trying to fight the impulse to bolt out the door, not wanting to be rude.

 

The feeling of a hand on his, as he reached for his bag, sent his heart into his throat for a moment, but it was not even a solid grip, just there to get his attention, ask him to wait.

 

"Let me walk you home? Please?" Anthony asked and Bruce just froze, staring at him. "I mean... as a favour to me, since you know, now if anything happens to you I'll feel like it's my fault, since I sort of got involved, I mean, yeah, I was trying to help, but you didn't ask for it and now it's all complicated, and I'm rambling, I do that -well actually- but anyway, for my sake?" For his sake he hoped Bruce would interrupt him before he kept rambling.

 

"You know, It's bad enough that I -apparently- need protecting, but you patronizing me about it is just salt in the wound." Bruce's words spoke of bitterness, but his tone was soft this time, an apologetic offering of his honest thoughts, rather than a snappy reply.

 

"Well, you know, if you want to walk by yourself, if you don't want me there, then I can't stop you. That's your choice. I wish you'd find someone to walk with, at least, but I can't make you do anything, well I could, but I wouldn't... What I mean is; I can't make you want, or agree to, anything, so ..." When Anthony trailed off it was always in a way that suggested the end of his sentence or thought had already been implied, not at all like the way Bruce's voice seemed to die as if it felt too unimportant to go on.

 

Anthony watched him wander slowly towards the door. He did not want to let him go alone. He knew the kind of damage that could be done to him and, while he was sure Bruce had to deal with it before, could not stand the thought of him that badly injured; or at all, really. He felt bad for coming off so pushy, because he felt like he had scared him, but he was just trying to help. Bruce paused in front of the door.

 

"You know... if you did decide to follow me home, there isn't really anything I could do to stop you." Bruce said, not looking at him and still wringing the strap of his satchel.

 

It was all the permission Anthony needed. He followed him out the door and kept pace with him, close enough to be walking with him, but not so close as to make Bruce feel like he was being kept within reach.

 

"So where do you live?" Anthony asked him, since the silence was getting awkward.

 

"The hotel just off of campus... until they can find a free dorm room..." Bruce admitted.

 

"They haven't found you a room?" Anthony asked, a light coming on in the back of his mind.

 

"They're all full right now... at least, that's what they keep telling me." Bruce said.

 

"Mine isn't yet." Anthony offered, of course leaving out the part where he had his to himself because he paid good money to.

 

Bruce stopped walking and looked at him, catching Anthony by surprise.

 

"Are you... ?" Bruce started to ask, before he turned and kept walking.

 

"I might be." Anthony said, after a moment.

 

~*~

 

Just like that, it seemed , it had been decided that Bruce would move in. He could not really afford any more hotel bills anyway, and Anthony was very insistent, while being careful not to sound pushy, patronizingly so -really- but Bruce was not going to complain. In general he was having a hard time figuring out what to make of his behaviour. He had never had someone who seemed so driven to push their way into his personal space, or his life, and yet it did not seem threatening. It seemed almost affectionate, though not in any way that made him feel like he wanted to take advantage of him, just in a friendly way. Bruce was a little nervous now though. Anthony was going to help him move by himself, but then a nearly equally intimidating, though equally kind seeming, Brunette named Reed had showed up to hang out, and him and a man called Rebel had joined in helping them. Bruce did not feel threatened, but he was not used to being around so many large men who were somehow not trying to scare or hurt him, so it still made him anxious.

 

"You okay?" the one named Reed asked as he sat down and offered Bruce a glass of lemonade.

 

"Yeah, thanks... I just... this is all a bit sudden." Bruce shrugged.

 

He stood, one arm hugged around his middle and head turned to look at the wall, despite mostly standing to face them. He held his glass close to himself and bit his lip briefly, leaving it wet. He flicked his head slightly, almost agitatedly, to get his long bangs out of his eyes.

 

Reed took in Bruce's demeanour and sighed, realizing what was going on.

 

"Tony means well. He's just like that. Ever since I've known him he's been trying to take people in. He's the one who got all of us and Victor together. He doesn't even seem to realize he's doing it." Reed laughed to himself a little bit.

 

"Stands to reason he'd finally just collect someone. Look, he can be a little pushy, possessive even, but he doesn't mean anything by it. I'm sure he just wants your company." Reed assured him, having some idea how overbearing Anthony could come across without meaning to.

 

"My company? Why does that make me feel like I'm selling myself for protection?" Bruce sounded hopeful but almost disappointed with himself, he knew the others had an idea what happened, it had been mentioned and the whole school had some idea of what Bruce had to deal with, if they did not have their heads in the sand.

 

"Because everything starts to feel dirty, kinky and possibly illegal once I'm involved." Anthony cut in, making Bruce blush, not having realized he was listening.

 

"Like I said." Reed continued with an annoyed twitch under his eye. "He means well, he's just an ass... And just because he's decided to be protective of you, doesn't mean you need protecting." he went on, trying to make Bruce feel more at home with them, since he was sure they would be in each other's futures from then on, if Anthony had anything to say about it.

 

"Tell that to Mr. varsity, Larry, and the Grease reject..." Bruce muttered bitterly, earning a laugh from anyone who heard him.

 

"There see..." said Anthony, pointing. "I told you he's cute when he's angry." he said, making Bruce blush deeply.

 

"Tony, you're an ass." said Rebel from around a box.

 

"Who's not helping." Reed sounded mildly exasperated at Anthony ruining all of his attempts to make up for his, well intentioned, flippant pushiness.

 

"Really, not helping." said Rebel, behind another box. "Get off your ass and grab a box, or was I mistaken when I heard you say that you were the one moving Bruce's stuff."

 

"Actually, that's mostly mine." Anthony corrected him. "I had to move some stuff to make room."

 

"I can help, you know, move my stuff." Bruce offered quietly, thankful, but still sounding put-off.

 

"You know Tony will pout if you don't let him help you, right?" Reed said, hoping he would not trigger more smart remarks.

 

"And then we'll have to put up with him." added Rebel. "So help." he said, dumping the box into Anthony's arms, the contents making heavy metallic clinking sounds, and getting his own glass to sit down for a break.

 

Anthony rolled his eyes, but did not argue, going back to happily moving boxes and making space for his new room-mate. Bruce thought that calling it help was a bit understated, since he had hardly been allowed to move anything himself, almost as if Anthony thought he would get himself stuck under something. The fact that he might have needed help getting out from under the new box-spring that Anthony had brought in, did not help him feel better.

 

"Why are you buying a new bed for him anyway? Don't these rooms come with two beds in them?" Reed asked him suspiciously.

 

"Yeah... well, I threw the last one out, I needed the space... for stuff." Anthony said cryptically.

 

"We don't want to know what weird experiments you run in your room Tony, so please -don't- explain, but last I checked, throwing out school property was against policy." Reed went on, always the responsible one, it seemed.

 

"Well, I'm replacing it, aren't I? No harm done." Anthony said, making Bruce think the man really did not see any problem with the liberties he took.

 

"Besides, the beds that come with the rooms are lumpy, smell bad, and have god only knows what on them." Anthony added.

 

"I'm pretty sure you know exactly what any bed in your room has on it." Rebel piped in again.

 

"Which is exactly why I decided they should both be burned and replaced." Anthony concluded smartly.

 

~*~

 

It was one of those ideal, sunny school days you see in popular television shows, when Anthony was walking back to campus after picking up some supplies. He had almost walked completely past the tree, before the movement caught his eye. He followed the sneaker, visually, up into the branches to find -much to his surprise- Bruce, readying his bag to jump down. He watched him as he landed into a crouch, a small -mostly neutral coloured- ball on the ground, and then stand.

 

Bruce was only very mildly surprised to see Anthony was already paying complete attention. He made to continue walking in the direction Anthony was going, as if nothing was out of the ordinary, and Anthony followed.

 

"So, you're not going to tell me what you were doing up a tree?"

 

"Nope." Bruce said, looking unimpressed.

 

"Am I allowed to ask?" Anthony tried again.

 

"Nope."

 

"Am I allowed to beat up the reason you were hiding up a tree?"

 

"Tony..." Bruce said like an exasperated sigh.

 

"Fine. Have it your way." Anthony said putting his hands up in the air.

 

He understood where Bruce was coming from. As much as no one would have believed it at the time, Anthony too had been a fairly small child, and in combination with his intellect and his father's name, had often been the target of bullying. The fact that puberty seemed to be a much slower and more subtle process for his friend made it so that for him it continued, while Anthony had outgrown being a target. If Bruce did not want to talk about it though, he would not press the matter.

 

Bruce was having some issue adjusting. He was thankful that he was no longer very often alone or vulnerable, and often people were even nicer to him in general, but he was still very concerned about the times he did run into his three tormentors. They were a spiteful lot, and with their leader there to instigate, and the other two to encourage him, it seemed as though their roughness, homophobic comments and thinly veiled threats escalated each time he was caught for a moment by himself. The teasing about Anthony was worse too. It was to the point now where half the school was at least half convinced they really were dating, all but for Anthony being known as a playboy. The nature of the teasing was getting more vicious too, and it was starting to worry him more than the behaviour he was used to. He would just report them, but -of course- that wouldn't work, and their behaviour had the outward appearance of being almost friendly, getting so much into his personal space and not being violent per-say, so onlookers did not often take notice that he was unwillingly in their company. He would transfer to another school, but this one seemed his only option, and he was certain there were students like this at any of them, and also that there would not be anyone like Anthony. So that morning when he heard them come around the corner, he had just climbed up the tree, before they could spot him, and held still until they left. He felt a bit silly, but it was better than the sick anxious feeling he got from actually having to interact with them by far.

 

Anthony could tell Bruce was not exactly comfortable with the whole arrangement, but neither of them had really created it on purpose. He was also certain they both thought this was better than what had been going on before, in any event. He wanted to offer to keep a closer eye on him, but Bruce seemed to be struggling over it himself, wavering between inviting him along more, and pushing him away. So Anthony had started trying to find genuinely convincing reasons to stick around, to save them both some squirming and emotional reactivity. He wondered sometimes what Bruce's parents had been like, that he was so self-critical and uncomfortable in his own skin, but he did not press that either. Bruce seemed to speak very kindly of his mother -the one or two times he actually mentioned her- and he knew it was not his aunt's doing, so he had to assume it was his father. This would do a lot to explain Bruce's complexes about his own masculinity, but Anthony did not press to talk about it, since it seemed to make Bruce so uncomfortable.

 

It was by no means a chore or burden for either of them though. Quite conveniently enough, they got along better than either of them could have hopped. Bruce was quickly folded into the group, and they were all eager to have his expertise in physics and biology added to their motley crew. For Anthony it was like having another best friend, though it was a bit sudden, and he was actually finding he liked having someone else in his living space.

 

~*~

 

Bruce felt bad. Since the beginning of the week he felt like he had been brushing Anthony off. He knew he was coming off as reluctant, and he did not want to be hurting his feelings. It was not that he did not want to be his friend, it was more that some part of him still did not totally trust it. He was incredibly flattered, really, and liked Anthony quite well, but he did not quite understand why Anthony had seemed to make it his personal mission to make Bruce's life easier. He went to all of his classes with him, even the one that they did not share -since he, at least claimed, he was free - and then they went back to the same room at night, then he was offered accompanying him whenever Anthony did leave. It was not bad, not at all. They got along as well as any two people could. Anthony ran at the mouth a lot, but he also listened quite well, especially whenever Bruce opened up about something important. Whatever opinions Anthony expressed on the things he said, while sometimes seeming odd, were also kind. Bruce just felt so strange having someone so formidable practically push his friendship onto him, that he was concerned he had been coming across as unwilling or ungrateful.

 

To add to it Anthony still seemed as wary as Bruce was, only his trepidation seemed to come from a fear of scaring Bruce or offending him, rather than being nervous of him; and yet he kept trying, even when Bruce got snippy with him or tried to avoid him. It really was not helping his mood that there was now a firm rumour circulating about them dating. He did not think the rumour was very sincere, just that everyone seemed to like teasing him about being Tony Stark's latest catch. Also, the more they talked and got along, and the more kind and sincere, not to mention brilliant and capable, Anthony proved to be, the more Bruce fell into admiring him, and it was getting to the point of feeling like a crush, which was all the more uncomfortable. So he had been moody in general, but felt bad because he did not want Anthony to think that he did not like him. For this reason, when the teacher had them pair off for an experiment they would be running, he made sure to ask Anthony before he could ask him, and also before someone else seeking a higher grade could try to pressure him into working with them instead. Anthony brightened at the question instantly, and it made Bruce feel less pathetic for admiring him so much, that Anthony just really wanted Bruce's approval too, though he had no idea why he cared.

 

Anthony was starting to feel like his attention was barely tolerated. He kept thinking that they really got along, but then Bruce seemed to keep getting annoyed enough with him that it made him wonder if Bruce was not just being excessively accommodating to spare his feelings. At the same time they seemed to be getting to be closer emotionally, and also further apart socially, like he was aggravating Bruce more each day, even as their similarities drew them together. It was getting to the point of being almost volatile, causing Bruce to snap at him here or there. He thought that maybe he was just being too pushy, but then, they lived together, had the same classes, the same friends, and he was nervous to leave him unguarded in between. Of course most of that was all Anthony's doing, and the fact that they had common interests, but it had all seemed better for Bruce, and even Bruce seemed to agree. He did not really want to stop spending his time with him either. He found him endlessly interesting and complex, even as he was archetypal. He kept surprising Anthony with new ways to find him endearing and new depths of impressiveness in his attitudes, ideas, struggles and ways of thinking. Anthony loved how his brain worked and there was something compelling in his personality and emotional quirks, even as it was often a little tragic. His mannerisms were charming too, being such a particular way, and he wavered between amusing -in an endearing way- and pleasant to watch. Anthony just wished he did not have so many apparent reservations about his company. Then though, Just as he was starting to feel like their interaction was doomed to some eventual -explosive- failure, Bruce approached him.

 

He tucked his hair back nervously and bit his lip, being as compellingly cute as ever, and asked him to be his lab partner. He did look a little huffy, which it seemed was his only alternative to being nervous, but it was in an apologetic kind of way, which Anthony was sure only Bruce could manage.

 

"If you want." Anthony's demeanour was too eager to seem as casual as his words could have suggested. "What did you have in mind?" he asked him.

 

"Nothing yet... What were you thinking?" Bruce asked him.

 

"I was thinking that you're the biology expert over me." Anthony raised his eyebrow.

 

"If you keep talking like that I'll think you just want to work with me for a better grade." Bruce actually teased him a little. "I'm sure you could handle this on your own, no matter who you decided to partner with." Bruce joined his game of pushing the decision back and forth.

 

"Sure, but I want to work with you, and I want to do whatever you want to do, so give me what I want... or I might try to steal your books or something." Anthony joked back, making Bruce hide laughter while checking that no one heard them.

 

"Tony, you make a terrible bully." Bruce raised both eyebrows at him.

 

"I don't know, I'm sure I can be pushy enough at least, and..." Anthony was the one who suddenly got serious and trailed off.

 

The truth was, he had been accused of it before, not that he had ever intended to be that way. His professional life often also conflicted with his personal life, and the world seemed to have a certain view of him, not least of all because he was his father's son. It hurt him to think that the accusations might be true.

 

Bruce rolled his eyes. He could see the gears turning in his head, hear the doubt and hurt leak into his voice.

 

"Tony." he sighed. "I mean that, you wouldn't be well suited to it. If you were a bully you wouldn't try to do most of the chores for me or try to cook me breakfast, you definitely wouldn't care about other people pushing me around if you could still have your piece... I don't think you would ever want to hurt someone, not without a good reason. You can be pushy, demanding even, and difficult, but you're never mean. You never put people down, not that I've seen, I've only ever seen you be encouraging, even if you can be a complete smart-ass, you joke around but... you don't..." Bruce trailed off, not because his voice got shy and hid, but rather because he noticed how Anthony was looking at him.

 

Dark blue eyes widened at him a little, pupils dilating just slightly in affection, despite the increase in light, and started to look just slightly watery.

 

It meant the world to him that Bruce thought so highly of him, even if he suspected his perspective might be slightly coloured, and more than he thought Bruce could possibly know. He was also given a clear mental picture of how things could be between them compared to what they were, that made him cringe. Even if he was being kind and protective, he still did not want to think he was pushing him into anything, pleasant or not, or that he might make Bruce feel obligated to do anything for him in payment. He also did not want to make Bruce feel bad for not giving anything back at all, he was well aware of the principle theories involved with relationship equity, it was one of those necessary lessons for someone in his position. He thought they should really have a talk about that the moment they were not in the middle of class.

 

"You... are you... really sensitive about that?" Bruce asked him quietly, seeing into him and looking as adorable as usual.

 

Anthony looked away and gave a little shrug. Bruce had never seen him seem insecure about anything, and it was really kind of -once he thought about it- cute.

 

"Tony..." Bruce sighed, not knowing what to say.

 

He sat down quite close to him, intentionally in his space, and set his bag on the table, making sure he had everything. He gave him a little nudge, prompting him to shake it off for the time. Both of them seemed to have lost track, somewhat, of being in class. They were now starting to attract looks, curious ones, all wondering just a little if there was not something in the rumours spreading around the school.

 

Anthony was just surprised. Suddenly it seemed he had broken some kind of cycle. By being a little vulnerable himself, it seemed he had lifted the tension between them and triggered Bruce into trying to be reassuring. The body language coming from him was now quite nearly affectionate, rather than guarded. Bruce seemed to have a few suggestions for experiments that they could set up and try, that while fitting the criteria, also had more interesting ulterior motives for data collection. Anthony wanted to tell him that he loved the way his brain worked, but he was not sure how to say that without coming on too strongly and potentially having it be misinterpreted. It was only a matter of time though, before someone would notice the mutually affectionate body language and the secretive murmuring behind Bruce's bag.

 

Before long they heard a chorus of awes, mixed comments and giggles from across the room. Bruce froze mid-sentence. Anthony held his gaze and did not so much as flinch.

 

"Bruce." he said, sincerely and calmly enough to grab his attention. "Ignore them." He smiled in a forced kind of way, to imply Bruce should follow suit.

 

Anthony had a clear line of sight to them from where he sat, if he looked over Bruce's shoulder, but he kept his gaze where it was. Bruce felt the heat of their unwanted attention on his back. He was thankful they could not see him, as he was now bright red, though Anthony still could.

 

"Hey." Anthony said getting his attention. "Do you want to go work on this some place less full of giggling college students?... Maybe continue our conversation some place with a higher average I.Q. ..." Anthony offered him.

 

Bruce looked up to notice that despite not reacting at all otherwise, the unusual flavour of this new social attention had a pinkish tint on his tanned cheeks too. It made him feel a bit better. His wording often also sounded slightly elitist, but he did not get the sense Anthony was really that way at all. It just seemed part of his act as a ragingly over-confident narcissist, something of a social front covering his one or two insecurities, combined with actually having a healthy level of self-esteem, generally.

 

"I'm not sure leaving together will help?" said Bruce, not really wanting to stay either.

 

"Well, they're going to talk anyway so, we may as well... leave and not have to listen to it." Anthony had considered making another joke, but had thought better of it.

 

Bruce was certain that if he was only considering himself, Anthony would just make some snappy remark illustrating a complete disregard for anyone's opinion, but he seemed to be offering to quietly duck out for Bruce's sake. It seemed though, that the rest of the world had a different idea about what had to happen.

 

"So, you -have- to tell me... Are you two like, actually a thing?" said a girl who came off a bit like a spaz, but who did not seem to be being particularly mean, so much as just thoughtless, socially driven and curious.

 

"No, actually. We're friends. But really, I'm flattered you think he'd have me. Unfortunately I don't think either of us date men." came Anthony's inevitable flippant -yet, oddly enough, also sincere- reply, throwing in a compliment for Bruce. "We do have a project to be working on though, so if you'll excuse us..." he said, standing, tone curt enough, but not downright rude, striking the balance between both possibilities of her approach.

 

Bruce stood slowly after him and followed, avoiding eye contact with anyone.

 

~*~

 

After that day the social pressure he was dealing with seemed to become rather bi-polar. Having a large number of projects to work on, and more of Anthony's influence in his life, he ended up going to classes a fair bit less, and working on independent and group projects a fair bit more. All his work and studying still got done, all the lectures observed, all the tests passed with flying colours, but still far more time outside of class than he ever thought he had in him. For that reason the rumours and teasing were worse when he was there, being as he was spending all of his time with his new room-mate, and often his friends, but he had to deal with it less often.

 

Bruce sat at the small table in their room, a recording of a lecture up on half of his screen, a word document on the other for notes. A sandwich was sat down in the space between his arms, suddenly making him more aware of his surroundings. He followed the arm that held the plate up to see Anthony peeking at his screen. He sighed heavily.

 

"You know... when we were talking in class, what I said... It wasn't a hint that you should cook for me more." Bruce furrowed his brow, honestly mildly confused by his behaviour, and actually kind of surprised that Anthony had such a domestic streak in him.

 

"I know." he said, taking the seat opposite.

 

Bruce did not know how he managed to look like he was spreading out, having only a stool to sit on, yet he managed. He would call it power-stance-ing, except it seemed to just be incidental, inherent in his size and the way that he moved.

 

"I just wanted to make sure you remembered to eat." Anthony was not looking at him.

 

In fact, he seemed to have become less forward in general. Bruce would not mind the change to being less pushy, except that he had also stopped smiling as much. Anthony had always seemed cock-sure and his eyes lit up when he got Bruce to open up a bit, but now he seemed almost subdued. Bruce closed his laptop and made sure Anthony also had a plate in front of him before he took a bite of his sandwich.

 

"Tony. I... I think we should talk..." Bruce started to try to sort out his wording, how to say what he wanted to without making assumptions or being insulting somehow.

 

He half expected Anthony to cut in and start running at the mouth, but he waited instead.

 

"I'm not afraid of you." He did not know where else to start, and he was a little annoyed. "You are a little intimidating, yeah, but ..." It was an understatement, and he knew it.

 

He reminded himself not to be annoyed and sighed.

 

"Bruce I..." Anthony started, trying to defend that he was never trying to scare him, at all, a little hurt.

 

"You have to stop this, going out of your way for me so much..." Bruce was losing his wording again, but he thought he was doing pretty alright, at least Anthony seemed to stop looking so anxious.

 

He felt silly really, when he started to catch on to what Bruce was trying to say.

 

"I didn't think you were afraid of me, at least, I hoped not... I know you don't need to be taken care of, I know you shouldn't need protecting, I just don't want to see anything happen to you, and I like spending time with you, so... Anyway, I just don't want you to think you have to do anything for me, you know, because I decided to involve myself." Besides not wanting to make him feel pressured, he knew that accepting any kind of payment would make him feel like it was less a friendship and more some kind of business deal.

 

"That's exactly what I mean, Tony." Bruce was still mildly annoyed. "You keep jumping in to take care of everything like you don't want me to feel like I aught to, and you keep making me offerings like you think I'm afraid of you." he said, gesturing first to the dishes, and second to the sandwich.

 

They both knew the place was not half as tidy before Bruce moved in, but it was not Bruce who was keeping it clean. Every time he tried to pick something up Anthony took over and started cleaning.

 

"Anthony, it's sweet." he said more gently. "But it's not fair. You've taken it on yourself to keep me safe, feed me, even house me, and be my friend, and that's great but...I, I don't want you to think that you have to do all that, just so I'll be your friend..." his annoyance was waning and being replaced with nervousness again. "I... I l-like you, I want to be your friend, and when you do nice things for me... I want to be able to give something back." Their friendship felt imbalanced, like Anthony was constantly trying to win him over.

 

"I'm well aware of the principles of relationship equity..." Anthony sighed. "Of course, when I was taught about it, it was so I could use it to take advantage of work-place relationships to get ahead and stay on top, but I get the theory, and I don't want to be taking advantage of you... over-compensating?" Anthony offered him.

 

"Yeah, a little... a lot." Bruce said. "I'm going to feel like I owe you, no matter what you do, and doing more stuff for me doesn't really help... so ... so stop... b-buying my f-friendship." His words started to fail once he made himself look up at him.

 

"I'm not trying to... you're not selling yourself, at least I hope. You don't need me, I know, I just, was hoping maybe you'd want..." Anthony was thankful to be interrupted, because his wording had gotten awkward.

 

"I do need you. I need you to be my friend, and I need you to stop making it so impossible to show gratitude." He got the sense that Anthony really did crave feeling needed, one more of those barely, sloppily, hidden insecurities that no one else seemed to clue into.

 

"So... we take turns with the dishes?" Anthony asked.

 

"And the cooking... and the chores, and ..." He squinted a little trying to remember if there was anything he missed. "Everything." he concluded, breathing a sigh of relief.

 

"...So Bruce..." Anthony started a bit more playfully. "If you're not afraid of me, why do you still stutter sometimes? I mean, we've known each other for a couple months at this point..." Anthony smiled a little mischievously, leaning in.

 

Anthony knew it was him being as painfully shy, nervous and meek as always, but he knew there still had to be something about him that made him less than perfectly at ease and wanted to know what reasoning Bruce gave it. That and it was cute when he was uncomfortable.

 

"I um... just... that is I..." He cleared his throat, now looking down and blushing. "I don't know?" he finally concluded.

 

It was a bit of a stretch, obviously Anthony still made him nervous, was still intimidating to him, still put his heart in his throat sometimes, he just did not know why, so his answer was not really a lie.

 

Anthony gave him a dissatisfied look, but he did not want to press. He could tell he was still making him nervous and felt bad for it. He was, as Bruce had gleaned, consciously or not, making him small offerings and trying to put him at ease, trying to convince him that he did not have to be nervous of him. Everything was easier when they were talking about something else, anything that Bruce was excited about, which conveniently were the same fields of study that held Anthony's interest. Bruce seemed to forget to be nervous, self-effacing or to defer to him. Anthony got to see him brighten and be excited, even be confident and push back, responding amicably to his gentle teasing. In the best case scenario Bruce was nervous around him because he wanted Anthony to like him, in the worst, because Anthony was still doing something that made him afraid, even if it was unconscious. Either way it bothered him some, because he did not want Bruce to think he had to put effort into being likable, and did not want to be making him anxious. Either way, making offerings, to demonstrate his like of him, seemed the most appropriate response, but now he was being told not to. He'd try, to try to respect Bruce's wishes, but it would be hard, going against his most natural impulse; well, aside from the other.

 

His other impulse seemed to be to put himself very much into his personal space, but he backed off every time he caught himself doing it. The way he was raised was very impersonal, and he was very aware that he never really learnt what level of physical contact or affection was generally considered normal and healthy, just that it was more than what he got. For whatever reason that seemed to make him rather opposite. Some of his friends had commented before that he could be invasively touchy-feely. He did not want to make Bruce uncomfortable that way, especially since they lived together, yet the impulse was always there, to get close to him. He would just ask him how he was supposed to demonstrate his feelings, without offerings or physical affection, not actually being capable of spending any more time with him than he already was, but he could not think of any wording for it that did not sound entirely like he was asking to court him, so he stayed quiet. He did not argue when Bruce took their dishes to the sink and washed them, adding them to the others in the rack.

 

~*~

 

"Yeah sorry, we built some of the equipment ourselves..." Anthony began to say.

 

Looking around the room, Bruce could tell none of it was standard issue. Normally lab equipment of their own would not be necessary in a college full of labs, but labs had to be booked for experiments, and were monitored, and a lot of the things they had decided the wanted to study were too involved or questionable for anyone to sign off on; hence the personal lab hidden away from the school. It was a rental unit, intended for storage maybe, but it was large and currently had the air of a tree house, at least, one that was owned by a bunch of bored and well-off college students. If it were not for the sexy scientist cut-out with impressive breasts standing in front of their poster of the periodic table, and the nature of the magazines on the reading table, it might not have even given away that they were men, just scientists, and possibly that Anthony was secretly a pack-rat. Boxes lined the walls as if composing them, adding to the fort-like atmosphere, but he was sure they were filled with parts and only a few objects of sentiment, if any. Of course the number of refrigerated experiments in their fridge next to the drinks could be unsettling, and a few of them had a habit of keeping their coffee in beakers on hot-plates, but other than that it seemed to be advisable enough.

 

"Or lifted it..." came a quiet little mutter from the corner, where the bean-bag chairs and low table were.

 

"Or bought it... borrowed at least." Anthony corrected him, despite that some of the equipment was not meant for home use and was not here legally either way. "Anyway, it normally works fine, but some of it's due for some maintenance." Antony went on, reaching in to help.

 

"Yeah, like this centrifuge you were supposed to help with." he heard from the other corner.

 

Anthony ignored the comment and kept adjusting the machine for Bruce.

 

"Hey Bruce, tell your Romeo to get over here and give me a hand with this thing." Rebel suggested.

 

Anthony shot them a half amused look and two of them started to laugh a bit. It was the worst possible thing to have said to Bruce though, he had been being teased about Anthony since the day he had sauntered into his life.

 

"I'm not gay!" Bruce finally burst out, halting their man-giggles in their tracks, hoping he would never have to redact that statement.

 

"Hey..." Henry said gently. "We don't think you are."

 

"And we wouldn't care if you were." said Anthony warmly, still pressed close enough to him that the context made him blush.

 

Bruce just looked abashed and gave them a suspicious look. He himself had never thought there was wrong with homosexuality -who was he to judge what consenting people did to each other- but he was so often faced with the accusation of it, or punished for the suspicion, that he could not help but bristle against the implication.

 

"We're just Play'n." Rebel agreed. "...'sides, only one here who's gay is Vic."

 

"Bite my ass Reb." came the retort from the man trying to block them out with a news paper in the corner.

 

"You'd like it." he shot back.

 

The atmosphere just got weird from there, one of them even kissing another on the forehead to be met with mock swooning, but it put him at ease, they really did just seem to be joking around with him the same way as they did with each other, and before too long that started to be what was normal for Bruce.

~*~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~*~

 

"Damn it! I'm an idiot..." Bruce trailed off.

 

"Actually, you're a genius, but sure, easy to confuse the two, if I'm any indication." Anthony teased him.

 

"Yeah, well, this genius just left his textbook back in the lab." Bruce closed his bag after double checking.

 

"You guys go ahead, we'll catch up." Anthony waived off some impatient looks.

 

"That's a little assumptive..." Bruce muttered.

 

"What? I just figured..." Anthony was cut off again.

 

"That I needed an escort to go back and get a book from class?" Bruce was obviously annoyed.

 

"The school is practically empty... Bruce, is something wrong? You've been a little...testy, lately. I just want to make sure you're okay."

 

"The school is practically empty, exactly, I'm sure I can survive twenty minutes without you, contrary to whatever you seem to think." he hated, absolutely, that Anthony seemed to see him as so weak, but also that he was snapping at him again, even as he said it.

 

"Alright..." Anthony trailed off, balked. "I'll see you there then." he said, looking too disheartened for it to be rude.

 

Bruce instantly felt a little bad, especially since -as their friends maintained- Anthony really did seem to pout when Bruce turned him away. He would have to apologize, make sure he knew his attention was appreciated. It was strange to think, sometimes, how Anthony could be the sensitive one between them. In the meantime he was still annoyed, despite the logic in the situation, and had a fair walk back to get his text.

 

Approaching the room made him breathe a sigh of relief. He had actually started to become anxious, walking by himself for the first time in what felt like forever, with the school so empty that it was kind of creepy.

 

"Hey, long time no see." Bruce heard the voice behind him and froze, hand on the door to the classroom, swearing at himself inside. "Been awful busy with your new friends Brucey. Especially Tony."

 

Anthony, who was not here right now. These men had to justify every paranoia Anthony had ever voiced about his safety, the moment he was caught alone, of course.

 

"Yeah, you should see them, all shacked up together now aren't they?" came a mean laughing tone from the one with the greasy hair.

 

"Back off." Bruce was determined not to need saving this time, even though he knew it was hopeless.

 

He would fight back, he always did, and then he would have to face Anthony's guilty and apologetic ramblings mingled with the hanging 'I told you so', not to mention Anthony probably taking it on himself to bandage him up and find whoever was responsible, and the fact that he would never let Bruce leave his side again.

 

"Ooh, tough guy now, huh? Now that you have all those big strong friends. Where are they Brucey? Where are your Boyfriend and his group of nerds? Not here." His large blond tormentor was obviously being rhetorical.

 

Bruce tried to push past them, but was shoved back into the row of lockers next to the door.

 

"Not so fast, it's been forever. Got all popular and forgot all about us, didn't you? Think you're too good for us now that you have hot-shot Tony following you around like a puppy." Another shove back into the locker, hands closed on Bruce's shoulders, pinning him.

 

Bruce knew it did not matter what he said or did, that they were set on some kind of violence anyway. He hoped that by not responding, he would give them less fuel. He was surrounded, cornered, it was nothing new, but he knew it would be worse this time.

 

"Why so quiet? Not going to defend your boyfriend? How'd you do it Brucey... convince them to hang around you all the time? Can't be doing their homework, they don't need it." His tone was leading, and it made Bruce particularly nervous, he was starting to hyperventilate, his heart in his throat already.

 

"Yeah, makes you wonder what they're getting out of it." The one with the mean face cut in.

 

"Exactly what I was thinking. What could weak, delicate, shy, little Brucey be giving them to keep them around? You must be something special." he spoke, twisting his hand into his hair, almost mocking affection, and yanking his head back into the locker.

 

It was obvious that the concept of being friends with someone for any reason other than to get something out of them was a foreign concept to these men.

 

Bruce took a swing at him, but he dodged and suddenly they were both on him. Of course, it had to be at least two on one.

 

"You're going to have to learn not to mess with us, Brucey. Went and got big friends to protect you, thought that would keep you safe, where are they now?"

 

"They'll notice that I'm late soon. Even if they don't... Do you really think they'll just let this slide?" Bruce was really, truly thankful that for the first time he had people to call friends, people who really would not allow someone away with hurting him.

 

"Going to have to make it worth it, take something from you that they won't be able to take back." His voice sounded its roughest yet as he spoke behind Bruce's ear.

 

They hauled him off of the lockers and shoved him through a classroom door, closing it behind him, before the one with the grip on his hair and arm dragged and shoved him into a desk, the edge hitting him in the gut harshly. Bruce had made a critical error in twisting the way that he had, now being pinned belly down. He had hoped to protect his organs, but now his hands were pinned to his back, and his position bent over the desk was very compromising. He could not get any leverage, and now he was concerned for his life.

 

"Let's find out what about you is so great..." The Blond said, undoing his own buckle as his friend laughed.

 

Real panic started to set in, then, because up until that point he thought the worst of it would be insults, sick threats and some deep bruising, but now he was starting to get the sense that they had more in mind from the outset. Their intent sank in, finally, when he felt his knees being forced apart. It was in that moment that he went from merely being afraid, to feeling like he was being violated already.

 

"Let go of me!" he yelled, struggling, though it hurt to do, still hoping someone might hear, but knowing everyone would have cleared out.

 

"We made sure the place is empty, it's break, no one can hear you. Even your boyfriend is long gone, saw him sulk off, you two have a lover's quarrel or something?" he asked him cruelly, rubbing himself, denim clad and hard against him.

 

He was yanking back at Bruce's belt, while the other took over holding his arms, grinding against him hard enough to hurt the tight ring of muscle and his tail bone, even through their clothes.

 

"Keep squirming Brucey, feels good." The perverse lust was disgustingly apparent in his voice, legs pushed his knees even further apart as he ground more.

 

The one holding his hands laughed a little. Bruce could tell he was aroused too, in their sick domination of him, because that arousal was nearly pressed to his cheek of the other side of the desk, the only reason why he could think of, that his mouth was not too full to yell, yet at least, was because the blond would not tolerate his lackey having first call, possibly also because Bruce might bite it off, which he would.

 

"No. Stop! Don't! Get off of me... Please don't..." Bruce was starting to cry now.

 

"What? You don't like me? I thought we were friends, Brucey. I thought you let your friends fuck you." He tried to grab at the front of his buckle.

 

"No! Get off!" Bruce yelled at them.

 

"No? I thought you liked big men. Maybe Just Tony then." he said as Bruce struggled against more grasping, trying to squirm out of reach.

 

"You'd rather your boyfriend wouldn't you? You'd rather big strong Anthony hold you down." His tone lowered to another cruel whisper.

 

Bruce realized in an instant that that was the most devastating possible thing for him to have said. Not because it hurt him to think that Anthony would ever do that to him, but because he wanted him to; Anthony, with his kindness, his rambling, his protectiveness, his charm, his warm and rough hands, his smile and the way he made Bruce feel valued, lovable and safe. He was still trying to fight but it had become impossible because he was shaking now, his body suddenly too busy crying to have the strength to keep fighting. Under the weight of that realization, he realized something else. He did not just want Anthony, he wanted him to be the first. Of course he would never want what was happening now, but it especially upset him that it was this instead of the possibility. Suddenly, just for a moment, the only thing in him was a hot rage. He managed to break free just enough to take a hard swing at the blond holding him down. He hit him square in the cheekbone, and it must have left a bruise at least, but a moment later he was pushed roughly back down and the other man held both his arms down with his weight on his wrists.

 

"Oh, that struck a nerve did it? Does he hold you down? Make you take it like I'm going to?" he asked cruelly, yanking his belt open, despite that Bruce was doing his best to keep the buckle out of his reach. "Well, does he?"

 

"No!" Bruce sobbed defensively, though he was not sure why he was answering him, except that he felt compelled to defend Anthony -well intentioned, valiant Anthony- who he had just yelled at and sent away.

 

"I bet you want him to, though, don't you?" he asked, trying to pry his pants down off his hips, Bruce's squirming making it harder than he thought it aught to, and taking Bruce's renewed sobbing as an affirmation. "Too bad for you, I'm going to have you first... Besides, Brucey, what would he want with you? Especially when I'm done." In his effort to be as cruel as possible, trying to play off of anything he could think of, without understanding any of it, he could not know how very perfectly cutting his words were.

 

By trying to come up with the worst possible, most cruel, situation to project onto his captive, the man behind him was guessing at all the most devastatingly accurate truths. Bruce thought it either had to be that, or his own behaviour was far more transparent than he had thought. The truth was that Bruce would keep asking himself that very same question; what Anthony would want with him. Anthony could probably have anyone he wanted and he could not think of any reason for that to be him. He gave up, on fighting, on the hope of Anthony coming to the rescue, in that moment he wanted nothing more than to die. He felt his pants slip lower and felt like he was dying.

 

"Just giving up? Just going to let me have you because your precious Anthony never will? Finally just accept that he's not coming to the rescue?" With those words Bruce gave honest consideration to biting off his own tongue just then, as -at least- that way he would not have to experience this and his attackers might have a murder sentence to deal with, but for the thought of how Anthony might feel, having failed to save him, that would be bad enough as it was.

 

"Think again." The blond heard from behind him just before he was pulled around into a moving fist.

 

Bruce froze when he heard Anthony's voice. He did not immediately realize when all the hands holding him down had left, until he heard a second loud cracking sound and scrambled to turn over just in time to see a head of greasy hair hit the floor. For one second he was overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, before realizing what Anthony had just witnessed; what the men had been doing, what they had been saying, that he had stopped fighting them. Suddenly he wanted to die again and scrambled back further, trying to do his pants back up in a mortified frenzy. He shot a paranoid look to Anthony just in time to see him collapse, white in the face, to the floor, clutching at his stomach and chest. He was panting heavily and Bruce realized that he must have ran there from wherever he had been.

 

"I told you..." Anthony gasped, as Bruce said nothing. "They were just ... pissy they couldn't... have you." he said faintly, around gasping for breath.

 

He was trying to say something to help with whatever Bruce might have been feeling. He looked obviously ashamed, and seemed to be trying to hide from him rather than rushing to him. Despite the lack of oxygen in his brain, and all the adrenaline, Anthony was fairly certain that between being rescued and the state he himself was in, that the normal response was to rush to him, not look mortified and scared, unless something else was wrong.

 

"I'm sorry." he gasped. "Sorry I wasn't faster." A breath. "I said that I'd" Another. "make sure you weren't." Another. "Alone... Did they?" he paused, swallowing and breathing deeply. "Bruce tell me they didn't... didn't get very far." He finally looked up at Bruce. "Tell me I got here in time." His eyes were begging him to say yes.

 

"They didn't... You did... You..." Bruce was trying to thank him, but he started sobbing again the moment he tried to speak, and now he could not stop.

 

"Bruce? Oh god, Bruce...I..." Anthony was suddenly at a complete loss as to what he was supposed to do.

 

Running across campus, to get there, and fighting off the attackers was simple. Figuring out what was wrong, while Bruce was inconsolable, and being able to do something about it, that would not just make things worse, given the delicate circumstance, that seemed an insurmountable challenge.

 

"I'm going to hug you now, because, honestly, I don't know what else to do, and I think you might need it, please don't be scared or freak out."

 

He waited for some kind of response and thought he saw what might have been a nod. He hurried over to him, almost crawling as they were both on the floor at this point. He wrapped his arms around his shoulders and stroked his hair. He did not know if he was helping or not, until two hands gripped at the front of his shirt.

 

"It's okay now." he said, his tone placating. "I have a team of lawyers who will make sure those two can never come near you again... or see the light of day, if I have anything to say about it." He paused, rocking him gently. "We'll have to go to the cops as soon as you're ready..." He held him to himself tightly and what Bruce probably did not realize was that it was to comfort himself as much as anything. "And we should probably call an ambulance for Greasy and Blondie, in case they're suffocating in their own blood right now...much as I might like to let them..." His words were met only with more sobbing. "Bruce? Please, tell me what to do... don't cry, well, cry if you need to but... please don't need to?" Anthony had to stop talking because his own throat was getting tight.

 

For some reason the sound of Anthony nearly in tears was enough to calm him some. His hysteria broke into manageable sobs. Anthony was there, he had come, and he cared, he was not rejecting him -not yet at least- and he was holding him.

 

"How?... How did you know to come?" Bruce asked the question as it occurred to him.

 

"Well, it seems that, while he's okay with bullying and being a dick-wad in general, that friend of theirs wasn't so keen on being an accessory to rape." Anthony's voice broke on the last word and he held Bruce tighter.

 

Bruce just looked miserable, and would not meet his eyes.

 

"I have to make a couple phone calls." Anthony said apologetically, taking out his phone, pressing his nose and lips briefly to the top of Bruce's hair.

 

Bruce felt the warmth and his breath against his scalp and sobbed a little more. He was thankful for what seemed almost a kiss, relieved that it seemed to really be impulsively given, Anthony unconsciously pressing affectionately into his space again, but it only underlined half of the reason he was crying.

 

Despite whatever Bruce might have expected, he did not move away. In fact, he stayed at his side the entire time; talking to the police, the nurse, the principal who had showed up after all the sirens arrived, all of it. Even the responders involved seemed to pick up on the protective vibe coming from his rescuer and, after being sure that neither of them needed medical attention, left Bruce in Anthony's care. Now they were back in their room. On one hand Bruce was entirely mortified to be left alone with Anthony, on the other, he knew that the only way he would stop feeling so anxious is if they talked about it and he knew where he stood. He found himself sitting on the couch being handed a cup of tea and covered in a warm blanket.

 

"Well, there are far less valiant reasons I've had impending court dates." Anthony said sitting down next to him with his own steaming cup, though his might have been coffee.

 

He hoped to cut off any worrying or apologizing, that Bruce would do for it, by joking about it upfront and making sure he knew it was no big deal, maybe even get a laugh out of him if he could. Bruce just stared forward at his tea and flinched a little to acknowledge he had spoken.

 

"Looks like I'll have to be more careful though, I shouldn't have let you go back by yourself." Anthony said, looking away himself.

 

"I kind of yelled at you... and It's not your job to protect me..." Bruce trailed off and his tone betrayed nothing new.

 

"No it's not, but... and I know you hate the thought of needing it, but I can't help it, and I think I made it worse, making them think, giving them the idea... Even when we were talking to the police, I kind of keep pushing my help on you, I can't help it -I mean I want to say I can't help it but - really, you just seem so..." Anthony's rambling was cut off before he was ready for it this time.

 

"Weak." Bruce said, not having any energy left to say it with any measure of bitterness.

 

"Cute?” he said almost before Bruce had finished speaking, “Please don't take offence to that, It's just, you're kind of sweet and it makes me feel like I aught to be protecting you. And I know it's not actually your fault in any way, and it has everything to do with me... Don't take it the wrong way, I'd never ..."

 

"Want..." Bruce's interruptions were starting to paint a very dark picture of how he viewed himself, it was starting to get under Anthony's skin.

 

"...to hurt you, no." Anthony interrupted back, his sternness a sharp contrast to the soft tone he was trying to maintain.

 

Bruce was silent for a minute.

 

"When exactly did you get there... I mean, how much...?" Bruce started to ask, his hand was shaking and almost spilling tea, until a firm hand came up to meet it and took the cup to put on the table.

 

"Don't ask me to answer that." Anthony said and Bruce felt his heart sink again. "Not until I've had a chance to ramble at you properly first."

 

Bruce had no choice but to keep listening, really, having no idea what to make of that, and having his heart in his throat again.

 

"I just, I want to make sure you don't end up with some weird complex about this, or already have one." he began and Bruce was not sure what he was referring to.

 

Anthony did not really know where to start, he kept pausing and re-writing his approach in his head. Normally he felt like he had a silver tongue, was perfectly confident, extemporal, but Bruce always managed to make him want to express so much all at once, that he felt like he was just rambling.

 

"You know, it's probably because you're cute, that they do that, assume that you like men. Not that there's anything wrong with that, being cute, not at all, or liking men for that matter... But between them and other misplaced comments, the way you bristle sometimes, I get the sense that you get that -a lot- I also get the sense that you're told there's something wrong with that, or wrong with you in general, and there isn't, anything wrong with you... except maybe that you seem to have started believing that there is." Anthony was pretty certain he was overstepping some kind of boundary, again, maybe a lot of them, and probably not saying the right things at all.

 

Some of the anxiety left Bruce. Anthony was being understanding and seemed less judgemental about the entire issue than he feared. He was also starting to like it when he called him cute. It still did nothing to answer the question though, tell him what chance he would ever have with him. He had not even thought about it before that day, but since the idea had been planted, he had not been able to stop thinking about it.

 

Anthony, of course, was starting to suspect what the problem might be. He had no idea how to address that though, and did not think that any direct questions about it were advisable, nor would it be to make assumptions. Either way, he did not think that right at the moment was the right time to be having that conversation, but then they already kind of were. He thought Bruce was either worried because he thought Anthony might believe that he had a crush on him, or because he actually did and was certain of his rejection. Neither really bothered Anthony, if Bruce wanted to be friends, fine, if he wanted more, he would not be offended by it, at least.

 

He was not quite sure how he did feel about the possibility, not entirely, but it struck him as perfectly cute and flattering, and the idea of it put a nervous fluttering in his chest. He would have to wait until Bruce asked him about it though, especially given the delicate context. Bruce already felt vulnerable and the one man he trusted at the moment asking about sexual attraction might just traumatise him a little. The other, and last possibility was worse, Bruce might just really want to be friends, and he might be afraid that Anthony did want something else out of him, that he might hurt him. That possibility broke his heart to think about. He did not even know if he should be holding him, calling him cute, or anything else that might be construed as affection right then, but there were some things he had a hard time resisting.

 

"...How do you feel... about... ?" Bruce's voice surprised Anthony when he finally spoke, and Bruce himself felt like he was dying of anxiety.

 

He loved him, that was certain, he was just not sure how to categorize that feeling. He was sure of the strength of his affection, its quantity, but not its quality, its type.

 

"About men? Or about you?... And I'm not sure this is the best time to have this conversation." said Anthony, sighing and leaning back on the couch, spreading out, possibly deflecting.

 

"Well, we're already having it, so..." Bruce trailed off again, being nothing more than a couple locks of bangs sticking out of a bundle of blankets, his knees having long ago come up to his chest in a very defensive way.

 

Anthony sighed again, being certain that his face, which he could not see, was beet-red and possibly crying again.

 

"Well... That's a complicated answer. I like women, always have. In fact I grew up under the expectation that I'd be a playboy, like my father... and I never even really considered anything else." he began, but he re-iterated it from another angle, trying to make sure he was not misunderstood; a good thing since Bruce's heart was breaking as much as he suspected it might be.

 

He was biting his lip now to try to hold it all in.

 

"But then, I've never -really- considered anything else. I've never been attracted to men, at least not sexually, I don't think, anyway, though I've always had a good idea of what I thought aught to be found attractive -you do come to mind, come to think of it- and I'm pretty sure I'm not interested in ... well, it just sounds kind of uncomfortable to be on the receiving end, but since I've never slept with a man, I can't really know for sure, can I?" Anthony offered, relieved that -even to him- his honest answer did not sound like a complete refusal; actually it sounded almost like an uncertain admission of curiosity to his own ears, which were now red.

 

Bruce waited quietly to see if he would keep talking, and really, it was a safe bet he would, at least after the silence got awkward. Anthony could always be counted on to run at the mouth, usually a little more eloquently than he gave himself credit for.

 

"As for what I think of you... I'm still not sure this is the best time for this, but... Where do I start... " Anthony sighed, trying to figure it out for himself and leaving Bruce to wait, feeling like he was holding his breath.

 

"Well, you're fantastic, really. You've been a complete pleasure to have around, the guys agree, you should know. You're brilliant, and adorable, like I keep saying, and, well, I was right about the fact that you needed to be my friend, I mean I'm always right, but that especially..." he trailed off, trying to measure what reaction he was getting, other than a sad little smile peeking out from the shell of blankets.

 

"But...?" Bruce betrayed his expectations again.

 

"But nothing." Anthony said decisively, causing Bruce to finally look up at him.

 

"In the past few months you've become my best friend, the best friend I think I ever could have, and nothing's ever going to change that, at least, not if I have anything to say about it. And..." Anthony continued, taking his turn to look away, his tone becoming subdued. "If I'm perfectly honest, I don't know. I've started to notice that you don't -just- make me feel protective of you.. You don't just seem vulnerable, you also seem sweet and shy in a way that's... really kind of, entirely, endearing and... and I've been getting kind of.. possessive, actually, you might have noticed, and I haven't really worked that out yet. And I mean it when I say you're cute, adorable, really, and I don't know... All I know is that I don't ever want to do anything that might hurt you." Anthony looked up in time to see dark brown eyes tear up again, though -judging by the shaky attempt at a smile- they seemed to be tears of relief.

 

"How do you always know what to say?" Bruce asked him, voice shaky and high.

 

"Well, the general strategy seems to be to run at the mouth and say what I'm thinking until the right thing eventually spills out. And really I wish that sounded less like I'm a monkey with a typewriter." Anthony was really astonished how often claiming to be a babbling idiot really seemed like the right defence to use.

 

Bruce laughed a little, through the tears, and sniffled. Anthony reached over and handed him a tissue. He thought he had all his bases covered, had conveyed that he really did care about him and liked him well enough, but had never considered sleeping with men, and -above all- would never do anything to hurt him. He still did not know which part of that was most important to Bruce though. He still felt compelled to hold him, and thought that maybe now that would be less confusing than it would have been before, at least for Bruce anyway. He took his arm from the back of the couch and gave Bruce a gentle nudge toward himself.

 

"Tony, I don't want to..." he began to say with regret, and Anthony felt his heart sink, his hand jumping back. "...to make you think you have to, to do anything for my sake..." he trailed off quietly, leaving Anthony unable to make any assumption based off of his words, still, but with his heart having risen back to where it had been, and fluttering nervously.

 

Now Anthony did have to admit, for whatever reason, he found the idea of Bruce having a crush on him appealing, very much so. He hoped desperately that it was genuine interest, and not just that he liked having his ego stroked, he would never want that to come at Bruce's expense. Bruce seemed to think so highly of him, and it made him feel cared for, and even like he might have deserved that high opinion, a little, if somebody so sweet and intelligent thought him to. He would test the idea of it in his mind, imagine what it might be like, and see whether it turned him on or off, but he would feel like a completely morally bankrupt monster if he did that now, given the evening's events.

 

"I just..." he trailed off, less in his own fashion and more like Bruce normally would, feeling like he had a bad fever suddenly. "I always kind of feel compelled to hold you, not... what I mean is, it's comforting when I know you're safe, and I like being close to you, for whatever reason, not in any particular way, just..." Anthony trailed off again, more in his own manner, as Bruce moved to curling against his side, under his arm.

 

Now Anthony did not know whether he was doing that for his benefit, or because he wanted to.

 

"So then, I don't have to move out?" Bruce asked him, hopefully.

 

"What? Of course not." The comment took Anthony by surprise. "Why would you have to..." Realization started to dawn on him, an unmistakable -internally contained- logic to the situation finally presenting itself, all the pieces finally in place.

 

Anthony caught himself celebrating inwardly, the nervous flutter starting to feel like an electric buzz. He prayed that this was not some twisted ego trip for him; Bruce deserved so much better. He glanced down to see Bruce avoiding eye contact and blushing deeply, but no longer crying or seeming upset.

 

"Your heart's beating really fast." he said quietly from against his chest.

 

"I..." Anthony was frozen.

 

Normally he would just kiss him, in this context, but given that he might hurt or scare him, and was only just working out his feelings himself, he could not really fall back to his automatic responses. He had no idea what card to play.

 

Bruce lifted his head to look up at him, saw the pulse jumping in his throat, and that would worry him, terribly, not being sure whether or not Anthony was just panicking, but the conversation they had just had, and the size of his pupils and redness of his cheeks, seemed to suggest something that made him hopeful, rather than scared. He was still not certain enough to initiate anything himself though, so he waited for Anthony to do or say something.

 

"Um." Anthony said and swallowed to clear his throat, feeling like an idiot.

 

Bruce seemed to start to doubt whatever hopeful notion had him making eye contact, looking away again. Anthony brought his free hand up quickly to brush his long bangs aside and cup his cheek, turning him back towards him. He was trying to tell himself that kissing him was a bad idea right now, but then Bruce bit his own lip in his nervous way, looking entirely enticing, and seemed to be waiting for him. Now his eyes were caught on that full, moist lower lip and he wanted nothing more than to know what it felt like to nibble on it. It was then that he first started to realize how very badly in trouble he was. His own lips were an inch away before he noticed himself moving.

 

"I shouldn't..." Anthony spoke, almost against his lips, his hand shaking in it's attempt to be perfectly gentle.

 

He knew he had made up his mind to go through with it, because really, it would be cruel to pull back now. Never before had a kiss been so important though, and he was completely unprepared to be feeling so much, to be craving it so much. He was also not even certain if Bruce had ever been kissed before. He suddenly felt like he was under incredible pressure not to screw this up. He moved very slowly. Bruce even nudged at the air between them ever so gently, tentatively, with his lips in his impatience. Anthony had expected him to close his eyes, and they were quite heavily lidded, but he seemed to be watching him still, breathing shallow and fast. The moment his lips brushed against Bruce's he felt him melt, and Anthony surprised himself by humming in satisfaction the moment the lip he wanted was caught firmly between his. Hands rushed up to grip at his shirt.

 

Bruce felt his heart leap when he heard, felt, the sound Anthony made. Surely if kissing him invoked that strong of a reaction, then he must be interested. He sighed in response and pressed closer. If he had formed an expectation, it would have been a firm but chaste kiss, possibly to placate his worries as a main motive, but what he got was a long massaging caress that ended with his lower lip being sucked gently, Anthony's tongue stroking along it, teasing the sensitive nerves there into a frenzy, before he very slowly pulled away with a little regretful sound. Bruce wanted Anthony on top of him.

 

"Bruce..." Anthony breathed against his lips.

 

He heard Bruce gasp, like a little sobbing sound, and watched a wetness return to his eyes, this time though, it truly seemed to be out of some kind of arousal, if the way he gripped at him and pressed forward was any indication. The truth was, Anthony was suddenly terrified. The thought of how sensitive and soft, shy, nervous and inexperienced Bruce was, of how maddeningly good he could make him feel, how he could make him squirm and -oh, when he thought of the sounds he might make- assailed him and left him with his heart pounding in his ears. He would have felt terrible for how badly he suddenly wanted him, except that he really did only want to cause him pleasure, and thought it might be very welcome. Still, it was completely inappropriate to the context, at the moment, maybe not completely, but inadvisable at best.

 

"Tony..." Bruce wanted to ask him to keep going, to have him, but nervous could never begin to describe his state.

 

"This is a bad idea." Anthony said, stroking his cheek gently and regretting each word, having to say them.

 

"Don't say that." Bruce breathed back, like a plea, lips still close enough to feel like the breath between them was just a pause in their kiss.

 

"Bruce..." Anthony sighed as he held him firmly, now having one hand gently grasping each side of his cheeks and neck, making Bruce expect another kiss, though that was not what he got. "I can't, I want... but I shouldn't. What they almost did to you..." His guilt was tearing him up inside.

 

"That's why..." Bruce pulled back to look at him properly. "I'm in my twenties, Tony. I'd like to have sex on my own terms, at least once, before the next time someone..." He could not finish saying it.

 

The sick, angry feeling boiled under Anthony's skin again. The thought of anyone hurting him made him feel disgustingly angry. He also had to admit that the idea of anyone else having him, with or without consent, especially before he did, made him feel things ranging between insanely jealous and morally outraged. Enough so to feel guilty because that jealousy was enough to rival the outrage.

 

"Bruce..." Anthony started, hating that he sounded angry. "That's no reason to want this. You shouldn't feel like rape is inevitable, you shouldn't think that giving yourself away as soon as possible is the only way to do it on your own terms. I couldn't do that to you, I couldn't let you do that to yourself. Oh god, tell me that's not why you want me, no, not just because I'm not forcing myself on you, not because I seem like the lesser of the evils, not... I'd never... you have to know I'd never..." Now Anthony was shaking and crying, not least of all that their kiss had meant so much to him, had felt so good, and he might have been about to learn that it had really just been some perversion of their friendship.

 

Bruce was in shock a bit, being hugged to Anthony desperately and suffering a bit of emotional whiplash. Suddenly Anthony was the one inconsolable and doubting everything, including his own worth it seemed, and Bruce was the one who did not know what to do or say to fix it. Anthony's arms shook a bit, mostly in his hands, as if afraid to really hold on to him and also needing to. Maybe all of their emotions were running a bit hot just then. He shifted into his lap and wrapped his arms around him tightly, there was nothing sexual in it though, not now, he was just seeking that closeness.

 

"Of course not." he said, face pressed to the side of Anthony's neck. "That's not why I want you..."

 

He caught himself trailing off shyly, but tried to remind himself that Anthony was waiting on his words, that his words suddenly were very important to someone; kept trying, even though he ended up stuttering through most of them.

 

"It's not just that I'd take you over them. Please don't think that of me. Please don't think less of me. Tony... It's because I know you would never do that, because you're too good. You're not just kind, you're considerate, attentive, charming, you use your strength and your wit to protect people, you're at least as brilliant as you claim I am, you make me happy, make me feel safe, cared for, valued... like I deserve to be valued. You're v-very handsome... and... kind of intimidating, but in a good way, if that makes any sense? And every time I'm around you I... I don't know when I started to w-want you, I don't know if ... maybe... maybe I did have a crush, since... before the first time you saved me... maybe... but I didn't realize it until today, until someone else was going to take that away from me, the chance that you might... made me question if you could ever..." Bruce was crying now too, again, and could not find the words to finish anything that he was trying to say, the anxiety of it all resurfacing and choking him.

 

"Let me make something very clear to you." Anthony began, emotional but having got past his moment of tears, mostly. "You are worth anything, everything, whether or not someone else sees it, whether or not I do. Someone taking advantage of you or forcing themselves on you does not make you any less valuable, any less precious, not to the world, not to me, don't ever think that. Somebody hurting you would never make me want you any less. When I saw you like that, saw you give up... Bruce, it broke my heart, not because I was disappointed in you, don't think that, but because of how hurt you were, how afraid I was. If anything did happen to you I'd ... end up in jail, probably, because if anybody ever hurts you like that, or any other way, god, Bruce, I think I'd kill them." How strongly he meant that terrified him.

 

Anthony's doubt and hurt had become replaced with some kind of outrage against whoever had made Bruce feel like his value was so limited, and he was surprised to find that whatever Bruce was feeling he could only express in kisses, it felt like gratitude. These kisses were chaste but desperate, covered in tears. Anthony did not think Bruce capable of initiating something like that, and yet he was being kissed and all he could do was kiss him back and hold him. He understood the part about not realizing what was going on between them, as they had both been raised to not question their sexuality, or consider that any variable was more important than gender, than sex, both for different reasons, one for image and one out of fear.

 

"Now look at us." Anthony said when they stopped kissing. "We're both complete messes." He got a sniffle-like little laugh for it. "Geez, how do you look that cute even all puffy and red from crying?" Anthony asked him.

 

"Probably some kind of protective/empathy response." Bruce answered, wiping his eyes, trying to be gentle enough to not make it worse.

 

Anthony's heart melted when the next thing Bruce did was wipe the tears off of his cheeks too. His pale, clammy thumbs, looked cute -reaching out from under shirt sleeves that were slightly too long-, were soft, and his other fingers held him lovingly. He took one of his hands to kiss his wrist, starting to appreciate -very much- holding Bruce, who seemed soft and gentle everywhere, in his lap. His satisfaction was not even necessarily related to the lust he had felt earlier, but more to the constant want to hold him close that had been frustrating him for at least a couple months. He watched, admiring him as Bruce began to blush and finally hide himself under Anthony's chin. He held him and stroked his hair until they fell asleep.

 

~*~

 

Anthony had decided, before even waking that morning, that they were not going to their classes that day. It was too soon after the incident, for one thing, for another they were both ahead on their work, even just the boring simple things that the teachers made them do, and Anthony really wanted to spend the day with Bruce. He felt like he had something to make up for; having helped precipitate the situation, having not gotten there faster, having let him go back in the first place, having not realized what was happening between them sooner, having wanted what he did last night, and also -despite the contradiction- not having been able to give Bruce what he wanted. He would have already been bouncing around the kitchen making pancakes, but Bruce was still asleep in his lap. He went back to stroking his hair gently until he woke up. He had often noticed the longer bangs that always played about, framing his features, but he did not always notice the adorable ducktail-like quality of the back of his hair, or the way it gently winged out on the sides from time to time. He hoped Bruce liked his hair cut this way, because he might be disappointed if he changed it.

 

The very act of waking up on Anthony's chest seemed to send Bruce into an episode of nervousness. First he sat up strait, tentatively making eye contact and then apologizing, then blushing deeply and looking down where he tried to figure out where to put his hands, that would be the least obtrusive. He looked like he would be scrambling to get off, were it not for Anthony having moved his hands to hold his hips firmly in place. Finally he just looked a little flustered and looked around for his glasses. Anthony had taken them off of him at some point during the night, because he had fallen asleep with them on, so now took them from the end-table and handed them to him. Bruce put them on, ran a hand nervously through his hair and then pulled at his shirt, which had turned transparent with the sweat that had accumulated between them through the night, making it turn opaque again as it gave up its grip on his supple looking flesh.

 

"I've decided something..." Anthony began, disappointed at the change. "We're not going to classes today, We're not, and I'm making you breakfast... if that's okay with you." He was sure Bruce would let him take liberties in deciding what they did, but that was why it was particularly important that he ask permission.

 

"Could we... finish the whole semester from in here?" Bruce asked him, wanting to put off the social backlash from what had happened for as long as possible.

 

He was also pretty sure that they could not really do anything to advertise their relationship, if that was what was happening between them, Bruce still was not sure. For Anthony it would cause problems for his business image, for Bruce it would confirm every ill-intended suspicion anyone had ever had about him and make him even more of a target. He was not certain he would be able to be near Anthony at all without blushing hotly. He knew he had a tendency to blush a lot as it was, which was mortifying enough whenever he remembered that fact, but he was certain some new level of nervousness would give something away.

 

Besides that, the whole school would soon know what happened, what almost happened, and who had come to his rescue. While he was sure some people would ease up a little, in the severity of the situation, he was certain that the teasing was going to get worse now whether or not anyone had tangible proof that they were involved. Not only that but the level of sympathy he would get from some people, the pity, he could not really stand to face that either. Anthony understood all of this, he was certain.

 

"You know, we could. The teachers wouldn't give us a hard time about it, and so long as we hand in the work and show up for tests, or you know, bribe someone to let us away with it, they all know we know the curriculum already, so we wouldn't be getting any grades we didn't deserve, and we wouldn't be compromising our education..." Anthony trailed off in honest consideration. "In any event, you can take all the time you need, and everything will work out, or I'll make it." he concluded.

 

Bruce had no idea how to show the gratitude he felt. He was also anxious, though he was delighted that Anthony was interested, if the way he kissed him and held him were any indication, he still was not exactly certain if that constituted wanting to have a relationship, or if it was just something he wanted to try.

 

"Thank you , Tony... um..." he thanked him, kissing him, but then trailed off, pulling back as Anthony tried to kiss him in return.

 

"Yeah?" Anthony asked, his dark blue yes getting even darker, again.

 

"I, um... If we... what do... is this...that is, I ..." Bruce gave up on talking, blushing and trying to sort out his wording, feeling a little stupid for not being able to talk.

 

Anthony did not have enough information to even start trying to make an educated guess about what he was trying to say, except that it seemed to be a question of some kind. He really did think it was adorable when he could not find words, but he also knew it bothered Bruce terribly.

 

"To be fair to you, I find it kind of hard to find words when you're in my lap too." Anthony said, hoping that even if it did make him more nervous, it would be a pleasant nervousness, rather than one full of doubt.

 

"Then how do you keep saying things to make me feel better?" Bruce found his words long enough to glare at him.

 

"Well, hard, not impossible." Anthony defended himself, trying not to shift his hips at just that moment, for fear of making his word choice into a bad joke. "What is it?" he asked more softly, watching Bruce lick his lip and wanting to do the same.

 

"I was just wondering... what this is... I mean... I want to, you to... for us to... But I don't just... Tony, you kind of have a reputation and I don't... know what you want." Bruce's voice got higher and more apologetic as he finished speaking, not making eye contact and now fidgeting with his thumbs.

 

Anthony was fairly certain that what Bruce was getting at was the he wanted a relationship, and that anything happening between them would have to come with that commitment. Really, it made him happy, relieved, that Bruce would not sell himself short, no matter how badly he seemed to want to, not even if Anthony would accept it, which he would not. Bruce had his admiration. Anthony was not sure he would be making the same choice in Bruce's place.

 

"I know, I really am kind of an ass, and a man-slut, no, it's true, I do have that reputation, let me finish. I want this, I want you, but I definitely don't want to hurt you, and I don't think this would be just some experiment for me, you mean more to me than that, but I don't know, I don't know what it will be like, and I don't want to hurt you and that's why..." Anthony saw Bruce start to look dejected and tried to hurry on to his point. "... if we try this, we should really discuss this, we should both have the same expectations, or none at all. We should both be on the same page about this from the start. So, much as I want to be kissing you right now, you're right, we should really talk first." Anthony knew he tended to ramble, but even he was starting to give himself some credit for doing a fairly good job with it.

 

Bruce nodded subtly, tracing a finger idly on Anthony's shirt, really wanting to get back to the part where Anthony would be kissing him.

 

“So let me go first, since you know, I might find too many words, but I at least find them..." He got a little laugh. "I know that you don't do causal sex, especially since, I'm assuming, you don't really do sex, and I know that I do, sometimes, or did, but I also know that I don't want to, it never ends well, it's risky and no one who ever says there will be no strings, ever really seems to mean it. I don't know if I want to commit forever, or make any promises I might break, but you're my best friend, and if we try this, it wouldn't be causal, I wouldn't want to do that to you, you deserve better than that, and I want to be better than that, for you. I've already been perfectly happy giving you all of my attention, as my friend, so even if sex gets added to the table, why mess with a good thing?" He knew he had not said anything particularly decisive, but he hoped he had painted a fairly clear picture of where his head was at.

 

Bruce seemed to be smiling at least.

 

"So... You don't want to make promises or hurt me, but you want ... commitment?" Bruce cringed to use that word, and so did Anthony, but he nodded in agreement. "Okay, so, I think we both know why we have to keep this ... quiet... so, so no public affection, but... Are you... my boyfriend?" Bruce asked hopefully.

 

"Oh I have a couple conditions..." he began, watching Bruce bite his lip. "For one, it has to be what you want. For another, it has to be under the understanding that the lack of P.D.A. is not because I'm ashamed of you or because we're doing anything wrong, mostly it's because people are assholes, and is something we can discuss changing later if you want. I absolutely demand that you tell me if anything is wrong, upsetting you or doesn't feel right. It's a strict stipulation that, if this doesn't work, you'll still be my friend... and I don't bottom." Anthony added that last point in some attempt at humour, but Bruce knew he was also sincere about it. "Agreed?"

 

"Tony, that's..." the sweetest thing he had ever heard, along with half the other things he had said in the past twenty-four hours. "...More than a couple." he went on, tucking his bangs shyly away behind his ear; Anthony loved it when he did that. "But... A-agreed." Bruce blushed a little again.

 

"Oh, and, being as this seems to have snuck up on both of us, I think we should both do some reading." Anthony added, realizing it was possible that neither of them really understood the full implications of what they were agreeing to.

 

"Tony, did you just give us both homework?" Bruce asked.

 

"We do that to ourselves all the time, now, don't we?" Anthony asked, thinking of all the experiments their varied, but uniformly nerdy, group of friends had taken on.

 

"About sex?" Bruce raised his eyebrows at him.

 

"Well everything is about sex with me, to be fair, yes, yes I did, and now my cute boyfriend needs to get off my lap and go clean up for the day, so I can go make him pancakes and start on my homework." Anthony started to wiggle forward toward the edge of the couch.

 

"Tony?" Bruce tested for his attention, not moving to get up yet.

 

"I'm not -just- cute, am I?" Bruce was flattered, truly, if that was what Anthony liked, but just being cute alone seemed so, emasculating.

 

"Pretty?" It was the next word to describe him that came to mind, that he had not used yet. "...Maybe, pretty too, I mean, you don't look like a girl, but you are pretty, and adorable, really mostly adorable, in a way that kind of makes me want to kiss you, so, forgive me?" Anthony got the sense he might be digging himself into a hole. "I mean, you do look like a man, just, a very cute one." he offered again.

 

Bruce knew he did not look particularly masculine, and Anthony was interested, in whatever he saw in him, so it would have to do. They were much closer together now, being pressed together at the edge of the couch.

 

"Kiss me." Bruce said quietly, not really a question or demand.

 

Anthony did. This time Bruce's hands were holding his face, and Anthony 's on his hips, pulling him closer. He kissed him deeply, licking and nibbling, amazed at how soft his skin was. He always looked so soft, but Anthony had not expected just how soft he felt. His lips were addictively plump and his nervousness was endearing. He felt Bruce's whole body seem to get softer, more pliable, in his arms. He found himself humming contentedly and trying to pull him closer, hands grasping gently, but firmly, everywhere they slid to, like he was trying to gather him up in his hands, just to try to pull him closer. He finally moved his hand to Bruce's bottom, pulling their hips together and causing Bruce to make a high little sound, before he pulled back from the kisses, though staying melded to him along his front.

 

"You really do want me, now, don't you?" Bruce asked, forgetting to be nervous in favour of incredulous.

 

Anthony was obviously enjoying it, more obviously and expressively than Bruce had expected. He grasped, massaged, and groped, and made Bruce feel hot, made him melt. He had somehow imagined that with Anthony's experience he would be a little less expressive, less easily moved or affected, but he seemed to be deriving immense enjoyment from holding and kissing him.

 

"What changed, between not knowing ... and... that kiss, last night? What did I...?" He lost his wording as his eyelids lowered again, the thought of Anthony wanting him that much sinking in and becoming quite distracting.

 

What Anthony heard, in that question, was Bruce asking what he could have possibly done to earn affection. He felt that familiar anger, the one that came from thinking that someone had hurt Bruce. The issue was far too familiar, because he himself had caught himself asking the same question too many times. He knew the kind of things, the kind of treatment, that lead to that unconscious trap, that he had to do something -or be a certain way- to earn love, rather than just knowing that he deserved love and that it should be unconditionally given.

 

"You were your adorable, brilliant self. And I finally realized how much I wanted to selfishly keep you all to myself, and, more specifically, please don't think less of me, it came to my attention how very sensitive you were and how much I could please you, and -kind of suddenly- how very much I'd enjoy pleasing you, holding you, feeling you... hearing... tasting... mn." Anthony rambled quickly and confidently as ever, but by the end was punctuating his every word with kisses.

 

"You really do just honestly run at the mouth, don't you?" Bruce said with a little flattered smile, blushing.

 

He still hated that he tripped over his words, needed to be rescued, and blushed so much, but Anthony seemed to like that just fine, so it was not so bad. He would hate that he was so very sensitive too, feeling like he was overly -stereotypically- submissive, except that Anthony was right, that very fact made it so Anthony could make him feel melted every time he touched him, and that, he thought, could not be at all bad. Now though, he regretted having interrupted their kissing again, since Anthony seemed to stop initiating and looked like he was trying to shake off the arousal to try to get them moved along towards getting on with their day. All Bruce wanted, was for him to hold him down and kiss him, which he was sure Anthony wanted too, if the pleasantly intimidating hardness pressing against his and the groping was any indication, but was being too valiant. The very fact that he was made Bruce want him to stop it and just hold him down.

 

Anthony knew Bruce was not the type to initiate, seeming quite a bit afraid to actually, so when Bruce kissed him and slid off his lap to the side, tugging gently at his shirt to indicate that he wanted him to follow, he took the hint. He hoped the little growling hum, as he lay down against him, was not alarming in any way, an anxiety that was quelled quickly by the breathy little moan that answered him. It was as though Bruce's sensitivity was contagious. It had been years since just kissing someone and pressing against them had felt so overwhelmingly good, and he could not remember kissing anybody else stirring such an arousal, other emotions -as he felt now- sure, but this level of raw lust, no. Just knowing how very much Bruce was enjoying the contact made it feel that much more incredible, as if it was Anthony's first time making-out on a couch too, which he assumed it was for Bruce, at least for his reactions. His breathy little moans and sighs sounded surprised at least half of the time. At once he was worried this was moving too fast, but also wanted desperately to overwhelm him, drag every reaction out of him that he could.

 

Bruce was dizzy. At first he felt like he was melting under his hard weight, relaxing past the point of not having any tension left to give up, then felt like he was being driven insane by the feeling continuing impossibly, and now it had dissolved into just feeling dizzy, and maybe like his blood pressure was so high that he would faint if it came down too fast. The weight of Anthony on him alone was threatening to press his pleasure out of him any moment. This was exactly what he had wanted, exactly what he had been craving. Anthony was dedicated to him, and holding him down, even if it was gently and carefully, hands sill running and grasping all over him. He was not sure what he could have done so perfectly right for this to be happening, but he could not think enough to care. They were pressed together from lips to ankles and he could not move, did not have the strength to push him off if he wanted to, and it was delicious.

 

Anthony thought it was not possible for Bruce to be anything but very close, not for the way he was straining forward, shaking, or for the sounds he was making, gasping to catch his breath or sighing loudly into kisses, how very fast his breathing was. Anthony eagerly drank up each sound, but he wanted to push him over the edge. It was selfish, because he did not even care if it embarrassed Bruce, he just wanted to make it happen, wanted to hear the sounds he would make, feel the spasm run through him, know that he could so easily cause him that pleasure, and he hoped frantically that it was not twisted and wrong.

 

"Bruce...I can tell you're close... I want to make you come, tell me, what to do, what you want." Anthony said pleadingly, voice rough, near his ear.

 

"Just... don't stop kissing me... Don't stop and I'll..." Bruce said quietly, making it sound like a guilty little confession.

 

Anthony gave a quick aroused growl and pinned him more completely, more firmly, letting himself grind down against him, and -as requested- went back to kissing him, getting -all around- a little rougher in his redoubled lust. He had to stop kissing Bruce a moment later, because Bruce had stopped kissing back and was gasping for breath, the sound getting higher and louder each time Anthony rolled his hips into him, like he was building up to something, clutching at his neck, like he would on each stroke if Anthony was actually thrusting inside him. Anthony hummed contentedly, holding him still against his grinding thrusts, to kiss him more, even as his mouth was too distracted, and nuzzled into the side of his neck. Bruce was quiet for a moment, as he held a gasping breath, but then a long sobbing moan made Anthony absolutely melt inside. He held him to him as he felt him quiver in spasms and then soften again, through his whole body.

 

Bruce felt tingly from head to toe, but now had no idea what to do. He would have been embarrassed, except that Anthony had made it clear he had wanted him to come. It was not quite what he had in mind when he imagined Anthony holding him down, Anthony was hard, yes, and obviously very aroused, but not yet satisfied, and Bruce had no idea what to do about it. He did not think that continuing as they were would be enough.

 

"Tony? I know this isn't enough for you... what should I...?" Bruce asked shyly.

 

"Oh, Bruce, I... I'm so worked up, anything you want... I just need you to touch me." he would say that he did not have to do anything, but it hurt being that aroused with no release.

 

Bruce reached down between them and groped firmly , though shakily, at him, making him moan. Anthony pulled his hips away enough to let him undo his belt, slip his clothes down far enough, and slide trembling cool fingers around him. The uncertainty in his motions made Anthony feel, pathetically, like his erection was connected directly to his heart, every swell of pleasure being mixed with a swell of affection and gratitude.

 

"Like this?" Bruce asked squeezing with both hands in a massaging motion.

 

Anthony's head dropped to his shoulder with a groan. He knew what felt good to himself, in general, but he did not know how Anthony liked to be touched. He also was not certain if his own cool and slender fingers were adequate.

 

"Yes, yes, please, just touch me, Bruce, like that, any way you want, please, oh... yes, just like that..." Anthony trailed off mumbling into the front of his shoulder.

 

Anthony seemed to be enjoying it, but it did not seem to be getting him any closer. The mumbled encouragements and affirmations were starting to make Bruce feel hard again, but Anthony seemed stuck at being very aroused and just deriving great, but steady, pleasure from his touch. Bruce wanted him satisfied. he removed one hand long enough to pull up his shirt, leaving his stomach bare, and returned that hand to squeeze harder and tug gently upwards until Anthony moved higher. This way he could stroke with both hands and could massage the tip into his belly. Clear fluid quickly leaked, massaged out of Anthony and into him, making his skin slick, and Anthony began thrusting gently against his flesh, into his hands. It was incredibly arousing to have that heavy harness sliding down his stomach, teasing him and thrusting back up, leaking on him. Bruce wanted to make him come on him.

 

It seemed perfectly fantastic to Anthony that Bruce did not have the same experience that he did, Even just for the fact that instead of the same automatic and common methods, used until they were boring, Bruce was doing whatever made sense to him at the moment, whatever might feel good; and it felt so very good. His stomach was so soft, and now slippery with pre-come. Anthony had wanted nothing more than to thrust into his soft flesh, and in this way, without taking things too far, he was getting something of that. It was so maddeningly cool and soft against his hot hardness.

 

"Bruce..." he gasped. "Wait, I'm close, let me move, so I don't..." he was not sure where he should move to, but he thought it might be rude not to at least warn him.

 

"No, I... I want you to." The moan he got for that made it obvious Anthony enjoyed the idea, and possibly that he was on the edge, a devious impulse struck him. "C-come on me, Tony." Bruce nearly died inside for having said it.

 

The next moment though, he got exactly what he wanted. Telling him to come was enough, on him, too much, and saying his name like that might have been nailing Anthony's coffin shut. Copious, translucent, thick, white, hot fluid spurted upwards all along Bruce's stomach as Anthony thrust through his orgasm, rubbing the unique feeling fluid into his skin. As his head cleared he realized that this was far further than he wanted to let things go, and that, the moment Bruce asked for more, he would helplessly give it to him anyway.

 

"Oh, I'm in trouble." he lamented, happily, out loud, hoping he would not have to explain it.

 

He did up his pants and belt, as he watched Bruce gingerly bring fingers to his stomach, testing the feel of it stroking across his skin. His belly was covered in a sloppy pool of it, making Anthony blush; for the level of arousal that lead to it, for how base it seemed, and for how he enjoyed seeing it there, despite that he was sure that was a little twisted.

 

"Happy now?" he asked Bruce, sill sounding out of breath.

 

"Y-yes." Bruce answered, blushing but seeming unable to keep a small smile from his lips.

 

Anthony kissed him firmly.

 

"Now you really need a shower." he earned himself a little laugh with that, the endorphins helping. "Um..." he said, contemplating the sticky pool. "That's... I'm sorry, that's going to get everywhere the moment you try to get up... wait here."

 

Bruce had never seen him look embarrassed for himself before, was sure no one else had either, and it helped with his own feelings of shame. Bruce had also noticed something else. Anthony was the least apologetic person he knew, never apologized to anyone, and yet he apologized to him often enough. Anthony came back with a small towel and, feeling silly or not, gently wiped most of the mess off of him.

 

"Now, stop making my brain melt and go shower." Anthony kissed Bruce's forehead as he wiggled to sit up.

 

He noticed that Bruce was hesitant, and seemed quite thoroughly aroused still, but he waited patiently for him to shyly slide off the couch, fetch a towel and disappear into the bathroom. He had let things get quite carried away enough for the moment. Anthony thought back to all the times he had brazenly walked around in a towel, half naked, or -occasionally- completely naked, though that last one may have not been recent enough to matter, and realized that had been terribly insensitive. He had just assumed there was no interest at all between them, and -in a way- there was not at the time. Looking back though, he realized Bruce had never even been caught in a towel, unless he thought he was alone, and Anthony wished he had done the same. He had clear memories of what his blushing and supple looking chest looked like, and he could only imagine that Bruce now had memories of much more than that to feel awkward and nervous about.

 

~*~

 

Normally Bruce would take a cool shower, but at the moment it would seem like too much of a contrast to the warmth and contact that he had just experienced. Warm showers were not particularly well known for helping the problem he had now, but they were good for getting clean, which was the main point of stepping Away from Anthony long enough to take one. The new level of intimacy was overwhelming to be sure, but he liked that, and now that he had it, he did not want to step away. He felt as though the very idea of being together was so dauntingly stimulating that, nervous or not, tired or not, he found himself aroused consistently, whenever a more serious topic was not at hand, even when dreaming. Even having an orgasm had only been a short break. Now, even showering felt indecently good.

 

He was certain Anthony was holding back. He was acting, and reacting, as though he was plenty interested in pursuing this as far as Bruce would allow, but kept stopping himself -albeit ultimately unsuccessfully- as if he was trying to pace them. It was sweet, but Bruce had never felt more like a horny young man and thought it was about time that he get to indulge that, if only he could get over being quite so shy. Rubbing the slippery residue off of his stomach quickly turned into stroking himself slowly, hand wrapped firmly, and wondering if he would be able to get Anthony to indulge him after the shower, or if it was now or nothing. He often felt nervous touching himself, as if someone might find out, despite knowing that was illogical and not being sure of the cause; possibly a lack of privacy growing up. Now though, he was far too distracted to care enough to be nervous, and if anyone did catch him, it would be Anthony.

 

At that moment he seemed to settle, in his head, on what he would put on when he was done showering. One of the pairs of pants Anthony had tossed at him had fit too tightly to seem proper, they were not uncomfortable, but hugged at his body in a way that made him feel exposed, but then, in their room together, he did not really see that there was a problem with that. He stopped himself and continued washing, in a bit of a hurry. At least he had finally remembered his robe, though now it seemed to be much less of an issue to be caught in just a towel. He would be nervous, of course, but at least now it might serve to get him what he wanted, instead of just making him feel embarrassed. At least it was one less thing to be anxious about. Anthony already probably had a fairly clear picture of what he looked like naked, between being caught in his towel, and Anthony seeming to know what clothing size to buy him and claim were his old clothes. In that, he was certain Anthony knew exactly what he was signing on for. Bruce certainly did, as his room-mate seemed to find it challenging to keep his clothes properly on. He had been trying very hard not to think of Anthony naked, since neither of them had been conscious of his attraction when Anthony had taken the liberty of walking around mostly nude, but it could be a challenge not to, especially once it occurred to him, and with nothing else to distract him. He took a deep breath and turned off the shower, he had to go find pants.

 

~*~

 

Anthony watched out of the corner of his eye as Bruce, blushing and huddled in his robe, pulled some clothes out of the bottom of his drawer and disappeared back into the bathroom. Smiling to himself, he brought the last of the pancakes to the table, took the bacon out of the oven where it had been keeping warm, and made sure the stove was off.

 

Bruce adjusted himself so that being aroused would not be uncomfortable or too obvious, combed his hair, before giving it a quick shake so as to not look flat, donned his glasses and left the bathroom to wander slowly into the dining area. He never thought he would find himself trying to look cute for anyone, let alone a man, handsome sure, pretty if the right girl was into that, but cute was never how he like to be viewed, despite being doomed to it. He hoped the jeans were at least a little sexy, just a bit, despite that being so timid normally kept him from that goal as well. He sat down at the table and looked to Anthony.

 

"Oh hey, they do fit." Anthony brightened at him. "Help yourself." he said, setting the last dish on the table.

 

They ate in relative silence, Bruce with his shy nibbles and Anthony with the kind of mouthfuls he would take if he expected to have his hands busy for minutes at a time in between to work on something, the kind Bruce would adapt one day if he got over being so self conscious. There were certain giveaways in the way some people ate and drank that gave them away as avid schemers, and Anthony had all of them. Anthony always seemed to eat as if he was just hungrily fulfilling a biological necessity between what he really wanted to be doing, fuelling himself for his projects. Anthony, of course, finished first and waited for Bruce to be done, watching him eat.

 

They both got up to bring their dishes to the sink, neither of them bothering to move to wash them just yet. Bruce looked up at Anthony and bit his lip, which was Anthony's queue to do the same. The pancakes might have been a less innocent idea than Anthony had thought. Now Bruce tasted like hot chocolate-chips. Anthony could not help, at risk of moving too fast, but slowly tease his way into Bruce's mouth, tasting him, taunting him.

 

Bruce melted at the suggestiveness of it. A firm massaging tongue teased into him, meeting his, teasing at his gently. Anthony kept drawing it back, as if asking permission to keep doing it, but the tongue slowly thrusting in and out of his mouth was making Bruce incapable of forming a thought, let-alone a protest. He was surprised he was not fainting against the counter, swooning, yes, but not quite seeing black, though he may have had to open his eyes to confirm that.

 

Anthony heard his breaths take up a gentle sighing quality as he melted against him, backing into the counter. He gripped his hips with his hands, lifting him against him slightly, an offer. Bruce parted his knees automatically so he could be set on the counter. Pressing against him he realized he was hard again. It made Anthony smile to himself that someone who was so easy to overwhelm was also so hard to keep satisfied for very long. He nibbled at his lip again, running his hands up and down his slim waist.

 

"Bruce, when you asked to finish the semester from in here, was that to avoid the social repercussions, or so we could spend the whole time making out?" His tone was an aroused and playful growl.

 

"C-can it be both?" Bruce asked shyly, breathless and blushing.

 

His arms had wrapped up over Anthony's shoulders and his fingertips gripped at his neck and rubbed into his hair. Bruce nudged gently at the tip of his nose with his own and Anthony eagerly complied. Anthony would have happily taken him there on the counter, except that their clothing was in the way, and he thought it was rushing into things a bit. That did not stop Bruce from squirming and wiggling in his grasp as though he wanted him to. He wondered vaguely, if the jeans Bruce wore were something he had always owned, or if they actually one of the pairs Anthony had bought in his size -claimed used to be his own- and thrown at him, as he had assumed. He had, at the time, only been thinking to get him some more casual clothes that fit better, without Bruce feeling indebted to him. He now realized that it was fantastically brilliant because they fit him tightly enough to make, what was already an incredibly perky and enticingly rounded bottom, into something so perfectly round and firm that holding it was driving his body temperature up to the point where Bruce -nervous enough to be much warmer than usual- felt cool against his skin. He continued teasing his mouth provocatively and thrusting against him until the thighs around him shook and Bruce melted against him again.

 

Bruce would have offered to do something for him, but he was not about to do or say anything to interrupt what was already being done. One arm, so hot that he could feel the heat shockingly through his shirt, wrapped up under his shoulders, the opposite hand grasping against the back of his jeans. He was being held to him impossibly tightly. Anthony's face was hidden from him over his own shoulder, but he could see that the back of his neck was blushing hot red, feel how hot he was wrapped around him. He loved this, being held so tight, the thrusting and grasping that was so very reminiscent of sex, the growling possessiveness and hungry body language coming from Anthony. It made the pleasure from his own release linger, dissolving into complete satisfaction at what was happening; Anthony, large and hard everywhere, wanting him so badly that he did not seem capable of pausing or pulling away.

 

Anthony wanted inside him so badly it was driving him insane. He knew he could not have that, not yet, not then, and not on the counter, but the thought of it made every suggestive thrust a little maddening. He was not sure that anything should be able to be so satisfying and frustrating at the same time. He pulled back long enough to kiss him again, lapping at his mouth like before and letting the wet heat of his mouth fuel the thoughts that were harassing the pleasure centre of his brain.

 

Anthony stopped kissing him, pulling back to breathe as he thrust firmly, lifting him onto himself and off of the counter. Those thrust dissolved into rolling his hips strongly up against him, moaning quietly near his ear, until finally he stilled and just held him. Bruce's thighs were wrapped up over his hips, helping to hold him up. Anthony rocked him a little lower, pulling at the back of his belt, so he could kiss him again, heated and hungry, still holding his back and his bottom firmly. The arm left Bruce's back to support Anthony against the counter's edge, but he held himself up easily by Anthony's shoulders, not even really needing to.

 

"We're not going to be able to stay clean if you keep being that enticing, I know it's not fair to ask you to stop, and I know I don't want you to, but I thought you should know, at least, then, staying clean is off the table... So might be my sanity, come to think of it, and the possibility of not smelling like sex." Anthony's ramblings were becoming increasingly pleasing to hear, if that was possible.

 

"So we're not going back to class soon?" Bruce asked him, starting to become self conscious of his position again.

 

"Definitely not. Class is off the table, our own experiments maybe not, but class is... and is never involved with me anyway." He was making Bruce wonder if he was physically capable of smiling symmetrically.

 

"By the way, you look incredible in those jeans."

 

"So... are you a little colour blind?" Bruce asked him.

 

"Statistically speaking, it's highly likely, why?" Anthony asked him.

 

"Because I'm pretty sure you've never worn a shirt that was very faintly lilac." Bruce said like a timid suggestion.

 

Anthony squinted at the shirt, trying to find some argument against that. Finally he was forced to concede that the shirt did have faintly purplish tint. He did not say anything, he just sighed, accepting that he had been caught and Bruce knew it.

 

"Were you trying to make matters worse?" Bruce asked him next, crossing his arms, leaving Anthony to hold him up.

 

"To be fair, I didn't realized these jeans fit so well." he said, going back to cupping each side in his hands.

 

"Are you gong to let me down?" Bruce asked, starting to feel awkward, again.

 

"Never."

 

~*~

 

 

Anthony would have been concerned for just how nervous he always seemed, except that he kissed back and, whenever Anthony pulled away, he would nudge forward. Totally assured that his advances were welcome, he moved his hand under his thigh, lifting Bruce's leg to his own hip. He felt him melt a moment, sighing, but then he felt him stop kissing him back, stop his gentle pushing forward, the budding hardness against his thigh waning again. Bruce's breathing was still fast and heavy, but his pupils were no longer big dark pools, they had become fine points, his honey-brown eyes now looking yellow in the last rays of daylight streaming in from the window. Anthony realized that, as much as he had ended up between Bruce's thighs before, it had always been Bruce who prated his legs at a request or suggestion, to let him in, or otherwise as part of a natural motion. He couldn't think of a single instance where it had been Anthony himself pushing his way in, or moving Bruce's legs for him, and it seemed this made an important difference.

 

"You're... You're not just nervous, You're... afraid." Anthony formed his suspicion out loud, speaking softly -still a little breathless- and searching Bruce's eyes for some explanation, wondering what could be wrong.

 

"What's wrong?" he asked, his concern growing. "I... what did I do? I'll stop... I, I'm sorry." he said, pulling away as Bruce's continued silence confirmed his suspicions.

 

Bruce said nothing, but held tight to the shirt at his shoulders, not letting him move too far away. He looked down, biting his lip. He honestly was not too sure. Up until then it had been arousing to him, shamefully so, that Anthony really could do whatever he wanted and he would be helpless to stop him, and would not want to. Suddenly though, it seemed there was a thin line between that and being genuinely scared, possibly the same line that existed between theory and application. The thought of Anthony holding him down was arousing, but -the moment his legs were pushed apart- the reality of thinking it would actually happen was terrifying. He had found himself thinking 'not you too' in his panic, as if Anthony wanting sex from him, wanting to take him that way, invalidated all the kindness and affection, and -whether it seemed logical or not- made him afraid that he might just be being used again. He did not think that that was what this was, he could not think that, but the threat of that possibility, the very idea, the suggestion, that he might have to accept that of Anthony, who he cared so much about, had come to trust so much, was so profoundly upsetting to him that it made him feel as though his heart was literally breaking in his chest. Though, that could have been an anxiety attack talking, and he was not quite completely sure of the exact mechanism of it yet.

 

"Don't... I don't... I'm not..." He fumbled over his words and finally raised his eyes again. "I don't know..." He seemed to trail off and did not sound quite certain. "But don't leave.... just maybe... Can we slow down?" he asked.

 

"Yeah, of course." Anthony said, his tone sounded empty though.

 

Of course it was heartbreaking for him to think that he might be scaring Bruce. He let go of his thigh and moved his hand back to his shoulders, holding him snugly. Bruce's knee pulled back as he adjusted his legs shut shyly and snuggled into Anthony's shirt where he could not be seen. After a long moment that same knee tentatively nudged between his to pull one of his knees out from underneath him, so their bodies were overlapped and Bruce could be held closer. Anthony kissed his hair tenderly and stroked his back.

 

Bruce realized that Anthony felt bad. He did not want him to, he had done nothing wrong. Anthony had told him to say something if anything was not sitting quite right, so he had, but he wanted Anthony to have him, and did not want to panic, or make him think he was scaring him.

 

"Tony I... you didn't, I mean, it's not your fault, I want..." Bruce could not get the words out to explain.

 

"No, hey, Bruce, It's okay, you don't have to, of course you don't..." Anthony seemed more upset still and Bruce knew he was misinterpreting his shyness and his botched explanation.

 

"Tony listen." he said firmly, surprising even himself, sitting up a little.

 

He told himself that this was one of those times that his words really mattered, and Anthony needed to hear them, needed to understand.

 

"You didn't do anything wrong. I... I panicked a bit, but I'm not sure why... I want..." His breathing got faster and he felt himself lose his voice. "I w-want you to... to..."

 

"Bruce, you don't have to say anything." Anthony's hand came up to rest against his cheek.

 

"No, I want you to know, how much I want..." Bruce felt embarrassed to be sure, the fact that his voice kept leaving him was only making it all the more mortifying.

 

"What do you want?" Anthony asked, voice low and tone intimate, encouraging him, beginning to catch on.

 

"..You... to hold me, hold me d-down. Tony, I want to feel helpless..." Bruce trailed off, breathless. "But, after what happened... it scares me too, too much. But it's not because of you."

 

"I know I can be intimidating, and I am a lot bigger than you, I should know better. Especially knowing what happened." Anthony still looked pained.

 

"You're not -that- much bigger than me." Bruce muttered back somewhere between kind and defensive.

 

The difference between them was almost a hundred pounds, mostly in muscle, and five inches of height, but it was not as though Bruce was petite compared to him, he was five-eight himself and an average enough weight.

 

"I know this sounds bad... but, I like it, not... not feeling intimidated in general... but you, because you don't try to, you just do, and I know you wouldn't hurt me... wouldn't force me... but you could, and... Oh god Tony, I... I want..." It was so painfully obvious that this was a source of shame for him, and he was trying to explain it all just to make Anthony feel better.

 

"Bruce, you've been hurt and intimidated by men your whole life, and you feel safe enough with me that you ... want me to... You want to feel like you can't stop me?" his voice grew steadily huskier, and he waited for Bruce's shy little nod. "Bruce that's so... sweet, flattering... and really kind of, actually incredibly... Kinky." he kissed Bruce's forehead, which was red and hot, like the rest of him.

 

Anthony breathed a heavy sigh of arousal and relief.

 

"And here I felt -guilty- for wanting to hold you down and make you squirm..." Anthony did not think he was pushing anything with that confession, though he got a little gasp as it teased at Bruce's mind.

 

"Guilty?" Bruce asked.

 

"Yeah... feeling so protective of you, getting all mixed up with wanting to take you for myself, being so possessive, just feels a little... off." Anthony took his turn to feel uncomfortable.

 

Bruce, his favourite little biology major, actually started giggling at him.

 

"Tony... you know, the brain chemistry responsible for male bonding -of every kind- is also responsible for territory guarding and protective instincts. Men tend to fall for women who make them feel protective all the time. There's nothing wrong with that, you're just protective and hormonal." Bruce was blushing happily, because, from the first time Anthony saw him in any kind of danger, the man had decided Bruce was his, and that no one was allowed to hurt him, chemically, if not consciously.

 

Anthony could not remember the last time someone had the audacity to tell him he was just being hormonal. He had to admit though, he did have a habit of being excessively territorial when it came to a lot of people, anyone he liked at all, really, but it was at least in a protective way, and he tried not to make an ass of himself over it.

 

"Still, if I keep triggering you into being genuinely afraid..." Anthony said, feeling better, but still concerned.

 

"Oh, but Tony, I ..." Bruce's voice started desperately and then died.

 

"Bruce, I know, you want it..." He had to pause himself, for once. "...but now, because of them, it scares you too much, and I promise I'll make them pay for that." Anthony had just realized the tragedy in it and it made his blood boil again.

 

"We can work up to it." he said, keeping his tone soft for Bruce.

 

"But if we go too slow..." Bruce knew he had to start being able to discuss what he wanted without losing his voice.

 

"Oh, god, Bruce, you want to be overwhelmed... don't you? ...I'm going to have heart problems someday, and I'm sure you'll play a big part in it." Anthony could not know how ironically right he was. "You are so adorably kinky...I promise to continue to be overwhelming." he went on, trying to resist running at the mouth about how he could not believe how kinky Bruce really was. "In the meantime though... Tell me what you want, you know, that I can do for now."

 

Anthony loved these little confessions he kept getting out of him. He wanted more, but he never wanted to think Bruce would run out of confessions to give. He did not want to use them all up. On the other hand, Bruce saying we wanted anything always came out like he was confessing a little secret. often a shameful one, and that last point bothered him. He did not want him to think there was any shame in having his wants and his needs.

 

"Well... you seem to like, that is... enjoy, that I'm... sensitive, and... I really haven't... And you seem to like the idea, that it's so easy to... Anything you d-do to me would be... new. It really wouldn't take m-much... so, i-if you..." Bruce's voice was trembling now, and he stopped talking when he heard Anthony moan, fingers coming to rest on his mouth, his incredibly plump mouth.

 

"You're killing me a little." Anthony panted. "You make it sound like you want me to just tease you until you're ready to..." Anthony thought he understood how Bruce felt, not being able to get words out without being overwhelmed by the meaning in them.

 

"Would you l-like to?" Bruce asked him, Anthony guided his hand down to his straining erection as an answer, making Bruce's eyes flutter shut.

 

"Would it scare you if I undressed you?" Anthony's voice was so rough it sounded like a growl.

 

Even he had noticed that the reaction seemed to be triggered by parting his legs, and not even if Bruce did it himself unconsciously, just when it was done to him.

 

"I don't think so..." Bruce sighed at the sound of it.

 

Anthony opened his eyes, and slowly rolled Bruce into his back. He slowly put one knee to either side of him, watching closely for any sign of fear. He was straddling his thighs to get a good angle without having to put any weight on him. He leaned down to kiss him, testing at first and then getting deeper. He kissed him until he was sighing. Then he teased his lips, licking them gently, then moved on. He started kissing his throat and neck, trailing his fingers down the sensitive nerves, down to his collar. He started undoing his shirt, trailing his lips on his throat next, then his tongue. Sucking and nipping, he worked his way back up to his ear, licking along its shell gently, breathing hot breath across it, and then nibbling and teasing at its lobe. He made little growling sounds impulsively in response to Bruce's moaning sighs. He nibbled and licked along under his sharp jaw and chin to the other side and gave his other ear a similar treatment before biting it gently, holding it in his teeth to tease harshly with his tongue.

 

Bruce felt like he was shaking already, and Anthony had not even reached the nerves of his body yet, just his neck, really. He felt his shirt open slowly and hands come gently to his stomach, rough fingertips first, followed smoothly by his palms in long strokes up to his chest. Anthony groped tenderly at his chest. His chest was a man's, but supple enough that Anthony could draw his flesh up gently by massaging and cupping his hands; warm rough hands that made Bruce squirm and moan. He felt a rolling, tingling sensation and realized his nipples had become tight and hard. Anthony's hot mouth finally made it to working along his collar bone, then up to his neck again. His shirt was slipped from his shoulders and the muscles between his neck and shoulders was bitten and sucked gently. Too gently.

 

"Harder, Tony." Bruce invoked a growl from him.

 

"I'm trying not to leave marks...." Anthony realized that had probably been a foolish thing to say.

 

"Tony, I..." Bruce began to beg.

 

"Want me to leave marks? Suck harder, leave bruises, mark you, claim you in a way that won't just get wiped off?" His growling tone was merciless, but as well-intentioned as ever.

 

"Yes." Bruce said in a breathy little sigh.

 

Bruce's skin seemed too delicate, so easy to bruise, he did not want to hurt him, nor leave marks where people could see them. He would, if people could know who he was with, but people could not know, and so instead of advertising his claim on him, the marks would only sexualize him, which Anthony thought would just put him at greater risk. Still, he thought a couple hickies -where they could not been seen by the general public- would be appropriate enough.

 

Low on Bruce's shoulder, where his shirts always covered, he sucked up the skin there, teasing it with his tongue until Bruce moaned. Then he kissed down and across his chest, stroking down his arms to remove the last of his shirt. He came close to his nipples, petal-like and light brown -where even men had a ridge of undeveloped glands, where Bruce was just soft enough to be cute, in an enticing way, over where his heart was- and nibbled harder there, drawing up the nubile flesh and teasing it harshly, drawing at it with his tongue, not hard enough to hurt, not judging by the little pleasure sounds he heard, but enough to leave a decent mark and make him squirm.

 

Bruce was not just squirming because it was intense and felt good, he was also squirming because he wanted that hot, demanding mouth to move on, just a little, to claim his nipple. Anthony was close enough to it now that he realized how very sensitive they were and he wanted it terribly much, but all he could do was make pleased noises. When did finally convince him to move on, with his twitching and nudging, Anthony went slowly, as if kissing him for the first time. He brushed his lips gently against him first, kissed it, slowly plucking at it more with his lips until he was sucking gently, running his tongue over the hard tip. It was a crawling and intense pleasure that he had not expected. He had not realized men's nipples were sensitive too, though he should have guessed for how annoyingly rough some of his shirts felt there, and how they chaffed his skin sometimes. This, though, was soothing even as it was intense, and it was intense. Anthony's hands still held his sides; tanned, large, very warm and slightly rough, they stroked up and down, soothing and exciting his nerves at the same time, holding him in place as he automatically wiggled against his nerves being teased.

 

Anthony gave fair treatment to each side of Bruce's body, taking turns or rubbing at the same time. Bruce seemed to be dissolving into all of it, moaning softly and breathing quickly, seeming as overwhelmed as Anthony wanted him to be. His eyes, when they opened, were so dark that he could barely tell that his pupils were so large as to look drugged. Bruce gently dug fingertips into his scalp, above his ears, grasping and tugging at him. He took his time kissing all over his belly, as low as he could access, since once his pants were out of the way, he would have to avoid that skin. He left another mark just below Bruce's belly button, and just above his faint treasure-trail, hair that was barley-there, tracing a line downward. He nibbled on his ribs and Bruce hummed and gasped even more expressively, the nerves there made him jump away and try to roll around to shield himself, he did not tell Anthony to stop though. Anthony nibbled on his hips next, sucking suggestively at the skin as he carefully undid Bruce's pants. He did not want to apply pressure or friction enough to spoil the rest of their quirky game.

 

Bruce was thankful for the slow pace, certain that if Anthony touched him there now, it would already be too much. His pants were lifted away from him as they were pulled down, his underwear too, carefully. Even the feeling of being exposed was arousing, even more so when he saw how Anthony raked his eyes over him. He realized then that he was naked, and Anthony was not. The main point was for Anthony to enjoy Bruce's reactivity, but he also wanted him satisfied too, and wanted to see his arousal.

 

"Tony, take your clothes off." Bruce mumbled at him as he watched Anthony gently remove his socks.

 

"Are you sure?" Anthony hesitated.

 

Bruce nodded, hands now resting leisurely to either side of his shoulders, cupping cutely. Anthony would, gladly remove his clothes, the moment he was done giggling internally about stocking-feet. It was oddly cute to see Bruce in only socks. He knew that a lot of men were, for whatever reason, reluctant to take them off, unless they were the type to be reluctant to keep them on at all. This he knew from having many male friends. Personally, though, Anthony preferred to take his socks off first, when undressing, since he thought it looked silly to be naked all but for one's socks. He tossed the last sock aside and stood up off the bed. He walked a couple feet away and turned towards Bruce, so he could watch him undress if he wanted to. There was not much to remove, having neglected socks and undergarments entirely that day.

 

His shirt came off first, Bruce followed it with his eyes, watched it fall to the floor, before his eyes shyly darted back to Anthony's bare chest. He had seem him nearly nude before, but had shyly looked away and, even in memory could not determine whether or not he had found it arousing at the time; now though, his interest was certain. Anthony was so tightly built. His skin, though tanned, had a creamy look about it, like it was hydrated and healthy, not at all sun-damaged from very much actual exposure. He had little scars here or there, random nicks and burn-marks from projects and experiments passed, especially on his arms and hands, but they added to his charm. His powerful looking abs made Bruce blush, his eyes being drawn down to where Anthony was undoing his belt, then his button, then zipper, revealing tidily trimmed black hair, the fact that he was wearing nothing underneath, and the fact that he was incredibly aroused. He slid them down, uncovering the muscles on his legs which Bruce was already familiar with, but took time in admiring now anyway.

 

Anthony watched Bruce carefully, again wary of any sign of fear, as he settled back over his thighs. He brought his hands up and went back to carefully teasing him, running his hands up and down his sides, over his hips, and down his thighs. Anthony realized he had run into a small problem. He wanted to kiss, nibble and rub all up the insides of Bruce's sensitive thighs, but he could hardly part them, getting between them to do it, not without scaring him, especially as he was now naked. He withdrew to his ankles, kissing him there, kissing upwards, trying to get the leg to roll slightly outwards on its own. It was enough to just barely have some access. He got a bit more by nibbling up to his knee on the other leg, and settled down to business. He kissed, sucked, and nipped at the insides of his knees, they parted a bit more, not granting real access, not enough to fit into, but enough to plant firm kisses on everything he wanted to. He stroked his hands up and down the fronts of his thighs, as he nibbled and licked between them, going back and forth from one to the other, slowly making his way up to where he aimed to create an anticipation, a craving for his touch.

 

Bruce could not help but sigh and moan expressively. He had never been touched any of these place before and already felt strained and long overwhelmed. A touch now would be all it took, any accidental contact, but it seemed Anthony wanted to push it to the point of Bruce almost finishing from teasing alone. He licked and wiggled his tongue up as far as he could without compromising their game, even as Bruce squeezed his thighs shut against him and shook inside, that tongue darted between his legs, suggestively, making him twitch. Firm hands held him still so that the wrong wiggle could not set him off, and he was carefully licked as close as possible, over his hips and still the maddening darting between his thighs.

 

"Tony!" Bruce gasped. "Stop or I'll ..." Bruce still couldn't say it.

 

"Are you ready for me to touch you?" Anthony asked silkily, sitting up.

 

"W-wait. I-if you do I'll come." Bruce protested, this time his voice died just after he finally go the word out.

 

"That was the general idea." Tony purred.

 

"No, wait, Tony, I... I want..." Bruce hurried, Anthony waited for him. "I want you to ... before I do, I want..." Bruce trailed off breathlessly, but his hips lifted just subtly into the air.

 

Anthony thought that was a brilliant idea, to save touching him for another occasion. Instead he brought his hand to his own erection, adjusting himself over Bruce's thighs. Bruce fell silent with his protests and watched him, eyes heavily lidded, as he growled in arousal and appreciation and began to stroke himself hard and fast. Once again Bruce had him so turned on that it would not take long, the idea that he was about to come on Bruce's quivering body, that Bruce himself was so close that any touch would be too much, rushed him to the edge of his own orgasm.

 

Bruce watched Anthony roughly grasp himself. He looked strained from the start and supported himself shakily on one arm, his hand above Bruce's shoulder on the bed. He looked so big, so hard, Bruce could barely stand to watch as he got closer, humming and moaning more loudly, closer to spilling on him. His skin felt like it was prickling, humming in anticipation of the splash of heat that it expected.

 

Anthony listened carefully to Bruce's little gasps, the anticipation alone seemed to be tearing slowly at his very last nerve, making the body under him begin to shake terribly.

 

"Tony, please..." he gasped quietly. "It's too much..."

 

Bruce started gasping heavily, but then Anthony cut him off with a loud growling moan, a response to his begging, beginning to gush hot fluid. Anthony watched carefully as it landed on Bruce, eyes flicking up to see his release on his face, watched it coat him in spurts and watched Bruce's body respond by convulsing and squirting seed of its own up Bruce's chest and stomach. Bruce made the most precious moaning sound he had heard yet and he regretted terribly that he could not press into Bruce's soft body, but he placated himself with kissing him, catching all his breathy sighs as Bruce came down from whatever dizzy height he had fallen from. He had finished, and was exhausted, but was also so aroused from what they had just done that he did not really want to stop.

 

"Bruce..." he mumbled affectionately into his neck, then pulled back, laying beside him. "I think that's the most kinky thing I've done yet." Knowing him, he would outdo himself constantly on that note.

 

"I don't believe you." mumbled Bruce sleepily.

 

"Well, I was measuring Kinky-ness by the amount of twisted emotional satisfaction." he explained, as a contrast to sheer strangeness of the activity.

 

Anthony did want to go on a bend of telling him how incredible he was, this was, spilling out all the affection he felt, but Bruce had fallen asleep. He chuckled instead and drew a blanket up over them. He rest his head in the crook of his own arm, a pillow pressed into some awkward shape to make it work, and watched him sleep until his own eyes got too heavy to stay open.

 


~*~

 

 

Anthony let the towel on his hips slip off as he kissed him. Bruce's fingers were trembling, but they made their way to twining up into his hair and gripping lightly at his neck. He moved his own hands to the towel at his friend's waist and started to nudge it downward. He thought for a moment that Bruce was going to pull away, as he had stopped kissing him, but he just tucked his head in under Anthony's chin, presumably to hide his blushing, but Anthony could feel the heat of it against his throat. The towel dropped to the floor and he pulled gently at the back of Bruce's hips, bringing them into contact with each other. Bruce gasped quietly and tightened his fingers on his neck, but let him.

 

"Are you still okay with this?" Anthony asked. "You can change your mind." he said.

 

Bruce's eyes flicked up to him from under his dual-toned lashes and he surprised him by tentatively shifting forward and kissing him. The kiss was slightly rushed, in his nervousness, so Anthony pulled back enough to adjust his own lips to better capture his. Their kissed heated and became more steady, leading them slowly to the bed where they fell, each of them feeling a slick, wet hardness pressing into their bellies next to their own. Anthony was not quite thinking when he -again- brought his hand down to lift Bruce's knee and slide between his thighs, but he realized his mistake when Bruce froze again. He stopped kissing him immediately, his hand jumping back and an apology came to the tip of his tongue.

 

Bruce pulled away again, but slowly, almost regretfully, sitting up and tucking his forehead against his knees, his legs having folded up towards his chest.

 

"I'm sorry." Bruce whispered, surprising Anthony who felt like he should be the one apologizing, despite not being completely sure what he was doing to cause that reaction.

 

"Don't apologize. Just... Tell me what I'm doing wrong." Anthony said, the last phrase sounding almost like a question.

 

He sat on the edge of the bed next to Bruce, elbows resting on his thighs, hands hanging between his knees, and head hung forward.

 

"I don't know." Bruce said, sounding exasperated, sad and frustrated -with himself, probably- before continuing. "I don't think it's you."

 

"Did you change your mind?" Anthony asked him. "You're allowed to do that, you know, change your mind, you don't have to justify it... I mean, I want to know why, but just, just to know, not that you have to explain yourself to me. That is, not to justify your decision, just so I can understand. I mean I..." Finally his rambling was cut off.

 

"Tony, I didn't change my mind. I still want to... to um..." Bruce trailed off shyly.

 

"To have sex with me?" Anthony offered, making Bruce blush at the words.

 

"I don't know why I'm afraid. I'm sure you wont hurt me, I just..." Bruce trailed off and seemed to start to shake a little, his body seeming to reset to the anxiety he was thinking about.

 

"Hey..." Anthony began warmly, his hand and gaze lifting, fingers gently gripping his shoulder and eyes trying to hold on to Bruce's. "Let's try this another way." he said, trying to pull him back from the edge of what looked like it could be an anxiety attack waiting to blossom.

 

Bruce stopped his subtle rocking and let his feet begin to lower back to the floor, letting Anthony's eyes lock onto his.

 

"You take the lead. I'll lay back and you ... you can..." Anthony took his turn to blush as Bruce gave him a dubious expression.

 

"Tony" he said. "You were pretty adamant that you don't b-bottom, that you didn't want to even try it. I said I was fine with that and I meant it." Bruce reminded him.

 

"What? I'm not allowed to change my mind? You know, that's pretty unfair, since I keep telling you that you're allowed. Besides, I change my mind all the time, no one can stop me... definitely not you." Anthony was challenging him a little with that last line, reminding Bruce how he was usually so meek, and Anthony usually so dominant.

 

Anthony's rambling was putting Bruce at ease. His friend was laying back, parting his legs just casually, one foot resting on the bed, arms folded behind his head. He had the air of shrugging the whole thing off as nothing, but he was blushing hotly across his cheeks and nose in a pronounced red line. Bruce raised his eyebrows at him, but could not resist rolling over and standing in front of him at the edge of the bed, forgetting his anxiety for a new sense of wonder. Suddenly he felt at ease and aroused again, but was not quite sure why, nor fully consciously aware of what he was doing or feeling. He licked and nipped at his own lip as he dropped to his knees in front of him.

 

Anthony raised his head and shifted a little to keep watching him, pulling a pillow or two behind his back and neck. He would still have been fighting with himself about his own momentary lapse in confidence, but now watching Bruce had become distractingly interesting. He looked nearly drugged, suddenly seduced and moving on instinct. Cold fingers tentatively came to either side of his hips before slowly gripping him. Bruce seemed to be adjusting himself unconsciously, instinctively trying to get the right advantage. He watched slim, pretty, pale hips settle in between his legs as Bruce lifted his knees back off the floor and leaned over him on the bed. Those same cool fingers traced against the back of his thigh and upwards, before cupping the back of his knee and lifting his calf over his shoulder. Anthony adjusted himself and cleared his throat, trying to brush off feeling foolish at letting Bruce put him in this position, and being equally surprised at Bruce -as he was at himself- for going along with this change in their plans. Bruce's eyes flickered across his and down to his mouth. He kissed him again and this time, though it was nearly as nervous and unprepared seeming, his lips were hot rather than cool. Bruce's facial hair was light, almost invisible, though most men his age had plenty already, and Anthony could not feel it through his own goatee, but he could feel it against his lips which were being kissed hard. Bruce's lips still felt plump and soft, but seemed less plush when they were being pressed to his that demandingly.

 

Bruce stopped kissing him long enough to shift his hips further forward, pulling Anthony's hips closer to the edge of the bed. He caught himself smirking and did not understand why, but he did not care. He was very aroused, felt like he was purring on the inside, and understood that even less, but also did not care to. He pulled back far enough to bring one hand up to Anthony's ankle -the one over his shoulder- and bit him there, on the soft skin next to the bone. He ran his nails lightly down the back of his thigh and went back to holding his hip.

 

Anthony was still surprised at the dominating and slightly rough treatment. He never would have thought Bruce had it in him. Then again, Bruce did not seem quite himself at the moment. The smirk he was wearing was almost unsettling, except that Anthony felt he had a pretty good idea of what was going on inside his adorable friend's head, better than he seemed to, at least. Though he tried not to be intimidating, Anthony was -in every way- very much the alpha male; in his social group and possibly in the whole school. He had money, confidence, good looks and a reputation as a successful playboy, not to mention being quite athletic and holding most of the top grades besides that. Bruce, if anything, was the most shy, demure and quiet man in the whole school, the most often overlooked, and the most often bullied. Bruce was attractive, but it was mostly in a boyish, pretty way, and though he too held some top grades, he had no ego about it and came off as awkwardly, overly, intellectual.

 

"Hey, little guy..." Anthony began, though his tone was gentle and kind. "Do you like that? Are you enjoying dominating me? Being on top? Being a bit rough?" It was a light challenge, meant to affect him, but his tone was still kind, and quite seduced, as he really just wanted to see Bruce squirm, not intimidate him or put him off.

 

Bruce's smirk faltered slightly as he hummed appreciatively, in contrast to his own renewed blushing.

 

"Shut up." he said, surprising himself again.

 

He brought one hand to Anthony's mouth to make sure he stopped talking then and there, before his words made him so affected that he fell into shaking, nervous blushing and lost his new found traction and advantage.

 

Anthony smiled under the hand on his mouth, he raised his lowered leg to wrap around Bruce's back jerking him forward in a rough, clumsy thrust against his backside, making a slapping sound and causing a surprised and aroused grunt to escape Bruce. He had to remind Bruce that he was only letting him be the dominant one, his ego could not take it if he did not. He heard Bruce make a sound like a growl, taking what he had done as a challenge. His leg's muscles felt stretched as Bruce pushing it towards him with his weight. Cool, slightly damp, fingers traced down his thigh and across one butt cheek before probing gently at the space between them, finding that tight ring of muscle and massaging at it. Anthony swallowed, pushing down his pride, also trying not to make embarrassing sounds, blushing at the same time because he was really enjoying it. He felt hot suddenly. He reached out beside him and pulled the bottle of lubricant and the package of condoms out from under his pillow, he handed the first to Bruce.

 

Bruce needed both his hands to fumble with the lubricant bottle in proper nervous fashion, and so, regrettably had to uncover the lop-sided, cocky smile plastered across his friend's face. He rubbed lubricant between the perky muscles he was rubbing his erection against, coating his fingers. He let go of the bottle to knead the fingers of his spare hand into one of those muscles, his other fingers gently wiggling against him, trying to probe inwards without being too rough.

 

"You like fondling my ass?" Anthony asked him, just to make him squirm, cocking one eyebrow and opening his legs just a bit wider.

 

Bruce was sure he would become too embarrassed to continue if Anthony kept teasing him. He did not want to move his fingers too roughly and actually hurt him, and could not find his voice, so he pulled his fingers back and slapped him quite harshly, next to where his fingers had been, hoping he would take the hint.

 

Anthony gasped in both surprise and pleasure, his face and rear both blushing. He had not expected such an assertive, dominating gesture from Bruce, but he enjoyed that he kept managing to push Bruce into surprising him, it was fun. He wanted to keep annoying him, pushing his buttons.

 

"You like fingering me?" he said, tone rough and sultry.

 

Bruce slapped him harder this time, not knowing what else to do. A breathy sigh from Anthony gave him some inkling that he had started working his way into a trap.

 

"Like being rough?" Anthony purred at him.

 

"You like being spanked?" Bruce said back defiantly, his expression a bit incredulous, growling his words too much for it to sound like a question.

 

Anthony pouted at him in a much more sexualized version of the kiss-like face he made when pretty girls asked to take his picture for the year-book. Bruce's eyes fluttered shut involuntarily and he caught himself, a moment later, grinding himself against the tight heat -that he had been trying to tease open- and scraping his nails along the firm muscles that were now grasped tightly in each of his hands, as he pulled him against himself.

 

The smirking, smiling and teasing fell away from Anthony as lust pushed any thought of it out of his mind. He swallowed nervously again. The pressure felt good and suddenly he really did want him to push in, but he was nowhere near ready for it, and he was trying to consider whether the condoms were necessary. He had never had sex with a man before. He also always used protection and got tested when advisable, easy to do with personal physicians who were paid to keep quiet. Bruce, he was certain, was a virgin still at this point. The rubber of the condom would make more friction, but then, it would also help to prevent Bruce from the possibility of getting a bladder infection and might make him less sensitive, which Anthony was certain would be an issue. The fact that he could make all these considerations while being quite nearly too aroused to think at all was just another testament to his genius. Just as he was about to tell Bruce to ease up and take a step back, he pulled back on his own.

 

He had to admit that Anthony was probably right on the money about what had him suddenly so worked up. He would feel silly, pinning and pushing down his much larger and stronger friend, except that the arousal he was feeling did not leave much room for that. He felt safe, rather more in control of the situation than he did when he was the one being held down. When Anthony was the one pressing into him, holding him down, it was true he felt like melting and was unbelievably aroused then too, but that was mixed up with an anxiety and fear that he could not quite understand or push aside. He was relatively certain that it was just that one incident causing it, though quite possibly also always being told how weak he was, being mocked, and -more specifically- often having been mocked for the possibility that he might be 'gay', as if it were something he aught to be ashamed of. Not that this new position made him less interested in men, but it resolved the perceived weakness from it, gave him an advantage he was not used to having.

 

Now Bruce leaned over him, supported on both hands, just looking frustrated and blushing. It seemed that having realized what was going on had done something to drain the energy out of the situation, rendering it hollow, abortive.

 

"Sorry..." Anthony said with some difficulty, usually it was Bruce who apologized for everything.

 

"No, It's me, I..." Bruce said, before he was interrupted.

 

"Hey, you don't have to do this, we don't, I mean, we can just stick to making out, if that's what you want, you don't have to want this..." Anthony seemed almost panicked suddenly, sitting up and pulling back a bit.

 

He did not want to think he had been pressuring Bruce into anything that he did not want. Bruce grabbed his hips then and held him still, looking annoyed.

 

"Tony, what the hell do you think of me?" he started, obviously angered, actually wanting to slap him. "If I didn't want this I wouldn't be here... It's just..." Bruce's tone got steadily softer until he trailed off.

 

"I'm the worlds most talented mood-killer?" Anthony offered, rubbing one hand shamefully over his face and into his hair, earning a short, derisive -but not humourless- huff from Bruce. "Let me try something else?" he asked, sitting up on the edge of the bed.

 

Bruce looked down at him with heavy eyelids, still between his thighs and patiently waiting for Anthony to go on. Warm and rough hands came to the backs of his hips and pulled him forward, but the gesture was not aggressive. Anthony leaned forward and kissed his stomach, started to kiss lower. Bruce dropped to his knees, sitting on his ankles, a little shyly, offering Anthony his lips instead.

 

They kissed, their embraces becoming passionate as before, as they eased closer together, their erections coming to press together between them. Bruce's hands returned to his thighs and hips, tugging him closer and smoothing along his skin in strokes. Anthony's hands moved further around him to trace enticing designs on the nerves of his lower back, his ankles crossed somewhere behind Bruce's knees, anything he could do to make him press closer.

 

Anthony lifted his arms over Bruce's so he could run his fingers through his hair. It was short in the back, but abnormally long in the front, dark, silky and soft. He loved the way it played about Bruce's face, and glasses. He had such a particular look about him, cute and a few pretty features, but his jaw-line was sharp and there were enough sharp angles everywhere to be very suggestive that he was a grown man, despite looking so nearly effeminately attractive. Anthony was certain that -as he aged- he would eventually look much more masculine, but still handsome, and that would be too far in the future for him to bother considering right at the moment. Right then he was very concerned with how very, nearly excessively, full his lips were, and how very good it felt to nip and knead at them with his own mouth. He was concerned with how good it felt just to be able to hold him, silky hair slipping between his fingers, with how long it would be before they could get back to having sex in some fashion. He was already leaning down to kiss his shorter friend, but he leaned him further away from the bed, bringing one hand to hold his back, so he could kiss his cheek, jaw-line and throat. He pulled him up from the floor a bit to kiss and nibble at his neck, and lower, kissing down his chest until he could nibble gently at petal-like nipples.

 

Bruce had to move his hands to Anthony's hair to have a hold on him at all. He was disappointed at being pulled away from being in contact with his body, but he could not help but moan softly at the hot mouth and rough facial hair playing about his nipples. He cooperated completely when Anthony guided him to stand up again.

 

Anthony kissed down his soft belly, smoothing his hands between slim waist and slim hips. He kissed over one of those hips and down the front of one thigh. He could smell him now, not strong but definitely masculine, also nervous, the smell of sweat mixing with the smell of arousal. He brought his lips to the base of him gently and got a high pitched gasp for his actions. He held his hips still and mouthed more firmly along him, heard heavy breathing and felt fingers tightening in his hair. He opened his mouth and held him in place gently with his teeth, gripping his shaft sideways, to run his tongue over the soft skin on the underside, tasting clear salty fluid that leaked downwards now. For this he got a restrained moaning sound and Bruce trying to pull his hips away. He let go and pulled back to look at him.

 

"Too much?" Anthony asked, licking fluid off his lip unconsciously.

 

Bruce just blushed and narrowed his eyes at him, so he gave him a minute to catch his breath. He waited until Bruce was standing straight again before tugging his hip forward so he could run his mouth along him again. It was amusing to him, in an arousing kind of way, that Bruce was so very sensitive, and so sweet, soft and cute but was trying so very hard to keep his cool and play the part of the dominant one, because -apparently- that was the only way he felt secure about this. One of his hands still held a fistful of his hair, and the other came, tentatively as ever, to brush cool fingertips along his jaw, thumb resting on his chin. The pale hips in his hands shifted as if settling into the right angle. Anthony could not help but smile, licking up the underside to the tip, the tip that made Bruce jump and draw a hissing breath.

 

Anthony still looked as intimidating as ever to Bruce, but his compromised and submissive position and gestures put him at ease. He wanted inside that hot mouth, but it felt way too intense, he took another moment to catch his breath. Anthony made him feel like he needed an asthma inhaler. He thumbed gently at Anthony's chin to tell him to open his mouth. The moment he put himself inside, tight heat sucked around him and caused him to buck forward sharply and moan, before quickly pulling back.

 

"Sorry, sorry, sorry." he said quickly, as Anthony coughed a bit, concerned he had hurt him.

 

It had felt so intense that he had almost finished then, but the worry now kept him calm. Anthony just smirked a little at him, enough that he would be annoyed if he were not busy feeling apologetic. Hands drew him forward as a mouth sucked around him again. This time he did not thrust so sharply, he let Anthony suck him in and pulled out slowly. He slid back and forth like this as much as he could bear, making high pitched gasping and humming sounds all the while, before pulling Anthony off of him by the hair each time; because Anthony was being stubborn about it and Bruce did not want to finish yet. After some time of this he was incredibly close, for what felt like the hundredth time that night, and some part of him found a twisted amusement in the idea of coming on Anthony's smug face -or into his waiting mouth- but then he would feel bad, and that was not how he wanted to end that night. He knew what he wanted instead.

 

Bruce let go of Anthony's hair as he stepped back. He lifted one of Anthony's ankles again as he moved back towards him, pushing him down on the bed as before. He kissed him roughly, pressing his thigh uncomfortably to his chest. He stopped making eye contact and picked up the bottle of lubricant again, coating his fingers and bringing them to the very hot and very tight ring of muscle. Teasing Anthony into relaxing would give him some time to calm down a bit, he did not want him to lose interest though, so he brought his other hand to press lightly against the erection settled against Anthony's stomach. He felt slippery pre-ejaculate, that had leaked down him as Anthony had been sitting on the edge of the bed and pleasing him with his mouth, and he felt how hard he still was. He had not expected that Anthony would find it so arousing to pleasure him, nor to be treated a little roughly- by someone who was usually so meek especially- but it was a pleasant surprise.

 

It was reassuring that he seemed to want to cause Bruce pleasure, and not just take his pleasure from him. He worked one finger in carefully, stroking his opposite hand against his erection as a distraction. He remembered doing the same to himself earlier, and how it felt, where that gland was supposed to be and how it felt to have it touched, pressed and stroked at. He worked another finger in carefully, pressing deeper, adjusting to find that sweet spot that had made him excited to try this. He slid two fingers up along the full thick and firm inner part of his erection until he heard a low moaning sound and realized that the small gland he was looking for was much larger in his friend, possibly in part being swollen with arousal. He rolled his fingers across it firmly but not too quickly, hearing expressive and deep sounds as Anthony's hips lifted, thrusting gently and futilely into the air.

 

"What?" Anthony gasped breathlessly, barely making a sound, but managing to make Bruce smirk, before he cleared his throat and tried again. "What are you doing?" he asked, having not expected it should feel that good.

 

"Trying to get you to relax enough..." Bruce could not finish that sentence the way he had intended to, but he did manage to work in a third finger without so much as a flinch from Anthony.

 

"Now I understand." Anthony said still breathless.

 

"Why some men want to do this for some reason other than to make their sensitive little boyfriends feel better?" Bruce asked him, somewhere between a genuine offering and being a bit vindictive.

 

"Speaking of sensitive." he began hoarsely, picking up one condom package and tossing it at Bruce. "Try that on for size." he finished, hoping Bruce would know he did not mean anything judgemental by it.

 

Bruce knew he was not as big as Anthony, he might even feel a little ridiculous, and disproportioned, if he was, but he still glared at him a little. He thought, vindictively and to himself, that he would not feel so small to Anthony who had never had anything except Bruce's fingers in him, to the best of his knowledge. In light of that he stopped teasing him, three fingers was enough preparation to keep it from being dangerous and more than he felt Anthony deserved. He pulled back and opened the wrapper, took the thing out and, after figuring out which way it went, rolled it on. It fit fine. He pressed himself against Anthony, waiting a moment and pressing a bit harder, then waiting again.

 

Anthony waited, wanting the pressure back inside, but each time Bruce pressed forward he had to hold back a hiss, until he could not any longer and just squirmed away on his next probing thrust.

 

"I'm happy for you that my condoms fit you, really, but take it off." he said with enough sincerity.

 

"Are you serious?" Bruce asked him, raising his eyebrow.

 

"I am. The rubber stings. It's too much friction. I know I'm clean, and you're a virgin..." he brazenly assumed out loud, and went on. "You can't get me pregnant, and it's the perfect time of day for this, so take it off... if you don't mind... If you're comfortable with it." He corrected himself to less demanding words on his last phrase, again not wanting to be too pushy.

 

Bruce knew the considerations involved with this, having read all about it himself, and agreed that it was reasonable. He did not want to hurt him, not much at least, and so rolled his eyes and rolled the condom back off of himself, tossing it in the wastebasket next to the bedside table. He went straight back to business, cupping the back of Anthony's calf with one hand, and adjusting himself against him with the other, pressing forward with his hips and body. It felt good, so very good just to press against him, he pressed steadily forward and breathed deeply, trying his best not to finish too quickly, first time or not, and no matter how tight Anthony was, he did not think he could stand the embarrassment.

 

Anthony parted his legs a little wider and relaxed as best he could, tried to keep himself from pushing things along, lest he make things harder for Bruce who was obviously finding the whole thing a bit overwhelming. Finally he began to slide inwards, and though the stretching stung, it was not the terrible friction of the latex. He thought vaguely that with his resources he should really consider inventing a better material for condoms than latex, the last advancement in that field had to have been a pretty long time ago when, for whatever reason, the world decided latex was good enough. He was a perfectionist at heart, unfamiliar with the concept of being quite satisfied with anything, and currently also a very horny young man; certain lines of thought were inevitable, as were certain experiments. The mental distraction did not last long though. Bruce had not been wrong when he had suspected Anthony was underestimating how big he would feel pressed into such a tight space, though Anthony had no way of knowing that. What he did know was that, unexpectedly satisfying or not, he felt very stretched, being pressed open by something that felt much harder, larger and unyielding than he thought could come from his soft and shy friend. The pressing deeper, and deeper, was starting to ache, bringing him to the edge of a slightly pained groan, when finally the hard pressure slid over that gland, squeezing against it, and turned the sound he started to make into a pleasured moan.

 

Bruce hissed and then gasped at the sudden pleasure when Anthony brought his lowered leg up to, again, jerk him roughly forward. This time the motion thrust him soundly into the gland in question as Anthony's muscles contracted around him in a spasm. He held still and waited until he could see again, sensation returning to the parts of his body that were not pressed deep into his friend. He melted against him, curved over him and the edge of the bed, pushing Anthony's lower back into a tight forward curve, and pressing his own erection helplessly deeper. He waited a moment again and gave one hard thrust to make sure he was in as deep as possible, and to remind Anthony of who was supposed to be doing the thrusting.

 

With his legs in that position and Bruce pressed so deep, he felt terribly, satisfyingly, defencelessly stretched. Bruce could really hurt him this way, if he moved the wrong way, or too fast. With his spine curved and his leg pressed to him, as it was, he could not get any leverage to push him away if he wanted to, not without hurting himself. He made a mental note not to put Bruce in this position, despite that he might like it. Bruce eased off of him slowly though, just enough to pull out a little, which seemed to give Bruce trouble of his own. Bruce hummed and moaned against his chest as he pulled out a little more, very slowly, and pressed back in at an equally slow pace. The hard pressure sliding through him, and over that gland was making him feel dizzy, though that may have been helped by not being able to draw full breaths with Bruce's weight pressing his thigh into his chest. Bruce eased off of him more, bracing his knees against the edge of the bed, to get the leverage he needed to thrust more firmly, and letting Anthony breath a bit more deeply.

 

Bruce was so very close, again, already, but he was enjoying, so much, thrusting into Anthony -dragging moans and grunts, deep sounds and breathy sighs, out of him- that he pushed through the pleasure, rather than melting into it, letting it become almost painful in its intensity, the sensitivity becoming like a stinging sensation -alongside the pleasure- helping him to hold on and keep thrusting, getting up to a satisfying pace, so that -in the end- he could feel that he did a proper job of it. His left hand was braced against Anthony's chest and his right clawed into the back of his thigh, the one that he was holding up along his body. He felt like he was the one who was lost to the thrusting, the one helplessly along for the ride, as though some external force was measuring his jabbing thrusts for him.

 

Anthony wondered if this was what it was like for the women he had been with, the ones who had wanted him to be rough, to feel so full and stretched, for it to feel that good, and also alarmingly much like their organs were being bruised a little bit, but to not care. He remembered that some of them were satisfied with that alone, but that some of them wanted that extra bundle of nerves stroked, the perky little bump that seemed inconveniently too far away from their opening. He wondered if it was like it was for him now, writing in pleasure, feeling helpless, but not able to come because his own erection was exposed and not being stimulated. He still could not help but give a satisfied little grunt every time that gland was trust into, though he felt silly, not having been prepared to enjoy it this much. Finally though, Bruce seemed to slow down. He bit the inside of Anthony's knee and trailed his lips in a sloppy kiss making Anthony think that he was acting on impulse and maybe not even aware of having bitten him. He watched him gasping for breath and he gave a few final thrusts and Anthony felt him finish, tense and hot, shooting semen up inside of him. Anthony watched him as, still pulsing lightly and leaking, he shakily withdrew and sank to his knees. Anthony's foot was allowed to rest back on the bed and Bruce rested his forehead on his shin, plump mouth open and slack as he concentrated on drawing air into his lungs, panting hot breath against his skin.

 

Bruce looked up at him and Anthony took the opportunity to lower his foot to the floor, closing his legs a bit, possibly being self conscious about the white slimy mess leaking warmly between his perky cheeks. Bruce crawled up onto the bed next to him, kneeling at his side and looking him over. Anthony just watched him, presumably waiting for what he would decide to do next, hotly flushed and blushing from head to toe. Bruce brushed his hand up and down over his hardness and Anthony raised his hips slowly and deliberately into it, encouraging him, but he did not think he had the grip or energy to be able to repay him that way. He was still very aware of what their plan originally had been, and felt much less anxious about it now, he still was not certain if he could handle Anthony approaching him, but as it was he was still laying back and letting Bruce do all the pushing, holding and initiating.

 

Anthony was surprised when Bruce crawled on top of him and settled an incredibly soft bottom onto his lap, covering his erection. When Bruce leaned down to kiss him he ran his hands into his silky hair and took his turn to take change of the kisses, massaging tenderly at his lips and teasing them with his teeth.

 

As Anthony held him and kissed him, making him feel like melting, as he was prone to doing, Bruce wiggled his hips around, aligning himself with the tip of his friend's long neglected and very stiff erection and probing himself with it. Anthony started to make appreciative sounds into his kisses, more and more until Bruce was very firmly massaging the head of his erection into his own relaxing opening and Anthony lost track of kissing and began moaning softly, stroking Bruce's temples gently with his thumbs.

 

"Gently, slowly." Anthony breathed near his cheek, out of concern for Bruce, not himself.

 

He was not even going to ask how Bruce could do that while staying so relaxed, not even having a full erection of his own as a distraction. He could not even think of the possibility that Bruce had prepared himself ahead of time, because he would come instantly if he thought about Bruce fingering himself and thinking of him, and he knew it. As it was he had been assailed with erotic imagery for a while now -between teasing Bruce and watching him lose himself in him- had been excited to the verge of orgasm by Bruce's aggressive thrusting -and the pleasure it came with- and now had the incredibly erotic sight of Bruce lowering himself onto him -obviously enjoying it- and the feel of that impossibly tight heat slowly squeezing onto him. He felt like his brain was melting, found himself fighting not to come right then. Not only did he want things to last longer, but also - as he had to admit to himself- not wanting to be out-performed by his cute little friend.

 

Bruce sat up straight, pressing himself down onto him. He could tell from how red Anthony was, how he balled his fists into the sheets, that he was close and struggling. He smiled to himself as he let his head tilt back -exposing his throat to the eyes that seemed to be silently worshipping the sight of him- and moaned indulgently at the feel of Anthony filling him. Hands snapped up to grasp quickly at his thighs, not quite hard enough to hurt, but enough to tell him that Anthony wanted him to be still for a moment. He allowed him that much. He wanted to make Anthony finish embarrassingly quickly, because he was sure he could, but also wanted to know what it was like to ride on him first.

 

Bruce straightened his legs a little, pulling off of him, and the suction was intense. Anthony had never felt anything quite like it. The tight muscles at the opening -which Bruce was consciously flexing- the tight, slippery, hot and soft flesh sliding along him, and the sucking pressure, that alone was enough to make him feel beside himself, but the sight in his lap on top of it- not to mention the high, soft sighing sounds, and little moans, making his ears ring and burn- was all very much too much. He watched Bruce, trying to breath evenly, not able to believe how good he looked soaked in sweat, not able to believe he was riding him. He had a few handsome features, many more pretty ones, and anything that could not be described as either, could only be described as cute. To complete the image of perfectly sweet and delicate, his erection swayed, only half erect and leaking, looking far too benign to have caused the bruised feeling between Anthony's legs. He reached out and tenderly grasped the swaying stiffness in his hand, trying to keep Bruce from trusting as disastrously well as he was. All that accomplished was making a high pitched exclamation that made Anthony feel like he was burning up from the inside. He tried to hold his hips still instead, but all that made Bruce do was tense all of his muscles around him as he fought to lift again to keep thrusting. Bruce was now impossibly, crushingly tight and pulling at him, sucking at him, but too tight to slide, the tightness milking him. He could still feel the slippery fluid leaking out between his own thighs reminding him of why his own passage felt achy and abused in the most satisfying and pleasing possibly way.

 

As Bruce squirmed trying to pull harder, earning a harsh short roar, he felt nails dig into his hips. He suddenly allowed the pulling on those hips to pull him harshly downwards, meeting Anthony's last desperate upwards thrust, and making his lover call out, almost as if in pain, as he felt him throb and spill inside of him for many long moments, filling him, still pressed in as deep as the slamming pressure and his clawing grip had allowed.

 

Anthony tossed around, groaning in pleasure and regret that he had not managed to hold back longer, that his last thrust had been so harsh. His orgasm left him a quivering mess. Bruce had done almost all of the work, and yet his muscles all felt too tired to move. He watched Bruce, mouth agape again to catch his breath, but the corner trying to twist into a smirk anyway. The resulting expression made him look far too satisfied to Anthony. Bruce bit his lip as he pulled himself off of him, before settling back into his lap and giving an experimental little wiggle. Anthony could not help but smile, in his rakish and lop-sided kind of way, thought he covered his eyes and groaned again in disbelief and mild shame.

 

"I'm sorry..." he managed to fit in between gasping for breath, feeling like his own body heat trapped against the mattress was cooking his back. "I didn't mean to..." Another breath. "...to hurt you, or be so rough." he rushed out, before his brain could demand that he breath in again.

 

"I know... I kind of meant to make you..." Bruce trailed off, looking sheepish.

 

"I didn't hurt you, did I?" Anthony asked him, finally getting some traction to his words.

 

Bruce shook his head in a cute little refusal, looking down shyly. Anthony sighed in relief and brought his hands to his face, tipping his chin back up to just look at him. There were so many layers and complications to his friend, even more than he had thought, even just in the things that affected his sexuality, and this being their first time he was sure he had only scratched the surface.

 

"That was the absolute most amazing, most incredible... How the hell have you never done this before?" asked Anthony, not just in reference to sex, but gay sex, or anything else sexy or kinky that he was certain Bruce would be good at despite having no experience at all.

 

"That's sweet but you don't have to..." Bruce was almost annoyed that Anthony might be patronizing him, but quelled by the fact that it seemed genuine praise.

 

"Hey, make no mistake, no one else has ever managed to get in between these legs..." he began, only half in jest, earning himself an almost-laugh. "And no one has ever surprised me that much, or at all really, or made me come that hard, nothing has actually, or looked so mind numbingly good doing it." he finished with a little abandon, shaking his head a bit and gazing up at the man in his lap.

 

"I think I might..." Anthony trailed off quietly, suddenly seeming sincere enough to peak Bruce's interest.

 

Anthony took a deep breath and thought about what he was about to say, and the terribly cheesy timing of it. Bruce deserved better than that. Hopeful eyes waited for him.

 

"I might be incredibly gay." Anthony earned himself a little laugh with that line. "Maybe... nah, well, ragingly bi, at least, maybe only for you..." he trailed off, rambling. "Well, that is, ragingly gay for you, maybe bi in general, but probably mostly straight. But the important part is the -incredibly, aggressively, gay for you- part." he said, finally working it out to his own satisfaction.

 

Bruce hiding his snigger -behind the back of one sweat drenched hand- might have been the cutest thing he had seen all day, possibly, if not then a close second to Bruce blushing, self conscious and wrapped only in a towel; he was certain that one would top the list for a long time. What Anthony was not saying -out loud- was that he was laying there convinced that he was madly, deeply, impossibly in love; but he did not have the words to express it right, and he did not think that a brain soaked in pleasure hormones, and a body soaked in sweat and semen, really made up the right situation for making that proclamation.

 

"Tony, should I get dressed now?" Bruce asked, starting to become very self conscious again and feeling horribly exposed.

 

"No..." Anthony realized he had spoken a bit too harshly and quickly. "I mean, if you want, we could just curl up under these blankets and you could stay here..." He was vaguely aware that Bruce's request for clothing was not a request to leave or go to his own bed, but he found himself arguing it anyway, his hands having moved to grip the back of Bruce's hips.

 

"Okay?" Bruce offered suspiciously, not certain what had so suddenly lit a defensive fire under his friend, who had sat up so suddenly that the hands on his hips were the only reason he hand not been bucked off the bed.

 

Anthony surprised Bruce by lifting him as he stood, leaving Bruce to wrap his legs around him impulsively to feel secure. He watched and held on as Anthony pulled back the covers and lay back down the right way, taking Bruce with him and sitting up long enough to pull the blankets up over Bruce's shoulders.

 

"Better?" Anthony asked earnestly.

 

Bruce settled down against him, both thankful for the enthusiastic affection, and also wanting to hide himself. He was cuddled instantly and kissed on the head. This level of affection, especially so mixed with intimacy, was something he had never experienced before and it filled his chest with a nervous and happy fluttering. He sighed gently and closed his eyes, barely having time to yawn a little before he started falling asleep, warm and comfortable against the best thing he had in his life, the perfect example of how he thought men aught to be. Anthony was strong and intelligent and all those things that made him so much the alpha, true, but he was kind and protective, even if he could be cocky and difficult, he was genuinely interested in people and never tried to hurt or abuse them. That was what Bruce thought was so ideal -so much the ideal that so many men failed to live up to- all that power and masculinity put towards protecting and causing pleasure, nothing malicious, that was what made him so perfect, so safe; so safe to give himself to, to fall asleep against and to love.

 

~*~

 

~*~

 

"Wow."

 

"Yeah."

 

"I remember it being like that, just like that, except for ...you know?" Bruce asked.

 

"The sex, Yeah." Anthony thought it was amazing, really, and the sex being added to their situation did not seem to take much, in this world they had viewed, nor any other he knew of.

 

"What happened with us? What happened to the people we were?" Bruce asked him, seeming confused, and hurt -again- by all the things that had come between them.

 

"I failed you." Anthony said, looking miserable. "I got cold. I stopped telling you how much our friendship meant, I stopped showing you how I felt, I let you think I didn't care, I let you go off alone... I should never have let you down." Bruce's hands were cradling his head already, fingers rubbed into his hair, as his head bowed between them.

 

"Anthony..." Bruce hated seeing him so self deprecatingly upset.

 

Bruce of course realized that, to some degree, he was right, but the fault was not Anthony's alone. Most of their friends, and allies, were the same way, addressing him -and especially the hulk- very aggressively, rather than voicing any concern or sentiment for him. Even between the two of them, the fault was not entirely his.

 

"You've always been ..."

 

"An ass."

 

"... but you've always tried to make up for it, always tried to find some way to make it better and show that you do care. I'm the one who kept slapping your hand away. It just... it hurt that you might... but I didn't do anything to help it. Maybe we're both more sensitive than we like to think... and maybe we should have both known better." Bruce said, trying to console him.

 

"Yeah, well, look at us now...." Anthony said with a sad sort of humour. "Hey, does that mean that having sex with each other, for us, counts as personal growth?" he asked, trying to lighten his own mood.

 

They both sighed heavily for their own reasons.

 

"You were just so cute, so perfectly, endearingly, compellingly cute. How could I have forgotten to remind you that you were cared about? How did I fail to act like it? How could I?" Anthony hated himself sometimes, really, for all the things he never did and all the things he never said, that he knew he aught to.

 

"To be fair, it was a pocket universe, with a pre-determined path that did kind of hinge on you turning -temporarily at least- into a complete dick." Bruce offered him.

 

"But I had it in me..."

 

"...And I have it in me to throw a hulking tantrum over it." Bruce countered.

 

Anthony laughed quickly, despite himself.

 

"Let me make it up to you?" Anthony asked, kissing him.

 

Bruce kissed him chastely, despite Anthony's attempts at something more romantic, pulling back.

 

"Like you have been? Feeding me, housing me, buying me clothes, spending all your time with me? Courting me, seducing me?" His tone was not bitter, it was a little seductive, but it seemed a bit leading.

 

"Well, that and..." Anthony acceded, kissing his wrist."...maybe something a little more... I forget sometimes how sensitive you can be, so , let me..." Anthony was trailing off on his own, kissing here and there, but was cut off still.

 

"Hold me down and show me how much you're sorry?" Bruce asked him, a leading purr.

 

"If you want." Anthony was kissing down his neck now.

 

"Later...For now, I have a better idea." Bruce said, making Anthony look up. "Get on your knees."

 

"Seeing yourself back then making you feel the need to reassert your dominance?" Anthony challenged him a little, as he did what he was told to anyway.

 

"Still feel the need to be mouthy when you feel like you're compromising yours?" Bruce's voice got excessively rough sounding as his belt was undone.

 

"Yeah... still sticking with kinky." Anthony mumbled against him.

 

 

 

------------------------

I would have preferred to have more characters in general and a less all male cast, and maybe include Jennifer as a support character

I would have preferred to flesh it out in general, practicing making the villains more people and less one dimensional

I would have preferred to have more about the knights of the atomic table

I would even have preferred to flesh out their relationship more and have more show than tell

But I am not spending more time on this, practice or not, feedback or not, sorry.

 

"So… enjoy that.

Now, I hate the idea of holding stories hostage, so I generally try to avoid implying my writing depends on getting enough feedback… but it is possibly worth stating that the reason why this was never fleshed out properly, or posted over two years ago, is that I really haven’t been getting much in the way of feedback at all to let me know anyone even IS enjoying my writing to any significant degree, and to be entirely fair, my payment for writing all this smut for you is supposed to be that I get feedback on my writing style and etc… I don’t want any one to feel personally responsible in any way, but know that feedback is encouraged, and as a writer it is very discouraging when you don’t even know if your work is appreciated."



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