Coming Undone

by Roumonte Emi (竜主天 蝦)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/163308.html)

I do not think that I will ever get used to the sight of my come lifting off the belly of my lover and flowing back into me, like a river reversing to flow back to its source. It is exactly as odd a sensation as one might think; however, the throb of my orgasm unhappening distracts me utterly.

Benjamin’s eyebrows both shoot up, making Damon fight to control his amusement. If nothing else comes of this evening’s diversions, at least he’s managed to make his writing partner react with something other than his usual helpful-puppy earnestness. It doesn’t last long. Benjamin recovers himself with an anxious laugh, as he always does. Benjamin laughs at himself constantly, laughs along with everything, attempting to ingratiate himself with the world. Damon finds it both charming and exasperating.

To rewind time: it is a knack which I have always had. I find it impossible to describe. Like surrendering and falling backwards, in perfect faith that there is a featherbed there to cushion the blow; like being jerked backwards from life as an opening parachute jerks one backwards from free-fall; like stepping back behind cover in the last second before the basilisk sees one–it is like all these things, and yet unlike them.

“Okay,” Benjamin says, his voice a little uneven. “I’m not going to take you to task for the language, because I do that every week, and we’re probably both tired of it. You like the flowery stuff, so… more power to you.”

Damon arches an eyebrow. “Why, thank you,” he says. “So kind of you to grant me permission.”

Benjamin acknowledges this with yet another weak laugh, then raps a knuckle against the thin manuscript. “But I am going to have to take exception to your saying that something is ‘impossible to describe’ and then describing it, even inaccurately.” He delivers this blow with the usual apologetic smile, his head dipping slightly.

“Touche’,” Damon murmurs, glancing away. He picks up his coffee and hides his little smile behind it.

“That’s all I’ve got so far,” says Benjamin, and he looks back at the manuscript.

His cock hardens within me once more, swelling back to full. The orgasm that he has just had, he has again, but backwards, leaving him panting in anticipation of it; I ride him, slower and slower, until I have gentled him down into careful, exploratory strokes. My body tightens around him again as the reversal of time takes up the slack which his cock had induced in my ass. I ride out the initial discomfort with equanimity, knowing that soon it will be over, or will not yet have begun, and that I have his fingers to look forward to again, as they press eagerly into me (first two, and then one) and withdraw themselves glistening with lubrication, which his fingers will then roll into neat tubes and transfer into the bottle by the bed, the pump sucking the lube, like snippets of wet ribbon, from his fingers.

“This is definitely a different, ah, direction for you,” Benjamin says. He feathers quivering fingers back through his ridiculous hair. Damon, looking at him, wonders if Benjamin knows just how flushed he has become, or how attractive it makes him. Benjamin clears his throat. “Ah, okay,” he says. “I’m not sure that the, ah, vulgarity works all that well with your usual flowery style, but that’s… obviously just a stylistic choice.”

“Vulgarity?” Damon asks, playing innocent, purely in revenge.

“Yes. Ah.” Benjamin slaps the back of his hand lightly against the manuscript. “You use, ah, ‘cock’ twice. And ‘ass’. I’d kind of expected you to opt for euphemism there. It seems… more in keeping with your usual habits.”

Say ‘cock’ again, Benjamin, Damon thinks, and he is completely unable to keep himself from wetting his lips with his tongue. “You were counting?” he says instead, making it a little thrust.

Benjamin laughs it off, uneasily. “It really stands out,” he says. “Uh. Also. In the last sentence, you use the word ‘fingers’ three times, which comes off as a little repetitive, as does this ‘lubrication’/’lube’ repetition…”

“‘Repetitive’ and ‘repetition’ in the same sentence, Benjamin?”

“Ouch,” says Benjamin, attempting a version of his lopsided grin. “Whose turn for critique is it, anyway?”

Damon flicks his fingers at Benjamin, impatient. “Go on,” he says, and after a moment, Benjamin does.

I ride the currents of time back and back again, through our play, watching as we become less and less excited, gaining more and more control over ourselves. I watch as we dress each other, fumbling buttons closed and neckties tied. It is only when he pulls me from the room, towing me backwards via my grip on his tie, that I let time go; it rebounds with a snap.

To return to normal time: it is a knack which I have, necessarily, also always had. It is much easier to describe: like being shoved bodily into a group of people and interrupting their conversation, like tripping over an invisible rise in the sidewalk, like having a forming poem driven out of one’s head by the impatient honk of a car horn. Still, the momentary unpleasantness always passes.

Laughing, I tow him into the bedroom by his tie, anticipating the fuck to come. It is early in our relationship and I am still consumed by my lust for him. My talent allows me to fuck him again and again, often three or four times before I am emotionally sated enough to let the moment go. He does not know. He will never know.

Benjamin’s half-hearted, earnest critique has dried up, Damon notes, smiling to himself. Instead Benjamin wordlessly flicks to the next page, fascinated, like a small mammal transfixed by the gaze of a cobra.

He really is an adorable thing, Damon thinks. Precious in the way that only college boys can be, with his smooth, pretty face and his self-consciously artsy hair, with four carefully-chosen facial piercings–five, if you count the snakebites as two separate piercings, which Damon does not–and the discreet-but-not-too-discreet rainbow-striped badge pinned to his army-surplus backpack. Damon has predicted the existence of a fifth (or sixth) piercing underneath Benjamin’s clothing. He intends to confirm or deny that prediction soon.

Six months later, the magic is gone. He is possessed of unfortunate personality defects that my lust initially allowed me to overlook. Were I anyone else, I would have only the memory of excellent fucking to fall back on, and the unpleasantness of a break-up to look forward to; however, I am not anyone else.

I fall backwards into time, and this time, I do not stop. I fall faster, and faster, until I reach terminal velocity. Days flicker by in ridiculous speeded-up minutes. Weeks soon pass in seconds. My hair shortens, then abruptly lengthens, then shortens again. A small scar on my hand reddens, scabs over, bleeds, and vanishes. He flickers around me like a specter, talking like a record player stuck on 78 or a videotape being rewound; eventually he and I find ourselves in a dim bar, somewhere in midtown. I kick myself out of free-fall just before he would have vanished backwards into the crowd. “Can I buy you a drink, whoever you are?” he asks, his voice low. “Can I take you out of here? Can I at least get your name?”

I allow myself to enjoy the vague frisson of interest. It is all that is left of my interest in him, and soon enough, it’s gone. “I’m sorry,” I tell him, with an apologetic smile. “I’m waiting for someone else.” And I pick up my drink, and I leave him there.

“Wow,” Benjamin says, shaking his head slightly as he finishes the story. Light catches on his earrings, and the bleached spikes of his faux-hawk quiver. “That’s… that’s definitely different.”

Damon looks away. He has to. Otherwise, he’ll laugh. “I don’t think it’s very good,” he says dismissively. In fact, he knows it isn’t very good. He did not join their writing circle to learn to write.

“No, no,” Benjamin says, developing that earnest look again. “I mean, okay.” Putting down the manuscript, he ticks his points off on his fingers. “It could use some more polishing, yes. And you might want to fine-tune the tempo, it’s rushed in places. And I’m still not sure that the flowery tone suits it, but I always say that–” he undercuts the critique with a nervous laugh, like he always does “–but it’s definitely a cool idea and I think you did it credit, for the most part.”

The criticisms slide off Damon like so much water. He toys with his empty mug. Benjamin’s eyes flick across Damon’s moving fingers, then rise again. “I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve failed to get my point across,” Damon says, putting on a serious face. A Pained Artiste face. “Still, I… had this need to try.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” Benjamin says. He takes writing so seriously. “I mean, wow. So, uh, not to be a living cliche’ or anything, but… where’d you get the idea?”

Damon makes him wait for it. Damon rearranges himself, settling back in the booth and folding his legs together, enjoying this lead-in, enjoying Benjamin’s puppyish eyes on him as he moves. “Actually,” Damon says, lowering his voice, “I got the idea when I discovered that I can travel backwards through time.”

The earnest, half-embarrassed smile on Benjamin’s face does not fade. “Oh, sure,” he says, laughing, anxious not to be the butt of anyone’s joke. “I should have known. The minute I saw you, I said to myself, self, there’s a guy who can travel backwards in time, I’d know that look anywhere.”

Damon laughs at Benjamin’s joke, just a little, to show that there are no hard feelings. Benjamin laughs along, and is still laughing when Damon stops. “But it’s true,” Damon says, undercutting Benjamin’s uncomfortable laughter. “I can rewind time. That is exactly what I am saying.”

“Sure,” Benjamin says again, but his amusement is starting to look a little strained.

Damon spreads his hands wide. “I can’t blame you for not believing me,” he says. “It’s a ridiculous claim.”

“Yeah, it is.” Benjamin smiles, thinking–or hoping–that the teasing is over.

“I can prove it to you,” Damon says, tapping the table between them. The noise makes Benjamin’s eyes jerk down before rising again, fastening onto Damon’s, both hunted and intrigued. Damon leans forward, lacing his fingers together on the tabletop. “Tell me something that I shouldn’t know. That you’re convinced I don’t know.”

Benjamin sits back in his seat, so abruptly that the cushion under him sighs. “Look,” he says. “This isn’t cool–quit teasing me.”

“I’m not!” Damon protests. “I’m not asking you to divulge your deeply-held secrets. Give me something like… the name of the first pet you ever had. Or some possession that you value. Anything.”

Benjamin chews on the inside of his cheek, staring at Damon with flat-eyed distrust and a dawning dislike. Damon feels comfortable in ignoring these warning signs.

Finally Benjamin makes a frustrated sound. He pulls his backpack up onto the seat beside him and scrabbles through it, fishing out a small leather drawstring bag, battered and blotched with stains. Benjamin undoes the drawstring and pulls out an amethyst point as long as his thumb, the pale end broken off, the brilliant purple end coming to its natural point. It’s a lopsided thing, not the prettiest crystal Damon has ever seen. “My high-school drama teacher gave me this,” Benjamin says, brandishing the amethyst in Damon’s direction like a weapon.

“That will do,” Damon says approvingly. Because he can, he asks, “And you keep it with you always?”

“Yeah?” Benjamin’s voice is weedy and truculent. “So?”

“He must have meant a lot to you,” says Damon.

“He–yeah,” Benjamin says. He fumbles the crystal bag into the bag and the bag back into his backpack. His eyes look bruised now. His shoulders are hunched. Damon has surely damaged their rapport, perhaps irreversibly.

Damon does not care. “Just so you know,” he says, “I’m going to fuck you in every orifice.” Benjamin’s head jerks up, his eyes going wide in shock, a sudden pink flush blooming in his cheeks, and Damon smiles at Benjamin and lets himself fall backwards out of time.

The past catches him like a monstrous pile of feathers, billowing up around him as he falls back into it. Damon unlives the last few minutes of his life, watching them unhappen, watching Benjamin brighten and laugh again. Damon’s trespasses, all of them, are not forgotten; rather, they never happened, save in Damon’s memory. Benjamin’s eyes are bright and cheerful and guileless on his.

Damon steps forward out of the past with an unpleasant mental lurch. His metaphors are flowery, yes, but accurate enough. “Yeah, it is,” Benjamin says once more, smiling in hopes that the teasing is over.

“I can prove it to you,” Damon says, smiling to himself. He taps the table between them, attracting Benjamin’s attention for a split second.

“Oh, yeah?” says Benjamin. He’s not really comfortable–that can’t be helped–but he’s unwilling to look uncool, anxious to get along. “So… prove it.”

Damon folds his hands on the table and waits, for just a second. “There’s a little drawstring bag in your backpack,” he says. “It’s made of pale tan suede. It’s battered and stained. Inside the bag there’s an amethyst crystal about–” he pinches off a section of air “–this long. The pale end is broken off square, and the purple end comes to an off-center point.”

Benjamin is left sucking wind. For a moment, literally. Then he rallies. “You’ve been snooping in my stuff–?”

“You told me that your high-school drama teacher gave it to you,” Damon says, ignoring the outburst. “And that you still carry it everywhere with you, two years after the fact, because the man was special to you.”

It silences Benjamin nicely. The beginnings of that distrust start to flower in his eyes again.

“I didn’t want to pry further than that,” Damon says quietly, arranging his face so that he looks embarrassed. “But that’s what you told me.”

“I don’t…” Benjamin hesitates. “I don’t believe it,” he says, but his voice is uncertain. “I don’t believe you. This is some kind of trick.”

“It’s not a trick!” Damon takes a breath, then lets himself fold in, looking down at his hands. “I’m not surprised that you don’t believe me, though,” he says, putting a decent pretense of discouragement into his voice. “It’s hard to believe, I know. I… I don’t even know why I brought it up. It was stupid of me.”

“No… I mean, I…” Benjamin’s sucking wind again.

Damon looks at the far wall, to hide his amusement. Say ‘cock’ again, Benjamin. “I suppose it’s just that… well. I’ve read the stories that you’ve written.” Fantasy tripe, mostly. “They made me think that maybe you’d… maybe you’d believe me.”

The result does not surprise Damon in the least. Benjamin is no different than half a million boys of his age. Just the suggestion that he’s failed to understand something makes him hurry to try: “It’s not that,” Benjamin says, tentatively touching the knot of Damon’s hands on the tabletop, then drawing his fingers away. “I mean, I want to believe you. It’s just… well… you’re saying you have superpowers.” He gasps out that nervous little laugh again.

“Oh, God, no,” Damon says, honestly startled. “It’s just a knack. A parlor trick.” He coils and strikes: “Please just forget I said anything,” Damon says, covering Benjamin’s hand with his own. “I shouldn’t have brought it up. It’s ridiculous.”

“It’s okay,” Benjamin hurries to assure him. His hand jerks under Damon’s, then goes absolutely still.

Damon lifts that hand to cover his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I presumed too much. Went too far.”

“No, really, it’s okay. I’m just…” Benjamin shifts. “I’m just a little uncomfortable with this, that’s all.”

“Then forget it,” says Damon, letting his hand drop. He pins Benjamin to his seat with that cobra’s gaze. “I value your opinion. As a friend. And I shouldn’t have dumped this on you.”

Benjamin is left floundering even as he puffs up under the show of respect. Damon is only five or six years older than he is, but the gulf between a college boy and a man in his mid-twenties is a vast one; Benjamin has hung on every little show of friendship that Damon has made since Damon came up to him at the writer’s workshop and offered to be his critique partner. “Well,” he says, “I mean…”

“I’m an idiot,” Damon says lightly. He can feel the room growing smaller around them. Whether or not Benjamin believes him, there’s still a sense of intimacy that arises from the shared secret, and it wraps around them both like a gossamer bond.

“You’re not an idiot,” Benjamin says, cajoling. “Okay, so… I’m not saying that I believe you, okay? But… you could try and make me believe you. I mean, if you wanted to.”

Damon knows a pulse of triumph that is absolutely real. With an effort, he keeps it from his face. Instead he schools his features into a look that passes for naked surprise, then lets it fade into hunger. “I’d like that,” he says.

Benjamin sits forward. His eyes are wide and credulous. His mouth opens, slightly, letting Damon see the flicker of his tongue in the depths. “So…”

~*~
They talk until the coffee shop closes around them at nine.

Damon tells Benjamin many truths and a few carefully-chosen lies. When did he first discover that he had this knack? When he was fourteen. This is the truth. How did he discover it? He wished with all his heart and soul to take back something embarrassing that he had said without thinking, and he had somehow focused on it to such a degree that he’d literally pushed himself out of the time stream. This is also the truth. How far back in time can he go? He isn’t sure. He’s never tried to go back more than about an hour. It frightens him.

This is a lie.

“A lot of the story I wrote isn’t real,” Damon says, leaning towards Benjamin, willing Benjamin to believe him. “I mean, the core of it is real, but I don’t have that kind of power or that kind of range. I wish I did, sometimes, but I’ve always had to break up with my lovers the regular way.”

Benjamin nods, wide-eyed and serious. He’s long since dropped the pretense of disbelief, although he would resurrect it in a heartbeat if challenged. He just wants to believe in it so badly–he wants Damon to have confessed to him in fact, to have bared himself for real. “You were just mining your own experiences to fuel your fiction,” Benjamin says. “Like Henry’s always saying.”

“Yes! Exactly,” Damon says. “At best, I can hop back and take back things I’ve said. I… I keep thinking about doing that here and now, to… untell you about this. God, this is so embarrassing.”

“Please don’t,” Benjamin says, with heartbreaking sincerity. “I mean, I’m really glad that you trusted me enough to tell me. Even if it is hard to believe. I wouldn’t want to trade this for anything.”

Damon squeezes Benjamin’s hand. Inside, he’s laughing. “I’m glad,” he says. “Thank you.”

Over in the far corner of the shop a floor-polisher revs to whirring life. Benjamin’s head jerks up. Damon follows suit. “Is it nine already?” Damon says, checking his watch. “Oh, God, it is. I guess we’d better get out of here before they throw us out.”

“Wow,” Benjamin says. He slides out of the booth and stands up, his long and coltish legs nearly tangling together. He hefts his backpack and slings it over his shoulder, then shifts from foot to foot while Damon shrugs into his jacket. It’s cool out, but Benjamin’s bravado keeps him in shirtsleeves; Damon, older and wiser, gave up on such little displays of machismo a number of years ago. Benjamin makes for the door in long, bounding strides, and Damon follows, enjoying the view.

Outside it’s as quiet as it ever gets. The freeway is half a mile distant, and from here the sound of traffic is the urban equivalent of waves on a beach. The parking lot is lit an ugly yellow-pink color, and it’s empty. The library across the street is dark, the other members of the writers’ workshop long since fled to their respective homes; the tall glass monolith of Damon’s apartment building rises at the corner, well-lit. A beacon. “Do you need a ride back to campus?” Damon asks.

“I’d really appreciate it,” Benjamin admits. “But I don’t want to put you out, it’s okay, I can just go grab the bus…” He trails off there, expectantly.

Damon fulfills Benjamin’s expectations, taking the next step along this path that he can see so clearly, stretching off into the distance ahead of them. “Nonsense,” he says, glancing at Benjamin out of the corners of his eyes, catching Benjamin doing the same. “It’s no trouble at all.”

“That’d be great, then,” Benjamin says, with obvious relief. They reach the edge of the parking lot, crane to look both ways, and then race across the deserted street in tandem. Benjamin gets a jittery little thrill just from jaywalking, Damon is amused to note, and he hops up onto the opposite curb with a spill of giggles that he can’t quite keep back, joining Damon on the sidewalk. “I’d been meaning to ask you,” Benjamin says, once his giggling fit ends, and he fumbles off into an awkward presentation of an idea he’d had, for a story of his own.

Damon listens, or pretends to listen, and makes the right noises in the right places, but he doesn’t speak. He arranges himself in a semblance of brooding, his eyebrows drawn down, and he makes sure to look at Benjamin sidelong on several occasions. He often catches Benjamin doing the same. Benjamin’s cheeks are flushed and dark in the strange outdoor lights, and he continuously sidles just a little closer to Damon, as if Damon were magnetized.

It’s all so easy to see. So easy to predict. Damon could laugh, if it wouldn’t ruin everything.

They reach Damon’s apartment building a minute later. It’s brightly lit, particularly around the ground floor; Damon is wealthy, for a very good reason, and the well-off don’t take kindly to trespassers. Still, there are two pools of shadow to either side of the barred gate that leads into the building’s underground parking lot, and it’s in one of these shadows that Damon drifts to a stop. His heart rate notches up, in anticipation. He loves this. He loves it so much.

“What?” Benjamin says, slowing to a stop beside him, punctuating the word with the expected anxious laugh. He is between Damon and the wall, and he turns to face Damon, opening up to him, looking up at him with his eyes wide and his mouth slightly open–their eyes click together and lock when Damon turns towards him, and Benjamin swallows. Here, Damon thinks, marking his place, like putting a bookmark in a novel. Now. He steps in, and when Benjamin only tenses a little, Damon kisses him.

There is a moment of delicious resistance and then Benjamin groans deep in his throat and clutches at Damon’s shoulders, pulling him forward as Benjamin falls back against the wall. Damon backs Benjamin up against the wall, all too pleased to do so, and for a moment they are a tangled shape in the dimness, one that shifts and makes odd little noises. Benjamin goes hard against Damon’s hip, his cock leaping eagerly to attention, and Damon knows that he won’t get turned down, not tonight. “You should come up,” he husks, when he breaks away from the kiss.

Benjamin mouths the expected protests with half a heart. Damon ignores them, then stops them, kissing Benjamin again. Benjamin tastes of coffee with too much milk, and of metal–the twin rings of his snakebites are odd, hard lumps at the edges of the kiss, like a couple of marbles being passed from mouth to mouth. It isn’t unpleasant. Just… odd. Damon catches a belt-loop and pulls the crotch of Benjamin’s jeans tight against his erection. On the third pull, Benjamin swallows. “I really shouldn’t,” he whispers, “but… I kind of want to.”

“Come on,” Damon breathes, kissing him again, and instead of heading for Damon’s car, they head for the elevator. There’s no one else in it, and Damon backs Benjamin up against the wall again, nudging at his boundaries, looking for the outer limits–he can press his palm to Benjamin’s cock through the denim and Benjamin will allow it with a shudder, but reach for the button of his jeans and Benjamin grabs his wrist, glancing nervously at the elevator door. Damon subsides, content to have learned something.

They fall through the door to Damon’s apartment, together, entangled. It’s dark, but Damon doesn’t bother with the lights. Instead he simply slings an arm around Benjamin’s shoulders and hustles him through the darkened rooms to the back bedroom, the one that’s all windows. It’s brighter in here, the lights of the city spread out before them in two endless directions. Benjamin’s backpack hits the floor at their feet.

They strip each other with no delay, eager for the main event. Or Benjamin is, in any case; what is the main event for Benjamin is just a weird form of extended foreplay for Damon, and as such, he has definite opinions on the order in which he intends to take advantage of Benjamin. There is no hidden piercing beneath Benjamin’s clothes, Damon is amused to note. So. Just a poseur, after all. “Here,” Damon murmurs, once they’re naked, and he pulls Benjamin back against him. He reaches around to catch Benjamin’s cock in one hand; his other hand curls around Benjamin’s ribs to splay out over his chest, and his own cock finds a pleasant home nestled against the small of Benjamin’s back. Benjamin shivers. Damon takes it as a pleasant omen of things to come, later.

Damon has eyes only for their ghostly reflection in the window, the two of them superimposed like giants over the city skyline. Benjamin seems unaware of it, and thus doesn’t bother to guard his reactions–he licks his lips, he chews on the inside of his cheek, he gasps and mouths words that never reach Damon’s ears. Occasionally he laughs. Damon rubs up against Benjamin, a little, but he has no interest in coming quite yet. Instead he jerks Benjamin off, and he watches.

Benjamin squirms in his arms, eager but not too eager, obviously still thinking that this is merely a prelude to bigger and better things; his hips cycle, pushing him up into Damon’s hand, pushing him back against the shape of Damon’s cock. He’s in no shape to protest when he finally realizes that Damon doesn’t intend to stop, but still, he tries: “Don’t,” Benjamin gasps. “I’m gonna–I’m gonna–”

“Yes,” Damon says, biting at Benjamin’s ear, and it’s this little shock of pain that seems to bring Benjamin off. He comes quickly, with a low cry. Come splatters on the window and obscures a few key bits of downtown.

Benjamin sags back against Damon’s chest, breathing hard. Damon toys with him while he waits. He rolls Benjamin’s tiny nipple in his fingers, he draws light fingertips over the skin of Benjamin’s balls, and he watches the reactions in the clouded window. It’s a pleasant interlude. Eventually Benjamin comes back to himself. “Sorry,” he says, with an apologetic little laugh. He turns about inside Damon’s arms, leaning up to kiss him, one hand sneaking down to catch at Damon’s own cock. Damon has always been indifferent to stealthy collegiate handjobs, however–or, at least, he’d much prefer other, more thorough diversions–and so Damon allows Benjamin only a few more seconds of reciprocation before he smiles and falls backwards into time.

Benjamin’s hand reverses on him, then lifts away. Benjamin turns about again and lets Damon fondle him, the reflection of his face stretching into an extraordinary expression–little bullets of come lift off the window and streak back into Benjamin’s jerking cock, which seems to convulse as they hit. Damon watches himself ease Benjamin back down from the peak of his excitement, then watches as they dress each other, as they dance backwards across the apartment and down in the elevator, past the cars, to the darkened space outside the barred gate–

“What?” Benjamin says, and laughs anxiously. Anticipation is thick in the air. Damon smiles to himself and steps forward, into the kiss.

~*~
This time, when the last of their clothing hits the floor, Damon guides Benjamin back, to sit on the edge of the bed. Benjamin catches himself with his hands behind him, his legs sprawled artlessly akimbo–he’s thin but soft and the flesh of his belly creases across the center as he slouches. Damon smiles and moves to stand in front of him, his cock halfway bridging the distance between them.

Benjamin grins up at Damon in a way that’s probably supposed to be naughty. His hands curl around Damon’s cock, naturally enough–it’s right there in his face, after all–and he gives it a little squeeze. “Guess this is for me,” Benjamin says, with a nerved-up laugh.

“You’re probably right,” Damon says, nudging his hips forward. It makes his cock push at Benjamin’s fingers, nudging them apart, leaving behind a glistening snail-smear on Benjamin’s thumb. Benjamin dabs his thumb at the head of Damon’s cock again, tentatively, then gasps out another little laughing sound and leans forward. His hands pull back to give his mouth room.

Damon makes a little sound of approval as Benjamin sucks him in. Benjamin’s mouth is sloppy, but eager, and he doesn’t fool around with the fancy tricks and useless embellishments that Damon was half-expecting. The two rings pierced through his lower lip are a strange but pleasant note, the unyielding metal blood-warm and rolling back and forth along the underside of his dick–Damon puts a hand on either side of Benjamin’s head, feeling metal against one palm, as well. Benjamin doesn’t protest, only cranes forward, all the better to suck Damon’s cock.

Benjamin stops, of course, a few minutes later, again expecting that this is only the beginning of their evening. He pulls back and lets Damon go, Damon’s thoroughly-wetted cock rapidly cooling in midair as it bobs, bereft, between them. Benjamin touches two fingers to his handiwork and smiles; Damon rolls one of Benjamin’s earrings between his fingers. “Finish me off,” he suggests, making sure that his voice is hoarse. It isn’t difficult. “Then I’ll do you.”

The momentary expression of hurt is clear enough, although Benjamin hurries to hide it. “Aw, but then it’ll all be over so soon,” he says, swiping his hand over his mouth.

“Who said we’d be done?” Damon asks, low and intent. It’s a promise. He even intends to keep it, after a fashion. “I just want to take the edge off. It’ll give us time to do this right.”

It’s the right thing to say. Of course it is. Even though he’s capitulated, though, Benjamin still hesitates. Damon finds it so easy to read his mind. “I’ll let you know when I’m about to come,” he promises.

“Okay,” Benjamin breathes, relief washing over his face, and he goes down on Damon again, one hand tight about the base of Damon’s cock.

Damon catches Benjamin’s head in both hands and thrusts forward into Benjamin’s mouth, considering his choices. He can simply come in Benjamin’s mouth and enjoy it, as he’ll enjoy the spluttering which follows–or he can follow through on his promise and pull back, let Benjamin’s hands (or his own) take him the rest of the way, come on Benjamin’s chest, or on his face. He’d like to see that. The thought makes his cock jump in Benjamin’s mouth. He could even have it both ways, finishing once, then rewinding back to finish again–but that trick is too complicated for so early in the evening. This is foreplay, after all. Damon has rules.

In the end, muddled by his rising excitement, Damon chooses not to choose. The preliminary tautening in his gut warns him, and he taps the side of Benjamin’s head. “Soon,” he rasps out. He feels Benjamin’s nod more clearly than he sees it. For his part Benjamin dithers for the space of three heartbeats, then simply chooses to take the path of least resistance. Damon groans out a shuddering sound as he comes in Benjamin’s mouth.

Pleased–not least by Benjamin’s relative inexperience–Damon pulls back, watching Benjamin scrub the back of his hand over his mouth. Benjamin’s cheeks are pink, his eyes downcast. It’s precious.

Damon considers reciprocating. He will, sooner or later–the only question is whether he does so now, or in a later iteration. At the moment they are tied, one orgasm apiece; Damon decides not to upset the balance. “That wasn’t bad,” he says instead, combing his fingers back through Benjamin’s spiky hair. He can’t resist: “Don’t worry, you’ll get better with a little practice.”

Chuckling to himself, he falls backwards into time even as Benjamin hunches his shoulders.

~*~
Damon’s pants hit the floor for the third time that evening and Damon maneuvers Benjamin back onto the bed. Benjamin sprawls out, his laugh an uncertain but enthusiastic thing that cuts off when Damon lands on top of him. This is for real, Damon knows. Third time’s the charm. They’ll fuck now. They’ll both get off. The rest of the evening is for… refinements. Embellishments.

The weight of him keeps Benjamin pinned to the bed, not that Benjamin seems to mind. For a few long minutes it’s all just squirming, Benjamin rubbing up against him with boyish, uncontrolled eagerness while Damon bites at Benjamin’s lower lip (with a soft clatter) and explores the length of his throat and knobby collarbones. Finally, when Damon senses that another minute or so will see Benjamin coming just from rubbing off against him, he brings everything to a screeching halt, bracing himself on one arm so that he can look down at the flushed and unkempt Benjamin. “I want to fuck you now,” Damon says, his voice hoarse, knowing that Benjamin’s excitement and his go-along-to-get-along personality won’t let him say no–he’s still in that stage where he thinks that the worst thing is to appear uncool or to disappoint someone cooler than you. It’s why the college boy is still Damon’s preferred prey, after all this time.

“Ah, okay,” Benjamin says, equally hoarse. He’d barely hesitated. “I-I mean, if you’ve got condoms, I don’t…”

Damon nods. The bedside table is within arm’s reach, its drawer full of all the necessities, and a few extra touches of grace, which he’ll introduce later, if he feels like it. “You need a finger first?” he asks, even as he produces a condom and a little bottle.

Benjamin goes a little pinker, but he nods. “It’d help,” he says, embarrassed.

“Anything for you,” Damon says. It wins him one of Benjamin’s stuttering laughs. Shifting out from between Benjamin’s sprawled legs–the boy is all skinny legs, like a spider, or a pony–Damon runs a hand down along Benjamin’s cock, splays it out over Benjamin’s balls, then rubs one fingertip back behind them until he finds a place to press it in. Dry, it barely intrudes. Benjamin shifts awkwardly, spreading his thighs wider to give Damon’s hand room.

Damon smiles, runs that finger in a slow and dragging circle around the edge of the pucker, then pulls his hand back. Benjamin’s eyes are shut, his cheeks pink; he’s breathing hard and trying to lower his hips back to the bed without being noticed. So cute. Damon slicks up a couple of his fingers and slides them back between Benjamin’s thighs, finding his place… “Jerk off if you want,” he suggests, giving Benjamin just the tip of his finger. “It’ll make it easier.”

“Yeah, I… yeah,” Benjamin says awkwardly. His face is red, his voice is clogged. He puts one hand on his cock, lifting it from his belly.

“Besides, I’d like to watch you do it,” Damon adds, his voice low. It’s true. He’d like that. Benjamin hides his face against Damon’s shoulder, and he nods, too embarrassed to speak. His fingers slip and catch along the length of his cock. He doesn’t mean it yet–he’s just trying to do what Damon asked of him.

Beyond the deceptively soft entrance to Benjamin’s ass there’s a ring of harder muscle and it takes a little more force for Damon to get past that, to push his finger into Benjamin past the first joint. Benjamin sucks in a breath and tightens pleasantly around Damon’s finger, trying to force it back out; his hand gains a small measure of authority on his cock. Damon waits until Benjamin’s done fighting it, then gives him some more. There’s so much to look at in this half-light that Damon can barely choose: Benjamin’s red face half-hidden against his shoulder, Benjamin’s heaving chest, Benjamin’s hand pulling awkwardly at his own cock, Damon’s hand pressed between Benjamin’s thighs–Damon pauses long enough to pump that finger into Benjamin, in and out, in and out, watching as Benjamin shudders and rocks with it.

Damon gives Benjamin one finger, then two, pauses to re-slick his fingers not once but twice, drawing it out for the sake of prolonging things. He’ll fuck Benjamin any number of times tonight, but he’ll do it for the first time only once, and he enjoys the squirm of anticipation in his belly almost as much as he’ll enjoy the fuck to come. Benjamin’s jerking himself off in stumbling earnest now, one stroke, then a pause, then a fusillade of shorter, smaller strokes, then another pause. “You ready for me?” Damon asks softly, and wins himself a shaky little nod. Benjamin’s so turned on that the back of his neck is flushed. “Good,” Damon says, “because I’m ready for you.”

“Oh, God, that’s so hot,” Benjamin says, his voice so breathless and soft that Damon almost misses it.

Damon laughs under his breath, biting into the condom wrapper and tearing it open. “You like it when I talk?” he asks, fumbling out the condom. It’d be easier two-handed, but Benjamin is lying on his other arm, and he doesn’t want to disturb the boy, not yet.

“Yeah,” Benjamin breathes. He wets his lips with his tongue.

Damon thrusts into his splayed fingers, forcing his cock into the wet latex circle of the condom. “I don’t mind talking, if you want me to,” he whispers, nuzzling at Benjamin’s ear. “I can talk and fuck at the same time.”

Overcome (or embarrassed) Benjamin just nods. He’s still hiding his eyes against Damon’s shoulder, making of this a fantasy in the darkness. When Damon reclaims his arm, Benjamin throws his own arm over his eyes. He’s not ready to come out of hiding. That’s all right.

Damon rises to his knees and climbs over one of Benjamin’s outflung legs, settling into place. His latex-sheathed cock falls heavily against Benjamin’s inner thigh, just a few inches from Benjamin’s own. “I have to admit that I’ve wanted to fuck you for a long time,” Damon says, his voice a hoarse shadow of itself. He reaches down between Benjamin’s legs again and rubs the tips of two fingers into him, finding his mark. Benjamin whimpers and lifts his hips into the slight pull that results. Damon smiles, unseen. “I thought about it the very first time I met you,” he says.

“Oh,” says Benjamin. His ears are red.

With his other hand Damon catches Benjamin’s balls and lifts them, getting them out of his way. Benjamin scrabbles at Damon’s hand, taking over; now Benjamin has his balls pulled back to expose himself, his fingers curled over them, his cock rising red and ready against the inside of his forearm. It’s an entrancing sight, and Damon can’t help but enjoy it. “Not too seriously,” he murmurs, even as he pulls back and guides his cock up under Benjamin’s balls, bumping the head of his cock against each of Benjamin’s splayed fingers in turn. “But later that night, when I was alone, I thought about what it might be like, and I hoped that some day I might find out.”

Benjamin’s voice is weak and shaking now. “Yeah?” he says, automatically resorting to a laugh.

“Yeah,” Damon agrees. His cock falls onto the two fingers that are still half-twisted into Benjamin and Damon pushes forward, not quite entering Benjamin, not yet. The latex-wrapped tip of his cock just barely kisses off Benjamin’s ass. “It was hot, you know, so I stripped down to my shorts when I got home, and I got a bottle of beer from the fridge, and I took it out onto the darkened balcony and I sat in one of the lounge chairs and I thought about fucking you while I drank my beer and stared out at the city.”

Benjamin’s shivering and laughing both, producing a helpless revving sound. “God, you should write like that more often,” he gasps, jerking up his hips in a quiet plea.

It’s an odd, off note, but Damon can allow it. His fingers part, wrenching Benjamin ever so slightly open, and Damon nudges into the little space that he’s created, making Benjamin choke wetly on his ever-present laugh.

It’s so ridiculously tight. Benjamin is tight enough around him that Damon can feel the latex of the condom pulling taut despite the lubrication. He scrubs his wetted hand over his cock, adding what little lube he has left–Benjamin gasps out his held breath and tugs erratically on his cock, forcing himself to open to Damon. Damon thinks about asking if Benjamin needs more lube and decides not to bother. Instead, he bulls in, in fits and starts, as Benjamin flexes and jerks and tightens around him. “I didn’t jerk off right then,” Damon goes on, as much to distract himself as to distract Benjamin. “But I got a little hard, you know, thinking about it–yeah, there, like that, just bear down–and every minute or so I’d switch my beer into my other hand and give myself a little rub, just the palm of my hand on top of my shorts, you know…”

“Yeah,” Benjamin coughs out.

It’s a surprise to both of them when Damon hits bottom, Benjamin’s fingers losing themselves in the furry thatch at the base of Damon’s cock. Damon hitches in a ragged breath and watches Benjamin fight to relax. “But I was already all sweaty, so once I finished my beer I went back on inside, and I took off my shorts and I got in the shower, and I was already pretty hard so I went ahead and jerked off under the spray…”

Benjamin’s answer is a rough groan. The feel of his body hitching and adjusting to accommodate Damon’s cock in his ass–it’s a feeling like nothing else that Damon knows, almost unbearably intimate. It’s another reason that he prefers college boys–older men, with more practice, they’re ready to get fucked almost immediately after Damon pushes in. There’s none of this hesitation, none of this learning. Damon loves the hesitation best of all. “Nothing special,” he rasps. “Just jerked off. But I’d known I was going to do it all night, ever since I saw you and that little rainbow button on your backpack that said you might be willing, and I came really hard, thinking about you…”

“OhGod,” Benjamin squeaks, making it a single reflexive word. Both hands fly up to clutch at Damon’s shoulders and Benjamin’s body opens to him that last little bit, all at once. It prompts a faint little laugh, and then Benjamin gingerly rocks his hips up, signaling that he’s ready.

“And I made up my mind that I was going to try and fuck you, right then and there,” Damon says. “My cock was still dripping a little and I was still stroking it, you know, finishing it off, and I decided that I wasn’t going to let you get away–” That’s all the story he has. He grabs Benjamin’s hip in one hand and pulls back, really dragging himself out, giving his cock the gift of all the friction it can stand. It makes them both make noises, Damon’s an urgent groan, Benjamin’s a shrieky little indrawn breath. Benjamin’s body closes down to help push him out, but it opens again eagerly enough when Damon presses back in. “I thought you’d probably love to be fucked,” Damon grates out. “I thought you’d gasp and moan and press up against me and try to beg for more even though you couldn’t find the words.”

“I… I don’t…” Benjamin winds both those long legs around Damon’s, pulling his hips up off the bed and into the next thrust. His fingers are claws against Damon’s shoulders, and his eyes, when they open, are wild and white all the way around the iris.

“And now I want to find out,” Damon says. “And I want you to jerk yourself off while I do, because I want to concentrate on fucking you.” Benjamin manages to nod, still gasping, although his hands remain locked around Damon’s neck for now. Damon rolls forward, jamming his cock deep into Benjamin, and he drops his voice to a confidential and throaty murmur. “And maybe later you can fuck me,” he breathes, and while Benjamin is still reacting to that Damon catches Benjamin’s hips in both hands and gets what he’s come for.

Suddenly they’re fucking for real. No more of this stop-and-start bullshit while Benjamin adjusts, just Damon getting to pound that ass almost as hard as he’d like while Benjamin shudders and wheezes so hard that his breath whistles in and out. Sooner or later Benjamin can’t take it any more and he jerks his hand away from Damon’s neck, grabbing his cock, working it in earnest–it’s as slender as the rest of him, lightly purpled, going redder and redder as he pumps it–and soon he’s fucking his closed fist like an old pro. Damon watches what he can, although he’s rapidly losing the ability to concentrate. What Benjamin lacks in finesse he makes up for in other ways, and there’s little that Damon likes better than this–

Benjamin comes first, which surprises no one. His sweating body jerks up off the mattress and his cock pounds into his hand, once, twice, three times. Damon fancies that he can see Benjamin’s fingers being forced apart by the last little swelling of Benjamin’s cock–and then it fires off in his hand, great white gouts of come spraying over Benjamin’s belly in jagged, sticky lines. Benjamin’s cry is a throttled thing, nearly lost under the whistling gasps of his breath.

“Yes,” Damon breathes, exalted. He loses control, then. Benjamin’s startled, wheezing yelp of protest barely registers as Damon fucks Benjamin straight down into the mattress, as hard as he can, straining to overcome the slight impediment of the latex between them. Nothing matters but Damon’s dick and every little bit of pleasure it can take, certainly not Benjamin’s feelings–Damon jams himself into Benjamin halfway to his teeth and comes with a throttled, choking roar, smacking Benjamin’s ass to make it tighten around his cock. Benjamin yowls again, but Damon doesn’t notice.

He comes back to himself hunched forward over Benjamin like a gargoyle, while Benjamin winces and whines. “Ow,” Benjamin says, in a shocked little voice that manages, somehow, to still be impressed. “I, I mean, that was great, but I’m gonna be so sore–”

“Sorry,” Damon grates out. He doesn’t mean it. “I couldn’t help myself.” He wriggles two fingers between them and traps the base of the condom against his groin, holding it in place while he pulls out, making them both shudder. On a whim he slips one finger inside Benjamin again, marveling at how different it feels now, both loose and swollen. Benjamin goes a little pink. Once again Damon can’t help himself: “Don’t worry,” he says, “it won’t hurt for much longer–”

–and having said that, he falls backwards into time.

~*~
This time, bored with the foreplay, he steps forward out of time just as a naked Benjamin hits the bed. Damon pauses for just long enough to snap on the bedside lamp, making Benjamin yelp and try to cover himself, flushing pink all the way across his shoulders. “Oh, jeez,” he says shakily, “turn out the light–”

“I’d like to leave it on,” Damon says, sliding into bed next to Benjamin. He worms his hand under Benjamin’s to take hold of his cock. “I’d like to look at you.”

“But people can see in…” Benjamin trails off there, embarrassed.

“It’s the sixteenth floor,” Damon says. “And no one is looking. And if they are, you’re worth looking at.”

Beyond going red Benjamin has no response to this, so Damon rolls over on top of him and gets things moving again. In his excitement Benjamin forgets about the light soon enough; in his excitement Benjamin is soon spreading his cheeks for both Damon and the city skyline, letting Damon work two fingers in and out of his ass. The occasional glimpse at their reflection in the window is gratifying indeed. This time, though, Damon pauses while rolling on the condom. “I want to get behind you,” he says. “Roll over onto your side.”

There’s a hitch, a momentary one, and then a pink Benjamin rolls away from Damon. Damon savors the sight: Benjamin’s long and knobby spine, the two small halves of his ass already splotched with wet smears of lube, the long legs tangled together. He rolls up against Benjamin’s back, startling Benjamin into gasping and grabbing for him. “Hook your leg back over mine,” Damon says, catching Benjamin’s thigh and draping it back over his own legs.

He checks the windows opposite. Benjamin’s eyes are tightly closed. Damon smiles. Catching the base of his cock in the spread ‘v’ of his fingers, Damon pulls back just enough to strip off the condom again, secreting it between his own thighs so that Benjamin won’t see. When he pushes forward again, his bare cock presses up into Benjamin, and Damon is forced to bite his lower lip to keep from groaning aloud at the intensity of it.

Overwhelmed by the fact of the cock in his ass, Benjamin seems unable to tell that it’s unwrapped, that he’s being barebacked; Damon wedges himself all the way in more easily this time. Once he’s situated–once his cock is buried so deep in Benjamin that the condom would be all but invisible anyway–Damon reaches around and catches Benjamin’s cock, watching himself do it in the window. Benjamin’s eyes fly open, then seem to get stuck that way. “See, look at yourself,” Damon croons, pumping his cock into Benjamin, making Benjamin’s body surge and fall with each thrust. “Look at us.”

“Uh huh,” Benjamin says. The expression on his face is closer to shock than anything else, but his body’s eager enough. Damon shuts his eyes and loses himself in the forbidden sensation of Benjamin, tight around him, with nothing in the way.

~*~
Bored with this pedestrian stuff, Damon starts playing with time on the fifth iteration. He rewinds and progresses until he determines the precise moment of desperate arousal in which Benjamin will relent and allow Damon to use the handcuffs on him, or the fleshlight, or the slender vibrator; he never quite succeeds in convincing Benjamin to pose for the camera, but a well-crafted confession with downcast eyes lets him turn Benjamin over his knees and spank him, which Damon does mostly in the spirit of ‘bad Benjamin, should have let me take your picture’. He doesn’t stop until Benjamin’s ass is a fiery red. Judging from the shuddering, Benjamin enjoys that more than he’d expected to. Pity he won’t remember it.

Bored with these games, Damon draws a blowjob out to a subjective hour, fucking Benjamin’s mouth until he’s bored with that, too; he turns Benjamin upside-down and introduces him to the spirit of ’69; he bends Benjamin over the bed and fucks him from behind, driving Benjamin’s face into the comforter; he comes on Benjamin’s face–twice, actually, because it’s such a goddamned rush–on his chest, and on the expanse of his naked back just above his freshly-fucked ass; he lets Benjamin fuck him, just for a change, although Benjamin’s a little too gentle about it for Damon’s tastes.

Not every experiment is successful. Benjamin stops him before Damon can get an entire fist into his ass, although Damon has the definite sense that it wouldn’t be denied to him at a later date. It gives him pause. He considers this all the way through the latest rewind. He’s not bored with Benjamin, not precisely, although he’s starting to get bored with the limits of their ‘first time’. Still, it’s something to think about.

Eventually, as a topper, Damon rewinds them all the way back to the kiss by the entrance to the garage, then goes to his knees on the asphalt and yanks open Benjamin’s jeans. “Oh my God no not here,” Benjamin gasps, grabbing Damon’s hair in both hands, but Damon only laughs and sucks Benjamin’s cock into his mouth, fumbling at the buckle of his own belt. “Somebody’ll see,” Benjamin hisses frantically, but he’s just not determined enough to push Damon away. He’s moaning and pounding into Damon’s mouth and watching Damon jerk himself off by the time they’re caught, headlights splashing across the tableau and lighting it up like a tabloid photograph; Benjamin’s eyes go moon-round with shock and he comes in Damon’s mouth in the exact same moment. The car whips sharply into the garage, its driver not bothering to stick around and critique. He’ll be going for building security, though–Damon jerks at his cock frantically until he comes all over Benjamin’s expensive boots, then rises to his feet, laughing. Benjamin’s panicking and pushing at him, but Damon only lunges forward and gives Benjamin a good solid taste of his own come before he falls, once more, backwards into time.

~*~
Still, Damon can’t sustain that fever pitch of light kink forever. The evening has climaxed, so to speak. Soon even pushing at Benjamin’s first-time boundaries begins to pall, and Damon is forced to admit to himself that this endless evening is shifting into its afterglow.

Damon finds himself in the mood for an elegy, to cap off this madman’s night. “What?” Benjamin says, laughing anxiously, and Damon kisses him for the first time all over again, putting as much sincerity into it as he can fake. For the next couple of hours Damon goes out of his way to be the ‘perfect lover’, undressing Benjamin with reverence and worshiping at his altar; learning every inch of Benjamin’s body while he pleases Benjamin with his hands, with his mouth, with his cock; eventually bringing Benjamin to the brink of an effortless, painless, gentle orgasm. It is, possibly, something of an apology. It is as close to one as Damon will ever come.

For all that Benjamin gasps and squirms and writhes and eventually comes, he doesn’t seem quite as impressed, this time. By this point Damon fancies himself something of a Benjamin connoisseur, and it’s all too easy to put his finger on it: whatever Benjamin wants from Damon, it’s not this sweet slow-hand sincerity. Benjamin wants dirty talk, Benjamin wants to be told what to do, Benjamin wants the occasional smack on his ass or shock to his system–Benjamin wants Damon to be a little bit dangerous. Fair enough. Food for thought.

~*~
Tired now, wrung out, Damon drifts back through the elegiac lovemaking at double time, wringing some vague amusement out of their sped-up Keystone-Kops antics. He’s fucked Benjamin in every easily-fuckable orifice from every angle, just as he promised, and enjoyed it to boot. It might be worth doing again at some point; it might be worth letting the–the what? the affair? something like that–run its course for a week or two, to find out just how deep Benjamin’s little kinks run, to see how far Benjamin will actually let him go. Still, not tonight. Tonight, all of it, was for Damon.

Benjamin levitates off the bed and into Damon’s arms. Their clothing leaps from the floor, piece by piece, and they catch it and dress each other. For the last time they sweep back towards the front door, back into the elevator, back down into the parking garage, back to the pool of shadow at its entrance. Damon watches the kiss regress, back to front, then pauses one last time on a whim.

“What?” Benjamin asks, laughing anxiously as he slows to a stop in the darkness, between Damon and the wall. Damon steps in to kiss him, again, for the first time; Benjamin groans and pulls Damon forward against him, eager for everything that was once to come.

Damon throws himself into that kiss for a long, long moment, getting one last taste of Benjamin, still tasting of coffee with too much milk in it, and of metal. “Thanks,” Damon breathes, when the kiss breaks. “You were adequate.” And he falls back into time before Benjamin really understands what he’s been told.

This time he stays with it. They walk backwards to the sidewalk, they walk backwards to the library, they jaywalk across the deserted street in reverse. It will never not look ridiculous, walking backwards. The floor-polisher turns itself off as they settle back into their booth at the coffee shop, and then time grows dark and sticky as Damon burns through their conversation at quadruple time, bored to tears with it. Finally his manuscript leaps back into Benjamin’s hands and Damon snaps forward out of time with a hard lurch that makes his heart flop in his chest like a dying fish. It’s hard not to show it, but he manages.

The coffee shop is bustling, but here, in the rearmost booth, it’s fairly quiet. Across from him Benjamin is squirming, earnest, adorable–Damon finds himself toying with his empty mug, awaiting the question. Benjamin glances at Damon’s moving fingers, then looks back up. “So, uh,” he says, still wearing his serious face. “Not to be a living cliche’ or anything, but… where’d you get the idea?”

Once again Damon makes him wait for it, while he settles in and crosses his legs. “To be honest, I don’t know,” Damon says, when he’s done. “I think we’ve all wished that we could take something back, on occasion, and I thought: what if someone really could? And after that I just… ran with the idea.”

“Yeah,” says Benjamin. “Wow.” He looks down, skimming over the manuscript again, a page and a half of mediocre prose and bad pornography. He sucks his lower lip into his mouth, wetting it. “So, uh, how much of this guy is based on you?” Benjamin asks. His voice is just a little too casual, his eye contact a little too intent.

“Oh, some,” says Damon, waving away the question. Really, he could laugh. “What is it that Henry says? All writing is somehow personal.”

“Although probably not the traveling-backwards-in-time bit, right?” Benjamin’s already half-smiling, ready to laugh it off.

Now Damon does laugh, easily enough. “If it is, you’ll never know,” he says. He winks at Benjamin, and then there they both are, laughing.

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