by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)
He had a thing about rooftops. For a couple of years in there, he had gotten anxiety just looking at a ladder, but now as a grown adult man with a couple of years of therapy under his belt, he found himself hauling up to hang with the HVAC systems surprisingly often. Admittedly, the main impetus for getting over his hangup was the perpetual rooftop parties thrown by a dude he’d desperately wanted to hook up with a few years ago, but you had to take the motivation where you could get it. Making out with that dude as the sun set over Manhattan had worked like magic, really.
That dude was just history now, and as Dante staggered up through his mid-twenties and into his late-twenties and terrifyingly closer to thirty, his opportunities to go to rooftop parties with sexy hipsters were ever dwindling. He’d climb up to his apartment building’s rooftop from time to time to write, but most of his upper-storey time was spent on top of the school he taught at, lurking behind the ventilation so he could smoke without anyone getting on his case and without being a bad influence to the children.
He could hear the children, out at recess in the small amount of field the school managed to claim in Brooklyn. For the amount of tuition their parents paid, damn right they were going to a least get a swingset. His own class was down there knocking each other into the dirt, but it was happily not his day to supervise the insanity, so rooftop it was. He wouldn’t say he hated his job, but he also wouldn’t say that getting a nicotine infusion into his brain didn’t help get him through the afternoon.
Dante could tell he wasn’t the only one to come up here to smoke; there were butts scattered around the edge of the roof wall. If anyone ever caused a fuss about it, he was sure it’d be blamed on maintenance men or custodial staff. He always put his butt out and then disposed of it properly in a trash can. He was weird about evidence.
Still, though, even though he knew this wasn’t his sacred special secret private zone, he still jumped when he heard the access door open. He hid his cigarette behind his back, like the rising smoke wouldn’t give him away, like he was not a grown man who legally purchased them.
Mr. Adibe lingered in the doorway, looking just as surprised to see him. “Oh, ah…” He dipped his head a little and smiled, and Dante held his breath, even though it was full of smoke. “Didn’t think anyone else would be up here.”
Dante opened his mouth to speak, but it came out as a cough from holding in smoke too long. “I, uh…” He coughed a little more and then managed an awkward little smile. “Uh, yeah, you caught me.”
“Oh, heavens, no,” Mr. Adibe said, stepping out more onto the rooftop. “I’ll have to send you to the head office right away, you delinquent.” He smiled, and Dante smiled back, the both of them a little circle of nervousness.
Mr. Adibe — Charles was his first name, but Dante was just accustomed to everyone being addressed teacher-style — floated around the various classes teaching science. The rest of the faculty and most parents tended to assume the two of them were friendly, which was pretty gently racist when you got down to it, but Dante had never spent much time with the guy, actually. He seemed nice, though.
Dante shrugged a little and brought his cigarette from behind his back to admit his guilt. “You know how parents would be if they saw me doing this…”
Charles rolled his eyes to the heavens. “Oh, do I know,” he said, and let the access door close behind him. Thankfully for the both of them it didn’t lock automatically, which was a problem Dante had run into before in his roof adventures. “I am ever on guard to keep myself from failing in their watchful eyes.”
Dante dropped his eyes down to the mottled concrete of the roof. “What do you ever do that would get you in trouble with parents?”
Charles laughed and pushed his glasses up on his face. “Well, I smoke as well,” he said, and then shook his head. “I used to. Or, well, I’m trying to quit.” He sighed and put a hand over his brow. “Not very well, actually. Would you mind if I borrowed one of those?”
Dante shook his head and went for the bag he’d set down by the wall to retrieve his pack. “Doesn’t really work for borrowing,” he said, handing a cigarette to Charles. “I’m always getting my kids on that one.”
Charles took the cigarette and sighed. “It just seems a bit politer, though, doesn’t it?”
“Kinda, yeah.” Dante took out his lighter and lit Charles’ cigarette. When he leaned in he could see how long his eyelashes were. “So, what, no ‘bumming a fag?'” Dante tried, a joke he regretted the minute it came out of his mouth.
Charles rolled his eyes and sucked on the cigarette. “Oh, god,” he said. “No, trust me, I’ve had that turn of phrase completely laughed out of me.”
Dante shook his head. “Sorry, sorry, I couldn’t resist,” he said, and at least Charles was smiling. He hadn’t talked to him much, but he had beyond noticed how cute he was. An adolescence of being a nerd meant he would always have a weakness to English accents. The curls, the glasses, the voice? He absolutely had to be straight, no doubt.
Charles took a very deep drag off of the cigarette and then let it out with a low groan. “Oh, that’s good.” He came up to stand beside the roof wall with Dante, looking down at the street below. “I got started in university and have been trying to kick it since.”
Dante looked down at the cars below. “Yeah, you and me, both,” he said. “Kinda felt like the thing I was supposed to do, you know? I’m all moving to New York, getting my MFA, it just seems natural like you’ve gotta smoke.”
Charles glanced over at him. “You don’t really seem the tortured artist type.”
“Yeah,” Dante said, and finished his cigarette, smudging out the end of it against the roof wall. “Most people do say that about me.” There were a few moments of silence, and then his eyes bugged out. “Oh god, I just realized how dramatic and stupid that sounded.” He turned to Charles to look at him and spread his hands out. “No. No, I am not a tortured artist.”
Charles brought his smoke to his lips and smiled around it. “Well… like I said, you don’t seem it.” He blew smoke out into the late September air. Autumn in New York was one of the best things about living there, and Dante couldn’t wait for it to arrive. “Me, I just… well, everyone else was doing it, so I did, too.”
Dante nodded. “And when everyone else is doing it… like, especially since you can’t smoke inside anywhere here.” He glanced over at Charles. “It like that where you’re from, too?”
Charles rolled his eyes. “Yes, for ages,” he said. “And all of the interesting people go outside to have a smoke, and then you’re just left there awkwardly having a drink with the chap with asthma, and while he is very nice…”
Dante laughed a little and thought about having another cigarette, but he needed time to air out before going back to teach. “Yeah, I know all about the chaps with asthma.” Now that he wasn’t smoking he wasn’t quite sure of what to do with his hands, so he brushed his fingers over the uneven surface of the waist-high roof wall. “And then before you know it: addiction.”
Charles’ lips looked soft. He pursed them prettily as he blew out smoke. “I keep thinking I’ve kicked it, but then the minute I came up here and caught a whiff, oh, that was the end for me.”
“Sorry about that,” Dante said, shaking his head again. “So… what were you coming up here for, anyway?”
“Oh, just, ah…” Charles smiled and looked down again. Neither of them were really looking at each other — not openly, at least. They both pointed themselves out at the streets below and kept to glances. “Just like to get a little quiet time up here now and then. Maybe get a bit of reading done.”
Dante’s eyebrows went up. “Oh, yeah?” he said. “What’re you reading?”
Charles looked a little sheepish, but then went for the bag he’d brought with him and pulled out a paperback. Oh, man, for all that Dante was no luddite, him and his English degree got big ol’ boners for anyone who still went for paper and glue-bindings instead of ebook. Charles held up the cover to him. Go Tell It on the Mountain. “Only just a bit into it, but I’m enjoying it so far…”
Dante smiled, really smiled. “Oh, that’s a good one,” he said. “I’ve thought sometimes that if I were teaching older kids, I’d give them that one.”
Charles smiled and thumbed a little through the pages before putting the book away again. “That something you’d like to do?”
Dante took in a breath, and then let it out in an awkward, choked little laugh. “No, actually, not at all.” He slipped his hands under the rims of his glasses to rub under his eyes. “Really, how many of us actually want to be teaching kids at all?”
“Oh, well,” Charles said, and chewed his lip a little as he flicked ash off over the side of the building. “I do.”
Dante took in a deep breath, and then sighed as he just slid his fingers up even further under his glasses to cover his eyes completely. “Aaand I’m a jerk.”
“No, no,” Charles said, and Dante peeked through his fingers to see there was enough of a smile on his lips for Dante to know that he’d done no real harm. “I’m used to that, too.”
Dante laughed and pulled his hand away from his face. “Yeah, you know, I just gotta let you know up front that I’m a big ol’ dumb cliche,” he said, and he laughed when Charles did.
“I don’t mean to sound rude, but yes, I’ve seen it before,” Charles said. He’d already been at the school when Dante got the job, and Dante had to assume some other discontented mid-twenties butthole with a lot of student loan debt had had his job before him. Charles took a long pull from his cigarette, which was near the end. He was savoring the hell out of the thing. “You had me fooled, though. Your kids seem to like you.”
Dante brushed a hand over the back of his neck. Charles came in to drop science on his kids, and Dante tended to check out while he did that, so it surprised him that Charles had noticed anything of what he did at all. “Oh, well… thanks. I like them too, of course,” he said, and he did. The kids were fun, and weird, and surprising. This had just not been what he had in mind for where he’d be at this point in his life. But all of that was way too heavy shit to get into in a random awkward conversation with a coworker on a rooftop during recess. “It’s not so bad.”
Charles smiled and puffed the last on his cigarette. He stubbed it out on the wall, and then kept the butt in his hand. Dante noted that with a little nod. “I wouldn’t tell on you if you hated it,” he said.
“You’d have to tell on a couple of people around here if you were doing that,” he said, and they both laughed a little, sharing a little blip of eye contact that communicated that they were both thinking of the same person. Ms. Winchester taught second grade and hated it with every fiber of her being, which was part of why the kids that Dante got ended up liking him so much. He ended up looking into Charles’ eyes a bit longer than was needed to share unspoken mutual knowledge. They were just so damn pretty, all rich and dark with those soft stupid eyelashes. Dante absolutely needed to check himself. He pushed away from the wall.
“All right, I’m gonna leave you to it,” he said. “Levar Burton’s going to come up and shank me if I keep a man away from a good book for too long.”
Charles looked confused for a while, then said, “The man… from Star Trek?”
Dante took a deep, slow breath. “Okay, you grew up in a different country so I understand that things are different, but before we talk again I’m going to need you to google ‘Reading Rainbow,’ okay?”
Charles gave him the softest, sweetest smile. “Sounds delightful,” he said. “I absolutely will.”
Dante gave him a little two-finger salute, and then felt incredibly goofy for doing that. “Do it. Enjoy your book. I’ll see ya,” he said, and walked away from Charles’ little wave to head down the stairs back into the school building. Somewhere later, after school had ended and all of the yuppie parents had collected the kids and Dante was on the subway home, he realized he his mind kept coming back to the curve of that smile, his fingers holding the cigarette, the weave of his eyelashes.
Dante called himself an idiot and ate dinner on his apartment’s roof that night.
They never officially made it a thing, never planned a time or a date, but it just started to happen more and more that Dante and Charles ended up on the roof at the same time. Dante would smoke, sometimes Charles would, too, and they’d talk a little. Charles was sweet, demurring at first from any topics that could be considered gossip about their fellow faculty, but no one really lasted for long when it came to that.
They didn’t stand not-facing each other anymore, but rather tended to seat themselves on the edge of the wall, both of them with one foot on the ground, pointed toward each other. Dante flicked the large amount of ash that had gathered at the end of his cigarette; he’d sort of been forgetting to smoke it.
“Oh, she was drunk,” Dante said, and Charles covered his mouth as he laughed. It was a shame; he had such a damn good smile. “Big meet-the-parents thing, and she was drunk as a skunk. I saw the flask!”
“Did anyone notice?” Charles said.
Dante shook his head. “No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I mean, come on, the parents we’ve got to deal with? Most of them were probably drunk themselves.”
Charles snorted. “But not out of a flask.”
Dante waved a hand in the air. “Please, of course not! Unless it was an organically sourced free-trade locally forged flask.”
“Filled with…” Charles looked off to the sky thoughtfully. “Small-batch artisanal hand-made moonshine?”
Dante leaned his head back and laughed, probably too loudly for how they were supposed to secretly be up here. “Oh, damn, yeah, you have definitely settled in. You speak the language.”
Charles waved a hand a little. “I don’t mean to be mean, really. They’re actually mostly very nice.”
“Yeah, they are,” Dante said. “And, like, I can’t really blame them. They’re just trying to get the best for their kids.” He laughed. “Sometimes they make me think of my mom, with the way they fuss and want to get involved in every damn little thing.”
“The overprotective sort?” Charles said.
“Hah, yeah, pretty much,” Dante said, and remembered to take a draw on his cigarette. “I’m her delicate little nerdy baby boy; she always worries.”
Charles’ eyebrow arched. “‘Delicate?'”
Dante screwed up his face and flexed body-builder style. “She doesn’t know what a big tough dude I’ve become since moving away,” he said. He was really pretty slim and spoonchested under his sweater, but it wasn’t like Charles was ever going to see that. He relaxed from his pose. “But, yeah, she’s a mom. Moms are moms. It’s been like ten years since I moved away and she still gets all emotional on the phone sometimes.”
“Ah, that’s sweet, though,” Charles said. Dante smiled.
“Yeah, it is,” he said. “So, yeah, it may annoy the fuck out of me when little Juniper’s mom spends like twenty minutes talking to me about she has ADHD but they’re going medication-free and trying to manage it with a low-gluten diet but she needs to be seated not too close to the window but also not too far away either because the lack of sunlight causes a vitamin D deficiency that just exacerbates the condition, and it’s not a problem, it’s a condition…” He stopped and took a deep breath, and grinned at the way Charles was smiling. “I know she’s just looking out for her baby. I’d probably do the same thing.”
Charles drew his knee up close to his chest, one foot resting on the roof wall, the other on the roof itself. He seemed steady, at least. “You want kids yourself someday?”
Dante laughed and brushed a hand over his hair. “Damn, this job is seriously the test of that question, isn’t it?” Charles let out a soft laugh and nodded. “I dunno. That’s… kind of complicated.” He waved a hand a little before snubbing out his cigarette. “My sister’s got kids, though, so that at least gets me off the hook on the grandkid front.”
“Ah, my brother, as well,” Charles said, and trailed his fingertips over the edge of the wall as he looked over the buildings. “But, yes, it is rather complicated.”
“You like kids, though?” Dante asked. It was definitely not a given in this job.
“I do,” Charles said, with a smile that said the sentiment was genuine. Then he laughed and shook his head, bringing his hand to his forehead. “And hell if I don’t know how carefully one must toe the line with that sentiment when one is male.”
Dante let out a bark of a laugh. “Yeah, no shit.” Not only were he and Charles the only two black teachers in the lower school, but they were among the very small handful of male teachers in the whole school. Most of the other men were focused in the upper school; people just tended to give you the side-eye if you were a dude and spent your life surrounded by eight-year-olds. It was one of the reasons why Dante was not so much out at work. He wasn’t in, necessarily, but he definitely wasn’t out. He shook his head. “This is really what you want to do, though? Like… a career?”
Charles nodded. “Really is. I just really enjoy,” he made strange claw shapes with his hands in the general form of a child’s head. “molding young minds!” Dante had to be making a strange face, because Charles’ eyes got wide. “No, that sounded demented. I just had a lot of wonderful teachers when I was a boy who made a difference in my life, and I wanted to do the same.”
“Seriously, man, I admire that,” Dante said. “Makes me feel like a chump for how this is just a job to me.”
“Well, everyone needs a job,” Charles said. “So what is it you’d really rather be doing?”
Dante rubbed the back of his neck and shook his head. “Well, you remember how I said I was a big cliche? I’m a writer.”
Charles leaned back a little against a bit of ventilation piping. “I suppose that is cliche, but that doesn’t make it bad. What do you write?”
Dante pinched his brow between his fingers. “Nothing right now,” he said. “But I write plays. Have written. I had a couple of one-act things get produced in school, but that was school…”
He peered beyond his fingers to see that Charles had a soft expression on his face. “Oh, that’s wonderful,” he said, and Dante blinked a few times at the smile on his face. “I mean, I’ve met my share of failed novelists and essayists in this city, but not a–”
“–failed playwright?” Dante said, and laughed when Charles’ eyes went full moon-wide. Gave him a better look at how pretty they were.
“No! Oh, no, I didn’t mean it like that,” he said, and put a hand up into his thick head of curls, tugging on them a little in nervous frustration. Well, that was just adorable. Damn it. “You’re not failed, I was just saying, you know, the other people I’ve met, you know what I mean, you know the type, they’re…”
Dante waved a hand to cut him off. “No, no, I get you. I went to school with them,” he said. “Yeah, I’m not failed, but I’m also not successful either. And I know it’s not something I’m ever going to get rich off of, so, you know… this job. Gotta pay the bills.”
“But you can still work on it off the clock, yes?” Charles said.
“Yeah, theoretically,” Dante said. “But, you know, herding munchkins all day, and then trying to have any sort of social life at all… sort of leaves the creative juices parched.”
Charles tapped his fingers thoughtfully on his chin. He seemed to perpetually have a little bit of scruff; Dante had a little imagination adventure about him being the absent-minded scientist type, too caught up in thinking about some molecular compound or about rocket propulsion to remember to shave enough. “Hmm, a social life,” he said. “I vaguely recall what one of those was.”
Dante smiled. Definitely up late considering Jupiter’s moons, this guy. Too damn cute. “Don’t get out a lot?”
“Not much,” he said. “My friends are a little,” he made wiggly fingers in the air to represent typing, “ephemeral. Spread to the winds.”
“Yeah, I know how that is,” Dante said. He had plenty of friends in town — or at least, he had people to hang out with, sometimes people to hook up with, but the closest he’d ever had to a best friend had moved to Portland a long time ago. That situation was the definition of complicated, anyway.
They were going to need to go back inside soon. Gentle young minds needed to be molded. Dante was having his kids do Hamlet, and it was extremely hilarious. “Well, hey,” he said, and he knew the next words out of his mouth were a stupid idea. “Maybe we should hang out sometime. On a ground floor.”
Charles’ eyebrows slowly rose, and he gave Dante a dawning smile. “Oh… really?”
He absolutely had to be straight and Dante had to get that in his head right now. He’d wasted too much time in his life pining over straight boys. People got struck by lightning every day and a hundred coin flips could all turn up heads, but those things still had to be more likely than two gay black dudes teaching at the same elementary school. But still, it was good to have a friend. “Yeah. It’d be nice to hang with you for more than half an hour,” he said. “And anyway, it’s going to get too cold to be up here soon.”
Charles was grinning now. “Well! Ground floor it is!” he said, nearly bouncing. Dante hoped he’d keep his balance. “Or perhaps even below ground floor.”
Dante had to smirk at that. “Hey, if you know a place.”
“I might,” Charles said, roguishly cocking an eyebrow. Dante reminded himself again to keep a steady head.
“Cool,” he said, and stood up, brushing dust off his butt. “We’ll make it happen.”
Winter term came and passed, and they spent at least one glary bright December afternoon shivering on the roof with snow catching in Charles’ curls, but they never managed the hangout anywhere below third floor. It probably just wasn’t meant to be, Dante figured. You couldn’t smoke in bars, anyway.
It was early spring, just warm enough to ditch the scarf and hat and heavy boots when Dante went up to the roof and was surprised to see that Charles was there first. He was deep in a book — a well-loved copy of The Pluto Files, that adorable bastard — and didn’t look up until the access door squeaked closed behind Dante. His smile was bright and broad and he waved. Dante came over to sit on his usual perch near him.
“Welcome back!” Charles said, thumbing a dogear into his book, which only made Dante flinch a little. “Did you have a good vacation?”
Dante had come in on the red-eye from Portland at ass-o’clock this morning, and was feeling bleary and hungover without having drunk a drop. Although the weekend had involved drinking considerably more than drops, so part of it was probably carryover. “Oh, yeah, it was nice.”
“Portland, was it?” Charles asked. Right, he must have mentioned it at some point.
“Yeah,” Dante said. “Kinda chilly, but nice.”
Charles brushed his thumb over the edge of the book, fanning out the pages a little. “Visiting friends? Just sightseeing?”
“A wedding, actually,” Dante said.
Charles smiled and shook his head a little. “Ah, yes, we are of the age, aren’t we?” Charles was just a little bit older than Dante, he’d been able to ascertain, but not by much. “I’ve gotten my share of invites, but they were mostly courtesy, since no one really expects me to fly off anywhere.”
“Yeah, I get those too,” Dante said. “This one, though, I definitely had to. I was in the wedding.”
“Oh, I’ve never done that, no,” Charles said. “How was it?”
“A lot of work,” Dante said, and even though it was fun, it had been. He really wanted to take the rest of the week off just to sleep, both to regain energy and to have the experience of not taking the covers off from over his head for a while. “A lot of running around and stuff. It was small and not super-traditional or anything, but a wedding is a wedding.”
Charles nodded a little, and then a little frown came over his face, knotting up between his brows. “If you don’t mind me saying, you don’t seem too happy about it.”
Dante let out a deep sigh, took off his glasses, and rubbed his face. To hell with a pokerface. “To be honest, it was kind of a weird… thing.” He rubbed the airplane headache lingering in his sinuses. “I mean, they’re a good couple, they’re good together, I like them both, but… well, one of them’s my ex.”
Charles sucked in breath through his teeth. “That is awkward.”
Dante put his glasses back on and waved a hand. “I mean, we broke up like ten years ago and it was totally a mutual amicable thing and we’re really good friends still, but… it was weird. I mean–” Dante stopped and choked on his next word for a second before he spoke. Oh, the gender-neutral pronoun thing was so weak and so obvious, but he just did not have it in him to deal with that whole issue right then. “They were, uh, my first relationship. First… everything.”
Charles’ eyes were soft through his lashes. “First love?” he asked, gently.
“No, not…” Dante stopped and wrinkled his nose up. “Kind of? Not really. I don’t know. It was high school and we were friends before and it was just weird. It was good, but it was weird. I mean, I love– I mean, we loved each other but not, like, in love, if that makes sense.”
“It does,” Charles said. “I’ve been there myself a few times.” He dropped his hand to brush along the outer edge of the building. “It’s funny, I actually got an email from my ex this weekend. The one I moved here for.”
“Damn,” Dante said. “Must’ve been serious to jump an ocean.”
“Oh, it was,” Charles said, but he rolled his eyes while he did. “Love of each others’ lives, or so we said. Funny how the romance fizzles out once it’s no longer some whirlwind international student tryst and instead the two of you sharing an apartment and arguing over what movie to watch.”
Dante’d never managed something so domestic. He’d never co-habitated at all. “What was the email?”
“Drunk,” Charles said, disgust in his voice. “Does it every six months or so. ‘Oh, baby, come back, I’ve got a place just for you, I miss you so much, breaking up with you was the worst mistake of my life.'” He delivered it in a shockingly good Boston accent, pitched in that deep way you did when you were mocking someone. “I didn’t answer it. I know he’ll just have completely forgotten it in the morning.”
Dante opened his mouth to say something commiserating, but his brain played him that record scratch, which was funny, since as a typical member of his age group he’d probably never even seen a record player. “Wait, did you say ‘he?'”
Charles blinked a few times. Maybe he hadn’t realized he’d said it, or maybe he’d thought Dante knew all along. “Oh, ah, yes, I did.” His cheeks darkened just a little, and Dante suddenly felt warm, very warm. “I am gay, I suppose I haven’t mentioned it?”
Dante took a couple of deep breaths. He’d never had asthma before, but maybe he could suddenly develop it. Maybe he’d just pitch off the side of the building. “No, you, uh…” Was there a suave way to handle this? His reaction was making Charles frown, because cool, great, he looked like some homophobic dick. “Uh, so am I?”
Charles stared at him for a long moment. “You’re what?”
“Gay?” Dante said, his voice pitching up high at the end, like he was uncertain of the fact, when he had been completely 100% certain of that fact since he was like thirteen. He coughed a little. “Gay. I am also gay.”
“Yes.” Dante had a vision that this might go on for a while, but instead Charles went still, the two of them staring at each other.
“Well, I will be damned,” Charles said.
Dante smiled a little. “Crazy, ri–” He didn’t make it through the word as Charles scrambled across the space between them to kiss him, awkward and ill-fitting, their teeth bumping together and noses colliding. He managed real lip-to-lip contact as Dante flailed a little, tipping them both off balance in a way that tilted him dangerously towards falling off the side of the building. God damn his rooftop thing. He grabbed Charles by the hip and shoved him in the other direction, toppling with him until they were a heap on the rooftop.
“Sorry,” Charles said, panting a little with his face against the roof. “Sorry, sorry, I really shouldn’t have done that, that was awful of me, I’m sorry.” He sighed and rested his head against the concrete. “I’ve had such a thing for you for ages, and I thought you were completely unobtainable.”
“You…” For a moment Dante considered that he was still on the plane from Portland, having a dream that was going to leave him with the stewardess telling him to put a blanket over his lap. “I’ve had a thing for you!”
Charles lifted up his head. “You have?”
Dante waved his arms up in the air like an idiot. “Like crazy! Been kicking myself in the ass for getting a crush on a straight boy again!”
“You could have asked,” Charles said.
“So could you!” Dante said, pitching up into histrionics again. Charles lifted his head to meet his eyes, and after a few moments they both started laughing, the mingled sounds somewhere between relieved and desperate. “Oh, come the hell here,” Dante said, and tugged Charles over to kiss him, this time properly.
Dante’d been thinking about those lips since the first time he’d seen them wrapped around the filter of a cigarette, and they were just as good as he’d hoped, soft and plump. The kiss still wasn’t perfect, though; they bumped noses, their glasses clattered, but they both just laughed and kept kissing. Dante put his hand into Charles’ hair, finally satisfying the need he’d had for months to get a good feel of those curls.
They made out like stupid teenagers for a while, Dante on his back on the rooftop with Charles half sprawled against him. Dante pet the back of his neck and Charles broke away from the kiss to let out a little whimper. Well, that he was going to have to remember for later.
Later. “We… probably should not be doing this here,” he said. There was blue sky above and the sound of children playing below. That access door was so not locked in any way.
“No, we probably shouldn’t,” Charles said, breathing against his mouth, his eyes closed to show those damn long eyelashes.
Dante took in a slow breath. If he went back down into the school now, he’d have a giant boner, and then he’d get fired and put in jail for certain. He put his hand on the small of Charles’ back. “I kinda want to do it anyway.”
Charles grinned against his lips. “Me too,” he said, and scrambled his way over to straddle Dante’s thighs. “We’ll just have to make it quick.”
“Quick is good,” Dante said between kisses as he pawed under Charles’ shirt, going past layers of clothing to feel his skin. “Slower later.”
“Oh, later,” Charles said breathlessly as he shifted and Dante could feel his erection pressing into his. “Later sounds wonderful.”
Dante’s response was just some aimless sound muffled into Charles’ cheek as he slid his lips over it, feeling the stubble’s light sting making them all the more sensitive. This was the kind of slutty hookup he usually reserved for bar bathrooms and also had not actually managed in years, but damn did he want it to be more than just that. Later, indeed.
Dante rubbed at Charles’ cock through his pants and listened to him whimper as he pondered his options. He felt him out through fabric and it felt good, nice and thick, and he knew European guys were almost guaranteed to be uncut. Blowing him would be fantastic. But kissing was also so, so good right then. Handjobs would be good, but jizz on the clothes would be bad. This would take some careful work.
He rolled Charles off him so they were lying side by side on the cold, dirty concrete, their legs tangled up together. “Okay, okay, like this,” he whispered, and Charles just nodded as Dante undid Charles’ belt, then his own. Charles needed no further encouragement to get him to pull Dante’s dick out, those long fingers curling around it tight enough to make Dante squeak. His fingertips were smooth. Dante had to get his hand on Charles’ cock immediately.
Thick, yes, uncut, yes, and Charles made the sexiest little stuttering gasp right into Dante’s mouth as he stroked him. This wouldn’t take long if he kept things like that up, which Dante had to sadly admit was for the best. “Better hurry,” he whispered, laughing just a little.
“Not going to be a problem,” Charles said, voice shaking. They kissed without stopping, even as Dante got a crick in his neck from lying on the hard roof, even as his other arm went numb. He could have stayed here kissing him until the rooftop was covered in snow again. He was going to come soon, he could feel the orgasm starting up in his gut. It’d be quick and dirty and wouldn’t linger, but that promise of later would make it so good.
“I, I–” Charles gasped, and then bit Dante’s lip as he came. Dante wanted to pull away and see it, the ridiculously obscene sight of someone literally coming on an institute of learning, but he was too busy grabbing Charles’ hand to keep it tight and keep it moving until he was hissing breath through his teeth and adding his own splattered commentary on his job satisfaction on the rooftop.
A few more moments of kissing and they parted, both of them settling onto their backs. Dante gently put his softening, oversensitized cock back into his pants and put his clothes in order. Unscathed of DNA evidence, it seemed, and a quick glance to Charles showed he was the same. He closed his eyes and just listened to his heart racing in his ears, to the south of Charles’ breathing slowing, to the noise of Brooklyn below.
“Well, I could certainly use a cigarette now,” Charles said, and Dante laughed.
“‘Bum a fag?’ Dante said through a grin that hurt his mouth in the best way.
“Mm, well,” Charles said. “Maybe later.”
Dante laughed again, a weighted breath leaving his chest, and just smiled up at the spring sun. The rooftop beneath him was hard and cold, and it had never felt so steady underneath him, or so good.