In His Eyes

by Shuua (シューア)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/44538.html)

“Had a rough day, then?”

It took a moment for Ellis to realize that the words had been directed at him. For one thing, no one said something that cliché to a stranger in a bar, not even in cheesy movies. And for another, no one said anything at all to Ellis, as a rule. He wasn’t scary-looking, exactly. It’s just that when he was stooped over his drink like he was now, cradling the glass with fierce affinity, looking bleary-eyed and in need of a good shave, few people had the desire to approach him.

However, the words had been directed at him, and Ellis glanced up after a few seconds to find himself gazing into the eyes of the smiling bartender. He was a young man, barely more than a boy, with fiery red hair and shocking green eyes that were almost too vivid to be real. He was mixing a drink casually, hardly bothering to look down at what he was doing as he expertly sloshed vodka into what looked like apple juice.

“More like a rough week,” Ellis finally replied, chasing his words with the rest of his scotch.

“Let me guess,” the bartender grinned, pausing to tilt his head to one side and look Ellis up and down. “You lost your job?”

“Is it that obvious?” Ellis asked, unable to hold back the hint of a smile.

“It’s either that or love trouble, and the wrinkled suit kind of gives you away,” he replied. “Plus, you’ve got a businessman vibe. Not just the suit, it’s more like… Your aura, or something. You’re slightly intimidating, like a boss is expected to be I suppose.”

Ellis stared at him for a while, a bit taken aback and thoroughly amused by the response, in which time the bartender finished up two more drinks and slid them down to waiting clients. Then, in about six seconds, he replaced Ellis’ empty glass with a fresh one.

“It’s on me,” the bartender said with a smile.

“If you buy drinks for all the sad bastards that come through here, you’ll be out of a job,” Ellis snorted.

“Nah, I only do it for the cute ones,” he said with a wink.

Ellis would later adamantly deny that he had blushed. And if he had, it had been the alcohol.

“Hey… Hey!”

It was the second time that night that someone had addressed him, and this time Ellis was completely set on ignoring them. He was, at the moment, a bit preoccupied with trying to slide his key into the lock of his car door. It was proving to be a difficult task, and Ellis eyes narrowed with a mixture of frustration and intense concentration as he missed for the eighth time. If the damn lock would just stop moving

Ellis felt a hand close around his wrist, and then a firm body break his fall as he lost balance and tipped backwards. He stared uncomprehending at the mysterious hand, then made a feeble attempt to shake it off him.

“Oh, no you don’t,” said the voice. “You’re not driving anywhere tonight.”

“Piss off,” Ellis muttered. “I’m perfectly fine–”

“You’re perfectly smashed. Believe me, I’m a professional. Look, I’ll call a cab for you, ‘kay?”

But Ellis didn’t answer. His world was suddenly spinning and he took another stumbling step forwards, falling heavily onto his car. He could hear the voice, distant and incoherent, and suddenly lying down sounded like a really, really good idea.

The world went dark.

“Morning, sunshine.”

It was that voice again. Ellis groaned and stirred slightly, then immediately went still when a sharp pain stabbed him in the skull.

“You really… need to stop… talking to me,” Ellis managed to grumble, his words muffled by the pillow.

“Not quite the ‘thank you’ I was looking for, but I’m just going to blame it on the hangover and let it slide.”

Ellis managed, with great effort, to crack open one eye. He saw the grinning face of the bartender looking down at him. After a moment or two, bits and pieces from last night started to flash before his aching eyes. He sat up with a start, ignoring the sickening lurch in his stomach and the throbbing in his head, looking around him wildly.

“Where am I?” he asked.

“My apartment. In my bed, I might add. And in my clothes,” the bartender said genially. “You were too drunk to tell me where you lived so I just brought you home. I would’ve made you take the couch but you sorta dragged me to my bedroom and passed out here. And, well, I couldn’t let you sleep in your suit, so I let you borrow some of my clothes.”

“You… I… what?” Ellis was blinking at him stupidly.

“Anyway, look, I really have to get going or I’ll be late for class. There’s toast and eggs on the kitchen table you can heat up if you’re hungry, and I left the key there so you can lock up on your way out. Just stick the key under the mat. Your suit’s in the shopping bag by the door — I really wouldn’t wear it if I were you, it smells, well, ghastly — and you can wear that home. Wash it and give it back to me sometime, hey? It’s one of my favorite shirts. I’m at the bar Tuesday to Saturday nights, six to midnight.”

He said everything very quickly, striding around the bedroom and picking things up off the floor as he did so. He was already dressed for — Ellis wouldn’t quite register what this meant until later — school, wearing a pair of faded jeans and a fitted tee under a button-down shirt, his backpack slung over one shoulder.

“Or, you know, you can just sleep all morning, it’s up to you. Don’t steal anything, I’m poor.” He smiled and waved as he dashed out the door, only to run back in a second later and add, “Oh, and my name’s Finn, by the way. If you swing by the bar and I’m not there, just tell them it’s for me.”

Before Ellis could say anything (“What the fuck just happened?” being first on the list), Finn had disappeared, the apartment door slamming shut behind him as he ran out.

It took Ellis the better part of an hour to drag himself off the bed and find the bathroom. He took a quick shower, brushing his teeth by squirting a bit of toothpaste on his finger. It wasn’t exactly the most effective way of maintaining dental hygiene, but Ellis didn’t want to take advantage of Finn’s generosity even further by borrowing his toothbrush. Besides, his breath was minty enough.

With each passing minute, Ellis felt the sinking horror in his stomach grow more and more severe. He had passed out in the fucking parking lot of a bar. Who even did that anymore, aside from wife-beating, balding, fat men who lived in trailers and spoke in monosyllabic cuss words? Not only that, he had passed out in the arms of a perfect stranger. And, it seems, the stranger was one of the very few people in the world who wouldn’t just leave him lying in the asphalt, choking on his own vomit.

Oh, God. Did I puke? I think I did. Fuck. Ellis could only pray he had the decency to do so anywhere but on his reluctant caretaker’s shoes. There were lots of ways to say thank you to a person, and puking on their shoes wasn’t one of them.

By the time Ellis got around to eating the toast and eggs Finn had laid out for him, it was well after noon. The apartment was small, and Ellis glanced around curiously as he ate. The place had a rushed, haphazard look. A pile of dishes in the sink, scattered papers on the kitchen table (which also doubled as a workspace, Ellis concluded, noting the laptop taking up one corner), a laundry basket of either dirty or clean clothes on the couch… It was as though Finn didn’t really live here, just stopped over on occasion before hurrying off to his next appointment.

Ellis cleaned off his plate and washed it, as well as the rest of the dishes in the sink, out of habit more than anything else. Afterwards, he went back to make the bed, stopping halfway through when he realized Finn probably wouldn’t want to sleep in the same sheets a drunk stranger passed out in. And, well, one thing led to another. By three o’clock that afternoon Ellis had changed the bed, vacuumed the house, and organized the papers on the kitchen table into neat stacks. The apartment was small enough that finding things didn’t take more than a minute or two of educated guesswork. He rolled up the dirty sheets and stuffed them into the laundry basket (they had to be dirty; who threw their clean clothes in a messy heap like that?), then stopped to survey his handiwork.

Good God, I’ve turned into my mother, Ellis thought.

Satisfied that he had returned the favor as best he could, Ellis made his way out, grabbing the shopping bag containing his crumpled suit and the keys as he did so. As he was locking up, he noticed a letter sticking out from the mailbox beside the door. He hesitated, then pulled it out. He might as well leave the mail on the table for Finn, he reasoned. He stepped back into the apartment and placed the letter on the table, but as he turned to leave his eyes glanced over the return address printed on the top left corner of the envelope. He froze.

Wright University.

Ellis stared at the university seal stamped beside the address for a few moments before picking up the letter to inspect it more carefully. It had been addressed to “Thomas M. Finnegan,” and had come from the financial aid department. Finally, Ellis put down the letter once more, feeling guilty for what could only be described as “snooping,” a word he associated with old ladies peering out of windows. With one last glance around the considerably cleaner apartment, he left.

Finn was always running late.

His morning lecture had been nearly half-over when he snuck in, taking a seat near the back. Afterwards, he went to the library to finish a paper for his afternoon class, only to lose track of time and run in ten minutes late. And now, it was five to six and he was going to be late for work. Again.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Finn hissed, glaring at a red light. “Let’s go.”

The light stubbornly stayed red for another minute before finally turning green. If traffic lights were capable of facial expression, Finn was sure this one would be smirking. They delighted in taunting desperate drivers, those nasty traffic lights. Bastards, the whole lot of them.

Finn pulled up into the parking lot and was out before the engine had sufficient time to turn off. Locking the door hastily behind him, he ran into bar, pulling off his shirt as he went.

“I know, I know, I’m sorry!” he yelled, running past a woman who had started to speak. “I’ll be out in twenty seconds!”

Twenty-two seconds later, Finn was behind the counter, looking flushed and out of breath as he tucked in his white button-down shirt and tied a black apron around his waist.

“Finn, this is the third time this week,” the woman said pointedly. She didn’t sound angry, but worried.

“I’m sorry,” Finn said again. “I promise, Leigh, it won’t happen again.”

“Yes, it will,” Leigh sighed, leaning against the counter. “I keep telling you, you don’t have to start at six. I can get someone to cover for you for a couple hours–”

“No, really,” Finn said, forcing a smile. “Please, just… It won’t happen again.”

Leigh sighed again, but returned the smile. “All right, fine. There’s a delivery out back, go bring it in for me, would you?”

“Sure thing, boss.”

Friday nights were always the busiest, and Finn barely had time to catch his breath between the drink orders and the errands. He enjoyed his work — it suited his personality, and any excuse to show off his hand-eye coordination was always great fun. But not even Finn could deny that Leigh had a reason to worry. He could pretend all he wanted, but the truth was that he had been late three times this week, and would probably be late three times next week.

You just have to try harder, that’s all, Finn told himself.

A little after midnight, Finn clocked out and headed for home. Halfway there he slowed down, his eyes narrowing. There was someone leaning against his car, his face masked in shadow. Finn glanced back at the bar, which was still full of people and brightly lit. Telling himself that at least he had somewhere to run to if things got nasty, he approached the stranger cautiously.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

The stranger stood up and approached him. Finn stepped back, his body tense, then let out a huge sigh of relief as the man’s face came into view.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake… You nearly gave me heart attack,” Finn said, clutching his chest. It was the man from last night, only this time he seemed very put-together and entirely conscious. “Why didn’t you just come into the bar?”

“Sorry,” Ellis said, looking embarrassed. “I didn’t want to bother you during work.”

“Bother me? It’s a bar, not a monastery,” Finn laughed. “You’re free to walk in whenever you want.”

“I figured… I probably shouldn’t be in any bars for a while,” Ellis remarked wryly. There was a pause, and then he added hastily, “I don’t make it a habit to pass out in parking lots. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever done that, at least not since college, and–”

Finn held up his hands, stopping Ellis’ rush of words. “It’s okay, don’t worry about it. Everyone’s entitled to at least one drunken bout of self-pity once in a while.”

Ellis smiled slightly, and then held out his hand. “I don’t think I ever introduced myself. My name is Ellis Beckett.”

“Thomas Finnegan, but please call me Finn unless you want me to hate you,” Finn said, shaking the hand.

“Fair enough. I came to give you this,” Ellis said, offering Finn a paper shopping bag. “And to thank you for… Well. Everything.”

“You’re welcome for everything,” Finn said easily, taking his clothes back. He peered inside and noticed that they had been neatly folded and smelled freshly laundered.

“If there’s anything I can do to pay you back,” Ellis started, but Finn quickly cut him off.

“Listen, it was nothing. Really.” He paused and a grin tugged at the corner of his mouth. “Okay, maybe it wasn’t nothing, but I wouldn’t have done it if it were too much trouble. So don’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do? I feel like you’ve only seen the worst of me, and that’s not entirely fair to both of us,” Ellis protested.

Finn felt his smile widen. “All right, then. You can buy me lunch sometime, and we’ll call it even. Deal?”

“Deal,” Ellis agreed. “Here, I’ll give you my number…”

A few minutes later, Finn watched the other drive off from the rear view mirror of his car, noticing that Ellis rode a rather expensive-looking sedan. He glanced down at the card in his hand.

Ellis Beckett, Executive Editor. Modern Muse.

Finn recognized the name of the magazine, but remembered that Ellis had admitted to losing his job only yesterday. He turned the card over in his fingers a few times, running a thumb across the embossed letters before tucking it into his pocket.

Nearly two weeks had passed before Ellis received a call from Finn. He had almost given up on waiting for the boy to contact him, and was surprised to find himself relieved when he heard the now-familiar voice on the phone. They arranged a date at a local café downtown that weekend.

Finn arrived late, as usual, and smiled apologetically as he sat across from Ellis in a corner table. Ellis had been easy to spot in the quiet café; the man didn’t seem to own anything except for suits.

“Sorry, did you wait long?” he asked, taking a menu from the waitress.

“No, it’s fine,” Ellis assured him. In truth, he had arrived fifteen minutes early, as was his habit, and had been waiting for the last half hour. “Did you have any trouble finding your way?”

“Not too much,” Finn replied, his eyes scanning the menu. “You gave really specific directions.” He glanced up at Ellis and grinned. Ellis wasn’t sure why his heart chose that particular moment to stop beating for a few seconds, but he took a deep sip of his water and ignored it.

The two placed their orders and chatted easily about this and that. Ellis had recently acquired a new job, another editing position at a magazine.

“That was quick,” Finn commented. “Good for you.”

“The longer you’re in the business, the easier it is to find work,” Ellis explained. “And I’ve been doing it for a while, now.”

“How long?” Finn asked curiously.

“Almost twenty years,” Ellis said. There was a longer-than-usual pause after that, and Ellis covered up the silence by taking another sip of his water. Suddenly, the unbidden image of the university seal flashed across Ellis’ mind.

“Can I ask you something?” Finn asked finally.

“Fire at will.”

“Are you single, or am I just wasting my time?”

Ellis blinked at him, stunned. Finn was meeting his gaze steadily, a hint of a smile on his lips. It took a moment for Ellis to recover from the shock, and he cleared his throat before replying.

“Shouldn’t you be asking me if I’m– well. You know,” he finished lamely.

“My gaydar has never failed me,” Finn replied. After a pause, he added, as an afterthought: “Also, you were feeling me up in the car that night.”

“Oh, good God,” Ellis whispered, closing his eyes in horror. “Finn, I am so sorry…”

“No, no, it’s okay,” Finn laughed. “You were harmless.”

“I– Christ. I hope I didn’t… take advantage of you,” Ellis said, feeling worse by the second.

“Take advantage?” Finn repeated, thoroughly amused. “Ellis, a well-placed poke could’ve toppled you over. Trust me, you didn’t do anything I wasn’t letting you do.”

“Still, that was no excuse for me to–” Ellis started, guilt written all over his face.

“Ellis, just answer the question,” Finn interrupted, his smile much more evident now.

“I… I’m not seeing anyone, no,” Ellis said slowly. He was not blushing. Ellis Beckett did not blush.

“Fantastic,” Finn said, his eyes lighting up. “Will you go out with me, then?”

“Excuse me?”

“You know, on a date. Like this one, only afterwards we’d arrange to meet again. And then after a few of these lunches or dinners, and maybe a movie or two, we’d dance around the whole ‘Your place or mine?’ debate. Personally, I think we should go to yours, since you’ve already been to mine.”

Ellis was speechless. It didn’t happen often, but he had a sneaking suspicion it would be happening a lot around this boy. After nearly a minute of silence and open-mouthed staring, Finn raised an eyebrow.

“Well?” he urged.

“Um,” Ellis said.

“Um,” Finn repeated, grinning.

“Yes,” Ellis said.

“Yes?”

“Yes,” Ellis said, more firmly this time. “All right. Yes, I’d like to… to go out with you.”

“Fantastic,” Finn exclaimed. “I’ve been dying to ask you since that night at the bar. Only, you know, I wasn’t sure you’d’ve remembered the question later.”

Ellis finally smiled, still reeling from the boy’s complete lack of decorum but finding himself caring less and less.

It only took two more dates before they skipped the ‘Your place or mine?’ debate altogether and ended up in the front door of Ellis’ three-bedroom flat. Ellis was once again finding the task of unlocking doors extremely difficult, only this time it wasn’t alcohol holding him back but a tall, slender young man. Specifically, the young man’s hands, which were roaming towards progressively more dangerous areas, and his mouth, which seemed intent on tasting every inch of Ellis’ neck.

“Finn, Jesus– just, wait,” Ellis gasped.

With a wicked grin, Finn pulled back just long enough for Ellis to get his door open before tackling him again. The two stumbled into the apartment, Finn kicking the door closed behind them as they blindly made their way to the bedroom.

They fell onto the vast bed in a tangle of limbs, clothes flying off in all directions. Finn started to laugh amid their frantic race to rid themselves of clothes, tugging at Ellis’ belt as he kicked off his shoes. Ellis smiled back, but at the moment, he didn’t care how ridiculous they looked. They needed to be naked, and they needed to be naked right now.

As if reading his mind, Finn stopped laughing and kissed Ellis again, his tongue slipping between the other’s lips and drawing out a soft sound from somewhere inside Ellis’ throat. They were completely naked now, pressed up tightly against each other, chest to chest. Ellis marveled at the feel of their skin; he had forgotten just how close two bodies could be.

Eventually it occurred to Ellis that he should be doing something other than reminiscing, and he moved over Finn, straddling the younger boy. Finn did not seem to mind in the least, grinning up at him and waiting expectantly. Ellis kissed his way down the lean figure, tasting the soft skin of Finn’s neck, nibbling at a collarbone, teasing a nipple… Finn jumped at that, a soft moan escaping his lips.

Weak spot, Ellis thought, smiling to himself. He stopped his exploration to suck and nip lightly at them, his fingers pinching at the one he did not have captive in his mouth. Finn writhed under him, making helpless whimpers, until Ellis stopped the torture and resumed his journey.

His tongue dipped down into Finn’s navel, then traced a trail to the straining erection below. Ellis hovered over it, blowing softly on the sensitive skin, earning another moan from Finn. He wrapped his fingers around the base, licking at the tip and tasting the slickness that had already formed. Encouraged by Finn’s cries, he bent down and took it in his mouth, his tongue stroking the head as he sucked.

Fuck, Ellis,” Finn gasped.

Ellis lowered his head further, until his lips brushed against the fingers still wrapped around the base of Finn’s cock. He swallowed his gag reflex, then slowly took in the last remaining inch, closing his eyes and forcing himself to relax as he felt the blunt tip nudge against the back of his throat.

Finn was gripping the sheets desperately, his back arched and babbling a string of incomprehensible expletives. Ellis moaned in reply, causing Finn to curse loudly and arch off the bed. Ellis backed off, releasing Finn’s cock with a wet pop. He kissed the shaft and glanced up at Finn, surprised to see that the boy was looking right at him, his impossibly green eyes practically glowing.

“Jesus,” Finn whispered. Ellis laughed softly, then rose up to kiss him again.

They kissed for a long time, learning the shape of each other’s lips and tongue. Finn liked to kiss with his eyes open, Ellis noticed, and he felt his heart jump each time their gazes met again.

After a while, Finn mumbled something into Ellis’ lips, and Ellis pulled back just far enough to pant, “What?”

“Condoms,” Finn said meaningfully, his mouth twitching slightly at the dumbstruck expression on Ellis’ face.

“Right. Right, okay, wait a second,” Ellis said, and started to pull away from Finn.

“Where are you going?”

“Bathroom. For… for the–”

“Why are your condoms in the bathroom?” Finn asked, completely bewildered. “Don’t you usually use them in bed?”

“Yes, yes, but. Well, I don’t… Look, can we talk about this later?” Ellis asked.

Finn looked like he was fighting to hold back a laugh, but nodded and let go of Ellis. He bounded back in bed with the necessary items in less than a minute, and Finn couldn’t stop himself from giggling a little.

“You keep the lube in your bathroom, too?” he asked, leaning back into the pillows and pulling Ellis over him.

“Shush,” Ellis said simply, silencing him with another kiss.

There was a moment later — a horrible, agonizingly awkward moment — when Ellis had the condom in his hand and the two of them were staring at it helplessly, then at each other, waiting for some sort of unspoken agreement for what seemed like eternity. Finally, Finn took control and snatched the condom from Ellis’ hand, ripped it open with his teeth, and slid it onto Ellis’ straining cock deftly.

“You first,” he whispered into Ellis’ ear, nipping lightly at it for good measure.

Ellis wanted to take it slow; it had been a long time since the last time he had done this — much longer than he would ever care to admit. But Finn simply wouldn’t let him. He moved under Ellis constantly, rising up to meet each thrust impatiently, until Ellis gripped Finn’s hips tightly to keep them still.

“Please, Ellis,” Finn moaned. “Please, please, fuck, just take me, take me, please I need it now, fuck, now.”

“Christ–” Ellis gasped, and gave in.

Finn was incredibly persuasive.

Afterwards, they held each other as they waited for their hearts to slow, the scent of sweat and sex clinging to the sheets, the taste of salt lingering on their tongues. Ellis had forgotten about this, too. He felt a satisfying ache all throughout his body, knowing he would be sore the next morning but finding it very hard to care. Finn was still grinning up at him, as if unable to stop, and Ellis could only smile back.

“This is the part where I moan all sexy-like and ask, ‘Was it good for you, too?'” Finn said playfully, tilting his head up slightly to press his lips to Ellis’ jaw.

“You’ve been reading too many romance novels,” Ellis said, but secretly he thought: Yes. Dear God, yes, it was good.

Sex with Finn had, Ellis decided, officially ruined him for ever enjoying sex with anyone else.

Finn laughed softly, stretching like a cat and sighing contentedly. For a long while, they just lay there, curled up into one another. Ellis was just about to drift off into sleep when Finn spoke again.

“I have to go,” he murmured reluctantly into Ellis’ neck.

“What, now? Why?”

“I have class tomorrow morning and I need my books and stuff from home,” Finn said.

“Do you really have to?” Ellis asked, reaching up to stroke Finn’s arm. “It’s past midnight… Can’t you just drop by your apartment on the way tomorrow?”

“I’m worried that you’ll tempt me into skipping class altogether,” Finn teased.

“Don’t be stupid,” Ellis snorted. “I have work, too.”

“Does this mean you won’t try and coerce me into good-morning sex?”

“I don’t believe in coercing anyone into sex,” Ellis said simply.

Finn smiled. “You and your morals.”

“Silly of me, I know.”

“Well…” Finn stretched again, his body arching in a smooth, languid flow. He threw an arm around Ellis’ neck, drawing him close. “I guess I could just leave early in the morning… Don’t you dare let me sleep in.”

“All right,” Ellis promised.

When Ellis woke up, it was to the feel of kisses traveling down his body and warm lips closing around his cock. He didn’t ask the time, but simply tossed his head back and thought to himself that he had never been woken up quite so enjoyably. Despite Finn’s protests from the night before, they did end up having good-morning sex, after all. And although both of them wound up running late, neither of them could remember being in such a wonderful mood.

“What do you study?”

“Hmm?”

“I just realized I don’t even know what you’re studying,” Ellis remarked.

The two were sitting side by side on the large leather sofa in Ellis’ living room, sharing a bowl of mini-pretzels and watching Animal Planet. Finn had a leg slung casually over Ellis’, his head resting against the other’s shoulder. Ellis was starting feel the circulation to his arm being slowly cut off, but didn’t mind all that much.

“Oh, shit!” Finn yelped, his hand flying up to cover his mouth. “I can’t believe that lion just… just killed the little cub! Holy crap, that is sick!”

Ellis patted Finn’s head soothingly. He was used to Finn’s heartfelt outbursts by now, and was just thankful they weren’t watching another episode of Extreme Home Makeover. “Do you want to change the channel?”

“No… It’s okay… Wait, what did you just ask me before? Sorry,” Finn said, craning his head to look up at Ellis.

“It was nothing, forget it.”

“No, don’t do that!” Finn said, poking Ellis thigh. “What did you say? I’m listening.”

“I was just wondering what you’re studying in university,” Ellis said for the third time.

“Oh! Anthropology,” Finn replied, smiling brightly. “And I’m doing a minor in Classical Literature.”

“I’ve never really figured out what ‘anthropology’ is, exactly,” Ellis admitted.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Finn laughed. “But how can you resist a subject that defines itself as ‘the study of humanity?'”

“And you’re doing a minor in…”

“Classical Literature.”

“Jesus,” Ellis whistled. “How do you find time to work five days a week on top of that? Not to mention come over to watch lions eat their young with me.”

“Mm… I manage,” Finn said off-handedly. Despite the casual tone, Ellis got the distinct feeling that Finn didn’t want to be questioned about this any further. In fact, he always got that feeling whenever they touched upon the subject of Finn’s job or busy schedule.

“Well, just take care of yourself,” Ellis said softly, brushing a few strands of Finn’s hair out of his eyes. “If you ever need time to finish more important things, you can always… You know. I mean, I don’t want to be adding to your burdens…”

Finn sat up to look at Ellis again, holding his eyes steadily. “Ellis, don’t be silly. You’re not a burden, and I’m a big boy. I know how to prioritize.”

Ellis had to admit that this was true. They had now been officially “dating” for close to four months now, and Ellis was finding that dating Finn required incredible patience and flexibility (in every sense of the word). Luckily, their schedules were quite compatible, for the most part. Ellis worked during the weekdays while Finn was at school, and they were able to meet up for lunch every now and then. The evenings were a little more complicated. Finn started work at six, which was when Ellis got off work, and didn’t finish until midnight. Sometimes Ellis would pick up Finn from the bar and spend the night with him, but that inevitably led to them being late the next morning so they didn’t do it often.

The weekends weren’t much better, either. Finn worked Fridays and Saturdays, and usually spent most of Sunday catching up on homework. However, they contented themselves with just being in the same room. Finn spent most weekends at Ellis’ apartment, and the two would spread their work over their respective areas (Finn got the couch, and Ellis took over the kitchen table), spending much of the day in silence. But together.

Judging by the amount of time Finn was with him on top of all his other duties, Ellis calculated that the boy probably spent only a day or two a week in his own apartment. For the past few weeks, the idea of asking Finn to move in with him had been growing in the back of his mind. But even Ellis knew how that would look: an older, wealthier man taking in a young, pretty boy… He respected Finn too much to offer it, he told himself. Besides, having Finn move in with him meant giving up his own privacy. He wasn’t even close to ready for that.

And yet, the idea simply would not go away.

“Finn,” Ellis said after a long while.

“Hmm,” was the noncommittal answer. Finn was once again absorbed by the program, this time flinching as a pack of lionesses brought down a struggling antelope in impressive slow-motion.

Finn,” Ellis said, a little more insistently.

The boy looked up at him, a hint of annoyance on his features but a smile on his lips all the same. “What?”

“Will you…” he started, then sighed. “Will you stay over tonight?”

Finn’s smile widened, his eyes softening a bit. “Of course. It’s a Saturday, isn’t it?”

Ellis smiled back. “Okay. Good.”

In the middle of a staff meeting, Ellis jumped slightly. His cell phone, set to vibrate, had gone off in his pocket. Several curious glances were thrown his way, but Ellis coughed and resumed his composure. Quietly, he drew out his cell and glanced down at the text message under the table.

hey r we still on tmrw 4 lunch?

It took Ellis a minute to decipher the gibberish, and another ten or so for him to send his reply.

Finn– I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to take a rain check. Something came up. I’ll pick you up after work; it’s a Saturday after all.

Finn had been looking forward to their date, and was more than a little irked that Ellis had cancelled on such short notice. The two of them had been seeing less and less of each other for the past two weeks, and this was the third date Ellis had cancelled, with the same vague excuse of: “Something came up.” He sighed, snapping his cell phone shut and resting his chin on his textbooks.

“Work must be really hectic for him,” he murmured to himself. A passing librarian threw him a quizzical look.

He spent a good minute feeling sorry for himself, then sighed and went back to work on his research paper.

The next day, he decided to go ahead and treat himself to lunch anyhow, with or without Ellis. The weather was particularly beautiful that afternoon, and Finn told himself he needed the fresh air. Walking down the sidewalk in the shade of the trees, he felt himself relax. There were lots of people out that day, seated in the park benches or spread out on the grass. He watched them with mild interest; people-watching had always been a hobby of his.

And then he saw Ellis.

Finn stopped and instinctively ducked behind a tree. It was a stupid thing to do, because for one thing, it couldn’t possibly be Ellis, he had to be mistaken. And for another, the man was clear on the other side of the park and wouldn’t have seen Finn anyway. Feeling slightly foolish, he stepped out from the tree for another look.

It was Ellis.

Finn could recognize that man anywhere. Ellis wasn’t, at first or even second glance, exceedingly handsome. But there was a quiet sort of charisma and an understated air about him that just made him stand out that much more. He had dark hair, turning slightly grey around his temple, and dark, expressive eyes. It was those eyes, coupled with that unknowable atmosphere, that had made Finn reach out to him in the first place. Finn was all set to dash up to him and give Ellis a good scare when he saw the young woman walking along beside him.

Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Finn. He said something came up at the office, so she’s probably a colleague, Finn told himself sternly. But he still couldn’t shake off the rising panic in his chest.

The two had walked behind a group of trees, and Finn had to strain his neck to see them. Finally, abandoning all pretense, he went to follow them. He kept a good distance, but still saw with a sinking heart that Ellis and the attractive woman were holding hands. And laughing together. And looking into each other’s eyes with what was unmistakably love.

Unable to look any longer, Finn whirled around and ran all the way back to the university, his lunch forgotten.

When Finn stepped out into the parking lot of the bar that night, he saw the familiar shape of Ellis leaning against the hood of his car. He paused, then steeled himself before walking up to the other.

“Hello, stranger,” Ellis said.

Finn ignored him, pulling out his keys and starting to unlock the door. Ellis, completely taken aback by Finn’s uncharacteristic behavior, stood up and approached him.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked worriedly, putting a hand on Finn’s shoulder.

Finn shook him off, and Ellis stared at him, stunned. Finn had never…

Desperate now, Ellis grabbed Finn’s arm and spun him around. “Finn, what–”

“Let go of me!” Finn snapped.

“What happened?” Ellis demanded, flinching at Finn’s words. He saw, with sinking horror, that Finn’s eyes were shining with tears. Finn cried often, it was true (all it took was a particularly moving episode of Grey’s Anatomy), but this was serious. “Did someone hurt you?”

“Yes, someone did,” Finn said, his tears spilling down his cheeks. “Someone did, and he’s too much of a fucking prick to even admit it.”

“Who–”

“For fuck’s sake, Ellis, stop it! Don’t act like you don’t know!” Finn yelled, yanking his arm away from Ellis’ grip. “I saw you today, okay? You can stop pretending now.”

It took a second for Finn’s words to register in Ellis’ brain.

“Oh,” he said softly.

“Yeah, that’s right. Oh. How could you lie to me?” Finn asked, crying freely now.

“Oh,” Ellis said again. “Finn, no… No, it wasn’t like that. Don’t cry.”

“I’ll fucking cry if I want to!” Finn snapped. “And what do you mean? I saw you two holding hands! Don’t tell me she was your sister, because nobody holds hands with their sister like that!”

“She wasn’t my sister,” Ellis admitted.

Christ, Ellis!” Finn cried, burying his face in his hands. Ellis felt his heart break.

“Finn, I’m not cheating on you,” Ellis said, trying to keep his voice calm. “I swear it.”

“Uh-huh, yeah, whatever,” Finn snorted, his voice muffled by his hands.

Ellis put his arms around Finn, ignoring the boy’s struggles and curses, hugging him close. “Finn, you have to hear my side of this. Will you let me explain? Please?”

After a long pause, Finn finally grumbled, “Fine” into Ellis’ chest. Ellis patted Finn’s head gratefully.

“Will you meet me for lunch at River’s End tomorrow? I’ll explain everything there.”

Finn pulled back. “Tomorrow? What the hell do you need to be in a café for? Why can’t you explain it now?”

“Please,” Ellis said softly. “Just wait until tomorrow. I promise, I’ll explain it all.”

“I don’t see why–”

Please, Finn,” Ellis said again, and it was the look in Ellis’ eyes more than anything that made Finn nod his assent.

“All right. Fine. But if you cancel this date, you are so screwed, mister,” Finn said firmly.

“I promise,” Ellis repeated, and pressed a quick kiss on Finn’s forehead before the boy could protest.

For the first time in what seemed like ages, Finn wasn’t late for his date. In fact, he had come five minutes early, a new record. Ellis was already waiting for him, though, seated at their usual corner table.

“All right. I’m here. Now start explaining,” Finn said as soon as he sat down.

“Wait, there’s someone meeting us here,” Ellis said.

“What?” Finn asked, startled.

“She should be here any minute– Oh, there she is.” Ellis waved a hand, and Finn turned around to see the young woman from yesterday walking towards them.

She was exceptionally pretty, even Finn could see that. Tall and slender, with the sort of curves most men went wild over — if you were into that sort of thing. Finn wasn’t, and he still found himself staring. Her glossy black hair fell in thick curls, framing a pale, oval face. She waved at them and walked up to the table, bending down to give Ellis a kiss on the cheek before sitting down beside him.

“Olivia, this is Finn. Finn, this is Olivia,” Ellis said quickly, before Finn could interject. And then, after a slight pause, he added: “My daughter.”

Finn felt himself blush, confusion, disbelief and embarrassment all struggling to take over him. Olivia smiled at him and shook his hand — she had a firm, confident grip — and Finn finally managed a weak smile.

“Finn, it’s very nice to meet you,” she said brightly.

“Um, yeah, same,” Finn replied lamely.

“Dad tells me you go to Wright U?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’m in my second year.”

“Wonderful. I just graduated last summer. It’s a great school, isn’t it?”

“Um, yes. It is.” Stop saying “um!” Finn thought viciously. “Um…” Brilliant. “What did you major in?”

“Theater,” Olivia said. “I’m a hardcore thespian.”

“A what?” Finn asked, before he could stop himself.

“Thespian. You know, a drama geek,” Olivia giggled. “I’m a lesbian, too, but–”

“Olivia,” Ellis said, a hint of exasperation in his voice.

“Oh, what, you get to show off your new boyfriend and I can’t talk about my sex life?” Olivia retorted.

“Olivia, no father ever wants to hear about their daughter’s sex life,” Ellis groaned, rubbing his temple.

“Daddy thinks it’s just a phase,” Olivia told Finn, raising a perfectly sculpted brow. “Can you believe him?”

“What? No!” Finn said, all awkwardness gone in a flash. “Ellis, how could you? You, of all people?”

“I never said it was ‘just a phase,'” Ellis said defensively. “I said that it was possible that… Under the circumstances… I mean, it’s not easy having a, a–”

“A poof for a poppa?” Olivia suggested.

“–And that, well. Maybe her sexual identity is influenced by it.”

“Having a gay father doesn’t make you gay,” Finn said.

Thank you, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell him since high school,” Olivia snorted.

The rest of the lunch went by without much incident. Finn found himself quite liking Olivia, despite his initial impression of her. They conversed easily about school, naming professors and students to see who they knew in common. Ellis was quiet for the most part, chancing quick looks at Finn, who was pleasant enough but avoiding his eyes. When Olivia excused herself and left, the two stayed behind, a silence settling over them.

“Well,” Ellis finally said quietly. “Now you know.”

“Is this why you’ve been blowing me off lately? To see Olivia?” Finn asked, looking at his empty plate.

“Yes,” Ellis admitted. “She’s only in town for a couple weeks, and I wanted to spend some time with her before–”

“And if I hadn’t caught you two, you never would have even mentioned her?” Finn demanded, finally looking up at him. Ellis was troubled to see, not anger, but hurt in Finn’s expression.

“I’m sorry,” Ellis said softly. It was a meaningless thing to say, but he couldn’t think of anything else.

Finn stood up abruptly. “Let’s go. I’m going to start yelling again if we continue this conversation, and I don’t want to get us kicked out,” he said flatly.

The two met up again at Ellis’ apartment, walking up the steps together in silence. Once they were inside, Ellis spoke first.

“Are you still angry with me?”

“Yes,” Finn said flatly.

“Finn, I’m sorry. But now you know it was just a misunderstanding. I would never–”

“It’s not about that anymore, is it?” Finn snapped, his eyes glowering.

“What do you–”

“You don’t trust me!” Finn yelled. “You lied to me!”

“I have never lied to you,” Ellis said, his voice oddly quiet.

“An ex-wife and a daughter? Did they just slip your mind, somehow?” Finn demanded. “Holding back the truth is as good as lying, and you know it. What the hell, Ellis? We’ve been together for five months.”

“You haven’t exactly been completely honest with me, either,” Ellis pointed out.

What? Don’t try and turn this on me! When have I ever lied to you?” Finn sputtered.

“You said it yourself. Holding back the truth is as good as lying, isn’t it? Come on, Finn. Have you ever told me anything about your family?”

“What does that have to do with–”

“Whenever we talk about your job or workload, you change the subject. All those letters you get from the university. Do you think I don’t notice you hiding them from me?” Ellis’ voice was still calm, and when coupled with that infuriating logic, Finn found himself unable to deny anything.

“Now… Just… Okay, that’s not fair, that’s completely different…!”

“Finn, it’s okay. I’m not mad about it,” Ellis said gently, putting a cautious hand on Finn’s shoulder. The boy didn’t brush it off, and Ellis took that as a good sign. “Really, I’m not. We both made mistakes, but this is a new relationship, so it’s bound to happen. We’ll just try and be more open with each other from now on.”

“That’s not fair,” Finn said again, a plaintive edge in his voice that sounded perilously close to a whine.

“What’s not fair?” Ellis asked mildly.

“That you can just logic your way out of this,” Finn pouted. “I want to stay mad at you, dammit. I deserve to be in a good rage once in a while. But you’re so goddamn reasonable, it drives me crazy!”

“I’m… sorry?” Ellis offered, forcing himself not to smile.

“Why didn’t you just tell me, Ellis?” Finn asked again, the hurt coming back to his eyes now.

Ellis sighed softly and ran his fingers through his hair, as he always seemed to do when uneasy. “Finn… I’m constantly reminded of how much older I am than you, but somehow you never seem to notice. It’s not like I was never going to tell you, it’s just… I kind of wanted to let the illusion continue for a bit, you know?”

Finn stared at him for a long moment. “You’re an idiot,” he finally said simply.

“Duly noted,” Ellis replied with a curt nod.

“Do you honestly think I don’t realize you’re older than me? For fuck’s sake, you have a pension. You use semicolons in your text messages.” Finn shook his head, but Ellis saw, with relief, that he was grinning.

“You’re younger than Olivia,” Ellis started, looking extremely uncomfortable.

“Ellis, I don’t care about the age thing, really,” Finn interrupted. “If it meant anything to me, I never would have bought you that drink in the first place.”

They were quiet again for a few minutes, seated across from each other in the kitchen table, staring at their hands.

“Move in with me.” The words were out of Ellis’ mouth before he could stop them.

“…What?” Finn asked.

Ellis took a deep breath. “Move in with me.”

“Is that a question or a command?”

“Finn, this is me being open with you: I have a grown daughter from a nine-year marriage that was doomed from the start. I live by myself in a three-bedroom apartment and work at a job I’ve been doing for the past twenty years. I only own two pairs of jeans. I’m slightly obsessive-compulsive about housework. I’ve never had a boyfriend in my life. I’m constantly afraid that you’ll wake up one morning and realize you’re dating an old fart. And I love you.”

Finn stared at him.

“I want you to move in with me,” Ellis said again.

“You love me,” Finn repeated.

“Yes.”

“Even though I make you watch Oprah with me?”

“Actually, I’ve always loved Oprah,” Ellis admitted.

“I can’t–” Finn started.

“Why not?”

“Do you think I can afford half the rent on this place?” Finn asked.

“Don’t be stupid,” Ellis said simply.

“Ellis, I’m not going to let you ‘keep’ me.”

“You practically live here anyway,” Ellis pointed out.

“That’s not the point,” Finn protested.

“Finn, I’ve seen how hard you work, how much you study. And I respect that, I respect you. It’s why I’ve never asked you to move in even though I’ve been wanting to for ages. But you don’t have to prove yourself to me.”

“It’s not… it’s not about that,” Finn said helplessly.

“Then what? Why are you trying to take everything on by yourself?”

“Because I can. Because I’m not supposed to expect anyone else to. And I don’t want anyone taking care of me,” Finn said.

“Finn, if you do move in with me, the only thing that’s going to change is that you won’t have to pay the rent on an apartment you barely see every month.”

“Would you just stop that already?” Finn demanded.

Taken aback, Ellis asked, “What?”

“Stop being so fucking reasonable!” Finn slumped in his seat, covering his face with his hands.

Ellis opened his mouth to speak, but decided against it.

“I guess it’s my turn,” Finn mumbled after a long while.

“Your turn?”

Finn looked up and, to Ellis’ relief, smiled. “My turn to be open with you. So here goes: I’m the oldest of six children. My family isn’t poor, but I knew from a young age that there were some things in life that we couldn’t afford. When I realized that college was one of them, I decided I’d pay for it myself. My parents want to help, but I keep telling them to worry about the others. All those letters from the university? That’s from financial aid. I get student loans but even then it only covers part of tuition and none of the rent. And considering what I want to be when I graduate, I won’t be able to pay off the loans for a long while.”

“What do you want to be?”

“A historian,” Finn replied, looking slightly sheepish. “It’s not exactly a high-paying job.”

“You’re incredible,” Ellis said, smiling softly.

Finn made a face at him.

“Move in with me,” Ellis said again. Finn had to admit, the man didn’t give up easily.

“What if we fight?” Finn asked, chewing at his lower lip.

“We just did. We’ll get over it.”

“What if you hate living with me? I’m messy, you know I’m messy.”

“It’ll give me an excuse to vacuum more,” Ellis shrugged.

“What if… What if you get tired of me?”

“Finn.”

“Yeah?”

“Move in with me.”

Finn looked at him for a long while, a smile growing on his face. “…Okay.”

“You realize now, people are going to think I’m just dating you for your money?” Finn whispered. He was hovering over Ellis on the large bed, his hands skimming over Ellis’ skin as though mapping out the lines of his body. He had surprisingly delicate fingers, Ellis thought distractedly, long and slender like the rest of him. His admiration for those hands increased greatly as he felt Finn close one around his erection, stroking it to fullness deftly.

“God,” Ellis moaned.

“And that’s just not true. I’m dating you for your body,” Finn said, smiling into their kiss.

“You’re getting a rather poor deal, then,” Ellis muttered.

“Oh, shut up,” Finn said, nipping him lightly on the nose. Only Finn could nip someone on the nose and get away with it. “You’re lovely, you know that?”

“Hmm,” Ellis said vaguely.

“I mean it,” Finn said, all jest gone now from his voice. “When you came into the bar that first night… I thought I’d die if I didn’t talk to you.”

Ellis said nothing, grateful for the dark. Not that he was blushing, of course. Ellis Beckett did not blush.

“I love you,” Finn breathed.

Ellis felt his heart swell with ridiculous joy, but before he could think of an appropriate response, Finn’s hand moved again and he felt all coherent thought leave him. Finn was kissing his way down now, a pink tongue darting out to trace a line from his navel to his–

God,” Ellis hissed again.

Finn only grinned in reply, glancing up and into Ellis’ eyes. He didn’t break their gaze as he bent down and closed his lips around Ellis’ cock, tonguing the head and sucking gently. Ellis arched up into Finn’s mouth, his own falling open in a silent gasp. His hands reached down to stroke Finn’s hair, threading his fingers in the tangle of fiery strands. Finn hummed appreciatively as he lowered his head further, drawing another muted curse from Ellis. Finn tried to take Ellis into his mouth completely, but started to gag and backed off. He seemed to enjoy trying, though, and gave a few more attempts. Ellis wasn’t complaining.

Minutes later, when Ellis felt himself starting to lose control, he whispered, “Stop… Finn, stop.”

Finn raised his head, resting his lips lightly on the swollen head of Ellis’ cock. Ellis was breathing heavily, dark eyes hooded with lust. Finn’s hands ran along Ellis’ inner thighs, spreading them apart. Ellis bit his lip, his breath quickening, as Finn bent down to run his tongue along the newly exposed flesh.

“Finn,” Ellis gasped.

Finn didn’t reply, coaxing Ellis’ legs apart even further, his fingers joining his tongue in its exploration. He looked up and saw Ellis biting his lower lip to keep from moaning, his brows knit in an expression of exquisite pleasure, his face flushed and heated. Finn felt his heart skip a beat; he rarely saw Ellis look this… vulnerable. He leaned up to kiss him, swallowing a groan as his fingertips brushed across the tight pucker of Ellis’ opening. He rubbed the sensitive skin slowly, pushing against it ever so slightly. Ellis jumped, breaking the kiss, his back arched off the bed.

“Ellis…” Finn said hesitantly. “Can I…?”

“Yes,” Ellis whispered.

Finn blushed. Despite the initial hesitation during their first time, Ellis had always topped. It wasn’t that he ever refused, but the question just never came up again. Finn didn’t mind, really; being fucked by Ellis felt amazing. But he had always wondered…

“Do it,” Ellis urged him, leaning up to trace the shell of Finn’s ear with his tongue. “Take me.”

What felt like all the blood in his body rushed to Finn’s cock, and for a moment he could only stay still, trying to remember how exactly one went about breathing. Forcing himself to calm down, he tilted his face to kiss Ellis again, more to reassure himself than anything. Blindly, he groped for the bedside dresser, pulling the drawer open and searching out the lube and condoms. Finn remembered Ellis putting them there after their first night together, instead of back in the bathroom medicine cabinet, and couldn’t help but laugh softly.

Ellis was used to Finn giggling or smiling during sex, something that would greatly unnerve most men. He bit Finn’s shoulder playfully, as if reprimanding him, but Finn only laughed some more in response.

“You’re ruining the mood, you know that?” Ellis said in mock indignation.

“Why did you keep the condoms in your bathroom?” Finn asked, kissing the curve of Ellis’ neck. “You never told me.”

“I don’t know… Habit,” Ellis said, biting back a moan as he felt their erections brushing against each other.
Finn grinned and reached down to wrap his long fingers around both of their cocks, stroking slowly, his hips moving in an irresistible rhythm.

“Habit?” Finn asked.

“We… we used to keep them there… Shit, Finn,” Ellis breathed.

“You and your wife?”

“Ex-wife. Finn, please,” Ellis said, exasperated. “Just do it.”

“Swoosh,” Finn said, unable to stop himself. Ellis rolled his eyes and Finn kissed him apologetically. He’d make it up to him, he thought.

Rolling a condom onto his cock, Finn reached for the lube and worked it one-handed. Ellis once again admired his dexterity and coordination, then told himself that was a remarkably un-sexy thing to think about, really. But before he could think of anything else, he felt two slick fingers pushing into him, slowly but without pausing.

“Oh, fuck,” Ellis hissed.

Finn leaned over him and kissed him again, his fingers pushed in to the third knuckle. Ellis fought to keep himself from tensing, but then Finn did this twist with his hand — where did he learn that? — and Ellis jumped again, another curse escaping his lips. Finn cooed soothing noises into Ellis’ ear, his fingers driving in and out, flicking over that spot again and again, each time sending spasms through Ellis’ body.

“Shit, Finn, please,” he groaned.

Finn withdrew his fingers, and Ellis felt a horrible emptiness before something blunt and considerably larger took their place. His breath hitched in his throat as Finn pushed inside of him, the pain unexpected and sharp. Ellis’ eyes screwed shut, his hands clutching at the sheets tightly.

“Ellis… Ellis, relax,” Finn whispered, reaching up to stroke the other’s face.

Ellis opened his eyes and saw Finn looking down at him anxiously. He took deep, steadying breaths and felt himself relax just a bit. Finn pulled out slowly, then pushed in again, deeper this time. He hitched Ellis’ legs over his shoulders, leaning over him until their chests nearly touched as he repeated the motion. Then again… And again… Until he was in, completely, and Ellis felt a fullness he had never felt before, his heart thrumming against his chest so hard it hurt. Finn had paused, waiting for some sign to continue. They were both panting for breath, a sheen of sweat glistening on their skin. Finally, Ellis’ stirred his hips, moving them slightly upward. A desperate sort of sound escaped Finn, and Ellis saw him close his eyes just for a moment, as though steadying himself.

“Move,” Ellis demanded.

Finn kissed him deeply, waiting until he felt some of the tension leaving Ellis’ body before obeying the order. He moved slowly at first, a small gasp escaping Ellis with each thrust. When the gasps escalated to moans, Finn quickened the pace, reaching down to stroke Ellis’ cock as he did so. Ellis was rising up to meet Finn’s hips, his fingers digging into the other’s back as he felt his climax rising.

“God, Finn, fuck me,” Ellis hissed without thinking.

Finn didn’t think it was possible to be more turned on, considering what they were doing, but the words sent a rush of heat throughout his body and any control he had was lost. With a strangled cry he pounded into Ellis, fisting the other’s cock in time with his thrusts, feeling his orgasm building, building–

“Ah, fuck, Ellis…!” Finn gasped. He came in a rush, his hips bucking against Ellis’ uncontrollably. Ellis felt himself tense, his hand joining Finn’s around his cock as he jacked himself off. He came in great shudders, his seed spilling onto his stomach and chest, his cock twitching in their hands.

Finn had just enough brain cells left in working condition to pull out and throw away the condom before collapsing beside Ellis. For a while they simply lay there, catching their breaths. Then Finn scooted closer to Ellis, throwing an arm over the other’s chest and leaning up to kiss him.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Ellis replied, smiling. “I’m great.”

“Did I hurt you?”

“No,” Ellis said, which wasn’t entirely true. He wrapped his arms around Finn, drawing him closer.

After a long pause, Finn gave one last attempt.

“I’m a horrible roommate.”

“It’s okay, I’m only dating you for your body,” Ellis replied. Finn stuck his tongue out at him, and Ellis licked it, laughing at the disgusted look on Finn’s face.

Epilogue

“Okay… Yeah, it was good talking to you, too… I’ll see you tomorrow, then. Bye.”

Ellis placed the phone back in its cradle and settled himself back on the sofa beside Finn, who was flipping through a large photo album in his lap.

“Who was that?” he asked.

“Old friend,” Ellis said. “We used to work together, but then he left for his sabbatical and then I got fired while he was gone. We sort of lost touch after that, but he seems to have tracked me down.”

Finn looked up, raising an eyebrow. “Should I be jealous?”

“Of Sinclair?” Ellis asked, laughing. “Jesus, no, that’d be disgusting.”

Whatever retort Finn had in mind was swiftly forgotten as he turned a page and came across a single photo. He stared at it for a long time, spellbound, holding the album up to his face.

“Here, you can just take it out of the vinyl…” Ellis suggested.

Finn did so without a word, holding the photo very lovingly. Ellis shifted uncomfortably beside him, a bit puzzled by Finn’s fascination with it. After what seemed like ages, Finn spoke.

“When was this taken?” he asked, still looking at the photograph.

“Before you were born,” Ellis said wryly. “About twenty-two years ago.”

“She has your eyes,” Finn said.

Ellis didn’t really know what to say to that, and stayed quiet, feeling inexplicably warm. Finally, Finn put photo back and glanced up at the clock.

“Oh, shit! I’m going to be late for class,” he said, jumping up. He leaned down to give Ellis a quick kiss before picking up his bag and heading for the door.

“See you at home,” Ellis called after him.

Finn looked over his shoulder and smiled. “See you.”

illustrated by Shuua

===
あとがき / Author’s Notes
In both Japanese and Korean, there’s a phrase for when a person leaves the house that you’re supposed to call out to the rest of the family. It literally translates to: “I’m going and coming back.” (Ittekimasu in Japanese and Danyeo ogaeseumnida in Korean.) It’s too bad there’s no English equivalent, because that’s basically what I wanted to Finn to say at the end. Oh well. I think we all get it, they live together now, yay 😀 *shot*

The sketch (“photograph” pfft yeah, right) is by me, done at around 3 AM, which is also around the time I finished writing this, so apologies for the overall shoddiness u_u;

♥ Shuua

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