by Nanaki (ナナキ)
illustrated by beili
Zack pulled up his hood and slumped over the table, using his arms as pillows. Showing up at school when the sun wasn’t even up, on a Saturday no less, wasn’t what he signed up for when he joined the engineering club. It was a cruel and unusual punishment, as far as he was concerned.
A hand clapped him on the back, jolting him back into consciousness. Zack cracked open an eye and glared up at the culprit. Bryce looked down at him with amusement clear on his stupid face.
“You gonna sleep or are you actually gonna help do something?” Zack didn’t bother to respond and put his face back down. “I told you to stop freaking out over the championship and go to bed early last night.”
“I don’t know you anymore.” Most of Zack’s reply was muffled by his arms. He just wanted some sleep, or maybe just a mainline of caffeine; Zack wasn’t awake enough to really care which.
As if reading his mind (which Zack couldn’t discount, seeing as they were as good as attached to the hip), Bryce sighed and put a huge travel mug down in front of his face. Zack’s eyes zeroed in on mug and he greedily pulled it closer, only sitting up when he had the lid open.
The first scalding sip was enough to jump-start his brain. By the second, Zack had enough faculties back to notice whose mug he was drinking from. “Bryce, were you hiding my own coffee from me?”
Whatever Bryce was going to say was interrupted when Mr. Morris, their faculty advisor, came through the door with an excited “Hello, engineers!” Zack grabbed the mug and chugged, because there was no way he could handle Morris otherwise.
“We have a long day ahead of us, so let’s start getting ready and loading everything up.” A collective groan went up in the room. Apparently Zack wasn’t the only one who had trouble staying awake. “Remember, we do get a few hours on competition day to make last minute adjustments to our robot. Oh, and Bryce, I’m going to need to go over the itinerary with you.”
Bryce reached over and swiped the mug out of Zack’s loose grip before Zack could react. He took a long sip of coffee before handing it back to Zack. “I guess that’s my cue. Don’t drink all that at once or we’re gonna end up stopping at every gas station so you can take a piss.”
Zack rolled his eyes and waved his boyfriend off. “Yes, mom.”
Bryce snorted, but Zack saw that he was trying not to smile as he walked to the front of the classroom.
Zack figured he needed to get off his ass when he was the only person left in the classroom with Bryce and Mr. Morris. His bag was already stowed away in Bryce’s truck so he decided to head for the workshop and see if anyone there needed his help.
The workshop looked empty from the outside, but Zack saw a couple of people packing up when he stepped inside. Parked in the far corner of the room was TERA, all 120 pounds of steel, circuit-boards, and tires of it. TERA wasn’t the prettiest robot — the rectangular metal skeleton could attest to that — but they weren’t going to a beauty competition, so no one really cared. Zack actually liked the industrial look.
The junior who was in charge of putting the robot together popped her head out from the closet and waved. “Hey, do you think we should connect the battery and stuff right now?”
Zack shook his head and she disappeared back into the closet. “We have to take the battery and bumpers off for the clean weigh-in once we get there, anyway. Probably just put them in a box.”
A thumbs up appeared from inside the closet, followed quickly by a tall plastic bin and lid.
“Hey, Zack, think fast!”
Zack instinctively threw up his hands and dropped to the ground, letting whatever Bryce tossed towards him clatter to the concrete floor. They turned out to be Bryce’s keys.
“I hate you so much right now,” Zack grumbled as he picked up the discarded keys and stood up.
“I didn’t even toss ’em that hard. I totally thought you were gonna catch it.” Zack would’ve believed Bryce’s sincerity more if his shoulders weren’t shaking with bottled-up laughter.
“Do you need something or are you just here to tease me some more?”
Bryce pulled him into a one-armed hug. “Sorry, sorry. How can I make it up to you?”
A mock gagging sound from behind the closet door interrupted them. They stared at each other for a second, silently debating if they should act extra-sappy before deciding better of it.
“Can you go and plug those into the GPS?” Bryce asked, handing Zack a piece of paper.
“Why can’t you do it?”
Bryce pointed towards TERA. “Cause I have to move that outside.”
Zack put the paper in his pocket and pulled away. “Fine, I’ll go.”
Bryce’s truck was out in the loading dock next to the workshop. Most of the club members were lingering next to the nondescript white van next to Bryce’s truck, and they waved as Zack walked by. Zack waved back and unlocked the door before climbing inside. The list wasn’t that long; they were mostly making stops for food, making it easy enough to plug in.
Bryce and three other guys brought TERA out to the loading dock when Zack was finished inputting their route. TERA was hard enough to load as it was because of its weight and bulk, but the protective cardboard sleeve made it even harder. It looked like it took all of Bryce’s strength to load the robot into the back.
TERA was too tall for them to leave it upright, so they had to lay it down on its side — which proved to be the hardest part of all, as they tried to do it without getting the wires tangled or breaking any of the fragile innards.
When Bryce threw a tarp over the robot and tied everything down to the truck bed, Zack reached into the ice box on the backseat and pulled out a bottle of water. He jumped down from his seat and went to hand Bryce the bottle. Bryce gladly accepted it and drained half the bottle.
“Everyone settle down, I’d like to say something before we leave.” The loading dock grew silent and everyone turned to look at Morris as he locked the doors and came outside. “This competition isn’t all about just winning. It’s a time to gather together and have a good time. Win or lose, I want everyone to have fun at the competition. Now let’s get going.”
The coffee Zack had guzzled couldn’t stave off his exhaustion from being sleep-deprived the night before, and he fell asleep even before they got on the freeway. By the time he woke up, the sun was shining and the clock said that a good four hours had passed.
Zack was a heavy sleeper, he once slept through his brother Nick sneaking home after curfew and accidentally tripping the alarm system, but Bryce still had the music down low so it didn’t disturb him. Bryce’s eyes were hidden behind his aviators, but his head was facing straight ahead and it looked like he’d yet to notice Zack was awake, giving Zack a chance to just watch him.
Zack must’ve made a sound or something else to bring attention to himself, because Bryce looked over at him. Bryce shot him a smile and greeted him with a good morning, before turning his head back to the road in front of them.
“How far along are we?” Zack asked as he opened the center console and rooted around for his sunglasses. He made a triumphant noise when he found them and slipped them on.
“We’re almost at the first stop, a Denny’s I think. Maybe in another hour.” Bryce yawned into his fist before reaching for the coffee and taking a sip.
“That’s good ’cause I’m starving. Mm, I can already taste the bacon and pancakes.” Zack’s stomach growled in agreement.
“When are you not hungry?”
“Just for that, I’m making you buy me waffles, too.”
They pulled up in front of the stadium at half past nine. The GPS had told them that they’d arrived at their destination when they’d turned into the parking lot, but they didn’t know where they were supposed to go to park and unload. It didn’t help that the place was deserted apart from a couple of maintenance trucks parked in the far corner, either.
Zack’s phone beeped from inside his hoodie and he pulled it out to find a text waiting for him. just exited freeway, rep waiting @ back loading dock. Bryce nodded when Zack relayed the message and he maneuvered them around to the back of the stadium.
Just as the text had said, someone was standing in the loading area, next to an open service entrance. The man climbed down from the raised dock and came up to tell them to back into the loading area. Bryce did he was told and carefully backed his truck into position.
The van with the rest of the club pulled up in front of them as Bryce was lowering the tailgate. Mr. Morris got out of the van and went to meet with the representative while a few of the guys climbed out and came to help Bryce with TERA. They got the all-clear to unload after Mr. Morris signed the papers the representative shoved in front of his face.
If loading TERA in had been struggle, getting the robot unloaded from the back of the truck was a herculean effort. Righting the 120 pounds of robot that was TERA — while making sure not to break anything, that was important — and then keeping it from falling as they rolled it off the truck wasn’t easy. It took Bryce, Zack, and the four other guys who came to help to do it.
It was comparatively easier to load up their cart with their extra parts and push both it and the robot through the wide service door and into the brightly lit back room. There were other entries lined up and ready inside, but they were directed to roll TERA onto an industrial-sized scale at the back of the room.
TERA came in just under the weight limit and it was only after the representative officially recorded the number that they were allowed to park TERA into its overnight parking spot. The representative went through TERA’s parts one final time and had them tape it shut when he was satisfied with what he found.
It was almost surreal for Zack to be standing there after months of work. Bryce must have felt the same because he reached up and squeezed Zack’s shoulder.
The hotel ended up being a quick fifteen-minute drive from the convention center; which was good, because everyone was exhausted after nearly a full day on the road. Mr. Morris told them to wait in the lobby while he went ahead to sign them in at the front desk. The sofas in the lobby were hard and uncomfortable, but Zack still found himself slumping against Bryce and dozing.
Zack blinked awake with a sharp intake of air when his human pillow shifted. Bryce had moved to grab a keycard from Mr. Morris.
“I hope you boys don’t mind being on the other side of the hotel. It was the only room they had available.”
Bryce shook his head and told Mr. Morris that they’d make do just fine with the arrangement. Bryce reached for Zack’s backpack as Mr. Morris went on to hand out the rest of the keys, but Zack batted away Bryce’s hands and grabbed his backpack from the ground. “I got it.”
Yawning, Zack got up and stretched his sore back, before following Bryce to the elevators. The ride up to their floor was quick and they found their room at the end of the hallway. Bryce unlocked the door and led Zack in.
“You can go ahead and use the bathroom first,” Bryce told him, dropping his bag on the floor at the foot of one of the beds.
“Sure, thanks.” Zack tossed his backpack on the other bed and toed off his sneakers before stepping into the bathroom.
Zack clicked on the light in the bathroom and stripped out of his hoodie, letting the door close behind him. He turned on the sink and washed his face with cold water. It woke him up and Zack felt a bit better than he had before.
Bryce was waiting for him when Zack stepped outside the bathroom. Zack paused when his eyes landed on Bryce’s toned, bare chest. Whatever Zack was going to say was cut off when Bryce leaned in and pulled Zack into a kiss.
Zack gasped when he felt Bryce’s tongue swipe over his teeth, looking for entry. Bryce took that as a good sign and deepened the kiss, before walking Zack back towards the wall. Zack let him take the lead and wrapped his arms around Bryce’s neck, pulling Bryce closer.
Zack shuddered when hot, callused hands slipped under his shirt and gripped his hips. Zack groaned into Bryce’s mouth when Bryce ran his hands up Zack’s sides, hitching up Zack’s t-shirt as he went. Bryce’s pupils were blown and dark with arousal when they separated.
Bryce didn’t waste time and pulled Zack’s t-shirt off. He tossing it over his shoulder, before latching onto Zack’s exposed neck.
Zack gasped involuntarily when Bryce reached down and unbuttoned his jeans, pulling them open with practiced ease. Bryce slipped his hands down the back of Zack’s jeans and dragged them down his thighs.
Zack was so hard it almost hurt.
Bryce pulled away from Zack’s neck and dropped to his knees. Zack’s legs almost gave out when Bryce leaned forward and put his mouth over his clothed erection. Bryce mouthed the length, making Zack moan, before he pushed Zack up against the wall and grasped his boxers.
Zack let out a distressed sound when Bryce pulled back, but his whole body jerked when Bryce pulled down his constricting boxers and a hot mouth took him whole.
Zack felt his entire face heat up and he laced his fingers with Bryce’s hand braced up against the wall near Zack’s hip. He bit down on his lip to keep from crying out, but couldn’t help but moan into his free arm.
Zack was lost in the sensation of Bryce’s mouth bobbing up and down, and he only dully noticing a probing finger. He looked down to see Bryce holding a bottle of lube. Zack’s hips jerked reflexively when he heard Bryce pop open the lid.
One of Bryce’s slick fingers circled his hole and Zack gasped when Bryce slowly pushed the finger inside Zack. There was a dull burn, but it wasn’t a bad burn; Zack rather liked the friction.
Zack barely muffled his yelp when Bryce skimmed over the spot inside of him that shot a bolt of white-hot pleasure through his body. Bryce ran his finger over the spot again and Zack’s legs just about gave out.
Bryce pulled off of Zack’s cock and tongued along the underside, slowly adding another finger to the one already working inside. Zack let out a stuttered breath at the burn, but it faded faster and Zack was quickly back to riding an endorphin high.
“B… Bryce. You gotta…” Zack choked out when Bryce sucked him down whole again, pushing him right to the edge. He was embarrassingly close, his body was already shaking with pent up need. “Hey Bry… agh!”
Bryce’s throat worked to swallow as Zack came with a sharp exhale of breath. Bryce didn’t waste a drop and kept on licking and sucking until Zack was a shaking, spent mess. Bryce finally pulled his slick mouth away when Zack pushed him away, and licked his lips, thoughtfully, letting Zack slump to the ground.
Zack somehow found the hand-eye coordination to reach for Bryce’s boxers; Bryce had pushed his jeans down while Zack was occupied. Bryce caught his hands and pinned them to the wall above his head, leaning forward to close his mouth around Zack’s bitten-red lips. Zack could taste his own come on Bryce’s tongue when it swept through his mouth
“I already came,” Bryce whispered, breathlessly, as he pulled away from Zack’s mouth and grazed Zack’s earlobe with his teeth. “You don’t know what you do to me, Zack. Making those noises and looking at me like I’m the only thing in the world.”
“Fuck,” Zack panted, face heating up. “You can’t just say stuff like that.”
Zack reached over to the nightstand and plugged his phone into the charger when Bryce came out of the bathroom. Bryce shut the door with his foot and pulled on a worn white t-shirt.
“Big day tomorrow, huh?” Bryce said as he slipped into bed behind Zack.
Zack pulled Bryce’s arm over his stomach and shimmied closer until his back was flush against Bryce’s solid chest. “Yup.”
Zack turned his head back when Bryce didn’t say anything. Bryce was looking at him with a mildly concerned expression. “You know, you’ve been really zen about all this. I figured you were gonna be stressed out.”
The bed shook a little when Zack shrugged. “I think I’m too tired to worry. Besides, it’s not like there’s anything we can do.” Bryce’s forehead smoothed out, but he didn’t look completely convicted. “I’m fine.” Zack said, reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it.”
“If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure.” Zack put his head back down on the pillow. “Now c’mon, turn off the light. We have to get up early.”
Even Zack was a bit surprised when his nerves didn’t act up the next day. He was fine at breakfast and he was calm when he put the finishing touches on TERA when one of the freshman started hyperventilating.
It was a good thing Zack wasn’t stressing out, because the matches were far more intense than the regional games. They managed to survive their first two matches, but in the end, they lost the third qualifying round. TERA hit and then got stuck in the safety barriers set up around the playing field, a quick and complete disqualification.
Sure it was a defeat, but the day wasn’t a complete bust. Being out of the running made it easier to just be. Everyone laughed more freely and weren’t on pins and needles all day. They even got a plaque for participating, which was more than they expected to get.
Mr. Morris corralled everyone up in front of Bryce’s truck for a group photo before they headed back home. There wasn’t enough room for everyone once they brought TERA in, so Bryce and Zack hopped up onto the hood. Bryce threw an arm around Zack’s shoulders and pulled him closer. Once everyone was crowded together, the cameraman snapped the photo.
They worked quickly, disassembling TERA into pieces and packing it away. By the time they finished, the parking lot was mostly empty and the sun was setting. Mr. Morris called over to them from the school van and told them to drive safe as they climbed into the truck.
They waved as the van went by and Bryce turned towards Zack as the engine thrummed. “You ready to head back?”
“Yeah, let’s go home.”