by Yuriko Toru (百合子 亨)
“I fucking hate camping,” Finn announced, for probably the thirtieth time.
Stretched out on a sleeping bag with his legs crossed at the ankle, Alex sighed, similarly repetitive. “Not my fault it’s snowing,” he pointed out, because clearly the message hadn’t sunk in the first twenty-nine times.
“Why did I agree to come camping with you?” Finn grouched. He was huddled in a morose ball near the tent’s door, a heap of blankets wrapped around his shoulders. He was glaring at Alex, his eyes gleaming in the soft silvery light filling the space between them.
“Because I’m your best friend, and because I fixed your bedroom door so it actually shuts,” Alex droned in response. He didn’t see the point in straying off-script: that would require thinking, and Alex had done enough thinking the first time around.
Finn, in accordance with the script, stayed silent. Alex listened to the soft hiss of snowflakes sliding off the tent and steadfastly ignored the steady pressure of Finn’s eyes fixed on him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Finn open his mouth. Alex rolled his eyes, tucking his hands under his head in preparation for another round.
“I’m going out for a walk,” Finn stated.
Alex was so off-balance from the non-sequitur that Finn was on his feet and unzipping the tent before he could speak a word.
“What,” he didn’t really ask so much as just say.
“Out,” Finn repeated. “Walk. I’m going.” He was crouched a little awkwardly in the doorway of the tent, one foot in and one foot out. His hair was ruffled, falling over his eyes in a way that tended to make Alex’s stomach tie itself in knots. He’d tried to emulate Finn’s particular Casually Dishevelled look a million times. It was much more attractive on Finn, that was for sure.
“It’s snowing,” Alex pointed out, trying not to stutter. Finn was watching him intently, eyes icy, and the sharp white light from outside made his face look marble, almost Grecian.
Finn gave him a very clear Thanks, Captain Obvious look. “No fucking shit. I thought it was spaceship ash.”
Alex ignored the deliberate Doctor Who reference in favour of asking, “Which way are you going, and when will you be back?”
“Fuck, I don’t know!” Finn dragged a hand down his face. “For fuck’s sake, I’ll call you or something!” He shoved his hair angrily out of his eyes, flipping it to one side, and jammed his feet into his unlaced boots. Alex’s eyes snagged on his wrist as he brushed the tent flap aside.
“Wait!” Alex called, but Finn was already out the door. Alex scrambled after him, ignoring the way his feet stung as the snow on the ground seeped through his socks.
“You won’t get any service out here!” Alex warned him, and Finn flipped him off over his shoulder.
“One hour!” Alex shouted.
“Fuck off!” Finn replied at equal volume, disappearing into the forest with his shoulders squared.
Shivering and resigned, Alex slipped back inside the tent. He wrapped himself in every blanket they’d brought, cracked open a book, and tried to ignore the prickle of worry at the base of his skull.
After forty minutes, the prickle of worry had turned into full-blown terror, complete with graphic and disturbing imagery. Alex forced himself into boots and a couple more layers and crawled outside to set up the camp stove, boil a kettle of water, and make two thermoses full of tea. When he’d finished, an hour was on the brink of passing and the sun was sinking behind the treetops. He bundled himself up in all the clothing he could fit on at once, took a moment to loosen his boot laces to accommodate the extra pair of socks, and set out in the direction he’d seen Finn heading, tea in hand. (He brought it less for himself than as a sort of peace offering; Finn had to be freezing his ass off in nothing but jeans and a thin sweatshirt.)
As it turned out, Finn was exceptionally easy to follow, considering he’d left a trail of muddy footprints and the occasional angrily-broken stick. The snow wasn’t falling heavily, and the ground wasn’t frozen yet, so Finn’s hiking boots left a blatant path up the side of a wooded hill. Trudging up after him, Alex paused at the top of the ridge to catch his breath.
That particular task got significantly harder when he saw the skid marks running down the other side.
“Finn?” Alex called, swallowing the dread that insisted on welling up in the back of his throat and scanning the base of the hill for a smear of black among the fallen leaves. The immediate chant of oh fuck Finn oh fuck where’s Finn that his brain struck up was about as helpful to his search as turning off the metaphorical lights, and he nearly missed the rustle of movement at the base of a maple tree. There was the familiar black hoodie, thankfully an unnatural colour in amongst the browns and grays and oranges of autumn’s palette. As quickly as he could without falling, Alex picked his way down the hill.
Finn was curled on his side against the trunk of the tree, huddled in on himself and shivering so hard it hurt to look at. Alex knelt down beside him, and Finn opened his eyes, craning his head to see Alex’s face.
“F-f-f-fucking c-c-c-cold,” he managed, eyes slitted and a leaf in his hair.
The wave of sick relief that came crashing over Alex was enough to make him dizzy. He shook his head, smiling despite himself, and held out the thermos of tea.
Finn groaned, struggling stiffly to sit up. Alex shifted quickly to wrap an arm around his shoulders, and Finn made a startled noise and leaned into his chest, nearly overbalancing him. Alex swallowed, flexing his fingers around Finn’s upper arm and trying to ignore the cold seeping through his gloves. Figured the first time he could touch Finn without dodging a “no homo” comment was when he was literally almost dying.
“Drink,” Alex ordered, offering the thermos again, and Finn gingerly took a sip, struggling to hold it steady. His fingers looked frostbitten, or at least close to it. Alex pushed his lingering panic to the back of his mind and rummaged through his pockets to produce the third pair of socks he’d been unable to fit on over the first two.
“Give me your hands,” he said, and Finn held one out, thermos clutched in the other. Alex slipped the first dry knit sock, warm from his body heat, over Finn’s fingers, and Finn made a tiny noise of relief that made Alex’s stomach flip. Eagerly, he moved the thermos to offer Alex the other hand. As soon as his hands were covered he wrapped them around the thermos again, pulling them in close to his body.
Finn’s head was bowed, hair falling dishevelled over his brow, and there was melting snow clinging to his eyelashes. Alex chewed on his lower lip, tightening his grip on Finn’s arm yet again, and resisted the urge to pull him even closer.
“Let’s head back,” Alex sighed, unzipping his outermost sweatshirt and draping it around Finn’s damp shoulders before helping him to his feet.
The first thermos was empty by the time they stumbled back into their campsite, Finn favouring his left ankle and leaning heavily on Alex’s shoulders. Alex helped Finn’s still sock-clad fingers pull his boots off, and as soon as he was free Finn was scrambling into the tent and out of the steadily increasing snowfall. Alex was quick to follow.
Finn moved to drag his discarded blanket pile around himself, but Alex stopped him with a hand on his wrist. “You should get those damp clothes off,” he said, taking perhaps a bit too long to let go.
Shivering, Finn shot him a nasty look, but Alex remained unmoved. “Fine,” Finn snapped eventually, “but hurry the fuck up and help me so I can get warm.”
Alex was quick to obey, peeling Finn’s socks off his feet – mindful of his left ankle; at least it didn’t seem to be swelling – while Finn scrambled out of his sweatshirt. Alex’s landed somewhere off to the side. “Do you have anything clean?” Alex asked, crawling over to the two hiking backpacks by the far wall.
“Just boxers,” Finn replied from behind him. “Furthest outside pocket.”
Alex made a noble and unsuccessful attempt to stifle his blush at Finn’s words. “Well, once you’re warm, you can borrow some of my things,” he offered, chucking Finn’s clean boxers at his head. “For now, we’re doing the super-cliché sharing-body-heat thing.”
“Oh, come on,” Finn protested weakly.
“No homo required, don’t worry,” Alex joked, but it was flimsy and they both knew it. It hurt to say, anyway, like it always did. Alex ducked his head and distracted himself by starting to wriggle out of as many layers as possible all at once.
As soon as he was down to his boxers as well, he picked up the second thermos of still-hot tea and wrestled his way under the blanket stack next to Finn. Finn shifted out of his way, but then Alex’s warm knee brushed against his frozen thigh and suddenly everything was a tussle of limbs and blankets and Alex trying to keep the thermos out of harm’s way.
When the dust settled, Alex found himself caught in a cocoon of Finn’s limbs, which was in turn snuggled into a blanket burrito (blankrito? burrblanket? burrketo?) encompassing everything but their noses and Alex’s left arm. He was still holding the thermos aloft.
“Tea?” Alex offered weakly, his throat rather dry. His heartbeat wasn’t always so loud, was it?
Finn grunted. “Later. You’re warm enough.” Which was perfectly true, to be fair, if a bit discomfiting; Finn felt refrigerated, despite the warmth already present in the small tent and smaller blanket nest from the heat of their presence alone.
Alex hummed and set the thermos down safely out of the way, then settled his hand cautiously on Finn’s back, prepared to remove it at a moment’s notice. Finn just groaned and snuggled closer. Alex reminded himself how to breathe.
“This is really effective,” Finn pointed out eventually, voice a bit muffled.
Alex snorted. “Why else would it be such a big thing?” he retorted, inordinately proud of himself for keeping his voice steady with Finn basically on top of him.
Finn grumbled under his breath and buried his face in Alex’s neck. His nose was still cold.
“Dude, you’re gonna drip all over me, go get a Kleenex,” Alex giggled breathlessly, making a weak attempt at shoving Finn off him.
Finn grumbled, batting Alex’s hands away. “I’m the one recovering from hypothermia, you go get the Kleenex.”
“You did not have hypothermia,” Alex scoffed, twisting reluctantly out of Finn’s grip and shuffling onto all fours. “You were still shivering. And if you’re so cold, drink your tea,” he added, kneeling over his backpack to dig into the mess in search of tissues.
“Yeah, yeah,” Finn laughed, sitting up. Behind Alex’s back, he took a slurp of tea so loud and so obscene it had to be deliberate.
“Is that much noise really vital to the successful ingestion of tea?” Alex drawled, rolling his eyes, without looking back.
“Aw, what, you turned on by it?” Finn teased, taking another sloppy slurp.
“You’re disgusting,” Alex informed him, finally unearthing the travel-pack of Kleenex.
“Yeah, but you love it,” Finn retorted, smacking Alex on the ass.
Alex jumped so violently he dropped the Kleenex, whipping around. Finn was laughing, so much so that he’d fallen over, dropping the (thankfully self-sealing) thermos of tea. Alex tried valiantly to growl, and pounced.
The tussle was very brief, as Finn was laughing too hard to properly defend himself and Alex kept poking his ticklish flanks. Soon, they both paused for breath, Alex kneeling astride Finn’s hips and holding his wrists down on either side of his head. Finn was gasping for breath, and it wasn’t until he’d begun doing it that Alex even noticed he was leaning down to kiss him.
Their lips met, soft and a little clumsy, and Finn made a pleasantly surprised noise in the back of his throat, smiling so hard he could barely kiss back. However, kiss back he did, and with some enthusiasm, until Alex at last surfaced for breath.
“Did I do that?” Alex asked, voice hoarse and dazed.
Finn tested Alex’s grip on his wrists, falling back with a smirk on his face when he failed to budge it. “Wasn’t me,” he said smugly, never letting Alex look away.
Yeah, okay, Alex decided, and leaned down again. This time, Finn met him halfway, stretching up as though he could get Alex to kiss him harder. Relief that they were both okay translated into belated adrenaline; with nowhere else to go, the adrenaline came out as fiercely building arousal. Alex bit down on Finn’s lower lip, sucking it into his mouth. Finn arched up beneath him, a soft whine leaving him and disappearing into the sliver of space between them.
Alex let out a faint whimper in response, and taking advantage of his moment of weakness, Finn wrested his hands free from Alex’s grip, knocking Alex off-balance and seizing the opportunity to roll them over and bite abruptly into the side of Alex’s neck. Alex cried out, slapping a hand over his mouth to muffle any more noise.
Finn pulled away from his neck with a delectably gross sucking noise, and Alex shuddered.
“Nobody can hear us,” Finn breathed, lips catching on the shell of Alex’s ear. His long fingers wrapped around Alex’s wrist, gently tugging his hand away from his mouth. “There’s not a single other person for – what, four miles?”
“Six,” Alex corrected hoarsely, and Finn chuckled.
“You and your obsessive need to be lost in the woods at any given time,” Finn purred. Alex could feel him smiling against his ear. “But I guess I can’t really complain about the privacy now, can I?”
Alex’s answer was swallowed in a groan as Finn rolled his hips down against Alex’s, and okay, seemed the belated adrenaline thing applied to him as well. “G-guess not,” Alex managed breathlessly.
Finn laughed, clear and open and honest, and kissed Alex again, distracting him with a hot, slick mouth tasting faintly of tea. Alex lost track of anything but the grinding pressure of their hips and the clinging softness of Finn’s lips until Finn was working a hand into Alex’s boxers, wrapping long fingers around his erection.
Alex took a ragged breath, hips jerking up into the contact.
“Yeah?” Finn breathed.
Alex twisted a hand into Finn’s hair, shifting to spread his legs just a bit wider. “Yeah.”
Finn’s hand was a little unsure, a little hesitant, but it was warm and it was Finn, and that counted for a lot – more, even, than Alex had ever expected it might.
“Fuck,” he breathed out, hips jerking unconsciously up into Finn’s touch, and Finn let go abruptly.
“Wha–” Alex propped himself up on his elbows as Finn pushed off his chest and slinked down between Alex’s legs, hooking his fingers in Alex’s waistband and thoroughly dislodging the blanket heap in the process. He met Alex’s eyes, gaze hot and steady, shoved Alex’s boxers down to his knees, and suddenly his gaze was fixed on Alex’s dick and the lack of blankets didn’t matter at all.
“Shit,” Finn breathed out, eyes drifting back up to fix on Alex’s face and his fingers wrapping lightly around the base of Alex’s erection, flexing lightly. Alex’s stomach contracted, his mouth falling open and eyes nearly falling shut, and Finn bit out a broken, wanton “You’re so fucking hot, goddamn it.”
Alex’s elbows slid out from under him and he collapsed back onto Finn’s sleeping pad, covering his face with his fingers and biting helplessly at the heel of his hand as Finn stroked him once, steady, all the way to the tip. He lingered there, grip delicate just under Alex’s head, and then he was jerking him off properly and Alex let out a broken moan and bucked up into the feeling.
An embarrassingly short amount of time passed before he was close to coming. His hips stuttered, and Finn sped up, tightening his grip.
“Alex,” he huffed out, sounding breathless just from watching, and god, yes, Alex arched his back and came, crying loud enough to be very, very glad of the six miles separating them from the nearest trace of society.
When Alex regained the ability to open his eyes, Finn was leaning back on his heels, blankets a messy crescent on the ground around him, boxers pulled hastily down and a hand around his dick. The tip of his tongue was caught between his teeth and his eyes were screwed shut in concentration.
Alex sat up and licked his lips, still a little breathless. “Want a hand with that?” he offered.
“Sure,” Finn replied, failing epically at sounding casual, and Alex nudged Finn’s hand aside to replace it with his own. He was warm in Alex’s grip, tense and heavy and fucking gorgeous.
Finn’s thighs shivered when Alex started jerking him off, careful but not too careful. Alex watched, fascinated by the way Finn’s head tipped back as he leaned on his hands, torso stretched out taut like a bowstring. He took his time, exploring. When he twisted his wrist on the upstroke, he got a shudder in return, and every time he adjusted his grip Finn let out a tiny noise like he didn’t want Alex to let go.
For a long, breathless space of time, the only sound was of skin against skin. Then, wrist beginning to cramp and unable to look away, Alex breathed, “Come on.”
Finn’s hips jerked up to meet his hand once, twice, then stopped, his mouth forming around a silent scream. The muscles in his stomach tensed sharply, rhythmically, and Alex didn’t pull away until Finn was done, too caught up in the feeling of him pulsing against Alex’s palm to let go.
Finn came down slow, breathing heavily and never opening his eyes. Alex left him to his afterglow, picking up the discarded pack of tissues and fishing one out to wipe the jizz off his hand, stomach, and thighs.
“Here,” he offered, holding the clean tissues out to Finn.
Finn opened his eyes lazily and took the tissues from Alex’s hand. “Thanks.”
“Anytime,” Alex responded automatically, before hoping to hell Finn couldn’t tell just how much he meant it.
They were settled back under the blankets together, Finn nursing his tea, before either of them spoke again.
“Are we going to just mutually agree that this never happened and never speak of it again, or should we actually talk about it?” Alex asked softly, dreading the answer but desperate to hear it.
Finn sipped his tea thoughtfully, face suddenly grim. “I’m cool with just mutually agreeing that it never happened and then never speaking of it again,” he announced after a tense era of silence, and Alex’s heart landed somewhere around the pit of his stomach.
“What happens in the tent stays in the tent,” Alex agreed morosely, and Finn nodded.
Things went back to normal, or as normal as they could get after something like that. Finn never mentioned it, in word or action, so Alex followed his lead and did his best to ignore the constant urge to kiss him, smack him, or both. It was difficult, going back, but Alex did his best.
They were in the middle of an intense game of Fuck/Marry/Kill – or, as Finn’s sister called it, “Wed/Bed/Behead” – involving the entire cast, in threes, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when one of Finn’s housemates knocked on the door. Finn had already opened his mouth to respond when the door swung open a foot and Brett poked his head in.
“Hey, sorry to interrupt, but could I borrow–” he started, but Finn cut him off.
“Get the fuck out of my room and try that again,” Finn demanded, on his feet before Alex could blink, and Brett slipped back outside, shutting the door behind him.
Finn sat back down on the foot of his bed across from Alex. There was a knock on the door.
“Yes?” Finn called.
“It’s Brett,” came the sheepish voice from outside. “Can I borrow your phone charger?”
“Sure, come on in,” Finn replied sweetly, and the door creaked open to admit Brett, crimson to his shoulders with embarrassment.
“On the desk.” Finn pointed, and Brett retrieved the charger.
“Thanks, man,” he tossed back on his way out. “Hey, Alex.”
Alex raised a hand in a little half-wave. The door clicked shut.
“I fucking hate when they do that,” Finn informed Alex, flopping dramatically across the foot of his bed. “I wish the fucking door locked.”
There it was – an opening, so wide he could’ve dropped an elephant through it. Alex’s stomach twisted. “You know, I could put a lock on it,” he told Finn nonchalantly, leaning back on his hands.
Finn gave him a cautiously appraising look. His fucking hair was in his eyes again. “Yeah?”
Alex nodded, knotting his hands in the blanket to stay balanced when his sweaty palms threatened to slide out from under him. “Piece of cake.”
“And what would I owe you?” Finn pried.
Alex pretended to think about it. “Well, let’s say about twenty bucks for the new door knob, plus there’s this campground in Algonquin park where you can hike into any spot you like and pitch your tent,” he mused, voice trembling just enough to give him away. “And it’s always deserted this time of year…”
Finn glared at him. Alex held his breath. Pleasepleaseplease.
“How late do you think the hardware store’s open?” Finn asked, and Alex grinned so wide his face hurt.