Capitalism Breeds Innovation

by Cowboy Rider

The thumping music of the bar melts away as I spot him. It’s been years since I’ve seen him last, since the day Vate left the orphanage where we’d both grown up and never looked back. Not that I blame him, I’d done exactly the same thing a year later, not even a desire to help the friends I’d left behind enough to compel me to return. Even now, years later, I find myself taking the long way across the city to avoid darkening its doors. We’d been friends. Not brothers, we hadn’t even been bunked in the same block, but we’d shared several classes, and Vate had always been unwaveringly kind to the small, bookish too-young kid in his classes. Naturally, I had developed a massive crush on him. Even before he had come out and changed his name, and even though I had been firmly gay for as long as I could remember, I’d pined after the older boy. His coming out had made a lot of things make sense. 

So seeing Vate is like a punch in the gut. Though, the trip down memory lane isn’t the only reason. I stare at him moving on the dancefloor and try to come up with a word to describe him. Handsome. Graceful. Magnificent. Stunning. Ethereal. Magnetic. Yes, that’s it, magnetic, I decide, as he rewrites my entire hard drive around his polarity. 

I throw back the last of my soda and head towards the dancefloor. I hadn’t planned to dance, coming out tonight. I’d just wanted to get out of my tiny, cramped apartment with the vague prospect of “meeting people”. But I make my way towards him, completely unable to do anything else. 

The crowd flows around me, and suddenly I’m there, inches away from him, my body already moving involuntarily with the loud club beat. A body jostles me closer and suddenly my front is pressed against his back and he reaches up behind him and anchors a hand on my neck, holding me in place as he grinds against my growing erection. And heavens help me, I’m helpless to do anything but grind forward in kind, holding his narrow hips in my hands as we move in time to the beat. It’s seconds, centuries, minutes, years, that we dance together. I relish in the warmth of his body, admire the sheen of sweat that dampens his wispy hair, smell the scent of vanilla and musk on him. I try to give as good as I get, and he stays with me, our bodies pressed together as we writhe in time. I don’t know what I’m doing, not really, but I do know Vate, and much of my formative years were spent following his lead, so dancing with him is as easy as breathing. 

Eventually, he turns in my arms, and his resultant squeal has several large, besuited men shouldering their way through the crowd before he vaguely waves them off. He hugs me, bright and exuberant and tries to speak before my befuddled expression has him huffing and pulling me off the dance floor. He’s holding my hand. He hurriedly leads us into a side room, with disorienting fluorescent lights, the sounds of the club immediately muffled. It could be a hallway in any normal office building… if said office building were immediately adjacent to a dance club. 

“Cap!” he exclaims, his voice still full of exuberance. “What are you doing here?” 

I feel a blush rise to my face. “I ah—” I rub the back of my neck. “This was the establishment that was closest to me with the best online reviews that also has live music.” 

HIs laugh is fond. God, I’ve missed his laugh, how it bubbles up out of him and spills from his lips, bathing whatever room he’s in with radiance.  “Of course it is.” He appraises me with a shrewdness that I had forgotten in my nostalgia. I try not to fidget under his assessment. I’d worried for several agonizing minutes about my outfit, whether an old t-shirt and well-worn jeans were appropriate for this kind of establishment, and nearly considered not coming at all. I have no clue what he sees when he looks at me.

He nods, seeming to have made some kind of decision, and leads us into a room marked VIP. It’s small with leather couches and a sidebar. A bin of condoms makes it clear what exactly the intended use of this room is. I don’t blush, but my gaze does catch on them for a moment. Surely he wouldn’t…? This was real life, not some teenage fantasy. I settle next to him, the shiny black fabric squeaking uncomfortably as it takes my weight. I look at him expectantly.

“You really didn’t know I’d be here, did you?” he asks quietly. He seems serious and I’m not sure what to make of it. 

My brow furrows. “No? Should I have?” A thought dawns on me. “We didn’t make some kind of pact to meet here on the eve of your twenty-sixth birthday or something, did we?” I run my hands through my short-cropped hair.  “Heavens, I’ve got so many gaps in my memory from back then.” 

He laughs. “No, or if we did, I don’t remember either. A few weeks late, at any rate.” He considers me for another moment. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” 

I frown. “Of course I do, you’re— well, are you going by something different now? Is that what you mean?” I’d feel terrible if I’d been deadnaming him this entire time. I hope he’ll tell me what his new name is.

He smiles slightly, his head tilting to the side adorably. “You can still call me Vate, that’s not the issue.” He gracefully stands, strolls over to the coffee table, picks up a magazine, and returns before dropping it on my lap. Sure enough, Vate is striking a sexy pose on the cover, with text declaring, “Pop Star Tells All In Exclusive Interview.” 

I take a second to digest this. I take another second to digest this. I definitely don’t get distracted by the bulge in Vate’s leather pants on the cover. If my eyes rest there, then, it’s a trick of the editing, rule of thirds, something like that. I open up the magazine, flip to the indicated page, and read the first page in silence until he starts to fidget. I look up at him and blink a few times.

“You’re famous,” I state, unable to keep the awe completely out of my voice. He really did it. He’d been talented when we were kids, but, well, that wasn’t particularly notable around the orphanage. He’d actually become a performer like so many said they would. Fuck, I’m proud of him.

His face splits into another shy grin. “Indeed I am. You really didn’t know?” 

I shake my head slowly. He did it. He really did.  “I had no idea.” 

He tries to suppress a skeptical look, but, well, the faces he makes are something I’m quite studied at, though his face has changed in the years. “Surely you must’ve heard me on the radio—” 

“I work from home.” 

“–or at the store–” 

“I order online.” 

“–or out with friends–” 

“Those are online too.” 

He throws up his hands in exasperation. “Cap, do you go anywhere?” 

I shrug. “I came here tonight.” I don’t mention that I almost didn’t.

He chuckles wryly. “So you have.” He continues to study me.

“Is— is me being here a problem?” I ask hesitantly. He’s acting odd, I think. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I desperately want to so I can help. I’d thought I’d gotten over this crush years ago. I mean, I’m a grown adult. I can’t just be holding candles for men I haven’t seen in years.

He sighs, runs a hand through long, tousled, curly hair. “No, not exactly. I was holding a contest tonight. That whoever could find me and dance with me would get to go on a date with me. It was a publicity thing.” He picks the strands of hair apart, not looking at me. It reminds me so much of our childhood it makes my heart hurt.

My face falls. “And I messed it up, I’m sorry.” He seems to be a pretty big deal, so it’d probably take a pretty big blunder to get him into any real trouble, but still, I’d hate to mess anything up for him. 

He shakes his head insistently, retousling his just-tamed hair. “No, you won, fair and square, even if you didn’t know you were entering. I enjoyed dancing with you, but the competition was really more about finding me.” He smiles softly. “And you did.” His eyes are wide and luminous under the low lights. 

I shake my head resolutely. “No, that can’t be the case.” 

He raises an amused eyebrow. “Oh?” 

“That’s not a competition at all. I saw you as soon as I walked near the dance floor. I saw you and I couldn’t stop seeing you, even though you were halfway across the room. If anyone was actually looking for you they must be blind to not have noticed you right off. Are you sure you told them the right club?” I run through my memory of the clubs in the area but none of them have a similar name, either by spelling or phonetics. Maybe there’s one with a similar nickname, though I’m unsure how I would go about figuring that out. 

He’s looking at me. Why is he looking at me? I fidget under his assessing gaze. I feel like I might’ve said something wrong, but I can’t imagine what, and I’d learned long ago not to apologize for the truth.

Finally, he says, quietly, “That’s not a line, is it?” He asks as if he already knows the answer.

I furrow my brow. What do one-dimensional figures have to do with anything? “I don’t—” 

“You mean it? It’s not some pickup line?” he clarifies. He’d had to do that as a kid sometimes too. I was always grateful for it, and I am now.

Oh. “Of course.” Pick-up lines aren’t very effective, according to statistics, and while I’ve always dreamed of being close to Vate in that way, I could never do anything to jeopardize our friendship.

He slides closer to me on the couch and places a hand lightly on my jean-covered thigh. “Cap,” he says, his voice deep and quiet seduction, “How would you feel if I kissed you right now?” 

“Panic,” I reply instantly, holding myself very still. The gentle weight of his hand on me is dizzying in its intensity. I want to feel his hands everywhere.

He pauses and starts to move away.

I move my hand on top of his, gently pinning it in place on my leg. “Because I haven’t gotten to brush my teeth since that soda I had and I have no clue what I’m doing with respect to kissing,” I rush to add. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to, if you want to,” I say softly. I look down at our hands and rub my thumb over his knuckles. His skin is so soft.

He smiles wickedly. “Oh,” he murmurs, “I definitely want to.” He cups my cheek gently and searches my eyes. “Is this okay?” 

My breath holds more of a tremble in it than I would like as I nod. I don’t know how to tell him that “okay” doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’d only been dreaming about this moment for years. And now it was just…happening.

“Relax.” His breath puffs against my lips. “Just follow my lead. Kissing is way easier than calculus, I promise.” He smirks as he leans in slightly.

“You said that about linear algebra too,” I respond. Why did I say that? Nerves probably, but the last thing I want to remind him of is my awkward teenage self.

Vate huffs of a laugh then brings our lips together. 

The kiss is simple and sweet, the press of soft lips against each other for a brief moment. It’s downright chaste for him, if the interview I had skimmed was any indication. But warmth runs through my body at the contact and I sigh contentedly. 

“Wow,” I whisper, suddenly hoarse. 

He smiles at me. “Yeah,” he responds softly.

He leans in to kiss me again and I melt against him. He teases my lips open with his, gentle but intoxicatingly confident. His hand, still on my leg, flips in my grip and he trails his fingers over my sensitized palm. I gasp at the contact and he takes full advantage, exploring my mouth with his tongue. My mind blanks as the dual sensations threaten to overwhelm me.

A knock sounds at the door. Vate pulls back and growls under his breath. 

One of the besuited gentlemen from earlier sticks his head in. “Mr. Ward,” he says seriously, “the paparazzi are arriving. We need to go.” 

He sighs, stands, and holds out a hand for me. “Come with me?” 

I take his hand and nod. “Anywhere.” 

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

I wonder idly how Vate’s lithe body manages to pack so much force as he pushes me against the wall next to the door of his (probably very lavish, if what I saw of the lobby and neighborhood is any indication) apartment. He takes up my entire field of vision. Eyes closed in pleasure, lips plush and shiny as he breaks away from mine for scant seconds, hair that forms a halo around his head in the low lights. I dare not close my eyes, for fear that I’ll find myself in some wonderful dream. 

He skims his hand under the edge of my shirt and breaks the kiss once more. “Can I take this off?” he murmurs against my lips.

I barely nod, unwilling to dislodge his lips from mine. “Please,” I whisper. The need to feel his hands on me rushes back with a vengeance. 

He expertly draws my shirt up and over my head, then his hands are searing my skin. I feel electrified, incandescent, like a capacitor charged by his current. I kiss him, opening my lips slightly like a question. He groans and takes full advantage, using the opening more effectively than any penetration tester I’ve ever met, gaining access and leaving havoc in his wake. 

I reach out and place a slightly trembling hand on the hem of his crop top, gasping at the contact of his smooth skin into his still plundering mouth. 

I pull back, breaking the kiss reluctantly. “You too?” 

He blinks, his eyes glazed over with pleasure, then nods. He pulls back only long enough to remove the offending cloth efficiently and then is back, solidly pinning me against the wall. 

We groan in stereo at the skin-to-skin contact, and I’m sure my voltage detector must be broken, as it fails to go off even as current ripples underneath my skin. He’s solid and warm and real and my wildest imagination couldn’t have prepared me for this. Our mouths meet, growing desperate. I don’t have the capacity to be nervous about technique as I experiment with exploring his mouth with my tongue, and am rewarded by his low, rumbling groan. I feel it more than I hear it, his chest pressed firmly against mine.

He breaks away harshly, grabbing my hand with a curse and swiftly leading us further into the apartment. I take the opportunity to study him. He’s changed in his years away from the orphanage, twin lines decorating his chest, a hint of stubble gracing his cheeks, his shoulders subtly broader. I admire the way his ass is cradled in the shiny metallic hotpants he’s wearing, and only just hold back licking my lips. 

He leads us into a plushly decorated bedroom and quickly undresses. “I’ll give you a tour later. Clothes off, on the bed.” He bites his lip, slowing, as I blink at him. “I mean, if you want to. I know this is all new to you.” 

I’m unable to do anything but stare at his naked form. That tone in his voice makes me want to obey, want to listen, but I need to do this even more. I walk slowly towards him, toeing out of my shoes and dropping my jeans, unable to draw my eyes away from him. I walk to him until I’m only a hairsbreadth away. I stand there, breathing heavily with nerves and want, as he looks up at me with an open expression. I drop to my knees, grateful for the plush carpeting that cushions my landing. 

I look up at him, glance significantly at his cock, and raise an eyebrow in question.

“Heavens,” he breathes. “You don’t have to—”

I smile slightly and press a shushing kiss to the delicate seam between his thigh and pelvis before looking back up at him. “I know I don’t. I’m pretty bad at doing things that I don’t want to, Vate, you know that. I’m exactly where I want to be, if you’ll have me.” 

“Fuck,” he breathes, running a hand through my hair. “Yes, Cap. You have no idea how—” he cuts himself off, biting his lip as I lick an experimental stripe up the underside of his cock.

I hum with pleasure. Much better than toys, certainly. The scent and taste alone are enough to make my previous experience pale in comparison. But the way his hand slides from my hair to reverently cup my cheek makes it a truly transcendental experience. I gingerly take his cock into my mouth, swirling my tongue around the head experimentally. It’s less graceful than I would’ve liked, but I’m rewarded by another one of his low, rumbling groans that goes straight to my cock. I bob my head, taking more in my mouth, and he gasps. I could easily get used to this. Just me on my knees, the solid weight of his cock resting comfortingly on my tongue, inching towards the entrance of my throat, his gasps and moans filling my ears as I bring him pleasure. I hollow out my cheeks, adding suction, and his other hand tightens in my hair. I hum with pleasure and his hips buck slightly at the added vibrations. Heavens, this feels nice. It’s somewhat overwhelming, but I like being overwhelmed by him. I know without a doubt that toys will no longer cut it. Vate has ruined me, and I can do nothing but relish the ruination. I pick up the pace, slow it, dialed in to the sounds that he makes with every move. I find that if I gently massage a certain spot with my tongue, he lets out the most endearing high keening whines. 

After not long at all, he tugs on my hair to pull me back. “That’s going to make me come if you keep at it,” he pants. 

I send him a look that I hope adequately portrays, yeah, I sure hope it does, and go back to my ministrations. 

Cap,” he whines. “I have the” –he moans– “worst refractory period. I won’t be ready for at least an hour – ah – if you make me come now.” 

I keep going. An hour with Vate sounds spectacular. 

“I want you to fuck me,” he whispers desperately. 

I nod slightly but still don’t let off. I want that too. 

His hand tightens in my hair. “I’m coming,” he whispers. 

I hum with pleasure. His hips buck involuntarily, going too deep, choking me, but that’s good, in a way, too, as his come fills my mouth and I swallow greedily. I ride out his orgasm, only backing up and letting his cock from my mouth once the pulses have stopped and his hand falls from my head. I glance up at his dazed expression, then kiss his hip. God, but he’s handsome, especially right now with the taste of his come still on my tongue. I stand and kiss him incontrovertibly on the lips, holding him in my arms as he seems a little unsteady still. 

“Way easier than calculus,” I murmur with a smirk.

He lets out a startled laugh. “Well, that’s grand, but I wasn’t joking about that hour.” He moves toward the bed. “Really, Cap, you didn’t have to do that,” he says softly, gazing back at me.

I pull the covers back for him, climb in after, then make a dramatic show of looking around. “Where’s the fire? Is being a pop star really so busy that you can’t manage three hours for sex?” 

His eyebrow climbs towards his hairline as he curls up into me. “Three? A little confident in your stamina, huh? A guy gives one mind blowing blow job and suddenly he thinks he’s a sex god,” he says, a fond, teasing smile on his lips. 

I check my watch for verification. “It’s been about forty-five minutes since we left the club, and if you need an hour to get ready again, plus foreplay, plus” –I nuzzle into his hair– “I’ve heard all about post-sex cuddles. I’d hate to miss out on that. Doesn’t seem like a braggadocios time frame at all, really.” 

“Mmm, you’re still too smart for your own good, you know that Cap?” 

I chuckle. “More than you can imagine.” 

He looks at me curiously, popping up on one elbow in my arms to look at me more squarely. “You know all about what I’ve been up to. We have an hour. Will you tell me about you? What have you been doing these years?” 

I shake my head and play with a strand of his hair. Vate’s hair, in my hand. A part of me refuses to believe it. “It’s not nearly so interesting as to take an hour. I made judicious use of some scholarships, got a degree, and now I write code for a living.” 

He smiles at me. “That sounds interesting. What does writing code look like?”

I sigh, leaning back to stare up at the ceiling. How do you even explain what I do to a pop star? Sure, it’s Vate, and that matters too, but our paths have been so different. “Trust me, it’s not. I maintain some truly ancient Python code, and they pay me well because they phased it out of standard curriculums decades ago. Mostly I spend my days cursing at whitespaces and tracking down absolutely impossible method references. It’s not even morally compromising or something interesting like that. It’s just automation for a solar farm that I’ve never seen.” Even that is overselling it somewhat. I spend a decent amount of my working life reading. I wonder if I should mention it.

He considers this for a long moment. “Are you happy?” he asks finally.

My arms tighten around him, holding him as firmly to me as I can manage. “Right now? Absolutely. Are you?” 

He thinks for another long stretch. “Yeah,” he says softly, “I am.” His eyes light with … something. Urgency, perhaps? “But normally, Cap, are you happy?” 

I frown. “Well, no.” At his answering frown, I rush to add, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not miserable. I wouldn’t even say I’m unhappy. I’m just—” 

“Not happy,” he finishes for me with a nod. “Yeah. Yeah, I get it.” 

I study his expression. It’s one I vaguely associate with the best moments of my life and the punishments that followed after. “What about you?” I prompt gently. 

“I’m—” his laugh manages to sound supremely unhappy. “It’s ridiculous. I mean, look at all this,” he sweeps a broad hand across the room. “I’ve got thousands of times what I had as a kid, what most people have. But I’m still unhappy. I’m still miserable.” The despair in his voice breaks my heart. I’d do anything to get rid of it.

I run a soothing hand up and down his back. “Can I help?” I ask quietly. I feel like I’m nearly vibrating with a desire to do something, while a part of me still marvels that I’m here at all, running my hand over his soft, tanned skin.

He sniffs and nuzzles closer. “You are,” he answers into my neck. “I can’t remember the last time someone just wanted to hold me. It’s so nice.” He sounds young, all of a sudden, and I have to remind myself that he’s a year older than me.

“Well,” I say, “you already know I don’t have a lot going on. Whenever you want to be held, I’ll be here. We don’t have to do… anything else, either.” My arms tighten around him instinctively.

“I want to,” he whispers, pulling back slightly to look me in the eye. “I want to do everything with you, Cap. You make me want things that I shouldn’t.” 

My heart pounds at his words as I trail a hand down his waist, making goosebumps appear on his skin. “You should have everything you want,” I murmur. “I’ve always thought so.”

He stares at me for a long moment. “Kiss me,” he demands quietly. 

I smile. I like him telling me what he wants me to do. It feels like maybe I should always do this, always take care of whatever he needs me to. “With pleasure.” I kiss him, slow and tender, my heart swelling at the happy sigh he releases. “Like that?” I breathe, afraid speaking too loudly will shatter this delicate dream. I’m not sure if my words are teasing or not. 

His eyes are wide and imploring as he gazes at me. “Like that, like earlier, however you want. Just don’t stop.” 

I feel a smile creep onto my face. “I can handle that.” 

I kiss him softly again, plying his mouth open with lips and tongue in gentle persuasion. I wander curious fingers anywhere I can reach over his body: the tender back of his neck, the sensitive underside of his bicep, the delicate curve of his spine. Then further down to the perfect round globes of his ass, ghosting over the smooth crevice between to feel the lines of his thighs. 

He sighs dreamily into my mouth and I feel him harden against me. I don’t stop kissing him, following instructions to a T, but can’t help but grind my still underwear-covered cock against him somewhat. Everything about him sets me alight. The solid weight of his body against mine, the smooth glide of his skin, the noises he makes, high in his throat when I touch somewhere he likes, the smell of his skin and growing arousal, the way he takes control of our kiss seemingly on instinct. I’m awash with sensation, trying to keep up, trying to hold on.

His groan rumbles deep in his chest and he rolls away and fumbles in a drawer in the nightstand. I am too stunned to do anything but watch, my brain scrambled from his magnetism. 

After a moment he holds up a bottle of lube triumphantly. I take it from him gingerly, place it between our chests, and kiss him again, more insistently this time, holding the nape of his neck and clutching at his perfect ass, grinding into him with gusto now. 

He breaks away with a gasp. “I’m ready. I want you.” He gestures towards the lube. “Help prep me?” 

I check my watch. “It’s only been 30 minutes,” I say with a raised eyebrow. 

“I’ve never been this motivated before,” he shoots back with a smile. 

I level an assessing gaze at him while a part of me swells with self-satisfied pride. I’d done that, made him ready in record time. Me. “If you’re sure…” I say skeptically. 

“If I get any more sure, I’ll ride you dry,” he growls, and his eyes hold a hint of real intention. I’d learned long ago not to ignore that look.

My cock jumps at the comment and I hand him the bottle of lube. “Show me,” I rasp.

He bites his lip and moves to lay on his stomach, puts a pillow under his hips, and dollops some lube onto his fingers. He glances at me with an odd expression on his face. “It’s warm,” he states. 

I smile slightly, my cheeks pinkening. He reaches over and kisses me hard, then lays back down. He inserts a finger into his hole, moaning at the intrusion, and I sit up for a better look. I watch as he moves quickly from one finger to two, long, slender fingers stretching his delicate ring with ease. My gaze is fixed on him, unable to think about anything but him and how it will look when my cock is stretching him open. I dollop a generous amount of lube onto my fingers. 

“May I?” I murmur. 

He removes his fingers with a groan. Strands of hair are stuck to his forehead as he turns his head to look at me. “Please,” he says hoarsely. Fuck, he’s handsome, presenting for me like the perfect picture. I keep an iron grip on my resolve.

As with all things, I am careful, methodical. I start with one finger and gentle pressure, slowly thrusting into him, exploring and retreating until my palm is seated firmly against his hole. I slowly pull back out, relishing the slick slide, and he moans helplessly. 

“Cap,” he rasps, “I swear to the heavens if you don’t pick up the pace I’m going to combust.” 

That’s not possible, I know, but I dutifully comply, quickening my thrusts, exploring and getting caught up in the look and feel and sound of him. I  carefully add a second finger and he hisses out a sharp breath. My fingers still. I’d never forgive myself if I hurt him.

“Okay?” I ask, my heart pounding.

He groans into the mattress, tilting his hips up to give me better access. “Please keep going,” he chokes out.

I do, working up to twisting and scissoring my fingers, then driving him wild with that, just that,  until he’s begging me for a third. I again experiment with going fast, then slow, then angling my thrusts differently, all while taking careful attention to note his reactions. I lose myself to it, to his sounds of pleasure, to the slick clench of his channel, to the sight of his body opening to my ministrations. 

Eventually, he props himself up on his elbows, breathing heavily. A strand of hair is stuck to his collarbone. He’s never looked more alluring. “Lay down on your back,” he orders between heavy breaths.

I’m quick to comply, laying on my back, my arms down by my side. I look at him, am unable to do anything else, and wait for what he has in store next. I don’t normally follow orders so readily, but he has me wanting to do whatever he tells me to.

His eyes center on my erection, straining painfully in my underwear. “You didn’t even take these off,” he muses, running his fingers over the thin material, over the wet spot that’s bloomed over the head of my cock.

I focus on keeping from bucking into him. “You didn’t tell me to,” I retort distractedly. “And I was busy.”

A small smile graces his face. “That you were. Well, how about we rectify that, hm?”

I shed the garment then settle back onto the bed. His assessing gaze makes me flush all over. I focus on studying him instead, on the way his lightly furred body looks in the low light of the room, perched on his knees next to my prone form, his hands held aloft as though he doesn’t know where to start first, his eyes wide and unmistakably hungry.

“You’re magnificent,” he breathes. He places a hand high on my thigh and, fuck, even just that feels good. I half expect the skin underneath to be scarred and red, indelibly claimed.

I feel the urge to hide from his gaze, but staunchly hold myself in place. He settles his shoulders between my thighs and looks up at me. “I’m not nearly as generous as you,” he says with a small smile. “Tell me before you come.” 

I nod, my eyes going wide as I understand what he’s about to do. I’d wanted to for him of course, but I’d never imagined he’d want— He carefully envelopes my cock in his mouth, groaning as I pulse slightly with precum at the attention. Heavens he feels good, his technique expert as he bobs his head, slipping my cock into his throat with no hesitation. I groan as the sight and sensation combine, pleasure rolling through my body as I throw my head back on a loud groan.

“Vate,” I whimper, “fuck, you’re good at that. Please don’t stop.” 

He smiles at me and continues to suck my dick with a rhythm that is altogether hypnotizing. His hands come up to gently play with my balls. 

I’m close. It’s too soon. I don’t want this to be over yet. I try to hold off, but there’s nothing for it. He’d told me to tell him. I won’t let him down. “Vate,” I breathe. “Fuck, I can’t— I need—” 

He blessedly understands, releasing my dick with a playful pop and giving my thigh a quick kiss. He climbs up the bed on top of me, his body solid on mine, pressing me into the soft sheets. He kisses me and smiles. “You taste good when you’re close,” he murmurs into my ear. “Next time I’ll make you come down my throat.” 

Fuck. I whimper and don’t have it in me to be embarrassed. “Vate,” I breathe on a prayer. 

He kisses me again, long and slow, giving me time to slide back from the edge. His fingers tangle in my hair and play with my nipples, tugging and teasing, and I gasp as sensation washes through me.

Finally, he reaches behind himself and grabs my still wet dick and lines it up with his hole. “This okay?” he asks, his eyes wide. 

He wants me, I realize as a shiver rolls down my spine. Like, really wants me. The revelation gets stuck in my throat but I do my best to choke out, “Yes, please.” 

He sinks slowly onto me. He watches me carefully for discomfort even as his face contorts with pleasure. It feels phenomenal, his ring of muscles squeezing me rhythmically as he lowers onto me, his hand firm on my chest, steadying him and me at the same time. Later, I’ll wonder if something was wrong, if it should really be me watching out for him instead, but in this moment it feels just right. Vate looming over me. Vate leading me. Vate taking control. Of course. Just how it’s been for a long time.

I reach out and stroke his dick, the skills I learned with my mouth taking some time to transfer to my hand, but I’m soon up to speed, twisting at the head, squeezing at the base, and rubbing my thumb over that nub of pleasure. I feel my edge approaching again, so I focus on his pleasure harder. I recognize the sounds he makes as his pleasure climbing, but no matter what I do, he doesn’t approach his edge. 

I flop back onto the pillows, panting. “What do you need?

He points at a slender black dildo on his side table. “Hand me that?” 

I grab it and understanding dawns. I hesitate. “I, ah—” 

“What’s wrong?” he asks, his motions halting. 

“Can I use my fingers? Instead?” 

I had seen his front hole while I prepped him, of course I had. But I didn’t know how he felt about it, and he didn’t offer so I didn’t say anything. But if he wants to be taken there, if I could bring him to completion with my cock in his ass, my fingers in his cunt, and my hand on his cock, I’d do just about anything.

He stares at me for a moment. “You don’t have to—” 

I sit up and kiss him roughly, tangling my fingers in his hair for leverage. “I already told you, I’m not good at doing things I don’t want to. If it’s a point of dysphoria, I won’t, but I want to. I want to feel you so bad.” 

“You’re gay,” he protests quietly, his chest heaving as he leans into me. 

“And you’re a man,” I reply simply. “I fail to see what the problem is.” 

He groans and kisses me. “You never said— it doesn’t matter. Yes, yes please touch me. Lay back down and finger fuck me, please Cap.” 

I smile and comply. He lowers himself onto my two raised fingers and we groan in unison. He’s so wet. I wonder if he’ll let me use my cock here.  The rumination has my edge coming quickly again. 

He whimpers when I spread my fingers and trembles wrack his slender frame when I massage his cock. “I’m close.”

“Me too,” I choke out. 

“Come for me,” he whispers.

The dam breaks and I come. He seats himself firmly on me as he follows, and the contractions of his hole around my cock sends me into another level of orbit. My vision nearly whites out as I fill him with my come, and I distantly note his trembling thighs as he tries to keep himself aloft through his orgasm. 

As we still I draw my fingers from his hole and move his shaking body so he’s resting on top of me, my cock still buried within him

“I’ll crush you,” he protests weakly, but his body stays lax against mine.

“You aren’t. You’re right where I want you.” I kiss his damp temple and revel in the sensation of this, too. He stays blessedly still around my oversensitive cock, and it feels good, to be connected with him in this way, his body relaxing into me by degrees.

He nods blearily and wraps trembling arms around my shoulders. 

“Stay with me?” he asks in a small, tired voice. 

I kiss the top of his head. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.” 

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

I wake several hours later to Vate’s mouth around my cock. It feels phenomenal.  I moan and look down at him. He’s gorgeous like this, his mouth stretched wide around me, his hair a halo around his head in the dim light, his hands sure and confident. 

As I wake more though I can’t help but notice that something is… off. Maybe the set of his shoulders or the look in his eyes or the hour. But something isn’t right, and I can’t take my pleasure when there’s something wrong.

I choke out, “Stop,” despite my cock’s best wishes.

He does, immediately. He pulls back and looks at me with wide eyes. “I’m sorry, I should’ve asked, I shouldn’t have woken you, I should’ve—” 

I stop him with a kiss, pulling him up to lay beside me. “No,” I gently correct. “That was awesome, but I can tell something is wrong. Will you tell me about it?” I cup his cheek gently. No amount of sex could ever feel as good as taking care of him, as the way he leans into my touch like he’s starving for it.

He hides his face in my chest. I let him. “You’re too good for me.” His voice is muffled but I still hear him.

My heart hurts to hear that. “No such thing.” Light, light, keep it light. Don’t scare him. “Will you tell me what’s wrong? Maybe I can help.” 

He lets out a shaky breath, but stays silent. He nuzzles deeper into my chest and I tighten my arms around him in response. 

“Maybe some charades?” I tease gently. 

He huffs, amused. He takes a steadying breath, then another, then pulls back to look at me. “I want you to get me pregnant,” he says quietly. His eyes are free of mischief. He’s serious.

I stay perfectly still as my mind whirls. Somehow, that was not what I was expecting. 

He watches me, his eyes wide and trusting and scared.

“Any particular reason?” I choke out. I suppose that answers my question about where he’d let me take him, some distant part of me notes. 

He nods and with a flick of his wrist, the room floods with low light. He pulls a thick stack of papers from the side table that definitely hadn’t been there when I fell asleep and holds them out to me. 

I sit up blearily and take them. “What is this?” 

“My recording contract,” he replies, his voice still low. “I signed it when I was young and stupid and didn’t have any other options. It sets strict requirements on my life, and lasts for the next twenty years.” 

I page through, skimming the document. I don’t have much experience in contract law, but I think I mostly get the gist. 

“How strict?” I murmur. 

He leans into me to flip to a page and points at a paragraph. 

“‘Facial hair may not be visible in more than two pictures captured every month,'” I read. “Shit.” 

He nods, biting his lip as his eyes track over the words on the page. This isn’t the first time he’s read over them, not by a long shot.

“And how does getting you pregnant affect any of this?” 

“If I break any of this, I’m in breach of contract,” he explains, “and I’ll be left with nothing. But” –his smile is devious– “they gave me the male contract. Pregnancy isn’t in the contingencies. It’ll ruin the image, and they’ll be desperate to drop me.” 

My gut twists. It makes sense, in a way. “And you want me to? Why not some other pop star? Or hell, a fertility clinic?” 

He laughs bitterly. “Anyone else would use it to control me. It’d be out of the frying pan and into the fire. And it has to seem like an accident, or it’d trigger the Malicious Compliance Clause.” He lays a hand on my chest. “I trust you, Cap.” 

I lean back into the headboard, my head thumping against the wall. I take several long minutes to think, even after Vate starts to fidget. 

Eventually I say, “I’m not saying no, but I have some hard questions.” 

He nods his assent, biting his lip, his gaze on me. Fuck, I can’t get distracted by how handsome he is right now. This is important.

I grab his hand, hold onto it firmly, and close my eyes. “You understand that we wouldn’t just be causing a pregnancy. We’d be creating a whole person. That will be a baby and a toddler and a teenager and an elderly person.” I look at him seriously. “We’d have a kid together. Do you really want to do that?” 

“I understand,” he says with quiet intensity. “But we wouldn’t have to raise them. There’s always adoption.” 

This is what shock feels like, I note distantly. My body feels too hot and too cold simultaneously. My thoughts swirl out of my control. I can’t believe he would say that. After everything—

I take a steadying breath. “Where’s your bathroom?” I ask, trying to keep the rage from my voice.

“Cap, what?” 

“Bathroom,” I bite out. “Where?” 

He carefully does not flinch and points at a panel in the wall. I let go of his hand and tear towards it, opening the door and entombing myself inside. 

The lights blink on and blind me for a moment. I take a long minute to stare at myself in the reflection. This is Vate, one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. How could he even suggest—? Is he really that desperate? That he would consign someone else to our childhood? I use the toilet while I’m here, then wash my hands and splash some water on my face. To use more time I clean myself up from our earlier lovemaking as best I can, removing the traces of our combined passion from my skin.

I’m calmer by a few degrees when I walk back into the dimly lit room. It takes my eyes a few seconds to readjust. He bites his lip as he watches me warily. I stalk back towards the bed and carefully sit next to him. We’re not touching anymore.

I take another second to breathe before I speak. “I can’t believe you’d say that,” I say quietly. “From anyone else, maybe, but you went through the same things I did. I can’t believe you’d really—” 

“No,” he says firmly. “I wouldn’t. For the rich and famous, adoption means finding a specific, also rich and famous, family to take the baby. They’d live in more luxury than you can imagine.” He looks at me pleadingly. “Cap, I would never.” 

I take a second to digest this. “Okay.” I pick the papers back up. “But even if that’s the case, the same type of people who would adopt them are the same type of people who did this to you.” I point at the papers. “Being rich doesn’t make them good parents, or good people.” 

“So we’ll keep it, then,” he says quietly.

“Are you ready for that, though? You were just telling me about how miserable you are. Do you really want to add a baby to that?” 

“I’m miserable because of the contract,” he says. “And with a baby to love, and if you stick around…” There’s a yearning in his voice that twists my gut. Heavens, what is it about this man that makes me want to give him everything he wants?

I frown as I digest his words. “I told you I’m here, Vate, for whatever you need. I’m certainly not going to abandon you with an infant.” 

He nods unsteadily. He looks so vulnerable in this moment and it makes me want to reach out to him, but not yet. I can’t let my love for him overshadow both of our futures, much less the future of a potential kid. Love for him? That’s something to ponder on later, I think.

“I don’t like the instability of shared custody arrangements either,” I say. “I’ve had friends deal with that, and it’s not good for a kid.” 

“So we’ll get married,” he says with a casual lift to his shoulder. “I can’t think of anyone I trust more not to hurt me, and if I hurt you, you can take half my wealth and go raise our kid on some tropical island somewhere.” 

It’s not funny, but I laugh anyway. “Not exactly how I imagined being proposed to. ‘Hey, at least if I break your heart, you’ll be rich.'” Maybe I shouldn’t bring my heart into it. After all, he never asked for that. And I probably shouldn’t be so harsh, either. It’s early and we’re both tired. I shouldn’t expect him to be perfectly eloquent. 

“I didn’t mean—” he protests.

I can’t handle the separation anymore; I lean over and kiss his forehead gently. “I know you didn’t.” I check my watch. “I’ve got work in about an hour, so I need to get home. I’ll think about it, okay?” I pick up the sheaf of papers. “Can I take this with me?” 

His eyes brim with tears he refuses to let fall. “You can just say no, Cap,” he whispers brokenly, “if you don’t want to—” 

I lean over and kiss him firmly. “I do,” I say, resting my forehead against his, “heavens, I do. Which is why I need to think about it. Can I see you later?” 

He nods, pulling up a calendar to look at his schedule. “I have a concert the next few nights, with obligations afterwards. Friday, though, I have a concert at the Gardens. It’s one of my favorites. Can you come? We could get dinner afterwards.” 

I nod, trying not to memorize the placement of the brightly colored blocks. That information isn’t for me, and he’s got enough people looking over his shoulder. “Sounds like a date. Speaking of, I think you still owe me the one that I won,” I say with a smile, hoping to get rid of that morose look in his eye.

He smiles back at me, though much of it seems to be for my benefit. “I’ll send you the details for that, too.” 

I hold up the contract again as a question.

His eyes catch on it and he bites his lip. “Oh, um, yes, just be careful. It’s my original copy.” 

I balk at him. “This should be in your safe, not out on the bed.” I walk over to the coffee table, pull off the clip that holds them together, and methodically scan every page with my phone. I’ve done this before, so it doesn’t take long. I put the clip back on then walk back over and gingerly place it on the side table. “Please put this somewhere safe,” I plead. I sit on the edge of the bed as I package up the files and reflexively zip them. I feel his eyes on me as I work. I look up. “Where should I send this? Ideally an account your label doesn’t have access to.” 

He rattles off a phone number and his watch beeps as the message goes through. 

“Your personal cell?” I ask. I never thought he’d trust me with something like that, given his fame.

His smile is soft, almost shy. “I hope that we’re at least friends, Cap. Even if you don’t want to go through with this, even if you don’t want to have sex again, I hope we can at least keep in touch.” 

I kiss him again and pull on my pants. “I want that too. But for the record” –I sweep my eyes across his still-naked form– “I definitely want to have sex again.” I check my watch. “Shit. I’m going to be late.” 

“Where is your apartment? Xenon?” he asks, checking the time. 

I shake my head. “No but the O line—” 

The shock on his face is a reminder that while some things have stayed the same, others have very much changed. When was the last time he took the train? When was the last time he could take the train? “Oh, I’ll have my driver take you home. I thought that was implied.” 

I relax slightly. “Oh, okay. Thank you.” I pull on my shirt and run my fingers through my hair while surveying myself in the mirror. It will have to do. I’m lucky my neighbors aren’t the nosey type. 

Vate lays in bed watching me with wide eyes. 

I walk over to the side of the bed and give him a gentle kiss. “Get some sleep,” I whisper, then walk out the door.

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

I rub my eyes as the text on the screen starts to blur together. I’ve been at this for hours, but I can’t stop. I’ve been going line by line through Vate’s contract, cross referencing phrases with available court cases, and seeing if they could be used to overturn it. The contract is over fifty pages long, so it’s a long process. I rub my eyes and check the page count. A little under halfway through. I stretch for the first time today and go pour myself a cup of coffee. This isn’t going to finish itself. 

A while later I’m jolted out of my rhythm as my eyes land on the section labeled “Advance payment”. I know that amount. Every kid who grows up in the orphanage knows that amount. It’s the exact amount needed to pay for emancipation. It’s the exact amount I saved by doing freelance work for less than reputable people. I check the date. It was a year after Vate had already left, so it wasn’t for him. 

I shoot him a text with a screenshot. who did you get out? 

His response comes a few minutes later. no one.

I sigh. do you think I’ll be upset it wasn’t me? I have no illusions of my importance. just tell me.

He types for a long time, before responding. no one. just drop it, cap.

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

I walk into the coffee shop and smile as I spot Mr. Grunding. My old mentor sits at a table in the corner, his hair more gray than I remember it being. I wave and queue up to get my own coffee.

I sit down at the table, coffee in hand. It’s good to see him, a spot of familiarity in my life that had suddenly been shaken loose by Vate.

“Cap,” he greets me warmly, “it’s so good to see you.” 

“It’s good to see you too, Mr. Grunding.” For my other former teachers the statement might’ve just been politeness, but I always enjoy spending time with him.

He gives me a look of paternal exasperation. “Cap, you’ve been out of my class for nearly a decade. Call me Mitch.” 

I nod my assent. We have this conversation once a month, at least. “So,” I say, hoping to sound casual, “I saw Vate the other day.” 

His eyebrows climb towards his receding hairline. “I imagine most people have seen him recently.” He tilts his head towards the magazine on a nearby table.

I groan and drop my face into my hand. “So I’m the last person who knows, then? That he’s famous?” 

He pats my hand paternally. “That’s what happens when you get old, my boy. You get slow on the uptake, out of touch.” 

I chuckle. “But no, I ran into him at a club and we, ah” –I blush– “caught up.” 

He raises an eyebrow at me. “I see,” he says cryptically. “I thought you didn’t want to know about anything or anyone from your childhood.” 

I feel like a kid again as I roll my eyes. “Yeah, but I didn’t mean Vate.” I peer at him as I sip my coffee. “I suspect you knew how I feel about him?” 

He chuckles. “I think everyone in a hundred-meter radius knew.” He studies me for a moment. “That changes things, though. There’s something you should know.” 

I perk up. “About Vate? I actually wanted to ask you about something.” I rummage around in my bag and pull out my tablet, opening it up and flipping to the correct page. “I’ve been looking through his recording contract for him, and it included an advanced payment of exactly the emancipation amount.” I point at the relevant portion of the screen and he nods his understanding. “There’s no way it’s a coincidence. I’ve asked him who he got out, but he won’t tell me.” I bite my lip and look at him. “Do you know?” 

He looks at me seriously, taking another slow sip of his coffee, building up my anticipation unbearably. Was it really so bad? Patriot, my constant tormentor, maybe? 

“He didn’t,” he says finally, setting his cup down with a solid thump.

I groan and close the tablet. “Not you too.” 

“But,” he says, the look in his eye the same as when he would look at my paper and tell me I was on the right track, “He did try.” 

My mind whirls. “Try? Who would be stupid enough to refuse—” 

“Check the date of the contract again,” he says. 

I do. A year after he left, just like I remember. I look up at him in question.

“When did you finally pay your way out?” 

“June 17th—” 

I look at the date again in disbelief. June 24th. Exactly a week after I left and never looked back.

“He came back for you,” Mr. Grunding murmurs gently. “But you were already gone. You wouldn’t hear anything that had to do with the people you knew, said you’d never speak to me again if I told you.” 

I’m hyperventilating. He places a steadying hand on mine. “Cap?” he prompts gently. 

“It’s my fault,” I hear myself say distantly. “He’s in this contract because of me.” 

He shakes his head resolutely. “No, Cap, he made his own decisions. Don’t take that from him. He did what he thought was best.” 

I run a hand through my hair and bark out a laugh that manages to have no humor in it. 

“I’ve got to go.” I stand up from the table and look at him. “Thank you, Mr— Mitch. For everything.” 

He smiles kindly at me. “You’re welcome, Cap.” 

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

I try to stand still as the stage crew rushes around me. I had been escorted to this spot by a woman who introduced herself to me as Vate’s manager. I have a perfect view of the dark stage from here. My heart jumps as I see Vate make his way to the center, and the crowd roars with excitement. Vate glances over at me and gives a small, secret smile, then gives the signal and the stage floods with light. 

He’s…extraordinary. Mind-blowing. A solar flare of excellence, threatening to knock me on my ass. He performs his heart out, belting out vocals, moving his body to the music with dizzying precision. I stand exactly in my spot the entire time, now more than ever unable to tear my gaze from him. This is what he was made to do. I don’t notice the passage of time as I watch him, but before I know it, it’s over and he’s rushing towards me, pouring sweat and radiant. 

I catch him in my arms and spin him around. 

“You were amazing,” I whisper in his hair as I set him down. 

His eyes sparkle as he looks up at me. “Yeah?” 

“Yeah.” I clear my throat. “I can’t believe I’m just going to… go to dinner with you, after that. It’s like taking Shakespeare out to a movie.” 

He laughs. “Well Shakespeare would probably like that.” He bites his lip. “We’re not leaving yet, though. I always do at least one encore.” He looks up at me anxiously. “Is that okay?” 

I cup his cheek and kiss him softly. Several of the stage crew coo adoringly. I ignore them. “Of course it’s okay.” I kiss him again because I’m unable to do anything else. “I could watch you forever.” 

He leans into me and kisses me. “If you keep saying stuff like that we’re going to be late for dinner,” he growls into my ear. 

I make an innocent face. “Two encores?” 

He laughs then holds up a finger. “Listen.” 

The crowd chants to a rhythm. As I strain my ears I hear it: “Save me, save me, save me.” 

A stage hand comes over carrying a pink bedazzled guitar. “You requested this, Mr. Ward?” 

Vate smiles kindly at them and takes it. “Thank you, Dee.” He kisses my cheek. “Be right back.” 

He walks back onto the stage to thunderous applause. A stool has been placed on the stage and he sits on it, adjusting the mic as the applause swells. 

He leans forward slightly. “So I hear you folks want to hear “Save Me,”” he says, his voice low and raspy. 

A collective scream emerges from the crowd. 

“I haven’t been able to play it in a long time because it brought back too many memories.” He smiles at me. “But someone recently reminded me that the past isn’t all bad.” 

He strums out a chord and the stadium loses its collective mind. The sound almost overwhelms the sound system, nearly drowning out the reverberations of the guitar. 

From here I can see his hand tremble slightly as he plays the same chord again, and the crowd quiets. He plays the next and they quiet more, and by the time he opens his mouth to sing, the stadium is overflowing with an awestruck, reverent silence. 

When he begins singing, I feel it like a punch in my gut. I know this song. Not from the radio, but from him, before he left. He played it for me, what feels like a lifetime ago. 

And saving you saves me…” he sings, his voice low and emotive. 

I’m transported back to that moment: Vate’s face, achingly young and bright and hopeful. A melody, soda-pop sweet and bubblyupbeat played skillfully with slender fingers on an old, cheap digital piano. Artlessly echoing tones dampened by the drab common room. Vate’s voice, ruthlessly trained, singing words of love and longing.

“So,” he said, his voice higher than it would be years later. “What’d you think?” 

I sat in thought for a long minute. “It’s good,” I said finally. His face broke into a heart-stopping smile. I nodded towards the keyboard. “May I?” 

He nodded back. “Of course.” He was handsome, in that moment, like he was in every moment, and I struggled to keep my hands from shaking as I scooted closer to him and placed my fingers on the keys.

“If you change the bridge to a minor key like this,” I played and hummed along the melody even as I’d forgotten the lyrics. “It’ll add a bit of the danger you’re describing into the music.” 

He took over for me and tried it. “That’s brilliant,” he whispered, then ran off, the keyboard slung under his arm. As he rounded the corner he called out, “Thanks Cap!” 

My cheeks heat at the memory. I note idly that he’d kept my change, as the song draws to a close. 

As the last note reverberates into the hypnotized stadium, the crowd breaks from their stupor and erupts into wild applause. 

He beams, bows quickly, and runs off stage. I catch him again, holding him tightly against me as he trembles slightly. “You kept my change,” I murmur. 

“It’s your song, Cap,” he whispers, looking up at me. “It always has been.” 

I glance around the room, all eyes on us and at least one cellphone recording the exchange. “Not here?” I ask under my breath. 

He glances around and smiles ruefully. “We’ve got dinner to make anyway.” 

Several of his guards usher us into a narrow hallway as the sounds of the cheering crowd continue to echo behind us. 

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

The silence of the car is nearly deafening. 

“So I talked to Mr. Grunding,” I say as I watch him play with his hands. 

He swallows, nerves ramping up another notch. “Oh?” 

I turn to him. “Why didn’t you tell me you came back for me?” I whisper. 

“Because it didn’t matter. I didn’t make it in time,” he says to his hands. 

“Of course it matters,” I say desperately. I cup his slender hands in mine. Careful, not too hard, not hurting his slender artist fingers with oafish clumsiness. “You never told me this was all my fault. If you hadn’t been worrying about getting me out, if I’d told you I was okay, then maybe you wouldn’t be in this whole mess.” 

He shakes his head insistently. “No. I would’ve signed that contract no matter what. It was my big break, the thing everyone dreams of,” he smiles at me softly, somewhat ruefully. “And it’s all because of you.” 

I blink. “Me?”

He nods, his gaze serious and fixed on me. “That song is yours, Cap. It’s what got me a record deal.” 

I shake my head in dismissal. He just didn’t know how to give himself enough credit. “You wrote it. I just gave you some unsolicited advice.” 

“That key change is what makes the song,” he retorts. “But it’s more than that. I wrote the song for you. It’s your song, Cap.” 

My heart stutters as I stare at him. “You mean it?” I had thought it somewhat odd, at the time. He’d never shown me any of his music before, not like this. I’d thought maybe he was stuck and just needed an outside opinion, when I thought about it at all. But had he been trying to tell me something? All the way back then?

He smiles softly at me. “Of course I do.” 

“Still? It’s been—”

“Years,” he finishes for me. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”

I stare at him, dumbstruck, thinking back over those final lyrics. “And loving you saves me,” I whisper. 

He nods slightly, his heart in his eyes, all the fear and hope and love right there for me to see.

I bring our joined hands up to my lips and brush a reverent kiss over his knuckles. I know he can feel how my hand trembles with his, but he doesn’t mention it. I gaze back at him. “I love you, Vate. I love you so much that sometimes I feel like I’m bursting with it.” 

His eyelashes are wet, but no tears fall as he whispers, “I love you too, Cap. I have for a very long time.” 

We meet in the middle of the wide seat in a passionate kiss. He still smells like the sweat of his performance and it draws me in deeper, fills up every one of my senses with nothing but him. I moan into his mouth as he grips his hand in my hair. Time has no meaning as we’re wrapped around each other, the sound of traffic and paparazzi a distant concern as we kiss and touch and tease.

Eventually, the car slows to a stop and we reluctantly part, straightening our clothes to the best of our ability, before a guard opens the door and ushers us inside. 

Dinner is fantastic. Even though it’s been years, and each course is worth a year of our childhood lunches, we fall back into an easy rhythm. We swap stories, Vate telling me all about the people he’s met, me telling him about some of my college escapades. We laugh and make jokes and it’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time. We’re grown, and I can feel that too, but it only seems to enhance how we mesh. More confident, more experienced, more settled. We fit, in a way that’s absolutely exhilarating.

As our third course is cleared away, they bring out dessert. It looks delicious, warm and chocolatey and rich. I pick up my fork and make my plan of attack.

“Wait,” Vate blurts out. He’s biting his lip and looking at me with a furrow in his brow. There’s a tension in his frame that I can’t stand. 

I dutifully set down my fork. He’s uncharacteristically clumsy as he rises from the table and crosses over to me. 

“Vate?” I ask. Is everything okay? He’s acting odd.

He pulls a small velvet box out of his jacket pocket as he approaches me.

“Vate?” I say again.

He falls to one knee.

“Vate?” I choke out. 

He looks at me, his eyes sparkling. “I was thinking about it, and you’re right,” he kisses the back of my trembling hand and holds it steady in between his own. “You deserve a better proposal, but I was too cowardly to be honest with you, so here goes.” He takes a deep breath. “Cap, I’m in love with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. No matter what you decide about,” he glances furtively around and lowers his voice, “the other thing, will you marry me?” He lets go of my hand to open the small black box. Inside is a black ring with small gems embedded in the band. 

I feel tears gather in the corner of my eyes. “Yes,” I whisper hoarsely. “Yes of course.” 

I pull him up to kiss me and the entire dining room breaks out into applause, thankfully more subdued than in the stadium. 

He slips the ring onto my shaking finger and keeps holding my hand even as he sits back down and we finish our dessert. It makes eating rather difficult, using only one hand, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

“Yes,” I say as Vate, my ethereal and solid finance, presses me against the wall of his apartment. “Yes, let’s have a baby.” 

He pauses in kissing my neck to stare at me. “You mean it?” 

I can’t keep the smile off of my face as I nod at him. “You’re right, it’s the only way to get you out of your contract, and I can’t get the image of bringing a baby home from the hospital out of my head.” 

He squeals and hugs me tight. “Thank you,” he murmurs. “Tonight?” He looks up at me hopefully. 

I smile. “Tonight.” 

He giggles and leads us into his bedroom. 

“I never did get that tour, you know,” I say with a teasing smile. 

He pulls my shirt over my head. “I think I can find a way to make it up to you.” 

I lower my pants and see that he does the same. I begin to walk slowly toward him. 

“Nope, uh-uh, not again. On the bed, I mean it this time, Cap.” He’s teasing, but there’s a hint of that steel that I love beneath it.

I smile and lay on my stomach, my underwear still on. “Like this?” I say, with all the faux-innocence I can muster. 

He lightly swats my hip. “You know it’s not. On your back, underwear off.” 

I move to comply, and he settles, giddy and handsome, between my legs. His smile is one part devious and one part joyful as he looks up at me and I nod my assent. 

He licks a stripe up my cock and his smile turns wicked as I moan helplessly. 

He takes a slow, steady pace, leading me towards my peak and then backing away to lick and suck at my balls. Time passes strangely. It’s seconds, or hours, from when he started when my orgasm approaches in earnest. I’m nearly sobbing with need, wanting to come, not wanting it to all be over.

“I’m close,” I choke out, gripping the sheets in my hand.

He hums with pleasure, keeping up his suction and looking up at me with hooded eyes. I spill down his throat and he sucks my come down eagerly. He continues to suck me until I can no longer handle it. I tug him up my body, kissing him hard.

“I didn’t think I’d have to explain to you, that’s not how babies are made,” I murmur teasingly.

He makes a show of looking around. “Where’s the fire?” he quotes my words back to me. “We have all night. And I always keep my promises.” 

I smile, nuzzling into his throat and leaving teasing kisses there. “Mm, well, I have no clue what my refractory period is like, so we may be in for something of a wait.” 

“I have an idea for how we can occupy our time.” I know that tone. I know there’s a smile in his voice, even as I’m still exploring the smooth expanse of his neck.

I pull back to look at him. Heavens, I’ll never get enough of looking at his handsome face. “I’m all ears.” 

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

“Fuck, Cap,” Vate pants from above me as my lips and tongue work his tight, wet hole. “You’re so fucking good at that. I have to – ngh – stop myself from breaking your nose.” 

I release him for just long enough to say, “What a way to go,” then go back to doing everything in my power to drive him wild.

I gain a lot of good data, where he likes thrusts to be aimed, where his g-spot is, the optimal rhythm to wring the most noises from him, and I set about using them to my advantage, occasionally slipping forward to lick and suck at his balls before returning my attention to his front hole. 

“If you aren’t ready soon,” he pants, “I’m going to come and the wait is going to get much longer.” 

I pull away again. “Oh I’ve been ready for at least the last twenty minutes,” I say, then go back to pleasuring him. 

“Wait what? You have?” He grinds involuntarily into my face then shakily swings a leg over my head, dismounting. He lays on the bed, breathing hard. “Why didn’t,” he pants, “you say anything?” 

I shrug, pleased as punch. “You said we weren’t in any hurry, and I was having fun.” 

He dramatically throws a hand over his forehead. “You’re going to be the death of me.” 

“Unless you have some underlying heart condition I don’t know about, the chances of fatality from pleasure are nearly non-existent,” I say confidently. “I checked.” 

He huffs out a laugh. “Of course you did.” He rolls over, kissing me softly. I lean into him, returning the kiss, groaning as our chests make contact. I wrap my arms around him, hauling him closer and he hums with pleasure. He pulls back slightly. “I have never appreciated that you’re such a quick study more than I do in this moment,” he murmurs. 

I shake my head. “The night before the Calc II final, you couldn’t figure out what the fuck he was talking about with the ant crawling on the ice cream cone…” 

He laughs. “Okay, the only time I’ve been this grateful you’re a quick study was the night before the Calc II final. Happy?” 

I smile. “Extremely.” 

“The point,” he says with fond exasperation, “is that you’ve become very adept at kissing.”

He rolls us over and grinds our dicks together, kissing me. He holds a firm hand in my hair as he angles my head right where he wants it. He keeps his hand there even as he pulls his mouth away from mine to trail it over my neck, alternating light kisses and stinging nips that make me writhe beneath him. 

“Vate, I need you,” I plead finally. “Need to be inside you.” 

“Mmm,” he hums languidly. “Yes.” He rolls off of me and onto his stomach, pushing a pillow under his hips and spreading his legs. “Like this?” he asks, his eyes wide with attraction. 

“Yes,” I breathe. I climb over him, my chest pressed against his back. One hand steadies me over him while the other lines my dick up to his front hole. “Like this?” I murmur, kissing his shoulder tenderly. 

He reaches a hand up and winds his fingers into my hair, grounding me. “Yes,” he breathes. 

I sink slowly into him and know right off this isn’t going to last long. Despite the earlier orgasm, the feel of his hole massaging my cock has pleasure bolting through me. 

I continue in one long thrust until I’m seated fully inside him. I drop down onto my elbow and reach under him to take a hold of his dick. His whimpers turn to moans as I thrust into him while stroking his dick, paying careful attention to that sensitive patch inside him. 

I thrust in and circle my hips, searching with my thumb until I find that spot on his dick that drives him wild. His hips buck into me and I smile, leaving open mouthed kisses on his shoulder. 

“Please, Cap,” he sobs. 

“What is it?” I choke out. “What do you need?”

“Breed me, come inside me, I need you.” 

I pull his ear between my teeth and suck lightly. “You first.”

“You’re close?” he pants. 

“So close.”

“I— oh— oh. I’m coming.” And he is, this body bucking furiously into mine as he instinctively fucks himself on my cock.

I wait until I feel his channel milking me before I thrust as deep as I can and come, spilling my seed deep in him, hoping that it will take root. He needs to get out of this contract and I want that for him, but it’s something more, too. Something primal. We’re going to have a baby together.

He convulses underneath me as I hold myself deep inside him and try not to squash him under my weight. As the pulses die down he relaxes, sighing contentedly. I kiss his shoulder, unable to keep the wide grin from my face.

I roll off of him and lay next to him on my back. He leans over and kisses me softly but doesn’t otherwise move. That’s important to increase our chances of pregnancy, I note, and scoot closer to wrap him in my arms as best I can.

“That was perfect,” he says, his breath puffing gently against my cheek. “I love you.” 

I turn to face him, resting my forehead against his. “You’re perfect. I love you too.” 

He curls up to me and we fall blissfully asleep. 

  • • —– ٠ ✤ ٠ —– • ·

“Fans were stunned Friday night as pop sensation Innovation sang his breakout hit ‘Save Me’ for the first time in half a decade,” a news anchor reports on the large flat screen TV. The clip of him playing shows on the screen, as well as shots of awestruck fans.

“That’s right,” another anchor continues, “The pop star had flat out refused to perform the single to the consternation of his label and fans alike.” A few headlines were flashed on the screen to this effect.

“Social media was abuzz, everyone wondering who the mysterious ‘someone’ was who made him sing the song that made him famous, but here at News One, we have the answer. Exclusive cell phone footage shows the pop singer proposing to a mysterious man that very night. Who is he? Why have we not seen him before now? And judging by Innovation’s exuberant responsethe anchor pauses as the video shows Vate kissing me passionately “when is the wedding?” 

I turn off the TV as Vate walks into the room. 

He runs a tired hand through his hair. “I’m sorry about that.” He bites his lip. “Are you really okay with that” –he waves his hand at the screen– “being your life now?” 

I wave my hand dismissively. “You do it, so I can too. I want to be part of your life, so I’ll deal with it. But never mind that.” I turn more fully towards him. “Did you get the results?” 

He chews on his lip and nods, a huge smile breaking onto his face. “It’s positive. We did it. I’m pregnant.” 

I hoot and jump up from the couch, sweeping him into my arms. “We’re going to be fathers,” I whisper in awe. 

He nods, smiling at me with tears in his eyes. “I love you,” he whispers.

I kiss him gently. “I love you too.” 

He sniffs, surreptitiously wiping the corner of his eyes and pulls back from me. “Did you get them?” 

I pull the documents out of my bag with a flourish. I’d insisted that he put his important documents in a safe deposit box, and to my slight consternation he’d opted to put his in mine. I’d gone to go get the last documents we needed for today. 

I hold out the neatly clipped together documents: birth certificate, housing lottery certificate, and, on top, his name assignment declaration. Many people who want to shed their past at the orphanage choose to change their names after they leave. It’s something of a dead-giveaway. But we had both kept ours, so we’ll need them today. He takes the sheaf with trembling fingers and I scan over the words once more. As part of the Freedom In Naming Act, minor child 87699234 will hereby be known as Innovation Ward.

My stack is the same, clipped together neatly. I pull the stack from my bag and page through them, ensuring that I have everything we’re going to need. When I see him peek over curiously, I hold my name assignment out for his inspection. As part of the Freedom In Naming Act, minor child 65890233 will hereby be known as Capitalism Ward.

He smiles at me and kisses me quickly. “Let’s go get married.” 

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4 thoughts on “Capitalism Breeds Innovation

  1. you got me all the way through this sweet story and leave me with this terrible pun??? how very dare you

    real talk though: extremely good, I’m so glad they found each other again! i love them both!

  2. Also can not believe the name reveal at the end. I thought Cap was an indicator of job profession (like a captain?) ahahahha. I am glad that they both got out, reunited, and got their happy ending together!! Yay~~

  3. I think my favorite part of this story is the reveal that this is an alternate world to our own, handled pleasantly slow; it allows the characters to establish themselves without having to heft big bulky slabs of exposition around with them. The names were unusual, sure, but the ones they use with each other are short and punchy and easy to tell apart, so when the formal reveal comes it feels natural. I wish them love, health, and the best of fortune getting out of Vate’s music contract!

  4. I love the world building and the relationship and seeing Cap breaking out of his shell and Vate learning to trust him and then it turns out it was also a shaggy dog story the whole time.

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