Eight to Five (twenty-two and a half inches)

by Aosora Hikaru (青空ヒカル)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/334628.html)

The sun had just started to set after practice, blazing reds and blinding oranges across the early fall sky, and Seth was glad that the auditorium was to the east of the athletic fields so he could put it at his back. He trailed behind the group of students filing back to the building, instruments either carelessly swinging at their side or cradled in their arms like precious children while they talked; there was no in between amongst the members. Seth scanned the group until he found Tanner in a small cluster of other trumpet players, probably about 50 yards in front of him. A laugh carried back to him on the wind, Tanner’s unoccupied hand pressed to his chest as it often was when he found something amusing. Tanner, Seth noted, was one of the ones who let the trumpet dangle from almost-too-relaxed fingertips, and the dents along the end — the bell? — of the trumpet showed how often he did so.

He broke into a jog, his legs screaming after the grueling football practice he’d just attended, and caught up to the group. “Hey!”

Tanner’s grin grew broader as he realized it was Seth approaching them and not another band member. “Hey, I’ll catch up with you guys later,” he said with a nod to his group as he slowed down to let them go ahead. “Remember to practice that melody in the third song. We can’t have lazy tonguing at this next competition.”

“What a fucking nerd,” Seth said with a grin as he bumped shoulders with Tanner… or perhaps more accurately, bumped his shoulder against Tanner’s upper arm. “Lazy tonguing? That’s the nerdiest — or gayest — thing I’ve ever heard.”

Tanner rolled his eyes, though he shifted his trumpet to his other hand to protect it from Seth’s friendly assault. “Whatever. Band practice is hard work, bro… and you wish you could get some of my lazy tonguing tonight.”

Seth would never, ever admit out loud that marching band was hard, but he knew it was. His own football practice ended early enough that he could shower and move over to the softball field where the band, second-class sport citizens as they were, had to paint a crooked set of yard lines into the outfield. He often watched the tail end of Tanner’s rehearsal, and he never understood how the band could not only play and walk at the same time, but do it all — music, placement, everything — from memory. He still had to review the playbook before most games just to make sure he had it all straight in his head.

Still, that didn’t stop him from teasing Tanner about his choice of extracurricular activity. “Yeah, you’re right, but whatever. Hard work… you just blow that trumpet and walk.”

“You know there’s a double-time segment later in the show. I don’t think you’ve seen us run through that yet.”

“The fuck is double-time? You keep mentioning it, but I have no fucking clue what it is.”

Tanner didn’t respond with words, but rather started taking steps twice as fast instead to illustrate his point. Soon Seth found himself jogging to keep up with the marching. “What the fuck, bro, slow down!”

Over his shoulder Tanner laughed, and stopped to bump his arm against Seth’s shoulder once he caught up to him. “That’s double-time.”

“And you do that while playing your trumpet?”

Tanner nodded. “And I can’t bounce too much or else the judges mark us down. The plume on our shako gives it away, so I have to be really careful at competitions.”

Seth stared at Tanner. “No fucking way you can do that without bouncing.”

With a grin, Tanner brought his trumpet up in front of his lips, though he didn’t put his lips to the mouthpiece to prepare to play. “Watch me.”

And so Seth stood and watched as Tanner marched double-time again, his feet executing a smooth roll from heel to toe with each step, his upper body perfectly level despite how quickly his lower half moved. It was an impressive move, and Seth suddenly realized why Tanner never spilled his drinks at lunch even though Seth always ended up having to mop up his tray before he could start eating.

Tanner was polite enough to stop and wait for Seth to catch up again before they reached the auditorium building where the band filed into the band room to pack away their instruments. Nobody cared if Seth slipped in, though he’d been teased a few times by the drum line for daring to be a jock in such a space. He followed Tanner into the classroom and sat in an unoccupied chair near Tanner’s, until a clarinet player told him to get out of the clarinet section.

“Fuck, I don’t know where anybody sits.” Seth frowned as he decided to simply stand awkwardly instead.

Tanner laughed, then finished emptying his spit valve onto the carpet before pulling out the trumpet’s mouthpiece. “Yeah, but we do. As long as you don’t sit in anyone’s chair I think you’ll be good.”

Seth had long since stopped being disgusted by the act of Tanner cleaning out his trumpet. The first time he’d seen Tanner do it — pushing the lever and blowing into the instrument, water emptying onto the floor — he’d nearly gagged. Tanner had explained that if he didn’t do it the trumpet could rust, though, so he learned to get over it. Besides, couldn’t be worse than needing to wash his jock strap after a summer practice. He snorted at Tanner’s remark and crossed his arms over his chest. “You guys need some fucking labels or some shit.”

Tanner closed his eyes and laughed again as he latched the trumpet case closed. “And then after we have chair tests we’ll just have to shuffle everything around. More hassle than it’s worth just to make sure you have a place to plant your ass while we pack up.”

“Maybe we should just have a chair for me.” Seth hefted his gym bag higher up onto his shoulder, shooting Tanner his best lopsided grin. “Then everybody wins.”

“Or maybe you should learn an instrument to earn that chair,” Tanner said. He gathered up his trumpet case and his music folder, then nodded toward the door. “C’mon, I’ll give you a ride home.”

Seth appreciated the rides. He lived close enough to walk home and often did when he couldn’t use the car he had to share with his sister, but he enjoyed when his after-school football practices lined up with Tanner’s band practices. It was exhausting to walk a mile after being forced to run multiples. “Yeah, cool. Just as long as you’re not gonna force me into the back seat again like you did last time. You know I can’t fucking fit back there.” It had been uncomfortable to be stuffed in the back seat of the Mazda. Possibly even more uncomfortable, Seth imagined, than the time Tanner had everything go horribly wrong while blowing Seth, crammed between his legs on the front passenger floorboards.

“Listen, James’ trombone won’t fit in the back seat,” Tanner said with a grin. “You’re just lucky he doesn’t need a ride today.”

“Fucking boyfriends should get shotgun by default,” Seth muttered under his breath.

Tanner snorted and shook his head at Seth. “Can’t fault me for helping my fellow bandmates out. You’d do the same for your teammates if your sister ever let you have the car on practice days.”

Seth was loath to admit it, but Tanner was right. “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” he said, louder this time.

“Want anything on the way?” Tanner shifted his music folder under the arm holding the trumpet, and scrounged in his pocket for his keys.

Seth’s stomach grumbled, as if on cue. “Only about six cheeseburgers.”

Tanner laughed, and they loaded into the Mazda. They stopped at the local slider joint and ordered a dozen, just like they always did.

“How was practice?” Tanner said as he unwrapped his first slider.

Seth rolled his eyes, but opted to be polite and waited until he’d finished his own slider before speaking. “Awful. Our win-loss ratio fucking blows this season, and even when we have won, it was by like a field goal or some shit.” Seth wasn’t sure why his team was struggling so much. He did his best, why couldn’t everyone else? Why were they sucking so much?

Once he’d finished his own burger Tanner grimaced and reached for his second. “Sorry to hear that, bro. Maybe this week you guys can get it together.”

“Yeah, like the band, right?” Seth snorted and added the wrapper from his own second slider to the stack of crumpled garbage. “You guys have been doing way better than us.”

Tanner pressed his lips together, then spoke softly. “You know you can’t help that.”

“Doesn’t make it suck any less.”

Tanner mulled this over for a few moments, then nodded to concede the point. “All right. But all you can do with the football team is try your hardest, bro. Just do what you can and pray the quarterback gets it together.”

Seth laughed and took yet another burger. “Yeah, it’ll be a fucking cold day in hell before that happens. I don’t know what the fuck Coach is thinking. We need a better QB.”

“Until you’ve got a better option, he’s all you’ve got,” Tanner said.

Now it was Seth’s turn to grimace, but he didn’t have anything to say to refute what Tanner said. It was a long drive home with them both full of cheeseburgers, and when they got to Seth’s house it was as uncomfortable as it always was for Seth to lean across the Mazda to kiss Tanner. “See you in the morning.”

“Try not to chafe your dick thinking of me tonight.” With a grin, Tanner gave Seth another kiss — purposefully keeping it as chaste as possible.

“You know I can’t promise anything like that,” Seth said, then he gathered up his items to climb out of the car and go inside.

Seth’s breath hung in the air and small clouds wove through the face mask on his helmet. Waiting there on the sidelines gave him the chills, since he wasn’t moving enough to warm himself up. He played offense, though, and the other team had the ball. It wasn’t his time to be on the field.

Behind him, in the stands, he heard the band strike up a song — Tanner called them stand tunes — and it lifted his spirits, even if it couldn’t make him any warmer.

“The fuck you grinning for?” Donovan, a wide receiver, elbowed him under his pads. “We’re getting creamed.”

Seth blinked and looked over at Donovan. “What?”

Donovan nudged Seth again. “You were staring off with the stupidest grin on your fucking face.”

“How do you know I wasn’t grimacing because of how much we fucking suck?”

“Because,” Donovan said, “You didn’t look like you were thinking about how much we suck. You looked like you were thinking about how much your dick gets sucked.”

Truthfully, a blowjob sounded great. Maybe he could make time to see Tanner later tonight — hopefully after they’d both showered. “Wasn’t thinking about that. But now I am, so thanks a fucking lot for that particular visual. Now I won’t be able to focus.”

Donovan snorted. “You weren’t focusing before anyway. I bet you were imagining Tanner right there on his damn knees in front of you. Get your shit in gear so we can fucking win.”

Seth glanced over at the scoreboard and suppressed a sigh. The clock counted down to halftime, when he’d have to go into the locker room with the rest of the team and it would be Tanner’s turn to take the field with the band.

The marching band was this school’s crown jewel of Friday night in the fall, not the football team.

The buzzer sounded, and Seth unbuckled his football helmet. It was time to go listen to the coach drone on about plays and strategy for the next half. It didn’t matter what the coach said, anyway. Seth knew the game was beyond saving. He nodded, and pretended to pay attention, but the whole time he struggled to listen for the band.

“Were you listening to me, Mr. Mitchell?” The coach gave Seth a look which left him feeling like he’d been laid open for all to see, that the team would know he’d have rather been out there marching with Tanner than stuck in this room which reeked of stale socks and sour sweat.

“Yeah, Coach,” Seth said. “Listen to the quarterback, make sure I’m there when a ball is flying in my general direction, try not to get tackled.”

The coach’s jaw flexed as he closed his eyes, his shoulders rising with a deep breath. That hadn’t been the answer he was looking for, and Seth’s sarcasm was about to get him into trouble. “I’m going to need you to sit this out then, Mitchell. Your head isn’t in the game. You’re a liability.”

Seth’s stomach dropped, and his mouth worked silently. “I’m the best damn player you’ve got, and everyone here knows it. You’re going to fuck this entire team over. You can’t bench me!”

“Watch your mouth, Mitchell.” The coach frowned, disappointment clear in his eyes. “Maybe next week you’ll listen when we make plans. Break, everyone.”

Seth followed behind the rest of the team as they filed out of the locker room, his helmet slung under his arm. If he had his way he’d just go home now, but he needed to stay to support the rest of the guys. Besides, maybe someone would get injured and the coach would realize what a terrible mistake he’d made pulling Seth. He would run back onto the field, catch every throw perfectly, and score all the touchdowns. He’d make Coach see!

Or maybe he’d just sit here on the bench and watch the team crash and burn.

The stands were always eerily quiet during the third quarter, because after the halftime show the band got that time off. It made Seth uneasy even more than usual, since he didn’t even have the game itself to distract him. If he could just go and find Tanner everything would be better just because Tanner would definitely take his side on this. Coach wouldn’t be happy about Seth leaving, though. He was already irritated enough with Seth not paying attention there in the locker room… leaving would just make it worse. Maybe even get him benched for the rest of the season.

So Seth watched in mute horror as his team blew yet another chance at redemption. It seemed as though they lost the ball to a turnover every time they got it back, if they didn’t lose yards on every down. The band even stopped playing their stand tunes halfway through the fourth quarter, but Seth didn’t want to peek behind him to see if they’d given up entirely and packed up to leave.

Finally, after what felt an eternity though was no longer than forty-five minutes, the game was over, and he was free to go back to the locker room. He ignored the rest of his team, knowing that it wouldn’t really do much to repair his coach’s opinion, showering and packing away his gear as quickly as he could. He could try to get back in coach’s good graces during practices this week. Right now all he wanted was Tanner. He hoped that the band hadn’t packed up and left partway through the fourth quarter like he suspected they had, but all he could do right now was try to get to the band room as fast as he could. He wanted to catch Tanner before he offered a ride to anyone else. He needed Tanner, and he needed Tanner alone.

His wet hair, ignored after his shower in favor of dressing quickly, dripped onto his jacket as he walked across campus to the auditorium building. A chill rippled down his spine from the cold air against damp skin, but he was a man on a mission, and the band room would be warm enough.

Tanner was just zipping up his uniform bag over the marching uniform when Seth got there. That was always Tanner’s last step, Seth had been in this room with him on enough Friday nights to know that, and it made Seth all the more appreciative of his speed — or fortune.

“Hey!” Tanner’s eyes widened when he saw Seth. “You got here faster than usual.”

“I didn’t want you to leave without me,” Seth said. “I have had a really fucking rough night.” He had a surge of desire to touch and kiss Tanner, to bury his troubles of the night in the pleasures of Tanner’s body, and he took a deep breath and shoved down that need. They may have been alone at that moment, but anyone could have walked in on them; dealing with someone teasing him for making out with his boyfriend in the locker room was the last thing he wanted tonight.

Tanner nodded as he gathered up his trumpet to take to the locker room. “Yeah, I noticed you were on the sidelines for the entire second half. What happened? You aren’t hurt, are you?”

Seth leaned against the lockers and groaned. “Coach sat me out because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to his lecture during halftime.”

“He did what?!” Tanner paused, hand frozen on the lock looped through the locker’s handle. “That was a damn good way to guarantee a loss! He knows you care the most about that team out of just about everyone there!”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought, too,” Seth said with a sigh. “Guess he wanted to teach me a lesson.”

Tanner clicked the lock shut and spun the dial. “Did it work?”

“I learned to look like I’m paying better attention,” Seth said.

“So no, then.” Tanner shrugged. “You looked good, though. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy getting to watch you stand there on the sidelines in all that gear. You’re too far away to enjoy when you’re on the field.”

“I’ve told you, Tanner, that shit isn’t even really me.” Seth sighed and scrubbed a hand down his face. “Like that’s not even my real ass. It’s padding.”

“It looks good anyway,” Tanner insisted, a grin on his face. He took the time to let his gaze slide down Seth’s body and back up again, in an exaggerated motion before reaching down to grope Seth’s ass.

Any other time, Seth might have appreciated it, maybe even joked back or even groped Tanner in return, but he was still too bothered by being put on the bench instead of playing the rest of this game. Seth frowned in thought, his mind wandering to how he could get back on Coach’s good side, then said, “Yeah, I guess it does. Better than the shit you wear, anyway.”

Tanner looked mock-insulted, a hand pressed to his chest. “My ass looks fantastic in my bibbers.”

Seth raised his eyebrows as he started to walk out of the locker room, Tanner at his side. “Those make your ass look flatter than a mirror, bro. Like it’s actually astounding just how bad your ass looks in those things.”

“Never stopped you from staring before.”

“Yeah,” Seth said, “I was trying to see if it was still there.”

As Tanner shoved him, Seth tripped over a bump in the carpet and let out a string of curses that was impressive, even for him.

“Come on,” Tanner said, pulling up on Seth’s arm to get him to standing again. “Did you drive here?” He kept his hand there longer than he really needed to, then let it drift down to take Seth’s hand and give it a light squeeze.

Seth shook his head, both to clear his head of the desire for more of that lingering touch and to answer the question. “Nah, I just never went home after school.”

Tanner nodded and let go of Seth’s hand to pull his own jacket on. “Okay then. Want to come to Benny’s? We’re all going.”

“Fuck yeah, I do,” Seth said. “I didn’t feel like walking home with wet hair anyway.”

“You should’ve dried it.” Tanner paused outside of the band room and dug through his jacket pockets for his keys. “It can’t be good for you to be out with your hair still dripping onto your coat. Or at least it can’t be good for the wool in your coat to have your hair dripping onto it.”

“My coat will be fine,” Seth said. “Just like I will.”

Tanner raised an eyebrow, reached out to push Seth’s sopping wet, dark hair back from his face, then started the trek to his car. “Why did you leave it wet, anyway? You usually care about your hair way too much.”

Seth sighed and shoved his hands into the pockets of his letter jacket as he followed behind Tanner. “I just didn’t want you to give someone else a ride, too. Not after the night I’ve had. I…” He fought back a grimace and stared down at the ground as they reached Tanner’s car. He planted his hand on the passenger door handle as he waited for it to unlock, then murmured, “I just needed to see you, all right?”

“Ah,” Tanner said, and Seth knew he really just wanted to make a joke about it. He didn’t, which Seth appreciated. It had been a heavy confession, and not one that he’d normally make — he usually just joked about everything himself.

It was even more welcome when Tanner simply climbed in after letting Seth into the car. Seth cast a furtive glance around to confirm they were the last car in that section so as to avoid nosy parents or teachers, then grasped Tanner’s jacket collar and pulled him close for a kiss.

Tanner made a surprised sound against Seth’s mouth, then slid his own fingers up to cup the sides of Seth’s neck. His hands felt even warmer than usual, compared to the clammy dampness of Seth’s skin. When Seth shivered, Tanner drew back. “Want me to turn on the heater?”

“I’ll be fine if you just shut the fuck up and kiss me.” Seth tugged on Tanner’s collar again and slanted his mouth against Tanner’s.

This was what Seth needed right now. No hiding, no pretending, just Tanner and privacy and kissing and the feel of Tanner’s hands on his skin. It was a relief to him to be able to do this, after spending so much time there in the band room where someone could have come across them if he’d given in to the urge there.

Tanner didn’t question Seth’s decision to initiate the making out there in the parking lot, only went along with it, and for that Seth was glad. In fact, Tanner went along with it for a good fifteen minutes before he pulled back from Seth, drew a deep breath, and said, “Hey, it’s not that I’m not enjoying this, but it’s getting late. Let’s go.”

Seth blinked a few times to try to rein himself back in, then nodded. “Um, yeah. They’re probably wondering where you are.”

“They won’t care, but I’d like to get some food. And I think you might like more time with me before you have to go home.” Tanner gave him that warm smile he always did, the one that said Tanner could see through any façade Seth tried to put up.

“I want the biggest milkshake they have.”

Tanner grinned and started the car. “Consider it done.”

The Benny’s diner was filled to bursting with rowdy band kids. Tanner had explained once that they had a tradition of going there after every football game, and after he and Seth had decided their relationship wasn’t going to crash and burn any time soon, he started to invite Seth to tag along.

By the time they got there, the only real set of seats available was in the corner booth, filled with a half-dozen girls: five flute players and one of the girls from percussion — the pit, Tanner had explained at one point. The girls waved them over once Tanner realized the trumpet section hadn’t saved them any seats at their table. They shifted and scooted, and Seth and Tanner ended up crammed into the center of the booth together.

“Nice of you to join us, Seth,” the pit player said with a grin.

The flute player on the end laughed. “Yeah, doesn’t the football team do something after games? Why do you two always hang out with us?”

“Can you play an instrument?” Another flutist spoke up. “I bet we could find a place for you in the band. We’re better than the football team anyway.”

Seth pressed his lips together, then began to pull on his jacket again. “Well, on that note, fuck you–”

“Knock it off, Seth.” Tanner pulled Seth’s coat back down and stuffed it into the booth between them. “I know you’ve had a shitty night, but ignore them. You don’t need to take it out on them. They’re joking around.”

Seth glared at Tanner, but let him move the jacket without argument. “Fine. But if they talk shit again I’m gone.”

As Tanner talked Seth down, the girls ducked their heads and fidgeted with the things in front of them. A few poked at the ice in their drinks with their straws, others found great interest in their purses and the contents within them. “Sorry,” one of them said. “We didn’t realize you weren’t in a good mood. We didn’t mean anything by it.”

The server provided a much-needed distraction at that point, and Seth and Tanner were able to place their orders for their food and drinks. Once the server walked away, Seth noticed one of the flutists — one who hadn’t spoken up yet — staring at him with a smirk on her face.

“What the fuck’s so funny?” Seth asked, though a feeling in his stomach told him he definitely didn’t want to know the answer to that question, lest he be forced to endure more teasing.

Her shoulders shook once with a silent laugh and she pressed her lips together for a moment, then spoke. “You don’t want to fuck any of us, Seth.”

Seth rolled his eyes. Tanner had taken him to a haunted house on Halloween the year before, just a few months after they got together. Seth had clung to him in his terror, and one of the workers, the brother of one of the flutists, had seen them together, and had mentioned it to his sister. She’d approached Tanner and Seth, and had asked them about it. It had been a tense and awkward conversation, but Seth and Tanner confirmed their relationship. Soon after, the entire band knew, and then the entire football team found out, and by now the whole school likely knew. The only people Seth tried to keep in the dark now were his parents.

Seth was thrilled to have his food arrive to distract him again.

The flutists looked at each other, and then one of them smiled at Seth. “It was nice talking to you. We should get home. I hope your night gets better.” She turned her attention to Tanner, and gave him a smile as well. “See you Monday?”

“Yeah, see you Monday,” Tanner said.

The girls shuffled and scooted their way out of the booth, and then it was just Seth and Tanner in that giant corner booth. They ate in silence, and Tanner ordered Seth the promised milkshake — and one for himself — when the server came by to check on them.

“Listen,” Seth said, when she’d gone to collect the dessert from the kitchen, “I want to ask you something. About the band.”

Tanner canted his head to the side, his brows drawing together by a fraction of an inch. “You don’t normally care about the band.”

“Yeah, well, we fucking suck, and you guys are doing great, so obviously we’re doing something wrong that you guys have gotten right.”

“Discipline,” Tanner said, after the server dropped off their shakes.

Seth snorted. “Discipline.”

“Yeah, discipline. That’s really all it is.”

Seth thought this over, and tried to compare the football practices to what he’d seen of the marching rehearsals. “Like, what sort of discipline?”

“How many times do you run plays? Until you have them perfect?” Tanner pushed Seth’s shake over to him, brought his own in front of himself, and pulled the cherry off the top. “Do you run them until they’re just good enough, or do you run them until you could draw out the chart for it in your sleep?”

Seth furrowed his own brow now while he shoved the spoon into the shake, and the corners of his mouth turned down as he began to mix the whipped topping into the ice cream. “I… I don’t know. I have to review the playbook before games.”

“Wouldn’t it help if you could recall them from memory?” Tanner raised an eyebrow, stopping short of gesturing at Seth with the cherry.

“Well, I mean…” Seth grimaced and stabbed his spoon into the defenseless milkshake. “Probably, yeah. Fuck.”

“We can spend the entire rehearsal… two or three hours, sometimes, on one section of a song.” Tanner popped the cherry into his mouth and yanked out the stem. “It’s frustrating, yeah. Sometimes all I want to do is just move on, stop marching the same three sets over and over. But when we go to a competition…” he grinned at Seth, his eyes bright with excitement. “When we get the judge’s tapes and feedback, and they talk about how flawlessly we executed that turn we spent three entire rehearsals on, I feel good.”

Seth sipped at his milkshake while he mulled this over. The team often spent most of their practices trying to get on track, without running as many plays. No wonder he had to re-read the playbook before games, since he wasn’t being given an opportunity to actually learn what they looked like on the field. “So what you’re saying is we need to get our asses in gear.”

“Yep,” Tanner said. “Get your asses in gear, focus on the task at hand. Run plays until you can run them in your sleep. Study that playbook until your eyes cross, and not just before a game. Do it in your downtime, too.” He leveled a look at Seth. “Prove to your coach that you want to be there, that you want to do things for your team. Set an example. Be the one who proves he cares, without just saying it.”

Seth couldn’t suppress a grimace at that last remark. “I do need to prove it when I say I care, don’t I? Fuck, Coach probably thinks I’m the laziest son of a bitch.”

“I think your coach believes you’ve given up.”

“And who can fucking blame me?” Seth stirred the milkshake again to try to get out the air bubbles that had developed as he’d drank it. “I was trying so hard, but nobody else cared.”

Tanner shrugged. “Make them fall in line.”


“If they talk, tell them to shut up. Refuse to engage. Pay attention to the coach, ask more questions. Make sure everything is crystal-clear, completely explained and laid out.” Tanner chose a spoon now to eat his milkshake. “Don’t give them a chance to mess around, not while you’re there.”

“So shut them down when they fuck around,” Seth said, and nodded. “I used to do that, way back freshman year.”

“Do it again.”

Seth laughed. “I’ll be the hardass everyone hates.”

“Good,” Tanner said. “As long as they know you’re doing it because you care, and not just to be an asshole.”

“Yeah, well, I’m just a fucking asshole, Tanner.” Seth grinned. “That’s just how I am.”

Tanner shoved Seth’s shoulder and laughed. “Okay, you’re right. But still. Make sure they know you’re not being spiteful about it, then.”

“Yeah, I think I can do that,” Seth said. “No guarantees I won’t make any enemies.”

“Just as long as you don’t cry on my shirt we’re good,” Tanner said. “Maybe I can work out a place for you to cry where it won’t hurt my clothes.”

Seth rolled his eyes. “Please, like you own anything too nice for me to sob on. I won’t blow my nose on your shit, at least.”

“I guess that’ll have to be good enough,” Tanner gave an overdramatic sigh. “Let’s go. I’m tired, and I’m sure you are, too.”

“Yeah,” Seth said as he slid out of the booth and pulled his wallet out of his pocket.

Tanner placed a hand on Seth’s arm and shook his head. “I got this one.”

Seth blinked, but slid his wallet back into his pocket and obediently followed Tanner to the register, then waited quietly while he paid. When Tanner got back, they walked to his car together.

“So my parents are leaving tomorrow morning,” Tanner said, rather abruptly, once they got to his car. “They’ll be gone until Wednesday.”

“Oh, cool.” Seth opened the door and climbed into the car. Once Tanner was seated as well, he continued. “So… what, naked Black Ops marathon with blowjob breaks? I am fucking down for that shit.”

“I thought maybe…” Tanner flushed and nearly dropped the keys as he tried to put them into the ignition.

Seth rolled his eyes. “Fine, I guess we can play COD instead.”

“Actually have sex,” Tanner mumbled.

“You want us to… oh. Oh.”

“They’ll be gone, we’ll have the house to ourselves. We can… we can actually…”

Seth drew a deep breath. “That’s… wow. That’s a really fucking heavy thing to consider, isn’t it?”

“Listen, I’ll call you tomorrow. After they leave. Think about it.” Tanner glanced over at Seth, then started the car and backed out of the space. “You don’t have to, but… I’d really like to try.”

Try. Seth could try. Seth could try anything Tanner wanted.

“You couldn’t drive yourself?”

Seth shook his head as he stepped through the threshold to enter Tanner’s house, duffel bag in one hand. “No, my sister needs the car for work tomorrow, and since I didn’t know how long I’d be here…”

Tanner nodded and glanced out the window. Seth followed his gaze just in time to see the car Seth shared with his sister drive off. “And how did she feel about dropping you off here?”

When Seth had asked for a ride after learning his sister needed the car, she had sighed, rolled her eyes, and taken far longer to get ready to leave than was strictly necessary. He’d spent nearly an hour waiting for her to be ready to leave, and had to deal with her muttering and scowling the entire drive over to Tanner’s place. “She was fine with it.”

Tanner huffed a small laugh, then reached out to take Seth’s bag from him. “I rented a new game for the weekend, too.”

“Did you change your… are we not gonna…” Seth froze with his letter jacket halfway off his shoulders, and fought the instinct to take the gym bag back before Tanner opened it and laid out the evidence of Seth’s hopes.

“Are we not gonna… what?” Tanner paused his movement with the gym bag hovering above the couch, suspended from a fist.

Seth opened and closed his mouth, no words coming forth. This really shouldn’t have been so hard to ask. He’d been to Tanner’s house, gone to Tanner’s room with him before. He had seen Tanner naked, more than once, had Tanner’s dick in his mouth, and been on the receiving end of the same. For all of that, somehow, Seth struggled with this question.

Tanner stared at him silently, expectantly. The duffel still hung from his hand.

Seth grimaced, took the time to remove his jacket the rest of the way, then forced himself to speak. When the words came out they sounded stilted. “Going to fuck.”

“Um… yeah?” Tanner matched Seth’s grimace with one of his own. “I … hoped we would? But we can’t spend the whole weekend fucking.” He paused, then dropped the gym bag onto the couch. “Can we?”

“I don’t think so,” Seth said. “I’ve seen… and read… some shit, and it doesn’t seem like that would be a good idea.”

Tanner pressed his lips together then nodded. “Yeah, that’s a good point. So, uh. Want to start with… the video game?”

Seth mulled that over. Either they could start now with the video game, or they could go straight to Tanner’s bedroom and get that underway. The video games gave time for tension to build, but they also gave the opportunity for anxiety to fester. Starting the sex now would get that out of the way and possibly give the opportunity for more chances to fuck, but if it went wrong it could set a bad tone for the entire weekend.

He thought about it too long without speaking, and Tanner decided for him. “Hey, here.” He tossed a controller to Seth and moved the gym bag off the couch, sinking down into its cushions. “Let’s just play for now.”

Seth flopped down next to him, a mixture of relief and disappointment washing over him. He’d wanted to get it done with, sort of– or at least just the first round — but at the same time he wanted to savor it. The anticipation still churned in his gut, but at least now he could spend time shooting shit up and not have to think about it for a little while. Of course, it might have been easier to do the shooting if he had stopped thinking about it.

After both of them lost four games miserably, Tanner tossed his controller aside with a sigh.

Seth set his own down on the coffee table in front of him. It was now or never, really, because neither of them was able to focus on the game, which meant Tanner was thinking about this just as much as he was, and he just had to find the courage to–

Seth had spent too much time thinking without acting again, and Tanner kissed him then, hard and needy. One of Tanner’s hands thrust into Seth’s shaggy hair, the other gripped at his t-shirt. Seth gasped against Tanner’s lips, his own hands going to Tanner’s shirt and yanking hard. He needed Tanner’s skin, needed to feel that flesh under his fingertips. Tanner was solid and real and feeling him would ground Seth, bring him back to reality.

“Yeah, let me just–” Tanner pulled back to yank his shirt over his head and toss it aside, then leaned back in to kiss Seth again.

Seth needed more, so much more, but this was a great start. He let his hands wander over Tanner’s ribs, marveling in the way the skin moved over the muscle as Tanner shifted. Every time they’d been naked before it was always a rushed, fevered thing, just chasing the orgasm before their parents got home or they could otherwise get caught. This freedom to explore, to savor what was in front of them, was something they’d never had the luxury of before. Seth wanted to savor it, but he also wanted to rush it. He wanted everything Tanner was willing to give, and he wanted it now.

So he pushed at Tanner’s shoulders to give himself more space and nearly ripped his own shirt as he tugged it over his head and tossed it carelessly aside. When Tanner stretched himself out over Seth again, their bare chests pressed together with each breath they took. With his senses overloaded, Seth summed up his emotions the best way he knew how: with a foul mouth. “Fuck yes, Tanner!”

Tanner’s lips twitched with the smile he repressed, then he surged forward into another kiss. This one was slower than the first, like he’d realized himself that he didn’t have to be in a rush, that he could take his time tonight with Seth. His hips moved and rocked against Seth’s, and Seth ran his hands over every ounce of uncovered flesh he could reach.

He wasn’t sure where he found this patience he had, but Seth let this go on for a long while, just kissing Tanner, letting his hands wander over his chest and back and up into that short blond hair of his, but soon enough he couldn’t hold back any longer. He pushed at Tanner’s shoulders and murmured, “Get your ass in the bedroom. I want more.”

Tanner started to climb off of Seth, but then he paused, his eyes wide in horror. “I forgot to buy condoms.”

“Got ’em,” Seth said as he jabbed a thumb at the gym bag sitting on the floor next to the couch. “Lube, too. I’m fuckin’ prepared, bro.”

With a sigh of relief, Tanner stood up and held out a hand for Seth. “Thank God. I was scared that I’d have to try to buy that stuff right now, while all… distracted.”

Seth allowed himself to imagine how dreadfully, impossibly awkward it would have been to try to ride to a drugstore together, and wondered how suspicious they would have been. Would the cashier have guessed what they were going to do, or would the cashier just assume they were being responsible with girlfriends? He shook the thought from his mind, took Tanner’s hand and used the grip to haul himself up off the couch, then reached back to pick up the duffel bag. “Let’s go, then.”

It was hard not to be nervous, knowing what was coming, assuming all went well. Seth had been dreaming, fantasizing, about this for months, and now it was finally within his reach. He didn’t want to admit it to Tanner, but he’d watched an unholy amount of porn to try to figure out what to do, and he was fairly sure he still had no clue. Thinking about his lack of knowledge wasn’t helping his nervousness, of course, and he needed to get his mind focused on other things.

So he dropped the duffel bag just inside the bedroom door, pushed Tanner against the wall, and kissed him hard. Tanner groaned against his lips, clutching at Seth’s shoulders as he slanted his mouth against Seth’s. This was better, Seth thought. He could kiss Tanner. He’d spent lots of time kissing Tanner before.

And then Tanner had his hands pressed against Seth’s chest, wandering over Seth’s skin, over his heart pounding within his ribs. They’d touched like this before but somehow it held so much more meaning this time, with the knowledge of what they intended to do. As Tanner ran his hands over Seth’s stomach it felt as though it did a somersault under Tanner’s fingertips.

Seth slid his own hands down to Tanner’s hips and drew a deep breath to steady himself before kissing Tanner again and grabbing for the button of his jeans. It was now or never, and if he didn’t make a move he was going to lose his nerve.

Thankfully, Tanner was on the same page as him, and he unbuttoned his jeans for Seth, then pushed them down. With a grin, he reached for Seth’s waistband and said, “You gotta get rid of these, too.”

“Fuck yeah, I do,” Seth whispered, and fumbled with his button a couple of times with shaking hands before he got them undone and slid down his hips.

Tanner reached out and took Seth’s hands in his, his brow furrowed. He rubbed them with a gentle touch then pressed them together, his own hands covering them. “We don’t have to, Seth. Not right now. We have all day, all night… tomorrow morning, even.”

“I want to.” Seth gave thanks to whatever deity watches over teenage boys about to fuck for the first time for keeping his voice even. “Tanner, I have wanted to fuck you for months, but I have especially wanted to ever since you told me your parents were going out of town and I knew we had a chance to fuck without getting caught. I want this.”

It felt like forever that Tanner stood there staring at Seth, holding his hands tightly, but Seth just waited. He was glad for the reprieve in one way — Tanner’s touch soothed him, and gave his hands a chance to stop quivering. Now all he left to be scared of was blowing his load too early. Was there a patron saint of shooting off too fast? Speedy of the Two-Pump Chump?

At last Tanner nodded and let go of Seth’s hands to step out of his jeans entirely. His motion so close to Seth made him brush up against Seth’s cock, which stood straight out in front of him at firm attention. Seth bit back a groan and drew a deep breath in through his nose in an attempt to get himself back under control.

“Sorry,” Tanner murmured. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

Seth reached deep for some humor, though he really wasn’t feeling it with all his nerves. “Sure you didn’t want to try to talk me into letting you suck my dick instead?”

Tanner raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t think you wanted to do both.”

“I don’t.” Seth grimaced, then kissed Seth again. It was easier when they weren’t talking. Banter was impossible. He stepped out of his own jeans, kicking the fabric pile aside after, and broke the kiss to pick up the duffel bag. “What I want is you on the bed.”

He wasn’t sure, but Seth thought he saw the smile Tanner gave quiver just the slightest bit. As soon as he thought he saw it though, it was gone, and the smile was just as bright and broad as it ever was on Tanner. He followed behind Tanner as he walked to the bed, then crawled up onto it after him. He bent down to give Tanner a kiss again, then whispered, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Tanner nodded, not even a moment of hesitation. “Yeah, I do. I’m just nervous — obviously we haven’t done this before. I’m sure you… did research… and this will be amazing… right?”

“Yeah, I did research.” Seth set the duffel bag down and unzipped it to search for the condoms and lube.

“You watched porn, didn’t you?”

“So much porn.”

Tanner laughed and held out a hand for the lube once Seth produced it. “Just remember that shit isn’t realistic at all.”

“Of course not. But I learned how to make sure I don’t hurt you, too.” Seth said, his voice quieter now. “I want this to be good for you, Tanner. I want this to be good for me, too, but… it’s more important for you to enjoy it.”

They’d discussed during late night phone calls and furtive text message conversations how they would do this, if the opportunity ever arose. They’d figured it was just a pipe dream, not anything that would happen any time in the near future. Tanner had expressed an interest in being the bottom, and Seth had no problem with that. He’d considered it, during more than one idle masturbatory session, but it didn’t hold the same appeal that it seemed to hold for Tanner. Maybe he’d try it one day, but not this time.

Another smile, less tremulous, spread over Tanner’s face, and he pulled Seth down for another hard kiss. “You’re so amazing.”

Seth didn’t say anything back, just let Tanner kiss him, and kissed him just as hard in return. He poured all his nervousness, all his anxiety into that kiss, willing it to leave him be so he could focus on the task at hand. He sat up again and took the lube back from Tanner, then squeezed a small amount out onto his fingers. He hesitated for a moment, then drew a deep breath and pushed Tanner’s knees up toward his chest.

For his part, Tanner reached down to grasp his thighs, pulling them apart and flush to his stomach. He had a beautiful blush spreading across his upper chest, which rose and fell with fast, shallow breaths.

The sight was overwhelmingly beautiful to Seth, and he caught his lower lip between his teeth to keep himself from saying so out loud. He didn’t usually talk to Tanner that way, why would it be a good idea to start just before shoving his fingers in Tanner’s ass? It seemed questionable, like he’d just be talking to fill the silence instead of saying stuff he actually meant. He did mean it — now just wasn’t the time to admit it.

It only took the span of a few pounding heartbeats for the urge to wax poetic about Tanner’s face to pass, and then Seth moved forward to press his fingers against Tanner’s asshole. The tips of his fingers slipped in easily enough with the lube helping them along, but Tanner grimaced and shifted, a low groan slipping from between his lips.

“Fuck, I’m sorry,” Seth murmured and drew them back out. This wasn’t anything like what he’d seen in the porn.

Tanner shook his head, his head lolling side to side on the pillow he rested on. “No, no, please… just… slower.”

Slower, right. Probably better to start with one finger and go up from there. Seth pressed just his index finger in, slowly, and watched Tanner’s face. This seemed to be working out better, because Tanner’s eyes had drifted shut, his mouth falling open, and he let out a soft moan as Seth moved that single finger within him. Seth resolved to take his time — they had an abundance of it, after all — and spent a good long while before drawing that finger back out, adding more lube, and trying again to press two fingers in.

This time, Tanner reacted favorably. He began to roll his hips up to meet Seth’s movements and his chest rose and fell faster. Between his thighs his dick was impossibly hard, the tip leaving wet streaks across his abdomen as he moved. This time Seth couldn’t hold back his feeling about how Tanner looked, and he let out a soft moan of his own. He could feel Tanner loosening around his fingers, the muscle relaxing under the gentle thrusts of his fingers. He debated for a moment, then decided to err on the side of extreme caution, and repeated the process again with a third finger.

Tanner groaned, still moving his hips up to meet each of Seth’s gentle thrusts, but his face had changed from a serene enjoyment to a more drawn look of frustration. “Please,” he gasped. “Just fuck me already.”

“Are you sure?” Seth said, not making any motion to withdraw his fingers or prepare a condom. “I just want you to–”

“I swear, Seth, if you don’t fuck me right now I will make you do it.”

Seth wasn’t entirely sure how Tanner would go about that but he drew his fingers back out to do as Tanner asked. It was harder to open a condom wrapper than he expected after having had lube on his fingers. They slipped off each time he tried to tear the package until Tanner took it from him and managed to get it open despite the slickness Seth had smeared onto it. It took them a second to figure out which way the condom unrolled and fumbled until Tanner rolled it down Seth’s cock. With a shy smile, Tanner picked up the bottle of lube and squeezed some out onto his hand, then stroked it over the condom.

Seth moaned, his hips pressing forward into Tanner’s touch, but he couldn’t let himself enjoy it for long as the sensation was nearly too much. He grasped Tanner’s wrist and shook his head. “Too much,” he gasped.

Tanner murmured apologies and dropped his hand. At last, Seth found himself kneeling before Tanner with a heavily-lubed condom on his dick and a whole new crew of butterflies in his stomach.

“Come on,” Tanner repeated, reaching for Seth. “Just fuck me already.”

Seth drew a deep breath, grasped himself around the base of the condom, and began to press the head in to Tanner. The heat was more than he could have imagined — he’d just felt it around his fingers, but to feel it there compared to feeling it on your dick was something else entirely. It was a slow process, with plenty of pauses and halts, but before long Seth found himself completely buried in Tanner, both of them panting with the overwhelming sensation. “Oh my fucking God,” he gasped before drawing back and thrusting in.

With that first push, Tanner’s back arched up off the bed and a moan Seth had never heard come out of him before echoed through the room. Seth was about to ask if he was all right before Tanner managed, “That is so fucking good, Seth!”

His arms were shaking, his breath shallow and shuddering, and it took every ounce of self-control Seth had to keep from blowing his load. He clenched his jaw, squeezing his eyes shut, his nostrils flaring as he drew deep breaths through his nose until the urge passed. Slowly, he began to move again, and the urge built again, but not as quickly this time thanks to his momentary pause.

Below him, Tanner had his own eyes shut tight, his hands clutching Seth’s arms with a bruising grasp. His chest heaved with gasping breaths through parted lips, his head tilted back. Seth stared at Tanner’s face, engrossed by his expression and response.

“I need– I gotta–” Tanner gasped, dropping a hand from Seth’s arm to wrap around his cock.

The first time Tanner stroked his hand along his length he grew tighter around Seth. “Oh, fuck!” He clutched the bedclothes, gritting his teeth again against the overwhelming sensation threatening to undo him earlier than he wanted.

Tanner whined under him, his head rubbing against the pillow as he shook his head. “Please, Seth, don’t stop moving…”

Seth drew a deep breath and prayed that he could hold out longer than Tanner could. He started to move again, squeezing his eyes shut in an attempt to remove one stimulus. His jaw ached with how tightly he kept it clamped shut and the sheets balled under his hands. The sound of his hips slapping against Tanner’s ass echoed through the room, and Tanner’s moans had taken on a staccato rhythm, broken apart each time Seth thrust into him.

He just needed to hold back a little longer, just long enough for Tanner to go first.

Seth could feel the orgasm building up behind his balls, and he dropped his chin to his chest, wracking his brain to recall the formulae he’d learned in Chemistry that week. If he could think of balancing equations, or what color copper burned, it had to distract him enough. It had to be enough.

Tanner renewed his grasp on Seth’s arm and cried out, “Oh, Seth, I’m–”

Seth opened his eyes and looked down — long white strands crossed Tanner’s stomach in a familiar pattern. Tanner always did jerk off the exact same way.

The sight of Tanner relaxed and pliant beneath him, his whole body moving with each thrust of Seth’s dick into him, proved to be Seth’s undoing. His orgasm crashed over him like a wave at high tide, and he couldn’t breathe for the intensity of it. A raw shout tore from his throat, and it was as though he poured his very essence into it, he was so wrung out after.

The both of them stayed silent, save for their gasping breaths, for a handful of minutes.

“Oh my God,” Tanner said, his eyes wide.

Seth would have used a few more expletives in that particular declaration, but he had to agree with the sentiment. “That was fucking amazing.”

Seth found himself in a tangle of limbs as he tried to draw himself out and dispose of the condom. This proved to be an awkward thing to do in itself with neither of them not entirely knowing what to do with it. In the end they wadded it up in a tissue before shoving it into the trash can in Tanner’s room, and Seth prayed that Tanner would be the one to empty it rather than his mother deciding to do him a favor.

They crawled back into Tanner’s bed together, crammed too close on the twin mattress. Tanner turned to face Seth and draped his arm over Seth’s chest, his leg thrown over Seth’s thighs. Seth held him in silence, content just to lay there in the quiet.

Next to him, Tanner shifted, and said, “You’re being really quiet. Are you sure you were okay with this?”

“Do you have any idea how many times I have jerked off imagining fucking you?” Seth leveled a look at Tanner, his lips quirked up in a small grin. “If I could have fucked you months ago, I would have. Yeah, I was okay with this. Real fucking okay.”

Tanner let out a breathy laugh, his eyes closing as he let his fingertips wander over Seth’s chest. “Good. I just didn’t want this to become awkward.”

“Well, I hope I don’t have to face your parents any time soon,” Seth said. “Pretty fucking sure I won’t be able to look your dad in the eye knowing that I fucked you while he was out of town.”

“I’m… pretty sure they expected you to come over while they were gone.” Tanner said softly.

“I thought they didn’t know about us.”

Tanner grimaced. “Mom figured it out. Asked me outright a few weeks ago. I couldn’t lie to her, so… Mom knows.”

Seth groaned and threw an arm over his eyes. “Jesus. They’re gonna fucking talk to my parents. I’m so fucked.”

“I told Mom not to.” Tanner kept his voice low and even, his hand shifting up from playing with Seth’s sparse chest hair to pull his arm down. “I know we’re out at school, and now she does too, but she also knows you’re trying to keep it to yourself when it comes to your family.”

“I hope so. If my dad finds out, I’m fucked.”

“I swear we won’t let that happen. I’ll remind her when she gets back.”

Seth cracked an eye open and looked down at Tanner. His forehead was wrinkled and his eyes were wide, and he made a move to cup a hand to Seth’s cheek. “I mean it, Seth.”

“I know.” Seth smiled and ran a hand over Tanner’s hair short-cropped blond hair. He suppressed a shiver, then muttered, “Where the fuck is your blanket? I’m gonna freeze to death here.”

Tanner chuckled and leaned up to kiss Seth, then sat up entirely. “We’re laying on it. Sucks, but we’re gonna have to get up for a minute.”

Seth cursed before climbing out of bed and pulling the covers back before climbing in and pulling Tanner down with him again. They assumed a similar position as to before, and Seth held him until he started to drift off.

When he snapped awake for the third time, he scrubbed a hand over his face more firmly than was strictly necessary. “Hey, are we going to take a nap now like some fucking preschoolers?”

“It’s a Saturday and neither of us have any plans. I was thinking maybe we could,” Tanner said. “We can take a nap and stay up late tonight. Maybe even try to fuck again.”

“You’re not too sore?”

Tanner shook his head. “No. You did a great job. I definitely feel good enough to let you do it again.”

“Well, shit,” Seth shifted to settle himself in more comfortably. “I gotta get the fuck to sleep so I can make this shit happen.”

Tanner laughed, then snuggled up closer. “Yeah, you’d better.”

Seth had the first genuine smile he could remember in a while on his face when he drifted off to sleep.
Read this piece’s entry on the Shousetsu Bang*Bang wiki.

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