Chris has been working at Darlington for all of a month when Mitch pays him a visit.

Something has changed in the year that's passed -- Mitch has grown a few inches, as Lazlo prophesied, and is no longer quite so baby-faced. He still has his classic ingenue charm, Chris notes, his hands gesturing all over the place when he asks Chris to meet him for a casual dinner.

Chris accepts with a grin and ushers Mitch out. "I have top secret work to do," he says with mock sternness, "vamoose."

-

Mitch confesses to him over dinner that he has broken up with Jordan. Chris says nothing, but allows his stomach a tiny leap of joy.

"We just, uh," Mitch mumbles, "I don't know what happened."

Chris senses some small untruth in this statement, so he tilts his head to the left, waits.

"Maybe that's not entirely true."

Pause.

"These things usually don't last," Chris says, in a rare moment of seriousness. And then it's over, and he adds, "At least she organized our room before she went."

"Our room?" Mitch says, with a ghost of a smile.

"Semantics," Chris says. "A celestial 'our', if you will, my dear Mitch. I was once there, perhaps when I die, I will return... haunt the Pacific Tech newcomers... until they tear down the campus and turn it into a parking lot, in which case I will haunt Winn-Dixie shoppers for all of eternity. So she broke up with you?"

"Yes," Mitch says uncomfortably. "She caught me with someone else. That may have a bit to do with it."

"I see," Chris says, turning his head and smirking slightly. Mitch, Mitch, Mitch. "Who's the lucky other lady?"

Mitch doesn't answer. Chris glances at him and sees he has flushed bright red.

"Am I way off base here?" Chris says. "Was it an alien? A broom? Lazlo?"

Mitch coughs and sips his root beer.

Chris grins. "Closer?"

"God, no, it wasn't Lazlo!" Mitch bursts out. "It was that guy from across the hall, the one that never has a shirt on."

Chris wants to laugh, but doesn't. "What am I to infer here, Mitch?"

"Does that make me gay?" Mitch says, his voice dropping off in a note of horror. "Oh, my God. I can't be, can I? My mother's going to kill me!"

Chris clears his throat. "If occasionally straying from the course of heterosexuality makes you gay, Mitch, then I am a flaming homo -- a flamingo, if you will. But that's a story for another night." He waves the waiter over.

"Wait, Chris, you've..." Mitch pauses as the waiter tromps over and hands the receipt to Chris. Chris signs it with an exaggerated flourish and slaps a few twenty dollar bills onto the check. The waiter raises an eyebrow and leaves.

"... done that, before?"

"Mitch, it's college," Chris says, chuckling. "It's your time to experiment."

"But who?"

Chris gives a tiny cough and shakes his head. "Let's go," he says, standing up. "I'll drive you back to campus."

-

The headlights pool feet in front of the car. Chris counts the streetlights as they pass. He's up to a hundred-fifty or so when Mitch clears his throat.

Chris taps a little beat on the steering wheel. "Yes?"

"Should I try to get her back, then?"

Chris sighs.

"I mean, I thought that if I was, y'know, gay, then I should probably take some time and figure that out, but if I'm not, if I was just curious, like you said, maybe I should --"

"Was it good?" Chris interrupts.

"Huh?"

"Was it better than it is with Jordan? Did it rock your world? Did you see fireworks?"

Red light.

"No."

"Was it like this?"

Chris leans over and kisses Mitch. Mitch flails briefly in surprise, then grabs Chris by the shoulders, pressing upward against Chris's mouth like it's a rare and precious commodity.

Something about this alarms Chris and he pulls away. Clears his throat. "Was it like that?"

"No," Mitch mutters. "It was, uh..."

"Better?"

"No, worse."

They sit in a precarious silence, both of them wary of breathing too loudly or making any sudden movements, as if they're afraid to spook each other.

Green light.

Chris's foot hits the accelerator a little hard and Mitch jumps in his seat.

"Does that make me gay?" Mitch whispers.

"Uh," Chris says. For once, he is lost for a smart-ass answer, a wisecrack, even a remotely coherent response.

"Screw it," he says out loud and pulls the car over.

Mitch fiddles with the glove compartment.

"Thing is, Mitch," Chris says, staring at the shoulder of the road in front of them, listening to the whoosh of cars go by.

This time it's Mitch who leans over and kisses Chris, hard, like he's trying to bruise him -- and there probably will be bruises tomorrow -- pawing at him, lifting Chris's shirt up and seeking what's underneath. Chris shifts in his seat, gets hit in the groin with the gear shift, moans and grabs Mitch's jaw, holding him steady so his tongue can infiltrate Mitch's mouth. The only thing that crosses his mind is Isn't this a felony in some states?

Mitch's hand searches for somewhere to land, and happens to wrap around Chris's thigh, dangerously close to the erection that has been pulsing for the last few minutes.

Chris jerks away from him and pants, "Damnit."

"What?" Mitch says. "Did you not want -- I thought I was getting a vibe --"

"Mitch," Chris mutters, rubbing his forehead. "It's not that. It's just, uh, should we really be doing this?"

"Since when are you the voice of reason?"

Chris grins uncomfortably. "My conscience is paining me, Mitch. You're sixteen."

"So?"

Chris searches for more reasons to not let this happen. "I'm not the kind of guy you want to hypothetically break yourself in on."

"Why are you trying to protect me?" Mitch demands.

"Can we at least go somewhere other than the side of the road first?" Chris says, glancing in his rear view mirror. "A semi could come barreling around the corner any moment and kill us both, and ruin the perfectly good pair of shoes in the backseat."

"Your place," Mitch says in a surprisingly direct way, sitting back in his seat. "I don't have any classes tomorrow."

"As you wish, sir," Chris says. What the fuck am I getting myself into?

-

They fall onto Chris's couch together uncoordinatedly, where Chris has fallen with many young ladies before, none of them making his gut twist quite like this.

Mitch tears at Chris immediately, freeing his dick from the confines of fabric, but Chris slaps his hand away, bringing it somewhere less presumptuous.

The scent of boys lingers in the air as Chris's mouth drags along Mitch's fresh, oh-so-ravishable neck. Mitch relaxes in his arms, months of school stress melting off of him almost visibly.

Chris bites down painfully on his own tongue when he comes, but a tiny moan still escapes, and Mitch buries his face in Chris's chest, one hand finding his groin and massaging it gently, though the affair of orgasm is long over.

They clutch each other for a few minutes, and Mitch begins to laugh quietly.

"What?"

"It was never that good with Jordan," Mitch mutters. "Is that terrible to say?"

"A guy's gotta have his standards," Chris replies, smirking slightly.