A/N: This one-shot was written as a birthday present for our good friend and beta, theladyingrey42. We hope you have an amazing day, bb!

This is a different pairing for us, but we hope you'll give these boys a chance. Hope you enjoy!


EPOV

Coffee.

With my eyes still closed, I inhale deeply, pulling in that bitter scent like it's a lifeline. I feel my teeth bite into my bottom lip. My hips shift on the bed, morning wood digging into my mattress, and even here – all alone – I blush.

I used to hate that smell. I'm not a morning person, and coffee always meant Dad bellowing for me to get up, Emmett jumping on my bed…me, getting ready to face another day of the purgatory that was high school.

But not anymore.

Now, coffee means only one thing.

Garrett's awake.

I yawn loudly, flopping over to stare at my ceiling. My hand drifts down my bare abdomen of its own accord, like it's pulled by some goddamn magnet, but when I feel my fingertips brush my dick through my boxers, I force them away. I don't have time for that this morning.

Besides, if I stay in bed too long, I might miss him.

I'm not walking downstairs pitching a tent, though, so I take a few minutes to try to relax. When I feel mostly in control, I roll out of bed and pick up my t-shirt from the floor where I left it wadded up last night. I pull it over my head, not bothering to smooth the wrinkles. I don't glance at myself in the mirror as I pass my dresser – it's not worth it.

In the kitchen, I find Garrett whistling at the stove. He flips something in a pan and then glances over, giving me a brilliant smile that makes all my efforts at self-control upstairs utterly fucking useless.

"Morning, Eddie. Want some breakfast?"

"Uhh… s-sure…" I stammer, like we haven't had this conversation four or five days a week ever since I moved in.

I turn sideways, trying to hide my condition as I slide into a chair at the table. I watch him cook, staring at his back longingly like the pre-teen girl I might as well be.

God, this is fucked up.

My situation is anything but simple…or normal. I wonder again just how the hell I wound up where I am – sitting in our kitchen, watching him shred cheese to fold into the omelets.

Garrett. My brother's best friend. The guy I've been crushing on since I was fourteen years old. The man I'm in love with.

And the one man I would never dare say that to.

I try to put him out of my mind as he moves around the kitchen, but it's impossible. Every noise, every sight, every smell reminds me of him. He's been living in this apartment for three years, and his essence permeates every single inch of it.

A glimpse of the tattoo peeking out of the neck of his thin t-shirt reminds me of the first time I saw him, and I smile in spite of myself.

"Eddo!" I had only a half-second to register Emmett's booming voice before I was knocked out of my desk chair. I heard the distinctive roar of a devilsaur just as I hit the ground.

"God damn it, Emmett!" I punched his ribs, but all I managed to do was hurt my own hand as he pinned me to the floor. I kicked back, aiming for his knees, but I met thin air. He knew me way too well. "If you get me killed, I swear to God, I'll…"

"You'll what, little brother?" He laughed, sitting up and ruffling my hair. I glared at him as I tried to smooth it. "Turn me into a sheep?"

My eyes narrowed. Before I could think of anything to say in response, Emmett hopped up and offered me a hand, pulling me to my feet. "I'll kick you in the balls," I muttered under my breath, too low for Emmett to hear.

I knew better than to say that shit out loud – otherwise, it wouldn't be Emmett's balls getting kicked.

I started to turn back to my computer, but a figure standing in the doorway caught my eye.

And then my breath caught in my throat.

He was beautiful. Messy blond hair past his chin and recklessness and confidence and a black Rage Against the Machine t-shirt that stretched across his chest. He was made of sex and smoke and cool – everything that I wasn't.

In that second, all the questions and doubts I'd been having about myself as I listened to my friends drool over girls were answered.

I was gay.

Not a doubt about it.

I had never responded to any girl the way I did to him. I was hard and longing and aching.

I was mortified.

I didn't hear Emmett at first. All I could see was the way he was smiling at me – straight teeth and full lips that parted when he licked them. I saw a flash of metal and groaned out loud at the realization that he had a tongue ring.

"Edward? What's wrong with you?" Emmett's voice was concerned for once.

I felt me face explode in flames and knew I was blushing, giving myself away. I stammered some excuse to Emmett about needing to get back to the game. He gave me an odd look and said, "Yeah, alright. I just wanted to introduce you to my roommate. Garrett, this freak is my little brother, Edward."

To this day, I'm not sure how I survived those next few minutes, but I somehow made it through the introductions. As Garrett was turning around, though, I caught sight of the same tattoo I keep staring at now.

As soon as they left my bedroom, I tried to forget about him, but it was impossible. Instead, I went to the bathroom and took a shower, where I jacked off to very definite thoughts about a very specific man for the first time ever.

And now I'm living with him.

It's so fucking confusing.

Emmett and Garrett had been assigned to be roommates their first year in college. They got along so well that they got an apartment together – this apartment – where they lived for the next three years. When Emmett graduated, he took a job offer out of state, and I was afraid that was the last I'd really see of Garrett.

Oh, how things change.

Emmett was the one who arranged it all, and I still didn't know whether to kiss him or punch the shit out of him. Really, it had seemed natural and logical at the time – Garrett was staying for grad school and would need a new roommate. Might as well keep it in the family, right?

My eyes are still on Garrett when he walks over with a lazy grin on his face. He puts a plate down in front of me and then ruffles my hair, playfully tugging at it. I swallow hard, trying not to enjoy that quite so much, but I can barely stop my moan.

Thankfully, he doesn't notice. He just turns away, going to grab some orange juice for me and coffee for himself, giving me a few blessed seconds to try to get my face under control. The only way I can do it is to keep my eyes carefully away from him, but he's never out of my thoughts.

Ever.

I don't allow myself to think about certain… things… when he's around, but that's the best I can do. There's so much I want – so much I need from him – and sometimes it seems like it's just so close…

Stop.

The mental command is automatic, self-preservation kicking in before I embarrass myself. My massive crush on him was bad enough to begin with, but every day since then, it's just gotten worse. It had started with him staying at our house that first weekend.

Every time I turned around, he was there – eating dinner with us, laughing at Emmett's stupid jokes, playing basketball.

With. His. Shirt. Off.

I was a mess of emotions – guilt and confusion and desire and more guilt laced with fear. I didn't know any other gay boys, and I sure as hell didn't want to be the first one. I usually told Emmett everything, but this was one subject I didn't dare approach.

And then the last night they were there, we were eating dinner, and my mom said, "So tell me, Garrett, have you met any nice girls at school?"

Garrett smiled his easy, confident smile and said, "Well, yes ma'am, but my boyfriend's nicer."

Dead silence reigned at the table.

I heard a gasp and realized it was mine. Not only was this man beautiful…he was gay? I didn't dare say a word, even when my parents recovered. I was too afraid they would be able to hear the difference in me – the hope, the fear.

My attention was focused on every little thing they said – all of them. Garrett, Emmett, Mom, Dad…

I was happy to realize that my parents seemed okay. This wasn't a subject that had come up before around our dinner table, but they didn't alter the way they treated Garrett. Mom asked about his boyfriend, and I found myself jealous of this faceless man named Randall as I listened to Garrett talk about him.

Emmett didn't bat an eye, and it was then that I realized he already knew. Of course, it made sense that he would, but I was so…relieved by the fact that it didn't seem to bother him. As much shit as he gave me and as much as I said I hated him, we were tight. One of the reasons I'd tried to bury my suspicions about myself was that I couldn't take seeing him looking at me with hate or disgust.

But he just gave Garrett a cheeky grin and said, "Don't let him fool you. He likes the ladies, too."

Garrett shrugged, casually acknowledging the truth as he said he didn't see what the big deal was about gender – beauty was beauty.

"You okay, Eddie?"

I blink at the sound of Garrett's voice, my eyes snapping to my plate as I realize I've been staring blankly into space. I shovel a bite of my omelet into my mouth, grunting. My voice is husky and hoarse when I answer. "Yeah, sorry. Still asleep."

He grins. "Man, it takes you forever to get up in the morning."

Not with you around.

I snort, feeling orange juice burn my nose.

He looks at me strangely but doesn't say anything. We've been living together now for about three months, and he's gotten used to my odd sense of humor. "So are the guys coming over tonight?" he asks.

I nod, grateful for the way he seems to make everything just… normal. We talk for a bit about my gaming group, which meets here every Saturday. We have a pretty established routine, really. During the week, we both go to class – Garrett even teaches one. At night, we hang out and play video games and watch movies. We either go out for dinner, or he fixes something here. Sometimes one or the other of us will hang out with friends, but for the most part, it's just us.

But the weekend is a different ballgame.

Garrett invariably goes out. I always stay in.

It's just the way it is.

Still, I ask the question, just like always. "You going out tonight?"

He nods, taking a deep drink from his coffee before answering. "Yeah, hitting up that new club over on Fifth with some of the guys."

I mimic him, nodding as my eggs turn to ashes in my mouth. I chew anyway, forcing them down as I try not to think about which guys are going and if Kate will be there.

I try not to picture him, sweaty and beaming the way he comes home late at night – high on life and the fuel of a crowd. I can just see him, driven by the music as hands roam his body. It doesn't matter who the hands belong to because they aren't mine. Bile rises in my throat, and I force it back, but the acidic orange juice just makes it worse.

I can't keep doing this.

But I will.

I have to.

Because the alternative is not to see him anymore. Not wake up to the smell of coffee and feel his fingers in my hair and see the way his eyes brighten when he's teasing me.

And that is worse than dealing with this hell of watching him with other people.

Too soon, he is standing up to put his empty dishes in the sink. He's always so fast, so energetic. I'm not even half-done. I'm still looking up when I feel his hand on my shoulder. His lips press briefly against mine, and he murmurs, "I'm heading to the record store. Need anything?"

I can't answer, not in words, because those fragile little pieces of my heart are beating too rapidly, pulling all the oxygen from my lungs. I shake my head.

"Alright." He flashes a grin. "Back in a couple of hours, Eddie."

I sit, swallowing uselessly at the table as I listen to the front door close. The deadbolt clicks, and I drop my fork, resting my forehead against the heels of my palms.

What the fuck am I doing?

This is what I won't allow myself to think about when he's around – the fact that I know him. I know his scent intimately. I've tasted his orgasm, felt him come between my lips. I've fallen apart at the touch of his hands again and again.

But I am still Edward. And he is still Garrett.

And there is no us.

I shove away from the table, not in the mood to finish my breakfast. I dump the food in the trash and then head to the sink, filling it with sudsy water as I try to force myself not to think anymore. Not today.

Saturdays are a strange sort of hell for me. During the week, I can pretend there's more to us. I can see what I want to see in his eyes. I can delude myself into thinking that this time, I mean something more to him than just a blowjob. I can pretend I don't hate him – and that I don't hate myself.

But on Saturdays, all my illusions disappear. He may steal a kiss or two, but nothing more will happen. He'll go out with his friends while I hide my heart away, trying to pretend that I love roleplaying just as much as I always have.

I don't – and it's all because my entire life is roleplay now. I don't even know who I am anymore.

Sometimes I think it would be better to go back to the way it was before we kissed for the first time. I was lonely, but at least I liked myself. Sort of.

And I still liked him.

I give myself one minute – one minute to stand at the sink and clench my jaw and try not to cry like a goddamn baby – and then I suck it up. I know deep down that I could change all this if I wanted. I could tell him to fuck off. I could get a boyfriend of my own. I could move out.

I won't, though, so I don't deserve more than just a minute to feel sorry for myself. When my minute passes, I open my eyes and begin washing our dishes by hand. I feel dull, as if I am made of lead, and numbness seeps into my whole body. It's always this way. Garrett seems to take everything with him – vitality, enthusiasm… even the fucking wallpaper seems faded when he's not around.

Mechanically, I go through the motions of cleaning up to get ready for the guys to come over in a few hours. With the exception of me and Jasper, we all met through our favorite comic shop in town. There's a bulletin board there where people can look for games, and Jasper and I posted an ad for a new D&D group when we first got to college.

I've known Jasper since we were babies. Our parents even have embarrassing pictures of us in diapers together and dressed up for Halloween and all that shit. He's definitely my best friend, and he was the first one I came out to other than my family. I was afraid things would be weird between us – and for a little while, they were – but he got over the fact that I like guys pretty quickly, all things considered.

We were going to get a dorm room together before Emmett came up with his brilliant plan, and lately there are more and more days that I wish we'd done just that.

With a sigh, I finish the last of the dishes and leave them in the drainer to dry before wiping my hands on a towel. I move around downstairs, sweeping and mopping and dusting. It's habit, really, because my mom would've died before she let my friends into a messy house, so I just got used to spending a few hours cleaning before a session. It's sort of become part of my process now – something that relaxes me and helps me get my head in the game, so to speak.

I can feel the way my mind is starting to work more logically. It's almost like it's compartmentalized. I'm thinking of the NPCs I need to double check for tonight and the monster groups I need to make sure I have set up, but at the same time, I'm working through my list of stuff I have to clean.

Then there's that tiny part of my mind that belongs solely to Garrett, whispering memories, taunting me with possibilities.

I'm straightening the cushions of the couch after I vacuum when it wins. I sit down hard, letting my head fall back against the wall as I remember the night this whole mess started.

"You want a beer, Eddie?" Garrett asked as he hopped up. My eyes followed the motion of his hands as they slipped into his belt loops before he hitched his pants up.

"Oh, uhh… sure," I answered.

We'd been living together a little over a month, but I was still unsure how to act. I didn't want to look like I was trying to be cool or whatever, but I also didn't like to disappoint Garrett… which basically meant I went along with whatever he wanted.

He disappeared into the kitchen and then returned, handing me a beer. I took a sip from my bottle, watching from the corner of my eye as he settled on the couch and propped one foot on the side of the coffee table. He was so relaxed, melting into the cushions, and the movement of his throat as he swallowed was seductive.

Some football game was on, but I was barely watching. I'd never been one for football anyway, and it couldn't come close to competing with the entertainment sitting beside me. I pretended, though, making my eyes follow the players on the screen and yelling with Garrett.

I was actually sort of into it when the announcer made some idiotic comment about how if the team wanted to win, they had to score more points. I muttered, "No fucking shit," under my breath.

Garrett laughed beside me before some sort of charged silence fell over the room. I frowned, wondering if I'd done something wrong, but this time when I glanced at him, he was watching me.

Really watching me.

I finished taking a sip of my beer and started to put the bottle on the end table. His eyes unnerved me, and I missed the coaster, spilling the last few drops as the bottle clinked to its side. "Shit," I mumbled. I grabbed a napkin and soaked up the mess, and when I turned back around, Garrett was sitting on the coffee table right in front of me.

He scooted a little closer so that his knees were spread to either side of mine. My breath caught, and I froze, staring at him. His head tilted slightly to the right as if he were considering something.

His face was cast in those weird moving shadows from the TV, emphasizing the fullness of his lips and the perfect angle of his nose. I bit my lip and leaned forward unconsciously, needing desperately to close the distance between us.

"Do you want to kiss me, Eddie?" he asked.

I hadn't kissed anyone before – ever – and the thought of Garrett being my first sent a thrill through me. I couldn't believe this was happening. Was he really suggesting that his pristine lips might touch my woefully ordinary ones?

I didn't think about my answer. "Yes."

A smile danced across his face before his lips formed a perfect, thoughtful pout. His tongue peeked out to wet those lips, and I felt myself hardening at the mere possibility of what might happen.

"Good," he murmured at last. He reached out, catching my chin between his thumb and forefinger, guiding my mouth to his. The kiss was a soft brushing of lips, so light I wasn't sure it really happened. Disappointment and excitement warred in my chest as he pulled away, wearing a crooked smirk. "Can I do it again?"

"God, please…"

He chuckled at my breathless whisper, but I didn't care. His lips returned to mine, and this time they parted. I tentatively brushed the tip of my tongue against his lips, and he gave a sighing moan as his tongue slipped into my mouth. I blessed the metal rod I felt through the center – it was the only thing grounding me, making this real. I knew I couldn't imagine the click of that stainless steel against my teeth, the way it felt as it drug along my tongue.

When we parted this time, his voice was the one husky and weak. "God damn, Eddie… I need more of you."

He was in motion then, his body covering mine. Somehow we shifted so that I was lying on my back with Garrett between my thighs. It was so fast – so fucking good – and I wished more than anything that our clothes were gone. I wanted him so badly, and in that moment, I would've let him do anything without thinking twice about it.

I sit up, running my fingers through my hair as I force my memories away. That night is the hardest to think about because that night alone held nothing but possibility and hope.

We spent hours lying right here on this couch. Garrett's body was heavy against mine, and even though it was hard to breathe, I never wanted it to end. By the time we went to our separate beds, I was aching and my boxers were damp, crusted around the edges with dried pre-cum.

I barely had to touch myself before I exploded, letting myself whisper Garrett's name for the first time ever. I didn't wonder if he was doing the same and thinking of me. Maybe I should have.

Maybe then I wouldn't have been so stunned when he went out with Kate the next night. I was miserable, sitting around wondering what they were doing. They'd been dating since before I moved in, but during our making out the night before, it had never occurred to me to think about her.

I guess I hoped I was enough for him – that he wanted me instead.

I forced myself to go to bed before he got home, unable to take the sight of him coming in after being with her. The next day, he acted completely normal, as if nothing had changed.

And I guess nothing had, except that from that night on, a new element was added to our routine.

"Ugh, fuck this shit," I mutter out loud, pushing myself off the couch. I head upstairs to collect my laundry, trying desperately to return to that half-numb, logical state.

Hard as I try, it's really no use. Nearly every room in this apartment is tainted by some memory of Garrett. It's like being haunted by a ghost – a corporeal phantom that torments me with impossibilities every goddamn day.

Still, there's nothing for it but to keep trying, so I empty my hamper and divide the clothes into piles – sort of – before going to strip my bed. I try not to look at it, but when I grab one of my pillows, the smell of Garrett hits me hard – musk and coffee and the slightly sweet scent of weed.

I sit on the edge of the bed, wondering if I'm just out of shape or if there's some other reason why everything seems to be so draining. I sigh and run my fingers through my hair before ripping the pillow from the pillowcase and trying not to remember that I got – and gave – my first hand job between these sheets when I woke up one morning to find Garrett in my bed, asleep.

He hadn't stayed that way for long, of course – not after I gasped and sat up. I can still remember that lazy smile he gave me, his eyes half-closed. His "Good morning, Eddie" seemed musical, and I was practically vibrating when his fingertips brushed my morning wood and he murmured, "Can I take care of this for you?"

With an irritable shake of my head, I finish stripping the bed and head downstairs to start the first load of laundry. While it runs, I go to work on the rest of the apartment, battling specters of Garrett in each room.

Cleaning the upstairs bathroom, I see him so clearly the day he walked in on me taking a shower. I didn't know he was coming home, so the door was standing open. I'd just pulled off my underwear when he walked by. He took one look at me, his eyes hungry…predatory…and murmured, "God damn," before he dropped to his knees. My eyes squeeze shut and my breathing becomes shallow as I work to force the memory of my first blowjob away.

When I pass by Garrett's open door, one look at the bed reminds me of the first time I ever gave one. We were lying in bed, watching TV, when Garrett started kissing me. He always initiates things – I'm too chickenshit to even think of making the first move – but I blushed and stammered and finally managed to ask him if I could try it. He definitely enjoyed it; no doubt about that. He moaned and whispered, telling me what he liked and what he wanted me to do.

It was so empowering to feel him swell to bursting, taste the salt of his body and know that I did that to him.

How can something that's so good at the time leave me feeling so worthless?

Before I realize what I'm doing, my phone is in my hand, and I'm looking up Jasper's number. My morning of self-pity is wearing on me, making me want to wallow and hide, but I stop myself just before I call him to cancel. I don't really feel like facing the guys, but what's my alternative? Staying here, alone, for the rest of the day?

I growl in frustration and throw the phone, not caring where it lands. Instead of calling the gaming session off, I tuck my tail between my legs and put out the books. I set up the DM screen and my laptop and then go upstairs to take a shower.

I don't even have the desire to jack off in the warm water, which is definitely a sign that something is wrong. I don't bother to shave, and by the time I step out of the shower, I begin to fully understand that I'm depressed.

Not just emo, not just upset.

Honest to god depressed and hopeless.

And worse, I don't know what the hell to do about it.

The problem is that I want it all with Garrett. I can't move on or try to find someone else because there is no one else I'm interested in. He's not just some guy I live with and get off with. He's more than that – it's like he's my best friend and my worst enemy all in one, only I know that the "enemy" part would vanish if he wanted to be with me, too.

I just can't bring it up with him. I can't ask him what he wants or even really wonder because the truth is, Garrett takes what he wants. If he wanted to be with me, he would be.

But he clearly doesn't. When we're out in public, we're strictly hands off. Just two guys hanging out. Buddies.

I scrub my towel through my hair as I look at myself in the mirror. I'm pale and scrawny, maybe even more now than in high school because at least then I had an appetite. I sigh and hang my towel back on the rack, wandering into my room to get dressed. I hear my phone ringing faintly and curse, wondering if I really have to go find it.

I decide there's no way I'll make it in time, so I pull on some boxers and go to my closet for a clean pair of jeans. I hear the alert letting me know I have a voice mail as I go back to my dresser to get a t-shirt. I pick up the first one I put my hands on and pull it over my head, running my fingers through my wet hair.

My phone starts ringing again, and I grumble, taking the stairs two at a time on my way down. I find my phone on the floor near the bookcase downstairs and pick it up to see Emmett's name flashing on the screen.

Fucking great.

I take a deep breath and puff out my cheeks when I exhale before hitting the button to answer. "Hey, fuckstick. What's up?"

"Heeey, douche-a-loosh! Where the hell have you been, man?"

I smile in spite of myself at the sound of Emmett's voice using one of his trademark ridiculous nicknames. "I've been here. You know, school and all."

I can hear the flatness in my voice even though I'm trying to be upbeat. Emmett, of course, picks up on it immediately.

"You okay, Edward?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," I lie, flopping down on the couch and biting my thumbnail. He doesn't believe me, and we spend a few minutes arguing before I convince him that I'm just tired. He threatens to sic Mom on me and then gives me a hard time about not calling as often as I usually do. I tell him I'm busy with studying and writing papers, and he finally backs off.

"So tell me about the guys you've met."

I frown in confusion. "The guys? Like Jasper and Ben?"

"Not unless you're sucking Ben's cock. No, dumbass. I'm asking about guys – you know. The kind you want to bone?"

"Oh." My cheeks flame, and I clear my throat. I can hear Emmett chuckling on the other end of the phone. "No guys, really."

"Seriously? Eddo, you need to get out more. There are tons of gay dudes on campus. Garrett always had a goddamn line of them."

"Yeah, well, I'm not Garrett." I hear the bitterness in my voice, but there's nothing I can do to cover it. Emmett picks up on it as well and asks again if I'm okay. It's harder to convince him this time, and I can tell it's a lost cause, so I do the only thing I can – I change the subject. "So how are things going with that Rosalie chick?"

"Oh my god, dude…" Emmett's off and running, talking about the new girl he's seeing. She's – thankfully – been keeping him busy, so I've been able to go a little longer between phone conversations with him. It's getting harder and harder to hide how miserable I am, and I wonder for the first time if maybe I need to find somewhere else to live next semester. Just the thought makes something in my chest sting.

When Emmett starts winding down, I'm forced to speak more again. I can tell we're getting close to the end of the conversation when he says, "So how're things with Garrett?"

"Garrett's cool." I give him my standard answer, even though I know how pitifully inaccurate it is. "He's at the record store right now."

"Oh yeah? Maybe I'll give him a call. It's fucking impossible to get hold of either one of you anymore."

I make some little noise that doesn't really mean anything, but he doesn't notice. Just before he hangs up, he says, "Take care of yourself, little bro. Let me know if I have some ass to kick."

I laugh, wondering why I feel some sort of vengeful satisfaction at the thought of setting him loose on Garrett. Whether it's wrong or not, my voice is considerably lighter as we say goodbye. As soon as we hang up, I pocket my phone and go into the combination kitchen and dining room, where the gaming stuff is set up. This is literally the only room in the house where Garrett and I haven't had some sort of sexual interaction, and I swear I can feel the difference in the atmosphere.

I don't want to think about Garrett, not so soon after Emmett made me feel a little better, so I push him out of my mind and sit down to order some pizzas online. As soon as that's done, I spread out my books and start going through my monsters and making sure my character sheets are in order. I don't know how much time passes, but I'm completely immersed in my work when the front door opens.

The air is charged suddenly. I couldn't say how I know, but Garrett is pissed about something.

I wait for him to come into the kitchen, wondering if I should ask him what's wrong or not. When he doesn't appear, I feel my nerves gathering in my gut, twisting and leaving me feeling sick. Eventually, I wonder if maybe I missed the sound of him going upstairs, but then I hear voices from the TV.

I glance at the clock to find that it's just a few minutes before the guys are supposed to get here. I stand there, trying to decide if I really want to face Garrett right now or not. In the end, though, curiosity gets the best of me.

When I walk into the living room, I find him sitting on the couch with both his feet propped against the coffee table, his knees bent. His eyes are trained on the TV, and he doesn't acknowledge me at all. I flounder for a second before a surge of anger makes me speak. "So when are you going out?"

"I'm not," he answers flatly.

I hate the little fluttering of hope I feel. It's ludicrous because – clearly – he's not doing this out of some grand desire to hang out with me, but I feel it anyway.

"Oh, ahh…" I stammer. "I… the guys are supposed to be here soon, but I can… I can call and cancel?"

My voice rises at the end, turning my statement into a pitiful question. It's painfully obvious what I'm hoping will happen and equally obvious that it's an impossibility.

"No." The single syllable is heavy. Final. "I'm just going to hang out if that's cool."

"Yeah…" I mumble. "Yeah, that's… cool."

My heart sinks even further toward my knees as his mood settles into my skin. I don't know this new, brooding Garrett, and I'm completely unsure how to respond to him. Just as I decide to try to ignore him and go about my business, he looks up.

He watches me and then mutters something under his breath. He cuts of the TV and tosses the remote onto the coffee table before standing up. I'm unhinged when his chest presses against mine and he places one soft, chaste kiss on my lips.

He pulls away, his jaw clenched before he mutters, "Think I'll grab some wings. There's…what…seven of you?"

"Eight." I'm surprised that he paid enough attention to know that, but I shake my head. "Jasper's bringing Alice, so there's eight."

He doesn't say anything else. He just nods, never meeting my eye. I can still feel the pressure of his lips on mine, intensifying my longing to taste him, but he doesn't give me a chance. The door slamming reverberates through our silent apartment, making me flinch.

I'm still standing listlessly in the living room when there's a knock at the door, followed by Jasper walking in. Alice is right behind him, and she gives me a hug and a thoughtful look as soon as her feet hit the carpet. I'm saved from explanations – to either of them – by the other guys trickling in.

Soon enough, we're all arranged around the tiny table in the kitchen. The leaf is in so we can all fit, but that means there's barely enough room to walk around the outer edge. It's so loud I can barely hear myself think with the guys laughing and talking, carrying on a dozen conversations at once.

Usually, I thrive in this environment. I'm the leader, the one that calls us to order and sets everything in motion. I make them laugh and wince and think. Their noise just spurs me on, making me grow louder, become more commanding.

But not tonight.

Tonight, I'm nervous and meek. I keep losing time, becoming distracted. When Peter rerolls his d20 and gives me the higher number, I don't call him on his cheating. I don't notice that Jake has used the same spell three rounds in a row, even though he only has space for two. One of my monsters dies, but instead of marking it off my list, I attack with it the next round, causing the table to erupt in argument.

"You okay, man?" Jasper's voice is pitched low, reaching my ears under the excited rumble of the others.

I nod, completely unable to explain at the moment – and I'm not sure I would anyway. What could I say, really?

I clear my throat. "Sorry about that, guys. Alec, you're actually fine. You weren't hit at all, so put yourself back at whatever hit points you had, and it's cool."

"No, it's not cool," Jake argues. Out of our gaming group, he's the one who gets under my skin the most. He's such a rules lawyer and is convinced he's better than me at…well, everything. It's grating, and tonight, I feel anger bubbling up, but I try to hold it back. "If Alec had been up, I wouldn't have blown that heal on him.

"I was really hurt anyway, Jake," Alec interrupts, but my temper is already exploding.

"What the hell's your problem?" I growl, turning on Jake. "I fucked up, alright? It's not the end of the goddamn world. Stop whining like a pussy."

Silence reigns.

Jake's eyes narrow, and his hands grip the edge of the table, and I realize that I'm actually hoping he'll stand up. I'm so high strung tonight that it would feel good to get some of this out, even if it meant I got my ass kicked.

In fact, I feel almost giddy. After the frustration and self-pity and utter depression I've felt all day, anger is invigorating.

Unfortunately, Jake just lowers his voice and mutters darkly, "You better watch yourself, Cullen."

As I'm debating whether or not to keep goading him, the front door opens, and every bit of energy I felt flees. I slump in my chair as all the real problems I face settle firmly back on my shoulders.

Garrett breezes into the kitchen with his unique mixture of leather jacket and messy blond hair and cool, and I feel self-loathing war with pride. Sitting here, surrounded by guys like me – guys who hang out on a Saturday night rolling dice and adding up numbers while pretending to be someone like him, I am struck by how lucky I am to know what it's like to kiss him. To have felt his arms wrapped around me so tightly. To have had his lips wrapped around my cock and dissolve into worthlessness at his touch.

But the ache in my chest isn't because I've had someone like Garrett. No, it's because I've had him. It's the conversations and the understanding and the way he just seems to get me. Strangely, I think I could handle this all so much better if I didn't honest-to-God like him so much.

Mere seconds have passed, and Garrett is just putting down the containers of wings when Jasper catches my eye. He raises an eyebrow in question, but I shake my head slightly. Jasper is the only one in the room who knows about my ridiculous crush on Garrett – and about all the things we've done together. I don't know the others well enough to trust them with something so intensely personal, something that has the power to break me.

And maybe already has.

It takes a moment for my brain to notice the silence in the room. Once I catch on, I start the introductions. My voice is shaky at first because Garrett's eyes focus on me. His expression is impenetrable, and he watches me longer than necessary before he turns on the charm for the other guys.

He shakes their hands and talks to each of them one-on-one for a few seconds, and by the end, I can tell they're all enamored with him, too. It's just the way he is.

He settles into a chair in the only open corner – behind me and to my left. I can feel his eyes burning my skin, and it's driving me crazy because I don't know why.

Somehow, we get the session underway again. It's interrupted for pizza and wings and random conversations that have nothing to do with the game. I barely pay attention to what's happening.

I notice Alice and Garrett slip away and try to listen as they talk in low voices in the living room. I can hear Alice's chiming laughter, and it makes me picture the way Garrett gives that little half-smile when he knows he's being funny. I wonder if he's licking his lips, letting her see his tongue ring.

I know he's running his fingers through his hair because that's what he always does.

From time to time, they both wander back into the kitchen. Alice stands behind Jasper, draping her arms across his chest as she leans down. She kisses his cheek and whispers conspiratorially with him and asks questions about his character.

I want that.

But the man I want it with is sitting in the corner, an enigma cloaked in indifference and ire.

As I watch him ask the guys questions with genuine interest and tell Eric that his miniature is bad ass, I slowly come to understand that whatever this anger is, it is directed solely at me. With everyone else, he's his usual charming self. With me, he's a seething mass of silence.

Everyone else is relaxed, having a good time, but I'm intensely aware of the undercurrent arcing between Garrett and me. I hear the tension in his voice, even when he's cracking a joke at Jake's expense, and it consumes me, making it impossible to concentrate.

I'm annoyed with myself when the party manages to kill an NPC I needed to escape. He was way more powerful than they were, but I kept forgetting his abilities and the order he should've done things. There's an excited buzz around the table as they loot the body, conversations switching to equipment and treasure and metagame thinking that lets me know we're winding down for the night. Ending this tension is nearly worth the demise of the NPC I put so much time into…

…except, of course, that once the guys leave, it'll be just me and Garrett again, and I have no fucking clue what to say to him.

Time has been moving strangely all night, sometimes stalling, sometimes lurching ahead. It leaps again, and I find myself at the door, saying goodbye to everyone. As each person disappears out the door, I grow more and more aware of Garrett leaning against the wall between the kitchen and the living room, watching. It's like his presence is some sort of vapor, filling up the void left behind.

Alice and Jasper are the last ones left. Jasper hugs me, clapping me on the back as I feel Alice brush past us, heading toward Garrett. I can't catch the words they exchange because Jasper whispers, "Call me if you need me, okay, man?"

I nod, swallowing hard. Jasper steps back, and Alice's arms are immediately around my waist, squeezing me tightly. She presses up on her toes, and I lean down, expecting a kiss on the cheek. Instead, she whispers, "Listen to him."

I blink in surprise as her lips finally meet my cheek. I hold onto Alice's cryptic words as final goodbyes are exchanged, and when I close the door behind them, I lock the deadbolt and stand facing it for a moment. I breathe deeply, steeling myself for what I might see when I turn around.

Nothing has changed. Garrett's still standing there, one shoulder against the wall with his arms folded over his chest and his legs crossed at the ankle. While I watch, he pushes himself upright and takes a couple of steps toward me. His tongue ring appears between his lips, and his right hand tangles in his hair, tugging the way he does when he's frustrated.

I consider saying good night and escaping upstairs, but I need to know what this is. I shift my weight from foot to foot with my thumbs in my back pockets as I watch him. When it becomes increasingly obvious that he's not going to break the silence, I say, "Garrett? Why are you so pissed at me?"

Hurt and rejection and uncertainty are all there in my voice – plain to hear for anyone who knows me. Garrett sighs and shakes his head, muttering, "Fuck," under his breath. He looks away, dropping his arms to his side before scrubbing his face with his hands.

"I'm not pissed at you." The relief that begins in my gut dissipates instantly when he corrects himself. "Damn it, yes, I am. But not as much as I am at me."

"At you?"

"Yes, at me. Fuck, Edward. I didn't… I can't even…" He breaks off with a growl. It's the first time I've ever really heard him stammer, and I'm fascinated, torn between curiosity and some sick sense of vindication that something has cracked his cool exterior.

But then his penetrating blue eyes fix on me, pinning me in place. "Why haven't you told Emmett about us?"

I stare at him in confusion, and my lips part. I know I must look completely idiotic – dumbfounded – but it's fitting because there's no other way to describe how I feel. "Why would I?" I breathe.

His eyes narrow, a tightness around them that I don't understand until he mutters darkly, "You tell Emmett everything. Why would you not tell him we're dating? Are you ashamed of me?"

I latch onto only one word.

"Dating?" I repeat like a goddamn parrot.

He looks at me strangely. "Yes, Edward. Dating. At least…I thought we were."

His shoulders are still squared, his stance tense. I can see the tendons standing out along the back of his hands as he shoves his fists into his pockets.

"I don't understand," I say at last.

He stares at me across the room, which suddenly seems small and stifling. "I guess I don't either."

When I don't answer, his eyes scan the living room, coming to rest on the couch. He contemplates something for a minute and then shakes his head. "Come here, please."

He doesn't wait for a response. He just turns around and walks into the kitchen. I hesitate and then follow behind.

I find him sitting at the closest end of the table, his back to me. I head toward the other end, but when I'm level with him, his foot blocks my way, kicking out the chair closest to him. I obey the silent command and sink into the chair, putting my elbows on the table.

He starts almost immediately. "Eddie, what do you think we're doing?"

I can feel the weight of the question, but I'm not entirely sure I understand the meaning. When I ask him to elaborate, he bites the inside of his cheek, considering.

His voice is lower, with an edge to it – not menace, but not far from it. "We eat breakfast together in the morning. We have dinner together every night. We go out to movies and restaurants, and we kiss and suck each other off and sometimes fall asleep together."

I sit in stunned disbelief as I listen to him describe our weekly routine. It seems both harsher and somehow more when he says it that way, especially when he adds, "What would you call that, if not dating?"

An understanding settles in my chest – the realization that this is a moment of importance. This is my chance to say what I feel and ask the questions I need answered.

So, of course, I say the dumbest thing possible. "Roommates?"

His tone is dry when he answers, "So you think I was giving Emmett blowjobs?"

Just the thought is repulsive, and I shudder. "God, no. But Emmett's not gay…"

"Emmett's not gay," he repeats. From the corner of my eye, I see him huff and shake his head in disbelief. Suddenly, he's in motion. He shoves my chair around to face him fully and scoots his forward, his knees going to either side of mine in a position so like our first kiss that I want to cry.

He must see it on my face, but he doesn't mention it. Instead, he says, "Look at me."

It's so hard to lift my eyes, but he waits in expectant silence until they finally meet his.

I imagine a ghost of a smile before his face is stern again. "You're right. I am pissed off at you. I can't fucking believe you'd think I'm that kind of guy. I don't just fuck around, Edward. Not unless the other person knows that's what it is."

His knee bounces irritably beside mine. I can't tear my eyes from his, even though I feel shame burning my cheeks. He sees that, too, but this time, he reaches out, cupping my cheek.

"But I'm more pissed off at myself," he says quietly, "because I gave you that idea. I'm not sure how, though, and that's what I need to know from you."

My mouth is dry, my tongue stuck to the roof. I'm scared as hell that this isn't really happening, but possibly more terrified that it is. I lick my lips, but it doesn't do any good. Garrett's hand falls away from my cheek, landing on my knee. He squeezes it, and I blink quickly as I decide where to start. "You never let anyone know you're with me," I whisper gruffly. "You never touch me when we go out. It's like you barely know me."

"You never touch me either," he points out. His voice is surprisingly gentle, and there's something in his eyes I've never seen before. An idea begins to form in the back of my mind, but it's a dangerous idea, so I don't dare acknowledge it. "Eddie, I've been out for a long time. I don't hide who I am. You're out, but you aren't exactly proud of it – not yet, anyway – so I've been following your lead on that one."

I consider his words, wondering if they're true. "It's not that. I would've definitely been proud to touch you. I just…I didn't know if I was…allowed to touch you."

He frowns at me. "What the hell do you mean, 'allowed'?"

I look away then, but I can feel his curious eyes on me as I try to find the words to explain. I start at the beginning, feeling mortification burn my cheeks while I admit that I've had a crush on him for four years. "That first night you kissed me…it just seemed too good to be true, you know? And I've been scared as hell to fuck it up, so I just…" I wet my lips as I trail off with a shrug.

He's silent for too long. His hand leaves my leg, and he puts both palms on his knees, rubbing them lightly. He lets out a long, heavy sigh before taking my chin between his thumb and forefinger and turning my face back to his. "I thought you just liked it when I initiated. I didn't realize…" He shakes his head and traces my lower lip with his thumb.

"I do," I assure him – because it's goddamn hot when Garrett starts things up. "But I guess I always wondered if…" I'm frustrated when I can't finish my sentence again. I swallow, trying to get rid of the lump so I can force the words out.

"God, I'm sorry."

I shake my head, beginning to understand something. "It wasn't your fault. I think I just have a lot of…issues…"

I say the word strangely – sort of half-strangled, half-silly – and Garrett cracks a smile before turning serious.

"Edward, you're…different from anyone I've ever known. You've got this weird mix of being completely comfortable with who you are – like with all of this…" He waves his hand toward the table, still covered in dice and miniatures. "Combined with this endearing insecurity that makes me want to protect you. And I think maybe I did that too much and gave you the wrong idea about yourself."

I let his words settle in my mind before I begin turning them over, examining them carefully. That dangerous idea resurfaces, but I can't voice it yet. "Garrett?"

"Hmm?"

"What do you think we are?"

I feel something tingle in my chest when I realize he looks almost shy. "Well, now, Edward…"

"I like it when you call me Eddie," I interrupt. "You're the only one that ever does."

He gives me a lopsided grin and whispers, "Alright, Eddie. I'm not really one for labels because most of the time, they don't fit me…but if I was introducing you to someone, it'd be as my boyfriend."

There it is – my dangerous idea, spoken aloud by Garrett. He sees my brow furrow and adds, "If that's okay with you."

I nod, probably a little too quickly, but the frown is in my tone when I say, "What about Kate?"

"Kate? What do you mean?"

To me, the question seems obvious, but I wonder if maybe there's something here I don't understand. "Well, if I'm your boyfriend…" Pride is definitely there in my voice. I wonder if Garrett can hear it, too. "Is she your girlfriend?"

A hush falls on the kitchen again, and I find myself wondering if maybe it's common for a bisexual guy like Garrett to have one of each. But the confusion on his face seems genuine, so maybe it isn't.

His lips part and then he makes a little noise of disbelief. "I think I see…" he murmurs. "What a fucking mess," he adds under his breath.

I expect him to talk, but he leans forward, kissing me softly. He nibbles my lower lip, and I can feel his breath bathing my skin. He hovers there until I can't take it anymore. My hands go to his thighs as I kiss him harder, my lips parting his so our tongues can meet. We moan at the same time, and his hands slide up my arms to tangle in my hair.

As our lips still, he moves his forehead to rest against mine, his hand squeezing the back of my neck before he kisses my forehead and then lets me go. "I broke up with Kate the day after I kissed you that first time. I thought you knew…"

My eyes are wide as I shake my head, and he nods with a smile.

"Yeah, I'm figuring out that there's a lot we don't know." He tells me that maybe we need to start from the beginning, and I listen in fascination as he explains how he felt when I moved in. It had been awhile since he'd last seen me, and he'd always thought of me as Emmett's baby brother.

"You remember that day the first week when I came in and you were sitting in the kitchen in your boxers?"

I close my eyes and nod, remembering the embarrassment I'd felt. "Your class was cancelled and you came home early," I say.

"That's right…that was the first time I looked at you and saw a man – not Emmett's kid brother. And let me tell you, Eddie…I liked what I saw." He winks at me suggestively. I don't know whether to blush or laugh, so I do a little of both.

He goes on, explaining how conflicted he felt. He didn't want to screw up his friendship with Emmett by messing around with me, but as the weeks went on, he realized it was harder and harder to ignore me.

"And then we were watching football that night, and you were being such a smartass, and I just…well, I just figured it was time I found out if there might be something there for you, too."

I'm baffled by Garrett's version of events. As he speaks, he clears up every fear I had. I begin to see how each of us was reading the other completely wrong, most of the time. We sit there for the longest time, talking through everything we probably should've talked about over the last month or so.

Finally, Garrett reaches over, squeezing my thighs as his thumbs rub light lines along the inner seams of my jeans. "From now on, we talk," he says firmly. "Okay?" When I nod, he grins. "Good. Now…there's something else I'd like to talk to you about…"

Both my eyebrows lift at his words and the way his hands seem to be creeping up my thighs. "What did you have in mind?"

"Come here," he murmurs, sliding his hands further up as he pulls me to him. I shift so that I'm straddling him and can't help but moan when he squeezes my ass. He kisses me hungrily and then pulls away, whispering, "I want you, Eddie. Do you want me?"

"God, yes," I answer softly, shifting my hips so they're more in line with his.

His hands are hot against my back as they slip beneath my shirt. One hand dips down into my loose jeans, cupping my ass, as the other journeys up to my shoulder blades. "I've been holding back," he continues, "because I thought you weren't ready. But that's a decision only you can make, so I'm leaving it up to you." He lifts his hips, and I moan in anticipation when I feel him, hard and thick against me. "I'm yours…do whatever you want with me."

My mind reels from the possibilities as Garrett keeps up a steady stream of words. I begin unconsciously rocking my hips to the cadence of his voice as images – fantasies and memories – fill my mind.

He lifts his chin, his lips claiming mine. I reach over his shoulders, holding onto the top of his chair as my movements become more deliberate. I know what I want, but I take some time to make sure I'm ready. I practice the words again and again, trying to decide how to tell him what I want him to do, but in the end, I decide to be direct. Blunt.

Bold.

"Fuck me, Garrett." My words are barely a whisper, but they're out there.

"Jesus fucking Christ," he mumbles, his hands going to my hips to still them. My excitement doubles when I realize that he's having a hard time controlling himself.

When he looks up at me, I can't stop the grin on my face. He shakes his head and says, "I should've told you to speak your mind a long time ago."

We laugh together, quieting when his hands rub up and down my back. He kisses me once before saying, "Well, since we're being…open…" He smirks. "Can I be completely honest?"

I nod, wondering if I'll like what he has to say.

He opens his mouth and then closes it again, leaning forward to kiss all along my neck. His tongue dips down into the hollow of my throat before he teases, "Who knew you'd be more goddamn forward than I am?"

I shrug, making him laugh, and then he takes my face between his hands, pulling lightly so I'll look at him. "Eddie, I know I should take you upstairs to my bed and take things nice and slow, and I will – I promise you that. But right now, I just…" He rolls his hips against mine, biting his bottom lip. "Right now, I want to stay here."

He pats the table, and when I look at him curiously, he explains that one of the things he loves about us is the way we do what feels right for us. He tells me that he's attracted to the fact that I am who I am. "I want you here, right in the middle of all of this. I want to have you."

I don't answer at first, my mind filled with conflicting thoughts of how it would work, logistically, and if I'm ready for my first time and if I really want to eat breakfast every morning with that visual in my head. Garrett's hand slips around to my front, and he rolls my nipple between his fingers, making me curse and bite my lip. As he kisses my neck and nips at my jaw, I feel my hesitance melt away.

"Besides," I murmur, bringing his lips back to mine, "we haven't christened the kitchen yet."

"Fuck yes," he growls, his hands moving to squeeze my waist. Despite his words – and his obvious enthusiasm – he pulls back so he can see me. "Are you sure?" he asks. "Just say the words, and I'll take you upstairs right now…or we can even just go to sleep. Whatever you want, baby. I won't be upset."

I shake my head and then cover his lips with mine to get him to shut up. I don't know if he's aware of what he just called me, but I am. Warmth spreads though my body at the term of endearment, helping me grow more and more sure by the second. It seems right somehow. I know it's not conventional, but what the hell about us is?

"How does… I mean, do you…" I roll my eyes at myself, annoyed that I can be so up front about what I want and then stumble over this. "How's this gonna work?" I finally manage.

He grins, tracing my lower lip with his tongue. His face hovers there, just in front of mine, letting me feel the vibrations of his lips when he speaks again. "Well, now that depends on you. I assumed I'd top, but if you want to, I'm all for that, too…"

"Oh, god no." My mind balks at the thought. I wouldn't know what the hell to do – not really – and the responsibility of trying to make it feel good for him is overwhelming.

He pouts playfully. "I do hope I can change your mind about that, Eddie." His hands grip my thighs tightly, squeezing near my hips. "Because I'm going to want you to fuck me, too…eventually."

The fire in my chest spreads up my neck, flaring in my cheeks as I consider his words. I want that, so badly, but tonight I'm too anxious. After all our confusion, I want him to claim me, show me that I'm his – that he wants us to be together. But that wasn't what I was asking anyway, so I shake my head to scatter those thoughts and mumble, "I will. But I meant ahh…don't we need…umm…"

"Mmm, you're adorable when you blush like that. Yes, baby, we need a condom…" His lips blaze a trail down my neck as his hands slide up my chest. He bunches up my shirt, and I pull away so he can tear it off. He takes my nipple between his lips, teasing the sensitive flesh with his tongue. "And lube…"

I'm lost, drowning in the feeling of his hands and lips on me as he lavishes my chest with attention, his fingertips dipping into my waistband. My hands wrap around the top of his chair as I lean back, my face turned toward the ceiling to give him more room. All too soon, he pats my thighs and guides me to stand up.

"I'll be right back," he murmurs. His eyes roam my body, taking in every inch from the tips of my toes to my hair, which I know has to be standing up all over the place. It's hard to feel self-conscious, though, when he looks so…hungry. "I want you to stay just like that."

He disappears then, and I stand awkwardly in the kitchen, shuffling my feet. I consider getting undressed, but he made his wishes clear, and it could only be worse to stand here naked. I turn to look at the table, studying the miniatures still spread out from the last battle. I can't help but laugh when I think of what the guys would say if they knew what was about to happen.

Garrett says, "What's so funny?" as he walks back in.

I turn to answer, but the words die on my lips when I see him, nearly nude except for his boxers, which are straining to contain his excitement. A small bottle and a foil packet are in his hand, drawing my attention as I swallow hard. He steps toward me and puts them both on the edge of the table.

When I just keep staring at them, he catches my face in his hands, turning my eyes to his. "Hey…we don't have to do anything you're not ready for."

I shake my head quickly. "No, I want to. Believe me, I want to…" I pull him close, our hard-ons brushing through fabric. We kiss briefly as his hands squeeze my ass before I explain, "I'm just… a little nervous."

He nods with a small, crooked smile. "Understandable…but I promise I'll make it good, sweetheart. Do you trust me?"

Something in me melts, washing away tension and fear and hesitation, and I nod. We become a tangle of limbs. Caressing hands remove clothes, smooth lips replacing coarse fabric until we're both standing in our kitchen, nude and beyond aroused.

He doesn't ask any questions, but I see the way his eyes track mine, studying me to make sure I'm okay. He must find the answer he wants because his lips crash against mine. Gone are the soft kisses and gentle words. I can feel need and want in his kiss, making me whimper as my arms encircle his shoulders.

He guides me back until I feel my ass bump the table, and I half-sit, propping myself against it. "You're going to love this," he whispers, his breath tantalizing against my ear. "I'm going to make you feel better than you ever have before, baby…anything you want me to do, just tell me…"

I shake my head, unable to find words, but I catch his hand and pull it closer, wrapping it around my cock. My own hand covers his, and I squeeze harder, hissing at the blissful pain and pleasure.

He hums. "Mmm…that's right. Show me what you like…" Together, we begin a slow, teasing rhythm, exploring rather than stroking. Our hands dip down to my balls and move all the way up my shaft, over my head, twisting and tightening. The whole while, his lips cover my skin, his tongue tasting me and bathing me in words of encouragement.

Soon, my hips are thrusting, small movements forcing our hands to the speed that will bring me to the brink. He smiles against my lips and reaches to the left. I hear a click, and then he lets me go for a second. Both his hands wrap around my cock, slick and heavenly, heightening every sensation.

"Oh, holy fuck," I breathe, gasping before I bite his shoulder.

His chuckle is a low rumble in his chest as he murmurs, "Told you I'd make it good…"

Metal clinks as he reaches behind me – miniatures being brushed away – and I follow his silent lead, hopping up on the table. A slippery hand pushes against my shoulder, and I start to lie back. I go to rest on my elbows and feel something sharp pierce my skin.

"God damn it!" I curse. I jerk upright and pick up Alec's miniature, hurling the damn thing across the room.

Garrett takes a second to make sure I'm okay and then grins. "Battle scars." He lowers himself, winking at me, and the sight of his face partially obscured by my throbbing cock as he settles between my thighs is overwhelming. I recline again, more slowly this time, my eyes never leaving his.

He knows what I like, and I give myself over to his tongue and lips and teeth. He reaches up with his left hand, and I suck his index and middle finger between my lips, surprised by the sweet taste of strawberry. I lick greedily, my tongue slipping between his fingers as I imagine it's his cock in my mouth. When I bite down, he nips my hip in response, and I smile at the silent communication.

He lowers his hand, wrapping it around the base of my cock, where it meets his lips. He flattens his tongue, swallowing, and my eyes roll back at the sensation. I feel the slick fingers of his right hand drift down, rubbing behind my balls, and I fight the urge I have to tense when they meet puckered flesh.

The next few minutes are spent in a paradox of burning agony and sweet desire as he prepares my body to accept him. By the time he straightens, his hand pumping me as swollen lips ask if I'm ready, I can't wait any longer.

He stands up, leaning over to kiss me thoroughly, his hand never slowing. When he straightens again, he picks up the condom, holding it out to me with a questioning look on his face.

I think I know what he means, and I do want to be the one to do it. I take the packet with jittery hands and manage to tear it open. I know, theoretically, what to do, but I never have before, so it takes a couple of tries before I pinch the tip just right and roll it down his length. I reach for the bottle of lube, pouring a little in my hand, and watch in awed fascination as his eyes roll back in his head when I stroke him. He stands with his shoulders slumped, his head thrown back and lips parted, and his right hand flattens against his abdomen, his thumb pressing against the base of his cock as his fingers knead his balls.

More eager than I've ever felt before, I toss the bottle to the side and look up at him, waiting until he meets my eye. I don't want to ask him out loud what happens now, and luckily, I don't have to. He licks his lips and smiles at me, urging my ass toward the edge of the table. He puts my calves on his shoulders, and I feel my blush again at being so exposed to him that way.

"Don't," he whispers, rubbing my thighs soothingly. "It's just you and me, Eddie. You're beautiful…did you know that?"

He keeps up a running stream of murmured assurances, kissing my calves, caressing my knees and hips, until he sees me relax again. His eyes meet mine, a penetrating gaze that locks me into place until, finally, I nod in response to his silent question. A smile flirts with his lips, but I don't understand the apology in his eyes as he says, "Trust me."

And then his tip pushes past the ring of taut muscle, and my entire body feels like it's being burned to ashes, and I get it.

This shit hurts.

I squeeze my eyes closed, breathing shallowly with my jaw clenched. I try like hell not to tense up, but it's impossible. Garrett stays utterly still, but after awhile, I realize that he's whispering quiet words, and I try to focus on those, slowing my breathing until my eyes can finally flutter open and find his.

He gives me a small smile and says, "A little better?" I nod, and he turns his head, kissing my calf as he slowly inches forward. The stinging pain gradually fades away as Garrett slips in and out, pressing a little further each time. I focus my attention on him – his face over mine, his soft words – rather than the pain, so it catches me by surprise when I suddenly realize that it's not pain I feel.

It's pleasure.

Unique, mind-blowing, thigh-quivering pleasure.

Garrett sees the change in my expression and murmurs, "That's right, baby…I told you I'd make it good." I grin at the playful tone in his voice, but it's true. His hips begin moving more quickly, making me gasp when I feel him brush some place deep inside of me. It turns my thighs to water, making my legs hang uselessly on his shoulders. I need to touch him, to feel his skin under my fingertips, so I reach for his hand. I bring his fingers back to my lips, rewarded when he moans and thrusts harder into me.

I bite his fingers, sucking wildly as his body rocks mine. Before long, I'm lost, no longer noticing individual actions, drowning in a sea of erotic sensations that leaves me moaning and begging. I hear Garrett pleading as well, and I slowly shift bring my focus back to him, listening as he urges me to let go.

His hand is hot, speeding along my shaft, and as I let my attention return to what he's doing, I am nearly overcome by the feeling of his thumb brushing against the ridge of my head. My cock is aching, literally hurting for want of release, and I lift my head, sucking in a breath at the sight before me.

My cock is swollen and purple, appearing and vanishing in Garrett's hand as he works me over. His torso is between my thighs, rocking against me, and I wish suddenly that I could see where we're joined. Since I can't, I let my eyes drift up, finding his face, and as soon as I take in his parted lips and furrowed brow, his darkened blue eyes begging me to listen to what his voice is asking, I let go.

I'm a shuddering mass of nerve endings, synapses firing and muscles contracting as I fold in on myself. My hips and shoulders both leave the table as I grab Garrett's hips, my nails digging into his skin.

I cry out, but I have no idea what I say – or if the sounds falling from my lips are even words. His skin slaps against mine, jarring me so that my head falls back with a thump, but I don't feel any pain because I see the way his eyes have closed, his lips parting in a look of astonishment and gratitude. It's an expression I know well, one I've memorized each time I've been lucky enough to touch him.

He slows and then stills with a grunt, reaching between us to pull away. I feel empty when he leaves me, and both relief and petulance rush in to fill the void. He's gone for only a few seconds before he's back, helping me sit up. When he's sure I'm steady enough, he pulls me to my feet, crushing me against his chest.

We kiss languidly, holding tightly to each other, and then he nibbles my bottom lip, giving me a smile. "Can I take you out to dinner tomorrow night?" he asks.

"Yes," I answer, feeling a strange surge of self-assurance that makes me almost giddy. "You damn well better hold my hand, though."

His grin is mischievous when he answers, "I plan to do way more than that."