Wrote this for Solora Goldsun's Sugar Rush contest! 8D Hope you guys like reading this as much I liked writing it.

Oh, almost forgot. If you like discussing Generator Rex, check out the Providence Playground fan forum! providenceplayground. proboards. com

Noah's sneakers scratched against the rough blacktop as he made a move to block Rex. He bounced the ball and pivoted, Noah shifted, Rex faked, Noah left him open, Rex took a throw.


He missed.

The ball sailed past the old hoop and hit the brick wall behind it. It bounced and rolled across the faded white lines on the pavement and stopped at Noah's feet.

"So, Rex. How-," Noah hooked his foot under the basketball and flipped it up to his hand, "Can someone still be so bad at basketball after playing it for...how long have we been playing it again?"

Noah grinned as the ball spun effortlessly on his fingertip. Why Rex kept challenging Noah at basketball was incomprehensible, but Noah could never turn down an easy victory.

Whoosh, Noah looked down, found he was pointing to the sky, and looked up to see Rex make another jump and another shot. He took another miss.

Noah laughed, "Yeah, looks like another important scientific issue to be discussed right behind the nanite event. -Oouf!" Basketball to the stomach. Noah gripped it.

"No way. This is way more important than the nanite event. And besides, I can dunk."

They shuffled again as Noah dribbled, he paused to shoot and shot, but Rex stole it. He shifted side to side trying to shake Noah off to get an opportunity, but Noah dipped in, swiped it, and the satisfying swoosh of ball through hoop was the music for Noah's victory fist pump.

"Yeah?" He paused, "You mean with those, not cheat-nanites- skills right? Yeah, skills."

That spinning trick didn't work nearly as well when Rex attempted it. "Hey, I can be good if I actually tried." The ball wobbled and fell off. Rex picked up and tried again. And again. And again. He had enough humiliation and gave up. Noah shook his head as Rex tossed the ball off to him.

"Yeah, sure. I bet you ten bucks you can't make the next shot."

"Yeah?" Just like Noah couldn't resist an easy victory, Rex couldn't resist a challenge, especially from Noah.

"Yeah," Noah pitched it back. An easy ten dollars.

"Fine," Rex tucked the ball under his arm and stepped forward, "I'll see your wager and raise you one Nacho Supreme Deluxe pizza." Ten dollars, now including complimentary meal.

Noah took a step forward and crossed his arms, "Fine, I'll take that bet." He leaned in, for dramatic effect, "So hurry up, 'cause I'm hungry."

Rex narrowed his eyes, "Me too, can't wait to eat some of my victory pizza."

They stared each other down for a moment.

Noah smirked, "Just shoot."


Rex arched himself and bounced the basketball a couple times. He paused, bounced, and paused again. Rex tried not to think of Noah being annoyed at him while he was taking so long.

"Rex! The bet we made was for today, right?"

"Trying to focus here!"

Rex heard Noah chuckle. It wasn't helping.

Bounce. Bounce. Okay, he got it. Maybe. Okay, take the shot. Now. Okay, no, that was a false alarm. Bounce. Okay, now. No-now, false alarm again. Yeah-no-yeah. Okay!

He jumped. He threw.



"YEAH. Oh YEAH. See it? Right when it-," In his mandatory victory dance, Rex paused when he saw Noah, who was obviously surprised, and composed himself, "I mean, yeah, see?"

Noah stared, until he remembered he could blink. He crouched down and picked up the ball at his feet. "Okay, yeah, yeah, fine, you made it."

"Yeah, I'm awesome," Rex grinned and grinned like an idiot when he walked back to Noah, gloating even with how he walked, "So. Where's my ten bucks?"

"Yeah, okay," Noah stuck his hand in his jacket pocket and rummaged around. He stepped forward as he gave up on one pocket, shoved the ball to Rex, and looked down as his other hand dug through his other pocket. Noah gave up on that one too and kissed Rex.

Rex paused, moved back a little, surprised, then tucked the ball under his arm to lean in. He put his hand on Noah's arm to bring him closer. They stopped, and just kissed.

When they pulled back, Rex still looked as smug as before, "That was nice. Where's my ten bucks?"

Noah shrugged, hands still in his pockets and looking equally smug, "I'm broke."

"Broke? What about that-oh yeah you spent it. OH, what about-"

"I gave all that away, remember?"

"...Oh yeah."

"Doesn't feel right keeping it, you know? Especially now, since we've been-"

Rex nodded, "Yeah, I guess I wouldn't either."

Noah smiled, throwing a thumb over his shoulder, "Anyway, how about we get going? I still got sodas at home."

Rex slung a free arm over Noah, "Sounds great, I am kind of getting thirsty kicking your butt at basketball."

Even though he was still smiling, it wasn't possible for Noah to not roll his eyes.

It wasn't a far walk from the old court to Noah's. On the fairly quiet streets of his neighborhood they laughed loud, Rex still hanging over Noah and pulling him this way and that when they were turning or chuckling. Halfway back Rex suggested a race and Noah ended up owing Rex a second soda.

The cool air conditioning of the house in quiet was a huge relief. Rex raced upstairs and tossed his jacket onto the chair in Noah's room, quickly making himself comfortable on Noah's bed in front of the TV. Noah, on the other hand, searched the kitchen and fridge for food. Just yesterday they had done the same, settled in Noah's room, relaxing and sitting out of the sweltering heat that overtook the city.

Until an EVO situation called him out then, Rex had spent that whole day sitting around with Noah, reading comic books, leveling through games, and watching TV. It was nice, relaxing and not doing much of anything once in a while, with times like Noah leaning back into Rex's arm, focused on gaming, as Rex romantically whispered encouragement into his ear ("Hey. Noah. Stop failing. You should really stop failing so hard. Yeah? Okay? Stop. Stop failing. Just stop.").

It was funny. They were funny. They blurred the lines. They evolved through blurring the lines, but they were clear to each other through it. Even though it really didn't feel like much had actually ever changed between them, in retrospect, they undeniably felt the boundaries lift. The restraint and uncertainty disappeared from Rex and Noah until it faded to them, the two of them, together.

Them, to them, "us". It didn't really feel romantic but more like a very free friendship that was absolutely more than a friendship at the exact same time. Romance didn't flare up or die out as much as there were various degrees of quiet, intimacy, and sarcasm between them. If Rex wanted to lie across Noah's stomach while he played video games, he'd do it and Noah wouldn't think anything of it. If Noah wanted to stop kissing because commercials were over, he'd do it (if Rex didn't do it first).

Their relationship was like this: There was never any pressure to change, to bend or watch themselves. There was never any pressure or expectation for romantic antics or displays to show the world or even each other. Their underlying understanding was always there. Even if Noah was sitting at his desk doing homework while Rex napped on his bed, neither of them could ask for more.

The truth was that they saw each other as friends first and foremost, but they were free to be more and were more. It was rich.

After a quick search, Rex found the remote and turned the television on. Some crappy soap opera was playing. He flipped the channels. Trash, crud, nothing, nothing, nothing...oh-maybe, no it was nothing, nothing was on. He looked around, trying to remember which of the games they were playing recently was the one he had liked. Noah's room wasn't a mess, but still a comfortable disarray. Rex had grown almost as accustomed to it as his own room while he looked through childhood toys, around textbooks, and the odd space here and there underneath pin ups of some celebrity actresses. Sometimes Rex lingered around the posters. Even though he was with Noah, neither of them could ever deny some girls just looked good ("Would you dump me for her in a minute?" "Aw, come on, Rex. It wouldn't take a whole minute.").

He found it sitting on top of the game station, the least likely place he would have looked. Noah walked in with three sodas stacked in hand and a bowl of chips as Rex was pushing the start button, "Hyper Brawl Sisters?"

"Yeah, I'm gonna get through this level, just you wait," Rex hunched over excitedly.

The little orange and red character with the REX bubble hovering over on it hopped, ran, and fought on screen. Noah popped open a cola and orange soda and set them down on the nearest stable flat surface as he sat down.

Half a bowl of chips and two sodas later, Rex was still playing. He leaned side to side as he mashed the buttons, moving his controller up when the character did, crouching low to dodge the kick on screen as if any of it had any effect on the game play at all. The little character threw a special move and knocked its opponent off screen and the victory screen trumpeted. Rex threw his hands into the air, "YEAH!"

Noah chuckled as he drank down the newly opened strawberry soda, "Good job, Rex."

"Yeah, of course," Rex paused when he looked at Noah, "Sure, you can have some of my victory soda."

"Oh, thank you so much," Noah flatly said when he gave the can to Rex's outstretched hand.

Rex ended up gulping the last of it as he saved his progress. He burped, "Uhhhhrrp-You know, I actually am pretty hungry now. What do you say to heading down over to The Base and getting some food? Holiday's treat."

Noah raised his eyebrow, "Uhh, I dunno, Rex. Holiday's a great scientist and all, but not the greatest cook."

He still had the odd night here and there where that rock solid cake stirred from his memories and woke him up.

"It's cool, she ordered out."

"Oh, really? Okay, sure, let's go."

The dusty landscape flew past them while they rode further away from civilization. The roads were no longer paved, or even there, for that matter.

Rex and Noah cut across the horizon on Rex's motorbike, leaving a cloud of dust behind them. The wind was whipping, but the sun was still hot and Rex mentally hit himself for leaving his jacket at Noah's and refusing to go back. They had used up too much time today anyway. But, even though he could feel a fine layer of dust and sweat congealing on his skin, his mind was distracted to get to Providence HQ.

They could have just flown. But there were merits of using alternative means of transportation.

"Hey, Noah!" Rex turned his head to the person behind him tightly clutching onto his back, "We should be moving into Providence's perimeter in a few minutes!"

Noah peered up through his own pair of riding goggles at Rex and yelled back through the sound of the engine and wind, "Really? I thought we were gonna take the long road!"

"We are!"

Noah glanced at his cell phone, being careful to hold on to it. The time seemed about right. It was about as long as it usually took to get to Providence this way, but it always felt too short. Noah peeled his arms off from around Rex's waist and settled his hands on his shoulders. All things considered, they both agreed it was easier this way for the time being. No one really needed to know.

"And I thought it cooled down already," Rex wiped some dust from his arms and dusted his gloves off.

"Well, you know the desert," Noah patted the sleeves of his jacket and puffs of dirt burst from him, "Dirt, dry, and sun."

They walked down the corridor towards the familiar lab, office, and computer room of the good Dr. Holiday. They passed by the faceless but hardworking agents wrapped up in their own errands and duties, busy working for whatever projects that were issued.

"I'm starving."

"Yeah, me too. Lucky me, Holiday's saving me from having to get you that pizza."

"Yeah. For today."

The door to the lab slid open.

"Aw, come on R-"

"SURPRISE! Happy Birthday, Noah!"


A camera flashed and people laughed and clapped. Noah looked around to see Holiday smiling and chuckling, Bobo grinning, and Six in the corner with a face that could have been almost smiling. Unmasked Providence agents with whom Noah made an acquaintance and small friendships were there. Streamers hung from the walls. Noah could feel how stupid he looked with all these people smiling at him.

He didn't know how it got there, but when Noah looked up, he found a paper party hat attached securely to his head. The little elastic under his chin set into his skin uncomfortably.

Rex grinned, "Got you."

Noah exhaled, humored, but defeated, "Yeah, you did."

People swarmed in, unable to wait to greet him and give their birthday wishes. Noah couldn't hear all of them but he just kept smiling, nodding, and saying "Hey, thanks." Rex watched from the side, completely amused. It must have been like this for him when it was his birthday.

The crowd around him eventually faded and Noah could breathe again, but something-some distinct, beautiful, and otherworldly aroma soon caught his attention.


Noah could smell it. Rex did too. Two tables over were boxes and boxes of pizza. They raced over and Rex grabbed one to look inside.

"Know what, Noah? Because it's your birthday and all, how about I take the pizza part of that bet and treat you?"

Rex handed Noah the box and sure enough, there was a Nacho Supreme Deluxe pizza inside. "Oh wow, how generous of you, Rex," Noah said, completely unmoved. It was suspicious then when Rex raised the stakes on a bet he'd obviously-well, more than likely would have lost.

The smell of pizza in the air reminded how hungry the two of them were. Noah reached in for a slice when Rex spotted Holiday nearby coming towards them, "Hey Doc! Since it's Noah's birthday and all, you think that maybe we won't have to end the party early tonight?"

"Rex, Noah," She smiled, but then turned to Rex, "Sorry, but you need your rest for the mission to India tomorrow, Rex. This is important." She paused and apologized to Noah, "Sorry to cut your party short later, Noah."

"No problem," Noah shrugged and raised an eyebrow, "India, huh?"

"Some unusual activity was detected this morning," Holiday said, "Shouldn't be too difficult but it is something we need to take care of."

"Yeah, it's not difficult until some elephant EVOs do the whole stacking robot thing and make one giant mega-ele-EVO-tron," Rex reached towards a particularly large piece of pizza. Dr. Holiday grabbed his arm just shy of it.

"Hold on a minute. Rex, why don't you dust yourself off and clean yourself up somewhere away from food?"

"Aw, come on, Doc! I'm starvin'!"

"Please, Rex. For everyone's sake?" Holiday gave him an asking smile.

"Fine, fine..." Rex set his own pizza box down and grumbled to his room. It definitely was for the best though; there was still a layer of dirt on him.

"Yeah, Rex. Don't wanna turn any of these into sand-flavored pizza! Dunno if anyone's a fan of 'em." Noah called back as he took a bite of food.

Dr. Holiday smiled at him, and Noah noticed she was wearing a hat equally as ridiculous as his, "Happy birthday, Noah."

It was nice he wasn't the only one wearing something stupid, "Thanks, this is great. Pizza?"

"No, thanks," Holiday waved down the monstrously nacho-loaded slice of pizza, "Good to know you're enjoying it. Rex really put some time into planning it. He tried to invite some of your friends from school, but Providence protocol wouldn't have it."

"I understand. This is all really cool," He chewed and thought for a moment, "Wait, Rex really planned it all?"

"Yes," she chuckled, "Well, except for the streamers. I suggested those. But, Rex took it pretty seriously."

Noah couldn't help but show his amusement. The thought of Rex taking anything seriously was funny, let alone something like a birthday party, "Are you sure that's Rex you're thinking about?"

Holiday shifted herself to a more casual stance, amused as well, "Even he has his moments when it comes to things he cares about."

She smiled, but her tone changed, and thoughtfully, "You know, even just by being Rex's friend, you've really helped him and Providence. I'm glad to have seen him mature a little."

He chuckled, "Well, glad I could do so much just by goofing off."

"You've done a lot, Noah." She put a hand on Noah's shoulder, "You're a good influence on Rex. He needs someone like you."

Noah blanked for a moment, unable to think of anything to say to that. There was a way she said it that made Noah feel a little...exposed. Before he could react, she interrupted his train of thought.

"Well, I have to go and make a call for a moment, happy birthday, again, and thanks for everything," She gave a small squeeze on his shoulder, and walked away.

"Um...You're welcome?" Noah felt a little weird. When Holiday walked off, she had this smile that Noah wasn't quite sure what to make of. He felt uncomfortable.

Noah quickly shook it off and chalked it to paranoia. He unabashedly ate and later met up with a few familiar acquaintances. Captain Callan came by and gave Noah an enthusiastic hit to his back as he wished him a good birthday, and soon came back with a drink as Noah started coughing on food he thought he had swallowed. Kenwyn, who recently was transferred to HQ, gave Noah his birthday punches as Rex came walking back in, with significantly less grime this time. Kenwyn wished him well again before she took off, leaving Noah to nurse his pained arm and sore back.

"Guess I'm gonna have to give you my birthday punches on your other arm," Rex laughed. He had thrown on a whole new set of clothes and his hair was a little wet from a shower.

"Yeah, I can't believe all the gifts I'm getting," Noah rubbed his arm through his jacket, not wanting to see how much damage Kenwyn had actually done. Six walked towards them and Rex took the opportunity to raid some pizza boxes and stuffed his face.

"'Thup, Thix," Rex said through a mouthful.

"There's an incoming video line from Basic."

Six turned his head toward Holiday in the back by some controls, she nodded and went back to the panel as a large screen flickered on. Drill Instructor Hutton's deceptively friendly face filled the space and everyone turned to see.

The call was short with few pleasantries, but Noah was surprised when DI Hutton extended a formal invitation to join Providence as a combat agent.

"You did all right in your short time at Basic, Noah. You have some real potential in you. You become a Providence cadet on your next birthday and you can rest assured that you will get the most difficult training regimen I can offer for your time in training."

He actually smiled while saying that.

When the screen flickered off after DI Hutton's final birthday wish, Noah thought for a moment what Hutton's idea of "the most difficult training program" he could offer was, and whether it might be possible to live through it. Maybe it'd be like Pain Week, but twenty times worse without sleep, food, and sanity. And it'd be continuous.

Although, Noah had still been thinking of joining Providence. He had already been fairly seasoned in dealing with EVO situations, and actually did hold up decently in Basic, but he was unsure. After the transmission ended, he was now clearer on this thought. Clearer that he still had absolutely no real decision on it one way or another.

"Wow, your birthday presents just keep getting better and better. First, a dead arm from birthday punches, and now an offer to die by training. You really hit it big, Noah. I'm jealous," Rex pat Noah on the back and Noah flinched. He had hit the hand-size burning on his back just right.

"Yeah, an offer of unlimited pain of various degrees, sounds great."

Nearby, Six typed onto a control panel, "Drill Instructor Hutton has been one of the best generals of Providence. You survive his specialized training program and you'll become one of Providence's most valuable assets."

Oh. Noah and Rex exchanged glances. If that were the case, they wondered what that would mean for the two of them. Long weeks, maybe months, apart for training, but maybe that'd mean Noah could stick around Rex more in the future? They never really put much thought past what they were going to do next week, but they wanted to be around each other for as long as possible. Good thing Noah had another year to decide.

"All right, high tea's over, ladies," Bobo pulled them down and snapped them out, "If you can direct your attention in front of you."

The lights lowered as the wall of screens in front of them came to life. The speakers boomed as punches flew across the screen. The start menu formed. Rex shoved a controller into Noah's chest as he stared dumbly to the massive display of high definition gameplay.

It was delicious. The colors were vivid and each savory slice of a sword, blow of a punch, and blast of gunfire echoed through the sound system. The agents soon clamored to play and Noah eventually receded to the back as Rex and another agent co-opped against an enemy three times as big as they were on screen.

As Noah drank his soda, he could see Holiday and Six out of the corner of his eye. In the dark, he could see them keeping an eye on Rex. Holiday reclined in a chair as Six stood by, with an arm surreptitiously, but not surreptitiously enough, wrapped around Holiday's shoulder. Noah shifted his eyes away, feeling like an intruder to them, and settled onto Rex.

The continue option for Rex's player flashed and he handed it off to Kenwyn before she had to steal it from him. The resounding explosion lit up the room as Rex made his way over to Noah, grabbing his own drink off the table along the way and cocking his eyebrow up at him. Noah looked away and back to the screen as Rex stood beside him. He nudged Noah jokingly.

They had habits neither of them could break or control. Sometimes Noah would stare a little too long at Rex, or Rex would linger a little close to Noah when they talked. It was these little subtle things they tried to keep in check and were usually good about. Although, they realized that they had been unconsciously feeding these habits long before they coupled together. Thankfully, no one seemed to have ever noticed...

Rex broke the quiet, "Pretty awesome, huh?"

"Yeah, no kidding."

"Too bad we can't do this all the time. Your massive displays of fail would have been awesome to see at this definition."

"Yeah, but you know there's always your real-life fail on the courts."


The agents were surprisingly good, but it was Kenwyn who ended up doing most of the work in the game. She dominated it easily. As Rex and Noah were discussing the specifics of the weaponry, Holiday interrupted them bearing good news and bad news. The good news was cake. The bad news was that the party would be done afterwards.

The screens darkened but the lights did not come on. From the corner, a cake was carried out by a set of agents and Bobo. Seventeen candles blazed on the cake as Rex decided to start up the obligatory birthday song. Over the white frosting and the words "HAPPY BIRTHDAY NOAH" in blue, Noah paused, inhaled, and blew out the candles in a breath. Everyone applauded and it wasn't long until the cake was divided up and in pieces.

It was delicious, the checkered chocolate and vanilla slices soon disappeared as everyone approved. No one asked who had made it, since it was assumed it was also delivered, but Rex pointed out to Noah that Dr. Holiday was blushing. Beside her, Six stood by, cake in hand and actually smiling.

"You know, Noah," Bobo sauntered up next to him, "This would be the part where your face gets smashed in the leftovers, but because this is good, you'll have to do without a present from me."

"Uh, well, thanks anyway, Bobo."

"Don't worry, you'll get one next time."

The chimp walked away, casually stealing a temporarily unattended piece of cake from a table nearby. Rex came up with the video game from before.

"Here, Noah, I had another present for you, but it was only worth ten bucks. And since you owe me that already, I thought we might call it even."

"Sure. Why not. What was it, though?" Noah smirked.


"Uh. It was ten bucks worth of thought."

"Oh, geez, I should have never made that bet, then."

"Hey, I still owe you birthday punches."

Six chose to show up then, "Party's done, Rex. Time to go."

Already? Noah looked around as a few of the agents were filtering out, they waved over to Noah wishing him a nice birthday again. Rex balked, "Aw, come on, Six! Ten more minutes!"

He paused, "Five minutes." He walked off to help Holiday clean up.

"So, about those birthday punches."

"Hey, Kenwyn already gave me them. I'm not 34, okay?"

"Yeah, yeah. So, you gotta tell me what else you got today after you get home. I know they loaded the gifts and stuff into your ride home."

Gifts? Noah hadn't actually seen any gifts. Noah wasn't as close to Providence as Rex, so he never expected anything. He wondered as much as Rex what he got too, now.

"Yeah? Definitely."

Five minutes flew fast. Six came to escort Noah out and they exchanged goodbyes, planning to meet next week when they could. As Six walked Noah through the hallways, he said, "You should think about accepting that offer from Hutton."

Noah stopped mentally for a moment, and recalled that invitation of pain. But, he nodded, "Yeah, I am."

The final doorway opened to the cold desert landscape in the night. A jet was sitting in front of them. Noah didn't know why he was expecting a car. It would have understandably taken too long anyway. Even though it wasn't a very long ride on Rex's motorbike, going at a normal pace would have taken hours. The pilot waved Noah over.

Six tilted his head to Noah, "Happy birthday, Noah," and he turned around, leaving Noah to his escort.

"Thanks, Six," Noah said and made his way into the jet.

The ride was short. The jet left him at an annex station closer to the city, where Noah rode the rest of the way home in an unassuming minivan. Behind him were seats loaded with colorfully wrapped boxes and on his lap were the carefully packaged remains of his birthday cake. On the ride home, he realized how tired he was.

The house was still empty when he came home. No television on, no doors shut to betray anyone sleeping, it was still quiet. After one more slice of cake, a glass of milk, and a note written to his mom on his day (Went with friends today, there's cake in the fridge. Hope things are going OK at the hospital. Love, Noah), he tossed his jacket over the one Rex left on his chair. He dragged himself to bed, surprised in finding a birthday card from his mom and fifty dollars on his rumpled covers. Noah smiled as he tucked the card and money away at his desk and had just enough time to take off his shoes before he fell asleep.

Tap, tap-tap.

Noah grumbled.

Tap tap tap.

It was still dark out.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Noah cracked his eyes and looked around in the dark. The street light that normally came from his window over his desk was obscured. Noah sat up, "Rex?"

Rex pressed his face into the glass and nodded, smiling stupidly as he stood on the ledge outside, just below Noah's window, "Hey, you're up."

Noah drowsily pulled the glass open as Rex climbed in and settled himself on Noah's desk, legs hanging over the edge, "How'd you get out? I thought you're going to India."

"Yeah, I am. I just mentioned to Bobo I was thinking of going on a burger run," Rex grinned. He looked around and saw the unopened boxes sitting around Noah's room, "You open any yet?"

"Nah. I passed out when I got home. What're you doing here instead of getting burgers anyway?" Noah yawned and leaned back against his desk.

Rex shrugged, "Eh. I hate rushing my goodbyes. Besides, I felt bad about your birthday party being cut short." He paused and looked at Noah, "Hey, I think you might've sleepwalked for some cake."

Rex pointed to his own face and to the corner of his mouth where an intractable smudge of blue and white frosting stayed on Noah's face. Noah licked it off, "Oh, yeah. I had some before bed."

"That was good cake, huh?" Rex nodded, "Oh, hey, Noah."


Rex's mouth was on his. It was abrupt. Noah staggered, and stepped forward, soon changing gears in his head. But, it soon went to automatic. Noah snaked his arms underneath Rex's as his set around Noah, pulling him close. The shift of the sudden surprise faded, and they stilled. Noah could feel Rex's warm breath on his cheek and the cool wind of the night on his hands. Rex moved in, and so did Noah. It was quiet.

They pulled back and Rex pressed his forehead against Noah's, "You taste like cake."

The lamps outside weren't bright, but Noah focused on Rex's eyes in the dimness, "You taste like nachos. And pizza."

Noah thought for a moment and tasted his own lip, "Good foods, but not really good together."

Rex laid his head against Noah's shoulder and moved him closer; Noah felt the form of his goggles pressing gently into his neck, "Speak for yourself."

Noah leaned his head down as well, "Thanks for the party. Holiday told me."

He could hear Rex exhale a laugh, "Glad you liked it." Rex turned and left a light kiss on Noah's neck before he pulled back, shifting his arm and grasping Noah's hand in his own. He looked down and mumbled a "Right-" before he took a moment to pull off his gloves. Rex resettled himself, focusing on grasping Noah's hand again and locking his fingers in with his. Rex looked at Noah again, and Noah smiled, plainly and simply.

"Noah," Rex said, a statement that didn't ask for a reaction, but only to say his name out of the quiet.

Quiet. It was a time that was rare between them, when they allowed the world to stop and change. The layer of friendship peeled away and they settled into this deeper level of them that was actually always there, but hardly ever really indulged. They had always been them, light, funny, and comfortable. But, in the elusive calm between, the pause where everything faded, when they moved beyond the laughs, the jokes, the same of everything, there was freedom and luxury of this depth. They could feel this part of them vividly, right now. It was sublime.

A breeze flowed through. The night was fresh around Noah's sleepy body, but he was still warm standing close to Rex. Noah leaned in and kissed him, tasting those familiar flavors again, including frosting. Noah set his hand against Rex's face and brushed his thumb up against his cheek. Rex wrapped his free arm around Noah's waist as he shifted himself closer to Noah, trying to close any gap that existed between them. They clasped their hands tighter, savoring the feel of their palms, their fingers, their warmth, moving and pressing into one another.

Quiet again. The dark around them kept still. Noah moved his hand over Rex's ear and settled at the back of his neck. His fingers brushed against his hairline and the band of his goggles. It was reluctant, but they slowly slipped their hands apart to grasp at each other. They kissed softly, with no urgency, no intense need but for the craving of seeing this side of each other, and just living this side of them for the other.

The chill of the night was relaxing, the heat of Rex was comforting, and Noah thought for a moment he just might fall back asleep. But, Noah froze when Rex suddenly leaned in, and Noah could feel a flit, a lick over his lip. Noah loosened. Rex tilted forward and Noah tilted with him as Rex tightened his hold around Noah. Noah could subtly feel Rex's pulse though his chest.

Rex dipped in and took another lick, but Noah pulled away this time. He couldn't control it.

He yawned.

"Oh, sorry, am I boring you?" Rex smirked, completely undeterred.

"Yeah, you are," Noah moved his hand over Rex's cheek again and kissed him once more. When they broke, Rex moved and left a kiss on Noah's cheek, over his eye, and on his forehead. Rex glanced over Noah's shoulder to the clock in his corner. The low, red numbers glowed some minutes past midnight.

"Looks like I gotta run," Rex said, but he made no effort to move.

"Yeah, don't want to owe Bobo a double, huh?" Noah hated to, but he separated his arms from Rex's.

"I already owe him a double combo, now. But, you know, you're worth a triple, Noah. Maybe two doubles without fries. Maybe," Rex scooted closer to the open window, "But, definitely a triple."

"A triple? Wow, Rex, I'm touched," Noah grabbed Rex's gloves and handed them to him, "Your jacket's still here."

Rex pulled the gloves on as he got one leg out of the window, "Keep it for now. Maybe Providence'll let me come back here for it before we leave tomorrow. Or, today, I guess."

"I don't think so, unless Providence thinks you'll need your jacket for India in summer."

"I've been lucky before," Rex pulled his goggles on and stood on the ledge outside Noah's room.

Rex leaned in again to kiss Noah once more, "Later, Noah."

Noah smirked, "See you, Rex."

He watched as Rex jumped back, unfolded his jets and flew over his roof, out of sight. Noah shut his window and locked it, fell back into bed, and stared at the ceiling. The day highlighted in his head. The last set of minutes replayed. They never said it but in between those quiet last lines they shouted everything, I LOVE YOU.

There wasn't any point in actually saying it.

Noah thought about changing into pajamas. Where were they, anyway? It soon didn't matter. Noah was too tired to care now.

As Noah shut his eyes, he licked his lips again, tasting the faint flavors of nachos, pizza, and the sugar of cake. It really wasn't that great of a taste alone, but the memory of it on Rex's lips made him rethink it. Peppers, tomatoes, cheese, salt, vanilla, and Rex. What a weird combination.

He drifted, trying to shake that odd flavoring as it evolved in his mind and tried to let it go. But, as Noah fell asleep, he wondered if he'd have to wait a whole year to taste it again.