another year, another update! my apologies for the length between chapters. so much has happened! i've returned to america after a year of teaching in china and have set up at a new job and been dealing with lots of crazy stuff including working on a novel that i hope to finish before the year's end but in any case if you're still here, thank you! i truly appreciate your readership and continued support of this story.

special thanks to my reviewers: Bitblondetoday, crystal97, bronytimelord, whatthehellwasithinkin, PEPSICOLASHIPPER, . .laven, surprise mofos, Dante Morgan, and all the anons! much fewer now than before haha, but that's okay. i appreciate every review regardless!

there is nsfw in this chapter! you are welcome.

The Figurehead of Queer Justice

John stirred and blearily blinked into the dark room, disorientated from his position on the floor. He wondered for a moment what he was doing down there, and vaguely noted the blanket covering him. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he rolled onto his side only to find himself face-to-face with Dave.

His boyfriend was still asleep, mouth open and drooling a bit. John felt a burst of warmth in his chest at the sight, and couldn't help the quiet snort that left his throat. He sat there for a while, just watching Dave sleep and smiling to himself at how fond the other boy made him feel.

Only when he started nodding off again did John finally reach for his PDA to check the time and discovered it was three in the morning. Yawning, he reached out and gently pushed Dave's bangs out of his face. Dave immediately stirred, and for a second John was afraid he'd get freaked out and jump away like he had earlier that day when his dad knocked on the door.

"Dave," he managed to croak out, groggy 3am voice very apparent. Dave tensed for a moment, but then slowly and sweetly he relaxed, leaning into John's touch. "Let's move to the bed," John suggested in a soft murmur, and he felt Dave nod into his hand.

Sluggishly the two boys crawled more than anything over to John's bed, and once in it John wrapped the blanket around them and felt his heart swell happily when Dave nuzzled close to him.

The impending court case had never felt further away.

Barely four hours passed before John's PDA buzzed and woke him up. He wrestled it out of his shorts pocket, since neither he nor Dave had changed out of their day clothes before falling asleep. The sun was already up, so John didn't need to squint at the bright screen as he pulled it to his face and opened the text message from his father.

Carolyn called. She says she has news for you. I told her you are sleeping. Come down when you wake up.

John groaned a bit, anxiety flaring up in his chest. He'd been hoping to spend a pleasant, stress-free day with his boyfriend, but apparently it just wasn't in the cards until the court case was over.

He looked over and watched Dave's sleeping face for a long moment, appreciating the way his bangs fell in his eyes, the little freckles on his nose and cheeks standing out against his hilariously pale skin as the morning light came in through the blinds. John sighed fondly, the anxiety in his chest slowly morphing into happy butterflies. Everything would be okay now that Dave was here. He knew it.

John pressed a slow, soft kiss to Dave's forehead before leaving the bed. Dave was bound to be exhausted after traveling yesterday, not to mention everything that had been happening to him recently. John figured he'd let his poor boyfriend sleep in as late as he wanted.

It was sure to be a hot day that day, as the house already felt warm that morning as John yawned and trudged down the stairs. There were still plenty of cakes lining the kitchen, but there was also plenty more space on the table where Dad had laid out place mats for three. Just the sight of it made John smile a little despite his nervousness at whatever it is Carolyn had wanted to tell him.

"Dad?" he asked, going straight for the fridge and pulling out the orange juice. "What'd Carolyn say?"

"Good morning, son," Dad said.

John snorted and poured his orange juice into a cup as he replied, "Good morning, Dad. What did Carolyn say?"

"She didn't give me any specifics," Dad remarked, reading over the newspaper at the table with toast and coffee in front of him. "She did inform me that it wasn't anything bad, though, so you aren't to worry. Where's Dave?"

John hummed as he sat down across from his father, stealing one of his pieces of toast. "He's still sleeping. I guess he's pretty tired. Do you mind if I borrow the car later? There's that concert tonight in Seattle that I bought tickets for, and I wanted to show him around anyways."

"Are you sure you want to go by yourself? Will you be safe? Maybe I should come with you."

"Eugh, Dad, why—" Dad gave him a smirk from over his newspaper, and John rolled his eyes. "Dad, you're ridiculous. I hope that's a yes!"

"It's a yes, son. Just make sure you're careful, and stick with Dave the whole time."

This time it was John's turn to smirk at Dad. "Like I'm gonna leave him alone while he's here," he quipped. "And don't wait up for us! Concerts always get out late and we'll be home before 1am at the latest." Dad gave a small laugh.

"Alright, alright. Go give Carolyn a call, please," he ordered.

John got up and went to the house phone, trying to remember not to worry but somehow finding it hard not to. There'd just been too many instances of bad news for him to not feel at least a little trepidation at calling Carolyn. However, when she answered she seemed cheery.

"Good morning, John, how are you?" she asked pleasantly. John pursed his lips and leaned against the counter.

"I'm fine, I guess."

"I heard your boyfriend has finally made it to the city," she remarked.

"Yeah, he flew in yesterday."

"Of course," she said. "Then I'll be sure to make this quick so that you can get back to him. I've talked with Daniel's attorney and although his parents have hesitations about it, he has agreed to meet with you tomorrow at 10:00am."

John's eyebrows rose in surprise. He'd been so wrapped up with Dave being there that he'd honestly forgotten he'd wanted to meet with Daniel. "Oh!" he said. "Really? Um, well that's good, I guess! Is that all? Not that I'm not grateful, but you didn't need to talk to me personally for this, right—?"

"John, what is the real reason you wanted to meet with Daniel?"

John paused, voice suddenly caught in his throat as he recalled the way Daniel had approached him only a couple days ago. He forced a laugh, hoping he sounded casual. "What do you mean? I told you I just wanted to see if talking one-on-one instead of trying to intimidate him would do help."

"That doesn't explain why that was your suggestion after I advised you against settling out of court," she argued. John was glad he was facing away from his father, because he scowled. Advised wasn't exactly the word he would choose in this situation. It seemed to him more that she had decided it and didn't care what John had to say about the matter.

Just then Dave walked into the room, rubbing his eyes from underneath his shades and letting out a big yawn. John glanced at him, and Dave gave him a small frown that John could only guess was meant to indicate worry before Dave sat down across from Dad. John tried not to listen to their conversation as he replied to Carolyn.

"There isn't really anything to explain about that. You know how hard this whole case has been on me. I was just tired, is all."

Carolyn sighed. "John, I wish I believed you. I really do. I do know exactly how hard this case has been on you. You had to go to the hospital for all the stress it's caused you, after all." John swallowed and had to force himself not to draw his attention to where his father and Dave were laughing at the table at something from their conversation. "But it's because I remember that experience that I know you wouldn't have suggested such a thing if there wasn't a real reason for it. Your dad told me how you begged him to let you continue with the media and interviews and all. You're serious about this whole thing John, I know you are. So why would you decide suddenly that you'd prefer to settle outside of court? And how does that relate to meeting Daniel tomorrow? You know if anything happens it's best to tell me so that we can take care of it together, right, John?"

Hands shaking slightly as they gripped the phone, John tried his best to control his breathing before replying, "I promise, nothing happened. Everything I told you already is the truth."

Only silence and the distant white noise of Carolyn's office in the background answered him then. He swallowed again, and was suddenly glad that mind reading wasn't a real thing. Finally, just when John was going to ask if she was still there, she sighed again. "Alright John, if that's what you're sticking to, then please do stick to it. Be at my office tomorrow before 10, please."

John nodded even though she couldn't see him. "10:00am, got it. We'll see you there!"

He hung up before she could say anything else.

"What'd she have to say, son?" Dad asked, having moved over to the stove to make some pancakes for the two boys. Dave's eyes were obviously on him even despite the shades on his face.

"Not much! You know how I asked the other day if I could have a meeting with Daniel? Well, he agreed to meet and we're supposed to be at Carolyn's office tomorrow at 10."

"I'm coming," Dave cut in. "No way in fu – heck I'm gonna let you face that – butthole alone," he said, stammering over the places he would've preferred to insert one or multiple expletives. John's dad being in the room was definitely an impediment on his natural sailor's mouth. John snorted loudly and walked over to his boyfriend, sidling in next to him and putting his face close to Dave's, excited by the blush on the other boy's cheeks.

"Didn't we talk about this already, Dave? I'm supposed to talk to him alone. He'll definitely feel intimidated if he sees you." With that John leaned in even closer, fingers touching Dave's hand and sucking on Dave's lower lip. He could practically feel Dave freaking out, scared of Dad Egbert turning around and seeing them like that, and although John thought it was really funny, he pulled away slowly, their lips dragging together in a way that made his stomach do all sorts of flips. He knew his own face was likely as hot as Dave's looked, but he grinned nevertheless. "Don't worry, dude. Nothing's gonna happen. Even if you're just waiting with my dad I'll be reassured to know you're there."

Dave gulped subtly but immediately regained his composure, much easier than he managed to the day before. "You're darn right you will be, I'm gonna cheer you on so hard you won't even realize you're alone in the room with that butthole, you'll look around like, 'oh Dave isn't literally right behind me? I could've sworn I felt his presence.'"

John snorted and pushed him playfully before landing him with a smirk. "Hey, that reminds me of a certain dare I made the other day…"

"Don't worry, babe, I'm good for it," Dave said, smirking right back. John felt himself blush and snorted out laughter.

"Oh my god, Dave, are you serious?" he laughed, just as Dad placed two plates of pancakes down in front of them.

"Alright, boys, hurry and eat if you want to hit the road," he said. John and Dave smiled at each other and started shoveling the food into their mouths.

"So this is where civilization is," Dave commented as they walked hand in hand down Pike Street towards the public market.

"I told you we'd have to go to Seattle to see your precious high rises," John quipped with a laugh.

"Well thank you, Egbert, you're really making the transition northward much easier on my poor city boy sensibilities." John laughed so hard he couldn't help snorting, which only made Dave laugh as well. As they came closer to Pike Place, John started getting excited, tugging on Dave's hand.

"Oh, come on, let's go watch them throw the fish!"

"Wait, what?"

Kids were running around excitedly from station to station, but Dave didn't even notice them for all of the instruments everywhere. Even with his shades on, John could somehow still see the stars in his eyes.

"Dude, when you said you wanted to take me to a museum, this was not what I was expecting," he said, picking up the drumsticks that a little boy had just put down to make a few experimental hits on the snare drum.

"Pfft, I mean I guess Experience Music Project isn't really a museum in the traditional sense but I don't know what else to call it!" He leaned in close with a teasing smile. "I knew you'd like it, though." To his surprise, Dave leaned in the rest of the way to give him a quick smooch on the lips.

"There's a piano over there, you wanna play me a song?" he asked, nodding in the direction of where a younger teen was playing Chopsticks to the embarrassment of the girl with her.

"You know I have a piano at home, right? Besides, I wouldn't want to steal the piano away from that girl, she's clearly a master," John teased, and they both watched in amusement as the piano-playing girl's friend made a sound of embarrassment and tugged on the girl's sleeve, complaining about those boys over there making fun of them. The piano-playing girl was grinned widely when she looked over in John and Dave's direction, and her eyes immediately went wide.

"Oh, aren't you that boy from the news?" she asked. John flushed red and then immediately went pale again. He should've known he'd be recognized eventually. Dave tensed beside him, looking all the world like he was about to get into a battle position.

"Uh, y-yeah, that's me—"

The girl turned to her friend and grabbed her hand in a fit of excitement. "Kirsty, that's him! He's the one who's fighting against the bullies and standing up for gay people!" The girl named Kirsty's eyes lit up, and they both turned to John and Dave, who froze like deer in headlights. "Can we take a picture with you?" the piano-girl asked.

After a moment, Dave snorted, and relieved, John grinned. "Sure," he said, much to the bouncing excitement of the two girls. The piano-girl pulled out her iPhone and they both bounced over to them, and John felt a strange happiness as the girls pressed up next to him and held out the camera to take a selfie.

"I can take it for you, if you want," Dave offered. Both girls turned to look at him.

"Are you his boyfriend?" Kirsty asked him.

Dave blushed and scratched his cheek in embarrassment, but nevertheless said, "Yeah." John felt butterflies expanding in his chest even at the single syllable.

"You should get in the picture, too!" the piano-girl exclaimed. Dave frowned a little but walked over to stand behind John, pressing his face in close to John's and making a duck face into the camera. The girls giggled and took a few pictures before moving away enough to look at them and laugh. "My face looks so fat," the piano girl whined.

"Lara, your face is always cute, shh," Kirsty said, and the two girls smiled at each other in that close, intimate way that John and Dave had been doing ever since yesterday morning when Dave's flight got in. Something seemed to click in John's head.

"Wait, are you two…"

Lara's and Kirsty's pinky fingers were clasped together as they both turned to look at John at the same time. "We're in love," Lara stated confidently. Kirsty flushed and hit her arm gently in embarrassment. "We haven't told our parents or anything, but seeing you on the news made us both feel more like what we're feeling isn't wrong."

Kirsty was still bright red, but she said, "Maybe someday we can be brave enough to stand up to bullies just like you're doing."

"Lara, your dad's ready to get lunch! Let's go!" came a woman's call from the other end of the room. The two girls looked back at her momentarily before turning back to John just for one last second, making steady eye contact with him.

"Thank you," Lara said quietly. And like that, the two girls turned and ran in the direction of Lara's mother.

John stood frozen to the spot for a long moment then, a flurry of emotions buzzing strongly in his chest. It almost felt like he'd been punched, and now the breath had been knocked out of him, but somehow not in a bad way, not in a way that hurt. In fact, he was surprised when he remembered to breathe in that it was so shaky, and he brought his hand to his face only to feel dampness around his eyes.

"John, are you…" Dave started, but when John turned back to look at him, he couldn't help the big smile that took over his face. At the sight of him, Dave released his own shaky, fond breath of relief, and offered John a smile of his own. "Let's go, Egbert."

John squeezed Dave's hand hard as they walked out of the EMP, knowing with more certainty in that moment than he had ever since this whole struggle had begun that he was doing the right thing.

Dave didn't seem as excited by being at the top of the Space Needle as John had hoped he would, though he did still take pictures of the scenery on his iPhone. John pouted dramatically.

"Bro, is this not super cool?" Dave glanced at him and smirked.

"It's super cool, baby." John blew a raspberry in his direction for a response, which delightfully made Dave chuckle. "I mean, beautiful view of the city is pretty much par for the course at my apartment. The view itself isn't all that incredible." John pouted again, until Dave turned his camera in John's direction. "You're pretty incredible, though," Dave said.

John rolled his eyes and blushed, allowing Dave to take photos of him for only a couple seconds before walking over to Dave and taking his phone out of his hand. "Let's take one together!" he demanded. He changed Dave's camera to be front-facing and positioned the both of them next to the railing so that downtown Seattle would show up in the background before nuzzling up close to Dave.

At the last second, John turned his head so that his lips pressed against Dave's cheek. The phone's shutter-click sounded out, and Dave and John both snorted out laughter.

"We gotta send that to the girls," Dave suggested.

"Oh yeah, dude," John agreed. "We're making this happen."

–- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering tentacleTherapist [TT] –

- turntechGodhead [TG] sent[IMG_4130]

TT: Goodness me! How unexpectedly chaste!

–- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering gardenGnostic [GG] –

- turntechGodhead [TG] sent[IMG_4130]

GG: :00000!

Both boys laughed, especially hard at Rose's comment, though John did feel himself blush and felt heat building up in his stomach as he glanced at Dave. It was pretty chaste.

Eventually they both turned back to the view of the city. "That EMP place was pretty damn cool," Dave admitted. John looked down at the nearby arches of the Pacific Science Center, and suddenly an idea struck him.

"Oh, Dave. I've got something even cooler in store for you. Just you wait."

Dave's mouth had been hanging open the entire time they were in the bug room at the Pacific Science Center, and he had been staring at the same dead bug for a good five minutes. John hung back behind him a bit, at once admiring and cursing his own skill in finding something Dave truly enjoyed. They'd been in the same room slowly making their way through all the bugs for at least forty-five minutes.

But, Dave was so awestruck, John supposed it was worth it in the end.

"So have you ever been to a concert before?"

Dave was a little hard to hear over the cacophony that was the Key Arena full of intensely excited fans. They were pretty far back—John hadn't been lying when he'd said they were shitty seats—so John took it as an opportunity to lean in really close to Dave. It was partially to hear him better, but mostly because he liked leaning in close to him.

"Not really," he said. "Usually I just go to symphonies and stuff like that with my dad." Dave snorted and took John's hand in his, holding it in his lap. John felt a rush of butterflies at the motion.

"You're such a nerd, dude," he laughed quietly. John leaned against him hard enough to push him, which had them both laughing.

"Okay whatever! You're the one who spent a whole hour in the bug room, so that is kind of hilarious coming from you."

"Dead stuff is awesome! There's really nothing else to say on the matter!" Dave said so emphatically that John burst into laughter.

"Uh huh, sure, Dave," John teased, pressing his lips to Dave's cheek. "What about you? You've been to concerts before, right?"

"Not really? At least not like this. Sometimes I sneak into the clubs where Bro DJs and watch from backstage or wherever. They're pretty lax about it down south, so I don't usually get kicked out. But I don't do that very often, anyways."

John hummed in soft surprise. "That'd never be allowed up here."

Just then, the lights went down, and the roar of the crowd was near deafening. Even though they were in the seated area, everyone around them stood up, many screaming with excitement. John and Dave stood as well.

The first note of the band's first song rang out through the stadium, and even though John wouldn't have thought it possible, the screaming response became even more ecstatic. The energy in the room was electrifying. John found himself screaming along with the crowd, instinctively bouncing on his feet to the rhythm of the song.

Most of the fans were shouting along to the lyrics, and John did so as well, at least the lyrics he knew. As the concert went on, even Dave loosened up a lot and yelled and jumped with John. The air in the stadium was hot and humid, most of the concert-goers dressed as scantily as possible for the summer weather. John somehow found it all invigorating.

By the end of the concert, John and Dave were both covered in sweat, and despite all the jumping and singing, John didn't feel tired at all. In fact, quite the opposite—despite how smelly and dirty they both were, John practically hung off Dave all the way back to the car, wanting to be closer, wanting to touch him, wanting

They fell into bed together, Dad having fortunately already gone to bed, and kissed deeply between helping each other remove their shirts. John wasn't sure how much of his high temperature came from the summer heat and how much from Dave's skin—the other boy was like a furnace, the sweat that had mostly dried on the drive home now replenishing itself as John ran his hands over his body.

"John," Dave moaned quietly, "are we – is this, I mean, happening?"

John kissed his neck wetly, reveling at the feeling of Dave's skin on his own, fingers slowly moving along his torso, wanting to memorize every dip and contour, every freckle.

"I think it's happening," he breathed, appreciating the slight harshness to Dave's own breathing. "Do you want it to happen?"

"Fuck yeah," Dave whispered, and John moaned when Dave's hips grinded up against his own. "John, it's ludicrous how much I want you."

John tugged on Dave's earlobe with his teeth and leaned into his touches. "You have no idea how happy I am to hear that," John murmured in his ear. He reached down to work on Dave's jeans button, but didn't really have the dexterity to do it without looking, and with a laugh sat up a bit so that he could focus. Dave let out a breathy laugh as well, and lifted his hips to help John pull down his pants.

"You really are adorable," he said. John was pretty sure he hadn't been trying to tease, but he pushed Dave playfully and leant down to blow raspberries on his stomach, anyways. Dave yelped out a laugh and quickly covered his mouth both out of embarrassment and not wanting to accidentally wake up Dad Egbert. John grinned and pulled his pants down the rest of the way.

"Serves you right for trying to call me adorable," he whispered in a giggling voice. Dave pouted at him and reached up for John's pants in turn.

"It really ain't my fault you're cute, dude. Embarrassing me won't change that." John flushed bright red, both from Dave's words and the way Dave's hands dragged over his ass as he pushed John's shorts down. He made a soft, needy noise in his throat.

"Dave," John whispered, and with a hefty amount of embarrassment he added, "I'm really not cute."

Dave pulled John down to him and John nuzzled his face into Dave's neck, breathing hard as Dave grinded against him. It felt way better like this, with Dave moving with him, and John started to wonder why either of them were worried about who would be better at seducing the other when they came together so naturally, when both of them felt that tug of need for each other equally.

"I love you," John breathed. Dave's fingers ran through John's messy hair, and he motioned for John to look at him. His eyes showed so much of his adoration that John felt like he couldn't breathe. Dave kissed him deeply for a long time then as they continued to thrust against each other moaning quietly into each other's mouths. Only when Dave pulled away only slightly did John feel more than hear him whisper, "I love you, too."