For Pengiesama, who requested University Futurefic and also porn.
A/N: Set about a year after my fic "Explosion." Don't know why it's about Christmas, it just is. In my personal headcanon, Jeff and Tony view their relationship in very different ways. In Tony's mind, he is the Sam to Jeff's Frodo. In Jeff's mind, Jeff is the chimp to Tony's Clint Eastwood in "Every Which Way but Loose."
It was all right that Tony broke his robots. Sometimes it was by accident; he would try to talk to them, see their responses to illogical commands, step on them without looking, or fail to realize that the broken electric mixer was actually a camouflage setting for a SpyBot 2000X.
But sometimes it was on purpose. Sometimes Tony lost his patience and grabbed for the first thing that whirred and clicked and commanded more of Jeff's attention than he did, and threw it against the wall with enough force-well, enough force to shatter a SpyBot 2001X.
That was all right, too. In fact, Jeff sort of liked it. He liked broken things better than whole ones, anyway. Whole things didn't need him. Broken things did. Besides, when Tony broke something, that let Jeff know that he was doing something wrong, which he'd never been good at realizing. Tony never threw his robots when he was upset about classes, or his latest project, or unkind words. It was in the Rules, but he wouldn't have done it anyway.
Jeff adjusted his glasses, blinking at the futiley spinning gears and blinking lights that sprawled over the carpet. "Ah. What have I done, then?"
Tony looked hurt, but he wasn't allowed to be angry just because Jeff didn't know why he was upset. That was in the Rules, too. "You accepted the program. Without telling me."
Jeff never swept up the remains of his broken creations. He picked up every screw and piece of plating by hand, taking inventory as he did. Five, six, seven miniature lightbulbs. Three layers of cloaking screens. One chameleon circuit. Twenty-seven screws. At last, he had every last bit laid out on his table, and was able to give Tony his full attention. "I did," he agreed.
"You knew I didn't want you to."
"You did it anyway."
Tony, as always, took pity on him. "It's all right if it doesn't make sense to you. Just tell me what feels right."
Jeff shrugged, uncomfortable with the reason he was forced to give. "Because he's my father. He asked me to take it."
He could hear Tony grinding his teeth from two meters away. "He didn't, though. You know he didn't. If he'd called-"
"That's not his way. The bill he posted said that he was looking for a very bright lad or two that enjoyed building things and didn't mind losing eyebrows, for a period of three mon-"
"I know what it said."
"Well, I'm a bright lad. I'm sure he was talking to me. If I didn't apply, he'd be disappointed."
Once again, Jeff had the awkward feeling that Tony knew more about Jeff than he did himself, that he could hear more in his words than Jeff had meant to say. Or do I mean it after all? Does he know me better than I do? Or is he projecting his emotions onto me? Jeff hated it when Tony did that.
"Jeff, I know you hate it when you think I'm projecting emotions onto you, but this is different. This is against the Rules."
Jeff ducked his head, then knelt down to pick up the glasses that had fallen off his face. "Is it? I know you don't want me working with Doctor Andonuts, but-"
"What else were you supposed to do this winter holiday, Jeff?"
Oh. Oh, that was against the Rules. Number 36: Any previously-agreed-upon activity involving more than four hours' travel, six hours time committment total, or the involvement of third parties classified as "important" requires a conversation prior to cancellation, which must end with either agreement on the parts of both primary parties or capitulation on behalf of one party, to be followed by Compromise (see Paragraph 12 for complete outline of Compromise). "Oh. I am sorry. Erm..." He racked his brain to find a suitable item for compromise. "Maybe the next model of-"
"Jeff Andonuts, you wouldn't dare suggest that I bring a robotic facsmile of you to have Christmas with my parents in Thistleland. I'm sure of that."
Maybe he really does know me better than I do. Jeff shifted, stared at things that weren't Tony, and tried to look as though he'd been thinking of anything else in the world. Even though it was totally unfair of Tony-the Jeff Facsimile was at least as good at interpreting facial expressions as the real thing, even if it did have a voice everyone said was "creepy"-and even though sending a robot instead of himself wasn't precisely against the Rules-except the one about deliberately causing the other primary party unnecesary distress-Jeff didn't bring up the idea again. "I've already accepted. I sent in my resume this morning."
Tony opened his mouth, shut it again, and shook his head. "All right. I hope he comes through for you. I really do."
Jeff blinked. He'd been certain that Tony was going to argue. That showed how good he was at reading people, he supposed. "Thank you. Terribly decent, really."
He tried to reach out for Tony's hand, to try to make it right one of the only ways he knew how, but Tony pulled away.
When they packed that night, they used separate suitcases, instead of Tony stuffing little snacks and oddments into Jeff's. Jeff never minded; Tony would volunteer to carry it in any case. Tony was cheerful, talking about class and a book he'd read and ice skating on the frozen lake outside his parents' house. He smiled and patted Jeff's hair. "Next year, you'll see. If you aren't busy, of course."
And the next morning, "Are you sure you don't want me to drop you off before I drive up to Thistleland? It'll only take a couple hours in the car. No? Are you sure? Well, all right, then."
There was a hug, but it felt perfunctory, even to Jeff. After all, the vast majority of his hugging experience involved Tony. There was something wrong with Tony, and even Jeff could see it. No, not with Tony-with the thing he'd come to think of as JeffandTony. Ah, well. He could fix it later.
Scrape. Scrape. Squish. Clink.
"Tony, darling, stop playing with your food."
Tony's head snapped up as his fork clanked down to the plate. "Sorry, Mum. I wasn't thinking."
Tony's mother pursed her lips. She always wore lipstick that matched her hair, even inside the house, even on Christmas Eve. "Is it him? Your young man?"
"He was supposed to be here. He promised. We had an agreement."
She nodded sympathetically, then went back to her beef wellington. "You'll talk him around. You're a good boy."
A slab of meat plopped down on Tony's plate, pushing his potatoes to the side. His father withdrew the fork back to his own plate, winking. "Sure he'll be happier if you put some more meat on those bones, son."
Tony was fairly sure that putting more meat on his bones wouldn't solve the problem, but that was his parents for you.
"We were looking forward to meeting him at last. He always seems to be sort of missing whenever we came to Snowwood."
"He wasn't avoiding you, Mum. He was saving the world."
"What, every time? He can't even take the time to meet your parents?"
"It isn't like that." Tony felt the urge rise to defend Jeff, to tell off anyone who would insult or deride the clever boy with the quiet fire inside. "He had to help his father, and that's all there is to it."
His mother had run into that particular sore spot on more than one occasion before, and backed off quickly. "Well, as you say. I'm sure we'll meet him eventually."
"Maybe." Tony muttered the word darkly, pushing at his potatoes with the back of his fork.
His parents both sighed at once. Even looking down at his plate, Tony knew they were exchanging a Look. "Darling, it isn't that we're unsympathetic."
"It's only that, well, it's Christmas."
"We don't like seeing you like this."
"Is it really all that important that he be here? We've had jolly times at Christmas without him before, haven't we?"
Tony gaped at them. "Wh-what? You think I'm upset because I don't have him here?"
Another Look. "Well, aren't you?"
"No! Well, yes but that's not-you don't understand!" He looked from one to the other. How could they? Obviously they didn't understand Jeff. Worse still...what if Jeff had thought the same?
The beef on his plate smelled fresh and savory. Crackling pops came from the orange-red glow of the fireplace. There were rods for marshmallows next to it, just a few feet from the outermost skirt of the tree. A few large presents huddled under the tree, and he knew without looking that they'd all have his name on the tag.
He pushed his chair back, called an apology over his shoulder, and bolted. His car was out of the drive before the chair had stopped wobbling.
How could you, Jeff? How could you expect me to enjoy Christmas at home with my family when you were going to be in a cold, sterile laboratory with a man who doesn't remember your name half of the time? How could you ask me to pull crackers with my Mum when you've never had one, and you won't let me share mine? How could you think I was angry because I wanted you for myself?
At least it isn't hot.
It was small comfort, as far as thoughts went. The bitter cold of Winters wasn't anything to shrug off. It seeped through Jeff's coat easily, chilling him right through the thick wool gabardine of his Foxbridge University jacket and trousers. The cold stone of the doorstep had numbed his posterior clean through, and his hands had started twitching several minutes earlier.
Boots crunched on gravel. Jeff's eyes burned behind his glasses. "You were right," he said, and rubbed his hands together briskly. "Fine. Next time I'll listen. Are you happy?"
That was too far, and he knew it, but the shame and anger that weren't Tony's fault were desperate for release. It wasn't in the Rules, but Jeff had taken out his feelings that way enough times that he knew Tony wouldn't mind.
Tony never minded when Jeff's words hurt him. He liked putting people back together. He shifted his weight, and gravel crunched again. Jeff saw him peering at the darkened laboratory, and the little square of adhesive halfway up the door.
The paper was crumpled in Jeff's hands. Tony took it without a word, his eyes scanning the scrawl.
Lab Closed for Research
For Robotic Emergencies, contact me in the past. I will have been wearing a lab coat.
Jeff said nothing. He knew Tony would see that Dr. Andonuts had scribbled his note on the back of his son's resume.
Tony hit him hard around the shoulders, slender and warm, clinging for all he was worth. He was saying a lot of things about Dr. Andonuts, about the meaning of Christmas, about what parents and children owed each other, but Jeff didn't care. Specifically, he didn't care what words Tony was saying. He cared that Tony was saying them, and loved him again, and was holding him like JeffandTony had never been broken.
Tony's father was thrilled that he fixed the antique radio, and found several more degrees of color on the new television set. Tony's mother gave him a mince pie and twenty-four Christmas biscuits, and told him a story about growing up as a Junior Sweet Thistle, whatever that was.
Tony explained about Black Bread (which was not black), Christmas stockings (which were not for wearing on the feet) and mistletoe (which...he rather enjoyed). He was given a tour of the manor house, which appeared to consist mainly of empty rooms with a lot of child's drawings on the walls. One had been taken over by a flowering vine that Tony warned him not to touch, upon pain of dreary hallucinations. "She's been touchy since we pruned her mate," he explained, eyes shining with pride.
"And...well, this is my room."
The bed was far larger than the pallet Jeff had used in his dimmest memories of Dr. Andonuts' lab. It was about four times the size of the twin beds at Snowwood. If they were lucky, it might be big enough for the night Jeff had planned.
He took Tony's face in his hands. They hadn't really gotten warm through the entire ride from Foggyland, even held in front of the heater while Tony drove. The fire in the Dining Hall hadn't thawed them. One touch to Tony's flushed cheeks, however, and Jeff forgot they'd ever been cold.
He kissed Tony, claimed his lips, pulled him close. It's not fair. I take charge of Jeff. Tony takes charge of Tony. Tony takes charge of JeffandTony. To be honest, Tony also took care of Jeff, most of the time, but neither of them minded that.
Jeff had never found himself attractive, but that was all right, because Tony did, and it was only his opinion that mattered. Jeff was just pleased that he got to keep kissing Tony, keep touching him, keep pressing him down into the bed even after days of being wrong and hurtful.
He knocked Tony's hat to the floor-against the Rules, but no one was complaining-and buried a hand in thick red curls, making Tony let out a breathy little noise. Jeff tilted Tony's head to the side and kissed down the faint stubble of his jawline, his neck, his should-well, he stripped off Tony's shirt and then conquered the shoulder.
He'd read a romance novel, once. Tony and his friends from the Dramatic Society had been reading silly passages from it, and it had been left in their room. At the time, Jeff hadn't known how incorrect the text had been. He knew now.
Tony's skin didn't taste like moonlight, or rose petals. It tasted like skin, and salt, and smoke from the Yule log. Jeff loved how much skin Tony had; he never thought about his own that way. With Tony, he liked to explore the skin of his collarbone, the area below his ribcage, the back of his shoulder.
Tony laughed, then gasped as Jeff's lips found a sensitive spot, near his spine. "Giving yourself another anatomy lesson?"
Jeff smiled against his skin, trailing the tip of his tongue up one shoulderblade. "You know I need the practice. Besides, I owe you."
"Owe me? For-oh, Jeff!-what?"
One of Jeff's hands worked the buttons of Tony's trousers in the space of two heartbeats. He had entirely too much practice at pulling off the other boy's clothes, he thought fondly. "For breaking the Rules."
Tony kicked off his trousers, then arched up against his lover. "I don't care."
"I do. Rules are rules, and the Rules are the most important ones of all."
Tony bit his lip, green eyes pleading. "Jeff, are you going to tease me?"
"Of course not. It isn't your birthday."
"Please, be quiet. I'm going to take charge."
Tony's eyes flashed, dark and hungry as Jeff divested himself of the last remnants of clothing. Once, Jeff wouldn't have known how to make Tony writhe, to beg, to smoulder. He was a man now, and knew what it was to touch and be touched. Usually, he was content to defer to Tony-the redhead knew how to do all the things they both wanted to do, and make certain they all got done right. Jeff was a willing participant, but not a very proactive one. That should change.
Jeff covered Tony's body with his own, lean and so much taller after puberty had finished her dirty work. His hands ran up Tony's sides, down to flick over his chest, softly caressing his belly. "Jeff," Tony tried to say, but Jeff took him in another bruising kiss.
Tony's hair wasn't like silk, like the woman in the romance novel. It was soft, but strong, and a little coarse. Jeff liked to grab it, and did.
Tony gasped, bucked up against him, and hard length met hard length. Both of them groaned, hips snapping together to try and prolong that delicious contact for as long as possible.
For once, Jeff recovered first. It was only fair, he told himself. It was Christmas, and he owed Tony a compromise. By the time he pulled away, Tony was so hard he was leaking, and Jeff smiled again. He wasn't always good at people, but he could learn from past experiences. He had a lot of experiences with Tony. He ran through them like a checklist.
He likes it when I nibble on his ear, just a little.
Slightly crooked teeth grazed along the shell of an ear.
Tony gripped the bedsheets.
That spot on the back of his knee-
He arched in surprise, delight. "Jeff, please!"
When I rub my thumb just under the head, where it's most sensitive...
Tony ripped the bottom sheet off the bed, bucking forward until the shaft slid between Jeff's hands.
He said we're not doing it without oil again. Ah, there it is.
Tony shuddered, a low moan spilling out from his lips. He pushed down on Jeff's fingers, eyes half-closed.
But most of all-
"Talk to me," Tony breathed. "I love it when you talk to me."
How did he know I'm running through it? It didn't matter. He wasn't any good at dirty words, but Tony didn't care if they were dirty. He just liked the words. Jeff cleared his throat, then whispered in Tony's ear, "I can't wait to take you."
"Mmm. Neither can I." His accent was thicker up in Thistleland-or maybe that was the arousal making it husky.
"I love the way you feel." Jeff crooked his fingers, watching Tony's face go flushed, pale, and flushed even deeper.
"Oh, Holy-come on, Jeff, it isn't my birthday! Take me, please!"
Jeff had to take a few deep breaths before sliding between Tony's spread legs. If there was something more arousing than Tony pleading for Jeff to slide deep inside of him, he'd never heard it. Hell, it might kill him.
Jeff kissed him again, sucking hard on Tony's bottom lip as he worked his fingers out and aligned himself. He paused, just to make the waiting unbearably good. When he thought he might die if he didn't, that Tony might claw his back to shreds, he moved gently forward.
He couldn't tell who was moaning, who was shouting, where that panting was coming from. It was always like this, no matter how many times he'd been inside his lover. It was never anything less than blinding, crystallized, as chemicals from his genitals set off signals-
"Stop scienceing at it!" Tony growled, seeing the faraway look in Jeff's eyes. "It's bloody good and perfect, and it's Christmas, so we're going to finish having each other before you start talking about dopamine again!"
There was Tony again, taking charge of JeffandTony. It was right. Everything about it was right, and bloody good and perfect, just as he'd said. Besides, he couldn't have stopped in a hundred years. He was buried in Tony's tight heat, and Tony's legs were trembling and trying to squeeze him, and maybe the woman in the romance novel wasn't wrong after all. Maybe it did shatter the world, to be inside the one who made you feel whole.
He couldn't think of any words, not even for Tony. Tony was saying them all, but none of them made sense to Jeff. Then again, the Foggyland national anthem wouldn't have made sense right now, not when his hips were snapping into Tony's with every delicious thrust, not when he could smell the sweat and shampoo and had he used popcorn oil? And it didn't matter, because no one could be inside Tony for this long without losing all control, not that they were ever going to get the chance, because he's mine!
He shouted something as he came. He did that a lot. Sometimes it was embarrassing afterwards. Usually, Tony kept whatever it was to himself. This time, Tony wouldn't have been able to tell if he'd screamed out in Gaelic, because he was following Jeff over the edge with a ragged cry. It always hit them different to each other; Jeff sweated and said random words, while Tony shook uncontrollably for the better part of a minute.
They breathed together, slowly returning back to normal, and Jeff loved that it was only JeffandTony in the bed, in the dark. Jeff tensed suddenly, all too aware that Tony didn't do well in the dark after Stonehenge.
"It's all right," Tony said softly. "It's fine if you're with me."
Jeff sagged in relief. He didn't have far to sag, as he was already draped across Tony's chest, but he gave it an effort. "Then I'll be here."
Jeff knew his Tony. After a few mintues, he got up and flicked on a light anyway, and pretended that it was all for himself. Tony's smile was worth the effort.
A bit of unease stirred at his stomach. "Tony? Do your parents, er, know that I'm staying in your room?"
"Of course. Where else would you stay?"
Jeff rubbed at his eyes, suddenly quite sleepy." "I dunno. The guest room? You seem to have a lot of them."
"Don't be ridiculous. They'd never put my man in the guest room. What an insult."
Jeff was quiet for a moment. "They know, then?"
"Since we were thirteen."
"What? I didn't know until we were sixteen."
He could hear the grin in Tony's voice. "You were a bit slow on the uptake."
"Of my own relationship?"
"Can't win 'em all, Jeff. Isn't it just enough that we got there eventually?"
Jeff closed his eyes. There were still misunderstandings, and problems, and issues that probably wouldn't go away, maybe ever. Still...
Tony hefted a clockwork music box from his bedside table and passed it to Jeff. "I hate the tune this thing makes."
Jeff's mouth turned up at one corner. Without warning, he threw the music box at Tony's closed door, where it shattered. "I'll fix it."
"I like it better broken."
"So do I."