A/N: I am blown away by the sweet responses to this story. I'm so thankful to those who are reading it and I hope I don't let you down with this chapter. It's a little bit longer than most of my chapters (and by "a little bit," I mean it's twice as long), but I think it's got a lot of crucial stuff in it. I tried to edit it down as much as I could, but alas.

I hope you like the fourth chapter! Anyone is welcome to come talk to me on my Tumblr, which is linked on my profile. I actually casted this story with fake actors that I provided some reference pictures for, if anyone is interested. There will also be a gag reel over there. They might be sort of buried in text posts and reblogs, but I'd be happy to direct you to them if you drop the request in my ask box.

Warning: Possibly triggering to victims of abuse and those who have had bad experiences within the BDSM lifestyle/scene.

The characters in this story do not belong to me and they are well above legal age.


Chapter Four

"It's not about Stan."

"I'm sure it's not. I'm sure his personalized ringtone in your phone means nothing."

Wendy rolls her eyes, but doesn't turn away from Bebe, who is carefully sweeping a mascara brush over Wendy's already dark eyelashes. Bebe bites her lip with all the concentration of an artist over her finest canvas, and none of her normal dominatrix elegance. The blonde should look statuesque and intimidating in her busty, black corset and leather pants, shiny boots with tall heels laced all the way up her calves. Kenny might be a little biased, but he thinks she just looks hopelessly in love. He can see it in everything she does, especially the perfect purple lines she already drew across Wendy's eyelids, where she'd wielded the eyeliner like she was composing a masterpiece. His fellow Dom's grip on the brush tightens at the mention of Stan's name and her own shadowy eyes dart over to Kenny for a moment, but he pretends not to notice. He should spare her feelings and leave Stan Marsh out of their conversation, but he doesn't want to go out to this club anymore than Bebe does. Not with them, anyway.

"And I'm sure it was your idea to go out tonight," he adds.

"It was Kyle's, actually," Wendy says firmly, finally turning her face away from Bebe's ministrations to frown at Kenny. Bebe just sighs and sets the mascara down on the dresser a little harder than necessary, taking a step away from the other girl's stool. She crosses her arms over the intricate lacing of her top as she leans back against Wendy's boudoir, giving Kenny a look that very clearly says, 'This better be good.' And suddenly she looks very dominating again, as if Wendy being out of her eyesight is enough to set her free.

Kenny raises his eyebrows at her. "Kyle's?" he exclaims, as if he'd forgotten the name. In actuality, that name has been polluting his mind for the past two weeks, and he hated every moment of it.

"Yes, Kyle's," Wendy snaps, stuffing the bottoms of her jeans into her ankle boots a little unsuccessfully. Kenny is sort of surprised when Bebe doesn't lean down to do it for her. "My new roommate, remember? The guy you practically assaulted two weekends ago?"

"I didn't assault anyone," Kenny argues half-heartedly, because he might have. "I'm not the one who bullied the guy into a living arrangement after getting coffee, like, three times."

"It was more than three times," Wendy tells him. "And I didn't bully him. He wanted a new start somewhere."

"Yeah, I'm sure that had nothing to do with your roommate fucking off and leaving you with all the rent."

"Stop with the 'I'm sure' bullshit," she practically barks, the purple eyeliner making her green eyes stand out and almost seem to blaze. Even Kenny is a little taken aback. "Kyle's not even paying the full half until he gets a job." She rises from her stool, smoothing the invisible wrinkles in her tube top, the sparkly fabric glistening in the dull light of her bedroom as she moves. Even within the context of their fantastically dressed BDSM culture, Kenny thinks it's an obnoxious piece of clothing, but Bebe picked it out, so Wendy will be wearing it for the rest of the night.

"He wants to get back on his feet," Wendy says, her voice suddenly pleading. "He needs to get out again. It didn't go so fabulously last time." She looks pointedly at Kenny, who is quickly growing tired of everything being his fault. "So, this is Take Two."

"Is this the part where I ask if I have a choice?" Kenny drones, standing from his place on the bed and running a hand through his overly gelled hair.

"I can't make you do anything," Wendy admits, although the determination in her eyes says differently.

"I guess I'm already dressed," Kenny concedes. "And, you know, since we're doing this for charity and everything..."

"It's not charity," Wendy insists. "It's Kyle."

"And if you just happen to see Stan there...?" Kenny offers.

A smile lights up Wendy's face at the same time Bebe's expression falls.

"If I happen to see Stan there, then we'll just have to see what happens," the dark-haired girl says coyly.

"Look at me, baby," Bebe suddenly purrs, plucking a tube of lipstick from the dresser. Wendy is already turning towards her when Bebe puts a finger under her chin to tilt her face up. When the Wendy spots the lipstick, her mouth falls open for the other girl obediently and Kenny watches the feral look come over Bebe's eyes as she slowly runs the lipstick over the other girl's lips, her eyes locked on the trail of pale pink it leaves behind. Kenny would look away if he didn't think he was going to have to prevent something from happening.

"Whoops," Bebe says, her hand faltering for a moment and the lipstick smearing slightly above Wendy's lip. She smiles almost menacingly. "Let me get that for you."

Wendy doesn't even blink when Bebe's lips crash into hers, and Kenny wishes she would. As much as he appreciates openness like this in any relationship, as much as he believes it's totally normal and maybe even beautiful to kiss as an expression of friendship, he doesn't think it is ever okay for two people to share something physical when it means something different to each of them.

But, then again, maybe he doesn't want Wendy to blink. He isn't sure what would hurt Bebe more.

"Alright, save it for the club where it'll get us a free drink or two, okay?" he finally decides to say, just as Bebe sinks a hand into the dark hair she spent so long working huge waves into. Wendy pulls away first, of course, rubbing a finger under her lips and leaving Bebe looking slightly mystified.

"The lipstick's probably all over my face now," Wendy complains with a smile, using two fingers to straighten out of corners of her mouth now. Kenny opens the door for her and ushers her out. When they can both hear Wendy's footsteps clicking down the hall, Kenny looks up to see Bebe glaring at him, the deep red lipstick she'd been sporting now smudged under her mouth. They just stare at each other for moments that are too long and Kenny gets the impression that they're arguing.

"After you," Kenny finally says, gesturing toward the door.

The other blonde inhales sharply and Kenny is afraid for a moment that she might say something while Wendy is in the other room pulling on her coat, close enough to hear. Instead, she just looks angrily to the side and pushes past him out of the door. Kenny closes it behind them, looking forward to the uncomfortable ride down in the elevator.

The cold is just as biting as it always is. They all automatically hug their coats tighter around themselves as Kenny opens the front door of the apartment building and that first gust of wind hits their faces. It'll be hot and clammy in the club itself, but, until they get there, they all have to deal with the minimal clothing they decided to wear under their not-quite-heavy-enough jackets.

Sometimes Kenny hates being the good friend. It's too cold to be the good friend. But nevertheless, he spots the apartment mailboxes just outside the entrance and decides it will only take a second.

"Hey, sweetheart," he calls to Wendy. "Mind if I check your mail really quick? I think I had something sent here by mistake." Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Bebe turn her head to stare at him.

"I checked it this morning," Wendy tells him, shivering and looking just as dumbfounded as Bebe probably does.

"It's sort of important, so I just wanted to make sure myself. You know," Kenny says. When her expression doesn't change, he smiles and adds, "Humor me."

Wendy frowns, but begins to dig through her clutch. She pauses and fixes him with one last suspicious look, but tosses him her key and turns back towards the car. Bebe goes to follow her, squawking indignantly when Kenny catches her arm and holds her back. She quickly jerks her arm free, probably incredibly unfamiliar with being manhandled. Kenny holds his hands up and turns toward the rows of mailboxes, ignoring the annoyance in her eyes.

"Listen. Take it easy," Kenny advises as he unlocks Wendy's mailbox. He glances over to Wendy to make sure she walked ahead of them and, sure enough, she's leaning over to check her make up in the side mirror of the car. "How many times does she and everyone else have to tell you she's into getting fucked?"

"It's called a strap on," Bebe grumbles, reflexively tousling her short curly blonde hair a little more. She hugs herself a little tighter, and the look in her eyes tells Kenny it isn't entirely because of the cold.

"Yeah, because it's not an actual dick," Kenny points out, and Bebe cuffs him in the arm just hard enough to hurt.

"Ow! I'm serious, Bebe. I'm trying to help here. You need to let her be a heterosexual chick."

"I'm trying!" Bebe snaps, but she loses her fire quickly and sighs. "I'm trying, okay? Give me some time."

"You are gorgeous," Kenny assures her, managing to not be offended when she shrugs off the hand on her shoulder. "You could land any girl you lay your eyes on, sub or not. Wendy's just one girl. One heterosexual girl."

"Shut up," Bebe finally groans, turning away from him to head towards the car. "There'll be alcohol in the club and then we can have this conversation."

"Healthy."

"That mailbox shit was not your best work," she calls back to him, her heels clicking against the concrete walk up to the apartment.

Kenny frowns in mock indignation and needlessly peers into Wendy's empty mailbox before snapping it shut again, grinning to himself and deciding to buy Bebe her first drink of the night.


"You guys are gross."

Kenny had been delighted to see Token and Clyde waiting for them when they walked into the club, eager to shove off their suddenly too-heavy coats and get to the bar. He doesn't see them as much as he likes to, mostly because he doesn't want to be in the way and he's never been a huge fan of exhibitionism, which they don't seem to be opposed to. While Bebe and Wendy had wandered over to the bartender, he'd happily slide into the booth next to his old friends, eager to hear about their weeks.

It doesn't take long to remember that they're not just Token and Clyde anymore. They're his "married friends."

He doesn't think they've been married for a short enough time to be "newlyweds," but that never seems to stop them. Currently, Clyde is perched in Token's lap, looking entirely content as Token feeds him the olives from their cocktails. Token just grins at the pleased look on his husband's face, continuing to casually carry on a conversation with Kenny in the meanwhile, the music thumping in the background just as loudly as ever.

"We're not gross," Token tells him, eyes still locked on Clyde's mouth. He glances over at Kenny with a smirk when he says, "You're jealous."

Kenny doesn't argue because, yes, of course he is.

"Nice collar, Clyde," Kenny comments, taking a long drink from his beer and glancing over his shoulder, telling himself that he's still waiting for Wendy and Bebe to return, although he knows he is actually just making sure the coast is still clear. Part of him is hoping that their other guests won't show up tonight. Maybe Kyle decided to stay at Stan's instead of getting ready. Maybe they found a nice movie to watch or ordered pizza.

"Thanks," Clyde replies happily, his hand unconsciously moving to touch the pretty mark of ownership. "It's my favorite." It really is a work of art, like everything Token buys for him. Token comes from money, and a lot of it, and he's just lucky enough to have liberal parents who were glad to pass down their fortunes to their gay son. Kenny knows Clyde wasn't so lucky and, although that particular topic doesn't come up much, he thinks that's why Token pampers him the way he does.

"Is that silver?" Kenny asks, noticing Wendy and Bebe approaching, their hands full of shot glasses.

"It's white gold," Token corrects, his hand wandering up to cover Clyde's.

"And engraved," Kenny remarks, noticing the name Token Black inscribed into the medal. "Isn't it hot?"

"Not anymore than the leather ones are," Clyde tells him. "I do have to polish it a lot more, though." He looks down at Token with a stupidly loving look on his face. "Not that I mind."

Token grins and gives his backside a swat. "Not that it would matter if you did," he reminds him, but Kenny knows it would.

Bebe clunks four shot glasses down at the table and Wendy adds another four as they both slide into the booth across the table. Introductions must occur, but Kenny barely hears them, still a little preoccupied with looking for Stan and Kyle, beginning to feel a little self-righteous about being on time. This entire night is supposed to be for this Kyle kid and he hasn't even bothered to be punctual to his own party.

"We got them for free," Bebe announces to them with a proud smirk. Kenny looks up at that, and sees her gesturing to the array of shot glasses.

"Oh yeah?" Token replies. "And what'd she get for free?" He jerks his thumb is the direction of the pretty, latex clad bartender, who is very poorly disguising her glances over to their table.

"My number," Bebe answered, her eyes flickering over to Kenny in time to catch his approving smile.

"So what are we drinking?" Token asks. Clyde shifts around in his lap a little and the other man's arms wind around his waist to steady him.

"It's tequila," Bebe informs the table, smirking when Kenny wrinkles his nose. "Don't be such a little bitch, McCormick."

Kenny scoffs. "And I was going to buy you a drink tonight and everything," he tells her, grinning with her expression falls just a little.

Wendy grabs one of the salt shakers and immediately licks her hand before shaking some salt over it. She picks her lime off of the rim of her shot glass and looks up at the rest of the table expectantly. She frowns when they all just stare back at her.

"Salt-shot-lime!" she exclaims, with all the enthusiasm of a sorority girl at her first frat party.

Kenny and Bebe look at each other before picking up their shots and throwing them back straight. Kenny immediately feels the burn all the way up into his nose, but is secretly pleased when Bebe is the one to grimace.

He looks over at the married couple to see that they're on board with Wendy. Token looks on appreciatively as Clyde obediently runs the tip of his tongue over Token's open palm, his eyes wide and locked with his Dom's. Token holds his palm out flat for Clyde to pour salt over and then presents it again for Clyde to lick. Clyde does all this without question, without even any instruction, and Kenny can't tear his eyes away as Token holds the shot up to his lips, pouring just slowly enough that Clyde winces from the burn, before quickly letting him bite down on the lime wedge. Token chuckles, moving his salt-free hand through Clyde's brown locks in praise as the brunette continues to wrinkle his nose, this time at the sour taste of the lime.

Again, Kenny loves them, really, but sometimes he wishes he could watch them have a hideous cat fight in the middle of a drugstore and then hear about the equally as hideous but placating make up sex they had that night to fix it. Just a little something to make Kenny feel normal.

"Stan! Kyle!" Wendy suddenly exclaims, rising from her seat.

Sure enough, the two men Kenny remembers from two weekends ago are walking over to their table. He can see Stan's eyes raking over Wendy from here, obviously appreciating what he sees. Kenny still thinks that tube top is obnoxious. Kyle is one Wendy hugs before quickly leading them over to the table, sliding back into the booth.

"This is my roommate, Kyle, and his friend, Stan," Wendy introduces. Kenny rolls his eyes because, as a matter of tradition and formality, it should be a Dom doing the introductions. He supposes Wendy's never been much for any of the traditions and formalities of submission.

"Token Black," Token responds. He gives one of Clyde's love handles a quick squeeze. "And this is Clyde."

Kenny isn't entirely sure what happens next because he's too busy staring at Kyle, very quickly remembering all the reasons he so shamelessly hit on him the last time they met. He's truly a vision in his tight jeans and striped button down, conservative compared some of the other subs scattered around the bar, but perfectly fitting for the redhead. His eyes are just as open and sweet as Kenny remembers. He must have been a magnet for Doms when he first came on the scene. Kenny can't imagine anyone not wanting to fuck him. But now that he knows, now that he can analyze the tightness of the man's mouth, the slight uncertainty in his eyes, he just wants to touch him the right way, the way the asshole who came before him failed to. He shakes his head to clear those thoughts. Now is certainly not the time. He's not entirely sure there ever will be a time.

Stan predictably slides in next to Wendy, placing Kyle on the end of the seat and across from Kenny. The blonde takes extra caution in making sure their feet don't touch, crossing his ankles and tucking his legs underneath his seat. He can't help but notice Kyle's neck is bare tonight, his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallows, just as nervous as the last time they met. His eyes look different, though. They're more confident, more determined maybe, and Kenny wishes the redhead would spare a glance over to him so he could figure out what color they are. However, Kyle's eyes seem very well trained away from him, and he tries to be understanding and ignore the way that hurts.

He barely hears any of the conversation for the rest of the night.

Throughout the evening, when Kenny's at the table and not dancing at least, he notices Kyle's eyes on Token and Clyde, his gaze almost curious. He watches Clyde fetch them new drinks, rub Token's shoulders, and easily open his mouth for any food or drink Token offers to him, all while receiving sweet praise and rewards for his behavior. Kyle stares at them like he's never seen this kind of interaction before, although Kenny thinks that must be impossible, because surely he's been in other relationships besides the one he had with that Christophe guy. Kenny finds himself wanting a grab a handful of peanuts from one of the many bowls at the bar and feed them to Kyle one by one, stroking his hair each time he swallows.

He becomes progressively more desperate for that annoyed feeling he had when Kyle showed up late.

It is halfway through the evening, when the girls are dancing and right after Kyle watches Token leave an impressive hickey on Clyde's shoulder, that Kyle stands up and hurries away, claiming to need to use the restroom. Before he can stop himself, Kenny is on his feet as well, following after him and ignoring Wendy's shout after him.

Kenny is cursing himself for this decision before he even reaches the restroom, not sure what he's going to say or even if he has a right to say anything. He wants to apologize for his very existence. He came to the club expecting to suffer through the awkwardness and just get out. But now he wants to fix everything, regardless of whether or not that's possible. He'll probably walk in there and Kyle will be in a stall, and then what will he do? Stand there and wait for Kyle to come out so he can scare the absolute fuck out of him? He thinks he should probably just turn back to the table, already trying to think of the excuse he'll give to everyone.

But suddenly he finds himself hovering in the doorway of the men's restroom. Because Kyle's not in a stall. He's just staring at himself in the mirror, looking exhausted. Maybe this outing is taking all his energy, or maybe he's just tired of life in general, but it makes Kenny more determined either way.

Kyle glances up to see Kenny entering, and his entire body freezes. He immediately looks away, his eyes conflicted, as if he's trying to sort through all his emotions. Kenny can imagine that his entrance must seem either incredibly aggressive or incredibly stupid, so he can't blame him. He carefully walks forward, letting the door close behind him. Kyle still doesn't look up, like a rabbit trying to blend in with its surrounding so it doesn't get eaten by a fox.

"I just wanted to apologize. You know, officially and stuff," Kenny makes himself say, his words a hurried jumble. He winces, feeling like the air is full of some sort of thick static electricity, pinching at his nerves. "I should have said something that night, but you were gone."

"Wendy told me," Kyle responds, his words just as fast and his eyes glued to the sink. It's possibly the first time Kenny's heard him say all night, though he's not sure. "So. It's fine."

"It's not fine," Kenny argues. "I was a total asshole, I wasn't reading the signs or anythi-"

"Please," Kyle interrupts, his mouth tense. "I'm not upset. Everything is fine."

The redhead glances up at him, looking away quickly when he sees that Kenny's eyes are still on him. He doesn't like me looking at him, the blonde reminds himself, averting his gaze down to the sink in front of him.

"We're just people right now," Kenny offers lightly. "Not a Dom and a sub. So you can stop looking over at me like I might tell you to lick my boots."

Kyle looks a little annoyed, and Kenny calls that 'progress.'

"We're never 'just people,'" Kyle says with a sigh, reaching out and flipping the water on. Kenny doesn't know what that means, so he, too, busies himself with unnecessarily washing his hands.

"I can turn the Dom off, sometimes," he says, not entirely sure that's true.

"You'd be one of the few who can," Kyle replies. Kenny is both surprised and delighted that Kyle is even talking to him at all, let alone about this.

"Yeah, well, everyone else is a fucking asshole, then," Kenny decides, going for the soap. "I can't imagine who'd want to be a controlling prick day in and day out."

"It's not about being a controlling prick," Kyle says, seeming to be offended on behalf of all Doms, or maybe just Stan.

Kenny grins to himself. "No. It's not."

Kyle seems sort of charmed by the conversation, although Kenny can't imagine why. Maybe he enjoys the banter. Kenny definitely hopes so, because it's taking his mind off the awkward apology and dissolving all the static electricity in the air.

"I never really understood the appeal of being a Dom," Kyle finally says with a small smile, catching Kenny's eyes in the mirror for another brief moment. Kenny finds himself taking those two seconds to memorize the green in the other's irises, the way it darkens to a forest green around his pupil and then again around the edges, the middles streaked with sunnier limes and honeydews. It's no wonder the kid's very soul seems to be radiating through them.

"No? Why's that?" Kenny remembers to ask, just before the pause would have been uncomfortable.

Kyle seems to mull that over for a second, his hands still under the water as he weighs his answer. "It's too much pressure, maybe," he finally decides, nodding. "I don't like to have that kind of control. Too many decisions to make."

It's been so long since Kenny's had an intellectual conversation about his sexual lifestyle, one that went beyond his preference for or against fuzzy handcuffs, that he feels an easy grin split his face. He is admittedly not the most book smart person around. He only had enough academic gusto to get him through community college with a barely useful little business degree. But sex is different. He's been called a whore, a pervert, a deviant, and everything else in the book, but he is truly just passionate about sex. Sex, for him, is an artful act between two or more people who may or may not be in love, in which those involved can just feel and collaborate on the goal of finding some sort of blissful release. Society has all these rules and moral standards, but the whole nature of the act seems so much more complex than that. The possibilities are endless, the psychology behind it all is fascinating, and Kenny thinks he could probably discuss it all day.

"I like control," Kenny tells him, not missing the way the other's smile becomes a little tighter, his eyes falling back to the sink.

"And taking care of people," he hastily adds, erasing any traces of a smirk from his lips. "Having the control means you're the one who has the responsibility to make someone else happy. I sort of like that. If that makes sense."

"Maybe I'm not strong enough for that," Kyle suggests with a self-deprecating little shrug.

"It takes more strength to be a sub sometimes," Kenny says, watching the water runs over his hands. He glances over at Kyle's hand, also motionless under the stream, and suddenly find himself thinking about how much bigger his are compared to the redhead's. He quickly shakes the thought and continues, "Giving up all the control can be difficult, I imagine."

"That's the easy part, actually," Kyle responds with a sad smile.

Kenny's heart suddenly thumps hard against his ribcage. "What's the hard part?" he asks, trying to remain relaxed and aloof in the face of what he thinks might be crucial information.

Kyle continues staring at his hands, scrubbing the palms of his hands with his nails under the water.

"Getting it back."

Kenny pauses, trying to digest that, trying to apply it to the little bits and pieces he knows about Kyle's past relationships.

"Out of curiosity," Kyle says quickly, as if he doesn't want to hear Kenny's response. "Why are you talking sex theory with me?"

Kenny frowns, but allows the deflection to happen. "I'm always curious, I guess," he says with a shrug. "I like knowing what it's like on the other end of BDSM spectrum."

"You haven't asked any of your friends about it?" Kyle asks, and Kenny doesn't bother to tell him that he doesn't have a lot of friends, that the only subs he ever comes across are Wendy, who isn't exactly a shining example, and whoever he happens to fuck that night.

"Nah, a lot of the subs I've come across recently are a little fucked in the head," he admits, idly readjusting the collar of his shirt. The silence that follows his statement is almost eerie, so he chances a tentative look over at Kyle. He finds the other man looks tense, as if he'd been caught mid-swallow, his Adam's apple suddenly very pronounced. Kenny almost asks him if he's alright before he realizes what the obvious assumption behind his words is, especially considering the conversation they just got done having.

"Daddy issues," he adds as casually as possible, hoping to any available higher power that Kyle doesn't have those, as well. Kyle's mouth falls open into a little 'o' and goes back to rewashing his hands, his fearful assumptions apparently assuaged. Kenny finally rolls his eyes and grabs a handful of towels, holding out half of them to Kyle. In the mirror, Kenny can see a blush heat the other's cheeks, but he quickly takes the towels and flips the knob to turn off his fake distraction.

"So, umm. What do you do? Like, when you're not doing this?" Kyle asks eventually, gesturing to Kenny's predominantly leather ensemble.

"I manage a garage," Kenny tells him. It's a question he hasn't been asked in a while. Most of his past lovers didn't care much about what he did when he wasn't wearing leather pants and he doesn't make friends very regularly. "Off the west side highway. I used to fix cars there when I was a kid to help out my folks, and I ended up rising through the ranks. Capitalism and all that." He laughs, his heart jumping when he meets Kyle's eyes in the mirror again. "Although, I gotta say, fixing cars was a hell of a lot more fun than what I do now."

"Lots of paperwork?"

"It's endless. What about you? Wendy says you're looking for a job?"

Kyle's expression shifts from relaxed to concerned. "It's been a while, but I really am looking. I insisted on paying half of the rent, but she wouldn't let me."

"Hey, I was just wondering," Kenny tells him, still drying his hands despite the fact they probably couldn't get drier. He thinks he'll probably have the cleanest hands in the entire goddamn club by the time they finish this conversation, not that he assumes there's a lot of competition. "You a high school drop-out or something?"

Kyle's shoulders fall back a little and he sighs. "No, I'm a college graduate, actually."

"Oh yeah? In what?"

Kyle frowns like he's trying to remember. "Political science," he finally says.

"Woah. Heavy stuff. Must have had some big plans for that," Kenny offers, gauging his reaction carefully out of the corner of his eye.

"I was going to go to law school," Kyle says. He sounds a little surprised, as if he'd almost forgotten. He lets out a little huff at the revelation before wincing. "But then I met that guy. Stan told you, right?"

Kenny nods as nonchalantly as he can, holding back an endless wave of questions. He wants to know where this guy lives, if he disappeared or if Kyle still sees him in the supermarket sometimes. He wants to ask him why he moved out of Stan's apartment, why Kenny isn't supposed to be over at Wendy's anymore, if Kenny has the same eyes or mouth as the guy who hurt him. Mostly, though, he wants to apologize or ask Kyle if he needs someone to talk to.

"Yeah, he told me."

Kyle shrugs in a tight and awkward sort of way, as if he just got a chill down his spine and the movement is only a reflex. "That kind of screwed up a lot of my plans, I guess."

"You could always go back," Kenny says too vehemently, suddenly feeling as though it's his personal mission.

Kyle laughs wryly, and the sound make Kenny ache. The redhead tosses his well-used paper towels in the trash can like they're dreams and Kenny has the absurd feeling that he needs to dig them out. "I don't think so."

"It'd really suck," Kenny snaps. "To watch you let him win like that."

Kyle pauses at the trashcan, and suddenly the electricity is crackling around them again. Kenny thinks – or rather knows – he's gone too far, way too far for a first proper conversation, but there's something about this kid that brings out ridiculous feelings in him, like he's suddenly a knight in shining armor with a destiny that's written on a scroll or in an ancient book somewhere. He might be Kyle's call to adventure, or maybe Kyle is his. There's just something making him speak when he knows he shouldn't, when normal people would just keep their mouth shut and let his real friends, Stan and Wendy, do all the magical curing.

"Well, hopefully you won't have to," Kyle finally replies. Kenny doesn't know what that means, either, and the cryptic words make him a little wary, a little desperate.

"I just want you to know," Kenny starts, hovering unnecessarily at the towels to avoid the awkwardness of having to walk out together. He has been aching to say this since he spoke to Stan in the alley that night because, not only does he miss his open access to Wendy's apartment and the beer that comes with it, but he also feels like he wants to reassure him. It is probably dangerous – this need to take care of people and just provide for all their needs – but it's the disease that drives people to the practice of domination in the first place, and it's honestly everything Kenny is at this point in his life. So he finds he can barely contain himself when he says, "You'd always be safe with me."

Kyle's eyebrows raise and he looks to the side, as if contemplating this new information. Kenny feels as though he's just propositioned the guy and he swallows hard, trying to maintain his casual stance with every muscle in his body slowly tightening.

"Let's get coffee sometime."

It's the absolute shock and confusion in Kyle's eyes that tells Kenny that, yes, that suggestion did actually just come out of his mouth. The redhead almost looks a little betrayed and Kenny has to stop himself from grabbing him before he runs away.

"No, no, not like… like a date or something," he quickly amends. In all honesty, he really just wants to talk to the kid some more. He can ignore a physical attraction; the colors in his eyes and size of his hands. "Just to talk. We might be doing this a lot." He gestures vaguely, hoping Kyle knows he means going out with their group of friends and not having awkward conversations in a dirty men's restroom. "So, you know. We should get to know each other. Get comfortable."

Kyle stares at him, a little less alarmed, but still frowning.

"Look," the redhead starts. "I really appreciate what you're trying to do. And I accept your apology for the other night. But it wasn't that big of a deal. You really don't have to do this."

"Do what?" Kenny says, a little dumbfounded. He wants to say that he isn't asking out of any sort of fucked up sense of obligation, but Kyle eyes seem to hold the entire universe and Kenny feels as though he's being read like a novel, as if arguing would be like correcting an Oxford dictionary on the definition of a word.

"I'm sorry Wendy made you come out tonight. Had I known she was going to ask, I probably would have stopped her." For the first time, he looks Kenny square in the eyes and says, "I don't accept handouts."

Kenny understands. Kyle's wrong about his intentions, but he understands Kyle's anxiety. Because Kenny's never accepted handouts either, and he had pretty good cause to in his childhood.

"Thank you, though," Kyle finally says, smiling kind of awkwardly. "I appreciate the thought. I'll probably see you around. Or, you know. Maybe not."

With that, Kyle shakes his head at himself and quickly slips past Kenny. Kenny watches him as he disappears out the door of the bathroom before turning back and staring at his own reflection in the mirror, a little surprised to see pure curiosity staring back in him through his eyes.

And Kenny thinks he's found something much more interesting than sex.


Read & Review.

TBC