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Chapter 9 - Thin Dark Line


It hadn't worked. He wasn't sure why it hadn't worked, but it hadn't and it bothered him. Normally sex worked. It made things less complicated. The act itself was less complicated. It was pleasure, pure and simple. There wasn't thinking involved and the result made him feel good with no consequences. It had never failed him before. But this time it did. And it made Francis angry and upset that he couldn't for the life of him figure it out.

Lying on his bed, Francis sighed, looking at the ceiling. He couldn't get over it. Usually sex calmed him down, made him balanced again – especially with Ashley T. She never asked questions and willingly gave up whatever he wanted. But something about it felt… wrong. Out of place. He didn't find as much pleasure in it as he usually did. What's more, he thought he saw Butch for just a split second, looking at him with this face

The hustler turned over on his bed and shut his eyes, trying to erase that look. It burned behind his lids and for some unfathomable reason he felt ashamed. He felt a whine rise in his throat and bounce around his mouth but he wouldn't voice it. That was an indignity he would not let himself suffer. For now, he'd just rest and pretend it had worked, and get some rest.

Needless to say, that tactic failed entirely.


To their credit, they did a remarkable job or avoiding each other. It wasn't particularly hard, not was it especially easy. School gifted them many excuses and reasons to be apart from each other – all of which they snapped up and used greedily.

But there came the time when even the best-laid plans went to waste.

It happened one afternoon after school had let out. There was something going on, some sort of event not too far away neither boy cared for but was curious about – Francis for business reasons and Butch for story opportunities. Still, they hung back, waiting for stragglers in the otherwise empty streets. Other students floated around for various reasons, crisscrossing over the storyteller territory and the hustler terf, unaware of the imaginary boundaries.

Butch, for the most part, stuck to his shadows. He felt sick. His mother said he caught something and he was inclined to believe her. His head hurt, his chest was tight, and he had to lumber around slowly to keep from vomiting on the ground. He felt like a wreck and hadn't stopped feeling terrible since he saw what he shouldn't have seen. He told himself they were not related events, but something in the back of his mind kept telling him they were. He was upset and sick over what he saw. The fact he cared bothered him more than the image burned into his brain. At least the hustler hadn't tried to talk to him.

He ventured out into the light, stumbling around in his quest for one of the water fountains scattered around. He just needed a drink or some water to splash on his face. Then he'd feel well enough to toddle back home. He'd lay back in the dark, maybe watch a movie, and he'd try to forget again.

A chorus of "Scandalous!" stopped him in his tracks.

Leaning heavily against the old brick of the High School. He looked around, dazed, his eyes settling on the Ashley's as they floated past him. Ashley T in particular. She looked so perfect among them. Normal and rich and perfect as they always were. But Butch could only see smears of her-

"Like, hello?"
-red and dark and half-shadowed, -
"Like, what do you want?"
-blocked by large, rough-but-smooth hands -
"Okay, like, seriously. You're being really creepy."
-roaming over the expanse of skin and skin tight fabric-
"Like Helloooo?"
"Uh- what?" Butch looked up at Ashley T, who was glowering at him, her hands on his hips, her three BFF's fanned out behind her.
"What are you, like, staring at?"
"Ah… you fo-" Butch coughed and convinced himself it was the illness talking and making him see things "Nothing."
"I'm like, so sure."

The group of them wandered off; talking behind his back he was sure. Butch watched them go, feeling far worse for wear. He ducked back into the ally, hoping to settle his stomach before anything else humiliating happened that day.

With no such luck, it seemed.

Francis had spotted Butch and The Ashley's fanned out around him. Ashley T was at the head, and Butch looked kind of ill. At first he attempted to write it off as nothing. But then he saw the look on Butch's face past his newest customer. He babbled through the transaction, tying to get a better look. By the time he shoved the change into the chump's hand the girls had scattered and Butch had limped into the ally. Francis began to panic. That look on his face was identical to the one he thought he imagined. He began to think maybe, just maybe he hadn't been seeing things, that Butch wasn't just an image he cooked up to try and deter himself.

Butch was very real, he realized, and he had just talked to Ashley T.

Francis dashed over to Butch, skidding into the alley and blocking his path back into the light. The storyteller blinked at him, looking almost through him. The hustler tried desperately to keep his attention – but more than that grab Butch's attention in the first place. Once he had it he laid his hand on Butch's shoulder for a moment. They both recoiled, and Francis searched for words while Butch held his stomach tenderly and finally seemed to notice him.

"We need to talk." He said, hustling the other male into the alley he was half hanging out of "Now. Now please."
"Don't talk to her." Francis interrupted once they were in deep enough "It's a bad idea just leave her be."
"Just don't."

Butch eyed him for a moment. The images had been playing over in his head like movie fragments. Slowly and stretched out and repeating like those old film reels. It was wrapped around his head, buried in his mind. For some reason he couldn't focus. But then, for some reason, Francis had put his hand on Butch's shoulder again and that trance-like state he was in moments ago vanished, replaced by a sudden swelling of fury unmatched. He we so damned angry and Francis for so many reasons he couldn't even begin to name them all. His teeth grit his face burned and all the nausea and pain he felt before turned to rage and a tightening in his chest that made him want to hit.

Basically put, Butch exploded.

"Fuck you! I'll talk to whoever I fucking want to!" He shouted, throwing the hustler's hand off his shoulder.

The hustler blinked, taken aback. He hadn't expected this – not from anyone. No one crossed him like that. No one ever, ever refused him before. It baffled him for a few moments. But once that confusion passed it was replaced quite easily with anger. Though he didn't like to be angry and violent, he was really rather good at it. It wasn't his main bargaining chip but with both fists clenched and a boiled temper it was his best offense and defense all wrapped into one. Point was, he didn't like it, but it worked like a charm.

So Francis hit him, his fist suddenly connecting with the corner of Butch's jaw and sending him reeling back.

"Don't you ever say that to me again." He growled, looming over him, wiping off his knuckles and shaking his hand out.
"What the fuck, you son of a bitch!" Butch snarled, wiping the blood from his mouth, staggering back. His dark eyes bored holes into him, but Hustler stared right back, his fist already clenched for another hit. "I'm not you're fuckin' property, douchebag!"

Hustler rushed at him again, shouldering him into the wall. If he wasn't his property, then why did he fucking care so much? He quickly pushed the though from his mind, deciding that he was just getting even for being insulted. Nothing more, nothing less. Butch boxed his ear and made him move away, but it did little to stop the onslaught. Francis kept him in his sights at all times, his hands balled up tight.

"I'm not your fucking property I'll do whatever the fuck I please!" Butch panted, a slow smirk forming over his lips "Or who ever. And you can't stop me, just like I can't stop you."
"What are you talking about-"
"I saw you. In the alley. With her – fucking whore. What, you just bang whatever? Was I just another notch in your belt?"
"What do you care?" He smirked "You should be honored."

The flash of rage was almost imperceptible Butch reacted so quickly. A second after Butch's teeth set together his fist was planted in the center of the hustler's face, crushing his nose with surprising strength. Francis grunted, stepping back, managing to knock the smaller male away before he landed another hit. He touched his nose gingerly inspecting for blood. Butch wisely backed off, both his fists up and crouching down, caught between fight and flight.

"You're fucking dead." HK growled, his eyes going dark "Dead."

Butch stayed silent, crouching lower as the building-shaped male advanced on him, blocking his only escape. The storyteller supposed he could scream for help, but there was unreliable means of getting out of here alive, and he was sure it would only piss the hustler off. So Butch kept quiet for the moment, darting around the lumbering hustler, avoiding some hits and landing a few good ones to the side until he was backed up against the wall. Butch felt along the brick with a grimace – something the hustler picked up on. He smirked and Butch knew he was going to make good on his promise.

He defended himself as best as he could. He did a damned awful job of it but he did what he could. His lip was bleeding and his was a panting, ugly looking mess when an idea struck him. He eyed the angry male, sporting a bruise on his cheek and a busted lip of his own. His nose was beginning to bleed slowly from the second shot Butch managed to get in. Francis frowned and spit, swinging wide. It clipped Butch's shoulder but missed his head.

It was now or never, Butch decided, and he made his move.

The smaller, lighter male was able to dodge. By some miracle he managed to grab the huge fist before it impacted his face, his mouth brushing over its knuckles. Francis did not react well. Butch was easy to pin. Butch knew this and he let the hustler hold him fast and slam him into the wall. He winced, somehow able to keep from cracking his head open on the brick. He looked at the hustler, grimacing at the darkened, furious expression.

Now or never.

Butch gulped, leaning forward and kissing his mouth this time. A gentle little peck. Some part of him screamed, tugging out his hair and demanding an answer. Butch cold only come up with half of one. He had read somewhere that the strong emotions – fear, anger, and passion – made the body react in the same way. Elevated heartbeat, shortness of breath, increased blood flow, trembling, dilated pupils – all of it was applicable to any one of them. By logic, then, they were all interchangeable. Butch had bet on this distracting him – it was familiar but foreign and it could, if anything, throw him off long enough so he could limp away and hide.

It had a slightly different effect than he had anticipated.

The initial contact was met with nothing. Francis maybe blinked but Butch wasn't able to catch it. He pulled back and mentally prepared himself for a hit while he scrambled along the wall, looking for something to grab so he could propel himself out. The hustler held him, however, and the moments stretched on. Butch grew worried – this was either very good or very bad. For a moment the hold slackened, and Butch immediately attempted to wiggle free. Francis pressed him back to the wall – though this time much gentler. For a few moments the hustler just stared at the pinned storyteller, and the storyteller stared back.

Then, all at once, Francis smothered him against the wall, kissing him.

It wasn't gentle like Butch's. It was hard and heated, bruising and angry. It aggravated his bloody lip to the point where Butch could taste it between them, on his tongue and the hustler's. He inhaled, trying to make sense of it, trying to get oxygen back into his body. He was greeted with the smell of blood and that aftershave Francis used and the thick fabric of his coat. It filled his head and made him moan against his will. Francis must have been suffering the same affliction, for not a second later the guttural noise was returned, echoing around in his mouth. The noises bounced around them, wrapping around them like a cocoon. There was nothing else, no other sound except for their breathing and their heartbeats pounding in their veins and the thrumming heat around them.

Butch decided this wasn't the outcome he had expected, but he could sure as hell work with it. He lifted his arms a little, sliding them up Francis' sides, testing the waters. There was no real reaction aside from a short falter preceding another rough kiss. Butch gripped the back of his thick coat and Francis made another half choked sound, biting the bloody lip and forcing his way in. Butch wasn't in much of a place to argue though his head was scraping against the brick and the hustler's knee was in his hip and starting to hurt. Still, though, he kind of liked it, whatever this was.

Francis let him up for a moment, still breathing heavy, his eyes mostly closed. Butch watched him lick his lips and he gulped. For an instant Fran seemed like a hungry beast, a monster ready to devour him. No sooner had he thought this idea preposterous did Francis swoop down on him again, sucking his breath from his lungs. He felt more than saw, his eyes sliding shut at the hustler's insistent tongue forcing its way back into his mouth. Butch gasped and cling to his coat, something surging in him, wanting more. He knew he shouldn't want to be thrown up against the wall and roughed up and kissed like this – or ever, really. Much less by Francis.

But he did.

They kissed for a while, pressed up against each other, each moment growing more frantic than the rest. Neither was sure who rolled or pressed or ground against the other first first, but one of them did and the floodgates opened. Suddenly a lot more than kissing was happening and Butch was pressed hard enough against the brick to slide his legs around Francis' waist without fear of breaking contact. Even if there was the slightest risk Francis was holding him tight enough around the middle to hurt his ribs while his other hand fisted tight in Butch's longish hair. Butch did his part by rolling his hips when the thought occurred and digging his fingers hard enough into the thick coat to make them turn white.

Francis suddenly groped the other male, pulling his mouth from Butch's to instead fasten it along his jaw and neck while the hand that held his back firmly grabbed his ass. Butch keened quietly, almost shouting but thinking better of it. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to decide how he felt about how this was going. He liked the mouth on his neck – that was good. The tongue tracing over his scars and the teeth that were most certainly leaving a mark were less okay – but they were pretty good. The hand on his ass was the most confusing one – he didn't like it but he did all at the same time. He did end up liking it a little more when it pulled him in, grinding their hips together, giving him more of that friction. Butch knew for sure he liked the friction. He knew Francis liked it too from the way he moaned. Purely by accident he also found out that Fran liked his ears being touched and played with so he kept on abusing the hell out of that particular piece of anatomy while squirming as much as he could.

Then suddenly even all of that wasn't enough. They stopped for a moment, hesitating, not sure what to do. Francis picked up first, forcing Butch off of him with a rough shove, rubbing him against the brick. Once Butch's feet were on the ground Francis kissed him again, reaching between them. He gripped the tent in Butch's pants and stroked until he moaned into his coat, gripping it and burying his face in its folds. Francis grunted and pushed him into the wall, rubbing against him again. Just as Butch had grown used to the hardness pressing into his stomach a heavy hand landed on his shoulder, not so gently turning him around. In the span of a few seconds Butch went from moaning to stunned silence. Before he could make a noise, however, Francis' hand covered his mouth and the other was rubbing his dick again. The pinned male whined softly behind the large hand, wiggling in the hustler's grip as his top half was pressed to the rough wall, the bottom half drawn back against the hustler's hips.

Butch's breath hitched, not okay with the whole situation. He panicked, for a moment going impossibly stiff and gripping the wall, almost frightened about what was going on. Francis paused, breathing heavily in his ear, grounding Butch back to reality long enough to quell his panic. Butch heard the clink of his belt, feeling the hustler's hand belatedly pull at his waist, but felt no other movement. He exhaled the held breath, trying not to bolt, trying not to make a noise. He didn't think he wanted this but at the same time he really, really did. It was so bizarre, this strange mix of feelings, and he didn't want to pull some bullshit after the fact and make things even worse than they already were. He knew he liked what they were doing before, and he knew he liked what Fran was doing now, rubbing him and thrusting against him from behind like this and breathing heavily in his ear, nipping his neck. He wasn't sure if he was going to like what was coming next, but he did know he wanted more.

So with a broken groan and all second thoughts damned to hell, he looked over his shoulder and nodded, biting his lip.

Francis eyed him quietly, stopping everything for a minute. He almost smiled, Butch thought, but a second later it was hidden from sight, buried into his neck, latched onto his scars. Butch stifled his groan, almost growled while the hustler manhandled him. He shivered, everything slowing down and speeding up at once. Francis knew what he was doing, and Butch was fearful again. Francis took note of it, everything thrumming on high now that he had been given the go ahead. He knew what to do; it was just a matter of keeping Butch still enough to do it. To start he drew his hand around the still stiff cock in his hand and rubbed the tip, sliding the cotton of his boxers over the head – toying with him. He waited until Butch was puffing breath against his palm before removing his hand for a moment, pushing down the pants and boxers just enough so they were out of the way.

Butch hitched and whined, suddenly snapping to attention. Before the noise could echo Francis slapped his hand over Butch's mouth and used the other to toy with his prick. In a moment Butch relaxed again and Francis kissed and nipped the side of his neck, trying to keep him from screaming or making a noise that would make him thing. His conscious was quietly slipping away, instinct was taking over, and this was the thrill he had missed days previous with Ashley T. If he had been in the right mind to think Francis would have surely stopped, horrified that he was feeling this way with Butch of all people, but as it was he couldn't really think, banking on sensation only.

The hustler pinned him to the wall for a moment, squeezing his dick and stroking him a few times. When Butch opened his mouth to moan he pressed his fingers into the hot, wet mouth. Butch choked, trying to spit them out. Francis hissed in his ear, mumbling something he couldn't even remember but it made Butch stop and whine a little and accept the digits squirming around in his mouth. Once Butch relaxed enough the hustler stroked, bringing him back to throbbing in his grip. The storyteller wriggled and squirmed, bucking into his hand, sucking on the now three fingers in his mouth. The next part was going to be harder to pull off and required a great deal of forethought before action.

But who was he to think at a time like this?

He stroked Butch a few more times to keep him from wiggling too much, then pulled his hand away to unclip his belt and unzip his fly. Butch seemed to freeze, and the hustler pressed few open-mouthed kisses to the still unmarked part of his neck until he became pliant again. Francis pulled his fingers gently from Butch's lips, wincing a little at the whimper that came out with it. He exhaled against the pale, damp neck and steadied himself. He groaned a little, feeling Butch pant and wheeze, shuddering against him so perfectly that when he exhaled again he let a moan slip out with it.

Butch's head spun and he choked on the thick air. This was the most horrifying, stupid, ill advised, sickening, irresponsible act he could ever hope to do, but he couldn't bring himself to stop it. At the vey core of it was curiosity, his body knowing but his mind not sure - though he was almost certain the mechanics of it. More importantly, as hard as it was for him to admit, he really wanted more. His whole body throbbed and pulsed and ached for what it knew was coming. He couldn't make himself say stop, but he could gasp violently and almost scream when he felt something cold and slick press against him.

While Butch had been thinking, Francis had been doing. He had slipped a bottle from his coat and covered his fingers more thoroughly than Butch had. Then Butch had tightened up, almost screaming. Francis clapped a hand over his mouth and growled wordlessly at him, pressing a finger into him as slowly as his clouded senses would allow. The other male whined in discomfort, puffing and panting against the rough palm. Francis tried not to pay too much attention. Soon the pain would end and he'd feel better than he'd ever hoped to feel. It was going to hurt, yes - but it would get better. He thought about telling Butch all of this, but the words wouldn't form. Instead he moved his hand, sliding in and out and holding Butch's noises in until they became less pained and more tolerant.

Butch squeezed his eyes shut, whimpering pitifully. He was in pain and everything ached but sill, even through all of this he wanted more. He kind of hated himself for it, but if Francis didn't touch him or move or make this pain go away he was going to lose his damned mind. Butch let a ragged shout tear from his throat, blocked but the hustler's hand. He breathed heavily against it, trying to move, the pain overtaking everything else for a moment. Francis pushed his fingers into his mouth again, and Butch sucked and bit the digits to keep from screaming.

This went on for a few minutes, but impossibly long and drawn out to both of them. Francis tried to take his time, but Butch was wiggling and he couldn't take much more of this waiting. Still, he knew better than to just rush headlong into it, taking painfully careful measures to assure Butch was stretched and open enough to not tear and cause excessive blood and pain. The last thing he wanted to do was make this harder than it always was but he was so ready he was aching and his boxers were far too tight for him to focus. Butch suckling on his fingers in an all too familiar way wasn't helping his condition.

It became clear that he wasn't going to last much longer, so with some hesitation he withdrew his fingers. He lifted himself off the burning body and watched it writhe in mid air. Francis groaned quietly, fishing a condom from his coat and tearing it open with his teeth. Leaning forward, he sunk his teeth into Butch's neck and growled, stroking himself. He couldn't understand how he was already so hard, so ready for it, but he'd rather keep from thinking and stick to action. So he pressed against him, sliding his cock against the opening. Butch didn't move or whine or make any motion otherwise to discourage him so he set the slicked hand on the other male's hip and pushed in.

Butch choked, biting down on the fingers enough to make Francis hiss in pain. He went completely rigid, shaking almost in the intensity of it. Oh fuck it hurt, it hurt really badly and for a few inexplicably long moments it felt like he was being torn in two. When he opened his eyes again he was shaking and everything was blurred. He sobbed, trying instead to focus on the larger, more pleasurable hand on his dick than the searing in his ass. He unset his jaw and the fingers moved in his mouth. He didn't taste blood but he felt hot breath and tears on his face and everything else inside him causing him pain.

After a short while, though, something remarkable happened. Butch began to notice, between sniffling and hitched breaths that the pain was subsiding. There was a bit of a sting but Francis was moving inside him and it actually felt pretty good combined with hand on his prick. With some measure of trepidation he tried moving too, pushing back into the large body that was oddly comforting in its size. He felt swallowed up by the other man – the coat covering his outside and the body consuming him from both ends. It didn't feel as good as he had hoped, the dull stinging sensation still prickling his nerves – but it felt progressively better and he stopped tearing up so much, even though Francis had apparently forgone the idea of slow and steady in place of fast and hard.

Between the grunts and biting and groaning and half-choked sobs there was something coiling up in both of them. This thin line between pain and pleasure got them off better than they could ever remember. Francis was doing a pretty good job of keeping Butch in the thick of things, his hand stroking somewhat in time with his thrusts. It was enough to make Butch feel better, and with Butch feeling all right Francis was free to keep it up. They moaned, grunted, whined and growled, swirling around something but not quite there. It built and built and built the faster they went. Francis made ugly, guttural noises and Butch whimpered and gasped, completely falling to his whim.

Moments ticked by, dripping like honey. Movements became more frantic. Breath and heartbeat rose impossibly high. A swell rose, dangling above them, holding them in place until the hustler brought it down, a ragged moan spilling from his throat onto Butch's shirt while he spent himself thrust deep inside. Butch whimpered, still stuck on the ledge until Francis moves his hand again. He slipped the fingers from Butch's mouth in his haze and took up one hand pressing desperately against the wall in an attempt to push his body against the larger males. Francis grabbed that hand tightly, stroked him hard, and that was all he needed. Butch clenched his teeth together and let his head drop low, his other hand clapped over his mouth, stifling his cry as he came in the hustler's hand.

For a long while everything was still. Except for breathing, the halted rise and fall of lungs, there was not movement or noise. Butch felt a dull ache creep up over him, but he shut his eyes and tried not to think about it. Little by little motion began, bodies reawakening in the wake of what just happened. Francis clenched and unclenched his bitten fingers, his head resting heavily on Butch's shoulder. He turned his face away from Butch's neck, sucking in deep lungfuls of air. Butch let his hand drop away from his face to do the same, his one arm hanging limp at his side.

Butch looked up at the hand gripping his, forcing his palm into the rough brick. He studied it, watching the darker, larger fingers twitch. They were laced with his, bent in the spaces between his fingers. The tips of them reached the middle of his palm, lifting up some of it, blocking some of it. The hand gripped his tightly, but not too tightly. Enough to keep him still but not enough to make his fingers turn an angry, oxygen deprived red and white. Despite the pain in everything else it made him calm to see Fran's white knuckles against his pale fingers.

When Francis pulled out Butch yelped, and the hustler's other hand flew up to cover his mouth. Butch shut his eyes and tried to remember how to think while the other male held him up, slowly moving his hand away from the panting mouth to clean them both what little he could manage. After a few minutes he let go of Butch's hand, and Butch whined softly, now mostly on his own against gravity. It was becoming increasingly apparent the hustler was more used to this than Butch could ever hope to be. A part of him was disgusted for giving in like that, but a larger part was glad Francis was there to keep him from falling.

Neither said a word. Butch whimpered a little and Francis grunted, but an actual word never passed between them. Once Butch was on his feet he wobbled a little and Francis steadied him with a hand on his shoulder. It might have occurred to them that they hadn't said anything since the hustler threatened to kill aside from hissed curses and half-words. Neither of them thought about it too much, still somewhat hovering in the aftermath.

Butch was limping noticeably once they moved on. It was enough to make the hustler feel guilty and therefore comfortable enough to loop an arm around his waist and guide him out (though Butch twitched in his hold and managed to keep a red ting in his cheeks). Francis even went as far as to ease him in his car and take him home. Butch's parents were out and he assured, in a few mumbled words while he concentrated on ridding his eyes of all the evidence he cried, that he'd make something up. Butch left the car and Francis drove away, and that was the last time they so much as looked at each other.

If questioned they'd say they got into a fight with some assholes, but they were the damn winners, for sure. They wouldn't say any more, Francis simply turning to the next customer and Butch limping off into the shadows, for the simple fact they'd never had the chance to get their story straight. Even Butch, who was always fishing for a good story, kept his mouth firmly shut and his eyes turned anywhere but towards the hustler.

Francis, for his part, noticed Butch more than Butch noticed him. He took note how well the bruises healed on himself compared to the lingering ones on the smoking storyteller. He noticed the limp and soreness slowly dissipate, but he didn't think about those things for too long. Butch pretended not to take too much stock in the way people looked at him or asked questions or notice that the hustler was avoiding him. He just smoked and took some aspirin to make sitting down easier.

They healed physically, sure. The human body was remarkable that way. It remained to be seen, however, if their friendship would mend as easily as bruises and scrapes.



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