Simple Physics

Chapter 6 - Temperature

Monday. Tucker scowled. His head hurt, his back hurt, his left toe still throbbed from where he stubbed it earlier that morning, he was cold, hungry, sopping wet, and if that weren’t enough, he was also already at least thirty minutes late for school, if not more. Sighing, he shifted his backpack to the opposite shoulder and began trudging up the front steps to Casper High, soaked sneakers squelching sloppily with every step. He hated Mondays.

If he were completely honest with himself, Tucker would have to admit that his foul mood actually began about ten seconds before he climbed into his car Friday night. That, though, would mean admitting that he had really wanted Dash to kiss him, and even considering that possibility tended to put him in an even worse mood. So, instead, he blamed his mood on a variety of other things including, but not limited to: his faulty alarm clock—which had failed to wake him up on time—his mother—who had failed to inform him that the car had broken down—his car—which had broken down—his poor eyesight—which had lead him to stub his toe searching for his glasses—his lousy mood swings—which had caused him to swing wildly at the alarm clock when it finally had gone off and knock his glasses of his nightstand in the first place—and just about everything else which had ultimately lead to him walking to school, alone, in the rain, and arriving late, wet, freezing and starved.

When he first stepped inside, the air-conditioned air hit him hard, like a very unwelcome first taste of winter, and Tucker swore, crossing his arms uselessly against the chill as it swept him tip to toe. By the time he made it to his locker, he couldn’t feel his feet. Teeth chattering, he struggled over his locker combo with numb fingers and wondered if the office kept towels handy. Surely they wouldn’t allow a student into class soaking wet? Then again, Tucker thought as he finally managed to work his lock open, any sane student probably would have stayed home long before they worked themselves into the mess he had.

Footsteps down the hall drew his attention upward, and he almost groaned aloud, sagging against his locker as Mr. Lancer approached. “Mr. Foley, is that you?” the teacher inquired. “What are you doing out of class? Shouldn’t you be…” The sentence trailed off as he came close enough to pick up on all the details, and he frowned sordidly. “Mr. Foley, are you trying to break the necks of every member of the student body and faculty combined?”

“Er…what?” Tucker asked blearily.

“The floor, Mr. Foley. You’re sopping wet. Not to mention-”

“Mr. Lancer!” an all-too-familiar voice called out from down the hall, accompanied by running footsteps, and Tucker shut his eyes miserably, desperately wondering if life could get worse. “Mr. Lancer,” Dash said again, arriving at a half jog and looking surprisingly out of breath, “I was supposed to…give this to you.” He held out a slip of paper Tucker didn’t recognize, and Lancer took it. “I couldn’t find you in the office, so—Tucker?” Dash stopped talking abruptly, apparently noticing Tucker for the first time. Tucker shifted awkwardly as Dash’s gaze started at his feet and rose none too quickly, lingering far too long to be entirely casual. When blue eyes met green, Dash frowned. “What the h-…err…what happened to you?” he asked, and Lancer raised an eyebrow.

“I was just trying to determine that myself,” the teacher commented dryly, turning his eyes on Tucker with a look that in no way resembled the one Dash gave him a moment before. Tucker swallowed, vaguely aware of Dash’s eyes roaming free now over his sopped body as he struggled in vain to concentrate on Lancer.

“I…was…well, you see,” he fumbled, cheeks flushing embarrassingly. “My alarm…it…err…” Well, fuck. Tucker shut his eyes and took a breath, wondering what he wouldn’t give for Danny’s powers right then—invisibility, most specifically.

“Mr. Foley, you have some serious explaining to do,” Lancer said, stern and disapproving. “Perhaps you should meet me in my office and we can have a nice long talk about the proper manner in which to-”

“Sir?” Dash interrupted, then blushed when Lancer turned to him. “Err, sorry, sir.”

“Yes, Mr. Baxter?”

“Well, I was just thinking…umm…I mean he is…sort of wet…”

Tucker almost choked in a barely-successful attempt to stifle his laughter, and Lancer gave him a sharp look before returning his attention to Dash.

“Yes, Mr. Baxter,” Lancer acknowledged. “Do you have a better suggestion for how I should handle Mr. Foley’s tardy and poor conduct?”

Poor conduct? Tucker glared venomously at the injustice, but managed to keep his mouth shut.

“It’s just that, well, I’m in weight-lifting right now,” Dash explained. “That’s where I’d be headed back to, and…I could show him to the locker room, since it’s right on the way, you know…get him some towels and a change of clothes. I mean, only if you thought that would be okay, I guess. It’s just…he can’t really…go to class like that…right?”

If anything, Lancer looked impressed. Surprised, but impressed. “Alright, Mr. Baxter,” he said at length, “you’ve got yourself a deal. Mr. Foley,” He turned to Tucker, “you’re temporarily off the hook. But I want to see you immediately after you’ve made yourself suitable, do you understand?”

Tucker nodded.

“And I believe you owe Mr. Baxter a hearty thank you, as well.”

“Erm…right,” said Tucker, and then Lancer left, and Tucker was on his own, alone in the hallway with Dash Baxter, about to be lead down to the locker room where he would be alone, again, with Dash Baxter, and he wondered what strange fates guided his miserable mortal life—something with a twisted sense of humor, that was for sure. “So,” he muttered, turning to eye Dash, whose gaze seemed to have meandered down to somewhere in the vicinity of his rain soaked posterior, “Since when have you taken to sticking up for my sorry wet ass, huh?”

Dash temporarily postponed his examination of said body part in favor of looking up, a slight frown marring his features. Eventually, he shrugged. “Since I started taking to grabbing it, I guess,” he answered, shoving his hands in his pockets and nodding his head off down the hall, apparently unconcerned with the matter. “Come on. Let’s get you out of those clothes.”

Suddenly, Tucker wasn’t quite so cold anymore. He swallowed. “Right. I’ll umm…okay.” He bent to scoop up his waterlogged backpack, then proceeded to follow Dash down the hall. Something told him Lancer might have a while to wait.

“So,” Dash began about thirty seconds into their trek, “you look like you just climbed out of the ocean, Foley. Did you walk to school?”

Thunder clapped overhead, shaking the cheap ceiling panels, and the lights flickered all down the hall, creating an eerie, horror-movie effect that made Tucker frown. “Actually,” he replied, “yeah. I did.”

Dash eyed him critically, looking skeptical, disapproving, and—concerned? He turned his head before Tucker could analyze the look further. “Isn’t that…dangerous? Or something?”

More thunder—a deep, slow roll that sounded like an approaching train, except several octaves lower—and Tucker shuffled his backpack uneasily, unsettled by the obvious ferocity of the storm. “It…wasn’t that bad when I left.”

“Hnph.” Dash’s grunt was curt and unsatisfied, but he let the subject drop. “Here we are,” he said a moment later, stopping outside a closed metal door and dragging a jumbled ring of keys from his pocket. Tucker watched as he selected a small copper one and frowned.

“Is it always locked?” he asked.

Dash shrugged, twisting the key and giving the door a short shove. It came open without much trouble. “The football team uses it for changing and storage when in season. Same for basketball in the spring…I guess they just don’t want people coming in and messing around without permission.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Tucker said, following after Dash and taking in his surroundings with peaked curiosity.

It was a large room, well furnished, and newer looking than the rest of the school. The walls proudly sported the school colors and mascot in fresh paint, long benches lined the each one, several littered with scattered sports equipment, and the lockers looked to be in better condition than any Tucker had seen in the halls. Around the corner, he saw signs of bathrooms and showers, and, once through with his optical circumnavigation of the room, he raised his eyebrows.

“Nice place,” he commented. “I’ve never seen it before.”

“You wouldn’t,” Dash said. “They reserve it for the sports teams only. No one else ever really comes in.”

Tucker nodded, but said nothing. Behind him, Dash pulled the door shut with a click, and Tucker drew a slow breath. “So,” he prompted, toeing off his shoes and curling his numb feet against the cool cement flooring, “I was promised towels?”

“Yeah. You should change first, though.”

“What exactly-”

“Guys from the team leave their junk in here all the time,” Dash explained. “Some of them never reclaim it, so we always have this huge pile of lost and found that no one ever looks at.” He had crossed to the center of the room, but turned around then, surveying Tucker’s figure once more before frowning slightly. “I don’t think anyone’s as small as you,” he concluded, “but I’m pretty sure you could find something that wouldn’t fall off. No one would care, in any case, and at least it’ll be dry.”

“Ah,” was Tucker’s brilliant reply. “Okay…um,” He took another glance around the room, “Where’s that, then?”

Dash pointed, and Tucker followed his indication to a rather large box in the far corner of the room, tucked back at the end of the row of lockers. Great heaps of god-knows-what spilled from the edges, some of it littering the surrounding floor, and Tucker almost winced at the daunting arrangement. Better than nothing, though, he conceded, and approached it warily.

After a prolonged period of sifting and winnowing, Tucker ultimately settled on a loose white tee and a pair of faded black jeans at least three sizes too large—the smallest of the batch. Thunder drum rolled overhead as he stood, and he set his selections aside on the nearest bench.

“So,” he said, suddenly anxious for conversation as he faced the fact that sooner or later, he was going to have to start taking clothes off, and Dash wasn’t likely to leave anytime soon. “How was your weekend?”

Dash snorted. “Fine, I guess,” he answered without enthusiasm. “You?”

Tucker thumbed the hem of his shirt. “Lackluster,” he replied.

That earned him a very puzzled look. “Lake-what?”

“It could have been better,” Tucker clarified. He twisted his finger into the wet cloth, watching a small stream of water trickle to the floor as he did so, and frowned. It wasn’t that he was shy or ashamed of his body, but the idea of stripping here, in front of Dash—

“Do you want me to turn around?” the quarterback asked impatiently. Seconds later, he caught Tucker’s soaking shirt just in time to avoid being hit in the face. “Hey!” he retorted, “I was just-”

“Dick,” Tucker sniped. “Where’s my towel?”

Dash rolled his eyes, tossing the wet shirt to the side and taking his fill of Tucker’s new shirtless state. “Demanding, aren’t you?” he said, gaze lingering long enough to make Tucker shuffle under the observation. “And temperamental to boot…” Dash strode across the room, opening a closet down near the showers and dragging forth the requested towel. “Do you want white, tan, beige, or-”

“Just get me a damn-” Tucker grunted as something warm and fluffy hit his chest, and suddenly Dash was right there, all blue eyes and hot breath and soft lips three inches from his face and—Tucker swallowed. “Dash-”

“You’ll need to loose those pants too.”

Tucker opened his mouth, shut it, and curled his fingers in the towel, holding it subconsciously closer. “Right…”

“You can use one of those shower stalls, if you want,” Dash said. Then, after a pause he added, “Unless you think you might need some help?” and Tucker’s neck burned.

“Um, no, that’s…” He cleared his throat. “That’s quite alright. I think…I can…ah…handle it. By myself, that is, yeah…” He tried to back up, almost tripped on his pants, and swore. After catching his balance, he gave a hastily disappeared into one of the aforementioned stalls.

Outside, he heard Dash snickering and glowered at the white tiles that made up the shower wall, silently swearing revenge as he wrestled with his wet jeans. The soaked material clung to his skin like glue, sticking and catching, but the showers were spacious, so he eventually managed to get them off and, after a moment’s debate, removed his boxers as well. No point in changing into dry pants if he had on wet underwear underneath.

The chosen black jeans practically fell off his hips, bunched hopelessly around his ankles and grated on certain sensitive parts of his anatomy, but at least they stayed up. The white tee looked more like a sheet than a shirt, but it masked how low slung the jeans were, so he decided not to worry about it. He emerged from the stall with the towel draped over his head, wringing out his old clothes as thoroughly as possible and stepping widely to avoid another embarrassing trip up on the bottoms of his pants.

“Where do you get your exercise?” was Dash’s first question upon his exit.

Tucker looked up mid-wring, boxers in hand and extended as he tried to extract as much water as possible from the drenched apparel. “Excuse me?”

“Your exercise,” Dash repeated. He was leaning against one of the lockers, arms folded across his chest, key ring dangling from one finger and clinking as he swung it back and forth. “You must get it somewhere.”

“Uh…” Tucker slung all his old clothes over one of the benches, then sat down, turning to the process of tugging off his wet socks. “I don’t know…why?”

Dash snorted, as if it were obvious. “‘Cause you’re fit, Foley, why the hell else? I always thought you were just skinny…didn’t eat much or something. Under all the bags you wear all the time, you can’t really tell.”

Tucker didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted or both. He decided to hold judgment.

“But you’re not just skinny,” Dash continued. “You’ve got muscle too, and a fair amount of it.” He pushed up off the lockers. “You don’t get that from hacking computer programs, Foley. What do you do?”

“I, umm…” Tucker hung his socks over the bench beside his pants. “I run,” he answered. And it was true. So he ran for his life as opposed to exercise, so what? If he was fit because ghosts and plasmas-shooting specters seemed frequently bent on destroying him and his friends, so be it. Dash didn’t need to know the details. He spent a lot of time running.

“Every day?” Dash asked.

Tucker thought of Skulker and Technus, Desiree, Walker, and Spectra with Bertrand. He thought of running to and from vehicles, plans gone wrong, last minute escapes. He thought of Danny and Sam and way, way too many close calls. “Yeah,” he said, trying to remember the name of the last spooky thing to invade Amity Park with aspirations of world domination. It had become such a habit now, they all sort of blended together. “Pretty much.”


Tucker looked up, surprised to find Dash’s eyes on his face for once, as opposed to everywhere else. “Fast as I can,” he answered.

A long pause ensued, and he knew he should get up and gather his stuff, wring his socks out one last time and put his shoes back on, go see Lancer and get on to class. For some reason, though, he never got around to the actual getting up part, and so he sat there, watching Dash watch him and contemplating the meaning of life—his own, in particular.

Finally, he sighed. “Dash-”

“You didn’t have to put your shirt back on.”

“I-” Tucker frowned as the statement sunk in. “Wait…what?”

“Your shirt,” Dash said again. “You look better without it.”

Tucker tilted his head speculatively. “Oh?” he said, almost amused. “And the rest of the school will just…accept my going around topless without comment?”

“Who said anything about the rest of the school?”

Tucker smiled but shook his head. “I did,” he said, grabbing his damp socks and standing with every intention of going over to get his shoes and preparing to leave for Lancer’s office. He didn’t make it two steps before Dash’s hand shackled his wrist.



“I…” Dash faltered there, choosing his words carefully. “I had fun Friday,” he said at last.

Tucker’s mouth opened, but instead of, “I have to go,” he said, “I did too,” and the next thing he knew Dash was stepping forward and he was stepping back, and somewhere along the line his back hit a wall. Then Dash had one hand to the side of his face, caging him in, and the other on his forearm, tugging him forward, and when he opened his mouth, “Wait, Dash, we shouldn’t,” mutated halfway through into something closer to, “Whmm, Dash…” as Dash’s lips descended on his own and then—then it didn’t matter anymore.

Soft and smooth and salty: Tucker’s lashes drooped as Dash’s mouth slid across his, swallowing his whisper of, “Fuck, you’re warm,” and effectively driving any notions of Lancer and tardy slips to the farthest reaches of his conscious. Right then, Dash tasted of sweat and peppermint, the lingering remains of weight-lifting mixed with—chewing gum, perhaps?—sweet and saline and fresh and breathtaking all at once. Everything else could wait.

Dash’s kiss devoured him—hot and hungry—a weekend’s worth of pent up sexual energy put to the sole task of driving Tucker Foley insane. Before long, his grip on Tucker’s forearm slid up, ultimately finding purchase at the back of his neck and immediately weaving tightly into the dark, damp braids, guiding him purposefully from one motion to the next. Tucker’s hands on Dash’s chest, originally a barricade, curled into the fabric of his jersey, urging him forward in a brazen demand for more contact, more heat, more everything. Then, teeth caught his lower lip, tugging and licking and sucking and before he knew it, Tucker was on his toes, arching into Dash’s pin and panting into his mouth and wondering why the hell he’d never been kissed like this before.

A hand skimmed his stomach, but Tucker barely noticed: Dash’s tongue was venturing past his teeth now, spreading his lips wide and sliding across his own and dipping and curling and fucking his mouth, and Tucker shuddered, throwing pride to the wind as his hips arched of their own accord and his knees quivered dangerously. Surely this kind of thing was illegal somewhere…

Then, very abruptly, he became aware that at some point, kissing and touching had elevated to grinding and groping, and Dash’s thumb was skirting under the hem of his pants, and as fucking wonderful as that felt—

“Shit,” Tucker cursed, stilling Dash’s hand in bold defiance of every hormone in his body currently screaming something along the lines of: Dash, Tucker, sweat, sex, floor, now. “Wait, Dash…this isn’t…oh, damn.” Tucker shut his eyes, visibly shaking as he made a very conscious effort to regain some semblance of control over his heart and lungs. Dash’s treacherously close proximity wasn’t helping things. “First,” he panted breathlessly, “what…was that?”

“Hn,” Dash’s breath slid down his neck like a hot fog, humid and clingy, raising goosebumps that had nothing to do with his early morning encounter with Mother Nature. “Something I thought about all fucking weekend,” Dash answered thickly, and Tucker shivered as teeth caught his earlobe, gently nipped and tugged, and—oh hell. “Something I should have done Friday night.”

“Damn right,” Tucker snapped, though it came out less forceful than he intended, partially due to the fact that somewhere along the line, their lips had begun meeting again—short, breathy kisses stolen between words—and if nothing else, Dash knew how to kiss. Then, Dash’s hand ventured in dangerous territory again, reminding Tucker of why he pulled back in the first place, and he swore. Stopping him the second time was immensely more difficult than the first. “Dash-”

“Why not?” Dash insisted, frustrated and flushed and fucking hot, prep crowd or no.

“Because…” Tucker swallowed, suddenly finding it very difficult to answer that question himself. “Because, I…”

“You’re not wearing any underwear, Foley,” Dash reminded him huskily, rolling his hips forward for emphasis, and Tucker made a strangled noise in the back of his throat, chopped and breathy, as his body jerked under the stimulation.

“Yes,” he answered weakly, “but that’s not…” He shut his eyes. “Damn it, Dash…I have a date with Lancer. We can’t-”

“Fuck Lancer,” Dash murmured.

“But…mm…” Well, that just worked splendidly, Tucker thought sardonically as Dash’s lips closed over his again, effectively muting him. “But,” he put in as soon as a spare moment arose, “I don’t want to fuck Lancer.”

That—well—that did work splendidly.

Instantly, Dash groaned, and not in the good way. When he pulled back, he gave Tucker the most desperate, partially mortified, and exceedingly put-out expression he had ever witnessed, accompanied by an, “Ew,” that said millions. “Tucker,” he whined, but Tucker was slipping out from under him, stuffing on his socks and squelching into his shoes. “Did you really, really have to-”

“Obviously,” Tucker pecked his cheek, “I really, really did,” he said, thoroughly bemused by the fact that football players could, in fact, pout—and rather adorably at that. “Oh, come on,” he soothed a moment later, “you’ll live. If it makes you feel better, I promise to skip out on the underwear some other time, alright?”

That got Dash’s attention. “Really?”

Tucker raised an eyebrow. “Would I say it if I didn’t mean it?”

“Maybe. I don’t know you that well.”

“Hm,” Tucker tugged on his backpack, “We should work on that,” he said. “Until then, yes, really. You leave me be to go deal with Lancer, and sometime in the future, I’ll leave the boxers at home.”

“Do I choose the day?”

“You…umm…” Tucker considered this. “I…guess. Yeah. Sure. If you want.”

Dash held out his hand, and for a moment Tucker just stared. “Shake on it, Foley.”

Tucker blushed. “Oh.” But he accepted the hand, and this time, there was no startled noise when Dash tugged him forward, just a slight tumble, then a contented hum as their lips met.

Maybe Mondays weren’t so bad after all.  



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