Simple Physics

Chapter 11 - Bonding

“No, no, no, no,” said Dash, “that’s the linebacker. Offensive linemen are like…” He searched for a suitable simile, “guard dogs, I guess. They keep people like Richie and I—Richie’s running back—from getting killed. Kwan, see…he’s a lineman. Marquis and Darnell…they’re linebackers.”

Over a month since the astronomy outing and Tucker had yet to provide an ‘explanation’ for either the first or the following times he suddenly ‘had to go’ immediately and without notice—but Dash hadn’t pressed. Despite a now solid habit of kissing, fondling, and—if they had the time and relative privacy—jerking each other off, theirs was still a very delicate ‘relationship’ to say the least. They never touched in school, rarely spoke between classes, and Dash had even gotten fairly good at not staring constantly in physics—sort of. In the halls and at lunch, Tucker associated with Fenton and the goth chick and Dash with his own crowd. Technically, as far as anyone at school knew, he was still happily hooked up with Paulina and tutoring with Tucker was simply a necessary chore.

From the foot of his bed, Dash watched Tucker nudge his glasses up farther on his nose with a considerate frown, eyes on his textbook as he flipped a page. “Ah,” he said, “so…is there anyone on the field who runs away from the place where the large groups of sweaty Neanderthals are trying to dislocate each other’s bones and such?”

Dash raised an eyebrow. They were in his room because, to appease the griping of his teammates, he had asked to move Tuesday and Thursday study sessions to a later hour in order to attend football practice in addition, and Tucker had agreed. Most days, he simply waited—working on his own homework or flipping out his laptop in the physics lab until Dash finished. Today, though, he had had some early incident and disappeared before school even let out, texting later to ask for a temporary new location. Since Dash’s parents worked late pretty reliably every day of the week excluding Sunday, his house had been a prime choice—thus, the presence of Tucker’s socked toes curling against his comforter as he nibbled his lower lip thoughtfully, engrossed in a problem—not that Dash was complaining.

“You make dislocated bones sound like a bad thing…” said Dash, and the desired response—getting Tucker to look up from the text—was achieved. He sent over grin, and Tucker snorted. “Ok, ok,” Dash conceded, “so, umm…the kicker maybe? But that’s not really a ‘position,’ unless you have someone dedicated to that only…running back’s are supposed to avoid the main scuffle—tailbacks especially. Fullbacks block more, tailbacks get the ball, then run like hell…that’s what you’d be.”

“I see,” said Tucker, “and this is if I were overtaken by some feverish delusion that I might actually want to step near a football field?”

Dash shrugged. “Never know. What’s the thing …try everything once? Don’t uh…”

“…knock it till you try it?” suggested Tucker. “Yeah, totally. That’s the exact same thing I told Danny the first time we…err…” As if realizing the direction of that sentence a little too late, Tucker suddenly regained an acute interest in his textbook. “Well, anyway, what problem did you say you were on?”

Dash opened his mouth—almost asked—and then, at the last second, decided he really didn’t want to talk about Fenton either, and answered, “Number two,” instead. Tucker shot him a look. “What?”

“Number two? Seriously?”

What?” returned Dash defensively, “they’re…” Ok, so maybe the problems weren’t really that long—or hard—or, well, anything else but, it was just hard to concentrate when Tucker was concentrating, not only the lip nibbling and the toe curling, but then every now and then he would pop the end of his pen between his lips and then slide it back out and roll it and—well that was just plain torture. “You kept…wiggling,” Dash finished lamely.

Across the bed, Tucker’s abject disbelief softened to a sort of mild, cocky amusement, and suddenly Dash wanted to crawl across the bed, shove that damn textbook out of the way and—

“I see…and this…‘wiggling’…rendered you completely incapable of functioning in any sort of scholarly sense?”

“Uh…” Dash blinked, pulling himself back to the reality of homework and tutoring, and—incapable of scholarly function?—sure, that sounded good, “yeah?” he said.

Tucker rolled his eyes. “Ok, look how’s this…get to problem ten…and then we can take a short intermission, ok?”

“Inter…that’s a break, right?”

Tucker stared.

Yeah, Dash was definitely going to extract his revenge for those looks—soon. It wasn’t his fault normal people didn’t use words like ‘intermission’ and ‘epito…whatever-the-hell-that-word-was’ on a daily basis. For the moment though, he consented to getting back to work. Five minutes later, he nudged Tucker’s toe.

“Hey, what’d you get for number three?”

Tucker dropped his head back against the headboard. “If you want me to explain-”

“Yes, ok, ok, could you ‘explain’ number-”

“Of course, I’d be happy to,” said Tucker, shutting his book and prepping to move, but Dash waved him to a halt.

“No, don’t, just…stay there,” he said, stuffing his own work inside his textbook and closing it up, “I’ll move,” and Tucker watched, but said nothing as he moved up and then sat down, arranging the pillows more to his liking at his back before settling and reopening his text.

After a moment, Tucker shrugged. “Alright, well, the thing to pay attention to with number three is…” And so it went.

By problem seven, they sat not only side by side, but shoulder to shoulder, the textbook spread between them, and it occurred to Dash that if someone had suggested two months ago that he would find himself in his room, on his bed, hunched over a textbook with Tucker Foley curled at his side as they worked together through physics homework—well, he probably would have laughed his ass off—or knocked their lights out—depending on his mood at the time. Given his general temperament, probably the latter. And yet…

Tucker was saying something about energy transfer and relative heat capacity, but Dash was watching the tap of Tucker’s pen to full, brown lips, and when he leaned in, stopping just short of Tucker’s ear and blowing a short, teasing puff of air along the back, Tucker’s explanation came to a teetering halt.

Triumphant, Dash grinned. Emboldened, he leaned in a fraction further, barely brushing his lips up, following the outer edge to the tip, and zeroing in on the soft hitch of Tucker’s breath, the subtle shift of his posture.

“Dash…” Tucker warned.

“Yeah?” he replied in faux-innocence, hooking a thumb under the hem of Tucker’s tee as he spoke and tracing a slow crescent over the warm skin underneath.

“We’re not…” Tucker tapped the book distractedly. “Problem ten, remember? We’re supposed to be…concentrating.”

“Mm…but I am,” said Dash, shifting his hand and sliding more fingers under, feeling the muscles of Tucker’s stomach twitch and tense at the unexpected touch, “you were the one who stopped talking…”

“I…” Tucker’s objection was sharp, but short-lived. To be fair, even amongst the most well-minded of individuals, intellect rarely fared well against instinct, and when ‘instinct’ meant ‘the raging hormones of seventeen-year-old males in their prime’—intellect ran for the hills with a will and a white flag. That said, by the time the textbook hit the floor, the thud of its descent was all but completely ignored, Tucker’s fist already catching in Dash’s shirt and tugging, urging him over, and Dash happily obliging, planting one knee on either side of Tucker’s hips and dipping down, covering one eager mouth with another. Tucker’s hands slid into his clothes as boldly as his slid into Tucker’s, hiking up troublesome shirt material and urging their hips closer, all in all, an entirely favorable situation—at least, until one touch drew a sharp hiss decidedly not pleasurable, and Dash froze immediately.


“It’s nothing,” Tucker assured a little too quickly, though his expression still retained signs of a wince that didn’t look like ‘nothing’ at all—quite the opposite. “Don’t worry about it, just…don’t touch me there,” he said, and Dash frowned, because ‘there’ was nowhere special, just a middle area on Tucker’s side, towards his back in the general area of his left rib, and it shouldn’t have made him wince. He sat up, making Tucker scowl. “I told you,” Tucker insisted, “it’s nothing important, just-” but Dash ignored him.

Scooting back slightly, he motioned Tucker to get up too with a curt command of “Up,” and then, “Take your shirt off,” and after some pause Tucker obeyed the first, but eyed him guardedly about the second.

“Why?” he asked, and Dash met his gaze squarely.

“Because I said so, Foley,” he asserted in his best no-arguments growl, “now just do it,” and for a long moment, he thought Tucker might just snap back and refuse, but then, warily, he complied, lowering his hands to the hem of his shirt and carefully lifting. Dash watched closely as he did it, paying special attention to the exact way he moved his arms, avoiding accidentally bumping into certain areas and moving the cloth cautiously up and over. When he dropped the shirt at his side, Dash turned his attention to the real matter at stake—and swallowed a sharp, jabbing fury. Brown skin hid bruises well—but not that well.

The one Dash had accidentally bumped was the most noticeable, following up Tucker’s side and accompanied by a still-visible scrape higher up, but there were other ones too—smaller ones on his other side and one near his hip—and Tucker’s skin was light enough that the roughest black and purple mars were impossible to hide, but dark enough that Dash could only guess how much he couldn’t see. Suddenly, he wanted desperately to make someone suffer.

“It’s really…not that bad,” said Tucker, “I don’t-”

“Who did this to you?” Dash growled, low, guttural, and—he hoped—threatening enough to let Tucker know he meant business. In front of him, green eyes widened with something akin to—surprise?

“It wasn’t…I mean, no one,” said Tucker, sounding strikingly close to sincere—but Dash wasn’t about to buy it.

“Oh yeah?” he challenged. “So what happened then, huh? It looks like someone laid into you, Tucker…” He waited, and then, after no response, added leadingly, “If your parents-”

“No!” Tucker cut in with startling immediacy. “It wasn’t…I mean, it’s not…” He forced a slow breath, cheeks heating as he shook his head. “This has nothing to do with them,” he assured, softer, and Dash frowned, lost.

Finally, he said, “Ok, so if it’s not them, then…what…?”

“I…” Tucker hesitated, looked almost as if he planned to answer and then—very suddenly—grew sharply defensive, looking away and scowling. “What business is it of yours anyway, huh?” he snapped. “Maybe it was an accident, or I got into some fight at school, or-”

“This isn’t the first time,” interrupted Dash, perfectly sure of himself, and Tucker’s eyes snapped up, momentarily surprised out of his anger.

“You noticed…before…? But…” He frowned—more puzzled than displeased, “you’ve never…” He dropped his eyes. “This is the first time you’ve said anything,” he muttered.

“It took me a while to notice,” Dash admitted, “and then even when I did, you were right…it wasn’t exactly my business-”

“But it is now?” jabbed Tucker.

“-and it could have been an accident,” continued Dash, ignoring the interruption, “at least the first time…but then it didn’t stop, and I started paying attention, and I might be dumb, but I’m not stupid, ok? The football team has enough assholes that I know the difference between this and falling down the stairs…”

Tucker winced tellingly. After a moment, he opened his mouth, as if to comment, but then simply frowned and shut it again.

“Also…this is worse than it’s been before,” said Dash when Tucker said nothing, “and yes…now I’m making it my business.”

Tucker’s frown was deep as he shut his eyes, worried and confused and—the anger was back. “Why though?” he asked, his voice starting soft, almost desperate. “Why do you care?” he said, shaking his head and voice gaining strength with each question. “Why does it matter? Why do you give a fuck what the hell happens to me when I’m not…I don’t know, jerking you off or whatever? I mean I didn’t…I never asked for you to give a shit, I never-”

“You didn’t have to, it just-”

“But I didn’t want-”

“That’s not the poin-”

“Maybe that is the point!” retaliated Tucker, almost shouting now. “You’re not supposed-”

“But I DO! Ok?” shouted Dash, easily topping him. “I give a fucking shit what happens to you! And I don’t care if you never asked for it or never wanted it or if it just happened or whatever but I don’t want people touching you and…I…” Very suddenly, Dash realized he had no idea what, exactly, he had just admitted to—and to what extent—and he swallowed thickly, his heart thrumping hard and fast in his chest like he’d just run a marathon. He realized with sudden, sharp clarity that the idea of anyone else laying a hand on Tucker—for hurt or for otherwise—made him want to snap necks and split skulls, and—he dropped his gaze, voice softening to something barely above a murmur as he grunted, “Nevermind…just…whatever. If you want to keep playing games with your fucking…abusive boyfriend…”

“He’s not my boyf-”

“So it is Fen-”


“Then why does he always call?” accused Dash. “Every other five minutes-”

“Paulina calls-”

“And I ignore her!” insisted Dash, “I haven’t answered her calls in weeks, I haven’t been out with her, I haven’t gotten laid…” and Dash knew, within a half second of having said it, that that was the wrong thing to add at that time. Immediately, he stumbled to backtrack, “I mean…that’s not to say-” but it was too late.

“Well, I am so sorry that I don’t put out fast enough for you,” Tucker snarled coldly, words dripping with sarcasm as he snatched for his shirt, backing out from under Dash’s pin. “So how about this…I’ll leave-”

“Tucker, wait-”

“You can call your girlfriend-”

“No, wait,” fumbled Dash, “I didn’t mean it like-”

“No, really, it’s ok,” insisted Tucker, shirking from Dash’s touch when he reached out and slipping off the bed. “You go get laid. I’ll just-”

“No, Tucker, it’s not-”


“I…” Dash swallowed, feeling suddenly small under Tucker’s sharp, hurt glare, but he held it anyway. “I’m sorry…” he said eventually, softly, “really…ok? I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t care that we’re not fucking, and I don’t want to get laid by Paulina…or any other chick on the cheer squad…or even…well…” He rubbed the back of his neck, frowning as the realization dawned, “…anyone…really,” he admitted, “…except I mean you…eventually…I hope, I guess…” and Tucker held his glare for perhaps another good three seconds—then, visibly, relented, shoulders sagging as he sighed and slumped back in a half-lean against the nearest counter, giving up on putting on his second shoe and dropping his eyes to the floor.

“Could have stopped at ‘I’m sorry,’” he grumbled, but it was half-hearted, “and…it’s alright…I mean…I know you didn’t mean it like that…and…I’m sorry too, I’m just…frustrated…and angry…but it’s not all your fault, and I shouldn’t have taken it all out on you, it was just…you were a handy target…you know?”

And yes, Dash nodded, how could he possibly not know? After all the times he’d thrust his excess anger out on whichever unfortunate victim happened to be closest at the time…

“I wish I could explain, I just…I can’t. It’s not my secret to tell…but you are right…I’m not falling down the stairs…but it’s not abuse, either. It’s not my parents and it’s not Danny, or any other boyfriend. I’m not dating Danny, and I don’t have any other boyfriends…or…err…any boyfriend, that is…”

Dash raised his eyebrows at the foul up, allowing himself the faintest hint of a smirk and venturing a step forward. “Any other boyfriend?” he repeated, watching the soft spread of a dark blush rise in Tucker’s cheeks as he approached. “Any boyfriend other than who?” he asked, shortening the distance between them to a scarce foot and catching a finger under Tucker’s chin, preventing him from diverting his gaze.

“Other than…well…” Tucker swallowed, “…I mean…you, I guess…” he admitted, the last half terribly soft, barely audible—but Dash grinned anyway.


“I mean I know we’re not…I didn’t mean-”

“So, would you be my boyfriend?” Dash asked, “If I asked you out?” and Tucker, for his part, stared.

“Uh…I don’t…I’m not sure, are you…are you asking me out?” he asked, and Dash shrugged.

“I don’t know,” he said, “maybe…” and Tucker rolled his eyes.

“Ok, then,” he snarked, folding his arms with a coy grin, “how’s this: I don’t know…maybe I would,” and Dash groaned, dropping their foreheads together. Tucker snickered. “Ok, ok, but,” He held up a finger, “if I were going to date you…there would have to be some conditions…”

“Oh, yeah?” said Dash, “Like what?”

“Like, hmm…you’d have to be single…first of all,” said Tucker, “and then, let’s see…you’d have to actually, you know, like guys…? Other than that…well…I guess the other things you can’t really help so…that’s probably it.”

Dash raised an eyebrow. “Uh-huh…ok, well…as it turns out, there is actually this one guy I like…”

“Really?” replied Tucker with mock surprise, “Do tell…”

“Well, he can be a pain in the ass sometimes…and he’s hard as hell to shut up…but he is pretty cute…or…kina more adorable-hot really, and…his sense of humor kina makes up for the hard as hell to shut up part most of the time…”

“I see…and what’s his name?” asked Tucker. “Sounds like maybe you should ask him out…”

Dash snorted. “Tucker-”


“No,” Dash bumped their noses and leaned down, half an inch from a kiss, “that’s his name…Tucker,” and Tucker’s lips curved into a soft “Oh,” moments before they disappeared under Dash’s own.

“For the record,” Tucker murmured when they parted, “I kina like you too…” and Dash didn’t know where Tucker went or why, or what happened to him when he did—but he knew Tucker liked him, and he was happier than he could remember being in a long, long time. 



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