Simple Physics

Chapter 17 - Balance

"Shit, shit, shit…" Tucker strung the words so closely together they barely counted as separate exclamations. "I'm gonna fall, I'm gonna fall, I'm gonna-"

"'Course you're gonna fall," Dash agreed, and then grinned in spite of himself when Tucker shot him a startled, innately distracted glare – and nearly lost his precious balance in the process. "I mean it's sorta a given," he reasoned, obliging his boyfriend's nervousness despite his teasing and tightening his grip. "If you managed the whole round without a single screw up, that'd be like…"

"Well, it's…yeah…but…you said…" Tucker spoke brokenly, his attention clearly divided. Apparently simultaneously putting together functional sentences and keeping his body at least marginally upright was more work than it looked like. As it was, Dash found himself making up for a substantial portion of Tucker's lack of balance anyway. Not that he particularly minded the extra contact.

"I said I'd teach you," Dash reiterated, attempting to lead by example in getting Tucker to rearrange his feet, motioning them farther apart and straightening the angles. "Doesn't mean you don't still have to learn…"

"Well, yeah, of course I know that, I just…" Tucker frowned. "Err, wait…what?"

Chuckling, Dash just shook his head and waved it off. "Nothin'. Here, just…okay, first off, you're gonna have to relax some…"

It surprised him, actually, how easily he shifted into 'teacher' mode despite never having assumed the role before – excluding perhaps training sessions with the team and every so often shepherding rookie recruits, but that felt different somehow. That was a chore, and a pain at that. Freshman always thought they knew everything – or at least knew better than anyone giving out advice or orders – and seemed to feel obligated to buck any yolk put on them. Tucker, though, learned with an open mind, almost like a child – unassuming, impressionable, and, well, trusting.

"You won't get anywhere wound up like kicker about to go for the deciding point," Dash advised, "Here…" and he took one of Tucker's hands in each of his, feeling the twitch and clench of Tucker's grip as his weight teetered and adjusting appropriately. "The first step is to at least catch your balance standing straight…"

It was Thursday afternoon, barely two weeks since the rocky kick-off into their "official" relationship, and Dash was making good of his promise to teach Tucker to skate. Soon, the ice would be hazardously thin and mandatory afterschool basketball practice would begin demanding increasing amounts of Dash's time as the semester progressed, but for now, the lightly overcast skies and after school hours gave them a practical monopoly on their chosen corner of the lake. Perfect settings, for a beginner.

"Good," Dash encouraged sincerely, eyes on Tucker's feet as he slowly weened himself from complete dependency on external support. "Now, I've got you, and I'm not gonna let go, so you can trust me…but you can't be afraid of the ice either," he stressed, "'cause you are gonna fall, and-"

"Oh, gee, thanks-"

"-but that's part of it…okay?" Dash insisted, amusement creeping up on him despite his resolution to remain at least reasonably serious, and Tucker grunted indistinctly, accompanying the sound with no small amount of under-his-breath muttering that seemed to pose the question as to why anyone would ever willingly engage in a sport where 'part of it' was inevitably falling on one's rear. Since, as far as Dash knew, most all sports fell into that category somewhere along the line, he opted not to comment. In any case, the statement seemed rather hypocritical at best, considering Tucker himself obviously fell under the category of "willing participant," at least for the time being.

"Right, okay, good…now, spread your legs som-"

In retrospect, Dash would admit that perhaps his exact choice of words there had some room for improvement. As it was, the sequence of events the transpired as a consequence all unfolded within the span of a few short seconds, leaving him too little time to reconsider, much less take anything back or compensate.

First, within a half-second of the initial utterance, Tucker's grip tightened substantially, gloved hands tensing in his as startled green eyes grew briefly wide, and then, Tucker's sense of balance apparently ran for the hills, because in the next second his center of gravity took a swift and unanticipated dive, making him quite impossible to hold up. Thus, two seconds and a startled half-yelp later they were both – despite Dash's best efforts – little more than a disoriented heap of tangled limbs, prone on the ice. After several long moments of blinking dizzily up to the skies above, Dash rolled his head, casting a squinted, sidelong glance in Tucker's direction.

"Ow…?" was the grand sum of his woes.

Turning a rather distinguished shade of dark, cherry-brown, Tucker scrambled immediately to right himself. At least, Dash thought, he managed to look sincerely bashful in the process, awkwardly pushing back and attempting to remove as much of his weight from Dash's torso as quickly as possible – with mixed results – gloves and knees slipping more than once on the uncooperative ice.

"That…I…it was…" Tucker fumbled the words with impressive indiscretion, and from the ground, Dash wondered how 'ridiculously flustered' and 'totally adorable' managed to co-exist so peacefully together in one expression. "You said…told me to…see…" At last, he reached a sort of quasi-stable, half-sitting posture, perched on toes and knees with one hand still to the ice, and Dash, in no great rush to extend much effort resituating himself, scooted only enough to prop himself up on his elbows, raising a questioning eyebrow.

"So, wait, I told you to what now?" he asked, almost as intrigued as he was amused. "You're saying this was my fault?"

Tucker, cheeks still alight, dropped his eyes, apparently suddenly fascinated with a loose shred of ice. Distractedly utilizing his one free hand to resettle partly-dislodged glasses, he shook his head. "No, no, I meant…you just told me to…that is, umm…never mind, I guess. Sorry," he apologized. "I just was, uhh…got distracted."

Unconvinced, Dash snorted as he sat up, shaking his head and trying to think back. "All I was doin' was trying to help you steady yourself. Get your balance, spread your…" He blinked, a thought dawning in that moment, and he immediately his eyes darted back to Tucker, who in turn shook his head. "Wait…was it…?"

"No. Don't even-"

"It was," Dash realized, triumphant, and paid no heed whatsoever to Tucker's warning, rolling straight over whatever remained of the sentence with a burst of bright, bubbling laughter. "You…it was…because…" His snickers broke up the words, continuing straight on until weight hit his chest again, a gloved hand making a clumsy attempt at muzzling his words.

"You…" Tucker ground out between dips and swerves, fighting with both himself and gravity for balance as he continued to make easily deflectable attempts to stifle Dash's snickering, "…ass-"

"Yeah, actually…" Dash retorted playfully, still grinning from ear to ear as Tucker nearly flopped on top of him in the midst of his attempts, "…yours really isn't half bad, now that you mention it. I might even-"


Dash rolled strategically. Then, in a smooth, practiced move, he righted himself before Tucker even recovered from his absence, moving up into a crouch, steadying his feet and his balance, and then standing promptly. When he took two quick, skated steps backwards, Tucker – abandoned – threw him a pout.

"Dash…" he whined, "…so not fair," and Dash, safely out of reach, raised an eyebrow.

"Oh, what, I'm the good guy now?"

Tucker gave a dramatized sniff, but somewhere along the line – between the pout, being obviously trapped on all fours on the ice, and that look – he somehow pulled off a surprisingly compelling damsel in distress act, and with little more than a keened, "Please?" Dash caved and came back, careful not to skate too near Tucker's fingers.

"Alright, alright, here…" He offered a hand, stooping slightly and bracing himself as Tucker reached up, and in the next few moments they worked in tandem, playing a metaphorical game of hot potato with a precarious balance of weight and equilibrium to get his smaller, less-than-steady boyfriend successfully back on his feet. Finally, Tucker landed against his chest with a huff, and a moment later groaned, turning his face in to the front of Dash's jacket and curling his fingers into the fabric, as if letting go at that point would mean another certain tumble to the ice.

"This," Tucker professed, voice muffled by the fleece of Dash's coat, "is irrefutable proof…that sports…suck," but Dash registered very little past the initial collision, his focus monopolized instead by the presence of Tucker, radiating body heat, and curled obliviously into his chest, mumbling against him.

Had they ever hugged before? And if not, did this count? The thoughts flit in innocently enough, but lingered with stubborn persistence. It didn't seem like they had, Dash thought, but maybe he just wasn't remembering clearly. It was a sort of girly thing, cuddly, and soft, and – he blinked – when, exactly, had his arms wound their way around Tucker's waist, anyway? Tucker smelled nice.


"Huh? Oh, yeah, right. Sure," he said, not quite sure of much besides the fact that Tucker seemed to be waiting for an answer of some sort, but in his experience agreeing usually worked well in those kinds of situations, so he went with it. Tucker's glasses looked half fogged; he said as much, and Tucker chuckled, but reached for his glasses anyway. It was the chuckle that inspired Dash's next, "What?" and Tucker blinked up at him.


"What's funny?"

"Oh, nothing," Tucker responded, smiling even as he shook his head, and Dash pursed his lips in disbelief. A moment before he could raise the issue again though, Tucker replaced his glasses and grinned, saying with just enough amusement to make it impossible to miss, "I laughed because you just agreed with me that sports suck," and Dash, caught, felt the heat – first creeping up his neck, then blooming on his face.

"Oh, no, I was—that was just, it…uh, ha-"

How Tucker managed to find the balance to lean up, catch Dash's shoulders, and cut off his sputtering with a neat, and effectively silencing, peck on the lips was far beyond Dash's then-capacity for organized thought – or at least, it probably would have been, had he bothered to expend any mental effort puzzling it out. As it was, very little thought went into anything at all past the part where Tucker sealed off the tail end of his sentence with two lips that very rarely allowed him enough spare concentration to go on thinking anyway.

"Have I ever told you," Tucker said quietly in the next moment, after pulling away enough to speak, but not so much that Dash couldn't still feel the warmth of his words in the form of puffs of white breath curling between them, "you have a really cute blush."

Dash, who was pretty certain he had never, in fact, received any such comment in his life – most likely because there were very few persons he could think of who would ever even dare say such a thing and none but his mother would fit the type to actually utter the words aloud, and she of course didn't count in the least – didn't get much past blushing even hotter and muttering something highly sophisticated like, "Erm…" before Tucker grinned and saved him from having to make any further comment by continuing on himself.

"Didn't think so…s'okay, though, trust me: you do. Come on…" His hands dropped some, back around to where they were on Dash's arms pre-fall, "…you can't tell me our lesson's over already, right?"

"Oh, umm…" Mentally, Dash breathed a huge sigh of relief, and maybe some of it showed externally too, because Tucker chuckled – a warm, friendly chuckle that Dash could forgive him for, though – and Dash smiled. "Yeah, 'course not…but first…" He leaned in, taking advantage of the close proximity to let the words tease up the curve of Tucker's ear, "…you'll have to agree to listen to me whenever I tell you how much to spread your legs…" and Tucker's grip on his arms tightened, "…without sending us both falling on our asses…deal?" He felt the heat of Tucker's cheeks on his neck. Oh yeah, revenge was sweet.

"Okay…" He heard, and felt, Tucker's quick swallow, but when Tucker leaned back, he met him dead in eye, "…but…you gotta promise to go slow and not tease me, since this is my first time and all…"

Dash blinked. Half the trouble with dating someone smart, he decided, had to be that no conversation could go by without it taking on multiple, interwoven interpretations.

"To be fair," Tucker cut into his thought process, "you started it…" and Dash briefly considered adding 'reads minds' to the long list of strange and unusual talents Tucker apparently possessed that he had yet to – and to be honest, probably never would – understand.

Instead, he huffed, smirking just slightly. "'Course," he said, pleased to note that it came out sounding as about smug as he meant and not quite so distracted as he felt. "Wouldn't wanna scare you off after the first lesson…but," He took hold of Tucker's hands and backed up some, adding back the foot or so of space between them necessary to get back to practicing, "you gotta know…a little teasing is like…can't go without it."

Tucker opened his mouth – probably to argue – but Dash cut him off with a prompt dive back into teacher mode, and surprisingly enough, Tucker let it go, conceding not only to letting Dash have the last word but also to reassuming the skater-in-training role without a fuss. It was amazing, really.

After thirty minutes, Tucker declared stalwartly that Dash truly was trying only to kill him and that should they continue much longer, Dash would have cart him bridal style back to the river bank for lack of other means to lug him and his soon-to-be-useless legs to a place of relative safety for rest. Dash, of course, gamely agreed, all the while fully aware that, judging from the look on his face, Tucker totally thought he was kidding. After fifty-six minutes, almost as many falls, and seven "near death experiences," Tucker made a sharp, yelping noise of the sort he probably wouldn't admit to later, and immediately began demanding with fierce purpose that Dash put him down because-

"I was kidding! Dash, Dash, Dash-"






"Put. Me. Down!" Tucker demanded, his arms – quite contrary to his words, to Dash's intense amusement – winding themselves tighter around Dash's neck and shoulders with every outburst. "This is ridiculous! I was lying, I admit it, okay? I take it all back…my legs work fine! I can wal—err—skate! Back, that is, to the ground, where it's—please, Dash, just…ohhhh, fuck, fuck, fuck, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, you're gonna drop me and we're gonna fall and we're gonna skewer ourselves on our skates and there's gonna be blood and broken bones and tragedy and somebody's gonna have to call an ambulance and-"


"Mm?" was something of a muffled whine buried into the nook of Dash's neck and shoulder.

"Ready to get down now?"

"If-" The sentence started with all the power and panicked flare of the last stream of ranting, but Dash guessed comprehension dawned somewhere mid-stream, a fraction of a second after the first word, because following that both Tucker and his words stilled. Then, very cautiously, Tucker's grip lessened, and carefully, so as not to further agitate his already somewhat-riled boyfriend, Dash lowered his load, setting him down on the narrow bench before them and raising his eyebrows in good-natured amusement.

"Okay?" he asked, forced into a crouch because Tucker's arms had never quite relinquished full possession of his neck, and, as if snapped from a reverie, Tucker suddenly looked aptly abashed and dropped his hold, tucking his hands hastily back into the warmth and safety of his own clothes instead.

"We…lived," he observed, still managing to sound stunned when he said it, and Dash, standing and reaching his hands behind his head in a lethargic stretch, nodded.

"Yup, we sure did," he agreed, and Tucker pursed his lips.

"You really shouldn't have done that, though…"

"Ah," Dash plopped down on the bench, earning him a blink and a stare before he propped up a foot on his knee and began working on his laces, "and how come?"

"Umm…'cause it was dangerous?" Tucker suggested, and Dash huffed.

"It was easy," he said, meaning it.

Tucker looked dubious. "I'm heav-"

"You're not."

"A body in general, even one you might think is light, is still heavy," Tucker insisted, "…err, you know, relatively speaking, and…a lot…could have gone wrong? I mean, what if you'd lost your balance, or twisted your ankle or tripped on something or…"

Dash finished with his second skate and reached under the bench for the bag they'd stored there, fishing out his original shoes and a fresh, dry pair of socks. "I've been skating since I was five," he said, tugging on one of the aforementioned socks, "and you don't weigh much more than a heavy sack of laundry, so…" He passed over Tucker's shoes as he spoke, "trust me…" Tucker accepted the offering with a raised eyebrow, "…it wasn't that hard."

"Mm." Tucker still sounded less than convinced, but at least the utterly distraught phase seemed to have ended, and Dash caught the budding stages of a smile. "So…that's a common method of getting people where you want them, then? You know, just up and cart them off and plop them down wherever looks good at the time?"

Dash snorted, but smiled as he shook his head. "Nah…" He stood, snatching up the bag and offering Tucker a hand up, which he took, "…only the ones I like," and, with the perfect opportunity practically dangled in front of him, Dash bent forward, closing his mouth over whatever reply might have followed.

It crossed his mind – briefly, as Tucker's fingers twitched a fraction tighter into his own and a short, breathy sound of surprise broke against his lips – that they were in a public place, in broad daylight, and that if anyone happened to walk by, they would undoubtedly get a free eyeful of gay, teenage tonsil hockey at its prime, whether they liked it or not. But then, though Tucker's lips were chilled, his tongue was hot, and the contrast was fascinating, and really, there weren't that many people around at this hour anyway, right? Besides, if they really didn't want to see anything, well, they didn't have to watch, did they?

It was that sort of logic that allowed Dash to justify slipping his spare hand up and catching Tucker's waist, tugging him in a notch closer and fitting their chests and hips together, dipping his tongue back into an open mouth and decidedly ignoring the rest of the wide world in general. For now, it could think what it liked.

Of course, soon enough practical problems made themselves evident, and Tucker raised the valid point that most modern vehicles – including the truck Dash had driven over in – were not only more private and capable of being locked on all sides, but also typically came equipped with wonderful pieces of technology known as heaters, and relocating to such a location might be wise on several fronts.

Thus, some ten minutes later, Dash sat in the backseat of his truck – or, rather, his dad's truck, which his mother had insisted he drive after catching sight of a newscast on snowstorms farther north and deeming his sports car 'unsafe' despite the fact that there was barely a half inch of snow on the ground and none on the roads – with his coat, jacket, scarf, hat, gloves, and shoes all discarded, scattered haphazardly across the front seat and dashboard, and Tucker, in a similar state of semi-undress, straddled across his lap.

All in all, he thought, a pretty favourable situation.

"You should…tell your mom…thanks," Tucker mumbled into his mouth, his hands splayed out on the seat cushions to either side of Dash's head, and while multi-tasking making-out and talking didn't always produce the most favourable of results, Tucker would be the one to try to perfect the art. "This truck 'as…lots'more, umm…mm…" The sentence took a half-second coffee break when Dash's hands breached the lower hem of his Tucker's shirt, and the words, "…wiggle room…" came out notably less stable than those that preceded them.

"Mm…mhm," Dash hummed in perfunctory agreement, decidedly more focussed on the path of his thumbs as they traced just above the waistline of Tucker's pants, mapping smooth skin while simultaneously seeing if he could just get a hold of—there. Finding what he wanted, he smirked. "Totally," he concurred again, this time slightly more intelligibly, and he strung his fingers securely through Tucker's belt loops, giving a curt tug the next second that dragged his boyfriend's significantly slighter figure a good inch or two closer and enticing a nice, middle-octave sound from his throat that made Dash's pulse sing its praises. "Also leaves us with a lot more, mm…" He dropped one hand from Tucker's waist and gave the cute, shapely ass beneath it a complimentary grope, "…access room," and Tucker made a sort of noise few teenage boys would willingly fess up to making.

He made it sound fucking hot. If Dash's answering growl bordered on possessive, then the quick, compulsive nip he gave Tucker's neck the moment after undeniably fell under that label. When Tucker shivered, he licked the spot, kissed it, and then smirked against it.

"Cold?" he asked, and Tucker groaned.

"You…" he hissed, and the tone was well-deserved.

Obviously, he wasn't cold – since the windows had long since fogged, the heater was on full, and their bare fingers and toes no longer showed any signs of their previous extended exposure to the great, frigid outdoors – but a moment after opening his mouth, Tucker appeared to rethink his line of attack, and, mid-flow, he abandoned his verbal comeback altogether.

"What-" Dash started to ask, but for once, it was his sentence that never made it.

"You know," Tucker said softly, and he paired the words with an agonizingly light kiss to Dash's jaw, "if I gave you a hickey…" Another soft, brushing kiss teased his skin, just below the first, "…there wouldn't be a soul who wouldn't notice…" and Dash worked very hard not to wriggle – or whine, for that matter. Yeah, whining was bad. "I don't think I ever have, though…" Tucker mused, his I-might-as-well-be-talking-about-the-weather tone belied entirely by the placement of his next kiss – at the junction of Dash's neck and jaw – and the addition of a teasing flick of something hot and moist into the equation.

Dash made a valiant effort to swallow as discreetly as possible.

It was a difficult undertaking, considering someone was, you know, right there, at his throat, kissing and licking it.

"You, umm…you know…" he tried in earnest, but then the presence of a palm at his thigh made itself known, and an irrational amount of heat seemed to gather immediately through his jeans in its wake, trailing the touch without falter as it moved up his leg with purpose. And about there, the rest of his sentence became a choking hazard. So, he ditched it and focussed on breathing instead.

"Hmm…what was that?" Tucker queried innocently enough, again ruining the effect by dropping the words gradually down along column of Dash's throat, this time mingling the occasional nip into the process, and when Tucker's hand stalled, maybe an inch from its destination, Dash made a sound he wasn't entirely proud of, his legs twitching farther apart of their own accord, as if begging for the continuation of the recently denied attention. He blushed at his own reaction.

"Y…umm…n-nothing," he responded weakly and felt the curve of Tucker's smile against his neck. When he shivered, the smile broadened to a grin.

"Cold?" Tucker asked, and Dash groaned aloud.

"You-" he growled more than said, but before the thought went anywhere, Tucker's mouth moved up and his hand moved in, and suddenly Dash had nipping teeth and soft lips closing over his earlobe and confident fingers and a warm palm closing over the strained tent in his jeans, and very abruptly, the concept of removing clothes completely from the picture, dragging Tucker to the front seat and forcing it back into full recline for space, and then immediately proceeding to fuck him madly into the dash board became among the most intoxicating he'd ever experienced.

He reminded himself it was his father's truck. It didn't help.

"Fuck," he panted. "Tucker…"

"Yeah?" came the breathy response, and Dash grit his teeth, all but grinding into Tucker's palm now and fixing his own hands to Tucker's hips in an offhanded attempt to keep them from otherwise misbehaving themselves.

"I shouldn't…" He swallowed hard on a moan, lashes fluttering low of their own accord as Tucker's thumb teased his zip, "…let you…" but Tucker stopped just short of providing any sort of relief, and Dash barely suppressed a whine. "Fucking hell…"

"Yes?" Two fingers traced up the ridge in his pants – lightly, but not so lightly that it didn't set fire to his lungs – and then Tucker wriggled, shifting his weight on the seat and dropping yet another kiss between Dash's neck and shoulder. "Shouldn't let me what?" he asked. "And better yet…" Finally, finally Tucker popped his snap, and Dash's head fell back to the cushion, eyes scrunching shut, "…why not?"

"I shouldn't-"

Both of them started, but it took Dash less than half a second to recognize his ring tone, and though he couldn't be positive, of course, he was pretty sure he utilized more curse words in the following ten seconds than he had over the course of the past three days combined. After a short scramble to reach around Tucker, snatch his jacket, and drag it in from the front seat, Dash – still grumbling swears – dug into the front pocket and nabbed the offensive piece of technology. He held the power button until it shut off.

"There," he grunted, stuffing it back in its place and tossing his jacket a little more forcefully than necessary back to its former position, strewn amongst the rest of the abandoned winter wear. "Fucking bastard."

Tucker raised an eyebrow. "Who?"

Dash scoffed an impartial, "Iono," as he shrugged. "Didn't look and don't give a damn anyways. Whoever it was, they shouldn't have interrupted me…"

"Uh huh…"

"I'm sure it wasn't important," he defended stubbornly, "and…" Under Tucker's scrutiny, he trailed off. Finally, blushing, he grumbled, "Okay, what?"

"Nothing…" Tucker was smiling. "You know, it's just, it could have-"

Dash leaned forward, catching behind Tucker's neck to drag him in and growling a low, "Man, shut up…" in the fraction of a second before their lips collided, and apparently Tucker deemed that reason enough to follow through with the order, because his sentence went forever unfinished.

The kiss, for reasons beyond Dash, turned surprisingly rough startlingly quickly, their teeth clicking at one point and a small sound of Tucker's dissolving into it a moment later, as if both of them were trying their utmost to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that yes, they were back to this, and the time for thinking about anything else was very much over.

"You know, I think…" Dash moved his spare hand down, catching Tucker's knee and then sliding his palm up, along the length of Tucker's thigh and in, "…before some dumbass decided to interrupt us…" Tucker swallowed when Dash's hand stalled, "…you were busy doing something…"

"I, umm-mm…yeah?" came the response, noticeably breathier and more distracted than his last utterance. "Well…" He leaned back in, catching Dash's mouth again in an only slightly less frenzied manner, nursing a bruised lip with his tongue and running his hand back up, just short of its former position, "…I believe you," he said over Dash's groan, "were also talking about something…something you shouldn't be letting me do?"

"Oh, uhh…right, I—ahh, shit…"

His answer met with a swift – but very explicable – delay when Tucker made sudden, quick work of his zipper, maneuvered past his boxers the next second, and effectively put everything but Dash's sex hormones on temporary rudimentary lockdown, momentarily starving his already partially-handicapped brain of much-needed red blood cells as they flooded entirely too enthusiastically to other areas.

"Was…gonna say," he half panted, wrestling with something like primal instinct for the control and concentration necessary to connive his vocal cords into creating lucid, intelligible sentences, "…you shouldn't…" He bit his lip, fighting another shudder as Tucker's hand found a pace, and – leaning in to wage his own war against Tucker's buttons, zip, and boxers and start reciprocating al-damn-ready – he wondered in passing if it would be worth the added inconvenience of shifting and repositioning to demand that they just do away with everything any-part cotton or polyester and obtrusive from the waist down entirely and be done with it. Then Tucker's thumb swirled up and over the head, and Dash buried a, "Fuckinghell, shouldn't let you make me wanna bend you over just about anything in this whole damn truck so fucking bad…" halfway between Tucker's neck and shoulder.

And, well, that induced a nice little reaction. Namely, Tucker's grip stuttered a beat, his breath catching up for half a moment, and the rush of heat to his cheeks made a difference significant enough to feel.

When he swallowed, Dash heard it, "Y…yeah?" and Dash smiled into his neck, dropping a kiss there and then darting his tongue out to taste and relishing in the way Tucker's hands lost their rhythm the instant he did.

"Yeah," he purred, giving his next stroke an added twist and savouring the way Tucker's body gave a constrained jerk, arching into it and grip twitching, and Dash absently wondered if leaving another hickey on his boyfriend's neck would earn him a reprimand. It'd probably be worth it anyway.

"And…" Tucker drew a sharp breath, freezing completely for one precious moment as Dash opened his mouth against his neck – kiss, lick, suck, nip – and Tucker made a soft, muted sound, his spare hand fisting into the front of Dash's shirt and clinging, "…and why, umm…" His voice was deliciously off-kilter, shaking like the last, stubborn autumn leaf on a weathered oak, "…w-why not?"

Dash muffled a huff against Tucker's shoulder. "'Cause…" '…you deserve better than that? This means more than that? No way I take your virginity in an F350 that's not even mine?' "…just, umm…" He kept his face tucked into Tucker's shoulder – not because he was blushing, "…just 'cause," he mumbled, but Tucker caught him when he ventured to look up, pinning him with that curious, seeking look that left no doubt that he knew there was more to it than that, and Dash's blush resurfaced. "It's just…it's 'cause it's a truck, you know?" he excused himself rather ineloquently. "You shouldn't…I mean, you should have a bed…at least…well, like…you know, the first time and all, and…I don't wanna-"

Tucker kissed him.

Light and quick, it ended almost before it began, but he was smiling when he pulled back. "You," he accused softly, in a voice that matched his smile, "are a closet romantic. You know that, right?"

"Hey," Dash hastened to object, "I was just-" but then Tucker kissed him again – this time with significantly more insistence – and started doing things with his hands that reminded him they both had jobs to do. So, after very little debate, he opted to temporarily sacrifice that negligible amount of dignity for the higher cause of sexual satisfaction, and few intelligible things were uttered beyond that point.

Ten minutes later, after both parties' interests had been attended to, Kleenex had been utilized to assure that Dash's father hopefully wouldn't notice anything remiss, and clothes – for the most part – had been wrestled back into some semblance of order, Tucker, stretched out in slothful repose with his back tucked into Dash's chest and hand laced neatly through Dash's fingers on his stomach, nudged his head up and voiced a muffled question, to which Dash responded, "Hm?" in a wordless request for a repeat. Tucker obliged.

"Was your first time in a bed?"

'Oh,' Dash thought, 'that,' and scrunched his eyes shut. "No…it was, ummm…" He lifted the hand not twined between Tucker's fingers and stomach to his face and stifled a prolonged yawn, "…ina'lwnch'r…" and Tucker shifted in his hold, rearranging himself in order to tilt his head back and toss Dash a bemused glance.

"In a what launcher?" he repeated incredulously, and Dash blushed.

"In. A. Lawn. Chair," he said again, slower, and at Tucker's look, he expanded on it. "You know, the kind that you have at cook-outs? Backyard barbeques? House parties? They fold up and stuff, and-"

"Yeah, I know what one is," Tucker cut in. "I just—really?"

Dash looked abashed. "What?" he grunted. And then, "Okay, look, see," he started to qualify, "it wasn't my fault-"

"Not-" Tucker scoffed.

"-or my idea!" he finished, and Tucker blinked.

"It…wait," He frowned, "what?"

"She sort of," Dash motioned his hands in vague, non-descript circles, reminiscent of his expression, "climbed into my lap, and-"

"Wait, who?"

"-she was," Dash snorted at Tucker's interjection, "like hell if I remember her name—totally drunk-"

"You don't even remember her-"

"She was my cousin's friend!" Dash blurted defensively.


Seeing that that excuse wasn't winning him any sympathy points, Dash groaned and dropped his head back, taking a breath to gather his thoughts.

"Okay, look," he started again, fully aware now that it would take a complete narrative to get his story across straight, "it was summer, and she—my cousin, that is—had come down for a visit, like to see family and her fiancée and shit or whatever…and she wanted to throw a party." It was a pretty distinct memory, but it still surprised him how easily the words came once they started flowing. "I was fourteen, then, but her deal was she said I could drink and participate and stuff, and even invite some friends of mine, if I let her use our house, my house, while my parents were out—and not tell, of course—and my parents were gonna be out for almost the next month and I figured it'd be fine, so of course I did—let her use the house, that is…

"And so she invites like…fifty something girls from her sorority and a pile of frat guys, which wasn't really surprising, but you know, whatever, it was a lot of people, so…by midnight or something of course no room in the house was safe anymore—I mean, unless you wanteddidn't—so I'd gone outside, 'cause I was feeling dizzy from beer since I wasn't real used to it still back then and, yeah, sure as hell didn't wanna spend the rest of my night watching a bunch of strangers fucking in my house, and anyway, so I'd sat down, mindin' my own damn business and not ten minutes in, this girl stumbles out…and even if I'd seen her before there wasn't any way I was gonna recognize her at that point 'cause for one I didn't really give a damn, and for another she was pretty obviously totally washed up… to walk in on someone else getting their amateur porn on, and I

"So anyway, she comes out and she says something to me, but I don't remember what it was…or maybe I couldn't tell at the time even, whatever, but yeah, still obvious she was sloshed off her ass…and so when she first sort of fell on me, I'd kina thought, you know, maybe it was like an accident or something? And I was gonna help her off me in case she was like about to puke, you know, and I didn't want that…but then she started mumbling something about me being hot—and that kina made me pay more attention—and then asking how old I was—and I don't remember if I lied or not, or maybe I didn't even answer, but it sure as hell got me listening if I wasn't before—and finally, I mean, by the time she was asking if I'd ever had sex before, and…you know, opening my pants and winding her hands inside all at the same time it was…" Tucker was openly staring by that point, "…well, yeah. I mean, that was, umm…that was pretty much it," Dash finished, and Tucker gaped.

"That was it?" he reiterated, incredulous. "What do you mean 'that was it?' That's…" He shook his head, "…so…not…fair," he groaned, theatrically woebegone, and flopped back down with a dejected pout, folding his arms and leaving Dash totally at a loss.

"Not…fair?" he repeated after a moment, and Tucker threw dubious a glance upwards.

"Uhh…yeah," he emphasized. "You had sorority girls…college girls, Dash…climbing on top of you…when you were fourteen! Does that not strike you as something other guys just might be envious of?"

"Err…" Dash blinked, "…well, yeah…I mean…I guess, if you say it like that, but…" He frowned, "I mean…" he spoke softer now, "…it really wasn't all that special…"

"Special…?" Tucker parroted, blank-faced.

"I…th-that is, what I meant was…" Dash shut his eyes again, yet another blush blossoming in full across his cheeks, "…she just…smelledtired, and kind of sick feeling, and I'd always sorta thought…I mean, yeah, sex is great and all and it's fun to do it whenever and wherever, but when you haven't ever done it before, I just thought…I mean like before I ever had, I'd thought…I mean, I was imagining something that…you know…would have maybe, you know, meant…" He petered off. This sounded moronic. He was making a fool of himself. Obviously. He swallowed. "You know what, umm, never…" He looked away, "…nevermind…it's stupid." funny, okay? And I was

A long, agonizing pause stretched between that moment and the one where Tucker finally ventured a tentative, "Dash…?"

The expression Dash found when he summoned the nerve to look startled him beyond words, because of all the possible reactions he might have expected to face, guilt was certainly not among them.

"Umm…yeah?" he said at last, and watched with sudden rapt attention as Tucker's lower lip disappeared between his teeth – a look that Dash now immediately translated to mean something along the lines of, "I'm thinking now, give me about two seconds to get back to you…" – and sure enough, a moment later Tucker let out a careful breath.

"I'm sorry," he said first, surprising Dash, but he obviously wasn't finished. "I guess my reaction…I mean…" He paused, backing up to reword himself, "I know my reaction made it seem like I thought the whole experience must have been totally great and positive, and…well, that was my first thought because, honestly, us normal, passably-decent and/or marginally unattractive guys in the world-"

"You're not unattrac-"

"-don't even try to convince ourselves that a hot girl would actually throw herself on us like that," Tucker barrelled on over his interruption, "…even if we might, you know, sometimes have fantasiesaboutit, but…I didn't mean to give off the impression that I don't think sex should ever be important…" Here, Tucker's words started to slow, losing their initial, tumbled urgency and toning down into something more – Dash tried to pin it down – thoughtful, he supposed, "…or even that it shouldn't probably be important most of the time…and definitely the first time, so…" Another, longer pause filled in here, "…I'm sorry for that, too," Tucker finished sincerely. "Really…what she did not only wasn't fair to you, or as fantastic as I might have initially assumed…but…" The thoughtfulness returned, but this time with an edge of something else to it, something rougher – irritation, or frustration perhaps? "Well, it was dangerous, too, and, you know, on some really technical level…since you were underage and inebriated…I'm pretty sure that classifies as…well, rape, of some sort. She could have had a sexual disease, or gotten you—err—I mean, you could have gotten her pregnant…and then what? If-"

"Yeah, Tucker, she could have gotten me pregnant," Dash cut in, smirking, and officially broke the sudden, unexpected air of weighted seriousness Tucker's impromptu speech had taken on, dispersing it as quickly as it'd come. Tucker twisted in his hold just enough to elbow him – reasonably playfully – but Dash still grunted. "Hey, oww-"

"Big baby…and a butthole at that," Tucker accused, "you know exactly what I meant…" and Dash grinned down at him.

"Yeah," he admitted, "I know…"

"I just…" Tucker sighed. "I meant…I'm sorry that your first time sucked…and I'm sorry for immediately reacting like it was great…okay?"

"Okay," Dash mumbled, still smiling, and he tucked his head against Tucker's shoulder. Then, he smirked. "But…I mean, you know…I didn't say it sucked…" he clarified, "…I just said it wasn't what I'd been hoping for…she was hot."

Tucker groaned loudly, and Dash just managed to squirm out of another elbow to the gut, laughing. "You-" Tucker started to accuse, but Dash rolled, initiating a brief period of awkward resituating and limb tangling until very abruptly, "Eep," Tucker made a short, startled noise, suddenly flat on his back, and Dash grinned wickedly down at his pinned captive. "Th-that," Tucker started, "wasn't…" Dash leaned in, "…at all…" and kissed him. He shut up.

It lasted significantly longer than expected.

It was as if, without the silent push to be 'getting on with things' and 'moving forward' to bigger and more pressing ventures, time could finally be excusably devoted to just kissing. And it was nice. Really, really nice, actually, Dash thought, and – in a few ways that he wouldn't delve too deeply into for the moment – very…intimate. Unexpectedly intimate, but not, he realized belatedly, unwelcomely so.

He liked 'just' kissing Tucker. He liked just being with him, lying with him, tasting him slowly, and feeling him breathe. And it was easier, this way, too, to pick up on those small, easy-to-miss details that so often flit by too fast to catch under more rushed circumstances.

Like, for instance, the tiny hitch in Tucker's paced breathing when Dash's thumbs happened to meander in and brush over his inner wrists, serving as a worthwhile reminder that he was sensitive there. Dash then, of course, naturally proceeded to trace slow, lazy circles over the smooth skin there, and collected Tucker's soft, breathy shudder and stoked heart rate as his own personal reward for keen observation. Overall, the feeling of overwhelming closeness was intoxicating, in many ways, and heady and dizzying, in others, but also warm, and encompassing—and hopelessly addicting.

It reminded him, though, perhaps a little too potently, of his last extended conversation with Kwan on the subject, or, more specifically, his own argument that he was not, in fact, that 'emotionally attached' – and though that wasn't technically the exact phrasing used at the time he certainly wasn't about to risk toying with the deceptively simple little word Kwan had actually used. In any case, it was that seed of uncertainty that eventually prompted his reluctant withdrawal.

Lying over Tucker, and watching with quiet, captivated fascination as dark eyelids blinked lazily upwards once more, Dash found himself suddenly and jarringly reminded of a moment, more months ago than he could be bothered to count, when he'd loomed over the same face, in a cold parking lot, and watched him breath mist for many long seconds only to finish the night without kissing him.

The foreboding temptation this time, though, of course, was not to kiss him – because he could do that again without qualm – but to say something, to convey, somehow, the warm, curling, catching feeling that stuck in his throat and gathered in his gut like bottled wildfire every time he found himself in Tucker's presence, the one that dizzied his mind and turned breathing into an intricately complicated endeavour. The words itched at the back of his conscience, aching to be voiced, and managed, after much laborious struggle, to force themselves to the tip of his tongue.

"I…" he started.

Tucker tilted his head, smiling curiously and waiting, but something greater than anxiousness and spontaneity held Dash's tongue, curbing his admittance moments before its eruption, and eventually Tucker raised his eyebrows, his smile growing just a fraction. "What?" he asked, a hint of playful teasing unmistakably present, and Dash swallowed, as if unspoken words really could catch in one's throat, and blushed.

"It's, umm…nothing," he excused himself poorly, and Tucker rightfully snorted, propping himself onto his elbows on the seat as Dash sat back and up.

"Uh-huh," he responded. "Yeah, that's totally what that was," he agreed, the good-humoured glint behind his glasses successfully making it the most light-hearted sarcasm Dash had ever experienced from Tucker, and though he huffed in response, he failed to suppress a smile.

"Yeah, well, okay, so maybe not," he admitted. "I guess I just…" He trailed off as he watched Tucker sit up, eyes flicking to the familiar movements as he rearranged his glasses and settled himself in his seat, and without meaning to, "I really missed spending time with you…more than I realized…" not only left his lips, but came out baldly serious.

They halted Tucker in his tracks, apparently surprising him almost as much as they surprised Dash. A short pause dangled between them – empty, waiting – then, just as Tucker visibly recovered the composure necessary to open his mouth for a response, Dash cleared his throat, probably more loudly than necessary, and snapped the thin silence.

"So, umm…what did you mean when you said I was inhibited…?"

That threw Tucker off in a different way, and he frowned, puzzled. "Umm…what?"

"You said I was underage and inhibited?" Dash prompted and watched comprehension dawn.

"Oh," said Tucker, and then, "no. I said you were inebriated," he clarified, and it was Dash's turn to frown.

"Oh," he said, and thought, 'Great,' without much enthusiasm. He didn't even want to try repeating that. Apparently, it was obvious.

"It means drunk," Tucker explained, smiling without a hint of ridicule. "Sorry…I probably should have just said drunk," he conceded, kindly not pursuing the fact that Dash had suddenly and obviously changed the topic without any clear motivation. It saved Dash the trouble of either stumbling over a much greater number of clumsy, empty excuses or, heaven forbid, confronting the very topics he was pointedly avoiding. He silently thanked Tucker for that. He also wondered how anyone could possibly think it was a good idea to make such a long and complicated word mean 'drunk,' and voiced that thought aloud. It earned him a nice laugh, and then a smile, and then a kiss, and then the topic moved on.

Eventually it was regretfully noted that the hour was late and that Dash really should probably check back to see who had called, and too soon for his tastes, Tucker was bundled back up, standing outside the door of his own car, and breathing mist. They shared a kiss – one that arguably lasted a tiny bit longer than what might have nominally been deemed standard for one of the goodbye-at-the-door sort, if anyone kept track of such things – and then, in the fraction of a moment where Dash decided there was really no other possible excuse to linger any longer, Tucker caught his wrist as he turned.

"Hey, wait," he started strong, but faltered as soon as Dash complied and stilled, turning back to face him. He blushed, cleared his throat with grim determination, and levelled his eyes solidly with Dash's. "I just wanted to say that…or, really, that is, I wanted you to know that I, umm…" His lip dipped once between his teeth, just barely – a reflexive, compulsive movement to buy time as he summoned his nerve – and then he said, with easily as much sincerity as Dash had earlier, "I missed you, too."

All things considered, Dash deemed that day a success. 



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