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[personal profile] denofiniquity
Title: From the Ashes
Fandom: Fanboys
Pairing: Eric/Linus
Rating: NC-17
Word Count: 7,226
Summary: Before puberty, they slept just like this. Except not. Not this intimate. Not touching this much. Not when all Eric wants to do is fit his mouth back against Linus's and lick the taste of pot out of his mouth.
Notes: Why is there not more fic for this pairing? It writes itself. Warning for the fact that both characters are sixteen years old. Title from "An End Has a Start" by the Editors, which is basically the Eric/Linus theme song, fyi.



Eric is high. Eric is so very, very high, and frankly, he blames his brother. Never mind the fact that he begged Chaz to score the pot for him so that he could give it to Linus for his birthday, never mind the fact that he suggested he and Linus try it after everyone else left the party, never mind the fact that he even brought his own fucking lighter—this is somehow, like most things, Chaz's fault.

They've never smoked before, or at least, Eric hasn't, but he has a feeling that he'd know if Linus had without him. So it's the first time for both of them, and the room smells awful and it's filled with hazy smoke, and neither one of them can stop giggling until Linus reaches out to put his hand on Eric's mouth to shush him and ends up palming his chest instead.

Then Eric is still laughing, but Linus fucking isn't, and he's staring at Eric, all intense concentration, and purposefully pushing his hand downward.

It's not the first time someone's ever touched his dick through his jeans. Jenny Bowman accidentally brushed her palm against it once when they were slow dancing at a party. But Jenny Bowman had been embarrassed and shy and none of it did much for Eric, even though Hutch told him he was a hero for it afterward.

But this? Linus isn't shy or embarrassed or anything but bold and Eric stops giggling because he doesn't have the breath for it anymore, or for anything at all.

"L—Linus."

"Hmm?"

"That's…that's my dick."

"Yeah. I know."

Well, of course he'd know. He's fucking squeezing it through Eric's jeans, for God's sake.

"You're—you're kind of—fuck, stop it."

"I'm not going to laugh," Linus says defensively. "It's not funny."

"It's not," Eric agrees. "It's—why would you laugh?"

"Because you've got a stiffy," Linus says evenly. "That's usually pretty funny."

"But not right now?"

Linus shakes his head. "No. It's…it's really, really not. Fuck, I'm high."

"Yeah. Me, too."

Linus's eyes flick up to meet Eric's, and he grins. It's not a happy grin or a pleased grin, or any kind of grin that Eric can recognize. It's unsettling and Linus keeps licking his lips, and he really needs to stop rubbing Eric's dick through his jeans or Eric's going to have to figure out how to work the washing machine because his dad told him that if he had to wash one more pair of jizzy underwear, he was doing a full search of Eric's room and destroying all of his jerk-off material. And Eric really doesn't want his dad to see what he jerks off to.

"You're kinda slutty. You know that, Bottler?"

Eric blinks, wondering when his eyelids became so heavy, and asks, intelligently, "Huh?"

"You're not even trying to stop me. If I'da known you'd give it up so easily, I'da done something sooner."

"No, you wouldn't have."

"No," Linus agrees, laughing. "I wouldn't have."

And then they're kissing, though Eric has no idea who kissed who first. He thinks, distantly, that he's not sure which he prefers. There's a certain loss of dignity in not even being the one to initiate the damn thing, but it does remove a certain amount of fault for when the smoke, both figuratively and literally, clears.

"Linus—"

"Stop," Linus says, so firmly that Eric feels compelled to obey.

Linus pushes Eric onto his back and stretches out over top of him. He's all awkward limbs and too much haziness to really focus, but his tongue is suddenly in Eric's mouth, so it's all okay. Everything is fucking okay because Linus is rocking his groin against Eric's and Eric thinks that this is sex. Maybe not the technical definition, with nudity and dicks penetrating places, but it's a warm body against his that wants to be there and impending orgasms, and that's enough for him.

He says, wildly, "We're having sex," and his stomach turns over pleasantly at the thought as his dick twitches in his jeans.

"Yeah," Linus says, as though that fact needed confirming, like it wasn't indisputably obvious.

It is, though. That whole nudity and penetration thing, that might be the basic mechanics of sex, but this? This is what sex is. This is what sex is about. And it's indisputable in Eric's mind that when he recalls his first time, it's going to have to be this.

And then Linus presses down and breathes Eric's name out past his lips, and his eyes fall shut. He's coming, just from this, and Eric gets so excited about having made someone come that he follows almost immediately.

Linus flops down beside him gracelessly and nudges Eric with his shoulder. He doesn't say anything, just tilts his head until their foreheads are resting against each other. His breathing is heavy and his eyes are closed, but he's still awake and the corners of his lips are twitching up into a smile.

"Linus."

"Eric, just…just don't."

"Linus, we're really, really stoned."

"I know. And we just had a really, really nice time. So stop ruining it with your mouth or I'll find a way to make it better, also with your mouth."

Eric swallows. "Okay."

"Thanks for the birthday present, by the way. 'S nice."

Eric has no idea if he's talking about the pot or the sex. He hopes it's not the sex, because then Eric really is slutty, if he'll sleep around with his friends just because it's their birthday. But then, he's not exactly sure why he slept with Linus, only that it is definitely not because it's his birthday. Maybe everything will make more sense when he's not stoned.

"You're…welcome," he says, because really, what else can you say to that?

And just when Eric thought it was safe to write it off to one weird, awkward, stoned experience and try to move on, Linus tips his mouth up and brushes his lips against Eric's in a way that lets him know that no, actually, this is going to be an ongoing thing.

"You sleeping over?"

"Guess."

"Kay. Go to sleep."

"Now?"

"Mhm. I'm tired. Aren't you tired?"

"Yeah."

"Kay. So sleep."

"Linus—"

"Nope. We're sleeping now. You can be a dick in the morning. Good night."

And pretty much just like that, Linus is out like a light. His mouth falls open and his breath evens out, ghosting lightly against Eric's cheek. He closes his eyes and tries to fall asleep, but all he can think about is how uncomfortable his pants are, how sticky his groin is, and how he's in bed with his best friend.

It's weird how that last thing is the sticking point. They've slept together before, plenty of times. They started top and tailsing it when they hit puberty, but before that, they slept just like this. Except not. Not this intimate. Not touching this much. Not when all he wants to do is fit his mouth back against Linus's and lick the taste of pot out of his mouth.

It's his best friend, and it's unsettling. And he really fucking needs to sleep.

He's not sure when he passes out, but he eventually does, because when he opens his eyes the next morning, he has a noseful of Linus's hair and his morning wood is pressing against Linus's ass, and yeah, this would be a good time to panic.

He scrambles backwards off the bed and hits the floor with a loud thump. It hurts and he rolls over to rub at his tail bone, wishing in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary that Linus will just go back to sleep. But no, he sits up and squints down at Eric, hair all messy and eyes just a little glazed with sleep, and sighs.

"I was kind of hoping you'd at least wait until I'd tried to talk you out of it before you walk of shamed out of here and refused to ever look at me again."

"I'm not walk of shaming. I'm—"

"You're rubbing your ass. Which, hey, I was going to let it be the other way around the first time 'cause you're so twitchy, but if you're up for it—"

"Jesus Christ, Linus."

Linus shrugs. "At least get off the floor. We're nowhere near floor sex yet and I was kind of planning on molesting you until you agreed not to leave."

"I—"

"Legs. Use them to stand up. Come here. Sit on the bed. I will get you a pillow for your ass if it hurts that bad."

Eric gets to his feet and hesitates. He could probably make a run for it, but then he'd have to explain to Linus's mother why he was running out of her house like a bat out of hell, and Linus would probably never speak to him again. And Eric really wants to speak to him again and maybe kiss him again, but he's not sure in which order.

"The thing is," Linus says before he can decide, "you are actually not slutty."

Eric blinks at him for almost a minute and a half before he remembers that Linus told him that he was last night.

"Oh. Okay?"

"You are not the kind of guy who just sleeps with someone because it's his birthday, or you're high, or it feels good," Linus clarifies. "You're kind of a prude."

"I am not."

"Yes, you are. Stop arguing with me. So, the thing is, you would've stopped me if you really didn't want it last night. You'd have tried to protect your manly virtue."

"Oh."

"So…just shut up, Bottler. Just shut up and stop thinking about it and let's just do it, okay? The force is strong in this." He motions between them emphatically. "So stop being a pussy and just…do it."

"I—"

"No," Linus says, and pulls Eric to him. "You are ridiculous."

He kisses him insistently and Eric's lips part against his. It's deep and it's wet and most of all, it's good, and Linus is panting hard when he pulls away.

"The thing is," Linus continues, "you are disgusting. You smell like sweat and come and your mouth tastes like feet and possibly wookiee ass. And I just know that if I tried to touch your dick right now, it'd be all dried come and flakiness and really, who wants that? But," Linus sighs, "the thing is, I don't care. I don't. I just want to keep touching you. So…you have to let me. Okay? You have to."

"I don't know how to—do anything, really."

"Yeah, well, me neither. So just…stop with the freaking out and just—just kiss me, okay? I want you to kiss me. I like kissing you, but I want you to kiss me."

"Like this?" Eric asks, and he presses their mouths together, gentle until Linus makes a soft sound of pleasure and presses his whole body against Eric's. Then he deepens it, trying to mimic what Linus was doing before with his tongue. Eric has frenched girls before, but not like this, not with this kind of focus and purpose. This is nothing like just holding his mouth open and poking her tongue with his and hoping it was doing something for her because it sure as hell wasn't doing anything for him, even though he really wanted it to.

This…this does stuff for him without him even really trying.

"Yeah," Linus breathes. "Yeah. That's it. Push me, okay?"

"Push you?"

"Push me onto my back and get on top of me like I did you last night. And keep kissing me. It's nice."

Eric frowns, then takes Linus by both shoulders and pushes until he's flat on his back. Linus grins up at him—lazy, giddy—and Eric resolves to kiss him until his lips can't do that quirky thing anymore because it's frustratingly attractive.

And yeah, it's good. He's pushing Linus down into the mattress and attacking his mouth, and it's fucking good.

"Yeah," Linus encourages. "That's it, Bottler. It's better like this, right? You like it better?"

"Do you?"

Linus nods. "I want you to fucking want me, man. Fucking…fucking take what I'm trying to give you. You can always do this, okay? Any time we're alone, you can. I want you to. Don't make me have to start it every time. Just…you want to kiss me, you kiss me."

So Eric does, just shuts his best friend up by covering Linus's mouth with his and sucking the air right out of his lungs. He feels fucking disgusting, still in the pants he came in the night before, but rocking against Linus feels too good to stop. It's like the best kind of dirtiness, and fuck, he wants Linus to come. He wants to be sober enough to remember the face he makes this time.

Linus wraps both of his legs up around Eric's waist and uses the leverage to rock up against him desperately. He's panting against Eric's mouth and moaning and Jesus Christ, it feels like they're fucking, actually fucking for real, because if they ever did, this is probably how it would be. Eric's always kind of thought that dudes only did it doggy style, but no, it would clearly work this way and fuck, maybe it should. Maybe he wants it to. Maybe he wants Linus to want that, too.

Linus comes pretty quickly and Eric only barely hangs on a minute after that. It's a little embarrassing how quickly Linus can make him come without ever actually touching him, but he figures that he gets slack for it being the first time he's ever gotten off with someone else before, and also, Linus came first both times. Then he thinks about that and ends up grinning like an idiot because hey, he makes Linus come.

"What?" Linus asks afterward. "I'm the one that gets to make that face. You get to make the little boy lost face."

"You," Eric says, "are a projector. You know that?"

"What?"

"You, with the calling me a whore for you. It's the other way around. You are a whore for me."

Linus shrugs. "Guilty. Get off me. You're sweaty and disgusting."

"So are you."

"Yes, but I'm not the one pushing my equally sweaty and disgusting best friend down into the mattress."

"You said you wanted me to."

"I did. I do. The offer still stands. Any time you want. Don't make me initiate it every time."

"Every time? Like…again?"

Linus nods. "Yeah. A lot. It's fun, right?"

"Yeah."

"So…let's keep doing it. I shouldn't have to explain simple logic to you, Bottler."

"Just…it's weird."

"Why? 'Cause we're guys?"

"No."

It might be weird if it didn't make Eric's life since he hit puberty make a hell of a lot more sense. He'll figure out what to do with that later, because that is independent of Linus and is something he'll need to figure out on his own. The weirdness is something else entirely.

"You're my best friend. It's—we don't do this, Linus. We—we play video games and watch Return of the Jedi over the phone together but we don't—we had sex. Twice."

Linus shrugs. "Look, I had a good time. You turn me on. And I feel…comfortable with you. I don't do that with just anyone, you know. I feel—fuck, safe, okay? Don't you?"

"Yeah. I mean…it's you."

"Then who better to do it with, huh? What are you looking for outta sex that I didn't give you?"

"N—nothing."

"Then, okay. We'll keep doing it. But I need a shower and you need to go home and clean up. I'll see you at Hutch's place tonight. We'll split a bowl of popcorn and you'll try not to panic like the womanly flower that you are, all right?"

Eric really can't answer that beyond making angry sputtering noises. Then Linus kisses him again and he thinks, the hell with it.

***


It's a long time before they do it again after that. Well, a couple of weeks, at any rate, but it feels like forever. Linus won't touch him. He just sits there and waits, leaned back in his chair and legs spread just enough for Eric to know that Linus is waiting or him.

But he can't just go over there and—and what? Kiss him, sure. He knows how to do that, knows how to do that dry humping thing that got him off so quickly before. But what he doesn't know how to do is start it, doesn't know how to accept the responsibility of wanting it enough to make it happen instead of just taking it when it's there. He keeps hoping that Linus will get tired of waiting and show him, but he doesn't, and Eric ends up snapping one day in the boy's locker room at school.

The four of them always wait until everyone else has left before they shower and change. They get enough shit already, don't need to add nudity on top of it to make it worse, so after everyone else is gone, the four of them step into the showers.

Eric tries not to look, tries not to see what he's been too afraid to touch, but he can't help glancing over. The craziest part is, he's seen it before. This is not the first communal shower the four of them have taken together, not the first time they've changed in front of one another, not the first time he's ever been tempted to look. But this time is different. Before it was curiosity, or accident, or just plain because when someone else is naked, you're required to look. This time has purpose, and he tries not to do it, but he can't.

His mouth goes dry when he sees it. It's soft and pale, a little on the short side, but thicker than Eric's own. It felt bigger when it was rubbing against him, so Eric thinks, distantly, that Linus must be a grower, not a shower. It's also wet and shiny and Eric realizes he's swallowing over and over again for no reason at all except that he has a very sudden realization that his mouth is empty. It's a bizarre realization, and he'll deal with that later, but he wants to touch Linus again, wants to kiss him right here underneath the shower spray, and he touches Linus's wrist without even meaning to.

It crosses the line of conduct in a communal shower, breaks down that barrier that boys club rules have dictated since the dawn of time. You're never supposed to look, but the one thing you absolutely can not do, the one thing that will get your boys club membership card revoked forever, is to touch another boy underneath that sacred spray, and Eric just has. Linus's head snaps up and his eyes meet Eric's, and Eric can tell that Linus knows that, too.

They stare at each other until Eric finally pulls his hand back and stares down at the floor. He finishes showering quickly and heads back out to his locker to get dressed without looking back.

He refuses to look at Linus again as they tug on their clothes, refuses to even acknowledge his presence as they make a run for Spanish class. It's hard to ignore him when they're sitting next to each other and Linus is trying to pass him a note, but he tries his damnedest. He slipped, yes, had a momentary lapse, but it's passed now and he can handle it.

Or he could, if Linus would stop sucking on the end of his pencil like so much porn.

He knows about blowjobs, has heard guys bragging about getting them in the locker room so many times he's lost count. He knows, in theory, what the mechanics of one are, and he also knows that, completely hypothetically, the mouth giving one does not necessarily have to be female.

And while he's really enjoyed the dry humping on Linus's bed, he thinks that blowing each other would be even better. He wonders if that's what Linus is getting at with the pencil, if he'd actually be willing to do that. Eric's not sure he could go through with it, but his stomach turns over every time the idea crosses his mind.

With shaking fingers, Eric scribbles out, "Want to come over?" on a piece of paper and slips it onto Linus's desk. The grin that ensues is positively filthy and it only then occurs to Eric that he can't ask Linus that anymore without it being a double entendre.

But Linus nods, too, looking pleased as he finally turns his attention back to the teacher. Eric has no idea how he manages to do it, to concentrate on Spanish when all Eric can think now is Dios mio, because he's panicking now that he's actually put the idea out there, where it can't be taken back.

It's just, he's still not completely sure what this is that they're doing period, and he's definitely not sure what they're going to be doing in the specific, and he definitely doesn't know how to give a blow job. Maybe they can just do the dry humping thing again and it'll all be okay.

How that became a sensible alternative, Eric doesn't know. He just knows that whatever this thing is, he wants it. He actively needs it, actually, and the idea of not having this thing with Linus is not even on his radar. So he'll figure it out. Maybe. If Linus would quit molesting that pencil.

***


They probably should've gone to Linus's for this, since he doesn't have a big dumb nosy brother to come poking his head into Eric's room during, but Linus helps him shove the dresser in front of the door and not even Chaz is strong enough to barge in past that.

Everything had been normal for a few minutes, just the two of them panting and throwing their weight against the furniture to keep Chaz out of the room. They've done it hundreds of times and it's easy for Eric to forget then that anything has changed between them until afterward, when Linus's hand closes over Eric's wrist just like his own did to Linus's earlier in the shower.

"I—I thought you weren't going to make the first move," Eric stutters.

"Yeah, well. You look like you're about to have a coronary and I figure you've at least tried."

Eric nods. "I have. I am."

Linus nods. "Just kiss me, okay?"

Eric does, leaning back on the dresser for support when his knees feel weak. He's fine as long as he doesn't think about what he's doing, doesn't wonder what this is or what it means or where it's going to go. As long as his brain is shut off about the whole thing, he can do this no problem.

They part for air and Linus keeps his eyes closed as he presses his forehead against Eric's. "Okay," he pants. "Good. You're—you're getting better at that."

"Thanks," Eric answers lamely. "Uh, you too."

Linus laughs. "What do you want, Eric?"

"I—I want to—" He swallows. "I want to touch you and—and suck you off, and—"

Linus shakes his head. "Not yet. You're so not ready for that."

Eric exhales all at once, through whether it's relief or just breathlessness, he doesn't know.

"I know," he says. "Can I at least touch you?"

"You can do anything you want," Linus answers, and Eric is terrified as hell when he reaches for the fly of Linus's jeans. His hands are shaking when he finally gets the zipper lowered, but Linus doesn't tease him about it at all. He just nods encouragingly and wiggles out of his jeans. After a moment, he licks his lips and asks, "Do you want me naked? Or—"

"Yes," Eric blurts out before he even has a chance to think about it. But of course he does, like that's even a question, and he pulls Linus's shirt off over his head.

He goes to reach for Linus's underwear, too, but Linus puts a hand up and tugs Eric's shirt off instead. He figures that's fair, since he's completely dressed and Linus is about to be completely naked, but once they're both down to their underwear, he can't quite figure out how to make the next move.

"Come on, Eric," Linus whispers. "It's not that big of a deal."

"I've never been naked with someone before," Eric answers, even though it's a lie. He's been naked with people plenty of times at school, was naked with Linus earlier today in the shower. But he's never been naked like this before and somehow this feels like a gateway. With clothes on, the dry humping was as far as this could go, but once they take their clothes off…then there's really no dead-end they can come to.

But it doesn't matter whether he's scared or not, because he's young and horny and this is sex with someone who not only wants to have sex with him, but who actively initiates it and pushes him to do the same. And it's Linus. That's a pretty big factor, too.

He takes a steadying breath before pushing his own underwear past his hips and letting them land on the floor. He's hard, of course, and he looks sheepish when he meets Linus's eyes.

"Sorry," he says, but then Linus slips his underwear down, too.

Eric had been right about Linus being a grower and he flushes before he catches Linus's eye again.

"You're stupid," Linus says. "It's okay. It's good. It's…pretty awesome, actually."

"I—yeah," he answers. "Yeah, it's—it's good."

He's not sure what gives him the courage to kiss Linus then, naked and hard and pressed up against him everywhere, but somehow, he does, and when they fall onto the bed, he lands on top and rocks down against Linus's thigh out of habit. That feels great—amazing, even—and then Linus takes Eric's hand in his and curls it around both their cocks.

It shouldn't be so mind-blowing. It shouldn't be any different than jerking himself off alone. But there are two hands gripping his cock now and Linus's dick pressed tight against his, and there's kissing and panting and rocking and Linus making little noises in the back of his throat and the over-excited part of Eric's brain still can't believe he's having sex with another person, and it's all just too much.

He comes first, the first time since Linus's birthday that that's happened. Linus isn't too far behind, but Eric can't believe he came first this time. It was abrupt and it hit him square between the eyes and it's a huge confirmation of how much he enjoys what they do.

The mess is incredible, all over both their chests and on his sheets, too. They sprawl out on their backs while they catch their breath and Linus nudges Eric with his shoulder. He laughs because there's nothing else for it at this point, loud and long until he's clutching his side.

"You're ridiculous, Bottler," Linus tells him. "You're a ridiculous tease."

"I'm not a tease," Eric huffs. "It's only a tease if you don't go through with it."

"Mmm," Linus agrees. "It was good, though. You starting it. Thanks."

Eric shrugs even though Linus can't see it. "I just…you really want me to kiss you and stuff? Any time?"

"Yeah. You sound surprised. Do you not want me to kiss you any time?"

"Yeah. I don't know. It's just weird. I don't think anyone's ever wanted to kiss me before. And—and I know no one's ever wanted to…" He lets it trail off mostly because he's not sure what Linus wants, but also because the idea of actually putting words to it—actually saying out loud what they're doing—makes his face heat up just at the idea of it.

"Fuck you," Linus finishes, because apparently he has no such issues. "No one's ever wanted to fuck you."

Eric swallows roughly and lets the silence hang in the air before he manages to ask, "Do you?"

"What? Want to fuck you? Yeah."

"Oh," Eric whispers, and closes his eyes. It helps him steady himself and staves off the panic rising in his chest.

"I want you to fuck me, too," Linus says after the silence gets to be too much. "I'm not sure if you're getting that."

"I—okay. I got it."

"What? You're not going to protest about your manly flower or some shit like that?"

Eric shakes his head. "I—I think it's too late for that. I mean…this is sex, isn't it? This feels like sex. I think. What sex is supposed to be."

Linus rolls over onto his stomach, propping himself up over Eric with one arm on his opposite side. It smears the mess all over his sheets and he spares a quick groan for the clean up he'll have to do, but then Linus's mouth is pressed against his, gentle and sweet.

Eric curls his fingers around the base of Linus's neck, thumb pressed against his pulse point and leaves his hand there—waiting for what, he has no idea—until Linus rolls off of him and flops back down beside him.

"Don't be a girl about this, Bottler," Linus says finally. "It's a thing. Let it be."

"Okay," Eric says, and tries to convince himself that it's possible for him to do that, to just leave this alone and not over-think it.

He fails spectacularly, and he thinks Linus probably knew he would from the word go.

***


Of all the ways his brother could've found out about the thing with Linus, Eric can think of only a few that would be worse than this, and most of them involve Chaz actually walking in on Eric on his knees sucking Linus off. Maybe he should be grateful that that didn't happen, because he's fairly sure that he'd never recover if it did.

But this isn't much better, because when Chaz corners him a few days later after Linus heads home for dinner, his face is set in a determined line, like he's forcing himself to do this despite all warnings to the contrary. And as much as Eric wishes he could play innocent, he knows he has no chance at all.

"Dad wanted to know why you didn't come to the lot after school," Chaz says by way of greeting. "You haven't done a shift in over a week."

Done a shift. Right. Like they were getting paid for it or it was on record or anything like that. Doing a shift involved a lot of boring paperwork and shadowing their dad as he made sales because they had to learn how to run the business. Eric hated it.

"I've been busy," he lies. "Linus and I have been working on a project."

Chaz twitches and the set of his jaw gets harsher, like he's gritting this all out through mentally clenched teeth.

"You're lying."

"What? No, I—"

"I can hear you," Chaz spits. "And I've tried really hard to ignore it because you're sixteen and you don't know what the hell you're doing. You'll grow out of it when you pull your head out of Vader's ass and discover chicks, so it's not a big deal."

He says all of this as though he were completely sure about it, as though he had some sort of magical glimpse into Eric's future and saw him surrounded by half-naked women. And it's an easy out that lets him move on from how incredibly fucking awkward this is. All he has to do is agree and say he's sorry and Chaz might drop it, save for occasionally calling him a cocksucker. But he can live with that because Chaz already calls him a cocksucker and it's not even true yet.

But something about it bugs him. Something in Chaz's tone makes him defensive, makes him want to protect this thing that he has with Linus. Because this thing, no matter what Chaz says—no matter how many times Linus tells him to chill—is a big deal. A pretty fucking huge one, actually.

"I'm not going to grow out of it," he says, as loudly as he dares. "The—the thing. It's not—" He shrugs. "I'll apologize to Dad and put in a Saturday shift. All day. He'll get over it."

"And so will you," Chaz agrees, but he doesn't sound so sure anymore.

As weak as it was, it's the most Eric's ever stood up to him and Chaz sounds discomforted by the whole thing, like he can't believe Eric contradicted him not only because of what it might mean, but just because Eric has never done that before.

Eric shrugs. "We'll be quieter from now on," he says in lieu of a response. "And I'm sorry that we weren't before. You're not gonna tell dad, are you?"

Chaz's face contorts for just a second, so fast that Eric blinks and is suddenly half-sure he imagined the whole thing, and then he says, "I'm not telling dad you think you're a homo. He'll freak and I don't feel like dealing with it. Just—fuck, I don't want to hear it anymore, all right? That's—fuck, that's so disgusting, Eric."

He should probably stand up for himself again, but it is pretty disgusting to overhear your brother having sex. He did once, when Chaz fucked some girl he was supposed to be studying with and they got a little loud, and the memory is still enough to make his stomach turn over with disgust. So Chaz has a point as far as that goes, and Eric's genuinely sorry. He didn't realize they were being so loud.

But he knows that's only half of it, that the other half is because it was a guy Chaz heard Eric with, but he can't bring himself to make this that fight. There's plenty of time to have that fight later, when he's gotten his own head around it for himself.

"Okay," is all he says, and turns to head back to his room.

He's not expecting it when Chaz catches him around the arm and says seriously, "Don't let Dad find out. He'll—it won't be good, all right? For you."

Eric knew that already, had known it since the first time Linus kissed him, even though he didn't want to think about it. But he appreciates the effort on Chaz's behalf to be a somewhat decent human being to him, so he just nods instead.

"Thanks."

Chaz makes a gruff sort of sound and lets go of his arm, and that's Eric's cue to make a run for it because Chaz can really only be a vaguely humanoid person for a few minutes at a time before it causes him physical pain.

And then he realizes that if he was telling the truth—that this thing is a big deal and it isn't something he'll get over like Chaz thinks—he'll have to tell people eventually, like his friends and one day even his dad.

He suddenly half-hopes Chaz is right.

***


Eric was planning on sucking Linus off as soon as he worked up the nerve. Really, he was. He was going to make that move first because Linus wanted him to initiate more and he would probably suck at it and Linus might tease him about it, but then it'd be over with, he'd have done it, and then he could get past the part where it was new and get to the part where it was improved.

Except he must've taken too long to work up his nerve because a couple weeks later, the two of them are in a heap on the floor after Eric rolled on top of Linus while they were kissing and overbalanced. Eric was going to get back up on the bed, but Linus had just shook his head and kissed him again, so there went his higher cognitive functions.

And once they'd managed to undress each other—a process that never failed to make Eric feel undignified and awkward with his scrawny limbs and overlarge head getting stuck and tangled in his shirts—Linus had been jerking him off, which was nice. Which was really nice, actually. And Eric had been staring up at ceiling, wide-eyed and gasping, so he hadn't seen Linus move between his knees, hadn't seen him getting ready to make the first move for him.

But suddenly, his cock had been covered in warmth, something wet and velvety soft. He'd jerked up and there was Linus, hand wrapped around the base of his cock and tongue pressed flat against the head.

He nearly came on the spot.

"What—what are you—"

"Relax, Bottler," Linus says, and licks him again. Eric gasps, which makes Linus grin. "I got tired of waiting is all."

"You don't have to—"

"I want to," Linus insists. After a moment, he adds, "I like it."

"You do?"

Linus shrugs. "Just shut up and let me do this."

Eric wants to protest, because this feels like something they should talk about before Linus goes and puts his mouth where Eric's dick is or whatever, but Linus's mouth is on him again and he forgets about it.

He has nothing to compare it to, since he's never gotten a blowjob before, but he thinks Linus is doing a pretty damn good job. His tongue is teasing, quick little flicks of his tongue while he sucks, and he doesn't get pissed when Eric's hips buck up of their own accord and nearly choke him. He just grips Eric's hips tight, holding him down while he keeps going, and Eric comes embarrassingly soon because there's only so long he can hold out. He's only sixteen, for fuck's sake, and it's his first blowjob. He thinks he deserves a little slack for his lack of stamina.

Linus makes a face and swipes the back of his hand across his mouth, and it leaves a smear of come all over his cheek. It's kind of disgusting but then so is Linus tentatively licking his fingers, and that somehow manages to be kind of sexy, too.

"Warn me next time," Linus says, and wipes the remaining mess onto his sheets.

"Next time?"

"Yeah. Next time I go down on you, warn me before you come. It's all right, just…the taste is going to take some getting used to."

Eric has no idea if he should be offended that his come apparently tastes bad or what, but Linus straddles his hips and leans down to kiss him.

He can taste himself on Linus, can see what he means, but he wants Linus more because of it.

"Linus," he whispers between kisses, "Linus—"

"Mmm," Linus answers back, and licks at Eric's throat.

"Linus, wait. Fuck, wait."

Linus stops immediately and pulls back, concern written all over his face. Something in Eric twitches at that, but he pushes it down immediately.

"What?"

"I—I mean, do you like me?"

Linus laughs, loud and long.

"Why are you asking me that?"

"I—I don't know. I wanted to know."

Linus sighs. "You're going to make me talk about this, aren't you?" When Eric says nothing, Linus sits up and rubs his hands on his knees awkwardly. Hell, the whole thing is awkward, because he's still straddling Eric's waist and they're both so utterly naked, but there's something about the way that Linus's body has gone tense that makes it all somehow worse.

"Look," Linus says finally. "Bottler, you're kind of—the thing is—you're—I don't know. You're everything." He shrugs. "That sounds stupid. Fuck. I—you're my best friend, man. And ever since I learned how to work my dick, I've just—I've wanted to do this with you. Just…just hang out with you all the time and watch movies and go to Comic Con and then, just, you know, on top of that, maybe fuck your brains out. It just…I don't know. When I think about this sex thing, it just…makes sense. Okay? This just seems…I don't know. Normal to me. With you."

"Oh," Eric manages. It's about all he has in answer to that.

"I just…" Linus waves a hand uselessly before settling it against Eric's cheek. "I like this. I like you. I like this with you. I don't know what I'm doing, man. You act like I must know, like…I don't know, like I've masterminded this whole thing, but I haven't. I don't know what I'm doing any more than you do. Just…I'm the one who knows I that I want it and can admit it. And you…I don't know which one you are. I don't think you're okay with that part yet."

Eric feels hyper-aware of his body, of the fact that Linus is straddling his hips, of the way his hands are gripping Linus's thighs. Everything feels more than it has before, and he swallows roughly before he even attempts to speak.

"I—I want this."

Linus laughs. "Yeah, I can tell."

"I mean—"

"I know what you mean. Just—can we just go back to the sex now? I haven't gotten off yet and you have no idea what you touching me like this is doing to me."

Eric feels like he's at once too young for this and at the same time too old. Doing this—having sex with someone, has always seemed like an adult thing to do. Lose your virginity, become a man. And he feels that now, too, like being here with Linus, like touching him and tasting him and kissing him, it's all so very, very adult.

But he also feels like a kid, too—young and inexperienced and so very far in over his head. He feels like a child sitting at the grown up table for the first time and finding that he can't keep up with the conversation.

He doesn't understand this. This thing in his chest and what Linus has been trying to say. This way his hands fit on Linus's hips to keep him steady, this way their bodies slip-slide against each other. This way he likes all of it.

"Okay," he says, instead of any of that, because Linus does understand, because Linus has been waiting for him to get ready to leave the kids table for a while. Because they're on different planes of existence and Eric isn't ready to admit it yet.

Linus smiles, filthy and wonderful, and Eric loses himself in it for the next half an hour. He forgets the shit going on in his head and just lets himself give into this crazy thing he doesn't understand. He's no good at it, at sucking Linus off the way Linus did him, but they get there and Linus kisses him after. Then they lay there, tangled together on the bed, for an hour afterward.

Eric doesn't let himself think about it once.
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August 2011

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