Finding reasons to stay standing at work wasn’t that hard; the mail room counter was high, designed for standing, and most of the stuff Red did didn’t really require use of a chair. But classes were a nightmare.
Also, every fucking day, at lunch, Bad made him pull down his pants and bend over, so he could “see my marks fading,” which Red took as a kind of promise.
God, the fucking orange grove had been…he couldn’t stop thinking about it. And not just because he could feel it every time he moved. Bad had rimmed him. Rimmed him. Like, with lips and tongue and oh-my-god spit. He’d peeled Red open and licked him.
It wasn’t even real. It couldn’t have happened. Except it had, and he knew it, because he remembered every second, and he’d wound through the business department parking to look for Bad’s truck a few times, and the one time he found it, the switch was still there, looking pretty tame in the middle of the day, a little stick, no big deal.
Which is when Red realized he probably shouldn’t find the truck on the way to class. How something that hurt so fucking badly could turn him on like this was totally beyond him, but it didn’t matter. Looking at the switch made him think about rimming, no, even more than that, the way Bad had looked him right in the eye while he unbuttoned Red’s vest. Shit. That had been—so fucking sexy, so fucking wild.
He’d wanted to kiss the man, to grab him and kiss him in a way that was very definitely against the rules.
And then there was the way he’d looked when he held up that leaf. Red still wasn’t convinced he’d bitten down. He’d been so fucking careful. But Bad looked so victorious, like he was desperate to keep beating Red’s ass with that fucking thing, like he had to.
Like he needed this. Just as much as Red.
It was a stupid, treacherous thought. He had to stop pretending, even in his head, that any of this was real. Polly reminded him, again, that he’d been looking for something real, and even as the stripes burned through his skin, he told her he knew this wasn’t it, that it was just an arrangement, and it was okay, he was okay with that.
Because arrangements were great. He was out, proud, and twenty-one years old (just). Having an arrangement with a hot older guy who liked railing on his ass, then rimming it? Yeah, living the dream, that’s what this was. Or at least should have been.
He had to stop thinking about it. He had to stop thinking about Bad. It was getting a little creepy-obsessive.
But then lunch would roll around and he’d find himself doing some kind of fucked up downward facing dog with a poster pen in his ass (which had graduated from Sharpies when Bad found out he kept condoms and those little single-serve lube packets in his bag), and he’d spend the whole hour imagining Bad upstairs in the Campus Safety office watching him, trying to think up new horrible things to make him do. The seductive little voice in the back of his head would ask if someone who didn’t care about him at all would really be spending so much time thinking about a random kid, and that would trigger a whole cascade of domino thoughts, always ending with stupid fantasies like maybe they could go out to dinner, or take a walk together sometime.
So, so pathetic. So stupid.
He’d tried to get housing in the student apartments for the summer, but the price was insane unless he could convince Polly and about four other people to share a one bedroom with him. So he’d started looking for rooms he could rent, which seemed like it might work out, except no one wanted a tenant for three months, and the few places still available after that conversation weren’t great. Did he want to live with the guy who had Jesus up everywhere and wanted to make sure he wasn’t going to be viewing pornography, because God apparently holds the landlord accountable for everything that goes on under his roof, even if it happens in a rented room? Or maybe he should rent from the guy who flirted with him and hinted that checks were only one medium of payment accepted?
Next he’d have to get Polly to pretend to be his girlfriend, just to keep the creepers off his back. Actually, that could be kind of fun. Maybe.
She’d already told him he could just go home with her, which was true, but Pol’s home life was only marginally better than Red’s. Her parents were really into her being gay, and always pre-loaded the DVR with episodes of Ellen and Rachel Maddow. “It’s like now they’re experts, because they’ve read all the books and been to all the support groups. I swear to god, Red, my parents are more gay than I am. It’s freaky.”
Red wasn’t sure he wanted to tag along to gay town for the summer. He knew for sure he didn’t want to go to his house. No one beat him up when he came out, but his dad cleared his throat and his mom said, “We don’t need to hear about your sexual activities.” He’d tried to explain that actually it didn’t have that much to do with sex, but Dad had cut him off and told him to please just not discuss it.
It’s okay if you’re gay, as long as you’re invisibly gay.
God, his parents and Polly’s were polar opposites. Too bad they couldn’t lock all of them in a room together and come out with four people who were normally involved in their kid’s life. Instead of overzealous or indifferent.
He spent the whole weekend trying to find a place to live. By Sunday night he was totally defeated.
Damon tried to cheer him up with the new Assassin’s Creed, but Red wanted to kill things more than he wanted to learn about history (and he could never remember if he was on the Templars’ side, or going against them).
Polly suggested a Sherlock marathon, because: Cumberbatch, but he wasn’t in the mood.
If Bad was his boyfriend, he could text him, or call him, or see him. That would be acceptable. But usually he waited for Bad to make a move, and he hadn’t seen Bad all week, even if Bad had been staring at him in the cameras.
So fucking stupid. He pulled out his phone and scrolled through their texts, feeling a little dumb, but doing it anyway. He loved hearing the tone he’d assigned to Bad’s number. It made his heart beat faster and his dick half-hard.
He wasn’t supposed to start things. That was one of the unwritten rules. Then again, Bad just ignored him when he felt like it, so there wasn’t a big risk to just sending a text. Right?
After about twenty false-casual rehearsal texts (he did them in a blank message with no to: contact, so there was no chance of accidentally sending one), he settled on Bored. Sex?
Short and to the fucking point. He hit Send and buried his face in his pillow to hide the blush. Not that anyone was paying attention, but still.
Maybe two minutes passed. Maybe not even. It definitely didn’t take Bad the seventeen years and three weeks it felt like to respond.
Spark Plug. An hour. Look slutty.
Oh god. Well. Okay, then. Sure, he’d been kind of hoping for Room 111, but the Spark would do. Anything but sitting in his room, staring at the ceiling, would do.
He showered, perfected the wind-swept look he liked for his hair, and wore the tightest, barely-fits black shirt he could find, the one with the glitter thread in the collar, which would show behind his favorite skinny black vest. And his leather pants again, because Bad liked those. At least, he thought Bad liked them.
Red practically skipped to the Spark. As skippy as he could be, while also maintaining constant vigilance to avoid any vehicles full of his peers. But it was Sunday, so the streets were relatively quiet.
So was Spark Plug, which was why it was so easy to see Bad, right off, lurking in the shadows beside the door.
“Come on,” he said, grabbing Red’s arm and yanking him to the bar. “Two beers.”
Was he mad? Well, if he was, Red would know. Not like Bad worked hard to keep his emotions to himself or anything. Also, they’d never sat at the bar before, under lights, where people could actually see them and maybe mistake them for two guys who enjoyed having a beer together.
“Yeah. Actually, more like—anxious.”
Bad grunted. “No luck finding a place, then.”
“Depends on how much I think my ass is worth. I’m pretty sure the last guy would be happy to rent a room to me, just as long as I don’t mind fucking him. Being fucked by him. Whatever.”
Bad’s hand clamped down on his forearm. “That ain’t funny.”
“I didn’t mean it to be funny.” Okay, maybe a little funny. Dark humor, wasn’t that what Bad liked? “I said no thank you. I just want to give someone money and sleep in their spare room for three months. I don’t want to go to church or hear about the lord, I don’t want to trade for watching anyone’s little kids, and I don’t want to hear about the communal kitchen and which shelf belongs to whom. Fuck. I don’t know. I’ll probably just end up at home, playing a thousand hours of Halo.”
“Is home that bad?”
“It’s not good,” Red said, sipping his beer and looking over, like if he wished hard enough maybe they could be what they appeared to be, just pals out for a beer. “You ever just want something that’s good, instead of coming in at ‘not as shitty as it could be’?”
“Tell me another one, Red.”
“Yeah. I know. I didn’t used to be cynical, you know? I used to be all optimistic and shit.”
“Yeah? What happened?”
“I came out. And I came here, and instead of being a shining oasis, it was a lot like everywhere else.”
“I don’t think you’re cynical. I think you sound—tired, Red.”
Tired. Wired. Red turned on his stool. “Show me something worth waking myself up for, and I will. But right now it’s just easier to coast and try not to think about anything.”
“Anything?” Bad asked, staring him down.
“I can show you something to wake up for, Red. I want you to dance.”
Everything in the world dropped away until all Red could see were Bad’s fucking eyes. “Dance? You want to dance with me?”
“I don’t fucking dance, Red. I want you to dance. With everyone. With anyone who wants to dance with you.”
“Oh.” That should have been obvious, but he couldn’t fight the feeling of despair that accompanied it.
“The hell, Red?”
“Huh? Oh, nothing.”
“You got something to say, say it.”
Well, since you asked.
“I’ll do that. I’ll dance with all five to seven people sitting here tonight. But only if you dance with me once. One dance, Bad.”
“What did I tell you about the rules?”
“You said you like my style. Well, this is my style.” Red paused, ran a hand through his hair, probably undoing twenty minutes of deliberate mussing in one stupid gesture. But he couldn’t bring himself to care. “I had a shitty week. I’m about to leave for an intensely shitty summer. You want me to dance with everyone and act like a slut for you, which I’m happy to do, but I want this. One fucking dance, Bad.”
Bad scratched the side of his face, like he was thinking about it. “I don’t know if you’re gonna earn it yet, Red. Get your ass out there and show me how bad you want to dance with me.”
Perfect. Red downed the last of his beer and set it back on the bar. “Hope you can dance in those boots, Bad.” He definitely didn’t wait around listening for Bad’s reply.
A couple of people were dancing, but it was a Sunday crowd, mostly older guys, a few women, no one particularly hot, but Red didn’t care. He’d make a damn fool of himself if that’s what it took to get Bad on the dance floor.
Becoming someone else was easy with Bad sitting there watching. Senior year of high school, Red had thought about college all the time. He’d kind of made it up in his head to be this magical place where all the fags showed up and became TV gay boys, shiny and flaming and sprinkled all over with glitter, and all the dykes got hair clippers and Indigo Girls CDs, and all the transkids got brand new pronouns, and everyone lived happily ever after.
Red hadn’t become some beautiful, angelic gay boy, beloved by all. He was just Red, with an acne scar he was self-conscious about on his cheek, and a hoodie that had seen better days, but he kept wearing because at some point the nickname had become his identity, and the red sweatshirt his armor.
But Bad making it about an order, a direction, and more than that, a wager, changed everything. Now Red could pretend for a few minutes that he was that boy, and it was fun. He charmed all the women and flirted with all the men and rubbed up against people, and a few people had almost definitely started dancing just for the chance to dance with him, so that was kind of cool and heady.
Of course Bad waited until he was actually starting to enjoy himself to beckon him back to the bar.
“Impressive. I think they should pay you for that show, Red.”
Flushed and feeling both silly and imperious, Red said, “I’m ready for my dance now, Officer.”
“You have a smart mouth.”
“Guess you’ll have to do something about that later,” Red shot back.
Bad stood up. Stood over him, not by much, but he was broader, so it was enough. “One dance.”
He nodded. “Then what the hell are you waiting for?”
You. Always you. “Okay.”
One dance. It would never be enough. It was worse than a tease; he’d want more now, and this wasn’t even a dance because Bad wanted to dance, this was a dance because it was the way Bad got something he wanted that wasn’t this.
But tell that to the asshole voice in the back of Red’s head, which was throwing confetti and conducting a marching band as he followed Bad back to the juke box.
Of course, Bad had to pick the song. Of fucking course he did.
The opening chords of “Black Widow” started playing, and Red couldn’t help it. He grinned. “Oh, it’s fucking on!” he called.
So he did. He danced at Bad like he had everyone else, playful and flirtatious, right up until Bad’s hands vice-gripped his waist and spun him around.
“Look at them. They’re all watching you right now, Little Red. They’re all wishing they were me.”
Red closed his eyes and put his head back, but one of Bad’s hands slid up to pinch a nipple, jolting him upright. “Fuck!”
“Look at them.”
Yeah, especially now. Bad ground his dick against Red’s ass and Red wanted to drop to his fucking knees right there in the Spark.
“They want you. All of them want you. They want you bent over so they can take you. They want you on your back, on your knees.” Bad’s lips were practically inside his ear right now, and his hands were guiding Red’s body in a nasty bump and grind. “Would you like that, Red? Would you like it if I blindfolded you and took you somewhere to be used, to be fucked?”
Oh my god. The reality would be freaky as hell, but the fantasy—
“I’d love to watch that,” Bad said, one hand straying lower, teasing Red’s dick. “I’d love to watch the couple over there take you at the same time. The fat one would be fucking your mouth while the skinny one kept you skewered on his cock. Maybe you’d have weights on your balls, and the harder they fucked, the more the weights would swing. Can you picture that, Red?”
Bad’s fingers were more bold now, stroking him, letting the couple he was talking about see that he was doing it. “Maybe I should ask them if they want to. I bet the fat one has a nice, thick cock. Maybe we could sit you down on it and bounce you, let it split your hole.”
“Yeah, is that what you want, boy? You want me to farm you out? What about the tough guy in the corner? I bet he’d give you a nice long spanking before he fucked you. Maybe I’d have you sucking my cock while he did it. I could come while he whaled away on you and you cried.”
Now the fingers were impossible to avoid, actively jacking him through his pants, rhythmically squeezing his balls, and pulling him back so hard against Bad, it had to fucking hurt, except Bad didn’t seem to be in pain.
“I wonder how many you could take, Red,” Bad whispered in his ear, hand moving up and down on his dick faster now. “How many loads could you swallow? How many could I stuff you full of before you couldn’t handle it anymore? Three? Me and two strangers, taking turns with you, trying to fuck you the hardest, and the winner would get to do you again. What do you think about that, Red?”
Oh my god, I’m having an orgasm in a bar in front of people.
Bad turned him at the last moment, which is how instead of having an orgasm looking at the couple in the corner (whose hands were all over each other as they watched Red and Bad dance), he was looking straight into Bad’s eyes while Bad finished him off, dick to dick, his big fucking claws digging into Red’s ass cheeks and squeezing.
He should have been able to hold back, but Bad just made everything seem so fucking plausible, like it was hot and it could happen and Bad had the power to make it so.
God, what a jerk. What an ego maniac. What a blisteringly hot man, so fucking sexy, so safe, and at the same time, so dangerous Red could think of a dozen ways every single thing Bad had ever suggested could go wrong.
But they didn’t.
High on orgasm, skating over the character he was playing in his head, Red reached up and kissed Big Bad Campion right on the fucking lips, full-on, no-holds-barred, open-mouth kiss, tangling tongues for half a second before both of them realized what they were doing and jumped back.
He’s going to fucking kill me. Red’s heart might literally explode in his chest, spraying the whole fucking bar with blood. He didn’t say anything, couldn’t possibly. He spun around and ran out of the bar like he was being chased.
Was he being chased?
It was pretty clear after three blocks that no one was chasing, so he fought a wave of disappointment and slowed down. Then he slowed to a glacial pace, hoping that Bad would pull up in his truck and say, “Get in.” He’d take another whipping for having the fucking audacity to do a totally normal thing, like kiss the guy he’d been having sex with for three weeks. Another whipping might be good. Cleansing. And lead to more moments of Bad looking him in the eye, which had to be good.
Bad’s truck didn’t pull over. And Red’s phone didn’t beep with threatening text messages, either.
Nothing. Big fat fucking not a single sign from Bad that he’d even noticed the kiss. Except he’d looked so shocked and so—disturbed by it. Red couldn’t get that expression out of his head. Bad was gay, right? Not just fucking around? But straight men over thirty didn’t hang out at Spark Plug, so he must be. So why no kissing? Which was a pretty good goddamn question, actually: why no kissing ever? Was Red that fucking ugly? So ugly Bad could only look at him in the dark or over grainy video?
By the time he made it back to the dorms, he was pissed. Violently pissed. So pissed that when he ejected Assassin’s Creed and plugged in Halo without asking, Damon only put up a token protest before handing over the second controller and settling in, dialing through the character options and selecting a game while Red changed out of his disgusting pants.
Yeah. Killing was good. Not as good as kissing, but way less fucking dangerous.