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Shousetsu Bang*Bang
Issue 38: After-School Special

Edited by Shousetsu Bang*Bang
Smashwords Edition
Copyright 2012 Shousetsu Bang*Bang

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Shousetsu Bang*Bang Issue 38 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Based on a work at http://shousetsubangbang.com

Table of contents

See You After School, by Tsukizubon Saruko (月図凡然る子)

Part of Something Ours, by Nanaki (ナナキ),

illustrated by beili

Consequences of the New York City Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002, by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)

Reed Fixation, by Kimyōna Akage (奇妙な赤毛)

This Story Is Full of Scorpions: Seriously, Dude, Don’t Read It, by shukyou (主教),

illustrated by sairobi

Spirit Week, by Kikuna Matata (菊菜 瞬)

Front cover by The Winter Cynic

Edited and published by the Shousetsu Bang*Bang editorial staff. Read more about this issue at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/wiki/index.php?title=Issue_38

See You After School

by Tsukizubon Saruko (月図凡然る子)

“See you after school.”

It wasn’t loud enough for anyone else to hear, just a hiss across the aisle between the rows of desks. For a second Kiran stopped, in the middle of getting up, frozen with his backpack halfway hefted up; then he swallowed, and made himself finish and pick up his test sheet to deposit at the front on the teacher’s desk. He made a business of keeping his body between it and Jeff, though, blocking any possible view of the paper from across the aisle, and ignoring the sullen glare up from the circle of Jeff’s arm on his desk. If he was in for a penny, he was in for a pound, he guessed.

There was always something to set him off, anyway. A wrong look in the locker room after gym, a wrong word in the hallway between classes. Sometimes even less than that. It was just how guys like Jeff worked; they’d find any excuse in the end. This time it had been the history test, but it might have been anything. When Jeff had turned his head toward Kiran, under the screening cover of Tammy Fitzpatrick’s frizzy hair in the seat ahead of him, and whispered, “Hey loser, let me copy off you,” Kiran had just set his jaw, and shaken his head No. The consequences, whatever they might be, were beyond his control.

See you after school.

His pulse was beating hard high up in his neck, his throat dry again, his palms damp. He scrubbed one against his pant leg, dropped his test first on Ms. Feijoo’s empty desk, and got the hell out.

Jeff was only in about half of Kiran’s classes, but that was enough to have attracted his attention. He was a huge kid for their age, really only about Kiran’s height but probably twice as big around, all massive stocky bulk and heavy bones. He had long, thick, gorillaish arms, legs like young trees, and a bulldog sort of a face under his bristly blond crewcut, with a jutting brow and jaw that lent him a perpetual glower. When he walked around school you could practically feel the earth shake under his feet. He took remedial classes and woodshop, was always in danger of getting kicked off the football team for his grades, hung around and laughed and made crude jokes and swilled beer with the other jocks but was never really one of them, maybe a little too much of something different from them. He was the kind of kid that kids like Kiran, all knobby knees and jutting Adam’s apple and straight As, knew by instinct to swing wide around. The kind of kid the chess club whispers about, a petty god celebrated in myths of putting this mortal down a toilet, that one in the hospital.

See you after school.

It rang in Kiran’s mind for the rest of the day, clanging along like a song stuck in his head. He picked at his lunch, too distracted to eat, and ended up throwing the rest of it away and spending the rest of the period shut up in the upstairs bathroom. He spent all of AP Bio afterwards staring out the window, gnawing on his lip, taking down nonsense instead of notes. English — normally his favorite class — was likewise a mess; Jeff was in that one with him, and kept staring holes in the side of his face, the entire time, until he could feel himself sweating and his fingertips twitching. He couldn’t seem to stop his eyes from sneaking over, seeing the sliver of Jeff’s face and steadily gazing eyes turning his way from a few desks ahead of him. Every glimpse he got of those huge meaty hands of Jeff’s, lying lax and loose on his desk, made his mouth go cottony. Mr. Taylor kept calling on him in that pointed way teachers did when they thought you weren’t paying attention, and every single time he couldn’t seem to remember a goddamn thing about the chapters of The Color Purple they’d been supposed to read. It was a relief to finally escape to French, even if he kept confusing all his prepositions.

See you after school.

What would it be this time? Getting yanked into a boys’ bathroom as he walked by? Tripped into the bushes around behind the side of the gym? Or maybe followed halfway back to his house, and jumped in some shadowy corner, right in the middle of everything and broad daylight?

Well, it didn’t matter. The date was set now.

Finally, at long last, the last bell rang; and with heart hammering and legs rubbery, Kiran went down the halls to his locker, and set out for the front door.

He got as far as the athletic fields, which he took a shortcut through to get to the back road that led to his house. He was actually just starting to think that maybe it wasn’t going to happen after all, maybe Jeff had changed his mind, when he passed by the side of the bleachers on the far side…

And then by the time he saw the shadow shifting out of the corner of his eye, in the darkness underneath them, there was already a big meaty hand snaking out to grab his shoulder.

He was pulled in and under, clapped hard up against what felt like a wall of solid muscle; he yelped, his backpack falling askew on his shoulder and then all the way to the ground with a thump. The grip on his shoulder tightened, then hauled him around to push his back up against one of the bleachers’ supports. Jeff loomed out of the dim at him, smirking, right up in his face so they were nearly nose-to-nose.

“Hey, there, loser,” he said, voice so low it was almost a purr. Kiran’s eyelids fluttered a little, his throat convulsing. “You weren’t trying to run off on me, were you?”

“Thought maybe you’d run off on me,” he said anyway, gamely, over the dusty hardpan of his throat. Jeff snorted, and somehow leaned in even closer still, his hand planted on the support above Kiran’s head so that gorilla-arm just caged him in.

“Shut up.” His breath close, and warm, on the side of Kiran’s face. “You wanna talk all day, or you wanna go?”

“Up to you,” Kiran said. Barely above a whisper, and almost through his teeth. It widened Jeff’s smirk to a grin, anyway, showing all his teeth. He grabbed a fistful of Kiran’s t-shirt, hauling him forward and up almost on his toes —

And kissed him, hard, hard enough to clash their teeth.

Kiran let out a low groan in the back of his throat, and grabbed his hands up Jeff right back, seizing the best handfuls he could of Jeff’s little prickles of hair. Their lips smacked apart, tongues rolling together in a sloppy, clumsy mess. Jeff shoved a knee forward between his legs, up against the support, making him shudder; after thinking about this all day he was already hard, but he only ground up against the big slab of Jeff’s thigh for a few seconds before pushing him away, and then pushing him around and backward, deeper into the shadows under the bleachers.

Jeff stumbled and Kiran pushed the advantage, driving him all the way back to the next support over, pinning Jeff face-first into its steel. Jeff grunted and then squirmed, and tried to turn around, but Kiran pushed him back in place again and swarmed him, pressing him close with his own weight — little though that was. He molded himself around Jeff’s back, ground up against his ass, lapping wet trails up the nape and side of his neck and biting his ear hard. Jeff made another groaning grunt that was more of a shout, ground his hips first forward into the support and then backward into the hard-on trapped in Kiran’s jeans.

“Fuck,” Jeff said through his teeth, “fuck, fuck,” and then it was trailing off in a groan as he fumbled at the front of his own pants. Kiran helped him, diving in under Jeff’s scrabbling hands first to take a big squeezing handful of the bulge at the front — making Jeff make a deeply satisfying strangling noise in his throat — and then yanking down the zipper while Jeff tore the button open. Then he grabbed either side and yanked them down to Jeff’s thighs, and Jeff’s slightly spread stance let them slide the rest of the way to his ankles. For a second Jeff was leaned against the support with dark blue boxer-briefs showing under the tails of his shirt, molded to tree-trunk thighs, and then Jeff had shucked those down too. They wound up in a haphazard tangle at his knees, letting Kiran finally reach for a big thick handful of Jeff’s weird, cut cock and stroke it. Jeff dug down his face into his own upper arm, making a heavy spit-full gasping sound.

Jeff had a nice ass for a white guy, all else aside: a big round bubble of it, all spring-steel firm and well-turned and a little dimpled at either side. Kiran groped his other hand over it while he was jerking Jeff’s dick, smirking at the way Jeff squirmed. He just kept panting into his arm for a minute, burying whining desperate sounds in his shirt, and then finally turned his head enough to gasp his mouth free.

“Put it in,” Jeff said first, tight and strained, and then ground back again; Kiran let him, but also let him keep talking. “C’mon, fuck, do it, put it in, stick it in, I’m gonna fucking — ” Whatever he was going to fucking got buried against his arm again, though, and inside another strangling moan. Kiran wet his lips, his own breath coming hot and harsh, eyelids fluttering again… but he was pleased with himself, as always, when he managed to keep his own voice a little cool in Jeff’s ear.

“You’re gonna what?” Licking between words, making Jeff twitch and hiss. “Gonna come? You gonna come before I even get in you, just thinking about my dick?”

Please — ” It came out in a whine, a little thin whimper nobody on the chess club or anywhere else would even believe. Heat thrilled up Kiran’s arms, settling in his chest a minute and then squeezing down around his dick.

“Yeah, beg. Beg me. Or I’ll just jerk you off and go home.”

“Please! Fuck!” Jeff squirmed around, squeezing the support over his head like it was a tow-rope out of the ocean. “Please, please, fuck me, Christ, you little bitch, fuck me, fuck me, please — ”

Good enough, Kiran figured — or, well, it better be, because now he was making the whining sounds in his throat on every breath and he was leaking all over the inside of his jeans. He let go of Jeff’s cock, which this time got a strangly cry of equal parts frustration and shaky relief, and went for his own pants. He dug out the condom he’d put in a back pocket with trembling fingers, before yanking the fly open and pushing his jeans down with his underwear to his thighs. He tore open the condom and rolled it on, the lubed surface nearly making him drop it once, then spat in one palm (something he’d gotten pretty good at with practice, he could probably beat out any of the veteran hawkers on Jeff’s football team if he cared to try) and slicked his covered cock. Then he slid a wet finger between Jeff’s cheeks for a second, to rim around him and just tease. Jeff jumped a little, then growled back in his throat, although it was much too broken with arousal to sound very threatening anymore.

“Fuck you, just get your cock in me,” Jeff breathed into the back of the hand he’d braced his forehead on, against the support, and Kiran ended up having to stop and take a hard swallow to get his balance back. And then he was grabbing his cock, grabbing Jeff’s hip, Jeff splaying his legs as far as he could so Kiran could press the tip to his asshole and then in.

He took it slow on the way in: just driving with one long gradual thrust of his hips, hot tight flesh giving around him with the occasional flutter of muscle, until he was all the way seated inside, balls up against Jeff’s ass. Jeff helping him all the way in, pushing back, pushing it faster as much as he could but Kiran still keeping control with the hand on his hip. Jeff’s voice breaking again, in the middle of his throaty, unsteady keen. He shuddered when Kiran slid all the way in, and it made Kiran have to stop and gather his breath, just for a second. When he really went deep, that was what made Jeff shake.

“Fuck me,” Jeff almost whispered again, not demanding anymore but just pleading, and the corner of Kiran’s mouth twisted up in a distracted half-grin.

And he did.

The spit and condom-lube didn’t help all that much, there was still some stick and burn if he went too fast or got too much range of motion going, but he didn’t need to. Just a little out, and then as hard in as he possibly could. All he had to do was grab both Jeff’s hips and pound in that last inch or so, over and over again, enough to get it where Jeff wanted it. Jeff went crazy for it like always, fucking screamed before he could crane his head and bite his forearm, huffed hard high-pitched breath noises around his closed teeth, shook on his feet and couldn’t keep his hand off himself for more than a couple seconds. Kiran thought about telling him to stop, he’d done it before, but in the end through the hot haze in his head he decided not to: Jeff’d just come with no help at all if he did, and Kiran wanted him like this right now, shuddering and jerking off because he just couldn’t help it with Kiran’s dick in him, jerking it like he probably did at home every afternoon they couldn’t do this, thinking about this and wanting.

It didn’t last long past there. It never did. Maybe half a minute more of Jeff’s sweaty hand frantic and squeezing on his cock, Kiran’s balls bumping off his ass as he just nailed deep again and again, and then Jeff stiffened and then seemed to completely explode. The muscles of his neck and back and arms seemed to contract and then flex and extend, his whole body to shake with some kind of top-speed velocity, his mouth on his arm clamped down but even then couldn’t keep back the roaring screaming shout that tore out of it. Come spurted over his hand, over the support, onto the tails of his shirt at the front. And the muscles inside him were out of control, too, tensing and squeezing and fluttering with every shake, and Kiran didn’t see or notice anything else: just shouted with his eyes screwed shut into Jeff’s shoulder, and then came inside the latex inside him, his fingers digging furrows in Jeff’s bare hips.

They just stood like that for a few seconds, heaving breath, Kiran leaning on Jeff and Jeff leaning on the support. Distantly, now that they were quiet, he could hear the hollow metallic clanging and rumpling of canvas from the flagpoles up above the bleachers, as the school flags flapped in the wind outside.

Finally, with a small groan, Kiran pushed off from Jeff’s shoulders, and pulled his soft dick back out again; Jeff let out a grunt against the support, but otherwise didn’t move as Kiran stripped off the condom and pitched it into the dust a few feet away, and pulled his pants up and closed again. With that done, Kiran went to his fallen backpack, first to dig out his inhaler and take a blast until his chest opened up again, and then to take out a pack of tissues and bring them back to Jeff. Only then did Jeff finally rouse, to accept them with a grunt Kiran thought was of thanks this time, and then scrub wincing with a couple at the crack of his ass.

“You still suck for not letting me cheat on that history test, asshole,” Jeff said finally, as he was yanking his pants back on; his voice was a little cracked and a little thick still, but mostly normal again. Kiran glanced over his shoulder, where he’d bent to pick up his backpack, and rolled his eyes.

“If you’d actually come over and study sometime, you wouldn’t need to cheat.”

Jeff just waved that off with a little snort, although Kiran thought a less scoffing one than usual. Maybe he was finally getting somewhere with that.

He pulled his backpack on, while Jeff hovered, hands shoved in his pockets, still kind of red in the face but back to looking as bulldoggy and sullen as ever. Just when Kiran was about to go, Jeff said, a little hesitating: “Hey, uh… you’re still not gonna tell anybody about this, right?”

Kiran paused, looking at him for a long moment… and then smirked.

“Depends,” he said, and leaned in to plant a quick kiss on Jeff’s mouth, pulling back to grin at him while he was still surprised. “Start giving me your lunch money, and we’ll talk.”

Part of Something Ours

by Nanaki (ナナキ)
illustrated by beili

Zack pulled up his hood and slumped over the table, using his arms as pillows. Showing up at school when the sun wasn’t even up, on a Saturday no less, wasn’t what he signed up for when he joined the engineering club. It was a cruel and unusual punishment, as far as he was concerned.

A hand clapped him on the back, jolting him back into consciousness. Zack cracked open an eye and glared up at the culprit. Bryce looked down at him with amusement clear on his stupid face.


“You gonna sleep or are you actually gonna help do something?” Zack didn’t bother to respond and put his face back down. “I told you to stop freaking out over the championship and go to bed early last night.”

“I don’t know you anymore.” Most of Zack’s reply was muffled by his arms. He just wanted some sleep, or maybe just a mainline of caffeine; Zack wasn’t awake enough to really care which.

As if reading his mind (which Zack couldn’t discount, seeing as they were as good as attached to the hip), Bryce sighed and put a huge travel mug down in front of his face. Zack’s eyes zeroed in on mug and he greedily pulled it closer, only sitting up when he had the lid open.

The first scalding sip was enough to jump-start his brain. By the second, Zack had enough faculties back to notice whose mug he was drinking from. “Bryce, were you hiding my own coffee from me?”

Whatever Bryce was going to say was interrupted when Mr. Morris, their faculty advisor, came through the door with an excited “Hello, engineers!” Zack grabbed the mug and chugged, because there was no way he could handle Morris otherwise.

“We have a long day ahead of us, so let’s start getting ready and loading everything up.” A collective groan went up in the room. Apparently Zack wasn’t the only one who had trouble staying awake. “Remember, we do get a few hours on competition day to make last minute adjustments to our robot. Oh, and Bryce, I’m going to need to go over the itinerary with you.”

Bryce reached over and swiped the mug out of Zack’s loose grip before Zack could react. He took a long sip of coffee before handing it back to Zack. “I guess that’s my cue. Don’t drink all that at once or we’re gonna end up stopping at every gas station so you can take a piss.”

Zack rolled his eyes and waved his boyfriend off. “Yes, mom.”

Bryce snorted, but Zack saw that he was trying not to smile as he walked to the front of the classroom.

~~

Zack figured he needed to get off his ass when he was the only person left in the classroom with Bryce and Mr. Morris. His bag was already stowed away in Bryce’s truck so he decided to head for the workshop and see if anyone there needed his help.

The workshop looked empty from the outside, but Zack saw a couple of people packing up when he stepped inside. Parked in the far corner of the room was TERA, all 120 pounds of steel, circuit-boards, and tires of it. TERA wasn’t the prettiest robot — the rectangular metal skeleton could attest to that — but they weren’t going to a beauty competition, so no one really cared. Zack actually liked the industrial look.

The junior who was in charge of putting the robot together popped her head out from the closet and waved. “Hey, do you think we should connect the battery and stuff right now?”

Zack shook his head and she disappeared back into the closet. “We have to take the battery and bumpers off for the clean weigh-in once we get there, anyway. Probably just put them in a box.”

A thumbs up appeared from inside the closet, followed quickly by a tall plastic bin and lid.

“Hey, Zack, think fast!”

Zack instinctively threw up his hands and dropped to the ground, letting whatever Bryce tossed towards him clatter to the concrete floor. They turned out to be Bryce’s keys.

“I hate you so much right now,” Zack grumbled as he picked up the discarded keys and stood up.

“I didn’t even toss ’em that hard. I totally thought you were gonna catch it.” Zack would’ve believed Bryce’s sincerity more if his shoulders weren’t shaking with bottled-up laughter.

“Do you need something or are you just here to tease me some more?”

Bryce pulled him into a one-armed hug. “Sorry, sorry. How can I make it up to you?”

A mock gagging sound from behind the closet door interrupted them. They stared at each other for a second, silently debating if they should act extra-sappy before deciding better of it.

“Can you go and plug those into the GPS?” Bryce asked, handing Zack a piece of paper.

“Why can’t you do it?”

Bryce pointed towards TERA. “Cause I have to move that outside.”

Zack put the paper in his pocket and pulled away. “Fine, I’ll go.”

Bryce’s truck was out in the loading dock next to the workshop. Most of the club members were lingering next to the nondescript white van next to Bryce’s truck, and they waved as Zack walked by. Zack waved back and unlocked the door before climbing inside. The list wasn’t that long; they were mostly making stops for food, making it easy enough to plug in.

Bryce and three other guys brought TERA out to the loading dock when Zack was finished inputting their route. TERA was hard enough to load as it was because of its weight and bulk, but the protective cardboard sleeve made it even harder. It looked like it took all of Bryce’s strength to load the robot into the back.

TERA was too tall for them to leave it upright, so they had to lay it down on its side — which proved to be the hardest part of all, as they tried to do it without getting the wires tangled or breaking any of the fragile innards.

When Bryce threw a tarp over the robot and tied everything down to the truck bed, Zack reached into the ice box on the backseat and pulled out a bottle of water. He jumped down from his seat and went to hand Bryce the bottle. Bryce gladly accepted it and drained half the bottle.

“Everyone settle down, I’d like to say something before we leave.” The loading dock grew silent and everyone turned to look at Morris as he locked the doors and came outside. “This competition isn’t all about just winning. It’s a time to gather together and have a good time. Win or lose, I want everyone to have fun at the competition. Now let’s get going.”

~~

The coffee Zack had guzzled couldn’t stave off his exhaustion from being sleep-deprived the night before, and he fell asleep even before they got on the freeway. By the time he woke up, the sun was shining and the clock said that a good four hours had passed.

Zack was a heavy sleeper, he once slept through his brother Nick sneaking home after curfew and accidentally tripping the alarm system, but Bryce still had the music down low so it didn’t disturb him. Bryce’s eyes were hidden behind his aviators, but his head was facing straight ahead and it looked like he’d yet to notice Zack was awake, giving Zack a chance to just watch him.


Zack must’ve made a sound or something else to bring attention to himself, because Bryce looked over at him. Bryce shot him a smile and greeted him with a good morning, before turning his head back to the road in front of them.

“How far along are we?” Zack asked as he opened the center console and rooted around for his sunglasses. He made a triumphant noise when he found them and slipped them on.

“We’re almost at the first stop, a Denny’s I think. Maybe in another hour.” Bryce yawned into his fist before reaching for the coffee and taking a sip.

“That’s good ’cause I’m starving. Mm, I can already taste the bacon and pancakes.” Zack’s stomach growled in agreement.

“When are you not hungry?”

“Just for that, I’m making you buy me waffles, too.”

~~

They pulled up in front of the stadium at half past nine. The GPS had told them that they’d arrived at their destination when they’d turned into the parking lot, but they didn’t know where they were supposed to go to park and unload. It didn’t help that the place was deserted apart from a couple of maintenance trucks parked in the far corner, either.

Zack’s phone beeped from inside his hoodie and he pulled it out to find a text waiting for him. just exited freeway, rep waiting @ back loading dock. Bryce nodded when Zack relayed the message and he maneuvered them around to the back of the stadium.

Just as the text had said, someone was standing in the loading area, next to an open service entrance. The man climbed down from the raised dock and came up to tell them to back into the loading area. Bryce did he was told and carefully backed his truck into position.

The van with the rest of the club pulled up in front of them as Bryce was lowering the tailgate. Mr. Morris got out of the van and went to meet with the representative while a few of the guys climbed out and came to help Bryce with TERA. They got the all-clear to unload after Mr. Morris signed the papers the representative shoved in front of his face.

If loading TERA in had been struggle, getting the robot unloaded from the back of the truck was a herculean effort. Righting the 120 pounds of robot that was TERA — while making sure not to break anything, that was important — and then keeping it from falling as they rolled it off the truck wasn’t easy. It took Bryce, Zack, and the four other guys who came to help to do it.

It was comparatively easier to load up their cart with their extra parts and push both it and the robot through the wide service door and into the brightly lit back room. There were other entries lined up and ready inside, but they were directed to roll TERA onto an industrial-sized scale at the back of the room.

TERA came in just under the weight limit and it was only after the representative officially recorded the number that they were allowed to park TERA into its overnight parking spot. The representative went through TERA’s parts one final time and had them tape it shut when he was satisfied with what he found.

It was almost surreal for Zack to be standing there after months of work. Bryce must have felt the same because he reached up and squeezed Zack’s shoulder.

~~

The hotel ended up being a quick fifteen-minute drive from the convention center; which was good, because everyone was exhausted after nearly a full day on the road. Mr. Morris told them to wait in the lobby while he went ahead to sign them in at the front desk. The sofas in the lobby were hard and uncomfortable, but Zack still found himself slumping against Bryce and dozing.

Zack blinked awake with a sharp intake of air when his human pillow shifted. Bryce had moved to grab a keycard from Mr. Morris.

“I hope you boys don’t mind being on the other side of the hotel. It was the only room they had available.”

Bryce shook his head and told Mr. Morris that they’d make do just fine with the arrangement. Bryce reached for Zack’s backpack as Mr. Morris went on to hand out the rest of the keys, but Zack batted away Bryce’s hands and grabbed his backpack from the ground. “I got it.”

Yawning, Zack got up and stretched his sore back, before following Bryce to the elevators. The ride up to their floor was quick and they found their room at the end of the hallway. Bryce unlocked the door and led Zack in.

“You can go ahead and use the bathroom first,” Bryce told him, dropping his bag on the floor at the foot of one of the beds.

“Sure, thanks.” Zack tossed his backpack on the other bed and toed off his sneakers before stepping into the bathroom.

Zack clicked on the light in the bathroom and stripped out of his hoodie, letting the door close behind him. He turned on the sink and washed his face with cold water. It woke him up and Zack felt a bit better than he had before.

Bryce was waiting for him when Zack stepped outside the bathroom. Zack paused when his eyes landed on Bryce’s toned, bare chest. Whatever Zack was going to say was cut off when Bryce leaned in and pulled Zack into a kiss.

Zack gasped when he felt Bryce’s tongue swipe over his teeth, looking for entry. Bryce took that as a good sign and deepened the kiss, before walking Zack back towards the wall. Zack let him take the lead and wrapped his arms around Bryce’s neck, pulling Bryce closer.

Zack shuddered when hot, callused hands slipped under his shirt and gripped his hips. Zack groaned into Bryce’s mouth when Bryce ran his hands up Zack’s sides, hitching up Zack’s t-shirt as he went. Bryce’s pupils were blown and dark with arousal when they separated.


Bryce didn’t waste time and pulled Zack’s t-shirt off. He tossing it over his shoulder, before latching onto Zack’s exposed neck.

Zack gasped involuntarily when Bryce reached down and unbuttoned his jeans, pulling them open with practiced ease. Bryce slipped his hands down the back of Zack’s jeans and dragged them down his thighs.

Zack was so hard it almost hurt.

Bryce pulled away from Zack’s neck and dropped to his knees. Zack’s legs almost gave out when Bryce leaned forward and put his mouth over his clothed erection. Bryce mouthed the length, making Zack moan, before he pushed Zack up against the wall and grasped his boxers.

Zack let out a distressed sound when Bryce pulled back, but his whole body jerked when Bryce pulled down his constricting boxers and a hot mouth took him whole.

Zack felt his entire face heat up and he laced his fingers with Bryce’s hand braced up against the wall near Zack’s hip. He bit down on his lip to keep from crying out, but couldn’t help but moan into his free arm.

Zack was lost in the sensation of Bryce’s mouth bobbing up and down, and he only dully noticing a probing finger. He looked down to see Bryce holding a bottle of lube. Zack’s hips jerked reflexively when he heard Bryce pop open the lid.

One of Bryce’s slick fingers circled his hole and Zack gasped when Bryce slowly pushed the finger inside Zack. There was a dull burn, but it wasn’t a bad burn; Zack rather liked the friction.

Zack barely muffled his yelp when Bryce skimmed over the spot inside of him that shot a bolt of white-hot pleasure through his body. Bryce ran his finger over the spot again and Zack’s legs just about gave out.

Bryce pulled off of Zack’s cock and tongued along the underside, slowly adding another finger to the one already working inside. Zack let out a stuttered breath at the burn, but it faded faster and Zack was quickly back to riding an endorphin high.

“B… Bryce. You gotta…” Zack choked out when Bryce sucked him down whole again, pushing him right to the edge. He was embarrassingly close, his body was already shaking with pent up need. “Hey Bry… agh!”

Bryce’s throat worked to swallow as Zack came with a sharp exhale of breath. Bryce didn’t waste a drop and kept on licking and sucking until Zack was a shaking, spent mess. Bryce finally pulled his slick mouth away when Zack pushed him away, and licked his lips, thoughtfully, letting Zack slump to the ground.

Zack somehow found the hand-eye coordination to reach for Bryce’s boxers; Bryce had pushed his jeans down while Zack was occupied. Bryce caught his hands and pinned them to the wall above his head, leaning forward to close his mouth around Zack’s bitten-red lips. Zack could taste his own come on Bryce’s tongue when it swept through his mouth

“I already came,” Bryce whispered, breathlessly, as he pulled away from Zack’s mouth and grazed Zack’s earlobe with his teeth. “You don’t know what you do to me, Zack. Making those noises and looking at me like I’m the only thing in the world.”

“Fuck,” Zack panted, face heating up. “You can’t just say stuff like that.”

~~

Zack reached over to the nightstand and plugged his phone into the charger when Bryce came out of the bathroom. Bryce shut the door with his foot and pulled on a worn white t-shirt.

“Big day tomorrow, huh?” Bryce said as he slipped into bed behind Zack.

Zack pulled Bryce’s arm over his stomach and shimmied closer until his back was flush against Bryce’s solid chest. “Yup.”

Zack turned his head back when Bryce didn’t say anything. Bryce was looking at him with a mildly concerned expression. “You know, you’ve been really zen about all this. I figured you were gonna be stressed out.”

The bed shook a little when Zack shrugged. “I think I’m too tired to worry. Besides, it’s not like there’s anything we can do.” Bryce’s forehead smoothed out, but he didn’t look completely convicted. “I’m fine.” Zack said, reassuringly. “Don’t worry about it.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.” Zack put his head back down on the pillow. “Now c’mon, turn off the light. We have to get up early.”

~~

Even Zack was a bit surprised when his nerves didn’t act up the next day. He was fine at breakfast and he was calm when he put the finishing touches on TERA when one of the freshman started hyperventilating.

It was a good thing Zack wasn’t stressing out, because the matches were far more intense than the regional games. They managed to survive their first two matches, but in the end, they lost the third qualifying round. TERA hit and then got stuck in the safety barriers set up around the playing field, a quick and complete disqualification.

Sure it was a defeat, but the day wasn’t a complete bust. Being out of the running made it easier to just be. Everyone laughed more freely and weren’t on pins and needles all day. They even got a plaque for participating, which was more than they expected to get.

Mr. Morris corralled everyone up in front of Bryce’s truck for a group photo before they headed back home. There wasn’t enough room for everyone once they brought TERA in, so Bryce and Zack hopped up onto the hood. Bryce threw an arm around Zack’s shoulders and pulled him closer. Once everyone was crowded together, the cameraman snapped the photo.

They worked quickly, disassembling TERA into pieces and packing it away. By the time they finished, the parking lot was mostly empty and the sun was setting. Mr. Morris called over to them from the school van and told them to drive safe as they climbed into the truck.

They waved as the van went by and Bryce turned towards Zack as the engine thrummed. “You ready to head back?”

“Yeah, let’s go home.”



Consequences of the New York City Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002

by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)

He had a thing about rooftops. For a couple of years in there, he had gotten anxiety just looking at a ladder, but now as a grown adult man with a couple of years of therapy under his belt, he found himself hauling up to hang with the HVAC systems surprisingly often. Admittedly, the main impetus for getting over his hangup was the perpetual rooftop parties thrown by a dude he’d desperately wanted to hook up with a few years ago, but you had to take the motivation where you could get it. Making out with that dude as the sun set over Manhattan had worked like magic, really.

That dude was just history now, and as Dante staggered up through his mid-twenties and into his late-twenties and terrifyingly closer to thirty, his opportunities to go to rooftop parties with sexy hipsters were ever dwindling. He’d climb up to his apartment building’s rooftop from time to time to write, but most of his upper-storey time was spent on top of the school he taught at, lurking behind the ventilation so he could smoke without anyone getting on his case and without being a bad influence to the children.

He could hear the children, out at recess in the small amount of field the school managed to claim in Brooklyn. For the amount of tuition their parents paid, damn right they were going to a least get a swingset. His own class was down there knocking each other into the dirt, but it was happily not his day to supervise the insanity, so rooftop it was. He wouldn’t say he hated his job, but he also wouldn’t say that getting a nicotine infusion into his brain didn’t help get him through the afternoon.

Dante could tell he wasn’t the only one to come up here to smoke; there were butts scattered around the edge of the roof wall. If anyone ever caused a fuss about it, he was sure it’d be blamed on maintenance men or custodial staff. He always put his butt out and then disposed of it properly in a trash can. He was weird about evidence.

Still, though, even though he knew this wasn’t his sacred special secret private zone, he still jumped when he heard the access door open. He hid his cigarette behind his back, like the rising smoke wouldn’t give him away, like he was not a grown man who legally purchased them.

Mr. Adibe lingered in the doorway, looking just as surprised to see him. “Oh, ah…” He dipped his head a little and smiled, and Dante held his breath, even though it was full of smoke. “Didn’t think anyone else would be up here.”

Dante opened his mouth to speak, but it came out as a cough from holding in smoke too long. “I, uh…” He coughed a little more and then managed an awkward little smile. “Uh, yeah, you caught me.”

“Oh, heavens, no,” Mr. Adibe said, stepping out more onto the rooftop. “I’ll have to send you to the head office right away, you delinquent.” He smiled, and Dante smiled back, the both of them a little circle of nervousness.

Mr. Adibe — Charles was his first name, but Dante was just accustomed to everyone being addressed teacher-style — floated around the various classes teaching science. The rest of the faculty and most parents tended to assume the two of them were friendly, which was pretty gently racist when you got down to it, but Dante had never spent much time with the guy, actually. He seemed nice, though.

Dante shrugged a little and brought his cigarette from behind his back to admit his guilt. “You know how parents would be if they saw me doing this…”

Charles rolled his eyes to the heavens. “Oh, do I know,” he said, and let the access door close behind him. Thankfully for the both of them it didn’t lock automatically, which was a problem Dante had run into before in his roof adventures. “I am ever on guard to keep myself from failing in their watchful eyes.”

Dante dropped his eyes down to the mottled concrete of the roof. “What do you ever do that would get you in trouble with parents?”

Charles laughed and pushed his glasses up on his face. “Well, I smoke as well,” he said, and then shook his head. “I used to. Or, well, I’m trying to quit.” He sighed and put a hand over his brow. “Not very well, actually. Would you mind if I borrowed one of those?”

Dante shook his head and went for the bag he’d set down by the wall to retrieve his pack. “Doesn’t really work for borrowing,” he said, handing a cigarette to Charles. “I’m always getting my kids on that one.”

Charles took the cigarette and sighed. “It just seems a bit politer, though, doesn’t it?”

“Kinda, yeah.” Dante took out his lighter and lit Charles’ cigarette. When he leaned in he could see how long his eyelashes were. “So, what, no ‘bumming a fag?'” Dante tried, a joke he regretted the minute it came out of his mouth.

Charles rolled his eyes and sucked on the cigarette. “Oh, god,” he said. “No, trust me, I’ve had that turn of phrase completely laughed out of me.”

Dante shook his head. “Sorry, sorry, I couldn’t resist,” he said, and at least Charles was smiling. He hadn’t talked to him much, but he had beyond noticed how cute he was. An adolescence of being a nerd meant he would always have a weakness to English accents. The curls, the glasses, the voice? He absolutely had to be straight, no doubt.

Charles took a very deep drag off of the cigarette and then let it out with a low groan. “Oh, that’s good.” He came up to stand beside the roof wall with Dante, looking down at the street below. “I got started in university and have been trying to kick it since.”

Dante looked down at the cars below. “Yeah, you and me, both,” he said. “Kinda felt like the thing I was supposed to do, you know? I’m all moving to New York, getting my MFA, it just seems natural like you’ve gotta smoke.”

Charles glanced over at him. “You don’t really seem the tortured artist type.”

“Yeah,” Dante said, and finished his cigarette, smudging out the end of it against the roof wall. “Most people do say that about me.” There were a few moments of silence, and then his eyes bugged out. “Oh god, I just realized how dramatic and stupid that sounded.” He turned to Charles to look at him and spread his hands out. “No. No, I am not a tortured artist.”

Charles brought his smoke to his lips and smiled around it. “Well… like I said, you don’t seem it.” He blew smoke out into the late September air. Autumn in New York was one of the best things about living there, and Dante couldn’t wait for it to arrive. “Me, I just… well, everyone else was doing it, so I did, too.”

Dante nodded. “And when everyone else is doing it… like, especially since you can’t smoke inside anywhere here.” He glanced over at Charles. “It like that where you’re from, too?”

Charles rolled his eyes. “Yes, for ages,” he said. “And all of the interesting people go outside to have a smoke, and then you’re just left there awkwardly having a drink with the chap with asthma, and while he is very nice…”

Dante laughed a little and thought about having another cigarette, but he needed time to air out before going back to teach. “Yeah, I know all about the chaps with asthma.” Now that he wasn’t smoking he wasn’t quite sure of what to do with his hands, so he brushed his fingers over the uneven surface of the waist-high roof wall. “And then before you know it: addiction.”

Charles’ lips looked soft. He pursed them prettily as he blew out smoke. “I keep thinking I’ve kicked it, but then the minute I came up here and caught a whiff, oh, that was the end for me.”

“Sorry about that,” Dante said, shaking his head again. “So… what were you coming up here for, anyway?”

“Oh, just, ah…” Charles smiled and looked down again. Neither of them were really looking at each other — not openly, at least. They both pointed themselves out at the streets below and kept to glances. “Just like to get a little quiet time up here now and then. Maybe get a bit of reading done.”

Dante’s eyebrows went up. “Oh, yeah?” he said. “What’re you reading?”

Charles looked a little sheepish, but then went for the bag he’d brought with him and pulled out a paperback. Oh, man, for all that Dante was no luddite, him and his English degree got big ol’ boners for anyone who still went for paper and glue-bindings instead of ebook. Charles held up the cover to him. Go Tell It on the Mountain. “Only just a bit into it, but I’m enjoying it so far…”

Dante smiled, really smiled. “Oh, that’s a good one,” he said. “I’ve thought sometimes that if I were teaching older kids, I’d give them that one.”

Charles smiled and thumbed a little through the pages before putting the book away again. “That something you’d like to do?”

Dante took in a breath, and then let it out in an awkward, choked little laugh. “No, actually, not at all.” He slipped his hands under the rims of his glasses to rub under his eyes. “Really, how many of us actually want to be teaching kids at all?”

“Oh, well,” Charles said, and chewed his lip a little as he flicked ash off over the side of the building. “I do.”

Dante took in a deep breath, and then sighed as he just slid his fingers up even further under his glasses to cover his eyes completely. “Aaand I’m a jerk.”

“No, no,” Charles said, and Dante peeked through his fingers to see there was enough of a smile on his lips for Dante to know that he’d done no real harm. “I’m used to that, too.”

Dante laughed and pulled his hand away from his face. “Yeah, you know, I just gotta let you know up front that I’m a big ol’ dumb cliche,” he said, and he laughed when Charles did.

“I don’t mean to sound rude, but yes, I’ve seen it before,” Charles said. He’d already been at the school when Dante got the job, and Dante had to assume some other discontented mid-twenties butthole with a lot of student loan debt had had his job before him. Charles took a long pull from his cigarette, which was near the end. He was savoring the hell out of the thing. “You had me fooled, though. Your kids seem to like you.”

Dante brushed a hand over the back of his neck. Charles came in to drop science on his kids, and Dante tended to check out while he did that, so it surprised him that Charles had noticed anything of what he did at all. “Oh, well… thanks. I like them too, of course,” he said, and he did. The kids were fun, and weird, and surprising. This had just not been what he had in mind for where he’d be at this point in his life. But all of that was way too heavy shit to get into in a random awkward conversation with a coworker on a rooftop during recess. “It’s not so bad.”

Charles smiled and puffed the last on his cigarette. He stubbed it out on the wall, and then kept the butt in his hand. Dante noted that with a little nod. “I wouldn’t tell on you if you hated it,” he said.

“You’d have to tell on a couple of people around here if you were doing that,” he said, and they both laughed a little, sharing a little blip of eye contact that communicated that they were both thinking of the same person. Ms. Winchester taught second grade and hated it with every fiber of her being, which was part of why the kids that Dante got ended up liking him so much. He ended up looking into Charles’ eyes a bit longer than was needed to share unspoken mutual knowledge. They were just so damn pretty, all rich and dark with those soft stupid eyelashes. Dante absolutely needed to check himself. He pushed away from the wall.

“All right, I’m gonna leave you to it,” he said. “Levar Burton’s going to come up and shank me if I keep a man away from a good book for too long.”

Charles looked confused for a while, then said, “The man… from Star Trek?”

Dante took a deep, slow breath. “Okay, you grew up in a different country so I understand that things are different, but before we talk again I’m going to need you to google ‘Reading Rainbow,’ okay?”

Charles gave him the softest, sweetest smile. “Sounds delightful,” he said. “I absolutely will.”

Dante gave him a little two-finger salute, and then felt incredibly goofy for doing that. “Do it. Enjoy your book. I’ll see ya,” he said, and walked away from Charles’ little wave to head down the stairs back into the school building. Somewhere later, after school had ended and all of the yuppie parents had collected the kids and Dante was on the subway home, he realized he his mind kept coming back to the curve of that smile, his fingers holding the cigarette, the weave of his eyelashes.

Dante called himself an idiot and ate dinner on his apartment’s roof that night.

They never officially made it a thing, never planned a time or a date, but it just started to happen more and more that Dante and Charles ended up on the roof at the same time. Dante would smoke, sometimes Charles would, too, and they’d talk a little. Charles was sweet, demurring at first from any topics that could be considered gossip about their fellow faculty, but no one really lasted for long when it came to that.

They didn’t stand not-facing each other anymore, but rather tended to seat themselves on the edge of the wall, both of them with one foot on the ground, pointed toward each other. Dante flicked the large amount of ash that had gathered at the end of his cigarette; he’d sort of been forgetting to smoke it.

“Oh, she was drunk,” Dante said, and Charles covered his mouth as he laughed. It was a shame; he had such a damn good smile. “Big meet-the-parents thing, and she was drunk as a skunk. I saw the flask!”

“Did anyone notice?” Charles said.

Dante shook his head. “No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I mean, come on, the parents we’ve got to deal with? Most of them were probably drunk themselves.”

Charles snorted. “But not out of a flask.

Dante waved a hand in the air. “Please, of course not! Unless it was an organically sourced free-trade locally forged flask.”

“Filled with…” Charles looked off to the sky thoughtfully. “Small-batch artisanal hand-made moonshine?”

Dante leaned his head back and laughed, probably too loudly for how they were supposed to secretly be up here. “Oh, damn, yeah, you have definitely settled in. You speak the language.”

Charles waved a hand a little. “I don’t mean to be mean, really. They’re actually mostly very nice.”

“Yeah, they are,” Dante said. “And, like, I can’t really blame them. They’re just trying to get the best for their kids.” He laughed. “Sometimes they make me think of my mom, with the way they fuss and want to get involved in every damn little thing.”

“The overprotective sort?” Charles said.

“Hah, yeah, pretty much,” Dante said, and remembered to take a draw on his cigarette. “I’m her delicate little nerdy baby boy; she always worries.”

Charles’ eyebrow arched. “‘Delicate?'”

Dante screwed up his face and flexed body-builder style. “She doesn’t know what a big tough dude I’ve become since moving away,” he said. He was really pretty slim and spoonchested under his sweater, but it wasn’t like Charles was ever going to see that. He relaxed from his pose. “But, yeah, she’s a mom. Moms are moms. It’s been like ten years since I moved away and she still gets all emotional on the phone sometimes.”

“Ah, that’s sweet, though,” Charles said. Dante smiled.

“Yeah, it is,” he said. “So, yeah, it may annoy the fuck out of me when little Juniper’s mom spends like twenty minutes talking to me about she has ADHD but they’re going medication-free and trying to manage it with a low-gluten diet but she needs to be seated not too close to the window but also not too far away either because the lack of sunlight causes a vitamin D deficiency that just exacerbates the condition, and it’s not a problem, it’s a condition…” He stopped and took a deep breath, and grinned at the way Charles was smiling. “I know she’s just looking out for her baby. I’d probably do the same thing.”

Charles drew his knee up close to his chest, one foot resting on the roof wall, the other on the roof itself. He seemed steady, at least. “You want kids yourself someday?”

Dante laughed and brushed a hand over his hair. “Damn, this job is seriously the test of that question, isn’t it?” Charles let out a soft laugh and nodded. “I dunno. That’s… kind of complicated.” He waved a hand a little before snubbing out his cigarette. “My sister’s got kids, though, so that at least gets me off the hook on the grandkid front.”

“Ah, my brother, as well,” Charles said, and trailed his fingertips over the edge of the wall as he looked over the buildings. “But, yes, it is rather complicated.”

“You like kids, though?” Dante asked. It was definitely not a given in this job.

“I do,” Charles said, with a smile that said the sentiment was genuine. Then he laughed and shook his head, bringing his hand to his forehead. “And hell if I don’t know how carefully one must toe the line with that sentiment when one is male.”

Dante let out a bark of a laugh. “Yeah, no shit.” Not only were he and Charles the only two black teachers in the lower school, but they were among the very small handful of male teachers in the whole school. Most of the other men were focused in the upper school; people just tended to give you the side-eye if you were a dude and spent your life surrounded by eight-year-olds. It was one of the reasons why Dante was not so much out at work. He wasn’t in, necessarily, but he definitely wasn’t out. He shook his head. “This is really what you want to do, though? Like… a career?”

Charles nodded. “Really is. I just really enjoy,” he made strange claw shapes with his hands in the general form of a child’s head. “molding young minds!” Dante had to be making a strange face, because Charles’ eyes got wide. “No, that sounded demented. I just had a lot of wonderful teachers when I was a boy who made a difference in my life, and I wanted to do the same.”

“Seriously, man, I admire that,” Dante said. “Makes me feel like a chump for how this is just a job to me.”


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