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The 29th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Chapter Text

"Mr Coneybear. Please spell terrace."

Leaf played with the hem of his shirt before managing to get in the zone. "Terrace. Uh... T E R R A C E. Terrace."

"Correct. Ms Schwarzandgrubinierre. Precinct."

"Precinct. Definition, please?" She tapped her foot impatiently.

"A district marked out for government purposes or police protection."

"Precinct.” As she spoke, she traced each letter on her arm. “P R E C I N C T. Precinct."

"Correct. Ms Chandaliar. Myriad."

"Myriad. Definition."

"Countless, innumerable."


"The attack left Harriet with a myriad of scars."

"Myriad. M Y R I A D. Myriad."

"Correct.” The new girl returned to her seat. “Mr Tolentino."

There was no response from Chip. He stared straight ahead, fixated on a spot of the gym wall opposite him.

"Mr Tolentino."

It had been four years since the unfortunate events of the 25th bee. Of course, Chip was distracted by a certain competitor's ass and wasn't thinking of the previous competition and his unfortunate erection. Instead, he was unintentionally reenacting that day.

"MISTER Tolentino!"

Barfeé punched Chip's leg. Chip jerked himself out of his daydreams. “Ow!”

"Please remain focused on the bee, Mr Tolentino."

"Sorry." He stood up and made his way down to the microphone, still thinking about Leaf.

"Your word is lubricant."

"What?!" He stuttered into the mic. Seriously?!

"Listen to the whole word, Mr Tolentino. Lubricant."

"Can I have a definition?" He felt a lot more uncomfortable standing up at the mic

"A substance used for reducing heat."

A nagging part of his brain reminded him that that wasn't all that lubricant was used for. He stole a glance at Leaf, who was grinning off into space like an idiot, before focusing back on the microphone.

"L-lubricant. L U B E R I C A N T. Lubericant."

Ding! Someone in the bleachers snickered, and Chip, still slightly paranoid since the 25th, glanced down at the obvious bulge in his pants. Before Panch could even read the correct spelling, he walked offstage, defeated. Once he was sure no one could see him, he booked it to the bathroom, hoping he could figure out what to do there.


"Ms Ostrovsky. Jaundice."

"Jaundice. J A U N D I C E. Jaundice."

"Mr Coneybear. Soubrette."

"S O U B R E T T E. Soubrette."

"Ms Ostrovsky. Eudaemonic."

"Eudaemonic. E U D A I M O N I C. Eudaimonic."


"Mr Coneybear. Vivisepulture."

"V I V I S E P U L T U R E." He snapped out of his trance, anxiously awaiting what he felt was the inevitable ring of the bell.

Panch sounded amazed. "We have our winner!"

Immediately Olive wrapped Leaf up in a hug. "Good job!" She told him. Before they could stop hugging, Leaf's family had made their way onstage. Two parents and six children of varying ages swarmed around Leaf and Olive. Though it was crowded, both spellers managed to squeeze out to find the eliminated contestants.


"I just followed what that light was telling me! And it was right!!" Leaf exclaimed.

"Good job, Leaf. We're all proud of you," Logainne said. She was a little disappointed that she had lost, but, as her dads had told her (and as she had constantly reminded herself), she was only fourteen. She still had three years to win.

Leaf stopped, his head still spinning. "Hey, where's Chip?"

A couple of his friends snickered. "In the bathroom," Barfeé told him. Ignoring their laughter, Leaf hurriedly thanked them and ran off to find Chip.

Chapter Text

"Chiiiiip? Chip? Are you in here?"

Shit. Shit shit shit shit. Maybe if he stayed absolutely silent and still-

Fuck. He wouldn't do that to Leaf. Since the 25th, they had actually become good friends. Leaf was too nice to him, and he knew it. He couldn't just hide in here.

"Yeah..." He responded.

"I won! I won I won I won I won I won!!!"

The enthusiasm in Leaf's voice tugged at his heart strings. He almost thought Leaf was kidding, but he sounded excited, not silly. "That's great, Leaf!" With great reluctance, Chip left the stall and quickly washed his hands. He turned to his friend. "Wish I'd been there to see it."

Leaf hugged him. "I wanted to come say thanks cause you were the one that helped me study this year and I did so well! I know this is random, but do you wanna spend the night? I just realized you haven't been to my house in like, forever!!"

That caught him off guard. "Uh. If my parents are alright with it. I have to grab clothes from home though."

Leaf shrugged, still bouncing on the balls of his feet. "Sounds good! I'm sure I'll still be here for a while. My siblings are kinda riled up so they're not getting in the car anytime soon."

"Okay. I should, I'll go ask them right now." Chip waited for Leaf to acknowledge that before dashing off.


"That sounds fine, Chip. I'm sure you could use a relaxing night after a day like this."

"And we can drop by home so I can get a change of clothes?

"Of course," his mother said. "Why don't we leave now?"

Chip gave a quick "Goodbye!" to the other spellers, who rolled their eyes and snickered as he ran out the door.

Chapter Text

"So! What do you think?"

He hadn't remembered Leaf's room as being so... cluttered. His bed was a tangle of sheets and several soft-looking blankets. The floor was coated in schoolwork (Leaf had started attending an actual high school last year) and what looked like possibly art projects. Books were stacked dangerously high against the wall. It was also pretty small, cramped by all the junk on the floor. "You get your own room?" Chip managed to ask.

He shrugged. "My parents moved my brothers out of here once I hit high school. I think it's cause they didn't want me waking them up by goin to bed a lot later than."

"Thanks." He stood, unsure of what to do. "So... what do you wanna do?"

"Well, once my siblings go to bed we can watch a movie downstairs. That should be in," he checked the clock hanging on the wall, "about three hours."

Chip laughed. "I think we should probably do something until then."

"Probably," Leaf agreed. He threw himself onto the bed. When he patted the open space beside him, Chip laid down too.

After about a minute of silence, Leaf asked, "Wanna play a board game?"

"Anything but Scrabble."

Leaf giggled. "Are you sure?"

"Absolutely," Chip said with an over dramatic sigh.

"We've got Monopoly, Risk, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and a chessboard." He ticked each game off on his fingers.

Chip turned his head. "You play chess?" He asked, a little shocked.

"Yeah, I'm on the chess team. Didn't I tell you that? I coulda sworn I mentioned it...."

"Chess, then." He wanted to see how good Leaf was at chess. Chip himself wasn't really that good yet, as he'd only picked up the game a couple years ago. "How long have you been playing?"

Leaf made a sound that he interpreted as 'I don't know'. "Mom taught me and Marigold when she started homeschooling us. When I was six, maybe?"

"Wait, how old are your siblings? I can't keep them straight."

"Brooke is 18. Marigold and I are 16. Pinecone and Raisin are 13, I think? Landscape is 10, maybe? I have no clue how old Paul is. 8? 9?"

Chip laughed. "How do you deal with so many siblings? It sounds like kind of like a nightmare."

"Eh, you get used to them after they show up. That's the benefit of being the second oldest." He giggled.


"Marigold doesn't like me saying I'm the second oldest, cause it's only by a couple of minutes. So I say it to make her mad sometimes! …I'll go grab the chessboard." He was up and gone in a second, operating at the common Leaf speed.

Chip always overlooked the fact that Leaf was a twin. He did actually look a lot like Marigold. If Leaf was a girl, he would've thought them identical. That's probably why he was so easily able to find them both attractive. Leaf definitely won in terms of personality, though. Marigold was pretty cute, but they just didn’t have anything in common. And she was apparently a lesbian, so that didn’t help much. But Leaf, Leaf was cute and funny and he liked a lot of stuff Chip liked, and they just got along so well that dating wasn’t much of a stretch. It was just adding some kissing and hugging and touching and-

He was quick to turn his thoughts from that. Spelling bee boners were bad. Boners at a friend's house seemed arguably worse.

Leaf returned soon enough with a worn wooden chessboard and a Tupperware container of plastic pieces. He placed the board on the ground and began setting it up. Chip rolled off the bed and joined him.

"Sorry," Leaf said. "It's kinda old."

"You don't need to apologize." The pieces were chipped and, upon closer examination, probably chewed on. He ignored that and set up his side.

"You can go first," Leaf told him. Chip pushed a pawn forward. Leaf mumbled something under his breath and stared at the pieces. After half a minute, he moved one of his pawns forward.

As the game continued, Chip saw a complete change in Leaf's behavior. The normally chatty boy was silent and thoughtful. Chip moved whatever he could to take one of Leaf's pieces, but Leaf still managed to maneuver around him, taking minimal damage as he wore down Chip's army. Within ten minutes, Chip was trapped in a checkmate.

"Holy shit," Chip said aloud, startling Leaf out of whatever trance he had been in. Leaf looked nervous.


"I..." Chip swallowed. "That was impressive." Embarrassing as it was, he found it downright attractive.

"I-I'm not that good, I just really liked the game a lot when I was younger, so I read a lot about it so I'm pretty familiar with all the strategies." He shrugged. "It takes a lot of focus, but I really like the challenge."

"You looked like you were in some kind of a trance, like at the bee."

He nodded. "I don't really know what happens at the bee, cause all I remember is the light, but here I can like, see all the chess stuff I know and I can go through it and use it. I just get, well, super focused and kinda forget everything else."

"Huh." It was extremely impressive, and, to Chip at least, really hot. He had really underestimated Leaf. He wouldn't have guessed he could play such a strong chess game.

"Do you wanna play something else now?" Leaf asked. "I promise I suck at other board games." He paused. "Okay, I lied. I'm good at Risk. But everything else," he said, shaking his head, "is hard."

Chip grinned. "Monopoly?"

"Sure! I'll go grab it!"

Leaf ran off again. Chip swept the chess pieces into the Tupperware and closed the lid.


He was not kidding. Chip had driven Leaf into a deep, depressing level of debt, winning the game by a mile. After they had cleaned up the game, Leaf sighed. "There's still, like, an hour."

Chip considered their options. "Well, we could play another board game, a party game, or just chill."

Leaf brightened up. "Party game? Like what?"

"Uh.... Pretty much everything we played on camping trips was a group game." He hesitated. "Twenty questions? That's good for two people."

"How do you play it?"

"Well, uh, you ask each other twenty questions."

"Sure! Who starts?"

"You can, if you want," Chip said.

"Alright...." He said, fingers tapping on the floor as he thought. "One. What's your favorite color?"

"Yellow. I think. Um, favorite food?"

Leaf rocked back and forth. "Ooh, hard question. Probably KitKats. Two, why do you keep doing the spelling bee?"

"I... I'm good at spelling and I want to get back to nationals and do better than the last time I went. What's your favorite class at your school?"

"History. I like learning facts even though I have trouble sitting still and reading the textbook. Three. Um, have you ever kissed somebody?"

Chip laughed anxiously. "No. Have you?" Of course he hadn’t. He was so into Leaf that he couldn’t imagine kissing anyone else. Sure, Leaf was an idiot most of the time, but he was a cute idiot. Chip didn’t care about dating people to look cool (something a lot of his friends did). He had his eyes on one person and one person only.

Leaf shook his head, looking thoughtful. "Four. What do you want to do when you graduate?"

"I'm not... sure. I don't know what I wanna do. What about you?"

"I dunno." He shrugged. "I dunno what I'm good at. Five. Do you like anyone?"

"Yeah." He paused, feeling a bit embarrassed. "Do you?"

Leaf nodded enthusiastically. "Six. Uh... Why'd you get out today? We went over that word when we were studying."

"I panicked." He swallowed.

"Is it okay if I ask why? For seven?"

"If I can ask one first."

Leaf nodded. "Your turn."

"Do... Do you like guys?" He blurted out. He tried to breath evenly after he asked, playing it off casual.

I’m an idiot, he thought. Leaf’s gay. He’s literally told me this before. He likes guys. Stupid brain and its stupid panicking:

"Yeah," Leaf said, confused. "Is it my turn now?"

Chip nodded slowly.

"Okay. Uh. Why did you panic at the bee? You're so good at spelling, you shouldn't need to be nervous."

He bit his lip. "I. Well, I, I..." He didn't know how to phrase it without being crude or making it weird. Normally he wouldn't care, but everything felt weird now. A paranoid part of him thought if Leaf heard him say it, he'd figure out that Chip liked him.

Leaf snorted, then looked apologetic. "I shouldn't laugh at that, but seriously, again?" He giggled again, and Chip couldn't help laughing along with him. Leaf's laugh was infectious and cute. He watched Leaf, feeling his heart swell. God, this guy was so fucking hot and he didn't even realize it. His cute freckles, the way his face scrunched up as he talked and laughed, just... everything.

And godDAMNIT! His heart was not the only thing swelling. He felt the crotch space of his pants tighten considerably. Chip really couldn't help it. Just Leaf's name made him think a lot of inappropriate things.

"Are you okay?"

Chip must have pulled one hell of a face because Leaf stopped laughing immediately.

"I'm fine," he said, a little strained.

"You sound funny, are you sure-". Leaf saw it. Everything clicked. "Is that- what- uh, why?" He managed to stutter out.

"I..." Oh god, there's no backing out now. "I like you," he choked out.

Leaf flushed and his voice became squeaky. "Really?"

Chip nodded, a little ashamed. Leaf was absolutely stunned. He stared intensely at Chip for a second. The next thing he knew, Leaf on top of him, pinning him to the ground.

“You really, actually like me?” He asked again.

“Yeah. For a long time,” Chip said trying to figure out what was going on. “I think you’re cute and funny and nice and, well, I think at this point it’s kind of obvious that I’m into guys, so… yeah. I like you.”

Leaf leaned down, then stopped. “I need to tell you something,” he said, sitting up.

“What? What is it?”

“I’m… I didn’t fully come out to you when I told you I was gay.” He pursed his lips and thought long and hard before saying, “I’m transgender.”

Chip had no clue what to say. “Okay. Uh… thanks for telling me. I’m glad you trust me enough to tell me.”

“You’re not going to freak out or say you don’t like me anymore?”

“No?” He was confused. “I like you. That’s not going to change. Does that mean anything’s different, like you don’t want me to touch you in certain places or that we can’t-“

“I’m not sure,” Leaf said, cutting him off. “But if you know that and you still like me, then I think I’m gonna kiss you right now because I’ve liked you for a super long time and you like me too.”

“Okay.” Leaf leaned in, but Chip stopped him. “Wait, so can I ask you something? You can tell me to fuck off or shut up if it’s stupid.”

Leaf sat up again. “What?”

“Are you and Marigold identical, then?” When he nodded, Chip sighed in relief. “That answers a lot of questions. You’re still the cuter twin, though.” He paused. “Do you want me to say handsomer instead? Is cute okay?”

“Cute is fine,” he said with a soft smile.

Chip gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Well, no matter what, you’re the handsomest guy I know and I think I'm in love with you."

Leaf giggled and laid down on top of him. “You’re the best,” he said, nuzzling his face against Chip’s cheek.

“So… are we going to kiss? You were headed that way, and then we started talking, but I still think it’d be kinda neat to finally… you know…”

“Kiss me?” Leaf finished. “Yeah, I think it’d be pretty nice too.” He sat up a bit and looked down at Chip. “Here goes,” he said. Leaf slowly leaned down, stopping just above his face. When it became clear that he was too nervous to initiate, Chip places a hand on the back of his head and pulled him in.

It was cozy, Chip decided. Between the weight pinning him down, the soft pressure of Leaf’s lips on his, and the tenderness of the moment, cozy was the perfect way to describe it.

Leaf shifted away for a second to catch his breath, then moved back to Chip. He was off-center just a bit, but Chip couldn’t care less. Leaf Coneybear was kissing him. Leaf was lying on top of him. Leaf was right on his lap, where he would one hundred percent be able to feel Chip’s erection.

As if on cue, Leaf shifted, trying to better angle himself. Chip moaned softly.

Leaf shot up. “Whaaat was that?” He asked nervously.

“Sorry, I couldn’t help it.” Chip felt his face burning up. “When you moved, it kind of…”

“Oh. Oh! Oh, geez. Okay.” He was quiet for about ten seconds. Then he said, “Do you wanna, like, makeout?”

Chip snorted. “Take a guess, bud.”


“I just wanted to ask in case this was like, little kisses only.”

“Leaf, this is a ‘I’ll go as far as I can because I’m hopelessly in love and super desperate to touch you’ kind of thing.”

Leaf smiled and rolled his eyes. “Horny boy.”

“Sticks and stones.” He raised an eyebrow. “So about that making out idea.”


“Could we move to your bed? I’m going to be sore as hell tomorrow if I lie on the floor any longer.”

Leaf rolled off of him and sat up. “Yeah. Here I’ll give you a hand up.” He pulled Chip up off of the ground, their fingers laced together. “We’re holding hands,” he noted, a hint of excitement lacing his voice.

Chip snorted and pulled him over to the bed. “Don’t be scandalized. We just kissed, Leaf.”

“I’m not scandalized,” he said, sitting down on the bed. “I’m happy.” As soon as Chip sat down, Leaf rolled over into him, pinning him against the bed.

“Hello there,” Chip said, squeezing his arms out from under Leaf. His hands found their place on either side of Leaf’s waist.

Leaf smiled and leaned in.

Chapter Text

Leaf lay next to Chip. "Holy fuck," Chip murmured absently. Leaf giggled and looked over at him, moving his hands to Chip's shoulders. He rolled onto his side and gave Chip a kiss on the cheek. Chip's fingers played with the hem of Leaf's shirt.

"Are we dating now?" Leaf asked, a little absently.

"If you want," Chip replied, trying not to sound eager but failing miserably.

"I guess I should formally ask it... Do you wanna go out with me?"

Chip laughed. “Dating. You mean getting to kiss and hug and hang out with you? My new two favorite things in combination with an original? Oh, I dunno…”

Pressing another kiss to Chip's cheek, he said, "So... That's a yes?"

"Uh, yes." His hands moved again to hold Leaf's face. "Have I ever told you how cute and handsome and fucking perfect you are?"

Leaf squirmed and giggled. "Stooooop." Chip pulled him closer and kissed him. Leaf laughed again.

"I've been in love with you since the day we met," Chip said. "This... being this close to you is what I've wanted for years."

"The day we met..." Leaf mused. "Even in the losers room?"

"That's when I realized I liked you." He ran his finger through Leaf's hair. "Even as you tried to use a juice box as a musical instrument."

Leaf giggled. "Geez, how did you like me when I was twelve? I'm pretty sure I was chewing on my helmet straps."

"You were," Chip recalled. "Didn't you have your pockets full of those little toys too? It was pretty funny watching Barf get hit with a flying lizard."

Leaf giggled. "Yep."

They fell silent and were content to just lay there for awhile.

“Do you wanna watch a movie?" Leaf asked, catching Chip off guard.


"A movie," Leaf repeated earnestly. "It should be late enough, we can watch whatever we want."

"Yeah, that sounds great.”

Leaf nodded and stood up. He opened the door and they walked down the hall to the living room where the TV was. Marigold sat on the couch, a book in her lap. She looked up as they entered.

"Where have you been? You missed all of Finding Nemo."

Leaf jumped onto the couch and settled down next to her. "You didn't tell me!! That's like, my favorite!" He patted the space next to him, gesturing for Chip to sit down. "What do you wanna watch?"

"I'd enjoy a good classic," Marigold said. "Either of you up for The Great Dictator? Or perhaps San Soleil, if comedy isn't your thing."

Chip laughed nervously. "What?"

"Marigold is our resident film critic, which means she likes boring stuff and hates everything fun," Leaf explained.

"Disney consistently reuses plots and their character design is lacking."

"You have no soul, Mari."

She shut her book. "I traded it for some taste. Since my offer goes unappreciated, I'll be up in my room." As she stood up, she bumped Leaf, shoving him into Chip's lap. "Sorry," she said unapologetically before leaving.

"What was that about?" Chip whispered to Leaf.

He looked up at Chip. "She miiight know that I like you, maybe."

"So she was nudging you on?"

Leaf giggled. "I think."

Chip laughed with him. "She's a little late." He moved his hand and ran it through Leaf's hair, who practically melted into his touch. "What do you want to watch?"

He hummed. "Dunno. Have you seen Dead Poet's Society?"

Chip shook his head. "No." Leaf hopped up and changed the DVDs. When he sat back down, he grabbed a pillow and placed it in Chip's lap. He curled up where he had been previously sitting and laid his head down on the pillow. Chip ran his fingers through Leaf's hair as the TV turned on.

He didn't remember falling asleep, but when he woke up, a shirtless boy was playing the saxophone in a cave onscreen. As his brain desperately attempted to rationalize what he was seeing, he ran his hand through Leaf's hair. His fingers caught a knot, causing him to pull his hair. He wasn't sure if Leaf was even awake, but he swore he had heard a faint moan from him when he had accidentally pulled his hair.

Curious, he gently (gently!) tugged on Leaf's hair again, and yes, that had been a moan. He was suddenly more aware of the weight of Leaf's head on his lap. Chip ran his hand down Leaf's neck to his shoulder and squeezed gently to check if he was awake.

Leaf hummed and rolled towards Chip, looking into his eyes. "Good morning," he said, blinking and yawning.

"It's only been like, an hour. Still night." He ran his fingers through Leaf's hair again. Leaf leaned into his touch. "Do you like it when I play with your hair?" He asked.

"Mhm," he hummed, stretching like a cat. "Feels nice." Chip traced his fingertips against his scalp. Leaf nuzzled his head against Chip's stomach and sighed contentedly. As a final test, Chip gently pulled his hair once again. An arm snuck around his neck and pulled his head down, meeting him in the middle. They kissed awkwardly.

"For the love of Christ," Chip heard Marigold say, "I just wanted my bookmark."

He tried to look up, but Leaf's arm restrained him. Instead, his face hovered inches above Leaf's.

"Hi Mari," Leaf said.

She sighed. "I didn't think you'd act on my hint, dummy. Be glad it was me and not mom or dad walking in." Passing by the couch, she grabbed a slip of paper off of the table and left.

"That's a sign we should probably go back to my room," Leaf said. "Unless you're invested in the movie."

"I have no clue what's going on. I think we fell asleep."

Leaf sat up and grabbed Chip's hand. "My room?"

"I, yeah, since there's literally nowhere else to go for privacy."

Leaf grabbed a remote and turned off the TV before standing and cautiously walking back to his room with Chip. Once they were in and the door was shut, he pushed Chip onto the bed and lay next to him. That only lasted a few seconds. Soon enough, Leaf was in Chip's lap.

"Did you know," Chip said, looking into Leaf's eyes, "that I really, really like you?" He pulled him in for a kiss, fingers tangled in his hair. Leaf hummed against his lips and kissed him again. Quickly, as though the idea had hit him hard enough to make him believe there wasn't enough time to act, he scrambled to his knees and pushed Chip back against the bed. He kissed down Chip's neck and ran a hand up his shirt. "Can I?" He asked, fingers tracing up and down Chip's chest. Chip nodded, a little disoriented, and let Leaf slide his shirt off of him. Leaf slid off of his lap and moved him fully onto the bed. Only then did he return to Chip's lap.

Chip had learned years ago to just let Leaf do whatever because it'll probably work a helluva lot better than what anyone else would suggest. This was proving true especially now.

A warm mouth moved down his neck, kissing and nibbling gently. Fingers traced up and down his sides. Leaf began kissing down his chest, movements uncharacteristically calm and controlled. Until today, Chip hasn't realized how utterly touch starved he was. All the kissing and cuddling and touching felt so damn good. Leaf seemed to be exploring him, running his hands all over as he pressed kisses to his chest. Chip's hands found their place on Leaf's waist, pushing his shirt up ever so slightly.

Leaf's mouth moved down, getting teasingly close to the "V" of his crotch. Chip's hands moved to his hair, fingers curling into short red locks. Just before he reached the waist of his pants, Leaf lifted his head up. "What time is it?"

It took Chip some time to understand the question. He looked at the clock hanging on the wall. "9:48. Why?"

Leaf's eyes went wide and he muttered, "Shit," as he sat up.

"What is it? What's wrong?"

"I, it's my binder. I was supposed to take it off awhile ago."

Chip sat up, a little concerned. Leaf didn't get anxious about many things. "How long ago?"

He frowned. "I was pushing it by waiting til eight." Chip must've looked lost, because Leaf sighed and put on his explaining face. "My binder is the thing I wear to, uh, flatten my chest. Since it compresses my chest, I shouldn't wear it for really long periods of time cause it could hurt my ribs."

"How long is too long?"

He bit his lip. "Eight hours is the recommended. I'm usually good about following it, so I thought I could get away with longer this one time, but it's been a really, really long day and I forgot it-"

Leaf was withdrawing and babbling, his normal reaction when he was overly anxious. Chip reached for his hand and squeezed it reassuringly. "I'm not gonna yell at you, dude. It's okay, we forget shit sometimes. If you've been wearing it for too long, take it off now.“

Leaf nodded hesitantly. He stepped off of the bed and walked toward the closet. Chip laid back on the bed to wait, only half paying attention to Leaf's movements. Leaf stopped and looked as though he wanted to say something, but turned back to the closet and searched for something instead.

He could feel the tension within the silence. "... Is there something you wanted to say?" Chip asked, trying to gauge how Leaf was feeling.

"........ if........."

He had no clue what Leaf had just said. "Uh..."

"I wanted to ask if you could look away, please!" He focused on the contents of the closet, not wanting to look at Chip. His voice was tight and strained, and he felt like he wanted to cry. He felt comfortable in his skin, honestly, but something inside gnawed at him whenever it interfered with Chip. Chip, who was being so nice and sweet, and whom he had no reason to be afraid of. It was a simple request, but it hung in the air awkwardly.

"Uh, yeah! No problem. Looking away now."

He trusted Chip enough to not bother checking. A big, bulky sweatshirt hung in the back of his closet. A smaller, looser piece of fabric laid crumpled on the floor. A sports bra. Quickly, he slipped his shirt off and struggled out of the binder. He slipped on the sports bra and the sweatshirt, taking a minute to try and calm down before turning back around. "I'm good," he said, voice still quavering. Chip turned his head and, seeing that Leaf was indeed decent, turned back around. Uncertain of what to say, Leaf sat down next to him.

"Can I.." Chip paused. Should he bother asking? "Is it alright if I hold you?"

Leaf looked at him, seemingly a little shocked he was asking. "Yeah, it's chill."

"Uh, cool." Carefully, he wrapped himself around Leaf, his head resting on Leaf's shoulder. Leaf placed his hands over Chip's. Absently, he traced his fingertips over Chip's skin. They sat in silence for a while, simply being. Slowly but surely, Leaf relaxed against Chip, fully accepting the affection being given to him. Chip kissed his neck softly. His lips barely brushed Leaf's skin. Leaf let out a deep breath that he had unknowingly been holding and leaned against Chip. They laid down, Chip tenderly spooning him. "It's been a wild day," he murmured, managing to pull a blanket up over them. Leaf gave a quick "mhm" before shifting around. He snuggled against Chip's chest, his lips brushing his collarbone. It was soothing for both of them, and they soon found themselves drifting off to sleep, contentedly cuddling.