When Brendan meets Alex for the first time, he's like every other dom that Brendan had ever played with in junior. All talk and no game. Raw and unfinished underneath his swagger. It's easier for Brendan to separate that out from the usual hockey bravado now that he's had half a season in the A for perspective. While he was captaining the Giants, Brendan's had to assert his authority on the team more than enough times to wonder if Alex is going to be another project, another dom who has to learn how to respect his teammates, no matter their orientation.
They're thrown together as roommates as the youngest guys at camp, and Brendan's wary of Alex for all of five minutes -- top draft pick, eighteen years old, six feet tall -- before realizing he's just kind of an intense, awkward kid who likes to talk shit without any heat behind it. Brendan, being a notorious shittalker himself, can relate to that. They argue about who gets the bathroom when, what is the right volume level for alarms, what is an acceptable time to be awake, who gets first dibs on which beds, but sex never comes up. Alex has the distinct air of being both oversexed teenaged dom and an undersexed hockey player still living with his parents, but he treats Brendan with the same mix of affection mingling with aggression as he does Prusty or PK. He never chirps Brendan about how Brendan would be better off on his knees in the press box instead of on the ice or talks about how much he wants to stick his dick into the mouth of a pretty sub he may have seen in the crowd.
In fact, he's oddly shy around subs close in age to them, the ones who ask for his autograph with downturned, blushing faces when they do meet-and-greets. It's like Alex loses his English a little bit. Stumbling over words. Repeating himself too much. Wearing an awkward half-smile that makes himself look more like a demented kitten than anything else.
Brendan finds himself charmed by it, more than he ever expected to. He's scened with plenty of doms like Alex. The CHL is full of them, and all of them are just as awkward and just as desperate. But Brendan's also slept with older, more experienced doms (not that he'll ever tell his parents about that), and he's far beyond those first haphazard fumbling forays into sex. He knows what he likes and what he doesn't. When he picks up, he has a proper list of kinks and hard limits and he has his own drawer full of toys.
So really, Alex should just be another boy in a long list of boys. Cute enough when he smiles with his whole face. Capable of dishing out apples to exactly where Brendan wants them in front of the net. Is unreasonably defensive about being American. Bites his lip when he's trying not to laugh. Sits next to Brendan on the bench before games. But the more time Brendan spends with him, the more he looks and keeps looking.
It's something about the set of his shoulders, maybe. Always holding too much tension. The downward curl of his lip. He's easy to needle. It's pretty funny when he gets grumpy and mean. Brendan finds himself doing things and saying things just to watch Alex react. To see Alex's annoyed scowl and rolling eyes and to listen to Alex's uninspired chirps and thickened accent.
"Look," Prusty says to Brendan after team lunch one day. They're both heading out to Prusty's car so that Prusty can give Brendan back to Gorgie's. "I know you're almost as young as he is, but you're old enough to know better than to flirt like that if you're not going to follow through."
"Um," Brendan says, because he didn't even realize that he was doing it. He's not particularly good at subtle. His usual method for flirting with doms is to walk up to them and say, "Hey, wanna put me on my knees?"
Prusty raises his eyebrows at him.
"I can stop," Brendan says. That would be the smart thing to do. It would be the fairer thing to do, for both Alex and himself. He has no plans on following through, mostly because he didn't realize that there was anything to even follow through on until five minutes ago. Better to nip things in the bud before they get out of hand. They're teammates and roommates and friends. There's no reason to mess any of that up by sending out the wrong signals.
Brendan doesn't stop.
He's not sure how to, is the thing. Alex doesn't stop chirping Brendan just because Brendan's made a resolution to stop chirping him. And Brendan isn't going to just let Alex get away with insults to his hair, his new suits, or his ability to play ice golf without some sort of retaliation.
The worst part is, now that he knows what he's doing, he can't really play stupid about why he's doing it. Lying to himself only gets him so far, after all. He's pushing Alex to see how Alex pushes back. Alex's reactions are a little clumsy, inelegant, sure, but Alex learns fast, and the more it goes on, the more Brendan wants all sorts of things he feels a little guilty about wanting.
"What are you doing?" Alex asks him. Most of the time, it would be an innocuous question, but right now, they're in their shared hotel room, and Brendan is flipping through programs on the tv at a rapid-fire pace. He's got this restless edge buzzing underneath his skin that he can usually channel onto the ice, into pushing himself as hard as his body will let him, but they just flew into Dallas a few hours ago and really what Brendan wants is to get laid.
Unfortunately, he's still got an entry level contract making things difficult for him.
"Nothing," Brendan says.
Alex frowns. It's a common enough expression to see on his face. He always looks like that, too serious, like maybe people will treat him like an adult if he decides he hates everything all the time. "You could stop being annoying," Alex says, "but then maybe you would have to stop existing first."
Brendan rolls his eyes at him. "Even by your standards, that was pretty bad."
"Your face is pretty bad," Alex says. His scowl has morphed into something of a smirk, and it looks unfairly good on him. It's annoying, is what it is. Everything about Alex's very existence is annoying.
"Shut up," Brendan says. He flips through the channels even faster.
"No," Alex says. He raises one eyebrow at Brendan in an obvious challenge. "You can't make me."
Brendan leaps off his bed and goes straight for tackling Alex to the other bed as Alex laughs. Brendan is used to this, to being just another one of the guys, where sex doesn't come into any of this. But after a brief wrestling match that Brendan doesn't throw at all, Alex manages to pin Brendan's wrists against the mattress, his weight settled on Brendan's stomach. He's a heavy weight. Brendan could fight against it, but it feels good, to be forced down and settled like this, and Brendan feels himself start to slip under.
"I win," Alex says. Brendan can't stop staring at his lips. He twists his wrists-- not struggling, just to test Alex's strength a little, to feel trapped. His eyes droop, half-lidded, and his breath goes long and deep.
It takes Alex a moment to notice the new charge in the atmosphere, but when he does, he yanks back, hopping off the bed and putting distance between them, leaving Brendan untethered and missing his body heat. A blush starts to chase its way across Alex's cheeks. "Sorry," Alex mumbles. "I didn't-- I don't mean to--"
Brendan binks. "What?" he asks. His voice sounds a little drugged even to his own ears.
"I don't-- Coach gave me a speech about, um, boundaries when they decided we would be rooming together," Alex says. His eyes keep darting towards Brendan and then away again.
That shakes Brendan out of it entirely. He sits up and rolls his eyes. He got a similar speech from the other direction from his dad about it was their responsibility as subs to not let doms take advantage of them when he was leaving to play for the AHL during the lockout. Mostly Brendan had ignored him and done his own thing. He has never had any issues with punching someone in the face if need be. "Don't be a moron," Brendan says.
"You're the moron," Alex snaps back automatically.
"If I have a problem with you in my space, I will fucking tell you," Brendan says.
That doesn't seem to get Alex to relax any. If anything, Alex just turns redder, and then Brendan remembers the speech Prusty gave him about leading Alex on -- apparently, they've both been getting a ton of speeches. But it's not leading Alex on if Brendan wants this to go somewhere, right?
Brendan takes a deep breath and swallows around the sudden lump in his throat. "Uh, I like you in my space, too."
Alex stares at him, wide-eyed. "What?" he asks.
Brendan slides off the bed. He tries for smooth, but mostly he just lands with an awkward thump on the floor at Alex's feet. Alex is silent the whole time, not even a snort escaping from his mouth. Brendan settles on his knees, trying to maintain the good form he learned back in high school. From this position, he has a good view of the smattering of hair on Alex's shins and not much else.
"Are you-- what?" Alex asks. His voice has an odd, strangled quality
Brendan would roll his eyes, but Alex already seems on edge, and Brendan doesn't want to spook him before he gets a chance to get his hands or his mouth on Alex's dick. Instead, he looks up at Alex and smiles his most asshole smile, the one that goads opposing teams to take stupid penalties.
That seems to do the trick, getting them onto something approximating familiar ground, because Alex's eyes narrow. "You're serious," he says, his voice thickened and rough.
"Don't tell me you don't like the thought of pushing me around," Brendan says. He licks at his front teeth, tasting imaginary blood there from the last time he got punched in the face.
"I-- it's not just about what I want," Alex says, but he slides his hand into Brendan's hair. It's a large hand, covers a good amount of Brendan's head. Brendan fights back the shiver. "What do you want?" His fingers tense there, the slightest of tugs, but Brendan feels it all the way in his teeth, his toes, his cock.
Brendan's been in this position dozens of times before, but there's still a flutter at the pit of his stomach, a heaviness to his tongue, because he wants-- there are so many things he wants. He takes a deep breath to steady himself and says, "I want you to fuck me up."
Alex's lips curl into a sneer, and it's not intimidating, exactly. He still has his ridiculous baby face, and for all his strength, his body is still reedy and slender in the places where he hasn't quite learned how to maintain his weight yet. But there's an intensity in his eyes that Brendan is familiar with. That focus he carries with him when he's on his game, it's directed straight at Brendan right now. "Jesus, Gally," Alex says.
Brendan can't quite keep himself from smirking back at him. "You have done this before, haven't you, Chuck?"
Alex's face flushes, though it's difficult to tell if it's from anger or embarrassment. With Alex, they're frequently the same thing. "I can just leave you like this, you know," he says.
Brendan lets himself imagine it, hard and naked and wanting at Alex's feet as Alex ignores him, leaving him to suffer through his frustration by himself, and he lets out a tiny whimper. Fuck, he could work with that.
At the sound, Alex's eyebrows crawl upward. "You really-- with me?" He looks so goddamn young, so uncertain. Brendan just wants to suck his dick until all of his hockey asshole brashness comes back.
"Yeah, shithead, with you," Brendan says. His smile softens, almost unintentionally. It's going to be a problem, how much he likes Alex. He can already tell.
Alex smiles back, a crooked, goofy smile, like they're playing around and sharing a stupid joke, and not like Brendan is on his knees in front of Alex, offering himself up. "Yeah," Alex says. "Alright." He cups Brendan's cheek with his free hand, his huge palm and long fingers pressed against Brendan's skin.
Brendan leans into the touch, his eyelids drooping. Desire curls heavy in the pit of his stomach. "Make it hurt," he murmurs.
Alex snorts. "I can do that," he says, voice rough. He yanks on Brendan's hair to draw Brendan closer and onto his feet, an uncomfortable sting of pain that makes Brendan think of their last conversation about male pattern baldness.
Brendan follows Alex's hand, lets Alex position him where Alex wants him. The smirk doesn't leave his face, because even if they haven't done this before, he knows Alex well enough to know what riles him up, what gets underneath Alex's skin.
The hand on Brendan's cheek shifts, and Alex presses his thumb against Brendan's bottom lip. During their last game, Brendan took a high stick to the face, cut that lip against his teeth. It's mostly healed now, but he remembers the way Alex looked at him afterwards, his eyes drawn there, and how quickly Alex looked away as soon as he noticed Brendan noticing him. "Maybe next time," Brendan says.
Alex startles out of his reverie, meeting Brendan's gaze. "Right," he says. He clears his throat. "Uh, color?"
Brendan raises his eyebrows, resisting the urge to roll his eyes once again. "Green," he says.
"Good," Alex says. He tugs on Brendan's hair again, using his other hand to tilt Brendan's face up, just positioning Brendan's head where he wants it. And then he leans over so that he can smash his lips against Brendan's own. It's a clumsy kiss, all teeth and tongue. Alex bites down on Brendan's bottom lip, enough to sting but not enough to reopen the wound there.
Brendan groans into Alex's mouth. "Fuck," he says against Alex's lips.
Alex pulls back, letting go of Brendan's head and leaving Brendan feeling a little lost, bereft of Alex's touch. He can't help it, he lets out a whimper.
At least Alex is breathing hard too, his pupils blown wide. "Take off your shirt," he says. His voice sounds like he has a mouth full of marbles. It's unfairly appealing.
Brendan strips his t-shirt off and throws it in the vague direction of his half of the room. Alex's eyes rake over him, over Brendan's arms, his shoulders, his chest. There's an ugly bruise purpling on Brendan's ribs, and Alex reaches out to touch it. He pokes at it, his finger jabbing where the muscle is tender and sore. The pain that blooms there is a low throb that spreads outward. Brendan hisses. Alex does it again. Brendan lets out a low, deep moan. He's been sporting a semi since Alex first pinned him to the bed, but the pain is going straight to his cock. There's a damp spot spreading in his boxers from where he's leaking pre-come. "Please," he says.
Alex stares at him with wide eyes and licks his lips. They're red, a little shiny now, cracked from where he forgets to use lip balm in the cold, dry rinks. Brendan wants to kiss him again. "Jesus, Gally," Alex says. "I knew-- I thought, but you really--"
"Yeah," Brendan says, because his skin is starting to itch, and he needs Alex to just-- to just-- "C'mon. You gotta-- put me in my place."
Alex laughs at that, not unkindly. "Yeah, I can do that." He wrestles Brendan onto the bed again, not holding anything back, using every bit of leverage he can get out of his long limbs. Brendan fights back, squirming as best he can out of Alex's hold, just to feel Alex's grip tighten, to see Alex's lips purse into an annoyed frown.
"Behave," Alex says. One of his knees is digging into Brendan's stomach, the other into Brendan's thigh. His fingers are tight around Brendan's wrists. It's not so different from how they were positioned before, but this time Brendan knows that Alex won't let go.
"You're going to have to make me," Brendan says. He grins, arching his back, bucking his hips, trying to use his core strength to force Alex off of him. Alex doesn't let him, but he does let out a satisfying grunt of effort when he presses Brendan flat against the bed again.
"I could tie you down," Alex says, his tone conversational. "String you up and gag you so you can't talk shit anymore."
Brendan shivers at the thought, forced into stillness, mouth filled up, helpless to whatever Alex would want to do to him. He wants it, even if they have to resort to using the complimentary hotel restraints, which have probably been washed down with heavy duty, industrial bleach god knows how many times.
"Or," Alex continues, "I could spank you." One of his hands lets go of Brendan's wrist, snakes down to grab a palmful of Brendan's ass. His hand feels hot and heavy through the thin material of Brendan's boxers.
"Yeah," Brendan, nodding his head, looking like and overeager idiot and giving no shits about it. "Let's do that one. And then you can fuck me afterwards."
"Who said it was up to you?" Alex says, his voice snippy. They could be arguing over who gets the last bagel iat team meeting or whether or not Alex cheated when they were rock-paper-scissoring for dibs on the better bed.
"I'm just, you know, putting in my vote," Brendan says, in the same tone of voice he uses when they get into arguments like this.
Alex sighs heavily, rolling his eyes, but he still lets Brendan go, pulling away so that he can sit on the edge of the bed. He spreads his arms in an invitation. Brendan can take a hint. He sprawls all over Alex's lap, ass in the air. He even wiggles it a few times, just for effect.
Brendan doesn't need to see Alex's face to imagine the roll of his eyes. And it's just-- it's like any other time they spend together, just with some fun painplay to go along with it. Brendan's never really had that sort of relationship with any of the other doms he's fucked in the past, that comfort with each other, that understanding. It's actually kind of fucking great.
He squirms as Alex works his boxers over his hips and down his legs, his dick and balls nestled between Alex's thighs, rubbing up against the flannel of Alex's pajama pants. He closes his eyes, anticipating the first smack of Alex's hand against his ass, but there's a long pause. From this position, he can feel the hesitation tensing up Alex's body.
Alex says, "I just-- I haven't done this before, so I might--"
"It's pretty straightforward," Brendan says, because he wants his ass to be bright red and stinging before the night is up. "We can work up to the complicated stuff later." He's so wound up that he can't even be upset at himself for promising a later already.
"Alright," Alex says. He places a hand on the curve of Brendan's ass and gives it a little squeeze.
It's probably good to get the skin there warm, ready to be hit, but Brendan's just feeling impatient. He shifts, restless. He could come like this, rubbing against Alex's thighs, he knows, and if Alex wanted it, if Alex told him to, he'd do it, even if it's not everything he's desperate for right now.
Alex gives Brendan's ass a swat. It doesn't even hurt. "You can do better than that," Brendan says.
"Oh, I know I can," Alex says, smug and a little snotty, and it's a little comforting to hear that from him again, to know that some of the nerves have faded.
The next smack is harder, makes a loud noise, leaves behind a satisfying sting on Brendan's cheek. Brendan lets out a small grunt. "Better," he says.
"Has anyone seen how much you can take?" Alex asks as he lays another hit on Brendan's ass. "Just spent a day working you over until you can't even speak?"
Brendan's mouth goes dry at the thought. The mental image is-- it's a lot. His back striped red with welts, the haze of pain that would spread with every shift of muscle, everything in the world stripped away until it's just him and his body, until he's just bathing in the perfect ache of all of it. And if there's a chance that it'll be Alex holding the flogger -- or the cane, or the paddle, or the -- well, Brendan can imagine it, is the thing. "No," he says. "You offering?"
Alex makes a weird, choked noise that seems to emerge from the back of his throat. He gives Brendan's ass a hard spank, but it's still a little bit lighter than the last two. Brendan resists the urge to sit up and look at Alex's face, to check Alex's expression for signs of disgust.
Instead, Brendan closes his eyes and lets himself drift a little bit under that sweet, low throb of soreness. He always gets a little bit looser, a little bit more honest when he goes under, and this time is no different. "I'd want you to," Brendan says. "I'd want it to be you."
Alex is silent for a long moment, but from this position, Brendan can tell that at least Alex's dick hasn't lost interest in the proceedings. He shifts, rubbing his hip against it, trying to provoke a reaction, any reaction.
It works. Alex's hands come to rest on Brendan's hips, holding him still. "Fuck, Gally," he says, voice thick. "It's--- me, too." There's something about the way he says it that cuts straight into Brendan's gut, the desire curling there is so thick it almost has a physical taste.
Brendan says, "C'mon, spank me a few more times so that we can get to the part where you fuck me."
"No," Alex says with a sharpened edge to his voice, settled more into his role. "You're not the one in charge here." He sounds a little bit like a Russian supervillain from the cartoons Brendan watched as a kid. Brendan's into it.
Alex shoves Brendan off his lap and onto the bed, and Brendan doesn't fight it. He ends up on his back, looking up at Alex, who has rolled up onto his knees, straddling over Brendan's chest, looming over Brendan with dark, intent eyes.
"You're such a pest," Alex says, "all the fucking time. Wondered what it would take to shut you up." He shoves two fingers into Brendan's mouth, blunt and huge, and Brendan sucks on them eagerly. Alex uses his other hand to shove down the waistband of his flannel pants and boxers, freeing his dick. It's thick and hard, flushed red and curving upwards.
Brendan sucks on Alex's fingers harder and moans. His mouth is watering at just the thought of tasting it. With Alex's weight on him like this, holding him down, settling him, he sinks deeper, surrendering that much more of himself to the moment.
"I was right. You're less annoying like this," Alex says, but he still pulls his fingers out of Brendan's mouth, much to Brendan's dismay.
"Please," Brendan says. "I want--" He licks his lips, chasing the taste of Alex's skin.
"I know what you want," Alex says, and his voice is rough. He uses one hand to lift Brendan's head and his other to grip the base of his cock, canting his hips forward to that the can feed it to Brendan's waiting mouth inch by inch.
Brendan's lips feel stretched as he does his best to shield his teeth. His breath is rough flowing in and out through his nose. He's stuffed full, satisfying some raw, wanting, needing thing inside him. Alex tastes the way he smells, familiar from the months they've spent traveling together. He tastes like boy, sweat and musk, like the comforting part of locker rooms and not the really gross part. Brendan lets out a groan from how good it feels. It rumbles around the back of his throat.
"Fuck," Alex says. "You really-- your mouth--" He draws his hips back and then thrusts forward, fucking Brendan's mouth with slow, smooth strokes. There's a tension that runs through every line of Alex's body. His eyes focused, his teeth clenched. All that discipline, all that control, all of it narrowed down into this moment, to this place where Alex is inside of him. Brendan has seen it before, on the ice or in the gym. Brendan has even exercised his own version of it himself when it comes to his training. But it's still thrilling to be at the center of it all the same.
Brendan just lets himself relax into it, losing himself in the tide of sensation, taste, smell, feel. He lets Alex arrange him how he sees fit, giving himself over to Alex's control. Whatever else Brendan has to put up with as sub, he lives for this moment, this feeling of the rest of the world falling away. Hockey is the only thing that even comes close.
"I'm going--" Alex says, "can I-- on your face?" He pulls back, his cock slipping from Brendan's mouth, leaving a wet trail where the head slips over Brendan's bottom lip.
"Yes," Brendan says. His voice is scratchy. "Green. Please. Just. Yes."
He closes his eyes as Alex stripes his nose, his cheek, his mouth with come, wet and a little sticky. Brendan licks what he can off his lips, the taste of it bitter and salty. He wonders how he would look to someone else like this, marked up and owned in some bone-deep, primal way.
Alex drags a thumb over Brendan's cheek, feeding Brendan bits of his come bit by bit. Brendan swallows every bit of it. Alex says, "Look at you." Brendan shivers at the awe in his voice. "I never let myself-- but-- I want to make you come."
"Please," Brendan says. His hard cock, left neglected for so long, throbs at Alex's words. He blinks open his eyes and meets Alex's dark, intense gaze.
One corner of Alex's lips tugs up into that familiar crooked grin, and Brendan's mouth twists to match it, just soaking up all of Alex's happiness and pleasure and echoing it back to him. "What do you like?" Alex asks.
As much as Brendan would like to say anything you want to do to me right now, he knows that's not really the question Alex is really asking. "You can probably guess by now," he says. "I like-- I like it when it hurts."
Alex lets out a soft hum of agreement. "Pain really does it for you, huh?" He does reach back and palms Brendan's dick. Brendan can't fight down the groan. It's the first time Alex has touched thim there bare skin to bare skin, and it leaves bright sparks of pleasure firing on all of Brendan's nerve endings. "Yeah," Brendan says. His eyes slide closed again.
He doesn't get to really bathe in the feeling, though, because Alex uses his distraction to wrench his balls, hard. It hurts like a bitch. Brendan yelps as his hips jerk, trying to get closer and to pull away at the same time, his mental wires crossed so that all the sensations are mixed up, tangled together.
And then Alex's mouth engulfs his cock, wet and hot and so fucking good, even if the assault on Brendan's balls hasn't let up for a second. It's too much, but in the best sort of way, and Brendan can feel himself careening towards the edge, spinning out of control. He holds back as best he can because he wants, he needs to be good right now, wants what Alex wants.
"Alex," he gasps out, "so close, can I-- please."
Alex pulls back. Brendan whimpers at the loss of he heat and suction. "Yeah," Alex says, "you can when you want." He tightens his grip on Brendan's cock and jerks Brendan off with a rough, fast rhythm.
It punches the orgasm out of Brendan. He makes a noise that he'll later swear wasn't a sob as he comes, his back arching as he spills all over Alex's hands and his own stomach.
After that, Brendan floats. His mind is filled up with a pleasant sort of static, and the world seems one step further away than normal. His body feels wrung out, emptied of all the usual bullshit it deals with. All the hockey aches and pains faded away. He opens his eyes again, just so that he can see Alex again.
"Huh" Alex says as he shifts over to Brendan's side, still kneeling on the bed. His smile is small and sweet. He brushes some sweaty strands of hair away from Brendan's forehead, and Brendan curls into the touch. He's always clingy after orgasm, especially when he's still under. Most doms he's scened with have accepted it, letting him cling. Some of them have hightailed it out of there ASAP, leaving Brendan to deal with the aftermath, especially if there was a curfew one or both of them needed to adhere to. Some have split the difference, giving Brendan some perfunctory aftercare before leaving him to surface by himself. He doesn't know what kind of dom Alex is going to be yet. Maybe Alex doesn't even know.
Brendan squirms over to where he can rub his cheek against the soft, worn flannel of Alex's pajamas, an arm looped around Alex's hips. Alex is warm-- so warm-- like the only source of heat in the entire universe, and Brendan just wants to get closer to it.
"Gally, are you-- was that-- OK?" Alex asks. He settles one hand on Brendan's shoulder, absently runs his hand over Brendan's skin, like he's petting a cat.
"Mmm," Brendan mumbles, arching his back so that he can get closer to Alex's hand. "Don't be an idiot. That was good."
Alex pinches Brendan's arm, a delicious sting that makes Brendan think of nipple clamps. He's never had a chance to try them, but he's definitely jerked off to the thought of them before. Maybe he can convince Alex to give it a shot. Alex says, "Fuck off, asshole," but there's an affection, almost laughter, in his voice.
He slides down onto the bed so that they're side-to-side, which gives Brendan the perfect opportunity to wrap himself around Alex's mostly-still-clothed body and nuzzle into Alex's neck, just tuck his nose there and breathe him in.
"We're going to be so gross in the morning," Alex says, and the rumble of his voice in his chest echoes in Brendan's own.
"You're the dom," Brendan says, unwilling to move from this position even an inch. "You can be the one who deals with it."
"I can't believe I like you at all," Alex complains, but then he presses a kiss to Brendan's temple, brief and fleeting and warm.
Brendan hooks one foot around Alex's leg and says, "Yeah, you can."