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We Are But A Moment's Sunlight

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Oliver Weiss wouldn’t say he’s popular per se. Sure, he’s the stroke on his high school’s crew team and he won’t deny that he’s good. Really good . But as much as he’s considered a jock, he’s also considered a nerd: a quintessential combination if Oliver has anything to say about it. He’s in love with mythology, Greek and Roman alike, and studies ancient philosophy until his head spins. He plans on majoring in Philosophy and Classics in college, but that’s a whole different story.

See, Oliver’s parents are conservative, proper, wealthy, New England Jews. His grandparents moved from Brooklyn to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and his family has lived there ever since. His father is a physician and his mother is a philanthropist, AKA a stay at home “mom.” He uses the word mom in loose terms as they, of course, have a housekeeper, Camila, who has also raised him and his siblings since they were babies. Mainly, Oliver’s mom sits at home and hosts parties for her other wealthy friends. They’re typical members of the wealthy New England community: summers in Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard, apple picking in the fall, winter ski trips, sailing lessons in the spring, and crew year round. Their perfect nuclear family lives in nothing less than a mansion in a gated community, complete with a pool in the backyard and a four-car garage.

But back to college. Oliver’s parents expect him to go to an Ivy League school - Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard, and Princeton are on the top of the list - and study law or medicine or something equally as boring. But if Oliver had it his own way, he’d go to NYU or Columbia (still Ivy League!) and do his philosophy homework in the Greek wing of the Met. He knows he has the grades for it, it’s just a matter of convincing his parents. They’ve discussed it only briefly, but every time Oliver tries to bring it up, it turns into a massive blowout with Oliver’s father yelling about how he won’t pay for college if Oliver decides to take classes that he thinks are not worth the money.

Oliver is a senior at Phillips Exeter Academy. He doesn’t board there as he lives only thirty minutes away, but he almost wishes he did, if only to escape his family. But he has crew every afternoon and he has his friends, so at least he has activities to keep him busy. Now that it’s late August, school is starting up again, and Oliver has to get back in the academic groove. Although the varsity crew season isn’t until the spring, they have practices and lifts and group workouts nearly every single day until the season actually begins. On top of that, Oliver has to deal with his normal course load as well as his college applications. It’s shaping up to be a busy year, but it’s also senior year, and if he learned anything from his cousin Sarah who went off to UCLA last year, it’s to enjoy senior year as much as possible.

“Ollie, can you drive me to the movies tonight?”

“Hmm?” Oliver has his nose buried in the latest book he’s checked out from the library, and he barely registers when his sister, his youngest sibling, taps on his door frame. He’d been reading about Aristotle's education of Alexander the Great and barely registered what his sister asked him.

His sister, Rachel, flops onto his bed with a huff. She’s thirteen now, just starting eighth grade, and Oliver wonders when his kid sister became a full-on teenager. “I asked if you could drive me to the movies tonight.”

“What time?”

“Well, we’re meeting for dinner before, so maybe 5?”

“Can’t. Crew starts tonight.” He marks his page in his book spins his desk chair around so he can look at his sister. “Sorry kiddo. See if Mom can drive.”

“Ugh, she has a dinner tonight with dad.” Rachel flips her long brown hair over her shoulder and Oliver can’t help but laugh a little. “I can’t wait until Adam has his license.”

“Well, you’ve got a while to wait on that one.” Adam, Oliver’s brother, is just a sophomore but has a late birthday and won’t even start driver’s ed until the spring.

Rachel sighs and whips out her phone, immediately tapping away. “I guess someone needs to come pick me up,”

“I guess so.” Oliver turns back to his book, and the two of them sit in silence as Rachel scrolls through her phone and Oliver reads. He gets along well with his siblings, especially Rachel. She’s a good kid, smart and down to Earth even if she’s a sassy teenager sometimes. He and Adam hit a bit of a rough patch when Adam started at Phillips Exeter the year before. It was hard for Adam to adjust to having his older brother’s shadow hanging over him, and for the first six months, he was known as Oliver Weiss’ little brother, both by teachers and students. But Adam quickly made a name for himself given his success on the debate team. Rachel only has one more year of middle school before she starts at Phillips Exeter, but Oliver is sure that she’ll quickly find her place among the 1,000 other students.

Around 4, Oliver closes his books and stands, stretching out his limbs. “You wanna go down, grab a snack? I think Camila made her polvorones de canela.” He turns around to find that Rachel has already left and Oliver blinks, taking a second. He got so into his book he didn’t even realize his sister had gotten up, and he was sure she probably huffed and sighed the entire time when he ignored her.

He heads downstairs to find that yes, Camila had made her cookies, and Oliver stuffs two into his mouth on his way to the fridge. He chugs some milk straight out of the container and turns around to find Camila watching him with her hands on her hips.

“Hola, Camila. Lo siento,” Oliver says after swallowing. He swoops in to dip her a bit and kiss her cheek. She laughs and pats his cheek and all is forgiven. Camila has been working for their family for years , since before Oliver was born, and she’s like a second mother to him. They chat a little as he makes himself a plate with various cheeses and meats, Oliver attempting to utilize the Spanish she’s taught him over the years while he can. His alarm chimes at 4:30, and he sighs as he goes about gathering his gym bag and car keys.

“Gotta run,” he says, kissing Camila’s cheek again. “Bye!” he calls out to the rest of the house. He waits for a beat and gets a muffled bye from his brother who is shut up in his bedroom. His parents and Rachel must have already left for their respective engagements.

Oliver hops into his car, a red Jeep Cherokee, which he got for his 16th birthday. He knows that’s bougie as fuck, but it’s pretty much unheard of for any of his family friends to not receive a car once they get their license. He throws his bag into the front seat and the first thing he does, after fastening his seatbelt, of course, is turn on the radio. His CD of ‘80s hits is already in the car, and he hums along as he drives to Saltonstall Boathouse. He parks and slings his bag over his shoulder, whistling a Psychedelic Furs song as he takes stock of the cars in the lot. It looks like all his friends are there already, and he realizes he’s right when he’s attacked as soon as he steps into the boathouse.


Oliver cries out as he’s jumped from all sides by the other three members of his boat: Peter Cowper, the bow, Sean Oakley, number two position, and Noah Duff, the number three position. The only person missing is Liam Geary, their coxswain.

“Fuck! Fuck, c’mon, lay off,” Oliver says, swatting all around him until the guys all settle down and instead sling their arms around each other as they head back to the locker room. They chat about their summers, even though they’ve seen each other quite a bit over the past three months.

“Yo, where’s Liam?” Sean asks as the four of them lace up their sneakers. The plan for this evening is to start with some light cardio and lifts as per Coach Gellman’s email.

“He’s coxing for the JV double now.”

“Fuck, are you serious?” Oliver smacks Peter’s arm when he asks the question, aghast.

“Yep, texted me yesterday. Says he’s got too much on his plate with college apps and can’t keep up with the varsity schedule.”

Oliver sighs as he shoves his flip flops into his locker. “Well, this sucks . Do we know who is gonna be coxing for us now?” Liam has been with them since freshman year. It’s been the five of them since they all started together and Oliver hates that they won't finish up their high school careers together.

“No clue.” Peter stretches out his neck and back. “But we’re never gonna fucking see Liam anymore.” Luckily, all the boats for the men’s and women’s junior varsity and varsity teams get their own practice times since Phillips Exeter has their own boathouse. That is until the season picks up and they start racing against each other.

Oliver sighs and claps Noah’s shoulder. “Alright, boys. Let’s get this workout over with.”

They head out to the patio where they’re due to meet with Coach Gellman to go over the schedule for the year. Their coach is already out there as the boys take their seats.

“Hey, who is gonna be our new cox?” Noah asks as soon as they all sit on a bench.

“Hi, Noah, I’m doing well and my summer was great, how about you?”

Noah blushes at Coach Gellman’s comeback and slinks down a little. “Sorry.”

Coach Gellman laughs and shakes his head. “That’s alright.” He pulls out his infamous clipboard, the very one the boys have hidden from their coach multiple times over the years, and they start going over strategies and workout schedules for the next month.

Oliver drifts off a bit, thinking back on where he’d left off in his book, and he distantly hears a car door slam. He’s only shaking out of his daydream when Peter elbows him. He looks up and over his shoulder towards where the other boys are staring.

“Ah, here he is,” Coach Gellman says, holding out his arms. “Everyone, meet Elio Perlman, your new coxswain.”

And fuck, Oliver is fucking screwed . The kid is gorgeous. Like. The most stunning person Oliver has ever seen in his entire life. He’s got curly dark hair and bright green eyes and high cheekbones and a sharp jawline and pouty lips and he’s lithe and thin just like a cox should be and -

Oh yeah, that’s the other thing.

Oliver Weiss is queer. He identifies as bisexual, having realized halfway through Star Wars that yeah, Princess Leia is hot but fuck so is Han Solo. His parents don’t know. God no, they can never know. Only the other guys in his boat know, and he’s sworn them to secrecy. Because he’s heard the way his dad talk about gays before, or faggots as he likes to call them. And that’s part of why Oliver needs to go to New York. Needs to get the fuck outta dodge and live his best gay life.

But back to - what was it? Elio. Right. Elio Drop Dead Gorgeous Perlman.

“Uh, hi.” Elio rubs the back of his neck, flush high on his cheeks. “I’m Elio.”

“I’ve never seen you around,” Noah says immediately, which earns a shove in the ribs from Oliver because what the fuck, dude?

“I’m a transfer student. I just moved here with my family from Italy. I’m going to be a junior this year.”

Elio’s voice is like music and Oliver wants to listen to it for the rest of his life. But then Coach Gellman claps his hands and tells them to get to work.

Oliver and his boat immediately head to the row of ergs before they start on their lifts. Elio is instructed to run intervals during their workout. Coach Gellman will keep Elio’s lifting to a minimum so as to keep him light for the cox position. Oliver ends up staring over at Elio during the entire workout, and Coach Gellman has to tell him to keep pace more than once.

After their workout, the boys head back to the locker room together. The other three dominate the conversation and ask Elio a bunch of questions about which classes he’s enrolled in and what teachers he has. Oliver is only half listening because he got a glimpse at Elio’s phone and saw he was listening to classical fucking music while he ran intervals. What kind of ethereal being listens to classical while fucking running ?

Elio Fucking Perlman, the latest enigma that Oliver absolutely must figure out.


Oh, and Peter is talking to him.

“Sorry, what?”

“I said, you and Elio seem to have a lot of the same classes.”

“Oh?” He raises a brow and looks at Elio, which is a huge fucking mistake because his heart speeds up like he just ran a hundred miles.

“Yeah, I’m in a lot of AP classes. Trying to maybe graduate early.”

“Damn.” Noah bumps Elio’s shoulder. “So you’re brilliant. And you must be a pretty damn good cox since you made the varsity team.” He laughs and tosses his sweaty shirt at Sean. “Can’t wait to get out on the water with you.”

Elio smiles, this brilliant fucking thing that has Oliver’s stomach flip-flopping. “Me too. I rowed a lot back in Italy but we didn’t have a very good team.”

“Welcome to the team, buddy,” Peter says, clapping Elio’s shoulder. And Oliver is instantly jealous, a flare of mine mine mine flashing through him. But Peter has always been the friendly and welcoming one on the team and, Oliver has to remind himself, Peter is very much into girls, especially his girlfriend. Oliver watches out of the corner of his eye as he packs up his bag, watches as the other boys engage Elio in conversation.

“We need to all get together, outside of practice,” Sean decides as the five of them head out to the parking lot together. “This Friday. After school. We can all go to Peter’s house.”


“What? You’ve got the best basement.”

They all head to their individual cars, except for Elio who heads towards a small station wagon that’s idling, a pretty older woman sitting in the front seat.

“Is that your ride?” Noah asks, perpetually nosey. Oliver has half a mind to tell him to mind his own business, but it seems that his words are still stuck in his throat.

“Uh, yeah. That’s my mom. I don’t have a driver’s license over here so…” Elio rubs his hand over the back of his neck again and Oliver is already enamored with the motion.

“See you tomorrow in physics, Oliver, yeah?”

And oh shit, Peter just asked him something.

“Physics, yeah. I’ll see you then. And uh,” he turns to Elio, who is looking up at him with wide green eyes. Oliver’s throat goes dry and he has to swallow twice before he can get words out. “I think I’ll be seeing you around tomorrow. Since we have classes together and everything.”

“Sounds like it,” Elio says, a smile playing across those pink and pouty lips.

They all say their farewells and head to their cars, and as soon as he’s on the road, Oliver blasts the radio. He thinks about the months to come, about finally getting back on the water with his boat. And fuck, he’s the stroke. And Elio is the cox. And that means they’re facing each other in the boat. That means Oliver is going to have to look into those green eyes every single time they’re on the water. Those green eyes and that dark hair and those perfectly plump lips.

Yeah, Oliver Weiss is totally fucking screwed.

Chapter Text

Oliver comes home to a house that’s just as empty as when he left. Camila has left for the evening and Adam is still up in his room. Oliver heads up and knocks, waiting for his brother’s grunt before he opens the door.

“You eat dinner yet?”

“Yeah, ordered pizza. There are leftovers in the fridge.” Adam is on his bed, working through the stack of magazines on his bedside table. Oliver smiles, proud of his little brother for studying all summer for debate tournaments. Oliver will never get the appeal, but the kid is good at it if the row of trophies in his room is anything to go by.

“You wanna watch a movie tonight or something?”

Adam drops the latest issue of The Economist onto his chest and takes a moment to check his phone. “Sure, why not?” They head down to the kitchen together and Adam flips through Netflix while Oliver heats up his pizza. “So how was crew?” Alex calls from the couch. The main floor of the house is technically “open concept” or whatever, but Adam still has to pretty much shout, the formal dining room where they’re not allowed to sit unless there’s company separating them.

“Good.” Oliver waits for his pizza to heat to exactly the right temperature before grabbing a bag of chips and heading to the couch. “Liam is coxing for JV doubles now.”

Adam whistles and looks over at Oliver. “Shit, bro. He’s been with you guys since freshman year.”

“Yeah. I know. Kinda sucks.”

“Who is coxing for you now, then?”

“A new kid. Just moved here from Italy.”

“They have crew in Italy?”

“I guess? I dunno. He’s a junior.” Oliver shrugs and takes a huge bite of pizza. “He’s rail fuckin’ thin so I guess that’s good. Haven’t gotten out on the water with him yet though.”

Adam hums and selects some scary movie that’s been on their to-watch list for a while. Within the first ten minutes, Oliver can already predict how it’s gonna end, so they spend the rest of the movie making fun of the characters’ dumb decisions. They turn on Parks & Rec after the movie, and Rachel joins them on the couch once she gets home. The Weiss siblings are soon surrounded by snack packages and a totally empty pizza box.

“Did Peter say anything about me?” Rachel asks later as they clean up a bit.

Oliver snorts and rolls his eyes. “Why would he say anything about you?”

“I dunno. I was just asking, jeez.”

It hits Oliver then that Rachel must have a crush on Peter and he wrinkles his nose. “Ew, Rachel, really? First of all, he’s way too old for you, and he’s my friend.”

“Better him than Nosey Noah,” Adam pipes in through a mouthful of Goldfish.

Oliver chucks a pillow at Adam’s face. “No! No, none of you are allowed to date any of my friends.”

“Hey Rachel, Liam is coxing for JV now, maybe he can find you someone more age appropriate.”

“Oooh, really? Does he know any freshman?” Rachel sits up primly and flips her hair and Oliver can’t help but notice how much she looks like their mother.

“Oh my god, you’re so gross.”

“Who’s gonna cox now that Liam is gone?”

“They’ve got a new kid,” Adam says before Oliver can answer. “From Italy .”

“Really?” And Rachel seems far too excited about that. “Does he look like Marlon Brando?”

“Marlon Brando wasn’t Italian in the slightest,” Oliver informs with a hard glare. He’s silent for a beat, because now he’s thinking about Marlon Brando in a tight white tee-shirt. “But no, he doesn't. He looks like...I dunno, he looks like a kid with dark hair.” And green eyes, and perfect bone structure, and perfectly kissable lips , his mind supplies. He’s glad he knows when to shut his mouth.

“Well, I’m sure we’ll be seeing him around then,” Rachel says as she stands. She dusts off her jeans and pockets her phone. “I’m going to bed. I need to set my hair tomorrow morning before school.” Adam and Oliver share an amused glance as their sister bounds up the stairs. The two brothers make it through two more episodes before they hear the garage door open

Oliver groans and tilts his head back. “How drunk do you think mom is?”

“They were going out with the Greenbergs, so probably almost blackout.”

Sure enough, their parents come in a few moments later, Rose Weiss hanging on the arm of her husband, Michael, and stumbling. “My boys!” she cries, abandoning her husband to go and kiss her sons’ cheeks.

Oliver has to just sit there and put up with getting lipstick marks all over his face as his mother coos and kisses him. She goes over to Adam next and they talk in hushed tones about their dinner.

“Son,” Michael says, coming over to pat Oliver’s shoulder. Oliver wipes the lipstick off his cheek with his sleeve. “How was crew?”

“Good. We got a new cox.”

Michael raises his brows and regards his son. “You better get practicing if you hope to do well at Head of the Charles.”

Oliver shrugs. “I’m sure we’re gonna do fine. We always do.”

“You better, you’re captain of the team this year. This is the biggest regatta in the world. And you know how important communication is with your cox.” Michael had also rowed in high school and through college, and he was always pressuring Oliver to work harder on his techniques. When Oliver made captain the year before, Michael said a brief congratulations before launching into tactics.

“I know.” Oliver feigns a yawn and stretches. “Well, I’m off to bed. First day and all tomorrow.” He says goodnight to his parents and brother before heading up to get ready for bed. It turns out that once his head hits the pillow, he falls asleep pretty much instantly, not having realized just how tired he was.

The next day, Oliver dresses in perfectly pressed khakis, a button down, and a tie and heads downstairs to find Camila already cooking breakfast for Adam and Rachel who are perched at the kitchen island. Rachel is prattling on and on about how excited she is for the first day of eighth grade as their mother makes a pot of coffee. Oliver sits on the third stool at the island and listens to Rachel as they eat their breakfast. Soon enough, though, she has to catch the bus and Oliver and Adam need to head out as well.

Of course, on the way to school, Adam complains about Oliver’s choice of music. Oliver tells Adam what he always tells him: “I’m the driver, so I pick the music.”

They arrive just in time for their 8 am classes. Adam heads off with his friends just as soon as Oliver parks the car, and Oliver makes his way to his history class: Art and the State. He’s the third to arrive in the classroom and he immediately spots a familiar head of messy hair.

“Hey,” Oliver says as he sits down next to Elio. They’re at a table for 16, the way every classroom is set up, as Phillips Exeter’s education is based on a conference-style format intended to foster conversation. “Mind if I sit here?”

Elio closes the book he’s reading and looks over at Oliver. “No, go for it.”

“Damn, you really must be smart, huh?” Oliver muses once it hits him. “This is a 300 level.” He nods over to the color-coded paper in Elio’s notebook. “Can I see that?” Elio shrugs and passes Oliver his schedule. He compares it to his own schedule and actually laughs. “Dude, we have pretty much the exact same schedule. Except where you have your music class, I have Sports in Society. Shit, we even have Epistemology together.” Oliver had been particularly excited for that class given his love for philosophy.

“Good, you can show me around.”

Oliver is taken aback by that, by Elio’s boldness, and he has to swallow twice before he can even think to say something. But then their teacher walks into the room and Oliver has no time to answer at all.

Elio and Oliver move from class to class together: Physics, Calculus, and Epistemology. Oliver gives Elio tips as they walk through the halls or from building to building: which staircases are the least crowded, which teachers will dock your final grade if you’re late, which meals in the cafeteria are the best (and worst). Oliver waves or smiles at everyone who greets him, but he honestly doesn't know most of them. They all just know Oliver Weiss: Captain of the Varsity Crew Team.

“You’ve got Lit of the American West next, right?” Oliver asks, a bit breathless from his latest run-through of the best spots to study in the library.

“Uh…” Elio unfolds his schedule. “No, I’ve got French now.”

“I’m guessing you speak Italian too?”

“I do.” Elio tucks his schedule away and looks up at Oliver with a shy smile. “Trilingual.”

Oliver is impressed, to say the least. He’s about to ask Elio to speak Italian for him, but then the bell rings. “So I’ll see you at lunch?” Before he can help it, he claps Elio’s shoulder and squeezes.

Elio’s face goes white and his eyes go wide and Oliver immediately removes his hand. That was probably a mistake. But they’re the cox and the stroke, they need to be comfortable with each other. Oliver wonders briefly if this season is going to be a disaster without Liam coxing.

“Yeah, at lunch,” Elio finally says, wrinkling his nose for a moment before heading off in the direction of the linguistics and foreign languages building.

Oliver is in his next class with the rest of his boat, so they all sit at one end of the table together. Their teacher lets it slide, and Oliver supposes that’s another good perk of being the star of the crew team.

At lunch, Oliver scans the dining hall for Elio, but it’s Noah who spots him first. “Elio!” Noah calls, waving him over. The other boys dominate the conversation, and Oliver wishes they’d shut up for like ten minutes so he could ask Elio how his French class was. Peter goes ahead and tells Elio what he should get for lunch from the day’s selections, and if Oliver pouts, well at least he’s behind them so no one can see.

The rest of the afternoon seems to fly by, and at the end of the day, Oliver heads over to his usual meeting spot to walk to the parking lot with Adam. “So,” he says, Elio still in tow, “how’d you like your first day at Exeter?”

“It was good,” Elio says slowly, as if really thinking about his words. “It was very busy, and a bit overwhelming, but I’ve got a good tour guide.”

Oliver smiles at that and shrugs. “That’s what I’m here for. Hey, I know the boys want to get together Friday, but I was thinking tomorrow after practice, just -”

“Oliver!” Adam’s voice rings out and Oliver wishes, not for the first time, that his brother would disappear for just a second.

Oliver makes an only slightly awkward introduction between Elio and Adam and he’s about to try and ask Elio to have dinner with him or something since they should start getting to know each other better before actually getting out onto the water. But then there’s a car honking and Elio is looking up. Oliver follows his gaze only to find Elio’s mother’s station wagon.

“I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Definitely,” Oliver says, nudging Elio’s arm. “And remember, practice tomorrow right after school.”

That night, after a dinner of roasted salmon and asparagus, Oliver tries his hardest to concentrate on his Physics homework. But he’s soon thinking of green eyes and dark hair and Oliver makes sure to lock his door before flopping back onto his bed.

“Jesus,” he sighs, trying hard to ignore the hardness in his pants. “He’s the fucking cox, for Christ’s sake. Anyone else.” Anyone else would have been fine, but of course, Oliver finds himself wrapping his hand around his cock at the thought of the one person in his boat that he needs to communicate with the most. The new kid. The younger new kid. The foreign younger new kid who is coxing his boat.

“Fuck.” Oliver thunks his head back on his bed and closes his eyes tight as he starts to move his hand, cock already slippery with precum. He thinks of Elio, of Elio’s voice and fingers and eyes and Oliver is cumming less than a minute later.

He scrambles off his bed and into the shower to quickly wash away the evidence. Yeah, he’s royally fucking screwed.

Tuesday passes with much of the same: Oliver talking Elio’s ear off about the ins and outs of Exeter before lunch when the rest of their boat descends on his alone time with Elio.

After school that day, they all head to the boathouse together, and Elio is sent to the treadmills for intervals again and Coach Gellman sets the boys up on the ergs before their weight training.

“Hey,” Oliver calls after practice as they head to their respective cars. Elio turns around, cheeks flushed from his workout, and Oliver knows that the pink tinge to Elio's cheeks will stay in his mind's eye for the rest of the evening. “Let me give you a ride home from practice tomorrow. Don’t make your mom come all the way out here.”

“Are you - You don’t have to.”

“C’mon, it’s not a problem. Really.”

“You don’t even know where I live. It could be totally out of your way.”

“I guess I’ll find out tomorrow then, huh?”

“I - Yeah, I guess so.”

Oliver makes good on his promise and Elio trails after Oliver to his car after workouts the next evening.

“Perlman, you going with Ollie?” Sean calls.

“Yep! I’ll see you guys tomorrow?”

“Good luck,” Noah says in response, “the only music Oliver plays is old-ass ‘80s shit.”

“Hey!” Oliver cries, mock offended. “Those are classics .”

“That’s alright, I like that stuff too.”

“Ugh, really? We all hate Ollie’s taste in music.”

“I’ll burn you a copy,” Oliver says to Elio as they climb into Oliver’s car. “Maybe you can listen to that instead of classical while you run.” Oliver sets his phone up in the holder on his dash and opens Google Maps. “Okay, so where is it you live?”

It ends up that Elio lives almost exactly halfway between Exeter and Oliver's house. The car ride is quiet for the first few minutes of their drive, the only thing breaking the silence is the directions from Google Maps.

“So,” Oliver says, hating how awkward he sounds, “what brings your family to the US of A?”

“My mom is an artist and she's always wanted to come to the States to work and sell her paintings. Says it's idyllic.”

“I don't know what can be more idyllic than Italy, but I hope she finds it.”

Elio laughs at that and Oliver's chest bursts with pride. “Tell me about it. My dad is a professor and he's on sabbatical this year, so it works out. But that's why I'm trying to graduate early, I'm thinking December of next year so that I can stay here and go to university.”

“You've got it all planned out, don't you?”

“Not really. Honestly, I don't really see the appeal of college. I'd rather just travel the world and talk to people. I'd probably learn more that way. What about you?”

“Well, I'd like to go to New York, but my parents rather I go to Dartmouth or Harvard or something.”

“I've never been to New York,” Elio sighs, a bit wistful.

“We're not too far,” Oliver says, glancing over at Elio. That's a mistake though because it's hard to drag his eyes back to the road. “Me and the boys usually try to take a trip in the spring. Might be hard with college shit, but obviously, you gotta come if we go.”

“I'd like that.”

They chat a little bit more about Elio's first few days at Exeter: which teachers he does and doesn't like, which classes he's most excited for. It's only a 15-minute drive, and Oliver is far too sad when the pull up to Elio's house.

“Thanks for the ride,” Elio says as he gathers his phone and water bottle.

“How about I drive you to school tomorrow?”

“Oh no, I couldn't ask you to -”

“I drive my brother anyway. And I have to pass by your house to get there.”

“It's fine, really. My mom actually enjoys taking me. Says driving on the New England roads helps clear her mind.”

“Alright,” Oliver laughs, “after practices then. Don't make your mom come out. Next week Coach'll put us out on the water and who knows how late practice will go.”

Elio is quiet and his lips twitch as he visible thinks over Oliver's offer. “Okay,” he finally says. “Alright, I'll let you drive me home from practices. See you tomorrow.”

Elio is sliding out of the car and slamming the door before Oliver can say goodbye, so he rolls down the window. “Later!” he calls, laughing when Elio throws his hand up in a wave.

Oliver wishes he could spend more time with Elio, but Thursday passes in a blur. Their teachers are actually starting to assign homework, not to mention he’s now using his free periods for college applications instead of goofing off with his friends. When he does get the chance to talk to Elio, though, Oliver has a huge smile on his face. The kid is interesting even if he is a bit quiet and shy. Oliver thinks that having him as their cox might just work out.

On Friday, as soon as they get to the boathouse, Coach Gellman calls all five boys over to a row of benches. “Alright, boys,” he says, whipping out his clipboard. “As I’m sure you all know, we’ve got HOCR coming up in just two months. I know you’ve all been working out this summer, but it’ll be different now with Elio has our new cox.” There’s a whoop from Peter and Sean which makes Coach Gellman laugh. “Bring your gear on Sunday because we’ll finally be heading out onto the river. We’ll all warm up with intervals - stop your groaning, Noah - then get out on the water and finish up the evening with lifts. Sound good?” There’s a chorus of affirmatives before their coach sends them off to the ergs. He holds Elio behind for a moment before herding him towards the treadmills once again.

“We still on for tonight?” Noah asks after their workout.

“Yep. I even got some beers in the fridge downstairs. My mom left us money for dinner.”

“Fuck yeah,” Sean says, fist-pumping the air. “Your mom always leaves so much cash.”

“You’re coming too, right Perlman?”

“You better,” Oliver says quickly. “You’re part of the team now. And since we’re gonna be in the water on Sunday, we need you to be here tonight.” Luckily, none of them dorm at Exeter, so they’re all free to do as they please after practice.

“What, are we going over techniques or something?”

Peter laughs and pats Elio’s shoulder. “God, no. Just gonna order a fuck ton of food, drink a little, and maybe watch a movie.” Peter strips his shirt and shorts and grabs the shampoo he always brings along. “But we all need to shower first because I don’t want y’all stinking up my basement.”

The rest of the boys undress in a flurry of movement, all fighting to get to the best shower first. It’s just one large, tiled space with a few shower heads along the wall, but they all know that the one closest to the lockers has the best pressure. Oliver gets there first, smug smile secure on his face as he rinses the day’s grime from his body. Elio slinks over a few moments later, and Oliver has to force himself to keep his eyes up. Even just looking at the kid’s bare chest has his heart pounding.

“Elio,” he says, stepping out from under the stream. “Here, use this one. The one at the end is the worst.”

“It’s fine, I can -”

“Trust me, your curls aren’t gonna bounce back if you use that shower. The pressure is horrible.” Oliver grabs his little bottle of shampoo and grins at Elio before heading down the line to the other open showerhead. He has to take a few deep breaths and he’s glad that the water is on the chillier side, lest his body decides to betray him.

Elio goes in Oliver’s car to Peter’s house, which is just a five-minute drive from campus. As soon as all the boys file into the basement, Noah is placing an order for an obscene amount of Chinese food and Peter is cracking open a beer for each of them.

“Don’t worry,” Oliver says quietly, just for Elio to hear. “I’m only gonna have one so I can still drive you home.”

“My mom can always -”

“No, no. I promised I’d drive you, so I will. Now, have a beer.”

“I don’t normally drink beer,” Elio says, and then there’s that gorgeous flush to his cheeks again. “Sorry, that sounded incredibly rude.” Oliver shrugs it off and passes Elio a bottle of Stella.

“I’m guessing you’re more of a wine guy. Stella is good, I promise. It’s the only one I drink.”

Elio takes a tentative sip and nods. “Yeah, this...isn’t so bad.”

Once the order is placed and everyone has a beer, the boys all pile onto the leather couch. They flip through the channels for a few minutes, arguing over whether they should watch NCIS , baseball, or Deal or No Deal , which Sean only wants to watch for the hot models. They settle on baseball since the Red Sox are playing and it seems that in Peter’s household, if the Red Sox are on, they’ll always win out.

“So Elio,” Noah says, and Oliver is already apprehensive about whatever is going to come out of his friend’s mouth. Noah can be a bit overwhelming at times, and quite the loudmouth. “You excited for HOCR in October?"

“Yeah, so, forgive me, but I don’t exactly know what that is. Coach mentioned it earlier but…”

“You don’t know what Head of the Charles River is?” Noah looks aghast, as if Elio just said he didn’t know that grass is green.

“Give him a break,” Oliver says, immediately coming to Elio’s defense.

“Will someone tell me what HOR - HRO - whatever is?”

“It’s the biggest two-day regatta in the world,” Peter says. “I’m honestly kind of surprised you haven’t heard of it.

Elio shrugs, seemingly not bothered by the boys’ teasing. “I’m from a very small town in Italy. The nearest city is Milan, but even that’s an hour away.”

“Well, anyway. It’s a huge regatta in October and there are something like, what? 1,900 boats? Fucking Olympians row in the Head of the Charles.”

“It’s on the Charles River, by the way,” Sean juts in, “the river between Cambridge and Boston.

“And high schoolers get to compete too?”

“Yep,” Peter says, popping the p. “Youngest you can be is 14. Everyone at Exeter knows about Head of the Charles. I guess football is the main sport of the fall, but crew dominates conversation at school in October.”

“For us though, HOCR isn’t just any regatta,” Noah says, eyes trained on the TV as Boston hits a homer. “It’s like...the ultimate. We don’t race in the fall, but we get at least one boat from the women’s team and one from men’s. Our boat’s been going since freshman year. We even beat out the seniors for a position that year.”

“Shit, they were so mad at us,” Oliver muses. He takes a sip of his beer. “We were fuckin’ beast though, so of course, Coach picked us to go.”

“That’s the other thing,” Peter sighs. “We’re gonna start having morning practice too. Coach doesn’t normally come to those, just tells us what we have to do. That’ll start mid-September and it fucking sucks because it’s already cold and we have to get out on the water at 6 am.”

“Ah, such is life if we want the privilege of participating in the Head.”

“Ew, that makes it sound gross.” Peter throws a pillow at Noah’s head, and Noah throws it right back. “For the rest of the students, everyone who isn’t on crew, it’s like, the biggest social event of the year.”

Oliver snorts. “My little brother went last year and it was the first time he ever got drunk. Luckily there’ll be some downtime for the team, too. There are a few bars we know of that’ll let us in without fakes. It's a nice weekend away, too. We get to stay in a fancy hotel paid for by Exeter.”

“It” Elio says tentatively.

Oliver laughs and claps his hand on Elio’s shoulder. He massages the muscle a bit, feeling the way Elio immediately tenses but then ever so slightly relaxes. “It is...but we’ll see how you do out on the water on Sunday.”

The five of them gorge themselves on Chinese food and Peter even goes so far as to put the game on mute when Elio tells them a bit more about where he grew up. It’s a tiny town called Crema and he shows them a few pictures on his phone. Even from the photos, Oliver can smell the fresh air and taste the delicious looking pasta dishes.

“How’d you get into crew, anyway?” Noah asks after Elio tells them a bit about his move to the States.

“I live by a river, Fiume Serio, and a few of my friends wanted to start a crew team after watching the Olympics one year. It started out kind of as a joke, but we actually read up on it and got serious about it. We competed only a few times back home, nothing as rigorous as here. I’m not very good at rowing myself, much better suited for a cox.” He blushes and shrugs. “I hope I don’t disappoint you guys or anything. I know you’ve been with Liam for years.”

Oliver immediately shakes his head. “Nothing to worry about. We all like you,” he says, speaking on behalf of his entire boat. He is the captain after all. “It’s gonna be a good season. I can feel it.”

The rest of the boys end up staying over at Peter’s house, but Oliver takes Elio home once the baseball game is over.

“I feel so bad,” Elio says for about the hundredth time. “You could have stayed. I don’t mean to take you away from them.”

“I really only wanted one beer anyway,” Oliver says with a quick glance over at Elio. “Seriously, you’re fine. Hey, I’ll pick you up for practice on Sunday, okay?” They pull up to Elio’s house and Oliver puts the car in park. “Maybe a little early, if that’s okay. Y’know, with me as stroke and you as cox we kinda gotta…” Oliver trails off, trying to phrase his thoughts without coming off as rude.

“I know how it is. There’s a lot of communication that has to go on between us.” Elio flicks his eyes up to Oliver and Oliver’s breath stutters in his chest. Elio’s eyes are so bright, so green under his thick lashes, and Oliver could swear he sees a flash of something. “We can talk strategy on Sunday, yeah?”

“Yeah. Sunday. Right. I’ll pick you up at 3?”

“Perfect. See you then.”


Once Oliver finally gets home, he finds the house quiet as it usually is on a Friday night. His parents are out and his siblings are in their rooms. So, he goes up to his own and shuts the door, changing into pajamas before settling on his bed. He pulls out his phone to find text messages from the guys.

Noah Duff, 12:04 am
nice flirting tongiht ollie

Sean Oakley, 12:04 am
LMAO I thought I was the only one who saw that…

Noah Duff, 12:06 am
are you REALLY thinking about fucking our cox oliver?!?!!?

Fuck, and Oliver really thought no one had noticed.

Oliver Weiss, 12:57 am
I was NOT flirting!!!

Peter Cowper, 12:57 am
Dude, yes you fucking were don’t deny it.

Noah Duff, 12:57 am
we’re not blind oliver

Oliver Weiss, 1:00 am
What makes you say I was flirting?

Sean Oakley, 1:01 am
U kept touching him. That’s ur typical flirting move. Touch their shoulders until they realize u like them.

Sean Oakley, 1:03 am
Which is a totally pathetic method, by the way.

Peter Cowper, 1:03 am
Why don’t you just tell him you like him?

Oliver Weiss, 1:05 am
What are you fucking nuts? I don’t even know if he’s gay. Plus he’s new. I don’t want him to think I’m taking advantage

Noah Duff, 1:05 am

Fuck, his cover is blown. Oliver throws his phone across the bed and closes his eyes. It keeps buzzing, though, probably the boys continuing to make fun of his flirting methods. Oliver reaches over and, without looking at any of the messages, switches his phone to silent and buries it under a book on his bedside table. He can deal with that tomorrow.

Shit, was he really that obvious? Did Elio pick up on it? Was that why he kept saying his mom could drive? Does he not want to be in the car with Oliver anymore?

Oliver takes a deep breath, trying to keep his thoughts from spinning out of control. But fuck that’s really hard when he’s probably gone and fucked up any possibility of even a friendship between him and his cox. And that means he’s probably ruined the entire season for the guys.

Oliver’s cheeks burn bright red and he huddles up under the covers without getting up to brush his teeth. His room is already dark, but he pulls a pillow over his face to try and hide from any further embarrassment.

Okay , he vows silently, I’m not gonna be weird around Elio anymore. No more touching. No more flirting. No more small talk. Strictly business: class and crew and that’s it.

He can’t risk any awkwardness between them. More than that, though, Oliver finds that he can’t risk hurting or scarring or fucking up Elio in any way shape or form. He groans and presses the pillow tighter over his eyes. So much for trying to block out the negativity. He ends up rolling out of bed fifteen minutes later to piss and take a sleeping pill, because fuck it.

Big mistake though, because that night, his dreams are riddled with blurry images of green eyes and soft pale skin that he can very nearly feel under his fingertips.

Chapter Text

Oliver pulls up to Elio’s house at the stroke of 3. Mrs. Perlman is outside, tending to the small patch of flowers in the front yard. She looks up just as he cuts the engine and fuck , she’s coming over. He hoped he could just sit there quietly until Elio came out, but it looks like he’s going to have to make small talk. Oliver hops out of the car just as she approaches.

“Hey, Mrs. Perlman,” he says, all confidence and smiles.

“Please, call me Annella.” Her Italian accent is thick and Oliver watches with wide eyes as she flips her thick hair over her shoulder. He can definitely see where Elio gets his beauty from. “You must be Oliver.”

“That’s me!” After shaking hands, Oliver rubs a hand through his hair and shifts a bit awkwardly. “So, you’re enjoying your time in the States so far?”

“Very much, yes. We’ve even had some of Samuel’s family over already. And I think Elio is starting to get used to being here.”

“He’s in a lot of my classes,” Oliver says, almost automatically. He’s not exactly sure what his follow up to that would be, so he just clears his throat and shuffles his feet.

“He mentioned. Thank you for showing him around, Oliver. We appreciate it.” Mrs. Perlman runs her hand over Oliver’s arm and he smiles a bit. He does love the way she says his name -- Ullivar .

Suddenly, Elio comes bounding out of the house and towards the car. “Sorry! Sorry I’m late. I couldn’t find my sunglasses.” Elio stops talking when he spots his mom and looks between her and Oliver with wide eyes. “ Mom ,” he hisses, flush spreading over his cheeks.

Fuck, Oliver reminds himself, stop staring at him, you creep.

Elio and Mrs. Perlman talk in hushed Italian and she kisses Elio’s cheek, which earns her an eye roll.

“See you soon, Oliver,” she says, kissing his cheek as well. “Ciao.”

“Ciao, Mamma!” Elio hops into the car and Oliver stands there, stunned for a second, before following suit.

“You ready for today?” he asks as he starts the car, glancing over at Elio. He has to remind himself again to not look at Elio for longer than a few seconds.

“I think so,” Elio says, rummaging through his bag.

“You got everything?”


“You sure? We can turn back.”

Elio is quiet before finally zipping up his bag and tossing it over his shoulder into the back seat. “Nope! All good.” There’s quite a bit of nervous energy radiating off of Elio, and Oliver desperately wants to reach over, massage the tension out of Elio’s slim shoulders. “Thanks, though.”

“Nervous for today?”

Elio sighs and slumps down in his seat. “How’d you know?”

“There’s no reason to be,” Oliver says. "Your mom is super sweet, by the way."

"Oh god," Elio groans, "I hope she didn't say anything too embarrassing."

"Nothing embarrassing at all, but good to know she can be. I'll have to see if I can get some embarrassing Elio stories out of her."

Elio whines and shakes his head. "Ugh, please don't. And I bet you'll know exactly how to sweet talk her."

Oliver just grins and reaches over to turn up the volume on the CD that’s playing. It’s a mix he made a few weeks ago, and he mentally fist bumps himself when Elio starts bobbing his head. The ride is quiet, just the music filling the space between them, but Oliver doesn’t find it awkward or tense at all.

Once at the boathouse, they make themselves comfortable at the small sitting area towards the back. “Alright,” Oliver says as he drapes himself over one of the armchairs, “look. I don’t wanna sound like an asshole. But we were doing pretty well with Liam. So what can I do or tell you to help you adjust?” Oliver snorts and shakes his head. “Fuck, I’m sorry I sound like a dick.”

“No, no it’s cool.” Elio eases into the chair across from Oliver. “I totally get it. And don’t play it cool. You guys are amazing, I know you are. I’ve seen the trophies and articles.” Elio shrugs and tugs the sleeves of his sweater over his hands. “Could you maybe just tell me about the other guys?”

“Well, you gotta watch out for Noah,” Oliver says, right off the bat. “My brother likes to call him Nosey Noah. He’s uh...kinda aggressive sometimes. He’s a good guy, but yeah, nosey sums it up. Usually, the rest of us keep him in check, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid his pestering if he corners you. Just try to walk away. But that actually comes in handy because he always knows what the drama is with the other teams. Peter’s cool. He and I have known each other since we were kids, actually. He’s super sweet. First one to bring you chicken soup when you’re sick and all that. He keeps the rest of us calm at meets. Mostly with music and jokes and stuff.”

“He seems really nice,” Elio says, nodding in agreement. “And it was really nice of him to host all of us at his house.”

“Yeah, his parents are doctors and are rarely home, so we usually hang there. Sometimes his girlfriend, Sarah, comes over too. She’s also at Exeter. Sean’ll always call you out on your bullshit, which is good and bad. He’s blunt and sometimes it’s rude, but he’s got good intentions. He’ll be the first one to tell us if we’re not working at our best.” Oliver snorts. “Even before the cox can say anything. And he’s uh...kinda sexed up. It’s all tits and ass with him.”

“Do you think…” Elio pauses and looks down at his hands. Oliver wants to reach over, tilt that head up, and - “This’ll work out, right? Me coxing?”

“Everyone seems to like you so far. It all depends on how we communicate out on the water, though. You know that.”

“Right. Cox and stroke,” Elio says, looking up at Oliver from under his lashes.

Ah, fuck.

How is Oliver supposed to keep his cool with Elio looking like that ? So gorgeous, so perfect. Oliver shakes his head in an attempt to steer his thoughts clear of anything inappropriate. “Did you wanna, you know, run through some things? Calls and stuff?” Oliver asks when Elio meets his gaze.

“I don’t think we need to,” Elio says, a curious lilt to his voice. “I mean, we can if you want to, but I think I wanna wait until we’re out on the water. The basics are always the same and we’ll fall into our own rhythm.”

Oliver can tell that there’s already a good vibe between them, despite Oliver’s little crush, and he’s glad Elio can sense it too.

The rest of the hour is filled with chatter about their classes and an upcoming essay they need to write for Art and the State. Elio seems to relax a bit more, especially when Oliver gets him to talk about himself or about Italy. And Oliver doesn’t mind that at all. He loves hearing about Elio, about how he used to spend time in France or about the villa where he lives in Italy.

“We’ve got this huge orchard,” Elio says as the other boys filter in, “peaches, apricots, oranges, pears, pretty much anything you can think of, we grow it.” He sighs and wrinkles his nose. “The produce just isn’t that good here.”

“Have you been to the farmers market in Portsmouth yet?” Peter asks, coming to sit on the arm of Oliver’s chair. Oliver almost, almost , wants to shove him off, tell the rest of the guys to get the fuck out, that he’s enjoying getting to know Elio, but he knows Coach’ll be there soon and they’ll have to start practice. “Every Saturday morning. The produce is fantastic.”

“Thanks,” Elio says, smiling at Peter before looking back at Oliver. “I’ll have to tell my mom.”

“What were you two up to?” Noah asks as soon as he comes in. He sits on the arm of Elio’s chair and Oliver very nearly points out that there are four empty chairs the boys could sit in instead of crowding them.

“None of your business, asshole,” Oliver says, hoping his tone is teasing enough. He stands, nearly knocking Peter off the chair. “Alright, boys, don’t get too comfortable, c’mon.” He leads them into the locker room, where the other three boys start discussing an assignment they have due for their American History class. It’s one that Elio and Oliver don’t share with them, so they’re able to quietly put on their sneakers as the boys all shout around them.


“Ah, fuck.”

“I heard that, Sean!”

“Sorry, Coach!”

“Alright, come on, time to get running.”

There’s a collective groan from everyone except for Elio as they make their way from the locker room to the treadmills.

“It’s not that bad,” Elio says, hopping up onto a treadmill. Oliver takes the one next to Elio but immediately regrets it. He’s the strongest runner out of the four of them, but he’s sure to be doomed with Elio right next to him.

“Uh, yeah it is,” Sean says immediately. “Running fucking sucks .”

“Sean, you know I don’t mind most of the time, but please watch your language.”

“Sorry, coach.” They all turn on their treadmills and start walking together at the same pace.

“Okay, boys, we’re gonna do 3 on, 3 off. 25 minutes with a ten minute cool down at the end. You’ve got 60 seconds left on your warm up here.”

Oliver glances over at Elio who is fiddling with his treadmill settings and yeah he really wishes he wasn’t right next to the kid.

“Alright, go.”

All five of them immediately turn up the pace on their treadmills, and there’s an audible groan from Noah and Sean. Oliver glances over to see Elio smirking. Elio looks over just then as well, and they both smile at each other when Noah makes a disgruntled sound just a minute into the first interval.

For Oliver, the time flies, he and Elio occasionally chatting during the 3 minutes they’re not running at full speed and quietly snickering at the other boys’ groaning during the minutes spent running. When their 35 minutes are up, Elio hops off his treadmill and immediately stretches out his long limbs. Oliver stands there, water bottle halfway to his mouth, and just stares. Peter knocks his shoulder, shaking Oliver out of his brief daydream. So much for not staring.

“You guys really should stretch,” Elio says, only slightly breathless as he stretches out his quad. Noah and Sean are already sprawled out on the floor, breathing hard and red-faced.

“Fuck, how are you totally fine after that?” Noah asks, lifting a leg and pulling his thigh towards his chest. The two of them grumble on the floor as everyone stretches a bit before heading back to the locker room. They change into their gear before meeting Coach Gellman at the front of the boathouse next to the rack of boats.

Theirs is number 13, the same boat they’ve had since freshman year. Despite the number’s reputation for bringing bad luck, it’s been nothing but smooth sailing (rowing?) for the boys in this boat. The five of them take it down from the rack and follow the coach outside into the warm autumn sun and onto the dock.

“Alright, I want a clean mile,” Coach says as they step to the edge of the dock, turn, and put the boat down into the water. Their oars are already out on the dock, Coach having brought them out earlier, and the boys set in on fastening their oars and tightening their shoes. There’s a palpable excitement among the five boys, all of them ready to get out on the water. Coach pulls Elio aside and Oliver tries hard to listen in. All he can get is Coach asking Elio something and Elio shaking his head no. Coach says something again and, out of the corner of his eye, Oliver sees Elio nod enthusiastically.

“Coach!” Peter calls after securing his footboards. “We’re ready over here!”

Coach Gellman claps Elio’s shoulder and Elio shoves his sunglasses onto his face. Elio bends down to make sure his cox box is turned on and loud enough and to drop his rudder into the water.

Elio gets into the boat first, the rest of the boys following, sitting in quick succession so as to keep the boat from tipping. They settle in their seats and push off the dock into an open spot of water.

“A mile!” Coach calls out from the dock as a reminder. “Half a mile there and back. Smooth turn around, please!” The weather is perfect. It’s sunny but not too hot, just a light breeze and not so windy that they’ll have to work harder than necessary.

Oliver looks up at Elio and smiles. “You ready?”

Elio visibly swallows and nods.

“You’re gonna be great.”

“Thanks.” Elio takes in a deep breath before putting his earpiece on and adjusting the mic over his mouth. “All Four, ready to row. Row!”

At Elio’s command, the boys drop their oars into the water and they begin.

Oliver immediately feels at home. The water lapping against the boat, the oars dipping down, the light breeze, the warm sun. He closes his eyes for just a moment and takes a deep breath before looking back at Elio. Right, cox and stroke. They need to be communicating at all times.

“Number Two, you’re early,” Elio calls, and Oliver smirks up at him. Elio returns a small smile and Oliver wishes he could see Sean’s face when Elio called him out. He’ll have to ask Elio to wear a GoPro at some point. “Power 20,” Elio says a few minutes later.

And fuck, the kid isn’t messing around. He looks at Oliver, a bit nervous, but Oliver nods. The boat feels good. They feel good. “Power 20 in two. One! Two!” They surge forward, The four boys working hard as they take their twenty power strokes. Oliver glances down at Elio’s hands where he’s gripping the rudder. There’s no denying the kid is good. They’re going straight, they’re going fast, and Oliver has never felt better.

Oliver looks up again, and Elio is looking at him with this brilliant smile. He feels it too, Oliver can tell. This is only their first time out on the water together, but Oliver can easily say he feels more in sync with Elio coxing than he ever did with Liam. They go back to their regular pace for a bit before Oliver nods at Elio.

“Power 30 in two. One! Two!” They stream forward again, this time adding ten more power strokes. “Three, watch your timing.” Elio raises a brow and Oliver grins.

“We’re a little rusty.”

“Hey!” Noah calls from his spot.

“All Four, keep pace!”

Before Oliver knows it, Elio is calling for the boat to turn. “Port to hold, starboard to row. Ready to row. Row!” Oliver and Sean lift their oars as Peter and Noah row, effectively turning the boat. Once they’re turned around, headed back towards the dock, Elio calls out, “All Four, row!” Oliver drops his oar back down and the boat slows. He grimaces and Elio looks like he’s about to vomit or cry.

“It’s cool,” he says softly. “Just tell them to correct.”

“Two and Three, adjust the slide. Bow, touch it up. Stroke, adjust the ratio.” Elio shrugs as if to apologize for calling Oliver out, but Oliver just smiles and adjusts as necessary. They recover quickly from their turn and soon, Elio is calling out power strokes.

“All Four, let it run!” They must be nearing the dock, and they all lift their oars off the water. “Three, you’re late. Watch your finish timing!”

They glide to a smooth stop, perpendicular to the dock, and Peter lets out a cheer. “Fuck!” he calls from the bow. “That was amazing! Woo!” The rest of the boat erupts into howls and Oliver dips his hand into the chilly water, splashing a bit onto Elio. The kid is flushed and breathing hard, looking as if he can’t quite believe they actually did that.

“Get us back to the dock, cox,” Oliver says with a wink. He just can’t help himself.

“All Four, row.” If it weren’t for the cox box, Oliver is sure Elio wouldn’t be heard over the cheers.

They get the boat back to the doc and Oliver leans forward to check the little screen positioned by Elio’s seat. “Damn, I think that’s the fastest mile we’ve ever done.”

Elio switches off his cox box and takes off his mic. “Would have been faster. We gotta clean up those turns, guys!”

Oliver sits back and looks at Elio with a raised brow. “And we thought Liam was a hardass.”

Elio just laughs and hops out of the boat, stretching a bit before Coach comes over to talk to him. Oliver and the rest of the boys dismantle the boat before picking it up out of the water.

“Great first day out,” Coach says as they all head back to the boathouse. “We’re going to be going out every day now to prep for HoC. Once I get the early morning schedule squared away, I’ll pass it off to Elio.”

All five boys wipe down and put away the boat and oars before heading off to the showers.

“That was seriously amazing,” Peter says as he lathers up his hair. “Elio, I can’t believe you just casually picked up rowing with your friends.”

Elio shrugs and shakes his wet curls out of his eyes. Oliver has to avert his gaze. “I like coxing,” he says easily.

“You’re damn good at it,” Noah adds. “Right, Oliver?”

“What?” Oliver asks, lifting his head to find everyone staring at him. He’d zoned out for a second, thinking back to Elio smiling when they were out on the water.

“We were talking about how good Elio was out on the water today,” Noah says with a smirk. “He a good cox to your stroke, Ollie?”

“Yeah,” Oliver breathes, eyes flicking over to Elio who is watching him with wide green eyes of his own. “Yeah, the kid’s good.” He’s quiet after that, letting the other boys talk to Elio.

“Hey, you can still drive me home, right?” Elio asks quietly as they get dressed.

“Yeah, of course, I can,” Oliver says, stunned for a moment. “I drove you here, so I'm gonna drive you back.”

“I just uh, wanted to make sure,” Elio says, slinging his bag over his shoulder. “I’ll meet you by the car?”

“Yeah, I’ll only be another minute.”

“So, how was it?” Noah asks as soon as Elio is out of the locker room.

“How was what, asshole?”

“How was having Elio up there with you?”

“It was fine.”

“Seems like it was more than fine,” Sean says, picking up his own bag. “We’ve never rowed like that before.”

“Yeah,” Oliver says, rubbing the back of his neck. “Well, I don’t wanna keep him waiting, so -”

“Right, don’t keep your boy toy waiting, Ollie. I’m sure he’s missing your shoulder rubs.”

“Dick,” Oliver hisses, shoving Sean’s shoulder.

“Guys, cool it,” Peter says, but he’s laughing. “We did good today. But Oliver,” there’s a seriousness to his voice now, and Oliver looks up at Peter from under his lashes, “this isn’t going to get in the way of us rowing, right?”

“There’s nothing going on between me and Elio,” Oliver says, voice hard. “Now leave it alone.” He picks up his bag and stands up a bit taller, putting on his captain’s voice. “Good job today. We’ll work on turns more tomorrow.”

Elio is waiting by the car, as promised, and he gives Oliver a small smile. “Everything good?”

“All good,” he says, unlocking the car and throwing his bag in the back. “Hey, you -” He’s about to ask Elio if he’s hungry, but he quickly rethinks that.

“Am I what?” Elio prompts as they get into the car. And is that a bit of hopefulness Oliver can hear?

“Nothing, never mind.” Oliver turns the key and the engine roars to life, the CD picking up where they left off.

“Did the guys say anything to you when I left?” Elio asks after the pull onto the road.

“Just that you were amazing,” Oliver answers with a quick look over at Elio. The kid is smiling, and rightly so. “We made a good team out on the water.”

Elio ruffles his damp curls and shifts in his seat a little. “We did. But we need to work on recovery on turns.”

“That’s exactly what I told them when I left.” They talk about practice for the rest of the drive, and Oliver finds that he’s reluctant to let Elio out of the car when they pull up to his house. "Hey, what did Coach ask you before we got into the water?"

"He asked if I wanted him to sit in the stroke seat for the first time out. So I could get a feel of the boat and how you all work."

"Oh." Clearly, Elio had declined, but it still stung Oliver a bit.

"But I told him no, that I already knew you and I would be good together." Elio's cheeks turn an appealing pink. "That uh... we'd all be good together. I'll see you tomorrow then, right?” Elio asks as he leans over to grab his bag from the back seat.

Oliver doesn't really have time to process that before Elio is reaching for the door handle. “Yep, see you then. Later!”

Elio hops out of the car and is up the front steps and in the house in a flash. Oliver sighs and pulls away from the curb, unable to stop going over the events of the afternoon in his head over and over.

Had Elio been flirting? Had be been pulling away? Had he just been normal and friendly and Oliver was totally reading into this?

“Probably that,” Oliver sighs, turning up the volume when a Creedence Clearwater Revival song comes on.

When he gets home, as much as he’d like to sit around and think about Elio some more, Oliver actually has homework he needs to get done. He heats up leftovers and brings them up to his room, sequestering himself away from any distractions so that he can get his work done. He finally switches off his light close to midnight and, of course, when he gets into bed, that’s the perfect time for him to dredge up every single interaction he’s had with Elio since they met.

“We’ve been good. Nothing to be ashamed of,” he whispers into the darkness. He finds his cheeks growing hot at the memory of jerking off to the thought of Elio. “We’ve been good,” he repeats before flipping onto his stomach and forcing himself to think of anything else and finally drift off.

Chapter Text

Elio works them hard the next day at practice. They row another mile before working on turns, over and over again until there’s just a little bit of lag when the boat finally comes around.

“Jesus,” Sean groans as they pull the boat out of the water, “I’m already sore, Perlman.”

“Told you you should stretch more,” Elio shoots right back. Oliver can’t help but smile at that. It seems Elio definitely listened carefully to Oliver’s overview of the guys, because he already knows how to interact with each of them perfectly.

“Alright, come on,” Oliver says, clapping Elio’s shoulder once they finally get the boat back up on the rack, “time to stretch.” He squeezes Elio’s shoulder, not missing his wrinkled nose, and Oliver mentally slaps himself.

Fuck, maybe Sean was right , he thinks.  Maybe shoulder-rubbing is a pathetic flirting device. Wait, fuck, what happened to laying off the kid?

“Coach gave me the morning schedule,” Elio says later as they all pack up in the locker room. “I’ll probably make some amendments to it as we go along depending on how we do with drills, but I can text it to you guys tomorrow. We’re starting next week.”

“Ah, one final week of relative freedom,” Peter sighs. “And of course our schoolwork is starting to pick up.”

“Quit whining,” Noah says. He snatches Elio’s phone right out of his hand.


“Dude,” Oliver butts in, “what the fuck?”

“I’m just adding Elio to our group text,” Noah says, looking down at both his and Elio’s phones and tapping away.

“You know you could have just asked for his number.”

“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Oliver. Besides, all of his texts are in Italian anyway.” Noah hands Elio back his phone with a huge grin and all of their phones chime with a new message from Noah. “There, now you’re in our group.”

“Uh, thanks,” Elio says, looking down at his phone, a bit dumbstruck.

And  fuck , Oliver really hopes it isn’t the group chat in which the boys have been teasing him over his crush on Elio.

“Right, well,” Oliver pulls out his phone, trying so hard to be casual about it. He can feel Noah’s, Peter’s, and Sean’s eyes on him as he opens his text messages and breathes a sigh of relief. It’s a totally new chat, no incriminating texts anywhere. “You ready to go, Elio?”

The five of them all head out to the parking lot together, Sean and Noah play wrestling as they walk and Peter falling in step with Oliver and Elio. “Sorry about Noah,” Peter offers, dropping his voice a little. “He’s kinda -”

“Nosey, I know.”

Oliver laughs at Elio’s answer, and Peter looks stunned for a second before joining in on the laughter. “Ollie already filled you in on all of us then?”

“Yes. But don’t worry,” Elio says, knocking his shoulder against Peter’s, “he had nothing but nice things to say about you.” Elio reaches into his bag and procures a massive peach of which he immediately takes a bite. “Thanks for the tip about the farmer’s market, by the way. My parents and I went yesterday and it was fantastic.”

“No problem at all, glad you found the produce up to your standards. Any favorite stands?”

“That Amish family is amazing. Can you believe they travel all the way there in a horse and buggy? Thank God, though, because their fruit is to die for.” Elio takes another bite of his peach, a bit of juice dripping down his lip, and Oliver has to squeeze his fists together to refrain from leaning in and licking off that bit of juice.

“Right?! My mom particularly loves the flower lady that usually sets up at the north end. My little sister has horrible allergies, but my mom is always packing the house full of flowers.”

Oliver feels a surge of jealousy at Peter’s easy conversation with Elio. He’s never been to said farmer’s market, so he has nothing to contribute. He just scowls behind his sunglasses as the two prattle on about vegetables and hand-poured soaps.

“Hey, you okay?” Elio asks once they say goodbye to Peter and get in the car.

“Fine,” Oliver answers, turning the key and pulling out of the lot. He hates that Elio can pick up on his annoyance and wonders if he can pick up on his other feelings too, those that are somewhat more depraved.

“You’ve been quiet.”

“I’ve just never been to the farmer’s market is all.”

“Wait, really?”


“Well, you’ll have to come with my family one day,” Elio says, matter of factly.

“Oh, uhm. Maybe.”

And Oliver doesn’t have to wait long at all for an official invitation from Mrs. Perlman herself. She’s outside gardening again when Oliver pulls up to the house, and his inward groan matches Elio’s voiced one.

“Sorry,” Elio says quietly before his mom is in earshot, “She likes to chat.”

Oliver cuts the engine and the boys both get out of the car to greet Mrs. Perlman with warm smiles. She hugs each of them and then ruffles Elio’s hair. They exchange a few words in Italian, Oliver left to stand awkwardly next to his car.

“Oliver,” she says suddenly, turning her attention to him. He doesn’t think he’ll ever be over the way she says his name:  Ullivar . Her accent makes it sound much more glamorous. Like he’s a movie star. “Why don’t you stay for dinner tonight? We’d love to hear more about the area. And you, of course.”

“Thanks, Mrs. P,  don’t -”

“Oh, although it  is  Sunday. You probably want to get home for family dinner.”

Oliver doesn’t have the heart (or patience) to tell her that his family very rarely eats dinner together given their schedules. “Yeah, sorry, Mrs. P. I’ll have to take a rain check.”

“How about Wednesday, then? I believe my husband will be home that night as well. And you two have practice after school, right?”

“Yep,” Elio answers, popping the  p . His face is halfway between a smile and a grimace and Oliver hopes that Elio won’t find his company at dinner to be  too  egregious.

“Alright, Wednesday it is. Come by after practice and we’ll have a lovely feast for you two.” Mrs. Perlman ruffles Elio’s hair again and he gently pushes off her hand.

“Ma,” he whines, artfully rearranging the curls over his forehead.

“Sorry, tesoro,” she coos, and Oliver is suddenly very familiar with the jealousy that spikes in his chest.

Get a grip, Weiss. Not cool to be jealous of his mom.

“I’ll see you tomorrow at school, then?” Oliver asks, tossing his keys up and catching them in the same hand.

“Yes,” Elio says, the corners of his lips flicking up in a small smile, “tomorrow.”

Later that night, as Oliver finally closes his textbooks, his phone dings. He packs up his school bag before answering, proud of himself for actually finishing his homework before midnight.


Peter Cowper, 9:28 pm
Hey dude.
You mad at me or something?

Oliver Weiss, 9:29 pm
No, why?

Peter Cowper, 9:29 pm
IDK you went all scowly when I was taking to Elio

Oliver Weiss, 9:31 pm
No I didn’t…

Peter Cowper, 9:31 pm
Oliver, I’m your best friend
Don’t think I didnt notice

Oliver Weiss, 9:32 pm
His mom invited me for dinner on Wednesday

He’s not sure what makes him say it, but the thought of dinner with the Perlman's has been lodged in the back of his mind all evening.


Peter Cowper, 9:35 pm
That should be fun! What are his parents like?

Oliver Weiss, 9:36 pm
Idk I’ve only met his mom
She’s sweet though
V italian

Peter Cowper, 9:36 pm
"v italian” wtf does that mean

Oliver Weiss, 9:37 pm
Idk man, thick accent, doting on Elio, talking about sunday dinners

Peter Cowper, 9:41 pm
You really like him, don’t you?

Oliver Weiss, 9:42 pm

Peter Cowper, 9:42 pm
Why don’t you tell him?

Oliver Weiss, 9:43 pm
Do you see how good we’re rowing? I can’t ruin that
We’re getting along so well on the water

Peter Cowper, 9:44 pm
Maybe because he likes you too????
Or you’re compatible??? Ever think of that???

Oliver Weiss, 9:45 pm
Don’t be an asshole
Idk I don’t want to scare the kid off
New kid in a new country

Peter Cowper, 9:46 pm
I don’t think you’d scare him

Oliver Weiss, 9:47 pm
No if anything I need to back off
I think I freak him out
He’s always weird around me when we’re off the water

Peter Cowper, 9:49 pm
Sounds like someone else I know….
Being weird around ELIO off the water…..

Oliver Weiss, 9:52 pm
I’m going to bed asshole

Peter Cowper, 9:53 pm
Fuck off, you love me

The next morning, Oliver finds that he’s not the first to arrive to their Art and the State class. Elio is already seated at the table, curly mop of hair ducked down low as he scribbles away in his notebook.

“Hey,” Oliver says, trying hard not to startle him. It’s a lost cause, though, because Elio still jumps. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s fine,” Elio breathes, rubbing a hand over his chest. “Just wasn't expecting anyone so early.”

“My brother had to come in early for a Speech and Debate meeting,” Oliver says with a roll of his eyes as he takes his seat next to Elio. “Working on the essay?”

“Yeah.” Elio looks back down at his paper and Oliver glances over too. He’s already got a typed outline and rough draft that he’s editing, adding little notes in the margins.

“Mr. Kelley is a pretty fair grader,” Oliver offers by way of advice. “I’m sure you’re gonna do just fine.”

“It’s my first paper since I’ve been here.” Elio fiddles with the corner of a page.

“I can proof it for you. If you want me to.” Elio shoves his papers over to Oliver by way of answering and Oliver laughs. “I take it you’ve been looking at this for too long,” Oliver says as he rearranges the papers. He knows that feeling well, usually looking over his work so many times that the words start to sound funny. He begins reading and is blown away. The kid is absolutely brilliant. He’s written nearly four pages about whether the French Revolution of 1789 coincided with a musical revolution during the same time. Elio makes compelling arguments, pulling from his clearly extensive knowledge of classical music.

“Is it okay?” Elio asks once Oliver finishes and passes the paper over. “I’m not sure if I’ve used enough examples. And I don't think I like that bit about Bernard Sarrette.”

“I don’t understand why you’re putting yourself down,” Oliver says as he turns a bit in his seat to face Elio.

“So others won’t. So you won’t, I suppose.” It’s so vulnerable, so small, and Oliver wants to lean in and kiss away any self-doubt Elio might be harboring.

“I like the way you say things.” The air between them feels charged. Charged with something Oliver can’t quite place. Elio must feel it too, Oliver is sure he does, and Elio cocks his head to the side. He looks like he’s about to say something else when Mr. Kelley walks in.

“Ah, Elio, Oliver! Nice to see you two here so early.” Oliver jumps a bit, startled by their teacher’s entrance, and works quickly to plaster on one of his dazzling smiles. “How’s crew going? Getting ready for Head of Charles?"

They talk with their teacher about crew, and whatever was bubbling between them completely dissipates by the time class starts.

Monday night practice goes just as well as Sunday’s and Coach can’t stop singing the team’s praises.

“This is fantastic,” he says as he watches the boys stretch after getting off the water. “I think we’re going to have an incredible season, boys.”

They luckily don’t have practice on Tuesday, so Oliver has a night at home to decompress before his dinner at the Perlman’s. His day at school had been uneventful. He and Elio chatted a little between classes, but most of their downtime was spent working on their papers for Art and the State. Now, at home, Oliver rifles through the cabinets to find a snack. It’s nearing 5 and he’s starved, but it seems like nothing they have in stock will quell his insatiable hunger.

“Camila is making dinner tonight you know,” Rachel says as she practically skips into the kitchen.

“Yeah, I know,” Oliver grumbles, looking over at the pots on the stove. It smells rich and delicious, but he doesn’t think he can wait an hour for dinner. Oddly enough, he’s craving peaches. He finds a stash of chocolates and pops one into his mouth. This’ll have to do for now.

“You’re gonna spoil your appetite.”

“Gee, thanks, mom.” Oliver sits down on the stool next to Rachel’s and swivels to face her. “So how’s eighth grade? Feel like I barely see you anymore.”’

“I really didn’t think anything could get better than sixth,” Rachel says with so much fervor it almost makes Oliver laugh. “Last year was such a drag.But this year is  amazing .” Rachel goes on to tell Oliver  exactly  why eighth grade is so spectacular, and he listens well enough, laughing or frowning at the right places. But he’s really thinking about how by this time tomorrow, he’ll probably be on his way to Elio’s house to endure an entire evening seated next to his crush.

No, not your crush. Your teammate and maybe your friend? But not your crush.

Practice on Wednesday seems to drag on for hours. Elio has them doing power drills up and down the water, constantly calling for sharper and faster strokes. The boat begins to lag and they fall out of time with one another.

“Number Three, hands down and away! Two, you’re late. Stroke! Touch it up!” Elio’s voice is loud over the cox box and Oliver can feel a headache start to creep into his temples. He looks at Elio and shakes his head just a little bit. The guys are getting tired, he can feel it in the drag of his oar through the water and he’s sure Elio has sensed it too. “In two, weighenough. One! Two! All Four, hold water.”

The boat stops and they all sit there, panting and squinting against the sun. “Damn,” Peter croaks from the bow. Oliver can hear some shuffling and the boat rocks a little. The guys are probably all getting their water bottles. Oliver brings his oar up and locks it into place above the water. He leans forward over his knees and drops his head, trying hard to stave off his impending migraine.

He hears a click and looks over to see Elio switching off his cox box. He then follows those long, thin fingers over to where his water bottle is stored next to his seat. “Here.” The bottle is suddenly in his line of vision, and Oliver sits up. He has his own water bottle sitting by his feet, but he takes Elio’s instead, maintaining eye contact as he chugs down quite a bit, letting the cool liquid soothe his throat.

“Noah, you were off the entire time.” Sean’s voice is accusatory and Oliver groans as he hands Elio back his water. The boat rocks a little and Oliver assumes Noah is shifting to look back at Sean.

“I was not!”

“You were too. Elio even called you out on it.”

“So? He had to correct you a bunch of times too.”

Oliver looks over his shoulder to see Noah and Sean looking like they’re about to get into a fistfight in the middle of the water. “Hey,” Oliver says before this can escalate any further, “knock it off.” He turns back to Elio and raises his brows, a silent plea to call it quits early and turn back.

“Alright.” Elio takes a swig of his water and then turns his cox box back on. “All Four, ready to row.” There’s a series of clicks and plunks as the boys release their oars into the water. “Row!” They’re off at a steady pace, and Elio keeps quiet until they make it to the dock. “Everyone feel okay?” he asks tentatively as they raise the boat out of the water.

“Fine,” Noah answers, which earns a huff from Sean.

Oliver rolls his eyes and turns his head to look at Elio, nodding over towards Noah as if to say,  I’ll explain later.

Elio hums and they trudge towards the boathouse to shower and leave crew behind for the evening.

“So what was that all about?” Elio finally asks. They’re well on their way to Elio’s house, but the ride has been quiet. Oliver can’t stop thinking about dinner and he keeps rehearsing his conversation points in his head.


“Noah and Sean.”

“Oh! Oh, right. They both want to ask the same girl to Winter Formal.” Oliver rolls his eyes. “It’s so stupid. It’s not even until January, anyway.”

“That’s uh…”

“Yeah, you can say it. It’s idiotic. Her name is Emily Coombs, she’s on girl’s crew. It’s annoying as fuck, they can’t stop fighting about it.”

“It’s also kinda ruining the mood in the boat.”

Oh.  If Oliver was looking for a sign from Elio, that sure as hell was one. There’s no way Oliver can reveal his feelings now that he knows Elio doesn’t like the other boys bringing their romantic feuds onto the water. “Yeah, it is. I can tell them to...not do that anymore. Sorry about them. They get into it sometimes.”

“That’s alright, par for the course I guess.”

“Mmh, I guess.” They’re quiet again and Oliver turns up the music to fill the space between them. Luckily it’s only ten more minutes before they’re outside of Elio’s house.

“You can park in the driveway,” Elio says as they pull up. Oliver swings the car around and into a spot. “You ready?

“I guess? Anything I should know?”

Elio laughs, a pretty, sparkly sound, and Oliver wants to listen to that on repeat. “No, I don’t think so. They’re not...typical parents.”


“You’ll see. C’mon.”

As soon as Elio lets them into the house, his mother descends, muttering soft endearments in Italian as she hugs and kisses her son. “And  Signore Ullivar ,” she coos, wrapping Oliver up in a hug as well. “It looks like you two got some color! Was it very sunny out on the water today?”

“Sì, Mamma.” Elio drops his bags and wraps an arm around his mom’s waist, kissing her cheek. “What’s for dinner?”

“It’s a surprise.” Mrs. Perlman can’t stop smiling, and Oliver is a bit taken aback by her beauty. “Please, Oliver, leave your things here. Come into the sitting room.”

Oliver obeys and follows behind Mrs. Perlman and Elio who are back to whispering in Italian - or is that French? Oliver looks around as they walk and he’s pleasantly surprised at what he finds. He assumes the house is a rental, but the Perlmans have really made the space their own. There are paintings hanging on every wall, and Oliver realizes these must be Mrs. Perlman’s. He wants to stop and admire a few, but he also wants to stay close to Elio and his mother. He’s nervous to meet Professor Perlman, especially if he’s anything like his own dad.

Turns out, though, Oliver had absolutely nothing to worry about. Professor Perlman is in the living room with a glass of wine and a book propped up on his crossed legs. He stands when the trio walks in and immediately smiles. Oliver likens him to a cherub with his rosy cheeks and soft belly.

“Elly,” he says, hugging his son and then kissing his wife quickly. Oliver is not used to this kind of affection and he feels like he’s having an out of body experience. “And you must be Oliver.”

“Hi Professor,” Oliver says, shaking the offered hand and shaking himself out of his slight stupor.

“Please, it’s Samuel.”

“Oh no, I couldn’t.”

“Pro is fine, then. It’s what all my students call me.”

“Please, darling, have a seat,” Mrs. Perlman says, placing a gentle hand on Oliver’s shoulder. “Can I get you anything to drink? Water? Juice? I believe Sammy made some iced tea earlier today.”

“Oh, um,” Oliver is steered to a leather armchair. He takes a seat and looks over at Elio who is already sprawled out on the couch. “No, I’m good. Thank you.” Professor Perlman kisses Mrs. Perlman before she heads off into the kitchen and Oliver is dumbfounded by this vibrant display of domestic bliss.

“Elly-Belly,” Professor Perlman says as he takes a seat.

“Daa-aaa-aad,” Elio whines, covering his face with a hand, “please don’t call me that.”

“Sorry,  Elio . Will you play for us before dinner? Should only be a few more minutes.” It’s only then that Oliver notices the grand piano at the opposite side of the sitting room.

Elio groans and shakes his head. “I don’t feel like it.”

“Why not?”

“Perché non mi va!”

“Elio!” Annella calls from the kitchen. “Stai attento al tuo tono.”

Oliver sits there quietly as they speak in Italian, hanging off of every syllable. He finds that he loves to watch Elio’s mouth when he speaks Italian (well,  any  time he speaks), but Italian in particular. Elio finally gives in and goes over to the piano. He stretches his back and cracks his fingers before he starts to play.

“So, Oliver,” and oh no, here comes the second degree, “tell me more about you. Elio has only said that you have a few classes and that you’re the stroke on the team.”

“I am, yeah. I’ve lived in Portsmouth all my life. About 15 minutes east from here.” He shrugs and looks down at the blisters starting to form on his fingers from crew, suddenly realizing how uninteresting he is.

“You’re a senior, yes?” Oliver nods the affirmative. “Have you thought about colleges yet?”

“A bit.” Oliver looks up to find Professor Perlman smiling and he smiles as well. “My parents would rather I go somewhere in New England, but I think I’d like to go to the city. Columbia or NYU.”

“I love the city,” Professor Perlman sighs. “I spent a year there after I graduated from university. Best year of my life. I would’ve loved to stay longer.”

“I’m sure Italy isn’t half-bad, though.”

“Oh, definitely not.” Professor Perlman lowers his voice to a teasing whisper. “And it keeps Annella happy.” He winks and sits back against the couch cushions. “And what is it you’d like to study?”

“Philosophy,” Oliver says immediately. “And the Classics. I’m reading a great book on Aristotle's education of Alexander the Great.”

“Ah. Has Elio told you I’m a professor of philosophy?”“He failed to mention that,” Oliver says, looking over at Elio’s back. “And he also failed to mention he’s seemingly a concert pianist.”

“I’ve only been playing for thirteen years,” Elio says casually, a bit of sarcasm creeping into his voice.

“You’ll have to come over sometime and I’ll show you some of my latest work,” Professor Perlman says. Oliver immediately jumps at that offer and they spend the next few minutes talking about Aristotle and his contemporaries.

They’re called in for dinner moments later, and Elio abruptly stops playing. Professor Perlman and Oliver applaud him, which causes Elio’s cheeks to flush a deep pink. Annella comes in to usher them into the dining room, the table set casually for four.

“I’ve made Elio’s favorite,” Annella says, coming over with a baking dish.

“Ossobuco?” Elio asks excitedly, perking up in his chair.

“Yes, and tonight Oliver gets the biggest one. Not you, piccolo.” Mrs. Perlman serves the ossobuco with a heaping mound of polenta and Oliver his hooked after the very first bite. The meat falls right off the bone, tender and juicy. The sauce is the perfect mix of tart and sweet and adding in a bit of creamy polenta makes for the perfect bite. They mainly talk about books during dinner, and Oliver can’t remember the last time he had such a stimulating conversation with someone’s parents.

“Why don’t you two go hang out while we clean up.”

“Oh no, Mrs. P.” Oliver jumps to his feet and tries to take her dish. “Please, you cooked such a lovely meal. Let me at least help clean up.”

“No, no. You and Elio go sit down and we’ll call you when it’s time for dessert.”

Elio steals another bite of polenta before standing up from the table. “There’s no use in arguing,” he says as if he’s been through this a thousand times already. He heads back towards the sitting room and Oliver follows close behind.

“Hey, will you play that song again?” he requests. “I couldn’t really pay attention, what with your dad and all. But I’d like to hear it again.” It’s a longshot, but he wants to stand over Elio this time, watch those fingers fly over black and white keys. Is there anything those fingers can’t do?

Elio regards him with a strange look, but he ends up taking a seat at his piano bench. Oliver perches on the arm of a nearby chair, within eye and earshot of the piano. Elio begins playing, but the music sounds very different from before.

“You changed it,” Oliver says. “What did you do? What is it?”

“It’s Bach. I just played it the way Liszt would have played it if he’d jimmied around with it.” Elio’s words are light and sharp and Oliver raises a brow at the teasing.

“Just play it again, please!” Elio begins playing the piece again, this time banging on the keys and shaking his head a bit as if he’s a rockstar wailing on his electric guitar. “I can’t believe you changed it  again !”

“Not by much,” Elio answers. “That’s how Busoni would’ve played it if he’d altered Liszt’s version.”

“Can you just play it the way Bach wrote it?”

“We’re not even sure it’s Bach at all.”

“Forget I asked,” Oliver shoots right back, making to stand.

“Okay, okay. No need to get so worked up.” Elio begins to play the Bach in its original form and Oliver sits back down. “It’s young Bach,” Elio says softly as he continues playing. “He dedicated it to his brother.” He plays the piece beautifully, as if sending Oliver a little gift. It was almost as if they were flirting in their own weird little way, a way that had become very familiar to Oliver in the short time he’d known Elio.  

They have Mrs. Perlman’s homemade cassata for dessert and Oliver is sure he’s gained five pounds after just one meal. “I should get going,” Oliver finally says as he helps clear the dinner plates. “Thank you so much for dinner, Mrs. P.”

“Of course, darling,” she says, pulling Oliver in for a hug. “You come over whenever you want. There’s always a place for you at the table.”

Oliver’s throat tightens at that and he has to close his eyes tight against the tears that come upon him quite suddenly. He nods and pulls back, putting on his best smile. “And I’m definitely going to take you up on your offer, Pro,” Oliver says, extending his hand to the Perlman patriarch.

“Please do!” Professor Perlman tugs Oliver in for a hug as well. “See you soon, Oliver.”

“I’ll see you at school, then,” Elio says as he walks Oliver over to the door.

“Bright and early,” Oliver sighs. “Thanks for inviting me. This really was great. And your mom’s a great cook.”

“We’ll have Dad cook next time. He’s pretty good, too. Nothing beats our housekeeper at home, though. Mafalda. She’s a beast in the kitchen.”

Oliver laughs and leans against the doorjamb. “I’d like to hear more about Italy sometime. See some pictures.”

Elio smiles, that tiny little smile as if he’s hiding secrets just behind his lips and all Oliver has to do is kiss him to release them. “I think I can arrange that.”

“Alright, well…” Oliver hesitates for a moment, and there’s that same feeling between them Oliver noticed the other day in class. His stomach swoops and his mouth goes dry. He has to swallow twice before continuing. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Right. Tomorrow.”

“Later!” Oliver calls as he lets himself out. He drives back to his house slower than necessary, not wanting to return home after his evening with the Perlmans. He walks into a quiet house and he tiptoes upstairs. It isn’t even that late, but he doesn’t want to disturb the eerie silence. The door to his parent’s room is shut. He can hear Rachel behind her own door talking on the phone to one of her friends. Adam’s bedroom door is open but his room is dark. He must be with friends.

Oliver goes into his own room, but he feels restless, so he goes downstairs, shuffling from room to room. The Weiss house feels so clinical compared to the Perlman’s. There are no personal paintings on the wall, just art pieces his mother has acquired and a few family portraits from over the years.

Oliver shivers and shoves his hands into his pockets. He stops in front of the piano they have sitting in the front room. Rachel took lessons for five years and then quit when her crush decided he no longer was into girls who played an instrument. He lets a finger fall onto a key and frowns at the out of tune note that rings out. He wonders if Elio knows how to tune a piano. He wonders if Elio will play for him again. He wonders why Elio chose to play that specific song. He wonders what it all means: the lingering looks, the flirtations that are neither here nor there, their chemistry on the water.

Oliver hums and closes the lid on the piano, trudging back up the stairs. After pissing and brushing his teeth, he flops into bed, deciding his homework can wait until the next morning.  He knows that’s a poor decision, but he can’t concentrate on homework right now. Not when he has better things to think about: green eyes and cassata and piano melodies.

Chapter Text

Early morning practices start a week later, and all of the boys are dead on their feet. They’re at the boathouse at 6 am and on the water by 6:30. Over the course of their row, Oliver tries to convince Elio to let him pick him up in the mornings.

“Your mom shouldn't have to get up at 5:30,” he says as they clamber out of the boat and onto the dock at around 7:30.

“She doesn’t mind,” Elio says again .

Oliver just doesn’t buy it. His mom absolutely hated driving Oliver to crew in the mornings. She said it was a blessing when he was finally old enough to get his license. “Come on. We’ve already decided I’ll drive you to school after morning rows. But I can bring you home after practice too. Besides, you’re on my way.”

“Will you two shut up?” Sean gripes, rubbing his eyes. Sean looks exhausted, but Oliver isn’t sympathetic in the slightest. He came in bragging about how late he stayed up texting Emily Coombs. “You’ve been going at it the entire hour. Elio, just let him drive you so he’ll shut the fuck up.”

“Fine,” Elio says, rolling his eyes when Oliver puts on a satisfied smile.

Oliver shows up at the Perlman’s house at 5:45 the next morning to find Elio already waiting outside on the porch. “Am I late or something?” he asks when Elio hops into the car.

“No, right on time. I woke up before my alarm and couldn’t fall back asleep so I came out here.” Elio shrugs and fastens his seatbelt as Oliver puts the car in gear. “I love the way it smells outside the morning after it rains.”

“Yeah, that storm last night was something else,” Oliver says. He cracks the windows a little to let some of that fresh air into the car.

Elio inhales deeply and lets out a hum as he exhales. “Our power went out."

“Shit, really? Ours did too, but we have a generator. Do you guys have one?”

“No,” Elio says, closing his eyes. Oliver thinks that’s going to be the end of the conversation, but then Elio continues. “We don’t mind, though. We lit candles and my mom read to us.”

“That sounds nice.” Oliver smiles but his chest aches at the thought of the Perlmans all snuggled up on the couch together. Last night, as soon as the lights flickered, Oliver’s dad immediately turned on the generator. “Thank god,” Rachel had said, “my phone wasn’t even at 80% charge yet.”

“Yes, we all try to spend some time together in the evenings. Usually, I’ll work on homework while they read. But my mom took out this 16th-century book of French short stories that she used to read to me before bed.”


Elio laughs. “Very.”

“What’s it about?”

“Well, it’s a collection of stories, but last night she read one about a knight and a princess. A romance.” Elio cracks an eye open and rolls his head to the side so he can look at Oliver.

Oliver glances over and he feels his throat tighten. Elio looks so tired, but it’s kind of endearing, and Oliver can’t help but wonder what Elio looks like when he first wakes up. “Let me guess: they’re in love?”

“Madly so,” Elio answers. Oliver flicks his gaze back to the road but can still feel Elio’s eyes on him. “But they are friends first and, despite their friendship, she doesn’t really realize her love for him. He brings it up, though. Asks her one day: is it better to speak or die?”

“And does he or doesn’t he?”

“The princess said it is better to speak, but she senses a trap. So, he fudges.”


They’re quiet again until they get to the boathouse. Oliver parks the car and is about to get out when Elio says, so quietly Oliver almost misses it, “I’d never have the courage to ask a question like that.” But then Elio is stepping out of the car and the other boys are there, so Oliver can’t press him further about it.

Practice that morning is weird. There’s some sort of strange tension between Elio and Oliver. Luckily, it doesn’t ruin the mood on the boat. They row flawlessly, but every time Oliver looks at Elio, he catches that look in his eyes.

Oliver doesn’t bring it up, though. They just talk about their paper that’s due the next day on their way to school. Later that day, during their epistemology class, Oliver is caught completely off-guard when Elio contributes to the conversation. Since the school year started, Elio had been quiet during their classes, and Oliver wondered why, considering how smart the kid obviously was. It must’ve been nerves - Oliver remembers how intimidating it was when he first started at Exeter. But something seems to have changed because Elio jumps in on their discussion of Kant and Dostoevsky.

“Well,” Elio says in response to another one of their peer’s queries, “Dostoevsky is indebted to Kant, so Kant would profit from the deeply philosophical narratives of Dostoevsky.” He goes on to quote little known Kantian text, relating it back to Dostoevsky’s The Crocodile . Oliver listens, brows raised practically into his hairline, so impossibly impressed by Elio’s analysis. Oliver drifts in and out for the rest of the period, his mind continuing to marvel at Elio’s brilliance.

It’s their last period of the day, so after making a pitstop at their lockers, Elio and Oliver head to the parking lot together. “Is there anything you don’t know?” Oliver asks. “I’ve never heard of that Kant essay you brought up.”

Elio is quiet and Oliver is about to repeat his question. But Elio is looking up at him as they walk. He definitely heard. Then, suddenly: “I know nothing, Oliver. Nothing.”

Oliver’s brows furrow. “You know more than anyone in that class.”

“If you only knew how little I know about the things that really matter.” They’re at the car now, standing by the passenger side, facing one another.

“What things that matter?”

At Oliver’s question, Elio inhales, and Oliver catches that glint in Elio’s eyes, the same one he’s been catching since their conversation about the knight and the princess. Elio looks him straight in the eye and Oliver is rendered breathless. “You know what things.”

Silence. Hard silence. What is it Oliver is supposed to know? And then -

“I’d never have the courage to ask a question like that.”


Oh. Oliver supposes he should be thankful for his and Elio’s ability to communicate non-verbally. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because I thought you should know.”

“Because you thought I should know,” Oliver repeats Elio’s words back to him, very slowly, digesting them.

“Because I wanted you to know.” Elio twists on the spot, lithe body moving side to side. “Because I wanted you to know.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”


Before Oliver can say anything else, Sean claps him on the shoulder. “You guys ready?” he asks. Oliver has to close his eyes and literally bite his tongue. “Coach wants to see our work on power forties and turns today. It’s gonna be a killer.

“Yeah,” Oliver bites out.

“Noah and Peter left without me because Noah is pissed I was talking to Emily and he forced Peter to leave before I could get out of Mrs. Tucker’s grasp. Can you drive me?”

“Yeah, obviously,” Oliver says. Elio turns away and gets into the backseat without prompting. Oliver goes around the side of the car as Sean gets into the passenger seat, immediately launching into his latest conquest tactics.

Elio seems different on the water that afternoon. Laid-back, but almost exasperated.

Elio’s attitude lasts all week, but their dynamic is thankfully unaffected. Oliver, of course, cannot stop running through their conversations over and over again. He replays Elio’s words in his mind, trying over and over to decipher them and wondering if he somehow interpreted them incorrectly.

Had Elio confessed his feelings for Oliver? Was he just voicing typical new kid apprehensions? Had he found out about Oliver’s crush and did he decide to lead him on, tease him? Was Oliver reading into this too much?

“So, what do you do around here for fun?” Elio asks one evening as Oliver drives him home after practice. It’s a Tuesday, an entire week since Elio first brought up the knight and the princess.

“You’ve been here for a while now,” Oliver says. “We go to school, we row, we sleep. That’s about it.”

Elio rolls his eyes. Oliver has noticed he does that a lot. “For fun, I mean. When you’re not rowing or doing school work.”

“I uh...” Suddenly, it seems as if Oliver has forgotten every single thing he does in his spare time. “I read books,” he finally says. “Wait for summer.”

“What happens in summer?”

“Swimming in the lake. Going out with friends.”

They pull up at Elio’s house then, and Elio hums. “Right, then. Thanks for the ride. Later!” Elio jumps out of the car before Oliver can say much else.

Oliver drives the rest of the way home in silence. He’s just about to pull into his driveway when he realizes: he’s Elio’s only friend.

Well, him and the other guys. That is, of course, if he can call their relationship, their weird thing , a friendship.

But he’s never seen Elio interact with anyone else, unless he has best friends that only make appearances in the two classes they don’t share. He’s not sure what makes him do it, but as soon as Oliver is in his room, he sends Elio a text.

Oliver Weiss, 7:32 pm
Hey :)

Elio Perlman, 7:39 pm

Oliver Weiss, 7:40 pm
You free after school tomorrow? We don’t have practice. Thought we could do something…

Elio Perlman, 7:42 pm
i have a paper for my music class due on friday

Oliver Weiss, 7:42 pm
Aw, come on. It’ll be fun, I promise.

And where the fuck did that come from? It seems that their easy communication on the water follows them to their texting conversations. Then how come they only talk in riddles when they’re face-to-face on land? Oliver decides he should only talk to Elio in a boat or via text. Oh, what about via text in a boat? That could work… His phone dings and he's shaken out of his scheming.

Elio Perlman, 7:48 pm

Oliver Weiss, 7:49 pm

Elio Perlman, 7:58 pm
ugh okay. fine.
where are we going?

Oliver Weiss, 7:59 pm
You’ll see! Bring a sweater, it’s supposed to be cold tomorrow night

Elio Perlman, 8:01 pm
yes mom

Oliver rewards himself by staying up just past midnight. They don’t have practice the next morning, it’s a total off day, so he doesn't need to be up at the ass-crack of dawn to pick up Elio. He can indulge in a little bit of late night giddiness.

As promised, Elio meets Oliver by his car as soon as classes are over the next day. “Can you please tell me where we’re going?” Elio has been asking all day, but Oliver is unrelenting.

“You’ll see when we get there.” Oliver rolls down all the windows and turns up the music as they drive, letting his latest mix CD drown out any awkwardness that seems to crop up between them when they’re not out on the water.

They drive past Elio’s house, and then past Oliver’s, and then five minutes past there until they’re on a bridge. Elio leans over to lower the music and Oliver looks at him, confused. “Are you taking me to some remote island to kill me?”

“No, Jesus.” Oliver is aghast and he slows down a bit as he merges off the bridge and onto Pierce Island Road. “No, I want to show you what I do around here.” He takes a left onto another bridge and they’re soon on a tiny island.

“What is this place?”

“Four Tree Island.” Oliver pulls into a spot in the municipal lot and hops out of the car. “Come on!” He sets off towards the jetty, Elio following close behind. He clambers over a few rocks before jumping down onto a large and familiar stone below.


“Come on, it’s fine. I come here all the time. It’s my special spot.” He plops down on the rock, just big enough for two and with a perfect view of the Piscaquata River. Elio tentatively steps down onto the rock and settles next to Oliver. He knows they’re out of sight there, the jetty above blocking anyone’s view of the perch below. “I come here to read.” Oliver toes off his shoes and sticks his feet in the water.

Elio does the same but he hisses and immediately pulls his feet back up. “It’s freezing.” They sit in silence for a bit and it seems that just being in close proximity to the water brings back their easy companionship. The slap of the water against the rocks makes for a lovely soundtrack as the sun starts to sink lower in the sky, casting a pink and orange hue over the water before them. “I have a similar place back in Italy,” Elio says. “A berm by a spring. They say Monet painted there often.”

“It sounds gorgeous.”

“It is. I go there when I want to be alone.”

“Do you like being alone?” Oliver asks. Elio doesn’t have siblings, doesn’t have other friends in the States. It’s just him and his parents.

“No one likes being alone. But I’ve learned to live with it.”

That was deep. “You’re old wise man.”

“Me, wise?” Elio tosses his head back and laughs. “I’m not wise at all. I told you: I know nothing. I only know books and music. How does that make me equipped to talk about the things that matter most to me?”

“But you’re doing it now. Talking about the things that matter the most to you. We both are.”

“In a way.”

There they go with the riddles again. Perhaps the water isn’t the key to unlocking the mystery that is Elio Perlman. Oliver looks over at Elio to find that Elio is already looking at him. And there’s that look, the look that Elio has been giving Oliver all week. Is this Elio’s way of speaking? Asking? Oliver wants so badly to lean in, watch that look disappear as Elio closes his eyes in anticipation of a kiss. “You’re making things very difficult for me.”


“Do you see what’s happening with Noah and Sean right now? If fighting over a girl causes this much disruption, what would -” Oliver stops. He can’t say it out loud. Now he knows why the knight fudges. But would it really be better to die? “I’m not going to pretend this hasn’t crossed my mind.”

“I’d be the last to know.”

“Are you kidding me, Elio?” Oliver shoots right back. “Well, it has. Besides, you’re the one who’s like a vault under lock and key.” This is probably the most direct conversation they’ve ever had. Maybe it is the water. “But we both have to hold back.”

Elio reclines on the rock with his hands behind his head. Oliver follows suit. They’re back to silence as they watch the sunset from their spot. The sky is an incredible painter’s palette of pastels and Oliver hears Elio sigh next to him. He can tell, without even looking at Elio, that it’s a happy sigh. It seems that their non-verbal communication skills are back, ebbing and flowing with the tide.

“I love this, Oliver.”


Elio clicks his tongue. “Everything.”

“Us, you mean?”

“Eh…” Elio tries to hide his snicker which makes Oliver laugh, “that’s not bad. Thank you for taking me here, Oliver. It reminds me of home.”

Oliver looks over at Elio, who has his eyes closed and a small smile set firmly in place. Oliver wants to study Elio’s face, memorize it and keep it in his mind forever. He’s not sure what makes him do it, whether it’s the way Elio looks in the day’s last bit of sunlight or if it’s a sort of you’re welcome , but Oliver sits up and moves just a hair closer. Elio’s eyelids flutter a bit and Oliver brings his hand towards Elio’s face, towards his lips. Elio’s lips part at just the right moment and Oliver realizes his eyes must be barely open. He traces over Elio’s bottom lip and it’s just as plump and smooth as it looks. He brings his finger up to Elio’s top lip and then back around, his finger and Elio’s tongue colliding on the way.

Oliver feels like he might throw up or stop breathing, but in a good way. He didn’t know that feeling was possible, but there he is.

He cups Elio’s chin and turns his head a bit, letting Elio make the next move. Oliver desperately wants to lean down and kiss him, but he needs Elio to reciprocate here. Just one kiss, just one to get it out of their systems.

And Elio does. He pushes up from the rock and moves closer. He’s not close enough, though, so Oliver takes Elio’s chin in his hand again and leans in, running the tip of his nose over Elio’s. They skate around each other for a moment, both teasing as they breathe into each other’s mouths in an I’ll-meet-you-halfway kiss. Elio licks a stripe from Oliver’s bottom lip to the top - where did that come from? - and then they’re kissing, a press of warm mouths, both eager yet chaste. Oliver sinks his fingers into Elio’s curls, something he’s wanted to do since the very beginning, and lets Elio kiss him one last time before pulling away. Elio sucks in a breath through his teeth as he rolls onto his stomach.

“Better now?” Oliver asks, trying hard to restrain himself from whooping. He just kissed Elio Fucking Perlman.

Elio doesn’t answer and Oliver’s heart sinks to the pit of his stomach. His smile falters and now he feels like he’s going to throw up in a bad way. But then Elio is surging up to kiss him again, even going so far as to position himself over Oliver, as if he’s going to straddle him.

And it’s suddenly far too much. Oliver gently pushes Elio off, back into his place on the rock, and whispers a little chorus of no s. “We should go.”

“Wha-?” Elio sounds dazed.

“I know -” Oliver pauses. He’s about to say I know my family, my peers , but he stops that thought. “I know myself. We’ve been good. We haven’t done anything that’s gonna fuck up our flow on the water. Nothing we’re going to regret. Let’s keep it that way.”

Elio reaches for Oliver, cups his dick through his shorts. It seems like a moment of sheer desperation. “Am I offending you?”

Who is this smart-ass Elio?

Oliver places his hand on top of Elio’s, pushing down just a bit. He gives Elio a small, sad smile before removing his hand altogether. “Just don’t.” The sun has just sunk beneath the horizon, the sky now muted blues and purples. It’s breezy and Elio shivers. “We should go.” Oliver stands and holds a hand out for Elio, helping him up from the rock. They climb over the jetty together and walk quietly to the car.

“Thank you for showing me your special place,” Elio says as they head back to the mainland. It’s fully dark by the time they cross from Pine Island Bridge back into Portsmouth.

“You’re welcome,” Oliver says softly. The silence as they drive is tense and awkward and Oliver hates it. He drops off Elio and heads back home, trying to simultaneously forget everything that happened as well as commit it to memory. As he heats up leftovers for dinner, his phone vibrates in his back pocket.

Elio Perlman, 7:32 pm
hey, my mom’s gonna drive me tomorrow morning


Oliver Weiss, 7:32 pm
I hope this isn’t because of what we did
We can just pretend it never happened

Elio Perlman, 7:35 pm
no, no not because of that i promise
she’s meeting with a potential buyer in boston so she wants to head out early

Oliver Weiss, 7:36 pm
Ok...if you’re sure

Elio Perlman, 7:38 pm
i am. thank you!

Oliver Weiss, 7:43
See you tomorrow

Oliver is not particularly religious. His family still goes to Temple on occasion and they observe the important holidays. But that night, Oliver prays to whatever higher power is out there that he didn’t completely fuck up his friendship with Elio.

As soon as Oliver gets to practice the next morning, he wishes he’d prayed harder. Or rather, he wishes the entire afternoon the day before hadn’t happened. Elio stays quiet as they take the boat out onto the dock and get in the water. He’s stiff as they push off the dock and Oliver watches as Elio busies himself with his cox box, water bottle, and jacket zipper.

As soon as they’re positioned to start the mile, Elio sits up straight. “All four,” he calls, “ready to row.” There’s a quick succession of splashes as the boys drop their oars. “Row!”

They’re off to a slow start. There’s lag from the back of the boat, Oliver can feel it as he drags his oar through the water. He tries to make eye contact with Elio because they need to correct the lag if they’re ever going to pick up enough momentum for their turn. But Elio refuses to look at him.

“Number Three, you’re late. Stroke!” Oliver jumps a bit. Elio’s voice his harsh and loud over the cox box. “Touch it up.”

Oliver tries to correct whatever it is he’s fucking up, but the entire boat is off. “Elio,” he tries, but Elio just speaks over him.

“Bow, up and off. Down in two. One! Two!” The boat full-on stops for a second before lurching forward again.

“Elio, we’re all off.”


Oliver’s never really heard Elio curse and his brows shoot up. “Elio, if we can stop for a second, we can start again and correct.”

“Three, you’re still late. One! Two! One! Two!” Elio sounds almost hysterical and Oliver moves his foot off of his footboard and kicks off his sandal. He puts his foot onto Elio’s ankle, the only way he can get in some physical contact without dropping his oar. It’s his way to return to that moment on the rock, a way to return to that intimacy and to let Elio know that it’s just between the two of them. No one else knows what happened, no one else needs to know. It’s just for them.

Oliver sees Elio’s gaze go a bit unfocused and his breath quickens. Oliver swears he can see Elio’s pulse jump at an incredibly kissable spot on his neck. “Elio, can we -” Oliver squints behind his sunglasses. Is that - “Elio, I think your nose is bleeding.” Elio lets go of the pulleys for his rudder and the boat swerves. “All Four!” Oliver calls, taking over as Elio’s hands shoot up to his nose. “Hold water.” The boat stops and Oliver shoves his sunglasses on top of his head. “Elio, you okay?”

“Happens all the time,” Elio answers, voice thick, the sleeve of his jacket now pressed against his nose.

Oliver looks over his shoulder to find they’re just a few meters from the dock. “Think you can make it back in one piece?”

“Yes?” Elio doesn’t seem confident and Oliver grimaces. “Well, we don’t have any other option, do we?”

“I guess not.” Oliver is keenly aware of the other guys staring at the back of his head.

“Everything okay?” Noah finally asks.

Fine,” Oliver says immediately without turning around. “Elio just has a nosebleed. We’re gonna head back in a second.” Oliver gives Elio another minute of respite before he unlocks his oar. “I can make the calls,” he says, reaching for Elio’s headset. “You just concentrate on the rudder.” Once they’re all settled, Oliver directs them back to the dock. They don’t attempt to turn the boat around, Oliver instead instructing, “Back it down!” They paddle backward to the dock and as soon as Elio is out of the boat, he heads towards the boathouse.

“I can come back and help,” he says, turning around as the boys lift the boat out of the water.

“No, go take care of that!” Peter calls. “We’re fine here.”

“What the fuck was that all about?” Sean asks when Elio is out of earshot.

“Dunno,” Oliver grumbles, keeping his head down as they head back to the boathouse. He knows it must be his fault, though. They’ve never been like that on the water before and Oliver can only assume everything has fallen to shit because of their kiss.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” Peter assures, as if he can read Oliver’s mind. Oliver blushes, wondering for a moment if he spoke out loud. But the boys aren’t cheering or teasing him, so he can safely assume that he hasn’t let slip any information about their moment on the rock.

They put the boat back up on the rack and head to the showers. Elio is nowhere to be seen and Oliver wonders if he called his mother to come pick him up. The other boys pack up and leave, but Oliver sticks around in the locker room, dragging out packing up for as long as possible so he can go out on the hunt for Elio.

Oliver finally finds him in a remote corner, over by the kitchens. “Had to find some ice,” Elio says as Oliver comes over. Elio is on the floor, smooshed in the space between the fridge and the wall. It’s just big enough for Oliver to sit down by Elio’s feet, and so he does.

“Was that my fault?”

“I’m a mess,” Elio sighs, letting his head tip back against the wall.

Oliver hums with amusement and pulls one of Elio’s feet into his lap. He begins cracking Elio’s toes and tugging on the digits.

Elio hisses when Oliver cracks his middle toe. “Ah! Where’d you learn to do that?”

“My Bubbe. She used to do this to us when we were sick.”

“I’m Jewish too, you know,” Elio says. Oliver looks over at Elio to find that Elio is staring at him. Or, more accurately, Elio is staring at the Star of David that hangs around his neck. It had been a gift from his Bubbe when he turned ten.

“I figured. Perlman.”

“A lot of people assume we’re not. Being from Italy and all.”

Oliver hums again and tucks Elio’s foot under his thigh before pulling the other one onto his lap. “I don’t like to make assumptions about people,” he says, concentrating on Elio’s foot in his hand. It’s long yet somehow still small and delicate, just a fine smattering of hair over Elio’s light skin. He tugs at a toe and Elio cries out.

“You’re going to kill me.”

“I hope not.” Just like at the rock, Oliver isn’t sure what makes him do it, but he pulls Elio’s foot up and presses a kiss to his ankle. “Are you going to be okay?”

“I will be.”

They stay there for another minute, silence settling over the two of them. It’s not awkward, though. At least not like last time. Oliver closes his eyes and he can almost hear the water on the shore just outside. “We better go,” he says finally, cracking open an eye. Elio’s nosebleed as since stopped and he just as a bit of dried blood on his nose and lip. “Don’t want to be late for school.” Oliver stands and holds out a hand for Elio who accepts and lets Oliver help him up.

“Think I can ask Coach to cancel practice this afternoon?” Elio asks after he washes up.

“I think so.” Oliver passes Elio a clean towel. “We deserve a break.”

They don’t say anything else that morning, or during their ride to school, or during the entire day. Coach Gellman sends an email to the team saying practice for that afternoon and the following morning are canceled, but that there will be double practice the next afternoon. The boys assess during lunch and decide that yeah, it’s going to be hell, but it’s worth it for a bit of time off. The other three boys dominate the rest of the conversation at lunch, silence still settled between Elio and Oliver.

That afternoon, Oliver is able to give his brother a ride home from school. “Sorry,” he says as Adam gets into the car. “I know how much you hate taking the bus when the season picks up.”

“It’s alright,” Adam says. “I think one of the upperclassmen might offer to drive me after Speech and Debate so I won’t have to take the late bus home.”

“That’s good.”

They talk about school and classes and Speech and Debate until Adam brings up the most dreaded subject. “So how’s that new cox? What’s his name? Elio?”

“Yeah, Elio.”

“You know, that means helium in Italian.”

Oliver rolls his eyes at his brother, a habit he seems to have picked up from Elio. “Wow, cool.”

“So? How is he?”

“Really good, actually. We haven’t rowed this well in a long time.” Oliver neglects to mention that morning’s fiasco.

“Nice. Dad’ll be glad to hear it.”

Oliver’s stomach lurches and he grips the steering wheel a bit tighter at the mention of their father. “Yeah,” he says, reaching over with shaky fingers to turn up the volume on the radio in an attempt to drown out any thoughts of what his dad might think about Elio.

Chapter Text

All of Thursday night, Oliver goes over his gameplan. Luckily, they don’t have practice Friday or Saturday, so he won’t have to see Elio outside of classes until Sunday morning. Unluckily, he has just about every single class with the kid.

Clearly, their kiss got in the way of their rowing in a big way. They had been doing so well before that and Oliver just had to go and ruin everything.

He shakes his head and presses the heels of his hands against his eyes. He keeps coming back to that, keeps beating himself up about the situation, instead of figuring out a solution. He wishes they could just reverse time to before their kiss.

On the other hand, Oliver can’t stop replaying their kiss in his head over and over again. He doesn’t think he’ll ever forget the press of Elio’s lips against his own, soft and pliant, or the way Elio eagerly surged into him. It wasn’t Oliver’s first kiss; that was with Tara McLaren at the 7th-grade dance. And his second had been with Susan Abramson, who he subsequently kissed for all of freshman year while they dated. But the summer between freshman and sophomore year was when Oliver finally realized he was also interested in boys. He’d never kissed a boy before, had only thought about it and sneakily watched gay porn on his phone in the dead of night.

So, Elio Perlman had, technically, been his first kiss. His first kiss with a boy, at least. Which means Oliver never wants to forget it.

“Just need things to go back to normal,” he mumbles into his hands as if saying it out loud will make it come true. “Pretend it never happened. Just be friendly. Just be normal. Why can’t you be normal, Oliver?”

“You alright?”

Oliver nearly jumps out of his skin at his sister’s voice. “Yeah,” he says, sitting back in his chair and pressing his hand over his pounding heart. “Way to scare a guy.”

“You’ve been acting weird.” Rachel bounces into his room and takes a seat on his bed.

“I’ve got a big paper due.” Oliver spins around in his desk chair to face his sister. “And crew is getting intense, especially with HoC coming up.”

Rachel hums and looks down at her phone. It’s clear something is bugging her and, although Oliver wishes her last year in middle school could be drama free, he’s glad that she always comes to him with her problems. They’ve always been close, thick as thieves and without the brotherly push and pull he has with Adam. “Yeah. And college stuff.”

Oliver groans and tilts his head back. “Don’t remind me. As soon as HoC is over I really need to work on my applications.” They’re quiet for a few minutes, but then Oliver stretches out his leg and taps Rachel’s ankle. “What’s up?”

“Why are boys so stupid?”

Oliver snorts. He wishes he had the answer to that question. Maybe then he’d be making out with one instead of talking with his kid sister. “I’ve got no idea.” He sits up though, a bit concerned. “Is someone being mean to you at school?”

Rachel sighs, overdramatic as always, and it reminds him of Elio. Oliver thinks they’d probably get along. “No, no. It’s just that...Alex from my math class knows that I like him, but he asked Hannah to the fall dance even though he told me last week he’d go with me.”

“I’m sorry, Chickadee.” It was a nickname back from when they used to pretend to be spies in the backyard. “But you said it yourself: boys are stupid. And it’s good that you realize that. Don’t let stupid boys get in the way of important friendships or your schoolwork.”

“I know. It just sucks.”

“Don’t I know it.” Rachel looks up at him at that, all big doe eyes, and Oliver’s breath catches in his throat. Has he said too much? Would Rachel hate him if he came out? “Hey, I -” He chokes on his words and stops himself before he gets too far. No, he can’t do this. Not now, at least. Not while everything with Elio has gone to shit. “I was gonna go down to sneak a few snacks.” He hops up and holds out his arm. “You game?”

“Game!” Rachel leaps up as well, and the pair tiptoes downstairs to raid the fridge as the rest of their family sleeps.

The next day at school, it seems as if Elio has also come up with his own game plan. They’re perfectly cordial to one another, chatting a little about the previous night’s homework before the start of class. Elio is back to his normal self, or what Oliver knows to be normal. It’s as if the kiss hadn’t happened, but that spark between them is also missing. By the end of the day, Oliver feels drained. Every moment spent talking to Elio, Oliver was trying his hardest to monitor his words and actions. No touching, no flirting, no prolonged eye contact. It was a good set of rules, but Oliver was glad to have Saturday off, no Elio in sight.

On Saturday morning, over breakfast, Oliver asks his mother if Peter can come over to play video games.

“Son,” his dad interrupts, putting down his newspaper, “you ought to work on your college applications.”

“But they’re not due until November!”

“That’s only two months away, Oliver. Plus you have Head of Charles coming up. You need to write those essays! I’m setting up interviews for you at Dartmouth and Harvard. I believe I have a contact at Yale who is willing to meet with you.”

Oliver sighs and puts down his spoon. His oatmeal is suddenly like glue in his mouth. He struggles to swallow, and once he does, he tries to make his case again. “Can’t he come just for a little while this afternoon? After I work on my essays?”

“Sorry, Oliver, no is no. Don’t ask me again.”

“Mom, can you -”

“You heard your father.” His mother taps away on her phone for a moment before standing up, leaving her half-eaten breakfast on the table for Camila to clear. “I’m off to meet the new board at the JCC. I’ll see you after lunch.” She kisses each of her children on the tops of their heads and even kisses her husband before waltzing out the door.

“Dad,” Oliver tries again, later when they’re both alone. Rachel and Adam have both disappeared, probably to their rooms. “Can Peter at least come for dinner?”

“I thought I told you not to ask me again.” His dad slams down the newspaper and Oliver jumps.

“I-I’m sorry, Sir.” He looks down at the table, unable to meet his father’s gaze.

“Go to your room, Oliver, and get to work. I want your essays for Dartmouth and Harvard done today so I can proof them ahead of your interview. And look at me when I’m speaking to you.”

Oliver looks up from under his lashes and his stomach drops. His dad looks so severe, so angry, and Oliver hopes he’ll never develop the same deep furrow between his brows. “Yes, Sir. I’m sorry.” He pushes away from the table and solemnly makes his way up to his room.

He’ll work on college essays, sure, but it’ll be for NYU or Columbia, not the bullshit yuppie schools his dad wants him to go to. He does actually do the work, what else is there to do while stuck inside his room on a Saturday? But his dad doesn’t even end up reading his essays as he gets an emergency call from a patient and had to head into the office just as dinner was ready.

After dinner, which is just Oliver, Adam, and Rachel, the three Weiss siblings sprawl out on the couch for a night of bad movies. He lets Adam and Rachel fight over the remote while he answers a few texts from the guys. He realizes that Elio hasn’t responded in their group chat all day, so he texts him privately.

Oliver Weiss, 7:43 pm
Hey, you still want me to pick you up tomorrow AM right?

Elio Perlman, 7:45 pm
if that’s okay with you

Oliver Weiss, 7:45 pm
Of course! Wouldn’t have offered if it wasn’t

Elio Perlman, 7:48 pm
thanks, man. appreciate it

Oliver Weiss, 7:49 pm
No prob! Practice is at 10:30. I can get to your place around 10?

Elio Perlman, 7:50 pm
see you then!

Oliver settles back on the couch with a huge smile on his face. He tries to keep his giddiness in check, but he honestly thought Elio was going to ditch out on their carpooling.

“What’re you so happy about?” Adam asks. “This movie sucks.”

Oliver didn’t even realize they’d settled on something and he looks up at the TV. Black Swan is on, so he guesses Rachel won remote privileges. “Oh, yeah. It’s fine, I guess. Natalie Portman is pretty.” He also wants to say something about how gorgeous Sebastian Stan is, but he bites his tongue.

Oliver wakes up the next morning at 7 am, his stomach in knots. He groans and shoves his face into his pillow. Everything was fine on Friday, so why is he so nervous to see Elio again? Oh, right. Because they have to get out on the water again and Oliver doesn’t think he’ll ever forget how much of a disaster it was last time.

He stays in bed until 9:30, twisting and turning under his sheets, stomach churning in anticipation of their upcoming practice. When he finally gets up, he has to rush to get dressed and can only grab a granola bar on his way out the door. When Oliver arrives at Elio’s house, Elio is already waiting outside. He hops off the stoop and bounds over to the car, even giving Oliver a small smile as he buckles in.

“Morning. Thanks for driving.”

“Hey. No problem.” Oliver pulls away from the curb and taps his fingers on the steering wheel in time with the song that’s playing. “So uh, how was your weekend?”

“Good. I finished that paper for English. And my parents and I went to the John Paul Jones House.”

“Oh, cool. Yeah, we used to go there a bunch when we were little.” It’s quiet again and Oliver shifts. “So uh, we’re good for practice today, right? Like, after last time…”

“Yeah, no.” Elio shakes his head and fiddles around with his curls. “Totally fine. I just had a really bad headache last week.”

“You’re not gonna get a nosebleed on me, are you?”

Elio huffs and rolls his eyes. “ No , I’m not going to get a nosebleed.”

They’re quiet for the rest of the ride and, in fact, the silence between them lasts until they’re out on the water. The other boys seem wary, tiptoeing around Oliver and Elio, afraid of setting them off. Once they’re all settled in the boat, Oliver takes a few deep breaths before unlocking his oar. This is it, the moment of truth.

“All Four, ready to row. Row!”

At Elio’s command, everyone’s oars hit the water and they’re off. Oliver breathes a sigh of relief. They have a good rhythm and everyone is in sync, already much better than the last time. But Oliver finds that his non-verbal communication with Elio is lacking. They’re rowing just fine, though, little to correct but with room for improvement that’ll only come with practice.

They row their mile and come back to the dock after a few drills out on the water. Coach Gellman approaches as the boys lift the boat out of the water.

“Good job today,” he says, handing Elio a sheet of paper. “This is a list of what you should work on during early morning practices this week. Once the boat is put away and you’re changed, meet me at the machines for intervals.” The boys all groan in unison as they start trudging up the dock with the boat.

When they’re finally, finally, done with intervals, the boys all grab their things and head out to the parking lot. Oliver expects Elio to follow, but he doesn’t, and Oliver stops in his tracks. “You coming?”

“Oh, shit, sorry. Totally forgot. My parents actually picking me up.”

Oliver looks around but doesn’t see the Perlman’s station wagon. “You sure?”


“Bye!” Sean calls as he climbs into Peter’s car with Noah. Both Elio and Oliver wave them off.

“Do you want me to wait with you?”

Elio wrinkles his nose and shakes his head. “Nah, it’s alright, man.”

“You sure? I don’t mind.”

“Positive,” Elio says again. They’re quiet, just staring at each other until Elio looks down and clears his throat.

“Right, well. I’ll pick you up for practice tomorrow morning, right?”

“Yes, definitely. Thanks.”

“Sure. See you then.”

“Yep. Later.” Oliver heads over to his car, and as he pulls out onto the main road, he sees Elio’s parents pulling into the lot. At least Elio wasn’t lying to him.

Monday's and Tuesday’s practices are much of the same. Elio and Oliver exchange pleasantries but otherwise barely talk on land. Out on the water, they are rowing well, but Oliver still feels a tension between them. They haven't rowed like they did before the kiss, and Oliver is afraid he's fucked up big time.

At school, they speak only briefly about assignments and Oliver guesses their cordiality extends to the classroom too. Their car rides are probably the worst. They utter hellos and goodbyes but are otherwise quiet during the drives. The fifteen minutes between Elio's house and the boathouse used to fly by but now, for Oliver, they drag on in a painful stretch of silence.

On Wednesday morning, Oliver wakes up at a luxurious 8 am, breathing a sigh of relief as he turns off his alarm. Wednesdays are their off days now that the girls' team has finalized their practice schedule. No early morning practice, no afternoon practice. One beautiful, blissful day of free time. Oh, and school. He groans as he forces himself out of bed and into his school clothes. Since he doesn’t have morning practice, he’s able to drive Adam to school as well, and Oliver is happy to have some time alone with his brother.

“I feel like I haven’t seen you in forever.”

“Yeah, well Speech and Debate is picking up. Our first competition is on Saturday.”

“Damn, already?”

“Yep.” Adam hisses as he takes a sip of tea from his to-go mug. “Camila always makes it too hot.”

Oliver almost suggests Adam make his own tea, but he bites his tongue. “You gonna be around for HoC this year?”

“Dunno. I have an away tournament at Yale. I think Dad said he was gonna take me.”

Oliver raises his brows. “So dad’s gonna miss HoC? Why doesn’t mom take you?”

“Dad said he wants to talk to someone there about interviewing you or something.”

Oliver groans and rolls his eyes. “Of course.”

“Crew still going well?”


Adam perks up a bit. “What? Problems with the cox?”

“Kinda. We were doing so well. I don’t know what happened.”

Adam takes another sip of his tea before closing his eyes. Well, I’m sure it’ll work out. You guys always end up doing well.”

When Oliver walks into his Art of the State class, Elio is already there, but so is another kid, Brad or Billy or Ben or something. Oliver sits in his usual seat and takes out his books. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Elio has this small little smile on his face and Oliver is instantly drawn in. He has to grip the sides of his chair so as not the physically lean in as well. “What’re you doing?” Elio has sheet music open in front of him, but he’s not writing, just tapping his pencil on the paper.


“Hm, really?”

Elio looks down at his paper and cocks his head. “Thinking, then.”

Oliver hums. “What about?”


“You’re not gonna tell me?”

“ ‘s private.”

Oliver’s heart is thudding. It’s the longest they’ve talked to each other in what feels like ages. He’s about to respond when their teacher walks in. Elio looks back up at Oliver, that little smile still present, and Oliver’s vision blurs for a second. So much for trying to get back to normal.

The rest of the day passes in a haze. Oliver can’t stop thinking about Elio: that little smile, his voice, his curls, their kiss. When he catches himself thinking about Elio, he feels sick to his stomach and has to force himself to think of other things: his siblings, his homework assignments. But then he spirals into thinking about colleges and he’s sick all over again. It’s a vicious cycle and Oliver contemplates going to the nurse’s office more than a few times.

But Oliver pulls through and he makes it to the end of the day. It’s his final class, English, and Oliver knows he can get through this. When he comes in, Elio is, of course, already there, and he briefly wonders how the kid gets from class to class so fast. It almost looks like Elio is about to say something as Oliver settles in his seat, but then a group of giggling girls comes in and Elio turns back to the book open in front of him.

Oliver spends last period thinking about what he’ll do when he’s home. His parents will be out at some gala for the new wing at the hospital, so Oliver has the entire night to himself, no pressure from his parents about college applications. He’s been binge watching Bob’s Burgers, so he guesses he’ll do a lot of that. And, he supposes, homework. Maybe he can convince Adam and Rachel to order Thai with the money he knows his parents will leave.

The end of the period comes suddenly, and Oliver blinks out of his pad see ew induced daydream. Everyone rushes to pack up and get out of class, but it takes Oliver a second to get with the program and pack up as well. “So I’ll see you tomorrow morning,” Oliver says as he stands. Elio is still packing, ever so slowly putting his stuff in his bag.

“Yep. Tomorrow.”

“Cool. Well...later, man.” Oliver slings his bag over his shoulder and heads out to the parking lot.

It’s only a few minutes later when Oliver hears someone running up behind him. “Oliver!”

He spins on his heel to find Elio behind him, panting, clearly having chased Oliver out to the parking lot. “Uh, hey.”

“This is…” Elio thrusts a small white envelope towards Oliver. “For you. Yeah.”

Oliver takes the envelope. It’s thin and hard and he realizes it must be a CD. “Um...thanks?”

“No problem.” Elio looks over Oliver’s shoulder and visibly breathes a sigh of relief. “That’s my mom. Gotta go.” Elio is running off without another word, leaving Oliver dumbstruck in the middle of the parking lot.

When Oliver gets home, he puts the envelope from Elio on his desk. He can’t bring himself to open it right away. He needs a bit of time to decompress. So, he orders a fuck ton of Thai and hopes that his siblings won’t mind. They all watch Bob’s Burgers together for hours as they pick from their takeout containers.

A few hours later, they all go their separate ways to work on homework. Oliver tries to, at least, sitting at his desk with his books open but with nothing written or highlighted. The white envelope is taunting him from the other end of his desk, and Oliver ends up looking at it more than he does his history book. Finally, around ten, he cuts his losses and closes his textbooks.

“Ah, fuck it.” He grabs his Walkman and the envelope and flops onto his bed. He smiles as he opens the envelope. Only Elio would make him a mixtape on a CD, probably so he could keep it in his car. There’s a note inside the envelope and Oliver reads it as he fumbles with his Walkman.

Can’t stand the silence. Need to speak with you.

Oliver rolls his eyes, but it’s fond. Elio and his dramatics. The CD itself has “Oliver Weiss Mix” written across the front in Elio’s scrawl and he sticks it in his Walkman. He secures his headphones over his ears and makes himself comfortable before pressing play.

The first song is Billy Squire’s “The Stroke.” Oliver squirms a little, not missing the double meaning. The song is incredibly sexual, and he can’t help but think about stroking in terms of Elio, and not in terms of crew. John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” is up next and then the Eagles’ “Take It Easy.” Oliver has a huge grin on his face the entire time; this CD will fit nicely in his car’s rotation. When the first guitar riff of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” blasts over his headphones, Oliver actually laughs. There’s his dramatic Elio again.

But Elio isn’t his, is he?

Unless this CD is some sort of love note.

He thinks this over as he listens to the CD. Some of the songs are slower (Elton John’s “Love Song”) and some are more upbeat (Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young), but Oliver absolutely loves every single selection. The mix is well curated, right down to the very last song, which happens to be “Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison.

It takes Oliver a second to realize that was the last song, and he sits there in silence for a few minutes.

Can’t stand the silence. Need to speak with you.

Oliver jumps up and grabs his phone. It’s nearing midnight and he hopes Elio is still awake.

Oliver Weiss, 11:43 pm

Elio Perlman, 11:44 pm
did you listen?
to the CD i mean

Oliver Weiss, 11:45 pm
I did.

Are you
Can we talk?

Elio Perlman, 11:45 pm

Oliver Weiss, 11:46 pm
I can be at your place in 15.

Elio Perlman, 11:46 pm
see you at midnight

Oliver scrambles out of bed to get dressed. First, he puts his jeans on backward. Then he trips as he tries to put them on the right way. Fuck . He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before trying again. He finally manages to dress and he grabs his keys, the CD, and his phone. He makes a quick stop at Adam’s room on the way down.

“I need to go pick something up from Noah’s house.” The lie comes easily, which doesn’t concern Oliver as much as it probably should. “You guys are okay here, right?”

Adam sighs and looks up at his brother, arms folded over his chest. “Dude, are you serious? I’m a sophomore. I can look after Rachel in our own home.”

“I don’t know when Mom and Dad’ll be home, so just text or call if you need anything.”

“Dude. I’m fine. We’re fine.”

“Alright. Cool.” Oliver runs a hand through his hair and stealthily checks himself out in Adam’s mirror.

“Are you meeting a girl or Noah?”

“Noah,” Oliver shoots back immediately.

“Then stop primping and just go. You’re distracting me from my homework.”

Oliver all but leaps down the stairs and into his car. He shoves the CD into the player before taking off. By now he has the route to Elio’s house memorized, and he’s there just a few minutes after midnight. He turns down Elio’s street and wonders what he’s going to do. Surely the Perlmans are asleep. What, is he going to throw rocks at Elio’s window? Oliver cuts the engine when he pulls up and he’s glad to see Elio is sitting on the stoop, his usual waiting spot. Oliver gets out of his car and walks towards the house. Elio is up in a second, striding towards him.

They meet halfway, now just standing a few inches apart, equidistant from Elio’s house and Oliver’s car.

“You shouldn’t be outside,” Oliver says. “It’s starting to get cold.”

“ ‘m fine,” Elio murmurs, looking up at Oliver with those big, green doe eyes. Oliver’s breath catches in his throat and he wonders if he’ll need CPR if Elio keeps looking at him like that. “I’m glad you came. I was afraid you’d changed your mind.”

“Change my mind?” Oliver shakes his head. “Of course I was coming. Especially after that CD.”

Elio shifts and looks down at the ground then, and Oliver immediately misses those eyes on him. “I’m nervous.” Elio’s words are just a soft whisper and all Oliver wants to do is wrap his arms around Elio and protect him.

“Me too.”

Elio looks up at Oliver again. “Really?”

“Yes, really.” Oliver puts his hand on Elio’s hip and prays to God he hasn’t misread the situation. “This okay?”

“This okay.”

Oliver laughs at Elio’s playful tone and he steps just a little closer. They’re not flush together, not yet, but they’re close enough that Elio has to tip his head back a little to keep his eyes on Oliver. Oliver cups the back of Elio’s head, his fingers sliding into those curls. Elio’s hair is just as soft and silky as Oliver remembers from their first kiss, and he never wants to let go. “We haven’t talked about this.”


“Can I kiss you?”

“Yes, please.” Elio’s words come out with a rush of air, and as soon as he gives permission, Oliver is closing the gap between them. The kiss is chaste and pure, both of them standing stock still for a moment before Oliver ever so gently brushes his tongue along Elio’s bottom lip. That’s when Elio sags into him, and Oliver has his arms full of lanky teenage boy. He doesn’t want it any other way, though. They stay like that for a few minutes, their lips moving in tandem. Elio makes a tiny little noise and Oliver draws him closer, desperate to eke out more sounds.

When Oliver finally pulls back, they’re both breathless and wrapped up around one another. Elio laughs and Oliver joins in, pushing his forehead against Elio’s.

“I didn’t think that would happen,” Elio admits. “I thought you hated it. The CD. I thought you hated me.”

“I don’t,” Oliver says quickly, a knot forming in his stomach at Elio’s words. “I don’t hate you at all. In fact, I like you.”

Elio pecks Oliver’s lips. “Why didn’t you give me a sign?” Oliver kisses Elio too, just because he can.

“I did!” Oliver says, aghast.

“What! When?”

“Remember when we were at the boathouse?” Oliver drops his hand from Elio’s hair to his shoulder and squeezes, just like he did a few weeks ago. “And I touched you just to show you that I liked you? The way you reacted made me feel like I burned you.”

“ ‘m sorry,” Elio breathes, his eyes slipping closed as Oliver massages his shoulder. “Sorry.”

Oliver just hums and kisses Elio again, right at his jaw, before stepping back a little. The light breeze jostles him a bit, reminding him that they’re outside, out in the open. It’s midnight, and the surrounding houses are dark, but he doesn’t know who might be watching. He still holds onto Elio, hands at his hips with Elio’s around Oliver’s neck.

“Elio, I -” He clears his throat and blinks up at the dark sky, trying to get his words in order. He’s never done this with a guy before. “I was wondering if you…” He sighs and drops his head so he can look at Elio again. “Will you be my boyfriend?” The word feels funny on Oliver’s tongue, and he knows this relationship will be different than any others. He’s not out, only his boat know his interest in men. But he wants this. He wants Elio and everything that comes with being in a relationship.

“Sap,” Elio accuses, reaching up to tug at Oliver’s hair. “Yes, I’ll be your boyfriend.”

A laugh bubbles up out of Oliver, and he has to hide his face in Elio’s neck to quiet himself. He kisses the skin there, all soft and warm, and Elio even tilts his head to the side a bit. “I’ll have to take you on a proper first date, then,” Oliver says when he pulls back. “What about Saturday? We can go to that farmer's market you like.”

“That…” Elio trails off and nods. “That sounds good. Can we maybe come back here after?” Oliver is about to say something about Elio’s parents, about keeping their relationship under wraps for a bit, but Elio continues. “My parents are going to be in Boston all day Saturday.” Elio’s cheeks flush bright pink. “I mean, we don’t - It’s not like we have to do anything, you know? But just to like, be alone and -”

Oliver leans in and cuts Elio off with a swift kiss. “We can come back here after.” Oliver squeezes Elio’s waist, reluctant to let go. But he knows he has to, otherwise, they’d probably spend all night on the Perlman’s front lawn. “I’m still picking you up for practice tomorrow morning, right? Usual time?”

“I’ll be here.” Elio kisses Oliver’s cheek and actually giggles. Oliver decides it’s the cutest thing he’s ever heard. “Sorry.”

“No need to apologize.” Oliver kisses Elio’s cheek in return. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Right. Tomorrow.” Elio sounds a bit dazed and Oliver laughs.

“You alright if I let go?”

“Hmm? Oh. Yeah, I think so.”

Oliver steps back but stays close just in case the wind topples Elio over. “See you tomorrow, Elio.”

“Text me when you get home?”

“I will. Goodnight.”


Elio only heads back into his house when Oliver pulls away, and Oliver watches in his rearview mirror to make sure he gets in okay before driving off. Oliver rolls down the windows and turns up the volume on Elio’s CD. He’s so giddy he’s lightheaded, and he sings along to the mix, belting out all of his nervous energy.

He comes home to a few missed texts from Elio. Luckily, his parents aren’t home yet so he has time to wander around the living room in aimless circles as he grins down at his phone like an idiot.

Elio Perlman, 12:21 am
let me know when you’re home
thank you for coming
did tonight really happen or am i dreaming?

Oliver Weiss, 12:38 am
If you’re dreaming, then so am I
And I never wanna wake up

Elio Perlman, 12:38 am
i like kissing you

Oliver Weiss, 12:39 am
I like kissing you too

Elio Perlman, 12:40 am
now that we’re boyfriends, we can kiss all the time right??

Oliver Weiss, 12:40 am
Yes, Elio. We can kiss all the time.

Elio Perlman, 12:41 am
i need to sleep
i don’t know if i CAN sleep, after that
but i should try
i’ll see you tomorrow AM

Oliver Weiss, 12:42 am
Night, Elio
Later :)

Oliver chugs some orange juice straight from the carton before heading upstairs. He’s still thinking about their kisses, about how he has a boyfriend now, and he can’t keep the huge smile off his face.

“You get what you needed?”

“Huh?” Oliver stops dead in his tracks when Adam pops his head around his doorframe. What kind of question was that? Did Adam somehow know he went to Elio’s?

“From Noah. Your book or assignment or whatever.”

“Oh! Oh, yeah. I did. Everything cool here?”

“Yeah, Rachel went to bed a couple minutes ago.”

“Cool. Well, see you tomorrow?”

“Sure.” Adam squints at Oliver and Oliver raises his brows. “You okay, dude? You seem out of sorts.”

“I’m good.” Oliver laughs, he can’t help it. He has a boyfriend, and that boyfriend is Elio Perlman. “I’m really fucking good.”

Chapter Text

Oliver doesn’t know how he manages it, but he actually gets to bed at a semi-reasonable time. His late-night meeting with Elio means he only gets about six hours of sleep, but he barely notices his exhaustion when he wakes up on Thursday morning. He forgoes coffee and even breakfast, instead shoving an orange and some granola bars into his backpack. He’s far too nervous to eat before he sees Elio. What if he shows up and Elio has changed his mind? What if he doesn’t want to date Oliver? What if he regrets their kiss?

Oliver has to shake his head and pinch the bridge of his nose to keep his headache at bay. It’s all going to be fine. This is, at least, what he keeps telling himself as he gets into his car and drives over to Elio’s place where Elio is waiting outside on the stoop. It’s starting to get cold, and Oliver sighs as Elio brings in a rush of cool air when he opens the car door.

“You should wait inside,” Oliver says before he can help himself. “You’re gonna get sick.”

Elio rolls his eyes as he tosses his bag over his shoulder into the backseat. “I’m fine. Really.” He settles in the passenger seat and then looks over at Oliver, all wide eyes and windswept curls. Oliver’s breath hitches in his throat. “You ready to go?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. Right.” Oliver puts the car in drive and pulls away from the curb. He drums his fingers on the steering wheel and glances at Elio as they drive. His stomach is in knots and he hates that he can’t figure out a way to make conversation.

“Hey,” Elio finally says. They’re about ten minutes from the boathouse and Oliver looks over at him. “Can we pull over for a second?”

“Uh, sure.” Oliver does so hesitantly. What’s Elio’s gameplan here? Is he about to leap out of the car, never to speak to Oliver again? As soon as he pulls over and puts the car in park, Elio is unbuckling his seatbelt. Shit, Oliver’s fears are confirmed. Elio’s about to tell him how much he hates him and he’s going to leave and -

Elio leans across the console and kisses Oliver. It’s just a soft peck, and as Elio pulls away, Oliver is immediately following, trying to capture Elio’s lips again. Elio giggles and lets Oliver kiss him. Soon enough, they’re both relaxed and at ease, still leaning over the console to rest their foreheads and noses together.

“You’re freezing,” Oliver says, brushing his fingers along Elio’s cheek. It’s the first thing that comes to mind and they both laugh.

“I’ll wait inside when it starts snowing.”

“You better.” Oliver kisses the corner of Elio’s mouth before pulling back, and he’s happy to see that Elio looks just as wrecked as Oliver feels. “So we’re okay, right?”

“Of course we are.” Elio sits back in his seat and refastens his seatbelt. “C’mon, we’re gonna be late for practice.”

Before pulling onto the road again, Oliver reaches over to turn up the heat, making sure the vents are directed towards Elio.

The guys are all already there when Elio and Oliver arrive at the boathouse, and Elio is immediately swept into conversation by Sean and Noah who are arguing about whether Parks and Rec is better than The Office and they’re desperate for Elio’s input.

Oliver smiles as he busies himself at his locker, thinking back on Elio’s soft kisses in the car. He wishes they could ditch school and just be together. Talk and get to know one another and kiss some more.

“Hey.” Peter knocks his shoulder against Oliver’s and Oliver is startled out of his daydream.

“Hey.” Oliver’s face hurts from smiling and he desperately tries to school his features.

“No one should be that happy this early.”

Oliver shrugs and fumbles with a few things in his locker. “It’s almost the weekend.”

Peter raises a brow and shuts his locker. “What have you gotten up to, Weiss?”


“I don’t buy it,” Peter shoots right back. Oliver glances over his shoulder to find that Noah, Sean, and Elio are still deep in conversation. “Oh, shit. Did something happen with Elio?”

“Shut up,” Oliver hisses, whipping around and slapping Peter’s arm.

“Oh my god, tell me everything now .”

Oliver crosses his arms over his chest and huffs. He really hadn’t planned on telling anyone about this yet, and he and Elio haven’t yet discussed the topic of telling their friends. “Nothing happened. Really.”

“You'd tell though, right?”

“I would.” Oliver makes a mental note to talk with Elio about how private they're keeping their relationship, but for now, he wants it to remain just between the two of them. Their little secret.

“Come on boys,” Coach Gellman calls, interrupting all talk of Michael Scott versus Ron Swanson. “The boat isn't going to row itself.” He isn't normally at morning practices, but after canceling an afternoon practice that week, he wanted to be there to see their progress.

The boys hop to it and they scramble to get the boat down and onto the dock. Oliver takes in a deep breath as they head out, his stomach fluttering with excitement. The weather is absolutely perfect: cool air, warm sunshine, just a slight breeze off the water that is otherwise still. An ideal morning for rowing.

Once they all settle in the boat and push off the dock, Elio switches on his cox box. “Alright, we're doing a mile and a half this morning. I want a clean turn around at the marker. Three, watch your timing. All Four, ready to row.” They release their oars and Oliver sits up a bit straighter. “Row!”

There's barely any lag as they take off, and Oliver can already tell that this will be one of their best rows yet. He looks up at Elio who is absolutely beaming and he smiles back, happy with their progress on the water.

Elio calls for a few corrections as they go along, mostly at Oliver's discretion. It seems that their nonverbal communication is back at full force and, before Oliver knows it, they're at the marker to turn around. “Port to hold, starboard to row. Ready to row. Row!” The turn is clean and Elio doesn't call for any sort of correction. “Power thirty in two. One! Two!”

Oliver grunts as he picks up his pace and he can feel the boat speed up as they glide over the water. He watches Elio, studying him as they move. Elio seems to take on a whole different personality when he’s coxing. Oliver can’t see his eyes behind his sunglasses, but he can see the slight furrow of concentration between Elio’s brows. There’s a light sheen of sweat over his neck and Oliver lets his eyes wander down to Elio’s thin little legs, clad in a tight pair of sweats. Oliver shifts a little in his seat and swallows hard.

He feels a bit of lag from the back and he looks up at Elio.

“Three, adjust pace! One! Two! One! Two! Stroke, perfect timing, that's it.”

Oliver nearly chokes. Elio coxing and encouraging him like that shouldn’t be as much of a turn on as it is. But Elio’s voice is loud and commanding, he’s the entire reason their boat is flying across the water. Yet he still maintains the boyish softness that makes Oliver want to wrap him up and kiss him senseless. Elio pushes his sleeves up his arms and Oliver suddenly has a desperate desire to lick a stripe up those perfectly pale arms. His cock pulses in the confines of his rowing uni and he tries to think of anything else because that spandex is not forgiving in the slightest.

“All Four, let it run!” At Elio’s directive, Oliver makes an inadvertent little sound. There’s a bit of lag, as if someone is still rowing while the rest of them have their oars up. Elio looks down at him and raises his brows. “Stroke, let it run!”

“Right, sorry.” Oliver lifts his oars off the water and locks them into the boat.

Coach Gellman is waiting for them at the dock as they bring the boat up alongside it. “Amazing job, boys. Fastest yet. Elio, let's go over numbers while the boys put away the boat.”

They all hop out of the water, everyone hooting and hollering over crushing their timing. Oliver stands in front of Elio, just barely holding himself back from reaching out and giving Elio a congratulatory kiss. Elio shoves his sunglasses up onto his head, his sweat-dampened curls pushed back off his forehead. They stand there and stare at one another, something thrumming between them, and Oliver has to ball his hands into fists to keep them to himself.

By the time the boat is away, Elio is all showered and packed up, reading a book on the sofa.

“Totally not fair,” Sean grumbles as he pulls down the top half of his uni. “You get to sit here while we do manual labor.”

“Hey, don't be a dick,” Peter says before Oliver has a chance to.

“That's why I'm a cox,” Elio says easily, not looking up from his book. “All the power and I barely have to do anything.”

That day at school, Elio and Oliver are practically attached at the hip. They attend their first three classes together and then, without prompting, Oliver walks Elio to his French class.

“Are you walking me to class, Mr. Weiss?” Elio teases, looking up at Oliver from under his lashes.

Oliver scoffs and shakes his head. “Uh, no?”

“Mhm, sure. But you do know your Brit Lit class is in the other direction, right?”

“Maybe.” They stop outside of Elio's classroom and Oliver leans against the door jamb. “I'll see you in Calc, right?”

“God your such a sap,” Elio accuses, but he's smiling and it makes Oliver's heart flutter.

“Fuck off, Perlman,” he tries, but he's smiling too hard for it to sound mean. He desperately wants to lean in and kiss Elio, but he knows he can't while they're at school.

“See you later, Oliver.”

“Later!” Oliver calls as Elio heads into his classroom.

During their last period, Oliver glances over to find Elio doodling on the edge of his paper. Oliver smiles, leaning over a bit to get a better look at the little sketches of pears and apples and peaches. Oliver rips out a small piece of paper from his notebook and writes a quick note which he sets on the table between them.


Getting ready for the farmers market?


Oliver watches as Elio reads his note, smiles, and then writes back.


yep. drawing out my list.

Lots of fruit. We gonna bake a pie or something on Saturday?

if you want to. it IS one of my favorite hobbies.

Somehow I'm not surprised. You're a never-ending mystery.



Oliver doesn't answer that last note, just folds up the paper and sticks it in his backpack, making sure not to crumple it too much.

After class ends, they walk to their lockers and then to Oliver’s car together. “Hey, why don’t -” Before he can finish, Sean and Noah come barreling toward them.

“We gotta hitch a ride with you, Ol.”

“What about Peter?” he asks, trying to hold back his agitation. He was really hoping for some time alone in the car with Elio.

“He left without us. We kinda got into a fight this morning.”

Oliver sighs and rolls his eyes. “You two need to quit fighting over girls. It’s pathetic.”

“Just because you don’t have anyone to fight over boys with doesn’t mean -” Sean is quickly shut up with a jab to his ribs from Noah, who is looking wildly between Elio and Oliver.

“It’s cool,” Oliver says with a shrug, “Elio knows I’m into guys too.”

They all pile into Oliver’s car, Elio in the front and Noah and Sean in the back. “What about you, Elio?” Noah asks, leaning over the console as Oliver starts the car. “You got a girl back in Italy?”

“No,” Elio answers, looking over his shoulder after buckling his seatbelt. “I was seeing this girl Marzia for a while.” Oliver visibly bristles and he glances over at Elio who is wearing the slyest grin. “But it didn’t really work out,” he says finally. “We’re better off as friends. Her friend Chiara on the other hand...she’s gorgeous .”

“Damn, I need to go to Italy,” Noah sighs as he sits back in his seat.

“Yeah, in your dreams, fuckface,” Sean pipes in. “Not a single girl would give you a second glance.”

“Actually, American guys do quite well for themselves over there. My dad hosts an American graduate student over the summer holidays and they seem to have luck whenever we go out to clubs or bars.”

“Is it always a guy who comes?” Oliver asks before he can bite back the question. He just hopes his jealousy isn’t evident. An older man in the Perlman home during the Italian summer? Sounds like a recipe for a wild romance.

“Usually. Seems like it’s mostly guys who are into ancient philosophy and Italian ruins.”

After that, Noah and Sean take turns asking Elio more questions about Italy and about his dad’s work and soon enough, Oliver pulls into his usual spot at the boathouse.

“You better quit yelling at them,” Oliver grumbles as he stalks past Peter. “I don’t want them in my car anymore.”

“Geez, sorry, Ol.”

“It’s fine.”

But Oliver’s bad mood persists. He’d wanted some time alone, just him and Elio, and so far it seems that his car is the only place for that. And Noah and Sean had to come and break their little bubble with their never-ending stream of questions. During practice that afternoon, they run intervals and then head over to the machines for some weight training. Oliver works out silently while the rest of the guys chat and fool around a bit. His silence isn’t broken until after they all shower and head out to the parking lot.

“You okay?” Peter asks quietly. Elio is walking between Noah and Sean who are asking him more questions about Italy.

“Fine. Just tired, I think.”

“Almost the weekend, buddy,” he says, clapping his hand on Oliver’s shoulder and squeezing. “I promise I’ll take those two from now on. Sorry you got stuck with them today.”

“It’s fine,” Oliver says, looking up to find Elio waiting at his car. He claps Peter on the shoulder before veering off and unlocking the car for Elio. “I was thinking,” he says once they’re both settled, “we could like, officially carpool? Even when we don’t have practice. I can bring you home from school.”

“Are you - You don’t have to,” Elio says, shifting a little in his seat. “My mom’s happy to drive me.”

“I mean, you’ll have to deal with my brother when he doesn’t have Speech and Debate, but he’s an okay kid.”

“Are you sure?”

“Wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t.”

They spend the rest of the ride chatting about anything that comes to mind, and the fifteen-minute drive is over way too fast.

“So I’ll pick you up for practice tomorrow and drive you home from school in the afternoon,” Oliver says, watching as Elio unbuckles his seatbelt.

“Yep.” Elio leans over and kisses Oliver’s cheek, just a quick little peck that has Oliver pouting and wanting more.

Before Elio can get out, Oliver grabs his wrist, leans in, and kisses Elio, right there in front of his house in broad daylight. It’s thrilling and he shivers as Elio licks over his bottom lip. Before he can delve in for more, Elio is pulling back. “Such a tease,” Oliver breathes as Elio reaches into the backseat for his backpack.

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Oliver,” he says as he jumps out of the car.

Oliver waits until Elio is inside before driving off, pressing play on the CD in the drive, the one that Elio had made for him. He can’t help but smile the entire way home, and he flings himself onto his bed once he’s in the house.


Oliver Weiss, 7:15 pm

Elio Perlman, 7:16 pm
hi :)

Oliver Weiss, 7:16 pm
What’re you up to?

Elio Perlman, 7:17 pm
just finished dinner with my family, attempting to work on homework

Oliver Weiss, 7:18 pm
I should go find something for dinner…

Elio Perlman, 7:18 pm
you guys don’t all eat together?

Oliver Weiss, 7:19 pm
Not really. We’re all pretty busy with our own shit


Elio doesn’t answer, so Oliver tosses his phone onto his bedside table and trudges downstairs to scrounge something up for dinner. He ends up standing in the open fridge, picking at cold leftovers before going back upstairs. Oliver works on homework for a bit, but he can’t really concentrate, too busy thinking about kissing Elio. He leaps up to grab his phone, quickly tapping out a message.


Oliver Weiss, 8:38 pm
hey, can you be ready at around 5 tomorrow morning?

Elio Perlman, 8:38 pm
that’s FORTY FIVE minutes early!!!

Oliver Weiss, 8:39 pm
It’ll be worth it, promise

Elio Perlman, 8:39 pm
only come with coffee

Oliver Weiss, 8:40 pm
Milk and sugar?

Elio Perlman, 8:41 pm
yes, please. guess i need to go to bed now since i have to be up at the ass crack of dawn

Oliver Weiss, 8:41 pm
Goodnight, Elio :)


The next morning, Oliver gets up at a sharp 4:30 and scampers downstairs to make coffee for him and Elio. He’s at Elio’s house by five to five, and Elio is already waiting outside.

“Coffee,” Elio grumbles, slumping into his seat. Oliver laughs and hands him the thermos, watching as Elio takes a grateful sip. “What have you got up your sleeve, Oliver?” Elio asks as they drive. He keeps his eyes closed, taking an occasional drink from his thermos.

“You’ll see.” The rest of the ride to the boathouse is quiet and Oliver breathes a sigh of relief when they pull in to a totally empty lot. They hop out of the car and Oliver takes Elio’s hand as they walk over to the boathouse, and Oliver doesn’t miss Elio’s sharp intake of breath. Instead of unlocking the door, Oliver tugs Elio around to the back and Elio makes a disgruntled little sound.

“Aren’t we going inside?”

“Nope.” Oliver leads Elio to the dock and plops down, his feet dangling over the edge, feet hovering a good foot above the water. “Well,” he says, looking up at Elio, “come on.”

Elio sits down as well and moves close to Oliver. “Why are we here so early? It’s still dark and freezing cold.”

Oliver takes off his scarf and loops it around Elio’s neck. “For this.” He pulls Elio in by the scarf and kisses him, his heart soaring when he feels Elio smile against his lips. Oliver slides his fingers into Elio’s hair and tugs just a little as Elio licks into Oliver’s mouth. The kiss is sweet, albeit a little messy, but Oliver thinks it’s perfect.

They kiss for a bit until Elio pulls back a little, squinting against the sun now peeking up over the water. “Oliver,” he breathes, blinking a few times.

“We came here for that, too.” Oliver turns away from Elio to watch the sunrise as well, and he smiles when Elio rests against him. They snuggle up together on the dock, watching as the sun creeps over the horizon.

“So is this our first date, then?” Elio asks.

“I suppose it is.” Oliver turns around again, and his chest tightens. How is it that he’s so enamored with Elio already? They’ve only just met, only just started dating, but Oliver already feels so comfortable. He can really be himself with Elio, and he feels that he’s opening up more and more every moment they spend together.

“Well, we’re still gonna go out tomorrow, right?” Elio asks, a sudden panic in his voice.

Oliver laughs and kisses the tip of Elio’s nose. “Of course we are.” Elio smiles which makes Oliver’s heart soar. “We should probably get inside.” He’s unable to hide his disappointment, and neither is Elio, who frowns. Oliver kisses him again before standing and helping Elio up as well.

Friday flies by and Elio sticks next to Oliver after last period. “So you can still give me a ride home, right? My mom can totally come if not, no problem.”

Oliver laughs and knocks his shoulder against Elio’s. “Of course I can. You’ll have to deal with my brother today, hope you don’t mind.”

“Nah, it’s cool. He’s a sophomore, right?”

“Yep. He’s a good kid. A bit of a dork, but we love him anyway.”

Elio laughs and shakes his head and Oliver is desperate to get his fingers into those curls again. “I’d venture to say you’re the dorkiest of all the Weisses.”

“Hey! Don’t be a brat.”

Adam is waiting at the car already by the time they get there and Oliver makes quick introductions before relegating Adam to the backseat. Oliver is quiet for the ride to Elio’s. Adam and Elio talk the entire way and Oliver is slightly shocked at how well they get on.

“So I’ll see you uh...around,” Elio says as they pull up to his place, just barely catching himself. “Nice to meet you, Adam!”

“Bye, Elio!” As soon as Elio is in the house and Oliver is pulling away, Adam is leaning over the console. “Dude, he’s the nicest of all your friends.”

“Gee, thanks.” Oliver rolls his eyes, but there’s an inward burst of happiness.

“He’s so cool . Could you imagine living in Italy?”

“Yeah, I guess it’s pretty awesome.” What Oliver doesn’t admit is that he has Google imaged Crema and has even daydreamed of visiting with Elio.

He can barely sleep that night, even after a huge dinner of pizza and an ice cream sundae. He twists and turns under the sheets, stomach flip-flopping as well, both nervous and excited for his date with Elio.

He arrives at Elio’s house at their decided time of 10 am and, of course, Elio is waiting outside. He bounds over to Oliver’s car and leaps in, a flurry of fireworks. “Hi!” He kisses Oliver’s cheek before buckling in. “You know the way?”

“I do,” Oliver chuckles. He reaches out to take Elio’s hand as he drives and Elio squeezes his fingers in response. They’re quiet, and Oliver hopes that doesn’t last the whole day. It’s the first time they’re really hanging out outside of school or practice and to say Oliver is nervous is an understatement.

Oliver parks and looks over to Elio. “I’ve never been here,” he says, “so you’ll have to show me your favorite stands.”

“Well,” Elio starts as he jumps out of the car. Oliver gets out as well and has to jog to catch up with Elio who is already off toward the market. “There’s this Amish family who has great fruit. And this little old couple who bakes the best cinnamon buns I’ve ever had in my life. Oh! And we’ll have to get hot cider from this stand in the back.”

“Lead the way,” Oliver says, gesturing in front of him. The farmers market seems to open Elio up and Oliver finds he loves watching him. First, they stop and get hot cider and cinnamon buns, which they eat as they walk around the other stands. Elio talks to every stand owner, turning to Oliver as they walk away to whisper about everyone’s wares. They end up with a few bags of fruits and vegetables, a few jars of jams, Elio’s favorite selections of cheeses, and a bouquet of flowers for Elio’s mom.

Elio’s chatting doesn’t stop, and he tells Oliver all about his classical piano training, his favorite books and movies, summers in Italy, just anything that comes to mind, and Oliver listens carefully, making sure to take mental notes. They pull into Elio’s driveway and head in to put away their purchases from the market.

They work in tandem in the kitchen, Oliver setting up a little cheese plate for them as Elio puts away everything else. It’s a little slice of domestic bliss, and Oliver finds himself getting far too comfortable.

“Come on,” Elio says, taking Oliver’s hand and tugging him toward the living room. They settle on the couch together and pick at their snack as Elio flips through the TV. He ends up putting on the Food Network and then turns to face Oliver on the couch. “So,” he says, playing with his hands in his lap.

Oliver turns a bit as well, bringing his knee up onto the couch. “So.”

Elio looks up from under his lashes and Oliver immediately leans in for a kiss which has Elio surging forward. There’s a bit of knocking of teeth and bumping of noses and they both laugh into the kiss. Oliver has to steady Elio with hands on his slim hips. The kiss is electric and Oliver shivers as he licks into Elio’s mouth. He’s dizzy with it and he gasps as Elio clambers onto his lap.

“Elio,” Oliver whispers, trying to keep him at bay but wanting to pull him closer all at the same time. “Elio, I -”

“I don’t want to do anything else,” Elio says quickly. “Not now. Just this.” He settles on Oliver’s lap and kisses over Oliver’s cheeks. “Just this is perfect.”

“Your parents.”

“They’re in Boston, remember? Besides, they don’t care.” Elio squirms a little on Oliver’s lap and whines. “Can we kiss some more?”

“Wait, wait.” Oliver squeezes Elio’s hips and Elio sits back a little.


“Your parents. They know? About you liking guys?”

Elio nods. “Of course they do.”

A strike of envy flashes through Oliver. “I could never tell my parents.”

Elio frowns. “Why not?”

“They wouldn’t -” Oliver chokes on his words a little and shakes his head. “I don’t think they’d -”

“It’s okay,” Elio says, cutting Oliver off and putting him out of his misery. He has, of course, thought about coming out, but given his parent’s conservative ways, Oliver knows it probably wouldn’t end very well. “We don’t have to talk about that.”

“Thanks,” Oliver whispers. He brings his hands up to Elio’s hair, wrapping his fingers around silky curls. “Can we get back to kissing now?”

“Look who is a horny mess now,” Elio accuses.

“Hey, I never said that’s what you -” Oliver is silenced by Elio’s lips, and he smiles, totally fine with this form of distraction. He’s half hard in his jeans the entire time and he can feel that Elio is too, but he doesn’t make any moves so as not to push Elio. They spend a few hours like that and by the time Elio pulls away, Oliver’s lips feel numb.

“I just need to um...use the bathroom,” Elio says, awkwardly climbing off of Oliver’s lap. Oliver blinks, blatantly staring at the press of Elio’s cock against his jeans and it takes a second for him to look up at Elio. “There’s another one down the hall if you need.” Elio is off in a flash, bounding up the steps to what Oliver assumes is his room.

It takes another minute for Oliver to kick into gear and he makes his way to the bathroom on wobbly legs. For a wild moment, he considers jacking off in the Perlman’s bathroom but he thinks better of it. Instead, he opts for pressing the heel of his palm against his crotch before splashing some cold water on his face and over the back of his neck. When he gets back to the living room, Elio is curled up on the couch again and Oliver has no qualms about joining him.

Oliver ends up staying all day and they oscillate between kissing, talking, and just snuggling on the couch, watching TV. Oliver stiffens when he hears a key in the front door, and he goes to lift his arm from around Elio’s shoulders, but Elio grabs his hand, keeping him just where he is. Professor and Mrs. Perlman walk in a few minutes later and Elio smiles up at his parents. Oliver forces himself to look away from the TV and up at the Perlmans, who are grinning and wrapped up in one another. Oliver can tell his cheeks are bright red and he wants to sink into the couch.

“Oliver! So nice to see you again.”

“Hi, Mrs. P.”

“Did you boys have fun at the market?”

“We did,” Elio answers, looking over at Oliver and then up at his parents again. “We left you flowers in the kitchen, Mamma.”

“Thank you, my tesoro. Oliver, please do stay for dinner.”

“Oh no, Mrs. P., I couldn’t intrude.”

“We insist,” Professor Perlman interjects. “We’ll call you in when it’s done. Come, my love, if I know our son, we have a fridge full of fresh produce.”

Oliver relaxes a little when the Perlmans head into the kitchen and he turns to find Elio stifling his laughter. “What?”



“Nothing! You just…” Elio shrugs and kisses Oliver’s cheek. “They don’t mind, I told you. Plus they love you. My mom hasn’t stopped talking about you since you met. I think she has a bit of a crush.”

Oliver rolls his eyes and takes a few steadying breaths. “As long as you’re sure they don’t mind.”

Elio kisses him by way of answer, and Oliver has felt more at home at the Perlman’s than he’s ever felt at his own home, and Oliver decides he never wants to leave.

Chapter Text

After another fantastic dinner at the Perlman’s, Oliver goes back to his own house. He’s about to head upstairs when he hears his dad call him from his study. Oliver sighs and spins on his heel, walking towards the study instead of his room.

“Oliver, where’d you go? You were out all day.” His dad doesn’t even bother looking up, which actually makes it easier for Oliver to lie.

“I was at Peter’s house and we didn’t realize how late it was. So I just ate dinner there.”

“Ah, good.” His dad finally puts down his paper and looks up. “And how are college applications coming?”

“Very good, Sir. I’m almost done.”

“Make sure you work on them tomorrow.”

“I’ve got crew tomorrow.”

“I know, but not until 10. Wake up a bit early, son. You’ll be happy you put in the effort when you get accepted. Goodnight, Oliver.”


Oliver trudges up to his bedroom with the weight of college applications on his shoulders. He’d been so elated before, felt as if he was walking on clouds. He and Elio kissed goodbye by the front door and, even though Oliver was nervous that the Perlmans would see, Elio totally distracted him, sweeping him up into the kiss.

He stretches out on his bed, belly full of good food, and sighs, staring up at the ceiling. Just thinking about Elio has him in a better mood already and he realizes that Elio is quickly becoming the bright spot in his life. He hums and closes his eyes, lacing his fingers behind his head and relaxing. His mind continues to wander and, of course, his breath hitches when he thinks of kissing Elio on the sofa. Elio’s hips were so small under his hands, his curls smooth as silk, his mouth warm and plush and fuck Oliver is hard in a minute.

He rubs his cock through his jeans, shifting a little to get more comfortable. Elio had been hard when he stood up. Oliver had seen it, felt it, and he wants nothing more than to see Elio without any clothes on and watch him come undone under Oliver’s hands. It’s a flurry of motion as Oliver unbuttons and shoves his jeans down and he sighs as he wraps his fingers around his cock. If he tries hard enough, he can still taste Elio on his lips, even under the lingering taste of Mrs. Perlman’s brownies they’d had for dessert. He imagines Elio with him, straddling his hips again, and Oliver actually finds it quite easy to pretend it’s Elio’s slim fingers around him.

He thrusts his hips up and uses his free hand to push up his shirt so he can tweak one of his nipples. Oliver has to bite his lower lip to keep from making any suspicious sounds, but all he wants to do is call out Elio’s name over and over. Oliver gasps as he cums, shooting over his chest and stomach. He’s breathing hard and he slowly opens his eyes as he comes down. He looks at the mess on his stomach, his chest still heaving as he tries to catch his breath.

Fuck.” He grabs a tee shirt from the floor of his bedroom and cleans off his cum, tossing it aside once he’s done. He grabs his phone with his less sticky hand and smiles when he sees he already has a text from Elio.


Elio Perlman, 8:08 pm
thanks for a great day :) i had a really nice time

Oliver Weiss, 8:59 pm
I did too. And tell your parents thanks again for dinner

Elio Perlman, 9:01 pm
did it take you very long to get home?

Oliver Weiss, 9:01 pm
Nah, been home for a while now

Elio Perlman, 9:02 pm
what have you been up to, weiss


Oliver blushes and has to take a steadying breath.


Oliver Weiss, 9:03 pm
Oh you know, this and that

Elio Perlman, 9:03 pm

Oliver Weiss, 9:03 pm
Get your mind out of the gutter
So I’m picking you up for practice tomorrow morning, right?

Elio Perlman, 9:05 pm
yep. 9:40?

Oliver Weiss, 9:05 pm
Well, I know you HATE getting up early.
But if you want, we can go for breakfast at my favorite diner in town?
I can pick you up at 7.

Elio Perlman, 9:05 pm
ugh oliver you’re killing me
they better have pancakes and they better be good

Oliver Weiss, 9:06 pm

Lol they do, and they are. So I’ll see you tomorrow morning?

Elio Perlman, 9:07 pm

yes, see you then.
thanks again for today, i did have a really good time

Oliver Weiss, 9:07 pm
Me too :) Hope your parents didn’t mind me staying so late


Elio doesn’t answer, so Oliver plugs his phone in and goes off to shower. Once back in his room, he works on his college applications for a bit. His dad is right: he’ll be happy he put in the effort, even if he’s not applying to the schools his dad wants him to apply to. His phone pings a bit later and he laughs when he sees it’s from Elio.


Elio Perlman, 10:04 pm
they didn’t, not at all
they love you, remember?

Oliver Weiss, 10:04 pm

And what have YOU been up to, Perlman?

Elio Perlman, 10:05 pm
oh you know
this and that ;)
goodnight, oliver


Oliver taps out a goodnight and finishes the outline for his NYU essay before putting away his laptop, setting an alarm, and snuggling up beneath his own covers.

At exactly 7 the next morning, Oliver pulls up in front of Elio's house, laughing as Elio pops up from where he’s sitting on the stoop, bounds over to the car, and hops in. He kisses Oliver's cheek quickly before fastening his seatbelt.

“Someone's chipper for not being a morning person.”

“I can be a morning person if the opportunity suits,” Elio says, nose upturned a bit.

Oliver laughs and drops his hand to Elio's thigh as he drives. Elio stiffens for a second but then relaxes, his own hand coming to rest on top of Oliver's.

He takes Elio to Colby's Diner, and Ellen, the little old woman behind the counter, immediately perks up when she sees Oliver. “Usual table?”

“Hey, Ellen. Please, but for two today.” Oliver blushes as Ellen gives Elio a once over, but she smiles as she sets them up at a quiet table in the corner.

“Come here often?”

“Yep, no one from school or home really comes here, so it's a nice escape.”

They look over the menu for a few minutes before their server comes over. Oliver orders eggs and a coffee, Elio pancakes and coffee.

“That may have been a mistake,” Elio says with a grimace. “I forgot we have to work out after this.”

Oliver laughs and tangles his foot with Elio's under the table. “You can change your order.”

“No, no,” Elio says, brushing him off, “I'll be fine. I usually eat a big breakfast before practice anyways.”

“So,” Oliver says, watching carefully as Elio takes a sip from his little cup of orange juice. Elio’s fingers are so long and perfect and Oliver can’t help but remember how they felt against his warm skin.


Oliver laughs and shakes his head. “Sorry, I just…” He shifts a little in his chair and looks out the window so as to avoid Elio’s eyes. “I just can’t stop thinking about yesterday.”

“Me too.” The way Elio’s voice drops a bit has Oliver whipping his head back to look at Elio, who is looking at him, cheeks flushed and eyes darkened but a bit wide.


“Yes, really. I hope I didn’t take things too far or anything.”

Oliver shakes his head and looks around at the surrounding tables, happy to find that the closest person is an older couple who are sitting near the counter, luckily nowhere near Oliver and Elio. “I didn’t really think we’d have this conversation in a diner,” he says with a soft laugh.

Elio bites at his lower lip and Oliver has to physically restrain himself from reaching over and pulling his lip free and soothing it with his thumb. “I’ve never - With anyone - Even a girl - “ Elio stops speaking and shakes his head.

Oliver looks around again before reaching out. He places his own hand on top of Elio’s on the linoleum tabletop and Elio makes to pull away, but Oliver laces their fingers together. “It’s okay, no one we know is here.” Oliver takes a deep breath before continuing. “I haven’t either with anyone. I’ve never even kissed another guy before you. I had a few girlfriends and we fooled around a little, nothing more than a handjob though.” Even though they’re relatively alone, he still keeps his voice low.

“Me neither. With Marzia, that girl in Italy, we did some stuff but nothing,” Elio shakes his head, curls flopping a bit, “not all the way.”

Oliver is about to continue their conversation, but he sees their waiter out of the corner of his eye. Once their food and coffee is set down on the table, Oliver busies himself with adding cream and sugar to his coffee and salt and pepper to his eggs.

“I would like to, you know,” Elio says as he drizzles syrup over his stack of pancakes. “With you. Not yet, I mean.” He sets down the syrup and looks up. They lock eyes over steaming mugs of coffee and they both smile. “When we’re both ready.”

“Exactly what I was thinking. We can just take things slow for now, keep checking in with each other and stuff.”

Elio nods and cuts into his pancakes, taking a big bite dripping with syrup. “Oh fuck,” he says through his mouthful, “those are good.”

Oliver laughs and starts in on his own breakfast. They spend their breakfast just chatting, their conversation light and easy. Time after time, Oliver finds it so easy to talk to Elio, even if it’s just about favorite movies or the weather. He shouldn’t be surprised at this point, but he’s never felt so at ease with anyone, not even Peter or his siblings.

Elio eats every last bite of his pancakes, only offering Oliver a few bites. He attempts to steal a piece of bacon from Oliver’s plate, but Oliver swats his hand away, trading the piece only for another bite of pancake. They have another cup of coffee before their waiter brings along the bill, which Elio and Oliver end up splitting. After paying, they head out to the car and Oliver checks his phone. “We’ve still got some time,” he says as he turns the key. He pulls out onto the road and glances over at Elio.

“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Elio asks, brows raised.

“Pretty sure we’re on the same page.” Oliver, having grown up here his entire life, knows the perfect place. There’s a small park halfway between the diner and the boathouse, and he pulls in and parks in a secluded little spot. “Backseat?” he asks, hoping they’re still on the same page.

Elio is out of the passenger seat and hopping into the back before he answers. Oliver laughs and follows, sliding into the back just as Elio settles in the middle seat. “Hi,” Elio says, tipping his head back against the headrest.

“Hi.” Oliver leans in and kisses over Elio’s neck, which immediately grants him a soft groan. Elio must like that, because as he kisses up and over his jaw, Elio’s hand tangles in Oliver’s hair. Once he’s at Elio's lips, Oliver hovers there for a second before kissing him. Elio’s lips are sticky and he tastes like pancakes and syrup and coffee and Oliver already can’t get enough. He pushes his tongue into Elios mouth, seeking out the already familiar taste of Elio under all the sticky sweetness.

They spend upwards of thirty minutes kissing in the back of Oliver’s car until Oliver’s alarm goes off. They both sigh as Oliver pulls back, but Elio keeps him close with the hand in his hair. “I wish we didn’t have to go,” Elio says, his eyes fluttering open.

Oliver’s breath hitches as he and Elio lock eyes. “I know.” He kisses Elio once more before getting out and moving to the front seat. Elio doesn’t follow and Oliver looks up into the rearview mirror to find Elio still limp in the backseat, smiling softly with his kissed-red lips. “You gonna come up here with me?”

“Mmh, no. ‘m comfy here.”

Oliver chuckles and starts the car. “Alright, suit yourself.”

They’re right on time for practice and as soon as they’re changed into their athletic clothes, Coach Gellman has them heading to the treadmills.

“I want intervals and then we’re gonna hit weights before getting out on the water. Come on boys, get it to it. No slacking. HoC is in less than a month now.”

They get onto the treadmills and Oliver glances over, catching Elio’s grimace as they start walking. “You okay?”

“All good.”

They start slow, warming up their muscles. Peter decides to blast music for all of them from his phone, so he busies himself with the playlist. Noah and Sean start in on the latest episode of Shark Tank, debating the viability of certain products.

“Pick it up!” Coach calls, looking down at his clipboard. “Fast pace, please. Eight minutes.”

They start running and Elio makes a pained little sound. “Hey,” Oliver says, already sweating a bit at his temples, “alright?”

Elio makes a small sound of assent but he looks a bit peaky. He makes it through the first interval, but has to hold onto the handles of the treadmill as they come back down to a walk. All of them are breathing hard and they only have three minutes of rest before they’re running again. Halfway through their second interval, Elio pulls the quick stop pin on his machine and hops off.

“Elio!” Coach calls, but Elio is sprinting off to the restroom.

“Fuck.” Oliver jumps off of his own treadmill and is jogging after Elio.

“Weiss, get back here!”

Oliver ignores Coach Gellman and instead follows Elio into the bathroom. He can hear Elio retching in the last stall and Oliver bursts in, immediately kneeling next to Elio on the tile floor.

“You’re good,” Oliver whispers, pulling Elio’s curls back as he vomits up his breakfast. “That’s it, get it out.” He rubs Elio’s back with his free hand, murmuring all the while until Elio slumps back against him.

“Shouldn’t have had pancakes before working out,” Elio croaks.

Oliver chuckles and leans down to kiss Elio, vomit breath and all. “You feeling better?” he asks, keeping his voice low.

“Just a little nauseous. And thirsty.”

“I’m gonna bring you back home.”

“I’m fine, Oliver,” Elio tries. “Really.”

“No, you just threw up your entire breakfast. We’re not going out on the water after that.”

Elio sighs and concedes, but tells Oliver that he has to be the one to tell Coach Gellman. While Elio rinses out his mouth and washes his face, Oliver jogs off to tell Coach Gellman that Elio isn’t feeling well and that he’s going to take him home. Coach is obviously put out, and he tells Oliver that they'll have to make up for missing practice later this week. Oliver returns to find Elio packed and ready to go.

“Here,” he passes Elio a fresh water bottle and takes both his and Elio’s bags.

“I’m not an invalid, you know,” Elio gripes.

“I know, I know.”

Elio closes his eye on the way back to his house and Oliver spends the drive looking over at him as he drives, watching as the color slowly returns to Elio’s cheeks. The need to take care of Elio was overwhelming. It came so naturally that it scared Oliver a bit. He stops outside of Elio’s house, but he doesn’t stir. Oliver laughs and gentle nudges Elio’s arm.

“Hey. We’re here.”

Elio rubs his eyes and squints out the window at his house. “You’re gonna come in, right?” he asks, turning to Oliver, almost in a panic. “You’re-You’re not gonna go home or anything?”

“Sure,” Oliver says, turning off the car. It’s not like he has anywhere else to be and his parents aren’t expecting him home until after practice. “Are uh...are your parents home?” Oliver asks as they head into the house.

“My mom, I think. She’s been working on some commissions so she’s probably down in her studio.”

Oliver follows Elio into the house and heads towards the living room, but Elio goes straight back towards the staircase. Oliver stops in his tracks, looking at Elio with furrowed brows.

“Well?” Elio asks, turning to look at Oliver over his shoulder. “Aren’t you gonna come up?”

Oliver swallows and nods before kicking into action and following Elio up the stairs. Elio takes his hand on the way, tangling their fingers. Elio leads Oliver to the last door on the right, opening it to reveal a good sized bedroom, complete with the usual furniture found in a rental: bed, desk, dresser, armoire. But Elio has added his own flair. There are posters on the wall, mostly of bands Oliver has never heard of. Nearly every surface is covered in books and there are two gorgeous paintings hanging over Elio’s desk.

“Sorry it’s a little messy.”

“It’s not at all. You should see my room.” Oliver studies the paintings, spying Mrs. Perlman’s signature in the bottom corners. “Where’s this?” One is of a large stone house with green shutters. The other, its twin, is of what Oliver assumes is the back of the same house. There is a little garden and a wrought iron table and chairs. Oliver can almost feel the sunshine and smell the flowers through the paint.

“That’s home,” Elio says, coming up behind Oliver. He wraps his arms around Oliver’s waist and perches his chin on Oliver’s shoulder. “My room is the one at the top. I can see everyone who comes and goes. And that’s where we eat when the weather is nice.”

Oliver leans in, squinting a little as he studies the paintings, as if a little oil-painted Elio will pop up in the window. “It’s beautiful.”

“It is.” Elio sounds a bit sad and Oliver’s heart breaks a little.

He turns in Elios arms, his own coming to wrap around Elio. “Do you miss it?”

“Mmh...yes, but I’m also glad I’m here.”

“I’m glad you’re here too.” Oliver leans down to kiss Elio, but Elio is pulling back just before he can, leaving Oliver to stumble forward a bit.

“I’m just gonna go brush my teeth,” Elio says, walking back towards the door. “I’ll be back. I promise.”

Oliver is left to his own devices for a few minutes and he wanders around Elio’s room, inspecting book spines and little tchotchkes. He turns and walks past the bed, made up with rumpled white sheets, and heads over to the window to check out Elio’s view.

“I get to see who comes and goes here too,” Elio says as he comes back into the room. He shuts the door behind him and comes over to stand next to Oliver by the window. “Sometimes at home, I just sit in front of the window for hours . My parents enjoy hosting in the summer. There’s always a steady stream of company.” Elio spins on his heel, kicking his feet out as he goes to sit on his bed.

Oliver flops down next to him and notes how soft Elio’s sheets are. “You’re feeling better, right?”

Elio laughs and tips to the side so he can rest his head on Oliver’s shoulder. “Much. I’m honestly fine, I probably could’ve stayed at practice.” He tilts his head so he can look up at Oliver. “But I much prefer this.”

Oliver laughs and turns a bit so that he can cup Elio’s jaw. They press their foreheads and noses together, just breathing each other in before the gap is closed and they’re kissing. Oliver isn’t sure who initiates, but his tongue is suddenly in Elio’s mouth, minty freshness flooding his mouth.

“That’s nice,” he whispers when Elio pulls back to take a stuttering breath.

“Better than vomit breath, right?”

“Definitely.” Oliver clears his throat and drops one hand to Elio’s thigh. “Can you - Like yesterday?”

Elio smiles and pushes Oliver a bit so that he’s sitting against the pillows that are propped up against the wall, legs spread out on the bed. Elio clambers up onto his lap, knees on either side of Oliver’s thighs. Oliver hums and rests his hands on Elio’s hips.

“Can we just uh, keep it at kissing?” Oliver asks. He wants to do more, but not yet. He wants to take things slow with Elio, wants to make sure they’re both ready.

“I was gonna ask the same thing.” Elio settles down, their noses bumping a little as they get situated.

Oliver’s stomach swoops and his breath hitches as they get back to kissing. He lets his head thunk back against the wall and Elio giggles against his lips. Just moments later, Oliver is dizzy and he has to break the kiss in an attempt to catch his breath.

“Is it ok we’re in your room?” he asks, still a little breathless, against Elio’s lips. It comes to him suddenly, remembering that Elio’s mom is home.

“Is that seriously what you’re thinking about right now?” Elio asks with a raised brow. He rolls his eyes and ducks his head to kiss Oliver’s jaw. “Yes. It’s okay.” He shifts off of Oliver’s lap and snuggles up next to him, his head on Oliver’s chest. “Mmh, this is nice.”

Oliver wraps his arm around Elio as he settles down against the pillows. “It is.” He watches as Elio closes his eyes and he brings his hand up to soft curls. “Tired?”

“You made me get up so early.”

“Sorry, sorry.”

“It’s okay. It was worth it.”

Oliver smiles so hard his cheeks hurt and he closes his eyes as well. This, a quiet morning with Elio curled up at his side, is definitely worth it.

Chapter Text

“So what is Head of Charles like, exactly?” Elio asks after picking a dumpling off of Oliver’s plate. They’re one week out from the regatta and the boys are taking a much-needed break at Peter’s house. They’ve ordered enough Chinese food to feed a small army and they have Arrested Development playing in the background. Elio is sitting cross-legged on the floor, Oliver next to him.

“The course is three miles long,” Sean says idly as he flicks through his phone.

Elio rolls his eyes and Oliver has to suppress a laugh. “Well, I know that . What’s it really like? What are we gonna do when we’re not rowing?”

“Probably hang out in Cambridge on Friday and Saturday,” Oliver says around a mouthful of his lo mein. He’s lost track of how much food he’s had, but he plans on eating until they have to roll him out. “That’s where we have the most luck with getting into bars without IDs.”

“We usually watch the university races which are after ours on Sunday. Those are always fun.” Peter shifts on the couch and holds his hand out. Oliver responds by putting a dumpling in Peter’s outstretched hand. “And there are a bunch of tailgates that we get invited to because a lot of Exeter alums still go.”

“That uh, sounds fun I guess?”

“It is, we get a bunch of fancy drinks and talk to rich weirdos.”

“Stop being stupid, Noah.”

“You know it’s true, Ollie.”

Oliver laughs and looks over at Elio. “It’s fun, I promise. We all get to share a big hotel room and eat a bunch of junk food.”

“Why do they have to do it in October?” Sean whines as he taps at his phone. “The weather is gonna be shit.”

“You should be used to it by now, dude,” Peter says. “Yeah, you better bring some warm clothes, Elio, it gets cold on the river.”

“Right, so: warm clothes, junk food, and fancy rich people.”

“That’s the overall gist,” Oliver says, knocking his shoulder against Elio’s. “It’s fun. We’re gonna have a good time. Plus, with you on the team, I think we have a good shot at placing at least 10th this year.”

“Gee, no pressure at all,” Elio says, rubbing the back of his neck. His cheeks are flushed a pretty pink and Oliver is seconds away from leaning in and brushing his lips over soft skin he’s come to know so well. They’ve been dating for a little over two weeks now and Elio and Oliver spend almost all of their time together between school, practice, car rides. More often than not, Oliver finds himself at Elio’s house after practice and he gets to know Elio’s parents pretty well. It, of course, helps that Mrs. Perlman always cooks amazing food.

“Who wants to play Smash Bros?” Peter asks, swinging his legs off the couch and kicking Oliver’s side. Oliver is pretty sure Peter knows something is going on between him and Elio, even though they haven’t said anything yet.

They spend a few hours playing video games until Sean ends up passing out in a takeout-induced coma. They say their goodbyes, climbing into their respective cars with yawns and full bellies.

“I guess it’s too late for you to come in,” Elio sighs as Oliver turns onto his block.

Oliver checks the time on the dash and frowns. It’s after 10 and they have to be up early for practice the next morning. “Unfortunately.” He stops outside of Elio’s house, but Elio doesn’t make any move to get out, so Oliver puts the car in park.

“You okay?”

“Yeah.” Elio unbuckles his seatbelt and leans against the console to kiss Oliver. Oliver succumbs easily, always ready and willing to be swept up into Elio’s sweet kisses.

“What was that for?” Oliver breathes when Elio pulls back.

“Just because.”

“Mmh. I could get used to that.”

“I already have.” Elio kisses him again and Oliver cups Elio’s cheeks, drawing him even closer. They stay like that for a few minutes, until the porchlight in the house across the way flicks on. It startles Elio and he pulls back, lips pink and upturned in a small smile. “I should go.”

“Past your bedtime?"

“Yes.” Elio pecks Oliver’s cheek. “And past yours too. Goodnight, Oliver.”

Oliver watches as Elio hops up the stoop and lets himself into the house. He laughs as Elio throws a wave over his shoulder before closing the door. The past two weeks have been utter bliss. Getting to know Elio, physically and emotionally and mentally, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of Oliver’s life. He loves eking out new little facts about Elio or finding new places to kiss that make him blush or learning what jokes make Elio laugh. Oliver can’t keep the stupid grin off his face the entire way home, and once he’s inside, he flops on the couch in a love-struck haze.

“Ew,” Rachel says from the other end of the couch, tossing a fancy throw pillow at Oliver’s face, “get your gross feet away from me. You smell like the boy’s locker room.”

“Hey, be nice to me,” Oliver says, throwing the pillow right back. “Haven’t you heard what happens to little girls who are mean to their older brothers?”

“Ew, stop. That makes you sound predatory.”

Oliver laughs and sits up, tucking his feet under him to mask the smell a bit. He watches as Rachel tosses her hair over her shoulder and wonders when his kid sister got so grown up. “Mom and Dad out?” he asks, noting the late hour.

“Yep. Which means I can stay up as late as I want.”

“No, you definitely can’t.”

Rachel groans and smooshes the pillow over her face. “Don't’ be a buzzkill,” she says, voice muffled by the overstuffed fabric.

“Fine, but if you’re tired for school tomorrow, don’t blame me.”

“Not like it’ll matter anyway,” Rachel says as she takes the pillow off her face. “Eighth grade is so boring. I just want to be in high school already.”

There’s no denying his sister is brilliant. Each of the Weiss kids are in their own way, but Oliver is sure that Rachel will go on to become the youngest woman to win a Nobel Prize or some shit. “Believe me, no you don’t.”

“Maybe Mom and Dad will let me board at Exeter.”

Oliver snorts at that. “Fat chance.”

“I’m the youngest and their only daughter. I have them wrapped around my finger.”

“Yeah, you’re the youngest and their only daughter. I’m sure they’re gonna release you into a sea of loser high school boys at a preppy ass boarding school without a fight.”

Rachel is watching one of the Real Housewives shows, and Oliver finds himself immediately drawn into the ridiculous lives of the plasticized women. They stay up together, making fun of these ladies and their alcoholic husbands, until Rachel is yawning. They follow each other upstairs, parting ways at the top of the staircase to their respective rooms, Rachel tossing a “Goodnight, big bro,” over her shoulder before shutting the door to her room.

The next week is nothing short of crazy. They seem to have practice at all hours of the day. At school, every single one of them, including Elio, is wished luck at HoC and high fives are given out like candy on Halloween. Elio looks a little stunned by it all and Oliver can’t help but laugh at Elio’s big doe eyes.

“Don’t worry,” Sean says as they sit down at their normal table for lunch. They’ve just been accosted by nearly everyone on the lunchline and Elio looks as if he’s never had so much human interaction before. “Once HoC is over, we’ll be forgotten and football season will be well underway.”

That week flies by and Oliver barely has a chance to see Elio outside of school or practice. Oliver is inundated with longer practices, more homework, college applications, plus packing for the weekend away. Coach Gellman rents a small bus with room enough for all their gear, plus a little trailer hitched to the back for their boat. They meet at the boathouse after school on Thursday to pack everything and head up to Boston. They’ll be there through Sunday night but with all of the bags in the back of the bus, it looks like they’re about to stay for a month.

Sean and Noah take seats up front so that they can harass Coach Gellman as he drives. Peter opts to sit with Elio and Oliver towards the back of the bus. The trip is only an hour, and before they know it, they’re pulling up at their designated boathouse for the weekend.

“Wow,” Elio whispers as he steps off the bus. He seems to be frozen in place, so Oliver grabs his wrist and tugs.

“C’mon. We gotta unload the boat.” There are people everywhere , young and old alike, unloading their gear for the weekend. “This isn’t even that crowded,” Oliver says as they head to the trailer to help. “It gets much worse tomorrow morning, which is why we always come up on a Thursday.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen so many people in one place,” Elio says as they unload the boat.

“Just wait until we’re on the water,” Sean grunts as they hoist the boat onto their shoulders. “We race against like 80 boats.”

Once their boat is secured on the rack, they head to the hotel. Coach Gellman checks them in as Sean and Noah roughhouse a bit in the lobby. Coach passes out their room keys after, of course, getting Sean and Noah under control.

“You’re on the 8th floor and I’m on the 7th, room 705 if you need me. There are two king beds and they said they’ll bring up a rollaway cot.” Coach Gellman puts his hands on his hips after handing out the key cards. “I trust you boys enough to leave you on your own for the weekend. The four of you have been here before, so don’t leave Elio behind, got it?” Everyone nods their heads in unison. “Great. I’ll meet you by the boat on Sunday morning at 8 sharp.”

They say their goodbyes as Coach Gellman heads off to meet a few other coaches for beers and the boys head up to their room. “Fuck yeah!” Noah cries out as he opens the door. “This room is even better than last year.”

The boys shove past each other in order to claim beds and Oliver is successful in snagging the bed closest to the window for him and Elio. Peter and Sean get the other bed and Noah is left with the rollaway.

“This blows,” he says as he flops down, the springs creaking under his weight.

“You’re the one who was too busy checking out the view,” Oliver says as he starts to unpack his bag. Elio and Peter follow suit, leaving Noah and Sean to sit on their respective beds with their phones.

“Pizza for dinner tonight?” Peter asks. “We can go to that place we usually go to in Harvard Square.”

“Ooh, yeah,” Sean pipes up. “There are a bunch of bars around there. Maybe we’ll meet some college girls.”

“Good luck with that one,” Noah snorts from his cot.

“Alright, c’mon, I’m starving.”

“But we didn’t even put our stuff away yet!”

“Sucks for you, come on, let’s go.”

They head out together but Oliver lags a little with Elio behind the other guys. “You alright?” he asks, bumping his shoulder against Elio’s as they walk.

“I’m okay, just a little overwhelmed.” He looks up at Oliver from under his lashes and Oliver’s heart actually skips about five beats. “Do you think we’ll get any time together? Just me and you, I mean?”

“Maybe.” Oliver frowns, wishing they could have a hotel room to themselves. “We’ll have to get rid of the guys at some point. Maybe tomorrow.”

Elio smiles at that and Oliver brushes their fingers together as they walk. “I know, it gets kinda crazy here,” he says as they walk through the crowds to their usual little pizza joint. “Fair warning: You’re gonna see a lot of plaid and a lot of Vineyard Vines.”

“Doesn’t sound much different from school.”

Oliver laughs and hooks his pointer finger with Elio’s, squeezing gently before letting it go. “Very true.”

They order two pizzas to share and manage to snag the last empty table in the restaurant. “Anyone’s parents coming up to watch?” Noah asks through a mouthful.

“Not mine. They’re going to Adam’s Speech and Debate tournament.”

“Mine are,” says Peter. “Benefits of being an only child, I guess. My parents come to everything .”

Elio laughs. “Same here. Mine are also coming. My mom has to deliver a painting to a client nearby, so they figured they’d stop by to watch the regatta.”

That, of course, prompts about a million questions from Noah about Mrs. Perlman’s paintings, but all the boys listen, seeming to hang onto every one of Elio’s words. Oliver finds himself scooting closer and closer during dinner until he and Elio are right up against each other. But Elio has this brilliant smile on his face, which makes Oliver’s chest puff with pride.

It’s still early once they finish dinner, so they head back to the hotel because Sean won’t stop complaining about his outfit and how it “isn’t good enough” for the college girls.

“Nothing is gonna be good enough for them if you’re wearing it,” Noah says as they unlock the door to their room. That causes the two boys to scuffle around a bit while Peter, Oliver, and Elio make a beeline for their beds.

“They’re so dumb,” Peter says, rolling his eyes as Noah and Sean start arguing over sharing the mirror before blasting rap music. “It’s not like they’re gonna get with any girls. Besides, they’d probably chicken out if they got the chance.”

Oliver laughs and crosses his hands behind his head, letting his eyes close. “How’s Katie, by the way?” he asks, knowing Peter loves talking about his girlfriend. “I haven’t seen her in a while.”

“Ugh, I know, tell me about it. She’s been so busy with college applications. She’s trying to get a full ride to one of these like, huge ass research institutions. I swear, she’s gonna find the cure for cancer or something.”

“I’d love to meet her,” Elio says. “The four of us should all go out sometime. Like a double -” Elio stops talking almost as soon as he started and Oliver opens his eyes to find Peter staring at them.

“Are you two…” Peter drops his voice and gestures at the two of them on the bed.

Oliver is about to protest but he looks over at Elio who is staring straight up at the ceiling, cheeks bright pink. No use in hiding it now , he figures. “Yeah, couple weeks now.” He casts a glance over at the bathroom door, which is thankfully shut.

“Fuck yes! I knew it!” Peter sits up and punches the air in triumph.

Elio groans and covers his face with his hands.

Oliver sits up and drops one hand to Elio’s thigh. “But you can’t tell anyone, alright? Literally no one else knows except for you.”

“I swear,” Peter says, crossing his finger over his heart. “I won’t tell a soul.” Peter is beaming, clearly happy for them, and Oliver nudges Elio.

“Hey, it’s okay,” he says. “Peter’s cool.”

“I know,” Elio says through his hands. He makes a small sound and scrubs his hands over his face before sitting up. His cheeks are still pink and Oliver wants to kiss him, so he does, just a quick peck on the cheek.

“Oh God, just as long as you two aren’t full-on making out in front of me.”

Oliver rolls his eyes and throws a pillow at Peter’s face. “Do you know how many times I’ve had to put up with you and Katie making out in the back of my car before you got your license?” The rap music in the bathroom stops and Oliver pulls his hand away from Elio’s thigh as if it’s burned him.

“Well, I’m happy for you guys. That’s awesome.” Noah and Sean emerge from the bathroom in a cloud of body spray and Peter coughs. “Jesus, use the whole bottle?”

“Just because you’re not looking to pick up doesn’t mean we can’t.”

“God, why are we friends with you?”

They hang out for a while before heading out again around 10, walking to the downtown area of Cambridge. There are bars everywhere they turn, and they end up in line at one that was recommended by an Exeter alum who was now a Harvard student. The boys try to blend in with the other students, hoping they look old enough to pass as freshmen.

Once they reach the bouncer, they’re ushered inside without a second glance or thought and Noah lets out a successful whoop as they push their way to the bar. They all order whiskey sours, except Elio, who hesitates.

“You’re not gonna get anything?” Oliver asks over the music.

“I uh, don’t really drink anything except for wine at home.”

“Here, have a sip.” He passes Elio his drink, watches carefully as Elio takes a sip and then wrinkles his nose. Oliver laughs and takes the plastic cup back. “Let me order something for you.” Oliver turns back to the bar and orders a vodka cranberry on his tab and passes it to Elio. “If you don’t like it, don’t worry, I’ll drink it.”

Elio takes a hesitant sip but then smiles once he swallows. “Yes, this is much better.”

“Come on!” Sean shouts, tugging Oliver’s sleeve. “We have to go dance!”

On the other side of the bar, there’s a small dance floor with thumping music and strobe lights and sweaty bodies. Oliver looks over at Elio, brows raised in silent question.

Are you okay?

Elio smiles up at Oliver. Totally fine.

Oliver knits his brows together. We can leave if you want.

No, no. Come on. Let’s dance.

They follow the other boys onto the dancefloor and Oliver is shocked to see that Sean is already dancing with a pretty blonde girl. They dance to the beat in their little group of four, Sean closeby with his newfound conquest. It takes a few songs for Elio to get into it, but soon he’s dancing alongside the rest of them. They take turns grabbing drinks for each other at the bar and, soon enough, Oliver is sufficiently drunk.

“I love this song!” he shouts when an old Psychedelic Furs song comes on.

“You’re the only one, dude!” Peter calls back.

Oliver jumps up and down to the beat, waving his arms up in the air. Elio laughs and jumps around too, moving his shoulders and hips in a most appealing manner. Oliver reaches for him, but Peter intercepts before Oliver can make any decisions that’ll out them to the other guys. Luckily, though, Sean and Noah are both dancing with girls so they don’t notice Oliver’s almost slip up.

They stay at the bar until well past midnight, until Elio is stumbling and looks like he’s dead on his feet. “Time to go home,” Peter slurs, tugging Noah and Sean away from their ladies. The girls pout and hang onto the boys, begging for phone numbers and promises of more.

“Did they think we were college students?” Noah asks as they amble back toward the hotel.

“Probably not,” Peter supplies with a grunt. He’s got Noah on one side and Sean on the other, helping them down the sidewalk.

“I’m drunk,” Oliver says. He and Elio are walking next to one another, a few paces behind the other boys. They’re slumping against one another as they walk, fingers interlaced.

“Me too,” Elio says, a hint of a laugh in his voice. He trips a little but Oliver steadies him with an arm around his waist. Elio hums as he regains his balance. “Thanks.” They walk in silence for a couple minutes, giggling at the drunken conversation between Noah and Sean. “Hey look,” Elio says a few minutes later, tugging at Oliver’s sleeve.

Oliver hadn’t realized he was walking with his eyes closed until Elio pulled his sleeve. “Huh? Wha?” He follows Elio’s hand to where he’s pointing. There’s a bar across the street, clearly a gay bar with rainbow flags adorning the entrance.

“We could dance together there,” Elio says, leaning heavily against Oliver.

Oliver, for just a second, has a crazy idea of them ditching the other guys and going together. But it’s nearing 1 am and he knows they need to get back to the hotel. “I promise,” he mumbles against Elio’s ear. “I promise we’ll go dancing together one day.”


Oliver laughs at how cute Elio sounds and kisses his temple. “Yes, baby, I promise.”

“That’s a nice name.”

Oliver laughs again and holds Elio a little closer. “We can take a weekend trip back up. Just me and you.”

“Mmh, that sounds nice.”

They’re approaching the hotel, so Oliver has to regrettably step away from Elio. “You good?” he asks as Elio tries to find his balance without hanging onto Oliver.

“ ‘m okay.”

The four of them manage to get into their hotel room in one piece and everyone flops in their respective beds, barely taking the time to change out of their clothes.

“What time are we getting up tomorrow?”

There’s a chorus of, “Shut up, Peter!” at the question, followed by Peter’s soft grumbling as he goes about setting an alarm.

Oliver groans and throws an arm and a leg over Elio, who just snuggles closer. He knows it’s risky, what with Noah and Sean also in the room, but how is he supposed to keep his distance with Elio right next to him? Just before he falls asleep, Oliver realizes it’s their first time really sleeping together. They’ve already taken brief naps at Elio’s place, but not for more than half an hour. The thought of spending the entire night with Elio makes Oliver smile, and he buries his nose in soft curls, glad that they’re shrouded in darkness.

When Peter’s alarm goes off the next morning, Elio is still in Oliver’s arms, but with his back to Oliver’s chest. Oliver slowly becomes more aware of his surroundings: his hand is under Elio’s shirt and resting over his tummy, light streaming in through a small gap in the curtains, and Noah and Sean snoring. Peter groans and turns off his alarm, staying in bed for another few minutes before getting up and heading to the bathroom.

Oliver lifts his head to find Noah and Sean are still totally passed out. “You up?” Oliver whispers against Elio’s neck.

Elio makes a small sound of assent and manages to roll over so that he’s facing Oliver. They’re nose to nose and Elio smiles, eyes still closed. Oliver squeezes Elio’s hip before bringing his hand up, skating his fingers over Elio’s cheek.


“Good morning, Oliver.”

Oliver smiles and gives Elio a very soft kiss. They both doze off a bit until Peter emerges from the bathroom, freshly showered.

“Good idea,” Oliver says, rolling away from Elio and stretching out his limbs. He sighs as he rolls out of bed and shuffles towards the bathroom. “Make them get up,” he says before shutting the door, nodding at Noah. “I want to go out for breakfast.”

Given Noah’s and Sean’s hangovers, it’s past 11 by the time they all shower and get out the door, but Oliver is still insistent upon going out to breakfast. And that’s a great idea because they all definitely need coffee and food. After breakfast, they head over to the river, the streets already packed with people.

“We’re gonna go to some Exeter tailgates today,” Oliver says as Noah navigates them through the crowds. “It’s mostly older alums, but some younger people come too.”

“Are we actually gonna watch any of the Regatta?” Elio asks.

“Probably this afternoon. The alum like a few beers in them before watching.”

They get to the main Exeter tent, the one sponsored by Exeter alum. The tent is grey and maroon and teeming with adults all drinking champagne. Oliver recognizes a few of the alum that come to the Regatta every year. He schmoozes with a few of them, introduces Elio to his favorites, and can’t help but think about how proud his father would be to see him networking with such important people. The boys all get a glass of champagne before securing a spot near the River so they can watch as the adult women’s eights row by.

“This is crazy,” Elio whispers, looking around with wide eyes. “I’ve never seen so many people in one place.” He shivers and stuffs his free hand into his pocket.

“Cold?” Oliver asks, unwinding the scarf from around his neck.

“Just a little.” Oliver tosses his scarf around Elio’s neck and Elio looks up at him with furrowed brows. “Oh, I’m fine, you don’t -”

“But I want to.” Oliver smiles and leans against Elio a little. “Didn’t I tell you to bring warm clothes?”

Elio blushes but goes back to drinking his champagne. Oliver is happy just to stand next to him, arms pressed together through their jackets.

They spend the afternoon hopping from tailgate to tailgate and getting a bit tipsy. They manage to shove past some people on the bridge to get a good view of the river just as the men’s championship doubles start rowing by. They all cheer, jumping up and down and screaming with the rest of the crowd.

“Those dudes are fuckin’ beast !” Sean cries, pumping his fist as the boats glide through the water.

They stay in that spot until all the subsequent races have gone by and everyone starts milling to their respective tents. The boys amble back to the Exeter tent to find that the alum have set up a little portable grill.

“Oh, thank God,” Sean whispers, grabbing a hot dog and slathering it in ketchup and mustard. The rest of the boys follow suit and grab food as well.

Peter nudges Oliver’s arm and nods to an alum grabbing some champagne. He’s in a Columbia University sweatshirt and Oliver swallows. “Should I talk to him?”

“Of course you should, idiot.”

Oliver takes a deep breath, trying to calm his already racing heart before approaching the alum. “Hey,” he says, albeit a bit awkwardly, “I’m Oliver Weiss, a senior at Exeter.”

The guy smiles and puts out his hand for Oliver to shake. “Hey! Rob Corwin. You rowing tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I’m the stroke on our four. My other teammates are over there.”

“Good luck tomorrow. HoC was always so fun.”

“You rowed too?”

“Yep,” Rob says, popping the p. “I was seat four. Don’t wanna tell you how long ago that was though.”

Oliver laughs and rolls his eyes. “Please, it couldn’t have been that long ago.”

“Nah, not really. I graduated from Columbia eight years ago.”

Ah, so he’s 30 . “And you liked it there?” Oliver can’t keep the curiosity out of his voice and Rob laughs.

“I’m guessing you want to go there?” Oliver nods, cheeks flushed. “Yeah, I loved it. I grew up in Boston and boarded at Exeter, so Columbia was a nice change from New England living.”

Oliver laughs and rubs at the back of his neck. “That obvious? Yeah, I’ve been working on my applications. I’m hoping to go to Columbia or NYU.”

“I can hook you up with an interview at Columbia if you want,” Rob offers, and Oliver’s heart skips a beat.


“For sure. I’ve been working with admissions since I graduated, which is a great way to keep in touch with everyone at the University.”

“That would be awesome, dude. Uh, I mean, Mr. -”

Rob laughs and claps Oliver’s shoulder. “Rob is fine. Or dude.”

“Right. Rob. So, uh, what do you do now?”

“I’m still in the city, actually. I work at JP Morgan but my girlfriend and I run a wedding planning business on the side.”

Oliver is about to ask another question, but Peter comes up behind him. “Hey, I think we’re gonna try to go find dinner somewhere.”

“Oh, right. Um, it was really great meeting you, Rob.”

“You too! Here…” He grabs his phone and hands it to Oliver. “Put in your contact and I’ll reach out after the Regatta to set up that interview for you.” Oliver puts his phone number and email into Rob’s phone and passes it back. “Sweet. I’ll text you so that you’ve got my info too.”

They bid farewell and Oliver trails after the other guys as they make their way downtown. He’s got a dopey smile on his face the entire time. He barely talks during dinner, mainly thinking about the prospect of going to Columbia. It seems like more of a reality now that he has a contact.

“Hey, so what did that guy say?” Elio asks on their way back from dinner.

“He said he could help me get an interview at Columbia.”

“What? Oliver, that’s amazing!”

Oliver laughs and rubs the back of his neck. “I mean, it’s not a sure thing, but maybe it’ll help boost my application.”

“I’m sure your application doesn’t need any boosting, Ollie,” Sean says, looping his arm over Oliver’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” Noah says, coming around to Oliver’s other side, “you’re gonna get in and you’ll get outta here.”

Oliver loves how supportive his friends are, especially of him getting out of Portsmouth. “Thanks, guys.” They leave the topic of college behind as they come into the hotel since none of the guys really want to think about that when they have a Regatta to concentrate on.

They need to meet Coach at 8 am the next morning, so they settle on a quiet night in. They all flop onto one bed together, snacking on some pretzels as they flip through the TV.

“I’m kinda nervous,” Elio says some time later once they’ve all migrated to their respective beds. The lights are off and they’re all trying to go to sleep early. But Oliver can tell that none of them are asleep. He grabs Elio’s hand under the covers and smiles when he feels Elio immediately relax next to him.

“No reason to be nervous,” Peter says.

“It’s my first real regatta.”

“We’ve been practicing so hard, we’re gonna kill it. Plus, you and Oliver are like, the perfect match for cox and stroke.” Noah’s voice is muffled and Oliver figures his face must be pressed into the pillow.

“He’s right,” Peter says. They all laugh quietly when Sean starts snoring. At least one of them is asleep. “We should all do the same,” Peter says, shifting a little under the covers.

“See you in the morning, boys,” Oliver says with a squeeze to Elio’s hand. He rehearses his little captain’s speech in his head until he falls asleep, fingers still tangled with Elio’s.

When Peter’s alarm goes off the next morning, there’s a round of groans before all five of them are rolling out of bed, sleepily throwing gear into their bags. They head out, all munching on granola bars as they make their way to the boat.

“Still nervous?” Oliver asks between bites.

“Only a little,” Elio says. My parents texted me. They said they got a really good spot on the river.”

Oliver drops his voice so that only Elio can hear him. “I’d kiss you right now if I could.” That seems to calm Elio down a bit and Oliver is proud that he’s able to put Elio at ease.

Coach Gellman is already waiting for them by the boat and the boys gather around, stretching a bit as Coach starts in on his usual pre-regatta speech. “You’ve all been practicing very hard,” he says. Oliver glances over at Noah and Sean who are mouthing along with Coach Gellman. “Regardless of where you guys place today, you’ve been doing a great job all year and I’m proud of you. Oliver?”

Oliver clears his throat and shoves his hands into his pockets. All the guys turn to face him and he nods. “Right. As you know, rowing is a lot of pain and glory, sweat and sacrifice, and courage and commitment. We’ve spent many early dark mornings at the gym: sprints, squats, deadlifts, and so many other exercises that I still can’t name. And we have many more of those dark mornings to come. We’ve learned how to deal with failure. We’ve learned patience.

Coach Gellman, I think it’s fair to say we have our good days, our bad days, and the days we should totally avoid you. But, we really do appreciate the time you’ve invested in us. I’ve seen our team develop and grow all due to you. You have an abundance of knowledge and experience as well as a great sense of humor that has made for some great rowing sessions.

Noah, Peter, and Sean, I’m not sure how many random topics we’ve discussed together out on the water over the past four years, but these memories have been some of the best times of our high school careers. We’ve raced, trained, won, and lost together and I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without you three, and now Elio. But it feels like Elio has been with us all four years too.

Anyway, we’re gonna kill it today, I know we are. This is our final HoC together of our high school careers. And hopefully next year we’ll be watching from the Exeter tent as Elio coxes next year’s team.”

All the guys cheer and practically tackle Oliver, messing up his hair and clapping his back. They’re all laughing as their tackles turn into a tight group hug. “Alright,” Coach says, patting Oliver’s shoulder. “Time to stretch and prep the boat.”

They take their time with stretching and warming up, making sure to limber up all muscle groups before getting ready. Oliver, Noah, Peter, and Sean all wrap their hands, covering up old blisters in high hopes that new ones won’t develop. When it’s time to shuck their sweats, the boys all shiver. It takes a bit to get used to the cold against their now exposed skin, only the thin lycra and mesh of their unisuits protecting them from the wind.

Their group, Men’s Youth Fours, is called to the starting line to start prepping their boats. The boys haul the boat over to the dock and they all kiss the side before letting it down into the water. “You’re gonna do just fine, boys,” Coach says as they put together their oars. Elio busies himself with checking his cox box, microphone, and watch to make sure everything is in working order. They have a low bow number, so they’re in one of the first groups to take off. They all settle in the boat and Oliver looks up at Elio. Elio gives him a weak smile, but Oliver grins back and winks.

They take off just in front of the BU Boathouse and head straight for the BU bridge. There’s no passing allowed before the bridges and they need to stay within the orange and green buoys on the port and starboard sides. “Four, let it run, we don't want to add meters this early on,” Elio says, and the boat slows just a little. Oliver knows they need to position themselves for the inside turn once they pass the bridges. But he has faith in Elio, who has been tirelessly studying the course of the River for weeks.

They reach the Powerhouse Stretch, the only part of the course that’s straightaway. “Power fifty in two. One! Two!” Sean lets out a grunt as the boat surges forward and they pass the Groton boat as they pass under the bridge, therefore passing the one-mile mark. The Weeks Bridge turning tree is on their left and Elio looks over at it. Oliver knows that coxes use that tree as a gauge to begin the Weeks turn. “Three, you’re lagging! One, two! One, two! That’s it, keep pace.”

They take a quick pause between Weeks and Anderson to slow to a paddle to avoid crashing with another boat. “This stretch is dicey,” Oliver pants, looking up at Elio. “Make sure Pete knows who’s around us.”

“Bow, keep an eye! We’re gonna accelerate to take the arch in two. One! Two!”

As they make a slight turn toward starboard, there’s a faint crash and some shouts. Elio looks over, eyes widening. “Elio, don’t pay attention to them,” Oliver says, glancing over to see that two boats have crashed. “We have the big turn next, c’mon.” The Eliot turn, under the Eliot Bridge, is the spot where most boats run the risk of a buoy penalty. Elio glances over to see the cox in the boat next to them is using his hand as a rudder, which usually adds drag to the boat. But they’re keeping pace with them and Elio glowers at the boat. Oliver looks down at where Elio is gripping the handle for his rudder, knuckles white.

“Power twenty in two. One, two!” All the boys groan as they pick up their pace, finally overtaking the boat next to them. “He shoulda gotten his hands out of the dirty water.” The boys laugh at Elio’s commentary as they glide under the bridge. “This is it, boys, the final stretch.” They need the starboard oars just off the Belmont Hill Dock, and Elio maneuvers them there without any lag. There’s a buoy there, but they do well not to hit it. “A hundred meters left,” Elio calls. “Let’s aim for right between the two finish line buoys and finish strong!”

“Big push, boys, drive it through. Nice, all four. Nice, all four! Stay tall, swing out. Good!”

“Coming up on Kent,” Oliver says, spotting the red boat just ahead of them.

“Coming up on Kent, let’s take a power ten right now. One, two, three, get on them. Nice all four! Seven, eight, together, nine, big push, there it is!”

They glide through the buoys before Kent’s boat and they all cheer.

“Everyone alright?” Elio asks, out of breath. There are soft murmurs from the guys behind Oliver, but he’s beaming up at Elio as they slow their pace and begin cruising to the docks.

“What’s our time?” Peter calls from the back.

“16 minutes, 30 seconds, 15.”

“Holy shit ,” Oliver cries. He locks his oars and grabs Elio’s shoulder’s, shaking him a little. “Holy shit , Elio, that’s better than we’ve done in ages!”

“Keep rowing, Weiss!” Peter says, and Oliver drops his oars back into the water. He’s still smiling though, so incredibly proud of his team.

Once they dock the boat, and after congratulatory hugs from Coach Gellman, the boys all don their sweats once more and head to the Exeter alum tent. Peter’s and Elio’s parents are waiting there for them with cups of hot cider, which the boys readily accept along with any snacks they can get their hands on.

“Oh, tesoros,” Mrs. Perlman coos, pulling both Elio and Oliver in for a tight hug. “You did so well! It was so exciting!” She starts prattling away in Italian to Elio, so Oliver ducks out of her grasp to talk to Peter’s parents.

The rest of that afternoon is spent resting, tending to their blisters, and watching the other boats while they wait for their results. Oliver has a major blister on his palm and he hisses as he rewraps his hand.

“You’re lucky you don’t have to deal with oars,” he says when Elio comes to sit next to him.

Elio looks down at his hands and nods. “Just a few callouses from the rudder, but nothing major.”

“How do you feel after your first regatta?”

“Good,” Elio breathes, a dreamy little smile on his face. “Really good. It was kinda thrilling, actually.”

“Well, that’s good, because we’ve got a lot more local regattas coming up.”

The results are finally posted and the boys end up in fourth place. It’s the best Oliver has ever done at HoC and he’s inexplicably proud of his little team. Peter’s mom and Elio’s mom are both wiping away tears as they receive their fourth-place medals. Oliver decides he likes the way it feels around his neck and, when he looks over at Elio, decides he likes the way it looks around Elio’s neck. He desperately wants to kiss Elio, congratulate him, but he balls his hands into fists to keep himself under control.

The parents all head back to Portsmouth before the boys leave Boston. They need to pack up the boat and all of their gear before they can even think about making the trek back home. Once everything is settled in the bus, the sun has already set and all the races are long over. The boys all pick their own seats on the bus, opting to spread out and catch a quick nap on the way back. But Elio comes to sit down next to Oliver and Oliver couldn’t be happier about that.

“You did amazing,” Oliver whispers as Coach Gellman starts the engine. They pull out of their spot and into the massive amount of traffic leading out of the city. “I’ve never seen anyone cox like that, especially on a course they’ve never rowed before.”

Elio shrugs and yawns. “It was like a sixth sense took over me,” he says, obviously joking.

“I’m serious,” Oliver says, nudging Elio’s side. “You were so good.” Elio just nods and yawns again. “Why don’t we both try to sleep? It’s been a long weekend.”

Elio hums and closes his eyes, letting his head come to rest on Oliver’s shoulder. Oliver freezes for a second before tilting his own head, propping his cheek on top of Elio’s curls. He doesn’t sleep for the entire bus ride, as he’s trying his hardest to remain still so as not to disturb Elio. But that’s fine by him, because Elio is slumped against him, soft breath against his neck, totally wiped out after a job well done.

Chapter Text


Elio Perlman, 11:32 pm
hey, you still up?

Oliver Weiss, 11:32 pm
Yep. Had some celebratory ice cream with my siblings after my parents went to bed :)

Elio Perlman, 11:33 pm
lol my mom also had a dessert ready when we got home

Oliver Weiss, 11:33 pm
How does it feel to be a HoC champ?

Elio Perlman, 11:33 pm
good. weird.

Elio Perlman, 11:34 pm
can i call you?


Oliver’s brows rise at that request and he’s nervous that something has gone wrong. He reads over his texts for a second before answering with an affirmative. He doesn’t have to wait even a minute before he has an incoming call.

“Hey, Elio.”


Oliver is curled up in bed, lights out, the phone wedged between his ear and the pillow. “What’s up?”

“I can’t sleep,” Elio admits. “I know it was only two nights, but my bed feels weird without you.”

Oliver laughs and closes his eyes. “Don’t worry, I was thinking the same.” He hums and burrows further beneath the covers. “Just...close your eyes and pretend we’re together.”

“I tried that already.”

“We can stay on the phone for a bit,” Oliver offers. “Maybe talking will help us both pretend.”

“That would be...yeah. Thank you.”

“No problem.”

“So you’re taking advantage of that day off tomorrow, right?”

“Of course I am,” Oliver snorts. The team was given the option of taking the day off on Monday after the regatta. They’d only gotten home around 10 pm and Oliver’s muscles were already sore. And, in an act of generosity, Coach gave them the rest of the week off from practice. “You?”

“Yeah. My parents are gonna be home though, which kinda sucks.”

“Do you wanna come here?” Oliver asks without a moment’s hesitation. “My parents leave for work at 8 so you can stay, like, all day.”


“Yes, really. Actually,” he hasn’t given much thought to his next offer, but the words roll right off his tongue, “you can stay over tomorrow night if you want. We can go to school together on Tuesday morning. That way I won’t have to drive you back home and then pick you up in the morning.”

“Oh! Oh, are you um...are you sure? Would your parents be cool with it?”

Oliver shrugs. “They’ll be fine with it, I’m sure.” The guys sleep over all the time. Yeah, but they’re just friends, Oliver’s mind supplies. Then again, Mom and Dad don’t know we’re dating. “It’ll be fine, I promise. I mean, you totally don’t have to, but -”

“No! No, I want to.” Elio clears his throat and Oliver smiles at his eagerness. “What time should I be ready tomorrow?”

“I mean...I can get there at like 8:15 but I don’t know if that’s overkill.”

“Would you wanna go to that place for breakfast tomorrow again? The diner you like?”

Oliver smiles. “Colby’s? Yeah, we can do that.”

“I’ll be ready at 8:15, then.”

“That early?  I’m shocked.”

“Don’t be mean.”

Oliver laughs again and rolls onto his back, marveling at how easy it is to talk to Elio, even on the phone. “We can come back here after,” he says quietly, “and just chill if that’s cool with you.” Oliver hears some rustling on the other end he assumes Elio is struggling to get comfortable just as much as he is.

“Yeah, that’s cool.”

They fall quiet and Oliver props the phone between his ear and the pillow again so that he can pull the covers up under his chin. He can hear Elio breathing on the other line and it’s almost like he’s there.


“Hmm?” Oliver startles, not having realized he’d started t doze off.

“I was just wondering if you’re still here. There. On the phone.”

“Yeah, baby,” Oliver slurs, “still here.”

Elio laughs and Oliver decides it’s the prettiest thing he’s ever heard. “So I’ll see you tomorrow morning, then.”

“Mmkay, tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Oliver. For tonight.”

“No prob.” Oliver fumbles with his phone for a second, setting an alarm while Elio is still on the line. “See you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Oliver.”

The call disconnects, Oliver plugs in his phone, rolls over, and promptly passes out.

The next morning, Oliver wakes up early enough to take extra care wrapping the blisters over his palms and fingers. He hisses as he applies antiseptic, standing in the bathroom next to his brother who is getting ready for school.

“So not fair,” Adam says. “I won my debate tournament and I didn’t get a day off. I even came in first .”

“I don’t think carrying that trophy home was taxing enough to warrant a day off from school,” Oliver says, applying the final bit of bandage. He looks down at his handiwork and flexes his fingers, just a little, testing out the stretch of the bandage. “But congrats, baby bro. I’m really proud of you.” Oliver shoves Adam out of the way a bit so he can examine his face in the mirror. He has a slight tan line from his sunglasses, but otherwise, he thinks he looks pretty damn good. He takes his time getting ready, opting for casual tracksuit bottoms and a white tee with a matching jacket. He knows it looks kinda like a lame dad, but he can’t deny that Adidas makes a comfortable tracksuit. He lounges on the couch, eyes closed, waiting for his sister and brother to get on the bus. His mom has been accompanying his dad to work since his dad’s office is in the process of planning their annual fundraising event. Of course, his mother spearheads the entire thing. It’s good for her, he thinks, to actually interact with some real humans every once in a while.

“You be good now,” his mother says as she zips up her Chanel bag. She comes over to where he’s sprawled over the couch and ruffles his hair. “Daddy and I are going out to dinner after work tonight, so you, Rachel, and Adam can order in. I gave Camila the day off since you’ll be home.” His mother tended to give the housekeeper the day off if any of the kids were home, claiming that they just got in the way of her cleaning.

“M’kay, sounds good. Hey, Mom? I’m gonna have Elio come over a little later today. And I think he’s gonna stay over if that’s okay.”

“Totally fine,” his mom says as she slides on Versace sunglasses and checks her Chopard watch. “Honey!” She calls out, wobbling over to the mirror by the door, Louboutins click-clacking against the hardwood, “let’s go!” She fixes her perfectly curled hair and adjusts the diamond and pearl necklace around her neck before straightening out any invisible wrinkles in her skirt suit. His mother always looks flawless and today is no exception.

Oliver’s father comes down just a moment later in his usual suit, white coat draped over one arm. He tosses a, “Be good, Oliver,” over his shoulder before heading out the door. Oliver hums to himself for a few moments before swinging his legs over the side of the couch and pushing himself up. He throws on a jacket and heads out, stomach swooping at the thought of spending so much alone time with Elio.

The ride to Elio’s house is quick and, as usual, Elio is waiting out on the stoop. “Hi!” Elio hops into the car and buckles his seatbelt. He’s a bundle of excited energy and Oliver can’t help but smile. “Thanks for picking me up.”

“No problem.” Oliver drops a hand to Elio’s thigh, the action already second nature. Elio tosses his backpack and a small leather travel bag into the backseat. “So fancy,” Oliver teases with a smirk.

“Hey! It’s genuine Florentine leather! Don’t be jealous. It’ll last a lifetime!”

Oliver laughs and leans over to kiss Elio’s cheek before releasing the brake and pulling out onto the road. “You gonna get pancakes again?”

Elio wrinkles his nose and places his hand on top of Oliver’s, which is still resting on Elio’s thigh. “Ugh, no. Maybe French toast, though.”

“Someone has a sweet tooth.”

“I feel like you should know that already,” Elio says, looking at Oliver with a teasing glare. “What a horrible boyfriend you are.”


“Kidding, kidding.”

The rest of the quick drive is spent in companionable silence and, once they arrive at Colby’s, Ellen shows them to the same table they sat at last time. They’re set up with menus and glasses of water and Elio reaches for Oliver’s hand as they look through the selections.

“I’ll have a hot chocolate,” Elio says instantly when their waiter comes back, “and the blueberry coconut pancakes please.”

Oliver raises a skeptical brow, but Elio is grinning from ear to ear. “A coffee for me, please. And uh...the eggs Benedict today, I think.” Once their waiter has collected their menus, Oliver scoots a little closer to the table. “I thought you weren’t going to get pancakes again.”

Elio shrugs and starts playing with Oliver’s hand, gently running his fingers over the bandages across Oliver’s palm. “I saw ‘em on the menu and I was hooked.” Elio frowns as his fingers cross a bandage that’s a bit bloody. “Do they hurt much?”

Oliver shrugs and watched as Elio flattens down the edge of a bandage that’s begun to pick up from his skin. “Not really. I’m used to it by now. Just a few calluses.” He looks up and they lock eyes. “You’re lucky you only have to deal with the rudder. You got any bad blisters?”

Elio shrugs and brings up his left hand. He’s a righty normally but works the rudder with his left hand, which never ceases to fascinate Oliver. “Not bad. Just two on my fingers.”

Oliver knocks Elio’s right hand out of his in order to gather Elio’s left in his own. “They don’t look too bad,” he says, examining the skin, “but you should put some bandages on them. I can do it at home for you.”


Their drinks arrive and Oliver adds cream to his coffee as Elio laps at the actual mountain of whipped cream on top of his hot chocolate. “How the fuck do you stay so skinny?”

Elio giggles, a bit of whipped cream on his upper lip, and Oliver doesn’t think Elio can get more gorgeous than this. “I dunno. I eat Nutella on toast pretty much every morning for breakfast.”

“Yeah, and I’ve seen your mom cook. The amount of butter and olive oil she uses? I’m surprised you haven’t had a heart attack yet.”

“What can I say,” Elio says with an easy shrug of a lithe shoulder, “it’s the Mediterranean diet.”

Luckily, the table is small enough that Oliver can lean across and kiss the whipped cream off Elio’s lip. It’s a daring move, but, like the last time, there are only a few other patrons and Oliver doesn’t recognize them at all. When he pulls back, Elio is blushing all the way to the tips of his ears. Oliver settles back in his seat and steals Elio’s mug for a sip of hot chocolate. “Damn, that’s good.” As soon as their plates arrive, Oliver immediately digs into Elio’s stack of pancakes for an extra large bite.


“You gave me such a stingy taste last time,” Oliver says around his mouthful of fluffy pancake and blueberry compote. “Those are fucking good by the way.” Elio kicks him under the table, but Oliver can’t stop smiling.

Breakfast is amazing . It always is at Colby’s. Ellen even gives them free hot chocolates to go,  with plenty of whipped cream of course. They roll down the windows and blast the mix CD that Elio made and Oliver has no inhibitions, singing his heart out as they zip back home.

“Whoa,” Elio breathes as they pull up to Oliver’s house. He realizes then that he’s never brought Elio home. 

“What’s up, MTV, welcome to my crib,” Oliver jokes as he sticks his key in the lock and opens the door. Elio has this little dumbfounded look on his face as he takes in the airy and modern home, eyes widening to the size of saucers when they land on the grand staircase. “Come on,” Oliver laughs, grabbing Elio’s hand and pulling. “We can watch TV or something.”

Elio trails behind Oliver as he’s led into the living room. Oliver flops onto the overstuffed couch and reaches for the remote, but Elio is stuck in place, staring at the grand piano that’s sitting in the bay window. It’s a perfect spot for a piano. The tragedy is that no one plays it after Rachel quit.

“Do you know how to tune it? It’s completely shot.”

“It's gorgeous.”

“You have just as nice of a piano at the rental.”

“No,” Elio scoffs, walking over to the pure white piano and running his fingers over the lid. “No, no. This is a Bechstein. This is...this is an amazing piece, Oliver.”

Oliver rolls his eyes and pushes himself off the couch, crowding up behind Elio. “Will you tune it for me one day? Then you can play when you come over.”

Elio lifts the lid and plunks his fingers down, a dissonant and off-key C major chord ringing out. He makes a displeased sound and immediately takes his hands off the keys. “That sounds horrible.”

“Told ya.”

“Do you know how annoying it is to tune a piano?” Elio asks, turning in Oliver's arms so that they're face to face.

“Clearly I don't.”

“I'll give you the number of the guy who tunes ours.” Elio pecks Oliver's lips. “He's fantastic.”

“And then you'll play for me when you're here?”

“Sure I will.” Elio kisses Oliver again, a little more than a peck but a little less than what Oliver really wants. Elio is pulling away far too soon and all Oliver can do is dutifully follow him to the couch.

“Movie?” Oliver asks as he drops down onto the couch. Elio snuggles up against him and Oliver wraps an arm around slim shoulders.


They flip through Netflix for a bit before settling on the first Captain America movie. They've both seen it but are in complete agreement that Chris Evans is to die for. There’s a bit of shuffling throughout the first few minutes of the movie, but Oliver ends up with Elio’s head in his lap. He loves the way Elio curls up into a little ball on the couch, cheek smooshed against Oliver’s thigh. He can’t help but scratch at Elio’s scalp a bit before carding his fingers through Elio’s hair. Elio arches into it like a cat and Oliver smiles, his eyes on Elio rather than on the TV.

“Stop staring at me,” Elio says about halfway through.

Oliver has to force himself to tear his eyes away from Elio and look up at the screen. “I’m not.”

“You totally were.” Elio pushes up and looks at Oliver with a warm smile. His curls are a mess, which is mostly Oliver’s doing.

“Was not.”

“Was too.”

Oliver pouts and crosses his arms over his chest. “I was not staring at you.”

“It’s okay,” Elio says simply. “I like when you stare at me.”

“You’re easy to stare at.”

“Ha!” Elio yelps triumphantly and swings his leg over so that he’s straddling Oliver’s lap. He throws both hands up into the air, his shirt riding up a bit and exposing his tummy. “You admit it! I win!”

Oliver takes that opportunity to start tickling Elio, who squeals and tries in vain to push Oliver away. They end up tumbling to the floor in a mess of limbs. Elio attempts to roll away, but Oliver is bigger and stronger, and it’s easy for him to get his hands up under Elio’s shirt.

“I knew you were ticklish,” Oliver pants as he finally lets up. He sits back on his heels, still straddling Elio and effectively keeping him pinned to the floor.

Elio’s cheeks are flushed and his hair is even messier and he’s looking up at Oliver with the most adorable pout. His shirt is wrinkled and pushed up to his ribs and he lays with his arms splayed out over the area rug. “Asshole.”

“Looks like I win this time.” Oliver is smirking, victorious in his capture. “What do I get as my - oof .”

In a second, Elio has overpowered Oliver, flipping them so that Oliver is now on the floor, Elio sitting triumphantly atop Oliver’s lap. “Ha-ha, who is the winner now?”

Oliver is tempted to continue their little wrestling match, but Elio’s lips are pink and shiny and perfect , so he instead pushes up onto his elbows, leveraging himself for a kiss. Elio meets him halfway and the movie is quickly forgotten once Elio is pushing his tongue into Oliver’s mouth. Oliver falls back onto the floor, pulling Elio with him. He grunts, his back coming into contact with the remote which fell off the couch during their little tussle. Oliver pulls back and gently pushes Elio off of him.

“Bedroom.” They’ll have much more room on Oliver’s bed, plus, should anyone happen to walk through the front door, they won’t immediately see Oliver with his tongue down Elio’s throat. Oliver hops up and takes Elio’s hand, threading their fingers together and tugging Elio up as well. Elio stumbles a little and they both giggle before Oliver is leading him over to the stairs. Elio stops occasionally to admire some of the huge photos of the kids Oliver’s mother has hung along the staircase, so Oliver has to pull on his hand to kick him into action.

“Come on, we can look at those later.” He’s desperate to kiss Elio again and, from the way Elio quickly abandons a portrait of the three Weiss siblings, he’s just as desperate. Oliver opens the door to his room and ushers Elio inside.

“Damn,” he whispers, taking in the huge bed under the windows, the pristine desk, the packed bookshelf. “Your whole house is out of Architectural Digest.”

“Oh, shut up,” Oliver teases, coming up behind Elio and wrapping his arms around that slim little waist.

“You barely even have any decorations on the walls!”

“Do you think your mom can paint me something?” Oliver asks between kisses along the back of Elio’s neck.

Elio hums and tilts his head back so that he can rest it on Oliver’s shoulder, back-of-neck kisses now transitioning to side-of-neck kisses. “And what would you like a painting of, Mr. Weiss?”

“I think I’d like one of my boyfriend.”


“Yes, he’s quite a beautiful subject.” Oliver spins around so that he's facing Elio and he walks them back to the bed. They tumble down on top of the comforter and Elio lets out a satisfied little sound.


“Mmhm.” Oliver is too concentrated on settling Elio on his lap and kissing him to give much thought to any kind of answer. In fact, he can’t really think about making conversation at all - not when he has gorgeous wonderful sexy charming funny perfect Elio squirming on his lap. When they start kissing again, Oliver doesn’t miss the way Elio rolls his hips down and definitely doesn’t miss the hardon Elio is sporting. Oliver, too, is hard in his jeans, and he experimentally bucks his hips up. Both boys groan, the stimulation almost too much for two horny teenagers.

But then Elio’s fingers are pulling up Oliver’s shirt and Oliver is quick to take off Elio’s at the same time and - oh, this is new . They’re kissing again, but now Oliver has access to Elio’s chest and abdomen. HIs skin is smooth and warm and soft, dotted with just a few freckles. Oliver vows to kiss every single one.

“God,” Elio pants, pulling back a bit to catch his breath. He looks down at Oliver’s body and watches as he moves his fingers from Oliver’s pecs to his bellybutton. “You’re so hot, Oliver.” Oliver tips his head back and laughs, giving Elio to perfect opportunity to kiss his neck. “What? You are!”

“I won't fight you on that one.”

Elio's hand drifts down and his first two fingers dip into the waistband of Oliver's tracksuit bottoms. Both boys’ heads are tipped down, chests heaving as they watch Elio's fingers slip under the fabric.

“Elio,” Oliver breathes. He wants to tell Elio he doesn't have to, that they can go slow, but the words get stuck in his throat.

“Can I?”

“Only if you want to.”

Elio tugs at the elastic, just enough so that he can pull it down just a little, just enough to expose Oliver’s cock, which is still covered by his boxers. Elio lets the waistband lay there, tight fabric trapping Oliver's cock right where it is, clothed head still peeking over the top of the track bottoms. Elio runs his finger over the damp spot on Oliver's boxers and Oliver hisses.

Fuck , Elio.”

“I wanna...”

“Yeah, baby?”

Elio nods, curls flopping. “Yeah.”

It's a joint effort to get Oliver's pants and boxers off, but when Elio settles down again, Oliver is naked. It's a funny feeling to have Elio on top of him still half dressed. His jeans are rough on Oliver's naked thighs, but he can't say he hates it.

Oliver glances up at Elio who is still looking at Oliver's dick. “Take a picture,” he says, but his voice is quiet, almost timid, “it'll last longer.”

Elio looks up at him then, all doe eyes and pink cheeks. “Do you mind if I allowed to…” Elio trails off and Oliver reaches for his left hand, tangling their fingers.

“Yes, Elio, you're allowed to.”

As Elio moves his right hand towards Oliver's groin, Oliver's heart rate speeds up and he feels like his chest might explode. When Elio's fingers finally make contact, they both moan, their heads tipping down so that their foreheads are pressed together. The watch as Elio's fingers wrap around the head of Oliver's cock.

“It's so warm,” Elio whispers, as if he's never held a penis before in his life. Which Oliver knows is totally not the case.

Oliver squeezes Elio's left hand, their fingers still entwined. Elio tightens his fist around Oliver ever so gently and Oliver groans.

“Does that feel okay?”

Oliver nods, his throat too dry to produce actual words as Elio slowly moves his hand down the length of Oliver's cock.

“It feels different from mine,” whispers Elio, his eyes focused on where his fingers are wrapped around Oliver.

“Elio.” When Oliver finally manages to speak, it's a soft croak. Elio brings his hand up, slides his thumb over the head, and then brings his hand down again. Oliver shivers and Elio does that again.

And again.

And again.

Until he has a solid rhythm going. Oliver has his free hand fisted in the sheets, trying to hold back from just reversing their positions and rutting against Elio.

“Ohhhh my God,” he breathes out. He struggles to keep his eyes open, wanting to just give in and tip his head back but also wanting to watch Elio's hand on his cock. He's desperate to memorize the exact way Elio's fingers curl around the length of him, the way his precum slicks Elio's path.

“Is this okay?” Elio's voice is shaking a little and Oliver rubs his thumb over the hand he's holding. He slowly unfurls the fingers of his other hand from the confines of his sheets.

“Feels really good, Elio. Really fucking good.” His legs start to shake a little and his muscles are twitching and jumping under his skin.

“Are you close?”

Oliver swallows and nods, their noses bumping. He doesn't want to be close. He doesn't want this to end. He doesn't want to cum too fast. But Elio's hand feels so good around him. It's warm and tight and smooth and his fingers are long and strong. They trade kisses as Elio moves his hand but Oliver mostly pants against Elio’s lips, unable to catch his breath.

Elio speeds up his pace a little and Oliver's breath hitches. They stay like that, crowded against one another, foreheads and noses touching as they watch Elio's hand move over Oliver's dick. They're both breathing hard and, just a moment later, without much warning other than a moan, Oliver is cumming. He shoots over his taut stomach and Elio's hand, his entire body buckling as his orgasm hits.

It's the best he's ever felt, Elio’s lips right there as he cums. Their kisses turn into just soft and gentle pecks as Oliver comes down. He tries to catch his breath, but he doesn't think he'll ever be able to breathe normally again.

“Was that okay?” Elio asks when he finally stops moving his hand. Oliver whines, his softening cock now exposed to the cool air around them without the protection of Elio's hand.

“Are you kidding me?” Oliver lets his head fall back against the headboard and he looks at Elio with sated satisfaction. “Best ever.” He glances down at the bulge in Elio's jeans and then at his own hands, which are covered in bandages. “Uhh…”

“I can go take care of thi-”

“No! No.” Oliver reaches for the button on Elio's jeans and pushes them down and out of the way. “You can take care of that right here.” He feels his face heat up.

Maybe that's too much for our first time being really intimate together. Maybe it's too kinky. Maybe Elio doesn't want to -

Elio pulls his cock out of the slit in his boxers and wastes no time in getting his hand around himself. Oliver's brows shoot up and he watches with wide eyes as Elio brings himself off.

He wants to touch Elio more than anything, but he knows it definitely won't be good for either of them what with bandages and blisters covering his palms.

Next time , Oliver thinks, his cock twitching at the thought.

But for now, Oliver is content watching Elio jack off. Elio bites his lower lip and Oliver leans up to kiss him. He keeps the kiss soft and sweet, not missing the little moan Elio lets out against his lips. Oliver oscillates between watching Elio’s hand and kissing him and he makes sure to take mental notes on exactly how Elio touches himself.

For next time.

Elio is suddenly pitching forward, calling out Oliver's name as he spills over Oliver's stomach, their cum now commingling on his overheated skin. Oliver had a brief desire to mix their cum together into some sort of sick cocktail on his stomach, but he holds back, quickly embarrassed by that thought.

“I'm sorry,” Oliver blurts suddenly. He reaches for Elio's clean hand, wanting to hold it again.

“For what?” Elio sits back on Oliver's thighs, still panting.

“For not...I couldn't repay the favor.”

Elio laughs and brings Oliver's hand to his mouth so he can kiss over bandaged fingers. “As much as I'd like to feel your hands on me, I'd rather not also feel your blisters.”

Oliver cracks a smile and yanks on Elio's arm, causing him to fall into Oliver's chest. They burst into laughter and Elio picks up his head to kiss up Oliver's chest to his lips.

After cleaning up, they change into sweats and climb right back into Oliver's bed. As soon as Oliver's head hits the pillow, his exhaustion really hits him. Elio settles next to him and Oliver feels much more at ease with Elio in bed with him. It’s so different from last night, the night they didn’t spend together after their two nights in the hotel. He missed Elio’s warm little body next to his and he has a stunning realization.

“Fuck,” he laughs, covering his eyes with his hands, “we're gonna have to talk on the phone every night before bed, aren't we?”

“Yep.” Elio pops the p which sends Oliver into a fit of laughter. They're both overtired from the weekend but giddy from the morning’s events. After a bit of shuffling, they get comfortable with Oliver on his back and Elio snuggled right up against his side, head on Oliver's chest.

Oliver grazes his fingers up and down Elio's spine and closes his eyes, not convinced he'll fall asleep. All he can think about is Elio's hands on him and the promise of more. It makes him smile so hard his cheeks hurt. But a few minutes of feeling the steady rise and fall of Elio's chest has Oliver drifting off. They end up taking a nap until the early afternoon.

When Oliver wakes up, they're both on their stomachs, limbs akimbo over Oliver's bed. He slips out quietly, brushing his teeth before heading downstairs to put together lunch. Oliver can't keep the stupid smile off his face. He and Elio have reached a new milestone and he feels like he's floating. He hums a little as he slaps together two turkey sandwiches and Elio comes into the kitchen just as Oliver puts the final piece of bread atop a stack of lettuce. Elio has a sleepy smile on his face and marks all over his pink cheeks from the sheets.

“Hey,” he grumbles, voice thick with sleep as he plops down on a stool at the kitchen island.

Oliver hands him a plate and pours them each water before sitting down on the stool next to Elio. “Sleep okay?”

“Mmhm. I really needed that.”

“Same. HoC really knocks ya out.”

They eat in silence and, without conferring, Oliver makes a third sandwich, splitting it down the middle. He hands half to Elio who looks up at him, amused.

“How'd you know I was still hungry?”

“That special stroke-cox bond,” Oliver teases with a wink. Elio hums and accepts the half a sandwich, as well as a kiss on the cheek.

They play video games after lunch, sharing a bag of chips between them. Elio barely plays, so it’s easy for Oliver to absolutely cream him in Mario Kart.

“So,” Elio says, tossing aside the controller after Oliver beats him again , “are you ever gonna give me the grand tour?"

Oliver groans and switches off the TV. “I guess so.” He stands and takes Elio’s hand, pulling him up too. Living room and kitchen, those you know.” He pulls Elio through the kitchen to the formal dining and living rooms, the rooms where Oliver and his siblings are forbidden from sitting except for when they’re supposed to be impressing company. He shows Elio his dad’s office, his mom’s writing room, the little laundry room off to the side. “Camila comes almost every day and she helps with laundry and stuff.”

“I bet she and Mafalda would get along. They’d probably just gossip about the two of us.”

Oliver chuckles and nods. “Probably. I’m sure Camila would like to compare notes and make sure you’re up to snuff.” They stop at the large windows overlooking the backyard and stare out into the afternoon sun. “We just closed the pool a couple weeks ago,” Oliver says, nodding at the tarp covered pool. “And we’ve got just a basic kitchen and bathroom in the poolhouse. It’s fun in the summer. The guys’ll come over and we’ll all sleep out there.”

“We’ve got a pool back in Crema,” Elio says as they head over to the staircase. “It’s an old stone trough and my dad rigged it with a fountain.”

“Your dad is so cool .”

Elio snorts and they take it slow as they head upstairs this time so that Elio can study the photos of the Weiss family. “He’s cool until he starts talking about ancient philosophy and then he’s boring .”

“Nah, that’s cool. And he’s smart. And your mom is awesome too.” Oliver sighs and shoves his hands into the pockets of his sweats. Elio is lucky to have such nice parents and, as he stares at a photo of the five of them from when Oliver was ten, he wishes it were Mr. and Mrs. Perlman standing behind him instead of his own parents.

“Am I ever going to meet your parents?” Elio asks quietly, coming up a few steps to look at the next set of pictures.

“Tonight, I guess, when they come home.” Oliver snickers. “Don’t really know why you’d want to, though.”

“I want to meet the people who made you for me.”

Oliver wrinkles his nose. “Gross. You’re gross.” Elio plants a sloppy kiss to Oliver’s cheek before bounding a few steps ahead of Oliver and he actually chortles at Oliver’s third-grade photo, proudly displayed on the wall. Oliver tips his head back and groans as he stomps up the steps. “I hate that picture.”

Elio opens his mouth to say something, but the front door opens and Oliver can hear his brother and sister arguing as they toe off their shoes and drop their backpacks at the door.

“You are so wrong Adam,” Rachel calls out. “ Jane Eyre is far superior to Wuthering Heights .”

“Are you kidding me? Heathcliff is - Oh, hey Elio! Rachel! Elio is here!”

Rachel zooms around the corner, skidding to a halt at the base of the stairs. “Elio! Adam says you’re the nicest out of all of Ollie’s friends.”

Oliver groans again and balls his hands into fists. He can’t win.

“Hey, I’ll take it,” Elio says, coming down the steps. “I’m guessing you’re Rachel.”

“Yep. Oliver’s favorite sister.”

“Oliver’s only sister,” Oliver corrects as he heads down the stairs and gently pushes between Elio and Rachel to head to the kitchen. He takes out some snacks for his brother and sister, knowing they’re probably starving after school. “Mom and Dad are out tonight so they said we can order in.”

“We’re getting Mexican,” Adam says immediately though a mouthful of a carrot dipped in hummus. “You promised last time we could get Mexican next time we ordered.”

Rachel huffs as she drops down to a barstool. “I hate Mexican.”

“We’re gonna get whatever Elio wants,” Oliver cuts in as Elio comes around to stand on the same side of the counter as Oliver.

“No fair!” Rachel shoots back.

“Yes, fair. Elio is our guest.”

“You sound like Mom.”

“And you sound like a brat.”

After much debate, they decide on Indian food and Oliver calls the restaurant to place the order. When he rejoins his siblings and Elio, they’re already in the living room watching TV. Adam is on the armchair with a book propped up on his lap and Rachel is sitting on the opposite side of the couch from Elio. Oliver takes his place in the middle of the couch, spreading his legs in what he hopes to be a casual fashion so that his and Elio’s knees can touch.

Elio looks over at him and smiles and Oliver smiles too, still blissed out from their earlier activities and completely oblivious to the way Rachel watches them.

After dinner, Oliver manages to convince Adam and Rachel to go upstairs and do their homework. Elio and Oliver head out to the backyard, taking extra blankets with them to the   Adirondack chairs set up on the grass. It’s chilly, but not so bad once they’re wrapped up in their blanket cocoons.

“My parents will probably be home at midnight or so.”

“Can I meet them?”

Oliver shrugs and looks up at the evening sky. The sun has sunk below the horizon but the sky is not so dark yet. “If you want to,” he says quietly, not sure why Elio is so eager to meet his parents. He knows that his parents can’t compare to Elio’s, that they never will, and he doesn’t want them to ruin anything. His heart skips a beat and he looks over at Elio. “But you can’t tell them we’re dating. They don’t -”

“I know,” Elio assures before Oliver can get too panicked. “I won’t, it’s cool.”

Oliver nods and they look at each other for a few minutes before Oliver snakes his hand out of his blanket burrito and reaches for Elio’s hand. They link fingers and Oliver looks back up at the sky. “My mom’s good. She’s a little image-obsessed, but I think she’s well-intentioned.” This is the most Oliver’s ever opened up about his parents and it makes his stomach twist up into knots. “My dad is...intense.”

“Oliver -”

“I know he just wants what’s best for me but I just don’t think we see eye to eye on a lot of things.” He clears his throat, not wanting to get into how bad it can get when Oliver’s dad gets mad. It’s not like Oliver is abused - or that’s what he tells himself; his dad has only hit him a handful of times, nothing major - but their fights usually blow up to epic proportions. He blinks a few times and clears his throat. “Yeah, intense.”

“Oliver, I know we’ve only been dating for a couple of weeks,” Elio starts, and Oliver can hear the nervousness in his voice, “but you know you can talk to me, right? About anything.”

Oliver hates the way his eyes well up with tears and he nods, not sure if he’s able to form words without crying.

“That’s the most important part of being a boyfriend,” Elio says simply, “being there when you need someone.”

“Thanks,” Oliver manages. His throat feels tight and he closes his eyes hard. How is it that Elio always knows what to say? Or, in that case, not say. They’re quiet after that. Elio doesn’t press the conversation and Oliver doesn’t offer to continue. The sky slowly turns a deep purple and the boys sit comfortably in their chairs, their fingers still locked together. They don’t really notice the storm clouds looming overhead until there’s a clap of thunder and the sky opens up, rain pouring down and soaking them almost immediately.

“Oh, fuck!”

Elio and Oliver jump up, stumbling over wet, tangled blankets as they rush to the back door. They’re laughing as they let themselves in, both soaking wet and shivering. Oliver looks down at Elio, whose hair has been plastered down over his eyes by the rain. It makes him laugh even harder and he cups Elio’s cheeks, leans down, and kisses him, finally feeling free in his usually stifling house.

Elio laughs against Oliver’s lips, hands coming up to grip Oliver’s wrists, keeping Oliver right where he is. Oliver only pulls back once Elio’s shivers turn to full body trembles and he has goosebumps all over his arms.

After warm showers, Oliver makes them each cups of tea and they relax on the couch to watch Conan at 11. Oliver’s parents come home at midnight, just as predicted, and Oliver stiffens as he makes introductions.

“It’s nice to finally meet you,” Oliver’s dad says, clapping Elio on the shoulder. “I’m glad the team finally has a good cox. Maybe next year you’ll place in the top three at HoC.”

Oliver bites his tongue, not wanting to seem suspicious by jumping to Elio’s defense.

“I hope so, Dr. Weiss,” Elio says, plastering on his perfect meet-the-parents persona. “I’ve loved being on the team so far.”

“Such a sweet boy,” Oliver’s mom coos, ruffling Elio’s hair. She’s a bit drunk, but not so much so that she’s stumbling. Just enough that it makes Elio and Oliver stifle giggles as she starts pulling bobby pins out of her hair. “I hope Oliver was a good host. You come over whenever you want, Elio.”

“He was, Mrs. Weiss. And thank you.”

“You boys get to bed,” Oliver’s dad says as he wraps an arm around his wife’s waist to help her up the stairs. “Oliver, you need to work on your applications after school tomorrow. No messing around, alright? You don’t have practice this week, so you need to take advantage of the free time.”

“Yes, sir,” Oliver says, standing up a bit straighter when his dad addresses him. He and Elio stand in silence as they watch Dr. and Mrs. Weiss make their way up to the master bedroom. Both of them are nearly bursting, and they can only let out their nervous laughter once the door clicks shut.

“Oh my God, my mom was a mess , I’m so sorry.”

“Please,” Elio cuts in, knocking his shoulder against Oliver’s, “you should see my mom around her friends Isaac and Mounir.”

They head upstairs as well and get ready for bed together, easily working around one another, as if they’ve been doing this for ages. They work well together, on and off the water, and Oliver can’t help his satisfied smile.

“Do you want me to sleep on the floor or something?” Elio asks, busying himself with setting an alarm on his phone.

“On the floor?” Oliver repeats, a bit incredulous.

Was it too much before? Did we do too much? Did my parents scare him off?

“Yeah, you know, so your parents don’t like, walk in on us in the same bed or anything.”

Oliver lets out a relieved sigh and flops down onto the bed. “No, no, you can sleep in the bed with me. They never really come in here.” Once Elio plugs in his phone and gets into bed, Oliver switches off the bedside lamp. He curls up on his side and wraps an arm around Elio’s waist, pulling him back against his chest. “This okay?” Oliver mumbles against Elio’s neck.

“Yeah,” Elio breathes. He threads their fingers together and wiggles back so that he’s fully in Oliver’s embrace. Oliver nuzzles Elio’s neck, placing a soft kiss to warm skin before he closes his eyes.

Chapter Text

Oliver decides that waking up next to Elio is the best thing in the entire world. Elio sleeps on his stomach, flopped halfway on top of Oliver, limbs akimbo. His hair is a mess and his cheeks are warm and pink. Oliver snuggles a little closer, loving the way Elio suddenly clings to him, even while sleeping. He glances over at his alarm clock and inwardly groans. It’s early as fuck and, even though they don’t have practice that morning, his internal clock is still waking him up at the asscrack of dawn.

Oliver turns his head back towards Elio and buries his nose in soft curls. He inhales and closes his eyes, trying to commit Elio’s scent to memory. Maybe his pillow will even smell like Elio. Elio stirs and blinks up at Oliver, still bleary with sleep. “Didn’t mean to wake you,” Oliver whispers, keeping his voice down low.

“ ‘s okay.” Elio looks at the clock and groans before letting his head fall back to Oliver’s chest. They’re both in t-shirts and boxers, but Oliver loves the way their heated bodies intertwine under the covers.

They lapse into silence and Oliver starts stroking his fingers up and down Elio’s spine. Elio hums and snuggles a little closer, both boys giggling as their bodies move against each other.

“I like sleeping with you,” Oliver whispers into Elio’s hair.

“And I with you.” Elio pushes himself up a little, a sleepy little smile on his face. Oliver can’t help but lean up and kiss him, soft and sweet, heedless of morning breath.

“We still have plenty of time before we have to get up,” Oliver murmurs. He keeps his voice low even though he doesn’t really have to. His parents’ room is down the hall and the kids’ bathroom separates his room from his siblings’. But he doesn’t want to break the little bubble they have. Sunlight streams in through the slightly parted curtains, casting a warm glow over the duvet.

“Mmh, we do,” Elio hums. He shifts a little against Oliver but then immediately stops and glances away, flush high on his cheeks. Oliver is about to ask what’s wrong but then he feels Elio’s hardon against his thigh. His own cock twitches in his boxers and he smiles.

“Do you need some help with that, Elio?”

Elio nods and Oliver kisses him again. He just can’t help it. Elio is too gorgeous, especially early in the morning. He makes a desperate little sound against Oliver’s lips and Oliver brings his hands down to Elio’s waist. He rucks up Elio’s shirt a bit, skimming his fingers over his side.

“Can you shift a little?” Oliver whispers, patting Elio’s hip. “I need to use my left hand. Blisters.” The blisters on his left hand are only on the side of his palm and on the tip of his pinky. They’re covered in soft fabric bandaids. His right hand, however, is bandaged almost entirely from the tips of his fingers to the heel of his palm.

“Oliver,” Elio breathes, “you don’t have to. We can...we can do what we did yesterday.”

Oliver shakes his head and helps Elio move so that he’s pretty much straddling Oliver. “No, I want to.” Elio nods and Oliver smiles up at him. They kiss again, slow at first but quickly getting heated and needy. Oliver reaches into the slit of Elio’s boxers and tugs his cock out. It’s already hard and Oliver gasps as he wraps his fingers around the warm flesh.

“Oliver,” Elio chokes out, almost falling over. He braces himself on his hands which are planted on either side of Oliver’s head.

“Gorgeous,” Oliver coos, giving Elio a gentle stroke. His eyes are trained on Elio’s cock -- he wouldn’t be able to look anywhere else even if he wanted to. Every damn inch of Elio is simply perfect, and Oliver desperately wants to explore each bit of perfection with his lips. “Is this okay?” he asks as he starts to pick up a rhythm. It’s still slow, but he maintains a steady pace, using Elio’s precum to slick the way.

“Oliver,” Elio sighs again, hanging his head and closing his eyes. He groans and Oliver swears it’s the prettiest thing he’s ever heard. “Faster, Oliver. Please .” Oliver complies and quickens his pace. Elio hisses but shakes his head before Oliver even has a chance to ask if he’s okay. “Just like that, Ol. Feels so good.”

Oliver grins at the nickname, his chest puffing with pride at how good he’s apparently making Elio feel. Oliver’s own cock is hard, trapped in his boxers. He has a brief desire to thrust his hips up against Elio, but the thought makes his cheeks flush and he returns his concentration to the way Elio is panting above him.

“You’re gonna make me cum,” Elio warns, squeezing his eyes shut.

“That’s the idea.”

“Oliver…” Elio’s voice is a bit louder then and Oliver can tell he’s close. Elio groans and before he can make any more noise, Oliver surges up and kisses him, effectively swallowing down Elio’s little whimpers as he spills over Oliver’s hand.

Elio is absolutely breathless when Oliver finally pulls back. He practically collapses on top of Oliver, who laughs and reaches for a tissue. “You okay?” Oliver asks as he cleans Elio’s cum off his hand. He watches the sticky mess slowly slide over his fingers for a moment before wiping it away and tossing the tissue aside.

“Me okay,” Elio says, soft and sweet.

Oliver laughs again and kisses the top of Elio’s head. “Was nervous you’d make too much noise,” he scolds, but it’s teasing.

Elio lets out a satisfied groan and shifts against Oliver. Oliver has to bite his lip to keep from moaning himself as Elio slides over him, cock hard and insistent against the front of his boxers. “Oliver,” Elio whispers, rolling off of Oliver and onto his side. Oliver is about to complain, but then Elio is pulling Oliver to face him before reaching down to rub his cock through his boxers.

“Elio,” Oliver sighs, pressing his forehead to Elio’s. They’re so close, breathing one another’s air as Elio dips his hand into Oliver’s boxers. Oliver hisses and closes his eyes, letting the sensation of Elio’s hand on him overtake him. “Elio, Elio, Elio.” It’s the only thing he’s ever going to be able to say again, because he’ll only ever be able to think of Elio from here on out. Elio surrounds him and Oliver loses himself in the sensation, quickly cumming against Elio’s hand.

“You’ve made a mess,” Elio whispers against Oliver’s lips. Oliver grunts, still coming down from his orgasm, and he looks down at where Elio’s hand is still loosely wrapped around his cock. Elio’s fingers are covered in cum but so is Oliver’s bedsheet. He groans and closes his eyes again.

“Thank God Camila is doing laundry today.”

Elio chuckles, which causes Oliver to break out into a fit of giggles as well. The pair are soon laughing their heads off, trying to stifle their sounds between little kisses. Once Elio cleans off his hand and they settle back down, far away from the wet spot thank you very much, Oliver closes his eyes.

“I wish you could stay over every night,” he sighs.

“You can stay over my place,” Elio offers as he makes himself comfortable as the little spoon. Oliver adjusts his arms around Elio’s waist, pulling him even closer. Oliver presses soft kisses to the back of Elio’s neck. “Any time you want. My parents love you, you know that.”

Oliver hums and closes his eyes, burrowing his face in Elio’s shoulder. “Thank you,” he whispers, voice muffled by Elio’s shirt.

“You’re welcome.”

They drift in and out of sleep for the next hour, just basking in one another’s presence and the warm sunlight filtering in through the blinds. Oliver is content. There’s no other word for it. So perfectly content, and he wouldn’t change a thing.

When his alarm goes off, Oliver reluctantly lets go of Elio to turn it off before stretching out his arms and legs. Elio groans and rolls onto his tummy in order to press his face into Oliver’s pillow. Oliver laughs and ruffles Elio’s curls before getting out of bed. “Come on, don’t want to be late for our first day back after HoC. Just wait till you see.”

“See what?” Elio asks against the pillow.

Oliver just smiles. “You’ll see.”

Elio makes a frustrated little sound but leaves it at that, laying in bed until Oliver comes back from using the bathroom and brushing his teeth. “Come on,” he says, taking out his uniform. “You gotta get up, Elio.”

Elio groans but does as he’s told, rolling out of bed and blearily making his way to the bathroom. When he returns, Oliver is dressed and Elio looks a fraction more awake now that he’s freshened up. They finish getting ready in silence, but before Elio can open the bedroom door, Oliver grabs him around the waist.

“Thanks for staying,” he whispers, keenly aware of the sounds of his family moving about the house. “I had a nice time.”

Elio grins and kisses Oliver’s cheek. “I had a nice time too, Ol.”

Oliver leans in for a kiss, planning on keeping it short and sweet. But Elio winds his arms around Oliver’s neck and Oliver soon finds himself crowding Elio up against the door.


Elio jumps, breaking the kiss.

“Oliver!” It’s Adam, calling up from the bottom of the steps.

“What?” Oliver’s voice is a little harsher than he meant it, but he and Elio were so rudely interrupted.

“Can you help me with the coffee machine?”

Oliver groans and hangs his head, wishing he could get back to kissing Elio. “Yeah, be down in a sec!”

Elio laughs and tugs at Oliver’s hair, getting him to look up again. “Come stay at my place sometime this week, ok?” Oliver nods and Elio gives him another quick kiss before gently shoving at his shoulder. “Okay. Come on, let’s go.”

They head downstairs together, Oliver huffing a bit as he shows his brother how to use the coffee machine for the one-hundredth time. Rachel comes down a few minutes later glancing between Elio and Oliver for a few minutes as they get breakfast ready. The four of them start in on breakfast together before Oliver’s parents come down in their usual flurry of activity.

“Rachel,” his mother says as she fastens her diamond necklace, “don’t forget, I’m picking you up from school for your haircut this afternoon.”

Rachel rolls her eyes and flips her long hair over her shoulder. “Yes, Mom.”

“Oliver, you need to work on your applications tonight,” his dad says as he makes himself a cup of coffee in his to-go mug. “I have you meeting with my Yale contact on Friday.”

Oliver just nods, looking down at his cereal.

“Answer me, Oliver.”

“Yes, Sir,” Oliver mumbles, pushing his spoon around in his bowl.

Oliver’s dad leaves then, grabbing his keys and a banana before he’s out the door. Their mom fixes herself a bowl of yogurt, of which she eats two bites, before she’s also headed for the door. “I’ll be with the Frankels today should anyone need me,” she says over her shoulder before closing the door behind her.

Rachel sighs as she glances down at her watch. “I better go wait for the bus,” she laments, slowly packing up her things. “I’ll see you guys later, I guess.” She kisses Oliver’s cheek and then turns to Elio. “Nice to finally meet you, Elio,” she says with a warm smile, “I hope we haven't scared you off and you'll be back.”

“Hmm, I think I will be,” Elio says with a wink. Rachel giggles and pats him on the shoulder before making her way out to the bus stop.

“You can still give me a ride, right?” Adam asks through a mouthful of cereal.

“Yep,” Oliver says, hopping off his stool and rinsing out his bowl. He can feel his shoulders tensing up and he wishes his dad had never even come downstairs. He’d been having such a great morning with Elio until reality came crashing down around him.

“Cool. Thanks, bro.”

“Yeah. We’re leaving in 15.” Oliver heads into the living room, flopping onto the couch and pulling out his phone. He’s only alone for a few seconds before Elio is sitting on the couch as well, smooshing himself onto the small space Oliver has left free.

“Hey, you okay?” Elio asks softly.

“Yeah,” Oliver says, not looking up from his phone.

Elio sighs and reaches out, gently plucking the phone out of Oliver’s hands. “No, you’re not.”

“He’s so fucking annoying.”

“I know, Ol.” Elio runs his fingers through Oliver’s hair and he closes his eyes, letting himself get lost in the sensation and slowly start to calm down. “You’ll show him, though. You’ll send in killer applications to the schools you actually want to go to and you’ll get in and get away. I promise.”

“New York is so far away from here.”

“I’ll come and visit,” Elio promises.

Oliver sighs and opens his eyes, immediately relaxing at the sight of Elio sitting right next to him. “I wish my parents were like yours.”

Elio shrugs. “Maybe you don’t know your parents as well as you think you do.”

Oliver snorts at that.

“Seriously! Have you ever considered coming out to them?”

Oliver shakes his head. “No fucking way. If college is this big of a deal, I don’t even want to think about what he’d say if I told him I was gay.” Oliver sighs yet again, but Elio leans in for a quick kiss.

“Don’t think about it now,” he whispers against Oliver’s lips. “It’s not worth it. Just try to enjoy the day, okay?”

Oliver nods and leans up for another kiss. “Okay.”

They actually manage to get in the car on time, Oliver forcing Adam into the backseat. That doesn’t stop Adam from leaning over the console to talk to Elio, though, chewing their ears off the entire ride with nonstop questions about Italy.

As soon as Oliver parks, Adam flies out of the car and bolts towards where his friends are waiting near the west entrance. Oliver rolls his eyes as he slings his backpack over his shoulder. “God forbid he's seen with us,” he jokes, nudging his shoulder against Elio’s as they approach the main entrance where Noah, Peter, and Sean are waiting.

“ ready?” Sean asks Elio as he pushes open the door.

“For what?”

When they step inside, the boys are immediately tackled from practically every angle. Oliver loses track of Adam in the crossfire and he grabs onto Elio’s wrist so that they can stay together. Oliver laughs and he looks back at Elio who is wearing a megawatt smile. They manage to find Peter, Noah, and Sean in the melee and the five boys huddle together in a pack as they make their way down the hallway.


“Yo, fourth place!”

“You killed it, guys!”

“Way to go, new kid!”

By the time they can sequester themselves in an empty classroom, they all have mussed up heads of hair and rumpled shirts from countless pats on the back. The boys all grin at each other before bursting into a fit of giggles.

“Welcome to life after Head of Charles,” Peter says.

Oliver knocks his shoulder against Elio’s. “You good?”

Elio takes a deep breath and nods. He looks over at the door, as if he’s afraid a mob is going to burst in, before looking back at the group. “Yeah,” he says with a rush of air, “yeah, I’m good. Fuck, that’s awesome. I feel like someone’s gonna ask for my autograph or something.”

Noah snorts. “Ollie got a girl’s number out of it once. Didn’t do him any good, obviously.”

Oliver is about to say something about how he doesn’t need numbers from anyone now, but he holds his tongue. He and Elio still haven’t really talked about coming out to the rest of their friends yet. The relationship is still new and he likes keeping it between them.

The bell rings and Oliver jumps, startled out of his thoughts. “Ugh, fuck,” he sighs, hitching his backpack higher on his shoulder. “Back to reality. I’ll see you second period, Elio!” The boys all go their separate ways, congratulations and cheers following them through the halls.

Their newfound intimacy adds a new level to their relationship. During their shared classes, Elio and Oliver trade furtive glances and small smiles over their books. Their feet always meet under the conference tables and if they sit closer than normal, no one mentions it. They giggle at each other when they catch each other’s gaze. Oliver’s heart races every time he hears Elio’s voice. He feels a little stupid about the whole thing, but he can’t help it. He’s head over heels for Elio and there’s no going back.

“Hey,” Oliver says, catching up with Elio outside of the music room. He practically sprinted to get there in time after his math class, wanting to catch Elio as soon as he stepped out.

“Meeting me at my classes now?” Elio teases. “Are you gonna hold my books for me?”

Oliver rolls his eyes but grabs Elio’s two notebooks from his hands. “I was actually coming to let you know that Adam has Speech and Debate after school so I can give you a ride home.” He looks down at Elio and raises his brows, hoping he’s getting across what he actually means. His sister has a hair appointment, his brother will be at Speech and Debate, his dad will still be at work. Oliver has some time to spare and he’s hoping he and Elio can spend that bit of time together.

Elio laughs and walks a bit closer so that their shoulders are touching. “Thanks, yeah, I’d like that. My mom’s been asking when she’s going to see you next.”

“Damn, she loves me more than she does you, huh?”

“Don’t count on it, Weiss.”

When they get to Elio’s house, Elio automatically reaches for Oliver’s hand as they step through the door. “Mamma! Papà! I’m home!”

“In the kitchen!” comes Mrs. Perlman’s voice. They kick off their shoes and drop their backpacks before Oliver’s hand is in Elio’s again and they’re following the smell of Mrs. Perlman’s cooking. “Oh, Oliver!” she cries, setting down a spoon covered in sauce in favor of giving Oliver a hug and a kiss. “We haven’t seen you in so long. Come, sit. I’m just finishing up here and I’ll make you a snack.”

Elio and Oliver take seats at the kitchen table and Professor Perlman immediately pours them glasses of apricot juice. Oliver takes a long sip as Mrs. and Professor Perlman greet Elio in Italian.

“So Oliver,” Professor Perlman says, helping Mrs. Perlman prepare a plate of cheeses and meats, “Elio says you met an alum at Head of Charles who went to Columbia.”

Oliver glances over at Elio who has a proud smile on his face. “Oh, uh yeah! Rob. He seemed cool.”

“That’s wonderful, Oliver,” Mrs. Perlman says as she puts a plate of fresh fruit on the table. Elio attempts to help himself to a handful but Mrs. Perlman gently smacks the back of his hand. “Guests first, tesoro.”

“Sorry,” Elio says sheepishly.

Oliver laughs and grabs some grapes, depositing them onto Elio’s plate before helping himself to some fruit, meat, and cheese. The four talk amicably about school, Mrs. Perlman’s art, the research Professor Perlman is doing while he is on sabbatical. After only thirty minutes, there’s barely any food left on the table and Oliver is happily stuffed.

“Please stay for dinner, piccino,” Mrs. Perlman says. She ruffles Oliver’s hair before picking up his plate. “We’re going to make homemade pasta.”

Despite their large snack, Oliver’s stomach growls at the thought of fresh pasta with the Perlman's. “I wish I could,” he sighs, glancing down at his watch, “but I should probably get going soon. I have to work on my college applications tonight.”

“Ah, I don’t envy you,” Professor Perlman says. “Let me know if you’d like me to look over anything, son. I have to look at so many applications every year that it’d be no problem at all.”

“Thanks, Professor Perlman.” Oliver shrugs and rubs the back of his neck, simultaneously embarrassed about and grateful for the hospitality.

“We’re gonna go hang in my room before Oliver has to leave,” Elio says, grabbing Oliver’s hand again and pulling him up from the table. “Grazie, Mamma.”

“You’re welcome, miei cari. Ciao, Oliver.”

“Bye, Mrs. P!” Oliver calls over his shoulder as Elio drags him towards the staircase. “Eager, aren’t we?” Oliver teases, crowding up behind Elio as they ascend.

“Oliver,” Elio whispers, hopping up the last few stairs and practically running to his room.

Oliver follows close behind and is immediately pounced upon as soon as the door is closed. He laughs against Elio’s lips, grabbing Elio under his thighs as his legs wrap around Oliver’s waist.

“Wanted to kiss you all day,” Elio pants between kisses, lips now working overtime in an attempt to cover every inch of Oliver’s face and neck in kisses.

“Me too, babe,” Oliver murmurs, stumbling back to Elio’s bed where they tumble down in a heap of limbs. They both giggle as they situate themselves against the pillows, Oliver straddling Elio this time. They get back to kissing just as soon as they’re comfortable, lips seeking lips, tongues seeking tongues, hands seeking hands. Oliver sighs into the kiss, feeling relaxed and at ease as Elio surrounds him.

They're interrupted sometime later by Elio's mom calling him down for dinner. “I guess I should go,” Oliver says, sighing when he sees it's already almost 6.

Elio grabs Oliver's wrist so that he can check the time too. He pouts and lets go of Oliver's wrist and entwines their fingers instead. “I don't want you to go.” His voice is quiet and he's looking down, avoiding Oliver's gaze.

“I don't either,” Oliver whispers with a kiss to Elio's forehead. “Will you FaceTime me tonight? Before bed?”

Elio nods and lifts his head for another quick kiss...which quickly details into a few minutes of kissing before Oliver forces himself off of Elio's lap. He says his goodbyes to the Perlman clan, he and Elio sharing one last kiss before he heads out to his car.

Thankfully, no one is home yet when he pulls into the driveway, so Oliver makes himself a cup of tea before trudging upstairs to work on his applications. Before he opens up Microsoft Word, he shoots a quick email off to Rob about connecting with some other Columbia alums. He works for about an hour before he hears car doors shut out on the driveway. A few minutes later, there's a knock on his door.

“Come in,” he mumbles, deep in his essay for NYU. Oliver glances up when the door opens, smiling wide when Rachel comes in. Her hair, which used to be at her ribs, is now shoulder length, and it makes her look way older. “Yo, who are you and what have you done with my baby sister?”

“Stop being so dramatic,” Rachel says, flipping her hair. It doesn't roll over her shoulder like it used to, but it still has the same effect. She flops onto Oliver's bed, so he spins in his desk chair to face her. “Is Mom in a good mood or bad mood?”

“Good. The fundraising for whatever charity she's working on next is going well.” Rachel settles back on the pillows and smirks at Oliver. “So how was school?”

“Fine,” Oliver says with a shrug, “day after Head of Charles so lots of excitement. The usual.”

“How's Elio?”

“Uh...good I guess?” Oliver shrugs again and rubs the back of his neck. What was with his siblings' obsession with Elio?

Rachel hums and they're quiet for a few seconds before Rachel pipes up again. “So like...are you two together?”

Oliver actually chokes on his own tongue. “Are we...wha-?” he manages around a cough. He can feel his cheeks flush and his head swims. Shit. How did she find out? Maybe she's just guessing, maybe that's not what she meant. But maybe she does know. Maybe she's already told their parents. Maybe Oliver is in deep fucking shit. “No! No, we're just...what?”

Rachel is giggling, one hand over her mouth to keep herself from outright laughing. “Calm down, big bro. I saw you guys kissing the other day when he was over when you came in from the rain.” She tosses a pillow at Oliver's stunned face. “I'm not going to tell anyone, I swear.”

He was so sure they were being careful when Elio was over, but Oliver guesses they need to take a few more precautions. “I don't - we didn't, I'm not…”

“It's cool, Oliver,” Rachel says, sitting up and coming over to him. “I'm not going to out you. And I like Elio, so I approve.” She leans down and kisses his cheek. “I'm just mad you didn't come out on your own and I had to find out like this.” She sits on the edge of the bed and Oliver stares at her, mouth still open. Rachel's maturity never ceases to amaze him.

“I didn't think you guys would be okay with it,” he murmurs, not sure how he's getting his own voice to work.

“Oliver, you're my brother. I love you and I'll always love you, no matter what. I can't speak for Mom or Dad or Adam, but I should hope that they're the same. Well, Adam at least, and maybe Mom. We love you, Ollie, and it doesn't matter if you like girls or guys.”

Oliver just nods dumbly, feeling unbelievably grateful for his little sister. “Love you too, Rach,” he finally manages.

She stands and kisses Oliver's cheek again. “Now get back to those applications,” she says, nodding toward his laptop, “especially if you want to get into NYU.”

Rachel leaves Oliver there, still sitting in his chair, absolutely gobsmacked. He actually came out to one of his family members. Well, she kind of did it for him, but still. There was no more hiding from Rachel anymore. He feels a rush of relief and he lets out an airy little laugh as he fishes his phone out of his pocket. He FaceTimes Elio, ecstatic that he picks up on the first ring.

“Thought we were gonna FaceTime before bed,” Elio says when he picks up. “I know you're old but you can't be ready to pass out this early.”

“Rachel knows,” Oliver blurts out. “About us. She saw us kissing.”

The color drains from Elio's face and he sits heavily on his bed. “Oh shit. Shit, Oliver, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-”

“No,” Oliver interrupts, “no. It' feels really good, actually.” He spins in a circle and falls backward onto his bed, holding his phone up above him. “I feel relieved.” He's got a dopey smile on his face and his cheeks hurt from smiling. “She's cool with it. Like, really cool with it. And it feels good.” Oliver nods, mostly to himself. “It feels good that one of them knows.”

"God, I wish I could kiss you right now." Elio is saying something else, but Oliver is only half paying attention. He keeps replaying his conversation with Rachel in his head, wondering if she's right, if the rest of his family would be just as accepting as she is.


Chapter Text

Oliver decides to stay at Elio’s Wednesday and Thursday nights and Elio will stay Friday through Sunday, as Oliver’s parents will be out of town and they’ll have the house to themselves, aside from Oliver’s siblings of course. The guys beg Oliver to throw a party on Friday night, and he’s already said no about a thousand times. He finally relents, but makes them promise it’ll be small: just the guys and Peter’s girlfriend Sarah.

“I don't know why I let them bully me into stuff like that,” Oliver says grumpily as he buckles his seatbelt and starts the car.

“You know you can say no, right?” Elio says, also buckling in. It’s Wednesday after school and so they’re headed off to Elio’s place, Oliver’s stomach already growling at the thought of Mrs. Perlman’s cooking.

“Yeah, I guess,” Oliver sighs, looking over at Elio.

“I think you actually like playing host,” Elio accuses, dropping his hand to Oliver’s thigh as they pull out of the parking lot.

Oliver huffs and rolls his eyes. “Maybe I do,” he mumbles.

“I knew it. You can’t fool me.”

“But seriously, I hope they don’t bring anyone else. I really don’t feel like dealing with that shit.”

“I don’t think they will,” They’re quiet for a beat before Elio continues. “Hey, if it’s just the guys and Sarah...would you maybe want to tell them?”

“Tell them what?” Oliver asks as he rolls up to a stoplight.

“Y’know...about us.”

Oliver whips his head around so fast he thinks it might fly off his body. “Really?” he asks, slightly breathless.

“Yeah, I mean, we’ve been together for a while and I’m pretty serious about you so…”

“I’m pretty serious about you, too,” Oliver says quietly. He takes Elio’s hand which is still on his thigh and squeezes. “I think that’s a great idea.”

Of course, as soon as they push open the front door at  Elio’s place, Mrs. Perlman is hugging both of them.

“Oliver, darling, it’s so nice to see you again,” she says, running her fingers through his hair.

“Hey, Mrs. P,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck.

“I have yogurt and fruit for you boys if you’re hungry now. We’ll eat when Sammy gets home, around 7, if that’s alright.”

“Good by me,” Oliver says as he follows Elio into the kitchen. They load up their bowls with yogurt and fresh fruit and then make themselves comfortable at the kitchen table.

“What are you making for dinner, Mamma?” Elio asks through a mouthful of yogurt.

“Mastichi a bocca chiusa, mio porcellino.”

“Maaaaa,” Elio whines, pulling a face.

“What?” Oliver asks, looking between the two. “What did she say?”

“She called me a little pig.”

“You're my little pig, Mister. And I reminded you to keep that mouth of yours shut while you’re eating.” Mrs. Perlman smiles and ruffles her son’s hair. “I’m making chicken piccata. Does that suit you, Piccolo Principe?”

“Yes, Mamma,” Elio answers with a roll of his eyes.

They finish their snack, Mrs. Perlman humming a little tune as she starts cooking dinner. “Are you sure you don’t need help?” Oliver offers before Elio can tug him upstairs.

“Oh no, tesoro, I’m just fine. You two have fun.”

“I used to be her tesoro, now I’m just a little pig.” Elio is pouting which makes Oliver and Mrs. Perlman laugh. Once they’re in Elio’s bedroom, Elio flops down on his bed and makes himself comfortable. “Well, are you gonna come here or what?” he asks as Oliver slowly makes his way over.

“Sorry, sorry,” Oliver says with a laugh, shedding his sweatshirt before clambering into bed next to Elio. “Still kinda new to this whole boyfriend thing.

“You’re doing a pretty good job so far,” Elio compliments.

“So are you.”

Elio sags against Oliver’s side and Oliver immediately wraps his arm around Elio’s shoulder. “Mmh, you’re a good pillow,” Elio murmurs as he pulls his phone out of his pocket.

“Glad to hear it.”

Elio opens the camera app and switches it to selfie mode.

“Oh no,” Oliver groans, using his free hand to cover his face. “No way. No selfies.”

“Aww, come on, you look fine.” Elio reaches up and tugs at Oliver’s arm until he relents. “I have to have pictures with my boyfriend.”

Oliver sighs and looks down at Elio can he say no to that face? “Ugh, fine.”

They pull a few poses - smiling, serious, duck lips - and Elio even snaps a few of them kissing each other on the cheek. Once he’s done, he sends them off to Oliver and then goes about setting one of Oliver kissing his cheek as his phone background.

“You’re too cute,” Oliver says, pressing his nose into Elio’s curls as he settles down again.

“Shut up,” Elio murmurs as he cuddles into Oliver’s chest.

“Can you show me pictures of Italy?” Oliver whispers a few minutes later, not sure if Elio is planning on taking a nap right then and there.

But that immediately perks Elio up. “Yes!” He sits up, nearly breaking Oliver’s nose. “I can’t believe we haven’t done this yet,” he says as he opens his photos app and starts scrolling back to before his move. “This is Anchise and Mafalda in our kitchen. Oh! And this is me and Marzia. Those are the orchards behind us. We have all sorts of things. Peaches, apricots, artichoke, tomatoes. Pretty much anything you can think of. Here’s the pool my dad put in and oh! I even have a picture of it in winter. Check out how much snow we got that year.”

Elio is almost frantic in his explanations while he searches for all the photos he wants to show Oliver. He fluctuates between looking at Elio’s phone and gazing at Elio fondly, a stupid sappy smile on his face. Elio even goes so far as to show Oliver a few of his baby pictures, which has Oliver zooming in and cooing about how cute Elio was while crawling around near the peach trees in just a diaper.

“Sorry,” Elio says once he’s done, a bit breathless.

“Why are you apologizing?” Oliver asks, letting his fingers sink into Elio’s hair.

“I dunno.” Elio shrugs. “Some people find it boring when I talk about Italy.”

Oliver scoffs. “How could anyone find that boring.” He kisses the top of Elio’s head. “Will you take me there one day?” he asks quietly.

They wriggle around a bit, moving so that they’re both on their sides, looking at each other. “Of course I will,” Elio says, reaching out to tangle his fingers with Oliver’s. “We can go for the whole summer.”

Oliver knows that’s a moot promise, and he’s sure Elio knows the same, but it’s nice to daydream about sitting under the warm sun in a quiet town. He tugs Elio toward him and kisses him, pouring all of his adoration for the boy next to him into the kiss.

They stay in bed until Mrs. Perlman calls them down for dinner, making out like the horny teenagers they are, fumbling around each other and giggling between every press of lips. They stumble down the stairs together when Mrs. Perlman calls them down for the third time. Elio hastily tries to fix his hair as Oliver smooths his shirt. They come into the kitchen still holding hands, smiling sheepishly.

“I don’t have to give you boys the talk now, do I?” Professor Perlman asks as he pours wine for himself and his wife.

“Papà!” Elio exclaims, face turning bright red. “We aren’t - We haven’t -” Elio stutters, totally at a loss for what to say.

“Don’t tease them like that, Sammy,” Mrs. Perlman says as she places the serving dish on the table. “Play nicely.” She pats her husband’s back and he presses a kiss to her cheek.

“Just be safe, kids,” he says as he sits down. “Now, Oliver, tell me more about what classes you’re in at school.”

After a brief moment of hesitation, Elio and Oliver take their seats and tuck into their meal. The food is, as always, beyond delicious and Oliver eats more than his fair share. They talk about classes, art, music, cooking. Oliver feels so relaxed and at home, laughing along with the Perlmans and easily joining in on the conversation.

Once they’ve cleared their plates, they retire to the living room, where Professor Perlman convinces Elio to play the piano for them. He does, only for about twenty minutes, before standing up and flopping on the couch next to Oliver. He receives a round of applause and ducks his head.

He's only experienced it twice, but Oliver loves when Elio plays. He pours so much feeling into the music, his tongue peeking out from between his lips as he concentrates on his fingers. His playing always makes Oliver's heart seize up. It's clear that Elio loves to play. He lives and breathes music and art and the Classics and Oliver realizes that's all he's ever wanted in a boyfriend. He wants nothing more than to sit there and listen to Elio play for eternity. Well, eternity but with a few breaks for hand jobs and kisses.

“Wonderful, tesoro,” Mrs. Perlman coos, “as always.” She reaches for the remote and flips on the TV. They scroll through Netflix for a few moments before selecting Hook since Elio hasn’t seen it and Mrs. Perlman admits her secret, longtime crush on Robin Williams.

When Mrs. Perlman presses play, Elio curls his legs up and slots himself against Oliver’s side. Oliver hesitates for just a second before draping his arm over Elio’s shoulder. Elio lets out a quiet hum as he snuggles up next to Oliver. Oliver, meanwhile, watches the screen with a dopey smile, paying more attention to Elio’s warm body by his side than to the movie.

Halfway through, Mrs. Perlman serves them all bowls full of gelato and even offers coffee or tea.

“I’m good, Mrs. P.,” Oliver says with a warm smile as he unwraps his arm from Elio to take the bowl. “But thanks, this looks amazing.”

“Too sweet,” she coos, ruffling Oliver’s hair as she passes Elio his bowl. “Hopefully you can learn some manners from your boyfriend, hmm?”

Oliver’s face goes bright pink but Elio just shoves gelato into his mouth. “Mmhm, I know, I know. He’s so charming and polite.”

When the movie ends, Elio stands, stretches, and groans. “Did you boys do your homework before dinner?” Professor Perlman asks as he starts cleaning up the bowls.

“Um, yep!” Elio quickly says, looking at Oliver with wide eyes.

Oliver’s own stomach drops. He’d totally forgotten about homework. Being at the Perlman’s house was like being on summer vacation. Everything was warm and happy and the entire outside world melted away.

“You better get to it,” Professor Perlman says with a small smile. “It’s already 9.”

The boys scramble upstairs, taking a quick break to seek out the taste of gelato in a searing kiss before changing into sweatpants and unpacking their backpacks.

“I hate homework,” Elio says about an hour later, standing up and cracking his back. He looks at Oliver who is sprawled over the bed, only half paying attention to his history textbook.

“Same,” Oliver says, letting out a soft oof when Elio collapses onto the bed, mostly on top of Oliver. “You almost done?”

“I’m totally done.” Elio squirms a little to try and see where Oliver is in his reading.

“I’ve got one page left, babe,” he says a bit distractedly, now desperate to get through the last page so he can get back to Elio. Elio sighs and stops wriggling, only to continue to lay across Oliver’s back. Oliver laughs but lets Elio rest there for the few moments it takes for him to finish his reading and add some notes. “Okay,” Oliver says as he closes his book, “ now I can pay attention to you.”

Elio rolls off of Olivers back and Oliver rolls on top of Elio, perfectly synchronized as they come together in a kiss. Elio lets out a soft whimper and he spreads his thighs enough to let Oliver slot his hips between them. Oliver groans and breaks the kiss in order to start licking and nipping over Elio’s jaw and down his neck.

“Oliver,” he whispers, arching up.

“Yeah?” Oliver rolls his hips down to meet Elio’s and both boys groan.

“Fuck, that feels good.”

Oliver hums in agreement as he sucks a mark under Elio’s collarbone before licking back up to his lips. “Yeah, it does.” He thrusts down again as he meets Elio’s lips for a kiss. They both pick up a bit of a rhythm, although it’s slightly off and erratic. But for Oliver? Fuck, it’s the best thing he’s ever felt. He’s so hard in his sweats and so is Elio, and he can feel every bit of Elio’s body even under all their clothes.

Elio whines as their cocks line up and rub together through the layers and he ends up wrapping his legs around Oliver’s waist. “Oh my God,” Elio gasps as he throws his head back, breaking the kiss in an attempt to catch his breath. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.”

Oliver’s hands trail from Elio’s waist to his hips and then up his thighs, keeping Elio’s legs wrapped tight around him. He thrusts forward again, realizing that their motions are quite akin to sex. The thought makes Oliver blush and he buries his face in Elio’s exposed neck. “Fuck,” he whispers right against Elio’s skin.

“This okay?” Elio asks back, turning his head to the side in order to murmur against Oliver’s ear. Neither of them stops.

Oliver shivers and nods. “Really okay. Very okay. Fuck, Elio.”

“I’m so close,” Elio says softly. Oliver can feel Elio’s breath against his ear and he groans. Elio flicks his tongue out around the shell of Oliver’s ear and then bites the lobe. “I wanna cum, Ol.”


Oliver thrusts down hard, grinding their cocks together in a delicious roll of his hips. Oliver cries out as he cums, muffling himself in Elio’s shoulder. Elio cums just a moment later, Oliver’s name on his lips. They rub against each other as they come down, twitching and shuddering and whimpering as their cum seeps through the front of their sweatpants. Finally, once Oliver can take a deep breath, he pushes up onto his forearms. Elio has a dazed look on his face and he blinks up at Oliver with a happy smile.

“Felt good.”

Oliver nods in agreement and leans down to kiss Elio’s cheek before rolling off. His previous thought comes to mind again and he drapes his arm over his face in an attempt to hide his blush from Elio. Just that brief thought about actual penetrative with Elio has Oliver’s spent cock twitching uncomfortably in his pants.

“You alright, Ol?” Elio asks, still a bit breathless. He shifts on the bed and then lifts Oliver’s hand off his face.

Oliver turns his head on the pillow and swallows hard. Elio is so gorgeous, especially with his cheeks flushed and his hair askew, a few curls matted down with sweat. “I’m alright.” He leans in and kisses Elio softly. The kiss only lasts a second before they’re laughing against each other’s lips. “I think we both need showers,” Oliver says, glancing down at the wet patches on the front of their pants.

“Definitely.” Elio bumps Oliver’s forehead with his own and kisses him quickly before getting out of bed. He does a sort of awkward shuffle and grabs the fresh towel off his desk. “You can use the guest bathroom,” he says, tossing the towel onto Oliver’s chest. “It’s across the hall from that small room my dad is using as a study.”

Elio leaves the room and Oliver soon hears the shower start, presumably in the bathroom next to Elio’s bedroom. He stays there for a minute more, replaying their activities before finally getting up himself to shower.

When he comes back, towel wrapped around his waist and hair still dripping, Elio is already under the blankets with a book propped open on his knees. Oliver just stops in the doorway, watching Elio in his element.

“Are you just going to stand there all day or are you gonna come snuggle?” Elio doesn’t even bother looking up from his book, but Oliver can see the small curve of his lips.

Oliver laughs and rummages through his bag for his pajamas. He puts them on, towels off his hair, then gets into bed.

“I liked you better shirtless,” Elio says, closing his book and putting it on his bedside table. He flips onto his side to face Oliver.

“Yeah, yeah. Stop being such a horny teenager.”

Elio smiles and plucks at Oliver’s pajama shirt. “I like these.”

Oliver flushes bright pink and makes an attempt to pull the covers up over his shoulders. He’s wearing his Captain America pajamas: a blue tee with the shield emblem and pants printed with shields and stars. They’re his most comfortable pair and he thought they were a good choice, but now he wonders why he decided on the geekiest pajamas he owns. “Thanks,” he mumbles, tempted to shove his face into the pillows.

“I’m not teasing, you know,” Elio says. “I think I have the same pair, actually.” He straightens out the covers over them before setting an alarm on his phone and shutting off the light. There’s a bit of shuffling before they get comfortable with Elio’s chest against Oliver’s back. Elio drapes his arm over Oliver’s stomach and they link fingers right over Oliver’s navel.

“Thanks for letting me stay,” Oliver whispers into the darkness. He can feel Elio’s breath on the back of his neck followed by a trail of soft kisses.

“You can stay any time you want.” Oliver can hear how genuine Elio is being and he sighs. “Seriously. If you ever feel...If you ever want to get away from home, just come here. We’ll always have a place for you.”

Oliver squeezes his eyes shut tight before blinking back any tears. “Thanks,” he says, hoping he can attribute the warble in his voice to sleepiness.

“Goodnight, Oliver.”

“Night, Elio.”

Thursday at the Perlman’s is just as enjoyable as the previous night. As soon as they’re home from school, the boys have a snack, change, and get right to doing their homework so that they won’t have to worry about it after dinner. They trade kisses between math equations, while Elio is transcribing music, and as Oliver writes an essay for his Sports Management class. They get their work done just as Mrs. Perlman calls them down to dinner.

“This looks amazing ,” Oliver gushes as Mrs. Perlman serves him veal saltimbocca over arugula with a small side of gnocchi.

“I usually hand-make the gnocchi,” Mrs. Perlman laments, “but the weather here just doesn’t want to participate. They come out like glue. I hope store bought is okay.” They can barely be called store bought -- Mrs. Perlman got them at a specialty market made fresh and Oliver can already smell how delicious they’re going to be.

“I’m sure it’s perfect as always, Annella,” Professor Perlman soothes. Once they’re all served and after taking a few bites, Professor Perlman speaks again. “So, Oliver, we’d love to meet your parents,” he starts. Oliver swallows a piece of veal and has to quickly take a sip of water so as not to choke. “Maybe we can have them here for dinner.”

“Oh, um…” Oliver is at a loss for words, just staring at Professor Perlman with wide eyes. His palms are so sweaty his fork nearly slips out of his grip.

“I don’t know if that’s the best idea,” Elio jumps in, sparing a glance at Oliver. “His parents are a little...conservative.”

A silence falls over the table and Oliver wishes a hole would open up in the Earth and he’d just get swallowed down into the pits of Hell.

“We understand,” Annella says softly. Oliver’s eyes flick to her and he’s relieved to see her usual loving expression on her face. “You let us know if you ever want us to meet them, but we won’t pressure you.”

“I’m sorry, Oliver,” Professor Perlman adds. “I know how it goes with strict parents. Or grandparents, that is.” He laughs ruefully. “My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with.” The mood is lightened with Pro’s stories of his childhood and everything is back to normal in a matter of seconds.

The boys are free after dinner and Mrs. Perlman serves them each a piece of tiramisu that she made the night before because, “It’s always better to let it soak, tesoros.” The Perlmans leave them to their own devices, retreating to Mrs. Perlman’s basement studio to work on a painting they’ve been doing together.

Elio pulls Oliver to the couch and they collapse against one another, sinking into the cushions. “ ‘m so full,” Oliver groans. Nevertheless, he pulls the tiramisu towards him and takes a huge bite.

“Nothing can keep us from dessert though,” Elio teases. He turns on the TV and they end up turning on Real Housewives because there’s a new episode on and Oliver just so happens to know all the details of the entire season.

They fall asleep there on the couch, plates scraped clean of cream and ladyfingers, TV still on. Elio is slumped against Oliver, his head on Oliver’s shoulder. Oliver’s nose is buried in Elio’s hair and their fingers are linked together. Next Oliver knows, he’s being shaken awake by Mrs. Perlman.


“Hello, darling,” she whispers, smiling as Oliver opens his eyes.

He blinks and glances at Elio who is in an equal state after being woken up by Professor Perlman. “Wha’ time ‘sit?” he mumbles, voice thick with sleep.

“It’s past midnight,” Professor Perlman says, straightening after he kisses Elio’s forehead. “Time for you two to get upstairs and into bed.”

“Mmkay,” Elio slurs, resting there for another moment before forcing himself off the couch. He pouts when he realizes Oliver’s hand isn’t in his anymore and he makes grabby hands at his boyfriend. The Perlmans chuckle, but Oliver barely hears it as he slips his fingers between Elio’s and finally stands. “Buonanotte, Mammina e Papà.”

“Buonanotte, miei dolci ragazzi.”

They have just enough energy to strip down to their boxers before basically tripping over one another to get into bed. Oliver sighs contentedly as he wraps his arms around Elio and snuggles close.

“Buonanotte,” Elio whispers, his voice soft and sweet.

Oliver smiles and kisses the top of his head. “Night.” He takes in a deep breath, feeling his entire body relax on the exhale. “I like...really like you.” He’s half asleep again, voice just a mumble into Elio’s curls.

“I really like you, too,” Elio says in return. Oliver smiles and squeezes Elio a little tighter, those words playing on a loop in his head as he falls asleep.

School on Friday passes in a blur. The guys keep heckling Oliver about the party that night, Sean assuring him that his older cousin bought them plenty of beer.

“Seriously, dude,” Oliver says as they make their way into the cafeteria. Mrs. Perlman packed him lunch that morning and he’s more than excited to tuck into his little homemade meal. “We can’t mess up my parents’ house.”

“Aw, it’s just a little party, Ollie,” Noah chimes in.

Peter meets up with Sarah and they all sit at their usual lunch table. “Who else is coming?” Oliver grumbles.

“Not too many people,” Sean says warily.

“It’ll just be us at first,” Peter says quickly. Oliver had talked to him about maybe coming out to the guys and it seems that Peter has effectively cleared their schedules. “We didn’t tell people to come until like, 9.”

Oliver sighs, resigned, as he unpacks his lunch, glancing over at Elio as he unpacks an identical one. They smile at each other, both a little giddy at how close they’re sitting.

After their last class, Elio and Oliver take off for Oliver’s place while Peter takes Noah, Sean, and Sarah to the local pizza joint to pick up a few pies. It buys Elio and Oliver a little bit of time. As soon as they’re inside, Oliver pushes Elio up against the wall, their lips meeting in a fast kiss.

“Wanted to kiss you all day,” Oliver says as he pulls back for air before diving in again.

Elio pulls away and Oliver whines. “Wait...what about your siblings?”

“Adam’s at debate and Rachel is at a friend’s house tonight.” Oliver’s lips find Elio’s again and he even goes so far as to slip a thigh between Elio’s legs. The boys rock against one another, panting and gasping into each other’s mouths.

“Do you wanna do it tonight?” Elio whispers as he breaks the kiss in order to trail his lips over Oliver’s jaw.

Oliver stills and chokes a bit. “Wha -?” He feels dizzy, wobbly, totally unprepared for that question. Unprepared for everything . He's watched porn of course but… Just imagining Elio’s -

“I mean do you want to come out to the guys tonight? And Sarah, I guess.” Elio cocks his head and furrows his brows at Oliver, whose cheeks are bright red. “What do you think I meant?”

Oliver shakes his head and clears his throat. “Nothing, no. No, that’s exactly what I thought you were saying.”

Elio gives him a sly little look and raises an eyebrow. “Sure.” He pecks Oliver’s lips quickly before getting back to business. “So...what do you think? Should we do it?”

Oliver’s stomach lurches at the thought and he has to step away from Elio, the heady mix of their breath making his head spin even more. He inhales deeply and thinks for a second, eyes locked with Elio’s. He starts to nod slowly, at first without even realizing it. “Yeah,” he says with an exhale, once his mind finally catches up to his body. If the guys aren’t cool with it, then...well, Oliver can’t really think about that outcome right now.

Elio nods and reaches out to take Oliver’s hand. “We don’t have to.” He shrugs and takes a step closer. “I just thought it might be good for...for us.”

Oliver nods and leans in to kiss Elio again, just a soft press of lips. He then tugs Elio into the kitchen. “How are we gonna do it?” He flushes and tries to hide his face as he pours them each glasses of water. “Tell them, I mean.”

Elio perches on a barstool and takes the glass from Oliver. “I dunno,” he says after a sip. “I guess we can just come -” He snorts, trying to hold back laughter. “ Come out with it.”

“Oh, ha-ha,” Oliver mocks with a roll of his eyes. He flicks Elio’s ear and tugs at a curl as he walks by.

“Hey!” Elio cries, pouting at his boyfriend.

Oliver sits himself down on the stool next to Elio and spins to face him, a small smile on his face. “I think you’re right,” he says, the butterflies in his tummy slowly morphing into a pleasant warmth. “I think coming out will be good for us.” Oliver leans forward just a little and Elio meets him halfway. They come together in a gentle kiss, both of them smiling against each other’s lips.

They only have a few more minutes of silence before the doorbell rings. Oliver hops off his stool and opens the door to reveal the guys all holding pizza boxes and Sarah holding a case of beer and a liter of soda. They pile in and go about setting up their dinner buffet style on the kitchen island. As they all grab slices and pour glasses of soda, Elio strikes up a conversation with Sarah. They’re both smiling and laughing, and Oliver’s heart does a happy flip at the thought of going on double dates with Peter.

Everyone makes themselves comfortable in various parts of the living room: Peter and Sarah on the loveseat, Noah in the armchair, Sean on the floor, and Elio and Oliver on the couch. There are a few moments of silence as everyone takes the first few bites of their steaming slices and a round of satisfied moans.

Oliver looks over at Elio who gives him a small, encouraging smile. Oliver nods and clears his throat. “So um…I kinda want to tell you guys something…”

“Oh shit, Ol,” Noah calls around a mouthful of pizza, “you knock someone up?”

“Nah, he’s not that stupid,” Sean says before Oliver can answer. “You finally get some? Oh! Or did you -”

“Hey,” Peter says, kicking Sean from the loveseat.

“Yeah,” Sarah says as she flips her short blonde hair, “let’s hear what he has to say. Go on, Ollie.”

Oliver takes a deep breath and looks at Elio again before continuing. This time, he doesn’t look away. It’s easier for him if he just concentrates on his boyfriend, therefore avoiding any potential disgusted looks from Noah and Sean. “Um...Elio and I are dating?” It comes out as more of a question and his hand tightens around his glass of Coke. “For like…” Oliver counts back in his head and his eyes widen. “For about a month now.” He’s kind of lost track of the weeks and he can barely remember a time before Elio.

“Holy shit,” someone whispers, but Oliver is still looking at Elio.

Elio smiles and takes Oliver’s hand, giving it an encouraging squeeze.

He tentatively glances over to his friends. Peter and Sarah are adorably snuggled up, watching them with sappy smiles. Sean is staring at them with one eyebrow raised and Noah has his mouth open, a slice of pizza halfway up. “Does anyone um...have a problem with that?” He tries to sound vaguely threatening, but his voice is too shaky.

Suddenly, Noah puts down his pizza and turns on Peter. “Hey! You totally knew!” Peter splutters and opens his mouth. “No, bro, don’t deny it, you so knew.”

“Dude,” Sean says, breaking out into a smile. “Dudes!” He smacks Elio’s and Oliver’s knees and then jumps up in order to wrap them into a tight hug. “This is frickin’ awesome .”

“Yeah, now we can embarrass both of them at the same time!” Noah says before going back to asking Peter how he kept the secret for so long.

“I’m just a better person than you.”

His friends’ playful argument becomes just background noise, and it’s just Elio and Oliver again. “You okay?” Elio whispers, just for Oliver.

Oliver swallows and nods. “Me okay.” Oliver quickly kisses Elio’s cheek, hoping the guys are too involved with each other to notice, but then there’s a round of ooohs that has Oliver backing up quickly. But Elio grabs his cheeks and pulls him in for a loud kiss on the lips, smacking as they separate. The group bursts into laughter and then it’s all back to normal, just Oliver and his friends and his boyfriend enjoying a Friday night together.

It ends up that the guys really stuck to their word and didn’t invite that many people. Four of Sarah’s girlfriends show up and Oliver already knows that Sean and Noah are going to put the moves on them. A few guys from the lacrosse team show, two cheerleaders, and a guy Oliver recognizes from Sean’s history class. Oliver spends most of his time with Elio, Peter, and Sarah in the kitchen, the four of them drinking beers and chatting over the din of the house music Noah insisted upon. Adam comes home around 9:30, says a quick hello to his brother, grabs two slices of pizza, and breezes past everyone up to his room.

Oliver breathes a sigh of relief, slumping against Elio just a bit. The party isn’t crazy and everyone is well-behaved so far. He’s not a stickler for the rules by any means and has definitely gotten quite fucked up at house parties. But the fact that this is all going down in his parents’ home makes him nervous. God forbid his parents come home to a broken vase or a destroyed kitchen or a -

“Stop thinking so hard,” Sarah says, cracking open another beer and sliding it across the table to Oliver. “I can hear your thoughts all the way over here.” Oliver grabs the beer and takes a swig, relaxing a bit when he feels Elio’s hand on his thigh under the table.

The party doesn’t end until past 2 am, and Oliver forces himself to stay awake to make sure everyone is picked up by a parent, sibling, friend, or Uber. The guys and Sarah are all staying over, and they take various spots in the house: Noah and Sean sleep on the couch and loveseat, Sarah and Peter decide to pass out on the pull-out couch bed in the smaller living room, and Elio and Oliver spend some time cleaning up before trudging up to Oliver’s room.

Elio spins on the spot before collapsing onto Oliver’s bed, a warm and happy smile on his face. “ ‘m drunk,” he slurs, blinking up at Oliver as he comes into view.

“I can tell,” Oliver laughs, pushing Elio’s hair off of his forehead. Oliver sits down on the edge of the bed, sighs, and closes his eyes. He’s definitely not as drunk as Elio, but he’s exhausted. Playing host as well as making sure to have a good time has made him quite weary, and he’s so happy he still has two more blissful days of freedom.

Suddenly, there are lips against the back of his neck and arms wrapping around his waist. “Oliver,” Elio whispers between kisses.

Oliver smiles and turns his head so that they can kiss properly. He can taste the beer on Elio’s tongue and he chases it for a second before pulling back. “We should get ready for bed,” he says quietly, before they get too hot and heavy. They’re both drunk, and Oliver doesn’t want to do anything either of them might come to regret.

Elio pouts for a moment before kissing Oliver’s cheek and falling back onto the bed. “Can you shut the light?” he requests.

“What about changing into pajamas? Or brushing your teeth?”

“Too lazy,” Elio explains, but he takes off his shirt and jeans, making himself comfortable on top of the blankets in just his boxers.

Oliver rolls his eyes but does the same, turning off the light before also crawling into bed. He can tell from the way Elio is breathing that he’s nearly asleep already and he smiles, loving how he can already distinguish Elio’s breathing patterns.

Oliver doesn’t wake up until half past 10 on Saturday morning. He can faintly hear someone in the kitchen and he groans as he rolls over, trying to block out the noise. But now that he’s up, he’s up, and he grumbles under his breath as he leaves behind a totally passed out Elio in his bed.

He throws on a t-shirt, pisses, and brushes his teeth before shuffling downstairs to find Rachel fiddling with the coffee pot. “Here,” he says, hip-checking her out of the way. “Let me do it.” No one else seems to be awake yet and the two of them are quiet as Oliver gets the coffee going. “How was your night?” he finally asks as he grabs mugs for each of them.

“Good, Ellie’s parents took us out for Chinese and then we watched a bunch of movies.” She smirks at Oliver as she pours a dash of cream and a whole lot of sugar into her mug. “How was your night? Anyone puke in the backyard like last time?”

“No,” Oliver says, raiding the fridge for something to eat. “Everyone was shockingly well-behaved.” He’s unsuccessful in his endeavor and ends up placing a delivery order for bagels.

“Ooh, get me a cinnamon raisin please,” Rachel requests, looking at Oliver’s phone from over his shoulder. They sit next to each other in the kitchen, talking quietly about school and their friends. Oliver hears someone come downstairs a bit later and he’s happy to see that it’s Elio and not Adam. Oliver can’t help but laugh once Elio comes into view.

“Stop laughing at me,” Elio whines, pitching himself into Oliver’s chest. Oliver lets go of his coffee just in time, his arms wrapping around Elio in order to hold him up.

“You smell like beer,” Oliver whispers into Elio’s hair. Elio pulls back, pouting, and Oliver quickly pecks his lips, hoping Rachel won’t tease him about it.

“Aww,” she coos, “what sweet boyfriends you are.”

Elio and Oliver exchange amused glances and Oliver pats Elio’s side. “I made coffee,” he says, nodding over to the machine. But Elio just takes a seat and steals Oliver’s mug.

“I’m hungry.”

“I ordered bagels, you brat,” Oliver teases, gently kicking Elio’s dangling leg.

Rachel starts asking Elio a million questions about his favorite books and movies, about Italy, about pretty much anything she can think of. Oliver just sits back and watches, happy that his boyfriend and sister seem to be getting along so far.

The rest of the crew wakes up in droves: first Peter and Sarah, then Adam, then Noah and Sean. By the time Noah shuffles in, hair askew and wearing his glasses instead of contacts, the bagel delivery arrives and they’re soon content with food and coffee.

The guys hang around a little while longer, slowly ingesting carbs and caffeine to alleviate their hangovers before heading out. Peter drives the group to their respective homes, leaving the Weiss siblings and Elio to their own devices.

“What’re we gonna do today?” Adam asks as he throws himself onto the newly vacated couch.

“Something good,” Rachel pipes in. “Mom and Dad aren’t home.”

They all throw about ideas for what seems like hours: museums, historic house tours, hiking trails, diners or bookstores or coffee joints downtown. Nothing seems appealing, and Oliver resigns himself to a day spent relaxing at home.

“I’ll probably hang out with friends, then,” Adam says, clearly disappointed that they won’t be driving out to one of the hiking spots. “Maybe David’s parents can take us.” He excuses himself from the conversation and sprints up the stairs with his phone in hand. He leaves just a few minutes later, shouting a goodbye over his shoulder as he heads out to his friend's car.

“Are you gonna ditch us too?” Oliver asks his sister.

“That depends.”


“On if you and Elio want alone time to make out or if you’re actually gonna spend time with me.” She grins as she says it and Oliver gives her a light shove.

“You can hang with us,” Elio assures before Oliver can answer. “And if you want to go to one of those historic homes, we’re more than happy to go with you.”

It turns out Rachel doesn’t want to go to one of the many historic homes in the area. Elio mentions that he and Oliver watched an episode of Real Housewives of New York and she immediately starts talking his ear off, explaining all the different storylines as she turns on the TV.

Oliver groans as he sits next to Elio on the couch. “C’mon, Rach. It’s so nice outside. We should go out.”

“Just a few episodes,” she pleads, flipping through all of the seasons that are on Netflix. “We can go out for lunch or something c’mon, please ? Elio has to learn more, the housewives are everything !”

“Yeah, Oliver!” Elio pipes up with a teasing lilt to his voice. “Please?”

And Oliver can’t argue with that. They settle on the couch together, Elio curled under Oliver’s arm. They watch a few episodes, Rachel and Oliver talking over most of the action to explain who is feuding with who, which men the ladies have slept with, and who is having money issues. Once 2 pm rolls around, they’re all starving, so they get dressed and pile into Oliver’s car to find lunch downtown.

They opt for a small coffee shop that Rachel loves, Oliver treating all three of them to coffees, sandwiches, and pastries. They select a small table towards the back with a couch for Elio and Oliver and an armchair for Rachel. The boys sit as close as they dare in public, letting their thighs and knees touch.

“Ugh,” Rachel grunts as she glances down at her phone, “I think my friends want to hang out with a bunch of guys at the mall tonight.”

Oliver immediately perks up. “Which guys? Anyone I know?” He’s a little overprotective when it comes to Rachel, but who can blame him?

Rachel rolls her eyes and taps a response before looking back at Oliver. “No. They’re losers anyway. I just want to see my girlfriends. Oh, and I think I’m staying at Diana’s tonight.” A sly smile creeps over her lips. “I bet Adam’s gonna stay at David’s tonight. That means you two will be alone.” She wiggles her brows and Elio’s cheeks flush bright pink.

“Shut up,” Oliver says, kicking Rachel gently under the table. “You’re too little to talk like that.”

Rachel huffs but leaves the conversation behind, instead turning her attention toward Elio. They chat for a few minutes and when Rachel makes a comment about how Elio should try her favorite coconut oil in his hair, he starts to laugh.

“You remind me of my best friend from Italy,” he says with a small grin. “Marzia. She’s always giving me makeovers while dishing the latest gossip. She lives in France, though, so I only see her when we’re both in Crema.”

“Ooh, France,” Rachel gushes. “We went there on vacation two years ago. Remember, Oliver? The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees…” She sighs wistfully. “It was so romantic.”

“Rach, you were like ten.”

“Shut up, Ol. Have you ever been to Paris?”

“I have,” Elio says, trying to hide his laughter. “Some of my mom’s family lives in Paris. It’s alright, I much prefer the countryside of France.” He shrugs. “But Italy, in my humble opinion, is far superior.”

Rachel laughs and starts asking Elio all about Milan, expressing her desire to one day study abroad there.

They spend a few hours at the cafe, talking about travel, books, movies, fashion. The conversation never slows and, before they know it, it’s nearly early evening.

“Crap, I gotta go,” Rachel sighs, gathering her jacket and purse. “The girls wanna meet at Reggio’s for pizza before the mall.”

“Be careful,” Oliver says as Rachel stands up. “Text me when you’re at the mall and when you head to Diana’s and let me know what time you’ll be home tomorrow.”

“Yes, Dad ,” Rachel says with a roll of her eyes. “Bye Elio,” she coos, leaning down to kiss both his cheeks with a very European air. “See you two tomorrow!” She has a knowing glint in her eyes as she turns away and Oliver shakes his head, wondering when his kid sister got so grown up.

“Come on,” Elio says after they take the final sips of their coffee. He pats Oliver’s thigh under the table and they clean up before heading out.

“Where to next?” Oliver asks as they stroll down the sidewalk, shoulders bumping occasionally.

“Can we go to your special spot?” Elio asks, looking up at the sky as if asking it for permission. There was rain in the forecast, but it’s been clear so far, just a bit overcast.

“Sure we can.”

The drive to the little island is quiet, just Oliver’s car stereo providing entertainment. Once they park and hop out the car, they are immediately assaulted by gusts of wind coming off the water. Oliver grabs the blankets he keeps in the backseat before they make the only slightly treacherous descent to the rocks at water level.

Once settled on a blanket, Oliver wraps the larger one around them both and pulls Elio tight against him. The boys giggle as they try to get the blanket around both of them and are only successful with Elio sitting between Oliver’s legs. Once they’re settled under the blanket, Elio laces their fingers together and rests his head back against Oliver’s chest. The sun is sinking toward the horizon, dipping below ominous storm clouds in order to give Elio and Oliver a perfect view of the sunset.

“I hate that the sun goes down so early now,” Oliver sighs, resting his chin on the top of Elio’s head.

Elio hums and squeezes Oliver’s hand. “This one feels like it was made just for us, though.”

Oliver, as much as he hates to do so, tears his eyes away from Elio to look up at the sunset again. The storm clouds are dark and roiling in the sky, the threat of rain apparent. The sun lights them up from below, a vibrant and fiery combination of orange and red, fading down to light pinks against the horizon line. “It’s beautiful,” says Oliver. He dips his head to kiss from Elio’s temple down to the spot behind his ear.

“Oliver,” Elio laughs, squirming a little. “You’re tickling me.”

“Yeah, and your hair has been tickling my nose when we sleep for the past week .”

“That’s your fault for wanting to snuggle so much. By the way, you sleep talk. You know that?”

“Oh yeah? And what was I saying?”

“‘Oh, Elio!’” Elio mocks, putting on a falsetto and swooning against Oliver. “‘Elio, you are the best boyfriend in the world! You’re so sweet and caring and I love the way you touch my -’”

“Okay!” Oliver says, cutting off Elio’s teasing. “Okay, I think I know where that’s going.”

They settle down again with Elio tucked up in Oliver’s arms. They exchange soft touches under the blanket, just a brush of fingertips over any exposed skin they can reach. As the sun dips below the horizon, Oliver shifts so he can lean down and kiss Elio’s sweet little lips, chasing the taste of his earlier cappuccino.

Once they’re in the warmth of Oliver’s house again, they change into sweatpants before heating up leftovers for dinner. They eat their pizza on the living room floor, necks craned as they look up at the TV in order to watch HGTV. They indulge in ice cream sundaes and kisses in the kitchen and another episode of The Property Brothers and more kisses in the living room and even more kisses as they try to make it upstairs without tugging each other’s clothes off.

Halfway through the last episode they watched, Elio started to get squirmy, seemingly unable to get comfortable without straddling Oliver. Finally, they gave in, abandoning the Scott brothers’ latest renovation to kiss until they couldn’t breathe. Oliver flipped off the TV once the credits started rolling and they looked at each other for a beat before scurrying up the stairs, palming at one another every few steps.

And that’s how they end up in Oliver’s room, down to just their boxers on Oliver's bed, door left wide open. The freedom is exhilarating: no parents or siblings to worry about, just Elio and Oliver and the sound of their kissing filling the room.

Elio suddenly rolls away and Oliver is about to say something when Elio starts shimmying out of his boxers. Oliver stares. He knows he's staring, but he just can't help it. Elio is gorgeous from head to toe and everything in between. He has just the faintest dusting of hair under his navel that leads to the dark thatch surrounding the base of his cock. His cock which is hard and wet at the tip. That's where Oliver's eyes start, roving down the shaft to Elio's balls, down between his legs where -

“You're practically drooling over there,” Elio says, nudging his foot against Oliver's shin. Elio rolls onto his side and Oliver licks his lips, eyes going back up to Elio's head. The head with hair. And eyes. And a nose and a mouth. The mouth he can't help but lean in and kiss.

“Can I blow you?” Oliver finds himself asking. He'd been thinking about it for ages, but the request came out of him fast and loose and reckless. Oliver holds his breath as he waits for the response, their noses and foreheads pressed together.

“Yeah,” comes Elio's breathy answer, and Oliver swears he can hear Elio's heartbeat, loud over the cacophony of his own. Oliver kisses him again before sitting up, leaving Elio still curled up on his side. He chuckles and pats Elio's hips in a request for him to roll onto his back.

“Yeah, yeah I'm going,” Elio says. It's teasing, but his voice is low and desperation easily leaks through.

Oliver lets his eyes roam again as Elio makes himself comfortable. Just as soon as he's stopped moving, Oliver practically pounces, pressing their lips together in a heated kiss. Well, more like a mashing of lips as Oliver settles himself between Elio's legs.

He breaks the kiss and starts with gentle brushes of his kiss-slicked lips over Elio's jaw and cheeks. Once Elio's whimpers get a bit needier and higher in pitch, Oliver moves lower, just a little bit, now kissing and nipping over Elio's neck.

The next receivers of Oliver's assault are Elio's nipples, each earning kisses and tiny kitten licks. Those reward Oliver with more of Elio's pretty sounds, and Oliver tells him so, whispering how gorgeous Elio is against heated skin.

His kisses bring him all the way down to that really soft downy hair, and Oliver is so close that he can feel the heat from Elio's erection, can smell the headiness of him already.

“Please.” It's so faint, so gentle, that Oliver would have missed it if he weren't totally in tune with Elio.

“Yeah,” he whispers back. He looks up at Elio to find Elio is staring down at him, green eyes wide with need and a hint of fear. “I got you, Elio,” he says before moving just that little bit lower and ducking his head.

The first swipe of Oliver's tongue over the head of Elio's dick has them both groaning. Oliver closes his eyes as he laps up the precum, getting himself accustomed to Elio's taste.

“Jesus,” Elio whispers, his hands finding their way into Oliver’s hair. His grip is so tight it almost hurts, but Oliver doesn’t tell him to let go.

“Okay so far?”

“Yeah...yes. More, baby, please.”

Oliver smiles at the pet name and licks at the top again before wrapping his lips around the entire head of Elio’s cock. It’s spongy and smooth and warm against his tongue and Oliver isn't sure if he likes it. But then he hollows his cheeks and another blurt of Elio's precum hits his tongue and Oliver is greedily sucking down more.

“Ollie,” Elio coos as Oliver starts to bob his head a little, taking a bit more of Elio's cock each time.

Oliver uses his hand to jack off what he can't fit of Elio down his throat. It's a little messy and uncoordinated, but given the murmured praise from Elio, Oliver guesses he's doing an okay job. He pushes himself a bit further, sucking down more of Elio. Elio's hands tighten in his hair and all Oliver hears is a strangled moan before Elio is cumming.

It takes Oliver by surprise and he chokes a little, but really makes an effort to swallow around Elio's pulsing cock. His cum is salty and warm and kinda slimy, but Oliver loves it all the same. It's Elio. He made Elio cum. Just him. And this is his reward.

When he lifts off Elio's cock, Oliver coughs for a moment, trying to swallow down Elio's cum.

“You okay?” Elio asks, totally breathless and obviously still coming down.

“Okay,” Oliver croaks, smacking his tongue against the roof of his mouth.

Elio laughs and reaches for the glass of water on Oliver's bedside table, taking a sip before passing it to Oliver. He gulps down the rest of the water, just barely holding back from swishing it around in his mouth, figuring that wouldn't be too sexy.

“Can I…can I do you now?” Elio asks, almost making Oliver choke on his water. He wasn't really expecting Elio to repay the favor, but he's more than happy to participate. He wipes the bit if water that's dribbled down his chin with the back of his hand.

“Only if you want to.”

“I want to. So bad.”

Oliver flops onto his back and pushes off his boxers. Elio kisses him swiftly before wiggling down the bed to between Oliver's thighs. Oliver is already so pent up, his cock so hard it hurts, just from sucking Elio off and tasting his cum.

“So hard for me,” Elio whispers, a hint of sheer amazement in his voice. He grips Oliver's cock, stroking it a few times. The touch sends shivers down his spine and Oliver closes his eyes tight. He grips the bedsheets, digging his nails into his palms through the soft fabric as he tries to keep his cool. “Wonder if you taste as good as you look.”

And with that, Elio wraps those perfectly plump lips around the head of Oliver's cock. Oliver gasps and his hands fly to Elio's hair. He winds his fingers around soft curls and as soon as Elio presses his tongue to the underside of Oliver's cock, he's cumming, cock pulsing against Elio's tongue as he floods his boyfriend's mouth. Elio stutters a little and Oliver has to close his eyes at the sight of his cum on Elio's lips and cheek.

“Fuck,” Oliver groans, covering his face with his hands. “Fuck, shit, fuck fuck fuck. I'm sorry. Fuck. I'm so sorry, Elio.” His face is on fire and he knows his cheeks are flushed bright red.

“Why are you apologizing?”

Oliver feels Elio move for a second before there are gentle kisses over his hip, just next to where his spent cock is still twitching. Elio must’ve wiped his mouth on something. Fuck. “ 'm sorry.”

“C'mon, babe, what are you sorry for?”

“Came so fast,” Oliver mumbles into his hands. He can feel where Elio is smiling against his skin.

Soft lips soon slide up his body until Elio is nudging at Oliver's hands with his nose. “Lemme see you.” Oliver whines and does nothing to move his hands, so Elio just kisses over his fingers, lapping at the digits along the way. “No need to apologize, Oliver. I really liked it. A lot. It was…” Elio sighs and Oliver can hear his smile. “It was perfect.”

Oliver slowly slides his hands off his face, looking up at his boyfriend to find that gorgeous smile right there in front of him. Yeah, Oliver thinks, this is perfect.


Chapter Text

Returning to the grueling hours of crew practice is absolutely miserable. They are back on their usual schedule of both morning and afternoon workouts and it takes two full days for Oliver to finally get back into the swing of things. He’s glad, at least, that he’s picking up Elio in the mornings and dropping him home again after evening practice. That means he gets a homemade pastry from Mrs. Perlman every morning and an invitation for dinner every night. Even if he heads back home, Mrs. Perlman always sends him on his way with a Tupperware full of food.

And so it goes for two weeks: Oliver and Elio managing to still find time alone together between schoolwork and practice and preparations for upcoming races. Their relationship is still new, and Oliver cherishes the time he and Elio spend together. They’d even gone so far as to exchange notes in the hallway between classes or let their hands “accidentally” brush while taking notes. 

It’s a Thursday and the boys are all getting into their rowing gear ahead of their morning row. Noah is silent, obviously having stayed up far too late the night before. Sean and Peter are chatting away about a class they have together while Elio and Oliver get dressed, sneaking little glances at each other’s exposed skin. As they bring the boat out onto the dock, Sean calls out from behind Oliver “Hey, Ollie! You excited to race Brooks?”

They have an upcoming race against the Brooks School on Saturday and Oliver is  not looking forward to it. He huffs and rolls his eyes. “Stop asking stupid questions, asshole.”

They get the boat into the water and stretch for a few minutes before getting into the boat. Elio goes over their instructions from Coach Gellman. They adjust their oars before pushing off, Elio calling out a few corrections before they’re finally gliding across the still water. Elio switches off his cox box once the boys get settled.

“So what’s up with these Brooks guys?” Elio asks.

Oliver grunts as he dips his oars into the water. “Shouldn’t you be coxing?” he asks, not meaning to sound as snippy as he does.

Elio holds up his hands in surrender. “Hey, hey. I was just asking. I overheard Sean asking -”

“Fuck whatever Sean said. He’s an asshole.”

“Ollie -”

“Elio, I’m trying to row.” That shuts Elio up and Oliver suddenly feels very guilty. It isn’t Elio’s fault. Hell, he wasn’t even around the last time they raced the guys from Brooks. It takes ten more strokes before Oliver sighs and looks up at Elio. “I’m sorry, didn’t mean to be so rude.”

“Will you tell me?” Elio asks. He’s looking down at his watch, tracking their timing and movement across the water.

“Later,” Oliver says, “I promise.”

Elio nods and switches his cox box back on, calling out instructions as they start to make their turn back toward the docks.

Elio doesn’t ask Oliver about it again until Friday night. They’re at Oliver’s house, slumped on the couch next to each other watching Captain America: The First Avenger . They sit as close to one another as they can, their shoulders and thighs touching as they watch Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan fight Nazis. 

“So what about the Brooks School?” Elio asks quietly. Oliver can hear the apprehension in his voice and he relents, knowing it isn’t fair to keep Elio in the dark.

“Everyone who goes there is just a total asshole,” Oliver grumbles. He crosses his arms over his chest and scowls at the TV. “Especially Kevin Walshe. He’s their bow.”

They’re quiet for a few minutes more before Elio nudges Oliver’s side “Why? What’s up with Kevin?”

“He’s just a fucking bragging jerk-off. He’s always in our faces about everything. Well, all of them are, but especially him. And he’s always trying to get me to transfer there so that I can be their stroke. So fucking annoying.”

Elio tips his head back to glance into the kitchen before wrapping an arm around Oliver’s shoulder and gently massaging the tense muscles. “Oliver, you can’t go to a meet all stressed like this.”

“Just ignore him, okay?” Oliver pleads, looking at Elio. “Whatever he says about you or me or the team, just remember that he’s an idiot. Elio nods and gives Oliver’s cheek a quick peck before they settle down again and finish the movie.

As they get into bed later, Elio curls into Oliver’s chest, making a content little sound as Oliver wraps his arms around him. “This is nice,” Elio whispers. “I’ve missed this.”

Oliver smiles and pulls Elio closer. “Me too.”

“Sucks that we have to wake up so early,” Elio whispers, “otherwise I know what else we could do besides sleep.” Elio lifts his head to nip at Oliver’s neck before snuggling close again.

“Don’t start with your teasing,” Oliver warns with a quick tug at Elio’s hair. The boys laugh and roll around a bit before getting comfortable again, now with Elio draped over Oliver’s chest. “Night,” Oliver whispers with a kiss to the top of Elio’s head.

“Goodnight, Oliver.”

They’re up at 4, at the boathouse by 5, and on the road by 5:30. They have an hour drive ahead of them and all the boys catch a little bit more shut-eye on the trip. The boys from Brooks aren’t at the boathouse when they arrive, which is just fine by Oliver. The less time they have to look at those stuck-up losers the better.

They set up their equipment before stretching out on the dock, welcoming the sun as it slowly creeps over the horizon. By 7:30, onlookers and parents are starting to arrive and the Brooks team shows up a few minutes after. Oliver takes that as his cue.

“Come on, guys,” he calls to his team as Coach Gellman goes over to greet the other coach, “let’s go get ready.” They head into the guest locker room, all quietly changing into their clothes. Once their bags are stowed away, Sean, Peter, and Noah gather around Elio and Oliver. All four boys look to their captain and Oliver clears his throat.

“We fucking killed it at Head of Charles and we beat Cushing Academy like it was nobody’s business last weekend.” The boys all nod in unison and Oliver nods too. “We need to work hard today. I wanna see us beat these fuckers for sure, but even if we don’t, we need to give it our all. We have a stellar team and there’s no reason for these guys to beat us. Got it?”

The guys all cry out their agreement and clap Oliver on the back. He takes a deep breath and quickly squeezes Elio’s hand before they head back out to the docks.

“Oliver!” As soon as they’re outside, Kevin fucking Walshe is sauntering up to them, the 3rd position on their team following close behind. “Haven’t seen all of you in a while. I see you still have the same - oh…” Kevin’s eyes fall on Elio and Oliver feels himself bristle. “Who do we have here.”

“Elio,” Oliver practically growls before Elio has a chance to answer. “He’s our new cox.”

“Had to get rid of, what was his name? Leah? Lisa?”

“Liam,” Sean pipes up. 

“Right, Liam.” Kevin shrugs. “Probably for the best. He wasn’t very good.” He looks Elio up and down and Oliver subtly moves to his left in an attempt to block Elio from Kevin’s gaze. “Not sure about that one either.” He looks back at Oliver and cocks a brow. “Let’s see how good you are this year, Weiss. We might not need you on our team after all.”

With that, Kevin and his teammate head back to their own boat. Oliver stands there for another second before turning around. The guys are setting up their oars and equipment under the slowly warming sun. It's a gorgeous day, and Elio is standing at the end of the dock to purvey weather and water conditions. 

“How’s it lookin’, Captain?” Oliver teases as he walks up behind Elio. The boat is set and ready to go and the other guys have taken it upon themselves to start bothering Coach Gellman about something. Oliver much prefers standing on the dock with Elio.

You’re the captain,” Elio says, turning to face Oliver with a smile. With the sun rising behind him and the soft sound of the water, all Oliver wants to do is kiss Elio. He has to dig his nails into his palms in order to keep himself in place. 

“Co-Captain, then,” Oliver decides. “Without you, we wouldn’t have a team.” 

Elio rolls his eyes before perching his sunglasses on his nose. “You’re such a sap.” He peers around Oliver to see the guys start their final preparations. “C’mon, we better go over there.”

They’re on the water at 9 AM sharp, carefully rowing the boat to their start position. Elio switches on his cox box and Oliver rolls out his shoulders before gripping his oars. 

The starting horn sounds and the boats are off, Elio calling out corrections as they get in the groove. It's a standard 1.24-mile course and Oliver squints against the sunlight as they start to easily glide over the water. There's a local high school racing as well, but they're far behind according to Elio's report. They're neck and neck with the Brooks team and Oliver spies Elio glaring over at them. 

"Power twenty in 4. Bow, straighten it out. Stroke, take us. 3, 2. Power twenty, c'mon guys!" They all grunt as they dig their oars harder into the water, propelling them forward. Elio pushes down on his rudder and they're suddenly pushing ahead of the Brooks team. Oliver can distantly hear their cox calling out, but he concentrates on the burn of his muscles as they row out their final strokes in the power twenty. 

"Great job!" Elio calls out as they return to their normal pace. "We're far ahead of them, that's it, boys, keep it up! Stroke, how am I looking behind me?"

"All good, cox," Oliver calls back after getting a peek behind Elio's shoulder.

Elio starts calling out instructions for their turn in order to head to the end of the course. Oliver grunts as the boat starts to turn and he rolls his shoulders when he feels sweat roll down his neck. “That’s it! Three, lift up with my count - two, three - back down. Perfect! We’re turning.” Elio looks around Oliver’s shoulder. “They’re way behind but don’t get comfortable, we want to get a good time out of this too.”

It’s only another few minutes before the boat nears the finish line. They cross to the sound of raucous screams from parents, students, and alums who came out to support them. The boys all pull up and lock their oars into place after they cross, letting the boat slow down on its own as they glide toward the docks. 

Oliver cries out in victory as he doubles over in his seat, trying to catch his breath. He feels Elio pat his head and he smiles to himself. “Great job, guys,” Elio says, using the rudder to gently steer them in the right direction.

Oliver hears a bit of commotion, and he sits up to see the Brooks boat finally crossing the finish. He glances at Elio and they share a smirk, and Oliver feels relief course through him as the boat aligns with the dock. They did it, they fucking crushed the assholes and he couldn’t be more proud of his team. 

“Fuck! Fuck, you guys are amazing!” Oliver calls out as he unlocks his oars and tucks them into the boat. The boys follow suit and they hop out onto the dock, piling onto each other in a group hug.

The boys have time to head to the guest locker room for a quick shower and to change. By the time they’re back outside, there’s an awards ceremony where the team gets a small trophy and each of the boys get medals. Oliver can’t help but smile at the pout on Kevin’s face. After congratulations from the coaches and the two other schools, the boys start to pack up their gear. Oliver and Elio settle themselves on the dock, taking apart the oars and disconnecting the cox box as the other guys dry off the boat. A shadow falls over them and Oliver blinks up against the sun, frowning when he sees Kevin standing right in their space.

“Can I help you?”

“No, I actually wanted to talk to your cox. Elilo, was it?”

Oliver huffs and rolls his eyes at Kevin’s pronunciation. “It’s Eh-lio, not Eel-eye-lo.”

“Whatever,” Kevin snaps back, brushing Oliver off with a wave of his hand. “ Elio , that was pretty impressive coxing. Your coach tells us you’re new to the team.”

“Uh, yeah,” Elio hesitantly answers. “I just moved from Ita-”

“Great, well, since you’re just a junior, we’d love for you to transfer to Brooks so you could be on our team. We can start with you this winter so that we have a full year and a half. That is, your credits might not transfer, so we might have to keep you an extra year.”

Elio opens his mouth, but Oliver beats him to it. “Will you stop trying to poach our athletes? This is high school crew , not the fucking Olympics or some shit! This is ridiculous and bordering on harassment, so just fucking stop. It’s like this every time we see you!” Oliver gets up and puts himself right in front of Kevin, blocking Elio from view.

“Yeah? And what the fuck are you gonna do about it, faggot?”

“What did you just say?”

“You heard me,” Kevin spits, looking Oliver up and down. “We thought we wanted you as stroke, but when we found out you’re a fag, we were so glad we didn’t want you on the team.”

“What - Who -?”

Kevin rolls his eyes. “I have my sources.” He steps to the side to look back down at Elio. “So? What do you think? You don’t want to cox for this…” Kevin snorts before continuing, “ cox sucker.”

“Get the fuck away.” Suddenly, Peter is stalking over to them, hands balled into fists. Noah and Sean are following close behind. “Get the fuck away from them.”

“Who's going to stop me?”

“We will,” Noah pipes up.

Kevin sighs. “God, I can’t believe we got beat by an entire boat of fag defenders.”

Suddenly, Elio is up, shoving Oliver out of the way and stalking toward Kevin. But he’s stopped in his tracks when Kevin’s fist collides with his face. Sean, Noah, and Peter all start shouting for Coach Gellman as Elio stumbles backward. “You must be a cock sucker too,” Kevin says.

“If you know what’s good for you,” Oliver starts, voice dangerously low, “you stop talking to us and leave now .” He’s seething with anger, just barely holding back from tossing Kevin into the water in hopes that he’ll drown. 

When Kevin looks over his shoulder to see Coach Gellman coming over, he makes a run for it, bolting back to the safety of his own team. Once he’s on his way, Oliver spins to face Elio who is back to sitting on the dock, head in his hands.

“Elio,” Oliver whispers, grabbing one of his wrists. But Elio doesn’t relent, just keeps his hands over his face. That’s when he realizes that Elio’s shoulders are shaking. “Come on, don’t cry. I told you he’s an asshole.” He sighs and looks over his shoulder to make sure the other guys are talking to Coach Gellman. “Will you please let me look at your eye? It’s just me and you, baby.” He keeps his voice low, just for Elio.

Slowly, Elio moves one of his hands to reveal the eye that was punched and a cheek streaked with tears. Oliver hisses and gently presses against Elio's cheekbone. Elio winces, but Oliver doesn't see any signs of a broken bone

"That's gonna bruise pretty bad," he says gently. As soon as he's done, Elio puts his hand over his eye again and Oliver sighs. "I know you probably don't want to right now, but you gotta get up. I want to get you onto the bus. We have a first aid kit there, okay?" After a few seconds, Elio sniffles and nods. "Good boy," Oliver coos when Elio quickly wipes his cheeks. Oliver gives him a small smile before standing and extending his hand, which Elio takes. "One, two, three, up ." Oliver helps hoist Elio off the dock and they slowly make their way to the bus. 

The guys are still talking with Coach Gellman and the Brooks coach, so it's just Elio and Oliver on the bus. He lets them in, Coach luckily having left it unlocked. He settles Elio into one of the seats before fetching the first aid kit. He successfully locates the ice pack and a pack of tissues. He activates the ice, cracking it and shaking the bag until it's cold to the touch. 

"Here," Oliver says. He crouches in the aisle and hands the ice pack to Elio who puts it against his eye with a relieved sound.

"I'm sorry," Elio finally croaks. He's looking down at the floor, tears still rolling down his cheeks. 

"Hey, hey. Why are you sorry?" 

"I couldn't -" Elio hiccups and Oliver rubs a hand soothingly over his back. "I wasn't - I couldn't defend you. Us."

"You didn't have to. It's not your responsibility to defend us."

"But it isn't yours either and you -"

"That's right," Oliver says, cutting Elio off. "It's not my responsibility because it shouldn't happen . We shouldn't have to deal with people like that. Especially people our own age. But that's just the world we're living in, Elio, and we need to pick our battles, yeah?"

Elio sniffs and nods. " 'm sorry…"

"Hey, what did I just say?" That gets a tearful laugh from Elio and Oliver kisses his cheek. "I really like you, Elio, and I'd do anything to protect you from people like that." He sighs and rests his forehead on Elio's shoulder. "I wish we could just go live in the city where we don't have to deal with conservative preps."

"You'll get to do that soon," Elio says softly. He nuzzles his nose into Oliver’s hair. "When you go to college."

"And you'll come to visit," Oliver promises. "You can stay in my dorm room and we can spend all our time together."

Elio nods and sniffles again. They stay like that, Elio holding the ice pack to his eye, until they hear voices approaching the bus. Oliver lifts his head to peer out the window to see the guys approach with the boat. He kisses Elio quickly and wipes his cheeks again. 

"You okay? For right now?" Oliver asks softly. 

"Me okay," Elio nods and Oliver ruffles his hair. 

"Good. Here's some water. Drink that while I go help the guys with the boat. I'll be right back, okay?"

As Oliver steps off, Coach Gellman is just approaching the boat. "How is he?"

"Um, okay?" Oliver says with a shrug. He's not sure how much detail he should go into. 

Coach sighs and claps Oliver's shoulder, squeezing hard. "I'm gonna go talk to him while you guys take care of the boat."

Oliver watches as Coach Gellman tentatively boards the bus before he turns his attention to the guys. "Dude, what the fuck," Peter sighs as they start hooking the boat up to the back of the bus. 

"I'm gonna fucking kill -"

"Ol," Noah cuts in, "I know you're mad but just try to chill, okay? You going all crazy isn't going to help Elio."

Oliver opts to fume silently as they work, thinking about all the ways he'd like to strangle Kevin. Once they're done with the boat, they get onto the bus, Oliver immediately bolting to sit next to Elio again. 

"Coach said K-Kevin is getting suspended." Elio's voice is wobbly and Oliver presses a little closer. 

"He should get a lot worse than that," Oliver growls. 

"Not now," Elio whispers as he sags against Oliver, leaning heavily against him. He still has the ice pack pressed to his eye and his lashes are wet with tears. "Just be with me for right now."

Oliver sighs and moves to wrap his arm around Elio's shoulder. He kisses the top of Elio's head as they snuggle close together. "I'm here, baby," Oliver whispers, his heart breaking as Elio startles when the bus engine turns over. 

Elio falls asleep halfway through the ride and Oliver moves the ice pack so he can assess the damage as Elio sleeps. It's red and blue and black and Oliver wishes he were the one who got punched. Oliver kisses the top of Elio's head again before settling and closing his eyes for the rest of the ride. 

After they unload it everything back into their boathouse, they all say their farewells before Oliver and Elio get into Oliver's car. The ride to Elio's house is quiet, Elio keeping his eyes down as Oliver drives.

As soon as Mrs. Perlman opens the door, she's immediately gathering Elio into her arms. "Oh, my tesoro!" she cries, herding him in and hugging him tight. "Mio bambino, what happened, my darling?" She cups Elio's cheeks, tilting his head back so she can get a better look at his eye. Elio doesn't answer. Not until Professor Perlman comes in. 

"Cos'è successo, Elio?" he asks, his voice light but the fatherly concern still evident. That's when Elio breaks down and starts talking in Italian, presumably telling his parents about what happened. 

Oliver stands forgotten in the hall, awkwardly watching the exchange with a flush high on his cheeks. "I should...I'm gonna...I'll go," he says once Elio is done. It's clear the Perlmans want to spend time with their son, so Oliver plans on extricating himself. 

"No!" Elio cries out, spinning on his heel to face Oliver. He darts over, and suddenly Oliver has an armful of crying Elio. "No, don't leave, Oliver."

Oliver looks up at the Perlmans, eyes wide and panicked. They look sad, but relieved at least that their son has someone. Oliver hugs Elio tighter and kisses the top of his head. "I'm not gonna go anywhere," he promises. After Elio's sobs have died down, Oliver drops his bag and helps Elio slip off his backpack. 

"Why don't you boys freshen up and I'll get some food together for you. We can rent a movie later," Mrs. Perlman suggests. Elio nods and wipes his nose on his sleeve. "We love you, piccino," she whispers, kissing Elio's forehead before heading into the kitchen with Pro.

Oliver trails after Elio up the stairs, their fingers linked as they walk. Elio veers towards the bathroom and Oliver dutifully follows. "I know I already showered," Elio says as he pulls the shower curtain back, "but do you mind if I take a bath? Maybe you can read to me?"

"Of course," Oliver says as he searches the cabinets for bubble bath. He produces a bottle of it as well as some rose bath salts which he passes to Elio. "I'll go pick out a book. You get that bath going."

By the time Oliver comes back, a copy of Sense and Sensibility tucked under his arm, the bathroom is already warm with steam as the bathtub fills with warm water. Elio is knelt next to the tub, one hand in the water, his head resting on his outstretched arm. Oliver stands in the doorway, just watching his boyfriend, the way his back and shoulders curve down to his ass, the way his long legs fold under him, the curl of his toes against the bathmat. Oliver's breath stutters, and he distantly realizes he way more than just likes Elio. 

Elio turns his head then, glancing at Oliver over his shoulder. He smiles shyly and Oliver returns the gesture. "Hey," Elio says as Oliver comes and sits down next to Oliver on the floor. "What did you pick out?" 

Oliver holds up the book. "This okay?" 

Elio beams. "Perfect." 

Oliver shuts the tap as Elio climbs into the tub. He settles down, resting his head back enough so that he's submerged in warm water just past his chin. Oliver clears his throat and makes himself more comfortable before cracking open the book. 

"The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance. The late owner of this estate was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who for many years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister…"

Elio lets his hand hang over the edge of the tub and Oliver automatically immediately takes it, linking their fingers, not even looking up from the book. He reads until Elio grows a bit restless and his fingers are pruney. 

"Come on," Oliver says as he marks his page and closes the book, "let's get you dried off and dressed, yeah?”

“Yeah.” Elio stands on wobbly legs and Oliver helps him out and into a big, fluffy towel. Elio sighs and leans against Oliver as he dries off Elio. After he finishes ruffling the towel over Elio’s hair, he leans in for a quick kiss. Elio immediately wraps his arms around Oliver’s neck, extending the kiss much to Oliver’s delight. The boys each let out a contented sound, Oliver’s arms easily wrapping around Elio’s waist.

“Elio, Oliver!” Elio groans as he pulls back, hanging his head as his mom calls them. “I have snacks for you down here!”

Elio looks back up at Oliver and his heart breaks at the sight of Elio’s eye. “Can you stay the night?” Elio asks quietly. 

Oliver nods before even giving it a second thought. “I really do need to work on my applications,” he says, rushing to continue when he sees the sadness in Elio’s eyes, “but I can do that from your computer.” He kisses Elio’s forehead before wrapping the towel around his waist. “I’m not leaving, okay?”

Elio nods and takes a deep, stuttering breath. “Okay.” Elio quickly changes into sweats and a teeshirt before they head downstairs to find Mrs. Perlman’s snacks on the table. She’s prepared grilled cheese and tomato soup and there’s an entire plate of Elio’s favorite Italian cookies as well. The Perlmans are nowhere to be seen, so the boys take their snacks into the living room. Oliver flips through Netflix for a few minutes before settling on the next episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries , which they’ve been watching together. 

“Do you think they’re mad?” Elio asks after they’ve finished their grilled cheeses and have already made a dent in the cookies. “My parents?”

“Mad about what?”

“My eye. Mad at me, I mean.”

Oliver puts down his half-eaten cookie and turns on the couch to face Elio. “Why in the world would you think that?”

Elio shrugs and takes another nibble of his cookie. “Becuase…”

“No because , Elio. Of course, they aren't mad at you. They’re probably mad at that stupid fucking piece of shit Kevin, but there is absolutely no reason they’d be mad at you. No one is angry with you about what happened today, okay?” Elio nods, but that isn’t good enough. “Do you understand, Elio?”

“Yes,” Elio finally sighs. He’s looking down at the couch, so Oliver reaches over to take Elio’s hand in his. “Oliver, I -” Elio starts, causing Oliver’s breath to catch in his throat. “Thank you.”

“You know I’d do anything for you.” Oliver moves so that they’re sitting closer and he nudges Elio’s cheek with his nose. “Absolutely anything .” He kisses the corner of Elio’s mouth and then moves his kisses all over Elio’s face until they’re both giggling.

“You’re too good to me.”

“No,” Oliver corrects, “ you’re too good for me .” He kisses Elio, giving him no time to argue. Elio makes a soft whimpering noise and Oliver barely registers something clattering to the floor as Elio swings his legs over Oliver’s hips and settles on his lap.

Oliver is glad he can distract Elio from the pain, from his worries, his anxieties. And the kiss distracts him, too. Oliver gets lost in the kiss, his hands slipping up Elio’s shirt to rest on the bare skin of his sides. Elio shivers and moans as Oliver finally breaks the kiss, only to trail his lips down Elio’s neck instead.

“Should we - Upstairs?” 

Oliver nods and they’re both up and off the couch before he can even register what’s happening. They scramble up the stairs and into Elio’s room, Oliver making sure to lock the door behind them before following Elio to his bed. Elio already has his shirt and sweats off, left in just his boxers. Oliver does the same before climbing onto the bed and settling between Elio’s spread legs. The late afternoon sun streams in through the window, illuminating Elio’s skin and making his green eyes practically glow. Oliver doesn’t go in for a kiss just yet, just hovers above Elio, looking down at him with a soft smile.

“So beautiful,” he coos, his smile widening as Elio squirms underneath him. Looking at the black eye makes him angry, so fucking angry he could punch Kevin’s lights out. But he has to push that aside and just let his adoration for his boyfriend take over.

“No ‘m not,” Elio mumbles as he brings a hand up to cover his bruised eye. 

Oliver grabs his wrist and pins it above his head, Elio gasping at the pressure. “Yes you are,” Oliver insists as he leans down to brush the gentlest of kisses along the bruise forming under Elio’s eye. “God, Elio, you are perfect. You’re gorgeous and you’re perfect and you’re mine .” 

Elio whines and brings his other arm up above his head, pressing it against the one Oliver is still holding down. When Oliver wraps his calloused hand around both of Elio’s wrists, they both moan and Oliver drops a bit more of his weight onto Elio. “Ollie…”

“Shh, I’ve got you.” Oliver kisses Elio’s cheek before snaking a hand down and pulling both of their cocks out of the slit in their boxers. He reaches over for the lotion on the bedside table, pumping a little out onto his palm before wrapping his hand around them both. The boys hiss in unison, the instant relief flooding through them as Oliver works their cocks. He rests his forehead against Elio’s, their lips brushing as they move against one another.

“Feels good,” Elio manages to get out between gasps for air. When Oliver tightens his hand around Elio’s wrist, just a reaction to the way their cocks slide together, Elio whimpers and arches off the bed, immediately cumming over Oliver’s hand. “Jesus,” he chokes out, eyes shut tight as he shudders against Oliver.

“Oh my God.” Watching Elio cum like that has Oliver fast approaching his own orgasm. His stomach flips and his balls draw up and his head spins and his eyes close and - and he’s cumming, using Elio’s cum to slick the way as he spurts over his own hand and Elio’s belly. “Jesus,” he gets out between gasps for air, finally letting go of Elio’s wrists as he comes down. 

“That was...,” Elio whispers, his fingers tangling in the soft strands of Oliver’s hair. Oliver rests his head on Elio’s chest, letting the thump of his heartbeat help regulate his own breathing. They rest for another few minutes before managing to get out of bed and clean up. Oliver catches Elio’s wrist when he sees it’s a bit pink and he kisses over the spot, frowning.

“Did I hurt you?” he asks, voice filled with concern. Elio was already hurt enough today. He doesn’t need Oliver hurting him too. He freaks out for just a second, wondering if he's more his father's son than he thought.

“I would have told you to stop.”

“Would you?”

Elio snorts and rolls his eyes, stepping into Oliver’s space. “Yes. Of course. And I expect you to tell me to stop if you need to.”

Oliver nods and they both lean in for a kiss at the same time, giggling as they bump noses before finally finding each other’s lips. 

Dinner with the Perlmans is calm and happy as always. Mrs. Perlman prepared a huge bowl of pasta Milanese, with a thick kind of spaghetti Oliver had never heard of.

“Buccatini,” Mrs. Perlman informs him as he fills his plates with seconds.

“Grat-zee-ay,” Oliver says slowly, brows furrowed with concentration as he tries to sound out grazie without sounding like too much of an idiot.

“Prego, mia cara.”

Elio giggles at Oliver’s pronunciation and sits up a little taller in his chair. “Mamma, potresti per favore passarmi il pane?”

“Showoff,” Oliver grumbles, much to the Perlman's amusement.

After dinner, the whole clan gathers in the living room to watch TV together. Oliver curls up on the couch, Elio’s computer on his lap as he works on his college application essays. Elio snuggles up next to him and the Perlmans make themselves comfortable on the loveseat. Oliver barely pays attention to the TV, instead furiously typing out his answer to Columbia’s supplemental essay prompt. Professor Perlman is even kind enough to offer to look over all of his essays, which Oliver, of course, takes him up on.

“Email them to me,” he says before they all head upstairs. “Whenever you have them ready. Or if you have any questions. We’re here for you, Oliver. For anything.”

As they get into bed, Oliver thinks back on Professor Perlman’s words. “Your parents are so nice to me,” he says as Elio snuggles up next to him, clutching Sense and Sensibility

“They like you,” Elio says with a shrug, as if it’s that simple.

“Yeah, I mean. I assume my parents at least like me, but -” He cuts himself off, not wanting to get into it.

“But what , Oliver?” Elio asks, sitting up, clearly concerned. 

Oliver shakes his head and plasters on what he hopes is a reassuring smile. “No, nothing. Never mind. Ignore me.”

Elio looks at him skeptically, and Oliver tries to distract him by reaching for the ice pack they brought up for Elio’s eye. “Oliver,” he says as he puts the ice on his eye, “I don’t want you to wind up with a matching bruise.”

Or worse, Oliver supplies in his mind. He’s been there, done that with a black eye before. That’s like child’s play. But he’s not going tot ell Elio that. “Don’t worry.” He kisses Elio’s forehead. “Everything is fine. I just mean that my parents aren’t so supportive of my school choices. But you know that.” Oliver yawns; keeping secrets from his parents as well as keeping secrets about his parents is exhausting him. Not to mention his schoolwork, crew, and finding time to be with Elio. But all fatigue is forgotten as Elio snuggles close. He settles back against the pillows and takes the book from Elio. “Now, where did we leave off?”

Chapter Text

Of course, Halloween is just after the incident with Kevin, and Elio is insistent upon changing his entire costume.  

"Aw, c'mon," Oliver sighs. He's lounging on his bed, watching as Elio looks through his, Oliver's, closet for some inspiration. "You can still go as -"

"Nope, I can't. Max Fischer didn't have a black eye. It won't make sense."

“Aw, but you’ll look so cute in the glasses and red beret.” Elio doesn’t relent, he just keeps searching. Oliver rolls his eyes and looks back down at his computer where he's halfway through his essay for Columbia. "Well, I don't know what you're going to find in there." 

Elio lets out a frustrated grunt and buries himself further in the closet, coming out a minute later with a victorious cry. Oliver looks up to see him triumphantly holding his light pink button-up shirt. "This is perfect ."

Oliver regards Elio with a raised brow. "Perfect for what , exactly? A business meeting?"

Elio holds the shirt up to his shoulders, grinning down at where the fabric hits his knees. "Will you let me make a grand entrance?"

They're throwing a party at Oliver's house since his parents will be attending an annual Halloween fundraising gala that his father's practice puts on. Oliver's Halloween party has become a bit of a tradition, and the guest list has somehow managed to include almost the entirety of the senior class, a few select underclassmen, and every girl all the horned up boys could think to invite.

"What kind of an entrance?" Elio starts digging around in Oliver's armoire next. "Hey! What do you think you're doing?"

He spins around, Oliver's dark Ray-Bans perched on his nose. "Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuhnuhnuhnuh…"

"Oh no you don't," Oliver says, eyes wide. He closes his laptop just as Elio turns back around and grabs more items from Oliver's armoire. 

"Be right back!" he calls as he scurries out of Oliver's room. 

Oliver, for a second, thinks of an escape route, but he hears the piano riff from Elio's phone down the hallway. Before he knows it, Elio slides in front of his open door, dressed only in the pink shirt, his briefs, and a pair of Oliver's white socks. 

Oliver laughs when Elio turns around. The sunglasses are on, effectively hiding his black eye as he sings along to "Old Time Rock & Roll." He dances into Oliver's room and kicks the door closed. 

"So," Elio prompts, holding out his arms and spinning around, "what do you think?"

"It's certainly creative," Oliver says. He reaches out for Elio who easily comes to stand between where his legs are dangling off the bed. "I think your dance moves need some practice though." He pushes the sunglasses up so that they're perched on the top of Elio's head. "How's the eye, baby?" 

Elio shrugs. " 's okay." 

Oliver leans in and kisses the swollen area, frowning when Elio tenses and grimaces. "Shit, sorry."

Elio shrugs again and plays with the button of the pink shirt. "You wanna help me practice my dance moves? Since they need work, and all."

Oliver can tell that Elio is trying to change the subject, so he nods. It's only been a couple of days, but Elio doesn't like talking about it. He kisses Elio quickly and hops off the bed. "Right. Music." He plugs his phone into his speakers and selects a classic rock station.

Soon enough, the boys are dancing around Oliver's room, taking turns sliding across the wood floors and singing into makeshift microphones. They collapse into a sweaty, panting heap on the bed, giggling as they try to catch their breath. 

"Ollie, I - Oh, shit! Fuck, shit!" Rachel is standing on the threshold of Oliver's now opened door, a hand clamped over her eyes. 

Oliver knows exactly what this looks like. They're both ruddy-cheeked and panting, Elio dressed only in one of Oliver's shirts, limbs tangled on the bed. Elio yelps as he extricates himself and shimmies into his sweats. 

"It wasn't," Oliver begins as he leaps off the bed as well, "this isn't...Rachel, we were just fooling around and - Not that fooling around! We were just…you can open your eyes."

Rachel peeks through her fingers first to find Elio and Oliver on opposite sides of the bed, Elio now dressed. She sighs and removes her hand. "You really should lock your door."

"And you really should knock," Oliver shoots back. "What do you want, kiddo?" He sits on the bed and motions for Rachel to come in. Elio perches on the bed as well, hiding behind Oliver a bit. 

Rachel closes the door and sits in Oliver's desk chair and that's when she gets a good look at Elio's eye. "Holy shit, what happened to your face?"

"Nothing," Elio mumbles, tipping the sunglasses back onto his nose to cover his eye. There's a pause, awkward and heavy, until Oliver asks what Rachel came in for.

"I wanted to see if my friends could come to the party tomorrow."

Oliver is about to say no when Elio chimes in. "I don't see why not." He shrugs and looks at Oliver from behind his sunglasses. A little smile is playing across his lips, and Oliver realizes Elio knew he was about to say no. God, he just wants to lean in and kiss him right now. "Just as long as Oliver says yes and as long as you guys don't drink…" Elio trails off and shrugs. 

Oliver can't help it, he presses a quick kiss to Elio's lips, which earns and enamored "awww" from Rachel. "Yeah, Rach, your friends can come, you're old enough." 

Rachel cheers and jumps up to kiss her brother's cheek. "And you," she says, pointing to Elio, "you're good for him. He better keep you around." She all but skips out of the room, leaving Elio and Oliver laughing quietly in her wake.

"You wanna talk about it?" Oliver offers as they change into pajamas and clear up Oliver's room together. "I mean, your eye...if you wanna. You know I'm here for you, Elio." 

He sighs and sits on Oliver's bed, now in boxers and his Captain America shirt. Elio shrugs and Oliver sits next to him. He entwines their fingers and gives Elio's hand a light squeeze. "I think I just want a warm compress for now."

As soon as the words are out of his mouth, Oliver jumps off the bed and rushes to the bathroom with a clean washcloth. When he comes back in, Elio is laying back, all relaxed against the pillows. Oliver smiles as he perches on the bed and presses the warm cloth to Elio’s eye. They sit there quietly, Oliver applying a very light bit of pressure. 

“I’m fucking angry, Oliver,” Elio finally whispers. He doesn’t sound angry, though, and Oliver moves a little closer. “I’m angry that we have to deal with this, angry that my eye is fucked up, angry that people like us deal with worse than this. But mainly I’m tired. I’m fucking tired of dealing with crap like this. Of reading about crap like this. It isn’t fair.” Elio takes a wet, shuddering little breath. “And I just don’t know what to do about it.” Oliver notices the small tears trickling down from Elio’s uncovered eye, and he leans down to kiss the tear tracks on Elio’s cheek. 

“Shh, I know.” He removes the compress and Elio blinks his eyes open. “I know. There’s only so much we can do, especially here. So let’s just concentrate on being together, on us, okay? No one else matters. It’s just you and me.” 

Elio nods and sits up so fast that Oliver is almost knocked on his back when Elio’s arms wrap around him. The warm compress is tossed to the side in favor of holding Elio and Oliver smiles at how perfectly they fit together. “Thanks, Oliver.”

Once they’ve calmed down and after Elio has taken some Advil for his eye, he insists upon practicing his moves for Oliver until he has the floor slide down pat. 

“I’m not letting you put on a performance,” Oliver clarifies as he lounges on his bed, picking at a bowl of grapes he has by his side.

Elio pouts and makes sure the door is locked before climbing up onto the bed. He plucks the grape that’s halfway to Oliver’s mouth from between his fingers and pops it into his mouth. “Aw, why not? It’ll be the hit of the party.” 

“It absolutely won’t be.” Oliver grins and grabs Elio by the hips, tugging him forward until Elio is snuggled against his side. “You’re lucky I’m letting you go without pants.”

Elio rolls his eyes but snuggles against Oliver nonetheless. “You love showing me off.”

Oliver hums and runs his fingers down Elio’s back and then up again, wishing he could really show Elio off at the party. Hold his hand and kiss his neck and make sure everyone knows that the sexy guy in just a shirt is all his. 

Most of the next morning is spent setting up, Elio, Oliver, Rachel, and Adam all working together to decorate and prepare for the party. Halloween is a Saturday, which works out perfectly for party purposes. Oliver’s parents head out just after breakfast so as not to miss their train to New York. 

“We’ll be home Sunday evening,” Oliver’s mom says with a quick kiss to each of her three children. “Camila will be here at noon tomorrow. Make sure you help her clean up. And no drinking and driving.” Oliver’s dad leaves the house without a word to his kids, just a wave over his shoulder. If either of his parents notices the black eye, they don’t say a word. Mrs. Weiss sighs and gives Elio a small smile. “Thank you for helping set up, dear.” With that, she’s turning on her heel and headed out the door, hatbox in hand.

“What are you going as?” Rachel asks Adam as they stock the fridge with beer.

Adam scoffs and rolls his eyes. “I’m not sticking around for Ol’s party. It’s never fun.”

Oliver flicks his brother’s ear. “Yeah? What are you doing instead? Trick-or-treating?”

“Watching scary movies,” Adam mumbles, “at Lilian Hirshfeld’s house.” Rachel gasps and oooh s as Adam’s cheeks turn bright pink. “There’s gonna be a whole bunch of us!” he quickly says, “the entire debate team!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Oliver says, glancing over at Elio who is holding back his laughter, “whatever you say, little bro.” Adam has liked Lilian since second grade and Oliver hopes that this year he’ll have enough courage to finally make a move. 

After lunch, Adam scampers off to shower and primp for his not-date, and Rachel’s friends show up to the house soon after. One of her friends, Julie, has a bit of a crush on Oliver. Seeing as she’s in eighth grade and also a girl, Oliver finds it a bit endearing the way she looks up at him with big doe eyes. He expects the same today, but once Julie lays eyes on Elio, Oliver is cast aside.

The girls all surround Elio, asking him questions about Italy in their squealing little voices. Oliver just watches from the sidelines, utterly amused as his boyfriend is accosted by a bunch of thirteen-year-olds. 

“Fuck,” Elio sighs, relieved, once they finally extricate themselves. They seek solace in Oliver’s room and Elio tosses himself onto the bed. “That was exhausting.”

“Girls always are,” Oliver says, shucking his shirt and jeans before getting into bed himself. “That’s why I prefer ‘em with cocks.” 

“Oliver!” Elio chokes on a laugh and smacks Oliver’s bare chest. “You are disgusting.”

“What?” Oliver says, aghast, as he moves a hand down to Elio’s crotch. “It’s the truth.” He squeezes and Elio groans.

“Don’t start something you don’t plan to finish.”

“Who said anything about not finishing?”

Oliver rolls on top of Elio, kissing him quickly before moving down between his legs. He licks his lips in anticipation as he unzips Elio’s jeans. Sucking him off has become one of Oliver’s favorite activities as of late, and he grins when Elio’s already hard cock springs free.

“Ollie,” Elio sighs, running his fingers through Oliver’s hair. 

“Yeah. Yeah, I got you.” Oliver places a quick kiss to the exposed bit of Elio’s thigh before wrapping his mouth around the head.

The smell and taste and feel of Elio has Oliver rock hard in seconds, a bead of precum wetting the front of his boxers. He snakes his hand between his legs as he bobs his head, using his other hand to stroke over what he can’t fit into his mouth. 

With a muffled shout, Elio cums on Oliver’s tongue and Oliver grunts as he cums over his own hand.

Once Oliver pulls off, he lays there for a few seconds, head on Elio’s thigh, slowly coming back down as Elio strokes fingers through his hair. It’s getting longer than he usually keeps it, but Elio told him he likes it, so Oliver hasn’t made plans for a haircut any time soon.

“Hey,” Elio says eventually, looking down at Oliver with narrowed eyes. “What are you going as?” Oliver groans and tries to hide his face in Elio’s hip, but the hand in his hair tightens. “I can’t believe I never asked you. You better have a costume ready.”

“Just gonna wear a toga,” Oliver mumbles against Elio’s unbuttoned jeans.

“A toga? But that’s not a person or anything, it’s just an outfit!”

Oliver huffs and shifts so that he can look up at Elio. “Fine. How about I’m…” He pauses to think for a second. “Herodotus. I can carry a big book around or something.”

 “OhmygodIamobsessedwithyou,” Elio says in one big rush of air. He pulls Oliver up, begging for kisses, and Oliver gladly obliges until it’s time to get ready for the party.

Oliver stands pouting in front of his mirror, freshly showered, his hair curling up a bit at the ends where it’s drying. He thinks he maybe should have put some more effort into his costume when he fails to get it to stay up for the hundredth time.

Elio comes in from the shower, towel wrapped around his waist, and giggles. “Need help with that?” Without waiting for an answer, Elio takes the safety pins from Oliver’s hands and works his magic until the white sheet is settled over one shoulder. He rearranges the fabric a bit, revealing more of Oliver’s pec than is quite necessary, and then belts it with the string of faux laurel Oliver ordered on Amazon.

“Perfect,” Elio sighs as he reaches for the laurel crown, also an Amazon purchase, on Oliver's desk, and places it atop golden locks. “Mmh, maybe you should go as Hercules instead,” he purrs, feeling up Oliver’s biceps.

“You are absolutely depraved,” Oliver says. He peers around Elio to take a look at himself and nods. The doorbell rings, which sets Elio into action. He starts bouncing around the room, collecting his various costume items. Oliver watches Elio fondly for a second but then the doorbell rings again. “Just come down whenever you’re ready,” Oliver says as he heads out, “and don’t even think about touching the music for your entrance.” 

The first to arrive are the rest of the guys from crew and Sarah, Peter’s girlfriend, all in various costumed states. Peter is dressed as a dalmatian with Sarah as Cruella, which gets a laugh out of Oliver; leave it to them to come up with the most creative couples costume. Noah is dressed as a lackluster vampire in regular clothes with just an addition of fake teeth, and Sean is a “sexy firefighter,” which just translates to black jeans, suspenders, and no shirt. 

Oliver catches up with Sarah as the guys raid the fridge for beers and immediately start in on the snacks out on the kitchen island. They talk about classes which, of course, quickly morphs into talking about colleges. She’s looking at Bryn Mawr, Smith, or Barnard, and he’s sure Peter is happy that she’s concentrating mainly on women’s colleges.  

Various people start showing up after that, some people Oliver recognizes and some he doesn’t. Pretty much everyone shows up in costume, and Oliver can immediately pick out the freshmen girls who are all trying far too hard with their “slutty” costumes.  

“Hey,” Noah says as he removes his teeth to bite into a pretzel, “where’s Elio?”

As if on queue, the starting notes of "Old Time Rock & Roll” start playing and Oliver looks over towards the stairs just as Elio slides into view. He’s met with cheers and rounds of applause, even from the people that have no idea who he is. Oliver watches, eyes wide, as Elio starts singing into a little statuette he has clutched in his hands. He recognizes it as one of the bits of decor in Rachel’s room, and he immediately knows his sister is to blame for not only the music change, but also Elio’s now straightened and styled hair. 

Elio starts dancing around and people join in, but he starts hopping and dancing toward the kitchen and Oliver knows Elio is coming straight for him.

“So,” Elio pants, a bit out of breath from his dancing. The song continues to play and the crowd continues to dance, but Oliver only has eyes for Elio in that stupidly sexy costume. “What do you think?”

“I think I’m gonna kill my sister,” Oliver says, dropping his voice low, “because all I wanna do is kiss you right now.”

Elio flushes and chews on his lower lip, staring up at Oliver through his sunglasses before bouncing off for a beer.

“Duuuuude,” Sean says, knocking his shoulder into Oliver’s. “Is he supposed to be Tom Cruise in Risky Business? Did you know he was dressing like that?” 

Oliver peers over to the fridge, watching as the pink shirt rides up, exposing Elio’s bare thighs and just a hint of his white briefs as he reaches up for a beer. “Yep.” Oliver pops the p and shakes his head. “Too fuckin’ much, man.”            

“You love it,” Sarah says, looking all starry-eyed between Elio and Oliver.

“Yeah, I do,” Oliver breathes, pushing off the counter and abandoning his friends to go join Elio where he’s being roped into a conversation with some juniors he recognizes from his history class.

The party is nothing less than a smashing success. There’s plenty of beers and snacks and when Rachel steals one beer to split amongst her and her four friends, Oliver isn’t even pressed enough to stop her. He’s having too good of a time. He’s got a good buzz going, his hand never without a beer and his side never deprived of Elio. He would, of course, much prefer if he could wrap an arm around Elio’s waist, hold him close and maybe sneak some fingers up the hem of his shirt, but that’ll just have to wait until later.

Being at Oliver’s side doesn’t stop Elio from dancing, though, even if they’re in the middle of shooting the shit with some of the partygoers. If a song comes on that Elio likes, he’s immediately bouncing on his toes, taking off to dance with whatever gyrating group he can find by the time the chorus comes around. Two hours into the party, the back of Elio’s neck is all sweaty from exertion, causing the ends of his hair to start curling up a little. 

He slides up to Oliver, skidding in his white socks, and pushes the sunglasses up onto the top of his head. “You want to go outside for a sec?” he asks, breathless and ruddy-cheeked from his latest round of dancing. “Get some fresh air?”

Oliver is nodding and then following Elio, staring at the back of his head as if in a trance. His hair looks so good straightened and Oliver can’t wait to get his fingers into it.

Turns out, he doesn’t have to wait for long. As soon as they’re outside, Elio grabs his fingers and pulls him around the side of the house where they’re shrouded in darkness. “Been wanting you to kiss me all night,” Elio admits. It’s chilly and his teeth are already chattering, so Oliver wraps his arms around his scantily clad boyfriend.

“So have I.” Without further preamble, Oliver leans down to kiss Elio, both of them making a happy little sound. One of Oliver’s hands slide into Elio’s hair and his brain short-circuits for a second when he isn’t able to twirl the curls around his fingers. Elio’s hair is soft and straight and Oliver starts running his fingers through it over and over. His other hand sneaks up Elio’s side under his shirt, tracing the goosebumps over his skin.

“Oliver,” Elio breathes out once they part for air. But Oliver dives back in, his lips coming into contact with Elio’s neck. “Fuck. How can I convince you to just skip the rest of the party?”

Oliver just laughs and spins them so that Elio is pressed against the side of the house. He slips his leg between Elio’s and moans as his boyfriend starts rutting against his thigh. “Jesus, Elio.”

By this point, Elio’s hands are all over Oliver, delicate fingers tracing over defined muscles that are on full display. "Love you in this costume."

"Yeah, right back atcha, babe," Oliver murmurs as he drags his hands up Elio's thighs. He grips Elio's slim hips, urging on his thrusts. He can feel Elio's hard cock through the white briefs. “We should stop.”

“I don’t wanna.”

Oliver groans and rolls his hips. “ Fuck , gonna ruin our costumes.”

“Suck me off, then,” Elio says. He pushes on Oliver’s shoulders and Oliver goes easily, sinking to the damp grass and tugging down Elio’s briefs as he goes. He engulfs Elio’s cock, his nose immediately buried in Elio's pubic hair. "Fuck, you're getting really good at that." Elio pets his hair and Oliver preens under the attention. 

Oliver's fingers flirt over the smooth skin of Elio's thighs before his hands finally come to rest on his soft sides. Oliver squeezes, letting Elio know the compliment is appreciated as he begins to bob his head. 

"Jacking off fucking sucks now," Elio breathes and Oliver hollows his cheeks. "All I can think about is you sucking me off or touching me and I can barely do it by myself, Oliver, fuck . You've ruined me for my own self."

The praise goes right to Oliver's dick, and he presses his palm against it through his toga. Elio's hands tighten in his hair and Oliver knows that's one of Elio's tells. His tummy starts to tremble and he has goosebumps, not just from the chill outside. Elio is close. Oliver swallows twice before Elio is cumming, letting out soft little whimpers as he spills down Oliver's throat. 

"Elio…" Oliver's voice is a little rough as he pulls off and pushes his face against Elio's hip. His softening cock is pressed against Oliver's cheek and so he nuzzles into the crook of Elio's hip and thigh, aching to be closer. "God, Elio, you've ruined myself for me, too."

Elio laughs and pets the top of Oliver's head, knocking his crown of laurels askew. "Wish I could be hard all the time," Elio laments, and Oliver kisses the tip of his soft cock. Elio shudders and gently flicks Oliver's ear, "so I could have your mouth around me always."

"Probably would be inconvenient," Oliver argues as he stands. He can't wipe the dopey grin off his face and he leans down to kiss Elio’s cheek. 

“You now,” Elio begs as he slips his hand between the folds of Oliver’s sheet. Oliver just nods, groaning softly as Elio’s fingers wrap around him through his boxers.

“Elio,” Oliver warns as Elio’s fingers slip into the slit in the fabric, “Elio, I won’t last long.” It’s only a little embarrassing to admit, but just sucking Elio off already has Oliver on the edge.

So Elio gets down onto his knees, pushes the toga aside, and gets to work. No matter how many times they do this, Oliver will never tire of seeing Elio’s lips around his cock. Sure, he’d like to do... other things , but how can he think about anything else with Elio bobbing his head so enthusiastically.

“Fuck,” Oliver bites out. He slides his fingers into Elio’s hair and pulls hard. “Shit, you’ve got me so close already, baby."

Elio hums around his cock and Oliver can’t help the little twitch of his hips. It seems that Elio doesn’t mind either, if his pleased moan is anything to go by, so Oliver continues his small and gentle thrusts. He’s soon spilling into Elio’s mouth, a bit of his cum dripping over Elio’s bottom lip. The sight has Oliver’s cock twitching and dribbling more cum, which makes Elio giggle when he pulls off.

“Good?” he asks, licking at the smear of cum over his lip. 

Oliver huffs and rolls his eyes as he gently pushes Elio’s hair off his forehead. “Really fucking good, babe. And I think you know that.” 

Elio winks at Oliver from where he’s kneeling in the grass and Oliver thinks for a second he might cum again, right then and there. Elio pushes up to his feet and leans in as he tucks Oliver back into his boxers. “I love doing that,” he whispers before tilting his head up for a kiss.

Oliver obliges and presses their lips together in a soft kiss. The kiss is over all too soon, though, as Elio is pulling back so he can readjust his shirt and fix his hair.

“We ought to get back in,” Elio whispers as he slides his sunglasses back up his nose.

Oliver hums and fixes himself in his boxers. He makes sure his toga is where it’s supposed to be and rearranges the laurel on his head. Elio turns to head back inside but Oliver grabs his wrist before he can, unable to help himself from stealing another quick kiss. “Thank you,” he murmurs. Elio just smiles and kisses Oliver again before bouncing back inside.

Oliver gives it a few minutes, waiting outside in the cool October air so as not to raise suspicion. He can’t keep the stupidly sappy grin off his face and he tilts his head up toward the sky, turning his smile towards the stars. Fuck. Elio has Oliver’s whole heart wrapped around his finger. Oliver barks out a laugh, the sound bubbling up from his chest. He’s unequivocally and disgustingly happy and his heart and stomach do little backflips at the thought. He has the most perfect boyfriend in the world and he’s headed off to college in less than a year. How much better could it get?

With that thought, he heads back inside, his gaze immediately landing on Elio, who is currently engaging Sarah and Peter in an overly animated conversation. Elio looks up when Oliver comes in and they lock eyes, a small, shy smile playing over Elio’s face. Yeah, Oliver thinks as he heads to the fridge for another beer, it really can’t get much better than this.

The next morning, Oliver wakes up with a hangover to envy all other hangovers. He groans and tries to roll over in order to hide his face from the sun streaming in through his window, but he’s met with an obstacle in his bed. Oliver manages to crack an eye open, which he instantly regrets when he’s met with too bright light, as well as a mop of dark hair. At least he knows the warm lump in his bed is Elio and not any of the other kids that slept over. With his eyes closed again, he continues his efforts and finally buries his face into what he thinks is the crook of Elio’s shoulder. Whatever body part it is, it’s soft and warm and smells like Elio, and so Oliver falls back asleep in no time.

When he wakes up again, he’s alone in bed and the curtains have been drawn. He groans and rolls over, thankful that Elio immersed his room in darkness before going off to do whatever he was up to. Oliver pushed his fingers into his temples, trying to combat his headache without getting up for Advil just yet. The last thing he remembers from the night before is shotgunning beers with Noah and Sean. Definitely a bad idea if the hangover is anything to go by.

The door opens and Elio creeps back in. Oliver grunts, just to let Elio know he’s alive, and he soon has a bed full of damp, wiggling Elio.

“You showered?”

“Mmh. And you should too. You smell like beer and vomit.”

“Oh God, did I vomit last night?" 

Elio giggles and opens his arms gladly as Oliver snuggles closer. “You really don’t remember?” Oliver shakes his head. “We came upstairs at like, 4 AM and you wanted to make out so bad but you said you felt sick and you couldn’t decide if, and I quote, you wanted to throw up or kiss.”

Oliver groans and hides his face in Elio’s neck. “Jesus…” 

“So you and I both ended up on the bathroom floor. You made it all into the toilet, though. Easy cleanup.”

“God, I am so sorry.” Oliver’s cheeks are burning and he can barely believe he was so drunk that Elio had to clean up his mess. Literally. “Are there still a ton of people here?” 

“Dunno, haven’t gone downstairs yet. Your sister and her friends are in her room, and Noah, Sean, Peter, and Sarah are in your brother's room. A lot of people took Ubers last night, but I think there were like 50 people still here when we went upstairs.” 

Oliver sighs and snuggles a little closer. “Don’t wanna deal with any of them. Just wanna be with you.” 

Elio laughs and kisses the top of Oliver’s head. “Why don’t you go shower? I’ll make coffee and order bagels for everyone.” He smiles and pushes Oliver’s hair off his forehead.

Oliver makes a sound of assent but doesn’t move, content to just stay wrapped up in Elio’s arms for a few minutes longer. “Alright,” Oliver finally sighs, just as he’s on the verge of falling asleep again. The sooner he gets up, the sooner he can get everyone out of his house, and the sooner he can be alone with Elio. He manages to sit up and blink against the minimal light in the room, which sends Elio into peals of laughter.

“Oh God, wait until you get a look at yourself.”

Oliver just rolls his eyes and leaves Elio giggling in his bed to head to the bathroom. But when he does finally look in the mirror, he can tell why Elio was laughing. He has red lines all over his cheeks from the sheets, his hair is a mess, totally tangled around the laurel. His toga is barely on his body, the sheet now just wrapped around his waist. And, for some reason, he has the sunglasses Elio was wearing hanging from the waistband of his boxers.

Once he’s finally presentable, and after he’s brushed his teeth three times, Oliver tiptoes downstairs to look for Elio. He finds him in the kitchen, preparing cups of coffee for a few of the kids who are up already. “Hey,” Elio says with a warm smile as Oliver comes in, “I ordered bagels, should be here in ten.” Elio abandons the French Press to bring Oliver a fresh cup with just the right amount of cream, as well as three Advil. “Here, I think you’re gonna need this.”

The pills go right down with a swig of hot coffee and Oliver slumps into one of the barstools at the island where he awaits the bagels. 

By noon, Camila has shown up and she’s busy cleaning the kitchen. Meanwhile, everyone has left except for the crew guys and Sarah. Rachel and her friends decide to hang out in her room, leaving Oliver and his friends alone, thankfully. They’re all severely hungover, and no amount of coffee or bagels seem to cure them. So, they all settle themselves in the living room where Elio is put in charge of finding something to watch. He puts on Great British Bakeoff, which had been on Oliver’s list for ages, much to the chagrin of Peter and Sarah.

“But we’ve already seen all the episodes!” Peter whines as Elio presses play.

“Don’t care. This is what we’re watching.” Oliver grabs onto Elio’s waist and pulls him down so that they’re snuggled up together on the couch just as the intro starts playing. Elio easily folds himself against Oliver and he pulls a blanket over them.

“Hey, no canoodling over there,” Noah says with a glance over his shoulder. 

“Shut up and watch,” Elio scolds as he snuggles closer. Oliver hums and buries his nose in Elio’s hair, his arm easily wrapping around Elio’s waist. It’s the perfect way to spend a hungover morning, and Oliver doesn’t plan on moving at all.

Everyone stays for a few more hours and they pig out on the late lunch Camila prepared for them before she left for the day. The gang hangs around until 4 when Sean’s mom pulls into the driveway and honks her horn. All four of them head out and pile into the car, leaving Elio and Oliver home alone.

“Well, not really alone,” Elio retorts when Oliver says as much. “Your sister and her friends are still here." 

“Mmmh, who cares about them ,” Oliver coos, “when we can spend the rest of our time together making out on the couch?”

Elio seems to like that plan because he beelines for the couch, leaving Oliver trailing behind him. Just before Oliver can swoop in and kiss Elio, he grabs the remote and presses play, continuing bakeoff where it left off.

“Someone likes Paul Hollywood,” Elio accuses with a wry grin as he reaches for Oliver.

“I do not!” Oliver stammers, folding himself onto the couch and grabbing Elio in an attempt to get back to kissing. But Elio is tipping his head back and laughing, so Oliver just uses that as a perfect opportunity to kiss Elio’s neck instead.

Between midterms, crew regattas, workouts, homework, and college applications, Thanksgiving break sneaks up on them, but suddenly, they only have one day left before a full week off and Elio is heading to Italy. The Perlmans surprised Elio with tickets the week before, which had been bittersweet. He called Oliver on the phone crying, half-happy-half-upset that he’d be leaving home, and therefore Oliver, for an entire week.

“It’ll be good,” Oliver soothed, trying to hold back his own disappointment. “You’re gonna see your grandparents and aunts and uncles.”

Now, they’re sitting cross-legged on Elio’s bed, playing a game of war. Oliver throws down a card and whoops with victory when he wins.

“I wish I didn’t have to go tomorrow,” Elio gripes as he collects the cards and begins shuffling. He looks so despondent, curls hanging over his forehead, chin dipped down. Oliver grabs his phone and takes a sneaky picture of Elio, messy hair and all. 

“I know, me neither.” He tucks his phone away and flicks Elio’s knee. “But you’re gonna be home sooner than you know it and you’ll -”

“I know, I know, I get to see my family and friends and whatever.” Italians, of course, weren’t celebrating the holiday, but seeing as Elio had off, the Perlmans decided it would be a perfect time to go. “Or I wish you were coming with me.” 

“One day,” Oliver said. He sighed and reached over to tuck a stray curl back into place. He wanted to go with Elio so badly, escape from the world for just a little bit to go to the idyllic Italian countryside. But he was destined to stay home, working on college applications for the week except for Thanksgiving itself, when Oliver’s entire family was coming to the house. “ I wish you were staying so that you could rescue me from my family.”

Elio looked up with an amused little grin. “What, you don’t want to see dear old Great Aunt Alma?” 

Oliver wrinkles his nose. “Ugh, no. She’s always asking when I’m going to get married, as if I’ve already done the whole college and job thing. I don’t think she knows who I am.” 

Elio laughs and leans in to kiss Oliver’s cheek. “You wanna play another round?”

“Mmmh, no, I wanna quit on a winning streak.” He plucks the deck of cards out of Elio’s hands and places them on the bedside table. “What time do you leave tomorrow?”

“Noon,” Elio laments, pitching forward so that his forehead comes into contact with Oliver’s pec.

“Well, we have a few hours,” he says, checking his watch. It’s only 5. They came straight to Elio’s house after school, evading all their friends in an attempt to get as much alone time before their separation as possible. 

“You’re staying over, right?” Elio asks, suddenly sitting up and knocking Oliver’s nose in the process. Oliver hisses and grabs the bridge of his nose, blinking against the tears and stinging pain. “Shit! Shit, fuck, I’m sorry.” Elio tries to pry Oliver’s hand away. “Are you bleeding?”

Oliver leaves his hand there for a second, pressing on his nose in an attempt to abate the pain before he pulls back, expecting to see blood. He sighs in relief. “No, thankfully.” He laughs and leans down to kiss Elio’s forehead, soothing away his worry. “Of course I’m staying over. How could I even think about going home when I’m not going to see you for an entire week?" 

Elio isn’t due back until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a truly full week away from one another. “Good.” Elio nods and looks up at Oliver with a warm smile. Oliver hums and traces his fingers around the Elio’s eye, the one that had been punched. 

“It doesn’t still hurt, does it?” 

Elio laughs and shakes his head. “Oliver, it’s been like...a month.”

“Three weeks,” Oliver hastily corrects. 

“But…” Elio trails off and clambers into Oliver’s lap, who shuffles back so that he’s sitting against the pillows and he wraps his arms around Elio, who is currently squirming around in an attempt to get comfortable. 

“But what?” Oliver asks once Elio finally settles on his lap. He tilts his head back and looks up at his boyfriend, the two of them all smiles.  

“But I could use some... sexual healing .”

“You are -” 

But whatever Oliver is about to say is interrupted by a knock on the door. Elio scrambles off Oliver’s lap and Oliver grabs the playing cards, pretending to shuffle them while trying his hardest to block the bulge in his jeans from view. 

Mrs. Perlman gives it another second before opening the door. “Hi boys.” She has a streak of paint across her cheek and she’s still wearing her stained smock. “Papà just got back from the library, he’s going to start dinner. It’ll be ready in about 15.” She smiles and comes into the room, smoothing back Oliver’s hair. “You’re staying for dinner, right, tesoro?”

Oliver swallows hard, wondering if Mrs. Perlman knows that it was her son who messed up his hair in the first place. “Yeah,” he finally gets out, managing to look up at her with a smile. “Wouldn’t miss a dinner at the Perlman's for the world.”

“Always so sweet,” Mrs. Perlman coos with a kiss to the top of Oliver’s head. “You could stand to learn some lessons from your fidanzato, eh, Elio?”

Elio just groans and grabs a pillow so he can smother himself with it. 

Mrs. Perlman laughs and she and Oliver shared an amused look before she heads out, shutting the door behind her.

“Is she gone?” Elio asks into his pillow.

“You’re a brat,” Oliver accuses as he tugs at the pillow. Elio relents and lets go easily, revealing his flushed face.

“No, I just want some privacy, like at your house.”

Oliver snorts. “I’d rather have parents who are at least a little bit interested in me rather than being completely ignored.”

Elio hums and leans up on his elbows. “Can I get a kiss?” he asks simply.

“You can get more than that.” Oliver leans down to kiss Elio, his fingers tracing softly down the side of his face and neck. He loves lazy afternoons and soft kisses and he wishes they could spend every moment like this. 

Oliver sneaks his hand up Elio’s sweater, loving the way the soft fabric covers the back of his hand while his palm is met with warm, smooth skin. He thumbs a nipple, smiling into their kiss as Elio gasps and arches his back. 

“Oliver,” Elio breathes, his own hands coming up to latch onto Oliver’s hair. “Fuck, Oliver, I’m gonna miss you.” 

Oliver sighs as he kisses Elio’s neck. He moves his hand to the other nipple and rolls it between two fingers. “Think of how good it’ll be when we’re together again,” he says. He moves so that he’s on top of Elio now, their legs slotted together. “When we finally get to kiss after a week apart.” He sucks a small mark against the base of Elio’s neck. “When we finally get to touch each other again.” He pinches Elio’s nipple, which earns him a soft yelp.

“God, I want you.”

“We don’t have much time,” Oliver says, glancing up at the clock on Elio’s bedside table. He smacks a kiss to Elio’s cheek and spins off onto his back. “Your dad’ll be done with dinner soon and I want to take my time tonight.” 

Elio takes his hand and they link fingers in the space between them. They’re quiet for a while, both trying to control their breathing (and their erections) as they stare up at the ceiling. “Oliver,” Elio starts, voice a little shaky, “Oliver, I think I wanna...I think I’m ready to -”

“Boys!” It’s Professor Perlman this time, calling up from the bottom of the stairs. 

That springs Elio into action, and he practically leaps off the bed, a ball of nervous energy. Oliver pushes up onto his elbows, watching Elio bounce around the room as he tries to make himself look more presentable. Oliver wonders what he was about to say, if he was about to ask for something Oliver had been wondering about… 

“Don’t let dinner get cold!” Mrs. Perlman shouts as she passes by Elio’s door on the way downstairs.

Professor Perlman’s cooking skills are on par with his wife’s, and Oliver often teases that they should have a sauce-off with him and Elio as the judges. Tonight is no exception as Pro places a steaming platter of red wine risotto with gorgonzola and pears. Mrs. Perlman sets out four champagne flutes and Elio shoots her a questioning glance as she pops open a bottle of prosecco and starts to pour.

“Only one glass each for the two of you,” she says, but she’s smiling, “and only since it’s the holidays.”

"I gotta come around on holidays more often," Oliver says. He returns Mrs. Perlman's smile, flashing his white teeth. "Italian holidays included?"

"Elio will give you the calendar," she teases right back as she sits down. She raises her glass and everybody follows suit. "To Elio and Oliver, for having a successful year at school so far.”

The Perlmans cry out “Saluti!” and Oliver joins in as they clink their glasses together. He takes a sip of the prosecco, straight from their cousin’s vineyard in Italy, supplies Mrs. Perlman. He loves the way it bubbles down his throat, the taste delicate and exquisite, very unlike the PBRs he’s usually throwing back.

“Only one glass” turns into two glasses and soon they’re opening another bottle as Professor Perlman clears the plates. 

“That was amazing,” Oliver sighs as Mrs. Perlman refills his glass. He’s starting to feel just a little buzzed, the prosecco and good food making his head fuzzy.

“He’s very proud of that recipe,” Elio says with an eye-roll. “Makes it every fall. What’s for dessert, Papà?”

“Pomegranate panna cotta,” Pro announces as he comes back in with four dishes of a wobbly substance covered in a deep red sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

Oliver cocks a brow as the plate is set in front of him.

“Oh my god,” Elio gasps, “have you never had panna cotta?”

“Elio,” Mrs. Perlman scolds. She takes her place at the table and digs into the dessert. “Go on, Oliver. Try it.”

Oliver takes a hesitant bite but is surprised to find that he actually likes the little pink wobbly mound on his plate. “Holy shit,” he breathes, not even registering that he’s just cursed in front of his boyfriend’s parents, “that’s really good.”

Elio and Oliver end up splitting a second portion of panna cotta and their glasses are topped off just a little bit so that Mrs. Perlman can finish off the bottle of prosecco. The boys are both looking at each other with big smiles, giggling each time they lock eyes, totally oblivious to anyone around them.

“Do you two want to watch a movie with us tonight?” Professor Perlman asks as they bring their dishes into the kitchen. “Annella and I were thinking of renting the new James Bond movie.” 

Oliver glances over at Elio but he doesn’t have to wait long for an answer. “Thanks, Papà, but I think we’re just gonna go hang out upstairs.”

Oliver’s cheeks flush bright pink, Elio’s words from earlier immediately coming to mind. He swallows hard and just nods. 

“Alright, tesoros,” Mrs. Perlman coos, kissing them each on the forehead. “Don’t stay up too late. Elio, you’re all packed, right?”

“Yes, Mom,” Elio huffs with a roll of his eyes. Oliver thanks the Perlmans again for dinner before following Elio up the stairs. Once they’re in Elio’s bedroom, the door shut and locked, the boys look at each other for a few seconds in silence before breaking out into peals of laughter. Elio follows Oliver to the bed and they climb up together, settling back against the pillows. 

“Elio -”

“Oliver, I -”

They both start and stop speaking at the same time so Oliver leans in to kiss Elio instead. They exchange a few sweet kisses before Elio pulls back and presses their foreheads together. “I really like you,” he says, voice barely above a whisper. “And I think I wanna…” Elio trails off and takes a shaky breath before continuing. “I want my first time to be with you, Oliver. And I think I’m ready.”

It was exactly what Oliver had hoped Elio was going to say, yet it still hits Oliver like a ton of bricks, leaving him breathless. “I want that too,” Oliver manages.

Elio’s eyes flutter open and he looks up at Oliver from under his lashes. “Really?”

“Yes, really, you dope,” Oliver laughs. He doesn't even need to think about the answer. He kisses the tip of Elio’s nose before nuzzling it with his own. “I want everything with you.”

Elio nods and starts to unbutton Oliver’s shirt, his fingers shaking. “I-I have lube in my bedside table,” he offers. Oliver looks down, watching Elio’s trembling fingers as he pushes the buttons through their holes, exposing more of Oliver’s chest. 

“We can go slow,” Oliver says. Elio nods and pushes Oliver’s shirt off his shoulders. “We’re gonna go slow, Elio.” Oliver reaches for the hem of Elio’s shirt, kissing him quickly before pulling it over his head. “God, you’re beautiful,” Oliver whispers as his eyes rake over Elio’s now bare chest.

“Can I -” Elio hesitates for a moment before reaching for the zip on Oliver’s pants.  

Oliver chuckles and nods, leaning back against the pillows as Elio works open the button and pills down the zipper. Oliver’s heart is beating so fast that he can see the palpitations when he looks at his chest. No matter how far they get, this is a big step, and Oliver wants to make sure it’s perfect for them.

Once Oliver is out of his pants, he also tugs at the waistband of his boxers, signaling to Elio that those can come off too. Elio helps him shimmy out of them and then Elio is slipping out of his own pants and boxers.

“Um...I mean, I know there are like - like tops and bottoms and I don’t….I don’t know what you are, but If you wanna maybe -”

Oliver grabs Elio’s cheeks and pulls him in for a kiss to shut him up. His blubbering and nervousness are adorable and Oliver kisses him until Elio relaxes in his grip. "I want whatever you want, baby." Oliver has never given too much thought about whether he'd be a top or bottom, but after meeting Elio he realized it didn't matter. He'd top, bottom, or anything in between just as long as it made Elio happy.  

"I want you to top," Elio says with only a moment's hesitation.

Oliver nods and gently eases Elio onto his back, nestled among the pillows. “We don’t even have to fully decide now. We can...we can talk about it, see how we feel.”

Elio nods, curls flopping, and Oliver smiles as he tucks one behind Elio’s ear. “Can we kiss for a little first?” Elio asks, his voice soft and small. 

“Baby,” Oliver breathes, his heart thudding hard with anticipation and adoration for the boy laid out before him, “of course we can.” Oliver leans down and nudges Elio’s nose before pressing their lips together.

They kiss and kiss and kiss until Oliver has to pull back for air. His hands have moved from Elio’s cheeks to his hair to the back of his neck and down to where they’re now settled on Elio’s hips. Elio’s legs are wrapped around Oliver’s waist and they move against one another, relishing in the slow slide of skin against skin.

Elio shivers.

“Are you cold?” Oliver asks.


“Then what was that shudder?”

“I dunno.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes. Are you?”

“As okay as I’ve ever been.”

“Me too.”

Oliver nods at that reassurance and he presses a hard kiss to Elio’s lips. “Do you wanna um...should I get out the lube?” Elio nods and so Oliver reaches over to the bedside table, shuffling around a little until he finds the small bottle. His lips twitch up in a small smile. “Did you buy this just for us?” he asks as he peels off the wrapping around the cap. They’d only used lotion up until then, making good use of the bottles of Cetaphil on both of their nightstands. 

“Maybe,” Elio shrugs, looking up at Oliver. He looks so demure and so precious that Oliver can’t help but lean down and kiss him. “I got it at CVS a couple weeks ago. I was looking for something for my eye and I saw it and…” Elio trails off and shrugs again.

“Fuck, you’re so cute.” Oliver snaps open the bottle, wincing as way more lube comes out over his fingers than he intended. “Shit, should we use like...a towel or something?”

Elio wrinkles his nose and shakes his head as he settles more comfortably on the pillows. “No, I don’t care. I just...I want you, Oliver. I want this."

Oliver nods and moves so that he’s kneeling between Elio’s spread legs. They’re both blushing, bright pink high on their cheeks as they look between each other’s bodies, trying to figure out what to do. “Okay, I...I guess I’ll just…” 

He brings his lubed up hand between Elio’s legs, torn between looking down at where his hand is or at Elio’s face. He trails his fingers down Elio’s perineum and toward his hole, gasping as his pointer finger comes in contact with it. It’s warm and the skin his furrowed yet soft. “Okay?” he asks.

Elio nods and spreads his legs a little on the bed. “You can...You can do it." 

“Okay.” Oliver takes a deep breath and nods. He’s watched porn, filtered to only homemade gay videos. He knows what the deal is. He nods again before pushing a little bit more with the pad of his index finger. He’s met with a little resistance before his finger starts to slide in. Elio gasps and Oliver stops, only half an inch of his finger inside of Elio. “Am I hurting you, are you okay?”

“No! Nonononono.” Elio shakes his head and reaches his arms up. “But I want you to c’mere.”

Oliver obliges and moves so that he’s hovering over Elio, supporting himself on his free arm. He moves carefully and slowly so as not to dislodge his finger. The angle is only slightly awkward for Oliver, but this isn’t about him. This is about his boyfriend. “A little more?”


Oliver kisses Elio’s forehead before pushing his finger in another half-inch to the second knuckle. He looks down and frowns. “You’’re not hard,” he says, now embarrassed by how hard he is, his cock pressed insistently against Elio’s thigh. But Elio’s hole is so hot and tight that he can’t help his reaction.

“It hurts,” Elio admits, and Oliver almost pulls out and calls the whole thing off. “Don’t! No!” Elio grabs onto Oliver’s shoulders, anticipating his next move. “Stay. It’s okay, it’s like...a good hurt? I read it kinda hurts at first.” 

“You read,” Oliver parrots back.

“Yeah. I, uh, figured I had to do research.” 

“Research. You researched this. By reading.” Oliver can’t quite believe it. He laughs and hangs his head. “And there’s the main difference between us. While you were off being scholarly, I was researching on PornHub.”

Elio lets out a wet little laugh and he leans up for a kiss. Oliver obliges, and they kiss for a while, Oliver’s finger still halfway inside Elio. “Are you okay for a bit more?” Oliver asks when they separate. When Elio nods, Oliver pushes his finger just a little bit deeper. Elio makes a soft sound but Oliver keeps pushing. Elio is so close to taking all of Oliver’s finger, so he doesn’t stop his very slow movements until it's finally totally buried inside Elio’s hole.

“Is that...Did I do it?”

“Yeah.” Oliver laughs and kisses Elio’s sweaty forehead again. “Yeah, it’s all the way in. I um…” He trails off and clears his throat. “I dunno exactly how to find your prostate or anything, but um…”

It’s Elio’s turn to shut Oliver up, and he does so with a searing kiss, one that sends shivers down Oliver’s spine. 

“Does it hurt at all?” Oliver asks. He looks down to find Elio’s cock is still soft. “What can I do to make it feel good?”

“It doesn’t hurt really, it’s feels like pressure? Like…” Elio shifts a little and his cock twitches. “O-oh.”

Oliver raises a brow and slowly sits up so that he’s kneeling between Elio’s spread legs again. “Should I try moving it?”

“I think so?”

Oliver slowly starts to pull his finger out and Elio grunts. He scrunches his nose and furrows his brow and Oliver stops moving immediately. “You okay?”

“That felt weird,” Elio says, without further clarification. “Really fucking weird.” They stay like that, Oliver watching Elio’s face for any signs of distress as Elio clearly tries to relax.

“We can stop,” Oliver says suddenly, a roll of anxiety falling over him. Elio probably hates him now. There Oliver is: rock hard with a finger up Elio’s ass while his boyfriend is clearly struggling.

“No! No, Oliver. I’ll tell you if I wanna stop. I didn’t say it was bad just...weird.”

“Right. Weird.” Oliver sighs and rubs his free hand in soothing circles over Elio’s thigh. But Oliver doesn’t know if weird is good or bad and he worries that he’s hurting Elio. He shifts and tries hard not to move his finger at all.

“Can know, back in?”

Oliver nods and presses his finger back into Elio, who moans a little that time. “Yeah,” he sighs, “like that. Do it again.”

Oliver draws his finger out and doesn’t hesitate this time as he pushes it back inside. He ducks his head a bit to watch as his finger slides in and out and Elio lets out a high-pitched, embarrassed whine.

“I’ve had my finger in it,” Oliver says, “I think I can look at it." 

“It’s making me self-conscious.”

“It shouldn’t. You’re beautiful, Elio.”

“Stop saying that.”

“You’re beautiful, Elio Perlman. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.” Oliver leans down to kiss Elio, his finger now steadily moving in and out of his hole. Oliver can’t quite comprehend how tight Elio is, and the thought of actually being fully inside him at some point leaves him dizzy. He sets a slow but steady pace with his finger, wiggling it experimentally as Elio moans. 

“C-Can we try two?” Elio asks. He pushes up onto his elbows and peers down at where his cock is laying half-hard. “I...I think I want a second one. I’m ready.”

Oliver just nods. As long as Elio says he’s ready. “But you need to tell me,” he says as he pulls his finger all the way out. Elio whimpers and shivers. “Tell me if it hurts or you don’t like it.” He probably doesn’t need to, considering how much he squeezed out the last time, but Oliver adds more lube anyway. “Okay, here it goes.”

This time, Oliver presses the pads of both his pointer and middle fingers against Elio’s hole. He’s already slicked and a little looser than before, but Oliver is still met with some resistance as he pushes in. “Holy shit,” he breathes as Elio takes his fingers. It’s a slow process, but he sinks his fingers into his boyfriend, watching Elio’s face carefully.

His beautiful, perfect Elio. He’s got a light sheen of sweat over his forehead, to which a few of his curls are sticking, and there’s a pretty pink blush high on his cheeks.

“Is it okay for you?” Elio’s words pull Oliver out of his reverie.

“Jesus, Elio. So fucking okay. You feel so good.” He laughs and leans down for a kiss just as he pushes his fingers all the way in. Elio gasps into the kiss and Oliver uses that opportunity to press his tongue between soft, plush lips. They stay like that for a while, just lazily kissing with Elio taking both of Oliver’s fingers so well.

When Oliver pulls back from the kiss and begins moving his fingers, Elio’s face pinches a bit. “Don’t stop,” he says before Oliver can ask, “just keep going.” Oliver shuts up and does as he’s told, making sure to keep it slow. 

“Ollie,” Elio whispers after a while. He’s arching his back, moving his hips a little with Oliver’s fingers, his cock hardening against his thigh. “I dunno…” Elio gasps as Oliver slowly drags his fingers out before pressing in again. “I don’t wanna go all the way tonight. I wanna finish like this.”

Oliver breathes a sigh of relief. As much as he’d like to feel Elio around him, he’d been incredibly nervous since they came upstairs. He wanted to get the whole fingering thing down pat before they went any further. And besides, he needed to do some more research.

“Is that okay?”

“Sorry, yeah.” Oliver smiles and kisses Elio’s cheek. “Yeah, that sounds good to me, baby.” He skates his free hand over Elio’s nipples and then down his chest. “Still feeling okay?”

“Mmhm. Still kinda like...pressure-y? But in a good way?”

Oliver laughs at that and moves his hand from Elio’s hip to his cock. He wraps his fingers around it and gives a few light tugs until Elio is hard. “Ah, there we go,” he coos. “You like that, baby?”

Elio groans and nods as Oliver starts to move his fingers. It’s a slow slide since Elio is so tight, but he’s making little sounds that Oliver recognizes from their blow jobs and hand jobs, so he keeps it up. Soon enough, Elio is whimpering and squirming and moaning Oliver’s name, his hands buried in Oliver’s hair. And that’s when Oliver let’s go of his cock.

“Please,” he manages to get out. “So hard, Oliver.”

“I got you, baby. Hold on. I got you.” It takes a bit of maneuvering, but Oliver manages to get onto his stomach without removing his fingers from Elio’s hole. He spares a single look at where his fingers are inside his boyfriend , eyes widening a bit as Elio’s hole flutters around his fingers. 


And Oliver can’t keep Elio waiting any longer. He wraps his lips around the tip of Elio’s cock, suckling at the precum there before sinking his lips down. It’s less than a minute before Elio is cumming, and it is the most ethereal out of body experience Oliver has ever had. Elio’s cock is throbbing on his tongue and his hole is pulsating around his fingers. It’s beautiful and Oliver, a bit too caught up in his feelings, has to remind himself to swallow.

When he pulls off Elio’s cock, he glances up at Elio who is sprawled over the pillows, hair a mess, chest heaving with each breath. Oliver smiles and kisses Elio’s thighs. “I’m gonna pull out now, okay?" 

Elio hums, so Oliver very slowly pulls out his fingers. Elio whines and brings his legs together as Oliver sits up.

“Are you feeling okay?” Oliver asks when Elio makes no attempts to move.

“Yeah,” Elio finally breathes, cracking open one eye. “I don’t think I can move my arms, otherwise I’d offer.”

Oliver laughs and straddles Elio’s now closed thighs. “That’s alright, I can do it on my own.” He lays himself down, just planning on jacking himself off and cumming on Elio’s stomach, but his cock is hard and insistent and it slips between Elio’s thighs, which are slick with sweat and lube.

“Ohhh fuck.” They say it at the same time and then both burst into giggles as Oliver hides his face in Elio’s neck. 

“Maybe it’ll be good practice,” Oliver murmurs against the warm skin there. He laps at a drop of sweat before experimentally thrusting his hips. “Ah, fuck, you’re so tight, Elio, fuck.”

Oliver wishes he could last longer. He tries his hardest, but his balls draw up and his muscles start to quiver. 

“Go on,” Elio encourages, his voice soft against Oliver’s ear, “cum for me, babe.”

And so Oliver does. His orgasm plows through him, his hips bucking hard as he thrusts his cock into the tight heat of Elio’s thighs. It leaves him panting, gasping for air against Elio’s neck. He’s vaguely aware of Elio’s fingers in his hair and his voice against his ear, but all Oliver can really concentrate on is his cock, softening between Elio’s thighs which are smeared his own cum. 

He can’t quite believe the evening’s events. He had two fingers inside Elio. He fucked Elio’s thighs. They took actual, bit steps in the physical aspect of their relationship and Oliver finds he likes Elio more than ever after that. Seeing his reactions, coaxing out his boyfriend’s pleasure with his own fingers is so rewarding and humbling that it takes Oliver’s breath away.  

He finally manages to sit up and look down at Elio who is smiling dopily up at him.  

“You’re always beautiful like that, by the way, after we finish. Laying there like that, all wide-eyed and innocent.”

“I told you to stop saying that.” Elio’s tone is teasingly light and Oliver grins. The kid knows he’s beautiful.

“I know, but I can’t.”

“And besides, I don’t feel very innocent after that.”

They both laugh and bump noses as they come together for a sweet kiss. When Elio separates his thighs, Oliver hisses and Elio shivers as their warm cocoon is broken. With another quick kiss, Oliver slips into his boxers and dashes to the bathroom for a damp cloth. 

He comes back into the room to find Elio changing the sheets and they work together in comfortable silence, cleaning up the cum and lube from their bodies once the clean top sheet is secured. 

As they finish making the bed, Elio starts to cry. Not a sobbing kind of cry, but a soft cry of slow, steady tears. Oliver rushes over in a second and wraps a strong arm around Elio’s back to keep him steady. 

“Hey, shh, why are you crying? Did I hurt you, are you okay?”

“I think...I think I’m crying because I’m happy.”

Oliver frowns. “You think you’re happy?”

Elio laughs through his tears, a bit of spittle getting stuck on his bottom lip. “No, no, I know I’m happy I just…” He sucks in a breath so big that it makes his shoulders shake. Elio holds it for a second and then closes his eyes as he exhales. “I think I’m falling in love with you.” 

Oliver is stunned into silence. He’d been feeling the same way, but he’d been hesitant to admit it. He was falling fast for Elio, and it scared him. But now that Elio admitted to feeling the same way, Oliver feels like a weight has been lifted off his chest. He wipes Elio’s cheeks ever so gently, his fingers sweeping away any lingering tears.

“I think I’m falling in love with you, too.” His voice feels small and far away. It’s as if he’s watching the entire exchange from above, like it’s a movie. And he supposes it is. It’s his great high school romance. Elio smiles and it’s a chain reaction. Oliver feels his own lips pull up and then he’s suddenly laughing.

“Hey,” Elio shoves at his chest but takes a step forward at the same time so that they don’t actually separate, “what are you laughing at?” 

Oliver shrugs, honestly not sure. “Nothing, I guess. I just...I’m so happy.” His chest feels so tight with it, every molecule of his body thrumming with intense joy. “Fuck, it makes my heart hurt.”

Elio’s hand comes to rest on Oliver’s chest, just over his heart, and he rubs over the spot. “Like a good hurt?”

Oliver blushes, but his smile widens at the harkening back to Elio’s earlier words. “Yeah, like a good hurt.”

That night, after helping Elio finish packing, the boys snuggle up in Elio’s bed, totally entwined. Oliver can't really figure out where he ends and Elio begins, but he doesn’t mind at all, just relishes in their closeness.

“I like-love you,” Elio whispers, and Oliver can tell by how his voice is all low and scratchy that he’s exhausted.

While throwing t-shirts into his suitcase, Elio decided he wasn’t quite ready to totally use “the l-word” yet, so they settled on like-love instead, which Oliver preferred. It was their little thing .

“I like-love you too.” Oliver doesn’t think he’s stopped smiling since their confession. Even while packing Elio’s carry on, even while brushing his teeth, Oliver has had the widest smile plastered over his face. He just can’t help it.

“Don’t miss me too much,” Elio whispers into Oliver’s neck. “Have a good Thanksgiving and finish those applications, okay?” 

“Yes, Dad.”

“Oooh, kinky.”

“Quit it, or I’ll tickle you.”

“Okay! Okay, I’m sorry.” They settle again and Elio kisses Oliver’s neck. “But seriously. I want you to get into the school that you want to go to.”

Oliver hums and kisses Elio’s curls. “And I want you to have a good vacation too. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be just fine.” He hugs Elio tighter. “Eat good food and drink lots of wine and have fun with your family, okay? Don’t waste your time thinking about me.” 

“Only if you promise to do the same.” 

“I promise.”

But promises are built on words and words are futile devices. 

Oliver says goodbye to Elio and the Perlmans after breakfast and he’s left totally bereft when he gets home. They’ve only been separated for the span of a car ride, but Oliver hates it already. He stomps up to his room and shuts the door, immediately flopping on his bed and texting Elio. They text for a while, until Elio has to board, and Oliver wishes him a safe flight with a lot of kiss emojis. He wonders when he got so sappy, but then Elio sends back five hearts and it makes his heart rate pick up.

Once it’s radio silence from Elio, Oliver resigns himself to his work. He knows that the applications have to get done, and Pro reminded him again to send over his essays for corrections. They’re due soon, and he really needs to kick it into gear. He ends up emailing Rob, the Exeter alum he met at Head of Charles, asking if they could chat on the phone about Columbia. He gets a response not even half an hour later, and they set up a phone call for the following day.

Once he finishes his NYU and Columbia supplemental essay drafts, he emails them to Professor Perlman before finally slinking out of his room for a late lunch. His mother is watching HGTV, so he joins her in the living room after throwing together a sandwich. 

“There’s my boy,” she coos. She combs Oliver’s hair with her fingers and kisses his cheek, definitely leaving behind a red lipstick smudge. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in weeks, Oliver. You must be busy.” She mutes the TV and turns a bit on the couch to face Oliver. “How’ve you been?”

Oliver shrugs and picks at his food. “Good. School’s been okay, midterms were fine.” He smiles and looks up at his mom. “Crew’s been going well.”

“I know! I have so many new shiny medals to add to my collection. How are your friends? Peter, Elio? The rest of the boys?”

And that’s when it hits him. Elio and Oliver are barely ever apart. They see each other every day during school, at practice, while Oliver drives him home or picks him up. They often have sleepovers on the weekend, rotating between Elio’s and Oliver’s place. It’s the first time they’ll be apart for an extended period of time. The realization makes Oliver’s eyes prick and he takes a shaky breath. “They’re good,” he manages. He’s about to ask his mom about her latest fundraising venture when his father comes into the living room from his office. 

“Ah, Oliver. Just who I wanted to see.” He comes over and claps Oliver on the shoulder, squeezing the muscle there. Oliver shifts uncomfortably, not trusting the smile on his dad’s face. “I have good news for you, buddy.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“I have an interview set up for you on Tuesday with Jeffrey Beher. He’s the president of the Board of Trustees at Yale. Also a crew man, just like yourself.”

Clearly, for his father, this is fantastic news, so Oliver forces a smile of his own. “That’s great, Dad.”

“And you remember Doctor Geller, right?”

Oliver nods. He has vague memories of the man, probably from a holiday party years ago.

“He went to Dartmouth, great school if you want to go into medicine. He’s willing to meet with you after the holidays. We’re making progress here, Oliver, hmm?" 

“How are your essays coming?” his mom asks with a pat on Oliver’s knee. 

“Good,” he stammers, unable to look his dad in the eye. He’s barely given his Dartmouth, Yale, or Harvard essays a second thought, mainly concentrating on city schools. “Great, I’m pretty much done with them, I think. A few more edits.”

“Good, good.” Oliver’s dad laughs and squeezes his shoulder again. “I’m proud of you, son.” 

As Oliver heads back up to his room, he wonders why his dad can’t still be proud of him if he goes to any other college. It’s not like NYU or Columbia are bad schools, quite the opposite, really. But Oliver’s dad’s hatred of the city, but it seems that according to him, no self-respecting Weiss would ever go down to the dirty city. It all boils down to politics, he supposes, as he shuts the door to his room. New Hampshire is staunchly conservative, and God forbid anyone leaves the red state bubble. 

Oliver groans as he collapses onto his bed and reaches for his phone. Nothing from Elio, of course, who is still on a plane, halfway to Italy. He flips through his most recent pictures instead, smiling when he comes across the one he took of Elio while playing cards the day before. He shoots it off to Elio with an I like-love you and then sets the picture as his phone background.

The next morning, Oliver wakes up to a flood of texts from Elio. It’s nice waking up at 10, but he frowns when he realizes it’s already late afternoon in Italy. Elio has sent him a ton of pictures already: the villa, his parents in the orchards, his bike perched on the side of a road lined with olive trees, the tiny town with a church right at the center. Oliver sighs wistfully and shoots Elio a quick text. He’s about to get up and shower when a FaceTime call comes through and he answers immediately. 

“Fuck, I miss you.” Elio breathes as soon as Oliver picks up the call. His voice is tinny and small and the picture is a little grainy, but it’s better than nothing. “Did you just wake up?”

“Hello to you, too.” They fill each other in, Oliver mostly listening as Elio tells him all about what he’s been up to since arriving. Oliver tells him about his phone call with Rob, opting to omit all talk of his dad. They chat for a while longer until Elio is called down to greet his cousins, and Elio blows him a quick kiss before disconnecting the call.

His call with Rob later that afternoon is amazing. They talk about crew and Exeter and New York City and Rob’s work. When it comes to talking about Columbia, Rob has nothing but good things to say about his years there. With every word, Oliver falls more and more in love with a school he’s only seen online. Rob asks him a few questions about his interests and what he hopes to study in college, and Oliver embarrasses himself by gushing about ancient philosophy.

“Nah, man, it’s cool,” Rob says when Oliver apologizes, “it’s awesome you’re so passionate about the subject. Look, I think you’d be a great fit for the school. I want to hook you up with my buddy who works in admissions now. I think you guys would get along. He’s from California, really awesome dude. Mind if I pass along your email?” 

“No! I mean, yes! I mean…” Oliver has to take a breath to calm his excited nerves and he can hear Rob cover up a laugh. “I’d love to talk to him, for sure. You can pass along my email, no problem.”

“Sweet. I’ll let him know and maybe you can even get down there for an interview.”

Oliver nods and he vows to somehow get to New York for a visit. “Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks so much, Rob, I really appreciate this.”

“No problem at all, Oliver. Have a great Thanksgiving, man. And try not to work too hard, I know how Exeter likes to bust asses.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Oliver laughs. He says a final farewell before hanging up, feeling incredibly at ease.

He feels the complete opposite, though, by the time Tuesday rolls around. He’s dressed in his nicest suit, his tie feeling tight around his neck. He’s meeting with Mr. Beher in twenty minutes in his dad’s study and he hates the way his stomach flips on itself over and over. 

By the time Mr. Beher arrives, Oliver feels like he’s going to throw up. He keeps it together, though, and manages to have a very stilted, very formal conversation. He does throw up later though, unable to hold down his measly lunch of toast with peanut butter. He hates this. He hates his anxieties and his father’s plans for him and he especially hates being so far away from Elio. He reaches for his phone from where he’s still slumped on the bathroom floor, his tie now loosened around his neck.



Oliver Weiss, 12:57 pm
I miss you

There’s no response for several minutes, so Oliver finally gets up, brushes his teeth, and changes into sweats. When Elio still hasn’t replied an hour later, Oliver shoves his phone under his pillow and naps fitfully, tossing and turning until he finally feels a vibration. 



Elio Perlman, 4:40 pm
i miss you ollie
wish u were here
want you and miss you

They text for a little while until Elio falls asleep on him, Oliver’s hopes for a FaceTime dashed when Elio stops responding.

Wednesday is a flurry of activity. They’re hosting Thanksgiving again this year, as they have been ever since Oliver’s aunt moved three hours north. The entire family is coming, so Camila is over, working double-time alongside Oliver’s mom as they sort the groceries.

“Thank God you’re finally up,” his mom sighs as Oliver shuffles into the kitchen, still in pajamas. “We need your help. Your brother and sister are bringing the rest of the groceries in. I need you to help Camila sort everything while I set the table, okay?” Without waiting for an answer, Oliver’s mom rushes off to the dining room, and he soon hears the clinking of fine china as it’s taken out of the cabinet. 

Oliver sighs but gets to work, managing to sneak in a cup of coffee as he and Camila prepare the brine for the turkey. He only gets to text Elio twice that day and he’s incredibly jealous of all the amazing things Elio is doing: eating a huge bowl of pasta, homemade by Mafalda; drinking little espressos in the piazza; playing tennis with his cousins. He even sends a picture that his dad took of him napping on a red velvet sofa in what looks like a well-stocked library.  He sends back a selfie making a little frowny face and gives Elio all the details on their Thanksgiving menu before he’s called back to the kitchen to chop carrots or onions or something.

On Thursday, he, Rachel, and Adam participate in their Weiss Sibling Thanksgiving Morning Tradition. They wake up way earlier than necessary and make cinnamon rolls together before parking themselves in front of the TV for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They’ve done this ever since they were little, originally with some help on breakfast from their mom. But now they’ve added coffees to their routine instead of orange juice and they don’t recognize more than half the floats.

“I can’t believe they cut out Garfield this year,” Adam gripes.

“Dude, you’re like the only one who likes Garfield.”

“Dad likes Garfield!”

“Adam. You really need to reevaluate that last sentence.”

The return to the kitchen after Santa makes his way down the parade route, arguing about what the best floats were. They’re put to work for the next few hours as Camila and their mom make sure everything is on schedule. By the time they’re sent upstairs to shower, Oliver has a few texts and a missed FaceTime call from Elio. He calls back as soon as he sees it, flopping back onto his bed after locking the door.

“Hey,” Elio murmurs as he picks up. He’s laying back on yellow sheets, shirtless and flushed.

“Hey yourself,” Oliver says. He smiles as Elio rearranges himself on the pillows. “Were you napping, did I wake you?”

“I was, you didn’t. But you interrupted something else…”

Oliver cocks a brow and smirks at the camera. He moves his free hand to the waistband of his pajamas and fiddles with it, hoping this is going where he thinks it is. “Oh yeah?”

“Mmhm.” Elio sighs and Oliver can see his shoulder moving, so he slips his hands down his own pajamas. “I miss you a lot.”

“What do you miss?”

“I miss kissing you and -” Elio stops talking and turns his head so he can hide his face in the pillows. 

“Don’t hide, baby,” Oliver whispers. His cock is already hard and he squeezes the base. “I wanna see your face. C’mon, tell me what you miss." 

Finally, Elio mumbles, “I miss your fingers inside me.”

Fuck. Oliver leaks a bit of precum and he runs his finger through it, smearing it down the length of his cock. “I miss that too. I-I really liked that.”

“I want you to do it again as soon as I’m back,” Elio pleads, now looking back up at the camera. “God, I miss you so much. Didn’t think that could feel as good as it did and -” Elio hiccups a bit as he visibly picks up his pace. “And it felt so good, Ollie.”

“Let me see you,” Oliver requests, suddenly desperate to see Elio writhing on those sheets.

Elio does as he’s told and pans the camera down so that Oliver’s whole screen is filled with just deliciously thin hips and Elio’s cock.

“You’re so hard for me, baby." 

Elio whines and starts moving his hand again. “Oliver, please.”

Oliver tsks, his hand tightening around his own cock. He’s gone nearly cross-eyed at the sight before him. “Need me so bad, don’t you? I wanna see you cum, Elio. Wanna watch you. Fucking fuck , I can’t wait until you’re home I want - There’s so much I want to do with you, baby.”

Elio cums just then, spurting over his stomach with a cry that makes Oliver worry about him getting found out. But how can he even think about anything else when Elio slowly pans back up to his face, now even pinker. “Lemme see you.”

Oliver obliges and moves the camera to where he’s shoved his pajamas down enough to get his dick out. He’s stroking fast and hard and he knows this will be over soon. When he spills over his stomach, it’s to Elio telling him how much he like-loves Oliver.

They stay on the phone for as long as they can before Oliver ultimately has to hang up and shower in preparation for his family’s descent. Elio wishes him luck and blows him another kiss, which Oliver luckily screenshots this time. 

By the time Oliver's family arrives at 2:30 on the dot, the coffee table in the formal sitting room is littered with trays of hors d'oeuvre. Oliver then endures endless minutes of greeting everyone: his aunt's and uncles, cousins, grandparents, people he doesn't even know how he's related to. By the end of it, he's covered in lipstick kisses and his hand is tingly from so many handshakes.

He talks with his cousins for a couple of minutes before retreating to the kitchen. He sees Great Aunt Alma by the sink and tries to make a hasty retreat, but it's too late. 

"Oh, there you are!" she croaks, remnants of her thick Brooklyn accent still popping up. She waddles over and pinches Oliver's cheek and he tries to imagine this old woman growing up in Brooklyn with his grandfather, her brother. "I've been looking all over for ya." Oliver accepts the hug and kiss, trying to just keep his cool and slip away as soon as possible. "So, how's ya girlfriend?"

"Oh, I - Actually, I don't have one."

"No? What a shame, handsome boy like you! You need to get moving, give us some babies in the family."

"Aunt Alma, I'm not even eighteen ye-"

"I'm sure your parents know a nice Jewish girl they can set you up with. The ladies I play mahjong with are always going on and on about their grandsons and granddaughters. Maybe your mother should join our group, find out about some single ladies for you."

"Yeah," Oliver sighs, totally resigned to having to listen to this nonsense, "sounds good."

Great Aunt Alma goes on to talk about one of her friends in the mahjong group, but Oliver's only half-listening, if that. He's mainly thinking about Elio, about their FaceTime earlier, about how he can't fucking wait for his boyfriend to get home. 

Dinner is torture. He's sandwiched between two of his cousins and seated across from Aunt Alma. His siblings are at the opposite end of the table, so there's no one to rescue him from talk of either politics or marriage. At least the food is good, and he makes sure to take a picture of his plate for Elio before he digs in.

If Oliver thought dinner was painful, dessert was excruciating. His phone had vibrated in his pocket a few times and he was desperate to check it, but he’s been expressly told not to look at his phone during dinner. 

Finally, after an entire hour of drinking coffee and eating copious helpings of apple pie, Oliver can finally escape to the bathroom to have a few moments of peace. After taking a piss and washing his hands, Oliver takes a seat on the closed toilet lid. Elio sent back a few drooling emojis in response to his Thanksgiving plate photo, but nothing else, which is fine considering the time difference. He sends some heart emojis before switching over to Instagram.

Everyone’s posting pictures of their Thanksgiving dinners and Oliver throws out a few likes here and there. Peter and Sarah are at her family’s house, Noah posted a picture of their carved turkey, and Sean posted a post-Thanksgiving Day run selfie. And then Oliver comes across a post that makes him stop in his tracks, his stomach lurching as he slowly takes in all the details.

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Elio’s lips on this girl's shoulder. Her sweet little smile. The cigarettes. The caption, which the translation tool tells him means “for life.” He taps the profile that’s tagged and finds that it’s hers, the girls, who he’s assuming is named Marzia. What he finds there isn’t any better. 


Oliver actually feels sick. Elio had promised there wasn’t anyone else, had said he wasn’t dating anyone in Italy. But who was this girl he was sharing so many kisses with? He stalks her for a few minutes more, finding pictures of her and Elio in Italy from before he moved. He looks so effortlessly happy and every single picture with Marzia is so intimate. Oliver swallows hard and forces himself to exit out of the app. He stalks out of the bathroom, shoving past his uncle who was waiting outside the door, and sprints up the steps. He hears his mom calling for him but he doesn’t care.

He just slams his bedroom door and locks it before he throws himself onto his bed. It’s embarrassing how fast the tears prick the back of his eyes, and he can’t help the way he curls in on himself as his heart clenches. Oliver tries to stay quiet as he cries, but that only lasts a minute before he’s letting out a pitiful wail into his pillow. 

Everything had been going so well, or so he thought. The team was doing well, he was getting good grades, he felt confident about his college applications, he had a boyfriend whom he loved. Well, he guesses that doesn't apply anymore. And just when they had made such a huge step in their relationship. Maybe this is some sort of premonition, a sign that everything else is about to crash and burn too. 

Oliver feels like his chest is caving in. How could Elio do something like this to him? If he was going to go back to an old hookup, he could have kept it off Instagram, away from Oliver’s prying eyes.

But maybe this is a way for Elio to get out of the relationship.

Oliver grabs his phone, squinting against the light as he turns it on.



Oliver Weiss, 8:22 pm
Fuck you.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Oliver wakes up groggy and puffy. He’d cried himself to sleep the night before, totally ignoring his mother’s pleas for him to come back downstairs. He just couldn’t face the barrage of family members at the dining room table.

He glances at his phone through bleary eyes to see a few missed calls and texts. He doesn’t take the time to register who they’re from before he shoves his phone face down onto the nightstand, choosing to ignore it instead. He buries his face in the pillows and stews there for a few minutes, trying to fight back the tears that threaten to spill. How much can one person cry in, like, twelve hours? he wonders, only broken out of his thoughts when his stomach growls.

He rolls out of bed, grumbling to himself as he changes out of his clothes from the day before and into his pajamas, not caring at all that it’s nearly 11 AM. He only glances at himself in the mirror as he walks by, the sight of his rumpled shirt, mussed-up hair, and red-rimmed eyes almost sending him into another crying fit. But he takes a deep breath and continues onward, stopping in the bathroom to piss and brush his teeth before making his way downstairs. 

His mom and Rachel are already up, Rachel picking at leftover cinnamon rolls and his mom at the stove. The day after Thanksgiving is just about the only time he sees his mom at a stove. She makes turkey soup with the leftover turkey, a recipe that’s been handed down through her family. 

“Good morning, darling,” she says over her shoulder as Oliver shuffles to the coffee pot. He just grunts in response as he pours himself a cup before beelining for the fridge. “Where did you disappear to last night?”

“My room,” Oliver snaps as he pops open a container of cold mashed potatoes. He briefly considers just sticking his fingers into the Tupperware (he probably would if his mother and sister weren’t there), but he opts for a spoon instead. 

“Jeeze,” Rachel says from her spot at the counter, “someone’s in a mood.” She rolls her eyes and pushes away, dumping her dirty plate into the sink. “Stop being disgusting and get a plate.”

“Screw off.”

“Oliver! Don’t talk like that to your sister!”

Rachel sticks her tongue out at Oliver before taking off up the stairs and Oliver takes her abandoned seat at the island.

“What’s wrong, Oliver?” his mother coos, putting the lid on the pot and coming to comb his hair with her fingers. It reminds him of when she used to take care of him when he got sick as a kid and he leans into the touch. 

“ ‘s nothing.”

“It’s obviously something.” She sighs and kisses his temple. “You know I’m always here for you, Oliver, even if I’m busy. I’m your mother, after all.”

“Yeah, whatever.” Oliver’s stomach tightens and he has to blink against the tears welling in his eyes. Yeah, she’s his mother, but she’d also probably flip out if he ever told her about Elio. He’s about to pull away and go back upstairs when he lets out a sob he just can’t contain anymore.

“Oh, Oliver.” He’s suddenly being pulled against his mother’s chest where he cries against her sweater as she pets the top of his head. 

Once Oliver finally regains some composure, he pulls back and wipes his nose with his sleeve. “Sorry, Mom,” he mumbles. He looks down at the abandoned container of potatoes, refusing to meet his mom’s eyes.

“We love you, Ollie,” she whispers with a kiss to the top of his head. “So very much.” Oliver nods and plays with the spoon, mashing the potatoes around within their confinement. “How about I make you a plate?” she asks. “You want savory or sweet? We have almost an entire apple pie leftover.”

“Pie, please,” Oliver says as he pushes away the Tupperware. He hates how shaky and small his voice sounds. He hates how this whole situation is making him feel. His heart clenches and he has to drop his head to the cool granite counter. He feels frustrated, betrayed, sad, angry, exhausted, stressed. It’s a flurry of emotion, all bubbling up at once, and Oliver hastily wipes at the tears rolling down his cheeks. A few seconds later, his mom places a warmed up hunk of apple pie with two scoops of ice cream right next to him.

“Go on, darling, why don’t you eat in front of the TV?”

Oliver does as he’s told, extricating himself from the kitchen to eat his breakfast pie in front of a rerun of yesterday’s dog show. His dad walks through the living room, sparing Oliver a glance before continuing into the kitchen.

“What’s going on with him?” he hears his dad ask, his voice low and rumbling over the commentators discussing the poodle currently making his rounds.

“He won’t tell me.” His mom sighs and Oliver peeks over toward the kitchen to see them huddled by the stove. “I think it’s about a girl.”

He snorts and rolls his eyes as he smooshes his pie around, mixing it with the half-melted ice cream.

“I haven’t seen him bring anyone around lately, is he dating someone?”

“I’m not sure. His friend is away too, Elio, the new boy on the crew team.”

“You don’t think he’s crying about that , Rose.” His father sounds disappointed, angry almost.

“I don’t know, Mike. The boys are close. Maybe it’s -”

“Oliver!” His dad strides into the living room, smile plastered on his face. “My boy.” He claps Oliver’s shoulder so hard a little bit of ice cream flops over the bowl and onto his sweatpants.

“Hey, Dad,” Oliver croaks, looking up at his dad, “what’s up?”

“Why don’t we go outside? Toss around the old football, eh? Tis the season, kiddo.”

Oliver shrugs and looks back down at his half-eaten breakfast. “I dunno.”

“It’ll be good to get out of the house. It’s beautiful out. And soon you have to be back at school. Come on.”

Oliver isn’t sure how else to say no, so he puts down his bowl and follows his dad out to the backyard. It is nice out, albeit chilly, so Oliver tugs the sleeves of his pajama shirt down over his hands as his dad grabs the football from the shed.

They toss it back and forth for a few minutes in peaceful silence before Oliver’s dad starts in. “So how did that meeting go the other day? I forgot to ask. Can you see yourself at Yale?”

Oliver shrugs before tossing the football back. “Uhm, I dunno yet.”

“You’ll have to make a decision soon, son,” his dad said, throwing the ball a little harder.

Oliver relishes in the way the ball slams against his palms when he catches it, leaving behind a slight sting. “Not until May first, Dad .” He tosses the ball back just as hard. This is the last fucking thing he wants to talk about. “Besides, I don’t even hear back from the schools until, like, February.”

Oliver’s dad has to step a few paces back and reach over his head to catch the ball. “I’d rather you make your decision sooner rather than later, Oliver,” he replies, angling for stern.

Oliver nearly misses the ball, but he manages to catch it with just the tips of his fingers. “Why? So you can brag about me to all your dumb friends at your parties?” When Oliver throws the ball, he lets it fly from his fingers, imagining it hitting his dad square in the nose. “And besides, why can’t I apply to the places I actually want to go? Why does it have to be Yale or Princeton? There are other schools out there, you know!”

Oliver doesn’t really register the football flying back toward him and the point knocks him right in the chest. His breath stutters and he struggles to take in air for a moment. The ball bounces off his chest and into the grass where it lays, forgotten, as Oliver’s dad stalks toward him.

“Don’t you talk to me like that,” he says, voice low and dangerous. “Your mother and I are very graciously paying for your college education, and we have certain expectations for you, Oliver. So stop crying like a baby and get upstairs. Finish those applications and show me when you are done. I want them finished and submitted tonight , Oliver, and then you and I will sit in my study and finish rounding out your interviews, got it?”

Oliver can’t do anything aside from nod from where he stares up at his father, eyes wide. He’s sure his fear is clear on his face, and he actually forgets about the entire thing with Elio. “Yes, sir.”

“Come to my office before dinner tonight. Bring your school transcripts, SAT and ACT scores, and your personal essays as well as a list of the schools you have submitted applications to. We will review everything then.”

Oliver’s dad stalks off and Oliver is left out there alone, shivering in the late November chill. It starts to snow, and Oliver looks up, tilting his face to the sky as it begins to precipitate. It’s the first snow of the season, late for New Hampshire, as it usually starts around Halloween. Oliver has a brief thought of Elio, of kissing him out here in the snow, right in front of the big windows in his backyard where his entire family can see.

He shivers, not just from the cold, and stomps back inside just as it begins to snow in earnest.

His phone his dead by the time he’s back in his room with a fresh cup of coffee, but it’s no matter since he’s been tasked with finishing all of his applications by tonight, which is a feat in and of itself. Thankfully, Professor Perlman had sent him corrections on his general application essay as well as his Columbia and NYU essays, two applications he was still planning on sending in despite his father’s thoughts on the matter.

Oliver puts on a random playlist, hoping the soft music will help calm his nerves as he goes through the corrections. It’s some quiet coffee shop bullshit, and he actually manages to work in peace for a couple of hours until he gets distracted by Twitter. He actually starts listening to the music as he scrolls through his feed, catching up on world politics and celebrity gossip alike, when a song with gentle strings catches his attention.

I have loved you for the last time
Is it a video? Is it a video?
I have touched you for the last time
Is it a video? Is it a video?

The singer's voice is hypnotic, almost, and Oliver tabs over to Spotify where he sees the album art for this guy Sufjan Stevens. The lyrics are like a punch to the gut, and Oliver is right back to where he started that morning: curled up on his bed, eyes red and puffy from crying, struggling to take a breath.

He can’t quite believe that this is happening. Things had been going so well and then Elio had to go fuck it all up. Or maybe it was Oliver’s fault. He runs through everything he’d done over the past few weeks, every interaction, every conversation, trying to figure out if he upset Elio in any way.

Maybe it was the sex, maybe Elio realized he wasn’t ready for any of this.

Maybe it was the fact that Oliver was going off to college soon.

Maybe it was just convenience: the convenience of having someone familiar in Italy, the convenience of dumping Oliver over Thanksgiving break.

Oliver turns his face into the pillow and lets out a pained little wail, curling in on himself even more. He briefly considered calling Elio, trying to talk through it, but why bother, considering Elio was actually shitty enough to pull this kind of stunt.

He falls asleep like that, curled up on his bed, cheeks red and tear-streaked, heart aching. He wakes up only to Rachel pounding on his door.

“Dude! I don’t have time to stand here all day! Dad wants to talk to you.”

Oliver groans and rolls out of bed and scrambles for his laptop, fixing his hair a little before pushing the door open, shoving past Rachel, and bounding down the steps.

“Sorry, sir,” he rushes to say as he bursts into his dad’s study. “Sorry, sorry.”

Oliver’s dad looks up from his papers. “Oliver, have you been in pajamas all day ?”

Oliver frowns and looks down at his rumbled henley. “Uh, yeah? It’s vacation?”

There’s a long-suffering sigh from behind the desk and then Oliver is told to sit down, which he does. “I hope you realize that these types of behavior won’t fly in college,” his dad warns. “Now, let’s get down to business.”

The meeting with his father is excruciating. They go over every last detail of Oliver’s applications, and by the end of it, he’s sent in Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth.

Dinner is unbearable. Oliver feels sick, yet he’s forced to sit at the table with his siblings and parents, pretending like everything’s just fine as he sips at his bowl of turkey soup.

“Are you okay?” Oliver’s mom asks as she starts clearing the plates. She places her hand against Oliver’s forehead and he leans into the touch. “You don’t feel warm at all.”

“Just tired,” he mumbles, letting his eyes close. But his mom’s hand is gone too soon and Oliver is lurching forward in his chair.

“Go to bed, baby,” his mom says as she picks up his half-eaten bowl. I’ll keep some soup for you in the fridge if you’re hungry later, okay?”

Oliver nods and trudges up to his room. Elio is due back the next afternoon and he can’t stomach the thought of having to return to practice and school with Elio there. Maybe Elio will drop the team or switch classes. Better yet, maybe the Perlmans will decide to go back to Italy after this trip. Oliver’s chest tightens at the thought of Annella and Samuel. They’d been so kind to him over the past few months, nicer than his parents had ever been, and he was going to miss spending long evenings at their place, helping Pro cook or watching Mrs. Perlman finish a painting. He wondered if they knew the shit their son had pulled. 

“Fucking prick,” he mumbles as he flips over in his bed, pulling the pillow over his head as he goes. “Fuck you, Elio Perlman.” His voice wobbles and it’s only a second before he’s crying again. He hates this. He hates all of these stupid emotions and feelings and stressors and anxieties and he wishes he could go back to before Thanksgiving. Fuck that, to before Elio Perlman even showed up.

That's how he falls asleep yet again, curled up on his bed in a fit of tears. 

The next morning is even worse. He knows Elio is due back that day, that they had plans to see each other as soon as Elio was home from the airport. Oliver had even planned on bringing him by for some Thanksgiving leftovers. But a turkey sandwich with Elio was no longer in the cards, his stomach even churning at the idea of stacking it high with stuffing and cranberry sauce. 

How the fuck was he supposed to return to practice or school on Monday? Maybe he could fake sick...for the rest of the year, or something. 

Oliver groans into his pillow and his wallowing is soon interrupted by a knock on the door. 

"Go away."

"Oliver, it's me," Rachel's voice comes from the other side, "it's nearly noon." Fuck, he didn't realize how late it was. Elio is due to land any minute. "Adam and I wanted to maybe go do something together. You wanna come?"

"No." He hears the door open and Oliver has half a mind to toss a pillow toward it. 

"Ollie, what's wrong?" she asks, her voice soft and sweet. "Is it something with Elio."

He hates how transparent he apparently is. "No," he grinds out, burying himself further into the pillows. 

"Then what is it? Dad?"

Oliver whines. Fuck his whole fucking life. "What? Are you up my ass about everything now, too?"

"Jesus," Rachel hisses. She smacks Oliver's leg where it's buried under the blankets. "Why are you being such an asshole?"

He hears footsteps on the stairs and clamps the pillow tighter around his head.

“Oliver?” It’s his dad this time, and the floorboards creak as he comes into the room. “What are you still doing in bed?”

“Dad, don’t. He’s -”

“Rachel, don’t talk back to me. Oliver.” Oliver doesn’t respond, he just presses the pillow tighter around his head. “Oliver, answer me.” Suddenly, the pillow is being ripped out of his grip and he’s hit with the bright light coming in through the windows. “Stop crying over whatever is bothering you and get up, son.”

Oliver sits up and tries to grab the pillow back. “Leave me alone, everyone just get out.”

“What’s going on?” His mom is now in the doorway, looking in on the scene with wide eyes.

“You know what?” Oliver jumps out of bed and grabs his phone and keys off the side table. “Fuck this shit.”

“Oliver! Don’t talk to your father like that!”

No,” he growls as he shoves past his dad and sister. “I’m fucking done. This entire break you’ve been on my back about applications and meetings and interviews and none of you have stopped to ask what I want, even for a second!”

He sprints down the stairs and only remembers to grab a jacket at the last second before he’s stalking outside.

“Oliver, get back in here,” his dad calls from the front door. “We’re not finished talking.”

“Yes, we are!” Oliver calls as he gets into his car. He peels out of the driveway, nervous about his parents following him. But he continuously checks his rearview mirror as he drives, but no one comes after him. No one fucking cares. He ends up pulling over after ten minutes and he grabs his phone, letting out a frustrated grunt when he remembers it’s not charged. He shoves his car charger into the port and plugs in his phone, tossing it to the passenger seat before taking off again.

It’s another few minutes before he hears his phone finally power up and begin vibrating on the seat with all of the missed messages he’s finally receiving. He ignores it, though, and pulls onto the familiar bridge that leads to his special spot. Oliver slows down as he merges onto the second bridge and then swings into a parking space. He walks toward the jetty, shoving his hands into his pockets as he hops down to the rock he always occupies. The jetty is slippery with snow and ice and he nearly falls, but he makes it down to his spot. It’s freezing out, but Oliver barely feels it as he settles on the cool stone.

He doesn’t really realize he’s crying until he has to wipe his nose on the sleeve of his jacket. He picks up a loose rock and chucks it into the water, watching the water splash up around it as it sinks.

He’s not quite sure how long he sits there. Minutes, hours, he just sits and watches the icy water lap against the rocks by his feet. It’s cold enough that his brain feels frozen and totally empty. Oliver barely registers the sound of someone approaching on the jetty, only looking up when a rock clatters and there’s a pair of sneakers next to him.

“What the fuck? How did you -?”

“My parents drove me from the airport,” Elio answers quickly. He looks freezing, his cheeks flushed and his hair blown into a mess by the wind. “They’re in the parking lot. Oliver, I -”

“Go away,” he spits, turning to face the water again. “I don’t want to see your dumb face anymore.”

“Oliver, please, can you just -”

“I’m tired of doing what everyone tells me to do,” he sighs, “I just want to live life on my own terms for once .”

“Okay,” Elio says, and Oliver, out of the corner of his eye, sees Elio put his hands up in defense. “Okay, that’s fine. But I want to talk, Oliver. I don't understand what's happening and I'm worried. Can you please come back to my place with me? My parents are waiting up there for us.”

“I don’t want to, Elio. I don’t want to see you, I thought I already said that. Besides, wouldn't you rather be with Marzia?"

“Shit, so this is...Oliver, if you’d just let me explain!”

“Look, there’s stuff happening in my life you just don’t understand. You don’t live with my parents, you won’t get it.”

“Explain it to me.”

Oliver sighs frustratedly. "My dad went to Harvard. It was the best four years of his life, so he says. So ever since I was born…" Oliver sighs and hangs his head. "There's a picture of me in his office when I'm five. We're at the zoo or someplace. I'm sitting on his shoulders wearing a Harvard sweatshirt."


"So it's emblematic." Oliver's frustration and anxiety is bubbling back up to the surface and he kicks a stone into the water. "I get it from him every day. 'Pick a college, Oliver. Pick a future.' But what he's really saying is, 'Pick my college. Choose my future.'" He's shouting at this point and he hasn't noticed Elio sit down next to him. "But I don't want that! I don't want his stupid, perfect life. I want my own life. I want to make my own choices and be my own person and he won't let me do that." Oliver is gasping for breath now, tears streaking his cheeks. "I can't go one fucking second in that house without him bothering me about it and then you left me for an entire week and -" Oliver chokes on the cold air he's gasping into his lungs. His vision starts to black around the edges and he feels dizzy. "And then you -"

"Oliver," Elio says, placing his hand on Oliver's shoulder. "Oliver, please. Marzia has been my friend since we were four. Were like brother and sister, I swear, Ollie. I never meant to hurt you like this."

Elio's voice is full of concern and it makes Oliver's heart clench. Is that really the explanation? Did he really torture himself for two days over this? He shakes his head, it can't be.

"But you - It was - You kissed. She kissed you."

"She's French, I'm Italian, that's just how we are." Elio sighs, his breath puffing out in front of him. "Can we at least talk about this more at my place, please? It's fucking freezing and we're both going to get sick if we're out here much longer. Please, baby."

At that, Oliver turns and curls himself against Elio, his boyfriend's arms immediately coming around him. "Shh, that's it," Elio whispers as Oliver cries into his neck. "I'm here. I'm back and I'm not leaving again. I promise. Come home with me, Oliver."

Oliver's head is a jumbled mess and his chest aches and he can't draw a proper breath, but at least Elio is back home. He knows they still have a lot to talk about, but he finds himself nodding against Elio's neck.

It takes Oliver another five minutes before he can finally pull back and stumble to his feet. He and Elio scramble up the rocks together, hand in hand the entire time. Elio doesn't even let go as they get into the backseat of the Perlman's car. Professor Perlman looks back at them in the rearview mirror before he pulls out, leaving Oliver's car behind. 

"My phone," he mumbles weakly from where he's snuggled up against Elio. 

"My parents can come pick up your car," Elio soothes as he rubs his hand over Oliver's cold one.

Oliver just nods, too fucking tired and too fucking worn out to argue or even ask about how Elio found him.

It's an hour later when he does finally think to ask. Mrs. Perlman set them up with tomato soup in the dining room before they headed out to pick up Oliver's car, leaving the two boys alone and silent at the table. 

"How - How'd you find me anyway?" Oliver asks suddenly, looking up from his half-eaten bowl. 

"I went by your house straight from the airport," Elio says, eyes still on his spoon. "I saw your car was gone and just kinda…knew where you'd be."

Oliver nods and takes another sip before setting down his spoon. It's just canned soup but it's somehow better than anything he's eaten over the past 24 hours. "I'm sorry," he says quietly. "I should have...should have asked you about it I just. I've been so stressed and it just felt like everything was happening at once and the world had it out for me, or something. The pictures were just kinda like the icing on the cake."

"Oliver, I swear -"

"I know," Oliver interrupts. He swallows and nods. His mouth tastes bitter, so he takes a few sips of water. "I should have just asked you, Elio, but I felt so out of the loop. I felt -" abandoned.

"Oliver, I need you to tell me these things, though. I mean, I know you're stressing about college stuff and your dad but I didn't know it was this bad." Elio is suddenly pushing away from the table and coming over to Oliver's chair. He crouches down and looks up. "I'm here for you, no matter what. And you know that my parents are too. They love you, Oliver, like their own son, and they'll do whatever they can to help you. And so will I. But we won't know if you need help if you don't tell us."

Oliver nods and shifts in his chair so that he can look down at Elio. " 'm sorry."

"You have nothing to apologize for." Elio's voice is so fierce and so full of love that it brings tears to Oliver's eyes. "Oh, baby…" Elio stands and kisses Oliver's cheek. He shivers and wraps his arms around Elio's waist. "Come on, let's get you into a bath, ok?"

He follows Elio up to the bathroom and as they draw the hot water, he's struck with a moment of déjà vu, back when Elio had his black eye. Oliver's chest stutters as he tries to take a breath and he's crying again as he gets undressed. 

"My love," Elio sighs as Oliver climbs into the tub and settled down. "Don't cry, I'm right here." He wipes away Oliver's tears, but they're flowing fast and free down his cheeks. "Talk to me."

Oliver has to take a few shaking breaths before he can even get his thoughts in order. "I-I thought everything was going so well. My grades are high, I talked to that guy from Columbia, the team is doing really well, my college apps are coming along, I have you. We -" Oliver's mind flashes to their night together before Elio's departure and his chest feels like it's caving in. He closes his eyes and turns his head, but continues speaking. "But then my dad made me meet with this horrible guy and I got sick after and then I had to sit through Thanksgiving and -" Oliver hiccups and takes a breath. "And I realized that nothing is going well at all.

"My grades are good, yeah, but are they good enough for Columbia? Are my college essays compelling enough? Is the team going to hit a rough patch this winter and fucking suck? Do I even bother ever coming out to my family? Does my dad hate me so much that he'd rather see me living a lie than living happily? He's been so aggressive with me lately and I hate it. He used to be like this a lot when I was younger, before I really made a name for myself at school. It was -" Oliver shivers and Elio squeezes his shoulder where it's half-submerged in water.

"But then I thought, 'At least I have Elio. He's gonna come back at the end of the week and we'll be together again.' I realized that out of all the bad things, you were the one good thing. You and your parents. You're like a fucking oasis, Elio, an escape from all the bullshit. I can actually let my guard down and be myself when I'm around you. I'm not afraid of your parents, you all treat me so well, and I fuck. Fuck, I just kept thinking about how you'd be home soon and we'd get to -"

"But then you saw the pictures," Elio supplies. "Fuck," he whispers, hanging his head. "I'm sorry, Oliver. I didn't mean to hurt you or make this a whole - Shit, that's just how we are! She's an only child too, she just had her cousin Chiara growing up. And our families vacation in Crema every year so we really are like siblings, Oliver. I could never." He wrinkles his nose and squeezes Oliver's shoulder again. "You have to believe me, Oliver."

Oliver just nods, too drained to continue. "I-I think I do," he says quietly.

Elio nods and leans in to kiss Oliver's cheek. "That's enough for now." He presses their foreheads together and nudges Oliver's nose with his own before standing. "Alright, come on. I have a pair of your pajamas here, freshly washed and ready for you."

Oliver stumbles out of the tub with Elio’s help and he’s soon wrapped up in a big towel. It smells fresh and clean, like the laundry detergent Mrs. Perlman uses. He buries his face into the soft fabric and inhales deeply, letting the scent surround him. Elio ruffles another towel over Oliver's wet hair before kissing his forehead. He takes Oliver’s hand and they tiptoe into Elio’s bedroom, ignoring the Perlmans, who they can hear talking in hushed tones downstairs. 

The boys are quiet as they change into their pajamas, each of them drained from the afternoon’s events. It’s only 4:30, but they both climb into bed, ready for a nap. It’s just then that there’s a knock on the door. Elio calls out, “Come in!” as he snuggles down under the covers.

It’s Mrs. Perlman with a tray and Oliver’s cell. “I figured you might want to call your parents, let them know you’re here,” she murmurs as she places the phone on the bedside table. She puts the tray down as well, revealing two cups of tea and a plate of cookies. “They’re from Italy,” she says as she pushes back Oliver’s hair. “Elio’s favorite.” She kisses the top of Oliver’s head before moving to the other side of the bed. “You take care of him,” she whispers against Elio’s ear, kissing his cheek before leaving again. 

Once they’re alone, they each take their cups of tea and cookies, sitting up against the headboard together as they snack. They’re silent and it’s only slightly awkward until Elio shifts on the bed.

“I like-love you, Oliver,” he says. There’s so much conviction behind his words that it makes Oliver’s eyes sting with tears. He concentrates fully on his mug of tea instead of meeting Elio’s eyes. “With my whole heart. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me.” Elio sighs and drops his head to Oliver’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

“ ‘s okay,” Oliver mumbles. He puts his tea down on the table and presses his nose into Elio’s curls, staying there for a few seconds. “I like-love you, too.”

Elio lifts his head, looking up at Oliver with wide eyes. “You do?”

Oliver laughs softly and presses their foreheads together. “Of course I do.”

Elio leans in and they smile against each other’s lips for a second before Oliver closes the gap and kisses Elio. It’s soft and sweet and slow, exactly what Oliver needs after the past few days. Elio reaches over to put his own mug down before he straddles Oliver and snuggles close. 

“I missed you,” he whispers as Oliver brings his arms around Elio.

“I missed you so much.” Oliver kisses Elio’s forehead, then his cheeks, then his nose, and finally his lips. “So much.” He’s sleepy and warm and feels a little bit of happiness and relief start to edge in over his bad mood.

“Why don’t we take a nap before dinner?” Elio offers as he settles himself on Oliver’s chest. Oliver hums and relaxes back against the pillows. He keeps one arm draped over Elio and pushes his free hand into dark curls.

“Sounds good,” he mumbles sleepily, slurring his words a little as his eyes slip closed.

Chapter Text

Oliver ends up getting a cold after the stunt he pulled the day Elio got back. He stays over at the Perlman's Saturday night and by the time he's back at home on Sunday afternoon, he feels stuffy, achy, and exhausted. It doesn't warrant time home from school, especially since they're just off Thanksgiving break and midterms are just around the corner. 

The first day back school is a fucking nightmare. Oliver is barely verbal when he picks up Elio in the morning, occasionally sipping from a thermos of tea as he drives them to school. They don't have crew practice until that afternoon, and Oliver is hoping Coach'll cut them some slack given Oliver's state. Elio stays quiet too, putting a hand on Oliver's thigh in solidarity as they head towards Exeter.

As soon as he's in homeroom, Oliver thunks his head down on his desk, hoping his teacher won't throw a fit and let him get 15 extra minutes of rest before first period. 

The day drags, even the periods with Elio in his class. His boyfriend slips him a note between third and fourth periods, requesting Oliver meet him in one of the art rooms at lunchtime. So, he heads that way instead of the cafeteria, hoping the other guys won’t make a big deal out of it and go looking for them. 

Once Oliver gets to the right room, which happens to be the life drawing room, the lights are off and Elio is sitting in the corner on a pile of cushions. 

"They keep them here for models and stuff," he offers by way of explanation. "Come on, I have soup." Elio procures a large red thermos from an insulated bag. "My mom made it."

The promise of a Mrs. Perlman-made meal finally spurs Oliver into action. He drops his backpack to the floor and collapses against Elio's side with a loud sigh. "I'll get you sick," he croaks, but he makes no effort to move.

"Boyfriends don't get sick," Elio counters as he unscrews the lid of the thermos. He pours out a portion of soup into the lid, magically now a little cup with a handle, and passes it to Oliver.

Before he has a spoon in his hand, Oliver is already taking a sip, letting the warm broth flow through him. They eat in silence, enough soup for both of them to have two servings each, and Oliver can feel a warm pit in his belly now.

"We still have time," Elio whispers as he tugs at Oliver's shoulder. "Lay down for a bit, baby."

Oliver can't protest at all. He doesn't care if he misses the rest of the afternoon. Elio's fingers are in his hair and his head is in Elio's lap and his eyes are already closed. He wants to ask how Elio knew this room would be open. Wants to talk more about what happened over break, make sure they're really okay. But Oliver's throat hurts and every inch of him is sore, even his skin is oversensitive. So he gives in to his exhaustion, letting Elio's fingers in his hair lull him to sleep.

The rest of the afternoon goes by just as slowly as the morning and Oliver can't quite believe he still has hours before he can finally go home once the last bell rings. He and Elio drive over to the boathouse, meeting the other guys there.

"Oliver!" Noah cries, waving them over to the dock. "Where the fuck have you been, man? Haven't seen you all day."

"I'm fucking sick," he mumbles, "and I'm not sitting out here in the cold. It's how I got sick in the first place."

"Why were you even outsi-"

"I'm going to the locker room," Oliver says before anyone else can ask any questions. But everyone follows, and they all sit on the couches as they wait for Coach Gellman. The guys all ask Elio about his trip, and as he tells them all about his time in Italy, Oliver can't help but pout and glare off into the distance. Fuck Italy. He hopes Elio never goes back. He's miserable and tired and he just wants to go home already.

"How was your break, Oliver?" Peter asks, trying to loop him into the conversation.

"Fine, I guess," Oliver says through his stuffy nose. He tips his head back and closes his eyes. "Worked on applications mostly."

It's quiet again, almost painfully so, but Oliver can't bring himself to care. He feels something touch his ankle and he belatedly realizes it's Elio resting his foot on top of Oliver's. They're only silent for a few moments more before Coach barrels in.

"Alright boys, we're back and we've got a lot to do." He starts prattling off about upcoming competitions and what their training schedule will look like through the winter. Oliver falls asleep somewhere between the plan for March and the big regatta in April. He starts snoring just another minute later. "Weiss, you listening?" 

Oliver startles and lifts his head, looking alarmed. "Shit Coch, sorry. I'm -"

" Don't tell me you’re sick, Oliver. Not now. We're finally back.

Oliver has the good sense to at least look a little bit embarrassed. "I'm sorry…"

"Okay, it's okay. Just...just don't get sick when we're gearing up for the season, got it? And stay away from everyone else. Oliver, stay put, the rest of you, to the treadmills."

The other guys groan and Oliver grins. At least he's getting out of sprints. Elio kicks his shin before he gets up. "Hey, can I come home with you tonight?"

"Sure," Oliver says, reaching into his backpack. If he gets his homework done now he has more time to sleep later. "Or we can go to your place…"

"I just figured you'd want to be in your own bed, y'know-"

"Perlman! Let's go!"

Elio scrambles up, nearly tripping over his own feet. Oliver laughs at his boyfriend's expense, his giggles quickly turning into coughs. "I left cough drops in your backpack!" Elio calls over his shoulder as he jogs towards the workout equipment.

Oliver digs around in his bag, finally finding the packet of aforementioned drops. He yanks the bag open and pops one in his mouth, also finding a little piece of paper nestled in amongst the honey-lemon drops.

I like-love you. Get better so I can kiss you.

Oliver sighs and thinks of Saturday night, snuggled up in Elio's bed. They didn't do anything, both too exhausted from the day’s events (and after a huge dinner) to do much else than kiss goodnight and cuddle under the blankets. He just wanted to be over his cold, hold and kiss Elio again, make any awkwardness between them dissipate. 

Oliver brings himself back to the present as he pulls out book after book, trying to decide which assignment to get started on first.

Once the guys are finished and showered, they all head out to the parking lot together where they say their goodbyes and Elio dutifully hops into the passenger seat of Oliver's car. They sit there for a second, car idling, until Elio pokes him in the shoulder. 

"We goin' anywhere?"

"Shit, yeah, sorry." Oliver puts the car in reverse but still doesn't move. "Your place or mine?"

"How about yours? You promised me Thanksgiving leftovers.

Oliver nods, doesn't fight the suggestion. He'd much rather be at the Perlman's, but he doesn't say that. Just heads off to his place.

"Oliver? Is that you?" His mother's voice floats through the house toward where Oliver and Elio have just stepped through the front door. 

"Yep, it's me and Elio."

Oliver's mom shuffles around the corner as the boys take off their coats and boots. "Oh, Oliver, darling, how are you feeling?" she asks, coming over to feel Oliver's forehead.

"Fine, fine," he says, even though he feels like shit, as he pushes his mom's hand off him. "Is Dad home?"

"No, why? Did you need him for someth-"

"Nope, just curious. Mom, you remember Elio."

"Oh, of course. Welcome back, Oliver mentioned you were in Italy for the break."

Elio nods, still trying to untangle himself from his scarf. Oliver smiles softly at him, completely enamored with his little bundled up dope. "Yep," he says, finally free of his confines, his hair standing up all over the place. Oliver has to hold himself back from reaching out to smooth it down. They follow his mom toward the kitchen, Elio chattering about Crema and Milan as she prepares a mug of tea for Oliver.

"That sounds lovely, darling," she says, patting Elio's shoulder. "There are leftovers in the fridge for dinner or turkey soup." She comes around and kisses the top of Oliver's head. “Some soup might be good for you tonight, Ol. And go to bed early."

"Yeah, okay. Hey Mom, is it cool if Elio stays over tonight?"

She looks between the boys for a moment, a flicker of somethin g crossing her face before she busies herself with fixing her necklace. "Yes, yes, of course. I'll be working in my study, you let me know if you need anything."

They're left to their own devices, and so Oliver pushes away from the counter to start getting dinner ready.

"Oh no you don't," Elio says, shoving Oliver out of the way to get to the fridge. "I don't want you contaminating my food."

Oliver whines and pouts. "But I hafta show you how to do it the right way ."

Elio relents, letting Oliver help him scoop servings of leftovers onto his plate. They eat way more than they should, finally heading upstairs an hour and a half later, but not so full that they don't sneak hunks of pumpkin pie up to Oliver's room.

"That was good ," Elio sighs as he flops onto Oliver's bed, pie balanced precariously on his stomach.

Oliver laughs and scoops up both plates, putting them on the bedside table for later. "Come on, homework. I wanna get it done so I can just fucking go to bed."

They're an hour into their work when Elio comes up behind Oliver and kisses over the back of his neck. "Hey," he whispers as his mouth reaches Oliver's ear.

Oliver shivers and tilts his head to the side. "Mmh, hi. You done?"

"No, just wanted to say hello."

Oliver laughs and turns his head. "Hello." Elio grants him a quick kiss, which Oliver chases. "We're…" Oliver clears his throat and spins in his chair so that he and Elio can face one another. "We're okay, right?"

"Yeah," Elio whispers, his brows crinkling. He squats down in front of Oliver, looking up at him with those big doe eyes. "Yeah, we're okay, baby." He takes Oliver's hands in his own and kisses over his fingers. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you, Oliver. I'm sorry. I lov- I like-love you. A lot."

"I like-love you too," Oliver says, giving Elio's hands a squeeze. "I'm sorry I didn't -" He chokes on his words a little and has to clear his throat. "I'm sorry I didn't just ask you about it."

"No, it's okay. Don't. Don't apologize, Oliver. You have nothing to apologize for." He stands up and kisses the top of Oliver's head. "How are you feeling? Do you need more cold medicine?"

Oliver groans and pushes his face into Elio's chest. "Stop worrying, you sound like my mom."

Later, after homework is done and pumpkin pie is eaten, they lay in Oliver's bed with just the bedside lamp on, casting the room in a warm glow. His head is on Elio's lap, and Elio is reading some of Fitzgerald's short stories aloud.

"Hey," Elio says when he finishes Bernice Bobs Her Hair , "have you ever thought about coming out to your mom?"

Oliver snorts so hard he chokes, and he has to sit up to take a sip of water before he can even think about responding. "I have, and I'm absolutely not going to," he says as he lays back down, after giving Elio a skeptical look. "I mean come on, you know my parents." Not well eno ugh, he guesses. 

"Yeah, but your mom seems. I dunno...different. More, like, understanding, I guess?"

Oliver laughs humorlessly. "Yeah, believe me, Elio, that wouldn't go over well. My parents aren't like yours." They're quiet again and Elio goes back to combing his fingers through Oliver's hair. He doesn't start reading again, so Oliver sighs and turns his head to look up at Elio. "What? You're thinking so hard I can practically hear it."

"I just…" Elio looks down at Oliver, cups his cheeks, and gets that really serious look on his face. "Does your dad hurt you, Oliver? Or has he, in the past?"

The first thing Oliver wants to do is bolt. He wants to run away and lock the door and hide forever. And he definitely doesn't want to answer Elio, because he knows he can't lie. Elio must feel him flinch because he's suddenly being wrapped up into a bone-crushing hug. And then he's crying. Gross, ugly sobs against Elio's shirt. He guesses this is all the confirmation Elio needs.

"Shh, baby, that's it. Let it out. I've got you, I'm here."

Oliver doesn't realize how badly he needs to cry until he's weeping into Elio's chest. He hates his life. Hates his parents and his stupid school and all the expectations everyone has for him. The only good thing he has is Elio, and Elio's parents, of course.

He doesn't really know how long he cries, but once he’s done, Elio is ready with tissues and a glass of water. He blows his nose, disgusted at what comes out, but figures crying is probably a good way to clear out his sinuses. 

"How bad is it?" Elio asks, and Oliver can hear the caution on his voice. "I haven't seen any marks on you, aside from what we get at crew, but -"

"It's a lot better than it used to be," Oliver croaks. He keeps his eyes down, not wanting to see the pity in his boyfriend's gaze. "Now it's mostly - mostly verbal stuff. Emotional stuff. Y'know? Sometimes he hits me…only if I have other marks from crew." Oliver winces, knowing how bad that sounds. "But he hasn't hit me in a long time, I promise. And he hasn't hit Rachel or Adam," Oliver says, with a little bit of pride. He's always willing to take what his dad will dish out, as long as he doesn't lay a hand on his siblings.

"Oliver, he shouldn't be hitting anyone , especially not you." Elio tilts Oliver's cheeks, trying to make eye contact. Oliver looks up, a bit sheepish, to find that Elio's mouth has twisted into an ugly frown. "Do I - I feel like I should…do you want to talk to someone? Tell anyone?"

Oliver is quick to shake his head. "I can't. No, absolutely not. You have to swear to me you won't tell anyone, not even your parents. No one can know, alright? Look, it really isn't even bad. He just yells at me about college and stuff." Elio is still frowning and Oliver's heart rate speeds up. He's nervous Elio will go and tell someone, and then Oliver's dad will find out, and then he'll r eally be in trouble. Or his dad will go after Elio. "I don't want to make it a bigger deal than it already is."

"Okay," Elio says slowly, his frown unfurling a little. "Okay. But , you need to tell me if it gets bad again, alright? If he lays a finger on you, Oliver, I swear ."

"I promise," Oliver says, using his forefinger to make an X over his heart. "Cross my heart." He leaves out the hope to die bit, figuring it's a bit too real for this conversation.

Elio sighs, obviously frustrated but at a loss. Oliver falls into him, wanting to hide away from the world. "I don't want you here alone," Elio whispers.

"Yeah, but I can't stay at your place all the time. And if you're over too much they'll…"

"We'll figure it out," Elio says, effectively ending the conversation. "Let's not worry about it now, alright?" Oliver nods and yawns, exhaustion hitting him quick. "Why don't you take your NyQuil and get to bed," Elio suggests. He reaches over for the medicine packet and pops out two tablets. "I'll be right here."

Within a week, Oliver's cold has cleared and he's back to his usual routine of working out and rowing with the guys during practice. The first time they're out on the water since before break, he's not sure what he's been so worried about. It's like old hat, the team all working together so seamlessly that Coach makes them go out for another mile loop since they did the first so fast. It's calm and easy out on the lake, and Oliver is able to leave everything else behind as the boat cuts through the still water. 

As for school, aside from midterms coming up, all of his teachers have told him how great he's doing and that there's nothing to worry about. His guidance counselor says he's got a great chance of getting into Columbia, and Rob has even introduced him to his friend Casey who works in admissions at Columbia. Casey offers Oliver an interview in New York, and when Oliver finds out about it, he's absolutely brimming with excitement. He calls Elio immediately, who shares in his joy, and they start concocting a plan to get Oliver down to New York. It's risky, but it's worth it. He'd do anythin g for a chance at Columbia, and sneaking away for a few days doesn't seem that hard at all.

They're at Elio's house the day after Oliver gets his interview email, and they're talking in hushed tones about Oliver's plan. He just needs to pick a date for the interview and get a train ticket. Mrs. Perlman comes in with a tray of snacks for the boys and ruffles Elio's hair. 

"Glad to see you're feeling better," she says to Oliver. He hadn't come over much when he was sick, he and Elio sticking mostly to FaceTime calls after school and practice. "What are you two up to?"

"Nothing, Mamma!" Elio says, but it's a bit too fast.

Mrs. Perlman laughs and kisses the top of her son's head. "Nothing, tesoro?" She hums and then calls for Elio's father, who comes in from the kitchen. The two of them sit down at the table and Oliver's stomach drops. Shit . Their plan is ruined. 

"We know about your trip, Oliver," Professor Perlman starts. 

Oliver is about to deny any sort of trip, but then Elio jumps in with, "What! How?"

"Parents know a lot more than you think," Mrs. Perlman says. She reaches out and pats Oliver's hand. "Don't worry, you aren't in any trouble and we won't tell your parents." She looks over at her husband and Oliver finally notices that they're both smiling.

"We're going to help you out. You let us know what day your interview is and we'll buy you both train tickets to New York. And we'll get you a hotel." Elio gasps and Oliver is stunned into silence, his mouth hanging open. "How long you're there for will depend on the interview, of course. And we expect you to behave yourselves and be safe. Can you do that?"

Oliver nods solemnly and Elio is practically bouncing in his seat. “Really, Papà?”

“Really,” Professor Perlman says, laughing at his son’s reaction.

“You -” Oliver swallows thickly, his brain finally catching up with his mouth. “You don’t have to do this. This is - This is too much. I can’t accept this. Thank you, really, it means a lot. But I just...can’t.”

“Oliver,” Elio whines, kicking him under the table. But Oliver, no matter how much he needs to go to New York, can’t accept a handout from the Perlman's.

“Oliver, tesoro,” Mrs. Perlman says, reaching out for his hand. Oliver sees that it’s streaked with paint and he wonders if she’s working on something new. “We want to do this for you. And for Elio, too. It’ll be good for you two to get away together. Plus, we want you to get to your interview safely. This is important, Oliver, and we want to give this to you.” She kisses the top of his head and Oliver leans into the touch. Mrs. Perlman laughs and pulls him in for a warm hug. “We love you, Oliver, as if you were our own son.”

“Hey! What about me?”

“Non fare il furbo, Elio.”

Elio huffs and pouts. “Oliver mi sta sostituendo.”

Professor Perlman rolls his eyes and smacks Elio’s arm. “Now, Oliver, you just let us know when you need to head down and we’ll get everything arranged, alright?”

Oliver just nods, Mrs. Perlman’s arms still wrapped around him. He can’t quite believe it, and he doesn’t think he will until he and Elio are actually on the train to New York. “Thank you,” he says softly, at a loss for what to say. There aren’t enough thanks in the world for this. It’s huge and it means everything to Oliver that the Perlmans would do this for him.

Later that night, after dinner and a movie with the Perlman's, Elio helps Oliver reach out to his contact at Columbia. From the dates offered, He opts for a mid-morning interview on Friday, the 16th of December. After a bit more discussion with the Perlmans, they decide to leave after school on the 15th, spend the weekend, and come home on Sunday. Once train tickets are booked and Professor Perlman's starts tracking prices on hotels, the boys head back up to Elio’s room.

“Can you believe it?” Elio asks. He reaches for Oliver’s hand and squeezes it. “We get to be alone for an entire weekend in New York City.”

Oliver laughs and squeezes Elio’s hand back. “No, I can’t quite believe it.” He frowns and wrinkles his nose. “But what are we gonna tell my parents?” The thought had been niggling at the back of his mind since the Perlmans first mentioned their idea, and Oliver still hadn’t come up with a solution.

“We can just tell them that you’re at my place for the weekend, my parents will cover for you if they need to.”

Oliver sighs and pulls Elio toward the bed. “I dunno, maybe this isn’t the best idea.”

“No,” Elio says, a bit sternly, and it actually makes Oliver’s cock twitch in his pants. He only got over his cold a week ago, and he realizes that he and Elio haven’t done much past make out since Elio got home. Suddenly, figuring out what he’s going to tell his parents doesn’t feel like the most pressing issue. “You need to go to this interview, Oliver. This is important. Don’t worry about your parents, okay?”

“Okay,” Oliver sighs, resigned. He sits down on the bed and pulls Elio toward him. “Y’know, we haven’t really done anything since you got home,” he says, dropping his voice a little to try and get the hint across.

It works, because Elio smiles his small little smile, the one just for Oliver, as he steps between Oliver’s legs. “Oh really?” he asks, draping his arms over Oliver’s neck. “I seem to remember you making out with me in your car before you dropped me home the other night.”

Oliver just hums and presses up to nuzzle Elio’s neck. He leaves a few kisses there against warm skin and smiles when Elio tilts his head back. “That’s it,” he whispers as Elio gives in, “lemme make you feel good, baby.” He reaches down and palms Elio through his pants, happy to find him already half-hard. “Will you let me do something?”

“Do what?” Elio asks, already a little breathless.

Oliver kisses up his neck to his lips where he whispers, “I wanna finger you while I suck you off. I remember you quite liked it the last time.”

Elio’s answering groan is all Oliver needs to pull Elio onto his lap. There’s a little finagling, but they manage to pull their shirts off between kisses. They get a bit tangled up in their pants, giggling as they roll around on the bed. But finally, finally , they’re naked and Oliver sits back on his heels to look over Elio’s body. It’s just as perfect as he remembered, and he’s glad to see that the image in his mind he jacked off to for most of break was pretty accurate, even down to the little mole on Elio’s ribcage.

“God, you’re gorgeous,” Oliver whispers. He leans down for a quick kiss while also grabbing the lube from where it’s still hidden in Elio’s bedside table drawer. Oliver starts kissing down Elio’s chest, still clutching the lube in his left hand so that he can keep it close.

“Did you think of me? While I was away?” Elio asks.

“Mmmh, I did. There was this porno I watched while you were away,” Oliver easily admits. He nips at Elio’s protruding hipbone and then laps at the head of Elio’s cock. He’s so wet and so hard already, and Oliver moans at the taste of Elio’s precum on his tongue. “It was about two young guys. One of them looked just like you.” Elio squirms and Oliver pins his hip down with his free hand. “Not as pretty, though. No one compares to you, baby.”

Elio makes a delicious little whimper as Oliver finally wraps his lips around his cock and sinks down, taking as much of Elio as he can He sucks him for a few minutes, until Elio is bucking his hips and biting his lower lip so hard that Oliver thinks he might chew through it.

“You ready for my fingers, baby?” Oliver coos Elio nods, so he uncaps the lube and drizzles some over his right hand, warming it up a little before pressing his forefinger between Elio’s legs. “Relax for me,” he reminds gently, using his left hand to rub soothing circles over Elio’s thigh.

“I practiced while I was away,” Elio whispers as Oliver slides the first finger in. “Thought of you while I did it.”

Oliver drops his forehead to Elio’s tummy, moaning as he pushes his finger all the way in. “Fuck, that’s fucking hot.”

Elio tangles his fingers in Oliver’s hair and pulls a little at the strands. “Thought you said you wanted to suck me off too.”

“Hold your horses,” he teases. “Let me take my time with you, hmm?” Oliver looks up at his boyfriend and grins at the look of unbridled pleasure on Elio’s face. “That’s it.” He begins moving his finger, slowly at first to make sure Elio is used to the sensation before he speeds up a little bit. Once Elio is writhing on the bed yet again, Oliver quells his desire by pushing in a second finger. The stretch is tight and hot, but deliciously so, and Oliver’s cock throbs where it’s pressed against Elio’s mattress.

“Please,” Elio sobs, once Oliver’s fingers are completely embedded inside him. “Please, please, please.”

“Shh, I got you.” Oliver makes good on his promise and wraps his lips around the head of Elio’s cock. A jet of precum spills out onto Oliver’s tongue and he greedily sucks Elio down as he presses his fingers even deeper . He crooks his fingers a little, trying to remember what he read about finding the prostate, and he figures he must succeed when Elio hisses and pulls at his hair.

Fuckfuckfuckfuck ,” he says with a grunt. Precum floods Oliver’s mouth as he works over that spot, attempting to hit it each time. He thinks he’s doing well, if Elio’s reactions are anything to go by. “This is - If you don’t stop, I’m gonna cum.”

Oliver smirks as best he can with a cock down his throat. That’s exactly what he wants. He’s missed Elio, missed his taste and his smell and the pretty sounds he makes as Oliver thrusts his fingers a little deeper. He swallows around Elio’s cock and even goes so far as to use his free hand to play with Elio’s balls, which are drawn up tight.

And suddenly, without any warning, Elio is cumming, pulsing hot and fast into Oliver’s mouth. He does his best to swallow, only spluttering a little bit as Elio bucks his hips up hard. He’s murmuring Oliver’s name over and over under his breath, like a prayer, as he comes down from his orgasm.

Oliver pulls off of Elio’s dick, licking up the bit of cum he missed in the first place before kissing over the shaft. “So good,” he whispers, laughing a little as Elio continues to squirm on the bed, effectively fucking himself on Oliver’s fingers. “What, you want to go again?” Oliver teases, knowing it’s way too soon, even if they are teenagers. He licks the head of Elio’s oversensitive cock, eliciting a sharp whine from his boyfriend. He takes that as his cue and slowly pulls his fingers out of Elio. He glances down, his breath stuttering in his throat as Elio’s hole flutters and winks at him, shiny with lube.

“Fuck me,” Elio breathes as Oliver pulls out. He finally releases Oliver’s hair, letting his arms fall out across the bed.

“I think I just did.”

“C’mere,” Elio says through his giggles, “lemme make you cum.”

“So close already,” Oliver says as he kisses back up Elio’s chest. “Feel how hard I am?” He rolls his hips, letting his erection drag across Elio’s stomach.

"Y-Yeah," Elio stutters. He reaches down and wraps a hand around Oliver's cock. He squeezes the tip before stroking down again, causing Oliver to groan and roll his dick into Elio's hand. "I can't wait to be alone with you in New York," Elio whispers against Oliver's lips. "We'll have an entire hotel room to ourselves."

Oliver smirks and nips at Elio's lower lip. "Mmh, we will." He's so hard that he's pretty sure every ounce of blood in his body is in his dick. He's desperate to cum and he thrusts his hips again, his precum easing the glide over Elio's palm. "What are we gonna do all alone in that big hotel room, hmm?"

It's Elio's turn to bite at Oliver's lip and the boys laugh as their noses bump. "Maybe you can fuck me for real. If we're ready."

That's all it takes to tip Oliver over. The thought of being inside Elio has him cumming far too fast, spilling over Elio's hand and tummy. He whispers Elio's name through his orgasm, his entire body trembling a bit. When he's finally done, Oliver collapses onto Elio and immediately pushes his face into any warm patch of skin he can find, which happens to be Elio's armpit. He doesn't care, though, just grunts and snuggles closer.

“You’re lucky I showered,” Elio jokes. They’re quiet as they both relax, their cum cooling into a sticky mess between them, but neither of them cares, both too content to move. “I’ve never been to New York,” Elio says some time later.

Oliver finally lifts his head and looks blearily up at his boyfriend. He’s only been twice before: once with his family and once with the guys during spring break sophomore year. “I’ll give you the grand tour,” Oliver murmurs, letting his head come back to rest on Elio’s shoulder. “We have a lot of free time. We can do anything you want.” He suddenly has a vision of being a full-time student at Columbia, Elio coming to visit on the weekends and crashing in his dorm room after Oliver takes him to his favorite places. He hums and kisses Elio’s warm skin. “We should do homework at some point,” he grumbles, trying to sit up. But Elio wraps his deceptively strong arms around Oliver and pulls him right back down. Oliver figures they can spare a few more minutes.

Chapter Text

Their trip sneaks up on them, but soon enough, Oliver is packing up his bag with everything he’ll need for a weekend away. He’s told his parents that he’ll be at Elio’s for the weekend, and neither of them batted an eye. He asked for the day off from school and for the time off from crew practice. Only Coach Gellman gives him a hard time, as he and Elio will be missing a lot, but since it’s for college, he’s a bit more lenient.

Thursday drags for Oliver. He just wants to fucking leave already. They plan to head back to Elio’s where Oliver will leave his car for the weekend. The Perlmans will then drive them to Boston where the boys will get an evening Amtrak and they’ll get to New York by 8 at the latest. Oliver can’t stop bouncing in his seat, both legs twitching. They’re in their history class, and Elio sneaks a hand down beneath the table and rests it on Oliver’s thigh in an attempt to calm him. He then slides Oliver a note.


Oliver rolls his eyes and writes back.

I CANT!!!! I just want to get out of here :(

No :( Elio scribbles. Only :)

Oliver huffs a little laugh at that and tucks the note into the folder of his binder which is stuffed full with various notes from Elio. Thankfully, by the time the clock strikes 2, the last hour of school absolutely flies. Oliver paces excitedly next to Elio’s locker as Elio packs up, slow as molasses.

“Come on ,” Oliver whines as he watches Elio slip book after book into his bag. “How much stuff do you need ?”

“We’re missing a full day of school, Oliver,” Elio scolds. “And we’re away for an entire weekend. I can’t fall behind.” After taking out one more book, Elio finally closes his locker. “Okay, I’m ready.”

“Fuck, okay, let’s go.” Oliver practically sprints away, leaving Elio to fend for himself amongst the throngs of students also aiming to get out of school.

Once they get to the Perlman’s, Oliver is a nervous ball of energy. He’s taking a trip alone with his boyfriend for an entire weekend plus he has an interview at his dream school the next morning. It’s a lot to process and Oliver can’t quite believe it’s really happening, even with his neatly pressed suit hanging up next to him and the Amtrak tickets on his phone.

Mrs. Perlman packs them a huge bag of food, with enough snacks to last them a month of traveling. But the boys accept it anyway and the Perlmans stay with Elio and Oliver as they wait for the track at South Station.

“You boys be good,” Mrs. Perlman says as she kisses Oliver’s forehead, most certainly leaving behind a smear of lipstick. “Call us when you get there, no matter how late it is. And good luck on the interview tomorrow.” Oliver tries to say thank you, but he can’t get a word in edgewise. “And you have the directions to the hotel, right?” She turns to Elio. “Did you remember to take your allergy medicine with you? I know they act up in the fall. Oh, my tesoros!” She hugs Elio to her next, crushing him against her bosom.

Professor Perlman laughs and claps Oliver on the shoulder. “Just be yourself,” he says quietly. “Your application is great, your resume is full, they seem to already really like you, Oliver. I have every faith that you’ll nail this interview.”

“Thanks, Pro,” Oliver says, a little taken aback when Professor Perlman pulls him into a hug, but he goes with it, finding he falls easily into the paternal affection.

Their track is called and the boys scramble to collect their bags as there’s a mad rush toward the train. They say their last goodbyes to the Perlmans before they’re off, even bravely holding hands as they walk down to the track.

It takes a bit of maneuvering for them to get settled in their seats, their luggage stored safely on the rack above them, but as soon as Elio sits down he pulls open the 50-ton snack bag his mother packed.

“Yes!” Elio cries as he pulls out a package of cookies. “My favorite,” he says as he opens the bag and passes one to Oliver. “From Italy.”

Oliver rolls his eyes but takes a cookie, nibbling on it as he watches other passengers get on the train. “ ‘m nervous,” Oliver admits quietly.

“It’s gonna be good,” Elio assures. He reaches over the table between them to grab Oliver’s hand and, when he does, Oliver feels a bit of the stress ebb away. “Not just the interview, the entire trip. It’s going to be perfect.”

Oliver nods and takes Elio’s word for it, hoping that his boyfriend is right. It really hits him once the doors close and the train starts to move. Oliver takes a deep breath, looking out the window at the rapidly passing trees. A staggering sense of hope settles over him, that maybe this train is taking him just a few steps closer to a new life.

The train ride is uneventful; they mostly chat or read their books, but once they arrive in New York, it’s pandemonium. Their train comes into Penn Station and Oliver is instantly overwhelmed. There are so many people and so much noise and so many exits that Oliver just stands there, kind of stunned. But Elio takes his hand and tugs, leading him toward an exit that points them toward 8th Avenue.

“Come on. There should be some taxis here.”

Oliver curls his fingers around Elios, feeling a bit more at ease with Elio by his side. Thank god he’s there or else Oliver probably would have stood gaping in Penn Station for the entire weekend. They wait on the taxi line and Elio shivers, so Oliver wraps an arm around him and pulls him close. It’s fucking freezing , snow flurrying around them as they huddle together. Oliver grimaces as he steps in a puddle of slush as they move up the line.

“It’s fucking cold here.”

“It’s fucking cold at home too,” Oliver laughs. He nuzzles his nose against Elio’s temple, smiling at how open and free they can be in New York. Soon enough, they’re on their way, zooming up the avenue toward their hotel in the west 100s. Elio has his forehead pressed against the window the entire time but Oliver stares at Elio; the glory of the city is nothing compared to his boyfriend. The hotel is only 15 blocks from Columbia and, after checking in, the boys find that the Perlmans even booked them a room with a view of Central Park even though it’s a few avenues away.

“Wow,” Elio says as he pushes the curtains open. Oliver comes to stand behind him, his hands easily falling to Elio’s hips. “This is...gorgeous.”

Oliver hums and kisses at the little bit of Elio’s neck he can get to with his bulky sweater in the way. “Your parents didn’t have to do this,” he says as he looks out toward the park. Everything is blanketed in snow and the city that never sleeps actually looks quite peaceful. “This was too much. Way too much, Elio.”

But Elio just shakes his head and leans back, letting his head tip onto Oliver’s shoulder. “Nothing is too much for you.”

Oliver laughs and kisses Elio’s cheek which is still a bit cold. “I’m starving. Want to go scavenge for some pizza?”

Elio whines and turns in Oliver’s arms. “But it’s cold outside.”

“I’ll give you one of my sweaters,” Oliver says with a peck to Elio’s nose.

Once they’re sufficiently bundled up, the boys head out for food. They end up at a dollar slice joint around the corner from their hotel. The moan Elio lets out after his first bite of pizza is truly sinful.

“Just wait until you have a bagel,” Oliver teases. They eat four pieces each, both of them hungrier than they thought, before they go back to the hotel. They walk down the street slowly, their gloved hands linked between them.

“I don’t want to go back,” Elio sighs, tilting his head back to look up at the buildings.

Oliver isn’t sure if he means the hotel or Portsmouth, but he completely agrees. “C’mon,” Oliver says once they reach their hotel, “let’s go up.” Once back in their room, it takes a full ten minutes for them to get out of their many layers and into their pajamas. Oliver turns up the heat, knowing he’ll probably end up sweating through his PJs, but he knows Elio tends to get cold. They giggle as they rifle through their bags, sharing little glances as they move around one another.

As they brush their teeth standing side by side in the small bathroom, Oliver can almost pretend this is his very own apartment and he and Elio are living there together. That is, if he ignores the tiny hotel soaps and ugly wall treatment.

They get into bed together and Oliver turns out the bedside lamp. It’s eerily quiet, save for the din of the city outside their window. Oliver shifts, but his legs moving against the sheets sounds like too much noise. He huffs and stares up at the dark ceiling.

“This is weird,” Elio says, and Oliver lets out a sigh of relief. At least he wasn’t the only one.

He laughs a bit awkwardly and fumbles for his phone. “I know. Usually, we’re in a big house with our families down the hall.” He blinks at the tiny screen and sets an alarm for 7:30 before tabbing over to Instagram, the tick of his thumbnail seeming to echo in the room. “No one knows us here.” It’s a strange feeling, one that Oliver can’t really place. He sighs again and switches off his phone before turning onto his side. “I’m sorry if this is -”

“No, it’s okay.” Elio rolls over too so that they’re face to face and Oliver can just make out Elio’s features in the dark. Elio leans in for a quick kiss which Oliver returns. The kiss breaks a little bit of the tension, a small reminder that it’s still just them, just Elio and Oliver.

They kiss for a bit, Elio even snuggling a little bit closer until they’re totally relaxed against one another.

“Do you mind if -” Oliver’s voice cracks and he clears his throat. “Do you mind if we don’t...y’know…” He’s not sure if Elio still wants to try to go further this weekend but he wants to be well-rested for the interview tomorrow. “Can we just keep it at kissing tonight?”

“I hoped you’d say that,” Elio admits, a bit sheepishly. He pecks Oliver’s lips and smiles. “Your interview is at 11, right?”

Oliver hums and twists one of Elio’s curls around his finger, tugging it before letting it bounce back into place. “I was thinking we could get bagels before and just take our time getting up to Columbia.”

“That sounds good,” Elio hums. He snuggles a bit closer, hooking a leg over Oliver’s. “Can we get back to kissing now?”

Oliver laughs and looks down at his boyfriend. “Yeah, we can do that.” They kiss and kiss and kiss some more until Elio is pulling back more to yawn than to catch his breath. Oliver nuzzles Elio’s soft curls and places a kiss there. “Hey, let’s go to bed. It’s getting late.”

Elio yawns once more before settling his head on Oliver’s chest. “Like-love you,” Elio mumbles, apparently already half asleep.

“I like-love you too, Elio.”

After that, them being alone in a hotel room doesn’t seem so weird. Sure, the radiator makes funny sounds and Oliver can still see car headlights flash through the room even with the blinds closed, but it’s still just he and Elio snuggled up together.

Despite the noise of the city, Oliver actually slept quite well, and he rolls over to turn off his alarm with a smile. This is it, the day he’s been waiting for. He’s excited about his interview and he hopes it’ll go well. He shifts a little in bed, staring up at the white ceiling. Elio is still asleep next to him, sprawled out on his stomach, hair a mess over the pillow. He doesn’t plan on waking Elio up just yet, figuring he could use a few extra minutes of sleep. Oliver’s stomach is a tangle of knots and his heart speeds up at the thought of meeting with someone so heavily involved in admissions. He goes over his talking points in his head, trying to remind himself that he’s a great candidate and any school would be lucky to have him.

After a good ten minutes in bed, Oliver slips out toward the bathroom. He turns on the shower, sliding the hot water handle up a little more when he shivers, his feet bare against the cold tile. He brushes his teeth as the water warms up, only stepping into the shower once he’s sure it’s piping hot. He sighs under the stream, the water pelting him in all the right spots, and Oliver immediately relaxes. It’s only a few minutes before the bathroom door opens and Elio steps in.

“You didn’t wake me,” he says with a pout as he undresses.

“Thought you could use some more sleep.”

Elio huffs and opens the shower door, wedging himself between Oliver and the wall. “I don’t wanna sleep, I wanna be with you.”

Oliver chuckles when Elio yawns and he shifts a little so he can bring Elio under the hot water as well. “You don’t have to come all the way up with me. You can chill at the hotel, go sightseeing.”

Elio shakes his head furiously, water droplets flying off his hair. “No. I want to see the campus. And be with you.”

After they’ve showered and dressed, the boys bundle up in their winter finest. “You really do look good,” Elio comments again as they head out of the hotel room. He’s already said so, about thirty times, but Oliver doesn’t mind hearing it again. He’s in a grey suit, his favorite one with the tapered pants that highlight just how long and lean he is. And he’s even donning his wool peacoat, his look finished off with a matching hat, scarf, and gloves set.

“Thanks,” he says, cheeks pinking up a bit both from the compliment and from the cold as they step out onto the sidewalk.

“I’m honored to be your boyfriend,” Elio says with a huge smile. He links their arms and rests his head on Oliver’s shoulder as they walk. They’re walking to Absolute Bagels, which is just a few blocks from their hotel. It came up as “the freshest bagels on the UWS” on Yelp, so Oliver figures it’s worth a shot.

Once they’re seated in the tiny cafe with coffees and bagels, Oliver is sure he’s made the right decision. Even the filter coffee is delicious, and it pairs perfectly with his cream cheese-laden bagel. They laugh and chat over breakfast, and Oliver even leans over to lick a bit of cream cheese off the corner of Elio’s mouth. That makes his boyfriend blush, and it’s the prettiest thing Oliver has ever seen.

They walk up to Columbia hand in hand, but when they get to campus it’s only 9, and they still have two full hours before the interview. Campus is quiet, only a few people milling about. Oliver guesses most students have already gone home for the holidays. They stop into Alfred Lerner Hall, a big glass building on the South Lawn, which is covered in a blanket of undisturbed snow.

“God, it’s cold,” Elio hisses as they step inside. The heat is blaring in the building and Oliver is immediately pulling off his scarf and coat, worried about sweating through his suit.

“This is the student center,” Oliver says as they start walking. “There are dining halls and lounges and even some performance spaces.”

“You already sound like a tour guide.”

Oliver blushes and shrugs. “I may have spent a bit too much time on the website.” They began walking down a hallway lined with cork boards, posters and flyers and photos hanging from every available space. Oliver realizes belatedly that it’s all information pertaining to student clubs and sports. He stops in front of the crew board, looking at the pictures of groups of smiling boys and girls holding trophies or oars. He smiles as he thinks about his own boat, and he wishes that he could stay with them forever, but Columbia’s multiple D1 and intramural teams don’t look too bad. Suddenly, he feels Elio’s hand slipping into his own.

“Hey, come look at this.” Elio starts pulling him down the hall and, with one last look at the crew board, Oliver follows. They stop in front of a board filled with so many colors and photos that it makes Oliver’s head spin before he can finally concentrate. That’s when he sees it’s a board for all of the LGBTQ student groups.

“Whoa,” he whispers, taking it all in. There’s a general Columbia Queer Alliance, a group dedicated to trans folks, one for Asian queers, people of color, CUIQ for trans and queer in STEM, a business society, a health alliance, numerous graduate school groups, and - “Look at this one Oliver.” Elio is pointing to a poster with a rainbow star of David.

Oliver steps a little closer to look at the poster. It’s for a club called JQ, the Jewish LGBTQ group on campus. They host events and outings and monthly dinners and there’s even a picture pinned up of a large group of students holding a rainbow flag outside of the Jewish Museum. It makes Oliver smile so hard that his cheeks hurt.

“This is amazing,” he breathes, “they have a club for everything .”

He’s suddenly being pulled in a new direction. “Ooh, look, there’s a map.” He and Elio study it for a bit, situating themselves before bundling up again and heading back outside through a different door. They make their way toward the philosophy building. They stop at the Alma Mater statue on the way, Elio forcing Oliver to take a picture at the Alma Mater statue.

“Hey, look!” Oliver cries as he looks at the statue, “the owl!” He turns to Elio and grins. “You know, legend has it that any Columbia student who finds the owl on his first try will marry a girl from Barnard.”

Elio rolls his eyes and shoves Oliver’s shoulder. “You better not.”

Oliver laughs and wraps an arm around Elio’s waist, pulling him in for a quick kiss. “That was a long time ago, though. Superstition now is that the first member of the incoming class to find it will be the valedictorian.”

“You’ve got a lot to live up to, then,” Elio says. Oliver laughs again before dipping down for another kiss, their cold lips coming together as Oliver hugs Elio tighter to him.

They meander around the philosophy building, which is incredibly quiet what with everyone on break, before heading toward the admissions building.

“I think I’ll go back to that student center,” Elio says as they approach. Oliver’s stomach flip-flops and he just nods, too nervous to actually speak. The gravity of it all is suddenly hitting him. He’s in New York City interviewing for his dream school . “Text me when you’re done, okay?” Elio stops on the steps and tugs on the lapels of Oliver’s coat. “Hey.” He pulls again and waits unto Oliver is looking at him. “You’re gonna do amazing, alright? You show ‘em how great you are, Ollie.” He seals it with a kiss, and Oliver leans into Elio a bit. “You good?”

Oliver nods again and takes a deep breath of cold air. “Yeah, I’m good.”

“I like-love you so much, Oliver. And we’re gonna have a great weekend after this, okay?”

“I like-love you, too.” Oliver kisses Elio’s forehead and pulls him in for a quick hug. “Okay. Okay, I’ll let you know when I’m done.”

“Go kick ass!” Elio cries as they head in opposite directions.

Once Oliver is at the door to the admissions building, he takes on last deep breath before pushing it open and stepping inside. He introduces himself to the secretary and accepts a glass of water while he waits for Casey. Oliver has already Googled him: he’s a bit older than Rob, in his early 40s, and he is one of the heads of admissions. As he waits, Oliver goes over his talking points in his head and re-checks his bag for his resume, even though it’s too late now if he doesn’t have it. Before Oliver can continue to freak out, a door opens and a handsome man comes striding out.

“Hi, Oliver Weiss?”

“That’s me!” he says, standing and putting out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Halder.”

“Please, Casey is fine. Come on back to my office.”

Oliver follows him down walls lined with portraits to an office toward the back of the building. Casey shuts the door as Oliver situates himself, making sure he looks presentable as he takes a seat in one of the chairs across from the desk.

“So Oliver, how’s your trip to New York been so far? You’re from New Hampshire, yes?”

As Oliver answers, he studies Casey. He has soft-looking salt and pepper hair and pleasant smile lines around his mouth. He’s a warm fellow, his voice low and comforting as they breeze through the pleasantries.

“So, let’s get down to it. I have to ask, why Columbia?”

“Well, first of all, it’s in the city.” They both laugh, and Oliver finds that he’s not as nervous sitting in front of Casey as he thought he’d be. “I’m interested in philosophy, and a lot of the coursework offered here really caught my attention. The department is bigger than at a lot of other schools and having access to some of the world’s best museums is also a plus.” Oliver shrugs one shoulder. “And I know this is pretty far into the future, but there are some great graduate programs here as well.”

“Never too early to start thinking about your future, Oliver.” Casey smiles and Oliver briefly thinks how good life would be if his dad was like this. “I have your resume here, but I want to hear from you. That’s why you’re here, after all. To which of your nonacademic activities are you most committed? How has this affected your academic coursework?”

“I’m really involved with the crew team at Exeter. I’ve been on the team since freshman year as the stroke for our boy’s quad team. And I’m the captain this year. There are regattas every weekend, practices every morning and afternoon. And we just got a new cox this year, so there’s been a lot of team bonding. It gets hard sometimes, for sure. Sometimes I won’t get home until 8 and then I have dinner and homework to think about and I’ve got to get everything done before I’m up at 5:30 the next morning. But I don’t think - I mean, my schoolwork definitely hasn’t taken a blow. Exeter is pretty demanding, so it’s an exercise in time management, which I’ve gotten a lot better at over the past three and a half years.”

“I’ll bet. We get a few students from Exeter every year. Great place. What about interests outside of schoolwork? Anything you’d want to pursue in college?”

Oliver is quiet for a second as he thinks, the only thing coming to mind is the big LGBT board in the student center. “Well,” he starts hesitantly. He spotted the little rainbow flag in Casey’s pen cup when he walked in, but also saw an older photo of him with a woman in a wedding dress, so he assumes it’s just to make prospective students feel comfortable. Oliver swallows and decides to go for it. “I’d be really interested in joining the JQ group on campus. I’m Jewish and gay, obviously, since I want to join the club…” Oliver takes a breath, trying to calm his racing heart. “And I really want to get more involved in the community, and what better place than New York City? I know I keep saying that, but going to school in such a great city is really important to me, especially coming from a small town. There’s such a sense of community here, even with everyone out on break, and I’m really excited to be part of that.”

Casey smiles warmly at his answer and makes a few notes as they continue to chat. They talk about everything from Oliver’s coursework to his desire to study abroad to his friends to his interests in literature. Oliver even gets to ask him some questions about Columbia as well. By the end of it, Oliver realizes they’ve been talking for nearly an hour.

“Well, I won’t take up any more of your time,” Casey says, standing up. Oliver does as well and they shake hands before Casey leads him back toward the main doors. “It was wonderful meeting you, Oliver. I look forward to personally reading the rest of your application when it comes through. Feel free to email me with any questions. And thank you for coming in today.”

“No, no,” Oliver says with a laugh, “thank you for seeing me. This has been great and I really appreciate you taking the time.”

“The pleasure is all mine, Oliver. Enjoy the rest of your time in New York!”

As Oliver hops down the stairs, doing up his coat as he goes, he feels more lighthearted than he has in a while. The interview went great, at least he thought it did, and Casey even said he’d personally look over Oliver’s application. He whips his phone out and opens his text thread with Elio.

Oliver Weiss, 12:07 pm
Done! Headed your way!!

Elio Perlman, 12:07 pm
OMG OMG can’t wait to hear all about it. sitting in student center. see you soon.

Oliver practically sprints the rest of the way, skidding to a halt when he sees Elio lounging on one of the sofas. “It was amazing,” he rushes to say, totally out of breath.

Elio grins and digs around in the bag next to him and pulls out a Columbia sweatshirt. “That’s what I hoped you’d say,” he says, thrusting the sweatshirt in Oliver’s direction.

“For me?” he asks, his vision blurring for a second. Could this really be a glimpse into his future? Wearing Columbia merch?

“For you,” Elio confirms as Oliver takes the soft blue fabric. “And this one for me,” he says proudly as he takes out another sweatshirt, this one a crewneck without a hood.

Oliver cocks his head as he reads the words. “Columbia...Dad?”

“Well I wanted a Columbia Boyfriend one, but they didn’t have it.”

Oliver laughs and grabs Elio’s wrist, pulling him up from the couch and in for a bruising kiss. “I fucking like-love you so much,” he whispers between kisses.

“I like-love you, too.” Elio giggles as Oliver spins him around and dips him a bit as they kiss. Oliver feels so light, so happy, so optimistic . “What do you want to do with the rest of the day?” Elio asks once he’s finally released.

“Well, first I want to get out of this fucking suit. Then I figured we could get lunch somewhere and go to a museum or something.”

And that’s exactly what they do. After a quick stop at the hotel to change, the boys head out, wearing their new Columbia sweatshirts under their coats. They end up heading downtown for a late lunch and to walk around, opting to save the Met for the next day. They go to Veselka, as Oliver was unable to stop talking about their pierogis since the last time he was in the city, and then brave the cold as they walk around the Lower East Side.

“It’s so cool down here,” he says, watching as someone struts by in a long black coat, black hat, and black sunglasses. “Everyone is so chic.”

“You’ll be one of those chic New Yorkers soon enough,” Elio assures. They walk outside for as long as they can before Elio is shivering under his many layers.

“Come on,” Oliver says as he leads them toward a warm looking coffee shop, seeking some respite from the cold. They end up at a small and intimate table in the back of the bustling cafe. Oliver loves that no matter what day or time it is, New York is always busy. 

“Sorry,” Elio says through chattering teeth as they look over the menu. He’s still in his sweatshirt and scarf, his body adjusting from the frigid temperatures.

Oliver laughs and grabs Elio’s hands, pulling them toward him to kiss over the cold skin. “That’s okay, I needed a break from the cold, too.”

They get mochas and a cookie to split, Elio finally removing a few layers once the coffees arrive.

“So, what do you think so far?” Oliver asks.

“Aside from the frigid temperatures, I love it.”

Oliver laughs and reaches across the table for Elio’s hand. “Yeah, me too.” He strokes his thumb over Elio’s soft skin. “Last night at the hotel, all I could think about was you visiting me at my dorm, or us living together in an apartment.”

“Really?" Elio asks, mug halfway to his mouth, eyes wide.


“You together for that long?”

“I wanna be together for as long as you’ll have me,” Oliver says. He squeezes Elio’s hand and takes a sip from his own mug.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Elio teases, but his gaze is soft, and Oliver practically melts into a puddle of adoration for his boyfriend.

They stay inside for a good two hours, chatting over the dwindling coffee in their mugs until they finally feel sufficiently warmed up to head outside again. The rest of their afternoon is spent popping into various shops: vintage clothes, stationery, Korean beauty, even a local jewelry shop where they buy a necklace for Elio’s mom. They end up having ramen for dinner before heading back to the hotel, both of them chilly and tired.

“Sorry I’m so boring,” Elio says as he collapses into bed.

Oliver laughs and hangs up his many layers. “You’re not, I’m tired too. Especially after all that stressing over the interview.” He falls into bed next to Elio who immediately rolls into Oliver’s chest.

“Mmh, I’m glad it went well.”

Oliver smiles and wraps his arms around Elio. “Yes, me too.” He kisses the top of Elio’s head before nuzzling into his curls. “We’ll get an early start tomorrow, do everything on our list. And we can even try to get into a bar downtown if you want.”

Elio pushes up onto his arms and looks down at Oliver with an excited smile. “Really?”

“We can try,” Oliver says again with a gentle pinch to Elio’s arm. The boys laugh and Elio falls into Oliver, who meets him halfway for a kiss. There’s heat behind it, and soon enough, Elio is straddling Oliver, the boys rolling their hips against one another as they kiss.

“Oliver,” Elio whispers as he pulls back for a shaky breath.

Oliver hums and noses at Elio’s cheek. “Yeah, babe?”

“Will you get the lube? And...and a condom? Only if you still want to try...”

Oliver chokes a bit but he recovers quickly. “Yeah,” he gets out as Elio rolls off of him. “Yeah, I can do that.” He stumbles out of bed and toward the bathroom where he rummages around in Elio’s bag. Once he has the appropriate supplies in hand, Oliver pauses for a moment to take a deep and steadying breath. He’s fucking nervous, and he’s sure Elio is too. But he knows how much they both want this. He looks at his reflection in the mirror, fixing his hair a bit before coming back out to the bedroom.

“Finally,” Elio huffs, but his voice is laced with amusement. He’s now naked on the bed, reclining easily against the fluffy white pillows.

Oliver has to pause again to take in the sight of his boyfriend laid out so perfectly. “You’re so gorgeous,” he whispers as he finally kicks into action. He drops the lube and condom onto the bed and shucks his shirt and boxers. “I can’t believe how lucky I am.” Oliver crawls back onto the bed and hovers over Elio. “My perfect boyfriend.”

Elio actually blushes at that and he makes a pleased sound when Oliver leans down to kiss over pink cheeks. “ You’re perfect,” Elio murmurs as Oliver starts kissing down his neck. “My big, strong boyfriend. So smart and handsome and wonderful.”

Oliver rolls his eyes but continues peppering Elio with kisses. Between the two of them, they could go on for hours about their feelings for one another. He reaches for the lube and sits back on his heels as he pops the cap. “Just...let me know, okay?” he asks, looking down at Elio who is staring back up at him with just as much adoration. “If it hurts or if you want to stop or...anything, okay?”

“Okay,” Elio whispers. He spreads his legs a bit more and tilts his hips, angling them perfectly as Oliver positions his hand between Elio’s legs.

“Relax for me,” Oliver says as he pushes the tip of his finger in. Elio closes his eyes and tilts his head back and Oliver watches Elio visibly relax as he begins moving his finger. It’s only a matter of minutes before Oliver is pushing his middle finger in alongside his pointer. He’s draped over Elio at this point, his face buried in his boyfriend’s sweaty neck. They’re both panting and Oliver is sure Elio can feel just how hard he is from where his cock is pressed against Elio’s thigh. Elio is hard too, thankfully, easing some of the doubts Oliver had the first time they did this.

“I’m ready,” Elio says a bit later. His voice his high and breathy. He grips Oliver’s bicep, hands skating over the undulating muscles as Oliver fingers him. “I want you. I want to try.”

Oliver nods and, with a final kiss to Elio’s neck, he pulls his fingers free and sits back. He hesitates, only for a second, before grabbing the condom. “You have to tell me if it hurts, okay?” he requests again. “I need you to talk to me.”

Elio nods and lets his legs fall open, exposing his hole. Oliver ducks his head a bit, watching it glisten in the low light of the hotel room. That makes Elio blush furiously and he instinctively tries to close his legs again. But a strong hand on his inner thigh keeps him from doing so.

“Oliver,” Elio whines, wriggling a little against the sheets.

“Shh,” Oliver soothes. “I love every single part of you, Elio. There’s no need to be embarrassed.” Elio lets Oliver push his legs back open and once Oliver is sure that they’ll stay that way, he gets back to fumbling with the condom wrapper. He finally gets it open, despite slippery fingers, and fiddles with it for a second more, trying to figure out the right way before rolling it onto his cock.

“Jesus, that’s hot,” Elio says.

Oliver looks down at him with wide eyes, his hand still wrapped around the base of his condom-covered dick. Elio is stroking himself now, fingers moving lazily over his cock. “Yeah, right back atchya.” Oliver grabs the lube again, slathering a fresh coat over his cock, making sure he’s adequately slicked up. “Are - are you sure?” he asks. He feels like his heart is ricocheting around his entire body. “We can stop now, it’s okay, I won’t be mad.”

Elio laughs and hooks a leg over Oliver’s hip. “I don’t want to stop, baby,” he assures. “But you know we can if you want to, too. This is about both of us.”

Oliver leans down and nuzzles the tip of Elio’s nose with his own. “I love you,” he says, not even registering that he’s ditched their qualifier.

Elio’s breath stutters and he leans up for a kiss before whispering, “I love you, too,” right against Oliver’s lips. “Now, come on,” he urges with a nudge to Oliver’s arm.

Oliver laughs and kisses Elio’s cheek before reaching down between them to grab ahold of his cock. He shifts a little, trying to get into a good position. It feels foreign and awkward and Oliver fumbles a little bit before managing to nudge the head of his cock against Elio’s hole.

“This feels weird,” Oliver says, the muscles of his stomach contracting uncomfortably as he tries to make the position work.

“Wait!” Elio cries, scrambling so suddenly that he nearly kicks Oliver in the face. Oliver rears back, afraid that Elio has changed his mind, but watches with rapt attention as Elio grabs one of the extra pillows and stuffs it between the bed and his back. He settles down again, wriggling a little to get comfortable. “Okay, this should be better. For both of us.” He blushes as he looks up at Oliver, all demure and perfect. “I read about it.”

Oliver laughs and leans back down, settling between Elio’s spread legs. “God, you’re amazing.” He reaches down again, finding it much easier to position himself this time around. Oliver takes a deep breath and looks down at his boyfriend. They hold eye contact with one another, each of them thrumming with excitement. “You ready? This is it.”

Elio hums and loops his arms around Oliver’s neck, his fingers twisting around the soft strands of Oliver’s hair. “I’m ready, baby. I want this.”

Oliver nods and rests his forehead against Elio’s, looking down between them. He can’t see much as he pushes forward, just their chests and stomachs touching as they each take deep breaths. The head of his cock is pressed right against Elio’s hole. He stops there for a moment, giving Elio another chance to back out. When Elio just angles his head for a kiss, Oliver takes that as a go-ahead, sealing their lips together as he breaches Elio.

Both of them hiss at the same time and Oliver squeezes his eyes shut. Elio is so tight it almost hurts. Elio, meanwhile, is digging his fingers into Oliver’s shoulders as if holding on for dear life. Only the head is inside, but Oliver already knows that, on his end at least, this will be over way too soon.

“You okay?” he bites out. He simultaneously wants to pull out completely and press further in, seek out more of that warmth.

“Okay,” Elio whispers. He pulls Oliver closer so that he can push his face into Oliver’s neck. “Can you...a little more?”

Oliver nods and pushes in more until Elio makes a pained sound. “Halfway there,” he says. “You’re doing so good, baby.”

Elio moves his hands from Oliver’s shoulders and instead wraps his arms around Oliver’s broad back, clinging onto him. “Give me the rest,” Elio whispers a few moments later.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Oliver. I want all of you.”

Oliver pulls back a little, which makes Elio whine. “I wanna look at you,” Oliver clarifies as Elio’s face comes back into view. He moves his hips slowly, keeping his eyes trained on Elio’s face, watching for any signs of intense discomfort as he finally bottoms out. “That’s it,” Oliver whispers, smiling down at his boyfriend. Elio’s eyes are screwed shut and his curls are matted to his forehead, sweat starting to bead down his neck. “How’s that feel?”

“Hurts,” Elio whispers. He takes a shuddering breath before opening his eyes, which are wet and shining. “But I’m getting used to it. You?”

“You’re so tight,” Oliver says automatically, absolutely no filter. Elio lets out a wet laugh. “It feels good but…” Oliver leans down and kisses Elio’s cheeks, then the tip of his nose, then his lips. “It’d feel better if you weren’t hurting.”

“Don’t you dare pull out,” Elio says sternly. “I just need to get used to you.” Elio shifts his leg higher up Oliver’s hip and takes a deep breath. Oliver can actually feel Elio’s hole start to relax around him. He whimpers and presses a kiss to the corner of Elio’s lips. The boys are quiet as they each get used to the feeling and then Elio nudges Oliver’s nose with his own. “Alright. Okay, I think I’m ready.”

Oliver nods and moves his hips back before thrusting forward again. It’s an odd motion, one that he’ll have to get used to. Oliver hopes they can find more opportunities to practice. but Elio lets out a soft moan which has Oliver thrusting his hips all over again. “Is this okay?” he asks.

“Very okay,” Elio answers. Their words are quiet, spoken against one another’s lips. There’s not a bit of empty space between them, and Oliver can feel Elio’s cock against his stomach as he pulls back out.

“You’re getting hard again,” he says, Elio’s erection having flagged a bit.

“I am,” Elio says, his voice laced with amusement. “It feels good the more you do it.”

“Good. That’s...really fucking good. Fuck, Elio, you’re so tight .” Elio whines, his hole fluttering around Oliver. “You like that?” he asks when he feels Elio’s cock pulse. “You like hearing what you feel like?”

Elio makes an embarrassed sound and tries to hide his face in Oliver’s neck.

“Nuh-uh, none of that, baby,” Oliver coos. “You’re perfect. So perfect for me.” He thrusts in a bit harder, a bit faster, loving the way it makes Elio groan. “I wanna see you.”

Elio’s head falls back against the pillows and he looks up at Oliver with an expression of utter bliss on his face, which makes Oliver laugh. “You feel good,” Elio says, his voice quiet. His cheeks are flushed and his hair is wild and Oliver has never loved him more.

“Yeah?” Oliver urges, trying to get more out of his boyfriend; he likes hearing Elio’s voice. He’s thrusting at a steady pace now, Elio now stretched out enough that neither of them are in pain.

“Y-Yeah. You’re so…” Elio lets out a hiccuping laugh. “You’re so big. But it feels so good.”

Oliver grins and leans down to nip at Elio’s lower lip. “Oh, yeah? You like my big cock inside you?”

That sends both boys into a fit of giggles, Oliver’s thrusts becoming a bit erratic. But then Oliver must thrust at a particularly good angle because Elio’s laugh trickles off into a desperate moan. He hooks his leg up higher over Oliver’s hip, drawing him in closer. “Like that,” Elio pleads, back to a whisper. “God, Oliver.”

Oliver tries to keep pushing in at the same angle, but he’s close. His arms begin to shake as he continues to hold himself up over Elio. “I’m gonna...I’m really close, baby.”

Elio licks his palm, grinning ruefully up at Oliver as he reaches between their bodies to take ahold of his cock. “I wanna try to cum with you.” The request is punctuated with little groans as Oliver continues to fuck into him.

They murmur soft words of encouragement until Oliver says, “Gonna cum,” right against Elio’s lips. Elio hisses as he picks up the pace of his hand, and he whispers the words right back. The boys pass the sentiment back and forth until Oliver thrusts in hard, spilling into the condom. Elio orgasms just a moment later, shivering as he covers his hand and stomach in cum.

Oliver can’t hold himself up any longer and he collapses on top of Elio, his cock still twitching where it’s buried inside his boyfriend. Elio lets out a soft oof , his breath tickling Oliver’s ear. They lay there for a few minutes, Oliver almost falling asleep, until Elio shifts.

“Ol?” he asks, voice muffled. “Can’t breathe.”

Oliver whines but pushes up onto trembling arms, letting his now soft cock slip out of Elio, who lets out a soft whimper. “You okay?” Oliver asks immediately, one hand coming to Elio’s cheek. He soothes the crease between Elio’s brows with his thumb and looks down at his boyfriend with utmost concern.

“Yeah, just a little sore,” Elio says. He smiles reassuringly and turns his face to kiss Oliver’s palm. Oliver stays there for a second more before hopping awkwardly to the bathroom to dispose of the condom.

Once he’s back in the bedroom, Elio has already cleaned up with a wad of tissues and is now rolled up in a burrito of blankets. Oliver laughs and manages to get under the covers as well, snuggling right up behind Elio.

“It’s still early,” he whispers against the back of Elio’s neck. “You okay going to bed now?” Elio just hums in response. “You want to go brush your teeth?” Elio makes a sound of dissent and Oliver laughs. “C’mon, I feel so refreshed,” he taunts, trying to get Elio to properly ready himself for bed. But Elio just groans and pulls the covers up over his head. Oliver gets under there as well, resuming his position with his face tucked into the back of Elio’s neck. “I love you,” he whispers, suspecting Elio is already asleep.

But his boyfriend says, ever so softly, “Love you so much.” Oliver sighs happily, snuggling impossibly closer before falling asleep.

The next morning, Oliver wakes up sprawled on his back, blankets twisted around his hip, and Elio’s mouth around his cock. He’s only fully conscious for the last few moments, finally tangling his fingers in Elio’s curls as he spills over his boyfriend’s tongue. Oliver returns the favor in the shower, smiling to himself as Elio slumps against the wall after.

They’re quiet as they get ready, sharing a few coy looks as they move about the hotel room. But Oliver can’t stand the silence. He grabs Elio’s wrist just before he heads into the bathroom. “Hey.” He pulls Elio toward him, but Elio is looking down at the busy hotel carpet. “Hey, Elio. Look at me?” Oliver’s voice is soft and he smiles when Elio finally looks up from under his lashes. “You okay? Did...did you hate it?” he asks, concern seeping into his words.

“No, I didn’t hate it,” Elio says, a smile flittering across his face.

“What, then?”

“Will you get sick of me?”

Oliver actually laughs at that. “Sick of...Elio, do you have any idea how happy I am that we slept together? I just don’t want to mess anything up.”

“You’re not. You won’t.” Elio presses up onto his tiptoes to kiss Oliver quickly. “I’m sorry, I’s a lot.”

Oliver hums and nuzzles their noses together. “I know. Do you feel okay? Are you hurting or sore?”

“A little sore,” Elio admits quietly. He drapes his arms over Oliver’s neck and pulls him in for a tight hug. “Oliver,” Elio sighs, his face pushed into the crook of his boyfriend’s neck.

Oliver closes his eyes, nose buried in Elio’s hair. This is exactly where he wants to be. “Elio.” He lets the name roll off his tongue, slow and soft. “Elio…” Oliver pulls back, his hand coming to cup Elio’s cheek. His breath stutters and he’s stunned by Elio’s beauty. “Call me by your name and I’ll call you by mine.” He’s not sure what makes him say it, some perverse need to hear Elio say his own name the way he says Oliver’s.

Elio looks confused for a moment, his brows furrowing and his lips quirking. “Elio,” he says experimentally, and it makes Oliver shiver.

“Oliver,” he counters, letting the syllables drag out.



And then Elio kisses him with so much passion and so much fervor that Oliver almost says fuck it and drags Elio back to bed. But the museum awaits, and the boys finally get ahold of themselves enough to get their coats on and trudge out into the snow for breakfast.

After perking up with hot coffees, the boys decide to stroll through Central Park to the Met, which is just on the opposite side of the park. They’re set to arrive just before it opens, but Elio starts chasing Oliver through the snow. Oliver finally relents, letting his boyfriend overtake him and tackle him up against a tree. They stay there for a while and kiss, ignoring a wolf whistle from a passerby, until Elio is shivering.

“Here,” Oliver coos, breath puffing out in front of him as he wraps his scarf around Elio’s neck. “Now come on, I want you to tell me everything you know about all the art.” They continue on their walk, hand in hand.

“Whoa,” Elio whispers as they walk up the final block toward the museum. “This is…"

“Yeah,” Oliver laughs. He squeezes Elio’s hand and looks down at his boyfriend, loving the look of complete awe on his face.

Once they’re finally in the galleries, Elio drags Oliver to Greek and Roman statues first, where he points out their curved bodies and lean muscles in rapid words. Oliver leans close, Elio dropping his voice down. He’s not sure if it’s because they’re in a museum or if Elio just wants this to be for them, but Oliver doesn’t mind getting closer at all. Once they’ve covered all of the statues that Elio deems interesting, important, or handsome, they move up to the European paintings wing, just past the grand staircase. It’s an expansive area and Elio seems to want to flit in every direction at once. Oliver dutifully follows his boyfriend, holding his hand and studiously listening to everything Elio has to say, occasionally imparting his own wisdom. They geek out over the art together, and Oliver’s heart swells with how much he loves this boy.

As they stand looking at The Storm and Springtime by Pierre Auguste Cot, which depicts a very beautiful boy who bears a striking resemblance to Elio, Oliver can’t help but swoop in for a kiss. He wraps his arm around Elio’s lower back, even dipping him a little bit as he captures his boyfriend’s lips in a deep kiss.

“What was that for?” Elio asks breathlessly as Oliver rights them and then pulls away.

“Nothing,” he says with a shrug. “I just love you, that’s all.”

Elio’s answering laugh is almost maniacal with joy, a laugh that Oliver has come to know well. He bumps Elio’s shoulder and then kisses his cheek before they continue on their way.

They come out of the museum a long time later, each with a shopping bag of postcards of their favorite works and some tiny gifts for the Perlmans. Oliver was sure to buy reproductions of the Pierre Auguste Cot paintings, cards he plans on staring at whenever he’s not with Elio.

They stop at a Viennese cafe for lunch. Well, it’s really just 3 large slices of cake, which they share, along with coffees topped with fresh whipped cream. Elio even leans in to kiss a bit of cream off Oliver’s lip. It’s so fucking freeing that Oliver almost wants to cry; he’s not sure how he’ll manage to go back home where he has to live in secret.

The boys spend the rest of the day out and about, stopping into little stores or galleries, window shopping at some of the more expensive places, and even indulging in another afternoon coffee once they get to the Village.

“Hey,” Elio says around 7. It’s dark out as they wander down small streets dotted with restaurants and shops. But people are still out and about, despite the dark and the cold, and Oliver truly loves the city that never sleeps. “Dinner?”

Oliver agrees wholeheartedly and only after a large Greek mezze platter does he start looking at his phone, trying to find a club they can go to.

“I can’t promise anything,” he warns, glancing up at Elio as he zooms in on Google Maps. “The fakes Noah got aren’t the best. But we can try.”

They head out toward their destination, the famed Stonewall Inn. Elio figures that if they try, they should aim for something iconic. That makes Oliver laugh, but he agrees, and so they set out. Streets are lined with rainbow flags, sex shops, and gay clubs, and Oliver squeezes Elio’s hand. That overwhelming feeling hits him again and his eyes prick with tears, which he quickly blinks away. This is who he is meant to be, where he is meant to be, and if his family can’t understand that, then Oliver wants nothing to do with them.

“Hey, you’re thinking so hard I can practically hear it,” Elio says, looking over at Oliver who is sneaking glances at a rather risqué shop.

“I want…” He almost says, I want to come out. I want to tell them. I want the world to know. But he bites his tongue. That’s a bigger conversation for another time.

“What, baby?” Elio prompts. “What do you want?”

“I just want to have a good time with you,” he finally lands on, looking down at Elio. “Almost there, come on.”

When they finally arrive, Oliver realizes they had nothing to worry about. The bar is packed, and the bouncer barely looks at their IDs before they’re ushered in. It’s two levels of drinks and dancing and thumping music and Oliver is surprised at how at ease he feels. Elio leads them to the bar and orders two vodka cranberries, which they take with them onto the outskirts of the dancefloor.

It’s awkward at first, and Oliver sort of feels like a fraud as he watches bodies move to the beat of the music. Here are all of these glorious people, living their truths, fighting for rights, being allies. But after a few (a lot) of sips of his drink, he finally feels confident enough to pull Elio out onto the dancefloor.

It’s sweaty and hot and crowded and loud and perfect .

“This is perfect!” Oliver screams over the music, grinning down at Elio as they jump around.

“What?” Elio calls back.

Oliver leans in so his lips are against Elio’s ear. “You’re perfect.”

Elio throws his head back and laughs, so Oliver takes that as the perfect opportunity to drag his lips over Elio’s long neck.

After their third drinks, their dance moves become increasingly debauched. Elio's back is plastered to Oliver's chest, his ass gyrating against Oliver's crotch. He knows Elio can probably feel how he's half hard in his jeans, but he just can't help himself from grinding harder against Elio. When his boyfriend slips away to put more drinks on their tab, Oliver is left to dance alone. He towers above the rest of the crowd, his arms up in the air and his head flung back as he dances. There are bodies everywhere, moving and gyrating against Oliver. But then one body in particular body slides up in front of him again. 

"Hi," Elio says, raising his voice over the music. He has a megawatt smile on and he passes Oliver his next drink. Oliver wastes no time in wrapping his free arm around Elio's waist and pulling him close enough that there's not a bit of space between them.

They make friends on the dance floor, dancing with too many guys to keep track of. Oliver always finds his way back to Elio though, and they snap together like magnets. Oliver has lost count of the number of drinks he's had, but he thinks it's finally time to head out once Elio starts dragging his lips down below the collar of Oliver's shirt. They stumble out of the bar, tripping over one another as they struggle into their coats and scarves.

Oliver doesn't hail a cab right away, instead enjoying the fresh air with Elio by his side as they giggle and meander down the sidewalk.

They pass a club playing a mashup of a Frank Sinatra song and some techno monstrosity, so Oliver starts singing as they walk, Elio following close behind, spinning in large circles in an attempt to dance. 

"Hey," Elio suddenly says, all movements ceasing. Oliver turns around to face Elio. They're a couple of feet apart, and they stare at each other with wide eyes and warm smiles. "I'm not a virgin anymore. Neither are you."

"Nope," Oliver says, cocking his head to the side. "Are - Do you…"

Elio then takes off, launching himself at Oliver, who has just enough time to steady himself as Elio pitches into his arms. "Fuck me, Elio," Elio says, his lips right against Oliver's ear.

The cab ride back to the hotel is absolutely debauched, Elio practically in Oliver's lap as they kiss in the backseat. Once they pull up, Oliver gives the driver an extra tip as compensation before sprinting out after Elio How they manage to get up to their room with any semblance of decorum is anyone’s guess, but Oliver lets out a relieved sigh once he closes their hotel room door.

“Just us,” Elio purrs, letting his clothes fall to the floor as he shucks his coat and then quickly gets rid of every other layer.

“Just us,” Oliver repeats, following suit until they’re both naked, tripping over their discarded clothes as they tumble into bed. They kiss for a while, their hips slowly rolling together, Oliver’s leg slotted between Elio’s.

“Fuck,” Elio whispers, tipping his head back for some much-needed air.

“That’s what I was planning,” Oliver says slowly, his fingers skating up and down Elio’s back. “But how are you feeling?” he asks, his fingers dipping down to Elio’s ass. “We can just keep it low key.”

Elio hesitates for a second before nodding. He thrusts his hips for emphasis, making sure Oliver can feel just how hard he is. “I wanna get off now,” he says, sounding all the bit like the petulant child he sometimes is.

Oliver laughs and kisses the tip of Elio’s nose. “Yeah, me too.” He reaches between them, taking both him and Elio in his hand, jerking them off fast right off the bat. They’re cumming within minutes, panting into each other’s mouths, bodies quivering as they orgasm.

After, Oliver forces them both into the shower, despite Elio’s protests. “We’re leaving tomorrow afternoon,” he coos as he simultaneously turns on the water and holds Elio against his side, “we don’t want to be gross on the train.” Elio acquiesces but insists that Oliver wash his hair for him, a request Oliver is happy enough to indulge.

They sleep soundly for the few hours they’re able, but both boys insist upon waking up early to get the most out of the day. They’re sleepy and quiet as they head to the Hungarian Pastry Shop for breakfast, but soon perk up as they gulp down fresh coffee and share a bunch of sticky sweets between them.

“You can come here all the time,” Elio says, his mouth full of walnut hamantaschen. “It’s right near school.”

“Well, first of all, I haven’t even gotten in yet.” Elio rolls his eyes at Oliver’s response, but otherwise stays quiet. “This place is a New York institution.” He sighs, eyes roving around the cafe. “I’d be so lucky to get to come here every day.” I’d be so lucky to get away, to be able to live in New York.

Elio leans forward for a quick kiss before handing Oliver a piece of hamantaschen. “And I can come visit you all the time. Right?”

“Of course,” Oliver says with a soft laugh. “Of course, baby. All the damn time.” He knows that’s impractical, especially because, regardless of where Oliver ends up, Elio still has another year of high school. And then who knows what will happen, where the Perlmans will decide to move next. But before his thoughts can spiral out of control, Oliver forces himself to take a deep breath and refocus on his boyfriend. His gorgeous boyfriend who has a crumb at the corner of his lip, ridiculous hat hair, and a Columbia Dad sweatshirt.

Their only plan is to visit the New York Historical Society before they have to pack up and head to Penn Station. It was a good trip, Oliver muses as they walk through the galleries hand in hand. He had a successful interview, they ate good food, saw good art, and… Oliver blushes furiously at his next thought, and he studiously looks up at a Picasso as he tries to concentrate on the art instead of the feeling of being inside Elio. If he’s honest, though, he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about it. It had felt so good. And he knew he made Elio feel good too, which sends a shiver down his spine.

“You good?” Elio asks, tugging Oliver’s hand and bringing him out of his thoughts.

“Hm? Yeah.” He smiles down at Elio and squeezes his hand. “All good.”

They reluctantly cut their time at the museum short, wanting to leave enough time to get back to the hotel, pack, and head to Penn Station in time for their train. They should be back home by dinner time and Mrs. Perlman has already assured via many texts that they’ll have dinner all prepared for their arrival.

The subway ride to Penn is quiet and Elio rests his head on Oliver’s shoulder as they ride. “I don’t want to go home,” he whispers. Oliver sighs and kisses the top of his boyfriend’s head.

Once settled on their train back to Boston, Elio takes out a book of poetry and Oliver taps away on his laptop, planning on finishing up the rest of his applications. But his eyes keep flitting toward the window and his thoughts keep going back to the weekend. It was only a few days, but it was one of the best trips Oliver has ever been on in his life. He and Elio were on their own, free to do and act as they pleased. The thought of going back to his stifling home makes his stomach drop. After this weekend, he wants to be out, wants the entire world to know that he is bi and proud and in love. He sighs, rather loudly, startling Elio out of his book.

“You good?”

“Just thinking.”

“About what?”

Oliver doesn’t answer, just leans his head against the window and watches the scenery whiz by. Elio lets the conversation drop. It’s not until a few minutes later that Oliver speaks up again. “I want to come out to my family.”

Elio snaps his book shut and leans forward. “Oliver, I - Are you sure?”

He nods, staring resolutely out the window. “I can’t live like this anymore, Elio.” He sighs again and tears his way from snow-lined trees to instead look at his boyfriend. “I don’t think I’m going to tell them we’re dating. Not yet. But I just...I think I need to do this.”

“Okay,” Elio says slowly, reaching across for Oliver’s hand. They entwine their fingers and Elio gives his hand a squeeze. “I’m here for you, Oliver, whatever you decide to do. And my parents are too, you know that. We support you and we love you and we’re always going to be here for you, okay?”

Elio’s words make Oliver’s eyes prick with tears. He nods and looks down at their joined hands. “If it...if something happens, can I come to your place?”

“Yes,” Elio says, without any hesitation. “Our doors are always open for you, Oliver, you know that.”

Oliver just nods, not trusting his own voice.

Elio’s parents are waiting for them in Boston, and the boys are pulled into a tight hug as soon as Mrs. Perlman spots them. “My boys,” she whispered, “we missed you.” They only make their way to the car after many hugs and kisses and, once they’re on the road, Oliver can’t get a word in edgewise as Elio tells them all about their trip.

The Perlmans have dinner ready, a simple red sauce with sausage served over rigatoni. It’s delicious and Oliver eats more than his fill before finally facing the music. It’s getting late and he has to get home sooner rather than later.

He says his goodbyes to the Perlmans; Pro congratulates him again on the interview (and thanking him for getting Elio home safe) and Mrs. Perlman sends him home with dessert wrapped up in a Tupperware.

Elio walks Oliver to the door, their fingers laced together. “You let me know if you need anything, okay? I’m here, Oliver. Always.”

Oliver makes a pained sound and wraps Elio in a tight hug, burying his face in Elio’s neck. “I wish I could just stay here until college.”

“I know,” Elio soothes as he rubs circles over Oliver’s back. “Just let me know if you need us to come get you or anything.”

“I love you,” Oliver says, his voice full of ferocity and devotion. “I love you, Elio. So much. And thank you for an amazing weekend.” He pulls back just enough to lean in for a kiss.

“I had a wonderful weekend,” Elio whispers into the kiss. He nudges Oliver’s nose with his own. “It was really special.”

Oliver’s cheeks flush and he pulls Elio even tighter against him. “Think we can do it again sometime?”

Elio smirks and licks a stripe up Oliver’s lips; it seems he's uncovered Oliver's double entendre. “I think we can,” he says with a smirk that Oliver can’t help but kiss. Their flirtations help distract Oliver a bit, but once he’s in the silence of his own car, he starts overthinking again. He has to drive it slow, taking in steadying breaths every time he comes to a stop sign.

It’s nearly 9 when he finally pulls into the driveway and lets himself into the house. He can hear the TV on in the living room as he toes off his shoes and hangs up his coat. As he pads over the hardwood floors, he belatedly realizes he’s still wearing his Columbia sweatshirt. He figures now is as good a time as any to come clean about that too. 

“Hi darling,” his mother says, glancing up from whatever she’s watching as Oliver comes into the room. “How was the weekend?” She’s sitting next to his father who is looking down at the Sunday Times instead of at the TV.

“Mom? Dad?” Oliver waits until both of his parents are looking at him. He’s rehearsed this in his head so many times, going back and forth on what he should say. Ultimately, he settles on what he hopes will be easiest for them to understand. He’s fucking terrified, but there’s an undercurrent of bridled excitement. Oliver stands up a little straighter and lifts his chin. “I’m gay.”