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You celebrated your 43rd birthday in the wilds of an uncharted jungle island, surrounded by a hospitable tribe of humans never before seen by the eyes of modern civilization. You lived among them for nearly two years, learning the customs and traditions of a people that were only spoken of in legends between hushed whispers of the surrounding tribes, hundreds of miles away, hugging the forgiving coastline.

You survived attacks from ferocious jungle cats, larger than life serpents, and one blood ritual that left you feverish and bedridden for weeks, strung out on toxic hallucinogens. You were given a tattoo for surviving, a painful 12 hour, stick and poke affair that you were finely schlockered for, as was custom.

You did not know a moment of true fear, only wild, euphoric excitement.

Now, standing in baggage claim in near rags, hauling what you couldn’t fly home in a simple black dragger covered in long faded stickers, you are admittedly terror-stricken.

You prefer the dangers of island life to this savage exchange of location. At least you know a thing or two about  taking jungle cats.

You prefer the blood thirsty jaguars to these angry, indignant inlanders. The fluorescent lights, the too loud cacophony of electronic howlers, and the screeching voices are a constant barrage on your senses. By the gods, you can smell everything, hear everything, but you can’t find the friggin exit fast enough. It takes you one shuttle and an overstuffed elevator ride next to a crying infant to finally get there.

You’re really missing your island.

Your driver holds up a sheet of paper with “English” scrawled lazily across the front, standing like a statue near the far end of the throng of people yelling for taxis or hugging or crying and you’ve had just about enough. He says nothing when you greet him somewhat cheerfully, and simply takes your bag to give it a good toss into the trunk. Too much anxiety makes it easy to overlook his cold shoulder and you dive longingly into the back seat of the old Lincoln. The driver pulls away from the curb quick as a flash and dives headlong into traffic.

The world is a passing dark blur beyond the tinted windows of the old town car, allowing you time to close your eyes and drift as that anxious buzzing recedes. The city lights do not reach you, nor the clamor and commotion of society at large. The drive is a little over two hours, and you intend to use every moment to count sheep and nurse your throbbing skull.




The driver does not wake you when you near the house. He does not warn you, or apply an ounce of rational caution.

Very unwise of him.

He opens the door to suddenly let in the unforgiving light of day and roughly jostles you awake by the shoulder. You sputter and, to his  and your own horror, tap him on the chin with a glorious right hook. The hit slams straight into his face like one of those little red and blue fighting robots. The poor sod doesn't stand a chance and stumbles back, falling flat on his arse next to your small case with a strangled curse. Oh bully, is he furious.

Instead of returning fire, as would be his right, he puts a hand on his jaw and spits a timid ‘fuck you’ out onto the sidewalk. He stomps around to the front seat, throwing the door open hard enough for it to nearly bounce back, and climbs in. He is handling this with a great deal more professionalism than you would have, all things considered..

Feeling like a right horse’s ass, you climb out and stand next to your bag. The man all but peels out in your driveway, screeching the tires and making a big nasty mess of the cement. You stare down at the mess of smelly black burn marks scarring the smooth surface and sigh.

It’s good to be home?




You arrive home before your luggage, as per usual. There are just too many things people may find a little disconcerting in a lot of your little black boxes. One man's unwillingly forfeited skeleton is another man's treasure. Not to mention it's just not like you to refuse a gift, and less like you to not bring it home. Trophies are trophies, and you intend to keep them all, regardless of make, be it skull, questionable substance, or bell, book, and candle.

It’s warm and dry on this particular coast, nothing like the jungle you left behind. The rough air hurts your nose and scratches at your throat like loose embers. You turn, grab your bag, and head inside. Clarity begins at home, so they say.


Clarity being a nice slug of coffee and a catnap. Contrary, yes, but you make it work.

The clock face in the mudroom reads just past five in the afternoon. You vaguely remember this being the common time for dinner, but your stomach is still trounced in collywobbles, and food sounds very unappetizing. Coffee, however. Coffee sounds positively heavenly.

The bag gets left behind in the living room, nestled amongst furniture and oddities from past excursions. The countless empty sockets of particularly placed skulls watch you drag ass across the room and on into the kitchen. The house itself has been well maintained in your absence as it always is. Your landlord, Vantas, is as trustworthy as he is grievously verbose. You welcome him as a friend, despite his protests that he is not.

As the coffee gurgles and drips into the glass below, you hum a soft lullaby the mothers of the tribe had taught you. During the day, when there was work to be done and well beings managed, you tended to stick close to the woman. It was more like living amongst a pride of lions than human beings, and you were schooled quickly on the role you would play. There were no specific gender roles, however, and the able bodied took on the more arduous tasks like hunting and building and, when it was required, defending.

The women were simply cut from stronger stalks.

The gentle beeping tone of the coffee machine brought you back down from your reveries. Pouring a cup, you leave it black. Not having tasted your own private selection of beans in literal years, it would be a shame to dampen the flavor with sugar or cream, so you sip lightly at the dark brew and finally start to feel at home.

Like a bolt from the blue, you are reminded that central air is a thing that exists in this foreign country, and decide that yes, that is something you missed. The thermostat is located in your master bedroom, as was your adamant decision. An adventurous mind such as yours is, unfortunately, prone to weekly night terrors, and having the cold air at your direct control was a must have.

Thus, you make to walk to your bedroom, coffee in hand. There are clean clothes there as well, if you remember correctly, another comfort you have not been acquainted with in some time. Icing on the cake

The room is nothing like you left it.

The bed is made up to crisp perfection, along with the unusual homing of all your books, their spines stacked neatly along the large oak bookshelf. The floor has no dirty linens tossed about in the careless fashion you mastered in your youth, and your desk papers are neatly stacked, maps rolled up in the basin on the floor. You would have preferred it remain a pigsty.

At least it’s not something you need worry about from here on out, since you had made positively certain to send your waiting staff on a nice summer holiday while you were home to roost and recharge.

The last thing you wanted was company.

With that thought in mind, you strip down to nothing but the clothes you were born in and find yourself a house robe. You have every intention of not wearing anything reasonable all summer, given the opportunity. You had grown accustomed to nudity after about three days in the wet miasma of jungle heat, and are feeling pretty reluctant to give up that particular brand of freedom.

You sip your coffee and make a slow turn around the room, now littered with your soiled traveling clothes, and stop short when you notice the heavy curtains draped across the patio doors slightly open. Oh, well that won’t do for a nap.

Grabbing the curtain, you make to close it, to drag the heavy fabric and silence that glaring sun until you feel up to facing him again.

Except you don’t.

You stop short, because you catch sight of someone outside next to the pool and unwittingly hobble back behind the curtain with a gasp. A drop of hot coffee flips up on your chest and you hiss, hiding behind the cotton aegis. What?


Nobody is supposed to be out here. Were you not clear enough on your heartfelt directions to the staff to take a vacation and leave you the high hell alone? Dollars to doughnuts, you made sure of it, hadn’t you? You gave summer bonuses and everything! What was Karkat thinking? He bloody well wasn’t, obviously.

You wipe the scalding liquid off your chest with the robe and try to decide what to do next. Curiosity demands you at least look and see who’s out there. Maybe it’s just the gentleman that maintains the pool? Yes, yes that would make sense. He would have to do it all year, wouldn’t he? It’s not as if you’re going to do it, or that you even know how.

You take a breath and a sip, and peak gingerly around the sheet of fabric.

You regret that sip immediately when the sight beyond the door has you nearly spitting hot coffee across the glossy clean glass. 

It's excruciatingly hot as it slides like a fat wet rock down your throat.

As wide as your creeping peepers are at this very moment, he's easy to make out. There, across the waves perched on the edge with his feet in the water, sits a boy.

No, a young man. Probably all of 20 some odd years behind him, hunched over what looks like the small robotic abomination the maintenance man would throw into the depths from time to time. He is not your usual maintenance man.

He is, admittedly, not a man at all.

You stare, blinking away the glaring sun bouncing off the waves. After being swaddled in the shadows of your dimly lit house, they are grievously unaccustomed to the light of day.

Your brain supplies the words.

A pool boy . How about that?

Your brain continues to supply you with words accompanied by fairly specific scenarios.

You’ve heard and seen plenty of lascivious scenes that center around this very setup.

Have heard, in fact, first hand tales of old colleagues whose restless, seditious wives have pulled a fast one with the famed pool boy.

A moniker, in fact, you yourself once wore.

You cough into your hand, embarrassed by how quickly your mind latched onto fantasizing. It’s not like you didn’t have sex out in the jungle for two years, but it certainly wasn’t commonplace or frequent. Besides, it’s hard not to think in carnal terms when such an obvious trope presents itself, right? Indeed.

It also is increasingly difficult to clear your mind of it, with him looking the way he does, and you're equal parts aggravation and thankful you can only barely see his face. From your vantage point, there are obvious desirable traits to him. Though sitting, you can tell by the length of his shins that his legs are long and sweetly bronzed, the same hue as his broad shoulders.

The tiny bottom feeding abomination of a vacuum you remember from days long past sits on his lap, top open as he fiddles with it’s internal wiring. Long fingers dart in and out of the little opening, nose inches away from the back of each busy knuckle. You’re surprised he’s giving it the time of day, old as it is.

He runs a hand through his buttermilk bangs, a small screwdriver between his fingers, and you catch a quick glimpse of a proud nose and pink lips. He’s wearing the most bizarre sunglasses you’ve ever seen. They are two tall, overly pointy triangles of ebony tint. He’s got to be mindful where he’s pushing back his hair as to not catch the tall sharp tip of them.

They are, in a word, ridiculous.

Bent over the device in concentration, he stays wrapped around the machine. You watch him, for some time, sipping idly at your coffee and letting your mind wonder. The Brew still fogs your glasses slightly when you draw it up to your lips, so you’re careful of how much you intake.

After nearly ten minutes, the jitterbugs make a game of your nerves. Thankfully, as you’re just beginning to entertain dangerous thoughts of going out there and introducing yourself, he leans back, tossing his bangs to one side like those skinny models you remember seeing on the television. On him, it’s a very attractive gesture, all neck and shoulders.

He closes the lid, screws the tiny bolts back in snuggly, and lifts the bot up off his thighs, letting gravity drop him into the shallow end of the pool.

The water comes up to his navel, and you get a clear few of all that smooth muscle that makes up his slim build. Whatever this lad does for a living, he does it fiercely. You squint, unsure, but if you’re not mistaken, the boy is covered in freckles. They’re fairly hard to see at a distance, but they are there nonetheless. Charming as the devil.

He reaches out to grab hold of the long tube that connects to the butt end of the little terror and pops that in as well. Two steps forward, and the boy dips below the surface, vacuum in hand. For a few moments, the only tell tale sign of his location is the drag of the long tunnel rising out of the pool like a hollow root. You do truly detest that bastard machine.

While you’re busy detesting an inanimate object that has honestly done nothing to spur your malignance, he springs back up like a daisy. As he goes to slick his hair back, he seems to forget he still has his shades on and bumps the wet things off of his nose, right into the water. Just like that, you’re floored by two very peculiar, very orange eyes. 

He’s not a boy at all, not a young man. He is Eros , blinking droplets form his lashes and shaking water off his eyewear, an indignant crease between his brows. Holding the glasses in one hand, he tries again at slicking back that soft crop of blonde. A pair of skin tight swimmers like you’ve never seen hug his thighs and waist like a second skin. They leave very little to the imagination.

Maybe you have been away from beauty for too long, maybe you have been away from people for too long, but you do know, for certain, that he is beautiful.

Glasses on, he turns away and walks to the edge of the pool, climbing up and out. You hmph behind the glass, scandalized by his blatant carelessness with his shins and knees. Water slides down his thighs and, unavoidably, his adorable behind. Maybe adorable isn’t the correct term, but it’s all you’ve got right now, watching his spine straighten up with a warm fascination in your belly. 

A few short strides and he’s out of your line of sight, off to the left behind the curtain. You don’t dare move it, lest you be caught red handed as the peeping Tom you are. Really you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

You aren’t.

After a few moments of silence, you hear music. Well, you feel it first, a low bass that hums inside your lungs like foretelling thunder beyond the horizon. Then instruments, odd chimes and a low, steady beat find you through the glass. There is a man's voice, but you can’t make out his words. There are bird calls mixed in with the velvet smoothness of it all. Somehow, it reminds you of the jungle cats, slinking through the lush undergrowth, powerful and measured.

When he comes back into view, he is not simply sauntering like before, no, he is moving in a wholly different way.

He is dancing.

Gliding across the ground like the laws of gravity aren’t something he’s ever worried about. Never even considered relevant.

All that trained, corded muscle now makes perfect sense. A dancer.

His movement has notes of ballet, maybe his focus, but most of his routine is new to you, urban and lawless. You feel your jaw gape in genuine awe as you try your damnedest to take in all the details at once.

His dance is nearly tribal, a flavor you are quite familiar with. It unfolds in smooth, exotic instances; moments of warm red shadows filling the dips of the his clavicle, the hills of his ribs. It dips into the negative space between arm and torso as he bends and contorts in extraordinary ways.

Then, just as suddenly as they appear, the shadows are chased away by the blazing sun, bright across the smooth plains of his chest and shoulders. It catches, gleaming off the fine wet points of his hips and elbows. He doesn’t miss a beat.

The boy is positively diseased with rhythm

He drops low and removes his sunglasses, laying them gently on the wet cement, then rolls his body back into an upright position. The move is absolutely destructive, and you feel heat rise up to your cheeks and a familiar hot stir below your stomach as you watch his spine curve and muscles pull.

You clear your throat one more time for absolutely nobody but yourself and nervously pass your mug from one hand to the other. At this point you couldn’t interrupt if you wanted to, not with a flush on your face and a half mast maypole just from watching him dance!

And dance he does. He’s very good, as far as you know, moving seamlessly from one graceful motion to the next.

Twirling, he drags one pointed foot through the water, sending a glittering wave cutting through the summer sun. The effect it casts is akin to hundreds of shining clear jewels floating around his hips and legs. Like tumbling diamonds he has thoughtlessly tossed to the wayside.

Your breath hitches.

He does one full rotation, then lets his head fall back, eyes closed in a peaceful expression, as his back curves and his arms stretch out to their full wingspan. He falls, finally letting gravity hold him, if only for an instant, caught there above the waves.

The moment passes slowly. He is a young god, a heavenly delight suspended above the breaking peaks. He dips through the surface with nary a splash as the song plays it’s last few thudding notes.

Water settles as that waning bass creeps into the house. You're not even breathing.

You’re snapped out of your trance by the sound, and sensation, of searing coffee being poured straight down the entire length of your leg.

It takes every single teeny tiny iota of self control not to absolutely wail and completely give away your position.

You stomp and rave and and spit and finally put the cup down on your nightstand before dropping to the floor and grabbing the closest garment to get the hot acid off your melting skin. You silently mourn your stiffy.

Thankfully the scalding liquid didn’t drench your robe and your ragged traveling clothes, in their rightfully strewn positions, make for an excellent towel. You breath out a weighty puff of air and silently curse your own stupidity.

When you finally lift yourself up off the floor, knees popping like they are prone to do these days, he’s drying his hair with a fluffy beach towel, excessive eyewear hooked into the tempting lip of his swim shorts. He lets the towel hang from his shoulder, his hair a beautiful mess of blond curls laying in all directions, and thumbs at his phone for a couple seconds. You find yourself smiling at the candidness of him, despite the throb in your leg.

You wonder if he is as pleasant to speak to as he is to gaze upon.

He snaps those farcical shades back onto his face and begins walking around the pool, collecting what little items he seems to have brought with him. An orange water bottle, orange sneakers, a black shirt with what looks like something orange on the chest.

Though fool minded you may be, you are beginning to see a pattern here.

He disappears to the left again and the music stops. Ah, he’s leaving then, having powered down the pool house speakers. You wonder about what time he arrives as you watch him walk down the stone path that wraps around to the side garage where the lawn equipment is kept. Must be why you didn’t spot his vehicle when you came in.

You walk into the master bath and turn the shower on cold, dropping the robe and letting the cool water soothe the ache the coffee worked into you.

There’s a little hum of misery in your stomach at the loss of him, but you know he’ll be back. Maybe you’ll build up the wherewithal to approach him next time.Then you remember you’re supposed to be spending this summer alone and away form civilization. Recharging, as it were.


Who’s to say you have to be alone by yourself?




Two days later, you find the young Eros skimming dead things off the surface of the pool with a long iron rod topped in a big blue net. Your entrance from the stone walkway that leads around from the front of the house gives you the tactical advantage of surprise, not that you’re actually trying for it, but it helps calm your nerves a tad.


More music drifts through the air, similar to the tune from the previous encounter. The boy has nice taste, even if you don’t honestly have the faintest clue what you’re hearing. You steal an extra moment to admire the way the muscle of the young man's arms and back flexes to control the awkward length of the pole. Lovely.

You clear your throat into your fist and wait for the show to start.

In an impressive show of speed, the lad whips around, startled out of his thoughtful concentration. Your hands shoot up in peaceful surrender as the he brandishes the pool hook like a long sword. You attempt your best harmless smile as water is flung up your front and across your glasses.

Despite the alarmed, confused looks from your handsome guest, you break into a fit of heedless giggles. Dirk, because that is his name , you’ve learned, does not like surprises.

After your last encounter with the young Dirk, you were left awestruck and interested. So, you sent an inquiry to your landlord and grounds keeper, one Karkat Vantas. This entire introduction debacle would go a great deal smoother if he would have just cooperated. Unfortunately, albeit predictably, he did not.

Karkat had responded to your questions almost instantaneously. You’re not sure he even actually read the email. His reply was short and tart.


His name is Dirk. Find out the other shit for yourself, I’m not your secretary. Or better yet, leave him the hell alone, English. Actually, I don’t give a single blazing shit. I’m on the vacation you demanded I take, you fucking idiot. Don’t respond to this, because I won’t be reading it.


Rude as he is, you expected it.

You take a deep, steadying breath in through your nose and stifle your giggles. Alrighty-o! You can do this! Nerves be damned, you have faced more fearsome opponents than this young man. Though none nearly as visually alluring.

“Sorry to get the drop on you, chum, didn’t intend to give you a fright.” You say, voice laden with apologetic sympathy.

Dirk lets the pole relax a fraction, expression still.

“Sure.” He says in a nice, low timbre, bringing both hands up to rest on the pole as he puts it back in the water. He shifts his weight to lean against it, an obvious attempt at cool and casual.

“You need something?”

Stuffing your hands into the back pockets of your trousers, because you decided the robe might not be suitable for first impressions, you try to match his cool demeanor.

“Oh no, not at all! Well, maybe an intsy something. I’m the owner of this fine little slice of Heaven. Thought I’d come out and introduce myself.” You punctuate the sentence with a friendly wink.

Dirk’s expression never shifts, but he combs one hand through his hair with long, slender fingers. A nervous tick, perhaps?

Water drips from the point of his elbow and down his neck from the sopping curls. He must have only just gotten out. Looking at him face on, you’re struck by just how disarming all that pretty gold is, dripping wet. Save for those ludicrous glasses.

“Oh.” Dirk says, one sharp syllable.

You ready your courage and step right over to him, extending a hand. “Jake English, and you’re young mister Dirk, I presume?”

“Yeah, I am. Just Strider is fine.” He has a southern accent, dropping the ends of words left and right. It’s obvious he strains against it.

Dirk reaches out to complete the handshake. Water drips down his forearm from the low angle, following the graceful rise of his veins to your fingers. It feels rather nice, refreshing.

Though somewhat reluctant to break contact, you take back your hand and shake it, laughing at the water that flies off your fingertips.

Dirk’s mouth tightens into a serious line. “Sorry.” He says, a little awkward.

You give him a playful smile.“It’s fine, I assure you. Nothing to worry that pretty head about, Just Strider.”

Oh, and there he goes, that slight concern dissipating under a very unimpressed look in seconds flat.

“I’m almost done here, then you’ll have your privacy back.”

Bullocks. Your hands came up again as you shake your head in disagreement. “Not at all! I just wanted to come meet the handsome young fellow out here siphoning bric a brac from my waters.”

His face remains alarmingly unyielding, the picture of stoic indifference.


Boy howdy, he isn’t going to make this easy.

Once again, you are at a loss. In a nervous panic, you retreat, bidding the young man a good afternoon. Dirk gives you a terse nod in response, and you practically run back into the house for some frantic pacing and planning.

You certainly do have your work cut out for you.

And so, over the next week, you observe.

You begin by keeping in mind what days Dirk works and what time he comes and goes. You’ve established a tentative schedule, having received Dirk every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and, on occasion, Sunday or Saturday. That’s plenty of time to woo the reclusive young man, you’d wager. And you do intend to do some serious wooing.

But first, you have to test the waters, see if Dirk is interested in what you have to offer him.

Thus, you set out to make some discoveries beyond the terse little exchanges of ‘good day’ or ‘hello again.’ Dirk generally responds to these with a practiced nod, or flat out ignores you by turning up his music. Brat.

Around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, that following Monday, you strip to your swimmies and lay yourself out on a lawn chair like a sun hungry leopard. Honestly, you’d much prefer to be stripped down to bare bones, but you have some modicum of self control. Don’t want to send the boy scurrying off to the shadows right out of the gate.

You’ve even managed to procure a rather rad pair of aviator shades you found stuffed into a drawer in your kitchen, successfully placing you on even footing with the opaque angles Dirk hides those creamsicle dreams behind.

And so, with your iced Baileys and coffee, your umbrella, and your loins secure, you let yourself drift in the warm summer sun.

Thoughts wander lazily around your skull, conjuring up lukewarm images of Dirk’s waist under your palms, the curve of his hips and thighs as he danced, confident and oblivious, that first night.

You wonder dreamily about his stark difference in age to your own. About his height. He looks tall, but not so much that his height surpasses yours. His forehead might top out around your chin, if you remember correctly.

You’re broken out of your daydreaming by the sound of one of the metal deck chairs scraping harshly against the cement ground, accompanied in tandem by a familiar tenor voice dropping a perfectly profane curse.

Prying your eyes open, you spot Dirk rubbing his shin where he must have driven it into the metal leg with some level of force. You smile as he looks up and catches your eye.

A bright blush crawls across his cheeks and a small crease blossoms from between his eyebrows. His lips form into that commonplace line, and his entire face turns away from you.

Oh. He is doubtlessly interested in what you have to offer him.

“Afternoon, Strider. Fancy spotting you here at this hour,” you say, giving him your best wise-guy smile. His face smooths over as he finishes the walk over to the pretty glass table, setting down his same old luggage and towel without bumping into anything this time around.

He doesn’t smile as he says, “Oh, I get it. It’s a joke, because I work here. Because I’m here at the same time every day for the same allotted number of hours. Ha ha.”

When he’s finally done you bark out a laugh and sit up, taking a long sip from your drink. If you had to guess from the way he tilted his head up from his goalless, busy hands, digging through his bag, you’d say he watched every second of it.

“Oh, get loaded, Strider.” You stand and stretch out, not all too happy with the way your lower back pops under the pressure. That bloody smarts. You groan a little as you continue.

“Can I offer you some sort of libation? Or do you prefer your bottled pura?”

His hands still and a muscle in his jaw jumps. He appears caught up in thought.

“Are you offering me an alcoholic beverage, Mr. English?”

“If that’s what you’d like.”

“Then I don’t need to inform you that I am an of age employee and therefore, as they say it, socially obligated to not consume alcoholic substances while on the job. Thus marking you as one hell of an enabler to an admittedly inattentive youth.”


He pauses again, drums his fingers quietly against his fuzzy towel. You can just see his charmingly prominent adam's bop up and down.

“Alright, sure. Booze me up.”

On his command, you happily go inside and make him your same old Bailey’s and coffee, along with another, stronger one for yourself. When you come back, Dirk is bare chested and hip deep in the shallow waters, facing away from you as he fiddles with one of the filters. He has the top pried off and set aside. You walk over to the ledge and make yourself comfortable, dangling your ankles in the chilly water.

Calling across the water, you tell Dirk that you’re back with his share of the ‘Alcoholic substance,’ and receive the slight nod of his head in response.

He’s very focused on whatever he’s doing over there, so you take the opportunity to ogle his shoulders and neck, in awe of the dazzling amount of freckles packed into the tight frame of his body like a caged solar system. He’s still too far away to do any real star gazing, so you adjust your non prescription glasses and wait.

After a couple minutes, he closes it up and wades over to the filter next to your thigh. You hadn’t actually noticed that you had plopped down directly next to one, but you certainly aren’t upset about it.

The water sloshes around his belly button as he approaches, skimming his hands across the surface. He seems to be at ease amongst the low waves, dripping from collar to cuff. His fluffy buttermilk hair is still dry as wheat, so he hasn’t submerged at all, probably too focused on his current task. He moves beautifully.

You hold out his drink for him to take, and he does so with a regrettable lack of physical contact. He takes a small sip, then hums in his throat, sufficiently pleased.

You, yourself, are more than sufficiently pleased when he takes a follow up sip, then sets the cup down and says, “Thanks. It’s pretty alright.” You grin wide. He practically stumbles over his tepid compliment, and you’re proud to think that even that is probably a stretch for him.

“You’re very welcome, Strider!” He looks away from you faster than he probably means to, and busies himself with prying off the lid. His knuckles brush your bare thigh when he lifts it up, a fresh blush tinging the tips of his ears peachy. Your grin only widens, and you feel your cheeks dimple at the edges of your lips. He begins his second bought of fishing inside the tiny box space.

“Say, what are you hunting around for in there?”

“Mm.” He responds, seemingly focused. From your angle, you can see his downturned eyes and the fine points of his cheekbones. And finally, finally, all those wonderful spots of his. Up close like he is, they’re certainly breathtaking, swarming across his skin in pepperd perfection. He’s done before you can successfully build any constellations.

“What?” He asks, looking up at you for a moment before popping the lid back down over the hole.

“What’s the reason behind this little peek and prod?” You ask, motioning to the filter.

“Oh. I’m…” He thinks for moment. This boy worries far too much about what he’s got to say. He takes a drink to buy himself some time. A long, genuinely impressive drink, then clears his throat. You breath out a laugh, despite trying not to. Well, not too hard.

“I’m looking for frogs.” He answers.

Frowning, you look at the filter, then back up at Dirk. “Frogs? In there?” You are genuinely concerned. It can’t be good for the little amphibians, stuck in all that chlorine and cold water.

“Yeah, in there.” He says, matter of fact. “They fall in the water and get sucked in. Sometimes they like to sit in here too. The chlorine with kill them if I don’t get them out.”

Just like that, you’re smiling again, and his face turns away, drink against his lips.

“That’s awfully sweet of you, Dirk! They’re lucky to have you out here to save their tiny lives, you’re quite the hoppy hero.” You sip your drink slowly and try not to fall in love with the way Dirk’s skin gives him away, flushing pink across his cheeks and ears.

“Sure, English.” He says against his glass, downing the remnant of his Bailey’s. Boy had better slow down if he doesn’t want to end up ossified in your care. You hold out your drink to him, barely sipped.

“Take your time this round, Strider, there’s no shortage in this house,” you say with a wink. “I’ll make myself another.”

He takes the drink, regardless of his protest. “You really don’t have to give me yours, I’m fine.”

“That you are, but it’s far too hot today to be caught without refreshments.” You don’t wait for his reply this time as you take his emptied glass, lifting up off of the ledge to get yourself another drink from the kitchen.

When you come back out a second time, Dirk has changed location again, standing on the concrete with that comically long rod in his hands, netting up the few leaves. He doesn’t have much to do this evening, apparently, as he usually saves this task for last. His glass sits on the low table between your lounge chairs, so you lay yourself back down where he found you.

Now comes the tricky part.

“So, Strider.” You say, leaning the chair upright so you can sit up and watch him work, spreading your legs to let your feet lay flat on the ground. The tip of the pole wobbles when Dirk stops short and looks up at you.

“So, English.” He says, flat as a river rock and not nearly as smooth, returning to his task.

“I’m dreadfully curious, what does a young man such as yourself do on his evenings away from the English beach house?”

He doesn’t look up, speaking into the water. “Are you trying to get me drunk so I’ll talk about myself, Mr.English?” You’re not exactly sure if he’s joking or not, but his past responses hint that he might be.

“No, no, no, not drunk, per say. Just a tad relaxed.”

“So I’ll talk about myself.”

You smile and nod. “So you’ll talk about yourself.”

You're starting to get used to his contemplative silences. "Alright." He says, then continues just a little too fast. "An answer for n' answer." His words bleed together in a charming way when he talks fast. "I'll bite if you play fair."

You grin.

"Fair enough. 20 questions it is!"

You do not intend to play fair.




And so, the game begins.

Dirk starts the first round by inquiring what it is you actually do for a living, whereas you ask him what he studies. It's easy to see that he is highly more suspicious of your answer of a “professional adventurer” than you are of his admission to studying dance and the arts. You already knew one of those things, though you keep that little tidbit to yourself

You watch him hang the long rod on the wall of the pool house, finished for the day.

As he comes over to sit by your side in the second chair, you ask him why he works so far out in the middle of nowhere instead of in the city proper, where, presumably, he would have friends and a life in general. He tells you that it's for that exact reason that he works here, the distance is what he wanted.

That's concerning, and you must be showing it clear as crystal, because Dirk throws another question out at you before you can pry, quick as a flash

“What is your tattoo of?” He asks, situating his long legs across the footrest part of the chair. It's very hard to look away from them, all that shimmering lithe muscle crossed prettily at the ankle.

There’s a thin gold chain around his left ankle with an amber orb hanging from the clasp. You wonder how you hadn’t noticed it before.

“Oh, that! It's a tribal symbol. It doesn't have an exact translation, not like any proper contemporary language.” You take a long sip and try to form an explanation in you mind. Dirk watches you, more interested than you've seen him yet. His drink is nearly empty, and you know for a fact that his second, intended for you originally, was twice the strength of the first.

“It means, in no certain terms, the feeling of hope. They saw in me a trusted friend, but also warned me that I believe too fiercely in what could be, always hoping for more.” You chuckle to yourself, remembering their warnings about how brash you often acted when you thought that their surely was always more to see.

You were always right, of course. “Got me into a nasty bit of trouble, on more than one occasion.”

“That's… Damn. Alright. That's pretty dope, actually.”

“I do like to think so, yes!”

“Okay, yeah. Your turn, man.” he gestures with his hand, using the other to sip at his dwindling beverage.

“Tell me, do you have a girlfriend, Strider.”

To your horrified delight, he chokes on his light sipping and has to set his drink down. You reach over and offer a steadying hand in his shoulder as he coughs and catches his breath.

“Are you quite alright there, pet?”

He coughs and wipes at his wet lips “No,” he starts, then catches himself. “No I don't have a girlfriend . Not my taste.”

Oh. Now there's what you were looking for.

“Well then, what is your taste?”

He lets his head fall back against the chair, taking a deep breath. It's an affecting sight. The long, bare stretch of his neck, red cheeks, parted lips, his elbows resting on the arms of the chair.

He looks at you from the corner of his eye, angled so you can see the amber orange of his irises below the dark arms of his glasses. He is so devastatingly handsome in the low sunlight that it locks your breath in your chest like an iron maiden.

“One question at a time, Mr. English.”

Your hand lingers against his skin, tracing a small constellation with the pad of your thumb, a crooked smile plastered to your face. You can practically see his walls crumbling.

“True enough, Strider, true enough.” You concede, leaning back against your own chair.

He sets his drink down, twirling the naked ice around the glass with a delicate finger. The flush across his cheeks paints him pink and tipsy.

“Hmm. So, you’re not married?” He asks, trepidation behind every word.

“Heavens no, not for all the beer in Darwin!” Laughing, you sip at the last drops sliding between the ice. Marriage? You? Not in this life, no siree.

Dirk plucks an ice cube out of his glass and pops it into his mouth, rolling is around with his tongue. It clinks lightly against the back of his teeth every few seconds.

Now that would make for some refreshing kisses.

You lean up, gathering the empty glasses before Dirk can tempt you any further into frigid lip lock. He watches you, face turned in your direction behind his trademark shades. In the days leading up to this moment, you had hoped he would look at you like he is right now, as if he’s waiting for you to pull a little something.

“Cat got your tongue, Strider?”

You can barely make out the way his eyes dart back and forth across your face, all of two feet between you. There’s a quick tug at the corners of his mouth, there and gone in a blink. As you are now, sitting facing his chair with your elbows on your knees, it would be easy for one of you to fly at the other. The moment drags on.

“No, it’s nothing.” He says flatly.

“Well, that definitely means there’s something rattling around up there.” You tease, grinning. Dirk huffs out a laugh. “What can I do for you, Strider?”

“You tell me, English. You’re the one that’s been sizing me up like a fine slab of red meat since the day we met. Is there something on your mind?” Brave words for a boy gripping his arm rests like they’re the only thing keeping him on this plane of existence. He damn near recoils from his own words, tipsy regret lighting up his cheeks. You can feel your hairline shift to make room for how friggin’ high your eyebrows shoot up, chasing the free space. Well now!

The two empty drinks go back on the table. Birds twitter and sing around the two of you as your smile threatens to split your face wide open. You get up and lean over Dirk, bringing your hands up to grip around the back of his chair, boxing him in. His spine presses back into the chair, shoulders tense and breath caught somewhere behind his lips and throat.

“No, I’m afraid it’s my turn.” You pur, chuckling at the way the pink of his cheeks deepens and climbs to his ears. You let the grin slide away, fixing Dirk with a wry little glare.

“Rules are rules, after all. Answer the question, love. What would you have me do?”

Dirk swallows, letting his chin angle down, eyes defiant. His breathing, so at ease before, has picked up into a near pant, his chest rising just fast enough to be noticable. His mind is yet to tumble over the edge of ossified, allowing him to think through his next move, but his body is busy being warm and woozy and dreadfully honest.

“Fine, yeah okay.” He squirms a little, bends one knee and quickly presses it back down. Runs that pink tongue along his bottom lip.

“Kiss me.” It nearly comes out a question, but it’s nowhere near what he’s asking. He’s still not sure you’re pursuing him. Best to settle those doubts here and now

Leaning in, you pass by his lips, putting your ear in the perfect position to catch his soft gasp. He smells like chlorine, antiseptic and clear, with just a hint of the coffee flavor at his lips. The scruff along your jaw brushes against his smooth cheek, and you press a languid kiss to the hollow below the high peak of his cheekbone. Dirk leans into it, trying to turn his lips up to meet yours. You pull away just in time to watch him struggle with chasing after your mouth, the muscles of his arms tensing to hold his own body in check.

He licks his lips one more time.

“You know that’s not what I meant.” He sounds a little put out, the poor boy.

“No? Well then, suppose you ought to have been more sp ec ific.” You say, straightening your spine and recollecting your spent glasses. "Next time, pet.”

Dirk blinks up at you through his shades, cheeks painted a rosy pink. You wink, and take the glasses inside to be rinsed.

When you come back outside, Dirk has flown off. His few possessions are gone, and you are greeted by nothing but the soft sound of chirping creatures and soft, lapping waves. You catch a glimpse of him rolling down your drive, riding a damn skateboard with what a motor.

You’ll have to give him stern words about drinking and ditching next time you see him.

A smile creeps across your face.

Next time indeed.



Chapter Text

Dirk shows back up for work on Wednesday looking a little worse for wear, white plasters fashioned around his right palm and knee. And thigh. And elbow. You’d wager there are more under that loose tank top of his. Sweet Kringle, what has he done to himself?

Looking as his does, you can’t bring yourself to reprimand him like you had planned, not between all that gauze and tape. Apparently the sweet boy fell ass over teakettle onto the street right outside of his house, but managed to focus the brunt of the fall on his right side. You rise from your suntanning, sliding the silly aviators up into your hair to get a better look at him. Dirk turns his eyes away from your bare chest and legs, the foretelling point of his regal nose pointing down to the glass table in front of him.

“Well now,” you say, a sly smile on your face. Dirk, on the other hand, does not smile, in fact he looks damnably coy. “Looks like you shouldn’t have run off in such a hurry, hmm? That pavement gave you a right wallop.”

He gives you one of his patented tired looks, mouth a straight line underneath those bizarro shades, and sets down his usual bindle of tools and towels. You permit him to unpack in silence.

Neither of you bring up the kiss. Him, because he is likely still fairly embarrassed about it, combined with his little tumble last evening.

You because you are enthusiastic for watching him squirm under the weight of it.

Dirk strips down to his swimmers quickly, and you catch an eyeful of the colorful set of bruises that wrap haphazard across the right side of his rib cage. Yee-ouch . You tell him to take it easy and prescribe the work to you as his proxy. Dirk shakes his head, stubborn, and walks towards the pool-house to gather his tools for the day. It’s fine , he says. Looks worse than it is , he explains.

You are less than convinced.

Dirk gets his hand on the doorknob, but you stop him right there, pinning the door shut with the flat of your palm. This close, the heat of him tingles against your chest, both of you bare from the hip up as you cage him there. You watch his muscles tense with your proximity, shoulders going rigid, spine straight. His knuckles stand sharp and white as he grips the brass knob like his life depends on it.

You smile, a carnivorous closed mouth thing, and lean over into his space, lips hovering over the pink shell of his ear. When you speak, he shivers in a delightful way.

“Go sit down, honeydew. Let me.” There is just a hint of warning in it, but nothing too harsh. He doesn’t put his hand down, but you hear him swallow. You let your hand slide down the frame to his, dragging your fingertips between the point of each knuckle to wrap around his wrist. The tilt of his jaw follows your hand like a hawk to a mouse.

The width of his wrist is slim at best, allowing you to wrap your fingers fully around him, thumb resting atop your own fingers. His breath catches.

“Strider.” You warn. He licks his lips, face halfway turning towards you. You almost wish he would fight you a little more.

“Fine.” He says, squeezing the words form his throat like it pains him. Stubborn brat.

You smile for him again as a reward for obeying, letting go of his arm to trace the pads of your fingers down the soft underside to his elbow, and kiss the tip of his ear.

“Good boy,” you whisper. Dirk honest to god gasps , turning his face back to the door. You step to the side, proud of yourself, and let him escape. “Now, shoo! I’m sure I can manage.”

He darts away, grabbing his water bottle and throwing it back. You grin to yourself. Boy’s mouth must have gotten awful dry.

For most to the evening, you go about Dirk’s duties while he perches on the pool edge, feet kicking lightly as he conducts you in your work. There isn’t much to do, apart from clearing the debris and checking for his little amphibians, so you get the work done rather quickly, leaving a good handful of time to spend with Dirk unemployed. The two of you end up chit chatting into the late evening, learning one another through your little question games.

Over the next few visits, you pick up quite a bit.

That following Saturday, Dirk schools you about music.

He speaks of it in the same manner a master chef might deliver a complex recipe. There are measurements, mixes and flavors and a million different nuances. You learn that he started dancing to be closer to his music, but not because he says so. His passion, try as he might to tamp it down, shines through every word like light slipping between his fingers.

Dirk is outraged at your sheer lack of musical know-how or, more importantly, who. When you told him you haven't lived in the same local for longer than a year before the jungle, he had the nerve to scoff.

Likely excuse, professional adventurer. Music is global and it looks like.. Yeah. Looks like you’ve got two functioning human ears there.

On Sunday, you school him on making cocktails.

Any cocktail Dirk can think of, which honestly, ends up being quite the limited selection.

Dirk rattles off the few he knows, and you prove your worth as he browses your bottles stacked in the patio bar. The two of you are three cocktails in, respectively. Dirk’s cheeks are buzzing with heat, body finally free of his binding plasters. The cuts and bruises remain, but he’s allowed to swim again. The sight of his damp skin and dripping hair is maddening.

Dirk pauses his browsing to pick up the Goldschlager bottle and carrying it a few steps away from the shade, out into the sunlight. He asks if the gold is real. You explain that yes, it’s as real as the nose on his face. You turn to look at him, about to go into the whole story there, but the words all clog up in your throat like a busted pez dispenser.

You watch Dirk lift his hand and push his sunglasses up into his hair, baring those clementine eyes to the world. He lifts it above his face, rolling the glass between his hands. Light breaks through the clear liquid, refracting across his cheeks in a shimmery glow. He’s god damn stunning , peering up at the gold flakes tumbling around the bottle with each turn, the colors mirroring his amber eyes in near perfect mimicry. His lashes are long and curved, a dark honey brown. The darkest color on him. You wonder, in awe, if he could chase away shadows with the way he glows so bright.

Dirk notices your hands have stilled and turns to investigate. For a long moment, you stare at one another, eye to eye, no lenses between you. Neither of you breathe. His eyes dart across your face, eyes, nose. He lingers at your mouth, snaps back up to your eyes. You mirror him, enamored.

You can’t help it, you just can’t. You run your tongue across you bottom lip, slow enough for him to follow it. And boy howdy does he, cheeks coloring. Poor thing must blush at the slightest breeze with as easy as he goes pink. He breaks the moment, turning away and putting the bottle back down.

“Did you know,” you start, your voice rougher than you expect. You clear your throat at his wide eyes, eyebrows lifted up. Shit, his eyes are too damn expressive. You’re not adjusted to the strength of expression behind those peepers yet. You press on, trying to calm the heat building in your abdomen. Best not to pop a stiffy out here in only your skivvies.

“The gold flakes drifting in there are rumored to slice away at the soft insides of your throat, allowing for the alcohol to permeate faster. It’ll have you sufficiently ossified in no time flat.”

He looks unimpressed.

“It’s a wonder you don’t have brown eyes, English.” He says, thoughtfully.

“Oh?” He’s working up to something, you know it. “And why’s that?”

“Because you’re so full of shit.” He says, smug. You bark out a laugh. Gadzooks, do you enjoy this young man. He’s right of course, but he won’t outrightly contradict you.

You laugh and shrug at him. “Could be.”

He smiles, despite himself, and nods to it. “What’s it taste like?”

Oh. He’s curious now. “Cinnamon. Would you like to try it?”

You pull two shot glasses from the case and plop them down on the bar. Dirk knocks his glasses back down over his eyes, to your chagrin, and steps over.


You pour ⅔ of a shot for him, and a full pour for yourself. The corners of Dirk’s mouth tug down when he notices, so you fill his glass as well. He nods once, making you chuckle at him, shaking your head. He smiles softly at your amusement, and stands directly at your side, elbows nearly bumping beneath the heavy blue umbrella above you.

You lift them, one pinched in each hand, and turn to hand Dirk his new little friend. He takes the shot with careful fingers, holding it by the bottom opposite you.

“Shall we?” You ask. Dirk nods again. You’ll have to work harder to get him to use his voice, it seems.

The two of you do not break eye contact as you tilt your heads back and slam your shots. The cinnamon burns more than the alcohol itself, fire hot and delightfully sweet. Dirk blows a gust of air out of his mouth and nose as it burns down his throat as well, close enough for you to smell the sugary warmth of it.

“Goddamn,” he says. “That’s… aggressive.” There’s a slight grin on his face that has your stomach in knots.

You laugh and step out into the sun. You’ll be damned if you’re not going to go cool off in the pool after that little drop of nitro.

“Packs a bit of a punch, doesn’t it?” The water is ice cold on your feet and shins as you step down to the third step on the wide stairs. You sigh, one hand on the rail. Feels magnificent. When you look back over your shoulder, Dirk is watching you, steadily focused. He gives himself away when he turns his face, caught in the act.

“Not so sure of any lacerations by gold shavings, though.” He says, almost to himself, pushing off the bar and walking past you down to the deeper end. You watch his legs, shameless with nothing between your eyes and those stems but your clear specs. If he notices, he says nothing. They really are impressive.

Dirk drops his shades off at his usual table and steps over to the diving board. It’s nothing fancy, you really only requested it so you could sit out over the water like they do in the movies. Dirk has used it properly more times in his short stays here than you ever have in all your time owning this plot.

He does so right before your eyes, four measured steps across the plank until he gets to the very end. One soft bounce. He dives into the water gracefully, barely disturbing the surface with the sharp point of his entry. He doesn’t resurface right away. The show pony swims to the shallow end, does one of his little flip turns below the waves, and kicks off to the deep end again. He bobs up for air against the far wall, barely out of breath.

You’ve seen him swim laps underwater before, fast and happy tucked down close to the bottom. He’s impressive, the way he makes it suit him. It’s hard to watch him from your station on the stairs, however. Time to relocate.

You get up, feeling the hum of liquor in your cheeks and stomach paired with the warmth of the sun on your shoulders. It’s a beautiful, picturesque summer’s eve. You’re smiling contently as you drag your long white lounge chair over to the pool edge near where you’re sure Dirk will resurface at some point. Hanging the foot rest out over the waves, you sit backward, head facing the water for a better vantage point. You’re just in time to watch Dirk’s back as he cuts through the water below. Lovely.

And there you lay, watching Dirk get his laps in before he goes to his own home for the night. Even if you prefer having him above water to interact and chat, you’re never so upset you would turn down watching him veritably fly underwater. You lay there long enough to heat up properly, in more ways than one, and doze.

The next time Dirk pops up, you’re simply too comfortable to open your eyes, chin resting on your folded arms. You don’t notice him swim over, but you feel the weight of his hands when they clutch the edge of the chair, bracketing your shoulders.

Before you can react, Dirk gives you an order.

“Don’t open your eyes.”

Your eyebrows pinch in confusion. He is very, very close, the smell of cinnamon gusting over your mouth and nose. Your heart slams into a steady gallop, pounding against your ribs uncomfortably due to your belly down position. It’s a small price to pay for the curious hand tracing a thumb across your bottom lip, fingers spread across the curve of your jaw.

“Alright, pet,” you whisper, afraid of chasing him away like some skittish animal.

He takes his sweet time with you.

Dirk, presumably, needs one hand to keep him aloft, and the other to trace the different planes of your face. He starts with your bottom lip, leaving it pleasantly tingling. Then he traces the skin beneath your eye, down across your cheek. The caresses are focused, exploratory. He runs the back of his fingers across the stubble along your jaw and you can’t help the chuckle that floats out. And just like that, as if you reminded him that you have a mouth, his fingers drift back down.

This time, he skims the pad of one finger across, barely making contact. He’s driving you friggin looney with all his light touches. At this point you’re pretty gosh darned excited, stuck somewhere between relieved and annoyed to be on your stomach. Your pecker is pretty displeased with its current location.

If you don’t do something soon you’re going to lose your marbles.

“Dirk..” you question, sighing against his fingers. You hear his little gasp. He’ll kill you like this.

“Just..” he pleads. “Just give me a minute.”

Your glasses lift gently off your nose to presumably be set aside. You hear them clatter lightly on the cement as Dirk places them gingerly next to your chair. His fingers card through your hair and you groan, both for the feeling and the stifling need to grab at him.

“Strider, are you trying to kill me?”

Dirk lets out a little snort. You can practically hear him rolling his eyes.

“Dramatic.” He says. You would bet your life that he’s smiling. You roll your fingers into tight fists, heat pooling in your gut. Just as you’re about to reach out to him, he makes his move.

There’s the electric sensation of something hovering just shy of the very tip of your nose, then the soft press of his lips.

Oh , you think, friggin finally.

You give him a moment to get accustomed to it, gently sliding against him, nuzzling and breathing together. Dirk pulls back to take a short, shaky breath, lips still touching gently against yours.

Woah ,” he breathes, then bloody well giggles , low and musical against your open mouth.

You smile against him, and receive the pleasant feeling of him smiling in return. The two of you may be a great deal more ossified than you previously thought. Or maybe it’s just the heat. Perhaps it’s just Dirk and the lovely way he drives you mad with wanting him.

Whichever way, neither one of you can stop now that you’ve properly begun, two stones tossed downhill.

Dirk dips back in with a hell of a lot more fervor behind him, pressing tight against your mouth and curling his hand around the back of your skull. You unbend your arms, legs falling to the ground as you practically lift Dirk up by his jaw, pulling him closer. You tilt your face to slot your mouths together properly like you’ve been aching to do for days , and suck on Dirk’s bottom lip. He groans, lifting further up out of the water with his one arm to get closer still. He’s starting to tremble, whether from the strain of keeping himself up, or something much more enticing you’re not sure.

Abandoning his jaw, you reach past the edge of the chair to hook your fingers around his forearms. You need him up against you, right this instant . You dig your heels in and lift Dirk bodily out of the pool with a grunt, up until he can throw his legs over your thighs. You swallow down his next appreciative groan, and take an opportunity to trace your tongue across the tip of his. He wraps his arms around your shoulders and opens up for you, swirling his tongue over yours.

You moan for him and he mimics your call, fingertips biting into your shoulders with the desperation you both feel.

That’s the bloody ticket .

Dirk seems to only get more courageous and more ravenous as the seconds drag along. A dangerous combination, to be sure. His skin slowly heats up under your hands, one cupping his jaw and the other nestled in the small of his back. The tension is thick and heavy, neither of you sure where to go next but starving for a bigger bite. You wonder if he’s been building up to this moment as much as you have.

Dirk’s hands leave your shoulders, tongue slipping into your mouth on the next round of deep kisses to make up for the loss of contact. One hand slides down to hook around your nape snuggly, while he braces himself with the other, back near his rear on the footrest. You flatten your palm against his spine, coaxing him closer.

Dirk must be thinking similar thoughts, because he hooks his knees over your legs, and pulls , spine bending to lift his hips up and forwards. He slots against you perfectly, dragging the two of you close by those glorious legs and his and one flippin arm. He’s a lot stronger than you thought.

You hug him flush against you with the hand on his back, and adjust your opposite to cradle his head. The line of your bodies is searing , a shocking contrast of hot and cold as he slides wetly against you. He’s hardening up, his dick pressed against your stomach like a lit torch.

You wrap a hand around his thigh, just above the bend of his knee and hook your arm around his waist, grinding his torso against the tense muscles of your stomach as you curl around the shape of him. He moans, high and reedy into your mouth and it sends a little shock of worry through you for his poor bruises. You break apart, afraid you’ve gone and aggravated his battered ribs, but Dirk closes the space immediately, striking at your neck like a fucking snake and pinching the soft skin between his teeth. You shiver and squeeze him tighter.

“It’s fine,” he pants, hot breath rolling across your neck. He licks gently, then sucks at the tender spot. You growl, low and mean and Dirk’s entire body ripples in response.

“Keep going, I’m fine. ” He’s damn near angry about it, dismissing your concern completely.

Welp, that’s as good a yes sir, thank you sir as you’re going to get!

Dirk groans impatiently when you pull him off your neck with a pop. Not because you don’t want him there, by golly no, but because you need him elsewhere. You put both hands on his sharp hips and tug him down as you canter your hips up, rolling his erection across yours. You’re threatening to fall right the hell out of your bottoms, while Dirk’s is cruelly encased in that snug little get up he’s wearing.

Fuck- ” he chokes out, biting his lip and pushing his chest back with a hand on either of your shoulders to allow his spine to arc beautifully. Your hand drags up the length of his back to cradle his shoulders where his weight shifts. You want him on his back, pinned, no way to wriggle free like he’s so prone to do.

“You’re a marvel, pet,” you ramble, kissing his jaw, adjusting your grip to lower him down. “Just look at you, such a pretty thing.” Dirk’s face goes carmine red and he turns his head away.

“Jake, holy shit, stop-” he starts, but you can already hear the self denial in his voice, so you bite down hard on his neck to tamper his words. Dirk melts in your hands with a rough groan, pliable underneath the sharp attention of your pearly whites. His back meets the chair, legs hugging around your waist with the movement.

Dirk looks down his body at your confined dicks and. Snorts. You pout, confused and hurt, and look down to see the head of your dick peeking out of the waistband of you swimmers, flushed red and happy to be a part of the conversation. The shift must have unseated the eager fella.

“You better get that thing on a leash.” He says, still managing to sound exceedingly smarmy, spread wide on his back underneath you. Better to nip that attitude in the bud right now .

You grab his jaw and turn him to face you dead on as you dip your opposite hand down around his cute rear end. You press your palm and fingers flat against the seam of his ass, and drag you hand harshly up the center of him, viscous pressure across every inch of his softest parts. Dirk’s eyes glaze over, mouth falling open and eyebrows pulled tight. You lick across his open mouth for the pleasure of it as you move your fingers, feeling the dip of his hole, the soft curve of his balls, and the wicked hot head of his prick, held fast and erect against his waist. He squirms through the entire ordeal, twisting and keening as you watch the pleasure dance across his face. His cheeks, burn .

“I’ve got a better idea,” you tell him, bending to kiss the corner of his open mouth. The pressure builds between you, hot and sticky with every gentle massage up and down the length of him.

“How about I put it somewhere safe instead, hmm?” Dirk groans out a curse when you backtrack to the telling dip just past his tackle. You press your fingers against the hot, wet surface. Dirk tears his face away and gasps wetly. You let him go, kissing the tight tendons up his neck, tracing the bite you carved into him earlier. Dirk’s legs tremble around your hips, his vocabulary reduced to various curses. If you’d know he would be like this, well, you probably still would have waited for him to take the first step.

It’s made all the better in knowing he wanted you just as badly as you wanted him .

Lost in your ministrations, you don’t realize how long you’ve been massaging his rim through the tacky fabric until he says your name, sticky and sweet and absolutely accusatory.

“Dramatic,” you tell him. He punches the daylights out of your shoulder hard enough for you to nearly collapse onto him.

“Ow!” You whine. He smiles dreamily up at you and you swoon for him one more time. Dirk grabs your face in both hands, pulling you back down to kiss the pain away. He does so very easily, clearing your mind of anything but the wet hot pocket of his mouth. You’re giddy and excited, and so fucking hard for him he may as well own you. He bloody well already does!

You brace yourself with a hand on either said of his hips and grind against him in a languid drag. Dirk hugs you close, panting and groaning between messy kisses. Every little whimper brings you closer to insanity, the need to be inside him crashing against your mind and driving your advances. Dirk rolls his hips in counterpoint to yours, and you think you’ve just about had as much as you can take.

Caught in the liquid heat of him, you put your weight on your arms near his waist, bucking forward involuntarily when he sucks hard at the tip of your tongue.

A colossal mistake on your part.

With the sharp motion, the lounge chair, not designed for such lascivious frivolity, buckles. The leg snaps up with a sharp click and sends the pair of you sliding headlong into the deep end.

Oh sweet effing FUCK you think as the cold water climbs up your nose and invades your lungs.  

The world is suddenly very cold and very upside down as you choke and flail and kick to find which direction is up. You’ve done this before, survived torrents and whirlpools and arctic waters, but the fear is always the same. You quickly break surface, coughing and sputtering as you crack an eye open to find Dirk, panic settling in between the chilly bars of your heaving ribs. He’s next to you in much the same state, thankfully, coughing and treading water, his wet hair plastered across his face. Together, you paddle over to the edge and clamber out. Dirk sits with his legs in the water, huddled over his bent knees as you throw yourself across the ground like a hooked bass and roll over onto your back.

The two of you share in a less than composed back and forth of coughing and hacking, adrenalin pounding through your now very chilly veins. Once you’ve both begun breathing at a somewhat reasonable pace, Dirk runs his hands through his hair, flattening it back against the top of his head. You like when he does that. It shows off the muscle of his arms and the long curve of his neck.

Oh. That’s right.

It’s that thought that reminds you of what you were doing prior to your little spill, breathing sparks of life into the soggy coals in your belly. Dirk throws a leg up over the edge to turn and face you, still flushed and panting from your ignorant accident. You stare one another down, nervous energy pulled tight between you like an electric wire.

You’re afraid. Scared to dickens that he’ll get up and leave and you’ll never see him again due to how fast your little game of face chewing spiraled out of control. Scared that you boofed the only chance he would afford you. Dirk blinks at you, your arms stretched out wide as they please, legs dangling in the water and your… your bottoms around your knees, shriveled Johnson out for all the world to see.

Oh no. You feel the heat climb up your chest and burn your cheeks.

Dirk grins, then he smiles, then he downright fucking beams at you. And just like that, his usual resolve shatters, a hailstorm of laughter pouring from his happy mouth. You’re so floored by the sound and sight of Dirk Strider losing his absolute shit over this you can’t even think to adjust yourself. Your motor skills skip out of town with your shame and don’t look back. You lean up if only to get closer to the sound, smiling because he’s smiling .

You do work up the wherewithal to make yourself decent once you’ve both worn yourselves down to choking between little hiccups of laughter. You sit, thigh against thigh, facing the settling waves. The chair sits like a big white, accusatory skeleton at the bottom. Dirk smiles again when he notices it. Your heart flutters as you watch him, so young and handsome.

And happy. Happier than you’ve ever seen him. You revel in the fact you brought him to this new emotional peak. Dirk notices you looking and instead of shying away like you think he will, he just gives you a warm closed mouth smile that crinkles the corners of his eyes. He’s so bright , so warm and inviting. Your grin goes lopsided, too unfocused to put up your charm offensive any longer.

Dirk shakes his head, a little burp of laughter creasing the corners of his eyes once more. You lean over and wipe a stray tear from his pink cheek, his eyes fluttering closed. He stops laughing, but his smile stays. His lashes are lovely, clinging thickly together above that generous smattering of freckles. You lean in a little more, and kiss the edge of his brow. He hums, the low tone rumbling between you.

“Well. That sure was something we just did.” Dirk says when you lean away. He kicks his feet playfully under the water, calf rubbing against yours every other swing. He looks about the same way you feel, rung out and tired after your adrenaline crash.

“You mean didn’t .” You say, arching one brow up at him. Your glasses, thankfully, did not go overboard, and you saddle them back onto the bridge of your nose. “What a damn fool I’ve made myself to be tonight.”

Dirk chuckles deep in his chest. “It’s whatever man. I mean, I’ve thought you were a damn fool this whole time, so.” He shrugs, smirking at the water.

“Oh, I’m feeling so very comforted Strider, thank you.” He nods his head, a plain as day you’re welcome , and leans forward, relaxing with his elbows on his knees. You sit together in comfortable silence for a few beats.

Eventually, Dirk decides it’s gotten late enough for him to need to hit the road. He stands and helps you up. You hold onto his hand, reluctant to let go, and walk him over to his bindle. You kindly release him so he can use both hands to gather his things, watching as he puts his clothes back on and slips his feet into his bright orange shoes. That pretty golden anklet glimmers in the pink afternoon sun.

This time of evening, you think, was made to be his backdrop. He fits right in, like an oil painting surmised of nothing but the color palette from a tequila sunrise. Something you could drink down until you can't even remember your own face. Only his.

Dirk throws the bag over his shoulder and stands awkwardly, unsure. You’re old enough now that these tense little ‘should I, will they’ good byes don’t rattle you. Instead, you step close to him and lift his chin with your fingertips. Dirk’s eyes go wide, lips parting. You smile warmly down at him and watch his cheeks turn that trade mark peachy hue he turns just for you.

You lean in slow enough for him to turn, to decline it, but he does not. His pretty eyes flutter closed. The smell of the alcohol is gone, stripped away by all that chlorine you both sucked down unwillingly. His lips are still soft, breathe warm. The kiss lingers, but doesn’t deepen. You kiss his cheek for good measure, then let him go.

Dirk blinks his eyes open and licks his lips. 

“I’ll uh… I’ll see you Tuesday.” He says, backing down the walkway.

“Until then.” You say, giving him a small wave. Dirk waves back, then turns and walks down the stone path.

This time, you blow him a kiss as you watch him motor away. He smiles softly and shakes his head.

You walk inside, throwing your swimmers to the side and heading for the shower.

Dirk wants you. You want Dirk.

You’ve got a lot more planning to do.




You stir slowly into wakefulness that next morning. You're groggy and confused, a trickle of weak sunlight shining through the slight split in your curtains. You were lucky enough not to be in the throws of a nightmare, but something has you cognizant at… you roll over and squint at your clock.

6:25 in the morning. Oh sweet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. You have always prescribed to the motto that a man should never see two 7’s in one day. Apparently, today is not one of those days. There's only one thing you can possibly envisage waking you at this hour. Or rather, one he .

When you drag yourself up and sway heavily over to the glass door, you're guess is proven correct.

There, sitting with his back to you, sits none other than Dirk Strider, your lovely pool boy. There is a sad slant to his shoulders that worries you. His shoes, placed behind him in favor of dangling his feet in the ice water, are his only companion.

Not for long.

Today is Dirk's day off. He has no obligation to be in your company. He is here of his own accord, presumably because he wants to be. Therefore, it falls on you as his host and pursuer, to lift his miserable mood.

You start by finding a robe. As much as you’d like to find ways of comforting Dirk sans clothing, now is presumably not a good time. You slide the thin fabric over your shoulders and tie it closed, leaving plenty of chest to show through the wide neck. You've never worn modesty well.

Then, you head to the kitchen to brew two cups of instant coffee. Not your favorite, but it works in a pinch. You return to your room with a mug in each hand, and only then realize you can't actually open the door with both your mits occupied as they are. You tap one mug against the glass.

Dirk's head whips around to face the sound. He visibly brightens when he spots you and your cups, lifting himself up to come help. You smile before you even realize you're doing it. It's just a natural reaction to him.

He doesn't smile, but he slides the doors open and steps aside for you. You thank him and walk over to where he’s nested along the shoreline. Dirk walks back over after closing the door behind you without a peep. How thoughtful! He takes the mug you offer him after he lowers himself back down.

You don't miss the way he watches your descent from the corner of his eye. The robe is a loose, silk affair that moves easily and hides very little. Dirk snaps his eyes back to the water when you catch him looking.

“Well, good morning indeed, mister Strider. What brings you to my door at such a ludicrously early hour?”

“Yeah, I guess for you it might be.” He says, but seems to catch himself, tacking on a sad little good morning, sorry if I woke you up directed right into the soft waves around his feet.

“No worries.” You say, giving him a comforting smile. Dirk has his glasses on, regrettably, so you miss most of his thoughtful expression. You're slowly learning his quiet language, tuning into his station, though the process is made all the more arduous by those ungainly shades of his.

The water is damn frigid when you sink your feet in to just above your ankles, raising goosebumps all across your thighs. Dirk peeks at you from the corner of his eye. Or rather, your very bare legs. Your soft smile sharpens a little at the edges, still waiting for an answer.

Dirk takes another sip of his coffee and sighs.

“This is good, English.” The compliment catches you by surprise. Hell, it catches Strider by surprise, if the sudden tight set of his mouth tells you anything. You laugh sleepily at him and sip at your coffee.

“Contrary to what you may think up in that pretty breadbasket of yours, I do have actual good taste in some facets of my life, thank you much.”

Dirk smiles and shakes his head. If you aren't mistaken, there's some wholesale affection there. You watch him take another sip, a giddy feeling tumbling around in your belly.

“Sure.” He says into his cup.

You see him, comfortable and content in the warm morning light. You can taste the air heating all around the two of you, hear the soft chirps of morning birds. The last few tree frogs, wherever they are, stubbornly burping out their little tunes in the few waning moments of night. It’s lovely. A wonderful din to ease the pair of you into a day of relaxation, you think. He watches the waves bounce around his ankles. The moment is quiet and somewhat surreal. Candid in it’s surene clarity.

Your mind wanders up his legs, dark jeans rolled to just above each calf. He’s in more clothes than you’ve seen him in thus far, and the experience feels strangely intimate. Your eyes keep traveling to his loose white t shirt, short sleeves that leave his arms bare. You continue on, gaze sliding to his slim wrists, hand wrapped securely around his earthenware mug. You know what it feels like to have your fingers wrapped tight around that bony wrist. You itch to try it again.

Dirk catches you then, eyes meeting yours through the dark walls of his stupid sunglasses. Unlike him, you do not shy away from being caught red handed. You want him to know you’re looking at him. The quiet moment hums like an electrical cable, static particles purring all around you. You stare one another down, waiting for a spark to flare.

You'll die of thirst before he makes a decision.

“May I kiss you good morning, pet?”

His eyebrows climb up for an instant until he wrangles them back down, cheeks pink.

“Isn't the phrase kiss you goodbye?”

You smile, leaning closer, one hand supporting your weight, outstretched behind Dirk's spine close enough to press against his back, the other sliding his glasses up into his hair. The subtle implications of him allowing you such liberties with his shades is staggering, stirring up that fond, giddy feeling. You’d be lying if you said it didn’t send a perk of interest straight down to your rooster as well.

“I've always prized myself in my ability to turn a phrase.” 

He scoffs, but leans into your advance, meeting you halfway. The kiss is soft, a gentle how do you do in the early morning light. He smells clean, like fresh laundry and citrus over coffee.

When you break apart, you nuzzle your nose along Dirk's, lips parted on a sigh. He sighs his own soft note against your mouth. The hair behind his ear is soft and smooth beneath your fingers, palm warm over his cheek.

“Did you just quote Albus Dumbledore at me?”

You laugh, your forehead bumping his and lips close enough to feel that little smile sneak across his face. “Shucks howdy, you are a quick one, aren't you?” You kiss him once more, firm but fast, and lean away. Not without scooting a tad closer, however, keeping your arm braced behind him. He doesn't seem to mind terribly.

“You can see all the Harry Potter movies but you can't be bothered to keep up with contemporary music.” He shakes his head as he speaks, devastated by your blatant lack of musical interest. You roll your eyes dramatically.

“I'll have you know, Strider, I've gotten along just dandy without your smarmy contemporary approval thus far, and will continue to do so henceforth.” He smiles into his coffee as he lifts the mug to his lips, shoulders softly rocking with his low snickering.

You let your weight rest on the arm behind Dirk, allowing you shoulder and chest to press against his side. He slides his denim covered thigh against your bare one before returning to his smooth rhythm of kicking his feet underwater. He knocks his shades back down onto his nose.

“So, are you going to spill the beans here? I did ask you a question, and if I may,  you’re looking dreadfully downtrodden there, chickadee.”

Dirk looks pensive for a moment, eyes somewhere out over the water. “Well, I wouldn’t say dreadfully .” He says, then turns to give you a wry look, one slim brow curved high.

“But I wouldn’t say downtrodden , either.”

“Get loaded, Strider,” you laugh, flicking water up onto his jeans. He just laughs in that quiet, breathy way, and looks back over the water.

“I just… Couldn't sleep. Decided I may as well get up. Nobody bothers me out here.” He punctuates his answer with a weak shrug that jostles your shoulder. He seems… so very tired. Dirk turns his face to look at you again, a cheeky set to his mouth. Uh-oh.

“Well,” he says, continuing. “Except for you.”

You laugh, a bark of sound that rumbles your chest and tapers off as you shake your head at him. “Oh, I’m bothering you am I? And yet, here you sit.” You lean in close to his ear and feel the firm muscles of his back as he stiffens. “Guess I’m not trying hard enough, hmm?” The words curl against his cheek and ear. He shivers against you, one smooth wave form the base of his spine to the sigh falling from his lips. You kiss him on the jaw and lean away to watch the color bloom across his cheeks.

“You’ll have to try a lot harder than just having extraordinarily bad taste to chase me off, English.” Dirk kicks your ankle below the waves, and gadzooks do you wish you could tear those shades off his lovely face, see the eyes that match that sticky hot note in his voice.

“Ah,” you say, taking a long drink of your coffee, now cool enough to safely enjoy. If ‘enjoy’ is a word you can use to describe instant coffee . “I’ll have to see to you properly then, won’t I?” You pick up Dirk’s free hand between you, lifting it to your mouth. Dirk watches, completely focused on your lips as you kiss the knot of each knuckle. Now that you have his full attention, you satisfy your own curiosity.

“Don’t you have classes today?” You turn his hand, lifting his wrist to kiss the elegant knob of his joints. Dirk takes a second to answer, wetting his lips with a quick swipe of his tongue.

“It’s the last week of classes, ‘s not a problem if I skip.”

You lower his hand, concern loud across your features. “Well, that doesn’t seem right.”

Dirk’s fingers ball into a fist in your grip, then he pulls his hand away. He doesn’t look at you when he speaks.

“Yeah, no. Not here for an impromptu lecture on the ramifications of truancy. Not from you too.”

Oh, frig . You lean forward, cupping his opposite cheek in your palm to turn him. He gives you a look that screams petulant child as you force him to face you. You click your tongue and all but croon for him.

“No, no, no, pet no. Settle. I won’t be lecturing you on your attendance, be sure of that. Rather, that’s none of my business, is it?” You rub your thumb along his sharp cheekbone and watch the soft outline of his eyes as he blinks up at you. “Besides all that, my guess is you didn’t come to my little hideaway to jaw away about your emotional baggage, now did you, Dirk?”

You melt him down, second after burning second. The line of his neck is long and smooth beneath your palm, sliding down to his collar. Dirk goes still as you run your thumb along the bones of his clavicle, breath caught. You’d love to undress him, and well, with nothing but time between the two of you, you just might get your chance. Dirk licks his bottom lip and sets down his coffee, all but forgotten in his right hand.

“Hot as that sounds, English. No, that’s not what I came up here for. You’re my distraction.”

“That’s quite a bit of responsibility you’re laying on me here all of a sudden, Dirk. Am I to believe you’re shirking all of your daily duties? Do I have you all to myself until your carriage turns gourd up?”

He rolls his eyes and grins, the little noid. “If that’s how you want to put it, yes. I’m all yours. All day.”

“Well then Strider, why don’t we discuss you in terms of me, hmm?” You hook your finger into his collar and pull him forward into your space. He makes a low little grunt of surprise, free hand snapping down to catch himself on you thigh. You kiss the corner of his open mouth, feather light. Dirk’s fingers tighten against your skin, his thumb rubbing a nervous circles through the soft hairs. “Would you like to climb into bed with me Dirk?” You kiss the soft underside of his jaw. “Let me hold you?” Trail small kisses down to the lip of his shirt collar. “Oh, Dirk,” you purr. “Do you know, dearheart, what I would love to do?”

Dirk’s fingers almost hurt where they bite into your skin. His voice comes out shaky and sweet. “ Shit- ” he says, and it’s beautiful. “No?”

You nip and suck at the base of his throat, pulling a moan form deep within Dirk’s chest. You lean up and grin right in his face.

“I’d love to have a quick kip with you, since you so lovingly woke me before ten.” You kiss him right on his mouth as his face turns into a real doozy of a glare.

You pull away completely and stand up before Dirk can make a case for the contrary, looking down on him. Oh, now isn’t that quite the delectable angle, him looking up at you from below. Something to explore at a later hour. 

“You’re serious?” He asks, watching you walk around him to nab his empty cup.

“As the plague, sunspot. Now, be a peach and grab the door would you?”