"Remember the first time we fucked?"
Nathan's question rings out for a quiet second into the empty room, with just enough of a hesitation afterward that he starts to feel a little awkward for asking. He keeps his eyes on the magazine he's been pretending to read as he thought, refusing to look down at Warren, to gauge the effect of his query on his friend's face.
"Uh, yeah", says Warren, eventually, voice sounding a little weird from the awkward position he's in. Nathan always sits on the bed, like a normal person, but Warren favors laying about the room in weird positions and shuffling around every few minutes when he can't get comfortable enough. Right now, he's laying on his back on the floor, legs up on the bed over Nathan's, and his head propped up on his backpack.
"Yeah, I remember. Super romantic. Really hot. What about it?"
Nathan thinks of a way to put it, hesitates again. Now, he does put down the magazine. He can't look as casual as he wants to.
"You said you wished you had a camera."
Warren throws his legs off him and scrambles to get up, to get closer, and when he does climb onto the bed with him, grabbing Nathan's hands tightly in his own, he looks panicked.
"I-- Dude, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that, I swear. I wasn't thinking!"
"Warren", Nathan tries, but he gets cut off again.
"I realized later, but I-- I wasn't-- It just came out in the moment, I swear I'd never do something like that."
"Warren", Nathan says again, and he tears one hand from Warren's grip to set it on his shoulder. "It's okay."
"I'm sorry. I knew I should've apologized but I didn't want to bring it up, and you didn't say anything, so I--"
"I'd like to try it."
Now Warren goes quiet. Nathan doesn't meet his eyes. He half expects him to tell him that that's really fucked up, to say he should be ashamed of himself for even entertaining the thought. Maybe he should have told his psychiatrist before he tried with Warren – she could have told him whether or not this is as nasty and reprehensible as he feels it is.
"Really?", asks Warren, tentatively. His grip on Nathan's hand goes a little softer but he doesn't let go.
"Yeah." He feels he should say more than that. "I know it's gross."
"I don't..." Warren looks away, then back at him, searching for words, one hand going to Nathan's knee and squeezing, trying to reassure. "I don't think it's gross, I just."
"You think it's about Jefferson."
This is the first time he's even said the name to Warren. He's called Mark by name to his psychiatrist, a few times, but with Warren, he avoids the topic entirely. A few times, after a nightmare, he'd said "him", and they both knew who he meant. Warren looks uncomfortable.
"I don't know", Nathan muses. It's the truth. Thinking of what Jefferson did makes him feel disgusting, wrong, sick, but thinking of Warren doing it, who is safe, and good, and would never hurt him, wouldn't drug him to take advantage of him, wouldn't make him do anything he doesn't want to – when he thinks of that, it's alright. "I guess it is."
Warren looks away again, takes his hand off Nathan's knee. It makes Nathan feel a bit panicked and he leans in closer.
"I don't know", Warren says carefully, "if I want to be on the business end of your exposure therapy."
It stings to hear. Nathan recoils like a boy cowers from his father's hand, and brings his arms up to his chest, crosses them, bringing up a barrier against the judgment he fears from Warren. He never should have brought it up.
"It's not exposure therapy."
"I don't want to re-traumatize you", Warren starts, and Nathan's a little concerned at how familiar he seems with the lingo. Has he done research in case this exact moment happened? "I don't want to be responsible for hurting you like he did."
And Nathan searches for the right way to say it, but before he can, Warren finishes:
"I don't want you to think I'm that kind of person."
Hesitantly, Nathan grabs his hands again, letting down the protective shield of his arms, and Warren glances back to him. He looks a bit hurt. This wasn't meant to happen.
"For God's sake, you fucking imbecile." Nathan's never been very good at being nice or reassuring. "Obviously I don't think that."
Warren looks unconvinced. He raises his eyebrows.
"I want you to do it..." Nathan searches for words, squeezes his eyes shut. "I trust you. I want you to do it because you're not like him. I want you to do it because it won't hurt."
"I don't get it", says Warren.
"I want to take it back."
Warren furrows his brow, his thumb tracing circles on the back of Nathan's hand.
"You want to reclaim the experience. As a coping mechanism?"
"Have you been reading up on trauma therapy online?"
"Yeah." Warren looks a little embarrassed. "I thought it could help."
Nathan can't help but give an awkward giggle. He pictures Warren up at night on Psychology Today, reading up on articles like "BDSM as Harm Reduction". It's a little funny.
"You could put it that way", he finally admits. "I don't know. It sounds so clinical."
Warren nods, but he seems a bit confused.
"I don't want you to be my therapist, or anything. I don't want to over-analyze everything. I don't want to be trying to read some special meaning into everything I wanna do with you. I just wanna do it."
"Shouldn't you ask your psychiatrist about it?"
"Why?", says Nathan, who knows why, but is tired of being told that a middle-aged woman with a degree needs to condone his every action for it to be okay.
Gladly, Warren doesn't tell him that. Instead he just shrugs, shuffles over to lay onto the bed next to Nathan, puts a lazy hand on his stomach and pets him.
"I guess we can try. You'd have to tell me if it's bad, though."
Nathan scoffs, picking the magazine back up. He allows the hand on his stomach and he knows that this is progress, that used to be impossible, he never would have let anyone touch him there.
They don't discuss it again, for a while. They have sex as they usually do: in front of a movie, on Nathan's bed, just the two of them, no camera. They go to their classes together. Nathan hangs out with Hayden, and with Victoria. Warren hangs out with Max Caulfield. Victoria never makes fun of Max, anymore. Since the trial it seems her outlook has changed. She's become a bit softer around the edges. A bit nicer. Nathan saw her talking to Kate in a hallway once. They looked like they were being friendly.
Nathan doesn't talk to his psychiatrist about the camera thing. He doesn't talk to her about much at all. He avoids his sex life entirely, and mostly keeps Warren under wraps. What she knows is, he has a friend at school who he can spend time with, and it's been good for his nightmares. He knows she wants him to say more, which is part of the reason he won't. She just wants to help, and she's a professional, and she's only doing her job but there's something disgusting and uncomfortable about a stranger trying to know about him, and he resents it even though he knows it's stupid.
Dash is growing a bit fat from all the food he's scarfing down all the time. Nathan stops worrying about him, and he also stops giving him more food whenever he begs. Dash doesn't like that, but he can be placated with a good petting session. Nathan brushes his fur and listens to his purrs and feels okay about life.
He's doing photography again. He's been exempt from the photography class, with the new teacher, for obvious reasons, but he thinks he might go back soon. The classroom might be hard to be in and his heart might beat out of his chest at any mention of darkrooms but he imagines he'll learn to live with it.
It's what he's doing, for now. The nightmares, the guilt, the fear, the terrible, terrible feeling that he is so horrible and wrong that he should just stop existing - he just learns to live with it. It becomes easier. He looks at himself in the mirror, and instead of thinking murderer murderer murderer murderer he thinks I look awful today; it's still not great but he's getting somewhere.
He thinks maybe Warren will never bring up the camera thing again, and maybe he won't have the guts to either, and maybe that's fine, though he feels like he should do it. So it's a relief when Warren confronts it first.
They're watching a movie as they usually do, when he does - it's Night of the Hunter, and it would make Nathan anxious and scared if he was watching it alone but it's okay when Warren's here. There's a quiet scene, and Warren turns to look at him, swallows a mouthful of the candy bar he's chowing down, licks his lips:
"Do you still wanna do that thing with the camera?"
Nathan takes a second to think it over. Decides he does. Nods.
"You wanna try it now?"
Nathan looks towards him, then down, and yeah, Warren's hard in his jeans.
"You got an erection watching Night of the Hunter."
"I wasn't paying attention!"
"Does Robert Mitchum singing Leaning On Jesus turn you on that much?"
"I was thinking about you", Warren pleads. Nathan giggles, rolls over, straddles Warren's lap. He grinds down against him and Warren gives a soft breath of agreement. Instead of staying there, though, Nathan rolls over again and off the bed, to his computer. He hears a pleading whine behind him.
"I'm not fucking in front of Night of The Hunter. It's too creepy." He turns off the movie, and his projector displays only his desktop background, an old photograph of Victoria he'd been proud of when he'd taken it, an eternity ago. That's also not appropriate for fucking, so he closes the computer and the room plunges into deeper darkness. The neon bars on his bookshelves are the only source of light, now.
"Come back", pleads Warren from the bed. Nathan approaches, shrugs off his cardigan, starts pulling off his shirt. Warren sits up to watch. It feels silly, trying to strip in a sexy way when he looks so awkward, all skin and bones but still too soft, no muscle definition, so ugly, but Warren licks his lips and so he ignores the throbbing insecurities and tugs his shirt off.
When he climbs back on the bed, Warren has taken off his own shirt and is undoing his pants. He's sweating just slightly in the warm room and the neon lights reflect off his cheek, his nose, his shoulder. Nathan straddles him again and admires him as he resumes his grinding. Warren looks back, puppy eyes wide open and cocky grin on his lips as he pulls Nathan closer.
"Should I get one of your cameras?", asks Warren. Nathan thinks, a second, but shakes his head.
"Not a real camera. Use your phone."
He's not sure, yet, if seeing the lens of a professional camera on him will make him freak out. A phone, though, that will be alright. Baby steps. Warren fumbles with his pockets and pulls out his phone.
Nathan leans in for a kiss. It tastes like the candy bar Warren ate: chocolate. His lips are a little sticky.
When he pulls back, Warren nods at the phone.
“Tell me when it’s okay to start?”
“Whenever you feel like it”, and Nathan undoes his pants.
Warren doesn’t waste any time raising his phone, unlocking it, and snaps a first picture, looking over the phone to Nathan’s face for the nod of approval he gets.
They go at it slow. Nathan’s pants come off with another picture, and then he starts tugging at Warren’s, who pauses to raise his hips and help him. The tip of his cock is jutting out of his underwear, and Nathan dives down to give it a kiss. Another shutter sound.
“You look good”, Warren tells him, putting a hand to his hair, stroking it.
“You taste good”, he replies with a lick to his cock. Another picture.
By the time Warren’s boxers are pulled down his thighs and half of his cock is stuffed into Nathan’s mouth, he’s alternating between furiously snapping shots and pausing to throw his head back and groan his pleasure way too loudly for a dorm room.
Nathan grinds his hips against the mattress as he sucks Warren’s cock, refusing himself the temptation to jerk off and instead keeping his hands on Warren’s thighs. He starts to relax halfway through it, the warm cock in his mouth lulling him into the familiar rhythm of sucking and bobbing his head, and his eyes close as he lets himself just focus on the taste, the feeling, the soft noises Warren is making. They almost drown out the camera shutter to his ears.
He can tell Warren is about to cum – he gets louder and louder, and then quiet – and pulls off of his cock with a wet noise, dipping down to suck at his balls, and that seems to do it. Warren grabs his hair, pushes up against his mouth, and a choked noise comes from him, and then he moans out:
“God, I love you-”
Nathan is too shocked to think of a response; his cock gives a heady throb as Warren’s cum hits his face and lips and he almost whines as he grinds against the mattress. Another picture.
“Fuck, you look good.”
Nathan can’t think of anything to say. His eyes open again to look up at Warren. They meet the phone’s camera lens instead. He pulls back a bit.
“What did you say?”
“I said you look good. Come here, I wanna make you cum.”
And then Warren is grabbing for his underwear, and the most pressing issue is getting the camera out of the way because he doesn’t want, he can’t have pictures of that. Not now. So he pushes away the phone and Warren drops it on the mattress, forgotten, as he pulls him closer and tugs down his boxers and jerks him off, mouthing at his chest. It feels good, and it’s warm and familiar and he relaxes again. Warren lays him down on his back and dives down to suck him off. Nathan leans his head back, one hand in his hair and the other grabbing the sheets, and he guides Warren’s mouth up and down his length. He cums too fast when he thinks of his voice choking out “I love you”.
He’s blissed out for a moment, taking it in, laying in the warm afterglow. Warren pulls him closer into a lazy kiss that tastes like his jizz.
“You want to see the pictures?”
“Yes”, he says, fast, because he’s not sure if he does but he has to.
They cuddle in close as Warren unlocks the phone again and opens his camera roll. The pictures are blurry and dark, hardly works of art. Somehow Nathan is shocked at the sheer pornographic nature – not of the act, but of the way he looks, eyes closed in pleasure as he sucks down Warren’s cock again and again. There’s something so intensely reassuring about it – about the proof, clear as day, that he was here for this, that he was enjoying it, that he was loving every moment. He gives a sigh.
Warren appears concerned, so he clarifies.
“It’s good. I like it. I wanna do it again. But I don’t want you to keep them.”
“Okay. Alright.” And Warren shows him as he deletes every last one. It’s a bit sad really, but he also knows when he’s alone in his room tonight he won’t be paranoid about them.
Warren moves off, turns the laptop back on, and casually resumes the movie. They watch the end of it wrapped up in each other’s arms. Nathan tries his hardest to think nothing of it.