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baby, don't be gentle

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It starts on the first day of sophomore year.

He and Michael are fighting over the single bed when Chase starts breaking up their slap fight, but Logan's full of testosterone and indignant entitlement.

"Tell him -" he starts.

"Time out," Chase says.

"What?"

"I'm giving you a time out," Chase says. "Now go sit on that rock."

Which an absurdly hilarious thing to say because a) he's Logan Reese, and b) he hasn't been given a time out since he bribed his nanny into letting him do whatever he wanted at seven years old.

"I am not going t -"

"Rock!" Chase growls, and Logan's mouth clamps shut and his brain stops working and it's possible, just maybe, that his dick twitches ever so slightly.

He sits on the rock.

It only takes him a few second to snap out of it, for the blood to return to his brain and for him to return to his senses. Later, he'll blame it on the heat when he thinks about it - not that he ever does, of course.

Really.

.

He doesn't think he's ever been this pissed off at Chase. Quite possibly the only thing more irritating than Chase pining after Zoey is Chase pining after Zoey when she's in England because of his own stubbornness and stupidity. And Logan utterly loathes Gretchen, who is blonde and pretty and gross ("isn't that your type?" Quinn asks at lunch, and Logan sneers at her) and does not deserve Chase fawning over her.

(It has nothing to do with the moans he hears coming from his room one lunch time, or the messy hair Chase returns with at night after curfew. He doesn't know what he feels about that, only that it makes him grind his teeth and clench his fists. Maybe Chase isn't the only one who needs therapy.)

Somehow, Chase denying that he misses Zoey makes it even worse. He's sick of Chase's stubbornness and his callousness because goddamn it that's his thing, and sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. So he rips the head off of Chase's beloved giraffe.

He's not sure what he's expecting, but it isn't for Chase to send him flying. He feels his back thud against the wall, his hip knocking hard against the computer. Chase's hands are hot and firm as they shove against his chest, shoulders, scrambling to get a grip so that he can take all his anger out on Logan before Michael pulls him off, frantically trying to hold him back. And Logan is scared, both because he didn't know Chase was capable of that kind of violence, that kind of anger, and because Logan isn't trying to defend himself when he really should be.

Logan comes out of his daze to find Chase already apologising. And all he can say is, "It's cool," because it is - it's Chase. But also because he's desperately thinking God I hope that didn't awaken something in me over and over again.

The bad news is that it does, but the good news is that Chase never speaks to Gretchen again.

.

Logan isn't sure what he was expecting college to be like.

For one, he was expecting to be single for college. Instead he's one of those losers who's still with their high school sweetheart and who leaves Friday night parties early to do long distance calls to Massachusetts. Secondly, he thought he'd be partying with a bunch of other cool, rich frat boys instead of trying to keep a hold on all of his friends from high school but still seeming like he's too cool not to. He's not sure when he became such a sap.

It's not like he's unhappy at college. He just misses his girlfriend and when she had time for him, instead of only being able to call him four times a week, three of which usually turn into arguments. And even if he would never do anything with them, he likes watching the girls giggling in his direction, batting their eyelashes, smiling at him, surely making their way over to him only for him to have to let them down gently.

"Like anyone's looking at you," Lola scoffs, taking a sip of her cocktail.

Which is utterly delusional, because who wouldn't want to look at him? He'd get out his mirror to show her, except that Lola might also have a point. Because Chase Matthews, the biggest, most in-love loser on the planet broke up with his much-loved perfect girlfriend after their first year of college and cut his hair to reveal glass-cutter cheekbones and a jawline any girl would want to sit on, and it's making Logan go kind of insane.

It's not like Chase is suave, exactly. He's still Chase. But he smiles sweetly at girls and makes them laugh so that they touch his arm and his whole demeanor yells "not like your ex!" And Logan is flabbergasted, because never in his life has he seen so many girls with such terrible taste, but also because half the time it works and Chase gets a girl's phone number.

"You stole my move!" Logan whines when Chase returns from the bar, one hand holding a beer that took far too long to get while the other wipes a hint of lipgloss from the corner of his mouth. Chase raises his eyebrows and tilts his head.

"I waved around my daddy's platinum credit card?" he says, and Michael laughs and claps him on the back while Logan sticks out his tongue at him. And maybe, with Chase grinning like that and the way his eyes gleam in the dim light of the bar, Logan can see a bit of what those girls do and he sort of gets it. Maybe.

Later, he'll see Chase going home with a girl on his arm and if he downs an extra beer he thinks nothing of it. But his bed that night seems extra empty, his unread message to Quinn hurting all the more.

.

They're playing the latest version of High Speed Chaser in Logan's dorm room, their go-karts neck and neck and their mouths filled with trash talk. It's the most alive he's felt since he and Quinn broke up, seemingly for good this time, and he's grateful for Chase's company. Even if Chase is a dirty, filthy cheat who has absolutely no humanity when it comes to letting Logan win on his own game despite the fact that he's gone through a very, very difficult break-up (it was mutual, but Chase doesn't need to know that).

"You suck at this game," Chase says gleefully as they round a bend.

"Not as badly as you suck," Logan grunts out, teeth gritted. He can see the finish line and maybe, with a bit more acceleration, he can make it.

"Dude, I am dominating you," Chase says, which definitely doesn't cause Logan to jerk his steering wheel controller, sending his go-kart swerving off the track just as Chase's races across the finish line. Chase cheers in triumph while Logan's kart bursts into flames on the side of the road, adding insult to injury, before the scoreboard flashes Chase's name. Again.

"Who's the man?" Chase asks, nudging him with his elbow. Logan keeps his head down and desperately hopes Chase can't see the blush on his face. "Oh come on, I literally made you see fireworks. I didn't even know you could make a go-kart explode in this game."

"Shut up," Logan mutters, adds "I hate you," for good measure.

It's anyone's guess as to why Logan keeps playing the game with him for another two hours.

.

"Didn't daddy spend a lot of money getting you your own state of the art home gym?" Chase asks.

"Yeah, go flex while looking in the mirror in your own time," says Michael. "It's Saturday night, man. I want to go see that new Let It Rock movie."

"Fine," Logan says. "Just don't be surprised when you guys are single and balding and I'm a male model with three hot wives."

"That's gonna be a lot of alimony," quips Chase.

But they end up at the gym anyway, Chase and Michael immediately heading to walk leisurely on the treadmills. Logan rolls his eyes and heads over to the weights area, high-fiving a few of the usual gym rats. Soon, the comforting weight of a dumbbell is in his hand and he falls into a familiar rhythm. There's something appealing about the routine and the presence of the men around him, even if they don't talk about anything except sport or to occasionally correct each other's form.

Across the room, he can see Chase and Michael laughing, while some of the other men let out a low wolf-whistle when a girl in short shorts walks by. She gives them the finger before leaning over the bench and unracking the weight, planting a kiss to the man lying under it. He's huge, chest broad while his arms and legs are wiry with muscle. Logan catches himself staring, but not before the man does, immediately wrapping a protective arm around the woman's waist, hand landing on her ass.

"Problem?" the man grunts.

"N-no," Logan says, coughs. "I was just wondering if you were done."

The man looks him up and down and gets up, not so much wiping down the bench as whipping the towel across it. He steps back, waiting for Logan to put down the dumbbell and slip under the weight. And it's stupid, because Logan knows he's never benched that much before, but he feels the need to prove something (though he's not sure to who).

It isn't too bad at first. He gets a few in before the man loses interest, clearly dissatisfied with Logan's complete lack of bodily harm, and then Logan gets cocky and suddenly the weight is pressing down on his chest and his wrists are feeling weak and then he hears "are you ok?" and "are you fucking stupid?" simultaneously and the weight is being lifted off him.

His first thought is, "huh, one of those voices sounds like Steve from Business Studies." His second thought is, "huh, my face is very close to Chase's crotch right now," which makes him bolt upright and nearly slam his head against the weight's handlebar. Narrowly avoiding it, he looks up to see Chase, staring at him like he shouldn't be allowed to hold real scissors, and Steve from Business Studies smiling at him.

He assumes Chase is the owner of the second voice.

"Oh hey, Logan," Steve says. "I didn't realise it was you."

"Yes, going into cardiac arrest does tend to alter one's appearance," Chase replies, glancing at Steve. He turns back to Logan. "Is there a reason why you decided to bench press three times your body weight without a spotter?"

"Steve, meet Chase," Logan says. "We went to high school together. Chase, this is Steve, we're in some of the same courses."

"My condolences," Chase says, shaking Steve's hand.

"He isn't that bad," Steve laughs. "Pretty good on a court, too. Actually, some of the guys and I meet up to shoot some hoops every Thursday and Saturday. It's been a while since we caught up, if you wanted to join us?" He glances at Chase, remembering his existence. "You too, Chad."

"Nah, Michael and I are going to catch a movie," Chase says. "But you can go."

"Maybe another time," Logan mumbles, still embarrassed.

"Yeah, sure," says Steve. "We just shoot down the road if you ever want to join. Offer's open." They wave Steve goodbye, Chase's gaze falling back on Logan once he's gone.

"What?" Logan snaps.

"You know he was hitting on you," Chase says.

"What? No he wasn't," Logan says. It's not like he's offended by the idea - Steve likes basketball and has dimples and didn't immediately make jokes about Logan going to a (formerly) all-boys boarding school and - wait, where was he going with this. "How would you know anyway?" Chase rolls his eyes.

"Do I need to spot you again while you try to show off or are you done overcompensating?" he asks.

"Overcompensating for wh - HEY," Logan yells, and Chase laughs.

.

Logan isn't sure he likes Lola's Hollywood friends.

They're loud and attention-seeking (and if anyone is going to be the centre of attention it should be him), reciting Shakespeare only when they're not belting Broadway, and they're very, very pretty. Even, if not especially, no - even the boys, with their glossy hair, pearl white teeth and Michaelangelo-carved abs.

He rethinks his entire career path every time they open their mouths.

At the very least, he has Michael and Chase to keep him sane. Michael soured on them the second three of his jokes fell flat, and he eagerly awaits seeing the scathing caricatures they'll become in Chase's next screenplay. Except sometimes, he'll turn around and see some pretty boy hanging off of every word out of Chase's mouth, practically kneeling in front of him, and Logan is ready to kick everyone out of the networking party he specifically invited them to. The worst part is that Chase seems almost...receptive to it, eyeing them with a certain curiosity that Logan both dreads and desires.

But other times he, Lola, Michael and Chase will sit around a table with a plate of nachos and catch up, and it's almost like they're back at PCA. Except sometimes PCA is a very rich celebrity's house and there's usually way, way more cocaine lying around. It's on one of those particular occasions when they start discussing something deeply intellectual, like the merit of threesomes, and some redhead is describing an overly complex - if not outright deranged - method of selecting partners.

"And then you flip a coin three times and if it lands on heads twice, you can sleep with them," she says, slurring her words slightly. "Haha, get it - because head, like you give someone -"

"We get it," the four of them say simultaneously.

"So...you could do that," Chase says. "Or you could just ask a friend." And Logan notes that he delivers that phrase without the embarrassment or insecurity that he would have expected; indeed, he delivers it with a tone implying that he has, in fact, done that very thing. And Logan would like to know exactly which friends Chase has invited to these...events, and why, if and how he can get on the consideration list for such things. Logan also notes that he has processed all of this quite slowly and that he has been staring at Chase, possibly open-mouthed, the entire time. Chase, apparently, has also registered this.

Chase proceeds to wink at him.

He's not sure what he chokes on. It might be air, or his own saliva, or his own tongue. But he ends up coughing and spluttering while Michael pats him on the back and distantly he hears Lola squeal about a hot celebrity that she has zero chance with because her gaydar isn't so much broken as non-existent, and that's coming from him, for god's sake. Logan has just barely recovered when he looks up to find the redhead giggling at him, her head resting on Chase's shoulder.

"We'd make a cute throuple, don't you think?" she says, and Logan wants to sink to the floor. The girl laughs again, adds: "Throuple is a funny word."

"Cheers to that," Chase says, and knocks his beer back.

.

The word boyfriend stumbles out of Logan's mouth with the same grace Chase possessed in high school.

Chase barely bats an eye, just gets up to shake hands with Steve again and asks how his weekend was; Michael is speechless for a good ten minutes, while Lola just creases her brows together and says, "but your fashion sense is terrible". When he finally admits it to Quinn, she cackles loudly over the phone, before reassuring him that he was "the best high school boyfriend a lesbian could have".

"Though it does explain why you liked pegging so much," she adds, and he can hear the beginnings of a hypothesis creeping into her voice.

"Never bring that up again," he says, and hangs up.

Steve is patient and forgiving, if not overly enthusiastic to help him "work through his toxic masculinity". He is gentle and caring where Logan is terrified and defensive, exhausted from constantly fighting against his own desires. He cups Logan's face in his hands and kisses him, and Logan feels loved and wanted and it makes him want to throw up.

He and Steve have been dating for just over two months when Chase comes over to Logan's house to play pool. Or at least, Chase tries to shoot pool around Logan while he lies in the middle of the pool table having a breakdown.

"I'm having an existential crisis," Logan says, staring at the wall in front of him.

"Great, now move," Chase says, and pokes him in the back with his cue stick.

"Dude, you don't get it. I go from being the hottest, straightest guy in school to being..." he gestures to himself.

"You can do it, I believe in you."

Logan sighs, exasperated: "Gay. Probably. Except that now that I'm actually with a guy I can't...open up."

"Use more lube," Chase snickers.

"This isn't funny!" Logan yells ("It was a little funny," Chase mutters). "You have no idea what it's like." There's a dramatic pause, only when Logan looks up Chase has an amused smirk on his face.

"You know I'm bi," he says.

"What?!"

"Wow, and you said Zoey was oblivious," Chase says. "Look man, you're overthinking it. You're in a new relationship, you and Steve are still getting to know each other. You're not teenagers, no one is expecting you to say 'I love you' in the first week. So long as he's what you want, you'll get there." Chase lines up his cue stick to shoot around Logan, his eyes meeting Logan's. When Logan speaks, his mouth feels dry.

"How do I know what I want?" he asks. Chase's mouth quirks slightly, his focus returning to the 8 ball in front of him.

"I don't know. But whatever Steve isn't giving you seems like a good place to start."

.

It's not like Chase is the only man he's ever been attracted to. No, he played too much sport in high school and spent far too much time in sweaty locker rooms learning the art of clandestine handjobs and blowjobs for that, even if at the time he thought it was temporary teenage horniness and nothing more.

But Chase is the longest standing, a delicious combination of forbidden and unavailable and shameful.

So when Steve asks Logan, "Come on, what are your fantasies; tell me what you like," low and rough in his ear, his mind goes back to the same thoughts that crept into his mind sometimes when he was alone in the PCA showers or his bunk bed when his roommates were out. He thinks about his best friend, the way he looks just after winning a video game, imagines what Chase might ask him to do if he lost another round. He imagines Chase asking him - telling him - to kneel, suck, beg. He thinks about Chase pushing him onto the single bed; bending him over the desk; bending him over a pool table and spanking him with a cue stick (which is a new one and, frankly, disturbing. Effective, but disturbing nevertheless). Worst of all, he thinks of Chase tackling him into the wall, imagines the way his hands would feel around his neck, and he comes, white hot all over Steve's hand.

"What were you thinking about?" Steve asks, and Logan wonders if he already knows the answer.

.

It's worse, knowing that Chase could be...attainable. That the Chase who flips Blix bottles onto his hand whenever he's bored maybe isn't that far off from the Chase inside his head, that the only difference between Logan's fantasies is Logan's involvement instead of some faceless man. He can barely look at Chase now, overwhelmed with desire and confusion and guilt, both for how he sees his best friend and for what a terrible boyfriend he is.

Mercifully, Steve breaks up with him.

It's a good excuse to mope around the house for a couple of months, fuck around on Grindr, get into dumb arguments with Michael again. He watches terrible horror films with Lola and Chase on his home projector, throwing popcorn at one another and creating their own Vodka Blix drinking games. He starts thinking that maybe Chase was right and that Steve just wasn't the right guy from him, just that bit too nice and polite, and that his reaction to Chase was just some kind of extended stress thing.

So it sounds like a good idea when Lola suggests they all go clubbing, especially when Chase groans and complains about the complete lack of anything to do at clubs other than pay too much for alcohol and watch other people dance badly (but still not in a way that maims themselves or others, Logan points out. Chase glares at him). He's not sure whether he'll take home a man or a woman and the mystery of it excites him, has him checking himself out in the mirror again and liking what he sees.

Only he can feel some of that confidence dissipating as Saturday evening shifts into night. Suddenly, his outfit doesn't seem as good, his hair too flat, and he realises that it's actually been quite a long time since he was single and ready to mingle. Which brings on other epiphanies, like the fact that most of his pick-up lines were teenage insults, and he can hear Quinn informing him that really, he is actually very romantic, and he has no idea who he is or what he wants, and it is in the middle of this spiral that his friends find him.

"Man, what's the hold up?" Michael asks, his eyes landing on Logan as he spins around in front of the mirror.

"A crisis of confidence," Lola informs him, looking at Logan somewhat pitifully. 

"Well, you can't run on unfounded delusion forever," Chase quips, following Michael into the room.

They all look good, Logan thinks, effortlessly cool and hot and self-assured. Which is really just a polite way of saying that Chase had seemingly dressed with the express purpose of getting his dick sucked, dark and tight and held together by a leather jacket and some boots that Logan didn't even know he owned but is sure will inevitably end up in his dreams (he'd like Chase to stop making him discover kinks he didn't know he had, thanks). Suddenly, the idea of watching Chase with someone, skin gleaming with sweat under neon lights, grinding his hips into theirs, seems unbearable to him, no matter how uncoordinated and deficient in rhythm Chase may be.

"I'm not going," Logan says, and slams his bedroom door behind him.

It's not especially effective, seeing as the door doesn't have a lock, so Michael, Chase and Lola come marching in after him and drag him back out until he manages to wriggle free and shouts that he's too rich and pretty to be manhandled that way.

"You two go on ahead and we'll catch up," Chase sighs eventually, turning to Michael and Lola.

"No we won't," says Logan and Chase rolls his eyes.

"Ok fine, you can pay for pizza and I'll beat you at video games until you cry. Better?" he says, as if Logan's ideal night isn't being left alone to have a very long, very cold shower. But Michael and Lola wave goodbye and shut the door behind them, and he and Chase are left alone. "Dude, what's with you?"

"What's wrong with your face, hmm?" Logan retorts.

"Ok, the hair gel has finally seeped into your brain," Chase says, and runs a hand through his hair. He shakes his head. "Is this about Steve?"

"No."

"Because if I recall correctly, you were the one that told me in ninth grade that I just needed to get my dick wet and I'd be over Zoey," he clicks his fingers together, "like that. So come on, go out, bang a stranger and you'll be your usual arrogant, jerk self in no time."

"Well geeze, thanks," Logan says. Chase rolls his eyes and tries another tact, trying to be gentle.

"Come on, man, if I can find someone who wants to sleep with me I think you can," he says.

"You don't have to look that far," Logan snaps, then immediately regrets it. He hopes that Chase won't pick up on what he said, or will at least ignore it, but already he can see the realisation dawning on Chase's face, his eyebrows going upwards.

"You mean -"

"No."

"That's what this is about?"

"Leave," says Logan.

"You don't think we should talk about this?"

"Not really," he says, and turns around hoping that will be the end of it. Only Chase starts talking again so Logan claps his hand over his ears and yells Lalalala! and turns away from Chase whenever he tries to get him to look at him, until eventually Chase yells "Logan!" and grabs him by the back of the head, wrenching his neck back and forcing his hands away from his ears.

It turns out to be a very efficient way to give Logan a boner.

Logan lets out a noise somewhere between a gasp and a moan that he tries to turn into an "ow" when he meets Chase's eyes. Chase has just opened his mouth to speak when he looks down and sees Logan's predicament. Logan swallows, hard.

"I didn't mean to do that," Chase says apologetically (you never do, Logan thinks), and loosens his grip on the back of Logan's head. But there's the slight issue that a lot of the blood in Logan's brain just went south so he can't move very quickly, isn't sure he wants to anyway, so his mouth stays parted and he keeps looking at Chase. It gives Chase enough time to change his mind, taking Logan's stillness as an invitation, and he very deliberately threads his fingers back into Logan's hair and tugs short and sharp, making Logan gasp. He smirks at the sound and pulls down, forcing Logan onto his knees with a soft thud.

"Are you sure you don't want to go out?" Chase asks, voice low. Logan knows it's an out, and he'd appreciate the gesture more if his brain didn't keep chanting "gonna get dicked down! Gonna get dicked down!" like some kind of unusually horny alarm clock. As it is, it's taking a lot of his willpower to not just lunge at Chase's crotch with his mouth, licking his lips at he stares at the outline of Chase's increasingly interested cock.

"I'm sure," says Logan, and he is, knows that this is what he's needed and what Steve wasn't able to give him. His knees are already getting sore from where they're pressing into the hardwood floor, he can already imagine the impending ache in his jaw, and he wants wants wants. 

"You want it rough?" Chase says, more confirmation than surprise, and Logan nearly explodes from frustration.

"For god's sake - yes! Are you going to fuck me or are you just going to keep yapping?" he answers. Chase responds by giving a hard twist to his scalp, and Logan gasps and makes a mental note to piss him off during sex as much as possible.

"Figures you'd still be an impatient little brat even when you're on your knees for me," Chase says, the rough edge in his voice going straight to Logan's dick. His hand goes to his fly, unbuttons. "Open up," he says, and Logan does as he's told. 

.

Later, when there's light coming in through the bedroom window and Chase is half-dressed while Logan is struggling to recall how to move, Chase will say:

"You know, you could just ask for what you want."

And Logan smirks, asks: "Where's the fun in that?"