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Marc hates to stay in one place. He likes running. Jumping. Pushing, spinning, sliding, riding, kicking, flipping – movement. He likes to be moved. He likes the twinkle of Neeltje’s laughter, or the gentle rub of his bandana when he sprints. He likes the soft part of Sieg’s lips when he looks at Marc. He likes Sieg, a lot, but that part was simple.

Splashing water and pressing mouths. The click clack of bike wheels and the hoot of their voices. The soft little huffs of breath from Sieg when Marc would tell him a story, a truth, and Marc isn’t a storyteller. He left that for the songs he sang.

But Sieg. Sieg was still, rigid, and Marc was tired of being in the same place. Tired of not knowing where he was at all.

“I’m scared,” Sieg says when he shows up the night after the race, the engine of a motorbike still rumbling beneath him. His cheeks are frosted pink and his hair is wild and Marc thinks he’s probably half way to forgiving Sieg already. Idioot.

“Yeah.”

“Marc, I’m so, so - ”

“I know that,” Marc says, and he reaches forward to turn off the motorbike, staying close so he can look Sieger in the eye. “I’ve always known that.”

When Sieg is with him he’s not Sieger, the son. Not the brother, or friend. He’s just a boy with too many freckles to count and a dead mother who haunts him. A boy with one sock up, and one down; a boy who stands too close and flirts and makes Marc’s skin warm without meaning to.

Sieg doesn’t mean to do a lot of things.

“How is this so easy for you?”

Marc huffs at him. “You think seeing you kiss that girl was easy?”

Sieg looks down, guilty. Just like that day, and every day since. He kicks out the brake and gets off the bike, and it’s starting to get dark, now, Marc’s mother will come looking for him. “I’m not going to kiss that girl again,” Sieg says, quiet, his hands in his pockets and his face tipped close.

“Just that girl?”

Any girl.”

“Any girl? Ever again?” Marc teases, because Sieg deserves it, just a little. “What if she’s your soulmate? What if she can run, play Killzone, tell a good joke and give you an awesome bl – “ Sieg throws out a hand to stop him, but he has a hint of a smirk at the corner of his mouth. “- all at once? You’re not going to kiss her? Because if you won’t then I will.”

Neen,” Sieg insists, and now he uses his hand to pull Marc close, tips his chin up and he’s smiling. “I just want …”

Marc moves, ducks, kisses.

*

Marc was thirteen when he told his mum. She was leaning over his shoulder, checking his homework, and he said, “Mum, I’m gay,” the same way he said, “Mum, I’m bored,” or “Mum, I’m hungry.” His stomach twisted and his bones ached but he wouldn’t feel ashamed, he wouldn’t grow up to be someone else.

“Marc,” she had said in something like a gasp, grabbing his shoulder, and when he looked at her she had tears in her eyes. She was sad. “How do you know?”

Marc shrugged. “The same way I know you love me. I can feel it.”

His mum gasped again, and this time she was grabbing both his shoulders, his chest, his face, and then they were crying together.

*

Stef’s a good kid. A great runner, a loyal friend, and sometimes he says these sly, funny things that make Marc snort water out of his nose. He’s smart. He figured it out pretty quick.

“Training camp, I think” he admits to Marc the next time they’re by the river. Sieg and Tom are out on the raft, quiet little murmurs rippling across the water. It’s getting colder, and summer’s nearly gone, and they’ll have to deal with school soon. Whatever that means. “When I started paying attention.”

“Probably good you weren’t,” Marc admits, scratching his head. From here he can see Sieg’s leg paddling in the water, spinning them in circles, little droplets flickering against his skin. Marc hears laughter, and licks his lips.

“I shouldn’t have pushed. With Jessica.”

Stef,” Marc says, long and laughing. “Did you trip him over and hold their faces together? I can’t believe you’d do that.”

Stef’s laughing, says, “Rukker,” before mashing a handful of dirt from the riverbank into Marc’s hair and leaping into the water. The sun’s setting and Marc joins the others at the raft, Sieg holding out his hand to pull and move him up.

*

Marc’s never had something like a boyfriend. He has lots of friends who are boys, and he’s kissed some boys that weren’t his friends. Even let one wank him off once, which was fun. It was quick and awkward and the other guy came in his pants and they laughed about it for a moment together, kissed and said goodbye.

That’s all Marc knows of sex, and boys, which doesn’t bother him.

Sieg knows even less.

“We shouldn’t,” Sieg is saying, pupils blown wide and his eyes flickering to the back of Marc’s bedroom door. Shouldn’t, he says, though his shoulders are bare, red where Marc has been grazing his mouth along, his heel digging into Marc’s thigh.

“We don’t have to,” Marc concedes, with little gentle rocks of his hips, relishing the feeling of Sieger’s hard cock against him. The muted, guttural sounds he makes. “I promise they won’t come in here, though, they know we - ”

“What do you mean they know?”

“They know,” Marc says, pressing his mouth to the shocked, open tilt of Sieger’s jaw and thrusting against him again, unable to hold back the noise that erupts somewhere from his belly. Sieg meets him, moving, pushing, clawing at Marc’s back while his mouth searches for a kiss.

Marc kisses him. It feels like the warm slide of Sieg’s tongue is everywhere, like his skin is both simmering, and cold. He shivers. “Is this okay?” Marc manages to ask, small, slowing movements and their noses grazing. “You still want?”

Sieg nods, just slightly, and his mouth opens, he pants, the dig of his nails in Marc’s shoulders almost painful. “I want, yeah.”

Sieg is soft and firm and wiry, in places, Marc has felt the knobs of his spine. He’s strong in his arms, in his legs, and surprisingly long when he sprawls out. He has sun kissed skin, and hair, and big pink lips that give everything away. Marc used to just like him but he realises in these throbbing, slow-motion moments that he’s probably infatuated.

"Marc," Sieg says so softly, his eyes changing colour in the light, his breath hot against Marc's cheek. Marc feels it building low in his gut, feels his dick work faster, Sieger meeting him. What was slow and attentive becomes desperate and out of time and that's what it feels like, a song, a song he's known all his life. A breath and a creak of the bed and a rustle of the sheets, a crescendo.

Sieger,” he says when he comes, from the throat, and it's like tumbling into the river, like running, he can’t remember how he got here but it feels so good, it spreads to his fingertips, his whole body shakes.

Later, they’re still moving together, still trying to get closer.

*

“I met a guy,” Marc had told his dad, and it had only been a few days but he knew already. The name rolled off his tongue like a lyric. “Sieger.”

Sieger,” his dad teased, fluttering his eyelashes. “Sounds dreamy.”

“No,” Marc said, nudging, pushing, until his dad had him in a headlock and he was struggling to breathe. “No, he’s real.”

*

Sieg doesn’t talk about his family, and Marc doesn’t ask him to. He knows it came out gradually, first to his father who he’d once been so close to. Who had seen his son become someone new, and wouldn’t take nothing for an answer. Sieg loved nothing. What’s wrong, what’s going on, what do you need to say? Niets, niets, niets.

(Sieg never says much of anything. At least not with his words).

Eddy finds out some time later, red faced and hands curled in fists.

“Is it true?” he bellows at Marc, Sieg pulling at his shoulder, pleading. Eddy’s not that much older than Marc, and certainly no bigger, and Marc isn’t scared. He’s just sad. Sad for Sieg.

“Eddy,” Sieg says again, eyes wet with unshed tears. “Eddy, please.”

When Eddy pushes Sieg backwards, Marc steps close. “Stop it.”

“Is. It. True.” Eddy demands again, then spits at the ground by Marc’s feet.

“What?” Marc asks, and he’s looking at Sieg, the anxious way his hands play at his front, how he looks so small there. He never looks like that when it’s just the two of them. Marc hates it. Marc can almost hate Eddy for it.

“Are you a homo?”

“Yes.”

Eddy spits again. He’s smiling like this is the least funny thing he’s ever heard. Maybe he feels he’s losing his brother, the way he lost his mum. Sudden, and unforgivable. “Sieg? You and Sieg?”

“I like Sieg,” Marc tells him, because it’s the truth. Because Eddy is his brother and Eddy likes Sieg too. They have that much in common. “I like Sieg a lot,” Marc adds, and he looks at Sieg again because he deserves to know this more than anyone. “I never liked anyone as much as I like Sieg.”

“Homo,” Eddy says again and Marc nods.

“I am. Is that what you came to hear?”

Marc doesn’t see the punch coming, a sudden blinding pain that grounds him, makes the world tilt on its axis for a while, a buzzing in his ears. When it subsides he can sort of hear yelling, and pushing, and the scuffing of shoes and Marc tries to get to his feet to defend Sieg but Eddy’s already gone.

“Are you okay?” Sieg asks, crowding, touching Marc’s eye and making him wince.

“I’m fine, it’s fine,” Marc says, flitting his hand away. “Are you okay, what did he do?”

Niets,” Sieger says, and it makes Marc laugh, and Sieg silences him with a kiss to the bruised, reddened skin beneath his eye.

His heart moves, catching in his throat.

*

Neeltje likes her hair in one long braid, like the princesses in her movie. She sits between Marc’s knees and hums her favourite song while Marc tries – and mostly fails – to do it.

“Are you going to marry Sieger?” she asks, and he drops half the braid with his surprise, the comb falling out of his mouth.

“Er, I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

“You should,” she tells him, matter of fact, “I can carry the flowers.”

“Maybe,” Marc says, and, laughs. “If you get locked in somewhere, I won’t wait for you. I’m not missing my own wedding day.”

*

Sieg and Stef go to a friend's party across town, a bonfire and music and an unhealthy amount of denial (summer’s all but over). Marc won’t go. He has to work at the café, and stay back to help his mum, and he’s not sure how they would navigate something like that anyway. He’s not sure he could keep his hands off Sieg long enough to avoid suspicion.

ANY girls, remember? he texts, teasing, and Sieg sends back an impolite emoji.

It’s late when he gets a proper message, a, meet me out the front, and he finds Sieg lying next to his bike, flicking at the spokes. He’s wearing dark jeans and that burgundy tee that rides up, the moonlight catching golden skin, hip bones jutting.

“Did you have fun?” Marc laughs, falling down next to him, and Sieg looks up with a stupid smile, nodding.

“Yeah. We did karaoke.”

“Karaoke? With microphones?”

“No. We were just loud.”

Marc laughs again. When he plays guitar for Sieg, Sieg likes to touch the edges of the fret board or touch Marc’s knee, and lean in really close to sing along. He likes to make requests, stupid ones like Katy Perry, and is always surprised when Marc can strum a few of the chords. He learned Roar for Sieg, and Sieg still hasn’t stopped laughing at him about it.

“I thought about you all night,” Sieg says, reaching for Marc’s hand. He thinks he can smell the faint tinge of beer on Sieg’s breath, and his eyes look brighter than normal. Marc smiles.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. Did you think about me?”

“No, not at all actually. Who are you, again?”

Sieg pinches and grabs and pulls and moves Marc so he’s above Sieg, the grating and scrape of Marc’s soles on the gravel, little huffs of laughter. “You’re drunk.”

“No,” Sieg says, shaking his head, “No, just a little … just a little.”

“Drunk,” Marc argues, quiet, tasting it on Sieg’s lips, his tongue, hearing it in the loud, carefree sound he makes as his hips push up.

“I like you a lot,” he says in a breath, and his arms are around Marc and Marc is collapsing to his side, resting on an elbow. “I like you so, so much, you are – you are - ”

“Sieg,” Marc hushes, but Sieg won’t let him, whispering,

“I wish my mother could have met you.”

*

Sieg’s dad looks older than he is, Marc has a feeling. He’s dark under his eyes, and the sort of grey that looks almost white. He’s worn down, and worn out, and Marc can see Eddy in the sharp, pale lines in his face, the slumping shoulders.

Sieg must take after his mum.

“You’re Marc,” Sieg’s dad says, and Marc’s barely through the front door. He’s barely had the chance to offer his hand.

“Yes, sir,” he says instead, a nod and a flickering glance at Sieg. Sieg’s keeping his distance, hands twisting, his head bowed like an ostrich, like he wants to bury it in the sand. “Sieger and I ran the relay together.”

“I know that.”

There’s quiet again. Sieg goes to get two glasses of water while his father sits back at the table. Marc doesn’t dare to move and spook either of them, so he just glances around the small kitchen and tries to figure out his next move. Sieg hadn’t said anything more than, come to my house, later, a plan that obviously wasn’t shared with his dad.

“Are you staying for dinner?” Sieg’s dad asks, and Marc looks to Sieg for an answer.

“Can he?”

“I asked, didn’t I?”

Sieg whips his head to Marc. “Can you?”

“Yeah. Yeah I can.”

Sieg smiles, and excuses them both to his room – “Keep the door open,” his dad says – and when they’re upstairs and their bags are on the floor Sieg grabs Marc and kisses him and it’s Marc pushing him off.

“Whoah, whoah,”

“He asked you to dinner,” Sieg says, and he’s grinning so much it’s infectious, pulling Marc in for another kiss, clacking teeth and laughter.

After dinner, Eddy sits between them on his bed so they can’t move. They play something violent on the Xbox and pretend the yellowing bruise on Marc’s face is already gone.

Marc wins.

*

Marc has the old bandana from their relay race and a skipping stone Sieg gave him. He has a few silly photos Stef took on his desk and half a handwritten letter he stole from Sieg that says sorry, sorry, sorry so many times the word almost looks foreign.

He has the sheet music for You Are My Sunshine because he’s been trying to teach Sieg how to play.

“How’d you beat me here?” Sieg asks, kicking Marc’s bedroom door closed and throwing his school bag on the floor. He’s kicking off his shoes, and peeling off his sweater, and playing at his phone, all at once, like a dance.

“I’ve always been faster than you,” Marc says and pushes him onto the bed, Sieg surprised and grunting and dropping his phone somewhere. “I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

Idioot,” Sieg huffs, and they’re wrestling, soft punches and flirting grabs, until Marc has Sieg on his back. “How was your day, dear?”

“Splendid,” Marc teases. “Yours, my love?”

“Wonderful. I found out that a group of hens is called a run.”

“Money well spent, I’ll let your dad know.”

Sieg snorts and yanks and kisses, a warm open mouth, the taste of soft ice-cream lingering. He must have bumped into Marc’s mother downstairs. “I missed you.”

“I can tell.”

Marc hasn’t marked all the days down, can’t remember every word they’ve shared. He’s kissed Sieg so many times it’s familiar, now, but still thrilling, still the best thing he gets to do. That just he gets to do, just Marc.

Sieg has a mole on his back, so low his waistband hides it. He has a spot near his rib cage that tickles him and another at his collar that makes his skin flush. He runs circles in Marc’s hair with his fingers, when Marc has his mouth around his dick, and his lips twist in this way, in a way it never does any other time, when he comes, when he calls Marc’s name.

Marc knows him better than anyone, knows him stripped bare – naked or not – and still.

“I love you,” Sieg says, “I love you, Marc,”

Nothing moves him like that.