There is silence on the other end of the connection. (Of course there is, Jesus Christ, he had not meant to say that.) On screen, their characters are hovering, rocking back and forth from ball of the foot to heel, waiting for a command. Jason feels like he's going to vomit, and so he does the only sensible thing and shoots the shit out of Terry's character.
"What the — " Terry starts, and then, "God damn it, Jase, we were having a moment."
"You let your guard down, you die," Jason says, throat dry. "This is war, son. There are no moments in war."
"Motherfucker," Terry mutters, but he sounds absurdly fond. "That your definition of gentle?"
"Maybe," Jason says. His breathing feels ridiculously loud on the mic and he pulls it further away from his mouth before Terry has a chance to catch on.
"Promising," Terry says. "Very promising."
Jason rolls his eyes. "Respawn already. Jesus."
"You mean you don't want to have a tender moment and talk about our feelings?"
"Your sarcasm is not appreciated at this juncture, dude."
"Is it ever?"
"Sometimes," Jason admits, which is about as close as he can let himself get to a 'moment' right now while he's still panicking.
Terry's character appears on screen again and they resume trying to kill each other in fun and inventive ways. It's comfortable and it's not long before they're back to shouting at each other like nothing ever happened.
"Asshole!" Terry hisses after Jason rips his arm off and starts beating him over the head with it.
"Die, you fucker!" Jason retorts. "You suck, anyone ever told you that? Because you do, Ter. You suck dick. Giant ones. Giant dicks of suckiness."
"Keep it up and see if I ever suck yours," Terry snaps back, and this time, Jason's the one caught off guard as Terry's character pulls his spine out through his mouth.
On the other end of the line, Terry cackles until he can't breathe.
"Dude, you can't — you can't say shit like that."
"You just told me you love me," Terry points out.
"God damn it," Jason says. "I gotta go, okay? Bio class."
"Jase —" Terry says. "I was just kidding. Well, no, I wasn't, but it's not a big deal, okay?"
"Bio," Jason repeats."If I miss one more time, it's an automatic F."
"Your bio class is at five. On Thursdays."
"You — you know my schedule?"
"You synced our GCals months ago so we could plan gaming sessions. Now will you calm the fuck down and just go back to killing me?"
Jason scrubs a hand over his face, not caring when he bumps the mic and it makes a loud scratching noise in both of their ears.
He doesn't answer for a long time, and when he does, all he can think of to say is, "How?"
Terry doesn't answer, so Jason severs the connection and heads to the quad to get some lunch.
That kills all of an hour and he doesn't have class until his night Spanish class at seven. He debates going to the library, but bursts into laughter right there at his lunch table just thinking about it, so he decides to sign in under one of his side accounts and get back to killing shit.
Terry finds him anyway.
"Well," Terry says when the connection goes live. "This is stupid and you're stupid and did you really forget that I know all your sides? Dude, come on, three years we've been kicking each other's digital ass."
Jason swallows. "I don't want to talk about it."
Terry sighs. "Fucking — ugh, you fucking fucker."
"Eloquent as always, shit for brains."
"Can you cut the trash talk for all of half a minute while I get my impotent rage out?"
It hangs in the air for three seconds before Jason can't hold back the quip any longer. "Impotent? Not exactly a good sign."
"Trust me," Terry leers, "I got no problem getting it up when it comes to you."
Jason falls off his chair.
He leaves the headset on but stumbles over to his bed, leaving the controller on the other side of the room. The bed creaks when he drops down onto it and he throws an arm over his eyes.
"Did you just get in bed?"
"I laid down," Jason says. "I can not have this conversation while sitting up. I'm not even sure I can have this conversation while sober, but I definitely need to be laying down, at least."
"I bring up jerking off to the thought of you and your response is to get in bed," Terry says. "Interesting."
"Stop reading shit into this," Jason says. "And how can you jerk off to me? You've never met me."
"You post a lot of pictures on Facebook, dude."
"So? The camera adds...um...stuff?"
He can practically hear Terry roll his eyes.
"Sure. So will you please talk to me? Like, you said you love me and I'm fairly sure that by any reasonable measurement, you're supposed to be able to talk to people you love."
"I'm not exactly feeling my most reasonable right now, dude."
"Fair enough, but here's the deal. Either you talk, or I'll start talking about the things I think about while I'm jerking off."
"Alright," Jason says quickly. "Jesus. Okay. I — I don't know. I guess — I guess it's true."
"It is," Jason corrects. "It is true. I do love you. So like, I've said it twice now so can we just drop it?"
"Dude," Terry says. "How the fuck do you expect this to go anywhere if we don't talk about it?"
"Um, well, my preference is for sweaty, naked places with the option of lifelong happiness but you know, whatever, up for negotiation."
"You live thousands of miles away."
"And spring break is coming up. I'm thinking road trip. I'll fly to you or you can fly to me and then we can drive around the country, seeing the sights and fucking in seedy hotels. It'll be awesome."
Jason rolls his face into his pillow and takes a few seconds just to steady himself.
"Jase," Terry says, "come on, you said you're in love with me. You have to have — I mean, you've thought about it, right? The fucking?"
"Yes," Jason admits before he can stop himself. "I just — that was hypothetical."
"I'm probably better than your confused imagination," Terry says conversationally. "I mean, like I said, I've been hurt before, but the upside is that I know my way around a dick. And I am guessing you don't, so I'm probably better than your imagination."
"Oh, God, shut up," Jason says. "Can this just — can it just slow down? Or stop?"
"No to the stopping, but I am nothing if not old fashioned, so sure, I will take you out to dinner before we embark on the road trip of fucking."
"Terry can you just — can you stop being so glib about this?"
"One of us has to be. You're having a meltdown. Which is just the most fucking ridiculous thing because you're in love with me and in case you haven't noticed, I love you back, and instead of being like, 'Yay! Happily ever after!' you're wallowing. Don't deny it, I can hear you wallowing. Like, what the hell, man? The dude you supposedly love is offering to fly to you and spend spring break sucking your brains out through your dick and your response is, 'Gee, Terry, I don't know, I'm going to have to think about this and not talk to you about it!' because that makes sense, right?"
"Don't. Just — don't, man. Don't fucking reduce it like that."
"I — yeah, okay. I mean...you did know you were into boys before me, right?"
"Does it fucking sound like I knew?"
"Jesus. Okay. Look, take a few days to get your head around it, and then we'll talk about spring break. Is that fair? Slow enough for you?"
"Yeah," Jason says. "Thanks."
Terry's voice is both exasperated and fond when he says, "Yeah, yeah. I love you, you fucking bastard."
In Terry-speak, 'fucking bastard' is practically a term of endearment. Jason will take it.
Jason shoves his hands deeper into his pockets and leans against the baggage claim carousel even though he knows you're not supposed to. Terry's plane is late and the only thing keeping Jason from turning around right now and going back to campus is the fact that there are some things you Just Don't Do and abandoning a guy at the airport in a strange city is one of them.
He doesn't know how he let himself be talked into this. He's fairly sure that getting in a car to drive around the country with a person he's never met in person before is pretty fucking stupid, and the fact that he couldn't bring himself to tell his parents the truth about how he was spending his spring break is even stupider. Terry has an affinity for murdering him. Digitally, sure, but still. It's not exactly the smartest thing he's ever done.
He knows Terry's plane has arrived by the cheerful shout of, "Asshole!" all the way across the airport and then he has an armful of tall, lanky dude and is glad he's already braced against the baggage carousel because Terry would've knocked him over if he hadn't been.
"Jesus," Jason says, and pulls them apart enough to actually meet Terry's eyes for the first time. "Whatever happened to, 'Hello,' you dickwad?"
"We're past it," Terry says confidently. "Hello is for peasants. We are warriors."
Jason laughs but Terry doesn't, and then they're just standing there, arms wrapped around each other. Jason has half a second to think okay, this is it, and brace himself to be kissed before Terry reaches behind him, grabs a suitcase off the conveyor, and says, "Show me to your mighty steed, good sir."
Jason blinks. "Oh. Um, yeah, it's this way."
Terry doesn't kiss him in the privacy of the car, either, or at dinner that night, or even when they're alone in Jason's dorm room.
"Set the alarm for dark o' thirty," Terry says as he flops himself down on Jason's roommate's bed. "We should hit the road first thing."
"Are you — are you going to sleep in Kevin's bed?"
"Can't exactly fit in yours, now can I?" Terry asks. "It is a fact universally known that all dorms have beds big enough for exactly half a person."
"Oh," Jason says. "Right, yeah. Okay. Um, good night, then, I guess?"
Terry makes a noise of acceptance and rolls over while Jason gets the lights.
They only drive for eight hours the first day. Jason spots a hotel in the middle of nowhere with free wifi (their biggest condition on hotel choices) and they decide that's as good as they're going to get for the night so they book a room and order a pizza. They're halfway through eating it (and checking their e-mails, and catching up on Twitter, and posting pictures of the sights they've seen so far to Facebook, and —) when Jason pauses before uploading a picture of the two of them with their faces smushed together as they both try to fit in the frame of a picture Jason took on his cellphone when they stopped for breakfast that morning. He hesitates, then hits the upload button and pushes his computer aside.
This room has two beds but they're both queens so Jason's not sure if Terry intends to sleep in separate beds tonight or what, though he's sitting on the other bed now.
Jason just wants to know already, which isn't too much to ask given how much Terry pushed him to start talking, so he crosses the room and takes Terry's face in his hands.
"Why won't you kiss me?" he asks, and brings their mouths together.
Terry's hands come up to fist in Jason's shirt, not pushing him away but not pulling him closer, either. The kiss is quick and chaste and Jason drops back onto the other bed in resignation when it's over.
"What?" he asks. "What'd I do wrong?"
"I — " Terry clears his throat. "Nothing. I just didn't want to pressure you, is all."
"You didn't want to pressure me?" Jason asks. "Because you're suddenly a completely different person? Are you even really Terry?"
Terry snorts. "To talk, yeah. I pressured you to talk. I wouldn't — I would never pressure you to kiss me or — or anything else for that matter. Why do you think I asked for two beds instead of one?"
"To — to keep them from thinking that we're..." Jason suddenly realizes that Terry wouldn't really care if anyone did know. Right.
"I got two beds," Terry explains, jumping right over Jason's idiocy, "so that you could have your own because I didn't want you to feel like I was forcing you to sleep with me. You wanted to take it slow, remember?"
"Yeah, and you wanted to fuck our way around America."
"Only if you wanted to."
"Okay, well...I want to. I mean, I wanted to kiss you. The rest is on a touch-and-go basis."
"I touch you and you'll go?"
"Let's find out," Jason says, and then reaches for the laptop. He hesitates. "Sorry, are you done with this?" If there is one thing Jason knows, it is that you never touch someone's laptop without permission. It is the only constant in the universe.
Terry laughs. "Yeah. Yeah, I am so fucking done with that thing."
Jason closes it and sets it on the other bed with his own laptop, then sits down next to Terry.
"So do I just...kiss you?"
"It's not like there's a secret way to kiss a dude, man. It's not a secret hand signal you have to do perfectly in order to gain access to my zipper."
"Shut up," Jason whispers, "Just...just fucking shut up, okay?" and leans in.
It is awkward. There is some fumbling. He makes a noise somewhere in the middle that will haunt him to his dying day.
It's fucking awesome.
When Jason wakes up the next morning, he feels positively disgusting. Turns out, coming your brains out and then passing out does not exactly make for the best morning after. There is stickiness and moisture and things stuck to other things because certain still yet other things dried and got all flakey.
Millions of years of evolution and somehow natural selection has yet to see fit to develop a male who can stay awake for longer than thirty seconds after orgasm in order to actually clean the fuck up and prevent this disaster.
Next to him, Terry makes a snuffling noise in his sleep and his curly black hair falls down over his face.
Jason considers getting up to go clean off, then decides that the view is worth a few more minutes of being disgusting.
"You stayed," Terry says when he finally wakes up. "I'm impressed. I thought you were going to abandon me at a hotel in the middle of nowhere."
"Wouldn't be very chivalrous of me, now would it?"
"I'll have you know that I am the motherfucking Champion of Kirkwall, asshole. I got chivalry coming out my ass."
Terry raises an eyebrow.
"Too easy, don't. You're better than that."
"Damn it, I am," Terry agrees. "So...um..." He bites his lip. "What'd you think?"
Terry nudges him with his elbow. "Come on, that was a quality Welcome to Gay Sex performance. The reviews should be in by now."
"Oh," Jason says. "Look, dude, I don't know what more I can tell you." He lifts the covers and gestures down at his torso. The mess is apocalyptic. "I think that spoke for itself, didn't it?"
Terry snorts. "I mean now. When you're not in the afterglow."
"It was awesome," Jason says. "Like...dude. You got some skills, yo."
Terry snorts and buries his face against Jason's arm. "Oh, God, this is the most ridiculous conversation I've had in my entire life."
"It gets worse," Jason says. "I'm around, so it'll definitely get worse."
"I'm okay with that," Terry says, and leans back to look Jason in the eye. "Jase — it — I mean."
He shrugs helplessly. "Help me out here."
Jason closes his eyes and presses their mouths together quickly. "We both have morning breath," he explains. "And are in desperate need of a shower. I'm not good with the words and neither of us are in the condition for my special brand of comfort."
"We could be," Terry says. "We've got awhile before we have to check out...why don't we take a shower?"
"Someone's got to wash all the come from those hard-to-reach places."
"Oh my God," Jason groans, and whacks Terry in the face with his pillow.
The shower is where Jason learns that nothing on the planet should be used as lube except lube, unless it's soap and even then, for handjobs only.
It's a long drive from Tucson to Denver but they take turns driving and keep each other amused by plotting out their next World of Warcraft dungeon, finally arriving in time to check in to a ski lodge. Their room has a hot tub.
Denver is where Jason learns that lube is basically useless in water. Terry's a trooper about it, though.
Two days later they drag themselves away from the slopes and head for Missouri, ending up in a town that's not even on Google Maps.
Missouri is where Jason realizes that he's been masturbating at 50% efficiency. Turns out that there's other ways to get off than just his dick.
Their next stop is Chicago, where they splurge on a room with a view of Lake Michigan. After what feels like hours of working up to it, Terry finally fucks him. Chicago is where Jason learns that versatile does not just mean a playing a dungeon as both tank and healer.
Pittsburgh is only notable for the fact that they don't even bother with the pretense of sight-seeing and refuse leave the hotel even to get food.
New York is big and loud and Jason doesn't know how Terry can live here and not die from all the noise. Then they sexile his roommate from Terry's dorm and Jason learns that there are ways to block it out.
"Why do I have to drive all the way back to California by myself?"
"Because you weren't smart enough to get a rental car and book a flight back," Terry points out fairly.
"I don't want to," Jason says. "Go back, I mean. Well — no, I do, but —"
He shifts against Terry, pressing back against Terry's chest until Terry has to hook his chin over Jason's shoulder. "What now?"
"Now we should probably get dressed and go get dinner or something so that my roommate can have the room back."
"No, I mean —"
"I know what you meant, Jason. I don't know. Now you go back to school and I go back to school and we figure something out."
"That's a terrible plan."
"It's not really a plan," Terry points out.
"You are infuriating."
"You are panicking. It'll be fine. We'll fly out to visit each other and — I don't know, maybe this summer we could get a place together for a few months."
"And then what? When school starts back?"
"Well...one of us could transfer."
"You make that sound easy."
"It's not," Terry says. "But...dude, I would move to stupid, hot, dry California for you. So I don't know if that's what will end up happening but just relax and stop worrying because we can make it work, alright?"
"My roommate is going to kill me. I'm tanking for you, okay?"
Jason can't help but smile. "Jesus, you are just —"
"Yeah," Terry says, shrugging. "I know. I'm an asshole."
"Fucking bastard," Jason says, and kisses him.