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Stealing Comfort

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Nineteen days. Nineteen days of regret and self-loathing; finally to discover courage.

The door was opened by Mrs Carter. John saw her recognition of him in the impassive face, the suspicion in her eyes. He cringed inwardly, expecting hostility, disconcerted when she only stared at him silently.

“Is Steven in?” he asked finally, surprised when she held the door open and stepped aside for him to go past.

“He’s in his room. I’m sure you know the way,” she said pointedly. John met her eyes for a moment, then ducked his head as he went past, shamefaced. He kept his eyes on the carpet ahead of him as he leapt up the stairs, avoiding her knowing stare.

Steve’s bedroom door was open. He sat at his desk, staring out of the window. Miles away.

John hesitated in the doorway, not quite ready to draw Steve’s attention to him. Now that he was here he didn’t know where to start. What to say that would make things all right.

Some sound must have given him away. Steve looked around. He looked stunned to see John. And so happy. It made John’s breath catch.

“John! Whatcha doing here? It’s been weeks. I thought I’d never see you again.”

“I’ve missed you,” he said baldly, aware that Steve’s mum was probably listening, but it was all he could think of to say. All he could think.

Steve dragged him into his room and shut the door. Grateful for the privacy, John sank onto Steve’s bed - the bed they’d made love on for the first time, and the second, and… He looked up at Steve who was standing by the door still staring at him as though he couldn’t believe the other boy was really there. John couldn’t blame him. After what he’d put Steve through...

“I missed you too.” Steve sank onto the bed beside him, the give in the mattress causing them to lean into each other. His smile had vanished. John expected Steve to pull away, and felt pathetically grateful when he didn’t.

He wanted to hug Steve, pull him close and never let him go. Never let him *let* go. But he was afraid - afraid that Steve hadn’t forgiven him. Wouldn’t forgive him.

Steve was waiting for him to say something. “I want us to be together.”

“John..”

“Please. Listen to me. I know I don’t deserve you. I know I’m a coward. God, you stood up in front of the whole school and told the truth. I can’t even face my parents. I’ve tried. I know they know I lied to them. Not that they’ve said anything. They don’t want to hear anything that might tarnish their image of the perfect son.” The anguish and guilt that seemed ever-present recently surged into his throat, and he felt the bitter rush of tears. He sank his head into his hands, feeling Steve’s arms close around him protectively, rocking him, gently murmuring; the words indistinguishable, the tone full of love. Steve was the strong one. Always the strong one. Steve would help him. Tell him what to do. How to get through this.

Steve’s cheek was pressed to his own hot face, and it seemed the easiest thing in the world to turn his head slightly to bring their mouths into contact. Hesitantly he kissed him, fearful of rejection, pressing his luck when Steve didn’t pull away, trying to deepen the kiss.

Then Steve was moving away, putting space between them. “Johnny, I can’t do this again.”

“I love you.”

“I know you do. It doesn’t change anything.”

“Give me one more chance. Things will be different, I swear it.”

“How, John?” Steve didn’t believe him, of course. He sought blindly for the words, the right words, the words that would make Steve listen to him. Believe him. Believe in him.

Steve was speaking again, pain thickening his voice. “We gonna be mates again at school? What will your mates say about you being friends with a poofter? They’ll put two and two together you know.”

“I’ll deal with it.”

“How?”

“I don’t know, okay!” he nearly shouted. He hadn’t realised he’d got to his feet until he became aware that he’d grabbed Steve by the shoulders and was clutching him with a grip that was way too tight by the wary way that Steve was watching him, holding himself very still. With a sick twist in his stomach he realised that Steve wasn’t sure that John wouldn’t hurt him. Again.

John wrenched himself away, turning to stare blindly out of the window. “Help me, Steve. I can do this as long as you don’t leave me. Just tell me how to handle this.”

“Like I’m the expert?” Wry amusement coloured the other boy’s voice and John was gratefully aware that Steve had come to stand beside him.

“You’re not afraid of anything.”

“You’re joking! I’m afraid that Kevin might actually grow some balls and carry out his threats. I’m afraid of being teased, abused, discriminated against…” Steve sighed. “You’d have all that to look forward to if we stay together.”

“I don’t understand. A few weeks ago you wanted me to come out.”

“I’ve had time to think. I know now I was trying to push you into something you’re not ready for.”

“I’ve had time to think, too. God, I’ve done nothing but think. I can’t live like this anymore. I don’t want to live like this anymore. All I know is, when I’m with you, I’m happy. That’s what it comes down to. That’s what matters. You *do* make me feel good about myself. I *am* proud of us. I love you.”

“So proud you still haven’t told anyone.”

“I will! I’ll tell my parents tonight. You’ll see!”

“I want to believe you..” Steve’s arms were crossed protectively across his chest

“Do you believe I love you?”

“Johnny,” Steve was close to tears. “I believe you love me. Truly I do. But what if you do tell your parents? What if they can’t handle it?”

“So what?” John felt an unfamiliar recklessness overwhelm him. “I’ll be gone soon enough anyhow. You could come with me.”

“What?”

“Come with me to Oxford. We’ll get a flat or something.”

“You’re dreaming, mate.”

“Just think about it.” John felt desperation clawing at him. He wasn’t reaching Steve. Not knowing what else to say to convince him, he lurched forward, enfolding Steve’s slim frame in his arms, kissing him fiercely, then immediately gentling, searching for a response.

He felt it the moment Steve began to return his kiss. Relief shuddered through him. He squeezed his eyes shut, feeling tears leak out anyway. He ignored them, the feel of Steve’s lips and tongue his only reality. Then Steve leaned back just far enough to break the kiss, his hands coming up to John’s face, gently stroking away the moisture from his temples.

“I’ll think about it.”

John made his way down the stairs in a daze. He felt eyes on him as he opened the front door. He turned. Steve’s mum was watching him. He could see the worry in her face.

“I love him.” It was suddenly easy to say. She only nodded, her eyes turning towards the stairs.

He let himself out.

 

*************************************

 

The sick feeling in his stomach made it hard to eat. His mother was making polite small talk as usual, telling them about her meeting of the Ladies’ Auxiliary Club. His dad replied with the usual monosyllabic replies, his mind obviously elsewhere. Both of them were trying too hard to pretend that everything was business as usual in the Dixon household. Ignoring their son’s obvious misery. Neither of them had brought up what had happened on Sports Day. As if they thought that if they kept it up for long enough that everything would go back to the way it used to be.

Well, it wouldn’t. Something was going to break. With a distant sort of alarm John realised that it would probably be him. He had to do something.

The fist holding his fork was clenched so hard the stem was starting to bend. John made himself release it, and reached for his wine glass. Incredulously, he noted the fine tremor in his outstretched hand.

His mother had fallen silent at last. He looked up. She was watching him. But when he caught her eye she looked away.

Her son was falling apart in front of her eyes and she was deliberately ignoring it. For the first time he started to feel angry. He embraced the emotion gladly; it gave him courage.

He pushed his chair back from the table. The movement attracted the attention of both his parents. “Finished already?” his dad asked mildly.

“Um, not really hungry actually, Dad.”

“Are you feeling all right?”

The banality of the inquiry fed his anger. “Do you care?”

“I beg your pardon?” His dad peered at him over his reading specs, going so far as to put down The Telegraph.

“For God’s sake, Dad! Look at me. Look at me! Do I look as though I’m all right?”

“John! Don’t talk to your father like that.”

The effort of holding back the sobs that wanted to tear their way out of his chest was making it hard to breathe. John sat back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling, blinking back the tears as he forced air into his lungs. God, this was a nightmare! What had he expected?

“How long-” his voice broke. He cleared his throat. “How long are you going to pretend that nothing’s wrong?” Couldn’t they hear the anguish in his voice? He could.

“Don’t be ridiculous, John, of course there’s nothing wrong.” His mother was fiddling with her napkin now, dabbing her mouth daintily, placing back carefully over her lap. She was avoiding looking him.

“Stop it, Mother! Haven’t there been enough lies?”

“Lies, John?” His father sounded stern. “Care to explain what you mean?”

“You have to have some idea. You’re not stupid!”

“I beg your pardon!”

“I’m gay.” He blinked back the tears that threatened. “Oh fuck.. I’m gay.”

“Jonathan Andrew Dixon! You will NOT speak to your father and me like this.”

“You’re not listening to me.” His chest felt tight. It was hard to breathe. The urge to run away was powerful, but he resisted it. He’d gone too far anyway.

His parents were looking at him, aghast. Total incomprehension on his dad’s face. Fear on his mother’s.

“I’m gay.”

“It’s just a phase you’re going through.” Her voice was pleading.

“A phase!” He stared at her incredulously.

The look on his father’s face broke John’s heart.

“It’ll be all right, Dad.” Trying desperately to reassure the stricken man. “It’s just love.”

His Dad looked at him then. “That’s what that boy said,” he said slowly.

“Steven,” John confirmed.

“That’s what you meant about lying, isn’t it? He did stay here that weekend.”

“I love him, Dad. And he loves me.”

“You’re barely eighteen years old, John. What do you know about love? You’re infatuated with this boy for some reason - ”

“It’s not infatuation!” he interrupted heatedly. “God, this is something I fought against, denied to myself, for ages. If I’d never met Steven I’d still be gay. I’d just still be living a lie - too scared to be myself.”

“You don’t know what you’re saying.” His mother rejoined the conversation, her voice firm with conviction. “You’ll meet a nice girl and realise how silly this all is.”

John looked at his mother’s unyielding countenance. “You can keep believing that if you want, Mother.” He was suddenly tired of the whole situation. The truth was out. Finally. His stomach still felt tied into knots, but strangely enough it was relief that he felt the most strongly.

John turned to his father. “Dad. I’m happy. Can’t you be happy for me?”

“Happy for you?” His father looked as though he’d aged ten years in the last minutes. “Happy that my only child will never have a normal life? Never have a family of his own?”

“Dad?” Timidly, he reached out. His dad looked at John’s hand on his arm. Without a word he got up and left the room. John was left to the silence of his mother’s denial.

 

*************************************

 

School felt unreal. Students came up to him as he passed. Spoke to him. Asked him things. Somehow he answered, but they held no part of his attention.

He found Steve at lunchtime, outside in the sun with his mates. Laughing. Coming out had been good for him. He’d lost that strained, hangdog look that he’d seemed to permanently wear at school.

He was smiling that evil grin that always signalled some new game when they were in bed together. Even standing five feet away in a crowded courtyard, John felt no surprise at the jolt of arousal that grin elicited in him.

It drew him, step by step.

“Steven, can I talk to you?”

The group looked up in varying degrees of surprise. “Uh, sure.” Steve’s tone was uncertain. It hurt John that even after everything between them Steve was still unsure of him. He couldn’t blame him, though.

“Join us, why don’t you?” Jessica slid along the seat, leaving room for him next to Steve, her bright smile tinged with mischief. Without hesitation he sat down between them, earning a glance of surprised approval from her.

They were all looking at him expectantly. “I told my parents.”

“You’re kidding!” Steve’s eyes were huge, disbelieving.

“Told them what?” Wendy’s face was alive with curiosity.

“Yeah, John,” put in Jessica intently. “Told your parents what?” She knew already, obviously. He got the impression she wasn’t very impressed with him. Well, neither was he, lately.

“Told them that I’m gay,” he answered her. She looked surprised. She hadn’t expected him to come right out and admit it.

Mark and Wendy were gaping at him.

So this is coming out.

“How did they take it?” Steve asked.

“Well, they didn’t disown me. Mother’s in denial. Dad didn’t say much. He went into his study and hasn’t come out yet.”

“Oh, Johnny. I’m sorry.”

“I’m not.” And he wasn’t. His parents would survive, and so would he. He looked into Steve’s beautiful eyes, now shining. “I told them that I’m in love with you. That you make me happy.”

Steve smiled then. It blinded John.

Jessica’s voice broke into their absorption in each other. “Jeez, I don’t know why it took me so long to catch on. The way you two moon over each other - it’s indecent.”

“Oh, ta very much, Jess.” Steve’s voice was husky with unshed tears. Very sexy. It whispered through John’s nerve endings. Steve was holding himself very still. John knew Steve wanted to touch him, but didn’t dare in this public place.

Well, he’d promised more than once to prove his love, hadn’t he? Resisting the urge to look around to see if anyone was watching, he placed one tender hand against Steve’s neck, feeling him arch into the familiar gesture.

Slowly, deliberately, holding Steve’s head still when he would have instinctively moved back, he kissed him. On the mouth. Despite himself, losing himself in the moment.

Distantly he heard the others gasp, heard Wendy say “Oh, my God.”

 

*************************************

 

The whispers followed him as he walked down the hall after class. Well, he’d known this would happen. No going back now. He stared straight ahead, ignoring the looks that ranged from incredulous to amused to disgusted.

Despite everything, it was a surprise when he was shoved against the lockers. A moment to regain his balance, while Kevin got in his face. “What the fuck’s got into you, mate? You gone queer on us?” Fury distorted the other boy’s features. John felt a moment’s terror, at finding himself for the first time in the role of a victim. He forced the fear down, straightening his jacket with hands that he refused to let shake.

“You got a problem, Kev?”

“Yeah, I’d say we got a problem. We couldn’t believe it when we heard you was seen kissing that poof Carter, could we Dave?”

A mumbled agreement from behind Kevin. John looked over the blond’s shoulder to where Dave lurked, shifting from foot to foot, looking anywhere but at John. He looked as though he desperately wished he was somewhere else. John turned his attention back to Granger, realising too late that he should have told Kevin before people found out, tried to explain, though with Kevin’s ingrained hatred of all things queer it probably wouldn’t have done much good.

Certainly not much chance of staying friends now. “If you’ve got something to say to me, just say it.”

“That time I came by and you and ‘im were in the pool, you was mucking about with ‘im then, weren’t you?” Kevin’s mouth twisted in disgust. “God, it makes me sick to think about it.”

“No one’s asking you to think about it.”

“All this time, you been making a fool of us, letting us believe you were a sound bloke, and all the time you’re…you’re…” Words apparently failed him, and he settled for punching the locker next to John.

“Dodgy?” John supplied, with wry remembrance.

“You think this is funny?” Kevin shouted

“Well, you know what they say about people who protest too much.” This time the shove that sent him back against the lockers came as no surprise. Holding Kevin’s gaze he returned the shove, refusing to back down, knowing that if he showed any weakness now, his life wouldn’t be worth living.

“Does this mean we’re not mates anymore?”

Kevin looked him up and down in exaggerated disgust. “Fucking queer!” He walked off, pushing through the small crowd that had gathered.

Dave had hesitated, looking from John toward Kevin’s retreating figure.

“What about you, Dave?”

Dave looked upset. “I dunno, Johnny. I need time to think…about stuff. Okay?”

“Sure, mate.” John kept his voice casual. “I understand.” They’d been mates for five years. Well, so had he and Kev. He started to turn away.

“Look…”

He turned back to face Dave.

“Catch ya later, right?” Dave asked hesitantly.

“Yeah, okay.” It was something.

 

*************************************

 

The message from the Head requiring his presence after final class wasn’t even a surprise. The sick feeling in his stomach was back, even though he’d expected something like this. He hurried to meet up with Steve, waiting for him by the school gates, to let him know. He tried to act like he wasn’t worried but Steve wasn’t fooled, and gathered him into a comforting hug. John hugged back, making the most of the offered support.

He kept his arms around Steve when the other boy would have stepped back, ignoring the stares of the kids passing them. Now that he had nothing left to lose, he couldn’t get enough of his lover. “Want to meet up later?”

“My parents get worried when I’m out late nowadays. You know, that I’ll get queer-bashed or something. Can’t exactly blame them.”

“But I want to see you.” John noticed a teacher glaring at them and reluctantly ended the hug.

“Look, come over after - for coffee.” Steve grinned at him. John rolled his eyes, refusing to rise to the bait.

“You sure your folks won’t mind?”

“I think it’s about time they got to know their son’s boyfriend, don’t you?”

Boyfriend. He was Steve’s boyfriend. The idea threw him for a moment, and he stared at Steve. Who was grinning gleefully at him. “You bugger!”

Steve’s grin got even wider. “Not yet,” he breathed.

It a took a moment for the implication to sink in. Arousal hit him so hard and fast he felt winded. They hadn’t done that. Yet.

Suddenly it was all he wanted to do.

“Fuck me!” he muttered, astounded.

“If you insist.”

“Nah, I don’t mean…” He looked at Steve’s expectant face and glowing eyes. “God, maybe I do.”

 

************************************

 

This time Mrs Carter smiled at him when she opened the door to him. He smiled back, grateful for the welcome. The meeting with the Head had been…humiliating. The man had not bothered to hide his contempt for ‘his sort’ and had made it very clear that it was only the fact that it was almost the end of term that no action would be taken over John’s ‘inappropriate behaviour’. The lecture on the example that the Head Boy was supposed to set for his peers and those that looked up to him had been absolutely scathing. John still felt a bit shaky.

“John, come in to the kitchen. I’m making tea. Steven tells me you don’t drink coffee.”

“Um, no.” John followed Mrs Carter down the hall. Mr Carter was watching a Doctor Who video, the lounge dim but for the flicker of the telly. He looked up as John passed, and nodded in his general direction, his eyes barely leaving the screen.

“Steven? John’s here.” Mrs Carter called up the stairs. John followed her into the homey kitchen and hovered by the sideboard as she bustled about getting out cups, peering into the teapot.

“How are things at home?” she asked abruptly, not looking at him.

“Um...”

“Steven told me you told your parents.” She looked up at him finally. She looked concerned. Not condemning.

“Not too good. Things are a bit tense,” he admitted, accepting the tea she handed him, wrapping both hands around the mug as he took a careful sip.

“Give them time, it’s not easy for anyone.”

John nodded.

“You are welcome here.” John looked up from his tea in surprise. Mrs Carter looked uncomfortable, but determined. “If things get too bad.”

Steven chose that moment to make his entrance, grinning happily. With no self-consciousness at all he kissed John on the cheek as he reached past him for a mug of tea. “Thanks, Mum.” Snagging a couple of biscuits from the packet on the table, he headed out the door again. “Coming, Johnny?”

John hesitated, looking at Mrs Carter, awed by Steven’s nonchalance, unable to match it. She smiled at him. “Go on.”

 

*************************************

 

Steven’s arms circled his waist as soon as he entered the bedroom. His boyfriend snuggled close, smiling mischievously up at him. “Wanna make out?”

The feel of Steven’s body against his was all too welcome but the circumstances felt too strange. He held the hot drink carefully away from them, trying to ignore the erection pushing against him, feeling his own body react despite himself.

“What about your parents?”

“What about them?”

“You know what I mean,” an edge of exasperation creeping into his voice at Steve’s teasing. “How can we…you know…with them just downstairs.”

“Um, by being really really quiet?”

“Steven!”

With a deep sigh, Steve stepped back. John missed the feel of him immediately. Resolutely he turned to place his tea on the desk. When he turned back to face Steve, the sight of him almost made him forget self-control.

Steve had taken off his shoes and socks and sprawled across his bed. He was unbuttoning his shirt, his bright/dark eyes fixed on John.

John was hard before he’d really had time to consciously process the image.

“Steven, we can’t!” he whispered desperately.

Steve sighed again. “Johnny, it’s all right. Really. Mum and I had a talk before you got here. She’s cool. She doesn’t want us going to the park anymore. She gave me a lecture about safe sex.” He grinned. “I don’t know who was more embarrassed.”

John tried to process the fact that Steve’s mum assumed that they were going to be having sex and was okay with it. He felt himself blush at the thought.

“Johnny…” Steve’s voice had taken on that husky note. The one that never failed to set his nerves alight. His shirt was off and he was sliding off his pants, not hurrying. John was having a hard time remembering why he was trying to resist Steve.

As if he ever could. His eyes never leaving Steve’s he stripped quickly and crawled into his lover’s welcoming arms. Steve’s body was hard against his. Hot. Male.

Perfect.

He reached for Steve’s mouth with his own. Kissing him slowly, unhurriedly, with all the love that welled within him. Usually their lovemaking was fast, urgent, as though time itself was against them.

This felt different.

Steve responded immediately to his mood. In tune with him. Answering with slow, drugging kisses of his own, slow, gentle caresses, circling the nape of his neck, dragging down his spine to his coccyx.

When finally teasing fingers started to slide between his cheeks he broke the kiss, burying his face in Steve’s neck, in the warm sweaty hollow there. He didn’t even realise he’d parted his legs until a whisper soft touch shocked him with the sudden electric sensation. The caress came again and yet again. John’s arms started to shake and he gave up trying to hold his body weight from his lighter boned lover. He felt more than heard the grunt and smothered laugh Steve gave.

“God. I didn’t know.”

“Feels good, doesn’t it?”

“You going to...?”

“You want me to?”

“Yes.” And he did. With every fibre of his being. He wanted to be marked by Steven. Claimed by Steven.

“You’ll have to get off me then,” Steve pointed out, sounding a trifle breathless.

John sat up reluctantly, and moved to kneel beside his lover, unsure what Steve wanted him to do next. Steve sat up next to him and cradled his cheek with one fine hand. “I’ll have to get you ready, luv, so it doesn’t hurt so much,” he murmured.

“You’ve done this before?” John was unable to repress the twinge of jealousy at thought of Steve with other men.

“Uh huh.” Steve kissed him gently, then leant over and grabbed a pillow. “Lie down with this under your hips.”

John moved to obey, feeling a little awkward with the situation. He stretched out on his stomach over the pillow, the cant tilting his bum up. He turned his face to the side on the other pillow, his arms crossed under it, not knowing where else to put them. What was he doing? He trusted Steve. Totally. But this… Steve had moved behind him, kneeling between his spread legs, leaning over him. He felt exposed, vulnerable. Steve was kissing the nape of his neck now, stroking his sides as the kisses moved slowly down his spine. He seemed to be in no hurry. John felt himself relaxing despite himself, his body melting into the bed, his erection firming again, pressing into the pillow. Steve had reached the indent at the base of his spine and paused, lapping gently with his tongue, swirling, sensitising the area in a way that John hadn’t realised was possible. His cock was leaking now, he could feel the damp spot on the pillow.

Now Steve’s hands grasped his cheeks and held them apart. He wasn’t going to...surely? The unbelievable sensation of a warm wet tongue against his opening made him cry out involuntarily.

“Ssshh,” Steve murmured, and John pressed his hot face into the pillow, his hands clutching the cushioning convulsively.

There was a name for this...it was obscene...unnameable...and oh god the hottest thing he’d ever experienced. Steve was kissing him, tonguing him, sucking him and oh god oh god oh god…penetrating him. He was whimpering now, continuously, he could hear himself but his world had narrowed to the feel of the hot wet tongue that was working him, loosening him, making him ready to be…fucked. The sudden thought sent a jolt through his cock and he felt his balls drawing up, taking him close to...he started humping the pillow, the dual sensations driving him, barely conscious of anything else.

Then the sensation ceased, and a hand was grasping the base of his cock in an unequivocal grip. “Wait,” a deep voice commanded. John barely recognised it as belonging to Steve. And he was aware of a presence moving away, and he cried out at the loss, lifting his heavy, sweaty face from the pillow.

But Steve hadn’t gone far, reaching into a drawer in the bedside table, rummaging, giving an exclamation of triumph as he held up the condom and a small white tube for John to see. He looked wild. Sweaty and flushed and his hair askew. John fell in love all over again.

Now Steve crouched over him, positioning himself, and there was pressure, and pain. Steve was murmuring, reassuring, rocking gently against him. John gasped when he felt himself
breached, but Steve took it slowly, and gradually the pain eased, and he adjusted to the bulk. His body relaxed slightly. Steve had obviously been waiting for this, and the pressure resumed, pain starting to spike again. His hands clenched in the pillow, and he willed himself not to tense up again. And then Steven was resting against him, his hot cheek on John’s shoulder, panting in huge gulps that spoke of the control he’d been exerting.

Finally the pain subsided to a dull ache, and he could breathe deeply again, only realising that he’d been taking shallow, stressed breaths when the tightness in his chest eased.

“All right?” Steve murmured

“Yeah,” and it was mostly true. Steve began to rock again and where John had expected pain there was instead soreness, which was bearable, and John thought that maybe it was all worth it, that he could give Steve this pleasure. Okay, so it wasn’t particularly good for him. His arousal had all but vanished. But there was something in it anyway. Something emotional. That he could connect with Steve this way. That had always been the best thing about sex with women. The connection.

Then Steve shifted position slightly, and rolled his hips as he thrust and it was as though something within John just lit up; caught fire. “Oh fuck!” he gasped.

“Gotcha.” Steve mumbled against his neck, his tone gleeful.

Just like that he was hard again. Steve was hitting that spot now with every thrust and the sensations sparked and sparked again. He was vaguely aware that he had started to make a keening sound, but only because a warm sweaty hand covered his mouth, and Steven was panting shushing noises into his neck. Had to be quiet, had to. But it was so hard, he was thrusting into the pillow, jolting back to meet Steve’s thrusts, racing towards climax, his vision blurring and he was going to yell, he could feel it, and he bit the hand that was smothering him, and came. He felt rather than heard Steve’s muffled cry against his neck, and Steve came with him, his thrusts suddenly erratic, and forceful, pushing him further into the bed; then slowing as he huffed against John’s neck, pressing kisses onto his back.

He wished he could have stayed like that indefinitely, his body given over to lassitude, still connected so intimately with his lover, but Steve’s weight on him in this position was starting to make him breathless, and awareness of just where they were was stealing his comfort.

God, Steve’s parents. Had they been quiet enough? He couldn’t remember, but he suspected not. Steve didn’t seem worried. He still lay over John’s back, showing no signs of moving anytime soon.

“Steven,” he whispered.

“Mmm?”

“Get off me.”

“Don’t wanna,” Steve mumbled sleepily.

“I can’t breathe.”

He felt the effort as Steve gathered his arms on either side of him and pushed himself up. John felt the loss as their bodies separated. Steve rolled to the side, where he collapsed on his back, staring at the ceiling, a silly smile on his face. Suddenly John couldn’t bear the loss of their connection and he reached to take Steve’s hand in his own. Steve clasped it readily and brought John’s hand to his mouth, and kissed it, then let their joined hands flop to the bed.

John turned his head to look at his lover. Boyfriend. The person he loved more than anyone else, ever. How could he regret this?

He couldn’t.

It was worth it. Everything was worth it. Worth loving Steven and being loved by him in return.

Even when the real world interfered. “I have to go,” he murmured, regretting his words.

“I know.”

Steven understood.

“It’s getting late.”

“I know.”

“You’ll visit me at Oxford, yeah?” Separation loomed; despair threatened. “And I’ll come home weekends.”

“Yeah,” Steven leant over him now, his dark eyes intense with emotion.

“I love you,” John said desperately, needing Steven to hear it. Steven kissed him gently, affirmingly.

“I love you, John.”

God, leaving was hard. He didn’t know if he could bear to leave Steve. Their love was too new, too easily threatened by the outside world. He had to find the faith in them that Steve had.

Steve would have to help him.