A Poem Yet

by Kass

Written for H50_flashfic, for the AU challenge. Thanks to sheafrotherdon for inspiring the story, beta'ing the story, sharing (and sustaining) my squee, and introducing me to this fandom in the first place.

"I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering." -- Robert Frost

Danny gets to class early, because he's still finding his way around campus and he doesn't want to be the guy who gets lost and doesn't show up on time. Of course, that means he's the first one in the room, so he sits with his notebook and stares at the blank page and wonders again how he's going to survive at a smalltown liberal arts college after a year and a half of life in the delightfully anonymous embrace of Rutgers University. Yeah, sure, this place is supposed to have one of the best creative writing programs in the nation; his parents pushed him on it, Rachel pushed him on it, they argued with him, and finally he conceded that they had a point. But he still isn't actually convinced that this was a good idea.

It's a small classroom, with a polished wooden seminar table, which makes Danny a little bit twitchy. Pretensions of grandeur: this is the kind of shit that drives him crazy about this place already. All the old wood paneling, the actual working fireplaces in a few of the administration buildings, the portraits of former college presidents looking serene or austere or whatever the hell they were going for. What a load of crap.

The door opens. The guy who walks in is good-looking, Asian, wearing a letter jacket -- football? What, even the jocks at this school take creative writing classes? Danny feels a surge of homesickness for Rutgers, its familiar social dynamics and its comfortable anonymity.

"Is this Jameson's poetry seminar?" the guy asks.

"Beats me," Danny says, "but I hope it is, because otherwise I am in the wrong goddamned building."

The guy grins and sits down next to him. "This is Thompson, room 441," he offers, "so if that's where you were trying to go, you're good. Chin Ho Kelly," he adds. "Sophomore, English major."

"Danny Williams," Danny says. "Sophomore, English major." And then, forestalling the inevitable question -- because of course this place is so fucking small that every English major must know every other English major, right? -- he adds, "transfer student."

"Ah," Chin says, raising an eyebrow, but he doesn't ask. "Welcome."

"Look, I placed into the class, okay?" a woman says, outside the door. The door opens and two people come in together: a dark-haired guy whose tattoos peek out from beneath his t-shirt, and an Asian woman, presumably the owner of the voice. "I submitted a portfolio just like you did."

"Fine, okay," says tattooed tuy, raising his hands in surrender.

Chin stands up, beaming. "Steve, howzit," he says warmly, "and Kono, you got in to the class, that's great!"  The woman -- Kono -- grins back and gives him a one-armed hug before dropping her backpack. "Danny, this is my cousin Kono. She's a freshman."

"Say 'fresh meat' and I will kick your ass," Kono says to the room at large.

"Wasn't planning on it," Danny says. "Danny Williams."

"You're new," says the guy with the ink. Steve, apparently; Chin may be happy to see him, but Danny is not yet convinced.

"Yeah. I transferred here from Rutgers." He doesn't exactly feel like saying more than that, so he doesn't. Besides, this guy is staring at him in a way that raises his hackles. What, is he sizing Danny up? Is this some kind of macho stare-down? "And you are?"

"Steve McGarrett," the guy says. As though the name was supposed to mean something to him, which needless to say it does not.

"Okay," Danny says, shrugging. He's saved from the responsibility of finding something adequately snarky to add when Pat Jameson walks in. She's carrying a small pile of manila folders and she sits down at the head of the table, effectively silencing all four of them.

"Steven," she says. "Your father told me you were interested in the advanced workshop, but he didn't tell me you could actually write."

"Father?" Danny mutters, loud enough for Chin to hear him.

"His dad teaches lit here," Chin murmurs back.

"Ah," Danny says.

"Thanks, Professor," Steve says. He's looking down now, bashful, and for all that he's already rubbed Danny the wrong way, Danny can't help noticing that he has very pretty eyelashes.

"Chin," Jameson says next, "good to see you again." Chin nods at her. "Kono, I hope you know it's rare for a freshman to place into this workshop, but your work sample was stronger than what I got from most of the upperclassmen; I'm looking forward to reading more."

"Thank you," Kono says, sitting up straight. She looks determined, intent on proving that she earned her place despite being new to campus.

"And Daniel: welcome to Cott," she says, finally turning to Danny.

"It's Danny, actually." As soon as he says it, the words sound too brusque. "But, ah, thank you, I appreciate the welcome, I think it's going to be really nice here."

Really nice? What the fuck kind of verbiage is that? Danny winces. He's in an advanced poetry seminar and he can't come up with anything better than that? Okay, he's obviously a little bit more thrown than he wants to admit by the experience of being a stranger on campus (again, because he went through this as a freshman, and it does seem more than a little unfair that he's going through it again) but that's no reason to say something stupid like "really nice." Anyway, no one calls him on it, which is a relief.

"Okay, let's get started," Jameson says.

They have to email their first assignment to each other, and to Jameson, by Thursday; and at 11pm on Wednesday night, Danny's still poking at his, sitting in his tiny cubicle of a dorm room -- single bed, tiny desk, dresser, one lone movie poster (Blazing Saddles) on the wall -- and staring at his computer screen as though its glow were actually beneficial or something.

At least he doesn't have a room-mate; Cott usually places transfer students in suites, "to help them connect with other Cott students," but by the time he decided to transfer there weren't any places available in upperclass suites, and they weren't going to put him in a freshman dorm, so he wound up in a crappy little room in a dorm annex on the far side of campus from anywhere he actually needs to be. Still, it may be a hole in the wall, but it's his hole in the wall, which is something. By midnight his eyes are starting to itch, so he finally gives up and declares it done. He isn't happy with the title, but the descriptions are good, and he can't help thinking take that, small town as he presses "send."

Danny Williams
Advanced Poetry Seminar
Assignment 1 - poem of place


No question, the best part are the tiles, here ruby
and there a welter of color and glass

and the music that rises
through the stairwells and the airshafts
the commotion of feet, the low buzz of conversation
occasional panhandler calling out
above the jingle of coins in his cup, and

every now and then
the waterfall of saxophone
or a soaring violin
against the screech and rumble
of the neverending trains

He feels pretty good about it. Is it going to be the best poem anyone writes this week? There's no telling what his classmates are made of. But he knows it would have made the lit journal at Rutgers, no question. Well: maybe if it had a better title.

As he's lying in bed, trying to find a comfortable position for falling asleep, he finds himself thinking about Steve. Maybe Steve wasn't trying to stare him down; maybe Steve was trying to read him, see how he would respond to being looked up and down by another guy. Or maybe that's crazy talk, he tells himself, and rolls over again, punching the pillow to try to make it softer beneath his face.

Thursday morning his email inbox contains one email from Rachel, who is still one of the most beautiful women he knows, and who has emailed back and forth with him regularly since they both started college -- initially on separate coasts, more or less, though now that he's trapped in flyover country he's somewhat closer to Scripps than he used to be, not that it matters. He's just grateful they got over the dating thing in eighth grade so they could get on to the good part, to wit, being best friends. That said, he needs caffeine before he's going to be up to responding to her, so he skips Rachel's email for now; deletes the messages about events he isn't going to attend anyway; and clicks on the one from Kono.

Ocean Villanelle by Kono Kalakaua

The waves roll in against the sand
the sea is salt, the air is sweet
no one who flies is comfortable on land

with Sensei I practice fighting hand to hand
I watch my back when I walk on the street
the waves roll in against the sand

descriptions of the practice all sound canned
I don't talk about it with everyone I meet
no one who flies is comfortable on land

but when I have my board beneath my hand
and feel the thunder pulse beneath my feet
the waves roll in against the sand

I forget each obligation and demand
and cut a path against the water, neat:
no one who flies is comfortable on land

my surfboard carries me at my command
my body moves, that's where I find my heat
the waves roll in against the sand
no one who flies is comfortable on land

A villanelle about surfing. That was not what Danny expected. He has to admit it's stylistically pretty solid, better than he expected from a freshman. He might have to figure out some way to say that without insulting her, though; he can already tell that Kono is not somebody to mess with. She's pretty hot, but he gets the feeling she would cheerfully diss him without a second thought, and he'd wind up feeling like an asshole. Not his idea of a good time.

The professor's kid sends his poem next, and Danny reads it surreptitiously on his phone during what is possibly the most boring philosophy class known to man. (He is definitely dropping this one, so he doesn't really care if the prof sees him checking email, but he's trying to be discreet; it's a small school, right, it can't hurt to take a few precautions.) The professor is standing behind his podium and droning on about Aristotle, and Danny has already exhausted the possibilities of watching tree branches move back and forth outside the tall windows, so he's secretly grateful to have an email to read. Not that he's especially pleased that it comes from smcgarrett@cott.edu, that's not the point at all, he's just bored out of his mind and the email offers a welcome distraction.


my father's workshop is where i don't belong
jumble of engine parts and gears

screws and housings disassembled
without passion, each jar filled and labeled

he knows what mystery he could build
if he put the pieces together, but i don't ask

the ceiling of my garret is too low
but i'm accustomed to stooping, cooped

in places where i can't fit
i cobble poems with the worn leather of my heart

--Steve McGarrett

That is some seriously emo shit, Danny thinks. What kind of guy decides to be an English major if he has that many issues with his daddy teaching literature? Do the two of them ever actually talk, as in, a conversation using words in which they express themselves? But still, despite himself, he has to admit that the last line is beautiful, even if it's kind of over-the-top. Then again, Steve has tattoos (at least two of them; there may have been more beneath his shirt, though Danny is trying hard not to think about that -- picturing a guy's ink under his clothes seems like it's crossing some kind of unspoken line, especially if you have no idea whether or not the guy in question is open to being mentally undressed by another man) and pretty, moody eyes. Maybe Danny should have predicted a little over-the-top from this guy.

The last poem to come in is Chin's. Danny reads the email after dinner. Yes, he's arguably spending too much time on the internet, but so what. What else does he have to do? What else is there to do in this podunk town? Nothing, is what, which is why he winds up spending too much time dicking around on Facebook even though yes, he knows perfectly well that he should be doing homework or reading great literature or, hell, volunteering to play games with the kids at the town Youth Center or something.

Chin Ho Kelly
Assignment one


Around auntie's table conversation rises and falls
and my parents' streets recreate themselves.
The press of the crowd, sisters in mustard-yellow.
And who am I, who have only known the ocean air
of this ordinary Eden?

Night: the bats dance their way to the mango trees.
The sea loves the land and leaves her, again.
My traitorous heart is miles away: not in Busan
but Toledo, or Dallas, where I know how to speak.
The tarmac gleams after rain. A gangway opens.

Jesus, Danny thinks. It's spectacular. This is better than anything he ever read in his writing classes at Rutgers. Reading it, he feels as though he's walking through some unfamiliar city, pushing through the crowd at a foreign marketplace, a stranger who's homesick for a place he's never known. Maybe Cott has something to teach him after all.

When Danny gets to Thompson 441 on Friday, there's a sign taped to the door.

Today's advanced poetry workshop is canceled. Apologies for the inconvenience.

He's oddly disappointed; he was actually looking forward to talking about these poems. Steve shows up next, sees the sign, and sighs.

"You got any idea what's going on?"

Steve shrugs. "Jameson had lunch with a couple of trustees yesterday in the faculty club dining room, but that doesn't really tell us anything."

"How do you even know that? Oh," Danny realizes aloud, "you were having lunch with your dad, right?"

Steve scowls. "I work in dining services."

"Oh, jeez. Sorry." Danny is awash in chagrin; he feels like a total ass, assuming Steve got into the faculty club by dint of his father's privileges, instead of giving the guy the benefit of the doubt. This is not the way to befriend the pretty tattooed boy, he tells himself, and steels himself to attempt to apologize further. "Look, I didn't mean--"

"Forget it." Steve waves a hand. "You think I got into this class 'cause of my dad." Steve's wearing some kind of stone face, all hard lines and defiance, which makes Danny wonder whether he's gotten a lot of shit for being a faculty kid. Maybe he's been too hard on the guy; maybe there are things that suck about following your dad into his chosen field, especially if your dad happens to really good at it, which maybe Professor McGarrett is, who knows.

"Actually, McGarrett, you're wrong about that," Danny pushes back. "Aside from the lack of capitalization, which I think is some kind of weird throwback to having read too much ee cummings at an impressionable age, I thought it was pretty good."

Steve's face softens into a smile. Jesus, it's blinding. Danny's heart does a backflip and he reminds himself again that crushing on a guy when there's no reasonable indication that he's anything other than straight is a really, really bad plan.

"Thanks," Steve says, and adds, like it's an afterthought, "yours was pretty decent, too."

"So it was good for you too," Danny says before he has time to think about it. He can feel his face heating up the instant the words come out of his mouth. "Okay, wait, I didn't mean that the way it sounded--"

The door to the stairwell opens and Chin and Kono are both there. "No class, huh?" Chin asks. "Isn't it a little early in the semester for that?"

"Jameson's AWOL, it's a little weird," Steve agrees. He's not looking directly at Danny but he's still wearing a little smile that makes Danny's toes curl inside his boots. Is it possible that Steve thought that line was endearing instead of just stupid?

"We could just...go somewhere," Kono suggests. "And talk about poems." All three of them look at her. "What?" she protests. "It'd be fun. You know it would, don't even look at me that way."

"It kinda would," Danny admits. Because Steve hasn't outright rejected Kono's idea, and if the four of them go somewhere to talk about their poems, that means he gets to spend the afternoon staring at Steve and trying to figure out whether his gaydar is really working. Besides, it's almost like having a social life. Rachel's taken to emailing him daily, short messages that say things like "get out of your dorm room" and "for God's sake, Danny, go to a frat party or something." Now he can finally tell her he went out with other people. Although he might not mention the part where they were holding class even though the professor bagged on them.

"Snackbar," Steve suggests.

"It's a plan, brah," Chin agrees, and the two of them bump fists, and Danny follows them back down the stairs and out to the building which houses the student lounge and the snackbar. For the first time since coming to Cott, it begins to seem possible to him that this place might someday become home.

The snack bar is noisy, which means they need to lean in to hear each other, but also means that no one will be listening in. Not that there's anything wrong with talking about poetry, but this gives them a kind of privacy. A little bit like being in the city, actually, or back on a campus full of people. It feels good. Also, leaning together means that Danny can smell someone's aftershave -- Old Spice, maybe, he isn't sure -- and he can't help wondering whether he's smelling Steve. (The man your man could smell like! he thinks, and has to stifle the impulse to laugh aloud.)

"Kono, you want to go first?" Steve asks.

She shrugs assent. They all take out their copies and stare at them for a moment.

"It's solid," Steve says. "But the meter is kind of inconsistent."

Danny noticed that too, but he's surprised to hear Steve bring it up; he'd figured Steve for such a free verse hound he wouldn't even notice the poem's beat.

"Yeah, I noticed that after I turned it in." Kono sounds mildly chagrined. "It took me a few lines to find the pentameter, and then I was so focused on the pattern of repeating lines that I never went back to fix the first couple of lines."

It's not defensive at all, and Danny's impressed. Most freshmen Danny knows would be offended to hear that someone thought their work wasn't yet dazzling perfection, but apparently Kono isn't like most freshmen; she's more poised, more sure of herself.

"Kono, will you read it for us?" Chin asks. Seeing her hesitation, he presses further, "the whole poem rolls, like the ocean."

With a slightly shy smile, Kono accedes, and quietly reads the poem aloud. Danny is not remotely surprised to discover that Chin is right.

The poetry talk comes to its natural end when a woman with short hair and glasses -- a little bit dorky, but also pretty cute -- comes over to their table and stands behind Kono. Without looking, Kono reaches up and interlaces their fingers; a moment later Kono turns her head and the two of them kiss. Danny finds something else to look at pretty quick, because Kono kissing her, what, girlfriend? is seriously hot, and he is not especially interested in looking like the straight guy who gets off on lesbian porn. The bi guy who gets off on lesbian porn maybe, but that's a subtle distinction, and difficult to convey by appearances alone.

"Yeah, I'm gonna go," Kono says to them cheerfully after the kiss has ended.

Danny looks back over at them. "Right, you do that, have a good night."

"Oh, we will," the other woman says, and grins, and tugs Kono away.

There is a moment of silence.

"Before you say whatever you were about to say, you might want to remember that Kono is my cousin," Chin says. His tone is cautious, as though he were bracing for -- is he expecting homophobia? Danny's offended.

"She was out of my league anyway," Danny sighs, and that breaks the tension. Steve grins.

"Damn right she is," Chin agrees, but he's relaxed again.

Still, Kono's departure seems to have taken the air out of their sails as far as poetry goes.

"Listen, there's a thing I should get to," Chin says, a few moments after that.

"You got a date?" Steve asks.

"Why, you asking?" Chin quips back, and flashes both of them a smile that makes his face light up. And yeah, okay, Chin Ho Kelly is not hard on the eyes either. What is it about this school? Only 1400 students, and yet Steve, Chin, and Kono are all ridiculously good-looking. It's almost enough to give a guy a complex. Or would be, if Danny didn't have it from pretty reliable sources -- Rachel, obviously, but also Todd; he spares a moment to think wistfully of Todd, whose long hair used to fall down around them when they were in bed together -- that he's not bad himself.

"Dude, if Kono's out of his league, you are definitely out of mine," Steve says.

Hey, wait: was that a compliment? Was Steve just giving him a compliment? Or was the compliment for Chin? Danny's head is spinning.

"There's a team thing tonight," Chin explains, and, then, seeing Danny's quizzical look, adds "football."

Right. The letter jacket. Danny enjoys watching football from time to time, but never had the inclination to actually play it; too many injuries, concussions, bullshit like that. And generally speaking he hasn't had a ton of respect for the guys who do, but Chin shatters the meathead jock stereotype. "Team is important," Danny offers, and Steve nods.

Chin packs up his stuff, nods goodnight to both of them, and heads across the snack bar.

"So," Danny says, because he might as well bite the bullet, right? "You've probably got plans too. Friday night. Everybody's busy." Everybody but me, he thinks, but does not say.

Steve just looks at him.

"...What?" Danny asks. "You're looking at me funny, I got something in my teeth?"

"I've got a sixpack," Steve says, and Danny barely bites back I'll bet you do, because that is definitely the kind of flirting that is over the line unless he knows for sure that Steve's actually into guys. "Want to hang out?"

"Sure," Danny says, grateful. Friday night with something to do sounds a lot more pleasant than Friday night sitting in his dorm room doing homework. And if that something involves possibly getting a little closer to Mister Emo Poet himself, he can definitely work with that.

Steve lives in a small apartment at the top story of an old Victorian, and as Danny follows him up the stairs he's caught between mild nervousness (this definitely feels like a date; is this a date? or are they just two guys having a couple of brews, like guys do?) and admiration of Steve's ass through his cargo pants, which are pretty baggy but which reveal some tight beauty as they climb. There's a pile of empty pizza boxes on the landing at the top of the stairs, but once they get inside, the place is neat. The living room is graced with faded pink wallpaper, a bookshelf half-full of textbooks and half-full of trade paperbacks, an old blue sofa, and a coffee table that looks as though it was knocked together in somebody's basement. Longtime student housing at its finest.

"Beer for you, right?" Steve calls as he heads into the kitchen.

"Yes please," Danny agrees, looking around for a minute before sitting down on the couch. He cranes his neck to read the titles on the books, but they don't tell him anything. Norton Anthology of English Literature. Frank O'Hara, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg. Figures. Beat poets and New York School. Though maybe the Ginsburg is a good sign, Ginsburg is gay -- and then again maybe he's just into that whole Beat scene because he thinks it's manly or some shit, there is just no way to know.

Steve comes back in and flops down beside him, handing him a cold longneck. They clink beer bottles and Danny takes a long gulp. The beer feels good going down -- and is it his imagination, or can he feel himself beginning to relax? Maybe spending all his time alone in his crappy little dorm room hasn't been all that good for him.

He expects Steve to ask something predictable, like "why'd you transfer here from Rutgers?" but Steve surprises him again with "so why poetry?"

"Excuse me?"

Steve shrugs. "I'd ask you about something else, but I don't know what else we have in common."

"Oh, let's see, I don't know, we're both men, both carbon-based life-forms," Danny begins, ticking them off on his fingers, but Steve interrupts, grinning.

"Don't you want to put those in the other order? Start with the most general."

"What are you, a taxonomist?"

"Nice word," Steve says, leaning back and taking a swig of his beer. "You should consider being a writer."

"Fuck you very much," Danny says, smiling to show that he means the friendly kind of fuck-you, not the unfriendly kind. Though he can't help but wonder, given the way Steve is eyeing him -- is that appraisal? dare he hope that it is interest? -- whether Steve is interested in an even more friendly kind of fuck-you.

"Okay, are you going to pass judgement on any of my books?" Steve asks. "Don't pretend you weren't just scoping out my book collection."

"I would have taken in your collection of etchings, but you don't seem to keep those in the living room," Danny quips. He's flying high now, skirting the dangerous edge of the kind of flirtation you can't laugh off if you turn out to be totally wrong, and the adrenaline is buzzing through him.

"No, they're under the bed, I tend to save those for the second date," Steve fires back without missing a beat.

Danny takes a long guzzle of beer to cover the fact that he wants to pump his fist, because there is just no way a straight guy comes out with a line like that, there just isn't. It's not possible, it doesn't happen, not in a conversation like this one. Which means that there is some likelihood of getting laid tonight, if he plays his cards right.

"I certainly wouldn't want to push you into anything you're uncomfortable with," Danny says, "so I guess we can save those for another time."

"They're pretty good etchings, though," Steve muses. He tips back his beer bottle, and there's a glint in his eye as though they're playing chicken, waiting to see who's going to back down first.

And it is sure as hell not going to be Danny Williams.

"I have a great appreciation for aesthetics," Danny says, letting his gaze travel down to Steve's chest, his t-shirt snug across his biceps, the ink peeking out from beneath his sleeves.

"Got a pretty good eye myself." Steve's voice is lower. More intent. Bedroom voice, Danny thinks, and shivers.

"Yeah, how did you even -- I mean, I'm not exactly flying a rainbow flag."

Steve shrugs. "You talk with your hands."

"I -- what? Excuse me? A lot of guys talk with their hands, have you ever even met an Italian, that's not --"

"And maybe it was wishful thinking," Steve says, ducking his head a little, and that shuts Danny up quick.

"Oh," Danny says, grinning stupidly, and then there's pretty much nothing left to do but kiss him, so Danny does.

Necking on the couch is great, inasmuch as it involves Steve's tongue in Danny's mouth and Danny's hands all over Steve, but they keep shifting and bumping into the arm of the couch, or bumping into the wall behind it. The whole point is that this isn't a dorm room; this apartment has more than one room, and one of the other ones has to offer a better fit for fooling around than does this secondhand sofa.

"I don't want to be forward," Danny mutters into Steve's mouth, biting at his lip, "but do you think we could take this somewhere a little more comfortable?"

Steve is gratifyingly glassy-eyed when he pulls back, but he manages a quip. "You've really got your heart set on those etchings."

"Dying to see them," Danny agrees. "Every line." He licks his lips and Steve looks as though he's biting back a groan.

"This way," Steve says, standing up, and he grabs Danny's forearm and pulls him down the hall.

"Whoa, you don't have to bodily drag me back to your cave," Danny complains, but by the time he finishes the sentence they're in Steve's darkened room and Steve pushes him onto the bed, which isn't made, so he lands in a jumble of comforter and sheets. He goes willingly, but he can't resist the temptation to add "you know, your technique could use a little work, here --"

Steve has a manic glint in his eye. He unzips Danny's jeans and pulls them off in one long yank.

"Or, okay, I might be persuaded to retract that," Danny admits, and then Steve reaches for the waistband of his boxers and tugs them halfway down his thighs and angles his erection up and into Steve's eager mouth. "Fuck," Danny manages, and clenches his hand around a fistful of comforter, helpless beneath the onslaught of pleasure.

Steve's mouth is perfect; how did he not notice that Steve's mouth was made for this? And this is not Steve's first blowjob, not by a long shot; he's not choking, not pulling back to catch his breath, but working Danny to just this side of losing his fucking mind.

And then he pulls back, holding Danny secure in his fist. "What was that about my technique?" His voice is low, almost a growl. Maybe it's his tone, maybe it's the way he's rubbing Danny's cock with his thumb, but it's the hottest thing Danny has ever heard.

"I take it back," Danny babbles, "I didn't mean it, far be it from me to impugn your--"

When Steve swallows him down again, all he can do is groan and try to thrust up, suddenly desperate for release. It doesn't take long.

Steve pulls back, kneeling up between Danny's legs. The smug look on his face says mission accomplished, which is kind of adorable, though Danny doesn't have any intention of actually saying that.

"Get up here," Danny orders, and Steve does, pushing pillows out of the way to settle next to him. Steve's jeans press uncomfortably against Danny's softening dick, but he can't bring himself to care. He's floating. They kiss for a while until Danny pulls back, mouths the line of Steve's jaw, and murmurs "what do you want?"

"I'm good," Steve says -- as though the plan was to get Danny off and then be some kind of martyr who doesn't have his own physical needs, which, what is that, that's ridiculous.

"That," Danny says, pushing Steve onto his back and kicking off his own boxers before pulling Steve's cargo pants and underwear down and off his feet, "was not under dispute. But my question was how you wanted to come."

"Anything," Steve says, a little bit wildly, as Danny climbs up over him. Huh; is he already close? God, it's fun to fool around with a guy who gets off on sucking cock; it makes Danny feel like a rockstar.

"How about this, then," Danny suggests, and lies half on-top of Steve, angling Steve's body so Danny can kiss him and palm his dick at the same time. Steve opens his mouth, pushes insistently into Danny's palm, gasps when Danny twists his hand a little and when he bites at the vulnerable junction of neck and shoulder.

"'s good," Steve says, thrusting up, and then he gives a little whine when Danny lets go for a second to change his grip.

"I'm gonna take care of you," Danny promises, "don't worry, I'm not gonna--"

Steve arches against him and his cock leaps in Dany's hand, getting come all over both of them. Not that Danny can really bring himself to care.

"My apologies for last week," Jameson says crisply. They're seated around the seminar table, the same seats as last week: Danny and Chin on one side, Steve and Kono on the other, Jameson at the head. "An urgent personal matter came up. I'll do my best to see that it doesn't happen again."

"No problem," Kono says. "We actually held class anyway."

Jameson's eyebrow goes up. "Really. That's dedication." She looks as though she's trying to decide whether or not to believe them.

"Yeah, we went to the snackbar," Danny offers. "We mostly talked about Kono's poem, though."

"There's much there which merits discussion," Jameson agrees.

"And then Danny and I spent the evening discussing literature," Steve adds. His face is the picture of innocence. Danny kicks him under the table and hopes his poker face is working.

"Admirable," Jameson says dryly.

Oh, God, has she figured them out? That's embarrassing. Well: it's probably not the first time somebody's used poetry as a pretext for getting laid; it's a time-honored seduction technique among literary types, a category in which Danny places both himself and Steve, and given that they're both poets it was probably inevitable, honestly.

They talk about Danny's poem ("Very urban," Steve offers, which makes Danny roll his eyes, and Chin praises the immediacy of the first line) and Steve's poem ("strangely poignant," Danny says, and Steve glares at him; Kono admires the hint of authorship in the use of "garret," and though Danny personally isn't sure how he feels about that, he doesn't say anything) and then about Chin's, which everyone agrees is gorgeous.

"Come on, you guys," Chin says, finally. "Give me some constructive criticism."

"'Sisters in mustard-yellow'" was a little weird to me," Steve says, "but I liked that; it felt good to be a little distant from the poem."

"I know the name of a very good therapist," Danny says, poking a finger in Steve's direction, "several of them, in fact -- what is that, 'it felt good to be a little distant'?"

"There is something distancing about it, though," Kono argues. "I mean, he's talking about Buddhist nuns, but I'm glad the poem isn't clear on that point."

"More vague, more open to possibility," Jameson agrees.

Their assignment for Friday is to write a persona poem. "It's all too easy for our poems to be mired in ourselves," Jameson says, "so this week, write a poem from the point of view of someone, or some thing, other than you."

Great, Danny thinks. Kono's going to write about some kind of beach thing, Steve's going to write about a leather jacket or a motorcycle or some crazy shit like that, and Chin's going to write about -- actually, he's not sure what Chin's going to write about. Or what he's going to write about himself, though he has a couple of days to figure that out.

After class, Chin says "I'm going to grab a frost -- anybody else want one?" And next thing Danny knows, all four of them are sitting around their same table at the snackbar, sipping and spooning their thick milkshakes and talking.

"Hey, you know what," Kono says suddenly, "even after this class is over, we could keep sending poems to each other."

"That'd be cool," Steve agrees.

"Share feedback, yeah," Chin says, nodding. "I could go for that."

They all look at Danny. "What? Yes, of course, are you kidding me?"

"You sure you want to be part of a Cott College poetry group? I mean, we're not Rutgers or anything," Steve says, deadpan.

"You are lucky that I actually want to eat this frost, which is why I am not throwing it at you," Danny informs him. Chin and Kono crack up, and Steve is grinning down at his own milkshake. "Y'know -- even if I tell myself this isn't permanent, this might be home now." He's fidgeting in his seat a little; what, it's vulnerable, admitting something like that to three people who he only just met last week! But none of them seem to think it's strange; they're nodding, smiling, like they get it, which actually maybe they do.

Steve raises his cup and all four of them tap their frosts together. There's no clink, because their cups are paper (and full of thick liquid, which muffles sound), but there's something oddly satisfying in the gesture.

And then Kono asks, "You think our poetry group needs a name?" As they start tossing out ideas, Steve's foot sidles up alongside Danny's and presses against him, a gentle nudge, reminding him that he's not alone.


The End