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If there was one thing Rodney knew --
Well, one of the many things Rodney knew was that still being a virgin when he went away to college would be an unmitigated social disaster. College students almost certainly had some sort of radar for virginity, and if they scented it on you, your hopes of being taken seriously were dashed forever.
Not that Rodney cared much for the opinions of his peers -- assuming he ever met any peers -- but college was as much about making useful contacts for the future as it was about learning. It was important to be taken seriously.
It was a good thing that by his senior year schoolwork had stopped taking much of his time, because getting his sexual experience up to par in only one academic year was going to require his full attention.
He thought his chances were reasonably good. He was sixteen, practically, and not unattractive -- not too short, not too greasy. He was the kind of boy who was always getting mistaken for a girl, which had bothered him more before he'd discovered that this didn't necessarily make him less attractive to actual girls. What this said about actual girls was something he had a theory about, but he didn't think he knew any girls who were mature enough to handle the truth, so he kept it to himself instead of wasting it.
When Dawn Evans accepted his invitation to the fall dance, he thought he had it made. Dawn was a junior, not horrifyingly ignorant, blonde and reasonably attractive if you didn't mind braces. She agreed to meet him at school without making a big deal of the fact that he couldn't drive, and she showed up on time wearing a fairly normal dress, and she was only a couple of inches taller than Rodney, not enough to look utterly ridiculous when they were slow-dancing, which they did an awful lot of. He didn't know if girls put something in their hair to make it smell like that, but it made him crazy. It really looked good for achieving his goal by spring.
But after five or six dates, when they were officially going together ("Going where?" Jeannie said. "Ha, ha, get out of my room before I eviscerate you," Rodney said) it came out that Dawn was expecting him to go to a local college so they could stay together.
"Stay together!" he said to the new kid as they watched something stupid in the TV room at the McKay house. "Not staying together was the whole point! Going off to college on a leash with a high school girl is even worse than going off to college a virgin."
"Have to split up with her now?" the new kid said, not like he cared very much.
"Oh, well, actually when I told her what I thought of the idea, she more or less took that as a de facto breakup," he said.
The new kid kicked at a crumb on the carpet. "Just as well," he said.
But by now winter break was over, the Valentine dance was over, and spring was fast approaching. Dawn was friends with most of the science club girls, and her best friend Jessica had the Chess Club and Computer Club girls wrapped up, which meant pretty much all the girls with brains were now glaring at Rodney and giving him the cold shoulder, except the ones who didn't belong to any clubs at all, and those were all scary introverts who, if they were guys, would have been opening fire, but since they were girls had to make do with anorexia, cutting, and the occasional halfhearted suicide attempt.
And even if he managed to find somebody to ask to the prom, he wasn't really sure he'd have time to jump through all the hoops that girls required in order to get to sex between now and August.
"There really ought to be a school slut," he told the new kid, whose name was John. "All the movies and TV shows specifically promise a school slut." There were girls who were known to sleep with their boyfriends, but, there, again: boyfriends. Not random geniuses with deadlines.
"You could try a whore," John said.
John's dad was something in the American military; John insisted it wasn't the Army, but Rodney could never remember what it was, because, seriously, what difference did it make? He'd arrived in the middle of the year and gotten put in all freshman classes because he was so far behind. He was too small for sports, and his grades were too low for driver's ed, and so he was basically screwed, and Rodney enjoyed the novel experience of being able to improve someone's social standing by befriending him. He was also pretty good company for a person like Rodney, who really preferred to do all the talking himself.
"Right, a whore," Rodney said. "Because going to college with herpes is such a good plan."
John was going to have the same trouble as Rodney, eventually -- only worse, because he was short and shy and when the time came he'd be in a new school where nobody knew him; it was going to take serious effort to get Rodney laid, but getting John laid was going to take a miracle.
"Hey," Rodney said to John. The girl on the TV show was trying to decide whether to tell her parents the truth about smoking or not. They never told you anything useful on these shows. "What about you?"
"What about me what?"
"And you claim you don't have a learning disability."
"I do not. I just have no idea what you're talking about because nobody ever has any idea what you're talking about." The learning disability thing was one of a long list of subjects on which John was violently touchy, along with his height and the tedious distinctions in American military branches and the lameness of country music and the slightest suggestion that parents sometimes got divorced.
"What have we been talking about? Me and the burden of my virginity. Which I'm suggesting that you relieve me of."
John looked at him blankly.
"No, I'm serious. It's perfect. It's brilliant. No, listen: the thing about you is that you're just passing through. You'll be someplace else next year, and I'll be at university. Both of us will have some experience, but we won't be around, so it won't get weird between us, and nobody will find out. It's perfect."
"I'm not gay, Rodney." Warning tone probably copied from his father, which didn't work so well when his voice broke in the middle of a word.
"Oh, right, now you can afford to be picky? Anyway, it wouldn't be gay, as such, more, more opportunistic." He took a slurp of John's Pepsi. "Let's face it, high school girls just don't have the foresight to perceive my clear superiority to the likes of Gordie Milgaard -- or yours," he added generously. "We're both probably out of luck till we meet the more discerning women at college, and they won't give us a glance if we don't have some experience, so we'll have to get the experience where we can." And he leaned right over and planted a big kiss on John.
John struggled out from under him, making sputtering noises. "What are you, crazy? Your parents could walk in."
"If you're such a delicate flower, we'll go to my room."
A sister like Jeannie required a series of unbreakable locks. Jeannie was sleeping over with Heather Dawson, and Rodney's parents were usually glad to be spared the necessity of interacting with him, but John was jumpy, so Rodney fastened the deadbolt and both chains before he started stripping.
When he was done, he turned and found John holding his T-shirt in front of his chest but otherwise fully dressed down to his Adidas. He was staring at Rodney like Rodney was holding a gun on him, stark terror in his face.
When Rodney made a get-on-with-it gesture, John turned his back before he even started toeing off his shoes. Rodney watched his shoulder blades working like wings under his skin for a second, and then he went and pulled back the wrinkled coverlet and got on the bed, because it seemed like the thing to do.
Once the last of John's clothes hit the carpet, he almost ran, getting in so fast Rodney had only a confused impression of his skinny body. He pulled up the sheet and looked at Rodney with his eyes huge in his flushed face. "Take it easy," Rodney said.
"This isn't easy," John muttered. Rodney kissed him mainly so he wouldn't have to look at him.
John was a clumsy, unpracticed kisser. Too much tongue, too much pressure, too much depth, too much suction. It was kind of like running your mouth through a carwash. Rodney had kissed three girls -- two with tongue -- and he tried to give John the benefit of his experience, but John's approach seemed to be that you squeezed your eyes shut and went at it as hard and fast as you could. Pretty much the same way he'd taken his bike down Zombie Hill, actually. Rodney half expected him to yell, "Geronimo!"
It was possibly a little weird that that turned him on, but the books were all very clear that every fantasy was normal.
John had somehow positioned them so they could kiss without their bodies touching anywhere. Rodney scooched closer, and John's dick got him right in the belly, which made him laugh -- a manly chuckle, definitely not a nervous giggle -- and John said, "Freaky," and did it again, and Rodney suddenly noticed that it felt good, that there was skin touching his, skin that wasn't his, jesus christ --
"Oh, shit, shit, sorry," he said, and then he realized that not all the mess was his, and that John was brick-red and panting. So he said, "Oh, wow," instead.
John looked down and then back up with a tentative smile. "Girl might like it if you'd work on the endurance a little," he said.
"A girl should take it as a compliment," Rodney said. "Anyhow, I'd help her out, if she needed it."
Rodney stuck out his tongue and wiggled it.
"I would," Rodney insisted. "I mean, I haven't had an opportunity, obviously, but how difficult could it be?"
"Wonder what a girl tastes like," John said.
"I only know what Dawn's neck tasted like," Rodney said. "Rubbing alcohol. I think it was perfume."
"You tasted her neck?"
"Naturally. It feels amazing."
John rubbed his neck with his fingers and gave Rodney a skeptical look.
"You have absolutely no imagination." Rodney leaned in and licked a stripe up the side of his neck, then raised his eyebrows: Hm?
"Do it again," John said. "Can't quite tell."
Rodney did it again, slower. John started breathing funny, so he kept doing it, trying different spots, using the tip of his tongue and the flat and his lips. John was outright panting now.
And the funny thing was, obviously it did nothing for Rodney physically, licking John's neck -- he was not any sort of delicacy, far sweatier and dustier than Dawn had been -- but it was turning him on just hearing John breathe hard. It was turning him on that John's cock, which had never entirely gone down, was hard again and pushing against his stomach.
"OK," he said when he felt he'd done enough. "You do it to me now."
John pouted at him for a moment and then used his hand to wrench Rodney's head to one side. "Hey!" Rodney said. "Spinal cord injury was not the goal here."
"Sorry," John mumbled into the side of his neck, and then licked Rodney like an ice-cream cone. "Like that?"
"Less spit, more finesse."
John went up and sloppily into his ear, and would any part of the body get all zingy when licked like this? If the ear made him hot, how about elbows and knees, how about feet, would it turn him on to have someone licking his feet?
John went downward then, to his collarbone, and that evidence suggested that the answer was yes.
Rodney drifted in this pleasant reverie until a sudden spike of arousal went through him like a bolt of electricity, because John had moved his head and was licking Rodney's nipple. "Christ!" Rodney said, shocked, and when John moved, clamped a hand on the back of his head and said, "Don't stop, oh, that's good, jesus, I had no idea, I tried playing with them and it didn't feel like much but clearly I was doing something wrong, because god," and he didn't realize he had his cock in his hand until he was coming again.
"Didn't need me for that," John observed, looking at Rodney's hand. His mouth was red.
"Laugh it up. I'd like to see you hold still," Rodney said, and when John went on smirking at him, he had to show him.
John didn't use his hand, but only because he used Rodney's thigh instead, so when he claimed he'd won, it was merest sophistry.
"Are we still virgins or what?" John asked after two weeks during which Rodney calculated they'd totalled forty-eight orgasms, not counting the ones they didn't have together.
Rodney had been thinking about it. "I have yet to have my hands on anyone's genitalia but my own," he said, "so I think yes. Not," he added hastily, "that this hasn't all been an excellent learning experience," because John was doing that pouty thing again; he really needed to work on his poker face. "Fun, too, don't you think?" he added encouragingly.
John gave him an incredulous look. Rodney pulled back the sheet.
They hadn't been hiding from one another, per se, but that first day had set the pattern for the rest, so they'd been spending their time underneath, and Rodney had never gotten a good look at John's cock.
He thought it was probably smaller than his, though he'd have to put them right up together to know for sure, which might feel kind of cool, actually. For right now, he put his hand on it -- hot, smooth, familiar-feeling skin, and John made a noise, and his hands moved like a protest. Rodney said, "Don't be stupid," and John flopped back again, already breathing hard.
Rodney watched John's cock moving through his fist for a minute, but it really wasn't any different from his own, so then he looked at John -- at how his eyes were squeezed shut and he was really, seriously blushing, not just flushed but embarrassed, even though his hips were flexing so fast Rodney hardly even had to move his hand. Normally John had an expression like not smiling but getting ready to, but now his mouth was open and slack, and really it was kind of sexy in a weird way, to see his friend in this state of mindless feeling.
"Good, eh?" he said, and John came all over them both.
"Oh, jesus, bad idea, really really bad idea," John was saying, but he had his hand on Rodney's cock now, and Rodney couldn't quite get enough breath to ask him what on earth he was talking about, because it was a brilliant idea, the best idea ever. John's hand was better than Rodney's hand, better than John's hairy thigh, better than anything he could imagine -- and then John was licking the palm of his other hand and running it in circles over the flat spot on the head of Rodney's cock, while his right hand went up and down, clumsy because he was used to doing it to himself, and it was weird that that thought would be the thing that made him come, while John didn't let go and Rodney had to look down to see it all oozing between his fingers.
He was grinning before he opened his eyes, and John was still blushing, but he put on a smirk while Rodney grabbed one of the hand towels he'd prudently started stashing between the bed and the nightstand.
"So that's done it, then?"
It was a gray area, virginity between two guys, because of course by one definition he'd still be a virgin until he'd actually been inside a girl, but by another, he'd gone over the line the first time he'd had an orgasm on purpose in the presence of another person. He figured more experience was better than less, if only from the standpoint that the more experience he had, the less likely he was to do something embarrassing like come the minute she put her hand on his dick.
"Definitely a step in the right direction."
It was a day or two before he learned that elbows and shoulders weren't as sensitive as necks, but the back of the neck was just as sensitive as the front, which made no sense. Rodney didn't like anybody touching his belly button, because it was just weird, but John seemed to like it. He liked a tongue there even better, or partly liked it; he said no no no while he was shoving his hips up until he got Rodney's chest all sticky, and when Rodney rolled off, he made a protesting noise before he could cut it off.
From down here, John's cock looked almost sentient. It moved when Rodney looked at it.
"You wanna?" Rodney said.
"Do you?" John squeaked.
"I don't know," Rodney said.
"Might be something you want experience in."
"Probably not," Rodney said. "Not that this isn't very nice and everything, but realistically it's not likely that I'm ever going to have sex with a guy again. I mean, why would you, if you could get a girl?"
"Don't, then," John said in a kind of pissy voice, and he jerked himself off in a handful of short angry strokes and stomped off and left Rodney to handle his own incipient erection alone.
Afterwards Rodney tried to figure out what had pissed John off, and finally decided he must have thought Rodney was implying that he'd have difficulty getting a girl. Which was probably true, but Rodney would never have said it.
And, damn it, that meant he had to apologize now.
All in all, it was one of the most educational summers Rodney had ever had, right up there with Space Camp. But as it wound down and they started getting closer to the day when John's family left for South Carolina or South Dakota or wherever it was, as Rodney started making lists of what he'd need at university, John started getting weird. He'd hardly speak to Rodney in the cafeteria when Rodney started talking about the autumn, not even trying to hold up his end of the conversation when Rodney asked him about wherever it was he was going, and then he'd take offense at everything until it was like he was trying to pick a fight.
But thank goodness, he was all right once they were alone. Better than all right; he was willing to try all kinds of stuff, jerking Rodney off for sometimes fifteen or twenty minutes before letting him come, saying in a tight voice, "You'll have to have some stamina to please those college girls."
The last day before John was leaving, it finally occurred to Rodney that the very conventionality of his parents' minds could work in his favor, and he invited John for a sleepover. Jeannie was already away, and his mother was in the basement rec room and his father was somewhere in town, so there was really very little chance of being interrupted, but Rodney felt safer putting in an hour with the door partway open and the TV turned up loud, just for verisimilitude.
So by the time they went to bed, with the TV on for cover just in case, they were pretty worked up already, and when John didn't play by the rules but leaned right over and took Rodney's cock in his mouth, Rodney lost it immediately, half in John's mouth and half all over his chin.
"Nice," John said, wiping his face on his hand. "College girls'll love that."
"Well, excuse me if I wasn't prepared for you to go all porny on me," Rodney said irritably; if he'd had some warning he could actually have enjoyed that, because, god, a mouth on his cock, but being hard so long and then coming so fast had almost hurt. And now he was obligated to do it back. "You'd better be able to do that again later, because that hardly counted at all."
"Not my fault," John said.
"Oh, jesus, not the pout, anything but the pout," Rodney said, and went down just so he wouldn't have to look at it.
John's cock was plenty big enough compared to the size of Rodney's mouth, and John apparently had no control over his hips whatsoever; Rodney rolled him from his side to his back and pinned him with a forearm across his stomach. He sucked experimentally, and way up the bed John said, "Christ," and came.
Rodney knew what it tasted like already, of course, but an experimental lick was not the same thing as an unexpected mouthful, and he gagged a little and spat over the edge of the bed, where one more spot on the carpet would hardly be noticed. "Nice job, Mr. Stamina," he said, and then he looked up and found that John had his arm thrown over his eyes, and underneath it his mouth was drawn up like he was going to cry.
"Hey," Rodney said awkwardly, because this was very much not what he had signed on for.
John lowered his arm and his dry eyes glared at Rodney. "Shut up," he said, and grabbed Rodney's cock. "Liked that OK, didn't you?"
He liked it better still the next time, when it lasted a little longer. John made noises and twisted and panted and grabbed anywhere he could and tore Rodney's fitted sheet loose and kicked his heels on Rodney's bed.
It was surely the admiration in John's eyes afterwards, the "Rodney, wow," that turned him on so much; otherwise it didn't make any sense.
Rodney was sitting on John's porch when the moving truck came, and it was a good thing, really, because things were weird; before, he would have sat with John on the rail, but now he sat on the stairs with a column between them. John's mom was looking at the whole bed of new plants with the dark dirt still showing around them.
"You know what they say," John's dad was saying. "If the Air Force had wanted me to have a family, they'd have issued me one."
"That gets less funny every year," John's mom said.
Rodney would probably have hugged John, before, but now he couldn't, not with his parents watching. He was afraid John would do something freaky like shake his hand or something. But John just said, "Well, see you around someplace."
The very unlikeliness of this, Rodney reminded himself, was the reason he'd chosen John in the first place, so it was completely irrational to be feeling this odd sense of regret.
"In a galaxy far, far away," he said, and he was just pathetic enough to stand there, idly kicking the curb, until the truck turned the corner out of sight.
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June 2, 2006