For Lennon’s quiet understanding, his gentle encouragement in the form of soft kisses and reassuring touches, Jude was exorbitantly thankful. His respect for the boy he’d been so pathetically in love with for as long as he could remember had only increased by a tenfold. Regret was a feeling Jude would never once associate with memories of this night, not for even a moment, of that much he was sure of. “O-oh, it’s not?” Breathing a sigh of relief, Jude nodded. His inexperience with men fostered an insecurity that went deeper than simply being afraid to make a mistake or being horrible in bed — Jude just wanted to be enough for Lennon as a whole. “Ah, but I do wanna know..” Jude’s lips quirked up in a smirk, sly and shy all at once as he allowed his hands to explore the contours of Lennon’s frame, the ripples of his muscles, the curve of his hips, committing it all to memory. “I wanna know what y’like.. I — I wanna take care’a you, too.” Jude let his head hang back with a laugh, watching Lennon with a fond, lopsided grin. “Oh really? Hotter than Manic Panic Dylan?” He teased, brow arched challengingly as he pulled Lennon down close, running his hand down along his backside. “Y’sure the world can handle a couple as hot as us? There’s gotta be a rule about it somewhere..” He mumbled his teasing into Lennon’s skin as he trailed kisses along his neck down to his collarbones, letting his teeth graze him every now and then. Jude inhaled sharply as Lennon pushed him back on the bed, moving his hands to rest at his shoulders with a nervous smile and a small nod. “Okay..” He murmured softly, tilting his head up the slightest bit to brush a kiss to Lennon’s lips for encouragement. Jude tensed at the contact for a moment before relaxing, slowly adjusting to the feeling. Swallowing hard, he took a shaky breath and nodded once he steadied himself, chest rising and falling rapidly with heavy breaths as his pulse quickened. “Mm.. Mhm,” He choked out through shallow breaths, tighting his grip on Lennon’s forearms. Jude bit down on his lip anxiously, realizing for the first time just how clueless he really was about all of this. It dawned on him with panic that he had no idea how to position himself, where to put his legs, how to move his hands, what felt good and what didn’t. He had no idea if it would hurt, if he was supposed to move or even how. God, he was going to make an idiot of himself and Lennon would run for the hills — or worse.. run back to Dylan. Jude recalled Lennon bragging about how good his ex had been in bed once or twice before and pursed his lips worriedly. He had to prove he could keep up with Lennon. “Y’don’t have to go easy on me, y’know.. I can take it.” Jude leaned up so his forehead pressed against Lennon’s as he slid his hands down slowly from Lennon’s arms down to his backside, gripping him tightly and pushing him toward Jude, forcing him to buck his hips forward. His eyes slipped shut as he finally got used to the feeling and it began to take on a much more pleasant sensation, squirming slightly beneath Lennon as that familiar burning built up in the pit of his stomach. “A-ah, that.. yeah, t—that feels good.” Jude forced out the words through breathless sighs before tapering off into a soft sound of impatience and approval.
“Y’do?” He quirked a brow, tipping his head to the side for a moment. A crooked smile spread across Lennon’s face as he laughed. Gently he nipped Jude’s jaw, lingering there for a moment with a quiet laugh. “We can figure that out together then…” He teased, trailing off almost suggestively. “It’s more fun showing than it is telling anyway.” There was a flirtatious lilt to his drawl, but it soon tapered off in a soft sound of approval. Jude’s hands felt wonderful and warm against his skin. Before tonight he thought he knew everything about him, about those hands, the way they collected graphite on the edges of his palms and the funny way he held his pencils, but now he knew he couldn’t have been more wrong. There was a whole world in Jude that he hadn’t the privilege to know until now, touch like this, the callouses from guitar strings that roughed his fingers, how gentle he could really be. A heavy sigh passed his lips as his eyes slipped shut. With a quiet sound Lennon pressed into him, laying his hand over one of Jude’s to urge him on. “For starters I like that… a lot.” No longer was his voice suggestive, instead genuine, almost shy, aglow. “Ooooh, you’re twenty times hotter than Manic Panic Dylan.” Suddenly a cheeky grin wrote across his mouth. “Y’know, ‘cept for your hair. I’m kinda missing the Rock’n’Roll Red now.” Lennon couldn’t even pretend to be serious anymore, laughing drunkenly with a glint of boyish mischief in his eyes. Suddenly his giggles fell away, quieted for the time being. “Couple?” His heart fluttered in his chest. The only way to describe the look on his face in that moment was pure glee. Couple. They were a couple. “Well they’re just gonna have’t handle it or else…” Lennon teased, leaning in to steal a kiss. As Jude lay his hands on his shoulders Lennon turned his face, brushing a light kiss to one of his knuckles. “Okay.” He murmured in quiet reply, an overwhelming wave of affection filling his chest in that moment. Brows furrowing in concern, Lennon concentrated on Jude, on his reactions and how tense he felt. “Shh… shh, y’don’t need t’be nervous.” A small, fond smile quirked up at the corners of his mouth as he flicked a look over his face. There was something almost endearing about his apprehension, something sweet. More than anything it made Lennon want to take care of him. The confidence and insistent bravado Jude attempted to feign in his urging was practically transparent. He knew him better than that, better than he knew anyone in the whole world. Though he knew he shouldn’t, Lennon was unable to hold back a bemused laugh as a crooked grin spread across his face.“Can you? Cos y’still seem pretty tense t’me…” He mumbled, pressing a kiss to the corner of his mouth. “You’re doin’ fine…” To help him relax Lennon lay a hand on his hip, slowly drawing it back and forth in a steady motion. “Fuck–“ The swear passed his lips in a sharp gasp as Jude tugged him down insistently, eyes widening for just a moment before falling shut entirely. With a quiet moan he pressed firmly against him but refused to push any further, holding back until he was certain Jude was ready. As Jude’s uncomfortable squirming eased into quiet sounds of approval a satisfied smile spread across Lennon’s face, all he wanted was to make him feel good. “Yeah? Good..” Stealing a soft kiss, Lennon nipped his lower lip before pulling back. For a minute or so more he continued to tease him, slowly easing into more and more until he was certain he would feel fine when they went further. Desperately he fought through the sticky haze of alcohol that clouded his senses, he wanted to remember everything about this night, about Jude. The ghost of a smile lingered on his face as he leaned back against his knees, slowly drinking in the sight of Jude before him, utterly undone and mussed up, face flushed and lips pink from kissing so much, breathless, his. “You’re beautiful y’know…” God, he loved him, he did. He did and he wanted to sing it to the world. Instead, Lennon simply pushed a hand over his face and laughed, swallowing back his affection until it was tucked tightly between the hollows of his ribs. No one needed to know, not yet. Lennon’s hands were worn rough and warm against Jude’s skin as he dragged them down his sides and over his thighs. “Hey…” He piped up in a low drawl, leaning over Jude and gently bumping their foreheads together. “Are y’comfortable like this or do you wanna turn over?” Selfishly he hoped Jude wouldn’t want to lay on his stomach instead. He wanted to see him, to know what he liked, how he felt. He wanted to kiss him and to hold him. Maybe they were drunk but this wasn’t just a fuck, he didn’t want to treat it like one. With a sly, playful smile but careful hands Lennon adjusted Jude, drawing their hips close together and sliding his hands underneath his thighs. In a playful show of strength he tightened his grip and drew Jude’s legs about his waist. For as at ease as he tried to appear he was ineffably nervous and excited, practically abuzz with emotion. His body betrayed the tangle inside of him, breaths escaping in tremulous shudders as his chest moved hard with each one, hands fumbling where they should have been confident. This was big, this was special, what they had was special. Maybe his mind was a drunken mess but he knew one thing to be true: he wanted this more than anything. He wanted them more than anything. Swallowing nervously, Lennon pressed against him, meeting Jude’s gaze in a silent plea for permission. For just a moment he removed one of his hands, lightly drawing his thumb over Jude’s bottom lip before kissing him. “Y’ready?”
threads as picspams: run right back, lennon foley & jude bowen
“Oh, and is this your way of gettin’ me out of my clothes? You’re a pretty ambitious drunk, aren’t you?
…what if I said it was workin’?”
“I’d call you fuckin’ crazy.” Or maybe I’d call you mine.
Jude flashed Lennon a sly, lopsided smile, pleasantly surprised at his reaction. “Yeah—” He hadn’t intentionally said it — in the heat of the moment it had just slipped out, but despite all their teasing and Lennon’s playful eye roll, Jude knew better, knew Lennon liked it. “S’there a problem, baby?" He probed, nipping at Lennon’s neck with a teasing glance. He laughed softly, tracing slow circles on his lower lip with the pad of his thumb. "Maybe I’ll tell ya one day.." He smiled thoughtfully, resting his forehead against Lennon’s. Jude didn’t want to sour the moment with drunken confessions, slurred declarations of love. However truthful his words may be, they wouldn’t hold weight in the light of the morning, and the last thing he wanted was for Lennon to think it had all been a lie, simply a mistake in the heat of the moment. "N-no, f—fast—-” As Lennon’s movements slowed considerably, Jude’s lips curled into a pout, words tapering off into a moan as he let his forehead fall in the crook of Lennon’s neck defeatedly. In their constant back and forth game of who could tease who the worst, Lennon was most certainly coming up in first place, but Jude wasn’t ready to give in just yet. “Fuck you,” He murmured, smiling even as he narrowed his eyes and regarded Lennon with a playful glare. “Ahh.. I wanna know. I wanna know what you’re thinkin’..” He raised his brows with a hopeful smile, expression softening as he studied Lennon closely. Jude waited with baited breath for Lennon to laugh in his face, eyes downcast, heart hung painfully still in his chest, but the laughter never came. “Uh, just.. with a guy, I guess..” A quiet laugh escaped as Lennon shifted them both so he was hovering above Jude instead. Taken aback by Lennon’s strength, Jude let his head fall back against the bed with a breathless sigh. “Ah, well, right now I’m feelin’ pretty impatient,” He joked, playful tone taking on something softer as his smirk faded into a fond smile. I’m also thinking that I love you so much I have to remind myself just to breathe. Tilting his head up to brush a kiss to Lennon’s jaw, Jude tried desperately to fight it, swallow down what he really wanted to tell Lennon, what he’d been feeling for some time now. “You too, okay? I— I don’t wanna.. I dunno, hurt ya..” He brushed his fingers lightly up and down Lennon’s thigh, smirking up at him lazily as he spoke teasingly. “Ah, unless that’s what you’re into, a’course..” Jude pulled Lennon back in for another kiss before he stepped off the bed, the weight beneath Jude suddenly feeling much lighter now that Lennon was no longer above him. He sat up halfway, balancing himself up on his elbows as he admired Lennon’s frame, the sharp contours and lines that shaped the body he was just beginning to learn and could hardly wait to explore. His hands itched to memorize it all, his body ached to be touched by Lennon again, skin burned to meet the warm surface of Lennon’s own once more. “God, you’re hot.” He murmured teasingly, grinning widely as Lennon returned and climbed atop him once more. Jude watched Lennon with a heavy lidded gaze as he reached up to brush stray strands of blonde hair away from his face. “Hey.. let me.” He smiled reassuringly, brushing a kiss against each of Lennon’s eyelids as he sat up further, pulling Lennon’s hands away gently to finish rolling up the condom the rest of the way with a light touch. Meeting Lennon’s gaze again, Jude cupped his jaw and gingerly moved his head slightly to expose more of his neck. “Mm? What is it, babe?” Nipping softly at the sensitive skin, Jude finally laid back again, both hands resting on either side of Lennon’s hips. He didn’t hesitate to respond, completely overwhelmed by Lennon’s carefulness, how sweet and understanding he was being. “Yeah.. yeah, I do. I trust you.” Licking his lips nervously, Jude tried to focus on the confidence his lingering buzz continued to provide. “D-do you? Trust me?” If they were going to do this, and God, he hoped they were, Jude needed Lennon to know this meant something. This was real. Smiling infinitesmaly, Jude let his hands slip lower, holding his breath with anticipation for what was to come. “I— I’m ready.”
The rise and fall of Lennon’s chest quickened. If Jude didn’t feel brave enough to say how he felt out loud that must have meant it was big. A slow smile spread across his lips as he studied him. Lennon’s chest practically ached from how much he was feeling in this moment, all filled up with affection, more than he knew what to do with. When their foreheads bumped together Lennon pushed his fingers through Jude’s hair and let his eyes slip shut for a moment. “I’d like t’hear someday…” God, he wanted to hear now, he wanted everything now. Impatient as ever, he wanted all of Jude’s thoughts, the big ones like this and the asinine as well. He wanted to hold his hand in public and he wanted to be his boyfriend. The realization brought a giddy laugh from his lips, was that where this was going? Oh, he hoped so, he hoped so with everything he had inside of him. The smile on Jude’s face was too much, it had turned his brain into mush and tied his stomach in knots. Lennon could hardly find it in him to string together enough words to form a sentence. “I guess just…” He reached up thoughtlessly and brushed his thumb over the corner of Jude’s mouth. “Uhh… well… that I trust you. That I wanna do this because’a me, not ‘cause you’re makin’ me or anything.” Nervous knots twisted in his chest, he wasn’t ashamed of his feelings, but he certainly was frightened of them. After so much time spent denying them, spent telling himself Jude could never feel the same, it was hard to believe he not only could but he did. His smile grew softer as he listened to what Jude had to say, almost nonexistent in the faint light of the room. Gently he slipped his hand under his chin and tipped his face up, offering him an encouraging look. “Hey. That’s okay.” Jude had nothing to be shy about here, not with him. Unable to find the words to tell him so, Lennon drew him down into a lingering kiss. This time he was tender, nothing greedy or forceful to this kiss, nothing but open armed acceptance. Carefully he studied Jude’s expression. There was something he wasn’t saying, hesitation. “I’m serious though.” Lennon tried to laugh but his concern was clearly written across his face. If Jude didn’t feel right he didn’t want to do this, he deserved better than that. “Nah…” He shook his head, managing a small smile that was hard to read. “You’re not gonna hurt me, it’s not s’posed t’hurt.” That was something Lennon hadn’t learned soon enough, something he wished he had. He rolled his eyes with a laugh when he teased before waggling his eyebrows, leveling Jude a mischievous look. “Oh, wouldn’t you like t’know.” Lennon lay his hand over Jude’s giving it a squeeze and laying their fingers together. The giddy rush was still there, the air still electric between them, but the hurry wasn’t. They could take their time, they could enjoy this, it didn’t have to be some lust driven haze even though they were drunk. Lennon straightened up at the compliment almost immediately, a bemused laugh escaping before his smile turned shy. Just to kid around he stole a glance over his shoulder before looking back to Jude, head tipped to the side. “Talkin’ to me?” Shaking his head with a bashful grin, Lennon pushed his hands over his face and made his way back to the bed. Jude thought he was hot. Holy hell. “M’pretty sure you’re the hot one here.” He teased as he climbed back on the bed. “Oh uh…” He let his hands fall to the side, instead resting them on Jude’s hips as he took over for him. The gesture was so sweet, so unexpected, that Lennon found himself speechless. “Mm…” He let his eyes slip shut, eagerly tipping his head to the side to expose more of his throat for Jude to kiss. There it was again, Babe, the name caused his heart to flutter in his chest. He snaked his arms around his torso and tangled his fingers through his hair, drawing Jude closer and urging him on. Slowly he pulled back to look him in the eye, excitement filling his gaze. “Of course I do.” The smile on Lennon’s face said it all, the tone of his voice saying even more. How could he not trust him? The very idea was unthinkable. A playful grin flickered across his face. Lennon leaned down, brushing a kiss to his mouth before trailing several along his jaw. “All y’gotta do now is lemme take care’a’you now.” He drawled, voice low and breath warm right next to his ear. With a firm but gentle hold Lennon pushed him back against the bed. Taking in a tremulous breath, he began to slide his hand down before freezing. “Oh uh –” He faltered with a nervous laugh, bringing his hand up to his mouth to lick his fingers. Too shy to watch him lest it make things awkward, Lennon stole a kiss, one that was overeager in his anxiety. “Jus’ remember… tell me if there’s somethin’ you don’t like.” Hesitating once or twice, he finally began to tease his fingers against him, gentle at first just to get him used to the feeling. “H–how’s that?” His voice shook, breath warm against Jude’s cheeks. Lennon’s heart was pounding so hard now that he was sure Jude could hear it, steady as the beat of the base pounding only a floor below them. “S’that alright?”
Jae visibly relaxed with relief as Grey took a step back, and he made a mental note to keep his distance from now on if close proximity was a problem. At Jae’s words, Grey’s features contorted into something like amusement. At least one of them had a sense of humor. “Well, I guess I’ll let it slide just this once.” He tried to joke back, but playfulness didn’t come easily to him. Not as easily as anger. Grey could tell Jae was hesitant to believe someone could ever want to help him without having some ulterior motive — there was always a price, and the more desperate you became, the higher the stakes. “Look, you’re right not to trust me. You’d be a fucking idiot if you did — the only way to survive out here is to stay on your toes.” Grey spoke with a firm tone, but the exhaustion weighing down his bones was ever present in his voice. “But I don’t want anything from you, a’right? Let’s just say I.. I owe you one.” It was the closest he had gotten to acknowledging that he did in fact remember Jae, knew exactly who he was and why he was out here on his own in a rapidly deteriorating condition. As they walked in time, Grey took shorter strides before freezing entirely for a second as Jae spoke. He hadn’t expected to be remembered, but as much as it had caught him off guard, Grey recovered quickly. “Thought you might.” Unsure of what to say for a moment, he licked his lips. “I never caught your name.” He confessed, now entirely annoyed by the guilt that only grew stronger by the moment. Jae was obviously freezing, arms wrapped painfully tight around himself, and Grey let out a sharp sigh as he gazed at his companion defeatedly. There was no way he’d get rid of this nagging guilt if he didn’t genuinely do the best he could to help Jae, at least just through the night. “Here,” He mumbled under his breath, unzipping his sweatshirt to reveal another — Grey tended to double up on as many layers as possible to eliminate bulk in his backpack, leaving more room for acquired essentials. Plus, the nights were getting colder, and he appreciated the extra warmth. Grey kept walking and shoved the sweatshirt in Jae’s grasp, lips frozen in a permanent frown. “Hey, the least you could do is make yourself fucking useful—” He was cut off by the mention of foreclosed properties nearby, a quiver of excitement resounding through him. Excitement and hope, these were two emotions that Grey hadn’t felt often, if ever, but he recognized the unfamiliar sensations as clear as day. “Wait, that means… shit, if by some goddamn miracle we get lucky, one of ‘em could still have the water on..” He picked up his pace in eagerness, falling in time with Jae and allowing himself be led for the first time in his life. “God, I would kill for a hot shower.” His mood shifted considerably into something not quite so heavy, and Grey felt himself smile briefly before it slipped into a smirk instead. “Guess you’re making yourself useful after all.. Hope you don’t disappoint.” His amusement tapered off into momentary panic as he felt the familiar tingle that had plagued him since childhood flit through his fingertips — it happened every time he changed emotions too quickly, got too excited or too angry or too anything. A sign his powers were lurking underneath the surface, begging to be used. He clenched his hands into fists and kept them tucked away in his pockets protectively. If he wasn’t careful, he’d expose himself in front of Jae, and the thought alone was enough to scare him shitless.
Jae narrowed his eyes in confusion. Was… this guy trying to talk him out of trusting him? In thought he bit his lower lip, the taste of blood was familiar to him now. Not welcomed, no, but not disgusting either. A light smile flickered across Jae’s face. “So…” He started, the hesitation in his voice couldn’t quell the clear warmth he felt at this. “You remember me then?” There was a comforting notion to the statement. If he was being honest, Jae wasn’t certain his own family even remembered him. They disowned him, gave him away. Did they know he was forced to flee the foster care system? Were they notified? Did they even care? Probably not. Missing posters littered the streets here, they were tacked up on phone lines, on buildings, and on coffee shop cork boards. The unlucky ones lay in crumpled, muddied piles near gutters and sewer drains, but there was not a single one that held Jae’s face on it. He knew. He had been looking. Ironic, really. The only person in the world looking for Jae Min Park happened to be himself. Relief settled in his chest when he realized Grey’s pace had begun to slow, believing for a moment that he noticed the way he was limping and took pity on him. Not the case, not that it mattered. “Oh uh.. Jaemin. Just call me Jae.” It had been so long since he actually spoke the word aloud, his very name, that it sounded foreign to his own ears. No one bothered to ask. No one bothered to speak, really. This conversation was by far the most exercise his vocal chords had been given in an awfully long time. In confusion Jae’s brows furrowed deeply, Grey was clearly annoyed with something but he had no idea what. “W—what?” With incredulous glee he stared at him, then the sweatshirt he held in his outstretched hands. Flinching as he shoved it in his arms, Jae gratefully took the clothing and pulled it on. He pulled up the hood and closed his eyes for one fleeting moment, reveling in the warmth still lingering on it from Grey’s body heat and the softness of the fleece lining inside. Surprisingly, it smelled nice too. “Mm?” Almost as soon as Grey derided him about pulling his own weight excitement flashed in his eyes and washed away his grimace. Something stirred inside Jae, something an awful lot like hope. He hadn’t realized just what a find he had to offer until this moment. “Yeah… tell me about it.” Jae laughed, a smile spreading across his face as he took up walking once more. Smiling, the simple realization that he was doing it only made him smile more. That was rare in his life, maybe even rarer than food at this point. It felt nicer than he possibly could have imagined. “Y’know uh… even if we don’t find a house with running water the truck depot just outside the city has showers. For truckers I guess but no one’s made a fuss about it yet so…” God, he hoped he didn’t disappoint. Not when he finally found someone. Grey wasn’t a friend by any means, but Jae was so hungry for human contact and conversation that he was just as good as one. “You okay?” Jae glanced over his shoulder at his new companion in concern, but didn’t have time to dwell. He threw a glance both ways before making a break for the other side of the street, not out of fear for oncoming cars, but people. Some guys found out about his… mutation, powers, whatever the hell they were, a week ago and had spent the majority of their free time trying to run him out of Stony Island. The last thing he needed right now was for someone to yell Mutie at him and try to pick a fight when he finally found a frie— someone. In silence Jae trekked along, a fog had rolled in off the lake and settled in between the buildings, laying a muffled haze over everything. The neon lights around them were softened by it and the moisture thick air clung to his skin, sending a chill down his bony spine. “They’re just a couple’a streets over…” He murmured, simply trying to assure Grey before he lost complete faith in him.
Jude smiled against Lennon’s warm skin, letting his teeth graze the surface as he kept his grip firm, despite all Lennon’s eager squirming. “Mm? Faster? Are y’sure you didn’t say slower?” A slow, sly grin quirked up at the corners of his mouth as he pressed a chaste kiss to Lennon’s chin and deliberately shifted his movements to an agonizingly slow pace. He laughed triumphantly, bumping their noses together affectionately. “A’right, a’right— I wont tease you anymore, baby… I promise.” Jude’s words took on a suspiciously mischievous timbre, and matched with his knowing smirk, they both knew Jude had no true plans on easing up with the taunting. As Lennon stroked his face, Jude felt a sharp pang of affection tug heavily on his heart, weighing it down with such ardent admiration and tenderness, such passionate love and endearment toward his best friend, far more than he knew what to do with. He knew how he felt, now. So this was love.. “Just you?” Jude shook his head, smiling infinitesmaly. “F’only you knew..” He murmured off-handedly, tangling his fingers through Lennon’s unruly hair, losing himself entirely in their kiss. Everything felt different now. Bigger, somehow. The air between them had shifted into something more meaningful — the haze of their drunkenness couldn’t taint this moment, not even if it tried. Jude struggled to control his ragged, frantic breathing as his body arched reactively into Lennon’s swift movements. He quickened his pace on Lennon despite the soreness settling in his arm muscles, trying desperately to keep up without faltering as his own pleasure began to cloud his mind. “Yeah.. I — I just thought..” As Lennon’s movement slowed and his words took on a nervous, uncertain tone, Jude felt panic begin to overwhelm his senses. He’d said something wrong. “Do.. do you not want to?” He was stupid to think this could go any further — especially if Lennon was sobering up. Maybe Lennon was finally realizing what he was doing, who he was doing it with. Inches away from sinking under his shame, Lennon pulled Jude back from the depths, a small, hopeful smile replacing the worried grimace that had settled on his face. “O—oh… You do?” He grinned widely against Lennon’s lips as he tried to kiss him, relief and excitement and nerves unlike any he’d ever felt before all filling him up to the very brim. Laughing softly, silently hoping that Lennon didn’t notice how his confidence wavered ever so slightly, Jude shivered under Lennon’s touch and tried to focus on how wonderful this all felt. “This is—- s’probably pretty fuckin’ dumb to admit, but I… I’ve never done this before.” His expression was littered with amusement and anticipation, fully prepared to give himself completely to Lennon, absolutely certain there wasn’t a soul on this Earth he trusted more. Flicking his gaze over Lennon hungrily, taking in every dip and contour, every slope and curve of his body, Jude grinned slyly, grabbing Lennon’s free hand and guiding it down his hips, letting out a sharp sigh at the contact. “Why don’t y’show me?”
“Oohhh no, y’asshole I definitely said fa—“ Lennon’s playful laugh melted into a ragged sigh. Almost desperately he pushed up against him despite Jude’s refusal to relent, dragging this out longer. “G—god.” He bit his lower lip hard, hardly able to focus on the sound of Jude’s voice when he finally spoke up once more. He did catch one thing though. Baby. Breaking into a lazy smile, Lennon quirked a brow. “Baby?” He rolled his eyes, knowing that Jude would only continue to tease him, nonetheless he loved the word, the sentiment. He couldn’t deny the fact that it sent his heart racing and the butterflies in his stomach to flight. Jude’s incredulous reply to his assurance brought a soft laugh from his lips. A heavy affection had settled in his chest, one that was warm and left him practically buzzing. The corner’s of Lennon’s mouth quirked up in a playful smile, both bemused and baffled. “Well, I wanna know…” He replied, words tapering off into a soft sigh against Jude’s mouth. He could feel it now, the electricity in the air between them, the unspoken words that laced them together. This was big, this was more than a drunken hookup between friends. So much more. As Jude struggled to hold back, clearly close to the edge, Lennon slowed things down considerably to draw him back. Laughing, he tipped his chin up and pressed a heavy kiss to the side of Jude’s jaw, smirking against his skin. “How d’y’like that?” He teased in a lilting tone, clearly getting his revenge now. The smug smile that sat on his face fell away when he caught sight of Jude’s faltering expression. Immediately Lennon regretted his hesitation, quickly shaking his head with an assuring smile. “No no that’s not…” He shook his head once more, pushing his hand over his face. He looked up to him with a shy but fond look in his eye. “I do wanna… I just had to think. S’all.” To ease his fears Lennon drew him into a tender kiss, something almost chaste, but more than that, sweet. The moment Jude’s grin returned in full force Lennon’s heart fluttered in his chest, elated, relieved, content. “That’s not dumb… Not at all.” Lennon shook his head with a quiet laugh, after a moment a small but curious smile spread across his lips. Narrowing his eyes slightly, he cocked his head to the side. “With a guy or like… in general?” His drawl was soft and serious, not making fun of him in the least. Lennon swallowed hard, suddenly feeling much more nervous than he had before. If this was really Jude’s first time he wanted to make it nice for him, wanted to be gentle and take care of him the way he deserved. He kissed him once more, but there was something different about it. Not quite as playful, deeper, more. Lennon broke into a small smile against the kiss as he guided his hand down to his hip. Reluctantly he let go of Jude and paused in his teasing, hesitating a moment before rolling them over together so Jude was pressed back against the bed beneath him. Lennon flashed him a mischievous grin before stealing a light kiss, and then another. This time, he lingered close to him, studying Jude with a heavy lidded gaze. “Are y’sure?” Instead of hesitant, this time Lennon’s voice was light, easy but concerned. He lay one of his hands on Jude’s chest, slowly smoothing it over the contours of his body while he waited for an answer. “Just—“ His eyes flicked back up to Jude’s, an almost nervous look on his face. “Y’gotta tell me how… how you’re feelin’, okay? I want you t’be comfortable.” A swell of affection filled his chest and threatened to suffocate him from the sheer weight of it all. His mind was reeling now, reeling in the best way possible. This was a night he hadn’t once allowed himself to even dream of. It was so much more than he ever could have hoped for. Lennon leaned down and pressed a kiss to Jude’s nose before pulling away and slipping off the bed clumsily. Laughing as he stumbled, he grabbed his discarded jeans off the floor and dug around his pocket for a condom. On the way back to the bed he fumbled with the wrapper before finally tearing it open with his teeth. Lennon paused to roll it on, stealing a nervous glance back at Jude. A slow, genuine smile lit up his face as he studied him. Never once had he seen Jude so at ease or so beautiful. He was always bright and excitable, traits Lennon loved as well, but he never let himself just be. Just exist, just like this. Nervously, his heart skipped a beat in his chest, almost causing Lennon to stumble as he crawled back over him. “Hey… Jude?” He just needed to know one more little thing, just to be sure, to be certain. “D’you trust me?”
Jude could tell Lennon was holding something back, words he wanted desperately to say but couldn’t, brimming the surface. He hoped he hadn’t done anything wrong, come on too strong, but Lennon’s beautiful, weightless smile told him everything he needed to know. They were okay. This was okay. “Everything.” He repeated- tone firm, assuring, light with laughter. He needed Lennon to know, through everything that had passed between that day on the playground in Kindergarten to this moment now, Jude’s feelings never went away, never became anything less. They evolved, grew, spread out into different parts of himself and took root, but he had never let them fully bloom until now, and God, it felt wonderful. As Lennon responded to his movements, Jude let his sighs and small noises guide him. “Aah, tell me how y’want it..” He smirked lazily, moving his hand fervently with a quicker pace, swallowing hard in an attempt to boggle down his own heavy desire. “Slower?” As Lennon did away with his boxer briefs, Jude bit down on his lip and looked to him with a questioning gaze, curious and concerned, just hoping Lennon liked what he saw. He had never been so open with someone, so at ease and comfortable. Jude was entirely lost in Lennon, paying close attention to every little sound, every slight movement, making sure every stroke of his hand brought Lennon closer to release. As he felt Lennon take hold of him entirely, Jude immediately arched into him with a low groan. Pressing close to Lennon, Jude’s eyes slipped shut the moment his hand began to move. “Mm, f—faster..” He murmured softly as he buried his face in the crook of Lennon’s neck, trying to suppress a groan. Jude slowed his own movements, glancing down at Lennon with a teasing grin. Whenever he felt Lennon’s body tense up as he got closer to the edge, his pace would slow considerably before picking up speed again. Jude was suddenly thankful for the amount of beers he’d had, otherwise he would never have the courage or confidence for any of this. Lennon was far more experienced than Jude had ever been — especially when it came to this, to men, and he just wanted desperately to keep up. “Fuck, that… that feels good—” He choked out the words before brushing his lips against Lennon’s in an attempt to muffle a soft moan, eyes shut as he pushed his hips up into Lennon’s grip. “I — I n-need more..” Jude’s voice was hoarse as he struggled to speak through his overwhelming need, his hunger, for Lennon. Jude wasn’t sure how much further Lennon was willing to take this, if he even liked any of it, but he had to try, had to make sure Lennon at least knew how he felt. “I wanna do this, Len.. I—” His voice tapered off in a low moan as he let his forehead fall to rest against Lennon’s, pushing his hips into him again. “I wanna be with you.”
Jude’s laughter was enough to make his heart sing in the truest sense of the phrase. He wanted nothing more than to hear it again, to be the cause of it from here on out. “This— this is good.” Biting his lower lip hard, Lennon arched back against the bed and pushed his hips up into Jude’s touch. “Faster, maybe… No— nonono—“ Desperation rang clear in Lennon’s voice as Jude slowed his touches instead, clearly just toying with him. “Fuck” he laughed, head lolling back against the bed with exasperation. “You’re a fucking tease Bowen…” At the sight of Jude’s shyness, Lennon’s smirk melted into a fond smile. Jude had no reason to be self conscious, not when it came to this, not when he thought the world of him. Taking a deep breath, he struggled to focus on him through the haze of what they were doing. “Hey…” With a gentle hand he reached up to cup his jaw, slowly drawing his thumb over his lower lip so he would stop biting it in worry. “Don’t be shy… s’just me.” He drew Jude into a deep kiss, lips parting against him with a soft moan only moments later. “God…” A heavy sigh passed his lips, in desperation Lennon tangled his fingers tightly in Jude’s hair before remembering himself. Remembering what they were doing. He slid his hand down to his hip, grasping him playfully as he began to stroke him again. At first he teased him much the same way Jude did, starting and slowing his speeds in waves, playful to the point of irritation. He knew he couldn’t hold it in much longer, all the emotion welling up inside of him. When Jude tucked away in the crook of his neck Lennon turned his face, pressing a kiss to the edge of his jaw. In that moment he mouthed it silently, just a simple ‘I love you’. Nothing big. Nothing loud. Nothing for Jude to hear, even. He said it simply because it demanded to be said, deserved to be. An elation filled his chest, the likes of which Lennon had never felt before. Real freedom. Real love. Jude’s breath was hot against his throat and tickled his skin, bringing a giddy laugh from Lennon’s lips. The sound of each ragged sound he made left him totally winded, left his mind all scrambled and mixed up as he sought ways to bring it back again. Suddenly, his excitement was replaced with an awful lurch in his stomach. “M— More…?” There was a wary, almost nervous, stammer to Lennon’s voice at first. What wasn’t he doing right? Like a student blanking out while faced with an exam he tried to run down the list of things he knew how to do, tricks and techniques, but was coming up blank. Lennon’s eyes flickered open in surprise when Jude continued, foggy relief settling in his chest. He blinked, struggling to focus on Jude in the faint light that filtered in through the closed curtains and grasp the meaning of his words. “With me…” He repeated quietly, brows furrowing for a moment before a shy smile of realization flit over his face. Laughing breathlessly he pushed his free hand through his hair, pausing in his movements a moment to fall back against the bed and study Jude with a careful gaze. “Like… like that way?” A knot of apprehension tied up in his chest. Lennon wasn’t a virgin by any means but… he wasn’t exactly experienced on that front either. He had only a handful of times under his belt now. In an attempt to ignore his hesitation, Lennon tipped up his chin and brushed a kiss to Jude’s mouth. His breath was shallow and quick, quivered as it left his lips. His touches were slow now, slow and teasing, just enough to string him along while they spoke. Despite his apprehension, he found himself wanting to. Jude’s longing was so different from Dylan’s insistence. There was no obligation or pressure here, only the promise that he could make Jude feel good, that he could share something with him. “Yeah…” He murmured against his lips, gently stealing one more kiss. “Yeah, I wanna be with you too. I – I want more.”
As they sized each other up, tried to decide whether or not they could exchange trust, Grey took a step back in order to give him space — a gesture that he hoped showed the boy he had no intentions on hurting him. “Yeah, roadkill. Ya smell like it, too.” He pursed his lips, bared his teeth in what he thought would be a reassuring, slightly amused smile, but instead came off as more of a grimace. The boy was on his feet now, standing before Grey with a height he hadn’t anticipated. The last time he’d seen this boy, just a few years prior, he’d been significantly shorter than him. Now he was just barely an inch or two shy of Grey’s towering 6’1” height. Shoving his glove covered hands in the pockets of his horribly frayed jeans, Grey glanced at the boy furtively, struck by the expression of hope and relief and eagerness taking form on his face. “Yes, I’m fucking serious. Don’t have the patience to bullshit you.” Biting the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood, a comforting taste on his lips by now, Grey’s eyes slipped shut momentarily before flickering open to stare pointedly at the lanky, barely standing figure in front of him. “You don’t have to do anything. Just.. don’t make me regret this.” He knew that tone of voice, that defeated expression, utterly resigned to the prospect of doing something less than appealing just for a partially full stomach and maybe a place to sleep for an hour or two. This was the way of the street, the life they lived, the choices they were forced to make. Grey would be lying if he said he hadn’t given in a time or two, never more than that — he had been surviving on Chicago street corners for more than several years now, and Winters were always the worst. Grey’s expression softened as he glanced back at the boy, who was certainly following behind closely, trying to keep up with Grey’s long strides. “I’m Grey, by the way.” Slowing his pace, Grey took stock of the city around them, keeping a close eye out for unexpected visitors. He wasn’t sure if the boy knew his name or even remembered him from the group home several years ago, but he supposed he’d find out. ”Dunno yet. Gotta find a place out of the way, preferably inside tonight.” Grey had caught a glimpse of the weather report as he hung around in the shadows of a storefront window, where a row of TVs were displayed with Chicago’s local channel on rotation. “The sooner we find a place, the sooner you get your meal.” A storm was expected tonight, and he fully intended to be out of harm’s way when it finally did descend upon them. “Got any ideas?”
The further back Grey shifted the easier breathing became. Perhaps that initial distance between them could have been measured in inches or feet, but the fear he felt in those moments made it so that he was pressed right against his ribcage and had pushed the air straight from his chest. Letting his head tip back for a moment in relief, Jae drew his fingers through his ratty hair and took a deep breath, reveling in the cool air as it filled his lungs once more. “Sorry, if I knew I was gonna be having company I woulda cleaned up.” Jae flashed him a wry grin, eyes narrowed on the man before him playfully. The smile Grey decided to flash wasn’t quite that at all, not much as far as smiles went, not really, but there was an earnestness in his eyes that made the expression warm nonetheless. A deep frown settled on his pale features. “…what?” Jae’s voice sounded hollow, as if the slightest of breezes could cause him to crumble. Silently he studied Grey, chewing his lower lip until he felt a sharp metallic taste on his tongue. “Why… why not?” It wasn’t that he didn’t want to trust him, he did, he did with all his hungry, rawboned being. Trust was a rare commodity in his life these days. No one did anything without the promise of gain, not in dark dank neon illuminated alleyways. Not in this world. Where was the payoff? Jae swallowed back his fear and forced it down once more, tucked it back behind his ribcage. With a silent nod he fell into step beside Grey, gaze downcast to the puddles beneath their feet. “Mm?” He drew his attention off of the asphalt, breaking into a weary smile. The toll this life took on him was clearly written across his thin face. The circles beneath Jae’s eyes were dark and red in exhaustion and sickness. His lips were cracked, his cheeks pale. Bruises mottled his body, angry ugly awful in color. “I remember.” For one fleeting moment he smiled, there was something sad to it, but something else. A satisfaction, a secret between the two of them. He remembered and suspected that Grey did too. He had to. That was the payoff. Jae tightened his arms around himself, shivering pathetically in the chill of the night. Without thought he gravitated towards Grey as if proximity without actual contact could keep him warm. He had to grit his teeth hard to exert enough force to keep up with his stride. An awful shock of pain shot up the bones of his leg with each step he took, courtesy a wrenched ankle that could never quite untwist. Despite this, Jae remained beside him. “D’you think I’d actually be out here if I had any fucking ideas?” The laugh that escaped surprised even Jae himself, perhaps he was hungrier for a simple bit of human contact than he was for actual food. Hungrier than he had even realized. “There are uh… a couple’a foreclosed homes a couple blocks away…” That was territory he didn’t belong in, something he learned the hard way, but thunder was rumbling over Lake Michigan now. There was no time to be cautious. “I know the way.” For a moment he hesitated, rooted to the spot in fear, but an awful ache clawed at the lining of his stomach. Urged on by starvation, Jae mustered all the courage he had left and pushed of.
Jude’s lips twitched up in a curious smile as he trailed the pad of his thumb along the dotting of Lennon’s freckles lightly. “Me lookin’ at ya is embarrassing?” He chuckled softly, nipping gently on Lennon’s lower lip. He smiled triumphantly as he watched the heat rise to Lennon’s cheeks, turning them a bright red shade as he blushed furiously under Jude’s gaze. Encouraged by Lennon’s small sounds of approval, Jude lifted his hips up with faster movements as he pulled Lennon down harder, nails digging into Lennon’s hips as he struggled to control his ragged breathing. He smirked in between urgent kisses, murmuring words against Lennon’s swollen lips. “Ahh, I like it when y’say my name like that.” A sharp, surprised breath escaped as Lennon suddenly pushed Jude back against his knees without warning. Jude’s grin widened with anticipation and a growing hunger for Lennon that he wasn’t sure he could contain any longer without being driven completely mad. “Aaand what d’ya think you’re doing, hm??” He quirked a brow and tried to play coy as Lennon pulled down his jeans slowly, his body betraying him with a shudder. Kneading his fingers into Lennon’s hair, Jude tugged lightly, pulling him closer instinctively as Lennon’s teeth trailed along his hip. “F-fuck, Len..” He tilted his head back as his eyelids slipped shut dazedly, pushing his hips toward Lennon to urge him further. A breathless, frustrated groan slipped out as Lennon’s tongue came to a halt, the ache that had been steadily building in the pit of Jude’s stomach expanding by a tenfold. His eyes fluttered open to reveal a narrowed, disappointed gaze. “Fuck you,” Jude drawled, amusement and lust coloring his features. He followed Lennon’s instruction obediently and kicked off his jeans with hasty impatience, grinning crookedly as Lennon responded to his hand’s deviously slow movements against his thigh. “Someone’s impatient—” He cut himself off by growing impatient himself and crashing his mouth down against Lennon’s in a rough, breathless kiss. Breaking away after a moment, Jude averted his attention to Lennon’s boxer-briefs, trailing his tongue along the skin above his waistband before pulling at it with impatience. He flicked his gaze up to Lennon for approval but didn’t wait long before nipping at the waistband with his teeth, playing with it teasingly before pushing the fabric down with a slow movement of his hands. “Y’okay?” Jude slurred, brows knotted with concern before he continued to pull away Lennon’s underwear, tossing the unwanted layer aside with no more than a passing glance. At Lennon’s words, Jude stilled, a beautiful smile of relief and a fondness for Lennon he found was growing immensely with every passing second crossing his face. He laughed breathlessly, brushing the pad of his thumb along Lennon’s bottom lip slowly. “So are you,” He murmured, pulling Lennon in for a soft, tender kiss. “You’re everythin’..” God, nothing he was saying made sense, he knew that — he just hoped Lennon knew he meant it. Even through his alcohol induced, lust driven haze, Jude meant every single word. He let his gaze slip over Lennon’s body hungrily, now fully unclothed, a sweet but eager smile turning up at the corner of his lips. It all felt like a dream, truthfully, but God, he hoped it wasn’t. He needed this to be real more than anything else. Slowly, with one careful, swift movement, Jude ran his hand along Lennon’s newly uncovered skin gently before grabbing hold of him entirely. With a ragged breath and a tentative smile, Jude looked to Lennon for approval once more, slowly moving his hand with what he hoped was a comfortable grip. “D’you like that?” His words were shaky with short breaths as he tried desperately to contain himself and focus solely on Lennon, on giving him what he needed, providing relief. With a light nod of permission and a small smile, Jude brushed his lips against Lennon’s just barely and pressed their foreheads together as he shifted slightly to allow Lennon to slip off his own boxer-briefs, finding a steady pace with his hand all the while. There was no tension, no awkward pause, not a single thread of doubt in Jude’s mind through it all. Being with Lennon felt natural, instinctual, like they were made to move this way with each other, and he couldn’t fathom how it took them so long to finally give in, but he knew for certain there was no way he could ever go back.
Lennon licked his lips before managing a nod, silent for a moment as he fought to catch his breath. “Y-yeah, M’okay.” He smiled, a swell of nervous affection filling his chest at the sight of Jude’s concern. Taking a deep breath, he braced himself for Jude’s reaction, whatever that may be. He just wanted him to like what he saw, like him. A cool shiver slipped down his spine when he lifted his hips to help Jude tug down his boxer briefs. Never once had Lennon felt quite so vulnerable in front of another person before. In silence he waited for a reaction, eyes flicking open in surprise once Jude spoke up with words he hadn’t been expecting. Lennon’s breath caught hard in his throat, he knew his cheeks were practically fluorescent by now, but he couldn’t catch a hold of himself. He opened his mouth to respond, surprised to find an ‘i love you’ fighting to get free. The phrase almost flew free, but he choked on the butterflies that had filled his stomach. This was too much and it was too soon but he knew he felt it with every single bone in his body. He felt it so strongly that he was sure it would simply burst free without warning. To his great relief Jude kissed him before those three little words could escape and scare him away. “Everything…” He repeated in a soft mumble, tasting the way the word felt in his mouth. Right. Warm. Wonderful. No one had ever said such a thing about him, nothing half as beautiful. His heart fluttered nervously in his chest as Jude pulled away, no matter how much he trusted Jude with himself and with his heart he couldn’t help the anxiety he felt. Biting his lower lip, he took a deep breath and silently assured himself before opening his eyes. A breathless grin tugged up at the corners of his mouth when he caught sight of the look on Jude’s face. There was something in his eyes that left him exhilarated. Unlike the shyness that his gaze drew from him only minutes earlier, this time Lennon felt confident. At ease. His lips parted with a sharp gasp, a quiver passing over him as he felt the rough texture of Jude’s calloused fingers and the warmth of his palm. He was gentle too, gentler than anyone who had come before him. A low hum of approval passed Lennon’s lips, eyes slipping shut as his head lolled back against the bed. A light laugh of surprise escaped in response to Jude’s question. For all the clumsy hands that had touched him before, none were accompanied with such concern. Lennon opened his mouth but no words came, voice caught in the back of his throat at first. “Y—yeah… I like that… I do.” He drawled, his voice heavy with longing. When their foreheads bumped together Lennon looked up to him with a fond gaze. Jude was beautiful like this with his lazy smile and flushed cheeks. Gently Lennon bit down on his lower lip and dragged back as they pulled apart. To hold him close he tangled one hand in the hair at the back of his head, only messing it up further. He was practically starry eyed, as embarrassing as it was to admit, but moving with him felt right, touching him like this felt right. Lennon dragged his free hand down the length of his spine, determined to map out each contour and curve he encountered like topography. He liked Jude’s body and the way it felt, he liked the warmth and weight of it, the tension of his muscles when he flexed and shifted, the light freckles that dotted his skin so few and far between. Lennon’s fingers lingered at the top of his underwear for a moment before he grasped it firmly. Jude was bound to notice how unwieldily he had grown in his earnest advances, hands shaking, clumsy, useless. After toying with the elastic of his waistband Lennon finally pulled them away and pushed them down. Slowly he drew his hands over Jude’s now exposed hips, reveling in the warmth he radiated and the softness of his skin. There was so much trust between them, so much trust and so much affection. This was ineffably different from his past experiences, other times with other people. Now there was no awkward faltering, no rough drunken fumbles. Jude was being so gentle. After months of Dylan he was stunned by just how thrilling tenderness could be. He couldn’t help but think that this was how things were supposed to be. Comfortable. Safe. All he could hope was that Jude felt the same. His eyes fluttered shut with a ragged groan, back arching hard to push up against him “God, Jude… keep— keep goin’.” Uncertain where to place them, Lennon’s hands hovered uselessly in midair for a beat. If he was being honest, he still didn’t know much about sex. He knew how to talk about it, knew how to flirt, knew how to get people to want it from him, but in actuality his experience was reactive not proactive. Touch this, go harder, hold that, suck me off. He could take directions but knew so little on his own. For a moment his eyes slipped shut and his fingers tangled up in the bedsheets beneath them, caught up in how right this all felt, how nice it was. Lennon forced his eyes open and forced himself to focus again, this wasn’t just about him. Hesitantly he reached between them, faltering once or twice before taking a hold of Jude. “Just…” Lennon struggled to catch his breath as he spoke. “Just tell me what y’like.” At first he moved slowly, simply listening for the heaviness of Jude’s breath and the quiet sounds he made, trying to gauge his reactions. He wanted this to be right for him and feel good, to be enough to bring him back for more. Daring a glance up to Jude with heavy lidded eyes, a light smile ghosted across Lennon’s face. “How— Ah…“ His voice caught in his throat with a soft sound when he first spoke up. “…how’s that?”
Grey clenched his jaw, squared his shoulders, balled up his fists at his sides — all an immediate instinctual reaction at the anger that laced the man’s words. Always prepared to use his power to his advantage, Grey still only had minor control over his unusual abilities, but they had come in handy more times than he could count. Often they were the only thing that stood between Grey and death altogether. He had long learned to choose his battles wisely, but as he let his eyes scan the frail body that lay before him, Grey remembered why he was here in the first place. This man was no threat. “I can see that. Trust me, I don’t want anything you’ve got.” He hissed, reminded himself internally to soften his tone— he was here to help, not intimidate. “I heard you. Now get up.” Yeah, Grey, not intimidating in the slightest. “I mean.. you look like fucking roadkill. You must be hungry. I’ve got—” He cut himself off, looked around with paranoia, careful not to raise his voice even an octave higher than necessary. If anyone knew he had something of value, anything at all, he and the boy would be dead in a second. The streets of Chicago were cold and merciless and it looked like the familiar face staring up at him had learned that himself the hard way. “I’ve got food.” Grey shuffled his feet uncomfortably, always itching to keep moving. Standing still was risky, especially at night — you were a sitting duck, an easy target. “I don’t have time for this shit, man. Follow me or don’t. No skin off my fucking back.”
Jae’s confidence flickered into thin air as he noticed the man — no, boy — assessing him. He knew he didn’t stand up to a threat analysis, all he had going for him was knee-jerk fear. No one would be frightened of him if they sent so much as a second glance his way. “W-what?” He stammered, all that bristling hackles raised growling aggression falling to the wayside, instead replaced by surprise. The hiss was supposed to be an insult and looking down at himself, his tattered dirty clothing and poorly ductaped sneakers he knew it to be true, but the concept was comforting. There was nothing this guy could take from him, nothing he wanted to take from him. Security in nothingness, a strange concept. Frowning, Jae flicked his gaze back up to him, a sudden flare of anxiety closing up his throat. The harsh commanding timbre of his voice caused him to flinch. Warily he eyed him, but the fact was simple. He could hurt him just as easily on the ground as on his feet, more easily, even. Standing was the safest bet. Swallowing hard, Jae staggered up upon his scrawny legs. Surprisingly, Jae realized that he wasn’t scared. Hesitant perhaps. But not scared. If he was going to hurt him he would have done it already. “Roadkill?” He quirked a brow, the slightest of smiles flickering across his face before falling away. Sheer surprise wrote itself across his gaunt, tired features. “Shit… shit are you serious?” In awful hope his heart fluttered in his chest. Jae stole a look around him before looking back to the boy. He narrowed his eyes, studying him. Grey… that was his name, he was certain. Perhaps his stay at the group home hadn’t been long, but it certainly had been vivid. He remembered it, remembered him. “What—“ Jae’s voice faltered awkwardly, scratchy and worn from the slow steady return of Chicago’s autumn weather and the cool dank air that blew in off of Lake Michigan. With one more furtive glance around them, Jae spoke up once more. “What do I have to do for it?” Earnestly he studied Grey’s face, holding his gaze. More than once now he was forced to turn down offers of money, of food and shelter, for the high price tags they came with. He dropped his gaze to their feet with the heavy sinking realization that this time he was willing to do anything. He would do that if it meant he had a meal today. “Hm?” A deep frown furrowed upon Jae’s bruised brow, but he knew he couldn’t stay, not here. Despite his apprehension and confusion, he took a step, then another, falling into place beside Grey. Defensively he wrapped his arms around himself, maybe to protect himself from the cold, maybe to protect himself from Grey. “Where are we goin’?”
The sticky humidity of the mid-September air had subsided rapidly as the day wore on, a cold, sharp wind fighting uncomfortably through the thin layers of Grey’s ratty clothes. Night was upon him now, the blinding lights of dated neon signs in storefront windows providing the only illumination across the dark street corners. Grey had slipped out of the small clearing he’d claimed at the side of an overpass in the center of the city that had served as his home for several days— until now. He had seen a much larger vagrant sniffing around earlier and knew it was time to move on, lest he get entangled in a battle over territory that he wasn’t prepared to fight for- it wasn’t nearly worth the hassle, it was always best to keep moving. Stuck in his focused thoughts, pouring over every inch of the city in a map he kept tucked away in his brain, trying to figure out where best to settle for the night, Grey almost passed the familiar shivering form curled up in a dirty, damp alleyway. He heard a soft, pained groan as he lingered, brows knotted in curiosity as he studied the seemingly asleep man. Dark, matted hair, slant eyes, permanent troubled expression. The last time he’d seen that face, they were both living in the same group home, though it hadn’t lasted long. It felt like a lifetime ago. Grey shook his head, tried to steer himself. He’ll survive, he told himself. Not your problem. Didn’t matter then, doesn’t matter now. As he began to walk away, hand firmly gripping the strap of his backpack, full of what little supplies, clothing and food he had managed to scrounge up that week, something in Grey stilled. He hadn’t helped the boy before, hadn’t even bothered to learn his name, and he couldn’t help the guilt that plagued him when he thought about how lost and afraid the stranger had been when placed in the group home, only to be thrown out a week later. Groaning internally, Grey decided it wouldn’t kill him to help at least a little.. just the once. Turning sharply on his heel, he gently pushed his foot into Jae’s side, unable to ignore how his ribs seemed to jut out, even through the cover of his dirty, hole filled shirt. “Hey, man.. wake up.”
The streets of Chicago were mean, they had teeth, Jae knew that well now. This was his home, the place he lived all of his life, he thought he knew them well. He didn’t. Still didn’t. All the sheltered naiveté that clouded his eyes was gone now, but he still couldn’t see any clearer. Jae was cut for a different life than this, he didn’t fit the mold, hadn’t grown into it. He knew how to make a fist but he didn’t know how to throw one without flinching. The thought of causing harm, of cutting his own knuckles on someone else’s teeth, made his stomach twist in disgust. Within days of homelessness Jae’s already spindly frame withered away, collapsed in on itself to reveal a framework of painful ribs and sharp collarbones. He hated himself for it, hated himself for being too weak willed to fight for food, for letting himself get to the point that he was too weak bodied to fight for food. Stealing was hard. Hard on his heart, not hard for his hands. Missing merchandise came off of employee paychecks, as a storekeeper’s son he knew that well. But he also knew he was going to starve soon if he didn’t figure something out. So he did it, he stole, he grabbed a bag of chips from the back of the convenience store where the cameras couldn’t see him and he ran. He ran and he ran and he ran. He ran and he broke all his rules only to be left with dark new bruises and the empty foil bag that once held his chips. The thug that took them didn’t even need the food, he just wanted someone to toy with, he just wanted to see the look of horror on Jae’s face when he dumped the chips on the cement and stepped on them. Footsteps echoed down the chilly alleyway but Jae hardly reacted, he wanted to disappear. Defensively he curled into himself, praying to a god he had no faith in that this one would leave him alone. Funny, how that went. When he needed help he didn’t exist, but when he helped himself he had a bullseye marked on his back. A horrid yelp escaped from the back of Jae’s throat when someone touched him. The contact wasn’t rough, but that’s the thing, it was contact. The concept of a kind touch had long since been dispelled. It held no relevance in his life. He hardly had time to react, to throw up his arms to protect his head from the beating he would soon be faced with, but he did the best he could. Slowly realization washed over him, settled deep in his bones like the chill of the night had before it. Blinking, he uncurled and looked up to the man before him. That face… it was familiar. A sharp knot tied tightly in Jae’s stomach when he realized he was from the group home all those months ago. “I don’t—“ He choked on his voice at first, but bolstered himself on with a set jaw. “I don’t have anything work taking.” His voice shook, not with fear, but ferocity, like stray dog that growled at the slightest of advances. Maybe his ribs showed and his hair was matted but he still had teeth to bare. Jae’s cheeks glowed with tears, illuminated by the flickering neon lights across the street. Even in his withered, pitiful state there was a savage look about him. A hunger in his eyes that hadn’t existed but a few months earlier. “Didn’t you fucking hear me?” Jae could only hope he sounded braver than he felt, sounded larger, sounded untouchable. He knew he didn’t. Swallowing hard, Jae squeezed his eyes shut to hold back a wave of frustrated tears. What was next? His shirt? His shoes? How much did he actually have left to be taken away?