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Chance or Fate: on New Year's Eve by R.J. Moray (1)











Chance or Fate



Maybe it was fate. Maybe fate didn’t want him to go to the party after all. That would be typical. Theo stared helplessly into the engine until he couldn’t put it off any longer, then he slammed the hood and called Dallas.

“Tell me you’re on your way,” Dallas said as soon as he picked up. “Tell me I don’t have to cuss you out.”

“I was on my way,” Theo told him crossly. “Something’s gone wrong with the car.”

“Crash?” Dallas asked at once, all the playfulness gone from his voice.

“No,” Theo reassured him. “It just…gave up.”

He could hear Dallas relax, his tone shifting into something teasing. “Did you forget to fill the tank?”

“No, it just gave up. I don’t know what’s wrong with it.”

“Well, call your guy. Get him to look at it.”

Theo rubbed his eyes, already tired of this conversation, “The dealership’s closed. It is, if you remember, New Year's Eve.”

Dallas scoffed. “Theodore James Brouwer, don’t be so naive. Anyone will work New Year's if you pay them enough. Don’t worry, I’ll call my guy. Just text me where you're at and I’ll take care of everything.”

He hung up. Theo swore, and kicked the front tire of the car, which hurt a lot more than he’d imagined. He swore again, louder this time. God, nothing was going right for him tonight.

He ran his fingers through his hair, wishing he could come up with an excuse. He didn’t want to go to the party. He didn’t want to see Dallas. No, that wasn’t true. He didn’t want to see Ned and Tilly, didn’t want to watch them falling in love while he…did nothing at all. There was, anyway, nothing he could do to stop it.

And nothing he could do now except send Dallas the location of his breakdown, and wait for some macho asshole in a tow-truck to save him.



“Hey, Danny! You drunk yet?”

Danny looked up from the pot of marinara. “Do I look drunk to you?”

“Eh, you know Moretti men can hold their liquor,” Enzo said, coming into the kitchen. He took the spoon from Danny’s hand and Danny allowed it, having twenty-seven years of practice at letting his brother have his way. Anyway, it was Enzo’s spoon, and Enzo’s kitchen. “Pop’s already knee deep in vino and he reckons he’s good to drive but I told him, nah, Danny can take care of it. Right Danny?”

“Take care of what?” Danny asked, immediately suspicious.

“Got a call out.” He said it as if Danny should already know.

“Jeez, it’s New Year's fricken Eve—”

Enzo didn’t let him finish. “One of Pop’s VIPs. You know how it is.”

Danny did know how it was. Rich assholes from uptown who paid extra for first class treatment, the kind of guy who never showed up in person to drop off a car, or pick it up, leaving all the details to a flunky.

And this time, the flunky was him. “Tell me we’re getting danger money for this.”

“Danger money,” Enzo scoffed. “We’re gettin’ paid. What more do you want?”

“To enjoy my evening, uninterrupted.”

“Like you're doing anything tonight. Look at you, you ain’t even dressed to go out. Louisa said you had a hot date,” Enzo added, looking vaguely uncomfortable. “What happened with that?”

He was trying his best, Danny knew that. His dad and his brother were always a little uncomfortable about Danny’s dates, knowing who they were with. It wasn’t that they disapproved, exactly, it was just (as his dad had put it one night after way too much vino) that they wanted him to be happy, and happiness for them took the shape of a comfortable marriage and lots of fat babies.

Danny had pointed out that he could still have both of those if he wanted, but the argument had fallen flat. Anyway, he wasn’t sure that was what he wanted. Lately, what he’d wanted was something else entirely.

Which was part of why he wasn’t going on a date tonight. “Fell through. Wasn’t feeling it.”

“The date or, uh, the guy?”

Poor Enzo, trying so hard to be a good big brother. “The guy. Not my type. Too bossy,” he lied. Bossy hadn't been the problem at all.

Enzo eyed him sidelong. “Bossy could be good for you,” he said. “Keep you in line.”

“I don’t need keeping in line,” Danny said, suddenly done with this conversation. “Hey, where’s this call out? It’s like fifty degrees. Don’t wanna keep Pop’s VIP freezin'.”

Enzo was still eyeing him like there was anything interesting to see. But he wasn’t the worst big brother in the world, so he let it go, much to Danny’s relief. “Out on Hyde Avenue. Silver Lexus. Just a break down, but you should take the truck.”

As if Danny wouldn’t have taken the truck. He pulled a face. “I know how to do my job, Enzo,” he said, and regretted it when Enzo punched him in the arm.

“I know, bro. Hey, don’t take too long. Louisa’s got her heart set on Pictionary, later.”

He rolled his eyes and Danny couldn’t help his laugh. It put a grin on his face as he changed into boots and overalls. A night in with his dad, his brother, his sister-in-law, and the girls. Pictionary.

My fucken life, he thought, not without affection.

It was a good life, a nice family-friendly life, which he was supposed to bring a nice family-friendly guy home to, some day.

But family-friendly wasn’t what he wanted. Not anymore.

These days Danny wanted something sharper, harder. Someone he could dominate, in the ways they liked to be dominated. And he’d found a place full of those kind of people, had played around in the scene, exploring the things that made him tick. Safe. Sane. Consensual.

It wasn’t that he wanted something that wasn’t safe, sane, and consensual, it was just…

Something spontaneous. Something unexpected. Something he couldn’t get from those jaded subs with their elaborate kink-lists. Something he certainly hadn’t been going to get from the guy he was no longer taking out tonight.

Something simple. Something new.

He’d have to leave that up to chance, as unlikely as it seemed. Tonight he was working, after all. And tomorrow? Well, he’d wait and see.



By the time the tow truck pulled up, Theo was down to ten percent phone battery, and ready to tear his hair out. He stuffed his phone in his pocket and got out of the car, cross and cold and sick of this already.

He was expecting Dallas’s ‘guy’ to be a thick-necked gnarl of a man, red-faced and blustery and completely disdainful of Theo in every way possible. But the guy who got out of the truck was trim, muscular in a fireman-calendar kind of way, his ashy blond hair clippered short around a broad-planed face that was, in fact, very handsome. He was dressed in once-blue overalls gone gray with age and use, an oil-stained undershirt doing a bad job of hiding his muscles. He slammed the door of the cab shut and strode over, exuding exactly the kind of masculinity that made Theo’s hackles stand up. And, if he was honest, his dick.

“You Dallas?” the guy asked, in a no-nonsense let’s-get-this-over-with tone of voice.

Theo stared at him for a moment, taking in the sight of him. God, he was actually pretty fucking hot. “Yeah. Uh, I mean, no.”

“No?” The guy’s fine straight eyebrows went up, and he glanced over his shoulder like he was looking for someone else.

Probably Dallas. Fuck, Theo needed to get his act together. “No. But Dallas called for me. Like, half an hour ago—what took you so long?”

He regretted it at once. There was no need to start a fight with this guy, and hell, the guy could easily abandon him here. But Theo wasn’t good at apologies. He didn’t know how to sound like he meant it. Fuck, he was fucked.

But instead of getting pissed at him, the guy smiled this slow half-smile. It made him look about fifty percent less terrifying, and about a hundred percent more attractive. Which was, given his resting attractiveness, a lot for a guy to take in.

“So what’s your name, kid?”

Kid? “Theo,” he snapped.

The guy nodded. “Okay, Theo. I’m Danny. Wanna pop the hood for me?”

“Sure,” Theo said icily. He did, and then backed up to let Danny have all the space he needed. Not because he was intimidated, no. He wasn’t. He really wasn’t, it was just…

Danny moved like something powerful, a panther prowling back and forth between his truck and Theo’s car. He was, as Theo had already noticed, attractively muscular, and now Theo couldn’t help but picture the muscle under his clothes, the way it would ripple and flex under Danny’s tan skin.

He was, quite simply, beautiful. Long and lean, hard with muscle, clean-cut but something rough about him that made Theo’s gut tingle. It was impossible not to watch him. Theo could only be grateful that Danny was too occupied to see Theo doing it, to see him helpless with sick admiration for the guy. Fuck, his ass was perfect, the heavy cotton of his overalls pulled tight across it as he bent over the engine.

As if reading his thoughts, at that moment Danny looked back over his shoulder. Theo froze, caught in the act. For an eternal heartbeat he thought this was it, this was the moment he got caught checking out a guy’s ass and had the living hell knocked out of him.

But instead of sneering in disgust, Danny swept his gaze over Theo’s body, slow and appreciative. It felt like tiny pinpricks dragged over Theo’s skin in the wake of those eyes, dark under the streetlights. When his gaze caught Theo’s, he winked, so fast Theo was sure he’d imagined it. Except. He hadn’t imagined that look, nor did he now imagine Danny stretching himself over the car, cocking his hips in a way that was designed to invite attention.

Fuck. He’d caught Theo checking him out and then he’d checked Theo out. He had. He’d made it obvious, and also…casual. Like it was no big deal. Like Theo didn’t have to stress out over it, though of course he did.

Straight guys did not just check you out like that. Theo knew from painful experience that straight guys went to incredible lengths to keep from looking like they were checking you out.

Which meant what, exactly? That Danny wasn’t straight? That Danny was…interested in him? Or simply that Danny had caught Theo looking, and now he was messing with him.

Danny turned around, and his broad mouth was curled up into the faintest hint of a smirk. “So,” he drawled, long and slow, “the bad news is: your alternator’s shot. The good news is: I can give you a tow to the garage.”

“Oh.” Theo blinked fast, wondering what he was supposed to say to that. “How long will it take to fix?”

“A couple of days. Since technically we’re shut down over the new year.”

“I guess that’s fine, then.” Two days without a car. He could crash at Dallas’s, but that meant going to the party, and he desperately wanted to avoid that if he could. He didn’t particularly want to go home, either. His parents were out, of course, but his mom would fuss if she saw him later, and he’d had about as much of his dad’s disapproval as he could stand.

Danny was looking at him, eyes narrowed in contemplation. “You know, most people ask how much it’s going to cost.”

“That’s not a problem,” Theo said, hearing how defensive he sounded and hating it. If anything, this only made Danny’s eyes narrow further.

“I’ll write you up a quote when we get to the garage,” Danny said.

“Cool.” Theo didn’t know what to say so he just stood there like an idiot, staring at the guy. There was something about him, something that made Theo feel weirdly on edge. Not like they were going to fight, but something else entirely. Something Theo wasn’t sure how to handle.

Danny smiled his slow half-smile. “So. Get in the truck, Theo,” he prompted.

Theo grit his teeth, and did as he said.



Theo looked like sex on a stick. He couldn’t be more than twenty-two, not with that smooth, luminous skin, kissed gold by the sun. His mouth was luscious, a perfectly plump pout Danny wanted to sink his teeth into the second he saw Theo lick nervously over his lip. His face was high-cheekboned and sharp, with dark eyes that flickered away every time Danny looked at him in the privacy of the truck.

And Danny couldn’t stop looking at him.

He was dressed like every other douche-bag that brought their Lexus (paid for with daddy’s money) into the garage, a disheveled peacock of a man. His jeans were too tight, too artfully ripped, acid-splashed and hateable. His tank was too big, the neck cut too deep, showing off too much of his smooth-waxed chest. He had too many necklaces strung around his neck, a sparkly collar high up at his throat that made Danny’s hands clench into fists because it was wrong. There were rings on Theo’s fingers, sparkles glimmering at his wrists below the rolled-back cuffs of a blazer that probably cost more than Danny’s entire wardrobe. His hair was bleached, just the top of it and his long bangs, white-gold tips fading into the short-cropped back of it where it sat dark against his skin.

He was ridiculous. And beautiful. And Danny had caught him checking out his ass, and that was interesting.

More interesting, though, was his attitude. He acted like every other trust-fund douche that walked into the garage expecting to be treated like royalty, but his hostility had this raw, naked edge to it. Like this was a defense mechanism against something else, something haunting. Danny wanted to put his hand in it, mess it up. It was tempting, and ultimately impossible.

They drove in silence back to the garage, towing the Lexus behind. Danny reminded himself that Theo was very much out of his league, in the sense that he could probably buy out the Moretti family garage with the allowance from his trust fund, but more importantly he was…well. Fragile might not be the right word for it. Breakable, maybe.

He looked so breakable. Danny really wanted to find out how breakable he was at his core. Because there was something about Theo that made it hard to think of anything except pushing him to his knees and ordering him to open up his mouth and—

“Sorry for interrupting your plans,” Theo said roughly, breaking into Danny’s thoughts. It was, as apologies went, pretty insincere.

“I wasn’t doing much.” Just Pictionary with his nieces. But he didn’t really want to come off as a lonely loser, so he added, “My date for tonight was already canceled.”

“She ditched you?”

Pronouns. “No. I ditched him,” Danny said, knowing exactly what kind of bombshell that was to drop on someone in a car with you.

Theo froze. Then he turned, his eyes fixing on Danny with this laser-like intensity. He didn’t say anything for about ten seconds, and then— “What did he do wrong?”

“Nothing. I just wasn’t feeling it, you know?”

“No. I don’t know. I don’t date.”

“You don’t date at all?” It seemed weird for a pretty guy like him to be, what, celibate? Or maybe he just hooked up, no strings.

“No.” Theo was still staring at him. “What’s it like?”

“Messy,” Danny said, distracting them both from the attractive topic of what Theo did instead of dating. “You try to get to know someone, but you don’t want them to get to know you too well in case they don’t like what they see. And they’re doing the same thing, putting on this best version of themselves, so by the time you really see past each other’s bullshit it’s too late. You’re emotionally attached. And then you either pretend you’re happy or you split, and it sucks.”


“Not really,” Danny relented. “But that’s what it feels like, sometimes. It’s exhausting.”

Theo was quiet for a moment, and then— “I figured I could skip all that. Just meet someone and click, and get on with it.”

Danny snorted, weaving through the typical New Year’s Eve traffic. “Yeah, except to click you generally have to date. Girls like that.”

“I don’t give a fuck what girls like.”

Well, that was tantalizing. This was a strange conversation to be having with a customer, but it was a strange kind of night. Theo was strange, too sharp-edged and beautiful to be real.

And kind of awful, too. “Well, you’re probably gonna die alone, then.”

Surprisingly, Theo laughed, throwing back his head. “I guess.”

Danny found he liked Theo’s laugh. It was savage and sharp, self-deprecating. There was a hurt edge to it, something heartbreaking in the way Theo’s mouth stretched around it, gone wide and wild. God, he was so fucking pretty it was making it hard for Danny not to just lay it out on the table: Come back to my place. Click with me. I wanna see you come.

Somehow he managed to keep that in, all the way to the garage. He unlocked the office and led Theo inside. The lights flickered to life, casting an ugly yellow glow over Theo’s beautiful face. Freckles dappled the bridge of his nose. Danny turned away before he reached out to touch them.

“You’re not on the books, so I got some paperwork for you to fill out.” He handed Theo the clipboard and pen. The kid stared at it like he’d never seen a pen before. “You can write, right?”

It made Theo gape at him, and then that soft mouth settled into a pout. “Yeah.”

The way he looked up at Danny through his lashes made Danny’s skin feel tight. He wanted to touch those freckles so bad it made his bones ache. But he didn’t, just nodded. “I’ll be back in a few.”

He walked out. He wasn’t a coward, not by a long shot, but he found it hard to resist temptation when it was as pretty as Theo.



The second Danny walked out of the room Theo let all his breath go in a rush, sagging against the desk. Fuck. Fuck.

Did Danny know how hot he was? Did he do that slow half-smile-smirk on purpose to drive people crazy? Was he aware that he smelled like salt and sweat and engine oil, and that it was the sexiest thing Theo had ever smelled?

Well, he probably didn’t know that last part. God, Theo hoped not.

He stared down at the forms Danny had left for him, willed himself to pick up the pen, but all he could think of were Danny's eyes, looking him over like he was thinking about buying him. What a thrill. And now he knew Danny was, if not gay, then bi at least. Into guys. Was he into Theo? Was that possible?

“Do you want a beer?”

Theo jerked around, nearly dislodging a pile of folders from the desk. Danny was standing in the doorway, holding a dark bottle misted with condensation. More importantly, he’d unfastened his overalls to the waist and shrugged out of them, letting them fall down to hug his hips. Through his thin t-shirt Theo could make out the dark circles of his nipples, peaking against the fabric. God, he was so fucking hot. Theo tried to focus on what he’d said, and not his chest stretching out that stained white t-shirt until it looked ready to burst a seam.

The offer of beer surprised him. It seemed too casual for a business transaction, inappropriate in a way he couldn’t define. His dad always poured a glass of whiskey to seal a deal, but this was different.

Danny’s mouth did that half-smile thing again, and Theo felt it low down in his hips. “Since it’s New Year’s Eve, and all.”

Oh. Theo nodded. “Sure.”

Danny popped the top off the beer and handed it over. Then he produced his own, and opened that too. “Cheers,” he said, gesturing with it. “Happy New Year.”

“Happy New Year,” Theo echoed, tapping his bottle to Danny’s. The beer was cold against his palm, and bitter in his mouth. He watched Danny lift his own, the bob of Danny’s throat as he swallowed, and felt that convulsion of muscle run down his body like a phantom hand. It was too much to watch. He couldn’t look away. He felt like everything was out there on his face, this naked hunger that he had, until now, been able to keep hidden. Safe. Deep inside him where no-one could get at it.

Why was he so raw tonight? Was it Ned and Tilly? The knowledge that even now Ned’s hands were touching hers, that she was smiling and he was smiling back. And at midnight, when they kissed under the bright flash of the fireworks, he’d know they were kissing in that moment and be unable to bear it.

He scrubbed the back of his hand over his mouth. It must be that. He was wounded. There was no other reason why he’d feel spread open like this, exposed and vulnerable.

“So, where are you supposed to be right now?” Danny asked.

Theo cleared his throat. “Dallas is having a party in his brother’s penthouse. Last year there was burlesque. This year, who knows?”

Danny’s eyebrows went up. “Sounds fun.”

“It sounds like hell.” Theo took another pull of his beer, and picked up the clipboard as a distraction.

Danny remained propped in the doorway, drinking his beer. It was so quiet Theo could hear every swallow that went down his throat, and imagined it. Touching his Adam’s apple as it bobbed under the skin. The taste of his neck, his sweat.

Fuck, he was fantasizing about a guy’s neck, this was so pathetic.

“Why don’t you wanna go to your party?” Danny asked, his tone one of calm disinterest.

“No reason.”


He listened to the sound of sucking, of liquid sliding down a throat, and the smack of lips.

“Sounds to me like your friend is throwing a hell of a party. Why would you pass that up?”

Theo frowned and finished the last line of paperwork. Then he held out the clipboard between them. “It’s complicated.”

“Usually when someone says that,” Danny observed, taking the clipboard and slinging it onto the desk, “it really isn’t.”

“What makes you think I don’t want to go?” Theo demanded, clutching his beer until his fingers squeaked on the wet glass.

Danny smiled that slow half-smile. “For one, you said yes to the beer. For two, you haven’t said a damn thing about needing to get out of here. I can drive you, you know. It’s part of the service.” He took a long pull of his drink, and licked his lips. “And for three, when I said, ‘Why don’t you wanna go to your party?’ you didn’t deny it. You just said, ‘No reason.’ So. Why don’t you want to go to the party, Theo? What’s wrong?”

Fuck. Theo couldn’t take it, too tired of keeping it secret. “It’s N— two of my friends. They’re probably hooking up tonight.”


Theo shook his head. “You know ‘Mr Brightside’?”

“The Killers’ song?”

He nodded. “Yeah. It’s like that.” And that was all he could say, the closest he could get to admitting it, even to a total stranger. God, what was wrong with him?

But Danny didn’t judge him. All he did was cock his head, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully. “Does he know?”

“Ned?” Immediately he wanted the name back, but it was too late.

Danny nodded, slowly. “That you’re into him.”

It was like bursting a bubble. The secret, out. The thing he’d been wanting to tell someone, anyone, for so long. He’d tried, but no-one had been listening. No-one. Until Danny.

And Danny was watching him, a tiny spark of something in his eyes that might have been victory.

Still. Theo was stubborn at his core. “Why would you think I was—” he started, but Danny didn’t let him finish.

“C’mon, man,” he said, his voice this low down, intimate thing that invited Theo in close. “We both know.”

He’d been hiding this from everyone, from Ned, from Tilly—from Dallas, for Christ’s sake. From his dad. Oh God, from his mom. And Danny, a guy who’d known him for less than an hour, had seen it immediately, prising it out of him like a thief stealing a diamond from its setting.

What would Danny do with this information? Theo was entirely at the mercy of a stranger, a man he didn’t dare to trust. And they were alone.

His whole body felt frozen solid but hot with shame and longing. Because as much as he feared what Danny might do, the thought of Danny’s hands on him, even if they hurt him, was unbearable.

Then Danny put down his beer and reached up to touch Theo’s neck, skating cold damp fingers up under his jaw. “It’s okay,” he said, soft now. “You don’t gotta pretend with me,” and the sheer relief of it was like breaking the surface of the sea, finally able to breathe.



Danny didn’t plan on touching him. He’d told himself he wouldn’t, over and over, but then Theo looked so distressed, like his world was caving in, and Danny hadn’t had any choice.

“You don’t gotta pretend with me,” he said, fingering the soft edge of Theo’s face, shaven smooth and clean. Theo’s eyes fluttered closed and he tipped his cheek into Danny’s hand, so sweet and so vulnerable that Danny couldn’t help but tuck his fingers into the hollow behind his jaw, below his ear, and reel him in.

Theo’s lip was cold, bitter with beer, but the inside of it flashed warm in Danny’s mouth, and the tiny sound he made traced a ghostly finger down Danny’s belly to tease at his balls.

God, he wanted. But what he wanted was more than this messed up kid could take. Plus, Theo was obviously crazy about his friend, couldn’t bear to watch him hooking up and so was hiding here in Danny’s dad’s garage, kissing someone he barely knew. Didn’t know well enough to know better.

Danny exhaled and pulled reluctantly away. “You’re gonna be fine,” he said, but Theo reached out, fisting a hand in Danny’s t-shirt.

“Don’t,” he said, his eyes begging. God, they were dark, rich dark brown, his lashes long and thick. Danny wasn’t made of stone, was already melting when Theo said, “Please,” in such a desperately needy voice that Danny gave in.

He surged forward, carrying Theo up against the desk. Their mouths crashed together, and he pushed his way between Theo’s lips, sinking his tongue in deep to pry him open. Theo surrendered so easily, dropping back onto the desk and letting Danny bear him down. His body was taut, fraught with a tension that Danny longed to wind tight enough to snap, to wring out of him in long, slow strokes. Fuck. He wanted to fuck Theo, right here on the desk. He wanted—

It didn’t matter what he wanted. He couldn’t have what he wanted.

Theo moaned under him, his fingernails clawing at Danny’s chest, scoring him through his t-shirt. Danny grabbed his wrist and shoved him down, pinning him to the desk. Theo panted up at him, his mouth a red, wet, mess, eyes wide and needy, and he looked so completely ready to be debauched that Danny felt his resolve stretch thin.

He couldn’t. Theo was a customer. He was heartbroken. He was probably in the closet.

But. He wasn’t drunk, and he wasn’t a kid, and his eyes pleaded with Danny: Take me, please, I want you and I don’t know how to tell you.

Not enough. Danny needed to hear it. He twisted his grip on Theo’s wrists, hurting him just a little, but not enough to bruise his delicate skin. “What do you want, Theo? Want me to take you home?”

“Yeah,” Theo said, low down and rough, and for a moment Danny thought that was it, a brush off, but then— “Take me home with you and…and whatever you want.”

It was too big an offer. “Whatever I want?”

Theo nodded, raking his lip with his too-straight too-white teeth. “Anything. Just…don’t stop.”

Anything. The thought of it was sobering—'anything' was something people said when they didn’t know what ‘anything’ was.

Theo was a virgin, Danny knew with a sudden, painful clarity. At least, in all the ways that mattered. He had no idea just how badly Danny could hurt him if he wanted.

And Danny wanted to, of course he did. A pretty little rich boy begging him for his cock, completely unaware of what he was begging for?

It was a cruel aphrodisiac. Danny knew he shouldn’t say yes to this, he should stop, back off, tell Theo to go home and jerk off and…and what? That his friend would come around? That there were other fish in the sea?

Danny had hesitated too long; Theo flopped back on the desk and covered his face with one hand. “Fuck,” he whispered to no-one. “Fuck. Fuck.”

“What?” Danny demanded, still wavering.

“I’m so fucking stupid. I thought…but you don’t want me either.”

He sounded broken, like he was on the edge of tearing himself to pieces, and like that Danny’s mind was made up.

He shoved Theo’s thighs apart, rocking against his hips. “Does that feel like I don’t want you?”

Theo’s eyes flew open and he gasped, clearly feeling the hard bulge of Danny’s cock pressed up to him. His thighs spread wide, making room for Danny to shove up against him. “Fuck,” he whispered, but this time the tone was very different.

“Answer the question,” Danny growled, rutting into him again.

Theo moaned, his hips stuttering up. “Yes. I mean no.”

“That’s right.” Danny thrust up against him again. “I’m just trying to decide what I’m going to do with you. How rough you can take it.”

It was like he’d touched Theo with a live wire; his body convulsed, tensing up all over at, what? The idea of rough sex? “I can,” he promised, straining against Danny’s hands for a moment. “Anything, I swear.”

“No you can’t.” Danny squeezed Theo’s wrists when he began to protest. “You’ve never even taken a cock before, have you?”

Theo shook his head, his mouth wrenched in dismay.

“You’ve never sucked one either.” Another sharp shake of the head. “And you think you can take all of this?” Danny rubbed his hard length against the hardness in Theo’s jeans, enjoying the friction. “You’re out of your goddamn mind.”

“I can try,” Theo said, a stubborn set to his expressive mouth. Danny liked it too much to censure him for it, and anyway, Theo wasn’t his. Not yet. Maybe not ever but certainly not right now.

Danny wrapped a hand around Theo’s throat, leaning on him just enough to threaten. “Is this really what you want?”

Theo nodded and gasped, “Please!”

Fuck. Danny bent over him and bit his lip, hard. “I do like the sound of you begging,” he murmured, feeling the shudder of Theo’s body as his breath ran ragged in his chest.

Danny straightened up, hooking his fingers in the sparkly collar at Theo’s throat. “Take this off. Now.”

It was gratifying how quickly Theo did as he was told, dropping the collar on the desk and leaning up on his elbows. Danny stepped away from him, turning his back, but he paused in the doorway to crook his fingers.

“Come,” he said.

He didn’t check to see if Theo obeyed him; he could feel Theo’s hungry eyes on his back. Might as well give him something to look at. Danny stripped his t-shirt as he walked up the stairs, tossing it aside.

The upstairs apartment had been his dad’s, back in the day. He’d grown up here, familiar with it, and never found it lacking before now. Enzo had bought the house on Simpson Street, moved Pop out there a couple of years back, and now this was Danny’s, in all its squalid glory. He wondered how it looked to someone like Theo, if he saw the stains on the carpet, the dust, the grease coating the kitchen light fittings. Everything in it was cheap, in the way that Danny was cheap, but he didn’t care. If Theo ran now then he was a fucking coward who cared more about plush-pile and leather seating than he did about getting laid.

Danny stopped there in the living room, waited until he heard the scrape of a boot on the step, and turned.

Theo was so fucking beautiful it was like watching a fashion plate come to life. He walked into Danny’s living room with this slow slink, as if he was drunk or already fucked six ways to Sunday. Orange streetlight through the blinds caught the highlights of his face, the artificial brightness of his hair, the wet shine of his lip. He was still holding his beer, and he set it down without looking, crossing the floor with a look of pure want in his narrow, dark-lashed eyes.

The moment he was within arm’s reach Danny caught him by the hips and dragged him in. He went easily, let Danny put him where he wanted him. Danny took his mouth again, tasting him over and over, licking into and claiming him. Theo let it happen, not completely passive but so easy. He let Danny gather him up in his arms, let Danny tilt his head back, let Danny have him how he wanted, his fingers clutching at Danny’s ribs. His hands were tentative, and then desperate, and he ground his cock against Danny’s thigh, his body straining with urgency.

It was such a turn on to have him here, in this dingy fucking room, everything about him so clean and expensive and perfect. Danny wanted to mess him up, get him all dirty. Show him that no matter how clean and expensive he was, when it came down to it all he needed was Danny’s cock. He wanted Theo to beg for it, keen for it like he was dying, like he needed it.

“Tell me you want it,” Danny whispered in Theo’s ear. “Tell me you need my cock.”

“I n-need your cock,” Theo said, only stuttering a little.

Good enough. “Then get down on your knees and take it.”

The next moment stretched out forever, in it a silence so pure Danny thought he should be able to hear Theo’s heartbeat.

Then he caught the soft click of Theo’s throat, and his breath stilled as Theo knelt on the floor.



Kneeling for Danny felt strange. It was like nothing Theo had ever done before. Abase himself in front of a stranger? Fuck, no. If his dad had seen—

But his dad wasn’t here, and if he had been the kneeling wouldn’t be the worst thing Theo had done for Danny tonight. Or meant to do yet.

Because kneeling for Danny felt oddly right. Danny rubbed his fingers through Theo’s hair and it made his skin shudder, all the way down his back.

“Fuck. You’re beautiful down there.”

Theo shuddered, unable to explain even to himself why that affected him so bad. He wanted it again, but he didn’t know how to get it, so he just looked up at Danny, at his handsome face bathed in orange street light through the windows and said, “I’m ready.”

Danny understood what he meant, thank God. His big-knuckled hand slid over that firm, washboard belly, and into his overalls. He pushed them down and took out his cock. It was long and thick, and slightly curved, jutting out hard from its nest of dark curls. Theo sucked in a breath because…okay that was more dick than he’d anticipated. Or maybe it was just real, instead of on a screen or in his imagination. Right here, right now, in front of his face. Real. He could smell it. Damn, he wanted to taste it.

His cheeks flooded with heat. He could taste it. That was the whole reason he was down here in the first place—to take that cock. So he leaned in, but before he could get his lips on naked skin, there was a hand in his hair, gripping him firmly.

“Hold on, beautiful. You don’t have to do anything except open your mouth, and suck.”

God, that was somehow so much worse. And better. Theo did as he was told, parting his lips and looking up. Danny smiled his half-smile, and pushed the blunt head of his cock into Theo’s mouth. It slid past his lips, smearing fluid over them, and then it was inside him, riding over his tongue until it bumped the back of his throat.

“There, baby?”

Theo didn’t know how to respond, or even if he should. Instead, he sucked, working his tongue along the underside of Danny’s dick. God, the taste of him. Salt and sweat and man, and everything Theo wanted.

Above him, Danny groaned and his hips bucked, forcing his cock in deep. For a heady moment Theo thought he might gag, but then Danny drew back, wrapped a hand around the base of his cock and this time, when he drove in, he stopped just at the point where it became too much.

“That’s right. Like that.” Danny petted his hair once, gripped it again, and then he set a rhythm, fucking into Theo’s mouth with firm strokes. Theo whimpered, trying and failing not to drool. He felt giddy, wild, so reckless he thought his heart might burst. He was sucking cock in the upstairs room of a garage because a hot guy told him to get on his knees and…

He loved it. Fuck, that was the worst. He knew with a terrible, inescapable clarity that he really did love this, really did love Danny’s cock in his mouth. He moaned, curving his hands around Danny’s hips, sliding back over his ass. Danny let him, his breathing loose and ragged.

“Yeah. Yeah, beautiful. You feel so fucking good.”

It felt intensely powerful to hear the way Danny’s voice was breaking up, like he could barely stand the pleasure of Theo’s mouth. To do this to him, someone who had done this who knew how many times before, made Theo feel like a champion. God, he could do this for hours, just suck Danny, taste the salt of him, breathe in the masculine scent of his crotch, the sweaty musk of his skin.

But Danny pulled out, and ran the fat mushroom head of his cock over Theo’s lips. “That’s enough.”

Theo wiped his chin and tried to catch his breath. He let Danny tip his head back, drag the wet tip of his dick across his cheek, and Theo gazed up at him helplessly all the while.

“Get up,” Danny said, his voice low and rough, and Theo did it, lurching to his feet, and then Danny was in his mouth again, but his tongue this time, tasting himself from Theo’s lips.

Danny pushed him back across the room, through a door, and up against something that hit the back of his knees. He fell. Danny was on him at once, covering him with the weight of his hard, perfect body. Theo went where Danny wanted him, spread out on the bed, because it was a bed beneath him. The mattress gave as Danny climbed onto him, and Theo felt smothered, but… It was good. Fuck, this was what he’d always wanted, and what he’d never been going to get from Ned—but he didn’t want to think of Ned now, not with Danny in his mouth. Danny kissed like he was trying to devour him, and Theo wanted so badly to be devoured. He gave himself up, spreading his thighs to invite Danny between them. Danny came up hard against him, rolling his head back to grin a white, shark-like smile.

“Hey,” he said, raking his hand through Theo’s hair. “You okay?”

“Fuck yes,” Theo breathed, his heart pounding like a steam engine. “Do it. Come on,” and he wrenched at his belt, trying to get his pants off now, now, now.

Danny laughed. His face was so open now, nothing like the flat affect he’d given Theo back when they’d first met, oh, only hours ago.

“Slow down. No,” he said sharply when Theo kept trying to struggle out of his jeans. “Do as I say.”

Theo stopped at once, his whole body responding to the command in Danny’s voice.

“Better,” Danny said. He tweaked Theo’s ear with his fingers. “Stay still.”

“But—” Theo bit his lip. What was Danny going to do? Theo thought he knew but what if he didn’t? What if Danny did something unspeakable to him, something unbearable. What if—

Danny leaned in, his breath warm on Theo’s ear. “You said I could do anything I wanted to you. So that’s what I’m going to do. But if you change your mind, if you want me to stop, you have to say so. And I’ll stop. I promise. No matter what.”

“Is it going to hurt?” Theo blurted out, unable to stay silent any longer.

Danny made a soft sound, something almost sweet. “No, baby. Do exactly what I tell you, and I won’t hurt you a bit.”

He kissed Theo’s jaw, and then his mouth, and Theo felt the tension in him shift from his chest to his crotch.

“So lie still for me, okay?” Danny said.

“Okay,” Theo whispered back.

Danny ran his hand up under Theo’s tank, his thumb tracing a coil of heat around the rim of Theo’s belly button. “You’re so fucking smooth,” he said, and then he had Theo’s tank rucked up to his throat, and his mouth closed hot and wet on a nipple.

Theo sucked in a whimper. He thought Danny might bite him but no, he just sucked hard, and tickled Theo with his tongue. Theo had never thought his nipples were sensitive but now, under Danny’s mouth, they felt like live wires, running a current straight to his cock. He gasped, and bucked up, and remembered what Danny had said. He tried to hold still but the torment of Danny’s mouth on him was too much.

“You really can’t obey orders, can you?”

Danny sounded amused, not angry, but Theo felt the accusation too keenly. “I want to,” he said, honesty coming easy now that Danny had him on the bed in the half-light. “I want you to—”

“To what?” Danny lapped at the peaked flesh of his nipple, teasing it with his tongue.

“To make me. I want you to do it and I want…to do as you say.”

Fuck, admitting it hurt. But Danny didn’t make fun of him. He rumbled in his throat, like a lion eyeing something delicious. “That’s good. Because I want you to let me do this. I want to make you come so hard you see stars. And, I really want to fuck you.”

There. This was it, no going back. “I want you to,” Theo said, his heart racing because…fuck, Danny was going to do it. Danny was going to fuck him and finally, finally Theo would know for certain.

“Good. So. Take off your jacket and shirt, and then lie as still for me as you can.”

Theo did as he was told. For once, obedience thrilled him. Maybe it was Danny’s voice, so self-assured. Theo had never wanted to do as someone told him so much as as he did now, longing to do as Danny wanted. He lay still, his breath coming fast, his chest chill in the cool night air.

Danny unlaced Theo’s boots and dropped them one by one to the floor. Then he knelt up between Theo’s legs and cupped Theo’s cock through his jeans. The contact jolted through him, jerking his hips up by reflex. He forced himself to lie still again, and this time Danny smiled, just a little.

“That’s right, beautiful. Do your best.”

How good it felt. Danny’s hand was big and warm, and his approval made something in Theo’s gut melt. He pressed his lips together, breathing through his nose as Danny worked open his belt, unbuttoned him, and peeled his jeans down. The urge to lift his legs to help was overwhelming, but he lay still, only raising a knee when Danny guided it up with one hand.

Danny hummed approvingly, tugging the tight denim down. “That’s it. Good boy.”

The words should have made him rebel but instead they sunk into him, his gut tingling with excitement. A couple of hours ago he’d thought he might die a virgin (melodramatic, sure, but melodrama felt warranted at this point) and now a hot mechanic with strong, careful hands was sliding his fingers into Theo’s boxer briefs, easing them down over his hips.

Danny left Theo’s jewelery intact, the strings of glass beads, the bangles at his wrists, his rings. He skated a hand over Theo’s chest, making the beads clack together, and then curled his fingers around Theo’s throat. “That collar. Did someone give that to you?”

“No,” Theo said. “I bought it.”

“Is it expensive?”

Theo shook his head. Only a few hundred, anyway.

Danny smirked. “I want it.”

God, the way he said it, like it was a reasonable thing to say, to just demand something like that. Theo licked his lips. “It’s yours.”

It wasn’t clear if this surprised Danny or not. He busied himself stroking down Theo’s chest, down the seam of his belly, to brush his fingers over Theo’s cock. “You,” he said softly, “are so fucking pretty. I wanna mess you up, real bad.”

Theo’s pulse thumped like a kick-drum. “Okay.”

But Danny shook his head. “You sound like you’d agree to anything right now. Just about.”

It took everything he had to hold still while Danny curled those hands around his thighs, and bent his head to nose Theo’s cock. He was stiff, moisture beading at his slit, and his skin so sensitive that the brush of Danny’s lips made him cry out. He forced himself to relax, but then Danny had taken him in, was sucking him slow and firm, and it was everything Theo had ever imagined. More. So much fucking more, so hot, so carefully calculated to drive him out of his mind.

He could hear himself making high, needy noises, and without thinking he scrabbled at Danny’s bare shoulders with his nails.

“Hands,” Danny mumbled, coming up to lick the tip of Theo’s dick, and Theo pressed his palms flat against the bed, willing himself to hold still.

Danny took him apart so slowly it was a torture, and Theo felt like he was dying, like his heart might give out from the sheer, intense pleasure of it. What a way to go, though, spread out in some guy’s bed, his heart racing, pleasure spiraling through him and winding him tight. He was going to snap, going to come in Danny’s mouth, and he wanted it, but also, he wanted Danny, wanted him with a savage longing, because this might never happen again and he needed to know.

“Please,” he begged. “Fuck, please.”

“Please what, beautiful?” Danny smirked at him over the head of his spit-slick cock, his fingers curled possessively around the base of it. “Please let you come? Or please don’t?”

“Just more,” Theo gasped.

Danny chuckled, a low, suggestive sound. “Hold your horses. You’ll get it when I give it to you.”

It was like a promise, like the way Danny had promised not to hurt him. Theo trusted him. Maybe that was insane—it felt insane—but he couldn’t help it. His chest was tight, his skin so sensitive he felt like he might burst. He wanted to be good. For Danny, who had promised, who he wanted so badly to be able to trust.

“Okay,” Theo said, a bare whisper. “Just tell me what to do.”

“Lie there and look pretty,” Danny said.

He licked his thumb, and slid it up behind Theo’s balls, rubbing wet over his hole. It made every muscle in Theo’s body tense up; he practically levitated off the bed, a strangled yelp tearing from his throat. But Danny was shushing him, rubbing him gently, barely pressing into him at all.

“It’s okay. I’m not gonna hurt you. Not this time, beautiful. Just relax.”

Not this time. The implications of that knocked all the breath from Theo’s lungs. God, would there be a next time? A surge of naked want rushed through him—they could do it again. Danny might want him again. He might want…more.

This could be more.

Theo breathed in, breathed out, felt his limbs relax, let himself sink into the bed, loose and easy. “Okay,” he said. “I trust you.”



I trust you.

Fuck. You really shouldn’t, Danny thought, but he didn’t say it. The kid was wound too tight as it was—he didn’t need something else to worry about.

And his trust was sweet, a pleasant surprise after all his attitude. Stripped of his ridiculous clothes and decorated only in jewelery that looked gaudy enough it was probably real, he was sublime, smooth and beautiful. He was boyishly slim, his limbs long and perfect. His thighs were soft as a girl’s, his belly smooth and biteable. The jut of his hips made Danny want to press bruises into his flesh, tie him up and fuck him hard while he cried out in protest for a mercy that never came.

But his eyes. These beautiful, narrow eyes, with their dark lashes, and the way they stared up at Danny with, ‘Please don’t hurt me,’ burning in them. Danny couldn’t do that to him. Not when he was so new, so fresh. Unsullied.

And Danny’s to ruin, here and now.

The thrill of having Theo beneath him was balls-tightening. He pushed himself up, impatient now for all his insistence that they’d take this slow. He braced himself against the bed, yanked open the bedside drawer to grab what he needed, and settled back on his heels. Theo remained still, though his chest heaved with quick, anxious breaths. Danny laid a hand on his solar plexus.

“Just breathe, baby. Don’t hyperventilate. If you pass out, I don’t want it to be from lack of oxygen.”

Theo laughed, and this time instead of hurt and raw he sounded loose, carefree, and it stretched his luscious mouth into a big, warm grin. “You’re gonna knock me out? With your dick?”

“Maybe,” Danny told him, slicking his hand. He could see the way Theo tracked him, caught the anxious lift of his chin, and waggled his fingers cockily. “Let’s find out.”

This time when he took Theo into his mouth, he teased, light little flutters of tongue as his hand slipped between Theo’s cheeks. So tight and tense. Danny lipped at him, distracting him from the slow pressure, and slowly, so fucking slowly, Theo opened up for him, took in the tip of a finger, and then the first joint, the second, all the way to the knuckle. He clenched, his flesh sucking at Danny’s finger, so tight and warm inside that Danny’s breath faltered in his throat.

He lapped at Theo’s cock, listening to his soft whimpers, and crooked his finger to find Theo inside. Theo made an inquisitive noise, and then— “Fuck!” He shuddered, his hips bucking. “Oh, fucking…fuck, fuck, fuck!”

“In a minute, beautiful,” Danny told him, pressing a kiss to his balls. He was hairless, manscaped to the extreme, and his skin was soft, sweet-smelling. Danny wanted to get his mouth on every inch of Theo’s gorgeous body, wanted to bruise it, leave the marks of his teeth all over Theo’s skin. He was a rich, luxurious thing, and Danny wanted to know what he looked like wrecked, fucked out and done. He wanted to use Theo hard, just ruin him for anyone else, leave him hopelessly addicted to Danny’s cock. He wanted to do this hard and fast and now.

But he didn’t. That wasn’t the deal. Next time, he told himself, letting himself believe the fantasy that Theo would ever be back here again, begging for his cock. Someone this beautiful, this expensive, wasn’t about to want this a second time. Danny, rough and cheap and nasty, fucking him on a shitty mattress in a ratty apartment. Theo was slumming, and Danny knew it. But Christ, just for a moment, he could pretend.

He opened Theo up slowly, teasing his prostate, flickering one finger and then two against that sensitive knot of nerves, watching Theo lose his mind. He rubbed his thumb into Theo’s taint, loving the groan that crawled out of Theo’s throat, his helpless thrashing.

“Still, baby,” Danny said, and Theo let out a sob, so broken and lovely that Danny couldn’t take it anymore.

He slipped his fingers free, knelt up on the bed between Theo’s thighs, and rolled a condom onto his dick. He was still half-encased in his overalls; he kicked off his steel-caps and shoved the overalls down, tugging them off and tossing them on the floor. And then he caught his dick in his hand, slathered it with lube, and pressed the head up between Theo’s cheeks.

“You still want this?”

Theo nodded frantically, his lip caught in his teeth.

“Yeah? I wanna hear it.”

Theo heaved in a breath, his mouth weak and helpless. “Fuck me,” he said, and then louder, “fuck me, Danny, don’t make me beg.”

“I like it when you beg,” Danny said, but he pushed, let his weight bear him down. He did it slow, easing inside as slow as he could, but Theo’s mouth was wide now, like his eyes, all of him feeling this for the first time. God, tight, hot, good, Theo. “Tell me how you feel.”

Theo’s breath was shallow and quick, and he licked his lips, blinking hard, but then— “It’s big. It’s…fuck, you’re…it’s too much, but, but don’t stop.”

Danny rocked into him. His cock breached the first ring of muscle, and then, suddenly, he was in. He eased up, gave Theo a few moments to adjust, then pushed.

Now it went easy. Theo made an anguished sound, both his knees drawing up around Danny’s hips, as if he was trying to get Danny in deeper, and Danny obliged him, rocking into him inch by inch until his balls tucked snug against Theo’s ass.

Theo whimpered, wriggling like a puppy, and Danny shushed him. “It’s okay. Baby, you’re full now. That’s all of it. You good?”

“Danny,” Theo whined, “Fuck, Danny…”

“Tell me. You hurting?”

“No, I…no.”

“You want me to stop?”

“No! I want…” but he trailed off.

Danny claimed his mouth, sucking on his lip and loving the way he groaned, the clench of his thighs. “Tell me.”

“Fuck me, just fuck me, you asshole! I want you, stop making me say it!” Theo thrashed, one balled fist shoving into Danny’s chest, and Danny grinned because there he was. That attitude. God, he was cute, though.

Danny grabbed his wrist and pinned it to the bed. He caught Theo under one thigh and lifted him up, rocking into him as deep as he could go. “Be good.” He rolled his hips, sliding out and in, smooth as butter. “Or you won’t get this.”

Theo bared his teeth, looking like he might snap. Danny took pity on him.

He buried himself in Theo’s body. Fuck, he was too good. Danny took him as slow as he could, but it was so hard when all he wanted was to hold Theo down and fuck him brutally. Not yet, not yet, and anyway, the strangled moans spilling from Theo’s perfect lips made it sound like Danny was using him hard.

Maybe he was. Maybe this was too much. He slowed, tried to be gentle, but Theo made a wild sound, and his free hand clawed at Danny’s ass. “No,” he moaned. “No, don’t stop, don’t you dare—”

Danny shut him up with a kiss, and pounded him.

The heat, the friction, the intoxicating scent of Theo’s skin, his unintelligible pleas—all of it meant Danny couldn’t last long. Too pent up, wanting Theo too much, and now he couldn’t hold back. Seductive heat pooled in his hips, spilling over in hot gouts. He fucked into Theo hard, and again, and then held himself deep as his balls emptied, filling him with wonderful, blessed lassitude. His vision whited out for a moment, and when he came back to himself he blinked hard, dizzy with it all.

“Ffffuck,” he groaned, his cock still pulsing with aftershocks. That was…incredible.

But his poor boy was still whimpering, still teetering on the edge. So, Danny let go of Theo’s wrist and knelt up, hauling him in to stay buried in him. He wrapped a hand around the head of Theo’s cock, meaning to jerk him off, but the pressure of it seemed too much. Theo quivered all over, hips jerking, and Danny realized his hand was wet, Theo’s come pulsing through his fingers.

God, that was hot. Danny worked him through it, until Theo whined and twisted like he was trying to get away.

“Sensitive, baby?”

“God, fucking stop,” Theo yelped, and Danny laughed hard. “Oh God!” Theo stared at him. “I felt that. I didn’t know you could feel that.”

He meant the laughter, through Danny’s dick, and Danny was struck by what he’d just done. Theo had never done any of this before. All he knew was what Danny had done to him. It felt real, in a way it hadn’t during the act, or before it.

The only person who had ever been inside him. God, that felt good.

Danny tucked his hips in snug, and folded Theo up like a cinnamon roll to get at his mouth. “A lotta things you don’t know, baby. We can work on that.”

Theo swallowed, his eyes wide and glistening. “Do you…I mean.” He turned his face sharply away, his breath coming fast. “What happens now?”

“I’m gonna pull out of you,” Danny said, kissing his jaw. “And then I’m gonna take you into the shower and get you nice and clean. And then I can drive you home, or to your party, or wherever you want. Or,” he added, feeling Theo tense up all over, “you can stay here with me, and we can make out on the roof and eat pizza pockets until the fireworks go off.”

Theo licked his lips. “And then what?”

“Then you can stay the night. If you want. I’ve got bacon and eggs, hash browns, biscuits. Coffee,” he added, wondering what Theo was waiting for because he was chewing his lip.

“And after that?”

Fuck, he sounded so needy. He wanted something. A promise. Something Danny had already promised himself. He smiled, and pressed a kiss to the corner of Theo’s mouth. “Whatever you want, beautiful. It’s up to you,” he said, and he meant it.



Danny was as good as his word. He took Theo into the shower and soaped him up, lingering over his tender places, and kissed him under the spray until the hot water ran out. The soap was cheap and the towel sharp and scratchy, and when he asked for moisturizer Danny laughed, his head going back to expose the lines of his throat. When he laughed it put crinkles around his eyes and Theo’s gut tightened, and he had to kiss him again, and again.

Now the sex was over, Theo looked around the apartment in the dim light of the naked bulb and thought, Fuck, this place is ratchet. The fridge looked about twenty years old, the stove too. The carpet was worn in places, and the rugs didn’t go with the couch at all. There were no paintings on the walls, only badly taken photos of people who didn’t seem to care they were being photographed in those outfits, just sitting or standing around, smiling and waving.

Theo's phone was dead and Danny didn't have an iPhone charger so it stayed that way. Danny offered him clothes, cheap sweats and a soft long-sleeved shirt with some band logo on it Theo didn’t know. He put them on, feeling trashy and weirdly good about it. Danny pulled on his own sweats, worn thin enough Theo could see the outline of his dick through them, and a hoodie that was clean but pilled under the arms. He still looked beautiful, though, intensely handsome as he threw pizza pockets in a tray and shoved them in the oven.

“You want another beer?”

Theo nodded, his throat dry. Danny was fucking gorgeous, and he wanted Theo. He’d had Theo but he still wanted him, and this was real, and nothing else mattered.

On the roof there was a kind of patio set up, two old outdoor lounges around a glass table that didn’t match, on a square of cheap fake grass. But Danny brought a comforter onto the roof with them and they snuggled up under it, Theo in Danny’s lap, Danny’s phone playing pop-rock through its tinny speakers.

The beer was cold and the pizza pockets were weird and Danny smelled like cheap soap and maybe like sex. Theo curled up on his chest, tucking his head into Danny’s neck, and let himself enjoy this.

“It’s eleven forty,” Danny said. “There’s champagne in the fridge, if you want some.”

Theo said yes, but it wasn’t champagne, just sparkling white wine that smelled sharp and sour, and tasted worse. It didn’t matter. What mattered was the way Danny smiled at him, that slow half-smile as he lifted a hand to brush Theo’s neck and make him shiver.

Theo realized that the wine had been for Danny’s date, and suddenly the urge to know more was unbearable. “Why did you call off your date tonight?”

Danny’s expression flickered. “Like I said.”

“You weren’t feeling it. What didn’t he do for you?” What can I do for you that he wouldn’t?

Danny blew out a breath, scrubbing a hand through the short crop of his hair. “He wanted…a different kind of sex.”

“And what kind did you want?”

Watching him, Theo got to see the moment Danny decided to tell the truth. It was in the weakening around his mouth, the corners of his eyes. “Rougher than tonight. Not as rough as he wanted.”

“Like how? Rougher how?”

“The kind,” Danny said quietly, “that leaves bruises.”

Theo absorbed this, looking into his glass and thinking. “But the other guy?”

“The kind that draws blood.” He said it not exactly as if he was condemning it. Just saying it. Theo’s heart skipped.

“And you don’t want that.”

“I’m not interested in that kind of pain,” he said, his hand falling over Theo’s, rubbing his thumb in the webbing between Theo’s fingers.

Theo filled in the gaps, puzzling out the things Danny wasn’t saying. “But you are interested in pain.”

“Only with someone who’s interested in being hurt.”

“Just to get this straight,” Theo said, a little sharper than he intended, “but we’re talking about BDSM here, right?”

Danny nodded silently, but his thumb pressed warmth into Theo’s hand.

Theo breathed out. “Okay.”

“Does that really shock you?”

Theo considered it, and shook his head. “I think I knew that already. Is that…why you wanted my collar?”

Danny grinned. “Yeah. That’s exactly why.”

Right. “Then you should keep it.” And you should keep me.

If Danny misunderstood he gave no sign. “It’s negotiable. Everything,” he added, with a weight behind the word that Theo felt in his bones, “is negotiable.”

“I’m up for negotiation,” Theo said quickly, before he could lose his nerve.

He felt more than saw Danny relax. “I’m glad you said that.” Danny glanced at his phone. “Eleven fifty-eight. You ready?”

“Yeah. I think this year’s going to be a good one,” Theo said, looking at Danny shyly over the rim of his glass.

“I fucken hope so,” Danny said. His eyes gleamed, his mouth curling into a heart-stopping smile, warm and wide and just for Theo. “You know, they say that whatever you’re doing at midnight on New Year's Eve is what you’ll be doing for the rest of the year.”

“That’s just fucking stupid,” Theo said, but he’d already reached for Danny’s collar and leaned in to kiss him.

Danny’s mouth was cool with fake champagne, his lips chapped and rough. The hand on the back of Theo’s head was warm and big, and kept him right where Danny wanted him. North-west, between the JNNS building and the Skytower, fireworks popped over the harbor, bathing them in light.

It was nothing Theo had known he could have. And perfect in every way.