Bimbo Baggins (cherie_morte) wrote in infatuated_ink,
Bimbo Baggins
cherie_morte
infatuated_ink

Eyewitness: Origins

Title: Origins
Fandom: Eyewitness
Characters/Pairings: Philip/Lukas
Rating: NC-17 for explicit sexual content between minors
Word Count: 11,382
Author’s Note: Okay, not that I actually expect anyone to read this on LiveJournal, but in the interest of this journal being my fic archive, I am posting it here anyway. This is just a little (*cough*) something I wrote recently for my new fandom, Eyewitness. If you are aboard the Philip/Lukas train and have not yet heard, go check out a_savage_love. Thanks to riyku for the beta. More notes on AO3.
Summary: Technically, it starts in English class.

AO3


Technically, it starts in English class.

There's an argument to be made for a bigger picture. Billions of years ago the universe exploded into existence and since then every planet that's rotated a star, every animal that's lived and died, every molecule that's fused with another, all of it happened exactly how it had to in order to lead to the first time Philip Shea drops to his knees in front of Lukas. It's hard to separate out a starting point when any of a million butterfly's wings might have stopped it, which is a terrifying thought, except they didn't. It seems ungrateful not to acknowledge that.

But Lukas is a simple guy, and, for simplicity's sake, he'll go with fourth period English. That's when he became aware. However many centuries had been working toward this, there is an exact second you can point to when Lukas's carefully sanitized, bleached-bland world was overtaken by mess and color.

One moment he's got his head down, doodling something obscene in the margins of his textbook to make the person next to him laugh. Doesn't really matter who it is. Lukas just needs to hear the laugh, to know he's still playing his part right. The next moment the teacher is calling for their attention and Lukas looks up, and that's it.

"Everyone, say hello to a new student joining us today," Mrs. Eisen says.

The kid standing beside her is a nightmare. It's like someone took every wrong thought Lukas ever had and built a person out of them. He's slump-shouldered, trying to disappear into a bomber jacket two sizes too big for his bony frame, but it won't help him. There's no amount of slouching or head-ducking that'll make this boy unremarkable.

Next to him, Seth mutters, "Looks like a cocksucker."

Seth has been Lukas's best friend since the third grade, and he suddenly realizes he doesn't actually like anything about Seth. But everyone around them laughs, so Lukas does, too. Not a full laugh, that's not his character. Just a quiet huff of amusement, enough to let everyone know he's with them without losing his above-it-all aloofness.

Truthfully, he isn't sure why Seth's shitty comment bothers him so much. It's not like it's all that different from what he's thinking. His eyes can't stop lingering on the new kid's pouty mouth or the way a few strands of his brown hair have fallen out of place, like they're just begging someone to tuck them back. Lukas grips the edges of his desk just to keep his fingers from trembling.

The guy narrows his eyes and purses his lips in Seth's direction, going for sour but really just proving Seth's point.

Mrs. E either doesn't hear Seth's remark or chooses to ignore it. She goes right on with her introduction. "His name is Philip Shea, and he's joining us from New York City. Do you have anything you want to add, Philip?"

Philip, Lukas's fever dream has a name now. Philip's expression is stuck somewhere between sad and profoundly bored, and he doesn't even bother shaking his head, just gives an endearingly annoyed little half-shrug in response. "Not really."

Lukas looks back down after that, terrified that if Philip's eyes meet his as he scans the room disinterestedly, he's going to hear every awful thought Lukas can't squash fast enough. The teacher directs him to take a seat and Philip chooses one a row over and two seats back from Lukas. His bag brushes Lukas's shoulder as he shoves his way through the aisle, and it's like Lukas has been hit by lightning just by that not-quite-contact alone.

The rest of the class period is a loss. Lukas doesn't hear a word Mrs. Eisen or anyone else says. He's too busy focusing on not looking back, can't hear anything but the blood rushing through his body. Out of the corner of his eye, he watches Philip's long, skinny fingers tapping distracted, nervous little patterns on the surface of his desk.

He makes it twenty minutes before he has to ask to be excused, call his dad for permission to go home early. He's got a terrible stomachache.

_______________________________________________________________


It doesn't start in English class for Philip. Philip doesn't know Lukas exists for the first couple of weeks he's in Tivoli.

He doesn’t know he's got the power to completely alter Lukas's day just by turning a corner when he isn't expected. He doesn't know there's someone sitting a few desks ahead of him keeping a mental log of every insignificant detail he can possibly collect: the way Philip never volunteers an answer, but always knows it if he gets called on; the almost feminine slope of his handwriting when he goes up to the board; how he sits alone at lunch, ignoring his food, taking pictures instead.

Philip joins yearbook not long after he arrives. Tommy defends him sometimes when everyone else is talking shit. They aren't friends just because they're in the same club, but Tommy says he's okay. Problem is, people only put up with Tommy because Tracy likes him so much, and she's cool. He skirts the same line Lukas works so hard to steer clear of. He's different. Not a fag, anyone can tell how into Tracy he is. So Tommy can stick up for Philip at school. Lukas can't. He keeps his head down and his mouth shut, same thing he's been doing his whole damn life.

The other kids don't like Philip, so that's that. Lukas can't be friends with some outsider, and if he tried to talk to him at school, that word that's started to stick to Philip whenever they're whispering about him might stick to Lukas, too.

That was supposed to be the end of it. Lukas with some freak crush on a boy he's never had and never will have the guts to say a single word to. Just a stupid crush. People have those all the time and they go away. He just has to wait for it to go away.

It's dumb luck and Lukas's apparent lack of self-control where Philip is involved that wrecks that plan. By coincidence or because there really aren't a whole lot of places to go in Tivoli, Lukas spots Philip heading into the convenience store while he's gassing up his bike.

Usually, he pays at the pump, but today his feet carry him inside without consulting his brain.

He dodges into an empty aisle and does the best he can to look around for Philip without being obvious. Lukas is a head taller than the shelves and he's never been gladder for it, because he can see Philip weaving from the soda cases at the back wall to the snack aisle from a safe distance.

And that's all he does. He watches. Philip takes a minute or so to pick something off a shelf and then he heads to the front to pay, and the whole time, Lukas stays frozen in place, following Philip's movements like some creep.

It gets worse. He maybe goes to the same store the next day after school, just to see if Philip shows up. And he does. So Lukas goes again the next day. And the next.

There's a word for what he's doing, and it's not a good one. He knows damn well that if anyone was doing this to him, he'd kick their ass. But he can't make himself stop, either. He learns even more this way than he had at school, always having to stay so far removed. Philip has a pattern, Cherry Coke and Cool Ranch Doritos, only he usually only buys one or the other. It takes four days for Lukas to figure out why, that Philip can't afford to just get both whenever he wants.

A full week passes before he finally makes a move, and that's an accident, too. He's distracted, looking out across the store for Philip instead of where he's going, and he walks right into someone. When he looks down to apologize, that face he sees every time he closes his eyes is right there, closer than Lukas has ever gotten, and he is fucked up over it.

He's so thrown off that he nearly asks Philip what the hell he's doing in the home goods aisle when he usually stays on the other side of the store, but fortunately, he manages to choke on the question.

Philip shies back a little, braces himself the way he does when Seth is taunting him at school, but he doesn't step down. Lukas kind of hates that, if Philip recognizes him at all, that's the kind of person he expects him to be. Not that he's ever done anything to make Philip think otherwise.

"S-sorry," he says once he finally finds his voice. "I wasn't looking where I was going. Totally my bad."

Philip doesn't seem surprised exactly, but his body relaxes as he realizes the bump wasn't deliberate, wasn't Lukas looking to start a fight.

"That's okay," Philip replies. He grabs a pack of paper plates off a shelf and starts to move away, and Lukas can't, can't, can't let it go at that. After a week of standing around here like an idiot, the extent of their conversation can't be 'sorry I walked into you while I was trying to stalk you.'

"Hey, you're in my English class, right?"

Philip looks around for a second, like he's checking to make sure Lukas is talking to him, and then he shrugs. "I don't know, maybe."

"Yeah, fourth period. Mrs. Eisen. Aren't you the new kid?"

"That's me," says Philip, and he just barely contains his eye roll. He's probably sick of being 'The New Kid.' Lukas is apparently terrible at this.

"I'm Lukas," he says, and, because he's lost all control over his mouth, he adds, "With a K."

If there had been a thought process behind that, he's not sure what it would have been, but Philip kind of laughs, like it was a joke, and then he says, "Philip. With an L." He shapes the words all deliberate, like he has no idea what his mouth is doing to Lukas's insides.

Lukas nods, plays it cool, secrets that tiny bit of knowledge away into his collection. P-h-i-l-i-p, just one l. It feels important. He's not about to start doodling it in hearts in his notebook or anything, but at least now he could if he wanted to.

Get a grip, Lukas, he scolds himself.

"That class really sucks, huh?" he asks, just to say something. He doesn’t even really hate that class that much. But he will if Philip does.

"It's not bad," Philip says. "At least it's not as boring as Mr. Brent's."

"History. The worst!" Lukas agrees, and he realizes he's smiling so wide it probably looks unstable, but he can't stop. They're talking. They're actually talking.

To his surprise, Philip is kind of smiling, too. Not as much as Lukas is, but more than he's ever seen Philip smile before. He feels like he would go to jail for that smile, and then he decides to make good on it.

"You're not actually gonna pay for that stuff?" he says, angling his head down at the bag of chips and bundle of plates in Philip's hands.

Philip quirks an eyebrow. "Uh, yeah, that was the plan."

"Some city kid you are," Lukas jokes.

Something strikes him then, some form of temporary insanity, and for one moment in his life, he is brave. He lets his hands reach for Philip and he learns the answer to a question that's kept him up too many nights: what it feels like to sink his fingers into the worn leather of the jacket Philip's always wearing. He grabs Philip with one hand on each shoulder and pulls him over to the next aisle.

"What are you—?" Philip starts asking, but Lukas puts a finger over his own mouth, and Philip shuts up.

"Everyone who grew up around here knows, so I figure it's only fair someone tells you." He gestures to the security mirrors and leans forward, swears to himself it's so no one overhears them, not so he can breathe Philip in for that moment. "This is the only spot in the store where they can't see you from the front. You can put whatever you want in your bag. There aren't censors at the door or anything."

It’s been years since he and his friends outgrew thinking shoplifting made them cool, but he never did it out of necessity. It doesn't feel fair, Philip always having to choose one thing he wants over the other, and it's not like Lukas can offer to pay for him, so this is all he's got.

Philip's lips curl up in the corners, like he appreciates the gesture, but he shakes his head. "Nah, I—if I got busted I'd get sent back for sure."

"That wouldn't be so bad," Lukas says. "Where could be worse than Tivoli?"

He expects Philip will do that thing people from the City always do. Turn up his nose at anywhere that isn't Manhattan, look down on Lukas like he's some dumb country boy who couldn't possibly have anything interesting to say. He's kind of hoping for it. Anything to break the spell he's got on Lukas. Anything to make it clear he's an asshole no different from a million other assholes, not worth obsessing over, no matter what he looks like.

But instead, Philip gives Lukas this open, earnest look and says, "I don't mind it so much."

"Really?" he asks.

"Yeah, I mean. At first I was pretty bored, but." He looks away, so Lukas can't really see his expression, but his voice is soft. "Maybe it's just different. I guess I'm getting used to it."

Lukas reaches out and grabs the bag of chips and the plates from Philip's hands and tucks them both into his jacket before Philip has a chance to argue. "Well, if you can't, then I will," he says, and then he's strolling out the door.

Philip follows on his heels, looks somewhere between annoyed and exhilarated when they get outside and turn the corner and Lukas starts to hand him back his stuff.

"What the hell?" Philip asks, but he's laughing.

"You're welcome," Lukas replies. "What do you need paper plates for, anyway?"

"Gabe, uh, the guy fostering me? He asked me to. His wife's making dinner tonight, and apparently that means we have to use disposable plates, or the good ones will get ruined."

"You're living with Gabe and Helen?" Philip nods and Lukas huffs a laugh. "Man, no wonder you're paranoid. She's, like, a total narc."

"You have no idea," Philip replies. He opens his bag of chips and holds it out to Lukas before taking one and popping it in his mouth. Philip sucks his fingers between his lips to get the dust off after each one, and Lukas feels like he might swallow his tongue if he has to work any harder not to make a sound.

"Okay, well, I guess I should go," Lukas says, hitching his thumb over his shoulder.

Philip's eyes widen when he sees what Lukas is pointing at, and he beats Lukas to his own bike, reaches out to touch it with his chip-and-saliva coated fingers. Lukas might have killed anyone else for that, but in this case, his traitor heart just starts beating out of control at the thought that this perfect boy might even like motocross.

He stops short of touching, thank god, and looks up at Lukas. "Dude, this is yours?"

"Yeah," Lukas tells him. "Do you—you like motocross?"

"What?" Philip asks, and then he nods. "Oh, yeah. Totally."

"Sick," Lukas says. "I compete."

"You any good?"

"I'm the best around here," he says. "In the junior circuit, at least."

"And modest, too," Philip teases.

Lukas laughs, but he doesn't take it back. It's not like he got to be as good as he is without a whole lot of hard work but he's here now. He's proud of it, everyone at school likes it about him, even his dad is proud of it. It's the only part of who he really is that ever gets to breathe.

He deflects. "Do you ride?"

Philip scoffs. "Hah, no, are you kidding? I wish. This thing is badass."

"Maybe we could ride sometime," he says, and he instantly wants to smack his hand to his forehead, because what the hell is he thinking, offering to take some guy he hardly knows for a ride on his bike like he does with his girlfriend.

But then he feels his phone in his pocket and thinks of all those times he's seen Philip wandering around at lunch with his camera app open, completely lost to the world of catty teens making fun of him. It's the perfect save. "I've been meaning to add some footage to my channel. Get a little buzz going for my sponsors. You've been taking shots for the yearbook, haven't you? Ever do videos instead of pictures?"

"Yeah." Philip looks up at him from under his eyelashes and then he bites his bottom lip and Lukas panics for a few moments, thinking he might be flirting. They might be flirting. Wasn't that the whole point of talking to Philip? But it wasn't supposed to actually happen and Philip certainly wasn't supposed to flirt back and now that he's smack in the middle of it, Lukas has no idea how to backtrack, more because it feels too good to stop than anything. "Lukas?"

Fuck, how long did he just stand here staring? "I just thought maybe you could help me out, get some videos of me riding? I can make it worth your while. My dad's got a cabin up past the quarry where I practice. Sometimes he keeps beer in the fridge."

"I'm not exactly drowning in invitations," Philip says. "I think I could find some time for that."

Lukas doesn't even try to kill this smile. "Savage."

_______________________________________________________________


It turns out that Lukas's desperate save is a genuinely great idea. He doesn't know a whole lot about photography or whatever, but he knows shit when he sees it, and what Philip shoots is the opposite of that. No one has ever caught Lukas's air like he does and riding for an audience of just Philip is somehow more exhilarating than even the biggest crowds. He pulls off some tricks he's never gotten up the courage to try, pulls them off and then some, hungry for the look of excitement and admiration Philip's wearing when he takes off his helmet. And Philip catches it all on camera.

One of the cuts he makes is so good his sponsors feature it on their website. It gets over 1000 hits. The videos look damn near professional, and Lukas believes he can actually take this and make a life out of it more than he ever has before.

So it maybe becomes an addiction. Lukas has always tried to spend as much of his free time as possible practicing, but now he starts carving out time that isn't free, too. Neglecting his chores. Letting Rose's calls run over to voicemail. If his homework doesn't get done while he's waiting for Philip to meet him at the convenience store, it doesn't really get done.

They still don't talk at school. Philip never assumes he's welcome around Lukas's friends, and Lukas doesn't correct him.

He feels shitty about it, sometimes, but Philip doesn't hold a grudge. He's always there with his phone and his closed-lip smiles, ready to go. He's hesitant at first, but Lukas teaches him how to lean on turns, reassures him that he's in good hands, and, before long, he climbs on behind Lukas without a second thought.

There was a time when Lukas thought nothing in the world was better than riding out alone, the roar of his bike and the wind in his ears drowning out everything. That was before he rode with Philip's arm wrapped tight around his middle.

It feels like the end of the world on days they can't ride. Today's one of those.

"Fuckin' rain," he says, kicking at a puddle.

Philip kind of smirks at his petulant display, and Lukas wishes he would stop thinking Philip looks cute even when it's at his expense.

"I guess you can spend some time with Rose after all," Philip says. "Weren't you kind of bummed you had to cancel on her?"

Lukas shrugs. What he said was that Rose was pissed at him for canceling, but it's not like he blames Philip for tuning out his relationship drama. He's not even interested in it himself.

"We could still hang," he offers. Feels like he's putting his life on the line, like his heart might fail if Philip isn't interested.

"You want to hang out with me?" Philip asks. "When I can't shoot footage for you?"

"That's not the only reason I like you, you know," he says. "I mean, whatever, if you don't want to, that's…whatever."

Philip moves quickly then, puts his hand on Lukas's shoulder and shakes just enough to make him look up. "You want to hang out with me? Just to hang out?"

"Yeah," Lukas answers. He forces a laugh, because somehow Philip has ended up too close and it's all gotten too serious. "I just said that, you freak."

Philip shoves him playfully. "As if there's anything else to do around here."

"Come on, you haven't gotten a proper tour of the town yet," Lukas says. "I'll take you to all the best spots."

Philip nearly snorts. "There's one end of town," he says, pointing north, and then he turns and points south, "And there's the other end of town. Well, that concludes the tour."

Lukas pushes his hand down. "Don't be a smartass."

"At least I'm not a dumbass." Philip throws in an eyebrow quirk, just so Lukas knows exactly who the dumbass in this situation is.

He rolls his eyes and starts heading down the street, and, despite his bitching, Philip follows. "Alright, have you been to Angel's Food Cakes yet?"

"I'm not really into strip clubs," Philip replies.

Lukas hip checks him and points to the steeple at the end of the road. "It's a bakery."

"That's a church," Philip observes.

"Was a church, now it's a bakery." He pauses for a moment, then corrects himself. "Actually, it was a church, then it was a restaurant, then it was a bed and breakfast, then it was a hardware store, three other restaurants, and now it's a bakery."

"Hence the name," says Philip. His voice is dry as he adds, "Cute."

"The bakery has managed to stay open for eighteen months, which I'm pretty sure is a record. And hopefully it stays a bakery, because their stuff is killer."

They've made it all the way to the entrance now and Philip stops. "I'm not really hungry."

"You gotta try it," Lukas insists, holding the door open. "Come on."

Philip looks down and Lukas realizes his mistake. Philip doesn't have any money to spend on fancy pastries, he can't even afford crappy ones from the dime store most days.

"Right, well, I'll get some of my favorite stuff, and you can just try whatever I don't finish."

Half an hour later, they're lying on a wet patch of grass, tucked away in the courtyard no one really goes to, because the people who run the bakery don't bother keeping it up. All the little saint statues that used to be treated as holy are starting to erode from bird shit and the benches where grandmas once rested in their Sunday best are overgrown with vines.

Lukas loves it, especially on a gloomy day like this when there's no way anyone will wander in. He used to come and sit here alone in the ugly, tangled excuse for a garden on days when he felt like he might accidentally be himself if he was with anyone else. He feels comfortable sharing the sanctuary with Philip, though the fact that no one will ever see them together here also plays into it.

He's on his back, perched on his elbows, not even pretending to do anything but watch Philip lick the remnants of a sticky bun off his thumb, and he's questioning when a boy moaning over baked goods became hotter than porn to him.

"So what did you do?"

Philip stops sucking his fingers. "Huh?"

"To get sent here," Lukas clarifies. "Everyone's got a theory. Like, you burned down your old school or stole cars or something. Must have been pretty bad."

For a long minute, Philip doesn't say anything. But it's bad. Lukas can tell just by watching the emotions playing out in Philip's eyes that it was bad.

"It wasn't like that," he says, and that's all he says.

"Sorry," Lukas replies. "I shouldn't have asked."

Philip looks at him then, really looks at him. Like, Lukas is pretty sure no one has ever looked right at him this intensely before and it terrifies him.

"My mom's an addict," Philip tells him. "That's what—I didn't get sent away. I got taken away. Until she's clean, I'm not supposed to see her."

"Fuck, that's…" Lukas wants to kick himself. They were having such a nice time, junk food and stupid jokes, and now Philip's blinking back tears and Lukas has nothing helpful to say. "I'm really sorry."

"She's still a good person, okay?" He says it like he really needs Lukas to understand. "She's not even a bad mom. Not most of the time. I mean, she loves me."

"I'm sure she does," he says, so far out of his element because he doesn't know anything about moms, let alone what makes one good or bad.

"When I got taken away, she's the one who called CPS. I still don't get it. I've been taking care of her my whole life. My whole life. I put her to bed and I left the room for one minute, and when I got back she was on the phone, telling them to take me away. I don't know what I did wrong this time."

"Maybe she just wanted what was best for you," Lukas suggests. "You didn't do anything wrong."

"Sure," Philip says, his voice wavering. "And Helen and Gabe are so glad to have me."

"They haven't sent you back yet," Lukas reasons.

"Yeah, 'cause they feel bad. Helen hates me."

"Helen acts like she hates everyone," says Lukas. "She probably doesn't actually."

"I don't think I'll be here long," Philip admits.

"Please don't say that," Lukas replies, whiplash fast. He tries to make his voice more casual, but there's no way Philip didn't hear the terror in his plea. "I mean, I'm glad you're here, if that's worth anything."

"It is," Philip says, pretty mouth set in a soft upward curve. Not really a smile, but it's kind of content. "It's not like I have a choice, but it's nice to know someone at least wants me around."

"Do you want to be here?" he asks, wishing this somehow made Philip as happy as it makes him. He's never wanted any one person to like him as much as he wants Philip to think he's worth staying for. And Lukas has a world of tried and true acts to make people want to be around him, but now that it really matters, he keeps slipping up. Keeps doing or saying the first thing he thinks instead of holding back until he's figured out a strategy. It'd be no wonder if Philip laughed in his face, but instead those are the moments Philip's eyes shine the brightest. It's like Philip doesn't just like him, he actually likes Lukas, which no one ever has before, and the thought that it could be over after just a few weeks makes Lukas sick. "Would you go back if you did have a choice?"

"I want my mom to be okay. More than anything, that's what I want. But, as for going back…" He swallows hard and Lukas watches his Adam's apple move in his throat. "It was rough, Lukas. Sometimes it was really bad. And out here it's." He shrugs, turns toward Lukas. "Sometimes, it's really good. I feel like such a piece of shit for liking it here at all, because I know what she's going through and I know it's worse without me there to look after her."

Lukas takes one look at Philip's expression and sits up, moves over a few feet to put his arm around his friend, and he doesn't even think to hesitate before doing it, not this time.

Philip is soft. Even after everything he's been through. Even through all the shit he endures unflinchingly at school. He never acts tough, doesn't go in for macho posturing. Right now he needs comfort, so he accepts what Lukas offers easily, hides his face in Lukas's shoulder, and he must know, he must, that Lukas would push him away in a second if they heard footsteps on the sidewalk. But he lets himself be vulnerable anyway.

Lukas pulls him closer while he can and tries not to think about the fact that someone this open is going to get hurt more times than anyone could bear. If not by Lukas, by someone, somewhere down the line. There's no way to protect him.

"Sorry," Philip says after a while. He sits up and swipes at his eyes, and Lukas pretends not to notice. "I just really miss her."

"My mom used to bring me here when it was a church," he blurts out, and he doesn't even know where it comes from.

That happens sometimes around Philip. Lukas has built his entire life around silence. Ever since his mother died, it's been his job to keep quiet. Every year, when they went to his grandmother's house for a holiday, his dad would turn to him outside the door, tell him to "just try to pretend you're normal" before ringing the doorbell. It became obvious pretty early on that the only way for him to do that was to say nothing at all.

So Lukas made it work. He got good at being normal. He had one magic rule and it carried him far: just don't risk saying anything until you've heard everyone else say it a hundred times. That way you know it's safe to think it.

Lukas was always a freak. It's not just the way he can't make himself feel about Rose, can't help feeling about Philip. That day he couldn't take his eyes off the new kid's mouth was just proof that he's fucked up in more ways than he'd already realized. But it should have been easy to kick. He's got experience with this kind of thing.

He practiced and practiced at killing every original thought he had and he was finally starting to get to the point where he didn't have them. Then Philip came along. Things just fall out around Philip. True things. Things he doesn't even know about himself until he says them out loud. It's like he's learning who he is right along with Philip. The real him, who he'd suffocated under so many layers of normalcy before he was old enough to question it.

And it's hard to hate that boy when he makes Philip throw his head back as he laughs at some joke no one at school would have gotten. It's hard to hate him when the sadness that had been in Philip's expression abates just a little when Lukas opens up to him. It's hard to hate someone Philip thinks is worth liking.

Philip is still watching him, still quiet. He doesn't push Lukas with questions like Lukas did to him. Maybe that's why Lukas answers. "She used to dress me up for it. We have all these pictures of me in this little brown suit standing next to the saints, back when I was the same height as them and they still had faces."

"I bet you were adorable," Philip teases.

Lukas laughs. "I look all pissed off because the suit was itchy. Hated that suit."

That makes Philip smile, but it makes Lukas feel a little bitter. He remembers the suit, he remembers hating it, trying to run so they couldn't put it on him. He doesn't remember whether his mother's voice was on key when she sang along with the choir, doesn't remember anything useful, but the goddamn suit, sure.

He pretends sometimes that he remembers her. Goes out to find the pictures his dad keeps hidden and stares at the pretty lady holding him, and he imagines that she'd love him, unconditionally, the way mothers are supposed to. The way Philip's mom does, even if she's fucked up in a million other ways. Probably not. Chances are, she would have hated who he is as much as everyone else did. Lukas isn't lovable. Not the real Lukas. But it feels a little unfair that he never got the chance to know for sure.

Then Philip reaches out and squeezes his hand, gives him a small, reassuring smile. A part of Lukas wonders if unconditional could still happen, even to him. If he was bold enough to really let Philip in, would he still like Lukas for who he is, maybe love him some day? Philip isn't right, either, he's not normal either. And yet Lukas knows he's lovable, is starting to suspect he might be impossible not to love.

Anyway, it doesn't matter. Lukas has built too much around the image of the boy his dad expects him to be. His family, his friends, his chance at riding professionally. He can't throw all of that away.

He pushes to his feet and wipes the crumbs still clinging to his fingers off on his grass-stained jeans. Philip immediately moves to follow him. "So what's next on the tour?"

"Nothing," Lukas says, forcing a laugh. "It's like you said, there's not a lot to see around here."

"Maybe we could go skip rocks at the pond, like last week," Philip offers. "It was nice out there."

Lukas shakes his head. "Hey, maybe some other time. I'm gonna see if Rose is still free."

_______________________________________________________________


Pretty soon, this thing with Philip starts to creep out even farther. Whether he's with Philip or not, alone, surrounded by people, none of it matters. It spreads from his dick to his heart to his mind like an invading army gaining ground.

He's always thinking about it. In the shower, water as cold as it'll go still not enough to freeze his urges. At school, where he should be keeping his grades up, Lukas stares at the clock and contemplates that one little birthmark under Philip's lip.

He lies awake in bed at night, listening to his father's ghost haunting the hallways, until finally he drifts past Lukas's room to his own and goes to sleep. Then Lukas shoves his hand down his boxers and lets himself drown in thoughts that aren't allowed to see the light of day. Philip's gravestone chest under his fingers; the angel face and the sin-shaped mouth in the middle of it; how perfectly he could fit between Philip's legs, if Philip spread them for him. He sucks a bruise into his own pale wrist just to keep himself from moaning Philip's name, and Philip sees it the next day, laughs and asks if Rose got lost or something.

When he comes, he brings his trembling fingers to his lips. Hesitates, disgusted with himself, until the curiosity gets the better of him. His tongue touches, tentative, and he recoils before he can really get a taste. He hurries to the bathroom to wash his hand before he makes good on the threat, but the idea lingers.

He manages to stop himself three more nights, and on the fourth he licks every drop of come off his palm. Lukas tastes bitter; he wonders if Philip would be sweeter.

He rolls over in bed, grabs his phone and texts Philip, are you awake?

Seven minutes of silence follow. Then, no

He grins. Sends back, do you believe in destiny?

Lukas, Philip writes, it's 3 in the morning

i know. Sorry He gives it a minute, then follows up, but do you?

I don't know. Never really thought about it. Why?

Lukas isn't sure how to reply to that. He can't ever say and if he'd been less sleep deprived, he wouldn't have invited Philip into his muddled thoughts. His phone starts vibrating then, and he knows his dad will kill him if he wakes up and hears Lukas talking at this hour, but he answers anyway.

"Hey," he says.

"Are you okay?" Philip sounds sloshy on the other end, like maybe he had been sleeping just fine. Lukas imagines him sitting up against the wall in his room, his hair messy and his warm brown eyes foggy. The image makes him press his palm against his chest to try to physically push whatever he's feeling off and away. "Did you have a bad dream or something?"

"I have really fucked up dreams," Lukas tells him, which isn't a lie. Lately, they’re all about Philip and they're either really bad or really beautiful. Usually both at the same damn time. "Going to sleep is, like. Confusing."

Philip sounds concerned when he replies, "Do you need to talk about it?"

"Nah, I'm fine," says Lukas. "Just thinking."

"About destiny?" Philip asks with a laugh. "You think about that a lot?"

"What? No!" Lukas turns onto his back and stares up at the ceiling. "Think I've decided I do believe in it, though."

"Oh, yeah?" There's amusement in Philip's tone. A shift in his voice like he's resigned himself to having this conversation right now and he's not entirely upset by it. "What's your destiny, then?"

"I'm destined to win the junior circuit," he replies immediately. "And become an international motocross sensation, famous for both my talent and good looks."

There's a soft huff. "Of course." Philip waits a beat before asking, "How about me? What's my destiny?"

Lukas doesn't hesitate. "Groupie."

The laugh on the other end is instantaneous, loud and unguarded. Lukas knows Philip has been whispering for the same reason he has, that Helen would probably launch a full criminal investigation if he woke her up, but he can't make himself feel bad about that laugh.

"You're a jerk, you know," Philip tells him.

"Yeah, I always kind of suspected that about me." Lukas closes his eyes, considers whether to say the next thing or not, then decides, to hell with it, he already opened this can of worms. "I always thought I had one, you know? But lately I've been thinking…what if there's two paths? And they both seem right, but you can't go on both? What do you do then? How do you tell which one you're supposed to choose?"

"Where I come from, there aren't really paths like that," Philip says after a long spell of quiet. "I mean, the people around me didn't seem to have much guiding them except where the next score was coming from. So I guess I don't believe in destiny. Maybe you just take your pick and see how things end up."

Lukas frowns. He forgets sometimes how much easier he's had it than Philip, how the things he takes for granted aren't guaranteed for everyone. Maybe that's what makes it so easy for Philip to go against what's expected: he's never let himself believe he could have what Lukas has been working toward, even if he follows all the rules. It should be terrifying, but Lukas almost envies him. It seems freeing.

"That why you don't care that no one at school likes you?"

It's not the most sensitive phrasing he could have used, and Lukas regrets it immediately, but Philip responds like he'd asked about the weather. "If I have a destiny, it's got nothing to do with them. Even if Helen and Gabe do decide to keep me, I'll be eighteen in less than a year and then I'm definitely gone. I'll never see any of these people again after I age out, right? Why get hung up on what they think about me?"

"But how are you supposed to get anywhere in life if people don't want to help you?"

When they first started talking, Lukas thought he would do Philip a favor. Teach him how to act right so that people will think he's normal, so he could fit in and they could be friends, real friends who don't have to sneak around. It turns out, he's too greedy for that. Lukas's good intentions lasted about an hour before the idea of changing anything about Philip became unbearable.

But Philip deserves better than the nothing life he's been doled out by fate, if that's a real thing at all, and he'll never get it the way he's going. If he just accepted the rules, like Lukas has, he could dream of bigger and better. He could, but then he wouldn't be special anymore. He'd be like Lukas, up all night trying so hard not to want things that don't fit into the box he checked.

Fuck, it's not fair.

"I've been helping myself for a long time, Lukas," he says. "Maybe that's the wrong way to go about things, but it's all I could do. I don't regret it just because some assholes at school call me names."

"The things they call you…" Lukas starts, but it's too ugly and too personal to finish.

Philip waits a while before whispering, "You can just ask."

He considers it for a moment, then realizes he doesn't want to know. There's no good answer. Either Philip isn't, and he doesn't want Lukas, it's just one more thing Lukas is alone in. Or he is. Lukas could never hold back around Philip again if he knew he could have him.

"It doesn't matter," he decides.

"It doesn't?" Philip sounds relieved, his response coming too quickly.

It does, more than maybe anything has ever mattered, but not for the reason Philip thinks. Not that he can say that, so he forces a soft laugh. "Yeah, who cares?"

Philip changes the subject then, starts talking about something else, something random, Lukas can hardly keep up with what he's saying. It's lighter than his three a.m. philosophy had been, which is a relief. Philip is easy to listen to.

He talks until Lukas is nodding off, barely responding to anything. Lukas is worried he'll be upset by that until he asks, "You think you can sleep now?" and Lukas realizes the whole time Philip had been going on, it was just to help him fall asleep. Lukas smiles into his pillow, like a girl in a movie might.

"Mmm," he answers. "Gonna hang up now?"

Before he can press the end button, he hears Philip's voice, small on the other end, "It's not true, right? What you said. Not everyone at school hates me."

"Not everyone," Lukas admits.

"I only care about—" Philip stops and starts again, "Goodnight, Lukas."

"Let's go riding tomorrow," Lukas says through a yawn. "Still haven't shown you that cabin."

"Whatever you want," Philip agrees. "Just get some sleep so you don't steer us into a tree."

Lukas grunts at that, too tired to bother arguing. Philip knows it would take more than a bad night's sleep to make him uneasy on his bike. Instead he wishes Philip a good night and hangs up, hoping for dreams that are easy to forget.

_______________________________________________________________


He's up to his elbows in potato salad. It's the weirdest sense of disconnect, standing here in this kitchen he grew up in, covered in slimy, mayonnaise drenched potatoes like it's just another regular weekend.

The local church is having a potluck. Lukas doesn't attend, they stopped going when his mom died. But Dad says sponsors like to see community service and Dad doesn’t know that the way the food squishes in his hands is making his stomach turn, reminding him of how soft a person's insides look when they’ve been shot open. So Lukas is making more potato salad than the entire town of Tivoli could eat put together, trying to stay busy with the task and just not think. Just stop thinking. God, he would give anything not to think.

His life has gone to hell so fast that in less than a week Lukas hardly recognizes it anymore. Philip would laugh if he heard Lukas say that and tell him he's being melodramatic. Philip, whose life has always been shit, so there's nothing that can make him lose his calm. Philip who had stood in front of him and had reasoned with a steady voice why it was okay that Lukas had just killed somebody not ten minutes earlier.

He wishes Philip was here to laugh at him. It would make things easier to shake off.

Upstairs, his father closes a door too hard and Lukas flinches. It doesn't sound like a gunshot, but there are different kinds of violence, Lukas has learned. This echo is muffled, like the crack of a solid object hitting a skull, a body dropping to the ground under him. He'd thought he'd killed somebody. For a few hours there, he'd been a murderer, too.

It had been okay, Philip had convinced him it was, because he did it to save him, and it's not something Lukas had a choice in. There wasn't ever a point where he made a decision. Philip was in danger. He had to save Philip.

Now, it looks like he didn't even manage that right. The killer is still out there. Still maybe coming for them. Lukas can't deal with that, can't really handle any of what's going on. There's only one place to escape, only one thing he can think about that shuts out the violence looping in his mind. And it's almost worse.

If Philip was here make fun of him, Lukas would kiss him until he couldn't form another insult. He would kiss Philip until they couldn't think about the murders or anything anymore. He knows it's wrong, but he keeps doing it, every damn time Philip is in within reach he does it. Every time, he tells himself he won't again and every time his mouth is glued to Philip's before he even realizes it's happening.

Philip is a good kisser. He's generous and needy somehow in the same breath. His body curves to fit Lukas's hands like that was an instinct he was born with. Fuck, if Lukas thought Philip was something he could just get out of his system, the joke is on him in a big way.

The most terrifying thing about all of this is the way he feels about Philip. Not the deaths or the still lingering threat of the killer or even the fact that he could lose everything if someone finds out what they've been doing. It's just the degree to which he needs to be close to Philip. It's too big. Lukas seems so small compared to it. And small things tend to get stepped on.

His phone rings. A woman from the church calling to ask if he'll still be by. That's when Lukas looks around and realizes he's been done for who knows how long, has been idly mixing egg and potato guts instead of packing the salad for transport or chilling it or anything useful he might have been doing. He reassures the lady that he'll be over soon and hangs up, lost even in the simplest task.

He tells himself to focus, but his mind is on Philip again before a whole minute has passed. Lukas sets one serving aside, puts it in a brown paper bag with a can of Cherry Coke and a bag of Doritos. He still knows Philip's locker combination by heart.

The next day, he watches Philip at lunch. Watches him take an interest in his food for the first time ever. Waits for him to finish, until finally he lifts his eyes and catches Lukas's gaze across the cafeteria.

He smiles. Philip smiles at him like some leftover potato salad can make up for everything else Lukas has done in the last week. Like he didn't let the murderer get away. Like he didn't make Philip keep a secret so huge it's eating through both of them. Like he didn't hit that face that turns into his just right when they kiss. Or like those are the kinds of things that can be fixed as easy as a flat tire.

Lukas needs that forgiveness. Has a nauseating feeling he's going to need a whole lot more of it soon.

_______________________________________________________________


New York City reeks. That's one thing that's always true, every time Lukas visits. It fucking smells. It's not even summer yet and already the bags of garbage on the curb are rotting faster than they get picked up.

It was better inside, smoky and sweltering, sure, but without the smell. Lukas can't go there. He'll take literal filth over that kind.

Everywhere he looks, there are men kissing, embracing, just living their lives as if there's nothing wrong with it. And this is in the street. What they'd been doing inside had been…

Worse, Lukas tells himself. If he thinks of it any other way, he's going to have a hard time staying outside.

Philip is still in there. His Philip is in there, probably grinding on some stranger because Lukas wouldn't. Couldn't.

He kind of feels like crying. Won't, obviously. Philip brought him here because he wouldn't cry at school, so he won't give him the satisfaction of doing it here.

For all he wants to be pissed at Philip, he doesn't get much time to feel sorry for himself. Philip doesn't stay inside long. Just one drink, like he said. Lukas can taste the fruity mix and alcohol when they kiss.

"They won't be expecting us back until tomorrow," Philip says when Lukas tries to haul ass back to Port Authority, because of course he isn't going to make this easy. They just kissed in front of everyone and instead of letting it go at that, Philip pulls the bottom of Lukas's shirt, trying to tug him in another direction.

He wants to stay with such crushing desperation that it makes him that much more determined to run.

"You drunk?" he asks.

Philip stops to pull Lukas in for another easy kiss. "It was one drink," he says. "I don't have to be drunk to want you."

Lukas turns away and looks down the sidewalk. "What's your plan, then? Something better than a gay club, I hope."

"Fuck you, this was a great plan," Philip says. "I know a cheap place to stay not far from here."

"I'm not sleeping at some fleabag motel," Lukas replies. "This city is so gross, man."

Philip rolls his eyes. "You have no idea how whiny you sound right now."

"Hey, it's not my fault you can't smell it. Growing up here must have permanently desensitized you or something. Burnt all your nose hairs."

"My nose hairs are fine, thanks," Philip says in a withering tone. "And I didn't grow up here. We never could have afforded a neighborhood this nice." Lukas wrinkles his nose and Philip grins. "I know a place we can hang for a little while. It'll be better than waiting at the bus station. Can't stay all night, but I promise it won't offend your farm boy sensibilities."

Because Lukas is a goner, he nods and lets Philip pull him whichever way he wants. Follows blind down all the twists and turns and alleyways, until Philip brings a fire escape ladder crashing down, and Lukas can't not follow now, he doesn't want to look chicken.

They climb up and up until they reach the roof, and when he finally crawls onto flat ground instead of rusty metal, Lukas gets why Philip brought him here. Philip takes his hand and leads him over to the opposite edge of the apartment complex, and it's not high enough to see far in a city with this many tall buildings, but it's kind of amazing nonetheless.

"Not something you see in Tivoli," Philip says, grabbing Lukas's arm and wrapping it around his middle, leaning back against Lukas's chest. "I used to hide up here for hours when things were really bad at home. Watch the sunset and the party crowd start to arrive. I'd see all the guys down there holding hands and close my eyes and wish I had someone up here with me." He squeezes Lukas's arm. "Now I do."

Philip sounds…almost as lovesick as Lukas feels. It's not wrong, holding him here. It's perfect. For a few minutes, he lets himself indulge in the thought of living in this landfill city where he can hold Philip's hand on the sidewalk and no one even blinks at them. If Philip can get used to the quiet in Tivoli, maybe New York could be an acquired taste, too.

It's not a serious possibility of course and Lukas never loses sight of that, but he also hasn't lost that drive to know everything he can about Philip, so he'll cherish the glimpse into his life before and he'll keep the fantasy tucked away right next to it.

Lukas traces his fingers up and down Philip's forearm and breathes deeply. Up here, the air is liberated from its sewer stench and could almost pass for fresh. "How did you end up here so often if you didn't live nearby?"

"The club," Philip says. "Went there a few times, met some guys who showed me the area." He can't help that he freezes, and Philip must feel the tension in his body, because he turns to face Lukas. "Just guys. No one special."

"You really meant what you said before. About never having—?"

"Yeah," Philip says. "I've fooled around, but never that."

"I don't get it," Lukas admits. "It would be so easy to, to…I guess I get why you're so comfortable about it now. If everyone was always so casual. Why didn't you?"

Philip shrugs. "I wasn't really much more popular in New York than I am at Red Hook. Mostly I just hurried back home from school to look after my mom. No close friends, no boyfriends, just guys at clubs. You don't get a chance to care about anyone else very much like that."

"Would you really have done it?" he asks. "If I'd gone along with it that night at the cabin? I thought, if you'd done it a bunch of times before, no big deal. But if it would have been the first…in that crappy cabin, just like that? You don't want it to be special?"

"I offered, didn't I?" Philip gives him a half smile. "Lukas, I'm not like Rose."

Lukas laughs, running his hand down Philip's flat chest and tucking it into the top of his jeans. "I noticed."

He shakes his head and continues, "I don't see how planning something to death makes it more romantic. I don't need to pick a lookout spot or light candles or sprinkle roses on a bed. It would have been with you. That makes it special."

"You sound like such a fairy," he says, because otherwise he's at risk of doing something he'll regret, like begging Philip to take him to that shitty motel after all.

"That does sound like me," Philip says agreeably. He leans forward and kisses Lukas slowly and Lukas has to wonder if Philip has any idea that he loses more of himself every time they touch. Maybe he would be more cautious if he knew, or maybe that's the point.

Lukas pulls away from the kiss, obsessed with the way Philip chases his mouth as soon as there's space between them. "Do you still carry it? The condom?"

Philip's face lights up like a billboard. "Would you want to use it if I did?"

"N—no. Just curious, that's all."

Philip smiles and rubs Lukas's arms. "Doesn't matter then, does it?"

"I guess not," he says, wrapping one hand around Philip's waist and tugging him in hard.

This time the kiss is hungry, dirty, deep. He slips his tongue in and lets his hands play out all the animalistic impulses that being near Philip stirs in him. There's teeth and nails and bruising force grips, every weapon Lukas has to stain the unmarked beauty of Philip's skin. He knows he's not supposed to have this, but no one should have gotten it before him, either.

Lukas catches himself after a while, pulls back to make sure Philip is okay with how rough he's being handled. Philip whines at the broken contact and pushes his hips forward, enough for Lukas to get a sense of just how very okay he is with what's happening.

That makes Lukas lose his mind for a moment, and by the time he's focused again, Philip is nipping and kissing along his jawline. "Can I?"

"What?" Lukas asks, wondering if maybe Philip said something else while his head was spinning.

"Know you aren't ready," Philip says, hands wandering down between them, fingers working the button on Lukas's jeans. Lukas might have tried to complain if the sudden release wasn't such a godsend. He hadn't even realized how hard he was getting, too wrapped up in claiming Philip to think about taking what they're doing anywhere else. But apparently, Philip was thinking enough for both of them. "There's other stuff we can do. I'm good at it, Lukas. You'll like it."

He doesn't get a chance at another stupid 'what?' before Philip falls to his knees so fast and so hard even Lukas can feel the bruises starting to form.

"Oh fuck," he breathes as Philip takes his dick out and wraps a fist around it. He doesn't have to do much before it's as hard as Lukas has ever been, and it's good, it's so good, Lukas wouldn't dream of stopping it.

Then, he puts his mouth on the head of Lukas's dick and Lukas jerks back violently, a hot wave of shame shooting through him just as surely as the lust does.

"It's okay," Philip tells him, looking up with wide, begging eyes. He strokes both of his hands on Lukas's thighs, relaxing him, taking him off his guard. "Lukas, no one will know. I promise I won't tell anyone."

He tries to look away, up at the stars overhead, but he can't keep his eyes off the ground for long. When he glances back down, Philip looks like he's been starving and this is the only thing that can fill him up. It's a pretty picture, exactly the thing you'd see in the kind of magazine Lukas is not supposed to subscribe to.

"I'll know," he says, reaching down to graze Philip's cheek. Philip turns his face up into the touch, rubs his lips on Lukas's fingers. It should be easy to say no. He feels so weak.

Philip smiles against his thumb as it traces his bottom lip. "But you aren't here."

"Huh?"

"Lukas is on an overnight with the rest of the class. Maybe Rose is doing this for Lukas. Tonight, you're not that guy, remember?" Philip swallows hard. "Rick Anderton is with me. At least, god, please, at least let me have that."

He pulls away from Philip's mouth and for a moment, Philip looks bitterly disappointed. But Lukas isn't going to stop this, he doesn't have the willpower. Instead he buries both his hands in Philip's hair and pushes them to the back, then urges Philip forward.

Philip lets Lukas guide him, as if Lukas has any idea what he's doing. He's overeager and clueless and he shoves Philip forward so far he comes up choking immediately.

"Fuck, sorry, sorry," Lukas says.

Philip laughs, wiping the back of his hand over his mouth. "Don't apologize. Just let me?"

Lukas whispers, "yeah," and this time he rests his hands on Philip's head without applying any pressure. Philip does the rest, shuffling forward on his knees, opening wide until his lips are on Lukas, just as soft as when he kisses them, but tight around him now, relaxing to take as much as he can and then sliding back.

He lets Philip settle on a rhythm, and then he starts to hitch his hips, waiting for a sign from Philip telling him to quit it. What he gets is Philip's fingers digging into his ass, urging him forward until Lukas gets the message, starts to fuck his mouth with the same urgency as before, only now Philip is ready. He doesn't just take it. Philip moans like he's the one getting his dick sucked.

Before long, Lukas drops his head back. "Damn. Damn, Philip. Please keep going."

As if Philip needs any encouragement. It's so good, Philip is so fucking good, not that Lukas has anything to compare this to, but there's no way anything could feel better. This roof feels like a different planet, no one else in the world except for them, safely isolated from any arguments Lukas might have had for why they shouldn't do this.

It's like drawing venom from a snake bite; Lukas hates himself a little less every second Philip's mouth is loving him.

He wants it to last forever. Of course, it doesn't last very long at all.

His fingers tighten in Philip's hair and he warns, "I'm close. I'm gonna—"

Philip pulls back, grins up at him through his swollen lips and his voice is fucked raw as he says, "Come inside me."

Lukas feels his eyes widening like they're about to fall right out, and as soon as Philip's mouth is warm on him again, he loses control and pours himself down that long, eager throat. When Philip rises to his feet, tucking Lukas's spent dick back into his underwear, he immediately goes in for a kiss. Lukas turns his face away before he can really think about it.

"Right," Philip says with a sort of ugly laugh. "Because that would be gay, right?" Lukas looks at him, and Philip frowns, reaches out to touch his face. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I know this isn't easy for you."

He looks down at Philip's cock and licks his lips, but he shakes his head. "I can't do it. Even if I tell myself it's not me, it's—"

"Shh, that's okay," Philip tells him. "I didn't do it so you would feel obligated to return it. I did it because I wanted to. Because I liked it. I don't want you doing anything you don't want to."

"But I do want to," he admits, and even just that admission feels like an accomplishment. Philip looks at him like he didn't expect to hear it, so Lukas shrugs. "I want it so much, Philip. I want so much."

Philip wraps an arm around his shoulder and kisses him, right under the shell of his ear. It's almost chaste, except that Lukas can feel Philip's other hand reaching down between his legs to grip his own cock.

Lukas opens the embrace enough to take Philip's wrist and pull it away, and Philip grunts in annoyance. "What, I can't even get myself off now?"

"Let me," Lukas asks, meeting Philip's eyes with his own, and that steals all the breath out of Philip. He nods as Lukas moves closer, presses his palm to Philip's dick.

It's weird at first. Lukas is so used to touching his own, so the different angle alone throws him off. Philip's dick feels thinner, searing hot where they’re touching, and Lukas can't get a clear idea of how long it is without looking, but the weight of it is good and the way Philip makes a needy sound and shoves closer to Lukas is even better. He wants to see it, knows he'll chicken out if he does, so he directs his eyes at a birthmark on Philip's neck and goes chasing it with his tongue.

He jerks Philip off until Philip's fingers curl around his shoulders and he lets out one quick cry as he comes into Lukas's fist. It starts like Lukas's name would, but Philip swallows it, bites down on his lip instead of finishing. Maybe he thinks Lukas doesn't want to hear his name in that fucked out tone, but Lukas is honestly relieved it isn't Rick, isn't some stranger's name he hears the first time Philip comes apart in his arms.

When he pulls his hand back, Philip takes it from him and looks at the cooling mess in his palm. "I've never swallowed before," he admits. "That was my first real taste of…"

Philip lifts Lukas's hand up to his still-raw mouth and licks a stripe down Lukas's palm, lapping up his own come, sex kitten eyes fixed on Lukas as he does it. Lukas is in very serious danger of getting hard all over again.

"Fuck," he says, and Philip pauses, checking to make sure it's okay, then smiling at whatever he sees in Lukas's face.

"You wanna try it?" he asks.

Lukas shakes his head, but Philip moves his hand slowly, steady, like he's trying not to spook an animal. Finally, Lukas nods, closes his eyes and lets his tongue find a string of come that Philip missed on his skin. He braces himself before swallowing, is surprised by how similar the taste is to his own.

"You don't like it?" Philip asks.

"Was hoping it'd be more like candy," he jokes. "You made it look like it tasted like candy."

Philip laughs. "I can work on that, if you ever think you want to taste more."

Lukas doesn't make any promises. He wipes his messy hand off on his jeans and makes a disgusted face. "We need to find some hand sanitizer or something."

"You choose the weirdest times to be a germophobe," Philip jokes. "Where's all this bitching when you're covered in mud on your bike?"

Lukas doesn't respond. They both know what's different, but he does decide to suck it up and let his nasty fingers curl around Philip's. Apparently that answer is good enough, because Philip smiles and leans up for a kiss, just a peck on Lukas's lips, so Lukas doesn’t have to taste anymore if he doesn’t want to.

They stand, quietly content for a while, until Philip checks his phone and says, "We should get down from here pretty soon. There's a bus back in an hour."

"Mmm, yeah, okay," Lukas says. He stays where he is though and turns his face so his chin is resting on Philip's head. "Just a few more minutes."

"What do you think your friends are doing on the overnight?" Philip tries to sound casual and utterly fails. "Aren't you curious at all?"

"No," he says, and that's the honest truth.

The overnight was a chance to sneak away with his girl and bum around with his friends instead of going to class. They're probably sitting by a campfire right now, planning the next party or some shit like that.

Lukas knows what he's supposed to want. Him and Rose, huddled under these same stars, dreaming up the day they'll be crowned prom king and queen. He's not supposed to be a prince in need of saving, but here his knight is anyway, just as fucked up and scared as he is, carrying a condom like crinkly, shining armor to hide it. Lukas thinks of Philip on the back of his bike as if it's a horse they can really ride off on, into some happily ever after.

And, fuck, he wishes he didn’t know better than to believe in fairy tales.

The End.
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