by numbers

Ceasar was fairly certain that before the virus, life hadn’t been one continuous hard-on. He was almost positive that there had been some moments, way back then, where he had been able to lie back in his bed without imagining someone accompanying him. And he was damn sure that he had never before jerked off in the shower while thinking of licking Ice from throat to navel, but maybe that was just because they hadn’t met yet. Rose assured him that all teenage boys went through similar experiences, sex drive-enhancing disease or no, but Ceasar thought she was probably lying, or maybe thinking of rabbits.

“Are you coming or not?” Ice asked, lounging against the doorframe, “It’s nacho night!”

“Is that all you ever think about?”

“Is sex all you ever think about?”

Ceasar frowned and flicked a balled-up piece of notebook paper at his friend. “I have a disease. And it’s really weird that you associate Mexican food with sex, Ice, seriously.”

“Are you coming or not?”

“Yes!” Ceasar licked his lips and counted to ten and tried not to look at the bare strip of skin where Ice’s shirt rode up, “Give me a minute!”

***

Ceasar shook a chip free from a clump of its cheese-covered brethren and made for the sour cream. “What about Teddy? Doesn’t he like nachos?”

Ice shrugged and double-dipped in the salsa, “Doing hall monitor stuff, or lifeguard stuff, or something all responsible and whatever. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

“You’re a true friend, Ice, really.” Fleance was across the room, talking to the girl with the unhealthy feline fixation. He said something in that flat monotone of his, and she laughed and pulled a kitty barrette from her hair and brushed the bangs away from his face and Ceasar bit his lip and counted to ten and tried to forget that they liked to wander around nude for no reason. “What about those kids you were looking after?”

“Well, you know,” and Ice chuckled awkwardly, “gotta leave the kids at home once in awhile, right? A guy needs a night to himself every now and then.”

Ceasar grinned. “You wanna XXX with them, don’t you?”

“No!” Ice was going red, or would be if Ice ever blushed, which Ice never did, so obviously Ceasar was imagining it. “They’re just cubs!”

“They’re what?”

“Kids,” Ice covered smoothly, “they’re just kids! I wouldn’t want to do dirty stuff with them.”

“Age doesn’t matter if the body’s willing and ready—” Ice hit him with a nearby spoon. Ceasar rubbed his head sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“But seriously, you could probably justify it if you—”

Then Ice did that growl thing that spoke of either years of practicing his dog impersonation or a wolf bite and a full moon, and Ceasar decided that maybe he should just shut up. Ice’s bright angry eyes bored into him. He started counting again. “We need more salsa.”

***

Teddy must have still been hall monitoring, or lifeguarding, or whatever responsible thing he was up to this week, because when Ice fumbled the door open and they collapsed in a loud giggly heap on the bed together there was no glare from across the room prickling at the back of Ceasar’s neck. It was a most welcome absence; Teddy still hadn’t quite forgiven him for groping that one boy and making him cry. Repeatedly.

Ceasar made a face at the Canadian flag pinned to the wall, and Ice started to take off his socks. Ceasar poked him in the ribs. “Why are you my friend?” he asked.

“I dunno. You’re a nice guy with bad luck. You have cool hair.” Ice wriggled his toes. “Stop asking dumb questions, I just felt like it is all.”

Ceasar snorted and sat up and wiggled his toes next to Ice’s and wondered where his socks and shoes went. He smiled. “You think I have cool hair?”

“Shut up,” their arms brushed together, “I just like the tips.”

Ceasar laughed, and then Ice was staring at him, and the back of his neck went hot and cold and prickly and one two three four five six seven eight nine ten. “What?” he asked lamely.

Ice licked his lips and leaned in closer and something weird was definitely up. “You’re way more cute when you smile,” he said.

“You think so?” Ice’s fingers were on his back now, his breath on his face, and Ceasar wanted to ask just where the fuck did this come from, except he knew because it was the same scenario he got himself involved in every day only backwards, and maybe Rose had been right about teenage hormones after all. “I guess I should do it more often.”

“Yeah,” Ice mumbled, pressing close, too close, not close enough, “you should.”

When Ice finally kissed him, Ceasar held his breath and counted to ten, to a hundred, a thousand, a million, the moon, the stars, to forever, and it still wasn’t enough.

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