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Lobotomy and Some Tights, A

by Shrift

NOTES: To blame: Entirely Jane St Clair's fault for putting the idea in my head; Nestra for telling me it needed to exist and agreeing to correct my comma abuse; and Hel for gleefully demanding more until well past my bedtime. You people really shouldn't enable me like this.

He followed him home. He knew he shouldn't, that it was probably stupid and dangerous. That he'd probably end up explaining why he had a black eye to his parents, and that everyone would look at him funny at school on Monday.

But black eyes went away, and everyone at school already looked at him funny, even his friends, after the flare gun had destroyed his locker.

And if he kept being a coward, he'd never know.

None of the others would talk to him but Allison. Ice Queen Claire didn't even acknowledge his existence when he passed her in the hallway, and Andrew always looked constipated, like he knew he should say hello, but still worried about what his friends would say.

To be honest, Andrew's friends would probably beat up Brian for saying hello, so he didn't mind too much.

But he could feel Bender's eyes on his back on his way to shop class, and when he'd turn to look, Bender would be leaning against a locker with his head back and his hands in his pockets. If he looked long enough, Bender would smile lazily and wink like he'd just told a dirty joke.

And that's why Brian was following him home.

It took two weeks for him to work up the courage and to work up a plausible excuse for his parents to explain why he couldn't sit at home Saturday and do his homework like usual. Special club meeting at the school, he'd told them, and that later he was going to meet with a tutor to help him with his electrical wiring for shop class.

It was close enough to the truth that Brian hadn't stuttered and gone red in the face like every other time he'd tried to lie to his parents.

Bender slammed out the front door of the school and kicked a stone off the sidewalk, pumping his fist in satisfaction when the rock left a dent in the side of Mr. Vernon's car. Then he headed across the football field like the last time they'd had detention. It had rained a little, and Brian's sneakers were soaked by the time they were halfway across. Bender walked with his head down and his shoulders hunched inside his big, gray coat. Brian didn't have any trouble keeping up with him, because Bender walked like a person who didn't want to go home.

He crossed the train tracks, walked down a street with broken pavement, and took a right. A couple miles later, Brian's knees and feet were aching, his backpack was dragging at his shoulders, and he was lost in the run-down part of Shermer where all the small pre-fab houses had sagging roofs and mismatched siding.

He turned a corner, and Bender was gone.

Brian turned in a circle on the narrow street, and then just stood there for a moment trying not to panic.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?"

Bender was leaning against a rickety wooden porch a few feet off the road, his arms crossed and a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. The lawn was overgrown and bare in spots, the house the same color as Bender's coat.

"Um," Brian said, "you told me to come over sometime."

Bender just narrowed his eyes and tilted his head, smoke curling up into his long hair.

Brian clenched his hands in his coat pockets. "Remember? Saturday detention? Mr. Vernon made us --"

"I remember, dork," Bender interrupted, pushing off the porch with his shoulders. "What the fuck do you want?"

"I need help with my lamp," Brian said.

Bender exhaled a cloud of smoke and said, "Sounds like a personal problem, genius."

Brian had known this was a monumentally stupid idea, the worst he'd had after bringing a gun to school because he'd failed his project.

He really didn't want to fail again, and that was definitely going to happen if he didn't come up with something to say.

"Allison says hi," he offered.

"That's... really special," Bender said insincerely, crushing the butt of his cigarette under his boot. "I'm touched." Bender sneered and walked around the house, but he didn't tell Brian to go away, so he followed. Bender fished a key out of his coat pocket and opened a grimy door that would never see white again. The door opened to reveal a stark concrete wall, a short staircase leading into a dingy kitchen, and a dark, narrow staircase leading to the basement.

Bender clomped down the stairs without turning on a light. Brian followed more slowly, hand brushing along the concrete wall to search for a railing that didn't exist. The basement smelled like mold and old cigarette smoke. It was chilly and as unfinished as the staircase, with a washer and dryer and exposed copper pipes. Bender's bed was in the corner, the covers dark and rumpled. There was an overflowing ashtray on the dented night stand and clothes strewn across the floor. A naked woman exposed herself on a ratty poster on one wall, and on another was a black, white and red poster of what looked like a giant hand.

It was nothing like his neat, bright room at home with a bookshelf full of textbooks, gadgets, and his Voltron bedspread.

"What's Frankenchrist?" Brian asked, wandering farther into the room as Bender took off his coat and threw it on the floor. He was wearing another white Henley with a plaid shirt, only this one was blue.

Bender snorted and pulled out the drawer of his nightstand. "Let me guess. You're more of a Mr. Mister-Billy Ocean-Debbie Gibson type."

"I like Wang Chung," Brian said defensively, dropping his backpack on the floor. It was too cold to take off his jacket.

Bender snorted again and removed a tool kit and a ceramic skull that sloshed like there was water in it. "I'm so proud. Where's the fucking lamp?"

"Oh. Yeah," Brian said, unzipping his backpack and digging for the elephant, grateful that he'd remembered to bring it. "Here."

He handed it to Bender, who picked the ugly ceramic up with one big hand and tossed it a little, then sat down hard on his bed and put it between his legs. "Ever smoked a bowl, genius?"

"No," he admitted. For lack of any other furniture to use, Brian sat down on the rug in front of Bender's bed. Playboy magazines and a carton of cigarettes poked out from underneath the stained box frame. Brian watched, wide-eyed, as Bender took out a plastic bag of dope and began packing it in the skull. "What is that?"

"Water pipe," Bender said. He looked down at Brian, dark hair falling in his eyes. "Bong?" he said slowly, like he was talking to an idiot.

Brian put his elbows on his knees and propped his chin in his hands. "I know what a bong is."

Bender grinned, sitting up a little to slide a lighter out of his pocket. "Made it in shop class, kid. Unlike yours, mine actually works." He put one end of the skull to his mouth and ran the lighter over the dope, his cheeks hollowing. Water burbled quietly, and Bender took another hit before passing the pipe and the lighter to Brian.

Brian took it awkwardly, pulling in a mouthful of acrid smoke on his second try while Bender's leather-gloved hands quickly took apart his elephant lamp. Brian had no idea what he was doing, or what Bender was doing to the guts of the lamp, and Brian guessed it had been pretty stupid to think that shop was going to be easy just because guys like Bender took it. Like reverse discrimination, or something, but Brian just hadn't thought it through, or maybe he'd known all along and just wanted to get his first failure out of the way to get his parents off his back.

Only failing hadn't really made much of a difference, except that his parents were more strict now and his mom had started taking Valium after she had a meltdown about what the neighbors would think.

If he'd known that, he would have relaxed a long time ago.

He jumped when Bender snapped his fingers and passed the pipe back. "Why are you helping me?"

The pipe whistled, and Bender held his breath for a moment before letting the smoke curl out of his mouth. His voice was rough when he said, "Do you want me to stop?"

"Well, no."

"Then shut the fuck up."

Brian figured that was an okay trade and kept quiet while Bender worked, taking hits whenever Bender offered him the pipe. He was starting to feel high like he had that Saturday, that weird happy feeling where he would swear he could feel light waves moving through his body, and the guys in his physics club would totally blast him for thinking that if they knew. When the dope burned down, he regretted having to put the pipe back on the night stand.

Bender grunted and flopped sideways on his bed, reaching to plug the lamp into an outlet. His shirt rode up to expose a few inches of skin on his flat stomach, a line of dark hair running from his navel to disappear behind his belt buckle. Bender propped his head in his hand and nodded at the elephant. "Pull his trunk."

Brian shuffled forward on his knees. The sheets smelled like Bender, like a combination of dope, cigarettes, cologne, and leather. He tentatively reached across the bed and pulled on the elephant's trunk until the lamp clicked on; the light cast a shadow over Bender's face, highlighting his fierce profile.

"Merry fucking Christmas," Bender said.

"Thanks," Brian said. He wanted to ask again why Bender was helping him, but he didn't dare. Even though they were about the same height, Bender was touchy and a lot bigger than he was. He looked back at his elephant, and the pot made him snicker as he said, "God, I hate this thing."

"Don't like your loser trophy, genius?"

Brian turned off the lamp and moved it to the floor. "It's ugly. Uglier than the sweaters my grandmother gives me for Christmas. And don't call me genius."

The lazy grin was back. "What am I supposed to call you, asshole?"

"My name," Brian said. "You don't remember it, do you?"

Bender raised an eyebrow. "Oh ye of little faith, Mr. Johnson. Not only do I know how to read, I even have a long-term memory."

"What's my first name?" Brian said.

"Why didn't your parents name you Brain?" Bender said. "Simple, to the point --"

"You're wrong." Brian didn't know why he said it, but the words came out like a challenge anyway.

Bender blinked, then rolled his eyes. "Oh, I'm wrong, am I?"

"Totally wrong," Brian said.

"Totally." Bender narrowed his eyes. "I'll bet you're the type whose mommy writes his name on all his tags, aren't you, Brain?" Bender sat up and dragged Brian forward before he could react, falling practically into Bender's lap while his arms circled around him, pulling at the tag on his sweater.

"Hey!" Brian yelled.

"Look at that," Bender said, his voice low and hot in Brian's ear. "Property of Brian Ralph Johnson."

Bender sat back on his elbows, his eyes almost black and partially covered by his hair. Brian didn't move, his hands on Bender's thighs, the coarse fabric of his army surplus pants rough on Brian's palms. Bender had said Claire and Andrew didn't know his friends on that Saturday when they'd had detention, but Brian had heard some interesting rumors when he'd asked around. And the fact that Bender hadn't already punched his lights out meant that they might be true.

Brian really wanted them to be true.

He started moving his hands up Bender's legs before he could chicken out. "How's Claire?"

Bender threw his head back, and his nostrils flared. "Still a tease, last time I checked." He shifted on the bed. "You go down on your knees like this for Andrew?"

"Not for Andrew," Brian scoffed. He looked up and met Bender's eyes when he said, "But you never asked what we did at Latin club."

Bender's laugh turned into a groan when Brian pressed his hand over his crotch. "Demented and social," he said raspily. "Fucking perfect."

Brian didn't ask for permission to undo Bender's belt, but nobody seemed to be complaining when he did and then went for the zipper. He knew how to do this. He'd spent all last summer learning how at his friend Jimmy's house when they were supposed to be working on a science olympiad project.

The trail of dark hair starting at Bender's navel went all the way down. Bender just watched with an intense look on his face as Brian tugged his pants down far enough and bumped his knees against Bender's motorcycle boots. Bender slid his legs open a little wider so Brian had room to work.

He knew he should be more nervous than this, but the pot was buzzing in his ears and he hadn't had any sex in a really long time that wasn't just his own hand, not since Jimmy's parents got divorced and he moved away.

It always looked way too big to fit, but Brian licked his palm and wrapped his hand around Bender's cock, then guided it into his mouth. Bender was big and warm and firm, skin a little salty, tasting a little bitter like bleach from the pot. Brian wanted to make it good before his jaw started to ache, so he squeezed up with his hand and sucked.

"You fucking love doing this, don't you, cocksucker?" Bender growled.

Brian made an affirmative sound around Bender's cock that earned him another groan, and he knew he'd be smiling if he didn't have his mouth full. It was true. And he liked having this kind of power over Bender, because it was a power he didn't have anywhere else. Kneeling between Bender's legs was a big turn-on, and Brian hoped he wouldn't come in his pants later.

Bender shifted onto one elbow and reached out with his other hand, his fingers curled tightly into Brian's hair and holding him in place. Brian tried to remember to breathe through his nose as Bender's cock reshaped his mouth, making him drool a little it slipped in and out. Bender was breathing harder, making sounds in the back of his throat that made Brian wish he wasn't using both of his hands so he could adjust himself. He had that liquid feeling in his gut, his skin was hot, and he was hard and wondering if Bender would touch him if he asked.

Maybe he'd been expecting Bender to try and use his mouth, but he wasn't unhappy that Bender didn't, not really. Bender just held tightly to his hair and made the bed creak as he lifted his hips a little to chase after Brian's mouth, zipper scraping Brian's chin. Proof positive that not even John Bender was an asshole twenty-four hours a day.

Brian choked a little when Bender came, swallowing as fast as he could and then letting Bender's cock go with a noisy slurp. His jaw hurt and it felt like he still had Bender's cock in the back of his throat. Bender let go of his hair and collapsed back on the bed, panting a little, his eyes closed. He was trying to decide what to do when Bender grabbed the front of his sweater and hauled him onto the bed.

Bender's eyes were slits as he angled his body towards Brian, his hand rough and large as he grabbed Brian's crotch. Bender grinned when Brian whined high in his throat. "Yeah, you fucking love it," Bender said, then unzipped Brian's pants and reached inside.

He realized Bender was still wearing his half-gloves when he wrapped his hands around Brian's cock, the warm leather sliding easily over skin that was already sweaty and slick from want. Bender's tight hand moved hard and fast, and it felt a lot better than his own hand ever did.

Brian knew he was making stupid "uh, uh" noises in his throat, but Bender's body was big and solid, and pressed close. He could feel Bender's bicep flex against his chest as he jerked him off. Brian's hands were clenched in Bender's flannel shirt, twisting the fabric as he curled into Bender's hand. He breathed in short bursts, Bender's scent thick in his nose. Brian buried his face in Bender's shoulder and bit down a little when he came all over Bender's gloved hand.

The bed creaked a little when Bender shifted, and Brian realized he was half on top of him. Bender brought his hand up to Brian's mouth. After a moment of hesitation, he licked Bender's palm, tasting sweat and leather and himself. Bender made a low sound in his throat and took his hand away before Brian was done.

Brian stayed where he was when Bender slid out from underneath him. A second later he heard the snick of a lighter and an inhaled breath.

"Isn't that a cliche?" Brian asked, staring up at the wooden beams that made up the ceiling.

"Fuck if it is?" Bender mumbled around his cigarette.

They still touched at random places -- shoulder, Brian's knuckles pressing against Bender's hip, his calf slung over Bender's shin. Brian's head lolled on the mattress, and he looked over at Bender. He looked sleepy, hair tangled and in his eyes as he smoked, pants still open.

Brian's buzz was still going, making him feel loose and almost happy and preoccupied with thoughts like being glad Bender wasn't a girl, because if they got married, Bender would be John Johnson, and that'd be kind of stupid. Brian's stomach gurgled, and he had a sudden and intense craving for his mom's waffles.

"I thought you'd be louder," Brian mused.

Bender took another pull off his cigarette and grinned smugly. "Thought about me, did you?"

And maybe Brian had thought about Bender a lot lately, but he wasn't about to admit it. So he simply made a scoffing sound and held his hand out for a drag. Bender was about to hand it over when a banging noise upstairs made him jerk and look up at the ceiling. Brian could hear a deep voice yelling something

"You'd better go, genius," Bender said absently, putting out the cigarette and doing up his pants.

"What's up?" Brian said, struggling to get off the bed.

"I said you'd better go. Before my old man makes it to the kitchen and sees you."

Brian stood up and straightened his clothes, turning around in a circle before locating his ceramic elephant and shoving it into his backpack.

Funny. He'd had sex, and he was still wearing his jacket.

He walked towards the stairs, but turned around halfway there to ask, "Are you -- will you be okay?"

Bender wiped his hand down the front of his shirt. His face was hard and a little scared, like the way he looked at Mr. Vernon. "Same old, same old, genius."

"But --"

"Go," Bender said.

"See you Monday," Brian said lamely, feeling his way up the stairs.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to Shrift

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