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Table of Contents



Shousetsu Bang*Bang
Issue 71: Like and Subscribe

Edited by Shousetsu Bang*Bang
Smashwords Edition
Copyright 2018 Shousetsu Bang*Bang

Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the contributors and editors, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy or visit our website at http://shousetsubangbang.com. Thank you for your support.

Shousetsu Bang*Bang Issue 71 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Based on a work at http://shousetsubangbang.com

Table of contents

What happens next may surprise you, by Hyakunichisou 13 (百日草 十三)

Premium Content, by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)

Suicide Prevention, written and illustrated by juou no zan (女王のザン)

Show-Off, by Hiwaru Kibi (火悪 木美)

The Secret Between His Teeth, by 織工 (Okō),

illustrated by beili

For the Vine, by shukyou (主教)

Diplomatic Relations, by Zach O’Toole

———

Maintenance Window‎, by Iron Eater

For his steady arms‎, by beili

Front cover by engine

Edited and published by the Shousetsu Bang*Bang editorial staff. Read more about this issue at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/wiki/index.php?title=Issue_71

What happens next may surprise you

by Hyakunichisou 13 (百日草 十三)

1

It’s another Saturday night and you’re tired of lying on the couch crying. Wallowing is officially over, you decide. You grab your headset and jack into the club.

You’re standing in a corridor lit purple by the strips of glowing pink and blue that run at ankle level. Straight ahead is the bar, lights and music pulsing in a heartbeat rhythm. The left doorway leads to the playrooms. The right leads to the wardrobe, where you can purchase pre-made and exclusive character customization options.

To continue into the bar, go to 2. For the playrooms, go to 3. For the wardrobe, go to 4.

4

In the wardrobe, you flick through your current purchases. They all feel too familiar, too well used. The exclusive options have always been overpriced, but fuck it. You deserve something new and shiny, baby, and you feel like looking fucking edible tonight.

To choose the midnight-blue suit shot through with gleaming threads that glitter like distant stars, go to 5. To choose the black leather pants that sweep your thighs with silver chains and make your ass look frankly fabulous, along with the almost-transparent shirt that wisps over your shoulders and arms like the lightest touch of bare skin, go to 6. To chicken out and go back to lying on the couch, because you’ll put up with anything to avoid having to face change, won’t you? go to 7.

6

Wearing your new leather pants and silver shirt, you walk down the corridor to the bar. It feels weird being back here, but it’s just as much your place as his; why should you be the one to stay away? You pause for a moment as the room opens out before you, an arena of beauty and possibility. Drinks and face paint and jewellery luminesce in the purple-tinged atmosphere. Men, women, and others crowd at the bars and linger at the standing tables. You’re not looking for anyone in particular. Of course you’re not.

To get yourself a drink to help you fucking relax a little, go to 8. To head for the dance floor so the world can appreciate your best assets, go to 9.

8

The club has your regular drink set as a default, but you override it for something pink and frothy that comes with a strawberry cut into a flower on a skewer across the glass. It goes to your head fast, and everything lightens, as if someone’s turned the gravity setting to less than a full gee.

To flirt with the robot bartender, because the club’s apparently been watching that new retro serial and is it weird that you find the play of lights on the matte silver surface of his exposed arms entrancing? go to 10. To head for the dance floor and find someone to work up a sweat with, go to 9.

9

As you make your way to the dance floor at the back of the club, the music changes from a moodstep classic to a straight-up dance inferno multilayered remix. You slip from the margins of the room into the crowd and raise your arms above your head and give yourself over to the beat.

The crowd is one joyous entity, one pulse in a hundred bodies, and you gyrate and shake and swing with it. You feel hands on your arms, hips close to yours, a touch to the small of your back, and you lean into them and fly.

Eventually the music spins into a low, slow number. In front of you, a short, pointy-eared guy with green hair grins and licks his bottom lip. Beside him, a woman with scarlet locs halfway to her waist lifts her hair from the back of her neck, smiles at you, and closes her eyes.

To dance with the woman with the locs, who is legitimately luscious even if women aren’t usually your lane, go to 11. To move closer to the guy with green hair and seriously nice shoulders, honestly you’d forgotten how much of a thing you have for shoulders, go to 12.

12

The guy with the green hair puts his hands on your hips and you rest your forearms on top of those shoulders, and as the music flows on, you sway together like a wave on the beach, so close that you can feel how he’s going to move before he does it. Drops of perspiration glitter at his hairline like a row of diamonds. He smells wonderful, and you can feel the space between you buzz as if the air molecules are charged with static energy. By the time the track ends you’re plastered against one another. Those new leather pants aren’t hiding anything, and you’re pretty sure the guy’s liking what he feels.

He stretches up to speak into your ear, and you can feel the line of his neck against your jaw. “I’ve got a room,” he says, halfway to a question, his warm of his breath making you shiver.

To follow the guy to his room, god, it feels like a year since you last got laid, go to 13. To keep dancing with the woman with the locs, go to 11.

13

As the two of you make your way through the crowd, you catch a glimpse of a familiar dark-haired figure by the bar. Your body electrifies, not in the fun way.

To brush your dance partner off and go order some flamboyant drink to prove that you’re completely over that guy at the bar and he can go fuck himself, go to 14. To keep following the guy with the green hair and just get fucking laid already, go to 15.

15

As the guy with the green hair leads you off the dance floor, you pull up his public screen to check him out. You’re hoping that his name isn’t something cringeworthy likes sexxxxx!y or do-me-69, because that would kill the mood right there, but it turns out to be hi-jamie.

The corridor to the playrooms is lined in lights of varying shades of blue, making it suggestive and intimate. The beat from the dance floor follows you, and it seems to tie everything together, matching the pace of Jamie’s steps and the cadence of your heart.

Jamie’s playroom is warm and simple, a big bed and thick rugs and two easy chairs and the lights turned low. He closed the door and leans back against it and pulls you to him.

You kiss him. He tastes subtly of mint and bourbon. He slides his hands down your back, curving around your ass, to the two matching rings on your hips where those silver chains are anchored. You jump as though they’re a live wire patched into your skin. He uses them to pull you closer, your crotch snug against his, and a circuit completes, shooting pleasure all up and down your body.

“You’re so hot,” he murmurs. He licks the vee of skin above the silver shirt’s first pearly button. “What are you into?”

It’s been so long that everything flashes through your mind. You want to fall to your knees for him, you want his hands to tease you until you can’t even beg for more, you want to bend him over and feel him come with your cock inside him.

To get on your knees and suck Jamie until he moans and pants and comes, go to 16. If you want him to stroke you into incoherence, go to 17. To see if he feels like being fucked into the mattress, go to 18.

16

“Hell, yeah, you can suck my cock,” Jamie says. He pushes a thigh between your legs and grinds his hips against yours, making your dick throb. “What kind do you like?”

You dig your fingertips into Jamie’s ass and nip the soft skin of his neck, forcing a gasp from him. The idea of choosing a cock appeals to you. You ask him to show you what kinds he has.

The two of you let go of each other with a little bit of effort, flushed and breathless. Jamie leads you over to a drawer built into the wall and pulls it open.

He’s got a good collection, a lot of custom ones. You’ve never been that much into this aspect of the club, but it’s clear that Jamie is, from the pointy ears and the green hair on down. Some people really enjoy having more choices than came with the body they were born into.

The dicks resembling tentacles are interesting. You imagine how the suckers would feel under your tongue. There’s another one with golden, iridescent scales. There are a range of sizes, some cut and some not, human dicks and some inspired by other members of the animal kingdom and some that are pure artful fantasy.

You ask if you can touch one. Jamie nods, and you run your finger up a column of clear glass with spirals of crimson within, curl your hand around it. Jamie swallows audibly.

To choose a tentacle cock, go to 19. To choose the cock with scales, go to 20. To choose the glass cock, go to 21.

20

The cock with the scales looks like a good size for you, a reasonable mouthful and beautiful to boot; you’ve always had a soft spot for glitz. You lift it from its velvet nest. Jamie sighs and leans his forehead against your shoulderblade.

You cradle the cock in your palms and bring it to your mouth. You run your lips along it. The scales are warmer than you expected, more flexible. It tastes a little like cinnamon.

Jamie is trembling. You turn to him and kiss him gently, circling your thumb on the head of his cock. He opens his lips and groans into your mouth. You wonder if he likes it this way, or if he prefers the cock to be attached to him.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” he says. “But I want to be naked with you.”

You slide one hand under his shirt and push it up. Jamie grabs it by the hem and pulls it off over his head.

There’s a tattoo across his clavicle and down between his nipples, cascading over his abdomen. It’s the same gold as his cock’s scales.

“It’s a mod,” he says, as you trace the curves of the tattoo with your fingertip. “Matches whatever dick I want.”

He’s gorgeous, and you tell him so. You trail your hand below the waistband of his grey trousers and pull the fastening open. The tattoo, you find, goes all the way down.

To back Jamie towards the bed and push him down onto it and press his body into it with yours, go to 22. To get him into the chair, go to 23.

23

Naked, Jamie allows you to push him into the nearest armchair. He watches you as you unbutton your shirt and slide it off. You hold his dick against the skin of your chest and rub its tip through the hair there. Jamie thrusts his hips, eyes never leaving yours. You wriggle out of the leather pants, the chains jingling as they pool on the floor. The armchair is wide, and you settle into it over Jamie, your knees to either side of his warm hips.

Jamie watches as you slide his cock between your lips. “Oh fuck,” he breathes. His eyelids flutter.

You enjoy sucking cock, love the contradiction of being on your knees and making a man go wild with need. Jamie writhes under you, head tilted back to expose his tender throat. You’ve made a good choice; the cock fits perfectly into your mouth, just long enough that Jamie can feel it when you swallow. He groans, stutters out half-words. The scales are a pleasant texture on your tongue. Jamie’s too distracted to do more than rest his hand on your own cock, and you rock against him, tantalizing yourself with thoughts of what else this golden cock might be able to do once Jamie’s satisfied.

You pull Jamie’s cock almost all the way out of your mouth and circle its blunt tip with your tongue. Jamie arches his back. “Oh–I’m–I’m close–I’m going to–”

To keep sucking Jamie’s cock and make him come, go to 24. To stop and make him wait instead, go to 25.

24

You push Jamie’s cock back into your mouth, along your tongue, slow and wet. Jamie’s entire body goes rigid. His cock ripples as he throws his head back and digs his fingers into the soft arms of the chair and cries out as he comes.

You suck him gently through it, though there’s conveniently nothing to swallow. When you withdraw his cock from your mouth, Jamie holds out his hand. You put his cock into it, and he reaches over to lay it gently on a small pillow on a table beside the chair.

“That was awesome,” he says. He tugs you down for a kiss. “What can I do for you now?”

If you want him to stroke you into incoherence, go to 17. To see if he feels like being fucked into the mattress, go to 18.

17

“Like this?” His hand circles your cock and slides up it slowly. He takes something from the table with his other hand, and suddenly his touch is slick and warm and makes your breath catch in your throat.

It feels sublime. You slowly rock your hips into the sensation of his hands, and plead with him to talk to you.

“Sure. What gets you going?”

To hear Jamie talk about how good it feels to have you hold him down and fuck him deep, go to 26. To have him describe the delightfully filthy things he can do with his collection of cocks, go to 27.

27

“The thing about having more than one cock is, you can go forever.” Jamie’s thumb circles the head of your dick. “You can do it all. I could do it all to you. Would you like that? I could give you another cock to suck, keep your mouth busy while I get you off.” You can feel Jamie watching your face. “Not just your mouth. I’ll bet I have a cock just the right size for your stunning ass. God, you look incredible in those pants, I almost didn’t want to take them off you. I’d spread you out on the bed and pull them down just enough for you to take it. Let you feel me fuck you both ways.” You can’t help moaning at the thought. His hand is moving faster. “I’d fill you up and I’d hold you down and jerk you off, come in your mouth and come in your ass and watch you come, make you come so hard, yeah, like that, just like that–”

Your skin dissolves into spangles and a shooting star fizzes up your spine and you come as if you’re flying apart, so overwhelmed by pleasure that you’re soundless. You shake and shudder and finally deflate into Jamie’s arms, where you rest your forehead against his shoulder, trying to remember how to breathe.

Go to 28.

28

Holy fuck, that was good for you.

Go to 29.

29

Jamie watches you get dressed. You lean down to where he’s sitting in the chair and kiss him again with affection.

“That was fun,” he says, and stretches. “Do you think I might see you here again?” You nod, and he runs an appreciative hand down the side of your leather pants.

You feel warm and relaxed and pleasantly buzzed and not yet ready to be completely alone again. You’ll go have a drink, you think; you’ll sit anonymously among the crowd, listen to the music, watch the parade of beautiful bodies fill the night with joy and pleasure.

You’re walking down the corridor to the bar when you see a dark-haired figure coming towards you.

He stops. You stop. You look at one another.

“Hi,” he says.

He looks good. No bags under reddened eyes, no hair left too long without showering, no clothes gone baggy because he hasn’t been able to force food down. Of course, you’re only looking at his club face. And he’s only looking at yours. Masks and costumes. Maybe that was a lot of the problem.

“How’ve you been?” he asks.

You shrug and say something inane about work.

“Yeah, same here. I, uh.” He swallows. “I didn’t expect to–” His voice thins. “It’s good to see you.”

You bite down on your tongue, and say nothing. It’s so difficult, you think you might stop breathing.

“God, I miss you.” He shakes his head. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Could we–do you think we could have a drink together? Do you think we could try again?”

To have a drink in the club with the man who lied to your face and betrayed your trust and left you in pieces, go to–actually, no, that’s a terrible idea, there’s no choice here. You know there’s no choice here.

You walk past him and into the bar. You order an extravagant drink with orange foam and multicoloured ice cubes and a rim frosted with sugar. You sit, feeling the heartbeat of the music through the floor, and wonder what you should do next.

When you finish your drink, go to–what number are you at now, 30? Go to 30. Go to 31. Feel the possibilities that you’d turned away from arise and unfold in front of you, new colour blooming in a world that you’d feared would always be grey. Go to 50, go to 200, go to 16,497. Go to any of them, go to all of them. Go wherever takes your fancy, because it’s another Saturday night, and you’re finally done with crying.

Premium Content

by Domashita Romero (地下ロメロ)

“Before you do this I need you to record a message to your mom absolving me of any guilt if you die,” Ben said as he got the framing right on the video on his phone.

“It’s going to be fine,” Jey said, and then grinned at the camera. “Mom, I promise it’ll be fine.”

“That doesn’t count,” Ben said. “I wasn’t recording yet.”

Jey let out a sigh and put a hand on his hip, tucking his skateboard under his arm on the other side. “Start recording! This is all content, man! Content.”

“Content,” Ben repeated, dully, and tapped the button to start filming. Jey gave him a huge grin, that kind that made his eyes crinkle up and Ben’s heart do a couple of skips. Yeah, that was content, all right.

He’d met Jevaun Harris when he was a freshman and Jey was a senior, out in the fields behind school. It was after marching band practice, when Ben was sitting on the bleachers catching his breath slash waiting for his mom to come pick him up, and then suddenly there’d been a guy with a lot of curly hair in a soccer uniform standing in front of him. Well, in front of and slightly down, looking up at him in a way that all five feet and three inches of Ben rarely got to experience.

“Sick trumpet, dude,” the guy had said, and Ben instinctively held it a little closer to himself, worried about the famed jock-on-nerd bullying that he’d heard was rampant in high school.

“Thanks?” Ben said. “It’s just a trumpet.”

“Yeah, but I saw you playing it,” he said, and then bounced a little from foot to foot while he held his hands up to his mouth in a mime of playing a trumpet. “You’ve got, like, style.”

Ben laughed a little. No one had ever remotely described him as having style before. “Mr. Winstead doesn’t like my style. Says we should all be uniform. It just helps me keep rhythm.”

“You are literally marching to the beat of your own drummer,” the guy said. “That’s awesome. I’m Jey, by the way.” He stepped a few steps up the bleachers and held out his hand. Ben had never had someone anywhere near his own age try to shake his hand before. It seemed so bizarrely grown up. He took Jey’s hand and hoped he wasn’t too much of a dead fish.

“I’m Ben.” He looked around the field and saw other kids packing up, others waiting for their rides, the soccer team that Jey had clearly come from horsing around. “Were you seriously watching us play?”

“Hell yeah,” Jey said, and came up closer to sit down next to Ben. Ben could smell him, that slightly astringent smell of sweat that came from exercise. “I think that shit is really cool. I’d be into it myself, but you know, conflicts.” He looked over at Ben and gave him a grin. He had a broad smile, almost horse-mouthed, but something about it made Ben feel like something was caught in his throat. “Also, I can’t play any instruments. You should have heard me try to oboe.”

“More like ‘oh no’?” Ben said, and then cringed. Why did he talk? But Jey leaned his head back and laughed, in a way that didn’t seem cruel.

“Yeah, something like that,” Jey said, and started picking at his cuticles in what was clearly, from the state of them, a common nervous tic. “This is your first year, right?”

“Yeah,” Ben said, like it wasn’t extremely obvious how very fourteen he was, gangly limbs and greasy skin. Jey looked almost grown-up, like he was finished getting put together. Ben bet he could buy beer without getting carded.

“Well, welcome to the ride,” Jey said, and laughed a little. “It’s not so bad. I’m ready to go, though.”

Ben didn’t really know what to say to that, so he just sat in squirming silence next to Jey, watching the fireflies come out and twinkle around them. He had to do something. He had to say something. “Hey, so, like… did you want something? Why is this happening,” he said, giving voice to the question he asked himself about a hundred times a day.

Jey laughed again and put a hand on his shoulder, making that feeling in Ben’s throat get heavier. “Don’t worry about it, man. I just thought you seemed cool.”

It was good to know early on when meeting someone that they were crazy or stupid, and Jey was clearly both if he thought Ben was cool. “Oh, okay,” Ben said, though. “You seem cool, too.”

Jey squeezed his shoulder a little. “Do you need a ride home or anything? I’ve got a car.”

Ben knew he absolutely would get in trouble for taking a ride home with an older kid without permission, but he still wanted to say yes. “My mom’s coming,” he said, feeling like the tiniest nerd.

“Yeah, okay, figured, but I thought I should offer.” Jey squeezed his shoulder and took his hand away, leaving Ben feeling tingling where his fingers had been. “Let me know if you want one in the future. We clearly have practice at the same time, so it’d be no problem.”

“Thanks,” Ben said, and then leaned away a little to look at Jey. “This isn’t a prank, right? You’re not setting me up for something?”

Jey looked a little hurt then, but quickly returned with a smile. “No, no, it’s not. Sorry, I didn’t mean to weird you out. You just looked like someone I wanted to get to know.”

Ben had to laugh a little then. Crazy, stupid, and blind. “If you say so.” His pocket buzzed then, and he took his phone out to see a text from his mom. “My mom’s here. I gotta go.”

“Cool, see you around?” Jey said, leaning back to smile at him. It was funny; when Jey looked at him like that, he actually, in the smallest way, started to feel just a little bit cool.

“Yeah,” Ben said. “Yeah, sure.”

Jey did not die that night, but he also did not pull off any particularly cool skateboard stunts. Certainly not the kind that would go viral or even get more than thirty hits on YouTube. That had been Jey’s obsession since he dropped out of DePaul three semesters in — he wanted to be famous on the internet. He’d roped Ben into it — well, it wasn’t like it took much to talk Ben into anything, not when Jey was the one doing the talking.

Jey had done just about every stupid “challenge” there was out there. Ben sometimes thought he could still smell cinnamon from the time Jey sprayed it in his face. He did stunts, he did pranks, he even tried to pretend to be a soldier coming home to his pets, though his cats were less than impressed. And Ben stayed behind the camera for all of it, because he just wanted to make Jey smile.

Then there was the time he’d seen more than just Jey’s smile, when he’d filmed Jey streaking through a grocery store, yelping wildly as he ran down the frozen foods aisle. He’d sat next to Jey in his car as he wriggled into his jeans afterwards, trying not to look, and then at least trying to not get caught looking. “That was so much fun,” Jey had said, laughing as he zipped up. “I got like half a chub doing that. Guess I’m an exhibitionist.” Then Ben had had to look absolutely anywhere else and hoped the lights of the Meijer parking lot hid how red his face had gone.

Ben figured he was bi, though he’d had no one to particularly test any of his theories on. He really just had Jey, and Jey was… Jey always had someone. Jey was popular, in the way where he knew everyone and everyone knew him, and for some reason he kept Ben around as his little pale shadow. For some reason Ben was the one he called when he had a new crazy idea. Maybe it was just that Ben was the only one dumb enough to keep encouraging this.

“So, like…” Ben said after the light had gone, no more magic hour for skateboard tricks. He and Jey sat side by side on the edge of the skate bowl, legs dangling into it, staring up at the few stars that were bright enough to shine through the light pollution of the city. You could still see some stars out in the ‘burbs like this, which Ben would never admit he liked. “So, like, what’s your goal, here?”

“My goal was to do a 720, and I’ll totally get it next time,” Jey said. He hadn’t even really managed a 360, but it was important to reach for your dreams.

“No, I mean, like,” Ben began, and swallowed. Maybe he shouldn’t ask. Maybe it would break the spell of all of this, these dumb nights they spent together, if he did. But he always had to ask. “What’s the point of this? The videos. Why do you want to go viral or whatever so bad? Do you just, like, want to be on Ellen?”

Jey laughed a little, soft with the sound of crickets starting to emerge around them. “I mean, that wouldn’t be bad. Ellen rules,” he said, and then he sighed. “I just want… I want to know people are seeing me. I want everyone to see me.”

I see you, Ben felt on his lips, but managed to bite it back. “It’s just the internet.”

“Yeah, I know,” Jey said, and stretched his arms up over his head until his hands brushed the grass that started a little ways back from the skate bowl. “But it’s something. It’s something more than… this.”

Ben’s stomach clenched. “This isn’t so bad.”

Jey laughed again, a little more bitter. “Yeah, right. I’m a college dropout who works at a gas station, lives in my parents’ basement, and drives his mom’s old minivan. I don’t exactly look good on paper.”

“Yeah, but…” Ben said, and the rest came bubbling out of him. “You’re amazing.”

And he was, he absolutely was, he was the most amazing part of Ben’s life. Even when he was being an absolute idiot trying to make a video trying to eat ghost peppers, Ben never felt like he was wasting his time. Jey had stood by him all the way through high school, even after he’d graduated. Ben had had other friends, nerds in band and the kind of people that floated through your life in high school, but Jey was the one who was really there. He was the one driving him into Chicago on weekends and showing him how life could be exciting, what things could be when Ben got just a little older. He was the only thing in Ben’s life that made him feel like he just might be special.

“I’m amazing?” Jey said, and then snorted. “No, I’m just some asshole. You’re amazing.”

“Bullshit,” Ben said, automatically. It was one thing for him to get the feeling sometimes that Jey thought that, but something entirely different to hear him say it. It might be real if he said it.

“No bullshit,” Jey said, and propped himself up on one elbow so he could look at him. “You’re brilliant, and your funny, and you’re going to take over the world someday.” Ben couldn’t quite meet his eyes and Jey collapsed back onto the ground. “Like, not even someday. Soon. Like the end of this summer.”

They hadn’t really talked about that much. Ben was going to college at the end of the summer, but it wasn’t like he was going far. Just to Northwestern, and he’d come back and hang on weekends, and it wasn’t like cellphones had stopped existing. “It’s just college, Jey,” he said.

“Yeah, just college,” Jey said, with a pout in his voice. “You’re going to go to college and you’ll meet actual cool people, and you’ll learn all kinds of cool stuff, and then before I know it you’re just going to be…”

“Be what?” Ben said.

“Gone. I’m just going to lose you,” Jey said, and his voice was a little shaky. “Maybe I keep doing these stupid videos because I want there to be a reason you have to keep hanging out with me. Before you grow out of me.”

Ben sat up then. “Jey… that is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said.”

“It’s not stupid, it’s true,” Jey said, and his eyes were closed. “You’ve got, you know, potential. You’re about to go out and fulfill it. And I’m just a loser.”

Ben took in a few deep breaths. The fireflies were starting to come out, little flickers of bright around them. “You’re not a loser,” he said, and in an act of bravery, reached over and rested his hand on Jey’s chest. “I can see you. I see you, and you’re not a loser. You’re my best friend, you’re…”

And then he was cut off by Jey suddenly pushing himself off the ground and kissing him.

The shock of it made Ben go still, and then as quickly as it had happened Jey was pulling away, starting to apologize. “Shit, I’m sorry, I’m such an idiot,” he said, and Ben gathered his wits enough to put his hand completely over Jey’s face.

“Shut up. Yes. Idiot. Oh my god.” He took a few deep breaths and slid his hand to cup Jey’s cheek before leaning in to kiss him again.

He’d had a few kisses in his life before, but nothing very serious. This, though, this was serious, this was his hands going into Jey’s curls and Jey wrapping his arms around Ben’s waist. “Oh my god,” Ben said again into Jey’s mouth, because he’d only been thinking of this every day since he was fourteen.

“In a good way, yeah?” Jey murmured back, and Ben just gave him a little tap on the head to let him know that was a dumb question.

“The best way,” Ben said, and then immediately proved himself a liar, because the next ‘oh my god’ that escaped his lips was due to Jey pressing his hips to his, letting him feel that he was hard. He pressed his face into Jey’s neck and moaned a little, riding Jey’s thigh when he nudged it between his legs.

“I really like you,” Jey said against Ben’s ear, making goosebumps rise on the back of his neck. Ben clutched at his back and whimpered, embarrassed for how strong he was reacting to all this. But it wasn’t like Jey didn’t already know he was a virgin. Jey knew everything about him.

“I really like you, too,” Ben said, and somehow it didn’t feel stupid. Jey rolled him onto his back and kissed him harder, getting another groan out of him as he grinded into his hip. He was just working his fingers into Ben’s soft, fine hair when the honk of a car horn made Jey break away and look up.

Ben looked around, world half-upside-down, and determined that the honk had not been intended for them, at least. He could feel how red his face was while Jey looked down at him. That smile of Jey’s had never felt so good as it did from this angle.

“You wanna, um, go somewhere more private?” Jey said.

“My parents are home…” Ben said, feeling stupid that he was eighteen and still cared about his parents catching him making out.

“I meant, like, the back of my van,” Jey said, stroking his fingers gently through Ben’s hair.

“Yes,” Ben said quickly. Jey had modified his mom’s old minivan to take out the back seat, turning it into a mobile crash pad slash meditation space. He liked to let the engine idle while he sat in his pile of sleeping bags and pillows, breathing deep while the vibrations took him to higher states of mind. The friends his age that Jey had made fun of it, but it’d always seemed the coolest thing in the world to Ben.

And now he was climbing in to the back of the minivan, the slippery sounds of nylon sleeping bag material following him as he tried to find a place to be that didn’t make him feel awkward. Jey got in the van behind him and closed the door, and there was that smile, crinkled up around the eyes but also heated now, as he looked Ben over, eyes fixing on where his jeans bulged out.

“Hi,” Jey said as he swish-swished on his knees across the sleeping bags to be in front of Ben, urging him down on his back. Ben felt like his heart was going to pop, his body flooded with excitement and fear and pure horniness all at once. Jey was kissing him, Jey kept kissing him, and touching him, and absolutely some kind of sex was about to happen.

“I’m sorry,” he said automatically, stupidly as Jey’s hand moved down over where his stomach stuck out too much, and then whimpered high when it settled on his cock.

“What for?” Jey said against his ear, going still when Ben wanted him to do anything but stop.

“I don’t know,” Ben said. “I don’t know what I’m even saying. I just really want this, oh my god, you have no idea how much I want this.”

He could feel Jey’s smile against his neck and it felt incredible. “Tell me about it later,” he said, and then undid the fastenings of Ben’s jeans.

Ben bit his lip hard when Jey touched his cock for the first time, twisting away from his kissing mouth because it was all just too much, too much and he couldn’t live with himself if he came too quickly. His cock was already leaking so much; he could feel the way Jey’s palm got wet with it, the way it slipped over the head in a way that he could feel in his spine. “Oh god, oh god,” he said again, voice shaking and ridiculous. Jey stroked him once and he found himself biting into his shoulder. “Sorry, sorry,” he said, at least having something reasonable to apologize for.

“You’re good, it’s good,” Jey said against his ear and kissed his cheek sweetly. “I’ve got you. You feel so good.”

Ben made the van squeak a little as his hips rolled into Jey’s touch. “Oh god, I’m going to come really fast, I’m so sorry.”

Jey laughed in that way that wasn’t at him, wasn’t cruel. “Don’t worry, gonna have lots more times to make it last.”

“Oh god,” Ben said, and in another two strokes was coming hard into Jey’s hand, shaking against him, overwhelmed by the smell and feel of him. As he came down from it his cheek was pressed to Jey’s throat, and he could feel his pulse racing. All of this, all of this was happening and somehow Jey wanted it just as much. He kissed Jey again and put his hand on his cock, feeling him out through his jeans.

Jey whimpered into his mouth as he touched him, grabbed at his shirt and his hips, and then shouted out Ben’s name as he was suddenly coming too, in his jeans, button not even undone.

When his breathing slowed and they lay against the pile of pillows together, Jey laughed. “See? I told you not to worry.” He kissed Ben slow. “We’ll do better next time. In like. Ten minutes.”

“Yeah,” Ben said, and laughed, because half an hour ago he’d been watching Jey eat it in a skate bowl and now he’d just had sex with him and was going to be having more sex with him. “Wow,” was all he could think of to say.

“Yeah,” Jey said and laughed. He lifted his head up and smiled at him. “You know, I bet that would have made a really good video though. Like, ‘You won’t believe it! Guy kisses his crush for the first time when he’s not expecting it!””

“Yeah, but I’d kill you if you put that anywhere,” Ben said, closing his eyes.

“Oh, it’d be subscriber-only content,” Jey said as he wrapped his arm around Ben’s shoulders and pulled him close. “Premium.”

They stayed curled up like that for a while, breathing. Ben had to say something, though; he always had to say something. “I promise this won’t end when summer’s over, okay? You’re the most important person in my life.”

Jey opened his eyes and put a hand on Ben’s face. “You’re the most important person in mine, so I’m going to believe you when you say that.”

“Promise,” Ben said, and sighed. They were quiet again for a while, and then Jey laughed, loud and brash. “What?”

“Okay, just give me a few years, but you know the internet loves a proposal video…”

“Oh my god,” Ben said, and hid his face in the pillows to hide just how much he was smiling.

Suicide Prevention

written and illustrated by juou no zan (女王のザン)

Joshua stepped up onto the ledge and took a deep breath. The air was warm and grassy with the promise of summer. The campus looked pretty from up here, where you couldn’t make out the litter and the gum stains. The sun was getting ready to set, but it was late enough in the year that it would take almost two hours to finish. Distantly, there were shouts and screams and laughter from people happy to be free for the summer. He looked down. It seemed high enough. “Well,” he said. “Goodbye cruel world, I guess.”

Behind him, someone snorted.

He wasn’t sure why he was even surprised, at this point. Of course there would be someone else on the tallest roof on campus. Never mind that it was after classes ended, and graduation day to boot. Joshua’s humiliation needed witnesses at all points. He turned to look at the noise, and ask why someone else had gone to all the trouble of getting up here, but when he saw the cigarette, he figured he didn’t need to bother.

He vaguely recognized the other boy as someone from his class, but he certainly wasn’t friends with anyone who’d even admit to knowing some punk who smoked. Of course, he wasn’t really friends with anyone, anymore, or at least he wouldn’t be once his parents told their parents to keep their kids away from him. Joshua did wonder why the boy wasn’t out celebrating graduating, like the rest of their class.”You’re just going to let me?” he asked.

The other boy shrugged. “I’m sure you got reasons,” he said. “‘S your life.”

Joshua laughed, bitterly. “Yeah,” he said. “Only thing I do have,” he muttered. He turned back to the open air, but found it a lot more difficult to contemplate suicide when he knew someone was watching him.

“You could probably go for some better last words, though,” said the boy behind him. “Since you know someone’ll hear ’em.”

“I’m sorry,” Joshua said, turning around again, “do you think I’m doing this for attention? Or your approval or something?”

He was sitting on the floor, leaning against the dormant air conditioner, knees up in front of him. He was in shadow, protected from the light of the setting sun. Joshua had to admit he did look pretty cool, even though smoking was disgusting and, as Joshua had never seen him at church, he was undoubtedly a sinner. He shrugged at Joshua’s question. “Nah,” he said, “I just think you could do a lot better on last words. Say something that would really stick it to whoever.”

“Why do you even care?” Joshua asked. “We don’t know each other.”

He frowned and rolled his eyes, flicked some ash off the end of his cigarette. “We had like four classes together,” he said. “But I guess a hell-bound sinner like me has no reason to care about anyone else, huh. Typical.”

Joshua blushed. “I never called you that,” he said, knowing full well he and his former friends probably had at least included him in that group.

“Ain’t lying a sin, Josh?” the boy asked. “But so’s suicide, right, so I guess you’re just catching up on all kinds of sinning today.”

Joshua sighed. “Yeah,” he said. “I guess so. But!” He shrugged. “It’s not like I could do anything worse than what I’ve already done, so who cares, right?”

The boy against the air conditioner–he remembered Joshua’s name, Joshua had to know his, what was it?–stubbed out his cigarette and immediately lit another. “Anyway,” he said, around the cigarette, “if I’m gonna be a witness, I’d rather have something cool to say.”

“Sorry I’m such a disappointment,” Joshua said, unable to keep the sneer off his face. “I guess that’s what I do now.”

The other boy–what was his name? Andy? Antoine?–didn’t have anything to say to that. He sat there, smoking, silent. Joshua turned back to the air again. He was lucky this ledge was so wide, or maybe he wasn’t. Maybe lucky would be if he’d slipped off, without the chance to chicken out.

He really felt very weird about what’s-his-name watching him. He was also starting to think maybe this building wasn’t as tall as it looked from the ground.

“Oh, can I ask something though?”

Joshua turned around again. “What?” he said.

“Why are you doing this? Maybe if I know, I can make up some good last words.”

Joshua laughed. “I’m gay,” he said.

“Ah.”

“My parents kicked me out. I didn’t even get to pack,” he said. “I’ve got what’s in my pockets and my locker and that’s it.”

“And I guess your friends aren’t gonna let you stay with them,” he said.

“Not once they find out,” Joshua said.

“Hm.” He took a long drag of his cigarette. “Sucks,” he said.

“So here I am,” Joshua said. “Happy now?”

“Nowhere to stay, nothing to do,” he said. “Guess that makes sense.”

Joshua snorted. “So you’d do it too, then?”

“Nah. I got a place to stay.” He blew a cloud of smoke into the air above him, and it drifted high enough to hit the sunlight. “Anyway, it don’t really look like you’re doing it in the first place.”

“I will!” Joshua said, unfortunately aware of how petulant he sounded. “You just keep distracting me!”

“Uh-huh,” the boy said. He shifted his position and switched his cigarette to his other hand. “I’ma go out on a limb here and guess you never been with a guy.”

“Of course not!” Joshua said. “That would be–” He cut himself off.

“A sin, yeah,” he said. “So’s everything else you’re doing today. Anyway, I never been with a guy either and I think I might feel less like a liar when I say I’m bi if I had. So since you’re gonna die anyway, you wanna at least see what it is you’re dying for?”

Joshua blinked. Embarrassingly, the first thought that managed to make its way out of the tangle in his head was, “I don’t even know your name.”

“Jesus Christ, it’s Tony Ramirez, same as it was in every class we ever had together,” he said. “Including two this year.” He shook his head. “Fucking unbelievable.”

“Sorry,” Joshua said. Now that he’d heard it, he could remember Mrs. Benson calling out ‘Antonio Ramirez’ every day in English this year.

“So was that your main objection?” Tony asked. “‘Cause now it’s taken care of.”

“No,” Joshua said. “I mean, yes? No, uh. Why?”

Tony rolled his eyes and took another big inhale off his cigarette. “You’re cute, you just said you’re gay, you’re here. If you say no, no one else has to know I was turned down by an obnoxious bible-thumper. It’s a win-win for me.”

“I’m cute?”

Tony rolled his eyes again, theatrically, presumably to make sure Joshua knew how ridiculous Tony found him. “C’mon, yes or no?”

Joshua stared at him. Tony stared back, impassive. Joshua was starting to wish he’d paid more attention to the other people in his classes. His heart was beating faster now than when he’d first climbed up on the ledge, which was probably messed up. “Sure,” he said.

“Great,” Tony said, putting his cigarette between his lips and standing up.

“As long as you kiss me,” Joshua blurted.

Tony paused and looked up at him, then shrugged. “Fair enough,” he said. “You never kissed anyone before, either, huh.”

“I have,” Joshua said. “…In middle school. A girl.”

Tony shook his head, but he looked amused. He was across the rooftop now, just in front of where Joshua stood. He held out a hand to help Joshua down from the ledge.

Joshua took it, and stepped down to the roof, and found Tony whirling him around and pulling him close, dipping him down for a kiss like in that stupid World War II picture his history class had gotten in a fight about. He tasted like smoke, but he had Joshua by the waist and pressed against his chest, and it was definitely more fun than kissing Madison Williams at a party in the seventh grade.


Then he pulled away, still dipping Joshua, and took a drag from the cigarette that had apparently been in the hand behind Joshua’s head the whole time.

“Can you put that out?” Joshua asked, alarmed.

“Oh, yeah,” Tony said. He dropped it to the ground and stomped on it, and kissed Joshua again. Joshua had no idea what to do with his hands, or his tongue, and only the vaguest idea of what to do with his lips, but it didn’t seem to matter to Tony. He just kept kissing Joshua, and all Joshua could do was try to keep up and not get too distracted by the slide of Tony’s lips against his. It made his head swim and his lips tingle, and a treacherously misled voice in the back of Joshua’s head wondered how something that felt this good could be a sin.

Joshua pushed that thought away and wrapped his arms around Tony’s shoulders. He might as well make the most of it.

Finally, Tony righted them both and leaned away. He pulled his shirt off and then started to undo Joshua’s, kissing his neck and down his chest as he did so.

“Wh–what are you doing?” Joshua asked. Tony had gotten his shirt down his shoulders and was licking at his nipples.

Tony looked up at him from his place against Tony’s ribs. His hands were on Joshua’s back, under the sort-of on shirt. “What,” he said, “you think I’d just bend you over and stick it in?”

He kind of had, but from Tony’s tone, Joshua decided that was exactly the wrong answer. “Uh, I just thought–”

“Whatever,” Tony muttered, and kissed him again. This time, without having to support Joshua’s weight, his hands roved. All over Joshua’s back, then down to his ass, then inside the waistband of his trousers. Joshua gasped, and Tony smiled against his mouth.

Joshua had seen many of his classmates shirtless before. He took his mandatory physical education classes, after all. In fact, embarrassingly enough, it had been part of how he realized he was gay. None of the other guys seemed to have any trouble preventing themselves from staring at their classmates’ chest hair and hip bones. It was different, having it against him. He reached up with one hand and put it on Tony’s chest. Tony was hairier than he was, but it was soft and felt nice.

With the smell of cigarette smoke fading, Joshua could smell Tony better, and he smelled wonderful. Joshua thought he’d feel light-headed just from that, if he wasn’t already swooning from Tony’s mouth on his and Tony’s hands on his skin.

Tony pulled him a little closer, by means of grabbing his ass, and pressed their hips together. Joshua gasped again at the feeling of Tony hard against him.

“You should sit down,” Tony murmured, and got to his knees as well. Joshua sat down with his back against the ledge he’d just been ready to jump from.

“I’m gonna guess you don’t have any lube,” Tony said, frowning in Joshua’s general direction. Or at his erection, really, but that was much more embarrassing to admit.

“Um, actually…”

Tony looked up at him and snorted. “Really.”

Joshua flushed. “It was in my locker, from sex ed. It seemed easier to just take it. In my backpack, here…”

“Christ, Josh,” Tony said as Joshua stretched to reach his backpack and pull it over. He dug through it until he found the condoms and packet of lube from his locker. He hadn’t thought about it when he got everything from his locker, he just shoved it all in while he tried to think of his options.

He held them out to Tony, vaguely proud his hands weren’t shaking even though Tony was sitting shirtless between his legs, and Tony grabbed just the lube. “Hey,” Joshua said.

“If you’re just gonna kill yourself after this, why bother?” Tony said.

“That’s no excuse to put yourself at risk,” Joshua said.

Tony rolled his eyes and took the condoms. He immediately set them, and the lube, down, to undo Joshua’s pants. Joshua lifted his hips enough for Tony to slide his pants down past his ass, so Joshua was sitting on the concrete of the roof in just his underwear. Then Tony leaned in and put his face right up next to Joshua’s obvious erection, with his hands on Joshua’s bare thighs. Joshua could feel the heat from Tony’s proximity on his dick. When Tony leaned in enough to brush against it, Joshua gasped again.

“Least I know you’re into it,” Tony muttered, adjusting himself so he was almost laying on the floor. Then he pulled Joshua’s dick free of his underwear and put it in his mouth.

Tony’s mouth on his dick was like…Joshua didn’t have anything to compare it to. It felt amazing. It was warm and wet and Tony’s hands were still on his thighs. He pulled away enough to let Joshua’s dick pop out of his mouth, and licked the underside down to the base, down to where his underwear bunched over his balls. Joshua could only see part of Tony’s face, obscured as it was by his dick, but he seemed into it.

“Oh my gosh,” Joshua said, and Tony snorted. “What?”

“Nothin,” Tony said, before taking Joshua’s dick in his mouth again. This time he stopped with just the head in his mouth, then sucked hard. Joshua cried out, nonsense sounds that didn’t add up to any words.

He wasn’t surprised when one of Tony’s hands made its way down the inside of his thigh, into his underwear, and then behind his balls. He was maybe a little startled, because of course he’d thought about it, but he hadn’t really expected it to feel good, to have a finger touching his butthole. It was supposed to be gross and shameful, but it really didn’t feel too gross to Joshua. Maybe a little weird, but everything about this was weird and new.

He let out an embarrassing moan when Tony pressed in a little, not even enough to do anything except remind Joshua he was there, and Tony hummed around his dick. And obviously Tony was doing this because he wanted to, he had no reason to do Joshua any favors, but the pleased humming and the way it reminded him that Tony was enjoying sucking his dick made Joshua feel all tingly and hot and even more turned on.

Tony pulled back and rubbed his jaw with the back of the hand that had been resting on Joshua’s thigh. “That’s harder than it looks,” he muttered. He reached over Joshua’s leg and grabbed the packet of lube, ripped it open with his teeth, and dumped it onto his hand, then dropped it and immediately leaned back in. He nuzzled and licked at the head of Joshua’s dick, which was embarrassing enough to make Joshua cover his face with his hands. Then Tony went to slide his lubed-up hand into Joshua’s underwear again, and instead his hand caught on the fabric and smeared lube all over it.

He pulled away and muttered, “Goddammit.” He tugged at Joshua’s hips with one slick hand and one dry. “Take these off.”

Joshua wriggled out of his underwear and set it underneath him so he wouldn’t be sitting directly on the concrete. Tony drizzled more lube onto his hand. Once Joshua was settled again, feeling really exposed, Tony went back to licking and nuzzling Joshua’s dick, but this time when he went to rub his slick fingers against Joshua’s asshole, he had no reason to stop.

It felt hot. Not like, sexy, although that was true too, but hot as in warm. Even with the lube, Joshua could feel the way his butt stretched around Tony’s finger, and it burned the way his legs and lungs did after running too long or too hard. It wasn’t quite painful though, and Tony moved slower with the hand in Joshua than with his mouth and other hand, still occupied with Joshua’s dick. The combination of Tony’s finger in his butt and Tony sucking his dick felt better than he would have guessed; he was tingly and sensitive all over, and it took less time than it usually did before he felt he was about to come.

“Uh, Tony,” he said.

Tony pulled away just enough to say, “I know,” and went right back to sucking Joshua’s dick. Joshua whimpered and closed his eyes, thinking maybe if he couldn’t see Tony’s head between his legs, he’d be able to enjoy it longer. That didn’t work at all. Free to concentrate on the sensations, of Tony’s hot mouth and the finger moving slowly inside him, Joshua felt more sensitive than ever. He was so turned on Tony could have touched him anywhere and it would have felt good, and Tony was sucking hard on the head of his dick and sliding a finger in and out of him; he came and it was better than any furtive masturbation session made him feel.

Tony swallowed the initial spurt of semen, but pulled back and let most of the rest of it dribble out of his mouth and back down Joshua’s dick. He licked Joshua’s dick clean, and that was hideously embarrassing but felt way too good for Joshua to tell him to stop. Tony wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and said, “Well that ain’t fair.”


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