"I don't think this is doing anything for me," Mark said.
Dustin rolled his eyes. "You've taken, like, three hits. Keep going." He made a sort of shooing gesture at the pipe in Mark's hands, and Mark sighed and brought it to his lips for another hit.
It burned acridly in his throat and lungs as he inhaled. He didn't try to hold it; there'd been that study that showed holding onto marijuana smoke didn't increase the rate of THC absorption, which Chris had printed out and taped to the wall above Dustin's bed — "in the interests of you still have lungs when you're fifty, asshole" — and that Dustin had totally ignored.
He passed the pipe to Dustin, suppressing a cough. "Seriously, can't I just get a beer and go back to my computer? This isn't working."
Dustin released his breath of smoke. "No, you can't. I'm peer pressuring you into finding a form of relaxation that doesn't involve code. It's a good life experience."
"You should pass that recommendation on to the Harvard Social Committee," Mark said dryly. "I'm sure they'd appreciate your insights." Still, he took the pipe when Dustin pressed it into his hands once more.
"You'll be kicking yourself when we've finished all your weed and I'm still not high," he added, resting his head on Dustin's shoulder for a moment. "'s a waste of good weed. Or, well, I assume this is good weed because you bought it and you're kind of a pothead. I don't really know for sure." Dustin was wearing a fleece hoodie and he smelled like fabric softener; it was comfortable enough that Mark didn't bother raising his head when he passed the pipe back to Dustin.
"I'm pretty sure I'm okay with wasting a little pot on you," Dustin said, smiling, as he stroked his free hand through Mark's hair. "You want another hit, or are you good?" he asked.
He ducked his head a little to look Mark in the face. Mark opened his mouth to answer, but before he could say anything, Dustin said, "Yeah, you're good," and slumped back against the wall. Mark closed his eyes and let himself drift, soothed by Dustin's warmth and the gentle hand still playing with his curls.
Mark woke up slowly, puzzled by the warm, heavy pressure against his stomach until he opened his eyes and realized that he was still in Dustin's bed and Dustin was curled up behind him with an arm around his waist. He fumbled in his pocket for his cellphone to check the time.
Dustin jumped, then his arm disappeared and he rolled onto his other side, away from Mark. "Whzzt?" he asked, not sounding particularly concerned.
"It's 10:45! I'm supposed to be in lab in ten minutes." He got out of Dustin's bed and yanked off his sweatshirt, reapplying deodorant in lieu of a shower and grabbing another shirt from the pile of clean laundry in his basket.
Dustin mumbled something that Mark, with some thought, finally deciphered as "Granola bars in my top drawer."
Mark crammed his feet into his sneakers, grabbed his backpack and a couple of Dustin's granola bars, and made a run for it.
A phone rang, its 'brrrinngg' surprisingly loud in Mark's ear, and then someone reached over him to grab it and he remembered: not an incoming call, but Erica's alarm.
"We could get coffee," he said quickly, before she could kiss him and say goodbye. "There's an independent coffee shop on the way to your bus stop. I haven't gone there yet, but Chris says it's good, especially their muffins."
She blinked at him, apparently needing a moment to process his invitation. Not a morning person, obviously, but that was fine. Neither was Mark; the only reason he'd managed to get all that out coherently was that he'd rehearsed it in his head last night after Erica had fallen asleep.
She smiled at him. "Sure, that sounds great. Let me just use your bathroom first, okay?"
Mark nodded and watched her wiggle into her jeans under the covers and then leave.
The moment the door closed behind her, something hit Mark in the head.
"What the hell?" he snapped. He grabbed the projectile — a balled-up pair of socks — off the bed and chucked it back at Dustin, who was glaring at Mark at least as hard as Mark was glaring at him.
"Mark," Dustin hissed. "I realize that you consider socialization a useless skill practiced by boring people, but even you have got to know better than to have Erica sleep over without at least warning your roommate, i.e. me, beforehand."
"It's not like we did anything," Mark said defensively.
"Good to know, but still not the point. You could have, and then I'd be stuck in here with the two of you and no way to escape with my dignity."
"Whatever," Mark said. "You never objected to any of the times when Eduardo slept over. I don't see why this is any different."
"Uh, maybe because you don't have sex with Eduardo?" Dustin said sarcastically.
Mark made a face but didn't bother correcting him. If Dustin was going to be that stupid, it wasn't Mark's job to set him straight.
Only apparently Dustin could read that in his expression, because he squeaked, "Oh my God, you do have sex with Eduardo?"
"Sometimes," Mark said. "Not now, obviously, since I have a girlfriend."
"I can't believe you've had sex with Eduardo. I can't believe I didn't know you've had sex with Eduardo. What other secret hookups have you been keeping from me?"
"Do you really want to know?" The water went off in the bathroom, and Mark started pulling on his jeans.
Dustin's eyes went wide. "Oh my God, that was a joke. Who? No, wait. Is it going to break my brain?"
"Maybe," Mark said. He pulled on his sneakers.
"Fuck, I can't stop thinking about it." Dustin stared at him as though he were trying to divine the answer telepathically. Then he huffed a sigh and shook his head. "No, don't tell me. I mean, I'll probably cave and ask you in, like, two days, but for now I'm going to preserve my innocence."
There was a soft rap on the door and Dustin promptly lay down and pulled the covers over his head. Mark rolled his eyes and opened the door to find Erica, looking far prettier than he would have expected of someone wearing no makeup and yesterday's clothes. "You ready?" she asked with a smile.
Mark grabbed his wallet and keys off his dresser and ignored the silent, duvet-covered lump behind him that was Dustin. "Sure," he said. "Let's go."
"We should go to my dorm," Eduardo said, plucking at Mark's duvet with restless fingers but not actually making a move to get out of bed.
"Dustin's not here," Mark pointed out reasonably. He slid his hand a little farther down Eduardo's back, his fingers dipping under the waistband of Eduardo's pants.
Eduardo kissed him — a quick, wet, slightly beery press of lips — but said, "He could come back any second."
Mark shrugged. "He said he wanted to shut the party down. I don't see why we shouldn't take him at his word. Besides, it's, like, fifteen degrees outside. If you go back to your dorm, you're going alone. And I really wanted to blow you tonight."
Eduardo's face softened a little, just as it always did, as if Mark had said something especially nice to him rather than made a simple statement of fact. "Okay," he said and kissed Mark again.
Mark kissed back for a minute and then ducked beneath the covers to get at Eduardo's dick. Eduardo let out a short laugh, almost a giggle, before reaching down to help Mark unbutton his pants — undoing the interior button quickly, as though he really thought Mark was going to forget it again and ruin a second pair of Eduardo's fancy dress pants — and get them and his boxer-briefs shoved down and off his long legs.
Mark rubbed his cheek against Eduardo's dick, feeling the impossible softness of the skin and incidentally getting a smear of wetness on his cheekbone.
Eduardo made a choked sound, hips thrusting minutely, and Mark allowed himself a quick grin before rising up a little to hold onto the base and suck Eduardo's dick into his mouth. Eduardo was always ridiculously polite even while getting a blowjob; any time he moved, he always checked himself immediately, and the resultant action was more of a wiggle than anything that might actually choke Mark.
It meant that Mark could close his eyes and turn off his brain and just enjoy the taste and feel of Eduardo in his mouth. After a moment, Eduardo's hands reached down to cup Mark's face, Eduardo's thumb brushing against his open lips and then tracing the line of Mark's jaw.
Mark hummed in appreciation, which made Eduardo let out a somewhat muffled moan. The miniature feedback loop made Mark think of sixty-nining, which would be awesome except that Dustin really would kill him if he walked in on something like that. At least Eduardo's receiving a blowjob was mostly hidden by the covers, even if it was totally obvious what was happening. Anything more elaborate than this would have to wait until they were in Eduardo's single.
Mark's dick was aching by that point, but he managed to keep his hands away from it. Just five or ten more minutes — twenty tops — and Eduardo would moan sexily and maybe gasp Mark's name and come in his mouth, and then Mark could get him to reciprocate with a blowjob, or even just a handjob that would nonetheless be ten times better than anything Mark could do for himself.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Chris asked for the fourth time. If Mark were a more violent person, he'd probably punch him.
"I asked for it," he said. "I want it. Now can we stop fucking talking about it and just do it?"
Chris took a look at his face and held his hands up in surrender. "Hey, far be it from me to dissuade anyone from the joys of anal sex. All I'm saying is that there's no checklist of gay sex acts, and you shouldn't feel that you have to do this one unless it's really what you want. Also, not everyone likes getting fucked, as a point of fact, and I don't want you being a pissy little bitch and taking it out on me for the next month if this doesn't meet your expectations."
"Okay, disclaimer fucking noted," Mark said. "Now can you lube me up and fuck me?"
Chris shook his head, but he was smiling a little. "Honestly, I have no idea why I like you sometimes."
Mark didn't bother answering. He honestly didn't understand why most people liked each other; he didn't think he was a special case. It was just luck that had made him friends with Chris, Dustin, and Eduardo, all of whom were, objectively speaking, very likable people.
"Have you fingered yourself before?" Chris asked, squeezing some lube onto his right hand.
Mark swallowed, his throat feeling dry for some inexplicable reason. He nodded. "Two fingers. I don't do it often; the angle's annoying, especially if I want to jerk off at the same time."
Chris nodded in return. His slick fingers pressed between Mark's spread legs, circling Mark's asshole but not pushing inside yet. His cheeks were flushed pink, and he kept licking his lips unconsciously; it was a good look for him. "Anyone else finger you?" he asked.
Mark swallowed again. "Eduardo."
It was what had finally decided him upon asking Chris for this. If Eduardo was even considering fucking him, or vice versa, then Mark wanted to be prepared, especially since he didn't think Eduardo had ever gone beyond blowjobs with another guy. (He couldn't be sure without asking, and Eduardo sometimes got squirrelly about questions like that. Better to just avoid the whole issue.) And Chris was good in bed — as Mark knew from previous experience — and also a nice enough person that he wouldn't spread it around if Mark sucked at this.
"Okay," Chris said, his voice a little hoarse. Mark wondered if Chris and Eduardo had ever hooked up; the two of them would look good together.
And then Chris slid a finger, or maybe two — Mark wasn't exactly able to analyze the situation at the moment — into his ass, and Mark was yanked firmly back into the present, idle fantasies of Chris and Eduardo drifting to the periphery of his consciousness.
"Oh, fuck," he said.
"Soon," Chris said smugly, and Mark barely remembered to scowl at him.
Chris's fingers felt really good — much better than Mark's ever had. Maybe not as good as Eduardo's, but Eduardo had been blowing him at the time, so that wasn't a fair comparison.
As if on cue, Chris ducked his head down to lick the head of Mark's dick. He pulled away almost immediately, and Mark made a noise of protest.
"Just hang on," Chris said, smiling at him. "I'll suck you off later if you want. Right not I'm doing something."
He was doing a lot, actually, the slide of his fingers in Mark's ass smooth and easy and kind of amazing, especially when they brushed against Mark's prostate.
Christ was seriously into it, too, that was obvious. Mark didn't quite get it; he liked the parts of sex that felt good, like fucking and blowjobs — giving and receiving — and getting handjobs. Going down on a girl, too, if she didn't take too long to get off and make his mouth sore. But he didn't get how just touching someone could get Chris and Eduardo and Erica and pretty much the entire sample population of people who'd slept with him so hot.
It totally worked out in his favor, though, so he wasn't about to complain. Mark was pretty much a sweaty, panting wreck when Chris finally pulled away and said, "Okay, how do you want it?"
He turned over immediately, onto his hands and knees, then frowned at Chris's fresh sheets and said, "Should we put a towel down or something? 'Cause I'm not sleeping in the wet spot, and Dustin'll be pissed if we go sleep in my bed."
Chris laughed and said, "Sure, we can do that." He got one of his oversized bath sheets and spread it out on the bed for Mark. Then he got on the bed behind him and placed one hand on his hip, stroking it carefully. "Let me know if you need to stop, okay?"
"Okay," Mark said, even though he really wanted to say, "I won't. I know I won't," because that might make Chris stop so they could talk some more and would be totally counterproductive.
There was the sound of a condom wrapper being ripped open, and then a moment later he felt the blunt pressure of Chris's dick against his asshole, pushing its way into his body.
He sucked in a sharp breath, not so much with pain — though there was some pain — as with the overwhelming immediacy of it. He could feel the rest of his body distantly, but somehow none of it, not even his hard-on, was as important as his ass clenching tight and hot around Chris's dick.
"You good?" Chris asked, his body stilling even as his voice shook slightly.
"Yes. Move," Mark said — growled, really; he'd never heard himself sound like that.
Chris chuckled breathlessly and, oh, that was different: Mark could feel his laughter from the inside out. And then Chris really started to move, and everything got even more awesome.
Mark didn't come from the fucking, though Chris did, obviously, shuddering quietly through his orgasm while clutching Mark hard enough to bruise. "Boarding school habits die hard," Mark thought but didn't say. Dustin would appreciate Chris's silence, anyway.
And then Chris made good on his promise to blow Mark, slipping just one finger into his ass, which was a bit sore but not sore enough for Mark to ask him to take the finger out.
Later, when they were both clean and tucked in, the (mostly dry) bath sheet tossed in the hamper, Chris asked, "So, what did you think?"
"We should definitely do that again," Mark said. "And the other way around, too."
"Awesome," Chris said and kissed him on the cheek.
Mark looked at him in some surprise; they'd made out after sharing an entire bottle of tequila once, but mostly they didn't kiss. Now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure why not. Mark kissed guys — but maybe Chris didn't know that?
Mark leaned in, prepared to pull away if Chris objected, and kissed him on the lips, as softly and carefully as Eduardo had kissed him that first time. Chris kissed back.
"Holy fuck," Chris breathed from between Mark and Eduardo. "Mark, I should never have doubted you when you kept angling for a threesome. I'm actually warm."
"We're not having a threesome," Mark said, his voice sour even though he wasn't that annoyed. Or, if he was, it wasn't over the lack of a threesome. Most people didn't have threesomes, so it wasn't really something Mark could reasonably expect.
On the other hand, very few of the people eschewing threesomes were doing so because one of the prospective participants had had a drunken hookup in a bar restroom and somehow ended up with a girlfriend out of the deal. Mark was maybe a little annoyed about that, especially since his own drunken bar hookup had lasted twenty minutes with no repeat performances. Alice hadn't even given him her number.
"This is better than a threesome," Chris said. "I swear, this is the first time I've felt my toes since getting off the plane."
Eduardo snorted, and Mark couldn't help but be amused despite himself.
"This is why you shouldn't go home for winter break," Eduardo said earnestly. "Once you've acclimated to the Boston cold, you can't fuck with that."
"You went home for winter break," Mark pointed out.
"Exactly," Eduardo said. "And look at me now."
Mark guessed it was a fair point. It had been Chris's idea to shove Mark's and Dustin's beds together for the three of them to share, but Eduardo hadn't needed much convincing.
"Do you think Dustin would mind if we just left the beds like this 'til March?" Chris asked, already sounding half-asleep.
"Ask him when he gets back tomorrow," Mark said absently. His laptop was sitting open on the desk; from his position, he could almost read the file he'd been working on earlier.
Eduardo followed his line of sight, grinned, and got up to fetch Mark's laptop. "Here," he said softly, handing it over.
Mark nodded his thanks and propped it on his knees. They'd turned off the overhead earlier, leaving just Mark's desklamp on, but that and the light of the laptop screen was plenty to see by.
Eduardo got back into bed and pulled the covers up past his chin. "Goodnight," he whispered.
Mark gave him a brief nod. "Night," he said and began to type, feeling inexplicably happier than he had in a really long time.