In the morning, Kyle awakes to whispering, but it's not Stan. It's their mothers, standing in the open doorway and letting the cold in, giggling under their breath at the sight of the two boys cozied up together. Kyle must have shifted during the night; his face is pressed to Stan's neck now, Stan's pulse thumping against his cheek. He pretends to go on sleeping for as long as he can, until he hears Gerald's voice out in the yard, and Randy's, too.
"Oh, do you have to wake them yet?" Stan's mother says when the fathers' footsteps approach. "Look how sweet they are."
"At least they managed to stay on the bed this time," Randy says, and Stan startles awake.
"See you tomorrow," Kyle says as Gerald lifts him off the bed. This stage of the ritual is supposed to increase the bundled couple's longing for each other: being parted early in the morning, before they are ready to be separated. Stan yawns and winks at Kyle as he's carried off. Kyle is thrilled by this until he considers that it might just be a kind of coded message, a reminder to go on keeping Stan's secret.
Back at the house, Kyle is unwrapped in his bedroom. He crawls under his blankets when he's free, wanting to get warm again.
"So?" Sheila says. She sits down on the edge of the bed and runs her fingers through Kyle's matted curls. "Last night was better, I take it?"
"It was fine," Kyle says, mumbling this into his pillow. "I'm tired."
"Does that mean you stayed up for most of the night? Talking?"
"Yes. But mother, he's still not for me."
"Oh, Kyle, why not? You had your little face pressed to his neck!" The mattress trembles slightly, as if Sheila is jiggling with delight at the memory.
"We were just cold, Mom. The matchmaker screwed up. It won't work, but we're going to see the bundling through, out of respect."
"I think you're just being secretive about your little crush!" Sheila kisses his cheek and breezes out of the room, humming. Kyle cracks his eyes open against the pillow, his chest aching. He would do anything to share in her glee, but he won't let himself get his hopes up after one night of huddling together for warmth with Stan. Kenny has been around for much longer, kissing Stan or not. Kyle wonders if he should go to the woods near Stan's village to try to find this elusive character, but he knows that he won't. Kenny is a magic user, allegedly, and Kyle is not actually brave.
Kyle sleeps well into the afternoon, and when he wakes he feels truly rested for the first time in months. He languishes in bed, blinking at the curtained window and touching himself under the blankets. It feels good to move about unrestricted after eight hours of being wrapped so tightly. He lets his eyes flutter shut, his thoughts wandering to Stan's lips as he strokes his cock and spreads his legs, his other hand moving across his chest, up to his nipples. Though there's an edge of truly painful longing, it feels good to allow himself to imagine Stan unwrapping him on the seventh night, Stan's gentle hands traveling all over his body, Stan's cock hard and dripping for him.
When he comes it's with a kind of intense relief that he needed badly, and he barely remembers to muffle his shout, arching off the mattress. He wipes his hand on the sheets and curls up around his pillow, pleasure still thrumming through him. It's in the haze of the aftermath that his thinking about this situation begins to change. Why should he admit defeat so easily, when there are still four nights of bundling ahead? Clearly this Kenny character isn't without flaws, and he's already annoyed Stan by pouting about the bundling. If Stan really wanted to run off with the thief, he would have forgone the bundling, risks be damned. There must have been some part of Stan that was curious about who he would be bundled with, and last night he was so sweet, listening to Kyle's stories and nuzzling his cheek. Kyle bites the corner of his pillow, grinning to himself. He's not so pathetic as the other boys in the village think: he's got some tricks up his sleeve. By the time he gets out of bed, his appetite returning full force, a plan has formed.
"Would you do the part around my head a little looser tonight?" Kyle asks when his mother is bundling him after dinner.
"Well, sure," Sheila says. "But I wouldn't want it to fall down. The back of your neck would get cold!"
"Ah, but--" Kyle looks down at the floor, playing this up as a shy admission. "Stan said he'd like to see my hair."
"Oh, what a darling request! I think we can manage that, yes. Just have him press his lips to the back of your neck to keep you warm, eh?"
"Mother," Kyle says, smiling.
Sheila makes the outermost blanket loose enough that Kyle will be able to shake his curls free later, and as Gerald conveys him to the bundling hut he's not ashamed of how he must look. He's determined now to think of himself as a warrior going to battle. The land he's trying to win is Stan's heart, currently ruled by a wicked thief. There are cracks in the thief's fortifications, however, places where Kyle might find a way in.
Stan is already there when Kyle is brought in, talking with his mother on the other side of the curtain. They go quiet as Gerald places Kyle in the bed, and Kyle hears Sharon whisper 'goodnight' before she leaves. Gerald gives him a pat on the cheek.
"You boys have fun," Gerald says, and Kyle has to hold in nervous laughter. He grins when Stan lets some loose after Gerald has gone.
"Hi," Kyle says, smiling up at the ceiling.
"Hey. How are you?"
"Oh, I'm good."
They're both relatively early tonight, and there will be half a minute or so before the curtain is raised. Kyle is so excited about his plan that he's getting an erection, though he's anxious, too, afraid to lose his last fragile hopes.
"Did you see Kenny today?" Kyle asks, wanting to get this out of the way before he sets his plan in motion.
"No. He sleeps during the day, works at night."
"But you saw him yesterday?"
"Yeah, he came to see me. Which is rare. I usually go to see him, in the woods."
When the curtain starts to move, Kyle uses the noise as a cover and shakes his head back and forth until the outer blanket falls back off his forehead. He hopes his hair looks good; it probably doesn't, matted by the blanket, but Sheila did what she could in preparation.
"Oh, hey!" Stan says when their eyes meet, Stan already turned toward Kyle. "Your hair!"
"Yep, here it is. Is it a mess?"
"No, it's nice! I mean, I like it. I mean -- thanks."
Kyle snorts, pleased. "You're welcome."
"You want to see mine?" Stan moves his head about, trying to get his blankets loose, but it doesn't work. Kyle laughs at the sight of him squirming around like an agitated bug inside his blankets, and Stan gives up. "It's just black, anyway," he says, and he smiles.
"I wish I had straight hair," Kyle says. "Mine is so difficult."
"Straight is boring. If I unrolled one of your curls and then let it go, would it spring back?"
"Yes." Kyle does that to himself all the time, a nervous habit.
They tell stories for a while, though Kyle can sense that Stan isn't as interested in fairy tales as he was the night before. Kyle needs to do this, however, to transition into the next stage of his plan. He tells a story about a princess who is unfrozen by a true love's kiss, keeping it succinct when Stan's yawning becomes more frequent.
"You know," Kyle says after he's reached the ending, which is a bland one involving a marriage between the unfrozen princess and her true love, a humble stable boy. "This story has got me thinking. It's -- the bit about the princess never having been kissed before. Most people haven't been, um, before they're bundled. And you said -- that Kenny hadn't, so. Have you?"
"Been kissed?" Stan is already blushing. "No. Have you?"
"No! Of course not. So my thinking is: we're stuck here for four more nights, right? My mother was suggesting I practice my conversation skills, and I was thinking, why not practice kissing? The two of us? Because then, um, that way you won't seem so new to it when you have your first kiss with Kenny, who is older and probably experienced, having been among thieves and other rough characters, and I'll have valuable practice for next year's bundling, when my work will certainly be cut out for me."
Stan stares at Kyle, looking startled.
"You think Kenny has been kissed by rough characters?" he asks. Kyle rolls his eyes, then worries he's ruined the moment.
"I don't know, Stan. You could ask him, but then you'll appear quite naive and young, I think. What I'm proposing is some practice, so that you'll know what you're doing when he begins to try to have you. But if you're not interested, we can--"
"No, I'm interested." Stan swallows twice. Kyle can hear it, a wet click. "It's a good idea."
"Yes, I think so." Kyle was so hoping this would happen, but now he's frightened. He tells himself not to be, but his own goal here is not as innocent as the one he's sold to Stan. He wants Stan to like kissing him, and to be overtaken by a surprising need for more and more, but he has no idea how to make that happen. He's getting the feeling, from Stan's nervous expression, that he's going to have to take the lead.
"Did you want to do it now?" Stan asks, and Kyle has to hold in a laugh that may have offended him.
"Yes, I think so. Um. Well. We should get a bit closer, obviously."
They scoot together, avoiding each other's eyes. When Kyle finally looks up at Stan's face, he can feel his own cheeks flushing. Stan is bright red now, and he looks from Kyle's chin to his ear before shyly holding his gaze.
"Shut your eyes," Kyle says, perhaps too harshly. Stan seems glad to obey, and Kyle closes his, too. He feels a little calmer, but not very, and he's surprised when he feels Stan's lips pressing against his. He peeks, checking to make sure Stan's eyes are still closed, and melts into the kiss when he's seen that they are. It's nice, warm, and Stan's lips are soft. Stan is breathing through his nose in hot little huffs against Kyle's top lip. Kyle tries to keep his own breath measured, his eyes shut tightly as he wonders if he should break the kiss. Stan does before he can decide, and they both blink rapidly at each other, their faces still close.
"Was it how you thought it would be?" Stan asks.
"Yes," Kyle says. "And no. I think we both need more practice."
"Mhmm," Stan says in agreement, and he closes his eyes before presses his lips to Kyle's again. This time, Kyle tries puckering, just slightly, and his cock throbs when Stan responds by pressing his lips more firmly to his. Kyle laughs, unable to suppress his glee, and he can feel it when Stan smiles. "It's pretty good," Stan says, murmuring this against Kyle's lips. "Like -- cozy."
"It has a warming effect," Kyle says, trying to remain scientific.
"My face," Stan says, and he winces, embarrassed.
"I didn't just mean your face. I meant my whole, you know. Body." Now Kyle feels his own face getting hotter.
"I've seen my sister doing it with her husband," Stan says. "She uses her tongue."
"Uh. I don't know." Stan licks Kyle's mouth like an eager dog, and Kyle laughs. "Sorry," Stan says.
"No, do it again! But slower, or something."
They spend the rest of the night experimenting with tongues and commenting on their findings, their voices progressively growing lower and more private, as if there is anyone around who might hear. Kyle finally loses his ability to withhold moans of pleasure when Stan sucks on his lower lip, and he snaps his hips inside his bundle, desperately wanting something to rub his cock against. He's been hard for what feels like days.
"That was good?" Stan says. He's breathing a bit choppily. Kyle nods and presses his face to Stan's, begging for more. He moans again when Stan indulges him, chewing gently on his lower lip.
"Fuck," Kyle says, and Stan laughs.
"I'm getting stiff from this," he says.
It takes Kyle a moment to work out what Stan means. He feels slowed down and hazy, like he's been drinking wine.
"Oh -- hard?" Kyle moves back a little and glances down at Stan's bundle.
"Don't look!" Stan says, though there's nothing to see; the wrappings are too thick.
"Can you see mine?" Kyle asks, pressing his hips forward. He grazes Stan's bundle and groans. "Sorry."
"I can't see it," Stan says. They both breathe hard for a moment, searching each other's eyes. When Kyle moves slightly, ambiguously, Stan presses against him, and soon they're both writhing with shameless vigor, panting as they try to rub their erections together through six layers of thick blankets.
"It's not enough," Kyle says, whining. "I need -- ah. To spread my legs, and I can't."
"We could--" Stan looks around desperately, as if some instrument of relief will appear. This is precisely why Kyle always wanted to be with a boy: he feels like he knows exactly how Stan feels at this moment, painfully hard inside that bundle, and it's only adding to his own arousal. "Here, try this."
Stan rolls onto his stomach, and Kyle does the same. He can tell by Stan's own futile squirming that attempting to hump the mattress isn't working very well, but he tries it anyway.
"God," he says, groaning. "I would give anything to be able to spread my legs."
"This is insane," Stan says, still trying to fuck the bed. "It's got to be bad for us, unh-- medically."
"I have an idea," Kyle says, and they turn their faces toward each other, both of them panting. "We could, um. Spin stories to help the feeling along."
"Say dirty things! To each other! If that's not too -- I mean. If that doesn't sound too devious to you."
"No, it's perfect! But you start."
"Why have I got to start?"
"It was your idea!"
"But I don't know what to say." Kyle actually has a few ideas. It's just too scary to be the one who says dirty things first.
"What would you like done to you?" Stan says. His eyes seem to have gotten darker, but it's just the fattening of his pupils. "Say that. Theoretically. To me."
Kyle considers his options and how well he could potentially voice them. He's never been formally told about sex, but like all boys his age he knows plenty from schoolyard talk. His parents refer to it as the 'mystery' that he will 'solve' with his true match upon their successful bundling, whereas Eric and the other crass boys can pantomime this mysterious act by making a circle with their fingers and sticking another finger through it. Kyle knows where the cock goes when it's two boys together. He just doesn't know how it gets in there, and has been afraid to even poke at himself in curiosity, mostly out of fear of germs. Perhaps because of this fear, he's never imagined himself investigating someone else's entry point. His fantasies have always allowed him to keep his hands clear, perhaps holding his legs out of the way while some bolder partner works out the details for him.
"I can't say it," Kyle says, feeling like he might cry from the need to come.
"The dirty things!"
"Tell me generally. Start out slow."
Something about Stan giving this instruction is incredibly arousing. Kyle takes a deep breath and lets it out. He closes his eyes, which helps.
"I would like -- I would like to be unwrapped. Not to be the one doing the unwrapping. I'd be hard, from anticipation, and embarrassed to be looked at initially, so I'd like my partner to, um. Fall onto me, naked, and cover me with his body."
"Talk about how it would feel, though," Stan says, still squirming inside his bundle.
"You said to speak generally!"
"Well, yes, but I'd like to hear about sensations." He goes still, catching his breath. "If you don't mind."
"Sensations, well. It would be warm, obviously. The skin to skin part, anyway. The hut is still cold on unwrapping night -- I know that. So we would probably get under the blankets together, naked. We would put our hands all over each other, um. You know."
"Would you want him to touch your dick?" Stan asks, beginning to move again.
"Yes," Kyle says, softly. "And I'd like his hands to be a little rough, but not very. The palms, I mean."
"Because, ah -- I don't know! You say something now."
"Alright." Stan stops moving and huffs a few breaths, his fat pupils locked on Kyle's eyes. "I'd like to spread my partner's legs wide and kiss him between them."
"Oh?" Kyle could feel his heartbeat slamming in the hollow of his throat.
"Yes. And not just his cock, though I would kiss that. And lick it, and hold it in my mouth, on my tongue--"
Kyle began to move again, keeping his unblinking eyes on Stan's face.
"I don't know about the balls," Stan says, and Kyle laughs, but it comes out sounding like a desperate gasp. "Maybe, depending on what they were like. But there's this place underneath them -- that smooth place? I'd kiss him there, and then all the way down to – you know."
"The hole?" Kyle pauses in his writhing, his eyes going wide. "But you can't do that!" He clenches up tightly, trying to imagine the wet heat of someone's mouth there. "It's filthy."
"Well, I'd ask him to wash first, I guess. I know it's strange, but I'd like to, um. Make him feel really good, down there. Before going in."
"So you'd like to go in?" Kyle resumes humping the mattress, pleased, though he supposes it's Kenny who Stan would like to enter. That seems odd, since Kenny is older. Maybe Stan is thinking of Kyle, after all that kissing.
"Yeah," Stan says. "I'd really like it, I think. It's supposed to feel so good. Wouldn't, uh. Don't you want that?"
"No! I mean, maybe. I'd like the other thing. The being -- full."
They stare at each other. Kyle doesn't feel any closer to coming, despite the dirty talk. He only feels unfairly teased, sweating inside his bundlings.
"The thing is," Stan says, and Kyle braces himself when he sees the change in Stan's eyes, a kind of seriousness pooling into them. "I think the reason I want a boy is that I only feel protective of girls. Like they're special and sweet and should be respected. I think boys are special, too, and some are sweet, and of course they also deserve respect – but in bed, in my daydreams, I feel differently toward them. Not like I want to keep them up on a shelf. With boys – with certain boys – I want to bend them over, take down their pants and claim them, roughly – if they'd let me – and, and I just want to feel some strong, proud boy go limp and shameless with pleasure on my dick, and scream and come so hard just from me fucking his ass—"
Kyle cries out and comes, fucking the mattress as wildly as he can. His shout fades into a long, low moan as his cock empties into the depths of his bundle, and he's still pulsing afterward, so relieved. Stan is whining at the back of his throat, squirming and trying to get off. Kyle knows he owes it to him to help, and he swallows down the excess moisture in his mouth.
"What you said, ah, about being strong and proud?" Kyle says, still short of breath. "Yes – I feel like I must act that way all the time, especially since I've got a younger brother to set, ah – an example for, but the truth is? I want to be that boy you describe, at least in my fantasies, and sometimes, when I touch myself, I think of being pushed over in the schoolyard and claimed like that, with some bigger boy grunting behind me, holding my hips so I can't escape his cock, pounding my ass and telling me that I belong to him now, that he'll do this to me whenever he wants—"
Stan whimpers in a broken way that tugs at Kyle's heart, then he shudders and comes, his eyes closed, drool pooling at the corner of his lips. When he's finished he blinks at Kyle sleepily, his whole bundle heaving with his breath. Kyle can feel his own come cooling now, congealing uncomfortably.
"Thank you," Stan says, and Kyle blushes. "Thank you, thank you, god, thank you."
"It was only fair. Thank you, um, as well."
They're silent for a while, reassessing their dignity. Kyle feels slightly horrified at himself for having said that about the schoolyard, but also proud for having helped Stan to come.
"Will Kenny be jealous?" Kyle asks. It's probably not the right thing to say, but he can't stop wondering, and Stan is so quiet over there, suddenly distant as the cold closes over them again.
"Kenny?" Stan huffs and rolls onto his side, facing Kyle. "No, I -- I won't tell him. It would only hurt his feelings."
"Mhm. And you think he'll be that boy for you, this thief? He'll bend over and show you his hole?" Kyle is getting angry again, afraid his plan has succeeded in the short term and failed spectacularly in the larger scheme of things. Stan frowns.
"I don't know, but – that's just sex stuff. Fantasies. It doesn't matter as much as other things."
"Other things like what? Undeclared feelings of vague loyalty? Secrets about who you got off with the night before?"
"Don't be cruel to me after we just came together!" Stan says, and this statement seems to surprise even him after it's out. Kyle is too stunned by it to come up with any rebuttal. "I don't know how things will go with Kenny," Stan says when he's collected himself. "But I do appreciate the practice. It will come in handy, I'm sure, especially the kissing."
Hurt, Kyle rolls away from him. He'd hoped to be kissed again in the aftermath. It's one of his most dearly held fantasies: to be reduced to a babbling slut, broken open like a yoke by his orgasm, and then gathered into loving arms and reminded that he's safe. He hears Stan moving behind him, grunting with the effort to get closer, and he goes very still.
"What are you doing?" Kyle asks when Stan settles against him, his breath hot on the back of Kyle's neck.
"Keeping you warm here," Stan says, his lips moving on Kyle's skin. "Since I'm the one who made you take your hood down."
"You didn't make me," Kyle says, sneering.
"But I asked you to," Stan says. "And you did."
Kyle shudders inside his bundle. He feels as if Stan is gloating that he can make requests which Kyle will obey. Kyle is not sure why this should be arousing, but it is. He's glad, too, for the warmth of Stan's breath against his neck and the heat of him along his back, even against his ass. Maybe especially there.
In the morning, when Kyle has been conveyed back to his parents' house, he asks his mother to let him remove the innermost layer of the bundle, not wanting her to encounter his crusted come.
“I understand,” Sheila says, gathering up the rest of the blankets. “Did you have a – special feeling, last night?”
“Alright, I'll leave you alone! But that's a very good sign about your compatibility, you know, if he can make you that excited.”
“God! Please go!”
When she's gone, Kyle unwraps the bottom of his most inner blanket and examines the evidence of what happened. It already feels like a dream, but not in the sense that it wasn't real. It feels like something he and Stan dreamed together, as if they really went to that schoolyard and did those things. Kyle thinks of it while he sits in his bath, squeezing his ass cheeks together under the water, wanting to feel a soreness that isn't really there.
He goes back to his room after his bath, wrapped in his robe and ready to sleep for a few hours. He feels drained by the night before, and he isn't sure what to expect on the fourth night, or if he has any energy left for hope. The last thing he's expecting as he closes his bedroom door and turns for the bed is a lanky man sitting in his open window, dressed in worn clothes and smiling wickedly.
“Who are you?” Kyle asks, though he has an idea. He could scream for his mother, but that would be embarrassing, and he doesn't want to look weak in front of this man.
“I'm a friend of Stan's,” he says. “Kenny. Maybe he mentioned me?”
“He might have. What are you doing in my room?”
“I'm not in your room. I'm in your window.”
Kenny is better looking than Kyle imagined, though his teeth, from what Kyle can see, are not ideal. He has blue eyes, lighter than Stan's and piercing in a way that makes Kyle feel exposed. He wishes he was wearing something other than his ratty old robe.
“What do you want?” Kyle asks after they've studied each other in silence for a few seconds.
“Nothing in particular,” Kenny says. “Just to get a look at you.”
“Well, now you've had it. Have you been to see Stan yet today?” Kyle wonders if Stan made some guilty mention of the kissing and dirty talk. If he did, Kenny might be here to stab Kyle and plunder his room.
“No,” Kenny says. “I can't go to Stan's village during the day. I'm wanted there, by the law. Did he tell you that?”
“He implied as much. He told me you're a thief.”
“That's an oversimplification.”
“Look, what do you want?” Kyle asks when Kenny goes on staring at him, smiling in an unsettling way. “Stan told me about your plan to leave town together. I'm not going to try to disrupt it, if that's what you're worried about.”
“Oh, I'm not worried. I just wanted to make sure you were what I suspected you were.”
“And what's that?”
“A little boy.”
“Get out of my room,” Kyle says, glowering. “I might be a boy, but at least I'm not a pervert who's preying on one.”
“Stan's no boy,” Kenny says, and his smug smile finally dissolves. “I guess you've only seen his face, with the rest of him all wrapped up – he does have a boyish face. But he's very much a man, under there.”
“Get out,” Kyle says again, aroused and upset by the thought of Stan's concealed manliness.
“I'm going,” Kenny says, though he's motionless. “I've got things to do."
"Stan says you sleep during the day," Kyle says with a sniff, trying his best to feel superior.
"He's told you a lot about me, huh?"
"No, not a lot. Just that you live in a tree, and something vague about having magic powers. I'm not sure I believe that part."
"My magic powers aren't especially evident," Kenny says, and the smirk returns. "But Stan has certainly experienced them."
With that, he jumps out the window. Kyle walks over to shut it, and he watches Kenny slip away, into the neighboring backyard. If Kyle was smart, he would alert the authorities and solve his Kenny problem by having him locked up for whatever charges of thievery he's wanted for, but he can't do that to Stan. He loves Stan, after all, and unfortunately.
Kyle tries to sleep the day away, but even when he manages to settle down enough to drift off, he has bad dreams about Kenny. In the dreams Kenny is a demon, or a wizard, someone who has hypnotized Stan into subservience. Kyle wakes from these dreams and frets that it's true: was that what Kenny meant by Stan having experienced his powers? The only other way to interpret it is as some crass sexual remark, and Stan claims to be untouched so far.
"You're quiet tonight!" Sheila says when she's wrapping Kyle for the evening's bundling.
"I'm tired," Kyle says.
"I'm not surprised! Clearly you and Stanley were doing something strenuous last night."
"Oh, I know, and it's perfectly natural – but don't do too much of that, Kyle. You don't want to seem cheap."
Kyle has no idea what will go on between him and Stan on this night or the next two. The kissing was good, the dirty talk exceptional, but the coldness afterward was crushing, and now that Kyle has met Kenny he feels that much more real, an actual person who will take Stan away on the seventh night. As Kyle's father places him on the bed in his wrappings, he has no plan. Sheila left his hood loose again, but Kyle doesn't bother to shake his curls free. He stares up at the ceiling and listens to the retreating footsteps of their fathers, who are talking together amicably as they leave. Stan is silent on the other side of the curtain. Kyle is determined not to speak, and he keeps his eyes on the ceiling as the curtain is pulled away.
"What's wrong?" Stan asks.
"You look angry."
"I do not. You're the one who's lying over there like a corpse, not talking."
"I had an odd day," Stan says, and Kyle glances over at him. He hasn't decided if he should tell Stan about Kenny's visit or not. It might make Kenny seem like the dangerous predator he certainly is, or it might seem romantic to Stan, the idea that his magic thief broke into his rival's room to leer at him and call him a little boy.
"I suppose my day was odd, too," Kyle says, leaving it at that.
"I saw Wendy today," Stan says. "She was – different. She's bundled with a boy called Token, and she likes him. She's having second thoughts about running away, I think, but she won't admit it."
"What do you care? You'll have Kenny with you either way."
"I know." Stan looks up at the ceiling and sighs. "It's just. I've known Wendy all my life, and I imagined I'd have her along on the trip. That's all."
"Now you're calling it a trip? I thought it was an adventure? The start of your real life?"
"Don't make fun of me," Stan says, softly, and Kyle feels bad. He rolls onto his side, facing Stan, and is heartened when Stan does the same. They're still half a foot apart.
"I'm sorry," Kyle says. "I'm just angry, you know?"
"Well, yes, with you, but only because I wish you would stay."
"Stay?" Stan fidgets as if he can't decide whether to move closer or not. "With you?"
"Yes, with me! Last night – I liked it, the kissing, and the – all of it."
"But that's just kissing. I'm still an idiot who talks to birds, remember?"
"You're not an idiot," Kyle says. He hadn't planned to discuss any of this, but he's too exhausted to hide his feelings properly after three nights that have felt more like three weeks. "You're different from me, but that only makes me want to know more. Oh, never mind. I'm just embarrassing myself."
"No, you're not." Stan moves closer, his hood falling down as he does. Kyle grins; he must have told his mother to make it loose tonight, so Kyle could see his hair, which is silky and full of static, sticking up in several places. "I liked it, too," Stan says, whispering. "Maybe too much."
"It's just – I'd never done any of that before. And it's been all I can think about since we did."
"Mhmm. Well, we'd better not do any more of it, then," Kyle says, hoping his improvised strategy isn't too transparent. "Since you're spoken for."
"But I'm not – not really," Stan says. Kyle is very glad he didn't tell him about Kenny's visit, though now he runs the risk of having Kenny spill the beans himself. "I mean, I – I am, I do love Kenny, and I am going to run away with him. But. I want to kiss you. Kyle—"
"Oh, just do it! I don't care that you're going to leave me. I want it too much to pretend I've got any dignity."
"You've got plenty of dignity," Stan says, mumbling this against Kyle's lips. They both push their tongues out eagerly tonight, and Kyle moans at the sensation. Stan tastes like cornmeal and honey, and it's intoxicating in combination with his natural flavor, the warmth of his tongue and the softness of his lips. Soon they're both breathless and nipping at each other, laughing when they pause to look into each other's eyes.
"I wish I could reach your ear," Kyle says, trying to crane his neck. "I'd like to, um. Suck on your earlobe. You have nice ears."
"I'll roll onto my stomach," Stan says. "Or – I had an idea."
"If I could – do you think I could get on top of you somehow? I mean, would you like that?"
"I would, but. I don't know if it's possible."
"I think it is," Stan says, whispering. "Listen, I told my mother to make my wrappings loose tonight – not just on my head, all over. She wouldn't do it loose enough to allow me to escape, but I've got some mobility, alright, and I'd really like to be on top of you."
"I'd like that, too," Kyle says, his voice cracking. Stan nods, kisses him deeply, and begins his attempt to mount him, thrusting a loosely wrapped knee onto Kyle's leg for traction.
It takes some time, and all of Stan's grunting and moving about makes Kyle very hard. Once Stan is finally on top of him, they immediately begin rutting against each other, Stan's mouth wet and hot as they kiss victoriously. It doesn't take long for them to start up with the dirty talk, their words broken up by panted breath.
"I bet it's so cute," Stan says, and that's when Kyle knows he's going to come, his hips working feverishly as he tries to imagine he can feel Stan's hardness through all the layers. "Your little hole," Stan says, and though Kyle already knew what he was talking about, it's so very nice to hear that out loud. He groans and throws his head back, exposing his neck to Stan's kisses.
"It's tight," Kyle says, his teeth clicking against Stan's when he lifts his face to kiss his mouth again. "So tight, for your dick – I'd cry and beg you to fuck it raw, to fuck me open—"
It's the kind of nasty talk that's always made him cringe, but here, safe with Stan and in the throes of passion, it feels like poetry, especially when Stan groans and plunges his tongue into Kyle's mouth as if he wants to taste those words on his tongue.
"Imagine I'm inside you," Stan says, whispering this against Kyle's mouth. "That you're so full, straining to take it but wanting me even deeper, pressing yourself up to feel every inch of me, greedy for more—"
That's what sets Kyle off, and it's even better than last night. He screams, not caring who might hear, his ass clenching around the cock that's not actually in him. This time it's so much better, because Stan kisses him through it, moaning softly into his mouth as if in approval. It takes Kyle some time to recover and remember that Stan is humping him not in congratulations but because he still needs to come. Kyle is just hazy enough to access his most private, shameful fantasy.
"After you've come inside me," Kyle says, keeping his eyes locked on Stan's, which are so completely fixated on him that it's almost frightening. "I – I'd want you to sit back and hold me open with your fingers, to watch your seed drooling out of me, and to know that you've made me yours, that you've tamed my ass forever."
Stan growls when he comes, and Kyle is even more proud than he was when he pulled a whimper out of him. He presses his cheek to Stan's while he shudders through his orgasm, pretending that it's being pumped into him. He feels as if it's true when Stan gives him a slobbery kiss: something left Stan's body and entered his, and it was sacred, despite the filthy words.
"Oh, Kyle," Stan says, and in the haze of the afterglow it almost feels like I love you. "Kyle, Kyle – what are we doing?"
"We're bundling," Kyle says, and Stan laughs. He stays on top of Kyle, kissing him and sighing heavily, rubbing his nose against Kyle's.
"I was so sure," Stan says, resting his face against Kyle's neck.
"Shh," Kyle says, afraid to break the spell with talk of the future. "Thank you," he says. "Thank you for this. It – I never – never thought someone would be willing to listen to my obscenity."
"It's not obscenity," Stan says, murmuring. He kisses Kyle again, sucking on his bottom lip as he pulls away. "It's – I don't know. It's like magic."
Kyle thinks of Kenny and feels a chill.
"How sad," he says, because the spell is broken now. "That we'll only have this for two more nights."
"Mhm." Stan sighs and slides off of Kyle, resting against his side. "It's so manipulative," he says. "This process."
"Yes." Kyle feels as if someone has just placed their boot on his throat -- Kenny, perhaps. "I'm so sorry to have manipulated you just then. How evil of me."
"No, Kyle, it's not you! It's -- ah, god. I don't want to hurt you. You're so sweet."
"I'm not sweet! To hell with you!"
Stan nuzzles at Kyle's face, enticing him back into kissing. Kyle frowns but opens his lips for Stan's tongue, grunting in protest even as he kisses him back. It's too good to pass up, but when he thinks of how he'll lose it he can't imagine how he'll survive, having known this intoxicating comfort so briefly.
Kyle falls asleep with his face pressed to Stan's, feeling Stan's ponderous sighs on his cheek. He has no further strategy or any more plans. He's entirely in Stan's hands, and it's terrifying, though also warm enough at the moment to lull him into a deep sleep. He wakes much later, from a dream about bathing in spoiled milk. Something is very wrong: he feels strange, and a sour stink has filled the room.
"Shit," he whispers, his panic starting as a dull awareness at the back of his skull, a pinprick of terror that is quickly widening. He drank too much tea with dinner and allowed himself to become too relaxed after that orgasm. He's pissed himself, soaking his own bundle and part of Stan's, too.
Stan wakes with a soft moan when he hears Kyle weeping. Kyle cries harder, unable to articulate what has happened. Stan will figure it out quickly enough, and then things between them will really be over, even before the gossip gets out to their villages. Kenny was right: Kyle is just a stupid little boy, and a disgusting one, too, who has peed on his bedmate.
"What -- oh." Stan looks down at the wet spot on Kyle's bundle, and at the smaller one that has stained his own. "Oh -- shit, are you alright?"
"No," Kyle says, sobbing. "Clearly not."
"Kyle, ah. It's okay. It's just pee, right?"
"Just pee? Just pee, well, yes. It's also -- oh, god, the keepers will see it when they come in to clean the hut! They'll have to change the sheets and the mattress, too -- oh, god, god, I'll never hear the end of this!"
"Shh, it's okay--"
"It's not okay, Stan! I'm ruined, don't you see? And I've -- dirtied you, oh, god, I'm so sorry--"
"Kyle, no, it's nothing." Stan kisses his face when he dissolves into sobs again. "Shh, it's alright. Oh, don't cry. Please, I've been so bad to you. It's my fault."
"Your f-fault? How on earth--?"
"I don't know, but I feel responsible! Let me tell them it's mine."
"Stan, for the love of god! It's obviously mine!"
"Why obviously? No, I think -- I think we could pull off the lie."
"But why would you? No, it's my mess. I should take the blame!"
"I don't want you to, though." Stan is still kissing his face, keeping close enough that his cheeks are damp with Kyle's tears, too.
"Why not?" Kyle asks. "Because I'm the one who's got to be bundled again next year? Oh, it doesn't matter - they might as well know I pissed my partner. It's not like I won't be a laughingstock anyway, when people found out you've run off with your real lover."
"He's not my lover, or he hasn't been yet, I've told you--"
"Well, he's your love, though, isn't he? You know -- he came to see me today." Kyle sniffles, feeling very cold and dirty, lower than ever, though it's also nice to have his wibbling met with Stan's soft kisses.
"What?" Stan says, pulling back. "Kenny came to see you?"
"Yes! After my bath, there he was, sitting in my windowsill like some kind of forest sprite, and I suppose that's what he is, or close enough."
"What did he do? What did he say?"
"Nothing. Well, he called me a little boy, sneered at me and implied that you've been enchanted by his undisclosed powers. But he's -- he's lovely, I guess, in a ragamuffin way, so I wish you luck. Now I suppose I'll roll onto the floor and sleep there alone, in a puddle of my own piss."
"Kyle, you will not!" Stan moans and closes his eyes. "Kenny feels so threatened by you. I suppose it makes sense. I'm so confused."
"Then you should thank me for peeing all over you, which has surely lessened your confusion. Obviously I'm the wrong choice."
"No, you're not. Not obviously. In a way -- this will sound insane, but this has made me even more fond of you than before."
"What -- what has? My urine?"
"Yes -- no! Not that exactly. But seeing you like this, so upset, so in need of -- of a real partner. I don't want you to be alone with what's happened. This has happened to both of us, not just you. We'll see it through together."
Kyle wants to interrogate him about exactly how this will work, but he's too embarrassed to keep looking Stan in the eye, let alone to continue having this conversation. He ducks his head down and closes his eyes, almost losing it again when he gets a fresh whiff of the stink of piss.
"I hate that you feel alone," Stan says, his voice getting small. "Look, we've both got pee on us. I share in the responsibility for it. I've been awful to you, so awful--"
"This is not some emotional response to trauma!" Kyle snaps, keeping his face hidden. "It's just too much tea with dinner, and, um. You were on top of me, putting pressure on my bladder."
"God, I was. See, then it is my fault."
"Perhaps," Kyle grumbles. "I'll never be able to sleep now, you know. Lying here in this cold stench."
"Kyle, I'm so sorry."
"It doesn't matter."
"Yes, it does, you do matter, and I've used you--"
"Stop talking!" Kyle says. He doesn't protest, however, when Stan kisses his forehead in apologetic little pecks until somehow, miraculously, he drifts off to sleep.
Kyle wakes at dawn, achy and still reeking of pee. It only takes a few tired movements of his head for Stan to wake as well, and they blink at each other, breathing into each other's faces and saying nothing.
"How am I going to face your parents?" Kyle asks.
"I've come up with a plan," Stan says. His voice is deep and scratchy from sleep, and Kyle wants to kiss him for it, but now is not the time. "We'll say that I mounted you, which is true, and that I kneed your bladder in my enthusiasm."
"That's -- that's actually not a bad story."
"Yeah," Stan says, and he smiles like he just realized this himself.
"But what if Kenny hears about it, as he heard about us falling off the bed? This will be much more sensational, I assure you."
"He—" Stan breaks off there and frowns. "Well, I don't know what he'll do. But he won't bother you at home again. I'll make sure of that."
"How?" Kyle asks, and he sucks in his breath when he hears their fathers approaching the hut. "Stan," he says, whispering. "Protect me."
"I will – oh, Kyle, shh. It's really not as bad as you're making it out to be."
Sheila and Sharon walk in ahead of the men, peeking in cautiously at first. Sharon smiles at their closeness on the bed, and Sheila looks stricken when she sees Kyle's face. Her nostrils twitch.
"There's been a small accident," Stan says. "It's nothing to worry about, and completely my fault."
"Not completely," Kyle says, giving his mother a meek glance. "It was my bladder, anyway."
"That's what that smell is?" Sheila says, and her face begins to color. "Oh, Kyle."
"It's not his fault," Stan says again. Kyle shrinks against him, afraid to look at his father as he comes to the door, and even more horrified by the thought of vulgar Randy having a laugh about this later, at the pub. "You see," Stan says, the confidence ebbing from his voice, "I got on top of Kyle, in a clumsy way, and I jabbed him in the wrong spot with my knee. I feel terrible about it, but luckily he's forgiven me."
"Stanley!" Sharon says. She's blushing now, too. Randy and Gerald still seem slightly confused, and Sheila has a pinched look on her face. Kyle knows he'll get a talking to later. "That's – you've put Kyle in a very awkward position with your, ah. Enthusiasm."
"I'm sure Kyle isn't totally innocent in the matter," Sheila says tightly. "Oi, and now – what will we tell the keepers? They'll need to clean this up."
"Not necessarily," Sharon says. She glances behind her and ushers the fathers into the hut, shutting the door behind her. "Quick, before someone notices," she says, going to the bed. "Gerald, Randy, grab the boys. Sheila, let's flip the mattress and pull off the blankets. We can sneak fresh ones in here with the boys tonight, tucked into their bundles."
"Honey," Randy says. "Can't we just let the officials do all this?"
"No, Sharon is right," Sheila says. "Grab the boys, you two! We have to do what we can to protect Kyle's reputation, since he's unwilling to do so himself."
"Mother!" Kyle says.
"Hush, you. Honestly, boys, some horse play is expected, but when you're so frantic about it that an organ nearly ruptures, that's enough."
"It's hardly an organ rupture," Sharon says. "Kyle was bundled with a full bladder, apparently. These things happen."
There's tension between the group as the mothers hurry away with the dirty sheets and the fathers carry the boys out of the hut. Kyle tries to meet Stan's eyes once more, but Randy has already turned his back on them.
"Unbelievable," Sheila says as soon as they're through the door. "I'm glad you're so well-matched, young man, but you've got to have some respect for the remainder of the ritual."
"I do!" Kyle cries, more angry than embarrassed now. "You've got no idea! I'm not the one who doesn't respect the ritual!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Sheila asks. "And can you believe the nerve of that woman?" she says, turning to Gerald. "Implying that this is my fault, for bundling Kyle without emptying his bladder? He's nearly grown! I was counting on you to take care of that yourself," she says, rounding on Kyle again.
"Dear," Gerald says, still holding Kyle in the middle of the kitchen, as if he's not sure he's allowed to set him down yet. "I think you're overreacting a bit."
"Am I, huh? Ha! We'll see who reacted appropriately when that Randy person spreads this gossip all over the village."
"He won't, will he?" Kyle says, desperate to believe this. "Not with Sharon being so concerned about keeping it a secret and all."
"Who knows what those people are capable of!"
"I thought you liked them!"
"Well, maybe I've changed my mind. Gerald, what on earth are you doing? Take him in the bedroom and unwrap him! That smell is making me ill."
Kyle holds back angry tears as his father unwraps him enough to allow him to do the rest himself. When Gerald leaves the bedroom, Kyle allows some tears to fall, kicking the soiled wrappings away when he's free. He tries to console himself with the positive developments, Stan's sweet words about not wanting Kyle to go through this alone, but Stan was only panicked and trying to be kind. Kyle's true nature has revealed itself, in the form of free-flowing piss that they both had to wallow in, and whatever shortcomings that Kenny person has, Kyle doubts he's ever done anything so vile in Stan's presence.
As he climbs into his bath, Kyle begins to shiver, allowing reality to settle over him: he's played the few cards he had, and now he's pissed them all away.