bath time RP

so. this is my attempt at posting a 20k-word-long g/t frenrey RP that kogo and i were doing at the start of this year. its not finished and im not sure when were gonna pick it back up, since we are currently working on co-op game theory instead of a filthy RP that takes place like 200k words down the line of co-op game theory. but ive been sitting on it long enough so here u go

i never really planned on posting this anywhere so its really self-indulgent and not as polished as our usual stuff but look. this is a ludicrous amount of erotica im dropping here. cut me a lil slack

anyway, here it is: Gordon Gets A Xen Bath

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Gordon tries to keep moving, but eventually his pace slows to a stop, his legs growing heavier and heavier until he can't bring himself to lift them.

"Okay. Okay," he pants, bending over and bracing his hands on his knees. "I can't fucking do this anymore, man! I'm tapped out! We've been walking all day - or, well, I have, I don't know about you. We can't... can't all be alien god fuckers, floating around or whatever." He pauses to catch his breath. Every muscle in his body aches from the strain of hopping around Xen in the HEV suit. Sure, gravity doesn't have quite as strong a hold here as it did back on Earth, and that makes all that metal easier to lug around, but it seems like time doesn't work the same way, either. Gordon can't tell how long it's been. Feels like days.

Smells like it, too, now that he's got a moment to breathe. He's covered in dirt and slime and congealed alien blood and God know what else.  In short, he needs a fucking break. And Gordon aggressively takes one right then and there, dropping to his feet. What's the rush, anyway? "Like we're ever gonna find out way out of this fucking place," he mutters.


> Benrey watches as Gordon collapses, a pile of metal and smells. Odors. Sweat and dirt and tangled hair. His head tilts to the side but his expression remains flat as he lifts his head and gazes out into the vastness of Xen, before turning back to Gordon and furrowing his brow. They hadn't even gotten far, not really, so it doesn't really make sense that he'd just crumple like this.

> He sniffs, shuffling in a circle on his feet as Gordon bitches behind him--something about never escaping Xen, as if Benrey hadn't traveled from one end to the other to find him in the first place--and chews his lip in deep concentration, trying to think of literally anything that would maybe make the guy stop. Stop with the, uh, whining and whinging and "blah blah, we're not all alien god fuckers" or whatever.

> (Though, well, technically, Gordon was an alien god fucker anymore. Their time back with the space maggots and the gun bugs and that skinny doppelganger had seen them in a couple of situations where Gordon happily fucked an "alien god.")

> But. Wait. No. Mind wandering. Wandering to fun places, places more fun than being lost in Xen (though he's not lost; they'll find their way out eventually), but not anywhere useful. And, for once, he has to think along those boring terms. Being, you know, reliable or whatever.

> What matters is making Gordon go. The hamster wheel in his head turns and turns until the rodent is slung clear off and, with a slow blink, Benrey accepts defeat. Ideas are not his forte when he's actually trying to be helpful. He turns to his human, he tilts his head in the other direction, and he waits for his human to look up at him. Then, he speaks without even waiting for eye contact.

> "So, uh... what can best friend Benrey do to... make you. I dunno. Less dumb?"

> Nailed it. Benrey is getting good at this "empathy" thing.


Gordon drags his gaze up from the ground to Benrey, and immediately scrunches his eyebrows up. "Wow, that was almost nice of you," he says, a touch of genuine surprise in his voice. It doesn't outweigh the disdain, though. "You know what? Just don't do anything. The best thing you can do right now is to stand right there and do absolutely nothing... and let me just... catch my breath."

He hopes against hope that, for once, Benrey will do what he says. Despite all the evidence that suggests otherwise. His internal monologue turns a bit haggard. Well, it's not like there's anything he could do about it, anyway. Even if he was fit as a fiddle, if Benrey wanted to fuck off and get lost, there was no stopping him.

He can't hold Benrey's stare for long, though. It's-- it's always harder to look him right in the eye like this. Something about the size of him makes it uncomfortable, like he's staring right through Gordon. So he darts his eyes away, scanning his surroundings. The perils of an alien landscape: all the little islands and chunks of earth start to look the same after awhile. Rocks and strange, angry plants and pools of mysterious fluids. He's seen it all. There's a number of all these things and more around him, but the one thing he finds himself wishing for is something to eat. You can't trust anything out here.

"I just want a burger, man," Gordon groans. "Sick of jumping around like I'm playing some kind of platformer. You know, they never tell you how exhausting this shit is! My heart's-- my heart's racing-- like, adrenaline? Hate fucking jumping over these big-ass pits, I'm tellin' you."

Or, failing that, like, a nap. Or a bath. He vocalizes both of these things before burying his head in his hands. Maybe he could get one of those microsleeps going. If he can just calm the fuck down, anyway.


> Food? Nap? Bath?

> Benrey's mouth curls into a jagged smile. Of course Gordon would just need some of that weird, seemingly pointless human stuff. You would think after two grand adventures of dragging this sad sack around and listening to him complain every two meters, he'd have picked up on the human necessities. Things like 'burger" and "bed time" and "smelling like preferred smells, and not the natural smells that are apparently 'bad.'"

> A huge sigh heaves out of Benrey and he watches in amusement as it makes Gordon's hair puff out of his face. Small little tiny man, curled up on a chunk of rock, not able to embiggen and make things easier. It's sad and pathetic, almost as sad and pathetic as Gordon looks, but Benrey knows he's capable of being a good enough guy for the both of them. A real bro. A best friend.

> Because he knows Xen inside and out for some reason. And he's observant. He's seen things and can do the mental math necessary to figure out how to problem solve, sort of. He's spent enough time floating around Xen to figure out what those sparkly puddles do, and he's seen enough of those people back in the Wrong World eat the not-Lamarrs (or, at least the Vorti-bros did, which were close enough).

> And, well, Gordon could literally sleep anywhere. There was dirt for days, lots of rocks to align the spine. Fun nap places. Good for Gordon.

> With a burst of pride and dagger-toothed grin, Benrey propped his elbow on the island where Gordon was whining and held out his hand, palm up and flat, extended as an open invitation.

> "Oh. Uh. That it? That's, uh... that's a cool I can do. Big cool for you."


He stares, eyes narrowed in confusion. "What? What do you mean, that's a-- What are you doing?"


> "I'm doing a cool," Benrey responds. Though his voice is still fairly flat, there is a bite to it, hidden almost completely under his monotone. As if to emphasize the point, he lifts his hand and slaps it back down into the earth once more in a way he thought was light. Judging from the way the ground shook and the island rocked, perhaps not as light as he'd imagined.

> "Gonna, uh... help. Or somethin'. You gettin' on or you gonna be a babyman about it?"


Gordon yelps as the ground shakes around him, even though he's (relatively) safe on the ground. "Jesus, Benrey! Watch it!"

What the hell is he doing? His eyes dart between Benrey's hand and face as the gears struggle to turn. It's been a long fucking day, all right, and Benrey's... Benrey-isms are hard enough to understand at the best of times. This is supposed to help, somehow. So, scratch the burger. And the nap, too, probably. So, does that mean he wants to--

No. That's stupid. He's stupid for thinking it. Gordon steadfastly ignores the way his ears prickle and shakes his head, like a dog ridding itself of water.

"Please tell me you're gonna just carry me the rest of the way," Gordon sighs. It's a visible effort for him to get back to his feet. "Hey, actually, why didn't you just do that from the get-go? You're not even breaking a sweat!"

He complains, sure, but it doesn't stop him from dizzily shuffling forward and stepping on. Better late than never. He'll have plenty of time to chew Benrey out for this once he's out of this alien hellscape and back in his own goddamn bed.


> Benrey blinks.

> Oh. Yeah. He probably could have carried Gordon, huh? The thought never really occurred to him at first because, well, why would it? Was he a bad guy--a bad friend--for believing that his bestest buddy was a capable man? Color him insensitive for actually expecting things of Gordon, but he'd just watched the guy win Space Invaders in real life.

> After that, traipsing through Xen should have been a walk in the park.

> Best not to point that out, though. Gordon may take offense and, for once in his life, he isn't out to make him mad. He's trying to be good, trying to carry that camaraderie they built from Shit World Without Sony Products back to Good World With Heavenly Sword. Highlighting Gordon's stupid human failings would only work to reset the karma he'd worked so hard to build up in their social link. Or, you know, however humans fucking worked.

> Instead, he lets Gordon crawl onto his hand and then turns away, wracking his mind for the last place he saw a good puddle. After all, it made sense to start with a bath, right? Eating while gross would make Gordon complain, and sleeping while gross wouldn't be much better. Drifting past island after island, his head swivels to see if maybe there are some good candidates going forward.

> And there's... really not. Testicle stalks. Pointy rocks. Less pointy rocks. Tit-on-stilts that is aggressively spitting little Lamarrs over the edge of a rock chunk that looks like Swiss cheese. Benrey isn't sure what it's hoping to accomplish, but it's sure as fuck not accomplishing it.

> Then, he sees it, in the distance: A glittering pool of blue that sparks like electricity and glitters like cheap body mist. A strange smell, not unlike Sweet Voice, wafts from its direction. It's certainly one of the Good Smells Humans Like. Gordon will love it.

> Wordlessly, he glides toward it. Gordon's smart. He'll know what he's getting at.


Benrey's not saying anything, which is mildly concerning, but he is looking around like he knows what he's looking for. And when Benrey fucks off, Gordon in tow - held in a grip that's a little looser than he likes - Gordon lets his brain wind down for the first time in... a long while. Flying around Xen like this is nervewracking, yeah, but in a way he's more equipped to handle. Benrey's chest at his back helps. It's solid as a wall and deceptively warm, and if he keeps himself pressed flat against it, he can almost forget about these bottomless pits they're flying over.

He lets Benrey go like that for an indeterminable amount of time. (He may have dozed off a little.) But Gordon comes back to himself once Benrey's velocity changes. Gets a bit more pointed. Eventually, Gordon puzzles out that he's heading for one island in particular, one with a shimmering pool on its surface. Not exactly what the endgame was.

Wait. Gordon's brain chugs. He was looking for... some kind of water? Oh, Christ.

"Wait, were you being serious about the bath thing?" he asks as they approach. "I-- I wasn't being that serious about it! Getting out of here kind of seems like the more important thing!"


> "Huh?"

> The word falls off of Benrey's lips despite the fact he actually heard everything Gordon said. He heard him and even registered him, but he just didn't get him. After all, he's fairly certain that Gordon wants a bath considering it was one of the big things that spewed out of his mouth when he was being all needlessly fussy before, so why isn't he just saying it? Owning up to it?

> Was it because it was a detour? Slowing them down? Or was it just Gordon being whatever-the-hell-Gordon-was?

> Yeah, that had to be it. Gordon just doesn't want to get side-tracked. That's fair, he supposes. Or, at the very least, he assumes that's what a human would consider fair, considering how obsessed with "time" and "schedules" and "fast" they all were.

> "Real quick dip," Benrey promises, hoping to put Gordon's mind at ease; it was a far cry from what he typically did, so he could only hope it landed properly, that he was saying the right things and had the right inflections. "Real fast. Get'cha all nice. Wet. Uh. Soaps and hygiene. You know."


"Oh my God, man, it's gonna be a whole fuckin' production!" Gordon agonizes as Benrey brings them to that strange, glittering watering hole. "Saving the world's kinda time-sensitive, you know? And it's always such a hassle getting in and out of this thing! And-- Okay, hold on, you actually want to-- Okay. Fine. Look, I'm just saying, this is weird even for you, Benrey!"

Soaps. Hygiene. You know. Letting his best frenemy peel him out of his suit so he can scrub him clean, like normal people do. A shiver runs down the back of Gordon's neck. There's gotta be some kind of catch, but honestly, he's having a hard enough time keeping up with events as they're written. If there's some kind of malicious subtext to this whole thing, well, that's not his problem. He's got more important things to worry about, like convincing Benrey that it would be a little more prudent to just keep forging on rather than waste valuable time on a bath.

...Unfortunately, he's close enough to smell whatever it is that wafts off the surface in waves, and it makes Gordon's resolve waver. It's a clean smell, warm and vaguely fruity, with an undercurrent of salinity. Like a shower that's just been used, almost. God, he'd really like that, wouldn't he.


> The words don't really have weight to them anymore. If Benrey had a nickel for every time Gordon called him "weird" or told him he was endangering the world by taking detours, he'd have enough nickels to melt them down and make a big-ass nickel. And, judging from the way even Gordon's mouth wasn't running anymore, it didn't seem like Gordon had put any weight into his own words, either.

> Which was good. Real good. It meant Benrey was doing a nice job of not pressing every one of Gordon's buttons like a kid in an elevator, and being a proper friend. Best friend. More than friend? God, he fucking wished.

> And he'd shut up right in the nick of time, too, because the urge to tease is building up inside of Benrey like pressure in a flaming aerosol can. It's hard not to want to pick at him when Gordon is griping like this, just goading him on with his (strangely cute) bullshit. Benrey mentally pats himself on the back for a job well done as he glides to the edge of the island and leans carefully over the tiny expanse of mottled dirt and glittering water.

> "S'fine. You're fine. S'gonna be fine. Just cleanin' you up, makin' you pretty. Like a good friend. Best friend."

> The water bubbles against the back of his hand as he extends it, dangling Gordon over the surface so he can get a good look at it himself. Maybe, with the proper viewing, he'll realize that this will be a pleasant time all around. Good for him. Fun for Benrey. Bonding experience.

> "Gonna make you, uh, real shiny. Polished.  A, ah, regular... Casa... Casa del Nova."

> With that, he hooks a nail under one of the thigh pieces of the HEV suit and waits, eyes resting on Gordon's face in search of approval. Approval he selfishly hopes comes quick, before reflex takes over and he pops it off regardless.


Gordon peers over the edge of Benrey's hand to look down at the water, where it lies placid and clear and a vivid blue-green. Mysterious bubbles aside. It's... it's like one of those pools at Yellowstone, he thinks dizzily. They look so warm and inviting and then you step in and suddenly your flesh is deciding to melt right off of you. Gordon's stomach swoops unpleasantly.

Then Benrey offhandedly mentions making him pretty, as if he were just trying to sell Gordon on a new restaurant, and it swoops for an entirely different reason. An irritating reason.

"Don't just fucking say things like that," he says hotly, his voice pitching up and cracking from nerves.

But it becomes an afterthought in short order when Gordon feels Benrey's nail tugging at his HEV suit, and he realizes that Benrey's very, very serious about this. Especially when he fixes Gordon with that intent stare. Like he's waiting for something. Permission? It must be, since he's not making any moves to pop off the armor on his thigh. Gordon looks down at Benrey's finger, chipped black paint peeking out from the corners, then back up at Benrey.

Oh, fuck this. He hates when Benrey does this. It's one of those mind games, or something. Make Gordon be the one to make the call, like it's a game of chicken and Benrey's trying to get him to lose. Instead of, you know, not derailing his entire fucking journey in the first place with the suggestion of a bath. One where, well, it does smell really nice. And he can feel the ambient heat from the water from his perch on Benrey's palm. And Benrey's offering to pry him out of his suit and, presumably, do the washing for him. So Gordon doesn't have to move a muscle. Or even think about it.

His face twists and turns its way through a melange of emotions before he decides, fuck it. Even if this is weird, and Benrey's probably playing some kind of 4-dimensional chess, his mind's already sold itself on the idea. So Gordon's tongue darts out to wet his lips, mouth unexpectedly dry.

"I-- Okay-- You know what, fine. We're already here. Just... no, fucking, tricks or jokes or whatever, man. If you leave me on some fucking rock with my dick out, I'm going to kill you," Gordon tells Benrey.


> What Benrey wants to say is that Gordon is being a baby. A bitch, even. There's no reason for him to get all flustered and pissy when they've already done so many things together. Things that only the closest of bros do, like take down a hostile invading force and push their dicks together and make out. But instead, Benrey takes a deep and steady breath as he works his nails deeper under the chassis of the HEV suit and tugs up with a satisfying click as the latches come undone and the thigh piece flops uselessly off of Gordon.

> "Cool."

> He moves onto the next section, eyes narrowing and eyebrows knitting above his nose as he looks down at Gordon and tries to focus. Head empty, aside from trying to figure out how in the hell he's actually supposed to undo all the delicate bits with fingers as big as his human. It was easier when he was small, and he supposes he could be small again, but that would be no fun. Perhaps he could just rip it off of Gordon with his teeth like the top of a sardine can, but it would be even less fun to deal with the little guy yelling at him for hours.

> Getting Gordon's goat was fun and all, but god, did the guy know how to harp on a subject like no other person he'd ever met.

> Instead, Benrey's tongue pokes out between his fangs as he presses the tip of his finger against the inside of Gordon's other thigh and lets his fingernail search for the seam, the latch. He cocks his head like an owl and leans down close enough that Gordon could touch his face, heaving out a huge and uncharacteristically irritated breath. From here, he can smell the musky odor of sweat and dirt and grime and alien goo, and it's strangely nice. Earthy. Very Gordon.

> He'd smelled it before, when he wasn't quite this big, when Gordon was unzipping his suit and climbing into his lap and drool pools at the corner of Benrey's mouth, equal parts saliva and lusty Sweet Voice and--

> Click.

> The other piece of thigh armor falls away. The noise shakes Benrey to his senses.

> "Turn please," he orders mindlessly. His voice is a bit more husky and demanding than it had been a moment before.


Gordon watches as Benrey pops off his armor like it's nothing, like Gordon hasn't spent hours fruitlessly trying to do the same himself. It would have saved him the constant indignity of relying on Benrey to get him in and out of the fucking thing. He tries really hard not to think about the indignity of this, too - Benrey's face so close to his, a hot, irritable breath fanning over him, and fingers at his--

Oh. Gordon jumps a little at the insistent press of a fingertip against his inner thigh, and heat rushes to his face. This part's mildly embarrassing at the best of times, when Benrey's smaller and more human-sized, but now? With fingers much too big for the job? Spreading his legs apart where he sits, rubbing insistently against his inner thigh... He can't help the shaky breath that forces its way out of him.

Jesus Christ, his hands are big, Gordon thinks, mind racing. Sure, yes, he's had this thought before, when Benrey was using them to slap gunships out of the air, but it's a little more pointed when they're prodding him like this. He tenses. Not entertaining these thoughts today, thank you. The whole point of this, presumably, was for a normal, ordinary bath. In a pool of mysterious alien water. With his rival stripping him down and scrubbing him. While he's so big that he could squish Gordon like a bug, if he wanted... or pick Gordon up and maneuver him around, broad fingers all over him, sizing him up. If he wanted.

He comes back to himself when he hears a command. Turn please. Quick and insistent. Gordon's eyes jerk away from where they'd been staring at Benrey's finger.

"Turn? Like, fucking-- God, ow--" Gordon hisses through his teeth as the motion twists one of his aching muscles the wrong way. "I don't even know why I'm doing this. It's not like this was stopping you... You know, I'm starting to think you just like bossing people around for no fucking reason." Despite his bitching, he does as he's told.


> Maybe he does like it. The bossing, that is. Benrey isn't sure. It's one of the few human things he knows--his job back at Black Mesa--and it's one of those things he's good at. Usually. At least now he feels good at it, with Gordon actually listening to him.

> He watches as Gordon turns, head shifting to tilt in the other direction, watching as his human trustingly turns his back to him and displays himself in a way that makes more Sweet Voice seep from between his teeth. He sniffs, he uses the back of his free hand to wipe away a trickle of fluorescent fluid trailing from his lips, and quickly wipes his hands off on his pants. His eyes never leaves Gordon's back.

> Lower back.

> His ass.

> Benrey had told him before that it was a nice one, and it was still true... uh, even if he can't really see it with Gordon sitting and all. He can imagine it in its entirety, though, nice and small, even as he fumbles with the latches on the back of the chest piece. He hardly notices as he clicks it open and the front hits the pad of his palm with an audible slap of metal against skin. He reaches around to pluck it away, the side of his hand brushing against Gordon's front.

> Gordon's heaving chest. His soft midsection. His...

> Benrey shakes his head as if snapping himself out of a trance. An involuntary laugh snorts out of his nose as he leans down, peeking over Gordon's shoulder like a creeping dragon, breath hot against the back of Gordon's neck.

> "Cute."

> And with that, he grabs the next part of Gordon: his arm, raising it up effortlessly like a doll's and carefully searching for the next latch.


Maybe facing away from Benrey wasn't the smartest idea, in retrospect. It feels like he's closer, somehow, his breath coming hotter and faster against Gordon's back. Benrey breathing down his neck should be, like, gross. Creepy. Gordon knows by now that Benrey likes to make a big deal about keeping them clean, but it's not like he knows when Benrey brushed last. It shouldn't smell... like that. Sweet. A distinct chemical note on the underside. Like ketones on his breath, but nothing that Gordon can place for certain.

Sweet Voice, probably. It's muted and subtle. He's not belting it out like he usually does, so Gordon can only guess what Benrey's feeling. Unfortunately, he's all too aware of what he's feeling: goosebumps, pebbling his skin from the neck down. A little frisson. They crawl all the way down his arms and make him shiver.  He can practically feel Benrey's eyes on him, too, all up close and personal. Don't break a sweat, he wills himself, because he knows Benrey's watching him like a hawk.

It doesn't stop a bead from pooling at the back of his hairline, then losing the fight against gravity and slowly trickling down his neck.

Benrey snorts, and Gordon flinches, cursing under his breath. He couldn't even have that, huh. Then Benrey has the audacity to call him cute. And that makes his blood pulse, briefly flashing his skin with heat, before receding just as quickly and leaving a chill in its wake.

"Wh-- Whoa, okay," Gordon starts. His indignant response is temporarily cut off by Benrey lifting his arm between a thumb and forefinger. He offers about as much resistance as a fucking action figure, even creaking a little for good measure, and it's distracting, okay?

After a few moments, though, he regains his bearings. "Shut up, man," he says, flustered. "I'm not even-- Just-- Quit being weird, okay?"
Because, frankly, this is weird. He's not used to Benrey being so... accommodating. Helpful. Nice. And he doesn't know what Benrey's endgame is, here. So it just leaves Gordon feeling off-kilter. Uncertain. A little hot in the face.


> Benrey's eyes flick up like a lizard that's spotted its next meal when he hears Gordon's words, conveniently at the same time as he finds the latch with his nail. The armor on his upper arm falls away with a clonk and his fingers move down to the much-easier-to-remove gloves and wrist pieces, which come undone with a light twist and an even lighter yank. But his gaze isn't even looking at what he's doing, instead resting on the back of Gordon's hair, now wet with sweat and the dampness of his own breath.

> His skin is raised up in little bumps, and so are his hackles. Something bright and violet and base, fluorescent, builds at the back of Benrey's tongue, and he swallows it down. He has to focus, keep his composure. Get the other arm with a few quick clicks, fingers now more adventurous than they were before. The pads trail across Gordon's back, the undersuit bunching with his touch, pressing into his side for no reason other than the urge to feel. Then, when the second arm is freed, he remembers he forgot the boots.

> "Not being weird," Benrey protests as he wrangles Gordon in his grip, sighing heavily as he pinches him lightly in his grasp and rolls him in his hand like some kind of trinket. Until they're face to face once again and Gordon is flat on his back in his palm. He takes a moment to idly scratch his chin before reaching for the metal encasing his lower legs and feet.

> "Not weird to, uh, help a bro out. Be a friend. Friends call friends cute. All the time. Every day. S'pre... pre-requi... prere..." He pauses and stills and, then, with unwarranted confidence, forces the word out and continues fiddling. "It's pre-registered to, uh, do that. Yeah."


Blunt fingers at his arm, his back, his sides, prodding and rolling him around - each investigatory touch makes Gordon cognizant of just how much he's holding his breath. Until Benrey manhandles him into laying flat on his back, that is. A startled noise bursts out of him, and then Gordon's looking straight up at Benrey, with nowhere to go to escape him. Even without a hand pinning him down, he can't help but feel like he's stuck in place, anyway.

At least Gordon can sit up on his elbows a little. Less like he's some kind of specimen that way. And he lets Benrey fiddle with the boots, the strange feeling that curls in his stomach easing up on him the longer Benrey messes with something other than his soft, fleshy, vulnerable bits. He lets out a shaky breath of... relief. Let's go with that.

"IIII don't know about that," he says. "I'll be real with you, I'm not the kind of guy who does that... Uh. Well. Except there was that one time in high school? But it kind of weirded her out and she stopped talking to me."

Gordon pauses for a moment, brows wrinkling in thought. Then he shakes himself. "Anyway, that's not even the point. The point is," Gordon emphasizes, feeling like he's trying to present a convincing legal argument to a judge with all the size and breadth of (and possibly, the powers of) some ancient Greek god, "I think you have a, uh, tenuous grasp of what friendship entails, buddy. My friends don't call me cute."

As an afterthought, under his breath, he adds, "Nobody calls me cute." It comes out more bitter than he expects.


> The boots come off, one after another. The shin guards, too. Politely, Benrey scoops up all the miscellaneous pieces piled in his palm between his free fingers and puts them to rest next to the pool of... well, "water." Liquid. Something, though he's hard pressed to tell you exactly what it is. "The Bath."

> He listens as he does so, to Gordon squawking and muttering and saying, well, things. Things that he's not really listening to as he brings his hands back up to Gordon and tries to figure out where the zipper to the bodysuit is. Technically, he knows where it is, but his fingers are huge and the zippy-uppy part is so small, and he's prodding and poking with gentle strokes along Gordon's chest and belly where he saw the seam once-upon-a-time. He feels his nail click against the metal and it's... uh, well, it's aggravating.

> And Benrey isn't used to this kind of aggravation. Fuck's sake, he just wants to see some dic... ah. He just wants to help his best friend get a nice bath and feel better. Because he is a good guy who does good things like kill gun bugs for tiny dudes who can't shoot straight and not drive off with vehicles when Gordon leaves him alone. He's a good guy who doesn't want to be bad and--

> "Uh," he drawls, his mouth moving before he can really catch himself, "fuckin'... maybe people would call you cute if you, uh, weren't such a, uh, mean. So mean about it. Mean to me, just trying to say nices. To my best friend. Being such a good and a cool."

> His voice dies as he misses the zipper again. Fuck. When he speaks again, it darkens.

> "Please unzip suit? Please? Thank-you."


Soon enough Benrey's got him down to that reinforced bodysuit, the last piece of armor sliding off his hand with little resistance. Usually, this is where this process stops: Benrey gets him out of the armor, and Gordon fucks off and does whatever it is he needs to do. Change. Wash up. Sleep. The part where Benrey starts tugging at the fabric in search of the zipper? That's new. And it catches Gordon so unawares that he can't even speak.

That fingertip strokes him, almost, warm even through the black fabric, and a harsh breath whistles through Gordon's nose. It feels him up from his chest to his belly, a warm and insistent pressure. All the words in Gordon's brain get trapped in a mental sieve. In their place is a single, repeating thought:

Oh, God.

Benrey keeps trying, again and again, fingernails scraping uselessly against Gordon's belly. And his eyebrows furrow harder with the effort, frustration evident in his frown. And his fingers. Their grasping grows rough and imprecise and Gordon's trying so hard to bite his lip because there's an ugly noise threatening to punch his way out of him and Benrey's saying something to him that he can barely focus on and then finally, finally, he's giving up and pulling away. Christ.

It takes a moment for his mental fog to clear and for Benrey's words to sink in. Unzip? Himself? Oh, no. Somehow that's worse.

"Can you, like... give me some privacy, maybe?" Gordon complains.

He immediately feels stupid afterward. It trickles down from his scalp like something cold and slimy. So he clears his throat, and admits, begrudging, "I, uh... I'm not trying to be mean. It's been a long fucking day, okay? You're... uh... Well. Thanks. I guess. For trying to be nice."

There's a beat before the silence gets to be too uncomfortable, and Gordon hurriedly follows it up by saying, "Don't take this the wrong way. I think you could still use a few pointers on being 'nice' to 'humans', you know."


> "Wha?"

> In a second, the irritation is gone. Benrey's expression turns flat. He leans in close to Gordon and inhales deeply (yup, still smells like Gordon) and exhales just as hard.

> "I'm nice," he defends, eyes flicking down the pile of HEV parts on the island. "Fuckin', ah, Mother Tuh-ree-sah. You're the one who is bein'--"

> A pause. Nice. He was being nice, and he wasn't going to pick at Gordon. He wasn't going to point out that he was the one being snippy, while he was out here undressing him, and carrying him around, and getting ready to give him a bath, and maybe touch his--

> Wait.

> "Privacy?"

> The word tastes bad, real bad. The kind of bad that makes Benrey want to scrape his tongue off on his teeth. That isn't how they'd played these games before. Is this even still a game, though? Did "nice" contradict "games" too much? He isn't sure and he doesn't even give himself a chance to think about it as he nudges Gordon encouragingly with a finger and the words just start rolling out of his mouth.

> "No? No place to private at, bro. Maybe gonna have to just, ah, suck it up, friend. Besides--"

> Benrey leans forward on the island on his elbow, chin resting in his hand. As his body tilts, Gordon raises higher up due to his shifting of positions.

> "Can't, ah, can't not look. Dinosaurs and, uh, zombies out here. Ghosts. Gotta keep my eye on you. Safe-tee."


Safety. Right. As much as Gordon doesn't want to admit it, Benrey has a point. He's... vulnerable like this. And it would be just his luck that he gets beset by a peeper puppy with his dick hanging out. More to the point, he knows that it's stupid to develop a sense of modesty all of a sudden when Benrey's seen his dick before. It's just, you know, the size. The scrutiny.

Heat lodges itself in Gordon's face and makes a home there as Benrey brings him all the closer. As if to see him better. "Dinosaurs and zombies," he snorts. He can't believe that's the justification Benrey's giving him. And he can't believe he's buying it.

"Just... fucking, okay. Don't stare, at least," Gordon tells him, as if it will help.

The zipper's nestled in the seam at his neck, right in the center. Gordon fishes it out with shaky fingers. And then, slowly, he drags it down his front.

As he does, his flesh starts to spill from the suit in a creamy sliver. He's paler underneath, skin shielded from the sun for so long that his characteristic tan has all but faded. Consequences of running around in a HEV suit in the middle of Bulgaria. The rattle of the zipper rings in Gordon's ears, louder than life. First his chest, then his stomach, prickling with goosebumps in turn as they're revealed.

Finally, he pulls it down to its endpoint, just under his navel. Gordon's face burns with embarrassment.


> That... was easier than Benrey anticipated. Usually there's more resistance or, you know, playing involved whenever he asked Gordon to do something like that. Usually he had something a little more snide to say. Something in the air has changed, though, and he dimly wonders if maybe all of that advice he'd taken from the Resistors (Resistance? Transistors? Alyx, basically) has actually paid off.

> Learning how to human does, in fact, make interacting with Gordon easier.

> His pupils widen as he stares, mouth slightly agape, as more and more of Gordon's skin is revealed to him, a pretty porcelain color that looks incredibly soft and as delicate as a china doll. Usually he's darker, tanner; Benrey didn't know humans could change colors like that, but it's an interesting development and one that requires further investigation.

> So he leans closer, head tilted, watching the zipper come undone. Curiosity grips him as he gingerly reaches up and hooks his nails into the open edges of the suit and tugs, enough to jostle Gordon and peel away the wrapper but not enough to actually knock Gordon off his feet. As he does so, he ignores the sounds of protests, mouth opening wider and lifting in a sharkish grin.

> He's so pale now, but he's just as soft as Benrey remembers. Just as warm. Hair's still in all the right places, muscles in his arms growing visible as Benrey tugs the sleeves down, then the rest, leaving the top half of the bodysuit dangling from around his still-covered waist.

> He waits a moment, drinking in the sight. He could almost see his--

> No. No. No dick thinking, not now. No. He wasn't going to say anything because he was seriously just trying to be nice. And make Gordon shut up. And...

> And...

> "Cute."

> The word comes out while his brain is still arguing with himself. For a moment, he considers apologizing, or trying to pretend he never said it, but ultimately decides to stand by what he said.

> His eyes lift to rest on Gordon's face as he silently doubles down, waiting for a reply.


"Hey, careful," Gordon yelps, caught off-guard by fingers at the edges of his open suit. "You don't have to fucking-- Benrey, I can do this myself!" But there's no fighting him off before Benrey's tugging it down his shoulders, baring him from the waist up.

Impatient. That's the word that comes to mind. Benrey's itching to get him out of this thing, Gordon realizes. If it wasn't already obvious by that insistent scrape of nails against his jumpsuit, or the way Benrey's looking at him now, eyes wide and mouth parted. That heat in Gordon's cheeks crawls down to his chest. He's staring at Gordon like he's hungry, and all the pasty skin being revealed to him may as well be a juicy T-bone steak. Being half-naked ought to be making him pretty chilly in a place like this, but for some reason, it feels way too fucking hot right now.

Thankfully, Benrey stops there, which gives him a moment to get his bearings. On the other hand, Benrey's calling him fucking cute again, and Gordon was having a bad enough time handling that earlier. Now? Jesus, the guy's barely paying attention to him. Mumbling it like it's an afterthought. He doesn't know what it means.

"I-- I'm not fucking cute, dude, we already established this," he insists, doing his level best not to meet Benrey's stare. Gordon folds his arms, irritable and flushed a bright red. "I'm too mean or whatever. I got the picture. You don't have to keep fucking with me."


> Oh, he's changing colors again. Red now, from the tips of his ears down to his chest, and Benrey snorts a laugh. Of course humans can change colors. He'd seen him do this before. A few times actually.

> But he's just turning red, and being snippy, and he's not making a move to take off the rest of the suit. Benrey's eyes flick from Gordon to the water and, with a low chuckle, he decides to take the cue. Which... was a cue, right? He's pretty sure it's a cue, but humans were weird to begin with and Gordon was odder than most.

> Has to be a cue, he decides after a moment of silence wherein Gordon doesn't budge. He grabs the draping top of the suit and gently peels it downwards towards Gordon's feet, watching it pull away from sweaty, dirty skin. Watching it expose dark curls of hair just below his stomach, and watching Gordon's dick spill out into the open air. Benrey's teeth dig into his lips as he watches, even as his hands move clumsily to strip the rest of the rubbery material off of his legs.

> He's touched that before. Wants to touch it again, wants to say something about it. But he can't because apparently it was bad form to say shit about your best bro's average-but-good meat when he wasn't specifically asking, or at least that's what his stupid, skinny doppelganger had said and--

> God. Wait. No. He shakes his head. Best to focus on anything else.

> What else had the Resist-y Squad said? To listen? Humans liked listening? Even when they were being bitchy little drama-snots?

> Then he should... listen, right? But... what had Gordon said? He wasn't actually paying attention. He furrows his brow and his stare intensifies as he tries to piece together enough of the words he did hear to paint a picture. It takes a moment, but soon, it clicks.

> Oh. Yeah. Not cute. Blah, blah. Something, something "mean."

> Benrey's mouth snaps shut as he struggles to tear his eyes away from Gordon's cock, instead keeping a trained eye on his face. His mind is a machine running on fumes with rattling parts, but he struggles through the distraction. He's going to be reassuring. He's a good friend.

> "Uh... yeah? Mean? Cute? You can be both. Bratty little, ah, Gordon Meanman with his nice... cute. Cute little hog."

> The words come out before he can stop them.

> Goddammit.


Oh, God, okay, so none of what he said got through, clearly. He squawks out as much. Gordon's mind spins into overdrive as Benrey manifestly does not let him take care of it himself, instead peeling the jumpsuit clean off his hips and legs and exposing him from top to bottom. His heart thunders in his chest, and he presses his legs tightly together in a futile attempt at modesty.

"My-- my cute little-- Jesus Christ, Benrey, you can not say shit like like that!" Gordon snaps. He jams his hands between his legs to cover himself, humiliation boiling over.

Fucking Benrey. Always saying the worst possible shit, the most embarrassing shit. Gordon thinks this as furiously as he can, because if he acknowledges that there's anything other than purestrain embarrassment and indignation at play, he's gonna snap like a twig. That's all it is. He's a normal guy, and normal guys don't feel their dicks twitch when their best friend calls their dick cute. And... little. That's worse. Much worse.

The thing that Gordon's still failing to understand is why Benrey's still calling him cute. Yeah, it gets his goat, but it's not like Benrey was in the habit of pulling this shit before. And... And Gordon doesn't know why it's getting to him so much, either.

The first time seemed like a prank. A bad joke. The second time, an accident. And the third - fourth - fifth? The times after that, he's not sure anymore. But each time it gets his skin burning hotter and his heart skipping a beat and Gordon's still pissed off but he's not sure exactly why. (Well, in the general sense. This time, it's because Benrey's straight up insulting his dick, thank you.)

"Why did I even agree to this," he moans, head hanging between his shoulders. "Everything's always gotta be a big fucking ordeal for Gordon. You know what, just put me down if you're gonna-- gonna make fun of my meat or whatever! I'll get myself a bath and then we can go and forget this ever happened."


> There is something about the way Gordon fusses at him that makes Benrey's heart skip a beat, though it also awakens something in the back of his mind that he's been consciously trying to tamp down. The urge to pick at him grows as large as his smile as he hooks two fingers under Gordon's arms and lifts him up and out of his palm like a claw in a skill crane. Words dance on the tip of his tongue, ones better fit for a schoolyard bully, and he rumbles a dark laugh as he contemplates what to say.

> It seems the crack about his hog got him all worked up in a delicious sort of way, judging from the way he's still bright crimson and his dick seems appreciative of Benrey's attention. He could double down on that. Then again, he was supposed to be nice in this situation, wasn't he? He'd been doing so good up until this point, and he could imagine the Resist-y People would be proud if they could see him now.

> But the reaction. It's... it's good. Seeing Gordon's dick twitch, seeing him bright as a tomato, seeing him sweating and nervously dodging his gaze. All were signs that he was interested, that he may just be thinking the same things Benrey has been trying not to think and... fuck, them's good thoughts. Great thoughts.

> Maybe there's a line to walk between. Play the game and still be "nice." Benrey wets his lips and huffs a sweet-scented laugh into Gordon's face, before gently lowering him into the water. The surface of the pool practically sparks as Gordon's bare feet make contact, and a shimmering azure mist billows into the air.

> "Nuh-uh. Nope," Benrey replies with a pop of the p. "You're, uh, tired. Gonna, y'know, get you sparkly. Clean. Squeaky. Pretty. Make you feel so good you'll, uh, wanna buy BFF necklaces after."

> Once Gordon is nestled in the pool, he leans down close and presses down on his shoulders to urge him into a seated position.

> "'Sides, ah. Not making fun. S'nice. Cute. Fun size."

> Emphasis on "fun," Benrey thinks, and his smile widens.


A tingle effervesces across Gordon's skin as Benrey slowly lowers him into the water, something like carbonation but not quite. For one, bubbles aren't nucleating on him so much as drifting toward the surface, sluggish and small. But the effect is as curiously refreshing as a cold glass of Pepsi.

In contrast, the water itself is warm and clear, and the humidity fogs up his glasses in short order. Makes it hard to see Benrey before he's firmly suggesting that Gordon sit down. With his hand. He's not expecting it, and he sinks to his knees with a splash and a quiet "whoa, shit".

Gordon rights himself, sitting back against the edge of the pool. And he opens his mouth to say-- well, something, you know, there was a lot to unpack in whatever the fuck Benrey just said to him, but he barely gets it out before Benrey's talking over him.

Cute. Fun size.

"Stop, okay, just stop talking about my meat! Can we please move on? Any other topic?" He crosses his arms in front of his face.

This is, it's too fucking much, okay, there's-- it's just-- the word was already starting to crawl under his skin, and he's just an average American male! You're not supposed to say this shit to another dude! And you're not supposed to, fucking, swallow and shudder when you hear that shit, either. Not supposed to like being talked down to like that. By... by such a big guy. Who probably does think he's a fun size right now. Probably wants to...

Gordon splashes his face with water. Then he takes off his glasses after the fact, feeling like an idiot. See, this is why he's got to get Benrey to knock it off. Too much. Gets him lost in his own head. Gets his blood pumping. And the last thing he wants is to embarrass himself by looking a gift horse in the mouth, getting a boner when Benrey's just trying to do him a solid.

Well. At least that's what he's saying he's doing. The jury's still out on that one. But either way, the most likely outcome is that Benrey never lets him live it down, and Gordon doesn't know if he can handle the psychological devastation right now. So.

"Here, look, I'll even... okay, so, what is this stuff, anyway? It feels like I'm taking a bath in a... a hot energy drink. But like, in a good way?" He cups some in his hand and lets it spill through his fingers. "Last time I jumped in this stuff, I think it fixed a bone. Is that normal? Weirdest fucking thing I ever felt, man."


> "I 'unno," Benrey answers honestly. Because, well, he doesn't know what this stuff is. Even if he knows a lot about Xen (and would be hard-pressed to tell you exactly how he knows these things), it's not like he knew much more than "this thing will eat you" and "this thing won't." All he knows is that these pools feel good and smell good and do things that are good, and could more than likely get Gordon clean. Make him have a more agreeable scent than the already agreeable people-odor he's already wearing.

> The Gordon smell. It's... a nice smell.

> "It's water. Uh. Bubbles." Benrey dips his fingertips in the pool to wet them and feels the curious, sparkling sensation around his skin; it's warm and cold and fizzy and, honestly? Yeah, kind of refreshing. Like caffeinated Pop Rocks or something. He dimly wonders what it tastes like, but ultimately decides not to drink the bath water.

> "Doesn't matter. You're thinking a lot. About wrong things. Need to focus on, uh, getting you ready. For the ball. Gordo-rella." He pauses, scowling. That was bad even for him. Quickly, he recovers, as if it never happened. "So, quiet? Please? Relax?"

> With that, Benrey extends one wet finger and presses against Gordon's chest, as carefully as he can, working in the glittering water and scrubbing gingerly at his chest hair. He works his muscles with a care he didn't know he possessed, and then maneuvers to his shoulders. He feels Gordon's muscles loosening underneath his touch and it makes him feel... accomplished.

> But his eyes keep straying down, down into the water where Gordon's dick should be, obscured by bubbles and blue. And he exhales, fighting the urge to press a button, to raise him up and see if it's still twitching in anticipation, wondering if he'll see it break the surface and greet him.

> Benrey's eyes screw shut and his fingers still as he takes a moment to force himself to be, as Gordon would say, "normal." It is a foreign feeling.

> He is not a fan.


"G-Gordo-rella?" Gordon bursts out laughing despite himself. "That's so bad, I know you can do better than that!" And the funny thing is, he does know. Benrey's got jokes. He's... good at making Gordon laugh. Even when he's clearly phoning it in.

The laughter sets him at ease for the first time since they'd set out the day before. And when Benrey reaches out to start scrubbing, Gordon flinches, but does as Benrey suggests and eventually relaxes into it.

Benrey's strangely quiet as he does it. Doesn't make any dumb quips. Doesn't start talking about video games or whatever. So Gordon doesn't feel inclined to break the silence, either. The meaner part of him insists that it's just because he doesn't want to set Benrey off on some dipshit tangent, but the truth is, it's kind of nice. The quiet. Even if it's bordering on surreal. All he can hear is the quiet sound of Benrey washing his skin, dipping his fingers into the water. His breathing, measured but heavy. And the sound of his own heartbeat pounding in his chest.

The bath itself isn't half-bad, either. He didn't expect Benrey to be this... careful. Not a word Gordon really associates with the guy. But Benrey's fingers work his muscles in tight circles, slow and firm, washing off however many days of sweat and dirt and blood, and Gordon's finds himself melting a little. Letting his eyes drift shut.

He groans when Benrey works his thumb into his back just right, dislodging a knot in the muscle he wasn't even aware of until it was gone. "Oh my God, how did you do that," Gordon breathes.


> Oh. Oh.

> That noise was a... nice one. A pleasant one. One that makes Benrey hesitate for a second and lose his smile before quickly regaining it and pretending he'd never misplaced it in the first place. And he figures Gordon likely didn't notice--his human can't see without the glasses--so he says nothing as he dips his fingers yet again and massages into Gordon's shoulders, exploring every inch and feeling how bizarre every groove and curve is underneath the pad of his finger.

> It's odd, but not a bad odd. The kind of odd that requires further investigation because, while he's had his hands on Gordon before, this feels different. Better, even, in some ways. Motivated by equal parts curiosity and mounting desire, he continues to glide across Gordon's skin and work his muscles and feel them loosen and pause to take in the rapid thudding of Gordon's tiny, tiny pulse against his skin.

> Benrey swallows the Sweet Voice pooling in the back of his mouth. He gags. He coughs into his shoulder. His voice breaks a bit as his normally flat demeanor begins to falter amid a mob of intrusive thoughts that march right into his brain like little soldiers.

> "Can do it 'cause 'm not human. Got magic fingers. Call now. For $19.99, we'll throw in a second one free," Benrey recites, but his eyes are still looking for a hint of cock. But not just that--

> "Limited time offer. Supplies going fast. Better, uh, pick up that phone."

> -- his chest, bits of leg sticking out of the water, that pretty neck, that long hair--

> "Call in, uh, next fifteen minutes and I'll... uh..."

> --that stomach, slightly soft around the middle, and arms that were too strong for somebody of his persuasion--

> "Uh."

> -- every inch that HEV suit wouldn't let him see. Gordon would look so much better in something more... breezy. Clingy. Revealing.

> "Fuck," he says breathily. Something roils inside him, and a lot of it is unfortunately roiling below the belt. So much for subtlety. So much for "nice."


Benrey keeps scrubbing, keeps rubbing his sore muscles between thumbs and index fingers, and it takes a conscious effort for Gordon not to doze off. Even the prickling of fizzy bubbles against his skin fights an upward battle to keep him awake. It's just, he's been on the go for way too long, now, and days of tension are leaching out of him, and Benrey's, like, weirdly good at this. For once, Gordon doesn't have to be thinking about parallel universes and the end of the fucking world or whatever. Somebody else can do the thinking for him.

And then he starts rambling about magic fingers like he's hosting some kind of infomercial and Gordon's laugh comes easier and harder than it has any right to. But Benrey's trailing off now, distracted. Swearing under his breath. Gordon blinks open his eyes and glances up at him.

Despite his lack of glasses, Benrey's big enough (and close enough) that Gordon can make out most of his expression, even if it's fuzzy and indistinct. His mouth hangs open a little, and his brows are knotted up under the cast shadow of his helmet. Like he's thinking about something.

"Free shipping?" Gordon finishes his joke for him. Benrey must have lost his train of thought again. Gordon's mostly used to it... mostly.

He shrugs and rolls his shoulders from side to side, grunting and making small, quiet noises as he stretches. Man, that feels good. There must be something in the water, even if Benrey was, as usual, unhelpful as to what.

Finally, Gordon decides to tug out the band from his hair, spilling it loose over his shoulders. He snaps it around his wrist for safekeeping, then runs his hands through his hair to shake it out.

"Uh. While we're at it. Think you could get my hair later? Like, I don't know where you got the soap from, but I'm assuming you can just, like, magic up some conditioner or something, too."


> Benrey doesn't know how to tell Gordon he didn't actually have soaps. He said so, but he... he didn't. If not for Gordon pointing out that he could "magic" some up, he might have been really stuck, but with a quick shake of his head to bring himself back to his senses, his face lights up once more with a teasing smile and his tone eases back into his typical taunting monotone.

> "Uh. Yeahs. Soaps and, uh, condo-stuff. Got'cha."

> There is a flash of green as he lifts his hand above him (in a dramatic way that he hopes is as cool and impressive as it looks in his head), and feels something slimy manifest in his hands. Slimy and, well, scented like a Glade plug-in. Like flowers and "summer breezes" and things that are a lot more Earth-y than the Sweet Voice. It's a nice color, too, but one that doesn't match how he feels it should look, because it smells more like blue than it does white and...

> ... You know what? It doesn't matter.

> Benrey dips a fingertip in the soap like a child about to paint and, tongue poking out between his teeth once more, sets to work giving Gordon a once-over yet again. He hopes that maybe Gordon won't notice or point out the fact he hadn't even used soap in the first place, as distracted as he was, and just accept the fact that Benrey is once more rubbing his shoulders, his chest, his arms, his legs. Lifting up limbs and maneuvering them to get into hard-to-reach places. Pushing a little firmer than before to feel for that fluttering pulse.

> God, his own heart is beginning to match it beat for beat.

> "Yeah," Benrey mutters at long last as his tongue darts back into his mouth, "I can. Do that. Get your hair."

> His hair. His hair is so pretty when it's down, already having grown out after he cut it in the Bad Ending World. Silky and nice with bits of gray that make him look like he's as smart as he thinks he is--

> No, no. Nice. Nice. He is grappling with the idea of being nice!

> "Get your hair with, uh, real shit. Good shampoo. Actual soaps and stuff that ain't, uh, the stuff. Your stuff. Head and Shoulders. Make you look real good, real nice. Nice for m--uh."

> He pauses. He snaps his mouth shut. He pauses over Gordon's body and thinks for a moment. He wants to say it, he wants to tease and pick and make Gordon flush bright red and play their stupid goddamn game, but now isn't the time. He doesn't think so, at least? Maybe it is?

> Does Gordon think it is? He hopes so, but he doesn't know how to tell. And, apparently, humans didn't like it when their alien best friends played games they didn't want to play.

> "... Mandatory hair inspection," he recovers. "Black Mesa, uh, protocol. Already fucked up the passport. Don't... don't fuck up hair day."


Blood doesn't so much rush to Gordon's face as it crawls, moving as sluggishly as his mind does, processing this. He knows what Benrey was gonna say before he snapped his mouth shut like a mousetrap. Gordon swore he could even hear the teeth click.

Maybe he didn't actually say it, but Gordon's entire system reacts as though he has, because, fucking, he did! For all intents and purposes! A bright, prickling heat surges down his spine that has nothing to do with the water. Why does he talk like that?! Fucking cooing at him, like Benrey's taking some kind of sick pleasure in teasing him in the most embarrassing way possible... but that's about what Gordon expects at this point.

So why did he stop himself?

When Benrey marshals his voice into something more flat and toneless, Gordon frowns. He's... he's really trying, isn't he. Trying to do something decent without turning it into one of their fucked up little games. Some of the mental furniture rearranges itself in Gordon's head, pictures straightened and doorways unjammed.

Unfortunately, all the dusting and clearing in the world can't change the fact that the foundation in his head is wired to make him a paranoid little fucker. And Benrey's always playing some kind of 4th-dimensional chess with him, anyway, right? He's just being rational. Wary.

That said... he's already here. He might as well relax and deal with the consequences later. Especially when... oh.

Benrey's washing him in earnest, fingers pressing into him and manipulating him. They're all over him, probing him without direction, and now Gordon's not sure if "relaxed" is the best descriptor for himself. There's just, there's a lot of touching happening, and Benrey's hands are so, so big, and Gordon can just make out the tip of Benrey's tongue poking through his teeth and something about that intense focus - on him - makes Gordon's breathing go shallow.

Christ. He can't-- He shouldn't think about this. This is the kind of sick shit that only happens in his head, not in real life. Gordon's just a normal guy with something very wrong with him, and that "something" makes him more prone than most to awful little fantasies, intrusive thoughts.

That's all this is. There's gotta be something wrong with him to want somebody ten times his size to touch him like this, but in, like, a horny way. Like some kind of freakjob doing gross shit with an action figure. Maybe it doesn't make him a bad person. So long as he keeps it to himself. He'll keep all his weird little fantasies right next to his heart, and then he'll die. That's that.

It's almost over, Gordon tells himself furiously, willing his blood to stop rushing to his dick and his stomach to stop coiling with heat. If he can just focus, he can will his boner down before he has to get out of the pool and then Benrey will be none the wiser.

"Okay, first of all, I didn't fuck up the passport," Gordon blusters, in an attempt to power through it. "I never needed one before! If anything, I think you fucked up, man. Never told me about Black Mesa Picture Day or whatever."


> Benrey's fingers do not pause as Gordon fusses at him, but his eyes can't stay focused on his own work. He's too busy watching Gordon's throat bob as he swallows around a lump, or how his blush is darkening and spreading. He's gauging the look in his eyes, looking for any indication that he can go ahead and make it weird, but--even though he's sweating and nervous and fidgety and acting just like he does when they're playing--Benrey is too nervous to make a move.

> And "nervous" wasn't a part of his vocabulary until that Alyx lady and Gordon's own downhill slide made it obvious that he actually had to think human to interact with humans. His human specifically.

> So, even though he sees the signs, he decides to bite his tongue. It is foreign, it is uncomfortable, and it's almost painful to choke down. To redirect his alien brain into more terrestrial channels. To try to figure out what a human person would do in his situation and, barring that, just continuing to do what he was supposed to be doing in the first place.

> Bathing Gordon.

> "Shouldn't have to tell you. S'in the, ah, employee handbook. Welcome packet. Folder. Right next to Warhammer 401k and, uh, ensure-ants."

> He cups a small amount of water in his palm and trickles it over Gordon's body, watching it drain down his form in sparkling rivulets. They trace his contours, weaving into every nook and cranny and crease that Benrey couldn't reach, and he watches them with an intensity that even he can feel. A warmth in his gut, a twitch of his dick. His tongue laps at his lips like a hungry animal; he wants to lick every droplet off of Gordon and explore ever inch of him as thoroughly as the bathwater.

> But... no. No, no. He's normal. He's normal and human and he's being nice, and Gordon hasn't said anything so he's going to close his eyes, huff angrily, and then continue on his merry way.

> "Everyone knows about, uh, Hair Inspection Day. And Passport Inspection. You, ah, you're just... uh."

> Benrey breathes heavily out of his nose as his eyes lock on Gordon yet again. Staring up at him, red-faced. Hair now adhered to his skin from the water. Chest heaving. He reaches out in spite of himself and presses a fingertip to Gordon's torso once more, feeling that rapid pulse and feeling it rise and fall with each breath. Knowing he could make Gordon's heart race faster and really put his lungs to work.

> He wants to feel him pant, wants to hear each heavy breath accompanied with his name and...

> No. God, it's getting so fucking hard to resist the game, but Benrey is good! Good for his best friend! He's learned and he's going to stay good. He's just being nice. He can be nice without being--

> "Missed a spot," Benrey lies as he pulls his finger away. He pretends to rinse Gordon off once more and sputters a cough. "Now, let's get those, ah, locks. Clean and brushed. Shiny. Barbie Girl, Barbie World, am I right?"


Gordon ducks his head instinctively as Benrey douses him with water, shielding his face. There's a huff from above him, and then another, breath hot and heavy on Gordon's neck. The closest comparable experience is... it's like being trapped under some kind of big fucking animal. A bear, maybe, snorting at the nape of his neck before it decides to eat him. Violently.

Cool. He loves thoughts like that. A pleasant reminder that they don't exactly carry fucking risperidone in the aftermath of a fascist takeover.

He shakes his head again to rid himself of it, then looks at Benrey in surprise when he presses a fingertip to his chest. It just rests there, warm and steady. Not pulling or pinching or shoving or any of the things Gordon expects. Gears whir to life in his head. Benrey's being-- he's being kind of fucking weird, but not in the ways Gordon's grown accustomed to, and when he's spent the entirety of their working relationship trying to get his sea legs, it throws him off just as badly when the boat stops rocking.

"I don't know how to tell you this, but it's not just Barbies who have to wash their hair," Gordon snorts at him. "You got me all worried now, man, I don't even know if you know the basics. It's shampoo, then conditioner, okay?"

After a moment, he slicks his hair back out of his face, too. For good measure. "And try not to get it in my eyes, either... Actually, uh, I'm kind of having second thoughts about this. Maybe you should just let me handle it. No offense."


> "Know what I'm doin'. I got hair. Nice hair. Better than... uh, Mr. 2-in-1," Benrey protests, masking the sudden wave of panic that just roiled up inside of him. Just the idea of not touching Gordon is too much, and he inwardly crinkles at the thought of missing his chance to feel his human again. And again. And again. Petting and scrubbing and massaging and imagining what it would be like to get Gordon close enough to his face that he could taste him.

> But... he can't do that. He's not allowed. This isn't The Game. This is A Nice Favor for His Person and, well, he's got to be normal. And chill. And calm. And this is all really too fucking hard.

> However, as long as he plays by the rules, he still gets a chance to touch Gordon, and he supposes that is a small victory. It's what spurs him on to press his thighs together and shift his weight to hide his burgeoning boner behind the Xenian island so that Gordon can't be alarmed or scandalized or angry or accusatory. It's what prompts him to summon from the ether, yet again, a new supply of nice-smelling soaps and an equally pleasant conditioner that still don't match the color his brain tells him they should be.

> And, with fangs pressed into his bottom lip, he dips his finger into the shampoo freshly spawned in his palm and swirls it gently, watching as Gordon regards him with a mixture of curiosity and what he hopes isn't disdain. He's been working so hard to try to not make the guy angry, and he's struggling not to slip.

> Slowly, he drips a dollop of soap onto Gordon's head--towards the back, since he is honestly trying to obey the request not to blind him--followed by a few drops of glittering, warm water. He monitors the way Gordon's expression changes as he presses against his head as gently as he can and begins to work it into a lather.

> It's... nice. It's not the usual rough stuff and bullying he's used to, but there is something undeniably pleasant about watching Gordon melt into his touch as he works, careful and light, his body rocking with the movements in a way that makes Benrey feel both strangely aroused and, well... warm. As warm as the pool of water, all on the inside like a badly heated burrito. It's new, and uncomfortable, but not unwelcome, and he savors it by trying to make the moment stretch.

> From the scalp and downwards, until his finger is stroking the side of Gordon's cheek and reaching under his chin as if trying to tilt his head up for a kiss he was way too big to give. Like a true romantic that he knew, in his gut, he wasn't actually anywhere close to being. But it felt right, and the dazed and pleasant look in Gordon's eyes shatter the alien armor around his heart in one powerful blow.

> Benrey swallows hard and says nothing. He just scrubs and stares. And scrubs. And stares.

> Slow, precise, delicate circles. Enjoying the moment, and buying time as he tries to untangle this utterly alien knot of feelings that is twisting around in his gut. Feelings he isn't sure he understands or particularly wants, but addictive all the same.


"Oh, that's kinda nice, actually," Gordon mumbles distantly, as Benrey starts to lather up his hair.

It's impressive, honestly, just how delicate Benrey's capable of being when he puts his mind to it. The pressure's firm enough that it feels good against his scalp, but he's not being knocked around or given a headache or anything. It's... pleasant. His eyes drift shut again, now that he's pretty sure Benrey's got the hang of it.

That finger slips lower, lower, stroking the side of Gordon's jaw, and Gordon leans into it. Lets him work soap into the underside of his facial hair. (And that's nice, too. It's the kind of thing he figured Benrey would miss.) And if Benrey rubs a bit slower, tilts his head up just a little so that Gordon has to peer up at him through slowly-blinking eyes, well, he's not going to complain.

Benrey's eyes are so big, so close to his and so intently focused that-- that he's sweating a little, just visible at the edge of Gordon's vision. Gordon's heart beats faster, and a strange tension begins to wind itself tight in him. It's like Benrey's trying to scan him. All that attention focused directly on him gins up butterflies in his stomach.

Gordon's suddenly hit by the awareness that nobody's done anything like this for him in a long, long time. Maybe ever. And here he is, letting his frenemy (best frenemy, whispers an annoying little voice that sounds suspiciously like Benrey) scrub him clean. Take care of him. How in the fuck did he end up here? And, more importantly, why is he so comfortable with this? This is the guy who got his arm cut off, not, fucking, not his live-in girlfriend. That broke up with him a couple years ago, citing the fact that he was "a puffed-up MIT asshole". Whatever. Details.

After a long stretch of silence, Gordon breaks it by saying, "I, uh, I think that's good. Yeah. Lemme just..."

And he pushes Benrey's finger away before ducking his head under the water, hoping Benrey doesn't notice the way his voice cracks.


> It... almost feels like he's being spurned when his finger is pushed away. There's a quaver in Gordon's voice and he isn't sure if it's nerves or rejection. In an instant, a long-dormant part of Benrey's brain flares to life, leaving him mentally bouncing theories as to why his person had sounded so off. It could have been that he was having the same sorts of thoughts Benrey had been having the whole time, or it could have been that he had done something wrong. Getting advice on how to handle Gordon came with the unpredictable side effect of giving him a lot to worry about in terms of "boundaries" and "behaving," which he honestly wasn't comfortable or keen on dealing with.

> These insecurities melt away as he watches Gordon duck under the water, however. It creates a hiccup in the system, a blue screen that necessitates a reboot. There's something distracting about the way his back arches forward, muscles moving, head dipping beneath the surface. On his knees, ass lifting up slightly so he has a touch more leverage. Hair floating to the top, and then clinging tightly to his skin as he emerges with a gasp and throws his head back and slicks it out of his face and...

> ... His face is dripping. Sopping. Water trailing from his mouth and down his beard. Running down his temples, his cheeks. Like sweat. Like... something else.

> "Holy shit," Benrey mutters with the barest hint of voice. He pauses, he tries to think of something to say that would mask the fact he's not being "normal," and he's been playing The Game the whole time, regardless of what he's been telling himself. The hamster is running, the gears are whirring, but Windows is still updating and he's at a loss for anything better to say.

> So he doubles down. His voice grows louder.

> "Holy shit."


Gordon winches his eyes shut as he wipes water from them, slinging his hair back out of his face for good measure. God, he can feel how much less greasy it is now, and it's like taking off an itchy sweater for the first time. Makes him breathe a sigh of relief.

"Thanks, man, that's honestly really... uh..."

He slows to a stop, thrown off by Benrey muttering something. Almost inaudible. It gets him to crane his neck to look up at Benrey properly, about to ask, before Benrey says it again. Louder. Okay, yeah, he did catch that right the first time, huh.

Even though he's out of focus, Gordon can still see how wide his eyes are. How slack his face is. He doesn't need the finer details to notice Benrey's hand hovering in midair, like he's been interrupted in the middle of a thought. Staring at him like... like...

Heat crashes over Gordon in a violent wave, from the crown of his head to the pit of his belly. He's not even-- he's not even doing anything. He's sopping wet, and he can't fucking stand the way his hair looks when it's laying flat and slick against his head like this, and he can't exactly hide all the unseemly scars and and stretch marks and soft spots and all the other issues he's poked at in the mirror time and time again. (He had a growth spurt as a teenager, okay, and stretching him out an extra foot and a half so quickly didn't give his skin a lot of time to adapt.)

In short, he feels more naked and exposed now, half-covered by the foamy surface of this shallow pool, than he did when Benrey had him in his palm with his entire dick out. And it makes Gordon fucking throb under the surface of the water.

He's gotta be making fun of me, Gordon desperately tells himself. Defense mechanism. It's not working as well as it usually does, and he subconsciously presses his thighs tighter together.

His tongue darts out to wet his lips, suddenly dry despite the water carding down his face.

"What," starts Gordon. But he doesn't know where to take that question, and it dies as quick as it came.


> Game over. It's done. Benrey's used his final life and lost it in a valiant attempt to beat the final boss, but now he's gawking down at Gordon who is gawking right back up at him with a tell-tale look on his face that makes Benrey almost positive that he's playing just as hard. His own breath quickens as once complicated thoughts congeal into something more comfortable, something more streamlined, something more natural.

> Something that Alyx would have been disappointed to hear, especially after how good he had been doing.

> He inhales sharply through his nose and leans in close, the air coming back out at a low laugh as his mouth twists into a hungry grin. A finger extends and he presses it against the side of Gordon's face, an almost loving stroke. He can feel a burst of heat in his cheeks and he knows, glasses or not, that Gordon can probably see how red he's getting. He shifts his legs as he floats beside the island, trying to accommodate a cock that is now frighteningly hard and twitching against his stomach.

> "What 'what?'" Benrey asks, his voice monotonous but still somehow teasing. "Can't a bro, uh, admire his bro? Have a look-see? Look nice. Pretty."

> His finger drops to the water and stirs it a bit, creating a roil of bubbles that send a pleasant, tingling sensation up his hand, his arm. It seems to travel straight to his heart, which is pounding furiously in his chest.

> "You, uh... you good? Need anymore help? Getting clean? Hard to reach places?"

> A pause. He feels his stomach twist into knots. This has never really happened before while playing this game, but it's powerful. Makes him feel desperate. Needy. Makes him feel guilty and he hates it because he never feels guilty.

> As quickly as the mask breaks, he picks up the pieces and puts them back together. He slides it back on. He takes a deep breath, fumbling with his words.

> "Want to, uh... pla... pretty? Want to pretty? Want best friend Benrey to make you, uh, cleaner? Prettier? Help you? Please? Thank-you."


Two paths emerge before Gordon. On the one, well-worn and well-lit, he would tell Benrey, "No thanks, I'm good," and he would tell Benrey to turn around so he can dry off and crawl back into the jumpsuit. And then he would let Benrey fit him in the armor again, trying his best to ignore those fingers on his skin, and later he would duck away and jerk himself raw thinking about it. Swearing at himself. Wishing he could be normal for once in his fucking life and not develop questionable new fantasies about the one guy who's as out of place in this world as he is.

On the other, bracketed by brambles and dark, uncharted woods, Gordon would... He would...

He'd get it through his head that he's not the only little fucking weirdo in this relationship. That Benrey keeps staring at him like that for a reason.

And that Benrey's trying so fucking hard to play nice because... well... Gordon hasn't wrapped his head around that one yet, but he has his suspicions. Some of them more worrying than others. But the point is, Benrey's not taking the bait. He's got Gordon in a highly vulnerable position, and he could be pushing Gordon around if he wanted, playing their little game and driving him up the wall.

But he isn't. He keeps choking it back. It's unsettling. Gordon doesn't know how to handle it. He kind of wishes, in the back of his mind, that Benrey would tack on his 'schoolyard bully' demeanor again. At least that Gordon understands on some level. Push, pull, tussle.

And most unsettling of all is that downright tender way that Benrey drags a finger along his cheek. Anxiety thrums to life in Gordon's blood. No, no, that's not-- This is weird. This is so weird. There's something roiling and ugly churning in his stomach, and he doesn't like it one bit. He's not coping with it, he needs to-- to wrangle this situation, get some control over it, steer it back to familiar territory.

And in doing so, Gordon floors it directly into the woods.

He looks back at Benrey, taking in the hot flush crawling up his skin. The awkward shifting. I'm not the only freak here, Gordon reminds himself, blood pounding in his ears.

So he shifts himself. Sits back, draws his legs up so that his knees peek out of the water. Lets them fall to the sides, just a little. And he says, tucking a strand of wet hair behind his ear,

"What, and you're not even gonna-- That's some low-hanging fruit you're leaving on the vine. Startin' to get worried about you, man. You haven't gone this long without making fun of me in... uh, ever."


> Wait. Was that...?

> Was that admission?

> Benrey's pupils grow wide at the words, and his smile threatens to falter as he feels the cogs creaking inside of his head. Connecting the dots with all the newfound information he has on human people is like doing the advanced science stuff Gordon seemed to believe he was so special for knowing. There's emotional equations, rechecking the data, counter-arguments for every theory he comes up with, but in the end a little lightbulb flickers to life. The lights are on, somebody is home, and by god does that somebody want to play ball already.

> Benrey's finger stills on Gordon's cheek and he feels an uncharacteristic lump grow in his throat as his face grows redder and sweat beads at his brow. That weird emotion that once wrapped itself around its siblings, Worry and Guilt, finally cut itself loose and tangles itself in his stomach. He doesn't like it--it's too warm, and it's not the horny kind of heat that he's used to--but he allows it to stay. It feels like it may turn into something good if he just lets it incubate.

> "Uh, what? Not gonna... huh?"

> Benrey's voice cracks just like Gordon's had a moment before. He pretends it never happened and seamlessly continues.

> "Not gonna, ah, make fun of you. Gonna... gonna pick that fruit, though."

> His finger trails down Gordon's chin, down his neck, across his shoulders, down his chest. It rests dangerously low on his belly, threatening to dip lower. He grins at Gordon, leans in close, and huffs a laugh that's less malicious than it is honestly amused with its own cleverness.

> "Uh, get it? Fruit? Picked? You're, ah, you're the fruit, bro."

> A pause.

> "Laugh, please."


Gordon swallows, hard. The implications hit him like a bowling ball. That somebody's dropping on him. Maybe from an overpass or something. He's spinning out a little, alright, and losing his grip on the metaphor.

Benrey's fingertip leaves goosebumps in its wake, and his breathing goes shallow as the nail lightly catches on the crook of his neck. Lower, lower, slipping just below the surface of the water to rest on his belly, and Gordon thanks every deity he can imagine (and some he can't) that the bubbles hide... well. This, feeling it throb where it lies heavy against his hip.

Despite himself, he does actually laugh when Benrey prompts it. It comes out high and way louder than he intended, but still. Now that's a metaphor he's got a good grasp on, he thinks wildly. Oh, Christ.

"That's-- that's not really what I meant," Gordon tries to argue, but not with very much conviction. "But, uh, ha ha! Great joke! Fucking love jokes, man!"


> Benrey doesn't really hear what Gordon is saying. He does know that tone, though, from times they've played The Game before. It's a tone that speaks of permission, a sort of polite denial without the force. The kind of arguing that Benrey knows he can get away with ignoring because it's not sincere. Game talk. A challenge.

> Their own secret language of want.

> "Thank-you," Benrey purrs when Gordon forces a laugh, and his finger rubs a slow, slow circle into Gordon's stomach. He's sure Gordon notices when it bumps a bit too low, because he can feel something tell-tale just beneath the surface of the water. His grin grows at the realization that he was on the right track, tongue slipping out from between his teeth and running along his lips. A show, given to Gordon.

> A show he desperately wants Gordon to notice is meant for him. A tech demo. A promise.

> "But, uh... if that ain't what you meant. What did you mean? 'Cause you seem to be enjoyin' this, best friend."


A noise threatens to burst from Gordon's chest when Benrey starts to rub, slow and insistent, and grazes against-- Oh, God. But he clamps his lips tight, and all that escapes him is a harsh puff of air through his nose. He knows now, he knows, and it's written all over his face, a raised eyebrow and a smug smile and the slow, deliberate movement of his tongue over his lower lip.

It's fucking cartoonish, is what it is. Gordon should laugh. Gordon does laugh, again, another nervous little titter that doesn't communicate "amusement" so much as "flustered hysteria".

"I don't know," he blurts out, and it's the most honest thing he's said all day. "Fucking, God, I'm not-- This isn't what it looks like, okay, you just-- you keep looking at me like that, and I don't know what your fucking game is, man!"

He can't look at Benrey, not right now, not when he knows Benrey's looking at him like that, and so he looks down and oh, no, that's a bad idea. Because Benrey's still drawing tight little circles into his skin, unnervingly gentle. And so Gordon's eyes keep darting around, finding nowhere suitable to land.

At least Benrey's taking the bait. He's not doing that weird sappy shit anymore, and Gordon's in more familiar territory: the push and pull. The teasing. So he pulls harder, in hopes that Benrey will knock it off for good.

"If anybody's 'enjoying this', it's you, buddy! I'm just a, uh, innocent bystander, you know?"


> He doesn't sound convincing. There's fractures in his voice, and his words are stumbling like they fell down the stairs. He's looking everywhere but at Benrey, his face red and his eyes nervously darting from thing to thing to thing. But, in the end, they always come back to him, in one way or another.

> It's tells like this that let Benrey know that he's playing. The Game is afoot, he's been given the go-ahead. It's time to take the ball and run.

> "Uh-huh. Sure. Innocent. Lessee what you're hidin', bro."

> And with that, Benrey removes his finger from Gordon's stomach, instead parting his fingers into a V-shape and hooking Gordon underneath his arms. It's like a claw in a skill crane and, with a snort, he lifts Gordon out of the water. Naked, wet, and standing at attention from the looks of it; his human apparently had been playing along a lot longer than Benrey knew. He watches Gordon dangling a few feet from the pool at the end of his hand and smirks.

> But there's something different now, isn't there? Something Benrey sees in his human that makes that weird feeling he's been fighting twirl and twist. He's barely even noticing Gordon's boner more than he's looking at the way his hair is clinging to his face, and the way his eyes are flicking up at him expectantly, and how warm and small and cute he looks. He looks delicate and handsome and he wants to touch him, but he wants to touch all of him, and his heart is thumping so hard he starts to worry because... fuck. Is he dying? Is Gordon killing him just by being cute?

> Benrey swallows hard. He hopes his expression didn't falter. He broadens his grin in case it did, until the muscles in his cheeks honestly hurt. And he inhales deeply and forces a mocking laugh and squeezes his fingers around Gordon gently in an attempt to further mock him.

> "I 'unno, bro. Looks like you're, uh... you're carrying without a permit. That's... uh, an infract... fracta... infection. You're a bad boy, aren't'cha?"


Gordon yelps as those fingers hook under his arms and drag him out of the water. Oh, God, his legs are kicking out from underneath him, and his hands scrabble at Benrey's, and Benrey's just smirking at him all up close and personal and he's fucked, he's really, really fucked. His fucking dick bobs in the air like-- like-- he doesn't know, he doesn't have a simile for this! Gordon's never been in this situation before! But bob it does, until he comes to a stop right in front of Benrey's face.

"It's infraction, dude!" Gordon snaps, his mind jumping to the least important thing Benrey said. "Fucking 'infraction'! And I don't-- I don't know what you expect when you're all, fucking--"

He's cut off by a gasp when Benrey squeezes him, just a little. Makes Gordon keenly aware of those big fingers. He can just... he can do whatever he fucking wants, huh? Pick Gordon up like it's nothing? Wrap those fingers around him, so big and hot and rough against his skin, and move all his limbs around just like he was doing earlier and--


Gordon blinks, coming back to himself. Face hot. Mouth dry. And Benrey's grin looks impossibly wider.

"You know," he finishes weakly.


> "Maybe I do," Benrey responds, jostling Gordon lightly. "Maybe I don't. Maybe you should tell me, bro. When I'm all fuckin' what?"

> He lifts Gordon higher, and closer. Really gets a good look at him, leaning in and running his tongue along his jagged teeth. Like a predator, like something that wants to swallow Gordon whole, though that's the last thing on his mind. He wants to taste Gordon, that's for sure, but there's... there's more to it.

> He wants to reel him in. Follow this weird feeling. Press his lips against Gordon and--

> Benrey inhales sharply through his nose. Gordon smells positively delicious. Like something fruity and sweet and earthly. And he looks delicious, too, all soft and supple and soaked to the bone, smooth skin glistening in the alien lights.

> His dick twitches, straining against his pants. He's so hard it hurts. He wonders if Gordon can see, but can't imagine he can miss it.

> "C'mon," he teases, his voice dropping to a dangerous whisper. "Tell me what I am, bro. Tell best friend Benrey what's on your mind. Bonding experience. Bros being bros."


He wrenches his eyes shut, breath coming harder and faster despite his efforts to control it. When Benrey fucking talks like that, he can't help it, okay? All-- all smug and condescending and all the shit that should get under his skin-- and does, yeah, it drives him up the wall, but. But. There must be something wrong with him, Gordon thinks desperately. Something warped in the fabric of his mind that makes a shiver race down his spine.

Then he feels warm breath puffing against his face, and he opens his eyes again. Just in time to see a broad tongue run across sharp, sharp teeth. A naked suggestion. Gordon's mouth falls open a little and hangs there, stunned speechless.

Until Benrey mutters, c'mooon, voice low and heated in a way that goes straight to Gordon's belly. And his dick twitches in the open air, fully visible this time. Fuck.

"You're," he starts, staring at his own fingertips, where they're digging into Benrey's hand.

God, this is humiliating! And he should, he should tell Benrey to fuck off and put him down, but he doesn't. That same warp in his fabric goes all the way down to his autonomic nervous system. Heart racing, blood pumping, pupils dilating and sweat beading and every other unconscious reaction he can't wrangle into submission.

Because he wants to be wrangled into submission.

Okay, Christ! He gets it! He doesn't need the color commentary from his own fucking brain!

Gordon takes a deep breath to steel himself, and then he starts again, choked and hesitant, "When you're... God, fucking, touching me and breathing on me and shit, man! Like you'd be doing any better if you had somebody's big fucking hands all over you! Okay?"

As soon as the words leave him, a fresh wave of embarrassment crests and crashes over him. Stupid, stupid, he shouldn't have said it.


> Oh. Well. That was new. Usually, there's a bit more arguing, a bit more resistance, a bit more of Benrey getting called things like "weirdo" and "freak" before they have a good "haha" about it and touch dicks. But Gordon is being so earnest and honest and talking about how he's touching him, about big hands, about doing this same thing to Benrey (sort of talking about it, anyway), and...

> ... And Benrey feels... wanted? Was that the word? Wanted?

> Yeah. He feels wanted.

> And that foreign, alien, hot-cold emotion twisting inside of him balloons and explodes, and there is a sudden, pulse-pounding sensation of want and warmth that courses through his body like a poison. He can feel drool pooling under his tongue and he swallows hard, his smile fading into something more earnest as he tries to maintain a mocking, bullying stare. Tries to keep his head in the game.

> Their game.

> "Oh. You, uh. You like it when I breathe on you? Fuckin'... secret alien power. Uh, blow dryer." He pauses and chuckles. "Heh. Blow."

> He inches Gordon closer to his face, and the closer he brings him, the more he can feel the little bit of warmth radiating off of him. Welcoming him. Blazing hot, like he is on the inside, and flushed so red he looked burned. And that warm, weird, unwelcome emotion surges again as he lets out a sigh and sits Gordon in his palm, plopping him down unceremoniously like a captured bug.

> Only he's not watching him with a childlike curiosity. He's really examining him, trying to wiggle the wrench out of the gears in his brain. With some effort, he pops it loose, and the words pour out of his mouth without any restraint.

> "Bet'cha you'd like it if I, uh... dried you off. Gentle breeze. Pick a scent. Have eight exciting flavors. Blue. Watermelon. Other blue. Tropical, uh, kiss."

> Even he isn't sure why he stressed that last word. The weird emotion spoke for him.

> His mouth snaps shut.

> Awkward.


Whatever Gordon was expecting, it wasn't "being dropped buck-naked onto Benrey's palm". His legs splay out in front of him, and he instinctively tries to draw his knees up. Doesn't change the fact that he's got his boner out in front of God and everybody.

"Was that supposed to be a joke?" Despite himself, he bursts out laughing. He does his best to choke it back down. "You really, uh, gotta work on your dirty talk, man."

Gordon doesn't manage to catch himself before he all but admits that, yeah, that was dirty talk. This is a situation where Benrey should be trying to talk dirty to him. It's breaking the rules a little. Breaking kayfabe. But it's hard to resist bringing it up when Benrey's trying to get him hot by talking about blowing on him like a spoonful of soup.

Then he actually thinks about what Benrey said. Tropical kiss. That's not-- that's not anything. That's not real. Benrey's just talking about kissing him, in whatever weird fucking roundabout way he usually does. A small part of him softens. It's... almost cute. If he were inclined to ever describe Benrey that way. Which he isn't.

But Gordon plays along anyway. "What are you talking about? Scents? Dude, I smelled your breath earlier, and lemme tell you, it wasn't any kind of fucking tropical kiss."


> "Uh, no. S'one of the other flavors," Benrey responds indignantly, façade breaking for a moment. "That flavor was, uh... Glade Plug-in."

> As he speaks, he reels Gordon in closer, sitting in his palm and still sopping wet. He looks so small, so delicate, so... cute, and the thought makes his heart flutter again. It grabs his tongue and twists it into an awkward knot that takes a moment to untie. He works fast, hoping to save face. Get back in the game.

> But it's hard. Harder than before, and as Gordon stares at him expectantly, he's suddenly floundering. While he is externally stiff, flat, and monotonous, on the inside he is scrambling to pick up his scattered index cards during a speech. He wants to play, but he wants to taste. He wants to stroke Gordon's head as much as his dick and he doesn't know why. He wants to say something naughty and nice all at the same time and...

> "Lemme, uh. Demo. Demon-stray-shun," Benrey says, interrupting his own thoughts. "Tropical kiss. Free sample. Here we go."

> And with that, he brings Gordon to his mouth. He presses the smaller man into his lips, a small and chaste kiss being planted in the first place he can reach: Gordon's throat. Only it's... not just his throat. It's basically his whole shoulder, and throat, and beneath his jaw. He practically envelops him, could literally swallow him if he wanted to, but pulls away and snorts a laugh as though this spontaneous act was premeditated as a joke.

> He sounds unconvincing.

> Even more so when he chuckles, "See? Coconut. Sea breeze. Lime. Seagulls. All the classic smells."


Lips press against Gordon's skin before he's fully prepared for it, and he lets out a surprised little sound. Jaw and throat alike find themselves enveloped, a heat and softness and moisture the likes of which he's never felt quite like this. And then it's over. Gordon's still left dizzily processing this as Benrey draws back.

"Did you just kiss me?" Gordon asks, stupidly. He touches a hand to his jaw, where there's a hint of moisture lingering.

The longer Gordon thinks about it, the more disoriented he becomes. Benrey's never kissed him like that before. All, fucking, sweet and tender. Those aren't words in his vocab. Like, yeah, sure, they've kissed before, but only in frantic, snarling bursts. This is strange and new.

But... at the same time... that's not all it is, is it. At this scale, chasteness is impossible. Gordon's so small in his hand, wet and splayed like some kind of foal, and those hands could wrap around every inch of him at once just to touch him. Lips, kissing wide swathes of skin. Hot breaths of air forced through Benrey's nose and spurring the hairs on the back of Gordon's neck to stand up. The unpleasant realization that Benrey is very, very big, and could probably just swallow Gordon whole if he so chose. You know. Normal things to worry about.

But he doesn't. He just lets Gordon go with a kiss. And Gordon flushes up to his ears, still a little dumbstruck.


> That was... new. That wasn't like the lust-fueled, rushed kisses he'd given Gordon while trying to get fingers around his cock, but it wasn't bad. It was something that scratched an itch he didn't know he had, something that made his lips tingle, something that milked an incredibly good feeling out of that foreign emotion swirling inside of him. It's intoxicating in a way human substances never could quite pull off, and Benrey feels an addiction already forming.

> It takes him a moment to realize that Gordon has spoken. It's just a tiny sound to his colossal ears, one he nearly misses from the full-body throb of lust and affection. It's not just his dick anymore. His heart is thundering against every bone, every inch of skin, and he feels almost overwhelmed. Again, like he's dying. This is new, it's intense.

> He wets his lips and furrows his brow, and with a surprising amount of clarity, rattles, "Yeah... uh. I guess I did, huh?"

> His tongue continues to run over his lips. His teeth. His eyes dart to Gordon. He's struggling to play the game properly, but there's a sudden bout of nerves involved. He can't help but wonder if this is how Gordon feels all the time, and the realization clonks him like a clawhammer.

> If this is how Gordon feels all the time, then no wonder he's always such a mess. It's latching onto his jaw and holding it shut like an invisible muzzle, it's pumping him full of drugs that don't exist, it's making him feel small despite being absolutely batshit levels of huge. And, it feels like he's learning... god, what had Alyx called it? Empathy? He's not sure how much he likes it, but it mingles well with the now-welcome warmth following the kiss in a way that feels positively, cathartically self-destructive.

> Benrey coughs. He doesn't laugh. He doesn't tease. He looks to Gordon with an intensity even he's surprised he can pull off.

> "You, uh. Like it? Wan' another one? I got, uh, plenty. Warehouses full. Best Friend Special. BOGO."


Gordon watches Benrey's tongue slide over his teeth like it's in slow motion, a reminder of what lies just underneath the surface. And he freezes under the intensity of Benrey's stare, anticipatory sweat beading on his forehead.

"What, you mean you want to..." He trails off with a nervous laugh. "C'mon, man, put me down! I know you get a kick out of, fucking, making fun of me or whatever, but I don't know what you're getting out of this!"


> Unfortunately, Benrey knows exactly what he was getting out of this. A feeling, strong and tingly that's now full of a primal need that he understands quite a bit better. And, beyond that, he was getting permission. Full permission in every movement Gordon made, every lilt of his voice, every glance up at him that was filled with a hunger that his human never got quite got the hang of voicing. It's a look that Benrey knows good and well, though, from the other time they've played their little games.

> He says nothing. He just smiles, moves Gordon to his mouth again, and pushes his lips gently against his collar bone, though it stretches down to his chest. He can feel Gordon's nipple brush against the corner of his lip, hair brushing against his mouth, the taste of the strange, glittering water and skin as he parts his lips and rumbles a laugh into Gordon.

> He pulls away. He maneuvers his human. He presses his mouth against him again, brushing his stomach with a feather-light kiss that nearly encompasses his dick. He can feel it pressing against him, feel it twitch as he pokes a tongue out between his teeth and presses the very tip into his soft flesh.

> His eyes angle up to Gordon's in a silent bid for a sign. The lick intensifies, nimbly avoiding the cock poking at the very corner of his mouth.

> He continues to say nothing. He has a feeling he doesn't have to. Gordon isn't the only one who can get away with communicating silent intent in their back-and-forth.


Of course Benrey's not gonna answer him. Of course Benrey's just gonna grin at him - like an asshole - and kiss him again, lips soft against his chest. Right over his heart. It's cartoonish, is what it is. And, unfortunately, it's also more ticklish than Gordon expects, and he snorts aloud.

"What are you doing? You're being weird, dude."

When Benrey laughs back at him, his huffed breath ruffles Gordon's body hair, and it just makes that whole "sensitivity" problem worse. Gordon tries to choke down a giggle and fails. Despite himself, it's... it's nice. He almost feels light-headed.

And then Benrey's doing it again, a soft kiss against his middle, shifting him bodily into position, and Gordon laughs again, shoving at his face. Playful. Roughhousing. Their usual.

And again. "That-- That tickles, man, c'mon!"

And again, hot against his belly. Mouth parted. Benrey's chin grazes his dick, which he'd all but forgotten about in his reflexive urge to kick Benrey away. A peal of laughter bleeds into a gasp. All the worse when Gordon feels the wet-hot tip of a tongue push into his skin.

Oh God. It feels just like he thought it would. In that dream, that fucking dream, the one he can't get out of his mind. The one that's made Gordon look twice every time Benrey grins at him, teeth sharp and glossy. He freezes, afraid even to breathe too heavily and press himself all the more against Benrey's tongue.

"What are you doing," he asks again, this time less of a playful rebuff and more of a high squeak. Then it's hotter, wetter, more of the broad side of Benrey's tongue flattening against him, and his dick twitches, hard.



> Alyx would be disappointed, Benrey thinks. He was doing so good and playing so nice, and now he's licking a hot, wet stripe across Gordon's belly, feeling the hairs and skin against his tongue, teeth barely grazing against sensitive flesh. But, he knows things she doesn't and will never know, about the game and the language that he and Gordon have built. He squeaks in defiance, but with a tone that shows only polite refusal: Oh, I couldn't possibly, but if you insist.

> Gordon isn't pressing against his face. He isn't pushing him away. He isn't snarling and cursing, and he hasn't made any move to extricate himself. He's parting his legs invitingly, his voice is getting higher in want and anticipation, and his dick is so hard. As hard as Benrey's, to be honest, and twitching almost as if its beckoning.

> "What'm I doing?" Benrey purrs, and he can see Gordon's body tremble at the way it rumbles through him. "M'helpin'. S'what best friends do."

> With that, his jaw opens wide, his tongue slithering out and the tip dipping lower. Low enough to catch his cock, his legs, the entire bottom of his stomach. It presses hard against Gordon and then creeps upward before coiling up politely behind Benrey's jagged smile. Drool pools at the corner of his lips and he swipes it away with his spare hand.

> He opens his mouth and dives back in again, the faintest hint of flesh and salt and soap and glittering, sweet Xen water dancing across his tongue. It fills him with another burst of primal want, though it's watching the flush on Gordon grow deeper that satiates that other, newer beast nesting inside of him.


Hot, wet, sinuous, pressing against his belly like a snake, making him gasp and jerk instinctively - Gordon's head spins on contact. And Benrey's eyes keep flicking up to meet his, like he's gauging Gordon's reaction. Looking for the go-ahead. Like-- Like they haven't been playing this fucking game for hours, glorified foreplay, you know, like he hadn't let Benrey practically feel him up behind the bleachers while he was (is) stripped down to nothing.

When Gordon's legs jerk open, though, he doesn't snap them closed again. He lets them fall open, leaving room for Benrey's face. If he wanted. To put his face anywhere around there. It's embarrassing as soon as the thought hits his conscious mind, and Gordon burns a bright red down to his shoulders.

"I-I don't know if this is what every 'best friend' is supposed to d-- oh-- oh God, Benrey--"

His voice pitches up, raw and hoarse, as Benrey's tongue flattens itself against his thighs and dick. No more games. Just what this was always building up to, this whole time, if Gordon had just paid a little more attention, pushed his glasses back up on his nose and seen the hunger in Benrey's eyes. And the full knowledge of it cracks over his skull like an egg.

His chest heaves desperately to catch his breath, but it's so much, he can't--

He can't--

Benrey's going back for more, licking him in slow, deliberate strokes and chuffing like a big cat against him, and Gordon can't fucking think. His hands clench at Benrey's, then, finding that inadequate, at his own face. His hair.

"Benrey," he chokes out again. "You're gonna-- oh-- you just gave me a bath and you're gonna get me all fuckin' nasty again, man!"

It comes out as a whine that belies just how fucking stupid he sounds.


> "I'll, uh, just bathe you again. No biggie."

> Benrey's voice is low, dismissive. There is a dark and teasing chuckle hidden just under the surface, as much of a predator as the rest of him. Waiting for a moment to strike, to snag his prey and drag it beneath the surface. But not now, not now.

> Benrey likes to play with his food.

> His alien tongue is strangely dexterous, encircling Gordon's thighs and tracing wet lines into the crease where they met his body. Faint trails of Sweet Voice-tainted saliva leave visible marks of where he's been, allowing Gordon to ogle at exactly when Benrey is doing to him even after he's moved on. Even after he's moved from one leg to the other, to his belly, to his cock.

> His own aches as he flattens his tongue against his dick and licks upwards, like an animal lapping water. His tongue curls delicately and folds back into his mouth, scraping against pointed teeth before emerging again. Hungry, tasting, teasing and growing faster, more deliberate. The taste of Gordon swirl in his mouth and he feels a heat building in his belly so hot and dangerous that it almost makes him feel ill.

> And it intensifies with every squeak Gordon makes, every pant that falls out of his mouth. It drives him onward, a leopard on the prowl, gradually cornering its next meal. His own breath is becoming ragged, his mind a messy whorl of emotions and thoughts that make time seem as though it hardly matters. He's long forgotten how long he's been teasing, eyes nearly crossed to focus on Gordon. Benrey has long been lost in the sounds he makes, the way he writhes.

> It's almost like divine inspiration when it strikes him that he should maybe push him a bit harder.

> Delicately, and uncharacteristically slow, he rolls his tongue back into his mouth. He parts his lips and fits them around Gordon's length. He can't suck, not at this size, but he hums in satisfaction, the vibrations pulsing straight from him and into his human.

> If he wasn't so afraid of doing damage, he'd have smiled.


"We don't have time to--" Gordon breaks off in a moan, that compulsive need to worry stopped in its tracks by Benrey's tongue.

He shivers from his neck down to his toes when it worms around his thighs, digging into those sensitive creases in his skin. Something like a laugh bubbles out of him, but it's also something like a whimper, with a hint of a plea.

"You can't," he gasps, fighting for breath, "you can't do this to me, man, you don't even-- ah! Fuck! Don't even know!"

Gordon turns his face to the side and buries a noise into Benrey's hand. Makes it easier to cope when Benrey licks up to his chest and swirls his tongue, his own breath loud and hot around it. Tasting everywhere he can get to.  Benrey just keeps going, salivating and groaning for the sheer thrill of it, and it makes heat pulse off Gordon's skin in waves.

Faster, harder, enveloping him in ways he had only dreamed possible, something only he can do - Benrey - just for him, he doesn't do this shit with anyone else, how could he. Gordon squirms and gasps in his grip, legs straining to arch into that wet heat.

Agony creeps into his voice, low and haggard. "Benrey," he whines, "how are you so fucking... good at this, why are you even--"

He doesn't get to finish that thought before Benrey's lips wrap around him, and he hums, smug as a cat that's gotten the cream, and Gordon cries out so hard that some winged thing bursts out from a nearby outcropping. How is-- Why is he-- what does he even get out of this, he thinks wildly, brain desperately clinging to neuroticism even in the face of sexual obliteration.


> Every time Gordon shifts his weight, whines, looks away, says a word, Benrey feels that warm, weird emotion surge through him in a way that defies explanation. A feeling he thinks he can now identify, but is hesitant to verbalize, lest he somehow break the rules. But, it's so much stronger than before, especially after everything they'd been through, especially with the way Gordon is finally saying what he really means. Instead of snapping that he's being weird, he's whimpering praise and the words hang crookedly in his head like paintings in a forgotten room.

> "Benrey, how are you so fucking... good at this?"

> The boner he'd been ignoring for what seemed like millennia is now aching, and he pushes his hips against the side of the island and grinds upwards in hopes of finding something resembling relief. Unsurprisingly, what he finds is a crotch full of rocks, and he winces even as he continues to lavish Gordon with attention, breath hot out of his nose as he continues to hum and mouth at his dick. As he unfurls his tongue once more and presses it against his entire body and pushes Gordon against the palm of his hand, something akin to a wet hug. As the tip once again finds Gordon's cock and greedily laps at it, mesmerized by how prominent it is compared to the rest of his soft body.

> There is no give. Just hardness, sinking into the sensitive muscle.

> As he continues on--gently sucking on entire hands, tracing circles into the wet skin of his stomach, tasting the inside of his thighs while grazing his junk with the side of his tongue--he grunts. He feels his hips rocking just out of Gordon's sight. He clenches his free hand when its not in use pulling Gordon's legs apart for easier access or fiddling with his arm to get access to his fingers.

> It's instinctual, and impossible to ignore. He aches, and he knows Gordon can see he's losing himself to this as much as his prey.

> He waits to see if Gordon will have anything to say about it.


Gordon grabs desperately at Benrey's face, a nasal noise forced out of him on every exhale. It's more than a blowjob, it's, it's Benrey humming through his entire fucking body, okay? He can feel it down to his bones, and the inside of Benrey's mouth is achingly warm and so, so wet, and Benrey just keeps mouthing at him, tongue unfurling behind his teeth to lap up Gordon's length in a hot stripe.

It's... it's good. It's so good. Gordon closes his eyes tight and moans aloud.

Benrey moans, too, as his lips part from Gordon's dick to envelop his fingers instead. He pants through his nose and shuffles awkwardly, and the uncomfortable motion gets Gordon to open his eyes again. And he really looks, this time.


He's hard.

Benrey's hard, and he's rocking his hips forward into the barren earth. And he's got his hands on Gordon instead of himself. Thumbing his chest and spreading him open. The burden of that knowledge makes Gordon pant like a dog.

"Oh my God," he warbles, voice cracking as Benrey draws patterns into his stomach with his tongue, "are you-- are you not gonna--"

Gordon slaps his hands over his mouth, suddenly regretting his words. No, he's not going to ask if Benrey's gonna touch his own dick, Jesus Christ. That's none of his business. What does he even care, anyway. It's not like he wants to see it. Not like he's curious about how big it would look once Benrey whipped it out. Gordon's aware of the general, you know, size and girth, proportionally, but it looks so much bigger down there, even in the confines of his work pants. It's not really fair.

And then Benrey grunts against him and flicks the tip of his tongue against his dick even faster, and Gordon can't stop the agonized whine that forces its way out of him.


> Benrey's tongue rolls up Gordon's body yet again, and again, and again. It envelops his dick, his thighs, his stomach, and everything in between. He watches, he waits, and eventually he hears Gordon's voice small and broken from his palm. It is enough to make him recoil, to open the floodgates in his mind. That warm feeling floods the inside of his skull and drowns out every thought out but lust, who is gasping for air defiantly.

> "Huh?"

> Benrey pauses, looking down at Gordon--soaked and slimy and oh-so-small--laying with his legs parted, his face flushed, his eyes locked on the very prominent erection straining against his pants. His own trail down to it and he smirks as the weight of Gordon's almost-question hits him.

> "Oh... huh? Wha? Touch myself? Is, uh, is that what you were gonna say?"

> He leans down over Gordon, tongue sticking out between sharp teeth but frustratingly distant from his body. The hand he'd once used to manhandle his human pulled away, fingers slipping into his waistband behind his belt. He sneers, but there is no actual malice behind it. Feigned mockery, just to make Gordon grow brighter. Redder.

> "You... seem to like the idea. You, uh. You... you wanna see? That what you want? Wanna see best friend Benrey's massive hog? Wanna... wanna touch it?"

> A pause, a laugh.

> "Want me to touch it? Seems you like the idea. I can do it. Just, uh, gotta say so."


Gordon mumbles a quiet plea into his hands, begging for some higher power to-- to do something. He doesn't know what. All he knows is that Benrey's sticking his tongue between his teeth, now, looking at him as if he's some problem to be solved or some piece of furniture to wrangle into place. Instead of keeping that tongue right where he had it. Gordon squeezes his eyes shut and takes a deep breath through his nose. He's not disappointed, actually. That would involve caring about what Benrey was doing at all. Which he doesn't.

"You can... you can do whatever you want, man. It's your life," he says, not meeting Benrey's eyes.

Not like he wants to... oh, God. That's Benrey's hand in his pants, isn't it? Slipping under the waistband before Gordon’s even finished his sentence. A sound escapes him that he really wishes wouldn't. He’s really into this, huh, Gordon thinks distantly, just as surprised by the realization as he has been all the previous times he’s figured out that, yes, Benrey actually is pretty hot for him. Like he’s still waiting for the Band-Aid to be ripped off, even now. Even after Benrey’s sucked his dick in a fucking dumpster. (You take what you can get.)

And-- And there it is, huh. Larger than life. Gordon swallows, a little intimidated. Then he wants to curse himself out for feeling intimidated by Benrey’s dick. Freud would have a field day with him.

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