After all’s said and done - the resonance cascade, the hand thing, the decimation of the United States military and the swift defeat of one incredibly huge security guard - Gordon Freeman takes his leave from the Chuck E. Cheese and lays down in his own bed for a well-deserved night of rest. Sleep hits him like a truck: he blacks out as soon as his head hits the pillow, and when he comes to in the morning, awoken by the sound of his phone buzzing on his end table, all of his limbs and muscles howl at him in disagreement. He rubs at his eyes and squints at it.
Unfortunately, after all’s said and done, the weirdest thing out of all of it is that he’s standing in front of his mirror hurriedly yanking on a fresh pair of slacks at 9:30 in the morning, because Black Mesa is still open for business and, somehow, Gordon still has his job there. And they’re not very happy about him being late.
This is how Gordon finds himself in his office 35 minutes later, staring blankly at emails on his computer while another researcher attempts to shoot the shit with him. This— this shouldn’t be happening, he thinks. There shouldn’t be anything here. But the security guards walked him past a Vortigaunt like it was nothing, and there’s a suspicious smear of dried blood next to his desk, and the testing chamber he was in just a few days previous still stands, although mysteriously cordoned off. And, bafflingly, no one seems to be aware that anything out of the ordinary even happened.
If Gordon thinks about this too hard, he’s gonna have a panic attack, he can just feel it. So he stares at those emails and resolutely endeavors not to.
Most of it is the usual - contacts from other research facilities, contractor updates, the occasional undergrad messaging him about his work - but one in particular catches his eye. Sign-ups For The Inter-Disciplinary Black Mesa Baseball Team! He didn’t even know they had one of those.
Interest piqued, he keeps reading. No tryouts necessary, it seems. Just sign up and play and (hopefully) have a good time. That doesn’t sound too bad. Hell, maybe it’ll help get his mind off of things. Gordon shoots off a reply, then steels himself to return to all his other, less-fun emails.
Back to the grind. At least for now, until he figures out what the hell is going on at Black Mesa.
That’s easier said than done, however. The next few days are a blur, distorted by stress and an utter dissociation from his surroundings. In the wake of whatever happened here (and, clearly, something happened here, because the halls buzz with contractors and technicians on the move to fix whatever it is they’re fixing), all those familiar faces are curiously out of sight. No Bubby, no Coomer, no Tommy. Gordon doesn’t know if he wants to see them, necessarily, but at this point he would very much like to talk to somebody about this and make sure that he isn’t losing his fucking mind.
But hey, baseball, right? Gordon makes it through another work week without having a breakdown, and he deserves this, because if there is one thing that needs to be understood about Dr. Gordon Freeman, it is that he fucking loves baseball.
It’s the classic all-American sport: the show of heart, the psychological battle for dominance, the furor of the fans in the stands, the works. And, you know, the minimal risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. But the most important thing is the players. He’s got a tidy little collection of baseball cards in a shoebox, bearing the images of legends like Wade Boggs and Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson, and a handy spreadsheet (or, well, multiple spreadsheets, neatly organized by team and season) compiling a wide variety of baseball statistics. Batting averages. Time on field. Pitching preferences. It’s a deeply cerebral exercise, and if there’s a second thing that needs to be understood about Dr. Gordon Freeman, it’s that he fucking loves spreadsheets.
All that said, he hasn’t… actually played the game itself since he was in high school. Ditto for the whole ‘competitive swimming’ thing. Man, he’s really let himself go, huh? Whatever. That doesn’t matter, because he’s going up against a bunch of scientists who are almost all a good couple of decades older than him, and he’s got youthful vigor on his side. Gordon furiously reminds himself of this as he pulls his uniform over his head and watches his copious grey hairs frizz out afterward in the mirror.
Finally, he pulls his hair back into his requisite rat tail and slips on the baseball cap. Then he grins at himself. Something about the whole get-up just looks good, the Black Mesa logo emblazoned on his cap notwithstanding. Gordon heads out to the field with a confidence and a spring in his step that he hasn’t felt in God knows how long.
That confidence doesn’t last terribly long, however. He’d forgotten about the “inter-disciplinary” part of the Black Mesa Inter-Disciplinary Baseball Team. In the bullpen, Gordon spots a gaggle of security guards, rowdy and muscular and definitely not composed of 65-year-old particle physicists. Most of their uniforms sport a bluish tint, not the red of his own. That’s not good. And it’s especially not good when he locks eyes with Benrey, who is also decidedly not on his team. Small blessings, maybe.
Benrey’s mouth splits into a toothy grin, and Gordon jerks his eyes away. The relief that washes over him is almost nauseating in its intensity. That’s not— he shouldn’t be feeling that. Not at the sight of that fucking guy. But right now, what with the way he’s grinning at Gordon, he’s a tangible reminder that, yes, It Happened. It all happened. God, he could just kiss him, Gordon thinks wildly, that’s how badly he’s been itching for some goddamn answers.
Then Gordon drops back down to earth. Great! That’s up there on the list of the top 10 most batshit things Gordon Freeman has thought lately. He angrily chugs a bottle of water and splashes his face with some of it.
He’s not about to let fucking Benrey ruin his day. Again. He’s going to look up at that crisp blue sky, lightly peppered with wispy clouds, and he’s going to feel the sun beaming onto his skin and he’s going to smell the freshly-cut grass and the dirt and he’s going to have a great day if it kills him. That’s baseball, baby. He can feel it in the air.
The umpire shouts for the teams to split up and get ready for the game, and Gordon takes one last deep breath to really cement it in his mind before he files back to the red dugout. Most of the other players aren’t ones that he recognizes, but there are a few familiar faces, Bubby and Darnold among them. Gordon’s not sure what the right move is here - should he say hi? Should he pretend like everything’s all cool and normal now? Or should he totally lose his composure and start babbling at their feet for some answers?
His mind defaults to the most embarrassing option of these. “Bubby,” he says quickly, “And Darnold, Jesus, am I glad to see you guys.”
“What? Why?” Bubby stares at him, nostrils flared.
“I— You know, there’s— You guys are—” Gordon’s tongue trips over itself in its haste to get out everything he’s been thinking and feeling these past few weeks, but there’s simply too much tangled up at once, and he ends up sputtering uselessly until he finally says, “Am I the only one who remembers what happened? Like, with the resonance cascade?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Darnold rubs the back of his neck. “You know, we’re— I’m glad to see you too, Gordon. Glad to see you’re alright. It’s been awhile,” he says with an awkward smile.
Gordon’s shoulders slump with a sudden relief. “Oh, thank fucking God,” Gordon sighs, “I thought I was losing my mind. Everything’s just— just— you know, nobody ever seems to know what I’m talking about, and I haven’t seen any of the science crew since the whole ‘escape from Black Mesa’ thing, and—”
He’s interrupted by a high whistle. They all turn to look at the umpire, and members of their team start to file out to the field. “Well, that’s our cue,” says Darnold, and that relief fades back into disappointment. Gordon’s shoulders slump even further with it.
There’s always after the game, right? He repeats this to himself in the hopes that he’ll feel less crushed about it once it sinks in.
The first inning sees the Blue Team up to bat first, with Darnold at the pitcher’s mound as their starter. Gordon watches intently from his position at second base as Darnold squares up the pitch. He’s got an open stance, and he’s awfully limber, much more than Gordon expected. But his pitches don’t have a lot of fire to them - they’re slow, and they don’t always go where Darnold expects, judging by the way he swears and stamps his feet.
But slowness is a virtue, sometimes. The blue team batters swing too fast, too high, expecting a more traditional pitch, and Darnold strikes out one of them before Tommy steps up to bat. Gordon blinks. Then he wipes his glasses on his uniform. Well, he supposes there’s no reason why Tommy wouldn’t like baseball, although he finds himself surprised that Tommy’s not on their team. (Why is he surprised? It’s not like Dr. Coomer is, either. Though that does make Gordon wonder if he’s playing in the first place.)
“Hi, Darnold!” Tommy hollers, waving his free hand. There’s a big, sunny grin on his face that Gordon can make out even from the infield.
“Hi, Tommy.” Darnold rubs the back of his neck again.
When Darnold pitches to Tommy, he throws straight and true, strangely enough, and Tommy smacks the first pitch so far out of the park that Gordon has to shield his eyes from the sun to follow it. “Good job!” Darnold calls out to him. He watches the ball sail away, in no position to actually do something about it. Well. Good for him.
Next up to bat is somebody Gordon doesn’t recognize, though if his physique is any indication, he’s gotta be one of the security guards. Unless there’s a secret contingent of scientists with biceps nearly as big as their heads. Fortunately, all that brawn doesn’t directly translate into the ability to hit a damn ball, and the guy whiffs it three times in a row before chucking his bat to the ground in a huff. Gordon’s eyes follow him as he leaves, curiously fixated on the way his uniform stretches over his shoulderblades. They really make ‘em tight, huh.
The guy confers with the next two up to bat, and whatever he tells them, it seems to give them an edge. They finally start to hit, and the bases are loaded when a familiar grinning face steps up to bat. Dr. Coomer rolls his shoulders and gives his bat a few quick swings. That’s all of them accounted for, then, right? Weird coincidence. Gordon braces his hands on his thighs, focused more on Coomer’s play than on the questions lingering in the back of his mind. Denial’s a fierce protector.
Not that he’s got much to focus on, though. Dr. Coomer bellows out, “Let’s ball!”, and immediately bunts toward first base.
Gordon tenses. That's a risky fucking play if he's ever seen one, what with the inning nearly at a close from those two outs. Then again, is that really out of character for him? Gordon doesn't know what he expected. To his disappointment, Coomer gets away with it - Bubby fumbles the ball, and it skids past him while he swears and bitches. The runner on third makes his way home without any trouble.
Immediately behind Coomer is Benrey. Gordon narrows his eyes. He’s got an awfully lazy gait as he steps up to home plate, and the way he’s stanced up is nothing short of appalling. Is he even trying? He’s… he’s picking his nose instead of bothering to swing. Gordon’s head lolls back, and he stares up at the sky. Not his problem, he thinks. It’s not like he wants Benrey to do well against them, anyway.
Four balls later, Benrey walks to first base, his one and only swing coming a solid five seconds after the ball flew past him. This shouldn’t be irritating, but it is. He’s disrespecting the game, man. Why’d he even show up if this is how he's gonna play?
By the time the inning’s over, all the bases are occupied, and the Blue Team’s ahead by 3. A worrying start. But nothing they can’t get past, Gordon reminds himself as the teams switch positions on the field. After all, it’s not like Benrey’s trying, so that probably levels out with all the septuagenarians on Gordon’s team.
However, to Gordon’s surprise, it’s Benrey who steps up to the mound next. He wouldn’t have pegged the guy for much of a pitcher, himself. Though, on a closer inspection, he’s definitely got the arms for it, Gordon thinks. It’s a bit surreal watching those muscles shift under his skin for the first time. He’s so used to them being covered by that dress shirt that, honestly, wasn’t doing him a lot of favors.
Gordon bounces a little from foot to foot at home plate, giving his bat a few preliminary swings. God, this is gonna feel good. This is his chance to put Benrey in his place for once. He’s been practicing, he’s fucking ready. His eyes lock on to Benrey’s as the field goes quiet, a silent tension drawing out between them. He spreads his feet into the proper position and bends his knees a little.
Then Benrey moves. His leg draws up, and Gordon watches his body twist into an ideal pitcher’s form like it’s in slow-motion. Benrey’s legs weren’t— they weren’t like that before, were they? There’s no way they were so muscled. The fabric of his uniform stretches and warps around a broad thigh, and sweat trickles down Gordon’s forehead as his eyes trace those faint vertical lines all the way to where they curve around his rear, and, uh. Huh. How about that.
All of a sudden, that tension wound tight in Benrey snaps, and before Gordon can blink there’s a blistering fastball hurtling clean down the center with such a force that strands of his hair go flying back. Gordon blinks, dumbfounded.
He shakes himself. What’s his fucking problem? Benrey’s laughing at him from the middle of the field, and Gordon feels his blood pressure rising. It’s just a fluke, he tells himself. Nothing to worry about. He’s still got three more shots.
But then Benrey winds up for a second time, and Gordon gets maybe a few seconds of analytical brainpower before his eyes slide down against his will again. Benrey’s thighs are bigger around than his fucking head. How has he never noticed this? Was it just, like, that baggy uniform Benrey was always wearing? Or maybe he was just too stressed out to pay attention—
Gordon snaps back to attention just in time to hear Bubby snap from the dugout, “What the hell are you doing?!” He doesn’t have an answer for that. He really, really doesn’t.
This time, on the next pitch, Gordon’s got his shit together enough to at least begin to analyze Benrey’s technique. He’s fond of the fastball, it seems, and he’s winding up with his legs and shoulders in the same positions. Not a lot of variation. He probably thinks he can get away with it. Hard to blame him, really, since Gordon’s head’s been in the goddamn clouds, but Gordon’s not gonna let Benrey off that easily. Gordon’s fingers squeeze around his bat in anticipation.
Just as he predicted. In one fluid motion, Benrey hurls the ball straight down the middle, and Gordon twists his hips to meet it—
Son of a bitch. At least that time it was a good, clean miss. There’s a rumbling of boos from his dugout, likely aimed at Benrey, but he hears Bubby among them and he just fucking knows that’s aimed at him. Makes him grit his teeth. Gordon’s still got this, just watch.
Across the field, Benrey raises his eyebrows, then readjusts his cap to shadow over his eyes. Hopefully that means he’s getting serious. The corner of Gordon’s mouth turns up, unbidden.
It’s hard to keep his eyes from straying, but Gordon makes a valiant attempt. This time, Benrey’s stance is different, his shoulders set a little higher, and there’s a gleam in his eye. Gordon doesn’t know exactly what that means, but it can’t be anything good. Keep an eye on his hands, he tells himself. Watch the wrist. It curves to the inside as Benrey ratchets his arm back - oh, he’s gonna play a little dirty now, huh? Gordon lowers his stance, his breathing going shallow as he waits for it.
Then the pitch comes his way, and he knew it, he fucking knew it, it’s a curveball arcing to the outside, and Gordon has maybe a fraction of a second to gauge its trajectory before swinging as hard as he can.
The resounding crack of bat against ball travels all the way up Gordon’s shoulders, and he releases his grip as soon as it does, sending his bat skidding to the ground. Then he bolts. Delight buzzes up his spine, bursting from his mouth as a giddy bark of a laugh as he sprints toward first base. The ball spins out far, far, heading for the outfield, and the outfielders themselves are caught so unawares that it takes them a moment to spring into action.
Gordon skids into first base just as they scoop the ball from the ground and throw it to the baseman. A cloud of dust blooms behind his heels. “Safe!” howls the umpire, and Gordon’s cheeks start to ache from the grin on his face.
Now that’s baseball, baby.
Another good chunk of what baseball’s really about is the waiting. Sitting in the dugout while he gulps Powerade like his life depends on it. Watching the other batters swing and swing again against Darnold’s pitches, fruitless in their pursuits. Attempting to shoot the breeze with coworkers that he’s never met before, and who only seem to have eyes for high-energy particle interactions.
And, unfortunately, it also seems to be about Gordon’s utter inability to tear his eyes away from Benrey. At first, it’s just bog-standard irritation, watching him zone out and pick his nose and occasionally heckle their team. But every time he’s at the pitcher’s mound, something shifts in his demeanor. He gets serious. Or, at least, as serious as Benrey’s even capable of being. It doesn’t make any sense. Why can’t Benrey bring that energy to the rest of his game? Gordon wants to see him really take a crack at the bat, just swing the hell out of that thing with all the power and energy he knows Benrey’s got stored in those biceps.
But he doesn’t, and every time Gordon sees him blatantly not give a shit about playing well, his frown deepens that much more. Eventually, even Bubby asks what his fucking problem is, and he doesn’t have a good answer for that. That answer, if he’s being honest with himself, would involve something about the way he feels himself sweat when Benrey gets real. When he lunges near the dugout before his team heads to the field, emphasizing those thick, corded muscles in his thighs. When Benrey’s leg raises up just like that. Gordon starts pouring water bottles over his head, desperate to shake himself out of whatever in the fuck he’s thinking.
At long last, the game’s over, and, yes, his team won, somehow, but it doesn’t feel like a victory at all. It’s the worst game of baseball he’s ever played, and Gordon’s kind of upset about that, because by all rights, it shouldn’t be.
He got to play. He did alright, mostly. They won. There’s no reason he should be feeling like it was a huge fucking waste of time. But right now, Gordon just feels bad for feeling bad about it, because he is terminally neurotic. Instead of following the rest of the players into the communal locker room, he takes a moment to himself and lies down on the grass, staring up into the orange and pink watercolors of the evening sky, arms and legs akimbo.
Something about laying there makes his brain prickle. Like a forced change of perspective. Everything looks different from down here, a place where people aren’t really intended to be, a view he wasn’t intended to have.
“Hey, Gordon,” he hears from behind him, and he cranes his neck to get a better look. Darnold and Tommy gaze down at him. “You, uh— you alright there, bud?”
“’m great. Couldn’t be better.” It comes out more flat and distant than Gordon intended, and those curious looks on their faces get a little stormier.
“You guys did great out there,” Tommy says, uncertain.
“Yeah, you, you got a real good set of arms on you. Even after the whole…”
“Yeah,” Gordon interrupts. “I know. I don’t wanna talk about it right now, man. I’m… I’m working through some shit.”
Darnold and Tommy look at each other, then Darnold fidgets with his sleeves. “I can see that,” he starts, then continues after an awkward pause, “We’ll leave you to it, then. Let me know if you need anything, alright? We’re— we’re cool, you know.”
“Yeah! It was— it was really good to see you, Mr. Freeman. I hope laying on the ground goes okay. There could be… water ants, you gotta be careful.”
Gordon blinks at Tommy. Then he laughs, even if he can’t put his full weight behind it. “Yeah, okay. Sure. I’ll, uh, I’ll be careful.”
They wave as they make their way to the lockers, and Gordon lets them go without making much effort to move. Give him a moment, he thinks to nobody but himself. He’s not done processing.
When he does finally get tired of laying there in the dirt, he gets to his feet. However, he’s stilled by the strange sensation of being watched. Gordon wipes his hands on his trousers and furrows his brow. The field’s largely empty, the setting sun having driven everyone else indoors, except for one figure milling around near the dugout. Benrey. The hairs on the back of Gordon’s neck prickle. Was he… was he waiting there the whole time? Watching?
Gordon doesn’t get much of a chance to think about this before Benrey heads to the locker rooms himself, going stiff when Gordon meets his eye.
There aren’t many people left by the time Gordon makes his way inside. One or two occupy the showers, and another combs his hair in front of a mirror. Then there’s Benrey, again, hovering near one of the lockers. Gordon ignores him. Instead, he takes a look at the haphazard pile of bats and gloves that clutter up the far corner of the room, and he wonders if he can wait out Benrey by stopping to organize their gear. Something about stripping out of his uniform right now doesn’t sit right with him. Feels weirdly vulnerable when it’s essentially just the two of them in there.
“yo,” Gordon hears, and he closes his eyes tight. Fucking Benrey. “you, uhhh. need some help with that?”
“I’m good, actually,” he says. Benrey doesn’t listen to that at all, though. He’s already picking up baseball bats and setting them on their ends. How is he balancing them so perfectly? And, like, why?
Gordon shakes himself. Stupid questions.
This was supposed to be relaxing, he thinks. Ordinarily, rote tasks like this offload a lot of his brainpower, letting him zone out and not think too hard about any of the shit that’s bothering him. But Benrey’s presence at his side just winds him tighter and tighter, tension building between his shoulders. It’s that urge to say something. The urge to snap at him, like, what is Benrey even doing right now? They’re not friends, or whatever. And, honestly, they shouldn’t even be on speaking terms. But Benrey just keeps stacking baseball bats and balls like he doesn’t have a care in the world. He’s not even doing anything wrong, technically, but that just stresses Gordon out all the more, because it’s hard to justify that general antipathy when he’s feeling bad about feeling bad.
Then Benrey jostles one of the bats he’s got set up, and a row of them tumbles to the ground with a long series of clangs. “oh shit.”
“Goddamn it,” Gordon snaps at him. “Why are you even over here, Benrey? I didn’t ask for your help!”
Benrey’s head jerks back, eyes wide. Then his brows turn down, pinched and clearly upset. “the hell… i was just tryna help. what’s your problem, man?” he sulks.
Instinctively, Gordon opens his mouth to apologize, then remembers who he’s talking to. So instead he keeps his fat mouth shut and lets his acquiescence to Benrey’s presence do the apologizing for him. Benrey just looks at him, then goes back to “helping”.
By the time they’ve finished cleaning up, they’re alone together, the last lingering members of their teams having long since finished up. The setting sun suffuses the locker room with a warm orange glow. Shadows purple in the recesses. Gordon sits on on a bench to untie his cleats, or try to, anyway. His hands shake too much to loosen up the laces.
“Fucking, God,” he mutters under his breath.
“you good? gordon freeman can’t even untie his shoes? lil’ clumsy boy, huh.”
That’s it. He can’t take this shit anymore. Gordon abruptly gets to his feet and turns to face Benrey, really looking him in the eye for the first time all day. “Stop,” Gordon says, voice warbling from anger, “just, fucking, stop, man!” Each word is punctuated by a step toward Benrey. “You don’t even— this doesn’t even matter to you, does it? This is all just a game to you! You get to just, just, try to kill me and then move on with your life— oh my God, they didn’t even fire you!” He’s just feet away from Benrey, now, and Benrey starts to back up into the lockers, surprise twisting his face.
Gordon doesn’t stop, though. “And then you come here, and you play baseball with me, like nothing even fucking happened, and you know what? It fucking sucks! I can’t just— just go back to normal like that! I killed you! I killed you and nobody seems to remember what the hell happened and you’re just, fucking, standing there with that dipshit grin on your face!”
Benrey’s back hits the lockers with a muffled, metallic thump. That dipshit grin drops a little, but doesn’t entirely go away.
“But I can’t, Benrey,” Gordon says, packed full of weeks of repressed venom, as he sucks in a rattling breath to fuel his outburst. His hand slams against the locker door, not three inches from Benrey’s face. “I can’t just forget this shit! You cut off my arm, man, and I know that G-Man just— just snapped his fingers and fixed it, or whatever, but that’s not how it works! I can’t just snap my fingers and go back to normal! And you, just, being out there, not even caring, and you know, you have no business looking that fucking good in a baseball uniform, you have no idea how goddamn distracting it is when I just want you to— to— to get out of my hair!”
A vein pulses in his forehead. “You heard me, asshole, I swear to God—”
“i dunno if i did, bro. you wanna, uhhh… run that one past ol’ benrey again?”
It’s only then that it hits him. Gordon stops still, mouth hanging open in the middle of a furious word. Stupid, stupid Gordon. Why in the world did he say that out loud? Heat rises in his face as he attempts to chew through a coherent thought. “I, uh.”
“were you checkin’ me out? lookin’ at my wagon? my cake? my dumptruck ass—”
“Oh my God,” Gordon groans, voice pitching up in something halfway between a nervous laugh and a sob. All that boiling frustration simmers back down to nothing in a heartbeat, tempered by sheer embarrassment. “I— Look, it’s been a really fucking hard day for me, okay, I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. Just. Listen, man.”
Benrey raises his eyebrows. That insufferable smirk crawls right back up to where it was, too. “i’m all ears, gordo,” he leers.
“I don’t know,” says Gordon again, “like, okay, yeah, maybe? That’s not even important. The important thing was, like, everything else. Did any of that shit even get through to you, Benrey?”
He grunts, noncommittal, and Gordon feels his breath puff out through his nose. “yeah whatever. it’s… it’s cool to get mad sometimes,” he says, eyes darting to the side. “sucks for me, too. got, uhhh, hell of murdered. and they just wanted me to come back in the next day like it was all good and cool. but it was all… bad, sucks, not cool.”
Gordon frowns, his expression softening. He’s not sure what to say to that - it’s uncharacteristically open of him. They’re both in the same boat, he realizes, jerked around by forces grander than he can understand for reasons still unbeknownst to him. He sighs.
“Yeah. Sucks. Not cool. I feel that.” Gordon’s head droops as he says this, and it leaves him closer to Benrey than he expects. He casts a dark shadow over Benrey and the locker directly behind him. “I, uh… Sorry, man. I lost my cool. It’s just been a really weird couple of weeks, but I guess that’s not, like, your fault.” Awkwardness drips down the back of his skull like a cracked egg, and Gordon shudders a little from it. In an attempt at defensiveness, he adds, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m still mad about the whole arm thing. Just, uh, fair’s fair, you know?”
Benrey’s eyes flicker back up to him. Discomfort’s obvious in the way his mouth works from side to side. “uhhh… ‘s whatever, man. i don’t care.”
Silence stretches out between them. Gordon finds himself at a loss for words again as the knowledge of just how close he is finally sinks in, unfettered by all that sound and fury. Benrey’s a good head or so shorter than him, and he has to crane his head up to look at Gordon, and Gordon’s struck by the sudden awareness of his breath fanning out over Benrey’s face. And Benrey’s just kind of… letting it happen. He’s not even making any stupid cracks about how Gordon needs to brush his teeth or whatever. Like Gordon’s certain he ordinarily would.
He swallows, hard.
“hahah… you good, bro? what, you wanna kiss or somethin’?”
Benrey laughs, like it’s a joke, but it’s not hitting like one right now. Not with that redness creeping into Benrey’s face, or the way his eyes dart to the side. Gordon’s heart skips a beat.
Man. He really could do that, huh. Benrey looks just as game for it as he’s always been, if Gordon’s reading him right. His life’s already gone to hell in a handbasket, so, honestly, it’s not like this would make matters much worse. And Gordon’s brain feels as wrung out as an old piece of chewing gum. Makes him feel really, really stupid. Makes him think, God, Benrey does look kind of nice when he’s all flushed like that. And he’s had those fucking thighs on his mind all day. What if he just… leaned into it?
That’s all the rationale Gordon needs to duck his head and tentatively bring his lips to Benrey’s. It’s soft, somehow. And they’re both so still - nerves make Gordon freeze in place, and Benrey’s back is ramrod-straight. Despite that, it’s… it’s nice, too. Benrey’s lips are chapped, but they give easily under his own, and his sharp intake of breath makes Gordon’s stomach flip.
When he pulls back, Benrey’s starry-eyed and beet-red and shocked out of his skin. His mouth parts, but nothing comes out. Gordon’s brain spins at several thousand RPM trying to process this. Did he like that? Did Gordon like that? Well, there’s nothing like using the scientific method to reason out problems like this. So Gordon does it again, just to make sure he really did like it.
Turns out he did.
Benrey’s hands fumble their way to the back of his neck and tug him in closer. He can feel Benrey panting through his nose against him, hot and harsh. There’s a fresh heat blistering his face like the sun. It occurs to him that he doesn’t really have a reason to be bracing himself against the lockers anymore, so Gordon’s hand slides down to grab at Benrey’s shirt collar instead. And he kisses Benrey again, and again, shedding his hesitation as he does. Their mouths open wider on each pass.
“Oh my God,” Gordon mutters against his lips, catching his breath. He presses his forehead to Benrey’s and repeats himself mindlessly. This is— he’s lost it, he really has. He’s leaning back in, and Benrey’s tongue slips into the equation, hesitantly lapping at him, and Gordon lets out an embarrassing noise.
His head swims. The realization hits him that he’s actually, honest-to-God making out with Benrey right now. Benrey, the guy who’s simultaneously been trying to kill him and trying to fuck him the whole time they’ve known each other. They’re making out, and Benrey smells so strongly of sweat and red earth (though Gordon’s sure he’s not much better off), and when he tests the waters by tracing the slick line of Benrey’s tongue with his own, Benrey groans into his mouth. It’s so painfully hot that Gordon’s fists clench in Benrey’s uniform. He shoves Benrey back into the lockers with a clang.
Suddenly, there’s— Oh, God. There’s hands at his ass, squeezing and yanking him forward, and he’s pressed flush against Benrey with a abruptness that makes him gasp aloud. Benrey’s skin is so hot, even through the uniform, he’s like some kind of infernal engine. Gordon kisses him like his fucking life depends on it, frustration and want bubbling under his skin in equal measures until he’s got his whole goddamn tongue buried as deep in Benrey’s mouth as it’ll go.
And Benrey lets him, encourages him even, tilting his head back when Gordon’s hands move to his jaw and guide him to do so. Benrey lets out a low groan that rumbles through Gordon’s throat.
There’s something poking insistently at his thigh. Gordon makes an ugly sound when he realizes that, oh. Benrey’s hard. And that’s his dick pressed up between them. His own dick twitches in his pants, and he comes to the conclusion that they are way too fucking tight. Not just because of this - the almost-painful pressure of his hard-on straining against their front - but because of the way they hugged Benrey’s legs earlier, showing off their breadth and definition. Giving Gordon some kind of fucking fixation. He thinks about seeing them bent and raised, like in that pitcher’s stance, and boldness overcomes him. Gordon drops a hand from Benrey’s face to paw at his leg and coax him to raise it up.
And he does, easily. Benrey hooks his leg around the outside of Gordon’s, rocking his hips forward as he does, and Gordon squeezes the underside of his thigh to feel the muscle there. The undulating pressure of Benrey’s stomach against Gordon’s dick makes him light-headed. Just to test the waters, Gordon matches his movement, rutting slowly against the crease of Benrey’s hip. Those hands on his ass grip tighter.
He’s— he can’t believe it— not an hour ago, he was infuriated with Benrey, just boiling up at the sight of him picking his fucking nose out on the field (let alone the sight of him doing lunges to warm himself up). And now he’s tonguefucking Benrey’s mouth in the locker rooms while Benrey whines into his mouth in turn and bucks his hips in tight, jerky, ineffectual movements.
In between kisses, Gordon pulls back to babble awful, awful things at him, things like, “I was— I was losing my fucking mind out there, man. Every time you’d— God, when you were pitching, and your leg was raised up like this, I couldn’t think straight.”
“yuhh— yeah? i knew it, i saw you lookin’ at me like a, a lil’ piece of meat, gayden freeman,” breathes Benrey. There’s saliva dripping from the corner of his mouth, where it’s upturned in a toothy smile. “can’t fool me.”
“I can’t believe I’m letting you get away with that,” he says under his breath. Right now, he would probably let Benrey get away with calling him any stupid shit he wanted, so long as he kept twisting his tongue against Gordon’s just like that, God. “Fuck, Benrey. You look… you look so different when you’re wearing— uh—”
He’s interrupted by Benrey licking into his mouth again, his tongue grazing the back of his teeth. Gordon can’t stop the moan that spills out of him. It makes Benrey tug him in closer, and he can feel Benrey’s dick twitch, quick and insistent. Blood rushes away from his brain with a suddenness that leaves him dizzy.
“That uniform,” Gordon finishes weakly once he draws back.
“uhhh yeah. it’s called clothes bro. makes you look different.”
“You know what I mean. You just… you look really good in this,” he says, weirdly earnest. Gordon runs his free hand down Benrey’s side for emphasis. “Your fucking thighs, man. It’s not fair.”
He mumbles a few more delirious things about those thighs as his mouth drifts away to Benrey’s jaw, then to his ear, and the way Benrey shivers against him makes something viciously self-satisfied curl up in Gordon’s belly. It’s strange to have Benrey so pliant for him. Like all he had to do was kiss the guy to get him eating out of Gordon’s palm. God, maybe he should have done this earlier, back in Black Mesa proper.
Gordon’s mind wanders to thoughts of sneaking away through a dark corridor, tucking into an empty lab, and hurriedly kissing Benrey senseless before the others catch up. Just to get Benrey out of his hair. No other reasons, like, you know, the way Gordon can feel Benrey’s dizzied laughter in his throat when he presses his lips to it and tastes salt. That has nothing to do with anything.
“if you like ‘em so much, why don’t you take a picture. with your, uhhh. eyeballs,” says Benrey.
Benrey doesn’t answer this with words, instead choosing to lower his leg and unfasten his belt buckle and shuffle his pants and briefs down to just above his knees.
Oh. Shit. They’re soft but densely muscled underneath, dusted with black hair, and trembling a little from anticipation. And they’re so fucking big. To say nothing of Benrey’s dick, flushed a dark red and jutting out at full attention. Gordon’s mouth goes dry. Should he be looking away? Should he be touching? Should he be listening to the wild impulse in the back of his head that tells him to get down on his knees and press his mouth to the soft crease where those thighs meet his hips?
He doesn’t end up doing any of those things, actually. Gordon’s frozen stiff from the paralysis of indecision.
“likin’ the view, huh.”
Gordon forcibly drags his gaze away from Benrey’s, uh, entire situation. He tries to wet his lips to speak, but it’s a futile effort. “Uh. Yeah. Wow,” he croaks. Embarrassment immediately overtakes him.
“you can, uhhh,” Benrey starts, “touch maybe? no homo.”
“Right. Yeah. Okay.”
Sure, he’s just, he’s gonna drop to his knees in front of Benrey and it’s not going to be even a little gay. It’s not like Benrey has to keep up the bit - Gordon’s had time to get accustomed to the idea of his eyes lingering a little too long on other guys, and maybe having weird fantasies that are unnervingly similar to the here and now. It’s more of who Benrey is than what. But even the who is starting to matter less and less, because Gordon’s doing it, and he’s drinking in the sharp inhalation from above him as he rubs the crease of Benrey’s thighs with his thumbs.
And then he makes good on those previous thoughts and follows his thumbs with his mouth. When Benrey’s dick bobs in response, Gordon can feel it, curiously soft and warm against his cheek. Good. This is good. It’s even better when Gordon spreads his hands wide, fingers spidering out over broad flesh to grip as much of Benrey’s thighs as he can.
Benrey mumbles words of affirmation, hands reaching down to cradle Gordon’s head. It’s almost obscene, to be so close to Benrey’s dick that he can feel slickness where the head brushes against him, and to not look. To not touch. Instead, Gordon focuses his attention on the velvety skin of his inner thighs, right where they meet the rest of him. His tongue darts out to taste it. There’s salt and musk and earth lingering there.
Then he bites on impulse. Benrey’s back thumps back against the lockers again, and those fingers attempt to thread into his hair. It’s a bit difficult when it’s still tied back.
“oh fuck, gordon,” Benrey groans aloud. Gordon’s dick throbs, almost to the point of aching. That’s so encouraging that he does it again, teeth scraping against soft flesh, and Benrey’s hips jerk.
His fingertips dig into Benrey’s thighs as he squeezes. Hard. When Gordon sucks dark red marks into them, Benrey tries to buck forward, but his dick meets nothing but loose strands of Gordon’s hair. He could do this all day. There’s desperation evident in those small, ineffectual motions, and in the sweat trickling down his face. But Gordon’s head is swelled with a heady power. He likes getting to jerk Benrey around a little, not quite giving him what he wants. It must be killing him.
“c’mon,” says Benrey, pitching up in a nasal whine, “you suck at this, man, worst blowjob i’ve ever gotten. gotta put your mouth on my bop-it, bro. twist it. pull it—”
Gordon snorts, then breaks into full-fledged laughter. “You could ask like a normal person, maybe?”
“’m not askin’ for shit. you’re askin’.”
“yeah,” he insists, “you’re gonna, fuckin’, ask me real nice maybe. ask me if you can fuck ‘em since you like ‘em so much. thighman.”
It takes a moment for the gears in his brain to turn. “Wait, what?”
“it’s not weird.” Benrey averts his eyes. “it’s… it’s whatever. i don’t care.”
He clearly does. He cares hard enough to cross his arms over his chest, anyway. It’s— it’s not like Gordon didn’t want to. In fact, he thinks about it, and envisions the sight of his dick slipping between those thighs, and he nearly comes in his pants then and there. Like some kind of fucking teenager.
“I— It’s not like— I just— Can we? Uh, can I? Do that?” The words tumble out of him in a heated rush.
Benrey blinks down at him like he’s seeing Gordon for the first time. “uhhh. yeah. fuck yeah.”
Gordon watches through what feels like somebody else’s eyes as Benrey slips out of his grasp, bends himself over one of the benches, and presents himself for— Oh, God. That. Gordon’s so fucking hard it hurts. He fumbles his belt open with shaky hands once his senses return to him and shoves his own pants down to his knees, too. Fucking, yes, he wants to do this, thank you, he’s agog at the curve of those thighs pressed together and the thin sheen of sweat on his skin.
His limbs tingle like they’re waking up from sleep as he gets on his knees behind Benrey. “I— shit, Benrey, I’ve never— I’ve never done this kind of thing, do I just—”
Jesus, that’s embarrassing, all his words spilling out in a rush like that, but Benrey takes pity on Gordon’s dumb ass and helps line him up. Then Gordon pushes himself between Benrey’s thighs, and it’s— it’s not really like what he’s used to. You know, with girls. Like a normal person. But Benrey’s thighs are slick with sweat and dizzyingly soft on the inside and pressed together so fucking tight that Gordon can’t tamp down the ragged groan that slips out of him.
“shit— yeah, like that,” Benrey gasps, his head falling.
When Gordon gets his shit together enough to actually move, the noise Benrey lets out shakes him to his core. He worms his hands under the shirt of Benrey’s uniform, shoving it forward to better see his back, all muscled and gleaming, and he has the unhinged thought that those dimples on his back (what were they called, he thinks? Dimples of Venus? Or something?) are really fucking cute. Then he mentally shakes himself. Benrey’s not fucking cute. Those sharp little sounds he makes after each thrust aren’t cute. He’s— he’s insufferable, is what he is.
But it’s hard to keep thinking that when his hips are slapping against Benrey’s ass and Benrey’s moaning like Gordon’s honest-to-God fucking him. And when he raises his hips higher in the air so Gordon can get a better angle going. Benrey’s hand slips down to tug himself off, and Gordon’s hands clench so fucking tight into the soft flesh at his hips. God, he wishes, he wishes he could be railing Benrey for real, instead of this crude imitation of the act, but the imitation is still so fucking good it winds him a little.
Then Benrey groans, “fuck me, bro,” and something electric courses through Gordon’s whole body.
“Yeah, man, I’m gonna— gonna fuck you, just like this. You want that, Benrey? You— you like that?”
Judging by the strangled sounds coming from Benrey’s throat and the delirious string of words - mostly Gordon’s name - spilling from his mouth, Gordon’s gonna take that as a yes.
He squeezes Benrey’s hips subconsciously, and then more consciously when Benrey whines and bucks back against him in response. Abruptly, Benrey spits out, “fuck, fuck, ‘m gonna— gonna come, c’mon, please, gordon,” and his hand’s moving so fucking fast underneath him and Gordon can feel Benrey’s whole body tense as he comes with a high shout.
Gordon moans aloud, like it’s been punched out of him. Benrey’s thighs are pressed so unbearably tight right now, and he lets out little breathless noises as Gordon keeps moving. Keeps fucking him silly. He’s never gonna be able to forget that, is he.
The sight and sound of it is so painfully arousing that Gordon hunches over Benrey’s back and fucks his thighs harder than he’s probably ever fucked before, and he babbles lurid things about how he’s going to fuck Benrey into the ground, just like this, fucking, gonna come in his ass and ruin him for everybody else, he’s not even thinking about what hes saying, he’s just opening his mouth and letting out unfiltered id, and that rhythmic slap of flesh against flesh echoes in the empty space around them, and then he presses his forehead against Benrey’s shoulder blade and spills between his thighs, Benrey’s name ragged and throaty on his lips. Then Gordon slumps over him and stays there.
After a long moment, he releases his grip on Benrey’s hips, fingers sore. Benrey’s so warm under him. Gordon can feel the rise and fall of his chest, and his hands idly meander up Benrey’s sides as he soaks up the low, content sound Benrey’s making. It’s practically smug. Satisfaction curls up in Gordon like a cat.
He's not sure just how much time has passed when he peels himself off of Benrey. Feels like hours, maybe. Benrey sits up, and the sight of his come smeared on Benrey's bare thighs hits Gordon like a truck. So too does the sight of his face, curiously soft and fond despite how utterly disheveled he looks. Gordon's heart skips a beat again.
By some miracle, Gordon drags himself to his feet, and offers a helping hand to Benrey. He doesn't know how he's not passing out where he stands as he shucks off the rest of his uniform. Just for showering purposes, that is. The way Benrey leers at him and makes a comment about his ass doesn't factor into that decision.
The two of them file into the showers, and Gordon's mind seems to float a good foot or two above his actual body. At least, it does until Benrey presses him against the slick tile, and that mouth against his brings him back down to Earth. The water's long gone cold by the time they manage to soap up properly. And the moon hangs overhead, warm and full, as they change back into their work uniforms and head their separate ways. It's both as awkward as Gordon expects, and yet, somehow, bizarrely natural. Like it's something he's done before. Something he could get used to.
Then Benrey winks at him when he comes into work the next day, and Gordon spills his coffee all over himself. He's not sure how he'll get used to that.