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by Caroline Crane


Cooper laughed along with the rest of the guys gathered around the common room at the center of their suite, but his attention was focused completely on the closed door that led to the bedroom he shared with Josh. He waited a beat, then two, counting silently to three before the door swung open. And he couldn't have stopped the smile if he wanted to, because Josh looked exactly the way Cooper had been picturing him since he invited all the guys over to spend another evening breaking in his new bong.

"Cooper, come on, you're killing me here," Josh said, but it wasn't the words that mattered. It was the slightly annoyed, pleading expression in those eyes, the way Josh looked right at him and ignored everybody else in the room. Half the time Cooper did stuff like this on purpose to get under his roommate's skin, just because he loved to see Josh beg.

Only he'd seen Josh beg for whole different reasons in the past couple days, and he liked that even better. "What?" he asked, feigning innocence even though they both knew he knew exactly what Josh's problem was. It was always the same, Josh came out and begged him to shut up so he could study, and Cooper pushed the limits of his roommate's patience as far as he could. For so long it had been the only way he could get a reaction out of Josh that it was almost habit now, but if nothing else the past weekend had showed him that there was so much more he could have from Josh if he just asked the right way.

"Coop, I'm serious. I've gotta finish this paper tonight. Can't you guys go do…whatever somewhere else?"

Cooper shook his head and stood up, pressing his finger to his lips and casting a glance at his guests. "Guys. Josh is trying to study. Have a little respect, huh?" he said, but all it got him were a few knowing laughs and failed attempts from his friends to look serious.

He ignored them as he crossed the room, focusing on Josh's back as the other boy turned and headed back to his desk. When he reached their bedroom he closed the door, leaning back against it and watching his roommate run his hands over his face. It had been exactly three days since Josh finally told Cooper what he wanted, and they'd spent the past two days doing pretty much nothing except practicing all kinds of different relaxation techniques.

They hadn't really talked since Sunday night, though, if you could call the things they'd said to each other over the weekend 'conversation'. When he'd woken up that morning Josh was already gone, leaving him to wake up naked and alone and wondering if it was possible that he'd dreamed the whole thing. If he hadn't woken up naked in Josh's bed he might have almost believed it, but aside from the nakedness there was a vague memory of Josh pressing a kiss to the back of his neck before he climbed out of bed to shower before his first class.

Since then he hadn't really seen his roommate; they'd sat at the same table at dinner, but the other guys were all there and Cooper still wasn't sure whether or not Josh was okay with letting them know about the change in their relationship. Not that they all didn't already think Josh and Cooper were sleeping together, but now that it was real he wasn't sure how Josh was going to cope with people knowing. It was just another in the long list of things they were going to have to talk about eventually, but for now Cooper was still enjoying the first few blissful days of their new relationship, where they didn't do much besides feel.

And even though they hadn't talked about that either he knew how Josh felt about him, and he was pretty sure Josh knew how he felt too. There was no way he couldn't, at least not as far as Cooper was concerned. After the past two days he was positive he'd showed Josh as many ways as he knew how exactly how he felt, so maybe talking wasn't really all that necessary after all.

As soon as Josh pulled his hands away from his face and looked up Cooper grinned, pushing himself off the door to stand behind the other boy. "I thought we dealt with this whole tension thing," he said, his hands landing on Josh's shoulders to knead at the tense muscle under his shirt.

"Coop…" His name escaped Josh's throat in a half-moan, half-whimper, and he decided he definitely liked that sound when it was his roommate saying it. "God, Coop. I have to…"

"I've barely seen you for two minutes today," Cooper reminded him, leaning forward to whisper against the other boy's ear. "Just give me five minutes."

"I don't have five minutes," Josh answered, but he dropped his head a little further forward and surrendered to the feeling of Cooper's thumbs digging into his nape. "This paper…I have to turn in a rough draft…"

Cooper laughed and shook his head, wondering how a guy like Josh had made it through high school without giving himself a heart attack. Or at the very least an ulcer; his uncle had worried himself right into one of those, and from the way Josh talked Cooper didn't understand how he got out of bed some mornings. "It's a rough draft, Josh. It's supposed to be rough."

"Yeah, but it's gotta be…Jesus…like fifteen pages. At least."

Most of the fight had gone out of Josh's voice already, and Cooper almost felt a little bad for taking advantage. He didn't feel bad enough to stop, though, especially not when Josh was probably going to be up most of the night making sure his rough draft was better than most people's final papers. He let his fingers stray under Josh's collar, far enough to feel the heat trapped between Josh's skin and his cotton tee shirt. He wanted to feel that heat pressed against him, his chest against Josh's back or his mouth moving over Josh's collarbone. He wanted to suck gently on that spot just to the right of Josh's elbow, the one that made him breathy and incoherent and made his whole body blush. He loved watching Josh lose control, almost as much as he loved…well, as much as he loved Josh.

It was something else he hadn't gotten around to saying yet, mostly because he figured Josh already knew, but partly because he didn't want to say anything too soon and push his best friend right back out of his life. Everything with Josh was like walking on eggshells, and he'd been more patient in the past few months than he'd ever been in his life. The payoff made every second of waiting worth it, though, and he'd wait another six months if he had to for exactly the right time to tell Josh how he felt.

"How many pages have you written?" Cooper asked, pulling his hands away from Josh's shoulders and moving around to face him.

"Six or so," Josh answered, and Cooper had to fight hard not to smile at the confused, almost hurt expression on the other boy's face. He knew part of Josh was dying to ask why he'd stopped, to beg him not to leave and go back to his friends. The rest of Josh stubbornly clung to the notion that that was what he wanted, and Cooper knew that part was a lot stronger than Josh's needy side.

It didn't matter, though, because he didn't have any plans to go anywhere until he found a way to make Josh relax. He slid to his knees in front of the other boy, his hands gripping Josh's thighs just hard enough to get his attention. "See? You're almost halfway there."

"Cooper…" And this time his name held a warning, but he ignored it and started moving his hands in slow circles against Josh's jeans. He knew Josh didn't mean it anyway, and if he did he wouldn't in a few minutes.

"Josh," he answered, flashing his most innocent grin as he nudged the other boy's knees a little further apart and moved closer.

"The guys…they're right next door."

Cooper shrugged and slid his hands up Josh's thighs to his waist, looping his thumbs through the other boy's belt loops and pulling him forward. "I don't care about any of them. I care about you."

He caught the brief flicker of surprise in Josh's eyes right before the last of his resolve melted, and he swallowed a surge of triumph when one of Josh's hands stroked tentatively through his hair. "You do?"

This time Cooper didn't bother to check the urge to roll his eyes, his hands leaving Josh's waist to close around the front of his shirt. "Yeah, Josh. Of course I do," he answered, tugging the other boy forward and fusing their lips together. Josh's grip tightened in his hair, his other hand on the back of Cooper's neck to hold him in place. Cooper parted his lips and Josh took the invitation gladly, a sound catching in his throat that almost sounded like a gasp.

He hadn't really expected Josh to be that shocked by the idea that Cooper might actually care about him; after all, he'd said as much on Friday night at the bridge, and even if he hadn't said it again since then he'd just assumed Josh would be able to tell. Everything they'd done together over the past two days, all the time he'd spent memorizing Josh's body and making him feel things he'd never felt before – all that meant something to him. It meant a lot more than a fumbling, half-drunken one night stand with whatever girl happened to end up in his bed for the night, and he thought Josh would know that.

He could feel as much need in this kiss as he'd felt in that first one, though, and he knew without asking that Josh didn't know how he felt. There was no way he could know and still be clinging so desperately to Cooper, as though he expected him to disappear any second. He heard low, soothing noises and realized they were coming from him, his hands moving on Josh's back as he slowly eased away from the other boy to look up at him.

"The guys…" Josh said again, but with less conviction this time. His lips were swollen already and Cooper couldn't help a smile at the flush in his cheeks and the glazed look in his eyes. Slowly he let go of the other boy, easing out of Josh's grip and standing up long enough to go over to the door. He turned the handle and glanced out, his grin growing a little brighter as he took in the empty room.

"Huh. Looks like they all took off." He shut the door again and turned the lock before he turned back to Josh, his heart skipping a beat at the look on the other boy's face. "Guess it's just you and me."

He didn't bother waiting for an answer before he crossed the room again, taking Josh's hand and pulling him out of the chair. Part of him expected another half-hearted argument, some mumbled words about the paper he needed to write and the amount of work he had to do. Instead Josh let himself be pulled toward his bed, sitting down hard on the edge of the mattress and pulling Cooper down next to him. "They all know, don't they?"

"Yeah," Cooper answered. "Does that bother you?"

"I don't know. I mean it's weird," Josh said, frowning down at their still-joined hands as he searched for the right words, "but in a way I guess I kind of like that…I mean I wasn't sure if this was a permanent thing or just us screwing around."

"I've wanted you for months, Josh. Even before the night you saved both our asses I wanted you. I'm not just screwing around, I swear."

Josh nodded and looked up, relief and a little embarrassment replacing the uncertainty that had been in his eyes a moment ago. "So we're like…a couple."

"It sounds kinda weird when you say it out loud, but yeah." Cooper grinned again, turning the word over in his mind for a moment. "I've never been part of a couple before."

"Never? Seriously?"

"Never really wanted to." He tugged his hand out of Josh's and inched forward, leaning in to press his lips to the corner of the other boy's mouth before he pulled back again. "So what do you say? You wanna be my first boyfriend?"

A surprised laugh escaped Josh's throat, his breath hitting the side of Cooper's neck as he leaned forward and brushed his lips against Cooper's jaw. "Yeah. Yeah, I do."

Cooper turned his head far enough to capture Josh's mouth against his own, taking his time kissing Josh before he released him again. "You really have to get back to your homework?" he asked, his hand sliding up under Josh's tee shirt to flatten against the warm skin on the other boy's back.

"I've gotta hand in my paper at 1:00," Josh answered, shuddering and craning his neck as Cooper's lips found the sensitive spot behind his ear.

"So can't you bail on your first class and finish in the morning?" Cooper asked, each word resonating against Josh's skin as he trailed his mouth across the column of the other boy's throat. He worked Josh's shirt a little further up his stomach, his hands moving across each new inch of skin that was revealed. He could almost feel the resolve flowing out of Josh as he relaxed more and more into Cooper's touch, and when Cooper's mouth finally found his again Josh groaned and pulled him even closer.

When he finally let Josh up to catch his breath he tugged the other boy's shirt over his head, smirking at the glare Josh shot him. "If I fail out of school you're gonna have to find yourself another boyfriend."

Cooper shook his head and pushed Josh back against the pillows, his knees on either side of his roommate's hips as he reached for the button on Josh's jeans. "It took me almost nineteen years to find you, Josh. You think I'd just let you go like that?"

He didn't wait for an answer before he leaned forward for another kiss, but as soon as Josh surged up to meet him he had his answer anyway. Josh wasn't going anywhere and he wasn't either, even if it meant he actually started studying just to stay in school with Josh. He'd done a lot of crazy things in the name of their friendship, but Josh hadn't seen anything yet. There wasn't much Cooper wouldn't do for his best friend, but there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for his boyfriend.


The End