Slide

 

His whole body ached. Howard groaned and shifted a bit, feeling dazed and wondering what was going on. It was hard to breathe; the air seemed clogged - it was like he was getting a mouthful of dirt when he tried. Rocks… falling… big rocks… going to hit…

The images were vivid and immediate - with a startled gasp, Howard snapped open his eyes. He was pinned down - was he caught under the rocks? It seemed dark, too. And he couldn't breathe… he couldn't breatheTrapped - I'm trapped! Buried alive! "Get it off… get it off!" His voice came out too shrill, but in his panicked attempts to wriggle free, he hardly noticed.

The weight on him shifted with his efforts, and let out a muffled groan.

Howard froze, startled, and looked down. It wasn't rocks on him, after all - it was a person. A person who didn't seem to be doing very well, for all that they were making a weak effort to sit up or move away or… something.

"Ah…" He relaxed and sank back, shutting his eyes and giving up on his efforts with some relief. "It's just you, Kaoru." Now that he'd noticed that, he seemed to remember being shoved violently out of the way as the rocks came pounding down - that was the sort of thing Kaoru would do, too.

A thought occurred to him, and he opened one eye again, looking up at the other boy as things became easier to make out in the poorly lit cave. Then he blinked. "Eh?"

Kaoru had given up his efforts, and turned his face away from where it had pinned Howard's shoulder, arms trembling as they fought to give him what meager support he'd eked out of them. There was a trickle of red oozing down the side of his face, the source of which seemed to be an angry gash at his temple. He was breathing heavily.

"Kaoru!" Howard pushed himself free, rolling the other boy onto his back. There wasn't a lot of room in the meager little cave the rockslide had pinned them into, and Kaoru sucked in a sharp breath and grimaced noticeably as his upper body was propped onto some of the rubble. "You're hurt, right? Don't move - ow!" Kneeling didn’t feel good at all - apparently, Kaoru wasn't the only one injured. "Owowowow…"

He leaned away from Kaoru and rolled up his pant leg. There was a large, nasty-looking bruise forming - he could see it even with the lack of good lighting. "Eee… that's not good… and it hurts…" Howard eyed it with complete chagrin. "This stupid island…"

"… How…" Kaoru seemed to be having trouble speaking; he'd leaned his head back against the rocks beneath him, and his breathing was labored.

"Kaoru?" Howard shifted forward, moving gingerly to avoid jarring his knee. There were a few other aches in random places; he winced as he moved. "Ow…damnit…" Kaoru's eyes were unfocussed, and his face - what Howard could see of it, from the light streaming in through cracks in the rocks - was flushed.

He looked… not very well.

"What's the matter with you?" Without thinking, Howard reached out to move the obstructing locks of Kaoru's hair out of the way. He snatched his fingers back a moment later. "Why does your face feel so warm?"

Kaoru didn't seem to hear him; he was staring back with a kind of vagueness. In addition to that, his face was flushed, his eyes unfocussed and heavy-lidded, and his mouth was open a bit as he breathed unevenly.

The sight made Howard feel odd, in a way that had nothing to do with the fear - he shook his head and turned away. "Now what…?" Kaoru was injured; there was no one else around. He didn't have anything - no fire, no bandages, nothing. "What am I supposed to do about this?"

Nothing.

Howard looked back at Kaoru, feeling more than a little helpless. The other boy was still looking at him, his eyes just thin slits as he breathed harshly. He didn't seem any better than he had before. There was no one else there - they were expected to take some hours anyway, and no one expected a rockslide to happen. "Kaoru…"

Probably, no one would even notice they were missing any time soon.

"Aaah, not good…" Howard pushed himself up, being careful of his injured knee, and reached up to check the ceiling of the cave. He didn't have to reach very far - there was enough room to stand up, depending where you were in the place, and barely enough for a couple of steps across. The rocks also seemed to have packed them in pretty good; it was unlikely that he was going to be able to move them from the inside.

Maybe with Kaoru's help… but Kaoru wasn't in any shape to help right then.

"Why'd you have to go and get hurt?" Howard sank back down, and frowned at Kaoru's prone form, which was still staring dazedly back at him. "What are you looking at, anyway? Not that interesting, am I?" The sight of the blood on the side of the other boy's face was making him feel a bit queasy; he looked away, swallowing - and froze.

At a far corner of the cave, looking a bit battered but otherwise intact, was one of the melons they'd been gathering.

"Food!" Forgetting his discomfort, Howard all but pounced on the prized item, hugging it to his chest with a certain amount of relieved relish. "Thank god… I thought I was going to starve in here… Ah!" Hiding behind the melon was the lid for the water container he'd insisted on bringing along for the afternoon. "Do we have water, too…?"

The bottle didn't seem to be around - probably buried under the rubble.

Howard eyed the pile nearest to the cap with not much enthusiasm. The rocks didn't look so heavy that he couldn't move them by himself… but they were still big. And there were probably more than a few he had to move…

"Ehhh, never mind that - no water, I guess." Howard sank back again, and concentrated on grinning at the fruit instead. "I'm gonna eat you… oh yeah… most of you, anyway." He tossed a wary look in Kaoru's direction.

The other boy's hazy, narrow gaze was still on him - as much as it could be, with that lack of real cognition in it. Kaoru's fingers twitched, as if in response; his breathing was still rough, and his color did not look healthy. The blood flow from his head wound seemed to have tapered off, but it still looked ugly.

It needs to be cleaned - the thought poked in at the back of his head, before he could tell it to shut up. That Bell was a corruptive influence… But the more he looked at Kaoru's wound, the more paranoid he became about the dirt. What would happen if there was dirt in it? What if it got infected? What would he do then?

Howard bit his lip. He knew what he had to do, but… It's going to be so exhausting! There's got to be some other way. Anyway, maybe he's not that bad…

He looked over again, torn. Kaoru's eyes had shut, but his breathing didn't seem to have gotten any easier. Something about his expression was startlingly vulnerable.

"Ch'…" The world was conspiring against him. Howard made an ugly face, put down the melon, and stood again. "You'd better appreciate this later on," he told Kaoru irritably, and set to work moving the rocks.

The rumble was not as difficult to dig through as he'd thought. After some rearranging - and numerous breaks - Howard found that he could shift things aside more easily. It was hard on his arms and legs, though - that kind of strain couldn't be good for a person. "If you… don’t… thank me with… everything you've got," he got out between heaving gasps for air, staring petulantly at Kaoru's flushed face, "I'll… I'll…" He paused to breathe for a bit, trying to think up something suitable. "I'll short-sheet your bed!"

It wasn't much… but it made him feel better. With another drawn-out, despairing moan, Howard pushed himself up again. "I'm going to be moving rocks around forever! It must've been hours by now! Why aren't the others looking for us yet?"

Still muttering to himself, he began to push at another rock.

He was starting to think he'd never find the water - so when he finally brushed some of the smaller rubble aside and uncovered the squashed, and nearly empty, bottle, it was like uncovering an unopened bag of candy while cleaning his room.

"There it is!" Howard snatched the bottle free, holding it up to his face. Most of the water was gone, but there was a little corner of it left - barely anything, but it would be enough. "I did it… I did it!" He couldn't help but let out a funny-sounding laugh, relieved and gratified. "Wait until you wake up," he boasted, ecstatic, to the semi-comatose Kaoru, hefting his precious find. "I don't need anyone's help to have everything under control!"

Even the aggressively self-reliant Kaoru had to be impressed by that.

"Now…" Howard moved over to crouch by the other boy, staring down at his face. Then he blinked, and looked at the water. "What am I supposed to use to…?"

No help for it…

With another irritated noise, Howard reached into his pocket and drew out his carefully preserved handkerchief. "You owe me a new one of these," he told Kaoru imperiously, waving the thing in front of his face. Probably, Kaoru couldn't even notice - his eyes were closed, after all - but he had to feel like he was getting the point across somehow. "And next time I need something to wash my face with, you'd better volunteer something good."

That said, he dribbled a little of the water onto the square of cloth, and reached out hesitantly for Kaoru's face.

It was awkward. Howard found his hands hovering uncertainly for a moment, his gaze shifting as he sought the best angle. "Oh, who cares!" he finally burst out after a moment in an aggravated fit, and tilted Kaoru's head towards him, holding it in place by cradling the down-turned cheek and carefully brushing aside the other boy's hair. "As long as it gets clean, anyway," he muttered, and dabbed gingerly at the wound.

Kaoru jerked a little, and Howard almost lost his balance - he hadn't expected it. He caught it after a moment and frowned down at his patient, whose face was twisted in a grimace. "Hold still, will you?" he ordered, and settled down again to work.

The other boy moved very little after that; although he tensed and shook at times - with effort, or something like that. Howard did the best he could - he didn't know much about cleaning up wounds, after all - and set the stained handkerchief to cover it up afterwards. It wasn't much, but it was probably about as good as it was going to get - his and Kaoru's clothes were too dirty to put over an open gash, anyway.

"That's good enough, right?" It didn't look as good as something Bell could do, but it would work, wouldn't it? It'd do something, at least. "Or… maybe I should put my coat over it somehow…" If the inside part was over the wound, it might be okay - it could at least cover it better. Howard frowned thoughtfully, contemplating Kaoru's face in absent-minded silence for a moment.

It took him a moment to realize that Kaoru's eyes were open again - and looking straight at him. He blinked, and stared back, caught momentarily by the unexpected intrusion. There was nothing out of the ordinary in that gaze - it was a little hazy, although more focussed than it had been, but even with that, it was just a look. He just… looked.

And somehow, it felt weird. Why is he looking at me like that?

A second later, Howard remembered that he was still cupping Kaoru's cheek.

"Ah!" He jerked his hand back, feeling a hot flush springing up to his own cheeks. Why am I getting so flustered now? Quickly trying to cover the confusion, Howard sputtered out, "Y-You'd better be grateful for this later! I went to a lot of trouble for you, you know! And I'm injured too…" He set a hand over his knee protectively, and then straightened his shoulders, pushing the earlier incident aside. Important things to do, after all. "Okay… now, the jacket."

By the time he'd taken it off and arranged it to his satisfaction over Kaoru's head, the other boy had closed his eyes again.

Is that okay? Didn't they say it wasn't good to sleep if you had a head wound? Howard thought about that for a minute, biting his lip again in agonized indecision. If he had a fever, he should sleep it off - wasn't that right? But if he had a concussion, he shouldn’t be sleeping… wasn't that right, too? Or maybe he could sleep for a little while…

"Aaaaaah, how am I supposed to know these things?" He sank down into his seat again, frustrated and feeling dirty and tired… "I hate this place! And I hate being someone's nurse! And why - why - why aren't the others here to rescue us yet!?"

It was maddening.

And it was starting to get cold, too. That was just ridiculous. They were in a cramped little cave - how the hell could it be cold? Stupid climate…

"How did they say to start a fire…?" Howard picked up a couple of rocks and turned them over to examine them, without really knowing what he was looking for. "Hit them together like…"

He only tried it once. The tip of his left middle finger got caught in the blow, and he dropped the rocks with a startled curse, clutching the injured hand. "Ow! Stupid things!" In a fit of childish rage, he kicked the rocks across the cave.

Now what am I supposed to do?

The chill edge of a gust of wind blew in through the cracks in the rocks, and Howard hugged his arms close to his chest, bringing up his knees instinctively. It was starting to sound pretty windy outside - a storm brewing? At a time like this…

Howard was seriously starting to regret giving up his jacket.

Can't take it back now, I guess. He looked over at Kaoru, and lost that thought. The flush hadn't left the other boy's cheeks, but it didn't take more than an instant to notice that he was shivering violently by that point.

"Aaah…" Howard sat up sharply, shifting over to crouch beside him worriedly. "This is bad…" What was he supposed to do? Should he wake up Kaoru now? I have to! I don't know what to do! "Kaoru." He shook the other boy's shoulder a little, trying not to jar him too much. "Oi! Kaoru!" Another shake. "Kaoru!"

A slight flinch passed over the face in front of him, and then feverish brown eyes slit open to regard him. There didn't seem to be much clarity there.

"You can't be that sick!" Howard knew he was starting to panic, but it seemed very, very appropriate at the moment. "You have to help me out! It's getting cold and I can't build a fire, and I don’t know what to do!"

Kaoru stared back at him, and Howard imagined he could see some faint spark of understanding there. "… Howard…" he managed to mumble out, sounding rough and weak and - well - sick. He murmured out something else, but it was too low and garbled to be caught.

"What?" Howard leaned closer, angling his ear towards Kaoru's mouth. "What was that?"

"… Get closer." He almost wasn't sure he'd heard that right, but he didn't have time to question, because after a moment, Kaoru added, "Body heat…"

"EH?" Howard jerked back, staring down at the other boy incredulously - and, although he wasn't entirely sure why, with cheeks that felt like they were burning, even in the cold. "You mean, you… and me? Closer?" The last word came out with a bit of an unattractive warble to it, but he ignored that for the moment. "You've got to be kidding!" He did want to get warm… It was just… Kaoru… and - and - well… "I don’t want to catch whatever you've got!" he blustered out, not wanting to think too much about why the idea really made him so nervous.

Kaoru was still staring at him - still shivering… His eyes were bright and fevered, and he didn't look well. But somehow, that look seemed to judge him - seemed to be flat and unimpressed, seemed to say 'do you realize how stupid you sound?' It was a typical 'Kaoru' sort of look - for a person who didn't say much, his eyes really spoke for him.

Howard felt himself flushing again - this time with embarrassment and wounded pride. "F-Fine then!" he declared, proudly, turning his face away for the moment and keeping his chin raised high. "Not such a big deal…" He shifted over.

Arranging the two of them was an awkward business. Howard struggled with where to put his arms and just how close he was supposed to get. There had to be touching - probably a lot of touching - and he needed to cover Kaoru up as much as possible, right? It took a lot of fumbling, and more than a little blushing, and some shifting around to get comfortable. Howard felt a bit weird about the entire thing - if he got too close, it'd seem odd, and if he didn't get close enough, he'd seem stupid. It took him a long time to work that out, and he could feel Kaoru's eyes on him the whole time.

It was more than enough to make him nervous.

He finally settled for lying half on his side - and half over Kaoru - with one arm sprawled over the other boy's shoulders and Kaoru's far arm tucked in close to his body so that it could benefit from the extra heat. With his face turned down almost into the shoulder nearest him, Howard couldn't really be sure which was hotter - his skin or Kaoru's.

Why do I have to do this?? It's… it's…

It was warmer, that was for sure.

"Good…" Kaoru murmured, almost inaudibly, and let out a long breath, probably falling back into the uneasy sleep Howard had disturbed earlier.

Somehow, that made things a little easier. Howard dared to shift a bit further into the shared warmth, still feeling strange about it but somehow finding the feeling not unpleasant. Kaoru was thin and wiry, but his body was firm - comfortable enough, if he could relax and enjoy it. The fact that he did enjoy it was probably what was keeping him from really enjoying it, though.

Howard frowned. Just… Just forget it! What does it matter? You're warm, right?

That helped… he wasn't warm enough to really be comfortable - or what passed for comfortable on that god-forsaken island - but he was exhausted, and even the harsh rhythm of Kaoru's breathing was enough to lull him into relaxing somewhat. He just had to forget where he was… focus on the quiet… ignore everything… and Kaoru could…

Howard shut his eyes, let out a long sigh, and tried not to think about anything at all.

______

 

He didn't know how long it had been before he was jarred awake - not badly, but it was a shock, since he hadn't even expected to be sleeping in the first place. Howard blinked hazily, wondering for a moment why the surface beneath him was moving… and felt warm…

Lifting his still-blurry eyes, he found himself staring through the darkness at Kaoru's slightly startled brown ones from about two inches away.

Howard blinked. Froze. And panicked.

"YAGH!" He tried to push himself up and away with some violence - but his left arm was asleep from being positioned under him, and he ended up just flopping back down on top of the other boy - who let out a startled grunt and grabbed his arms instinctively. The jacket on Kaoru's head slipped a bit, which apparently shifted it against his wound, because he grimaced, fingers tightening almost painfully against Howard's skin.

For a moment, that caught his attention away from the awkward position. "Ah!" Howard stopped, head snapping up to watch Kaoru's face with some concern. "Be more careful!" he ordered, feeling the last hazes of sleep fade. "I spent a lot of time making sure that was okay, you know!"

The grimace faded. Kaoru looked up at him, a strange sort of expression on his face. His eyes almost seemed curious as they studied Howard's. "I know," he answered, in a voice that still seemed weaker than his usual, but considerably stronger than it had been before.

"You know?" He blinked at that, somehow not expecting it - then the memory came back. "Oh, right - you were awake, weren't you?" Unbidden, a self-satisfied smirk was starting to settle on his face - his efforts were appreciated, after all! "Then you saw how I saved you! Right?"

Kaoru didn't answer that, but a weak, half-amused sort of smile tugged up his lips. "How long?" he asked instead, still studying Howard's face with that strange sort of look.

"How long?" Howard repeated, blinking at him. Something seemed a little off… He couldn't quite put his finger on what it was. "Oh - how long were you asleep? Uh…" It seemed darker than before - was it evening already? The storm seemed to have stopped. "A few hours? Something like that, anyway."

"Ah." Kaoru leaned back a little, still watching him.

Howard stared at him in perplexity for a moment. Something still seemed wrong… something about where he was or what he was doing, or how he was looking at Kaoru or -

That was when he realized he was still lying on top of the other boy, with his arms held loosely.

"O-Oi!" The blush returned with a vengeance; Howard jerked himself free and away, leaning back on his hands. "The others should be looking for us now!" he blurted out, purposefully looking anywhere but at Kaoru. He felt cold… "The storm's over, so they're probably out there calling out 'Howaaaaard!' right now."

"Probably." Kaoru pushed himself up laboriously, keeping a careful hand on his head to hold the jacket in place. He hadn't stopped looking, Howard noticed, feeling a little uneasy. Those eyes were like lasers, burning their way through his skin and skull. He swallowed hard.

"How long do you think we'll be stuck in here for?" he asked, in as imperious a voice as he could manage, picking up the melon he'd abandoned the night before and pretending like he just didn't care.

Kaoru grunted a little; when Howard turned around, the other boy was attempting to push himself to his feet. His arms were shaking with the effort.

"Oi! Don't do that!" Exasperation overriding his nervousness, Howard slid up a bit, letting the melon drop back to the ground and pushing Kaoru's shoulders down, forcing him back into a sitting position. "What good do you think you're going to do, moving around and making yourself worse?"

"I still should - " Kaoru's movements were sluggish as he tried to twist out of Howard's hold - normally, he could probably do so without much effort, but at that point, he only just managed to accidentally snag the back of Howard's head with his right hand and pull it down to the level of his face.

For a moment, they stared at each other - Kaoru with his fingers buried in Howard's hair, Howard with one hand braced on Kaoru's shoulder in an instinctive attempt to keep his balance.

Wha…Wha… What is this? Color leaped up to claim Howard's cheeks again; for a period of time that seemed agonizingly long, he just sat there staring. It felt like he couldn't move - his skin was tingling, and his stomach was moving around like crazy.

Kaoru's hand was still in his hair… fingers twisting a bit, but not pulling free…

"This is…"

Howard could feel his heart beating hard in his chest; he blinked a little, not too sure what the other boy was trying to say - but anxious about hearing it. "'This is'?"

And, incredibly, the first hints of color rose on Kaoru's cheeks as well - Howard could barely make the flush out in the darkness, but it was definitely there. Kaoru's fingers moved in his hair, almost hesitantly, and then slid around to the front, seeming to let the strands slip through them with a certain reluctance. As Howard gaped at him in complete and utter shock, Kaoru brought his hand up suddenly, pushing the longer locks at the front of the other boy's head over his forehead and sliding his fingers free, with a kind of deliberate slowness. There was an expression like confusion or wonder on his face - his eyes followed the progress of his hand like a child's eyes might follow a shiny object swinging in front of them.

Howard swallowed hard, and concentrated on breathing. In… out… in… out… The rhythm brought more heat to his face; it felt like his heartbeat was echoing in the cave, encompassing his whole world. He couldn't take his eyes off Kaoru's face.

This… he…

Kaoru let his fingers slip down to brush over Howard's flushed cheek, and shifted his gaze to lock it with the other boy's.

Howard forgot breathing altogether; his rhythm faltered.

"Kaoru…" The word came out hoarse; he cleared his throat, and tried again. "What - ?"

"Howard." There wasn't much space between them; Kaoru leaned forward to cover the rest of the distance as he spoke, and his lips brushed Howard's when he formed the word - then with more firmness as he pressed them against the slack ones next to them.

Howard's world went up in a flurry of colors and sparks, like fire and sunsets and stars.

The kiss was soft, slow - like the movies, Howard thought dimly, in the part of his brain that still could think. He shut his eyes, relaxing all at once, letting Kaoru press him back and down without a fight until his back hit the stones beneath it. The other boy let the jacket fall aside and leaned over him almost gingerly, one hand still cupping Howard's cheek as the other braced itself against the rock near Howard's shoulder. He broke away long enough to look down for a moment, cheeks still flushed, eyes heavy-lidded, with an expression that made Howard feel like electric currents had been strapped into his veins and turned on just at that moment.

Their breath mingled. A million questions were swimming around in Howard's head - at least a dozen of them intelligent enough to ask without looking like an idiot - but staring up at Kaoru's face, lips still sensitive from the kiss, body tense, heart pounding like crazy… he couldn't get out a word.

Really, when it came down to it, he didn't care - as long as they kept going.

"Do you mind this?" Kaoru asked, after a brief moment. His voice was low and breathy.

The right words still stuck in his throat; Howard shook his head fervently. He did not mind. He definitely did not mind. He was so far from minding, he was almost at the point of flipping Kaoru over and taking charge of things himself. Which probably wasn't a good idea, considering his injury -

His injury.

Right.

"Ah - wait." Howard raised his hands as Kaoru moved to lean down again, just up to the level of his own shoulders. The gash was visible - just barely - from the angle he was at, and in the dim light. "Your head…"

"It's fine." Ignoring the hands, Kaoru abruptly continued, pressing his lips down on Howard's with flattering enthusiasm. Caught without a plan, Howard let the appendages curl to fit Kaoru's shoulders, shutting his eyes again as his mouth was sort of clumsily devoured.

It was addicting - like eating his favorite foods, not knowing when to stop and feeling too good to care. Kaoru's body felt good under his hands - the kiss got bolder, and he could taste Kaoru's saliva; it sent a thrill through him, spiking its final at the growing ache between his legs. Kaoru let out a muffled groan as Howard's hands wandered roughly - over his back, down the front of his chest, searching for the contact he craved as if it would give him salvation. He wormed a leg between those of the boy beneath him, thrusting his hips forward aggressively against Howard's.

A sharp arch of… something… crackled through him. With a shuddering gasp, Howard broke the kiss, breathing hard as he fought to regain control of himself. He stared at Kaoru hazily, feeling an answering erection pressing almost challengingly into his left hip. Kaoru rocked forward again, letting out a sharp grunt and shutting his eyes as if he'd reached some sort of personal nirvana. His leg rubbed suggestively against Howard's groin, setting off another one of those strong twinges of pleasure. It made him gasp again, a bit of a whimper mixed in, and his head tossed back.

It was hard to think… impossible, really. Kaoru took the motion as an invitation, running his tongue around under Howard's jaw, just at the edge of his turtleneck, and under his ear, biting a little at the lobe.

And then a sound drifted in from outside the cave - a sound that was enough to make them both freeze in the act.

"Kaaaaaoru! Howaaaaard!"

Luna's voice. For a moment, Howard felt a rush of panic - she was going to catch them, she'd see… she'd interrupt them! She already had interrupted them! Kaoru had raised his head, and the two of them exchanged glances, still heavy-lidded, still breathing hard, mirroring a hazy confusion back at each other.

"Kaaaaaoru!"

Menori, too. Howard groaned low in his throat, freeing a hand to run through his hair, exasperated with the poor timing. "Why now?" he muttered, irritably.

"Howaaaard!"

"We'd better answer," Kaoru said quietly, shifting his weight to prop himself on his other elbow. It forced him to move his hand, leaving a slightly damp and rapidly cooling patch where his hand had pressed into the side of Howard's face. He was toying with the waistline of the other boy's jeans, almost absently.

"Ch'…" Howard knew it was the truth, but he frowned anyway, bitterly disappointed with how things had turned out. It was just not fair. He turned his face away from Kaoru, and called back, "Here! We're in here!"

"Howard!" Menori's voice sounded startled. Footsteps sounded outside, growing closer to them. "How did you get in there?"

"Is Kaoru with you, too?" Luna's voice added, anxiously.

"There was a rockslide - we're trapped in here!" Howard was focussing on keeping his voice steady; he hardly paid attention as Kaoru's fingers drifted along the edge of his pants, except to hitch his stomach a little as they brushed the sensitive skin just inside. "Kaoru's inj - ah!" The hand brushed over his cloth-covered erection, forcing a startled little jerk of his hips.

"Howard?" Luna sounded concerned.

"Kaoru's - ah - he's hurt! Mrgh!" Howard twisted, letting out a gasp and clapping a hand over his mouth to keep any more suspicious sounds in as Kaoru slowly unzipped the front of his pants. He stared down with wide eyes, watching incredulously as a little smile played on the front of the other boy's face and squirming as his fingers wriggled in past his open zipper.

"Kaoru's hurt?" Menori repeated, sharply. "Is it serious?"

"Oi! Stop it!" Howard hissed desperately - and ineffectively. He moved his hand and raised his voice again, struggling to keep it steady as Kaoru slid a hand over the front of his underwear, sending a series of pleasant little jolts up his spine. "No, he's all - eerk - all right! He's all right!" His voice went up an octave and his back arched helplessly as Kaoru's hand slid under the cloth and fit to the shape of his badly weeping erection.

"Are you all right, Howard?" Luna asked him, sounding - if anything - even more concerned than before. "You don't sound very good."

"Fine! I'm fi - FINE!" He was gasping as Kaoru's hand moved, slick with sweat and pre-come. They were slow movements, not enough to bring him to the edge just yet, but it was enough to make his hips rock to the motion. He covered his mouth again, garbled noises escaping around it as he struggled to hold on to his control.

"We can't move these on our own," Menori was saying outside. "We'll have to get the others."

"Right - you get Bell and Shingo," Luna answered, decisively. "I'll go and tell Sharla. Hold on just a little longer, you two!" she addressed the cave then. "We'll have you out in no time!"

"Got it!" Kaoru called back, when it seemed like Howard was in no shape to answer. The sound of retreating footsteps outside the blocked-in cave followed after - and then silence.

"You bastard…" Howard gasped out, uncovering his mouth and glaring up at Kaoru with blurry eyes, just in time to gasp as the other boy's pace picked up. "Ah! Damnit… bastard, bastard… you’ve - got some…"

"Quickly…" Kaoru said urgently, and rolled over half on top of him, using his shoulder to brace himself as he fumbled with his own pants, hand momentarily slowing on Howard's erection. He pressed his face to the side of the other boy's, breath and lips brushing against the sensitive spot between his jaw and earlobe.

Howard jerked, biting his lip - the cry escaped anyway, as a muffled "mmrgh", and Kaoru pressed down heavily on him, his breath hitching as he jerked himself off at the same time as his pace grew fast and firm for Howard.

"Ah! Ah… ah…" His gut was tightening; he felt the tense, almost intolerable mix of pain and pleasure that signaled that he was nearing completion. "Kaoru… Kaoru, keep… keep…"

His breath caught; his throat closed up, and the tension in his groin was released as he shuddered and gasped, spilling himself over Kaoru's hand. Dimly, outside of his personal high, he could hear Kaoru's gasps, feel Kaoru moving against him still, desperately - but for that moment, all he do was tremble in the aftermath, body going limp as the last shivers of pleasure faded.

"Howard…" Kaoru let go of him, lowering his face so that it was turned into the exposed part of Howard's neck. His breath was ragged; the way he jerked against the body beneath him as he sought his release was erotic enough to send another pleasant tingle down Howard's spine. "Ah…"

And then his body jerked violently, the flow of air against Howard's neck hitching and erratic as Kaoru came to a shuddering climax, panting against the skin as he recovered.

There was a moment of stillness as they both just breathed.

Howard's skin was starting to feel damp and kind of gross; he'd been sweating, and somehow his shirt had been pushed just past his ribcage. Just as well - his stomach was a damp mess. "Eh…" He spoke a bit hesitantly, not sure if it was against the rules or something to bring it up. "My handkerchief…?"

Kaoru blinked - then seemed to understand. He twisted around a bit, reaching behind him, and produced the item in question. "I'll do it," he stated, and set to work wiping Howard's stomach clean.

He was definitely not going to be able to use that handkerchief again.

Kaoru's fingers were somehow gentle but quick - he finished with the mess and sat up, setting the handkerchief aside, and stared back down at Howard, almost questioningly.

"Maybe we shouldn't tell the others about this." It seemed best. Howard studied Kaoru's face a bit awkwardly, wondering if there was going to be a problem. He wasn't really sure how he felt about this… It was nice, of course, but - well - as far as feelings went… That is, he liked Kaoru, but he didn't know if he like liked Kaoru, at least not as much as it would take to make this an actual thing

"Right," Kaoru agreed without hesitation, and Howard wasn't sure if he was more relieved or disappointed by the lack of an argument.

Never mind… If it's really a thing, it'll work out later. Right?

Howard zipped up his pants and pulled down his shirt, and watched Kaoru out of the corners of his eyes, noting with some pleasure that he was being given the same attention. "Don't forget to tell the others how I saved you," he said airily, and smirked.

Kaoru's mouth turned up at the corners, just a little, even as Bell's and Menori's voices came into the edge of Howard's range of hearing.

Somehow, he had a feeling 'later' was going to work out fine.

 

The End