talk me down

“I still don’t… know how to be comfortable with-” Ari’s mouth opens, then closes again. He wants to say something to make Tate feel better. Feels like an asshole for saying it at all, but it seemed better than just perpetually stepping out of reach.

Tate nods in something like understanding, although the hurt look doesn’t leave his eyes. “Will you tell me if there’s something I can do to help?”

“Yeah?” He pauses, considering. “I’ll try to?”

That gets another nod.

Tate keeps his distance, but lets the conversation go back to something like normal. He talks about hockey. School. How it was literally an excuse to keep playing hockey, but then he ended up liking it.

And he listens.

He actually listens, and somehow knows when to ask questions and when not to press. Like he already has all the sore spots mapped out.

Tonight he’s not quite wedged into the opposite end of the couch. Instead he’s somewhere near the outer edge of the middle cushion, one arm over the back of the couch and the other resting beside him. Every so often his fingers will flex just slightly – like he’s suppressing the urge to touch.

He doesn’t, though. Not even when Ari shoves his toes between Tate’s thigh and the cushion. He looks, and something in his expression changes, but he doesn’t touch.

The movie ends. Tate yawns and lets his head tilt back, throat exposed. And it must be a result of the change – another one of those werewolf things – because it conveys some aspect of vulnerability that tugs at something in Ari. Before he can question it too seriously, he’s moving. Straddling one of Tate’s large thighs because both, especially with the way he currently has them spread, seems like too much of a commitment.

Tate makes a questioning sound and starts to move. He freezes immediately when Ari says, “Don’t.”

“Sorry,” Ari adds. “I just- can I-?”

With another cut-off whine and a shift like he’s actively trying not to move, Tate nods and seems to actively force himself to relax back against the couch, throat still exposed.

Ari moves more slowly this time, settling his weight fully on either side of Tate’s leg before placing a hand on his broad chest. He reminds himself that he’s done more than this, even with Tate. Reminds himself of the kiss, not that that takes much work. It’s hardly left his mind since then, always lingering in the background, especially when he’s around Tate or Kyah.

They still haven’t all three been together at the same time since then, really. With the full moon coming up, it’s inevitable that they will be. That’s why Ari has been making an effort to spend more time alone with Tate. To try to settle his own more general issues.

And so far, Tate has been… great. Better than he should be. Which is probably why Ari can do this at all. Can stand being alone with him. Keeps saying things that are true, yes, but that he normally wouldn’t. Definitely the reason he’s here, now, fingers splayed possessively over Tate’s heart without even meaning to. The rapid beat of his pulse is more befitting him having run a marathon than this.

“Nervous?” Ari teases quietly. He blatantly ignores how true it is for himself.

The corners of Tate’s mouth quirk up slightly. “Given where your knee is, I think I’m well within my rights to be.”

“Huh?” He looks down. “Oh shit, sorry, I-” Ari starts to backpedal, trying to find a way to adjust quickly.

Tate laughs, seeming to forget Ari’s previous order – forceful request – and catches him before he can with one hand low on his thigh and the other on his back. “You’re fine. I’m joking. Well, mostly? Like it could be bad, but-” he cuts off abruptly, seeming to realize what he’s done. Ari feels his breath catch. The tension before he starts to remove his hands.

“Wait,” Ari says. “Just. Give me a second.”

He freezes again. His hands are big, and so warm that Ari can feel the heat even through his clothes. And strangely, fine. Ari lets his head drop to Tate’s shoulder and exhales a slow, shaky breath.

Somehow, Tate understands that for what it is. His thumb begins to make slow, easy circles at the inside of Ari’s knee. His fingers rub gentle paths back and forth on his back. Ari releases another breath and turns his face toward Tate’s throat; his next inhale fills his lungs with the subtle, earthy scent he’s learned to associate with wolves and something else. Something that’s entirely Tate and seems to simultaneously soothe something in him and awaken every nerve ending in his body.

“Ari,” Tate says, quiet but strained. His hips shift minutely, pulse and breathing both kicking up their tempo.


“I don’t want to- you might want to move?”

Picking his head back up, Ari asks, “Why’s that?” He knows, technically. But he also wants to know what Tate will say.

Tate takes a slow breath, his eyes pressed shut and his jaw tight. “Because there’s only so much I can control and I know you don’t…” he sighs. “I’m fine with slow and everything but I’m only human. Well. Y’know. And like I haven’t uh- never mind, that’s not- just. Please.”

He cocks his head and holds Tate’s gaze when he opens his eyes again. “You don’t and I don’t what, exactly? There were a lot of words there that said very little.”

“Now you sound like Kyah,” he says, smiling slightly. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable because I know you said you don’t… I dunno. Like guys. Or historically haven’t. I feel like there’s something I’m missing there since I’m pretty sure it’s not that I’m just special, but you haven’t seemed to want to talk about it and I don’t want to push, and-“


Tate’s fingers tighten, not quite grabbing but more of a reflexive clench. There’s something slightly wild – panicked, almost – in his eyes. Ari isn’t sure if Tate expects him to freak out or if he’s on the verge of doing so himself.

“I’m trying,” he says, because he has to say something.

“I know,” Tate replies softly.

“And I don’t… not want. It’d be a lot easier if I didn’t, but I do and I don’t know how to-” Ari sighs and lets his head drop to Tate’s shoulder again. He ends up turning his face toward Tate’s throat again, the tip of his nose just touching skin. The hand on his back moves slowly. Cautiously. Ari isn’t sure which one of them it’s meant to be comforting, but it’s working.

He finds himself melting against Tate’s chest. And in response, Tate shifts slightly then seems to relax too.

“I don’t know how to talk about it,” Ari admits, barely more than a whisper.

Tate huffs a laugh. “Sorry, I’m not- I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that.”

“About what?” he asks, a second before he remembers.

But it’s too late. Tate sighs and turns his head, so his mouth is just barely not touching Ari’s forehead. “Has anyone told you how I ended up here?”

“Um. Astrid might have mentioned it briefly, a while ago. Something about hunters?”

He nods and lets out a shaky exhale. Something in the mood shifts; Ari regrets asking. Wishes he knew how to change the subject so Tate wouldn’t feel like this anymore.

“I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Illinois. Tiny pack, nothing like here. Just a few families in the area. Handful of kids around my age. And then one day… no more pack. It wasn’t even a full moon, and none of us were even old enough to turn so it’s not like there was even much of a fight.”

“I’m sorry,” he says, not knowing how to even begin to respond. “How did you-?”

Tate breathes something like a laugh, though there’s no humor in it. “We’d had a foal born that morning. I’d snuck out to see it. Was just sitting in the barn when they drove up. When I heard the shots, I froze, and then I ran. They tried to chase me, but I knew the woods. They didn’t. But there were more of them at the neighbors’. And I was-” he shakes his head.

There’s something off in the way he goes still. Something that makes Ari’s pulse ratchet up a few notches.

“Tate?” He sits up, so he can see the frantic flutter of Tate’s pulse in his throat. Before Ari can question his own response, he cups Tate’s jaw with one hand. Says, “Hey, breathe.”

One slow inhale, then a jerky half-exhale.

“Tate, c’mon.” Ari rubs his thumb back and forth over Tate’s jaw, the whole thing strangely natural. “Hey, it’s ok. We can talk about something else.” He scoots closer so he’s pressed flush against Tate’s chest and tucks his face under the other side of Tate’s jaw in some reflex he doesn’t quite understand. It’s just what seems to need to happen.

And when Tate’s grip on him tightens, Ari doesn’t really question that either. It doesn’t make him feel trapped like he expects. Doesn’t feel threatening or violent. It just… is.

Whatever is going on, Tate is clearly not ok, and Ari needs him to be. This seems to be helping. One more thing in the “makes no sense, but ok” column for his life.

He can question the fact that it’s comfortable – aside from the almost frantic anxiety suddenly rolling off of Tate in waves – later.

Ari keeps murmuring quiet reassurances until Tate starts breathing almost normally again. How long that takes, he isn’t really sure. It doesn’t matter; he doesn’t have anywhere to be in the morning or anything.

“Sorry,” Tate whispers.

“It’s ok,” he replies, and finds he means it. Ari presses his face a bit more firmly against the underside of Tate’s jaw. The hand on his spine slides to rest on the back of his skull, but it only makes Ari’s breath catch momentarily.

“I have- had a little sister.” He takes a breath, thumb absently tracing over the skin behind Ari’s ear like this is something they do. Something normal. “She was staying with a friend. That’s where I- I was too late. Knew as soon as I opened the door that there wasn’t anyone alive in there. It was dead quiet-” he huffs humorlessly. “Smelled like blood and silver. I didn’t- couldn’t make it upstairs to see-“

“There’s nothing you could’ve done.”

“I know, I just-“

“You’d be dead too.” Before Tate can argue, Ari adds, “And then really selfishly, where would that leave me?”

This makes Tate exhale a slow breath. He sags against the couch cushions and drags Ari down with him. “I thought you couldn’t stand me,” he says, tone almost normal.

Ari huffs a laugh, then sighs. “You scare me,” he admits.

“I know. I don’t understand why, but I’m sorry.”

“It’s not your fault. Really. Like, it kind of pisses me off because you’ve been like… too good about the whole thing.”

“I haven’t done anything special?”

“Yeah yeah, keep proving my point. Asshole.” Ari stretches out slightly, folding his arms over Tate’s chest and resting his chin on them.

Tate just looks at him, a faintly pleased expression on his face. It’s infinitely better than the crushing guilt from earlier, though.

After several quiet moments, something in Ari cracks. “My mom’s boyfriend.” It comes out barely more than a whisper, and even that feels like sandpaper in his throat.

He feels Tate’s breath catch beneath him and knows, somehow, that Tate has already put two and two together. But instead of anything he expects, Tate says, “Ari you don’t have to- that’s not why I said it. We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to.”

“I know,” Ari grits out. “But I feel like, I dunno. Like you should know. They got together when I was like nine? Ten?”

Tate makes a tiny, strangled sound, his jaw clenched so hard that Ari finds himself worrying about his teeth.

He closes his eyes and forces himself to breathe. “At first things were fine. He was nice to me. Bought me toys and whatever. But then, he uh- so that’s why-“

“Girls,” Tate finishes for him.

Ari nods slightly. “I haven’t ever been able to um,” he shrugs slightly. “This is honestly the closest I’ve let a guy, really. Like I tried to kiss a couple over the years and it went… not good.”

“Yeah well, I’ve probably made out with enough for both of us. Sorry, if you were hoping to pop my cherry that’s out of the question,” Tate says, clearly trying to lighten the mood.

He succeeds, somehow. “Oh so you’re really too nice,” Ari replies.

“Think the word you’re looking for is easy. Well-rounded, if you’re feeling generous.”

“Oh and humble, too?”

Smiling, Tate nods. A moment later he sobers, though. He reaches like he’s about to touch Ari’s face, but pauses at the last moment.

“You can,” Ari says softly. “It’s ok.”

The touch seems impossibly light – like someone as big as he is shouldn’t be able to be so gentle. But his fingers just barely ghost over Ari’s cheekbone before running through his hair.

Neither of them seems to know what to do, from there. The seconds stretch, but it doesn’t quite feel strained or tense. Just… lingering.

Ok enough to make Ari ask, “Can I, um-“

Tate cocks his head.

He pushes up off of Tate’s chest and starts to inch forward.

“Knee!” Tate’s other hand lands on his hip. “Watch the knee.”

Ari exhales a laugh and lifts his leg, stretching it over Tate’s hips. He watches as something like realization dawns, Tate’s eyes widening before he releases Ari entirely, hands dropping to his sides.

He’s not quite sure how he feels about that. Touched, but also sad. He wants Tate to keep touching him, he realizes, even if it’s probably a better idea if he doesn’t for this.

After a slow breath to steady himself, Ari plants one hand on the arm of the couch and leans in. Just like before, Tate goes pliant almost immediately. Not limp or unreactive – entirely the opposite. Perfectly responsive without pushing for more. He matches Ari at every turn and it makes Ari’s insides melt.

“You can touch me,” Ari says, voice cracking slightly. He feels Tate’s smile against his lips, and a moment later the warm weight of his hands follows. One on his hip where it had been before, and the other on his ribs.


Ari nips his bottom lip and grins at the shocked whine it gets him. This is definitely better. When he meets Tate’s lips again, he gets another hungry little moan.

“Are you always this…” he trails off, trying to find the right word.

“Easy? Yeah, think we already covered that.”

He breathes a laugh and kisses Tate quickly. “I was going to say loud, I think?”

“Oh. Then still yeah. I can try to be quiet if you want?” he replies, tone sliding back toward anxious.

Ari shakes his head, nose brushing against Tate’s. “I’m just not used to- it makes it easier, I think. Because it’s different and I dunno, confirms you’re into it I guess.

Tate’s expression softens as he reaches up to cup Ari’s jaw. “Well trust me when I say I’m very definitely into it. And you.”

“Even though I’m…” He swallows hard and looks away, not sure of how to say it out loud. He can’t. Especially not laying on top of Tate.

“That has nothing to do with who you are,” Tate replies gently.

“Oh on the fucking contrary,” he says, voice rising without him even meaning to. “It very much does. I can’t- I can barely even manage this. Haven’t ever had any sort of long term relationship because I always fucking self destruct and ruin it. I can’t-“

“Ari.” Tate’s fingers are in his hair again, his hand impossibly large where it fits to his skull.

Ari blinks at him, some part of the contact and the realization – again – of how much bigger Tate is bringing everything in his mind to a screeching halt. When Tate smiles at him, he wonders if he’ll ever have a reasonable thought again or if they’ll all be replaced by that.

“You’re not going to ruin anything and I’d really rather you didn’t take that as a challenge. We’ll figure it out.”

“Yeah but Tate I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to like. Uh. Bottom? And you can’t tell me you don’t want to- so like that’s not fair, and yeah sure you say it’s fine now but you’re gonna end up resenting me, and-“

“We’ll figure. It. Out. And shit, you can fuck me if you want to. That’s more than fine.”

Ari snorts involuntarily, the sudden, easy crassness of it so at odds with his own feelings that it had him slipping toward hysterical.

“It’ll be ok. We don’t have to solve everything tonight.”

He makes himself take a slow breath, then nods.

“Good. Now if it’s ok with you, I’m gonna kiss you again, then ask if you wanna spend the night. And it’s going to be fine if you say no. That work?”

Ari nods again, dumbstruck.

Tate uses the hand on his head to tilt his chin, then kisses him softly. When he opens his eyes, he just watches Ari for a second. “You wanna stay here tonight?” he asks. “Just that. No subtext.”

He has to close his own eyes again, unable to think with the full weight of the foreign openness of Tate’s attention in him. “Yeah,” he says eventually. “Yeah I think I can probably manage that.”

The intensity of Tate’s smile isn’t something he needs to see. Ari can feel it through his t-shirt when Tate crushes him closer, his face pressed to Ari’s shoulder. It’s unexpected when he picks Ari up and stands effortlessly, though. The sudden change is almost enough to have Ari’s claws popping out, even though they’re still well away from the full moon.

“I- sorry.”

“It’s. Um. Just, give me a second.”

“Do you want me to put you down?”

Ari takes a breath, filling his lungs with the smell of him. Instead of further panic, or even just regular frustration, something in it has him wanting to sink his teeth into the muscle of Tate’s shoulder.

He huffs, and Tate asks, “What?”

“Don’t get why I wanna bite you so fucking bad. Like I’m pretty sure I don’t hate you anymore.”

Tate makes a choked sound, his arms pulling Ari tighter seemingly without realizing it.


“It’s a mate thing.”

“What?” Ari repeats.

“I dunno. Pheromones and shit. Probably part of the same reason that I found you and turned you. It’s not like, any sort of weird compelling shit. Not going to make you do anything or whatever. But it is some base, physical draw that’s generally indicative of some sort of compatibility or interest, I guess.”

“So if I did, we’d be-”

“Pretty much werewolf hitched, yeah. Little more permanent. More binding.”

“What the fuck, asshole. So you already did like half of it?”

Tate’s whine is a pained, animal sound. “It wasn’t like that. At least, I didn’t mean it like- You can turn someone without- I didn’t-“

Ari inhales slowly, tasting the tinge of anxiety in the back of his throat. He exhales and says, “Either way, it’s done. And it seems like that’s the direction things are headed, so… let’s just go to bed?”

Nodding, Tate adjusts Ari’s weight slightly and turns toward the bedroom. He lands lightly on the mattress, and is again confronted by the unexpected; Tate looms over him, inherently imposing due to his size.

Determined not to freak out again, to stay in control of the situation, Ari kisses him. Somehow, it works. Tate breathes a sigh and goes as pliant as is possible while he’s still holding himself carefully above Ari. A moment later, he apparently decides that even that is too much and rolls, taking Ari with him and this- this Ari can do. He doesn’t even have to tell Tate to keep his hands out of the way; he shoves his own hands under his head and stretches out under Ari, giving him free rein.

“I’m still not- this doesn’t mean I’m going to-”

“I know,” Tate says, painfully earnest.

“Fuck, why do you have to be so-” Ari groans, sitting back on his heels.

He doesn’t get an answer. Tate just watches him quietly, waiting all too patiently for whatever Ari decides to do next. His nostrils do flare though. The first time, it’s like a reflex. Then he does it again like he caught something.


Tate’s eyes close and he shakes his head.

“Clearly something.” Ari drops back onto his hands and lets the tip of his nose bump against Tate’s. It’s not an intentional move, nor does he really expect a response when he says, “Tell me,” his voice low and quiet because that’s what their proximity seems to dictate.

“Fuck. Let me up. Please.”

Immediately, Ari scrambles off of him. Tate’s off the bed in a flash. He stalks out of the room and into the bathroom, and a moment later Ari hears the shower turn on.

He curls up against the headboard, confused and slightly upset although it takes him a moment to pinpoint why. Not because of the strange, sudden rejection as he’d first thought, but because he hurt Tate somehow. On accident, but still.

A part of him wonders if he should leave, but then who knows when they’ll resolve this. Tate had apparently avoided him for months before this – there was no telling how long it might go on this time.

The water turns off. Ari counts the quiet seconds, listening to the faint sounds of Tate moving around the little bathroom.

Door finally opening, he hears Tate’s questioning, “Ari?”

Like he doesn’t want to say it too loud because then it’ll be an admission that he doesn’t expect Ari to still be there.

“In here,” Ari replies, sounding just as uncertain in spite of himself.

Tate’s sigh sounds almost relieved. He turns back toward the bedroom, footsteps remarkably quiet on the wood floor. “Hi,” he says, pausing in the doorway in nothing but a towel.

“Hi,” Ari replies, cocking his head.

“Can I um. Do you mind if I come in?”

“It’s your bedroom.”

“Yeah but I just-” Tate huffs a little laugh and crosses to the edge of the bed, faltering again before he finally sits.

“I’m uh. Sorry. For whatever I did,” Ari says awkwardly, pulling his legs in even closer.

“You didn’t. It was all me.”

“Ok, but I’m still sorry. Just because I didn’t know I was crossing a line doesn’t mean I didn’t do it.”

Tate shakes his head. “The problem is that you’re like. Fucking designer-made for me and I’m turning into an idiot teenager. Which is a me problem, because I lost track of what time it was earlier and ended up working later than I meant to so then you got here and I wasn’t ready, and then you were on top of me. In my bed. And that’s a whole fucking dream, but there’s a very specific way that those dreams tend to end and I just… needed a minute.”

“Wait could you smell-” Ari can’t finish the question, face heating.

He watches Tate take a slow, careful breath through his mouth, then swallows. “Still can, but I’m fine. It was uh. A very, very cold shower.”

Somehow this just makes Ari feel worse.

“No, hey, I didn’t mean-“

“Maybe not, but it is my fault.”

“It’s ok. Really. Honestly it’s not anyone’s fault, it just. Is. It’s not like either one of us was trying to do something bad on purpose. And I wanted it. Wanted you. Just like that, but uh. Y’know.” He glances down awkwardly, then seems to realize what he did and looks away and refuses to meet Ari’s gaze.

Then, Ari can’t help but laugh. Not a little bit, either. He goes from on edge to doubled over in a matter of seconds, in spite of the strange guilt he feels at Tate’s expression. “I’m sorry,” he says, still laughing. “C’mere?”

He stretches his legs back out and grabs at the air until Tate scooches closer, then somehow gets him to sit with his back to Ari’s chest, the back of his head resting on Ari’s shoulder.

It’s warm and comfortable, squished between Tate’s weight and the pillows like this. And easier, somehow, since they’re facing the same direction. Hesitantly, Ari wraps an arm around Tate’s belly. Muscle jumps under his fingers and Tate lets out a contented little half laugh.


“You’re like seven feet tall. How are you ticklish?”

“‘m only like six-five. And it has nothing to do with being ticklish.”

Ari makes a noise of acknowledgment and scratches gently over skin and hair. This time Tate doesn’t react, though, other than to relax further.

“It’s been a while since I got to be little spoon.”

“Something to get used to, then.”

“More than fine with me.” He laces his fingers into Ari’s free hand. “Does that mean you’re still going to stay?”

“You still want me to?”

“Yeah. Pretty sure I’d keep you here as long as you wanted to be and never have an issue.”

“Other than your sudden shower jerk off sessions.”

Tate grumbles and noses at the corner of Ari’s jaw. “I really didn’t.”

“Uh huh.”

He feels Tate’s jaw tighten, the puff of his breath hot on Ari’s skin. “If you’re trying to like, antagonize me into popping a boner it’s a) gonna work and b) I won’t feel bad this time.”

Ari kisses him lightly, ending up somewhere around his eyebrow. “No,” he sighs, “that seems mean. I’ll save that little tidbit of info for later, though.”

“Oh great,” Tate replies, failing at sounding actually upset.

Snickering, Ari presses another quick kiss to Tate’s forehead. “So uh. I should probably shower too if uh. Y’know.”

This pulls another groan out of Tate.

“You want me to go back to mine and come back? Because I don’t really have anything to change into here unless I’m gonna break into your wardrobe, which-“

“You can.”


“You can. It’s fine. I even have clean towels. Do you just want like a t-shirt and shorts, or a sweatshirt? Or both? Or?”

A smile tugs at the corners of Ari’s mouth, unexpected fondness blooming in his chest. “If I didn’t know any better I’d almost think you wanted me in your clothes.”


“Is this another weird werewolf smell thing?”

“Maybe,” Tate says again. “I’m not sure if you’re just fucking with me though? Like do you not… I dunno. Feel it? I don’t know what it’s like being turned, or being new to this. Because even before I started to shift I wasn’t ever like, a normal person, y’know? I’ve always just been this.”

He thinks about it for a minute, not wanting to answer too quickly and say the wrong thing. “I do, I think. I just think… that’s maybe part of my issue. I dunno I’m not gonna lie, I’ve always been iffy on the attraction thing, kinda? Which has been good because it means I can like stay in control of shit. And then I got here, and now there’s two of you and it’s… kind of fucking me up a little.”

Tate’s fingers tighten between his, but he doesn’t apologize.

Through a yawn, Ari says, “Let me up before I don’t move and you start humping me in your sleep.”

“What? No, I wouldn’t,” Tate protests, sitting up and twisting to face him.

Ari laughs again. “I know. I’m just fucking with you.” He leans forward and tilts up his chin. It takes a moment for Tate to catch on, but then his hands are cradling Ari’s face.

Despite the joking, there’s nothing heated about the kiss. Instead it’s a soft, easy thing. When they part, Tate presses one last kiss to Ari’s forehead then lets him go.

“You want me to just find you something?” he asks.

“Yeah sure. I don’t like sleeping in anything super uhh restrictive? Not like it’ll be the first time you’ve dressed me, though.”


Ari watches the realization dawn as Tate remembers that first night, when Ari had woken up in a strange bed and a sweatshirt three times his size. With a laugh, he retreats to the bathroom. He leaves the door open slightly, comfortable in the knowledge that Tate won’t push.

And he’s right. The rap of Tate’s knuckles precedes a, “Hey you care if I leave these on the counter?”

“No, that’s fine.” Ari blows water out of his face, pausing to wait for his own reaction. Because there should be one. He’s naked and relatively defenseless, and Tate’s right there. There’s nothing, though. Or at least nothing bad.

When he shuts the water off and sticks his head out, the door is closed and there’s a folded pile of clothes on the edge of the sink. He can tell even at a glance that it’s more than he could need for a night – that Tate gave him options.

Good ones, too, Ari discovers once he’s dried off. All soft and well-worn, devoid of tags. Clean, but even then they smell like Tate. Like the sweatshirt. He pulls on his favorite of the shirts and a pair of sweatpants, then laughs to himself as he pulls the drawstrings tight and rolls up the legs. It’s comfortable, though.

Tate is stretched out on his stomach when Ari returns to the bedroom. He’s in more than a towel, but not by much. Just another t-shirt – although the fabric pulls tighter on him – and underwear.

“I uh. I gave you the only ones I ever sleep in,” he admits sheepishly when he sees Ari looking at him. “I can put something else on if you want. I just. I dunno. Panicked.”

Smiling, Ari shakes his head and crosses to the other side of the bed. “So what you’re saying is you found a way to get in my pants after all,” he says as he gets under the covers.

The return smile he gets from Tate is soft and shy. “Hey, I don’t give just anyone my favorite sweatpants.”

Ari’s expression turns wicked and before he can stop himself, he says, “I feel better about not wearing underwear, then.”

He cackles at Tate’s groan, rolling over to kiss his shoulder through his shirt. Tate whines dramatically and turns out the light; he settles immediately when Ari fits himself to Tate’s back, though, once again threading their fingers together.

“This ok?” he asks.

“Mhmm,” Ari hums, his face pressed to Tate’s back. And shockingly, it is. So much so that he doesn’t even realize it when he falls asleep.

The next morning, Ari is alone. He checks his phone to find he somehow slept for ten peaceful, quiet hours and only a text from Tate, telling him that he’d gone to meet Astrid and Kyah for “official pack bullshit,” and that Ari could hang out for as long as he wants and to help himself to whatever.

Lazily content, Ari rolls over to the other side of the bed. He realizes his mistake as soon as he takes his first deep breath, but he can’t stop himself. Buying his face in Tate’s pillow, Ari exhales a muffled moan. His hips rock slightly, seeking friction.

Ari checks the time again, specifically the time of Tate’s message. It had only been an hour. He probably still has enough time…

Tate > You fucker

> ?

Tate > Don’t play innocent with me

A moment later, a picture of the sweatpants comes through. Ari is torn, unsure if he wants to laugh or panic.

> I can’t tell if you’re actually mad? I’m sorry. I didn’t think you would be.

Tate > Am I? You’re joking

Tate > So where are we at on sexting?

Tate > Actually can I call?

Ari laughs and deliberates for a second, but doesn’t find any grain of discomfort. He pushes the dial button. “You miss me already?”

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