The Tease
by HYPERFocused

but my tongue breaks down, and then all at once a
subtle fire races inside my skin, my
eyes can't see a thing and a whirring whistle
thrums at my hearing,
cold sweat covers me and a trembling takes
ahold of me all over: I'm greener than the
grass is and appear to myself to be little
short of dying.
From "Like the Gods" by Sappho

Ryan had been living in the Cohen's poolhouse for about eight months, when Seth finally broke. Sure, he was glad Ryan felt at ease enough with him to hang out in his boxer briefs while Seth kept him up to date on the latest goings on with Summer. And sure, a brother probably would walk around in his towel, water droplets following the trail of golden hair that led from his lightly tanned and highly toned torso to whatever was hidden beneath it. Seth wouldn't know. For all his parents' insistence that Ryan was like a second son to them, Seth knew Ryan wasn't his brother. If he was, that would mean Seth was some kind of freak, instead of just a little bit gay. Gay he could handle, almost. He prided himself on being open minded enough to accept that he might find a guy attractive, though it was more in theory than in fact. After all, he hadn't watched the X-Men movies just for the cool effects and biting social commentary.

But to find himself undeniably attracted to the guy he was supposed to think of as family? That was entirely different. Actually he did deny it. He denied it while he kept Ryan company as Ryan changed from his school clothes to his Crab Shack uniform. He denied it as he suggested what shirt Ryan should wear; hoping Ryan wouldn't notice how often his choices went well with what Seth himself was wearing. Seth wore a lot more navy blue now that Ryan was around. It worked well for both of them.

He couldn't say the same of Ryan's wifebeaters. He'd tried one once. What was a tough and sexy look on Ryan, only served to show how scrawny Seth felt. Not that he was in terrible shape, but a good strong wind would probably knock him over. Someday, Seth was going to get up the nerve to ask Ryan how he stayed in such good condition. Maybe Ryan would help him with an exercise plan. They could go to the gym at his parents' country club, the way his Mom was always suggesting. His dad always said. "Or you could even go to the JCC, Seth. Do something healthy, build up your strength. Meet some new people."

"Yeah, dad. Like I'm really going to go to the J's steam room and schvitz with all the old people." Seth didn't think either experience would be anything like the gym scenes on Queer as Folk, but thinking about working out with Ryan made him wish real life was more like TV.

He hadn't said anything to Ryan, either way, other than once noting, "Wow, Ryan, you sure can do a lot of pull ups," when he saw Ryan's arms curled around the scaffolding in his mother's model house. He hadn't been able to decipher the look Ryan gave him when he said that, but he figured it wasn't a good one. It had been a stupid thing to say, but Seth had been so glad he'd been able to convince Ryan to stick around that it had come blurting out. Ryan had been new to them then, but already Seth knew there was something between them. Something he didn't want to lose.

Still, he'd been able to handle himself (sometimes literally, after Ryan had left, or when Seth was up in his room alone) under the onslaught of Ryan's rampant appeal. Ryan in a wifebeater: fine. Ryan bruised from what his father would have called "a tussle". Seth had a bad-boy kink that went back to his early love for juvenile delinquent movies. James Dean was hot, but he had nothing on Ryan Atwood. Seth wondered if part of the attraction was because Seth was so clearly not a bad-boy. The worst thing he'd ever done before Ryan came along was to skip a few classes to go to the comic book store so he could be first in line when a new issue of whatever his obsession that month might be. Now, his obsession was Ryan, who made Pyro look like, well, a cartoon.

Ryan had just come home from soccer practice on the day Seth lost it. It was also the day he figured everything out. His confidence returned, as he devised his super-secret plan to get even. He was sure Ryan had to be doing it on purpose. No way could anyone be that hot, and not know it.

Face flushed, and shirt damp from his exertions, Ryan walked into the pool house and raised his arms, pulling the shirt over his head. He tossed it over onto the futon, where Seth happened to be playing Grand Theft Auto (he considered it "their" game), apparently unnoticed by Ryan. Then he walked toward the shower.

"Dude! Watch where you throw your stuff," Seth said, faking annoyance. It wasn't like he could do what he wanted with the shirt, and lift it to his face, to see if it smelled like he always expected Ryan would. No, he waited 'til Ryan was actually in the shower for that.

"Sorry, Seth," he heard from around the corner. "Didn't see you there. I'll be out in a while. Hard practice today, I'm a little sore." It was all Seth could do not to offer to give Ryan a rubdown. He'd say "Hey, sounds like you could use a massage, Ryan. I'd hate to see you get stiff." And Ryan would strip, and say "as long as you work all my muscles." Yeah, right. Like Ryan would want that. Ryan had no interest in Seth in that way.

At least Seth didn't think so. He could hear Ryan in the bathroom, the sound carried very well into the pool house proper. He could hear the jets of the shower pouring down, and imagined what Ryan would look like under the spray. Hair plastered to his head, face upturned to catch the massage-like needles of water. Ryan was obviously enjoying the shower's effects on his sore muscles. Seth could hear him making appreciative little noises.

Soon, however, the noises weren't quite so little. What started out as the kind of 'ah, nice hot shower' murmurs anyone might make after a long day, turned into something more. Seth knew those sounds. Recognized them from his own dreams and fantasies, and from what he found himself doing right now.

It sounded like Ryan would be in there awhile, Seth thought. Ample time for Seth to get a little play in with his other joystick. He was damn glad Ryan hadn't paid attention to him when he stripped off his shirt and got ready to shower. If he had any idea how hard Seth was, just from seeing Ryan red-faced and sweaty, and imagining how he might have made Ryan that way, Seth didn't know what Ryan would do. At very least find reasons to stay out of Seth's way, and make sure all his clothes stayed on whenever they were in the same room alone.

But he wouldn't worry about that now. Not when he had Ryan's heady scented gym shirt pressed to his face, and could hear Ryan moaning. Loudly. Hell, for a guy who wasn't big on talking, he was sure energetic in his responses. Seth thanked God for that. Ryan's impassioned noises and the sounds from the shower itself made enough of a cover for Seth's own idiotic babbling. Ryan sounded so fucking sexy. Seth sounded like a dork. Even jerking off, he was a geek.

He wondered who Ryan was fantasizing about, and what they were doing. Which lucky girl those "Oh yeses" and "Just like thats" were meant for Seth didn't know. Ryan hadn't mentioned anyone special since he'd decided not to get back together with Marissa. Stroking his own cock, and wondering if Ryan was using a similar rhythm on himself, Seth wished Ryan was thinking about him. He paced himself to Ryan's voice. He heard a rough sounding, "God, Seth. Suck me!" and it set him off. He whimpered and came. It wasn't until he'd used Ryan's t-shirt to wipe himself off that he realized he really had heard Ryan yell his name.

Well, that certainly changed things. He felt like Lex Luthor, just discovering his best friend Clark had a really big secret. Bent on revenge, Seth made plans worthy of a superhero's nemesis. Unable to wipe the grin from his face - and not just from the afterglow - Seth thought about how he could beat Ryan at his own game. It was high time he got even. True, he had a lot less to work with than Ryan did, but Seth Cohen was an enterprising sort of guy. With the cunning and determination of a Luthor he vowed to make the most of his own assets. - whatever they might be.

He heard Ryan turn the shower off, and open the cupboard for a towel. Grabbing the well used shirt, and his own backpack, Seth escaped the poolhouse before Ryan came back in. He gave his best villainous cackle as he left. Revenge was going to be sweet. It was going to be cruel. Ryan would never know what hit him. Seth was going to pay him back for every moment Ryan made him squirm.


Feeling refreshed, though still a little tired from the activities of the day, Ryan wrapped a towel around his waist, and walked out of the bathroom. Damn, he felt good. His fantasy of Seth, down on his knees in from of Ryan, mouth too full of his cock to continue talking, had been a hot one. Knowing Seth was just a few yards away made it even better.

Of course Seth didn't know what Ryan had been doing in the bathroom. Ryan had come straight home from practice, instead of changing in the locker room. He had ample reason to hop in the shower. If one of those reasons happened to be tall and lanky, with black curls that glinted almost blue in the sunlight, well, that was his own business. At least until Seth took the many hints Ryan had been dropping.

Ryan had been dropping hints for months now. He'd tried for subtlety. Special attention to Seth's hobbies and interests. Adding Seth's favorite cereals to the grocery list before Seth noticed they were running low. Listening to Seth ramble on about Summer this and Anna that before she'd left. Acting happy for him when Seth confided that he had "finally become a man", though he noted that Seth hadn't seemed to enjoy himself all that much. He didn't mention this to Seth, but he was pretty sure if Seth let him, he could do better.

Sometimes Ryan felt like one of the animals he'd seen on the Discovery Channel, fur or feathers fluffed to attract a mate; dancing to show off agility, fighting to prove he was strongest or fiercest. The one most worthy of the prize. Ryan knew Seth didn't consider himself half the prize he was. More than anything, Ryan wanted to rectify that.

It almost seemed that Seth understood how Ryan felt, and possibly even returned his affections. He'd make certain Ryan planned to be around so they could hang out. But then Summer would enter into the conversation. Seth would ramble on about her, as if her inane banter about fashion and celebrities was at all interesting, and Seth/Ryan time dissipated into "Seth talks about Summer time."

Seth was gone when Ryan walked back into the room. So was his gym shirt. Ryan wondered if Seth had dropped it in the laundry, or if he'd had some other purpose for absconding with it. He certainly hoped so.

Ryan went into the house to see where Seth had gone. He wasn't quite in the mood to do homework, and Seth was always a good distraction. He was the king of procrastination, but his quick mind meant he always got his work done just in time. Ryan had seen him pull A's out of his hat, even in subjects Ryan knew he hadn't studied at all. He was going to make a great lawyer, if Sandy could convince him to move his studies in that direction. Ryan thought Seth would be good at anything he wanted to do.

He found Seth in the kitchen, eating a creamsicle. Ryan didn't even know there were any creamsicles in the Cohens' freezer. In point of fact, Seth wasn't just eating it; he was obviously enjoying the hell out of it. Eyes closed, he was hollowing his mouth, and slowly inserting it up to the stick each time he took a taste. Then he licked circles around the rounded tip and darted his tongue into the creamy center, bringing out a mouthful of watery vanilla. From the happy humming noises Seth was making, Ryan got the impression he'd never had anything so delicious. Jesus. Ryan couldn't help it. He went as rigid as the Popsicle stick. He was very glad Kirsten and Sandy weren't there to see it.

In his seventeen years on earth, Ryan had wanted to be many things. At five, he'd wanted to be Hulk Hogan. At twelve, a racecar driver. Recently, he'd thought architecture seemed like the way to go. Until today, however, he'd never had the urge to be a quiescently frozen dessert.

Mouth gone dry, it took Ryan a few swallows before he could say anything. He cleared his throat, then asked, "That good?"

Seth opened his eyes, and grinned. "Delicious. Want one?"

"No, that's okay. I'll - I'll just watch you enjoy yours."

"Suit yourself. But it's really creamy and good. Addictive, even. And y'know, you've got to be a little daring to go for the creamsicle, when everyone says you should be eating the sugar free frozen yogurt. Sometimes you just have to give in to temptation." He swallowed the last bite and tossed the stick into the trash. "I think I'll go for a swim, wanna come?"

Ryan didn't dare tell him how close he was to doing just that. "Yeah, sure. I'll be out in a bit."

"Cool. I'll go change." Ryan could swear he saw Seth wiggle his ass as he exited the room. His opinion on just how much Seth knew did a 180.

It took Seth longer to get ready to swim than Ryan thought it would, and he was already lying out by the pool in his trunks by the time Seth came out. Ryan had brought his copy of Anna Karenina out with him, and was halfway through chapter three when Seth's shadow appeared in front of him.

Fuck. Ryan dropped the book. Seth had never worn these trunks before, at least not in Ryan's presence. They were so loose on him that they hung low enough on his hips to be almost indecent. Scratch that, they were indecent. Ryan could clearly see the thin trail of hair that started on Seth's torso, and went downward. He could even see the beginning of dark curls, and it didn't take much imagination to know what those curls led to.

"Jeez, Ryan. Homework? Why don't you forget the studying, and have a little fun with me for a change?" Seth laughed, then dove into the water. Ryan couldn't help but notice what perfect form he had. Sleek and angular, but expertly made, and Ryan wanted nothing more than to have those lean muscles wrapped around him, and maybe to jack himself off on that rippled, but not too ripped chest.

He jumped in the water himself, to try and cool off.

Ryan swam laps back and forth across the pool. He wanted to expend enough energy to ease the erection that made his trunks uncomfortable, and meant he couldn't get out of the water without making his feelings obvious and a confrontation with Seth likely. He wasn't sure he could deal with that right now. Because while he'd figured out that Seth had similar feelings, that didn't mean Seth actually wanted to do anything about them. He had Summer, and with her approval came a new level of popularity. Maybe Seth didn't need the complications being with his almost-brother could cause. Now that it seemed like the possibility was real, and not just a desperate fantasy, Ryan wasn't sure what he should do.

A fall of water splashing on him, and drenching him anew startled him from that train of thought. Seth was being playful. "Bet you can't catch me, Ryan," he said, giving chase. Ryan had no choice but to follow, same as in everything.

Seth swam in circles and spirals across the pool, a path that reminded Ryan of the Family Circus cartoons his mom used to tape to the refrigerator when he was a boy. "That's you, Ryan," she'd always say. "You never can come straight home, can you?" Then she'd ruffle his hair.

He never told her he stayed away because he didn't want to be around when her latest boyfriend came home drunk and angry. He just said, "I'm sorry. There's just lots of stuff to do." He didn't want to spoil her good moods.

Ryan finally caught up to him when Seth reached the floating chairs at the other end, and clambered onto one. Ryan eased himself up on the other. Seeing how Seth looked now made Ryan forget about playing it cool. His cock, which he'd managed to get under control during the chase, instantly sprang to betray him.

Seth's once loose fitting swim trunks might just as well not have been there at all, for all the coverage they gave him now. The thin navy blue fabric clung to Seth's body, outlining a formidable erection that he made no motions at all to try and hide. In fact, he did a slinky yawn and stretch motion that just caused it to pop up even more.

It was the final straw. Ryan couldn't take it anymore. He moved his float closer to Seth, and said, "You know, don't you?"

Seth let out a whoop, then said, "Oh God, suck me Seth!" in an imitation of Ryan's voice. Ryan blushed. He really hadn't known the walls of the pool house shower were that thin.

"Jesus, Seth. Can't a guy have any privacy?"

"Not when he looks like you, and walks around in his underwear." Seth started. "Not when he's a fucking cocktease."

"I'm not a tease. Anything I'm showing, I'm offering. To you, anyway. I just didn't think you were interested."

"Dude, anyone with half a brain would be interested. You're Ryan! Hotness is your middle name."

"Actually it's ---"

"Shut up, Ryan." Seth pushed him off the float, and into the water. Then he swam towards the steps and shook himself off like a puppy. Ryan got out too. "Come on," Seth said, and grabbed his hand, leading him into the pool house. Whatever was going to come next, Ryan was damn sure going to enjoy it.

Displaying a little more sensitivity to Ryan's proclivity towards neatness than usual, Seth headed into the shower, instead of flopping down on the futon and getting it all wet. Or maybe he had other reasons for heading for the bathroom. "Aren't you coming in?" He popped his head around the door and motioned Ryan to follow.

Ryan watched as Seth peeled off his trunks, and walked into the tiled space. Good God, Seth was beautiful. Those vintage t's and jeans covered far too much. Ryan just stood there a moment, unable to move, or speak.

He could tell Seth was nervous, despite his bold moves. He'd started babbling again. "So, do you like your water really hot, or sort of lukewarm? Not that Luke is especially warm, and why am I even bringing him up except I know he likes you, and I don't want you to be with him, even though you totally could if you wanted..."

"I don't want Luke. I just want you," Ryan told him. He stripped off his own swim trunks and stepped into the shower as well. "I'm sure the temperature is fine."

He poured some of the shower gel into his hand, and pushed Seth under the spray. "Here. Let me." Seth nodded, and stood still while Ryan smoothed it into Seth's skin, starting at the shoulders, and working his way down. Seth felt wonderful, seal sleek, silky and slippery. He wanted to touch Seth everywhere, trace the cool lines on the muscles of his hips as they pointed towards his cock; follow Seth's cock as it emerged, beautifully red and glistening from the black curls surrounding it, compare and contrast every single part of Seth's body. He explored slowly, taking his time until Seth was quivering, and finally just grabbed Ryan's hand and placed it on his cock. "Come on, man! I've been waiting for this forever."

Ryan had been in a play or two; he could take direction just fine. He poured a little more soap in his hand, and made a circle around Seth's shaft, experimenting until he found a rhythm that made Seth go from random babbling to "Fuck, Ryan, that's perfect." It didn't take too long before Seth gasped loudly, and came, legs shaking until he dropped to his knees.

He panted a few moments, then looked up at Ryan, grinning. "Hmm, this works out well, doesn't it?"

"So, you enjoyed yourself?" Ryan raised an eyebrow.

"Well yeah, but now it's your turn. I've never done this on anything but dessert, so I can't promise to be any good at it, but I'm certainly willing to give it my best effort." He opened his mouth wide, and closed it over Ryan's cock, licking and sucking with a combination of long sweeps and darting touches that was perfectly Seth-like in character. It felt amazing. For someone so new at this, Seth had a knack for it. Ryan had to work not to push Seth's head down even further.

Barely able to warn Seth, Ryan came, yelling his name. Seth swallowed some if it, and wiped the rest off on the back of his hand. "Okay, not the best taste in the world, but given enough time, a guy could get used to it. Learn to like it even."

"I'd be happy to give you ample opportunity, Seth," Ryan told him. "And return the favor, of course." Then he pulled Seth up, and kissed him. That felt as good as the rest of it had.

They rinsed off one last time, and dried each other with the fluffy towels Rosa placed on the bar every morning. Then they walked into the poolhouse, to get dressed before Kirsten and Sandy came home from work.

"Um, I should probably go up and grab something to wear," Seth lamented.

"Nah, I'll find something for you. Here." Ryan tossed Seth a T shirt and a pair of sweatpants. "So, Seth? What exactly happened to my gym shirt, anyway?"

Seth blushed. "Um, casualty of war? I'll return it if you want. After I wash it."

"War? Is that what this has been?"

"Love. War. Whatever. An enjoyable battle if you ask me. "

"So who won?" Ryan had to ask.

"I'd say we both did."

"Yeah, I would too." Ryan smiled.

"So, no more teasing, right? We both got our points across," Seth said.

"Oh, no. I never said that Seth," Ryan joked. "I was hoping you'd be up for a rematch tomorrow."

"Well, in that case, bring it on. Like Aaron Burr said, I have not yet begun to fight."

"Actually, that was John Paul Jones."

"Shut up, 'Mr. A in History'".

"Make me."

And Seth did. Most enjoyably.


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