Paying Attention
by Lar

If you're not confused, you're not paying attention - Tom Peters

There are very few things worse than having the guy who routinely beat the crap out of you telling you that he must have recognized a kindred gay spirit in you. Like, say, finding yourself lying awake at night wondering if maybe he had a point.

Xander gives up on sleeping half past the fifth time he heard the same song on the radio. Those stupid, insipid lyrics now stuck in his head for all time, with Larry sitting on the sidelines telling him that he was gay.

I'm gay. I am gay. That was so... easy.

Xander rolls over and pulls the pillow over his head like a protective shield, his fingers grip the ends by his ears, trying to block out the voices inside his head. Stupid, maybe, but denial isn't a place with a lot of room for the smart stuff. That was Willow's bag anyway, being smart. Xander's was being... the key that opened the big gay closet, apparently.

He groans at the sudden visual of his bedroom closet door opening, rays of sunshine backlighting Larry as he steps out into Xander's room, over the pile of dirty clothes. Larry wears a smile. And a boner. And nothing else.

That's enough to put Xander off of sleeping for the rest of the night. He gets up, pours himself a bowl of Captain Crunch and watches infomercials until it's time for school. Sleep is no longer a viable possibility with the thought of naked Larry lurking in his closet.


The halls seem emptier than usual. There is no glorious, wonderful, teeming mass of bodies to hide in. What good was going to school if you couldn't get lost in the crowd anyway, Xander asks himself as the beginnings of a mild panic take hold. He can hear a familiar voice ahead of him, moving in his direction in the much-too-sparsely populated hallway. A voice that he would be very grateful if he never had to hear it again until, say, there was only that choice set alongside the bugman returning to stalk him in all his little buggy glory. And even then, Xander thought he might take the squishy ickiness of the bugman crawling under his door rather than hear-

"Hey, Xander!" Larry's voice is happy. And loud. Oh so very loud. Xander finds himself flinching away from that more than he ever had from less-happy, growlier Larry, who tended to pound on him instead of shaking his hand as if they were bonded in some manly way. Which, Xander wants to point out, they so aren't. There was no bonding of anything manly between him and anyone else with manly-type parts. Still, Larry's hand grips his tightly, squeezes his fingers and then moves on with a friendly cuff to the shoulder as Larry and Steve continue past him, down the hall and still discussing the coach's new play and why it still sucks ass no matter what stupid name the coach wants to give it.

Xander stands in the hallway as the doors close, the late bell sounding in his ears and his hand sweating lightly. He swears he can still feel the warm grip of Larry's heavy, meaty hand over his own. He's still standing there with his hand outstretched when Willow opens the door to Math and hisses at him to hurry up. Xander slides his hand into his pocket, and if he happens to press his fingertips against himself, well that's just what guys do. Adjustments to the equipment as needed. That's all it is, and there is definitely no wood involved here.


Thursday afternoon gym class, the usual punishment of forced teamwork with a bunch of kids who couldn't give less of a damn about kickball if they were forced to at gunpoint. Xander finds himself on Larry's team and spends the entire 40 minutes deliberately not staring at his back. He looks everywhere except where Larry is, which of course means he's hyper-aware of every nuance of movement the blonde boy makes, and when the ball comes towards him like it was aimed from a cannon, he takes the impact full on in the head. He sees stars, literally, something he's getting far too used to thanks to patrol backup duty, and he blames the head injury for the fact that he catches himself staring at Larry in the shower.

Staring at parts that are most definitely manly.

He knows Larry's seen him. And the reason he knows is because Larry sits beside him, wearing only a towel and a smile that is almost exactly like the one in Xander's magical out of the closet dream. He does his best to ignore it but it's not happening. There's no ignoring that much wet, naked skin when it's sitting that close and letting droplets of water fall onto his arm. Xander stares at the little circles as they expand and soak into the material of his shirt, a much safer observation than turning his head to see what kind of expression Larry might be wearing.

But of course he has to look eventually. Larry's fucking well looming over him, splashing him with water and not saying anything. And when Xander turns his head, there's just way too much Larry in his personal space. He starts to slide away, his voice shaky as he attempts casual and misses.

"Hey Larry..." he begins and stops when there's fingers closing over his wrist. Big hands. Big, warm, slightly wet hands on Xander's skin that's a little slippery from the sudden film of sweat that's helpfully broken out over his entire body. "You're suddenly big with the touching and the feeling. I, uh, never really knew that about you before."

Larry smiles and tilts his head. "Oh, I'm really big with the touching and feeling. I saw you. In the showers."

Sweet dancing Moses.

Xander panics, his voice screeching into the upper registers, a place usually reserved for the insanely terrified. "Me? In the showers?" He clears his throat to try and get rid of the squeak and tries again, aiming for something a little less girly. "Well, yeah. Because of the sweating and all. I try to take one of those at least once a week. Especially after gym. Can I have my arm back now?"

Larry strokes his fingers over Xander's wrist and into his palm, a light tickling gesture that makes his own fingers close in a little quivery spasm, squeezing Larry's hand. "You don't have to pretend with me, I won't tell anyone. I said that before." He's earnest in a way that makes Xander's belly feel both tight and fluttery at the same time, the way he feels when he glimpses Buffy's bra strap sliding off her shoulder, or sees Willow doing that thing with the pencil in her mouth that makes him wonder just what she and Oz have been doing.

Larry doesn't seem inclined to let go, either. And he's close enough that Xander can smell the soap he used, remembering very clearly the way it looked running down Larry's back, over muscles made strong and well defined from years of football and wrestling and who knows how many other sports. The flutters in his belly kick themselves up another level when he finds that the reason Larry hasn't let go is because Xander's holding his hand now, no reason other than to touch him and it's freaking him out on some level.

Mostly it's making him hard. His cock gives a strong twitch that makes Xander want to groan, and he makes himself take a slow breath instead. When he exhales, he licks his lip and starts to explain just why it is he's holding hands in the locker room with the big, wet, naked guy. Only the explanation suddenly seems to involve him kissing Larry instead of using words. It's not a bad thing, if the flood of heat through his fingers and toes is any indication. Larry's mouth is full but not soft, and the touch of his tongue to Xander's makes that heat flare through his entire body.

It's quick, just about a few seconds and a lifetime or two in Xander's head, and when Larry leans back from it, that slow smile is back on his face. "You can have your hand back now," he says easily, looking down where Xander's fingers are wrapped around Larry's wrist this time.

"Yeah. Right, this is me, taking my hand back. And hey, how about those... uh, should I be making some kind of gratuitous sports related remark here or should I just shut up?" Xander rubs his hand on his jeans as Larry stands, and he tries his best not to stare at the towel or how low it rides on Larry's hips. Or how much he might be able to see if he looks in where the ends almost meet on his thigh. Nice thigh, Xander notes absently, checks himself and finds that it's not quite as likely to induce the wiggins it might have done about five minutes earlier.

"We should talk," Larry says as he walks towards his locker. "You could come over tonight."

"We should? I could?" Xander feels like a parrot and makes himself think before he opens his mouth again. "I mean, I have stuff. After school stuff. With Buffy."

There's the soft clang of metal as Larry opens the door of his locker and then there's silence. Xander wonders if he'll get pummeled for rejecting the offer or get clemency based on the kiss, which was not his best work ever, he admits. And it's not like he can offer to do it again - hey, wait, don't kick my ass, I can kiss better than that, give me a second try. Then Larry's standing beside him again, dressed this time and carrying his backpack over one shoulder.

"So come later. I'll be home." He nudges Xander's arm with his leg as he walks past and then calls over his shoulder as he reaches the door. "You should come, Xander."

Xander catches himself nodding as he listens to the swish of the door closing behind Larry. No harm in making new friends, right?


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