Uh, so. I thought I wasn’t going to be doing anything else in the Ke$haspiration series, but then…Stephen came along and I realized that whoa, there’s a fic to be had. It’s set in iheartrogues’ Ladderverse, and it was like pulling teeth to get approval, lemme tell you. Love you, Marie!
Joey/Axel. Joey/Owen. I regret nothing, except everything.
“Hey, Axel, it’s Joey-“
“Yo Ax, it’s me-“
“Bro, this ain’t cool-“
“Call me back already, motherf-“
“I didn’t mean that, Ax-“
“Axel, why won’t you pick up the phone when I-“
Axel sighed, tossing his cell phone across the living room. He’d had fifteen missed phone calls, and nine messages, from Joey in the last day, and it was getting frustrating. Like a faithful pooch, Billy snatched the phone off the armchair where it had landed, dropping it on Axel’s head.
“Don’t throw stuff in the house. You break anything else, and dad will kill you.” Axel rolled his eyes.
“M’graduatin’ in a week, then it’s off to college across the country. What’s he gonna do?”
“He’ll make you get a summer job down at that convenience store you like so much.” He sat straight up on the couch, whirling to glare at his brother. Billy was grinning.
“What do you think you know?” The taller boy flipped back over the couch, something both their dads had told him a billion times not to do.
“I know that your ugly boyfriend keeps driving his clunker past our house in the middle of the afternoon. Jerrie told me.” Axel grabbed his face with both hands, groaning. “And I know that his name’s Joey, because that’s the name you keep pressing ignore call whenever it pops up at dinner. And I know that you can’t get Owen to go beat him up because then he’ll know, too.” Billy gets up from the couch, flicking Axel on the forehead before walking off. And then Axel’s left alone with his thoughts.
Axel’s on his knees, ass up. His chest and cheek are pressed flat to the lumpy mattress. Joey loves him like this, owns him like this. He told him. His back is starting to cramp up, but he wants to know. Owen’s done it before, done it with girls. He knows. He’s seen them getting out of his car, sneaking past his folks. Axel isn’t crying because it hurts, but it does, and Joey is heavy. He’s bigger than him, in every way. Feels like he’s splitting Axel in two. And then, after Axel comes but just before he does, Joey says something Axel can’t forgive.
“F-fuck, Ax…I love you.”
He almost wants to laugh. James and Hartley gave them all the Talk around the same time, though Jerrie was 18 to Billy’s 15, and Axel’s 13. Sat them all down in the living room and told them about babies. Hartley was the one who was hung up on virginity, though, mainly because his and Jerrie’s parents had been kind of religious.
“If you can, try and wait until you find someone who loves you. Who you wouldn’t be afraid to spend forever with.” He’d glanced at James in a funny way then, and that’s when Axel had to be, well, Axel.
“But Billy’s James’ son. He had him before you two even met. So sometimes, even when you don’t wait, it works out for the best, right?” He’d been so sure James was going to smack him, almost welcomed it. What did he care? He was the adopted one, his siblings were both biological. Instead, James laughed.
“Nah, I waited. There’s more than one way to lose your virginity, after all.” That’s when Hart had smacked him, and told them to go make lunch. Axel didn’t get it at the time.
Now he did.
Axel has tears running down his face, and Joey’s fat cock up his ass, and that motherfucker is telling him that he loves him. Like he means something to Axel in more than a I-wasn’t-sure-if-I-like-dick kind of way. And at that second, Axel knows that he’s going to have to avoid his second best friend and first kinda boyfriend forever, now, because he can’t handle this.
Fuck him raw, mark his neck, bite his ass, what the fuck ever. Just, just don’t say something like that. Not when he probably means it. He’d pretended to be asleep when Joey’d rolled him over, but wished he hadn’t been faking. Because Joey was so tender with him; cleaning off his stomach with some tissue, smoothing his hair away from his face. Holding him tight in his stupid, solid arms and making something in the pit of Axel’s stomach flip over. When he ‘woke up’, he tried to crawl out of Joey’s grip, but the other man just held him tighter, with this goofy look on his face. And that was when he realized that, fuck, Joey was in love with him, and he was just using him for experience.
He was a shitty person.
Now, he’s ignoring Joey’s phone calls, pretending he’s not home when Joey comes around. He’s stopped going to play Pac-Man at the convenience store after school. Axel’s trying to erase Joey from his life, and the other man is just not. Letting. Go.
It all comes to a head the next day, a Saturday. His last Saturday as a student. Axel’s supposed to be studying, and then Joey’s in his room. He’d knocked on the door, sweet-talked Jerrie, and now he was in Axel’s room and fuck his life, the asshole brought him candy.
“Look, I know you’re trying to freeze me out for some reason but I just.” Joey coughed, and Axel noticed that he smelled even more like a pack of cigarettes than he usually did. “I don’t want this to end. Whatever it is. Whatever I did wrong, tell me. You think maybe we rushed the, the sex thing? Because I can wait as long as you want until you-“
“Do you love me?” Axel interrupted, and Joey’s eyes went wide. “When we were…yeah. You said you loved me. Do you?”
The room was quiet for a few minutes, and they could both hear Jerrie watching Legend of Korra in the next room. Joey cleared his throat. Axel tapped his fingers on his desk.
“Y-yeah.” Joey had tried not to stutter, tried to hide the blush that had sprung onto his face by rubbing the heel of his hand against one of his cheeks. Axel sighed.
“Joey, no.” The taller man’s grip on the package of Twizzlers tightened. “I can’t…I can’t. There’s someone I like, like that, but he doesn’t know. And I can’t be with you if-“
“What the fuck Axel?” Axel jumped, and he heard a plate drop somewhere in the house. “How can you just-“
“You scared my sister, asshole!” He shoved past Joey, running until he found Jerrie in the living room. She was trying to clean up a bowl of egg salad that had shattered when she’d jumped off the couch. Joey was right behind him. “You made her…make yourself useful, go get some paper towels or something.” Jerrie was crying, and he immediately saw why. The bowl she’d broken was from her brother’s favorite set. “Shh, calm down. We’ll tell Hart I did it, okay?” Jerrie shook her head.
“No, n-no. I broke it, I’ll tell him. I’m sorry.” She teared up again, and he hugged her.
“Hey. I, uh. Sorry I yelled. I didn’t mean to, to freak you out or nothin’.” Joey was back with paper towels, a broom, and a dustpan. “You want me to clean it up, or…” Jerrie took the paper towels from him.
“I’ve got it. It’s okay. You two can go now, I can do it.” Axel kissed her on the forehead before standing and pointing to the door.
“We’re gonna just be out front, okay? I’ll be in in a minute, Jer.” He called as he herded the taller man out of the house. Axel leaned back against his door, glaring up at Joey. “What the fuck what? I never said I was gonna be your boyfriend. I never said I felt way that towards you. All I even said, and I quote, was, ‘I think I might be gay’. How does that translate into ‘I’m totally gay for you’?”
“So now, what? You’re just gonna go off to this dude that probably isn’t even into dudes, and when he turns you down, you’ll expect me to just be hanging around, waiting for you to call me?” Who was Joey even trying to fool? The look in his eyes was desperate, as if he’d be doing exactly that.
“That’s fucked up.” Axel said softly. That was his main fear, the reason he hadn’t tried anything with Owen yet. Owen had been his best friend for, Christ. Since they were in elementary school. If Owen rejected him, he’d feel…a hell of a lot like Joey felt now. Axel shoved himself off his door, flashing Joey one of those winning smiles he used on his English teacher the few days he forgot his homework. “But yeah. No, yeah. That works. We’ll be reject boyfriends. Not wanted by anyone but each other. That cool, bro?” Joey recoiled away from him. Specifically, from the broken way he’d said ‘cool’.
“I’m just gonna.” He was backing away from the house, towards his car. “Look. Just. Call me. Please? I may not be your first choice, but I still wanna be your friend, okay?” Axel nodded, and Joey got in his car and drove off.
When he went back inside, Jerrie was back on the couch watching Ninja Turtles. He gave her a headlock hug before heading off to his own room and flopping down on his bed. His phone buzzed, and Owen’s face popped up on the screen. “Talk to me.”
“Don’t try to be cool, you little shit.” He grinned.
“I don’t have to try, it just comes naturally. Seriously, what’s up?” Owen exhaled loudly.
“My brothers just got here. Help?” Axel jumped off his bed, and began shoving stuff into his closet.
“C’mon over, it’s just me and Jerrie until like, nine. We can study, aka play a bunch of video games and surf Redtube for hilarious porn.”
“It is on. I’m gonna whip your ass on Rainbow Road. Going to Axel’s, ma!” Axel heard the hum of an engine. “Getting off the phone now. See you in five.”
“Why five?” Axel lives like, two blocks away.
“Do you want Wendy’s or not, you little mooch?”
“Bring me a Baconator, or don’t bother coming at all.” Owen laughs, and the sound of it makes Axel feel warm all over. “And fries!” The line goes dead, and Axel finishes shoving his laundry out of sight, then realizes that it’s Owen, and pulls it all back out again. He falls back to his bed, grinning.
Maybe he’ll tell him today.