Jae Park didn’t jump, though it was a near thing. “And I only found pictures of your mom,” he replied. Which was, after all, the only appropriate thing to say to your roommate when he almost caught you avoiding your International Governance project and instead surfing for porn on tumblr
“Yeah, yeah, slapped down, Parkland. Park street. Park slope. Car Parker.” Paul Whitman, Jae’s roommate, gave a little victory dance in the doorway of their suite.
“What does that even mean?” Jae asked, not for the first, or even tenth, time. It was a reflex he couldn’t stop, since he didn’t want to know and always regretted getting an answer to.
“It means… that I win!”
“Yay. Douchebag point goes to you this conversation. Go you,” Jae said, in the driest tone of voice he could manage.
Paul smirked at him. “You know you’ll miss me when I’m gone, Park Ranger!”
“Will I? Let’s try and see.”
“Hah! The Parkour tries for a point. Woohoo! Cultural assimilation’s almost here!”
Jae closed his eyes and briefly ran through the Massachusetts homicide statutes in his head. He was reasonably sure he could get acquitted if it came to it.
“I’m off, time to go trolling for pussy,” Paul proclaimed.
“Did the animal shelter’s restraining order finally lapse?” Jae shot back. He was proud of that one. It had taken him a couple of days to work up after Paul’s last laughably unsuccessful attempt at to find someone for sex.
“Yuk it up, Jae, but I’m off to find me some love!”
“Don’t forget your penicillin.”
“The burn’s how you learn, Jaywalker!” With a jaunty wave, Paul left their room, thankfully shutting the door behind him.
Jae let his head thump back against the wall. He wanted to be a diplomat, but couldn’t manage to deal with his own deeply irritating roommate.
“One more year,” he muttered to himself. “Get the BA, get an apartment. No privileged assholes in grad school.” He’d said that to himself so many times he almost believed it, or at least could mutter it with a mostly-straight face.
Jae went back to his laptop where he had, indeed, been surfing for porn on tumblr. It wasn’t, he reflected as he clicked through, particularly hard to find. Unfortunately what it was starting to be wasboring.
He really, really needed to find a nice guy and get laid. If he could only bring himself to do it.
Jae was sitting outside the math department building enjoying the late fall weather and watching KPop videos when he got the weirdest recommendation.
The still shot was a close-up of someone’s eye. Normally that wouldn’t be that interesting, except in this case the iris was silver. Real silver, with a vertically split pupil. Not much of the skin around it showed, but what did show was an azure blue.
The picture was a little blurry, but it looked like a real eye, not some photoshop image. Probably with contacts and makeup, but it was still an impressive bit of cosplay.
Just because, Jae played the video. The eye blinked and the camera pulled back enough to show most of the face.
It was a handsome face, one attached to someone clearly dedicated to their role, as every bit of skin was the same blue. It was nicely done, with no streaks, smears, or pink showing. There were even a few freckles scattered across the cheeks in a darker blue.
The face broke into a full grin, showing a mouthful of pearly white, very pointed teeth. Jae was impressed with the dental work. Until his mouth opened there wasn’t any sign of the bulging you usually got with appliances.
Not that Jae stared at guys’ mouths a lot or anything.
“Awesome,” it said, in a bro-dude voice with just the faintest hint of sibilance on the ‘s’. Then the video ended.
Jae sat for a moment and just looked at the end frame. The grinning blue face and pointed teeth just looked so happy, something that he very much wasn’t.
“Fine,” he said, and hit the subscribe button. He could use some more videos of cute guys, even if they were weird. The accent was a little odd, probably because of the teeth.
He swiped back to replay the video, and his phone crashed.
Biting back a curse, he restarted his phone. He wanted to try the video again, but he had class and couldn’t wait, so he grabbed his stuff and set off across campus. He could always go back and watch it later.
It was Thursday, and Jae was sitting in the back corner of the dining hall, hiding from the rest of his study group from his Cold War Treaties class. He was eating a boring sandwich, one of a thousand boring, tasteless sandwiches he’d eaten since he’d started school, when his phone buzzed with a YouTube notification: ‘You have a new video!’
The notification was useless, as they almost always were. Still, anything to distract him from the monotonous travesty of his sandwich was worth it. Damned Americans and their mayonnaise. Jae was pretty sure half his classmates would have their heads explode if they were served food with actual flavor.
The video had a normal enough thumbnail. There was a clear view of a dorm room, pretty much like every other dorm room he’d seen. A few ragged posters were on the wall, off to the right there was the end of a loft bed, and there was a chair right in the center of the camera’s view. Most of the background was pretty blurry; whoever was filming this didn’t have a very good camera, and most of it was badly pixelated.
He clicked play. He wasn’t expecting a whole lot, honestly. It was YouTube, so probably not porn. That was a shame, since he could do with some porn. Maybe not in the dining hall, but whatever, it wouldn’t be like anyone would care that much. Or, since he was wearing headphones, even notice.
“Wait, wait, I got this!” The voice that came out of his earbuds was a mild tenor, with a vague accent that sounded like the Boston locals. The view shook a little, part of it obscured briefly by someone’s fingers.
“Awesome, it worked! Hey, Torgin! It worked!” It was the same voice he’d heard on the video a few days ago, all happy bro-dude, with a little sibilance and a trace of Boston in it.
When the hand moved he saw… a guy. A weird guy.
On the one hand, he wasn’t all that much different than many of the people he saw every single day. Young, maybe twenty, with a mustard yellow t-shirt, bright red baseball hat on backwards, and what looked like cargo shorts. He was also, purely objectively, kind of hot. Nice arms, the t-shirt was snug enough to make it clear that the body it covered was toned, and the hands had long thin fingers.
They were really nice fingers. Really nice.
Jae would’ve done him in a hot second, if he wasn’t on the other side of the video. And blue. Bright, cerulean blue. With ram horns curling up around the side of the hat. There were limits, and Jae drew them at cosplayers. Even hot, fit cosplayers, who pretty clearly were dedicated to their craft. Seriously. He figured the makeup would smear all over.
That Jae would have to admit he wanted a guy was maybe an issue too.
“Hello there, members of the inner tubes! Welcome to our first video! I’m Drang! And this is Torgin! He’s working the main spells. Say hi, Torgin!”
A crimson face, with long dark red hair and three small horns across his forehead ducked into the frame for a second. “Hi!” he said, before pulling back.
“I think the spell’s stable,” Torgin continued from off-camera.
“Awesome!” Drang said again, throwing a weird fist bump. He liked that word. Jae thought it suited him.
“So we’re crossing the Great Void to bring you our awesome selves!”
“Your awesome self,” came Torgin’s voice. “I’m just weaving the spells. You know I don’t like to be imaged.”
“Fine,” Drang said, looking exasperated. “Mytrulyawesome self. Moving image logging across the Great Void. Woo! Go us!”
Jae stifled a laugh. These two, whoever they were, definitely had their characters down. ‘Great Void’. Jae could almost hear the capital letters.
“So we’re doing this project for extra credit, since Torgin’s teleweaving prof said there was no way to tie into remote nodes asymptotically—”
“Whatever! But dude’s a complete stub-tailed slime dripper, so we’re doing it just because we can.”
“Except we are! Because we’re awesome like that.”
“The charge has just about run out, Drang.”
“Anyway, this is Drang and Torgin, saying ‘hi’ to the webbing tubes and we’ll be back next alignment!”
Weirdly, once the video was done it stayed finished and didn’t start playing anything else. Maybe there just wasn’t anything like it.
He tried replaying the video but just got an error. Retrying didn’t help; the third time he refreshed the YouTube app didn’t even try showing an error, just a black square where the video ought to be. Annoying, but better than having his phone crash.
He wasn’t sure how many people had seen it, since play count wasn’t showing for some reason. Nobody had commented on the video yet, so he decided he’d be first.
You guys are pretty amusing, Jae wrote into the comment box. It was this first time he’d commented on a video, and seeing the “JaeDancer” account name out there on screen made him a little nervous.I’d like to see more.
It was only two o’clock on Saturday afternoon, and Jae was already regretting his decision to become a diplomat. That was a record for this semester — usually he didn’t regret the decision for most of the weekend, and not until three-ish on weekdays. Once again he thought it was really unfortunate that he couldn’t stomach the sight of blood. It’d be so much easier to make his parents happy if he’d gone to med school instead.
“Lazy, whining, useless—” His impending rant about the other members of his study group was cut off by a ping from his phone.
He took a deep breath and hoped YouTube wasn’t trying to show him Neverland again. He was already depressed enough as it was, thank you very much.
The notification was blank, so he just tapped on it and hoped for the best.
His phone was filled with a still image of an oddly purplish cloth, with flecks of white. After a moment of buffering the video started.
“So thank you comment webber, for your request. You wanted more, so here we are to oblige!”
From the voice it could only be ‘Drang’, his oddly endearing cosplayer. Jae wondered how long he’d keep going with these videos before he got bored and stopped.
“You wanted it, so…”
And with that the camera moved back a bit. The white flecks resolved into the remains of a logo of some sort, though from the shadows it had left behind he couldn’t tell what it was a logo for.
“It’s time for the big reveal! Ta-dah!”
With that the shirt was whipped all the way off. What was revealed were a set of nicely cut abs with some shadowed cobbling, as well as a pair of square, nicely muscled pecs. The nipples were small with silver bars through them.
Jae had no idea, until right that moment, that he had a thing for pierced nipples. Abigthing, if the pain from his near-instant erection was anything to judge by.
All the skin was that same azure blue as he’d seen in the previous videos. Drang’s dedication to his role clearly hadn’t wavered — there were no signs of makeup, no streaks or spots of pink showing in the blue. Even the t-shirt had been clean.
Well, OK, it wasn’tclean, but it didn’t have any streaks of blue makeup on it.
He was, Jae noted somewhat vacantly, an innie. More importantly he was about as perfect a fit for Jae’s tastes as anyone he’d seen, and not even the cosplay kink did anything to counter that. Made it even more perfect, if Jae was honest about it.
As he reached down to adjust himself, Drang’s voice said “Nice, huh?” on the video, as a hand with thick, black, almost claw-like fingernails traced up the left side of the abs.
Jae came right there in his shorts. And he didn’t even care.
He left a two-word comment on the video.Verynice.
Yeah, Jae thought to himself as he sagged to the ground. That’s a diplomatic way to put it.
Jae was about a hundred and fifty Smoots across the Charles River, on his way back to campus at the end of his usual five mile run. The arc of the bridge made it seem like the buildings on the far side were slowly rising out of the ground. It was a kind of magic, and one he enjoyed. At least until his phone chimed with an incoming text:Project time, Linkin Park!
Jae shuddered to a stop. Just the idea of getting back to his dorm room to spend the rest of the afternoon with his extraordinarily annoying roommate killed the good feelings from the run dead.
He couldn’t even lie to himself and think that partnering with Paul for a project in his Lit class had seemed like a good idea at the time. It had been an awful idea, and he knew it. He just hadn’t been able to say no before it had been too late.
“Never take the same class as a roommate ever again,” he muttered to himself.
That got him a weird stare from one of the other joggers going by. Not for long, since she kept on running. Jae didn’t recognize her, and for once he realized the opinion of someone he’d never see again didn’t actually matter much. Besides, everyone talked to themselves once in a while, right?
He also had a notification from YouTube that he had a new video to watch. He’d seen that earlier, while he was running past the boat house, but he’d ignored it then. Jae decided not to ignore it now — standing on the sidewalk watching a video on his phone wasn’t a great idea, but anything to delay the inevitable seemed worth it.
The thumbnail image was Drang’s messy dorm room. Messier dorm room, rather. It had acquired a new pile of books and a bowl with a half dozen apple cores.
On screen Drang threw himself into his chair, making it slide to the right with the sound of wood scraping on tiles. He was wearing a baseball hat, of course, still backwards. This one was white with streaks of ochre on it, like some kind of alien grass stains. They matched the streaks on his face. His t-shirt was covered in smears of brown and ochre as well.
“We played the Delt Eps and beat ‘em eight to six! I got three half-tags and two assists. Pretty cool. We figured we’d get our tails handed to us, since the Eps have a couple of flyers, but luckily they suck.”
“Bet it was awesome,” Jae said with a smile. Drang’s enthusiasm was contagious.
“It was,” Drang said into the camera, “totally awesome!”
“Thought so,” said Jae. He didn’t even care that he was talking to a video on his phone while he stood on the side of a bridge in broad daylight.
“Even better, Torgin scored! Which was cool, because he almost never plays any more. Which he really should, because it was only one broken horn and they grow back after a while. It’s not like he got his tail dislocated or anything.”
Drang winced. “Nowthatreally hurts. But doesn’t matter, nothing broken and we won!”
That’s when Drang deflated. “Unfortunately now I’ve gotta work on my midterm project becausesomeonementioned that maybe we were working on interweb node interdiction—”
“Interfacing,” murmured Jae.
“And we got told that we definitely weren’t working on that, because undergrads didn’t do that kind of thing without supervision, which means we can’t present it as our project. Which sucks, and not in a good way.
“Still! They can’t tell us to stop if they don’t know we started. And this is fun, so what the heck, right? And it’s a lot more fun than this.” Drang waved a thick hardcover book at the camera. The cover art was some kind of eye-twisting pattern that the camera Moire’d out on as it moved.
“Three hundred and eighty-six shards. For this! It’s nuts! And they don’t even sell them used because this term there’s a new edition. Just like last term.”
Drang looked to the side for a moment. “Ah, rips, the charge is—” And with that the video ended.
Jae leaned against the bridge railing for a moment, basking in the late fall sun and laughing at the video.Congrats on the win!he commented.Glad Torgin survived unscathed. And I sympathize on the books. I paid 1200 this term myself.If Drang, or whoever he was, could keep it in character the least Jae could do was play along.
It was sometime past nine when Jae’s phone told him there was another video up. He was in the lounge working on his Modern Asian History homework and avoiding his roommate’s newly discovered and disconcertingly enthusiastic love life as best he could manage. Jae still was trying to forget what he’d he’d walked in on the previous evening. There were some things he just didn’t want to know could be done with scotch tape and coffee mugs.
He was so, so glad he didn’t drink coffee.
Videos were a whole lot better than homework and hadn’t, to date, been mentally scarring so he started it up.
“I hate this stuff,” Drang said into the camera. “Node balancing. What do I need node balancing for? I want to build flutterways, not do dimensional engineering.” Jae watched him pout a little. “Well, I really want to do the dunesurfing circuit, but that’s not going to happen. Anyway, that’s the project they handed out today. Do a fully balanced cross-resonant sky weave, except we can’t use one of the DeLanier sequences. Which isn’t fair, since that’s what we spent the first half of the semester on.”
Drang threw himself back into his chair and almost tipped over. Jae watched him flail around wildly, almost knocking off his ever-present backwards baseball hat. That was a little disappointing. Jae was hoping in one of these videos that the hat would come off. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to see the fake horns came with it, finally breaking the cosplay illusion, or if he wanted to see that Torgin was dedicated enough to keep them on anyway.
“Pfft,” Drang said, after he caught his balance. “Guess Da was right, if I can’t even sit right there’s no way I could do pro sports.”
Jae’s heart broke at the sad tone in Drang’s voice. It didn’t last, though. Drang was just…happy. Nothing bad stuck for very long.
“Time to work, though! Torgin’s roommate Krift is always saying node balancing is easy, it’s just like disc shifting, only in six dimensions. I’m the best three dimensional ‘shifter in the frat, so it’s gotta only be twice as hard, right? ‘S just math!”
Jae laughed at that. He had no idea what node balancing was, and the explanations that Drang had given for disc shifting sounded nuts. He was also pretty sure that math reallydidn’twork like that. Not in the real world, at least.
In Drang’s world it probably didn’t either. It was still an awesome performance. Jae hoped that whoever was making these videos was getting a good grade, or at least having a good laugh, out of all of them.
I’m sure you’ll do fine,he typed into the comment box.Remember to double-check your work! And don’t take the short cuts, you know that always gets you in trouble.
“There,” he whispered to himself. “I can play along too.” He was just helping someone out on what was, he was sure, a project for a film class. Really.
“…And make sure you finish chapters eighteen through twenty for Monday. I expect six pages contrasting the effects of imposing the EU legislative frameworks on two late-entry member nations of your choice.”
Jae winced at that. It was only Wednesday, but getting that paper done was going to eat up at least eight hours in research alone. Just like three of his other classes that week. He didn’t even want to think about the group project he had. Or the group he was stuck doing it in. It’d be worth it when he had his degree. That’s what he kept telling himself.
His phone had sat in his messenger bag during class, the distraction tucked safely away. When he pulled it out to check he saw he missed two calls from his mother, a dozen Tumblr updates, and a new video on YouTube.
That last one, at least, was worth checking on. So far ‘Drang’ had done a dozen videos and hadn’t broken character once. Jae was also the only person commenting on them so far. On the one hand he felt kind of bad for Drang and Torgin, since they were putting so much work into these. On the other it felt like they were kind of a secret, something just for him that was separate from his outside life.
He kind of liked that. His outside life, frankly, made him miserable.
The thumbnail was a big still of Drang’s face, mouth half open. He still wore that backwards baseball hat, yellow this time, with a few tufts of dark navy blue hair sticking out the closure of the hat. Jae slipped in his earbuds, looked around to make sure there wasn’t anyone nearby, and hit play.
“Hey, Jade! I saw your comment! Torgin says hi, and thanks. Also, books are expensive. Which sucks, ‘cause they’re pretty useless after the class is over.” Drang looked grumpy. “And my traffic management class really sucks, Beener is really twisting my tail, y’know? This latest project isstupid. I mean, yeah, we have tomanage traffic, ‘cause that’s kind of the point. This time he’s got us mixing peds, slithers, and floats.On the same filmy?Whodoesthat?”
Drang was clearly getting worked up over… whatever he was talking about. Jae wasn’t sure, but it was consistent and realistic, and the guy playing Drang in these videos was really into his cosplay.
Drang held up a piece of notebook paper with a really crude sketch of two towers. There was a line connecting their tops, what looked like a ribbon across the middle, and under that a playground slide. He’d drawn crude stick figures on the ribbon, had some people with wings grabbing the line, and a few scrambled blobs on the slides.
“Seriously, it’s stupid. It never happens. I mean, when would it? Floats always take the lines and slithers go for the slides. There’s never enough mixed traffic on the filmys to make a difference!”
Jae watched Drang pout over his homework assignment. It was kind of cute, really — a jock cosplaying some kind of blue demon-creature-thing making sad puppy faces like an offended toddler about pedestrian traffic problems.
The video had no comments yet, of course.
What if the lines break?Not that Jae had any idea what he was talking about here, but lines were a kind of rope, right? Ropes broke sometimes. There were a lot of ways things could fail.Or maintenance. Something might be closed to be fixed. And fire — might not be able to get to one of the exits.
The biggest upside to eating in the dining halls, Jae had thought when he was a freshman, was that you got to see lots of your classmates in a social setting. The biggest downside to eating in the dining halls, he thought now that he was a junior, was that you got to see lots of your classmates in a social setting.
Like, for example, Trevor Kennedy. Seeing Trevor at his table definitely didn’t make lunch better.
“Jesus, Jae, how can you eat that?” Trevor said. He had a grilled chicken breast and something green that had been steamed into unrecognizability.
Jae looked down at the plate of noodle goo and overcooked, unidentifiable bird he’d gotten on his way over to his study table. They kept on serving it, and while it was mostly tasteless with a nasty texture, Jae’d found that if you put enough Sriracha on it the stuff was tolerable. He’d done that, and the goo was… orange. At least it had some flavor.
“I make do,” he said.
“Man, you guys gotta make everything look like kimchi, don’tcha?”
He sighed. “I’d kill for some kimchi right now,” he said.
“Dude, gross. It’s like, hot rotting cabbage.”
“Tasty, well-aged cabbage,” Jae corrected.
“Whatever,” Trevor said. “Catch you at three at the Kennedy? We have that project and the others are getting antsy to get it done.”
Jae suspected they were waiting for someone else to actually do the project, given how far they’d gotten on it.
“Sure,” he replied. Part of diplomacy was not saying things. Jae had gotten extremely good at that this semester.
Trevor left, and in a moment of weakness and relief Jae slumped back into his chair. He took a few deep breaths, but his attempt at meditation was interrupted by a new-video notification from his phone.
The thumbnail was a typewritten page in an alphabet Jae didn’t recognize. From the formatting it looked like the title page of a paper, and across the top was what looked like a grade, in bright red ink. He slipped on his headphones and hit play.
“A-minus. Woohoo, an A-minus! Thanks to the awesome Jade Ancer!”
Jae smiled at how Drang decided to pronounce his username. It was kind of cool how Drang kept in character through all the videos.
“You were right, it was all about emergencies, not that the soft-scaled jerk actually said that. ‘The purpose of the assignment was to teach you to explore the full problem space before deciding on a course of action,’” Drang said with a ridiculously snobby accent. Then he snorted.
“And half the class completely missed it. I would’ve too if you hadn’t said something. Thanks, Jade!”
Jae knew the warm, happy feeling he had wasn’t real, since Drang was just someone playing a part. That didn’t matter, because he still did.
Cool, he commented.Glad it helped.
A second later his phone pinged and the chat window opened up.
Hey, ur here! On! Smthing like that.
Jae smiled at the text in the chat window. Apparently in cosplay-land they didn’t have autocorrect. That was… charming, somehow, and very in-character.
dnt no the spiders did chats!
Everything does chats these days, Jae wrote back.
Kul! On ltr? Gotta go sun, got a hot dat!
The idea of Drang on a date was surprisingly painful. That was kind of stupid, Jae knew. Drang was no doubt straight, and dated sorority girls. Or he would if he were real. The cosplayer probably did. No amount of makeup would give you the abs and arms that Drang had.
Sure,Jae replied.I’ll check back before bed.
Awsm! Kach you l8r!
It would’ve been ridiculous, and a little stupid, to get really cheered up by someone playing a character on the internet. That’s why Jae didn’t think about itat allwhile he put his stuff away and gathered up the remains of his mediocre lunch.
“Jaeson, Jaymaster, Jaybird! I’m borrowing your body wash! Got a hot date with Tiffany!”
“Please don’t,” Jae said. It was 6AM, and too early to be dealing with idiots. Not that it mattered, nor would it change anything, but he felt obliged to protest. “And it’s not even breakfast yet.”
“Uh huh,” Paul replied, sticking his head out from behind the bathroom door. “And three guesses what I’m eating this morning!” He leered and waggled his tongue in a truly disconcerting way.
“Crab?” Jae guessed.
“Hah! Nothing but top quality fish for me!” The bathroom door shut, and Jae pulled the blanket up over his head. He knew hiding wouldn’t help anything, but it helped muffle the noise. Though the one upside to Paul getting laid regularly was Jae didn’t have to hear him beating off in the shower. Or see the remnants on the tiles afterward.
While he was hiding he could catch up with the video that was waiting for him. It had been put up the previous evening, but the project group hadn’t broken up until 1 and he’d just wanted to get some sleep.
“I can’t believe that fucker!” Drang started yelling at the video before he even sat down. He was so angry that Jae could swear his eyes were glowing red. He paused the video and looked closer — they actually were glowing. There was a little smoke coming out of his nose, too. Jae was seriously impressed at the work Drang was putting into these videos.
“Total bigoted slime drippingskeezeweasel. I mean, dude, I hardly sat down before he was all ‘oh, you’re aTharg.’ only snobby like he had his own tail stuck up his ass.”
‘He’. That one pronoun shot through Jae like lightning. Drang datedguys. He wasgay.
“Fuck, ofcourseI’m a gods-damned Tharg. How stupid was he that he couldn’t figure that out? Oozing hells, didn’t he think to ask Torgin? Or even ask myname? Asshole.
“No,” he said, cutting himself off. “I like assholes. He was just a flame brained, no class, judgemental cack-head.” Drang put on another one of those pouts that Jae found so adorable. “I swear, I’m never letting Torgin set me up blind again. Worst. Date. Ever.”
No, thought Jae.Maybe the best.
Drang sank back into his chair. “I know it’s late, and you’re probably asleep, Jade. Maybe we can chat later.”
Jae thought for a moment.Sorry it was such a disaster, he typed into the comment box.
Then, before he could think twice about it and get in his own way he addedIf it had been me we would’ve had a good time. Promise.
A whole lot better time than he was having with his own hand, that’s for sure.
“You don’t want to fail! They’ll throw you out and no good school will take you. Your grandfather would be ashamed!”
“Yes, mother,” Jae replied. Calls from his mother were the only time he got actually speak with someone in Korean but he was finding, after three years of nearly failing with a 4.02 GPA, that it was less appealing than it was when he’d first started school.
His phone pinged with a new video alert, and he gave a silent prayer of thanks for the excuse.
“I have to go, mother,” Jae lied. “I have a meeting I should not miss.”
He shouldn’t have enjoyed hanging up on her, but he did anyway.
Thirty videos and six impromptu text chats, and he was totally infatuated with his blue cosplayer. He was adult enough to admit it. Maybe not to another human being, or even out loud. But those were just details.
“Hey, look what happened today! I got my midterm spell circle project back!” Drang held up a white sheet of paper that had to be half a meter square. On it there was a complex diagram that looked like some kind of elaborate, decorated pentagram with extra flourishes. He’d been watching so many of these videos that Drang’s cosplay-blue fingers holding the paper didn’t even register any more
“I totally thought I was going to fail, but nope! Because of you-know-who,” and Jae did, because it was him. “I got an A! Awesome!”
“Told you,” Jae said to the screen. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t recording, and that nobody could actually hear him. He was proud that his friend had done well, even if it was in one of his fake classes. The enthusiasm was real and he was happy to be swept along into something he hadn’t felt for himself in longer than he could remember.
“The prof especially liked these bits,” Drang continued, as he held the paper up closer to the camera. The image went all pixelated as the sharp lines, drawn in some kind of sparkly green ink, filled the screen. As the image stabilized Jae could see the diagram in its entirety, done up in an elaborate Art Nouveau style, the five-sided star bordered with swooping vine-like flourishes.
The diagram was as much art as diagram, and pretty. Jae reached out to touch the picture on his phone screen, tracing the edge of one of the star’s legs.
That’s when the world flashed white. Then he blacked out.
The blackout only lasted a second before reality reasserted itself. It did so along with gravity, which was somewhat unfortunate since Jae was now about two feet above the surface of a desk. He squawked, dropped, and rolled off all in one move, then fell a few feet face-first to the ground.
All the stuff on the desk — a collection of books, papers, pencils, a pair of boxer shorts, a saucer full of dirt, and what felt like a large rock — fell with him.
He sat up and rubbed his head, just in time for a glass of something foully peppermint-scented to tip over and splash right on top of his head.
“Of course,” Jae grumbled.
He stood up and stripped off his shirt. Half of it was covered in the nasty milkshake he was wearing, but half was dry and he tried his best to wipe the worst of it out if his hair.
“Aah! Holy shit, what are you?”
Jae spun and almost fell again at the exclamation from behind him. In the doorway to the room stood something, or someone, big, blue, and very surprised. He recognized the voice, though.
“Drang?” he asked.
“You… know me?”
“You really take this cosplay thing seriously,” Jae said. His head was still a little fuzzy. “Also how did I get here? This doesn’t look like my dorm room.”
“It worked. It worked! Awesome!” Drang jumped and punched the air. “I summoned a real demon! Woohoo! Wait,” he said suddenly. “You’re not going to eat my soul or anything, right? I mean, that wouldn’t be cool.”
“No, of course not,” Jae said. He wasn’t sure what Drang was talking about, and he still wasn’t thinking clearly. “Why would I do that?”
“It’s what demons do,” Drang said solemnly. “That’s what they tell us in class. You summon them and if you’re not careful they’ll suck your soul.
“Your soul isn’t what I want to suck,” Jae blurted out. He flushed a deep red, matched a moment later by Drang’s dark blue flush. “Sorry, I don’t know what I’m saying.”
“Uh. Yeah, um,” Drang stammered. “Probably the crossing. The books say it can, um, confuse things.”
“I’m certainly confused. What’s going on, and how did I get here?”
“You’re a demon,” Drang said slowly. “I summoned you.”
“You said that already,” Jae said, hands on his hips and irritation clear in his voice. “Repeating it doesn’t mean it makes any more sense.”
Drang started to say something, then stopped. He did this twice more, though Jae saw that Drang was staring him straight in the nipples. A quick glance at the slowly growing bulge in Drang’s dirt-stained cargo shorts gave him a good idea exactly why he was distracted too.
“Drang, it’s Jae. I’ve been commenting on the videos you’ve been making. We’ve been chatting for the past couple of months. Remember? JaeDancer?”
“Jade? That’s you?”
“Jae, yes, it’s me. You sound surprised, I thought from the way you talked you knew what I looked like.”
“I just assumed,” Drang mumbled. “I didn’t know you really smoked.”
Jae decided to take that as a complement. “How did I get here? I was watching your last video, with your spell circle homework.”
“Yeah, I aced that! Hey, thanks,” Drang said. “You helped a bunch!”
“Anyway,” Jae continued, pushing through Drang’s relentless enthusiasm, “I was watching and touched the image and then… I was here.”
Drang looked horrified. “You touched the spell circle? You don’t ever touch circles, that’s not safe!”
“I’ll remember that for next time,” Jae said. “Can I, uh, get cleaned up somewhere?”
In his head he was kicking himself. He was supposed to be more clever than this — that was what he was training for, and what kind of diplomat stammered and said stupid things? One standing in front of a dead-sexy tall blue guy with curly ram horns, an innocent blush, and a couple of inches of gorgeous abs showing as he scratched behind his head. That kind, apparently.
“Sure,” Drang said. He sniffed. “Uh, sorry about thekaffir, I meant to clean the desk off last week but, well…”
“Midterms, right,” Jae said. He remembered how haggard Drang had looked in the videos the previous week. Not that it made the sticky, stinking mess matted in his hair any more pleasant.
“The shower’s in there?” Drang pointed at the door
While it was phrased as a question, the bathroom was, indeed, right there. It was a mostly normal bathroom, luckily for Jae. There was a half empty jar of horn polish by the sink, and the bathtub needed a good scrubbing. It was cleaner than he was, and that was the important thing.
It took Jae a minute to get the unfamiliar plumbing working and the water to a temperature he liked, but when he did he stripped down and enjoyed the shower more than any he’d had in years.
The quiet gave Jae a chance to think, too. “He wasn’t cosplaying,” he murmured to himself. “And he thinks I’m a demon. I am, a demon, I guess. To Drang, at least.” A very real, very attractive Drang. One who, as far as Jae could tell, kind of liked him. Almost as important, one that foundJaehot.
That thought brought on the expected reaction, but rather than being annoyed, or embarrassed, Jae almost… reveled in it. In this moment of quiet, he realized he was in some other dimension where nobody knew him and nobody had any expectations of him. Also? Extremely horny.
Jae gave himself a shake. He was training to be a diplomat, right? Negotiate for what you wanted, make all sides happy? He could do that.
Stepping out of the shower he dried himself off, then positioned the towel just right; low slung, just the tiniest bit of hair peeking over the edge, opening set so his right leg was bare and threatened to show more as he walked.
He took a deep breath to steady himself and pushed open the bathroom door.
“Thanks,” Jae said as he walked into the dorm room. He put the tiniest bit of a sway in his hips. “That stuff was really gross.”
“No problem,” Drang said. He was kneeling in front of his desk picking up the last of the stuff that had fallen on Jae. “It was kind of myhnnnng—” Drang cut off abruptly as he turned and looked at Jae.
“What, is there something wrong?” Jae asked, pretending alarm. He spun around to look back into the bathroom and ‘accidentally’ let the towel almost slip off.
“No, no, it’s uh, nothing. Nothing, really,” Drang stammered. As Jae turned back around he saw Drang pull a book into his lap. The move wasn’t at all subtle, but, then, the huge tent he was pitching wasn’t subtle either. Or completely hidden by the book.
“Drang,” Jae said as he slunk over. “Are you feeling all right?” As he knelt down the knot on the towel slipped away, the only thing keeping it from falling off completely was Jae’s burgeoning erection.
“I’m… I’m fine.”
“Oh, you really are,” Jae breathed, then he lunged in with a fierce kiss.
Drang tasted of orange and chocolate, and after a moment’s stunned hesitation enthusiastically kissed Jae back.
They fell together and half rolled on the floor, Jae ending up on top, Drang’s hands tangled in Jae’s hair, Jae’s grabbing Drang’s horns and pulling their faces closer together.
The kiss was hot, and the hardness Jae felt pressing into his groin drove him into a frenzy. Drang’s teeth were as sharp as they looked, the points drawing blood as their mouths mashed together.
“You’re an incubus, I know it,” Drang breathed when they finally broke the kiss. “They warned us about you in class.”
“Did they?” asked Jae. He was feeling bolder by far than he’d ever felt in his life. “What did they say?”
“They said you were crafty,” Drang stammered.
“Oh?” Jae said. He slipped a hand under the hem of Drang’s shirt, teaching his fingers along his side as his hand moved up, pushing the loose fabric up as he went. “What else did they say?”
“They said said you were sexy. And—” His sentence was cut off with a shudder as Jae ran his tongue lightly around the edge of Drang’s hard, square pec.
“And?” Jae asked.
“And you might suck—”
Drang cut off as Jae did indeed suck, right on Drang’s nipple. Bit, too, though gently, taking the nub and the bar in it between his front teeth.
Under him Drang bucked and gibbered incoherently. Jae slid his hand down Drang’s side and under the waistband of his shorts, closing his fingers around the long hard penis beneath them. It felt odd, tapered without a blunt tip. It was covered with loose skin, subtly ridged. Definitely not human and Jae knew it was going to feel very, very good inside him.
He stroked twice, very slowly, then let his hand go still. Drang twitched once, panting heavily.
“Drang?” Jae said.
Jae stood up. He was nude, erect, unashamed, and felt very powerful. That was something he hadn’t felt in… ever. “Want to fuck?”
Drang went from dazed to alert in an instant, his eyes blown out and the faint smell of burnt cedar drifting in the air around him. “Oh, goddess, yes,” he breathed.
Jae grinned and reached a hand down. Drang grabbed it and pulled himself upright, his t-shirt falling back into place as he stood. Jae thought that was a shame, really. He was a few inches taller than Jae, and broad where Jae was slender. He was also fully clothed to Jae’s casual nudity. Jae hadn’t thought he could get any harder, but that turned out not to be the case.
Jae reached up and pushed Drang’s ever-present baseball hat off his head. Underneath it was short, dark navy hair, now sticking up in all directions. The horns, as he hoped, were real, and kind of cute as they curled around the sides of his head.
“Drang? You’re really wearing too much.”
Jae had never seen anyone try so hard to get naked and still fail. Drang tried to strip off his t-shirt, undo his shorts, and toe out of his sneakers all at the same time. It didn’t work and he fell onto the bed all tangled up in his clothes. His tail, which Jae found oddly endearing, was pinned to the bed, the blunt tip twitching with Drang’s frustration.
Jae laughed as he watched. Drang was like an over-eager puppy in a way, almost desperate to please. Or get laid. Could be either, and Jae was good with it. “It’s OK, you don’t have to strangle yourself,” Jae said.
As Drang sat up and worked the shirt over his head Jae knelt down and grabbed the waistband of the shorts. The top button was undone and they slipped off easily enough. They had a hole in the back big enough for Drang’s tail to slip through. The boxers he was wearing underneath them were a dark, almost brown, orange silk.
“Oh, sexy,” Jae teased
Drang blushed. “I, uh, kind of like how they feel,” he mumbled.
Jae ran his fingertips along the silky covered length and felt Drang’s dick jump. “I do too,” he said.
He slid them down and over Drang’s oddly shaped feet. They appeared to only have two toes, and another time Jae would find them fascinating, but right then he really didn’t care.
Drang was leaning back on the bed, elbows to the side and behind, legs spread. He was tensing up, making his abs clear. His tail quivered a little with the effort.
Jae let his hands stroke Drang’s legs as he looked at his body. He was that sexy dark blue all over, a little lighter between waist and mid-thigh. His sparse pubic fur was a midnight blue, and from what Jae could feel under his hands Drang had no hair on his legs.
Drang’s upper body was amazingly cut. Like he’d briefly showed off in his video, he had visible abs and an innie navel. His pecs were square and nicely built without bulging with small nipples, both of which had silver bars through them. Drang’s shoulders were wide and his arms were muscled.
“You’re gorgeous, you know?” Jae asked.
Drang’s twitching stopped all at once, and Jae realized he wasn’t showing off so much as really nervous.
“You think so? I’m not anything special,” he said. “Just a Tharg, y’know?” There was a little bitterness in his voice. “You’re the pretty one.”
“Not ‘just’ anything,” Jae said. He gave a small, real smile. “Well, maybe just awesome.”
Drang paused for half a second, then gave a huge grin. “Yeah, maybe that.”
Jae leaned forward a little and took a good look at the cock sticking up in front of him. Like he’d felt, it was maybe eight inches long, an inch or so wide at the base, and tapered to nearly a point. It was covered in loose skin, and had a half dozen ridges along its length. It also curved slightly in, like it was pointing at Drang’s navel. He apparently had no external testicles.
Drang’s excitement was obvious, both in how hard it was and how much it was leaking. The shaft was wet and shiny, and small amounts of fluid bubbled out of the skin around the tip, pulsing out in time with Drang’s breathing. It smelled faintly of strawberry.
“This,” Jae said, “looks… tasty.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, ow, teeth, no!” Drang squawked as Jae leaned down to take him into his mouth.
“Drang,” Jae said softly, his breath blowing across the wilting cock he held just in front of his mouth, “my teeth aren’t pointed.”
“Wait, but,” Drang protested. “I don’t—wah! Goddess, goddess, goddess!” he chanted as Jae sucked him down to the root before taking the next ten minutes to demonstrate the advantages of being a member of a species that didn’t have needle sharp fangs.
The power Jae felt, as he brought Drang to the edge of orgasm and held him there, was heady. Drang’s precum flowed freely and tasted of strawberries. It was the most amazing thing Jae had tasted, and he wanted more.
He had to force himself to stop and pull back. He was about to come just from blowing Drang and that wasn’t what he wanted for his first time.
“I’m almost there, goddess, don’t stop!” Drang whimpered.
Jae straddled Drang’s prone body, his hard cock pointing straight at Drang’s face.
“Next time,” Jae said, “you can fuck me with your tail while I suck you off. But right now…” He shifted forward and up a little bit. One of his hands was next to Drang’s head, the other reaching behind him and grabbing Drang’s erection. “Right now I want you to fuck me.”
With that he sat back, Drang’s hard, slick, and pointed cock sliding almost perfectly inside him. It ran right along his prostate and he had one long, glorious, eternal moment of bliss before Drang grabbed his hips, thrust upwards, and made his his head explode.
Jae finally collapsed to the bed a couple of hours later, covered in sweat and come, exhausted and totally, amazingly satisfied.
“That,” he said, as he snuggled into the crook of Drang’s arm, “was an excellent example of cross-cultural exchange.”
“Mmmm,” Drang agreed. “It definitely was.”
“So tell me,” Jae asked. “How exactly do I get home?”