Changing Horses Midstream

Warning: This is a very early story. Because Seb and Zain met as teenagers, the earliest parts of their relationship happened when they were both underage. In this one, Seb is 16 and Zain is 17. It contains disciplinary and sexual themes, but nothing explicit on either count.


Seb returned from his walk as dusk fell over Solshine Farm. The chickens were clucking and making their way back to the coop while the mother goats nuzzled their sleepy kids. He stopped at the pasture fence to say goodnight to them and enjoy a quiet moment as the breeze whispered and crickets chirped around him.

Then, through the peaceful air, Dax’s voice cried out, “Lucky shot! That was luck!”

Frowning, Seb followed the yell around the corner of the house to the garage. His brother was standing in the middle of the driveway, pointing accusingly at Zain, who was halfway across the yard.

“There’s no way you can do that again, so my missing doesn’t count,” Dax said.

“Oh, you want me to prove it?” Zain called, and even from this distance, Seb could see he had on his cockiest grin. “Pass it back, then.”

Dax walked toward him and threw the basketball he was holding at the same time.

Catching it easily, Zain said, “Bank,” and shot it at the hoop hanging on the garage door. The ball hit the backboard and dropped straight through the net. “Ha! You’ve got an O.”

“Yeah, well, so do you,” said Dax.

Zain, jogging over to scoop the ball off the ground next to Seb, ignored that. “Hey, babe!” he said as he straightened up.

“Hi,” Seb said. “Don’t you guys ever get tired of playing Horse?”

“Nah, it’s fun!” He leaned closer and pressed a hard kiss to Seb’s lips, and Seb felt the energy coursing off him like a current. “Wanna go up on the roof after I’m done beating your brother?”

Seb blushed and nodded. Most of the time he used the roof as a place to think alone, but when Zain joined him, thinking always became difficult.

“Are we gonna finish the game or what?” Dax shouted, and Zain held up an index finger behind his back.

“See you in a bit, then,” he said to Seb. “Shouldn’t take too long.”

“‘Kay,” Seb replied. As he turned to go into the house, Zain gave him one of those playful pats on the butt he’d become so fond of doling out over the past several months. It produced a warm, comforting feeling in Seb’s chest, even as he felt his face go a darker red.

*

“Oh oh, I do believe that makes an E, and what does that spell, I wonder?” Zain asked, catching the ball on the rebound.

Dax snatched it away from him. “Insurance shot!”

“Sure you don’t want to just concede defeat now and keep your dignity?”

“Out of the way.”

Grinning, Zain stepped to one side and let the redhead get into position for a free throw, but rather than taking the shot, Dax dribbled for several seconds, his eyes narrowed at the hoop.

“Hurry up and lose, would ya?” Zain said. “I’ve got plans with Seb.”

Dax made a face. “I do not need to hear about your ‘plans’ with my little brother.”

“Then shoot!” Zain told him, with a glance towards the spot on the roof where he’d seen Seb perched watching them earlier. It was empty now. The sky had gotten a lot darker since then, he noticed.

Finally, Dax threw the ball. It bounced off the rim, and he swore loudly as he caught it again.

“Say it,” said Zain.

“Argh! Fine.” He closed his eyes and screwed up his face as he summoned his willpower, and then said, “You…are better…at basketball…than…me.”

Laughing, Zain said, “Thanks, I know that was painful for you.”

They walked into the house together, shoving their shoulders against each other to determine who would pass through the doorway first. Zain won, and took the stairs to the second floor two at a time. He headed straight to Seb’s room. “Babe?” he asked, opening the door without bothering to knock.

The room was empty, but the dormer window above the desk was open. He hopped up onto the clear spot between piles of sketchbooks, stuck his head outside, craned his neck, and spotted a bare foot on the shingles. “Hey, babe,” he called cheerfully as he climbed up to join him.

Seb glanced over before going back to looking at the stars dotted across the inky sky. “Hi. You won?”

“Yep.” He laid down next to him with his hands clasped behind his neck. “Sorry it took longer than I expected.”

“It’s fine,” Seb said, and Zain turned his head and frowned.

That was the kind of ‘fine’ that went with Dax or Keegan or Quinn trying to help their little brother in all the wrong ways, the kind that accompanied no, go on ahead, I’ll catch up when I’m feeling better or you don’t need to worry about me, and he didn’t like it being directed towards him. At all.

The starlight reflected in Seb’s eyes as he continued staring upward. They should’ve looked beautiful, but there was nothing except conflict behind them. Hesitantly, Zain rolled onto his side and reached out to rest one hand on the other boy’s stomach. Just as he made contact, though, Seb sat up and said, “I’m a little tired. I’m gonna go to bed.”

“…Okay.”

Seb crawled through the window, and Zain followed after him as he went straight to his tiny ensuite bathroom and took out his toothbrush.

Propped in the doorway behind him, Zain studied the way he was hunched over the counter, his shoulders pulled up and forward. “So you’re not upset with me?” he asked.

For the briefest of moments, Seb met his gaze in the mirror. There was something almost fearful about his expression. Then he looked down, squeezed toothpaste onto the brush, and said, “I don’t have any reason to be upset with you.”

Wrong. This is wrong. Not only the words; the whole situation. It prickled under his skin. They’d been dating and living together for nearly two years, and he knew they’d had a few disagreements in the past, but they never felt like this, like he was being closed out. Their arguments usually took the form of teasing debates. He wanted those back.

Seb was still leaning over the sink, brushing his teeth and not looking at him. Zain’s eyes dropped to the seat of his jeans, and without any real thought other than the desire to make him laugh, he reached forward and brought his palm down on it. Not hard, not enough to hurt at all, but with more force than the pat he’d given him earlier.

Then he watched in interest as Seb’s head jerked up and his wide, green eyes blinked a few times. “Did you just smack my butt?” he asked, around the toothbrush in his mouth.

With a completely straight face, Zain said, “I don’t have any reason to smack your butt.”

That made him take the toothbrush out and turn to glare.

It wasn’t the reaction he’d been aiming for, yet Zain found himself smiling broadly. “It was more of a swat, anyway.”

Seb huffed. “Zain!”

“What?” he asked. “Are you upset with me?”

Yes, you jerk.”

“I thought so,” he said, not without a little satisfaction. “About swatting your butt, or about playing Horse with Dax so late?”

“Both,” Seb spat. Then he looked away and said, “But mostly… mostly about the second thing.”

Zain nodded. “Yeah, that was stupid of me. I got carried away and kinda lost track of time. I’m really sorry. Can you forgive me? Pretty please? And next time Dax and I will play Pig instead, and you can let us know if we’re taking too long?”

Rolling his eyes, Seb said, “Yes, I forgive you. It’s not that big a deal. We can still… do stuff, can’t we?”

He was so cute when he turned all pink. Zain took a moment to admire him before saying, “Of course, babe! You know why? Cause you make me feel like I’m livin’ a teenage dream-

“Oh my gods, don’t-”

Heedless, he kept singing as he grabbed his hand and dragged him out of the bathroom. “The way you turn me on, I can’t sleep, Let’s run away and don’t ever look back, don’t ever look back…”

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