A chance at the Olympics has been everything Auden has always wanted, but now that it’s within his grasp, he finds himself slipping further away. Does he really want to be an Olympic gymnast when there’s so much more to life? To make things worse, he has both a major crush on his friends-with-benefits teammate, Trayce, and free-spirited musician named Shane. With Olympics trials looming on the horizon, Auden has to decide what he really wants and how much he’s willing to give up to get it. (M/M)

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Chapter 5: Date-able

Inside the dorm, Auden shut the door and flicked on the light. It was still light outside, but the sun was starting to sink outside the window. The air conditioner hummed under the ledge and Auden dropped down on his bed. Trayce joined him, scooting back easily.

“You know, it’s kind of creepy to have a picture of your coach in your dorm,” he said, nodding at the photo of the 2008 Olympic team.

“You have a picture of Jules in yours.” Auden had seen it stuck up on the closet door that Trayce never bothered to close—a shirtless picture no less, of Jules in his glory days.

“He was hot. He is hot.”

“Don’t let Dorian hear you say that.” Auden paused. They were close enough that he could reach out and touch Trayce’s hand if he wanted to, but he’d probably only get a raised eyebrow if he tried. Friends. They were friends, not boyfriends. “When did you know?”

“That Jules was hot?” Trayce sat back, biting his lip as he thought. “Probably right around the 2016 Olympics. I was only twelve at the time but I knew if I ever had an older guy fetish, I’d pick Jules. Besides, he was in three consecutive Olympics—the guy’s got talent.”

“I meant, when did you know you wanted to be an Olympian.”

“Forever,” Trayce replied as though it should have been obvious. “I don’t know. It wasn’t like I woke up one morning and was like, I want to spend the next ten years of my life falling on my ass for a tiny scrap of metal. Why? You getting scared I’ll beat you on the team?”

“You wish,” Auden tried to joke but he couldn’t deny the feeling of unease that followed. Maybe he did want Trayce to beat him. At least then he’d have a valid excuse for not making the team.

Trayce paused at his answer. “Are you okay? You’ve been acting weird.”

“I’m fine,” Auden assured him. “I’d be more fine if we could stop talking.”

“Oh, I get it,” Trayce said, shifting towards Auden, a smile creeping onto his face. “You’re just using me for my body.”

“Shut up.” Auden rolled his eyes, but he watched Trayce scoot over, their arms brushing now, and it sent a thrill through him. It hadn’t been like this with Shane. It was so much easier with Trayce who didn’t even have to ask what he was thinking, who just knew what he wanted him to do.

“It’s okay,” Trayce replied, lifting a hand to Auden’s face and turning it to face him. His thumb slid down his jaw, and if Auden closed his eyes, he could almost imagine it was more than just an empty gesture. “I don’t mind.”

Trayce kissed Auden, slow and steady, fingers sliding into his hair to drag him closer. His lips were soft and warm, an easy pressure against Auden’s mouth as Trayce moved, pushing Auden onto his back. Closing his eyes, Auden kissed him back, opening his mouth to Trayce’s and letting him deepen the kiss.

Most of the time, Trayce didn’t bother with kissing too much. It took away from the rest of it, he said, got in the way of the fun part, but now, he took his time. Auden couldn’t really think, not with Trayce’s tongue sliding along his bottom lip, the warm ghost of breath over his skin that made his toes curl. All he could do was move his hand to Trayce’s shoulder, bunching the thin fabric of his shirt, pulling him closer.

Not four hours ago, he’d been sitting on top of a mountain with Shane, and now he was underneath Trayce, blood rushing to his cock. The thought only gave him a moment’s pause when Trayce slid down to mouth at his neck, his touch too light to leave marks since they both knew the consequences and neither wished to face Dorian’s disapproving glare. Auden encouraged him with a moan, his hand sliding to Trayce’s hair and tightening in the locks. All thoughts of Shane vanished with Trayce’s tongue sliding over his throat.

Trayce’s hands moved from Auden’s hair, leaving it thoroughly mussed, and dropped to his waist, pushing under his old tee shirt instead. His fingers curled against Auden’s stomach, thumbs pressing into his hips, and his breath was hot against Auden’s neck.

Auden wasn’t ready to lose Trayce’s mouth quite yet, and he pulled Trayce back up for another kiss, sloppy and hard, something he desperately needed.

“Hey, relax,” Trayce mumbled a second later, forcefully slowing him down with short kisses until they reached a leisurely pace.

It was easy for Trayce, easy to take his time and not think about whether this meant anything. It didn’t to him, Auden knew. It was just getting off, but Auden could pretend.

Trayce’s tongue curled against his, teeth grazing along his bottom lip, and Auden shifted. He was already hard—he’d been halfway there since he’d left Shane earlier—and he could feel the pressure of Trayce’s body above him. Reaching down, Auden slid his hands over Trayce’s ass, dragging his hips down to grind against his.

“Fuck, Auden,” Trayce breathed, nipping at his jaw. “Your outing made you hot or what?” He said it with a laugh in his voice, but he shoved up Auden’s shirt a second later, too quickly to be anything other than eager. It came over Auden’s head with a slight struggle, ending up gracelessly on the floor. “We should do this more often.”

Auden could only groan, hands pushing under Trayce’s shirt, rucking it up to his shoulder blades. His hands slid over Trayce’s shoulders, feeling the strain of his muscles. His knees came up to bracket Trayce on top of him, hips meeting in a rush of heat that made Trayce let out a soft noise, barely an exhale.

At least Auden knew he could get that kind of response from Trayce. He might never get lingering touches in public or kisses on the cheek after practice, but he could make Trayce moan and gasp above him and that was something.

Auden pulled at Trayce’s shirt, getting it over his head. Reaching down, he nudged Trayce’s hips away from his, tearing down Trayce’s zipper and shoving his jeans over his hips. Trayce helped him out, pushing them off.

It took Trayce less time to yank Auden’s pants down, no zipper to bother with. “God,” he breathed, pushing Auden’s knees apart and reaching for his cock. “Do you have—”

Auden bit his lip and stretched back, groping on the desk crammed next to the bed. He jerked the top drawer open, rummaging blindly for lube and box of condoms.

“Here,” he panted, shaking one out.

Trayce grabbed the condom, ripping it open with his teeth and shedding the wrapper.

Auden exhaled, looking up at Trayce as Trayce reached down, rolling on the condom. He watched the way Trayce’s eyes dropped, low and hooded, mouth falling open as he breathed. His eyes scraped over Trayce’s chest, down to his hips and the trail of hair leading down to his prick.

There was no denying that Trayce was good-looking, but all gymnasts had great bodies, Auden thought, distracted by the sculpted muscles of Trayce’s stomach as Trayce flipped open the lube and covered his fingers.

“Shit!” Auden gasped as Trayce slid his fingers in, two to start with, not giving him much time to prepare.

He panted for breath, shifting around Trayce’s fingers, his legs pushed up near his head, and it was a good thing he was so flexible. Trayce’s shoulder braced the back of his thigh, his fingers pushing in deeper, dragging against the muscles inside.

They’d gotten past the handjobs and blowjobs fairly early on, bypassing the awkwardness of sucking each other off. It had become so easy, so simple, everything Auden wished it would be, except with someone who would do more afterward than ask about his schedule for next week’s training. For a second, when Trayce’s eyes flicked to his, Auden’s mind flashed to earlier with Shane, when Shane had smiled at him from across the rock.

Should this have been Shane? A part of Auden was glad it was Trayce, though. With Shane, it would have been awkward, different, new, all the things he didn’t have to worry about with Trayce. He gasped a second later, eyes squeezing shut as Trayce dragged his fingers out and replaced them with his cock, hot and hard, pressing inside him. Trayce knew exactly what to do to bring him to the edge.

He could barely swallow, heat filling him, Shane’s smile vanished from his mind as Trayce filled him. Instead, he could only feel Trayce, the way he pushed in and drew back, torturously slow, then slid back in. The whole bed shook, inching back against the carpeted floor.

Auden gasped, reaching for Trayce’s sides, biting his lip, but he opened his mouth to Trayce’s as Trayce smashed their mouths together, his hips rocking in hard.

The kiss was unfinessed, mostly panted breath and lips sliding together, and Auden’s hand wrapped around the back of Trayce’s neck to stop him from pulling away. Their bodies moved together, knocking the bed against the wall, an uneven rhythm. Auden swallowed hard, panting against Trayce’s mouth, pushing his hips against Trayce’s, copying his rhythm and groaning when Trayce’s hand closed around his cock and pulled.

He wasn’t going to make it much longer, not with Trayce’s hand, still slick with lube, jerking him off. A dull flush crept up his collarbone, decorating his cheeks as he sucked in a breath. He could feel his legs shaking, the ache in his ass growing with each push of Trayce’s hips. His cock throbbed in Trayce’s grip.

He whined softly with the last push of Trayce’s hips, feeling the way they stuttered, Trayce’s sharp breath, the way he breathed out afterward, his hips slowing, pushing in and out more leisurely.

“Trayce,” Auden tried to warn him, to keep his hand going as it slowed as well. He needed to get off, and Trayce wasn’t always good at follow-through, not when it came to this.

Luckily, Trayce heeded his unspoken request, dragging his palm against Auden’s cock, slower and then faster. His hips finally drew to a stop but his hand didn’t, working Auden up to a point where he could hardly take a breath longer than a gasp, panting, his fingers digging into the back of Trayce’s neck.

“Fuck,” he gasped finally, eyes squeezing shut as his body reacted, his stomach tightening and the heat crashing over him as he came.

He felt Trayce sliding out as he came, the ache that remained. Trayce’s hand stroked him through it, and he forced his eyes open, meeting Trayce’s gaze as he panted for breath and finally sighed long and slow. Licking his lips, his hand slid from Trayce’s neck, falling to the bed.

Trayce let his legs down finally, looking around for something to clean up with. He grabbed an old towel from the floor, wiping off his hand then handing it to Auden. Auden lay there for a moment, breathing slowly.

“Where’d you go?” Trayce asked after a minute. “A strip club?”

“In the middle of the day?” Auden replied skeptically, and Trayce shrugged, lying back down and setting his hands on his stomach.

“You don’t usually skip out on practice.”

“I…” He hesitated, debating whether or not he really wanted to tell Trayce. “I went on a date.”

There was a pause then Trayce said, “Really?”

Auden frowned. “You don’t believe me?”

“No, I’m sure you did. You’re very date-able.”

Date-able, but Trayce didn’t want to date him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Trayce shrugged again and smiled slightly as Auden propped himself up on his elbow so he could look at him easier. “Nothing. You’re a nice, cute, good-looking guy.”

“That’s it?” Auden asked, underwhelmed by his reaction.

“What do you want me to say, Auden? You want me to get jealous? To storm around like a kid whose candy got stolen? That’s not gonna happen.”

Yes, that was exactly what Auden wanted. He wanted some kind of proof that Trayce cared about him and his dating habits, even if it had only been one date and they’d spent most of it climbing a steep hill in the blazing sun.

“Why not?”

Trayce pushed himself up into a sitting position, facing Auden, and shook his head. “We’ve been over this. Relationships are just an excuse to use someone else to fix your problems, but they usually create more problems than they solve. Just look at all the divorced people in the world. Look at my parents. They were a real model for healthy relationships—screaming constantly—they were only really happy once they divorced.”

“Not everyone is like your parents,” Auden pointed out. “Plenty of people have good relationships.”

“Maybe,” Trayce admitted. “But there’s also the added problem of distractions. What you and I have, it fits in perfectly to our lives. There’s no drama, there’s nothing that takes away from training. It’s getting off and having a good time doing it. If we started dating, it would just be, ugh.” He made a face. “Look, I want to go to the Olympics, and I know you do too, and now is not the time to start wanting relationships with anyone.”

It was so matter-of-fact that Auden couldn’t argue with him. Of course, he had a point. Now wasn’t the time to start something like this, but it still hurt that Trayce hadn’t even bothered to think about it. Trials were just another excuse not to do things, just like everything else.

Trayce sighed as they sat there a minute longer then leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Auden’s lips. He pulled back and held his gaze for a moment. “Like I said, you’re very date-able. I wouldn’t worry.”

As Trayce gathered his clothes and redressed, Auden was left with an ache in his chest that had nothing to do with training for once.

Chain Link

Auden sailed through the air off the vault, hands leaving and twisting tight to his body as he moved, but he felt it before it happened, the momentum running out mid-twist, and he landed on the mat, stumbling forward onto his knees. Pushing himself up, he silently cursed the vault behind him.

“You know what you did wrong?” Dorian asked as Auden grabbed a towel and wiped the sweat off his face.

“Opened up too late,” he muttered.

“Opened up too late,” Dorian repeated seriously. “Rookie mistake, Auden. This isn’t even your most difficult vault. It’s not about difficulty; it’s about how well you pull it off. If you have an easier vault, it better be flawless.”

Vault had never been Auden’s strongest suit, and it was especially difficult when his coach had been one of the best vaulters in the entire world at one point.

“How about you show me?” he tried to joke, but Dorian pursed his lips.

“Funny. Back to the start and watch your core this time.”

At the start of the mat, Auden paused to take a deep breath. It wasn’t a long run to the vault, but it seemed to stretch before him as he stood there. It was just a vault. He’d done it a million times before. This was no different except that every attempt was one step closer to the Olympics. No pressure.

Wiping chalk on his hands, Auden shook himself. Just focus, he told himself firmly. Focus and don’t think about everything else. The only important thing right now was to get it right.

He started down the mat, building speed until he hit the vault, pushing off and sailing through the air—three twists—and his feet hit the mat with a stumbling force, but he managed to stay upright this time. The first time he’d tried vault, he hadn’t even gotten enough momentum to make a full turn, but that was years ago. He hadn’t received a much better expression from his coach at the time.

Dorian had his arms crossed. “Better, but I need you to explode off that vault. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Auden nodded, but his head felt heavy as he did so. He understood perfectly what Dorian was saying, but listening was one thing—executing it was entirely another.

“You’re talented,” Dorian said, “but talent isn’t the only thing that’s gonna get you to the Olympics. Now, I’d keep practicing. Loosen up a little.”

Auden thought it was a little ironic, Dorian telling him to loosen up, but he didn’t say so. After all, Dorian was his coach, not his friend, and he had to listen to his advice. Dorian knew what he was doing—he’d already made it to the Olympics, and Auden didn’t doubt that if it hadn’t been for his injury, he would have gone to many more.

“Besides,” Dorian said, gazing across the room at where Trayce was being spotted on the rings. “You’ll want to have it down when your parents come.”

“Parents?” Auden looked up sharply.

Dorian frowned at his question. “Your dad said they were coming down to see your practice. I assumed you were aware.”

Auden didn’t know what to say or why his chest tightened at the idea of seeing his parents right now. He tried to think of something quickly that would reassure Dorian. “Oh, yeah, I just forgot. Been busy with training and everything.”

Something about Dorian’s expression told Auden he didn’t quite believe him, but thankfully, he didn’t push.

“It’s fine, them coming to visit,” he said at length, “but I don’t want you getting distracted this late in the game.”

“Right.” Auden nodded, quirking a brief smile. Of all the distractions Auden could have imagined, his parents hadn’t been one. It wasn’t as though there was necessarily anything wrong with them visiting, but it was so much easier when they were in San Diego, where they didn’t have to watch his progress and comment on everything that happened. Auden knew exactly what would happen once they got to Phoenix. His mom would be so impressed with everything and his father would comment on how expensive the equipment seemed.

Dorian was gazing at Trayce again, and Auden followed his eyes. Trayce was a much better distraction, one he’d much prefer to think about rather than the impending trials and the pressure that made him constantly feel as though one good stumble on a mat would end his chances for good—and he wasn’t sure if that made him happy or not.

Dorian snapped back to him a second later, though. “Let’s run it again, and I don’t want to see any missteps.”

Auden nodded, but he deflated slightly when Dorian turned away. At this point, Auden wasn’t sure he had anything but missteps left.

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