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 10: Just a Friend

Trials loomed ever closer on the horizon (“Thirty-two days!” Anya piped up brightly that morning). Auden wasn’t sure how she could be excited when she couldn’t even compete. Last he’d heard, her physical therapist had suggested she take a year off from training. She never would, though. If she had her way, she’d be back in the gym by the end of the summer.

Auden, on the other hand, had decided that the only way he was going to get through this was by spending as much time away from the gym as possible. He avoided Trayce’s gaze whenever they had to be together, and he just knew Trayce was waiting for an opportunity to ask him too many questions again, to push until Auden gave up and admitted that he didn’t know what the hell he wanted anymore.

As much as he had hoped that Shane might make things less complicated, Auden found that it was just the opposite. Shane was fun and interesting and he didn’t talk about gymnastics. Instead, they spent their time hiking and rock climbing (Auden was getting much better at the wall), and Shane had even taught him a few chords on the guitar. Spending time with him was a complete turn-around from how it was with Trayce.

“Look, it’s easy,” Shane said, reaching over and adjusting Auden’s fingers on the guitar. “Just a little further with this one and you’ve got an A minor chord.”

“Is A minor crucial to playing music?”

“Punk music, yes. All the minor chords are very important,” Shane replied seriously and then grinned at Auden. He moved to sit next to him on the couch and took the guitar from him. “You’re a pretty quick learner.”

“It comes from being competitive,” Auden admitted. “Always have to be the best, you know.”

“I’m not really like that,” Shane said, strumming a few chords. “I figure whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen. Have you been working on your meditation?”

“Not really.” Auden grimaced. He hadn’t even really thought about it since that first date on the mountain. It just didn’t seem like something important to do, not when he had so many other things to worry about.

“It’s good for your soul,” Shane said. “Helps you have a clearer head.”

Auden laughed slightly. “That would be nice.”

“We can work on it.” Shane smiled. He set the guitar on the coffee table and pulled Auden’s feet into his lap. Auden let him. It had gotten easier, this part, being with Shane. He could almost do it completely without thinking of Trayce. “So if you’re so competitive, how come it doesn’t feel like it?”

Auden shrugged. “I try not to be a jerk about it like some people can be. I’m competitive but I want other people to do well too.”

“So you’re a nice competitive, not a jerk competitive.”


“And you’re the best?”

Auden hesitated. “I don’t know. Everyone says so but I kind of wish I wasn’t. At least then I could have a life outside of gymnastics.”

Shane nodded, his hand resting on Auden’s ankle, thumb brushing over his skin softly. “You do now. You don’t need to bother with gymnastics anymore.”

Auden didn’t completely agree, and he frowned slightly at Shane’s words. What did that mean exactly? He did at least have somewhere to go other than the gym, somewhere he could escape to when the pressure got too much, but he couldn’t give up completely. Glancing at Shane, he hesitated, something nagging at the back of his mind, but he pushed it away as he leaned over and kissed Shane.

It still felt different than with Trayce, not entirely easy yet, but Shane moved with him easily, letting Auden settle on top. Auden closed his eyes as they kissed, sliding his hands into Shane’s hair and sucking on his bottom lip. Shane’s hands came up to rest on his hips and Shane spread his legs for Auden to sink between them.

This part was easy, getting lost in the feeling of Shane—the taste, the touch. It was easy to fall into him, mouths moving together slowly but purposefully. It wasn’t messy or rushed like it usually was with Trayce. Shane moved against him, pushing his hips up, his erection grinding into Auden’s.

Shane moaned softly against his mouth, and his hands pushed under Auden’s shirt, skimming it up to his shoulders. He broke the kiss to get it off, tossing it somewhere behind the couch. His mouth ghosted over Auden’s and Auden felt the familiar flutter deep in his chest, one he usually only got with Trayce, but here it was with Shane staring at him, dark brown eyes locked on his. He felt nervous all of a sudden, unsure of himself, but Shane’s hands went for his jeans a moment later and he reminded himself that he knew what he was doing.

All those times with Trayce had at least prepared him for this moment with someone else. He could slip out of his jeans, could reach down and get Shane out of his as well. Soon, they were both naked, hands exploring as mouths met, tongues sliding together, the soft press of lips against skin. Auden gasped at Shane’s hands on his body, sliding down to grip his ass, to grind their hips together until they were both panting, hard and sweaty.

“Shane,” Auden breathed as he pulled away to catch his breath, his cock as hard as it had ever been. “Do you have—”

Shane didn’t reply but stretched back for the table near the couch. He rummaged for a moment and came up with a condom. The wrapper was faded as though it had been there for a while.

“For emergencies.” Shane smirked against Auden’s mouth.

Shane didn’t kiss him again, instead pressing his mouth to Auden’s chest, sliding down to mouth along his hip bone as Auden stretched above him, heat flooding his cock. He sucked in a sharp breath as Shane pressed his palm into the hard length in his boxers before moving down to mouth at his erection.

Licking his lips, Auden breathed out slowly, closing his eyes against the warmth, the pressure around his prick as Shane stroked him through the fabric. Shane glanced up, eyes locking with Auden’s as Auden looked down.

Neither said anything, and Auden let his head fall back against the pillow as Shane hooked his fingers under the waist of his boxers and pulled.

Auden squeezed his eyes shut for a second as his hips lifted off the bed. He didn’t want to see Shane’s reaction. He just wanted to feel it.

He got his wish a second later as Shane’s mouth pressed against his cock, licking up the underside, but he didn’t take him in his mouth, instead sitting up, and Auden heard the rustle of fabric—Shane’s boxers being shed to the floor.

Shane stretched back up Auden’s body, taking his time tracing each muscle with his tongue until Auden was practically a puddle in his hands, every nerve-ending on fire as Shane’s mouth moved up his stomach to his chest, teeth closing around a nipple and sucking as Auden groaned.

Auden’s hand slid into Shane’s curls for the first time, stroking down a ringlet and watching it spring back when he let it go. He smiled but interrupted it to gasp as Shane moved to his neck, licking the dip between his collarbone and neck.

“God,” he breathed, licking his lips and letting his eyes close against the press of Shane’s mouth, the glide of his hands over his stomach, the press of their hips, Shane’s cock rocking against his. Reaching down, he let hands wander over Shane’s chest.

“I’m not nearly as ripped as the guys you normally see,” Shane said, pushing a curl from his eyes and Auden laughed, though his mind automatically went to Trayce, how Trayce’s body felt under his hands.

“It’s okay,” he replied, shifting beneath him, feeling the hot press of Shane’s cock against his.

“Just how flexible are you?” Shane asked curiously after a second, and Auden smiled, drawing his knees up.

“How flexible do you want me to be?”

Shane paused and then grinned, an eyebrow arching up as he eyed Auden. He slid his hands down Auden’s thighs, pushing his legs up, past his head, and Auden didn’t even flinch. This was nothing. He could go further.

“This’ll do.”

Auden’s mouth twitched into a smile, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. It felt different, different than with Trayce. It wasn’t just the way Shane’s fingers pushed inside him, slick with lube, the way he slid his hips in, his cock pressing through Auden’s muscles. Auden sucked in a sharp breath at the pressure, the flush creeping over his skin. It was in the way Shane reached for his face, drawing his chin up to kiss him deeply, tongue sweeping inside his mouth. Trayce never did that.

Auden shook himself sharply. He shouldn’t have been thinking about Trayce at a time like this, not with Shane’s cock pressed inside his body, filling him until he could only choke on his breath and came in sharp pants.

Shane moved slowly at first, building up a steady rhythm that had the couch legs edging back and forth along the floor, the dull scrape of each thrust echoing around them. Shane’s arms kept Auden’s legs up as he rocked in, back and forth, an easy push as they both breathed heavily.

Auden’s hands curled around Shane’s side, digging in as he bit his lip and panted for breath, feeling Shane’s face close to his, feeling the puff of hot air on his cheek as Shane moved, pushing in faster now. He only had to turn his mouth slightly to find Shane’s, their lips sliding together, Shane pulling at his bottom lip with his teeth as Auden moaned softly.

Shane reached for Auden’s cock finally, and Auden squeezed his eyes shut against the pressure that spiked as he did so. Shane’s nose bumped against Auden’s as he stroked him, hips pushing in harder.

Shane didn’t tease him like Trayce would have. Instead, he increased his speed, jerking him off until Auden gasped, his fingers digging into Shane’s side as his release snapped inside him, a sharp desperation as he came, sticky and wet on his stomach.

“Fuck,” Shane cursed as he pushed in harder, faster.

Auden sighed long and slow as he watched Shane push in, felt the hard thrust deep inside him, the couch scraping against the floor. He watched Shane bow his head, curls falling over his eyes. He could see the way his mouth fell open as he pushed in one more time and groaned loudly.

“Jesus Christ,” Shane breathed a minute later as his hips slowed and he sighed, shaking his hair from his eyes.

Auden’s legs slipped down and he took a moment to gather himself. It certainly wasn’t what he was used to—somehow softer and harder at the same time. With Shane draped over him, he wasn’t quite sure what to do, but Shane pushed himself up a minute later, hovering over Auden.

“That guy you’ve been sort of seeing,” he said finally, and Auden felt his stomach recoil uneasily. “Think maybe it’s time you broke it off?”

For a second, Auden hesitated, swallowing down the lump rising in his throat. He wasn’t sure how Trayce would take it—in fact, he wasn’t sure he could even bring himself to do it, but Shane gazed at him unwaveringly and he couldn’t say no. Besides, Shane was the one that wanted to be with him, not Trayce. It would be a good thing, he tried to convince himself.

In the end, he nodded jerkily but as Shane brushed a kiss against his lips, he couldn’t shake the unsettled feeling in his chest.

Chain Link

The routine came too easy—too boring. Every move was followed swiftly by another, every element linked together smoothly, and Auden wasn’t sure he even had to think about it anymore, and that was when it all fell apart. Landing on the mat, he stumbled back, losing his footing and barely catching himself from crashing into the floor. On his hands and knees, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes against the bright blue of the mat underneath him.

“Auden!” Dorian’s voice snapped close by and Auden forced his eyes open and climbed to his feet. Dorian had come onto the mat and seemed to be giving him a once-over. “You okay?”

“Fine.” Auden dusted himself off. He needed to get a grip. It was one thing to dream about injuring himself but it was another thing entirely to actually do it.

Dorian crossed his arms, though, at his answer, the corners of his mouth tugging into a frown. “You’ve been off.”

“Just tired, I guess.”

Dorian shook his head. “Not just today.” He paused, but he must have decided not to push because he dropped his arms and nodded at the mat. “Watch over-rotating the pike. If you get ahead of yourself, you’ll end up on your ass as you just discovered. Now’s not the time to get complacent, Auden.”

“Yeah, Coach,” Auden replied, rolling out his shoulders and stepping up to the mat again.

Even faced with the floor, Auden’s mind still wasn’t on it. The worst thing a gymnast could do was lose concentration during a skill—it could lead to mistakes, or worse, injuries. Still, his mind was somewhere else as he started his routine over again. It was back in Shane’s apartment, listening to Shane’s words, feeling Shane’s hands on his skin.

He made the first element easily, but as he turned, he caught sight of Trayce across the gym. Trayce was working on his rings routine for the hundredth time, the assistant coach barking things at him from beneath. Auden still hadn’t really talked to Trayce since the other day and their disagreement. He couldn’t avoid him forever, though, and a part of Auden just wanted to get the confrontation over with. Besides, he had to tell Trayce it was over.

The thought of breaking things off with Trayce made his chest tighten uncomfortably and he tried to push it aside in favor of focusing on his triple salto, but he barely made a double before the feeling came rushing back along with a flinch of disappointment as Dorian barked at him a second later.

“Auden, what the hell was that?”

Auden sighed and grabbed a towel off the bench. He didn’t have an explanation that Dorian would accept.

Dorian frowned so severely that Auden wondered if his face might actually stay like that permanently. It certainly wasn’t a reassuring look. He wished Jules was around to loosen him up, but he hadn’t seen Jules in a while. He was probably on one of his announcing stints.

“I’m trying to be understanding,” Dorian said slowly. “But you have work with me here. I’m not here to waste my time and I hope you aren’t either. Trials are less than a month away and I can see you slipping.”

Auden took a breath but said nothing. He wasn’t sure what he would say anyway. Would he just tell Dorian that he wasn’t sure he even wanted to go to trials anymore? Would he say that gymnastics had become pointless? He had spent so much time working towards one single moment, and what if he didn’t make it? Everyone would be disappointed in him. And if he did make it, they would expect him to win. They would expect him to get the gold and then what? Then nothing. He didn’t get money or fame, at least not much and not for very long. It wasn’t like other sports.

Dorian stepped closer and lowered his voice. “I never told anyone, but I was scared shitless my first time at trials.”

“But you were amazing.”

He shrugged. “Doesn’t make a difference how talented you are. Everyone is scared. The point is to do it anyway.”

“I’m not scared,” Auden said simply, and when Dorian merely arched an eyebrow, he frowned. “I’m not.” That wasn’t why he didn’t want to compete. It wasn’t.

“Go warm up for the horse,” Dorian said instead, giving his shoulder a shove towards the pommel horse, “but don’t think you’ve gotten out of this routine. If I catch you messing up again, you’ll be doing those jumps in your sleep.”

Auden left him and moved over to the pommel horse, smoothing his hand over the firm fabric, covered in chalk.

“You just gonna hand me the gold medal or what?” Trayce asked abruptly from behind Auden.

Auden’s heart jumped into his throat but he forced himself to turn, to act normally. He had to tell Trayce that he was breaking it off, but as he faced him, he wasn’t sure he could do it. Standing behind him, Trayce had his arms crossed, a glisten of sweat along his brow, chest moving up and down quickly like he’d jumped off the rings just so he could come over and insult Auden. Come to think of it, he probably had.

“If you want it that badly,” Auden replied, not flinching when Trayce stepped closer, eyes flicking over him, searching for something though Auden wasn’t sure what.

“Don’t you want it that badly?” Trayce asked, tilting his head to the side. “Or has this new guy of yours convinced you to give up everything you love for a fuck on the side?”

Auden frowned. “That’s not what—”

“I saw him drop you off the other night,” Trayce interrupted. “I saw that disgusting display of affection in front of the dorms.” He made a face but kept a close watch on Auden as he said it.

“If it was so disgusting, why did you watch?” Sometimes Auden didn’t understand Trayce. He could go from friendly and playful to sharp and sarcastic at the drop of a hat.

Trayce shrugged, though he looked away from Auden, across the gym instead. “Curiosity.”

Shaking his head, Auden rolled his eyes. “Shane has nothing to do with my training.”

“Please,” Trayce scoffed. “He’s the reason you’ve been shit at all your events lately. It’s like you just want to give away your spot on the Olympic team.”

“Look, I told you about him,” Auden said, lowering his voice so no one would hear them arguing. “You didn’t care. I don’t know why you do now.”

“I care because you’re fucking up your chances at accomplishing a lifelong goal over some prick.”

“Shane is not a prick.”

“Whatever. I don’t care what he is. I just care what he’s doing.”

“He’s paying attention to me,” Auden snapped. “It’s more than you do.”

Trayce paused, staring at Auden, then taking a step back. “I’m not your boyfriend, Auden.”

“Sometimes I’m not even sure you’re my friend.”

For a second, something other than anger flickered in Trayce’s eyes, but it was gone before Auden could tell what it was. Maybe he’d gone too far. Trayce’s shoulders stiffened along with the tightening in his jaw.

“Tell your friend he can go fuck himself,” Trayce said finally, turning and walking away before Auden could say anything else.

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