tagGroup SexJust Friends

Just Friends

byFamejerkies©

Note: This story contains the use of an (imaginary) aphrodisiac. While almost every character blatantly consents, one could be considered dubious since he doesn't consent completely until post consuming it and it does have some mind-altering properties. If that's not your cup of tea, best to avoid this one. There are also multiple pairings of multiple genders all throughout and themes of cheating.

Am up for continuing this piece once the plot bunnies bite once more...

~ ~ ~

If it wasn't for Ethan's pleading glances, Aaron would have been out of here already. It's not his usual scene; he doesn't know any of these people, but the girl slouched against the wall with the stark makeup and the long dark hair, smoke curling around her face from the cigarette between her lips, well. Aaron doesn't need to be a genius to tell that Ethan's got it bad for her and what's a friend if they won't take one for the team in order to get a friend laid?

"You sure about her, man?" Aaron asks, sneaking a look at that wild looking girl. She's all leather and angles and sharp glares, her mouth a pretty line on her pale face but her expression fierce. The kind of girl Aaron's girlfriend would describe as a punk rock nightmare, and the kind of girl Aaron's never had the guts to picture banging. "She looks like she bites."

"Oh, I bet she does," Ethan says wistfully. He's hunkered next to Aaron, all flopped into the couch he's sitting in like he's barely in control of his arms and legs. Aaron always laughs to see the way his best friend sprawls instead of sits. Ethan's long and lanky, all arms and legs and no decorum. His long hair is barely tied back out of his green eyes, his wide mouth curled into a blissful smile as he imagines whatever carnal atrocity he plans on conducting with that girl, if she'll have him.

Aaron rolls his eyes and looks away, scanning the room they're in. The atmosphere is painfully awkward. It's the basement of the girl's share-house, this night a planned get-together by her roommate—a friend of Ethan's who Aaron supposes is also trying to help, in her own way, although then he has no idea why there are others here. There's music playing softly from a neglected stereo against one wall. Everyone has splintered into groups of people they know, sipping their beers or wine while ignoring the other small clusters in the room. The only person who seems to be drifting from group to group is Cadence, the said roommate, who doesn't at all seem bothered by the distance between them all.

It's comfortable down here at least, Aaron figures, knowing there's pizza coming and plenty of beer and the place is warm enough that it almost feels like it's not winter outside. At worst, they're in for a cosy night of boredom, even if Aaron wishes he was home with his girlfriend. At least then he'd have a chance of getting laid himself, thinking wistfully of his gorgeous girl and what she's doing without him.

Maybe the quicker he can get Ethan in, the quicker he can get home to her...

"Why don't you talk to her?" Aaron offers. "What's her name? Charlie, right?"

"Charlie," Ethan breathes. "What a name. What a gal. Don't you think that's the most perfect name for her?"

"I think you're an idiot." Aaron shakes his head. Ethan is always like this—tumbling headfirst into this ridiculous crush on whatever girl crosses his path. "Don't be like that around her. If she thinks you're soft, she'll eat you alive."

"Girls like guys who can be soft sometimes," Ethan retorts, twisting around on the armchair so he's sitting on his knees with his arms crossed on the headrest, his chin propped on his arms as he studies Aaron. "You should try it sometime, Mr Macho. Not everyone can be scowly and grim like you all the time, some of us have heart."

"I have heart!" Aaron stands, beer in one hand and trying to look as affronted as he can without losing face. Judging by Ethan's raised eyebrows, it doesn't work. "Fine, if you won't talk to her, I will. Stay there and I'll go get you a girlfriend, useless."

"I love you too!" Ethan calls after him, a laugh hidden in the back of his voice.

Aaron shakes his head again at his incorrigible friend; they've known each other since elementary school and Ethan's never changed, always the same jazzy weirdo who loves too easily and gets hurt too much. Aaron is his contrast in every way, never outward about his emotions, never smiling or laughing as quickly as Ethan does. Where Ethan's hair is long and sandy-brown, Aaron's is cropped short and dark. Even the way they dress is starkly opposite each other, with Ethan's loose band tee and jeans seeming even more casual compared to Aaron's dress shirt and trousers.

Ethan's girl, Charlie, isn't alone anymore. They both turn to look at Aaron as he crosses the short space between them, dodging sofas and egg-shaped chairs and almost tripping over a sudden bean bag. The guy beside her Aaron vaguely recognises from one of his economics lectures, always sitting near the professor and barely seeming to pay attention. Aaron's always thought he was small and skinny but, now that he's meeting him in person, he's startled to find that the guy is the same height as him, an easy six foot and just as lanky as Ethan.

Despite this similarity in heights—not sizes, Aaron is twice as broad as him and all muscle—the guy shrinks back against the wall as Aaron approaches.

"Yo," Aaron greets them easily, using the same smile he uses in group projects to get his group members to follow his lead. He leads easily, with people eager to follow him, and doubts this isn't going to be any different. Scowly he might be, that doesn't mean he isn't charismatic as hell when he wants to be. "I'm Aaron. You're Charlie, right?"

"Right." The girl drags on her smoke for a second, white teeth pressing down on the filter before she slips it from her lips and hands it to the guy next to her. He takes it, still not making eye-contact with his gaze lowered and eyes hidden behind both wide glasses and a thick mop of brown curls. But Aaron is distracted from him by the way this girl is looking at him, all black-ringed eyes that are already dark as sin and that mouth curled into a smile that makes his heart thump a little, like he's in danger. They're red, he notices. Dark red, the lipstick applied so perfectly he's a little fascinated by the crisp lines. Suddenly, he gets the appeal. "This is Nathan. Nathan, say hi to the imposing stranger, don't be a weed."

The guy lifts his head. His eyes are grey and worried, his face narrow. Aaron spots sharp cheekbones and a bitten mouth as he quickly mutters, "Hi," before averting his gaze again while he pulls on the borrowed cigarette.

Great, Aaron thinks. He's just as nervously pretty as Ethan is.

Competition.

"This party blows," Charlie says irritably, slouching more aggressively against the wall. "I don't know why Cadence bothers. They never work out."

Aaron goes to speak but the quiet guy, Nathan, gets in first.

"You could try supporting her," he says softly. "She's just trying to make friends. Not everyone likes being alone."

The girl looks at him, something discomforting flickering across her face. Suddenly, Aaron feels a bit out of place. He can't exactly admit why he's here now, can he? Not even with Ethan's eyes boring a hole into the back of his head.

"I don't like being alone," she snaps back. "I have friends. I have you, and Cadence—"

"And you could have more," Nathan says simply, suddenly unfolding from the wall and smiling warily at Aaron. "On that note, would you like to introduce us to your friend? He's, uh, seemingly very invested in our conversation."

Aaron turns and finds Ethan staring intently at them, quickly ducking below the eyeline of the couch when he realises they're all looking.

"Wow, what a dork," Charlie says with a soft snort. "Is he always this awkward?"

"This is actually really smooth for him," Aaron admits with a sigh, sensing Ethan's chances dropping hard. "He's not at his best around pretty girls."

That earns him a raised eyebrow from Charlie, Nathan's mouth twitching into a smile.

"Pretty girls, huh?" she says. "Well, then."

And she saunters away, Ethan's head popping up just in time to see her approaching. Like a deer in the headlights, he freezes, ignoring Aaron trying to communicate with his eyes to relax. Somehow, Aaron has no idea how, that's interest—he has a chance if he doesn't blow it.

"Don't worry," Nathan says as they watch Charlie smile at Ethan like a cat and slide onto the arm of the chair he's on, legs crossed at the ankle and her boots tapping as she bobs them. "She's not as scary as she seems, and she really digs the awkward ones. It's probably why we're such good friends."

"Just friends?" Aaron queries. Hey, he's gotta test the waters for his buddy, right? "Even though you're just her type, apparently?"

Nathan smiles a little self-consciously. Around them, the beer is starting to flow a bit easier, Aaron notes. The music has been turned up and the groups are starting to meld together, the bubbly Cadence getting people to finally start mingling.

"We dated in high school, for a bit," Nathan admits, his narrow cheeks a little pink like he's embarrassed, or awed, to admit this. Judging from the way he looks at her, Aaron guesses awed. There's more than a little hero-worship in that gaze. "We realised we weren't right for each other though and we've been best friends ever since. Well, she realised. I was a bit slow on the uptake. There were clues, I admit."

"Clues?"

The glance Nathan sneaks him isn't at all shy or wary for a second, but instead a hint of Charlie's wicked smile has appeared on it. Suddenly, Aaron believes completely that these two have been friends since high school, at least three years since he has to be at least twenty-one, same as Aaron.

"Clues like me sleeping with her brother," he says bluntly, Aaron pausing with his lips over his beer bottle.

"Oh," says Aaron, a little thrown. "Well, yeah. I can see how that would, uh. Complicate things."

The blush is back. Aaron doesn't know what to say.

When Nathan speaks again, his voice cracks a bit, nerves colouring it. "Uh," he stammers out, looking everywhere but at Aaron. "Well, you know. It just happened. He was cute and, um... looks a bit like you, um..."

Unsure if that's a compliment or not, it takes Aaron a beat to catch up—and it clicks.

"I'm straight," he says quickly, too quickly. Nathan goes pale, shrinking back with his eyes widening a little behind those glasses. "I mean, thanks, but no. And I have a girlfriend. But you know, thanks. It's flattering."

Nathan shrugs, hiding what Aaron can tell is a painful embarrassment behind forced cheer. "Had to try," he mutters. "Sorry. I'll just..."

And he goes to walk away.

Aaron glances over at Ethan, who is actually doing fairly well for himself over there—he's excitedly explaining something he seems incredibly eager about, probably something musical, with his hands flailing as he tries to illustrate the concept, and Charlie is listening with rapt attention—and thinks back to what Nathan had hinted at. This night, maybe it doesn't have to be so boring. He could leave now, slip out and go home to his girlfriend... or he could stay and maybe make some friends. At least, he can be here for Cadence, who he knows Ethan is fond of and if she's lonely, well...

"Hey, Nathan," he calls after the guy before he can retreat too fast. "Want to have a beer with me since our friends are currently busy trying to get in each other?"

Nathan, looking surprised, agrees.

~ ~ ~

By midnight, Aaron's had more than a few. The basement room has emptied out, leaving just a gaggle of the most eager sprawled around it. They've dragged the sofas and chairs into a haphazard circle, cranked the heat, and there's a haze of weed and cigarette smoke in the air above them. They're all drunk, Aaron feeling deliciously so, and he's ready to admit that it's been a great night he's not really ready to have end.

Stretching out on the sofa he's got all to himself, he looks around at the people chattering happily around him. Cadence, blonde and pretty and more than a little stoned off the bowl she's sharing with the other two sitting with her. Aaron hadn't met them before tonight, but he's feeling close as hell to them now as the second-hand smoke gets to him a bit, even though he can only vaguely remember their names. Art's the dark-haired guy with the blue eyes, he thinks, studying the girl beside him. She's chubby and smiley, her arm looped through his. Art's girlfriend—Penny? He thinks Penny. And there's Nathan perched on the arm of Aaron's sofa like some kind of gangly bird, a beer in hand and waxing poetic about some Star Trek thing that Aaron's really into right now even though he's pretty sure that sober he wouldn't care. But Nathan seems to like it when he smiles and nods along, so he keeps doing that, getting the distinct impression that people don't really let Nathan talk very often without cutting him off or getting bored. That's their loss, he decides. Nathan's cool. He could listen to him all day, even if he doesn't really understand. And, with another glance around, Aaron grins to find Charlie and Ethan still there, sharing the same chair with Charlie all tucked up on Ethan's lap by now and a shared joint between them. They're definitely going to have a good night when all go home, Aaron thinks warmly, feeling happy for his friend as he finishes his beer.

"S'pose I should go home," he says with regret, looking at his empty—how many is it now? Probably too many. Cass is going to be mad at him for getting so drunk, oops.

"Aww, not already?" Cadence says. She really does look genuinely sorry. This small group of leftover people from the main party, they feel important right now. Aaron knows it's the weed making it feel like that, but that doesn't make it less real. Her distress makes perfect sense. "Gosh, I don't want tonight to end. We're having a blast, or, I am."

"Mm, me too," Charlie hums, kissing Ethan hungrily. Ethan just looks stunned and giddy, two emotions Aaron can relate with since he's pretty sure Eth's having a night straight out of his best dreams. "I suppose I can be coaxed away though..."

Judging from the smile she gives Ethan, she's more than ready to be coaxed away. It's a smile that leaves even Aaron feeling a bit hot under the collar, suddenly thinking of Cass waiting for him as something warm builds under his skin.

Nathan's stopped talking, his smile vanishing. Aaron's a bit too drunk to understand why, but the small part of him that's still clear whispers that maybe it's because this is the most fun the guy has had in a while... all of Nathan's stories are alike in one way: he's alone in most of them, unless Charlie is there.

Aaron frowns. Maybe he should get his number, hang out with him some time. Or would that give the wrong impression? It would be nice, anyway—

"How about we play a game?" Art says in his deep drawl, Penny nodding along. "I've got something that will spice the night up, if you're into that. Makes playing way better."

"Aaron's pre-law, you'll never get him stoned," Ethan says, peering around Charlie to grin sheepishly at Aaron. "Trust me, I've tried."

"Nathan's a wet blanket too," Charlie adds.

Aaron's affronted by the implication that he's boring. Judging by Nathan's frown, he's feeling much the same.

"What kind of game?" Aaron asks roughly, sitting up and trying not to look too put-out.

"Truth or dare," Art responds with the same grin, ignoring their groans and laughter. "No, really, guys. Trust me. The way I play it, it's good."

"What are we, teenagers?" Charlie snorts, rolling her dark-ringed eyes. "No one plays truth or dare over the age of eighteen unless they're trying to get into each other's pants."

There's a beat of quiet, everyone looking at each other. Aaron blinks, that hot feeling back as he realises Cadence is staring right at him.

"Exactly," says Art. Nathan makes a startled noise beside Aaron, who shifts a bit closer to him as a surge of protectiveness kicks in at how nervous that noise had sounded. "It's truth or dare without any of the pretence. Look, all the stuff I've got does is turn you on—that's the point of adult truth and dare, right? We all just want reasons to talk about sex or to touch each other without feeling like skanks. So, if we get right past that initial awkward 'pretend we don't want it', it's a thousand times better."

"I've got a girlfriend," Aaron says quickly.

"So, take the pill and play along and by the end of the game you'll be so raring to go you'll go home and give her the night of her life," Art responds. "You don't need to get involved if it gets intimate. The pill makes you horny, not stupid, I promise. Just watch, or leave. Up to you, man."

Aaron goes to laugh because is this guy for real, suggesting, what? Some kind of orgy? But then he looks around and most of the faces he sees aren't amused or disgusted. Cadence looks thoughtful, Charlie's looking at Ethan, and Ethan's looking curious.

Nathan, when Aaron looks at him, is the only one who seems nervous.

"I'm out," Aaron decides, standing up and wobbling a bit. "Sorry, all."

Nathan stands too, quickly. "Yeah, I'm gonna..." But he pauses, glancing at Charlie. "I think I'm going to go."

"Hey, come on, Nath." Charlie abandons Ethan's lap, darting around Aaron as she reaches for her friend's arm. "I can tell you want to stay—what's wrong? You know I've got your back, man, I've always got your back. Have I ever let anything bad happen to you?"

"Yes!" Nathan chokes out with a strangled laugh. "Amsterdam, remember? And that time with the absinthe. And that time on the—"

"Have I let anything bad happen to you recently?" Charlie quickly says, amending her statement, Nathan quirking his mouth into a crooked half-smile. "Come on, don't leave. If you leave then I have to go, or I'll feel like I drove you away, and I really want to try this out. Look, you and Aaron—Aaron, right? —why don't you buddy up and keep each other safe? You both don't want to get too involved, so you guys just truth and dare each other when it's your shot and you'll both be fine. Everyone wins!"

They both look at Aaron, Charlie's expression ferocious and Nathan's hopeful.

"Come on, Aaron," Ethan adds, giving Aaron a pleading look. "Stay?"

Aaron stays. He's always been crap at saying no when people really seem to need him.

~ ~ ~

The pills are nondescript, kind of dusty on Aaron's fingertips, and don't smell like anything when he curiously sniffs one. They get two each, Nathan querying whether that's the correct amount and Art confidently assuring them that it is. Everyone else, including Ethan, swallows theirs down calmly.

Aaron isn't quite convinced, nor is Nathan.

"You don't have to," Cadence tells them when she notices they're still holding theirs, elbowing Art hard when he rolls his eyes. "Quit it, Arthur. No peer pressuring. Guys, don't take them if you don't want them, seriously." Everyone else chimes in their agreement, Ethan's support muffled by the mouthful of nachos he's hoeing down.

"What do you reckon?" Nathan asks quietly, looking down at the innocuous pills on his palm. "We don't know what's in them, but Art's never killed anyone before, so I don't know..."

"Are they illegal?" Aaron asks.

"Naw, man," is Art's calm response, now sprawled on the ground with one arm around Penny and his back to the couch. The circle of couches has gotten even smaller as they've all ended up on the ring of carpet within, pillows and blankets making the space cosy even for those who aren't sprawled on each other; those, like Aaron and Nathan who are both sitting awkwardly on their own. "Totally legal."

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