Fawned – A PetPlay Romance Ch. 09


Mornings with Gil typically went like this:

First, well, Gil’s alarm would go off, and Barnaby would wake up with the sinking realization that he’d fallen asleep on top of him again. He’d be apologizing before the man was completely coherent, so the first thing to come out of Gil’s mouth would be “It’s fine”, “Don’t worry about it”, or “How did you sleep?”

He’d always slept soundly with Gil.

They’d try to move around only to greet one another with the other’s Morning Wood. Normally, they’d laugh it off and get up even faster, but if Barnaby was lucky, Gil would pull him close, kiss him tiredly and jerk him off under the covers.

That morning, Barnaby was lucky.

Next, Gil would get up and go straight to the bathroom. He’d try to be quick, to spare Barnaby from having to run into his next door roommates, but it’d happened more often than not that the boy would have company while brushing his teeth with Gil’s toothbrush – or that he’d have to shout “Occupied!” to an opening door while on the toilet.

Returning to Gil’s dorm, he’d find an outfit laid out on the bed, usually lounge pants and a hoodie. Barnaby, however, had already sported Gil’s hoodie the day before – and though he wouldn’t have been opposed to throwing it on again, discovered Gil was kind enough to give him something new and camo-print.

“Isn’t this what you wore for Halloween?”

The raven, rolling the sleeves of his grey and black flannel, flashed him a grin. “Might be.”

Barnaby smirked back but promptly found his gaze drawn to Gil’s wrists. He almost got nervous for him, keeping them exposed, until the man grabbed a few bracelets from his nightstand and put them on strategically.

He’d wait until Barnaby was all dressed to ask him, “Ready to go?”

By the time they stepped outside, Barnaby’s stomach would be rumbling. So they’d walk to the nearest building with a coffee counter, order some bagels and a drink, and be on their way. Barnaby would continue to ramble about the Secret Life of American Agriculture between sips of his latte, and Gil would be in control of the bagels, breaking off small pieces and passing them off to the boy at his leisure.

Time and time again, Barnaby would have to remind himself not to eat directly from his master’s hand in public.

Gil would always walk Barnaby to his building first. Whether he actually had class as early as Barnaby did- the boy wasn’t sure. But, then again, it was a routine he wasn’t exactly eager to change.

A head taller on the steps of his building, Barnaby paused to face Gil. “When am I giving your shirt back?”

“What shirt? You’re completely topless.”


The man smiled wide, squinting up at him against the rising sun, and shrugged. “By Thanksgiving at least? Or don’t give it back at all. Either way, it’s fine.”

Barnaby scoffed, grasping the straps of his backpack and tapping his foot against Gil’s leg. “Does that mean you’re not in a rush to see me again?”

“Absolutely not. See me with or without a shirt. I don’t mind.”

Of course he wouldn’t.

Barnaby felt himself leaning forward, his lips already puckering. It’d be nice, he thought, to kiss Gil goodbye. They’d done it before.

But he never made contact. Instead, Barnaby rocked back on his heels.

They’d done it before – but never in front of anyone. Never in view of anyone who might have anything to assume. And more and more people were passing them on the steps.

His lips pursed, and Barnaby glanced to the door. “I should probably let you go,” he told Gil. “Can I text you later?”

“You better,” the man replied, handing him the last complete bagel. “Unless you want to be punished for ignoring me?”

“What? I-” Barnaby had to go to class, and – perfect – his face was probably pink. “Never.”


An exchange of half-hearted waves replaced the Kiss That Should’ve Been, and Barnaby turned to enter the building, replacing his security from Gil with security by cellphone.

A text from Jensen waited for him: ‘Assuming you’re not dead in a dumpster, can you do me a BIG favor?’

Barnaby grimaced, realizing he hadn’t spoken to his roommate in two whole days. ‘Not dead yet. What’s up?’

‘Dammit. Oh well. Can you go to the room and grab the pizza from the fridge? Apparently, they want me in Raritan later, not Edison.’

‘They can do that?’

‘They can do anything they want if they’re paying me. So can you?’

‘I have Stats…’

‘After stats?’


‘To Raritan?’


‘I’ll be there.’

And so an hour later, after learning about statistics that did not directly affect the farming industry, Barnaby hopped a shuttle to their dorm, grabbed a bagged Who-Knew-How-Old pizza from the refrigerator along with the laptop from his bed, and set out for Raritan Hall.

When he arrived, he found Jensen at the reception desk, his feet up on the table. He wasn’t alone. Perched on the back of the lobby sofa, a lanky Onwin young man had been speaking to him, holding a cup of ramen. Both looked to Barnaby as he approached.

“If it isn’t the Pizza Man,” Jensen exclaimed, “Give it here.”

Resisting the urge to make a face, Barnaby crossed over and placed the paperbag on Jensen’s desk. “Do I get a tip?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Jensen reached into his pocket like he might actually pull out some spare change – only to shoot Barnaby with a fingergun instead. “Here’s a tip: learn how to wear concealer.”

Barnaby realized Jensen was pointing to his neck.

Gritting his teeth, he fixed the collar of his jacket to hopefully hide most of Gil’s hickeys.

Exaggerating a sigh, Jensen’s attention turned to the other boy in front of him. “Wes, this is my roommate, Disaster.”

There was a quick slurping of noodles before the cup was placed on the desk, and a hand jutted out to Barnaby. “How’s it goin’, Disaster? You can call me Loser.”

One look was all it took for Barnaby to recognize him, though his face was a bit dimmer than he remembered. “I know you,” he blurted, shaking his hand, “Lamp Man, right?”

Somehow, Wes a.k.a Loser a.k.a Lamp Man managed to light up all the same. “Or call me that. That works, too.”

“Wait, wait, wait,” Jensen interjected, chomping into cold pizza, “You nerds know each other?”

Barnaby could only open his mouth when Wes explained, “We met at the Zombie Break! He was on my team!”

Acknowledged as a teammate? Barnaby’s heart might’ve skipped a beat.

“Is he going to-?” Wes started, then trailed off as if to erase his own words the instant he locked eyes with Jensen.

Jensen shrugged, wiping his hands on his pants. “I didn’t ask yet.” Obliged, he focused on Barnaby. “Asking now. Do you wanna go bowling tomorrow night?”

Barnaby blinked. He hadn’t heard that question since high school. “Uhm-” Maybe if Wes hadn’t proved himself to be an ally, he would’ve reverted to an old excuse – ‘You know I’m not very coordinated’ or ‘I can’t throw to save my life’. Or maybe he wouldn’t have a say. Maybe Gil would want him for the night. But even if he didn’t – “I have to check my work schedule. I might be on.”

“So go to work ’til – what? Nine? We’ll go after.”

Barnaby shifted on his feet, tugging on the ends of his sleeves. “Who else is going?”

“You-” The decision was made for him. Okay. “Me, Wes, Wes’s girl, and two of our other friends.”

“Diana,” Wes chimed in, “You met her.”

Had he not, Barnaby likely would have made any excuse to miss out at that moment. He used to feel safe with Jensen; in high school, they shared the same social presence: none. Then college happened, Jensen joined every kind of geek squad, and Barnaby, never attuned to video games or big breasted anime women, joined those community gardens that, with all due respect, lacked a sense of community.

Sometimes, he wasn’t so sure he wanted to belong to a community, though. The more people he knew, the more people he’d burden.

He already wanted to apologize to Wes for trespassing into their circle, but before Barnaby could say anything at all, it was Jensen who reiterated, “You’re going.”

Barnaby didn’t protest. Not with Wes there, and not with time running out before his next class. Instead, he swallowed his nerves, fidgeted with the straps of his backpack, and told them he’d let them know if and when he was working. Jensen let him go without any further hassle, and Barnaby’s phone stayed in his pocket until he reached his second desk that day. When he finally checked it, he noticed he’d missed a text from Gil.

‘ 🙁 ‘

‘What’s wrong???’

‘You walked by my class earlier and I waved at you but you didn’t wave back’

‘Omg I didn’t know. Where?’

‘We were outside. Gabriel Hall.’

‘I’m sorry…I wasn’t really paying attention…’

‘It’s fine. You looked pretty focused. Everything alright?’

‘Yeah! Just thinking about stuff.’ Quick subject change, ‘So you had class outside?’

It was for Psychology. Studying human social behaviors. And Gil had studied him.

Oh joy.

But it certainly gave Barnaby’s imagination something to play with.

His professor began a lecture on geology, but Gil’s major stuck to his mind like a mystery. Was he striving for a degree in psychology? Barnaby imagined he’d make a good therapist. Or maybe even something like Criminal Justice, lending a hand in forensics or profiling.

Of course it didn’t take long for Barnaby to picture Gil in a tight police uniform, coming after him with handcuffs—

He shifted to cross his legs, and when he was able to sneak it, texted back, hopeful, ‘You never actually told me your major.’

It wouldn’t be until later that night, when both Barnaby and Jensen were settled into their dorm, that Barnaby would see a response:


“…That’s underwhelming.”

“What is?” Jensen asked, apparently with attention to spare Onwin giriş away from his PC game.

“Gil,” Barnaby sighed, swallowing another spoonful of fried rice, “I thought he’d be into something…Cool. I don’t know. Like- he’d take risks. English Major just doesn’t seem very risky.”

Jensen snorted. “Wow, Barn. Didn’t think you of all people would be so anti-Liberal Arts.”

“I’m not!” the blond sputtered, “I just…Thought Gil would be a little- more.”

“You’re valid. I’d turn down good dick too if the guy said he wanted to be a writer.”

Jensen yelped from Barnaby chucking a pillow at his head.

Writer. Now, there was nothing wrong with that. Barnaby wrote a few short stories of his own back in high school. He was sure with all of Gil’s experiences, the man would have far more interesting stories to tell.

The problem though, and why it didn’t immediately come to Barnaby’s mind, was that Gil had nothing to show for it. He never gave any indication that the homework he was supposedly typing up was part of some creative piece. He never tried showing off. Never talked about ideas or other books. Come to think of it, for all the time Barnaby was spending in his dorm, he never saw him read or pull out anything other than a textbook.

He wanted to ask about it, but before he could come up with a text, flinched from the pillow landing back in his lap.

“Are you working tomorrow?”

Shit. Barnaby still hadn’t checked yet. He referred to the calendar on his phone and – “Wait. Is next week really Thanksgiving Break?”

“Are you kidding me–“

He’d genuinely lost track of the dates, but there it was, a reminder set for Tuesday night: Freedom. Marked all the way to the following Tuesday.

And, in fact, he was working. All afternoon the next day, Sunday night, and Monday night.

Barnaby sighed, rubbing his temple as he told Jensen what he wanted to know. He didn’t say anymore than that though, looking right back to his texts with Gil. If he didn’t stop by the cafe again, if Barnaby didn’t spend the night with him Saturday- he wouldn’t see him for over a week.

He started biting his nails, his fried rice forgotten.

No doubt, Jensen would give him shit if he found out he backed out of bowling for his, as far as his roommate was concerned, “fuckbuddy”.

“Can I invite Gil?”

He glanced over to find Jensen’s eyes dramatically wide. “Pardon?”

Abort. Abort.

Barnaby’s mouth didn’t get the message fast enough. “I mean- We don’t just have sex. We hang out too. It’s gonna be you and your friends anyway, why can’t I bring Gil?”

Jensen’s lips moved without sound before he resigned, shaking his head, taking off his glasses, and burying his face in his hands. “…I don’t know, Barney.”

The blond held onto a glimmer of confidence. He’d managed to make sense if Jensen wasn’t arguing. “Wes and Diana already know him. We were all on that team-“

“While I went alone to that party?”

Just like that, Barnaby’s confidence was ripped away from him. His blood ran cold as color drained from his face. “That wasn’t-” he stammered, “I didn’t…I’m sorry, that shouldn’t have-“

“I know,” Jensen huffed, lifting his head despite his shoulders remaining slumped. “I’m being petty. Wasn’t anyone’s job to watch over me.”

Barnaby frowned. Even if Jensen was right, it wouldn’t have been fair for him to miss out on a chance for fun just because he didn’t have a second pair of eyes. If Barnaby was a better friend, he would’ve insisted that Jensen come along that night, to be sure he was safe.

At least he could try to be a better friend in the present. Whether Jensen liked it or not.

He moved his fried rice aside and approached the other’s bed.

Jensen blinked. “What’re you doing?”


“Oh- Barney- no–“

It was too late. Barnaby shut his laptop, ignored his protests, and only focused on getting his arms around Jensen, holding him tight. He was No Gil. Shorter, Not At All Reciprocative, and incredibly tense. But he was warm.

“I hate this,” Jensen grumbled, “You’re so gay.”

A smile came home to Barnaby’s lips, and he nuzzled closer. “This isn’t even the gayest thing I’ve done today.”

That earned a gagging noise from Jensen. A prompt, “Shut up. I don’t want to hear it”, but Barnaby couldn’t suppress his laughter.

Luckily for Jensen, he had no intention of saying more. He simply closed his eyes, hummed a little made-up tune, and enjoyed his buddy’s company.

It wasn’t long after that Jensen finally eased into his grip. Maybe, just maybe, some part of him was enjoying it too.


He’d tried again before they fell asleep for the night.

“So is it okay to invite Gil?”

“I don’t care. But if he starts pulling any of that I’m So Sexy and Dominant Shit in public, I’m calling the police.”

“He won’t!”


For once, texting Gil, Barnaby was blushing without Gil being the direct cause.

He’d get his response in the morning: ‘Give me the details.’

And indeed, details were given. Barnaby would go to work from noon to five o’ clock. Then, he’d go back to the dorm, change into something new and casual and stretch out his shirt because New for Barnaby Hirsch really meant he hadn’t worn it in about a year. Eventually, Jensen would come and get him, and at seven o’ clock, everyone would meet at Bowling A La Mode, a bowling alley-ice cream parlor combo.

Stepping inside had Barnaby feeling like he’d gone back in time. The floor had a checkerboard pattern, barstools and chairs were accented with pastel blue, vinyl cushions, and hints of chrome glistened under neon lights. The staff were dressed like Old School Milk Men, the shoe rental was adjacent to the actual ice cream serving station, and was that Jackson 5 playing from a jukebox?

Jensen grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the lanes, which were painted white, pink, and brown. Diana, dressed for the occasion in a yellow poodle skirt, was waving them over.

“We already got the lane!” she exclaimed, greeting them with hugs. “We were thinking we’d probably skip the bumpers, though. Is that okay?”

Before Barnaby could entertain the thought that bumpers might be nice, Jensen laid the law down, “No bumpers. We bowl like men.”

Diana puffed her cheeks, narrowed her eyes, and raised her fists as if to ‘square up’ before turning to the men behind her.

Three of them, one of whom Barnaby recognized to be Wes, crowded the sign-in tablet.

“It’s only five letters—”

“We don’t have all night!”

“I’m putting it for you—”

Diana clapped her hands to get their attention, and the three eagerly welcomed them into the group. Wes let Barnaby go in front of him so that he could pick his own nickname for the board and someone with a red streak through his blond hair, that he hadn’t met before, grabbed onto Jensen and decided, “Eisenburg, you’re on my team.”

When Barnaby looked up at their screen, he saw that the scoreboard read: LilD, TheW, Memes, Dick, BarnE, and PapaJ.

He wasn’t sure whether he should be embarrassed for being the odd one out or not.

“Alright,” Wes (or TheW, apparently), said as he picked out his bowling ball, “Everyone ready?”

“Uhm—” And that was when Barnaby remembered to look around. Gil hadn’t shown up yet.

Since less attention was on her, Barnaby shuffled up to Diana. “Sorry, uhm- Gil’s coming. He’s just not here yet.”

“Oh!” And for a moment, she simply stared as Barnaby grimaced, knowing he’d just thrown a wrench in her plans. “Well…Okay! We can get ice cream first then! Guys-” The conversation was opened to the rest of the group, “We’re still waiting on one more. Anyone want ice cream?”

Jensen and Red Streak only looked at each other, but it didn’t take much consideration for Wes and his Red Hooded friend to agree.

Wandering to the serving station/shoe rental, Wes introduced the two of them (“Barnaby, Mell. Mell, Barnaby.”). To make up for a weak handshake, Barnaby went right into complimenting the patches on Mell’s hoodie since whoa boy, there were a lot, from video game references to pride flags. He was very humble and easy to talk to, just like Wes and Diana. And they were Jensen’s friends. It had Barnaby wondering how his roommate acted around everyone else away from him.

At the serving station, Wes and Mell got cookie dough ice cream, Diana ordered strawberry, and Barnaby was barely paying enough attention to tell the cashier “rocky road” when checking his phone for texts from Gil.

He traded in his shoes, and he started to get that Sinking Feeling, the one that would make it impossible to enjoy the rest of the night from worrying about his Plus One— until they returned to their lane.

Lo and behold, there was Gil, sitting as far away from Jensen and his friend as he could without moving to a different lane. He looked like he needed someone beside him.

As his pet, Barnaby was more than happy to fill that space.

“You made it!” he chimed, bounding over to the raven.

Gil looked to him with a start, eyes wide before a soft smile settled on his face. “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

Barnaby bit his lip and gave a hesitant shrug. Between the possibility of an emergency or being stood up, he wasn’t sure what to think. What made it even trickier was sensing the eyes of those around them.

“Gil!” Diana joined Barnaby and squeezed the man’s shoulder. Barnaby noticed Gil’s lips pull tight as he glanced down at her hand. “It’s good to see you again.”

“Yeah,” he muttered, “You too.”

Wes and Mell walked up to shake Gil’s hand next, but conversation didn’t come as naturally between them as it had for Barnaby. At least Gil didn’t seem willing to continue it.

Wes must have picked up on it too, quick to eat his ice cream and turn his attention to the group as a whole, “Cool. Are we ready to start?”

“Hold on,” Jensen spoke up. “How’re we splitting teams? We have an extra person.”

“It’s fine,” Gil immediately replied, hand already raised in defense, “I’m not playing. I’m just here to watch.”