Macdonald Hall, The Entire Course of Human History

Title: The Entire Course Of Human History [Bruno/Boots]
Rating/Warnings: PG for Canadian schoolboys and mention of prison favors.
Summary: Diane makes some questionable demands, and Bruno ponders the meaning of it all.
AN: This is so not my fault. I didn’t have a particular timeline in mind, this could really happen in the course of any of the books, i suppose. Although i did come up with the idea when i was rereading the first one, and one of them says something like “I’m sure my parents would love you meeting me out here like this” next to the cannon.

The Entire Course of Human History

“So there’s a dance next Friday,” Bruno mentioned, trying to sneak glances of Diane’s reaction while still looking as though he were staring up at the stars casually. He wasn’t positive that he was fooling Diane, in particular because it was completely overcast.

“Mm-hmm,” Diane said. Bruno distracted himself from the lack of enthusiasm by wondering how Diane could look so poised when the damp grass had to be soaking into her nightgown just as much as it was into Bruno’s jeans.

“Anyone ask you yet?” Bruno tried again, shifting a little to try and surreptitiously work the wet denim into a more comfortable position, or into any position that wasn’t up his ass.

“Davey Sanderson,” Diane answered promptly, sitting up straighter as though she had been waiting to be asked. “He smokes, and he’s got a leather jacket. But I haven’t answered him yet. I’ve got to go.”

Stiff with shock, Bruno dug his fingers into the damp spring earth and continued staring studiously at the lack of stars until Diane had shimmied the whole way up the drainpipe, and Boots had negotiated the same pipe and landed on his butt in the dirt beside Bruno.

“That did not go as planned,” Boots grunted. “You?”

“We are in serious trouble here,” Bruno agreed grimly.

******

Shivering despite his sweater in the March wind, Boots hunched his shoulders and pressed closer against the side of the cannon, hoping it would shield him from the elements. He nearly jumped out of his skin when Bruno crept up behind him and clanged his knuckles against the top of the cannon.

“Knock it off!” Boots hissed, laying both palms on the metal to stop it vibrating. “Do you want to get caught? And what’ve you got that you can’t show me in our nice warm room with a nice safe lock?”

“Diane said the Davey Sanderson asked her to the dance,” Bruno reported as he settled into the grass beside Boots.

“So what?” Boots demanded, wet and cold and in no mood for the Patented Bruno Lead-Up. “And who the hell is Davey Sanderson?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Bruno waved his questions off, “what matters is that he’s got a leather jacket and he smokes. Here.”

Bruno reached into his jacket pocket and extracted a small box, then dropped it into Boots’ hands. After a moment squinting in the dark, Boots recognized it as a pack of cigarettes.

“Now just hold on…” Boots exclaimed.

“Have you got a leather jacket?” Bruno interrupted.

“No, but…”

“Then I don’t see what choice we have!”

“Where did you even get these?” Boots demanded, trying to stall for time while he worked out some way to talk Bruno down from the ledge.

“I had to trade Pete three dirty magazines and a chocolate bar,” Bruno reported, not meeting his eyes, “and do a favor for Mark, and the whole thing had a very penitentiary feel to it that I don’t care to repeat.”

“Bruno?” Boots’ voice was quiet with confusion and Bruno seemed to deflate a little.

“All right, look,” some of the manic energy had faded away, but Bruno looked no less determined. “I don’t claim to understand women, but Diane mentioned smoking and that means it must be important, right? So what’s a few cigarettes? Are we men or are we mice?”

Boots wanted to argue some more, but he was freezing and he couldn’t really bring himself to crush Bruno’s hope that he would go along for the ride, not when Bruno was trying so hard and failing so miserably to keep the pleading out of his expression.

Recognizing the capitulation in Boots’ eyes immediately, Bruno grinned in relief and began rifling his jacket for his lighter before Boots had even said that he agreed, although Boots agreed out loud anyway just for form’s sake.

“Here,” Boots handed over his own lighter, suppressing a sigh at the loss of his lighter’s innocence, which up until now had only been used for minor arson and evidence destruction. Bruno’s grin of thanks simultaneously made Boots feel a little better, and made him want to sigh more.

Actually getting the cellophane off the little box was easier said than done, since neither of them had fingernails (“Those damn girls have us by the balls coming and going!” Bruno snarled.), but Boots hunted up a sharp rock and Bruno handed over an only slightly squashed cigarette. Boots watched Bruno twirl the thin cylinder between long fingers for a moment, then looked up to find Bruno watching him expectantly. Boots swallowed.

“You go first,” he said.

“I got them,” Bruno argued, “you go first.”

“This whole thing is your idea!”

“All right, all right,” Bruno placated him, “we’ll go together.”

Bruno flicked the lighter on with the eased of a practiced pyro, and Boots watched the flame make Bruno’s fingers glow orange for a moment, before reaching his own cigarette over to it. It took them a moment to get both of their cigarettes lit, and by then the lighter had gotten hot enough to burn Bruno’s hand.

“Ow!” Bruno dropped the lighter in the dirt and stuck his burnt thumb in his mouth. Boots picked it up and dusted it off before slipping it back in his pocket, ignoring Bruno’s circumdigit cursing as he regarded the cigarette smoldering in his hand.

“Well?” he demanded, reasoning that faked courage was better than no courage at all, were they men or mice after all, and for some reason he felt that Bruno needed to stop sucking on his finger like that right now.

“On three?” Bruno asked, and Boots suppressed a nervous giggle because he had said ‘on three?’ just like that to get Bruno into the dreaded pool and then pushed him in on two anyway, and here was the perfect chance for Bruno to get revenge somehow and god only knew what he would do on ‘two’ with a lit cigarette in his hand.

“Three!” Boots said decisively, sticking the cigarette in his mouth, realizing too late that he should have taken the deep breath to calm his nerves before putting the cigarette in his mouth, and the next thing he knew he was hunched over with his palms in the dirt while his lungs staged a walk-out.

“You okay?” Boots turned his head a little to see Bruno leaning towards him in concern, his outline blurred by Boots’ teared-up eyes.

“Just wonderful,” he coughed. He got his lungs under enough control that he could sit back up and glare at Bruno. “Your turn.”

Having apparently learned by example, Bruno’s first drag off his cigarette was much shallower (Bastard, thought Boots), but a second less cautious inhalation had him choking as well.

“I’m not really seeing the attraction,” Bruno hacked. “And my head feels kind of funny.”

Boots, having managed several smaller drags off his cigarette more successfully, was starting to feel the nicotine as well, but it was giving him more of a headache than a buzz, or maybe that was Bruno’s dramatic gasps for air.

“That’s because now there’s smoke in there instead of nothing,” he snarked, not caring if Bruno was any better off than him because it was all his stupid fault anyway. He snuck another glance at Bruno to find him leaning back against the cannon and staring up at the sky, wrists propped on his knees, the half-smoked cigarette dangling forgotten between two fingers.

“Do you think girls are worth it?” Bruno asked.

“Are you asking me about girls,” Boots inquired, “or about Diane and Cathy?”

He got a shrug in response, and Boots savagely stubbed out the remains of his cigarette in the dirt while he thought. He let his head fall back to clang against the cannon next to Bruno.

“They have to be, right, or why do guys do anything? I mean, isn’t that why we’ve been sneaking over to Miss Scimmage’s for our entire school career? Isn’t the entire course of human history nothing but a string of guys attempting to get girls?” Boots wrinkled his brow. “And what are we staring at anyway, there aren’t any stars!”

The first quiet ‘heh’ caught him off guard, and by the time Boots turned his head, Bruno was laughing desperately with his eyes squeezed shut, the back of his head bumping the cannon in a series of muffled bongs that sounded rather painful to Boots.

“Shut up, idiot,” Boots edged over to nudge Bruno’s thigh with his knee, “just what’s so funny?”

“Girls!” Bruno chortled helplessly. “Us!”

It was a little bit funny, Boots thought, them outside in the dead of night, sitting in the mud, learning to smoke because Diane had mentioned it, but just as he was parting his lips to laugh himself, Bruno let his head flop to the side to look at Boots, cheeks pink from the cold and eyes bright from coughing, and their faces were only inches apart and the laugh died on Boots’ tongue.

And it obviously was an effect of nicotine poisoning that Boots leaned his head just that inch and half further to press his lips against Bruno’s, although he had the sinking suspicion that he only had himself to blame for sliding in closer when Bruno’s snort of surprise made the hair on the back of Boots’ neck stand up.

The metal of the cannon was cold where it pressed against Boots’ face, and he could taste smoke on Bruno’s lips, and toothpaste, and the peanut butter cookie that Bruno must have stolen from the package Boots’ mother had sent, and Bruno was staring right into Boots’ eyes, his raised eyebrow asking if maybe they weren’t supposed to close them?

“OW!” Bruno swore suddenly into Boots’ mouth. Jerking back in surprise, Boots followed Bruno’s gaze to see him flick his forgotten cigarette off into the night, arcing like a low red comment before disappearing into the grass, then turned back to see Bruno peering at singed fingers for the second time that night.

“Here,” Boots said without thinking, and he might have said “Let me” as well, although he wasn’t sure, and then he was pulling Bruno’s warm hand up with his own cold pair, and the next thing he knew he had the tips of two of Bruno’s fingers in his mouth.

Flushing, but not letting go, Boots met Bruno’s eyes, the other boy’s expression quite clearly reading I’m never going to be able to use these fingers again without thinking about this. Boots swallowed nervously, which meant sucking a little on the fingers, and Bruno’s mouth fell wide open.

Boots sucked again on purpose, and Bruno gave another surprised snort before lunging forward and knocking Boots’ head back against the cannon with a CLANG that they probably heard on Mars, and he tried to say ‘Ow dammit!’ but Bruno’s lips were in the way, and the damp fingers had gone to curl in the hair just above Boots’ collar.

And by the time they broke for air, Bruno was straddling Boots’ lap, his weight pressing down warmly on Boots’ thighs and his knees pressed into the dirt on either side of Boots.

“Someone,” Boots had to swallow to get his voice back under control, “someone probably heard that.” While he was loathe to demand that Bruno, who was blocking the wind nicely, actually move, the thought of being caught by the Fish making out with his roommate in the middle of the night instilled a sense of urgency in him. He wasn’t sure even ambassadors from Muldonia could fix that.

Bruno seemed to agree, or at least be just as cold, and the pair struggled to their feet. Boots raised an eyebrow when he saw Bruno slipping the pack of cigarettes back into his pocket.

“What are you going to do with those?” he asked. Bruno’s grin was a bit terrifying.

“Buy prison favors, of course!”

Knowing it was his only option anyway, Boots laughed as he fell into step beside Bruno to trudge back to their dorm. They were silent the whole way back, just in case they ran into the sort of maniac that prowled around Macdonald Hall after curfew. Boots, however, was still pondering something, and he chewed his lower lip, which felt a bit tingly still, thoughtfully as he scrambled into their window after Bruno.

“What about Diane and the dance?” he finally asked when he had got the whole way in and was sliding the window shut. He squinted into the dark room, unable to see Bruno clearly while his eyes were still adjusting. He jumped a little when Bruno’s low laugh came from much closer than he expected.

“Hope she told Davey Sanderson and his leather jacket yes,” Bruno murmured before pushing Boots up against the window and cutting off Boots’ answering laugh with his lips.

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