Chapter 21

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Reed dives into the water and swims close to the bottom before surfacing after a few seconds. He shakes his head like a dog does after it gets wet, and his hair sends water flying into Trip's eyes.

He immediately stretches his arms out with his eyes closed and pushes Reed's chest hard. Reed falls back into the water and floats on his back, sparing a few laughs.

"Watch it," Trip says, brutally rubbing his eyes.

"What're you gonna do?" Reed teases him with a lop-sided grin.

Trip sports a small smile and shrugs his shoulders. "It'll come at some point."

Reed raises an eyebrow and puffs his lips like a fish. "You're being very suggestive right now and-"

Trip quickly waves his hand, ushering Reed over to him who stands up, a confused look spread on his face.

"What is it?" Reed questions as Trip's eyes intensely watch a few people from afar.

There's a pair of middle-aged folks rummaging through the belongings of a family who currently splash in the water.

"Hm?" Reed asks as Trip points his finger in the direction of the men.

Reed squints his eyes in an attempt to get a better look but fails tremendously.

"You know them?" he says and Trip shakes his head.

"No, you idiot," Trip says as he begins to walk out of the water. "They're stealing from a family."

"Wait," Reed says, moving through the water at a quick pace to catch up. "Where are you going?"

The men grab a few items from a large bag, shoving them into their pockets, and head off without a look back.

"I'm getting their things back," Trip says matter-of-factly.

"We're not on a mission right now," Reed hisses and reaches out, grabbing Trip's arm. He gives it a soft tug, halting Trip in the sand, but Trip purses his lips.

"I know," he says without looking at Reed. "But it's wrong."

Reed knows that too. And so, he releases the dark-haired boy and Trip glances down before raising an eyebrow.

Reed sighs. "Let's go."

Trip's lips curve up slightly. "Yeah."

The two break off in a run as Trip keeps his eyes trained on the thieves and it doesn't take them long to reach their targets.

"Hey," Trip says behind them before they slowly turn around. Reed stays further behind and acts as if he isn't affiliated with Trip in any way.

"What do you want?" one of the men spits as Reed snakes behind them.

"I was wondering if you saw my brother anywhere," Trip says.

The men narrow their eyes at Trip. "We don't know him."

Trip glances behind them quickly as he sees Reed hold up a gold necklace and a pair of earrings. He knows it's time to get out of there.

Trip simply shrugs his shoulders as Reed walks away. "I'll find him somewhere. Thanks."

One of the men just grunts and Trip turns away, heading in the opposite direction.

Reed soon meets up with him and lightly bumps into his shoulder.

"Man," Reed says. "The last time I pickpocketed was the first day I met you."

Trip laughs at that. "Yeah, when you took the chain out of my pocket."

Reed smiles and drops the jewelry back into the large bag that it had been in originally. The family never notices and Reed and Trip head back to the water.

That is, until they hear a string of curses escape the mouths of two very familiar men.

"They stole our things!" the thieves yell and Reed takes one glance at Trip before the two immediately sprint away.

They rush to the top of the beach where the bathrooms are and the men trail close behind. Reed takes a quick turn and Trip almost falls over in an attempt to make the same turn. He nearly collapses on Reed who slams a hand over Trip's mouth, silencing him.

Trip struggles to breathe and Reed's chest rapidly rises and falls but they cannot risk getting caught. They know the men will beat them up.

Moments later, the men run past where Reed and Trip are, and they breathe out sighs of relief. Reed quietly leads Trip out and they sprint back to Monica's house before they are seen again.

At this point, the two boys are exhausted and neglect to check in on Monica and Beck. Trip assumes his brother is spending time with his wife and doesn't want to interrupt them anyway.

When they enter their room, Reed flicks on the light and searches for a change of clothes.

"Do you want to shower first?" Reed asks.

"Doesn't matter to me," Trip replies.

And as much as he was trying not to, Trip steals a glance at Reed's naked chest and lets his eyes fall to his waist. The two are standing a foot apart and suddenly, Trip cannot help himself.

He takes a few steps toward Reed, closing the gap, and Reed staggers backward with each step until his back touches the wall.

Trip brings his body closer to Reed's, almost pressing against him. He moves his face inches from Reed's now and Reed's eyes widen.

Trip's parted lips hover over Reed's who stills. He brings a hand to Reed's neck and softly holds it there as his thigh pushes in between Reed's legs, feeling every inch of his body. The younger boy stays like that for a moment before his thumb brushes Reed's cheek slowly and Reed makes no effort to push him away.

It's baffling how Reed is able to speak, though, as a single word escapes his mouth as a whisper. And it's the quietest word Trip has ever heard someone speak.

"What?" Reed asks.

Trip closes his lips and the sides curve up in a smirk. "You had a crumb."

He pulls away from Reed as he still feels the sensations of Reed's body against his own and he turns his back to him.

His shoulder is tugged backward though, and in an instant, his back is against the wall and Reed presses himself to Trip.

"No," Reed says in his ear. "I didn't."

Trip sucks in a breath and now it's his turn to be frozen as Reed pulls his mouth away from Trip's ear.

Reed's hand roams down Trip's chest and all he can do is stare. But Reed's eyes are trained elsewhere and they fail to meet.

Because they're looking at Trip's lips.

"Damien," Reed says as Trip feels his heart begin to speed up.

"Huh?" he manages to ask.

"You lost the race," Reed says, finally bringing his eyes to Trip's.

"So?" Trip asks, Reed's light gray eyes piercing into his.

"So give me what I want."

Trip doesn't need to be told twice.

He reaches a hand up to Reed's cheek once more and presses his lips to Reed's.

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