Synopsis: In a world where some people have mental powers, Pete's friend Andrew asks for help in mastering the art of mind control
Disclaimer: There's sex, telepathy, sodomy, and maybe a few other minor perversions in this. If you don't like that sort of thing, or if you're under legal age, go elsewhere.
Copyright - 2012 by Wrestlr. Permission granted to archive if and only if no fee (including any form of "Adult Verification") is charged to read the file. If anyone pays a cent to anyone to read your site, you can't use this without the express permission of (and payment to) the author. This paragraph must be included as part of any archive.
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Wrestlr's fiction is archived at http://www.asstr.org/~wrestlr (MC and general M/M stories).
"No, I'm not giving you lessons in mind control. Andrew, if you're having trouble, take it up with the trainers." I glanced down the row of lockers to the showers, making sure no one was close enough to hear. Here at the Institute, you never knew who might overhear what you said--or what you thought.
We'd just finished our physical training session for the day--got to keep the body in shape too. Andrew buttoned the last button on his uniform tunic and zipped his gym bag shut. "Please, Paul. You're good. You helped a shitload of guys improve at it. You told me you have."
"That's true," I admitted, "but those guys were younger than you and needed the experience. I did it more as a favor. For Christ's sake, Andrew, you're twenty. Plus, you're a friend--it'd be ... weird."
Andrew was a late bloomer. Most guys develop their Talents in their early teens. Andrew hadn't developed his and been recruited until six months ago, when he was nineteen. He was a telepath, like me--he was a little older but my Talent was a lot more developed. Sure, he had the hang of basic thought reading, but he was still mastering thought projection, and the mind control parts of the training curriculum seemed beyond him. He probably could use the tutoring. Still, I didn't like the idea of invading a friend's head. Privacy was hard enough to come by around here.
"But I need the experience too!" Andrew was persistent. "I want to land a field assignment once we graduate from training. To get that, I gotta be able to do more than just read minds. If reading's all I can do, they'll give me some shitty surveillance duty somewhere."
It wasn't that I didn't want to do it. Andrew's hot--all dirty blond hair and eyes the color of new steel. Really hot, in fact. That was the problem. I was far too attracted to him to have an uncomplicated session taking control of his thoughts. I was going to want more; I was going to want to fuck his beautiful body, and when mind control is involved, that's more than just casual sex. I'd showered next to him every day after our physical training sessions for six months. Believe me, I was intimately familiar with the way sudsy water trickled down the pattern of muscles on his back, then vanished into the crevice between his ass cheeks; with the way his plumped pectorals flexed as he dried his tight-tight abs; with how he'd slip the towel between his legs and tug it back and forth to dry that flawless pair of smooth low-hangers; and how he'd--
You get the idea.
"Please," he implored.
I gave that idea a bit of further thought.
In the six months since he got recruited and assigned to the same training group as me, Andrew had made me his unofficial mentor in Institute life, in spite of me being a year younger than him. He was, after all, a late bloomer, and I, um, wasn't. Actually, I was kind of notorious--I was up for whatever you wanted, as long as there were no strings attached. That included sex, and I'd been having a lot of it. That didn't make me a indiscriminate slut, though--not quite. I knew Andrew wasn't very experienced sexually either. Lately, he had told me, he'd been thinking he was ready to start catching up--in more ways that one.
"Look," I said. "Mind control is really easy once you get the hang of it. It's a natural progression of thought reading and thought projection, with a big dollop of the attitude."
Down the row, some guy I didn't know came back to his locker from the showers, wet, naked except for the towel wrapped around his waist, paying no attention to us. I did a quick scan of his mind--this guy was a pyrokinetic or something, not a telepath--he'd never know what hit him. I pointed to direct Andrew's attention to him, then I slipped into Towel Guy's mind and took control with practiced efficiency. The guy froze. The towel fell away, unnoticed, revealing a growing erection. I always seem to have that effect on guys.
"See?" I told Andrew. "It's easy. No big deal."
I released my hold on Towel Guy. He blinked, able to move again, but not even aware I'd taken him over for those few moments. He blushed when he realized he was sporting a hard-on, sans towel. He dealt with the potential embarrassment by pretending not to notice us looking. He grabbed that towel, whipped it back around his waist, and quickly slipped off to toilet stalls, probably to take care of his hard-on.
"Now that," Andrew said when Towel Guy had gone, "that's why you need to help me--I want to get as good as you." Seeing my unmoved expression, he whined, "Please? "There's this guy I'm interested in. He's a telepath too, and a pretty good one. I don't want to ask him out until I know I can keep up. I don't want him thinking I'm damaged goods. I don't want to end up embarrassed or disappointing him."
So what happened to wanting to learn so he could get a good field assignment? And holy crap, did I hate whining--only guys with low self-esteem whined. "Andrew, buddy," I tried, "you don't have to go into a guy's head that way on the first date ..."
"I know," he said, "but just in case." He leaned in toward me as though he was suddenly shy about this conversation. "Look, I'll be honest with you. This guy I want to ask out, he's hot, but he's hardcore. I think he likes mind control, giving and getting. I already think about him when I jerk off. If he says he'll go out with me, I want to be prepared--you know--to give as well as get too."
I squinted and scratched my chin, recalling what it was like when I was just starting out, how insecure I was. Starting is never easy. Plus, Andrew really was lacking the experience a hot guy his age would normally have, both with his Talent and sexually. I decided what the hell. If I could help my friend learn how to control minds, maybe it would be cruel not to. I could always deal with my attraction for him in therapy. I'd probably dealt with worse.
"All right, Andrew," I said. "I'll do it. I'll teach you how to control minds. When do you want to get started?"
His face brightened. "Right now!"
"Are you crazy? There's no place to do it around here."
"Sure there is. I saw on the schedule that Room C9 isn't booked for the rest of the day." He seemed to have it planned. He motioned me to follow him. "C'mon."
I sighed and picked up my gym bag.
I followed Andrew out of the locker room. The sounds of weights being lifted, guys grunting, bodies being slammed around in a martial arts class echoed all the way down the door-lined hall to the vacant room. I followed him in. He shut the door and latched it. Room C9 was used for wrestling. There were mats on the floor, and that was about it.
"All right." He took a deep breath and licked his lips. "How do we start?"
"Well, since there're no chairs or anything, looks like we'll have to sit on the mats."
"Okay." He dropped to the floor, cross-legged, and looked up at me expectantly with those steel-blue eyes. "So what next?"
I sat facing him, a couple of feet away. Close enough, but not close enough to threaten his personal space. I used a different method--a different set of mental metaphors--from most of our trainers. Maybe mine would be an approach Andrew could master where theirs weren't. I looked him in the eye. "Well ... Now I reach into your head, and I'll show you how I do it. I'll go slow, just a little light control, so you can see what I do and how. When you think you've got it, you can try on me. But first, just take a deep breath and relax."
I reached out with my thoughts, probed his mind. I know he felt it. I distracted him by talking. "The first thing to know about taking control--and this is the trick--is it's all about the attitude. That's even more important than skill or technique. You have to make your target--er, the other person want it. He has to want to submit to it." I slid into his thoughts, penetrating slowly, gently. "Can you feel that?"
"You okay so far?"
I reached into his head, deeper, sensing the shape of his thoughts, the way they spiked and jittered with energy. "First, you calm the other person. See how your brainwaves spike up like this?" I let him see the spears and valleys the way I perceived them. I focused my thoughts on smoothing his out. "There. You feel that? See how calm you feel now?"
"It relaxes the person you're trying to control. Makes him less likely to fight against you being in his head. Just focus on smoothing his thoughts out, just like this."
I worked on his thoughts a little more, taking the edges off, making his mind and body relax and accept my presence. Normally, I'd have been covert, worked quickly, hit my target before he knew what was happening, but with Andrew I went slowly and made sure he was aware of everything I did. Probably our trainers had rushed through this step with him since they were used to working with Talents that manifested earlier, not late bloomers like Andrew. But I made sure he knew everything I was doing to smooth out the currents of his thoughts. "Oooh," he sighed, and I sensed a dawning understanding in him.
"Now here's something else that helps--" I reached further in, to his pleasure centers, and I gave them a little nudge.
"Did you like that? See how much better you feel? If you make him feel good like that, he'll get really cooperative. He'll submit to your control because it feels good and he won't fight it. Do you like it?"
"Yeah ..." His expression went a little slack; his eyes looked a little dazed. Yeah, he liked it, all right. I gave his pleasure centers another tiny prod. He purred another contented little sound. Yeah, he had that receptive look guys get when they slip under my control, the one I always think is so sexy. I thought Andrew was pretty damn hot before, and seeing this look on his face got me feeling horny. I just hoped he wasn't aware enough to sense it through our mental connection.
"Some guys will also do this ..." I reached my thoughts over to his sleep centers and gave them the gentlest of nudges. "If you make him sleepy, he don't fight as much either." I didn't tell him this, but adding sleepiness to the mix sometimes keeps the target from realizing what's going on--perfect if somebody here had a big ol' hard-on and didn't want somebody else to sense how turned-on that first somebody was getting.
Andrew yawned. "Okay ..."
I couldn't resist the urge to poke around a little. I'd been gentle but obvious going in because I wanted him to pay attention to what I was doing. Now I was more subtle, looking around in his thoughts, memories, fantasies to see what I might find. He fantasized about sucking cock a lot--okay, what guy our age doesn't?--but had no memories of it. Looks like, aside for two hand-jobs a couple of years ago and a lot of solo jacking off, my boy Andrew here was a virgin.
I knit my thoughts around his cognitive areas. "There. I'm inside. Can you feel where I am?"
"Uh huh ..."
"I've got you calm and feeling good, and I've got myself in a place where I can influence your thoughts. You might not feel any different, but I've got control right now. It's not a tight hold, `cause I want you to know what I'm doing, but it's enough to do ... this."
His left arm rose straight up when I pushed that thought into his head.
"How do you feel?"
"Okay, I guess." That was an understatement. He was feeling a lot damned better than okay. Never try to hide anything from the guy who has his mind poked deep in your thoughts.
I said, "Good. If you do it right, he won't have any idea you're in his head." I stood up. "You can do whatever you want to him, and he can't do jack-shit about it." I straddled him and ground my crotch into his face to make my point. I expected him to recoil, since I didn't have him that firmly under my influence, but he didn't. Hmm.
I pulled back. Double-hmm. Looked like my friend Andrew was sporting an erection in his pants. There was definitely more hardness going on than could be explained from that little poke I gave his pleasure centers.
"I could even make you suck my cock if I wanted to, and there's nothing you could do to stop me."
His thoughts, held under mine, didn't struggle against the idea at all. Well, well--let's see how far this might go.
"Do you want to suck my cock, Andrew? Do you want to touch it? Go ahead--touch it," I ordered, with another nudge into his head. I guided his thoughts gently but firmly, letting him know I was in control. Under my sway, his fingers touched the crotch of my pants. He probed through the fabric and found my balls, then located the ridge of stiffening prick that ran to the left in my pants. It hardened as he ran his fingers along the length of it.
"That's it, Andrew," I said. "Rub it, slow and gentle. You'll find a lot of men like that."
"They do?" His voice was dazed, groggy, the lingering result of my little taps on his pleasure centers and sleep centers.
"Trust me. It's like foreplay."
He stared at my cock, fascinated. I knew why. It was substantially bigger than what he was used to seeing me soap up in the shower. "My dick is what they call a 'grower,' buddy," I assured him, giving his pleasure center another calming jolt. "It's the kind that gets a lot bigger when it's hard."
I could feel Andrew pushing back at me for the first time, resisting, nervous. The unexpected size of it spooked him. I felt a little embarrassed at how much farther I'd gone than originally planned--how much farther I had been ready to go. Andrew was my friend. I didn't want to push him too hard.
"Maybe you'd rather I stopped ...?" I eased back on my influence over him, so he could make his own decision.
"Yeah," he said. I could sense his nervousness and his lust--he wanted more but he wanted to back off too--he couldn't make up his mind.
I sighed. "Okay. I'm pulling out now," I said, and I did, withdrawing my thoughts gently from his mind. I stepped back and sat down facing him again, ignoring my still-hard cock.
I asked him, "How was that? Think you can manage it now?"
He blinked and shook his head and shoulders, shaking off my influence. "That was ... Wow, Paul, I'd have totally sucked your cock if you hadn't stopped."
I chuckled to downplay nearly crossing that line. I kept reminding myself Andrew was a friend. A hot guy, sure, but also a friend.
"Can I try it on you now, Paul?"
"I want to try it on you. You know, to see if I can do it. That's what you said, right? It was your idea."
I thought about it. That was the plan originally--I'd show him how, then he'd try it on me to prove he'd learned it. I couldn't back out halfway through, even though what I really wanted was to find someplace private as soon as possible so I could take care of this nagging erection I'd given myself. So I told him, "Okay, Andrew, let's see what you can do."
He looked at me with those steel-blue eyes and grinned. "Cool! I'm starting now."--Which he didn't need to announce because I could feel his mind reaching into mine, like little feathery tendrils. I could have pushed him back, easily, but I let him in instead.
I felt him fishing around in my head a little, and he frowned as he tried to grasp the shape of my thoughts.
"First, smooth out the--"
Andrew interrupted, "No, don't tell me. I need to do this on my own."
But my hint worked. He remembered what to do. I felt his thoughts moving over mine, smoothing them down. Damn, he was a stronger telepath than I thought--maybe as strong as me. He needed a moment to get the hang of it, but I felt him quieting my thought patterns, firmly, gently; I felt myself calming under his influence, becoming more accepting, opening myself to him, not struggling. It felt ... good.
I felt myself smiling. It did feel good. I felt good. Why was Andrew frowning harder? He should feel as good as I was feeling. I felt him poke tentatively at my pleasure centers, clumsily--mostly causing a little tingling feeling in my arm. I had my wits about me enough to wrap myself around his thoughts, shape them correctly, and guide him through stroking my pleasure centers. Mmm, nice! I moaned appreciatively to encourage him, He gave them a good jab--and I gasped as fireworks of joy practically exploded in my head. Fucking hell yeah!
"Sorry--Too hard?" Andrew bit his bottom lip, which through the haze of pleasure I thought was just about the sexiest thing I'd ever seen.
"Yeh ... a little ..." I managed. Crap, I just wanted to reach out and grab his head and kiss him, but I couldn't seem to complete the thought, couldn't make my arms reach for him.
"Okay, sorry." He tried again, a gentle mental caress. Third time's the charm. "Better?"
I groaned. "Oh, yeah."
"I think I'm getting the hang of this." His frown eased into a grin. "Now, let's take a test drive and see if I really do have control. Stand up."
I stood up.
"That's good, Paul. Yeah--just like that." Andrew kept staring at my crotch. He wasn't good at dividing his attention yet--his hold on my head was slipping--I could have pushed him out if I wanted. He felt my thoughts squirm around, and he clamped down on them, hard.
"Take it out," he told me, satisfied that my thoughts were firmly under his control and returning his attention to the outline of my erection in my pants. "Your dick--take it out."
I unbuckled my belt. Impatient, he reached in and unsnapped and unzipped my fly. My thumbs hooked in my waistband I pushed my pants to mid-thigh. He stuck his fingers in the elastic band of my briefs and peeled them down until my boner bounced out--nearly hit him in the eye.
"Wow," he breathed, impressed, distracted again. I could have evicted him from my head. Just thinking that caught his attention, and he tightened his grasp again.
"Would you rather I stopped ...?"
"No," I mumbled, though I wasn't completely sure whether it was me talking or him making me say that.
He circled his thumb and forefinger around the hairy base of my erection. They barely reached. He whistled his respect. "So ... What do I do now?"
I'd forgotten Andrew had never done any of that either.
I answered, "Start licking it all over, like it's a lollipop--a big. tasty lollipop."
He touched his tongue tentatively to the vein that runs down the top of my shaft. The flavor seemed to please him, because he went at it in earnest then, bathing the stalk with his spit from bush to tip and back again. Then, without even being instructed, he went to work on my nuts, like he knew instinctively how much I love that. Maybe he saw it in my thoughts. He drew the left one into his mouth and gnawed it. Just gently enough that the sensation was stimulation rather than pain.
He spat it out. "How was that??" he asked. "I never did that before." I answered with a groan. Encouraged, he proceeded to work on the right one.
"Wow, you taste good," he sighed. He kissed his way along my stalk to the tip. A pre-cum pearl gathered at the slit. "Tell me what I should do next."
"Lick it," I instructed.
He went for my cockhead just the way a good cocksucker should. The heat of his tongue on my erection and the little pokes of pleasure he kept giving me from time to time in my head brought me dangerously close to shooting.
"How's my attitude, Paul?" he asked between licks, a mischievous grin. "Feeling like you want to submit to me?"
I had to admit, I was. "Yeah," I breathed.
"We're just getting started. I want you to teach me everything about cock-sucking too. What do I do next?"
"Suck the head into your mouth."
"Now run your tongue around it. That's it. Fuck, yeah!"
He popped off my cock. "It swells even bigger when I do that. That means you like it, right?"
I groaned, "Uh huh," happily.
He tightened his hand-grip around the base of my cock shaft and ran it up and down the shaft while he tongued the head. His stroke was perfect. His hungry look was perfect. The loud slurping sounds he made were perfect. He had to be pulling these ideas directly out of my thoughts--he was learning quickly!
Start sucking it, Andrew, I thought, testing. He picked up on it, loud and clear. My thick salami disappeared between his lips. He got further down on me than I thought he would on the first swallow. I was impressed. But I could tell when he'd reached his limit. He nearly gagged a little, but managed to keep my cock in his mouth. I thought to him, Don't force it. Thinking was easier than talking, and just as good to telepaths like us. Just find that spot where it doesn't want to go any further and get used to it.
He held it there, and made a couple of indecipherable grunts. He thought back, Like this?
Just like that.
I could feel him sorting through my thoughts, just like I had done to him but not as subtly.
Gag reflex? he thought back at me, echoing what he learned from my thoughts. Teach me to get past it.
I didn't have to say a word. He was practically pulling the tutorial out of my head.
Apply a little suction as you move up and down on the prick. Check.
Don't go further than the gag spot. Check.
Use your hand on the part you can't swallow yet. Check.
"You're a fast learner," I exhaled.
His lips curled slightly at the edges--that would've been a smile if his mouth weren't stuffed with my dick.
What next? he asked in my head.
"Find the spot where your gag reflex tried to kick in and hold it there a bit. Get comfortable with it. See?--It's not so scary, is it?"
He shook his head, and the subtle sensation almost took me over the edge again.
He pulled off my cock. "Take your clothes off, Paul. I want to see you naked, and you don't want to get your uniform messed up."
My arms moved slowly, still sluggish from his control. He was naked himself almost before I finished unbuttoning my shirt. His body was still taut and pumped from our workout, and my cock surged again at the sight. His nipples, which I'd only seen soft, had hardened into erect little cones in the meaty expanse of his pecs. His erection curved up sharply toward his belly. The plum head seemed almost too big for its shaft. It was the sort of thick, tapered dick that could make a bottom-boy very, very happy. My asshole twitched.
I kicked off my shoes and pants. Andrew positioned himself on his knees in front of me again, reached around to cup my cheeks in his hands, and licked the drop of juice from my cock slit before he sucked the shaft back down again up to his limit.
He was still in my head, but clearly he was distracted by what was in his mouth. I didn't try to push his thoughts out of my head. Instead, I arced around them and entered his head again, connecting back into his thoughts the way he was connected to mine. There's nothing like sex while your mind is connected to the other guy's, both of you feeling everything each other feels. And sometimes mind control is a two-way street--no rule says I couldn't take a little light influence over him while he still had me partly under his power.
When he realized I was in his head again, when he realized the unbearable pleasure was feedback from what I was feeling, he gasped and accidentally let my cock pop out of his mouth, but he didn't try to push me out of his head. I'd been anchored inside his thoughts earlier, and I was experienced--I stayed right where I was.
"That's good, Andrew," I said. "We'll do this together."
I pushed him down on the mat, and I joined him there, my head at his crotch, my crotch at his head. My cock nudged his lips, and he opened his mouth, and he accepted it inside. My lips kissed his ball sack, then traced along his shaft to the head, and swallowed the first two inches of his shaft.
Get comfortable with your gag spot again, I thought into his head. When you're ready, it'll open up if you try.
Just like that. You ready, pal?
I took his grunt for agreement. My hips pushed forward gently. He made a couple of choking sounds but didn't retreat. Time for some encouragement: C'mon, Andrew. You can do it, buddy. I gave his pleasure centers a little incentive prod.
I increased the pressure as he strained harder. He made one last sputtering gag as I felt my prick head slip past the barrier. He took the rest of my full length with a quick, determined swallow and held it there deep in his throat, inhaling the air filtered through my pubes.
Excellent, man! I congratulated. I slid my mouth down his shaft, pulling his into my throat too. Damn, his large cock head was a challenge!
I started moving my mouth up and down his shaft. He figured it out and mimicked me. He let my prick slip out of his mouth slowly, applying suction all the way, just like I was doing to him, each of us holding the others swollen head in his mouth when he reached the tip and giving it a sloppy flourish with his tongue before taking another plunge that drove his nose back into my bush. Further instruction wasn't necessary.
I don't know how long it went on. One of the side effects of mind control is you sometimes lose track of time. The waves of pleasure moved from my crotch, up my back, and down my belly--the waves of pleasure moved between us through the connection, his thoughts in mine, mine in his, in a cycle of undulating intensity. I considered telling him he didn't need to deep-throat me on every stroke, but he was already doing it, and doing it well. And, frankly, I was too pleasure-blitzed to communicate easily. It was only as I felt my balls drawing up with that incomparable feeling of inevitable orgasm that I remembered the task at hand. I wanted Andrew to be properly prepared to handle a man's ejaculation in his mouth and the intensity of a man's orgasm in his head.
I caressed his hair. Both of us breathed raggedly through our noses with our mouths stuffed full of cock.
Whose thought was that?--His or mine? Didn't matter.
I put an image in the front of my mind, something I wanted Andrew to do to me that always sent me over the edge. He picked up on it immediately. His free hand slipped past my churning nuts, between my legs, and found my asshole in the furry thatch. Rub it, I instructed.
His exploration of my asshole didn't interfere with his sucking; in fact, he sucked even harder as he fingered my hole. I tried to pull out of his mouth, so I won't have to cum in it, but he surprised me by not letting go. He grabbed my left butt cheek so hard his fingernails dug into my flesh. He shoved his face determinedly back down the length of my pole and held it there. His thoughts clamped down hard on my mind--my student had me completely under his control again. He shoved his middle finger up my ass and waggled it deep in my guts. My sphincter promptly clenched down on it. The thought Cum! exploded in my head. My body spasmed--his cock popped out of my mouth--he jabbed hard at my pleasure centers--my body and the entire world erupted at once.
I shot my load down his throat. He held me there, without gagging. Only after my convulsions subsided did he start to release my cock, and even then he let fat member slip slowly from his mouth, wagging his tongue back and forth on the bottom of the stalk as he went. When the head finally emerged from between his lips, he gave it a slimy kiss, and then fell back, exhausted, on the pile of his discarded clothes.
That's when I saw the puddle of semen on the mat. He'd cum while I was cumming, all of it mixed together through our mental connection. His half-flaccid prick flopped across his muscular thigh. A single drop of his leftovers glistened in his cock slit.
I rolled onto my back on the mat, planting my ass on my discarded briefs.
He massaged his jaw. "How'd I do, Paul? Compared to your other guys you gave lessons to, I mean."
"You did better than nearly all of them, buddy. You get an A."
"Nearly all?" he said, in a fake-jealous tone.
I gave his left nipple a playful tweak. "No shit. You've got a natural talent. I predict that you're gonna get a field assignment for sure once training is over. And I predict you're be making a lot of men very happy sexually too."
"Thanks," he said. "But all I need is one. Tell me--that hardcore guy I mentioned, am I good enough to keep him interested? I mean, I want to ask him out, but I don't want him to be disappointed."
"Andrew, you're way more than ready for it." His lack of self-confidence was starting to exasperate me, in spite of the languid afterglow that still tingled along every nerve in my body. "Come on, man. You're sweet, you're intelligent, you're hot as hell, you've got a strong Talent, and you give great head. Any man would be nuts not to give you a shot. Like I said, it's all about the attitude. You should just go up to this guy, look him in the eye, and say, `Okay, you lucky guy, you're going out with me, and that's that. Let's go!'"
He grimaced. "That's so corny. You really think that would work?"
"I guarantee it. I guaran-damn-tee it."
Andrew rolled over onto his stomach, propped himself up high on his elbows, and looked me straight in the eye. Here was a possibility that had not crossed my mind until right then. "Okay, you lucky guy," he recited gamely, "You're going out with me, and that's that. Let's go!" He smiled, and I loved how his steel-blue eyes sparkled. He added, "And bring a condom. You still have to tutor me in butt-fucking."
Hell if my cock wasn't rising all over again. "I'll bring the whole box," I replied.