June 17, 2024

Monday

The elevator doors slid open with a ding, and Alex hurried inside, clutching his worn messenger bag. His heart skipped a beat when he saw Ben already inside, leaning casually against the handrail. 

Ben was gorgeous, with his dark hair messily swept back, bright blue eyes, and a slim athletic frame that was hidden beneath a white dress shirt, open at the collar. 

It had only been a week since Ben moved into the complex, but already, Alex’s daily routine consisted of trying to strike up a conversation with him.

Trying and failing.

“Morning,” Ben greeted, flashing a warm smile that made Alex’s stomach do flips. His eyes seemed to sparkle, making it even more difficult for Alex to concentrate on anything else.

“Uh, m-morning,” Alex stammered, cursing himself internally for not being able to speak coherently around Ben. Every time he tried, he would trip over his tongue, unable to form a proper sentence. It was frustrating, considering how easily Alex could discuss his favorite paranormal TV shows or the latest comic book releases with his friends. But when it came to talking to Ben, words failed him. 

Determinedly, Alex stared determinedly at the floor numbers lighting up above the door, trying to ignore the flutter of nerves in his stomach. He was acutely aware of Ben standing only a few feet away, so close Alex could smell his woodsy cologne. 

He longed to say something, anything to appear more interesting, but his throat felt dry. What could he possibly say to someone like Ben? 

“Nice weather we’re having, huh?” Ben ventured, breaking the silence.

“Uh, yeah,” Alex nodded, searching his mind for a better response. This was his chance to make conversation. “It’s good weather for ducks. I think. Or is that when it’s raining?” He fumbled. Oh God, why was he saying this? 

Only because he’d seen a picture of a duck on his social media feed that morning. “Oh hey,” he continued, unable to stop himself, “did you know some people are scared of ducks?” 

Ben shot him a bemused look. 

“It’s called anatidaephobia,” Alex rushed on, feeling his face flush with embarrassment. “I mean, I’m not scared of ducks or anything. I just thought it was interesting. Like, why would you be scared of ducks, right?”

Ben chuckled, a low and infectious sound that sent shivers down Alex’s spine. “I guess we all have our own fears,” he said, his eyes crinkling at the corners. 

The elevator rumbled to a stop, and then, much too soon, the doors slid open on the ground floor. 

“Have a good day,” Ben said, and then he was gone. 

Alex stared after him. 

Ducks. 

Why the *hell* had he talked about ducks?

Tuesday

Alex was determined. More than that, he was prepared. He’d spent the night scouring the internet for potential conversation starters, hoping to find something that would interest Ben. Something that would not lead him to talking about *birds.* 

A popular topic seemed to be sports, specifically football, so Alex looked up the scores from last night’s game despite not having watched it himself. He could do this. Today was going to be the day. 

As the elevator arrived on his floor, though, his nerves fluttered. 

What if he messed up again? What if he said something stupid? What if Ben thought he was boring?

Taking a deep breath, Alex stepped into the elevator. Much to his surprise, Ben was already inside, leaning against the back wall with his arms crossed.

“Hey,” Ben greeted, his eyes lighting up at the sight of Alex. 

“Hey,” Alex replied, feeling his confidence waver. 

The elevator hummed around them, the silence stretching between them. Alex fidgeted, his mind going blank. He couldn’t remember a single thing he’d read the night before. 

Something about sports. 

“So, uh,” he said, forcing the words out, “did you watch the game last night?”

“Game?” Ben tilted his head, looking momentarily puzzled. “The football game?” 

“Yeah, that.” A lump formed in Alex’s throat. 

“Yeah, I’m not really into that,” Ben said, smiling even as Alex’s heart sank. “Was it a good game?” 

“Yes, um…” Alex tried to recall the scores he’d looked up, but he drew a blank. There wasn’t space in his mind for anything but this gorgeous man’s attention on him. “I liked it when this one guy kicked the ball really hard.” 

Ben looked at him for a moment, and then he laughed so hard his whole body shook. “I’m sorry,” he said, catching himself. “That was just too cute.” 

Alex’s face burned with embarassment. His cheeks flushed so hot it took him a second or two to even begin processing what Ben had said. 

He thought Alex was ‘cute’? 

Did that mean…?

Fuck, what did that mean?

Before Alex could ask, the elevator reached the ground floor, spilling them out. 

Ben waved at him with another smile, then he left. 

Mentally, Alex kicked himself. 

Wednesday

Alex hesitated outside the elevator, anxiety gnawing at his insides. 

Should he just take the stairs instead?

Less risk of embarassing himself that way. 

It was really only a few floors and the exercise might do him good. 

*No,* he told himself. *You don’t get to chicken out.*

Ben’s smile flashed before his mind’s eye as he pressed the elevator button. The way the man had looked at him yesterday… 

Alex swallowed hard. 

The elevator arrived, but when the doors slid open, Ben was not inside. 

Alex slumped. 

Thursday

Alex half-expected the elevator to be empty again when he called it Thursday morning, but he was in luck. 

“Morning, Alex,” Ben greeted, that ever-bright smile making an appearance once again.

“Hey,” Alex managed, trying to keep his voice steady as they stood next to each other in the confined space. The elevator hummed softly as it descended, amplifying the awkward silence between them. Alex could feel the weight of his own insecurities pressing in on him, smothering any chance of a natural conversation.

“Did you catch the football game last night?” Ben asked, completely casually.

Alex’s face burned.

He was going to die. 

How was it that only stupid things came out of his mouth when he was around Ben?

“Sorry,” Ben apologized. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.” 

“You didn’t!” Alex said quickly, and then the awkward silence swept back in because he didn’t know what else to say. 

Around them, the elevator made that odd creaking sound that it made sometimes, as if it were mocking him. “This thing’s supposed to be haunted,” he blurted out. As soon as the words left his mouth, Alex’s face burned bright again. What was he thinking, bringing up such a geeky topic? Ben would surely think him childish or worse, laugh at him. Desperate to backtrack, he added, “Not that I believe in that stuff, of course.”

Ben raised an eyebrow, glancing sideways at Alex. “Haunted, huh?” he asked, amusement dancing in his eyes. “Tell me more.”

Alex hesitated, wondering if Ben was merely humoring him or genuinely interested. Finally, he decided to take the plunge. In for a penny, in for a poltergeist. “Well, they say that late at night, you can hear strange noises coming from the elevator shaft: whispers, footsteps, even laughter. Some people have reported seeing shadows move across the walls when no one else is there.”

Ben leaned in. “Really?” he asked, and Alex could hardly believe it. Was Ben actually interested in what he had to say?

“Yeah,” Alex said, feeling a smile tug at the corners of his lips. “Some people think it’s just the old machinery acting up, but others swear it’s something paranormal. There’s even a local legend about a man who died in the elevator, and his ghost still haunts it to this day.”

Ben’s gaze locked onto Alex’s. “Do you believe in ghosts?”

Alex’s heart leaped in his chest. “Yes,” he squeaked. “I mean, there’s *got* to be more than what we can see, right?” 

Ben looked at Alex for a long moment that seemed to stretch on as Alex tried to puzzle out what the other man was thinking. Did he think Alex was a nutcase for believing in ghosts? 

But then Ben’s lips curved into a smile, and Alex’s pulse sped up. “I’ve wondered,” Ben said, but before he could specify *what* he’d been wondering about, the elevator came to a halt. 

They’d reached the ground floor. 

Usually, Alex felt the ride was too long. Today, it felt too short. Way too short. 

“Enjoy your day, Alex,” Ben said. 

Alex could do nothing but nod. 

Friday

Alex’s heart was pounding as he stepped into the elevator on Friday morning. He’d spent the whole night thinking about Ben, and the way he’d leaned in to listen to Alex’s story about the haunted elevator. He’d replayed the conversation in his mind over and over again, trying to find any hint of interest or attraction in Ben’s words. 

But he couldn’t be sure if he was just imagining things. Maybe Ben was just being friendly. Maybe he didn’t really care about Alex at all. 

As the elevator doors slid open and Alex found Ben inside, stomach did a flip. He tried to act casual as he walked in, but his eyes kept flicking over to Ben, taking in the way his black hair fell over his forehead, the way his lips twitched in a way that made Alex’s heart race.

God, Alex was in trouble. 

“Morning,” Ben said, and there was something in the way he said it that made Alex’s breath catch in his throat. 

For a moment, neither of them spoke, and Alex could feel his nerves getting the better of him, his mind racing with possibilities of what he could say to break the tension. 

But before he could think of anything, Ben spoke up. 

“You know,” he said, “I was thinking about what you said yesterday about ghosts.” 

Alex’s gaze snapped to Ben. “Yeah?” 

“My grandma died when I was a child,” Ben said. “I used to stay over at her house sometimes, and I always felt her presence even after she passed away. I know it sounds crazy, but I swear I heard her voice calling my name once.” Ben’s voice was low and hesitant, as if he was unsure of Alex’s reaction. 

Alex’s heart was pounding in his chest. “I believe you,” he announced, maybe a little too firmly.

Ben’s gaze flicked up to meet Alex’s, and in that moment, Alex knew that he wasn’t imagining the attraction between them. A soft smile graced Ben’s features. “I thought you might. No one else ever did.”

“That’s because people are stupid!” Alex said, surprised by the vehemence in his own voice. 

A spark of amusement lit up Ben’s face. “But you’re not?” 

Alex’s cheeks heated again. “I… uh….” 

“Relax.” Ben laughed. “I’m only teasing you.” 

The elevator dinged to a halt once more.  

As the doors slid open, Alex’s heart was in his throat. 

“Have a good weekend,” Ben said, and Alex nodded dumbly, stepping out of the elevator and onto the ground floor.

Why was the ride always over so soon?

Saturday 

Alex didn’t work on Saturdays, and he didn’t see Ben in the elevator that morning. In fact, he didn’t think he’d see the other man all weekend, except that he ran into him when he went to do his laundry in the basement. Ben was taking clothes out of the dryer, but he looked up when Alex came in. 

“Hey, Alex,” Ben greeted him in a warm tone of voice, which immediately made Alex’s throat close up. He still couldn’t believe that Ben was talking to him, smiling at him. 

“Hey,” he replied, trying desperately to keep his cool. 

As he loaded his laundry into the machine, he couldn’t help but steal glances at what Ben was doing. For some reason, there were a couple of skirts included in Ben’s pile of laundry. 

“My sister’s,” Ben said when he caught Alex looking. “She’s letting me stay at her place, so it’s the least I can do to help out with her chores.” 

“You’re staying at your sister’s placed?” Alex asked, stumped. He’d thought Ben had moved in, that they were neighbors now. Like, permanent neighbors. 

“Only for a little while,” Ben said, oblivious to Alex’s thoughts. “My old landlord turned out to be a homophobic piece of shit, but I’ve found a new place that I can move into next week.” 

That was way too much information for Alex to process all at once. 

None of it was good, though, except for the part where maybe his hopes about Ben being gay turned out to be correct. Possibly. 

As if reading Alex’s mind, Ben flashed him a smile that sent shivers down his spine. “I’m lucky to have a sister who’s so accepting,” he said, and Alex felt a pang of envy. He’d never had anyone in his life who was accepting of his sexuality, and it made him feel even more isolated than usual. 

But then Ben was bending down to pick up the last of his laundry, and Alex’s eyes were drawn to the curve of his ass in his tight jeans. He couldn’t help it. 

The image stayed with him for the rest of the day, as he tried to go about his usual routine of reading, watching TV, and maybe playing a few video games. But none of it held his attention for very long. 

What if Ben moved out before Alex had a chance to make a move? 

Not that Alex even knew *how* to make a move…

He’d never been very good at that sort of thing. Somehow, the monsters he slayed in his roleplaying games were way less scary than the thought of talking to someone he liked. 

And maybe asking him out for coffee…

What was up with that?

Deciding that he needed a change of scenery, Alex headed out to the comic book store. 

There, he ran into a couple of old friends. 

It was late by the time he got home. 

Saturday – Five minutes to midnight

Alex unlocked the front door of the apartment building, stepped into the lobby with the mailboxes and headed for the elevator. It was almost midnight, and he was exhausted from spending the day with his friends. All he wanted was to go to bed and sleep off his anxiety about Ben. 

But the stupid elevator wouldn’t come. 

Alex jabbed the button again and crossed his arms in front of his chest, looking up at the numbered display, which wasn’t changing. For some reason, the elevator was stopped on the third floor. 

Was it broken? 

That would be just his luck. 

Frustrated, Alex was about to give up and take the stairs when he heard a sound behind him. He turned to find Ben walking towards him, a small smile on his lips. 

“Hey,” Ben said. “Elevator acting up?” 

“Yeah,” Alex said, feeling his heart rate spike. “It’s been stuck on the third floor for a while now.” 

“I’ve noticed it does that sometimes when I call it in the morning.” 

“Yeah?” Alex couldn’t think of anything more intelligent to say as Ben stepped closer to give the button another push. He smelled like freshly washed clothes and a hint of cologne, and Alex had to force himself not to lean in closer. 

Ben’s gaze met his, one eyebrow raised, making Alex realize that he’d been staring–and that he’d been caught. 

Alex’s mouth opened to apologize, but no sound came out. 

Why was he acting like such a damn idiot? 

“I’m sorry,” he stuttered, but before he could explain himself, the elevator suddenly arrived, opening its doors. Ben stepped inside, gesturing for Alex to follow. “No need to apologize,” he said with a chuckle. “Were you out drinking?”

“No!” Alex hurried to say as he pushed the button for his floor. “Were you?” 

“I don’t drink.” 

“Neither do I! At least, not often.” 

Ben’s eyes slid to him, and Alex’s heart beat in his throat as he shared the confined space with the other man. The tension between them was palpable, and Alex couldn’t help but wonder if Ben felt it too. 

But then the elevator jolted, and the lights flickered before going out completely. 

“What the hell?” Alex muttered, feeling his panic rising. He wasn’t claustrophobic, but being stuck in a pitch-black elevator wasn’t his idea of a good time. 

But then he felt Ben’s hand on his arm, and his whole body went still. 

“It’s okay,” Ben said, his voice low and soothing. “I’m sure we’ll be moving again in no time.”

Suddenly, Alex didn’t *want* the elevator to start moving again. He wanted to stay in this moment with Ben, in the darkness, with Ben’s hand on his arm. He wanted to know what it would feel like to have Ben’s hand on his face, to have Ben’s lips on his. 

“It’s probably just a power outage,” Ben said. 

“Yeah,” Alex managed to say, trying to ignore the heat spreading through his body from where Ben’s hand was touching him. 

They stood in silence for a few moments, until Alex’s eyes adjusted to the dark, and he could make out Ben’s silhouette in front of him. 

The tension between them was still palpable, but it was different now, charged with something else entirely. Alex could feel his body responding to Ben’s proximity, his breaths coming faster and shallower. 

“Funny, isn’t it?” Ben’s voice cut through the silence. “How we keep meeting in this elevator.” 

Those meetings were always the highlight of Alex’s day, but he didn’t say that, didn’t feel like he could say anything with his breath stuck in his throat. He nodded, but wasn’t sure how much good that did in the dark. 

The elevator made a sharp creaking sound, making Alex jolt. 

Ben steadied him with his grip, and Alex’s heart rate sky rocketed. 

Ben blew out a breath, and Alex felt the warmth of it against his neck. “Maybe this thing really is haunted,” Ben muttered, but he sounded almost amused about it. 

“You think it’s a ghost trapping us here? But why?”

“I don’t know,” Ben said.  

“But maybe it’s trying to tell us something.” 

Alex’s stomach flipped at the suggestion. Was Ben flirting with him? Was he imagining it? He couldn’t tell in the dark, but he hoped it was the former. 

“Tell us what?” Alex asked, trying to keep his voice steady. 

Ben moved closer, his hand sliding up Alex’s arm to rest on his shoulder, as if he was testing his boundaries, how far Alex would let him go. “What do you think?” he asked. 

Alex wasn’t thinking at all. He couldn’t, not while his heat beat so loudly it drowned out every other sound in his head. 

This was his chance to act. He’d never get another like this. 

With a sudden rush of courage, Alex leaned forward and pressed his lips against Ben’s. Or rather, he pressed his lips where he thought Ben’s were. In the dark, he missed by a good inch and kissed Ben’s nose instead.

Ben laughed, and Alex could feel the vibrations against his face. “Not quite,” Ben said, his hand moving from Alex’s shoulder to his cheek. “But I appreciate the effort.” 

Alex’s face was burning with embarrassment, but he couldn’t bring himself to pull away. Not when Ben’s hand was still on his cheek, not when he could feel Ben’s breath on his lips. 

“Let me try again,” Alex whispered, and this time he aimed better, pressing his lips to Ben’s. 

Ben responded immediately, his hand moving from Alex’s cheek to the back of his neck, drawing him closer. Alex’s heart pounded in his chest as their tongues met, dancing together in the dark. 

Ben let out a soft groan, clutching Alex close as he deepened the kiss. 

When they finally broke apart, panting, Alex’s head spun. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

Ben pressed their foreheads together with a quiet laugh. “I’ve been wanting you since I first saw you. I just couldn’t tell if you were gay.”

“Wait… really?” A thrill surged through Alex. He *still* couldn’t believe this was happening. What could a man as gorgeous as Ben ever see in a geek like him? 

“Really.” Ben’s smile was audible in his voice, but there was something darker in his tone as well. Desire. Desire for *Alex.*

Ben’s hands slid down to Alex’s hips, pulling him closer, making adrenaline shoot through Alex’s veins as he felt the hard line of Ben’s erection pressing against his thigh. 

“Believe me now?” Ben rocked his hips, grinding against Alex in the dark. “This is what you do to me.”

Alex moaned, his own cock twitching against the confines of his pants as heat pooled low in his belly. He wanted this, wanted Ben, so badly he couldn’t stand it. 

Ben’s lips brushed the shell of his ear. “Let me take care of you.”

The words sent a shiver down Alex’s spine. He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. 

Ben slid to his knees with a soft thud. Alex heard the rasp of Ben’s zipper in the silence, then the damp heat of Ben’s mouth enveloped him. 

Alex cried out, hands scrabbling for purchase on the elevator wall. Ben hummed around his length, the vibrations shooting pleasure through every nerve. 

“Oh god, Ben…” Alex gasped. He buried his hands in Ben’s hair, struggling not to buck his hips. 

Ben set a relentless pace, hollowing his cheeks on every upstroke. His tongue swirled maddening patterns under the head of Alex’s cock, pushing him closer and closer to the edge. With each pass over Alex’s sensitive tip, the pleasure built higher and higher until he was a trembling mess of want and need. 

“Ben…” he whimpered the other man’s name in the darkness of the elevator as Ben’s fingers cupped his balls, playing with them as he sucked Alex’s cock with increasing urgency. Alex’s breath came in short, sharp gasps as Ben’s tongue circled the head of his prick, then plunged down the shaft. The coil of heat in Alex’s belly grew tighter, white-hot pleasure building with every slide of Ben’s lips. He was close, so close—

 “I’m gonna…”

Alex’s stomach tightened. He tried to hold out, tried to draw the pleasure out for as long as he could, but Ben’s skilled mouth was too much. With a cry, Alex came, his body bucking as he shot his cum into Ben’s willing mouth. 

For a long moment, Alex was aware of nothing but the pleasure washing over him, the feeling of Ben’s mouth on his cock and the way his fingers were still playing with Alex’s balls. 

Slowly, Alex sank to the floor of the elevator, chest heaving. He groped through the darkness until his hands found Ben’s face, pulling him in for a deep, languid kiss. 

“I’m never going to look at an elevator the same way again,” Alex murmured as they parted.

Ben chuckled, the sound rumbling in his chest. He stood, gently pulling Alex up with him. “Do you think the ghost was watching us?”

Alex’s face heated. 

Naturally, that was the moment the lights flickered on and the elevator jerked back to life. 

“That’s convenient timing,” Ben commented. He reached for Alex once more and tucked him back into his pants, getting done just before the elevator doors opened on Alex’s floor. 

Alex stared at the open doors, unsure what to do.

He couldn’t just… leave… like this, could he?

He looked at Ben. “Would you… I mean… Do you want to…?” Lacking the words, he gestured vaguely, skin still hot. 

Ben smiled. “I’d love to.”

“Oh.” Alex felt himself go from blushing to flaming.

“Yeah.” Ben’s smile turned wicked at Alex’s flustered expression. He ran his thumb over Alex’s lower lip, the gesture so tender Alex almost melted in relief. “I was starting to think you’d never ask.” 

Alex probably would not have, if not for that power outage. 

The elevator creaked again as they left it, as if it was laughing at them. 

Alex was convinced now, that thing was definitely haunted. 

Did he really have any room to complain, though? 

Not many people got a haunted elevator to be their wingman. 

As Alex fumbled with his keys to open the door to his apartment, he glanced at the elevator one last time. 

A shudder went down his spine.

He might not have any room to complain…

But starting tomorrow, he was going to take the stairs. 

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