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Once upon a time, John Marcone got the impression I was a deeply kinky individual. It wasn’t my fault; if he didn’t have a fetish for cataloguing every aspect of my existence, then we probably would have carried on as we had before, mutually satisfying rounds of handjobs, blowjobs, and fucking. Things we discovered liking as we went along, learning one another’s bodies in the same detail as we knew one another’s souls. Except, apparently not. Apparently there was a lot more to learn, and I’d never realized.

I realized about five seconds after John jumped me. Literally.

“WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?” I yelled, slightly muffled by the way my face was pressed up against the paperwork on John’s desk.

“I’m going to give you what you want, Harry. Even if you can’t bring yourself to ask for it,” John said, at the same time as he shifted his grip on my wrist, moving it a little further up my back which, hey, ow. I hadn’t got the memo we were fighting, but then John was using his bedroom voice, so maybe we weren’t fighting. Which didn’t explain why he was trying to dislocate my shoulder.

I took a calming breath and didn’t foraze John across the room. Instead, I did the next best thing. I called the cavalry; “HENDRICKS! HENDRICKS, WHAT THE HELL?”

The door opened, and John leapt away from me like a cat dropped in a puddle. “Perhaps you have a point,” John said. “This isn’t the right venue.”

“For what?” I pushed myself up into a standing position, rolling my shoulders gently. “There’s no right venue for bending me over your desk,” I said. Hendricks made a quiet choking noise; maybe I should have used my voice. “...uhm.”

Hendricks’ flat look was directed at John rather than me. Small mercies. But then he switched targets and I quailed. “Dresden, you got a two o’clock. Move it if you don’t wanna be late.”

“Oh shit. Yeah,” I said, not even stopping to wonder how Hendricks knew that, because he moved in mysterious ways. I stabbed a finger at John. “You’re explaining later. And apologizing.”

John frowned slightly, but he nodded, and that’d have to be good enough for the time being.

I ducked around Hendricks and out of the office, looking back when I realised Cujo was shadowing me. “What?”

“You got to talk to him,” Hendricks said in a tight voice. “Before he can think about it any more. Isn’t good for anyone when Marcone gets stuck on one idea.”

“Are you going to give me a clue?”

“No,” Hendricks said. “Just think about all the clues you’ve been leaving him, and then maybe discuss your preferences like grownups and leave me out of it.”

I scrubbed a hand across my face in embarrassment. “Right. Sorry.”

I scurried out of there a little confused, a little annoyed, and too distracted to wonder what Hendricks meant by ‘clues’.

 

We had dinner that night.

“Sorry,” John said. “I realize I should have warned you, but I got the impression you don’t like to discuss these matters. I thought a spontaneous approach might be best.”

“What matters?” I set my cutlery down deliberately, because ignoring food was a sure fire way to get John to give me his full attention. “What I don’t like is being manhandled in your office for no damn reason.”

“...Ah. Context is important, then? You’d prefer some kind of backstory?”

I stared at him. I understood all those words individually, but not the sentence he’d put them in. “What?”

John sighed. “Harry, we don’t have to discuss this if you don’t want to, but it is something I’m interested in doing for you. I know there’s very little you’re willing to accept from me, but my time and my attention... I’ll give them to you however you want.”

“That’s... nice?” I hazarded. This felt like a relationship discussion. A lot of the time relationship discussions involved me nodding quietly and frantically trying to catch up.

John set down his cutlery too. Clearly we were getting serious. “I want it to be more than just nice for you Harry. This weekend perhaps, are you free?”

I was, and I agreed to come over. I was missing something, but I just had to figure out the right questions. I’m a sucker for a challenge.

 

That Saturday, I stepped through the door of a house John owns in Lincoln Park, and then there was a hand in my hair and something cold pressed against my neck. “Do what I say and I’ll let you live,” I heard. I caught sight of my wide eyed reflection in the hallway mirror, John pressed up against my back, serious face visible over my shoulder and-- was that a butter knife?

“Uh... ok?” I said.

John met my eyes for a moment in the mirror and then sighed. “This isn’t working for you,” he said, disappointment bitter in his voice. He let me go, stepping away.

“Uh, no, hey, it’s working fine,” I said, puzzled. I don’t know what signals I’d been sending him that translated to please fake-menace me with cutlery, but John seemed so earnest; turning him down was like kicking a puppy. I turned to look at him properly, “but can I ask what brought this on?”

John crossed his arms, the yes-really-a-butter-knife clenched in his right fist. “You obviously have a healthy fantasy life. I admit I’m a little jealous of all the characters you spend so much time with and... Ah.” John paused. “Perhaps I’m doing this the wrong way around? Should you be holding the knife?” He offered it to me, handle first, like it really was sharp.

“Not unless I planned on buttering you, no. John, where’d you get the idea my fantasy life was so adventurous?”

“I pay attention. I’m sorry Harry. I don’t have much experience with this,” John turned away from me, and he looked so frustrated with himself. I’ve only ever seen that frustration directed at me, when I turned down his help. I wanted to reach out and pull him into a hug, but what actually happened was I reached out and caught hold of his wrist.

“Wait.”

John looked up at me in surprise, and I guided his hand back up towards my throat, resting the blunt metal against my adam's apple. It didn’t feel so blunt there. “Go on then. But if I tell you to stop, I mean it. I’m not playing.”

“Of course,” he said, eyes slightly wide, and I wanted to kiss the startlement right out of him, but I held still beneath the slowly warming metal. John licked his lips. “We’re-- we’re going to my room, Dresden. Keep quiet if you know what’s good for you.” His voice was rougher than usual, his dialogue a little cliche. John was playing a part, but I guessed he’d used knives in a lot of non-playful situations in the past; maybe he needed to ham it up to remember this was just a game.

I moved in silence, and we ended up with John behind me again, arm draped over my shoulder, knife tickling just under my jaw. I opened his bedroom door, and took a moment to check in with my body; not freaking out. Not particularly turned on either, except for my usual reaction to having John close and intent.

John trailed the knife down from my throat, down my chest, came to rest near my navel. And then he pressed the dull blade up under my shirt, against the trail of hair leading down from my belly button and I froze, abruptly. It didn’t make any sense, because I knew John couldn’t hurt me and didn’t want to, but suddenly my lungs were too tight and there were prickles running across the back of my neck.

“Lose the shirt,” John said. I did, and nearly elbowed him in the face in the process, which would have put a damper on his macho threat vibe. But John dropped the knife anyway, tugged one of my arms over his shoulder and then ducked to sweep my legs out from under me. I yelled, then realised I wasn’t falling onto the floor. I’d tipped into a bridal carry. John was carrying me.

“WHAT ARE YOU-- ”

John threw me onto the bed, then slapped his hand onto the bed post and said, “Snua,” in a clear voice. I almost said “bless you,” but then a rune lit up under his hands and goddamn ropes shot out of the headboard and snaked their way around my wrists, even as I tried to scramble away from them. I ended up on my back, flat against the mattress, hands bound tightly and drawn toward opposite bed posts. “Today’s episode is brought to you by the letter Y,” I muttered, as I tested the ropes. I couldn’t slip them by conventional means. It was a beautiful working, able to store enough magical energy that even John could command it. “ ...I never, ever, ever want to know what you told Gard to get these installed. What now, mastermind?”

“Mmm,” John said, looking down at me.

“Oh?”

“I didn’t quite realize how this would look.” John trailed a hand up my bare arm, teased across my wrist where it met the rope. I wiggled. John sat on the bed, leant forward, and brushed a thumb across my nipple. “The book from Monday,” he said. “They used clamps. Candle wax. But I thought that might be too much at first.” Books? What had he been reading? And what the hell did candles get used for in the bedroom? I didn’t get time to ask. Studiously, John rolled one of my nipples between finger and thumb and I twitched. Then he pinched, twisting just a little. I jerked, couldn’t bring my hands down to cover myself, and what was going to be an angry yell at him turned into a sharp little gasp instead, because that pain had shot straight to my cock and, what? ...Really?

“You like that,” John said, and he looked delighted, like a man stumbling across a treasure trove.

“Maybe,” I said. “Shut up.” John twisted harder, “Ah!”

John smiled again, and then dropped a kiss where he’d just pinched me. “Good.” He stayed there a little while, twisting and turning with various degrees of intensity while I started wiggling and twitching around in a way John seemed to find particularly fascinating. Writhing, my brain supplied helpfully.

“Jeans, ow,” I told John coherently.

He ran his hand lightly over my unhappy hard on. “Tuesday’s book had cockrings, and flagellation. And the last chapter resolved in a threesome.”

“Whoa, whoa, what?” I said.

“But I thought perhaps we should start with a vibrator,” John said. As I carried on flailing with confusion - he wanted to introduce electronics to the bedroom? - John finished stripping me, and then pulled some Thing out of the bedside table. Something phallic.

“No,” I said flatly, and John came and sat next to me.

“No?”

“I can sense the spellwork from here. You’re not sticking anything enchanted up my ass.”

John dropped it next to my right hand and I caught hold of it, tracing the edges of the working with my will. The Thing felt like cool, polished stone in my grip, a soothing tingle of power waiting beneath its surface.

“It’s benign,” John said, and I could feel the truth of it in my hand.

“Magic vibrator? You too good to do the heavy lifting yourself now?”

“I thought I’d suck you while I fucked you with it.”

“Mmphf,” I said, because sometimes I make stupid decisions when faced with a blowjob from John Marcone.

“Is that a yes?” he asked.

“Lots of lube,” I told him. “All the lube.”

“It’s no bigger than-- ”

“You aren’t made of stone. Even if you like to pretend sometimes.”

“Understood,” John said, and then kissed me slow and deep. He pulled away, and then rested the Thing against my lips, sliding it into my mouth gently. I sucked on it, like it was him, like he could feel my tongue caressing the bottom of the shaft. From the expression on John’s face, maybe he could.

John worked me open, slowly, patiently, like fingering me was an ends rather than a means. He slicked the Thing up too, and it was cold as he slid it home, unyielding, I caught my breath in my throat, hyper aware of my hands held tight above my head, of not being able to reach down and take control of the Thing being pushed into me.

“Comfortable?” John asked, and moved it in and out of me a little. I nodded frantically. Comfortable was a bit of a lie, but we weren’t really aiming for comfortable, and I didn’t want him to stop anything he was doing.

Hrista,” John said, and I looked down to see a brief flare of light. I knew a rune had probably shone out from the Thing, but I didn’t have time to think before the Thing came to life.

“JOHN!” I yelled, because that was oh, oh it was new, like someone had flicked a switch and set me to pleasure, and I didn’t know what to do with the arousal suddenly flooding through me. I pulled on the ropes, trying to get my hands down to my cock, to pull at my hair, to grab the bedding, anything. But I couldn’t, and I flailed out a couple of aimless kicks until John dropped his weight onto my thighs, firm hands pressing my legs further apart and still. “Johhhhnnn.”

“Wednesday’s book-- ” he said meditatively.

“FUCK THE BOOKS. Suck me off you bastard.” I clenched my fists, like I’d cheerfully have done in the collar of John’s shirt, jerking my hips up towards him as a hint.

He tutted. “Harry. Ask me nicely.” John bent his head, close enough to kiss the tip of my cock if he wanted to, but instead he just murmured hrista again, and I felt his breath whisper against me. The Thing shot into higher gear, shaking against me right where it mattered and stealing all my words away. I couldn’t ask him nicely if my life depended on it, instead I spat a desperate series of syllables. “GNK FRT BNG!”

“ ...As you wish,” he said.

John’s mouth was hot, wet, distracting, not distracting enough to let me forget the stone silently shaking away inside me, but a fantastic destination for the rising tide of pleasure inside me. I jerked a little too enthusiastically, hitting the back of his throat without warning. “S’ry.”

He pulled off. “Not a problem,” he coughed. “Hrista.”

I think I screamed. I know I closed my eyes, felt but didn’t see John’s hand wrap around my spit slick cock, jerk me roughly. The Thing moved, back and forth, and he was fucking me with it.

“Jn!”

“That’s it Harry, come on.” He slid the Thing back home, twisted his grip as he slid his hand up my cock, swept his thumb over the head just the way I liked it.

“Fuck!” I came all over John’s hand. I’ve never seen anyone so happy to be sworn at, and he fumbled his own cock out of his pants with messy hands, jerking himself off as the Thing still shook away inside me. “Stop! John!” I pulled at the ropes, tipping off the edge of frantic.

Letta!” he hissed, wide-eyed and apologetic, and the Thing died just as John finished, splashed across my spread thighs, my balls. He dropped down beside me, breathing a little unsteady. “Harry,” he managed, dropped a clumsy kiss on the corner of my mouth. My post-sex cuddling routine got kind of disrupted by the rope around my wrists. “John. Hands.”

He reached up, tugged at the ropes, and they released me, snaking back into the headboard. I had to poke that working later. Unless it was keyed to grab me every time, because I couldn’t spend my whole life in John’s bed. Even if he’d like me to try.

I wrapped my arms around him, tugged him close, and then laughed, because he was still fully dressed. Fly down, shoes off, and pretty mussed, but still clothed. “Books?” I murmured, nuzzling against a streak of grey at his temple. “Come on. Explanation.” Now he’d got it out of his system, whatever it was, and he was safely post-coital, I felt up to coaxing a reason out of him.

“Your books,” John yawned. “The ones you’ve been carrying in the pockets of your duster all week.”

I blinked. “My pock-- wait. Bob’s porn?” I’d had to ask Bob an unexpected number of favors recently, and he’d been getting increasingly specific about his requests for payment. “Hold on, what were you doing in my pockets?”

“Monday, when you stayed over. Tripped over your coat getting ready in the morning.” Because yes, John still hadn’t trained me out of the tendency to litter his bedroom with clothes. “Book fell out. The Warlord’s Wants. Got curious.”

Right. And I’d had a different book with me every day this week, splitting my time between combing disreputable adult bookshops, some rather intensive researching with Bob, and winding up John.

“Curious,” I repeated, and then tugged on his hair. “Idiot. Those weren’t mine. And stay out of my pockets, they aren’t always safe.”

John lifted his head, frowning slowly. “Not yours. Bob? Who?”

“None of your business.”

“You’re sharing porn with someone-- ”

“John,” I said, an edge in my voice. “The work things you do that you don’t tell me about? Bob is one of those things for me. I’ve never opened one of those books. They’re payment.”

“Oh,” he said, and if it wasn’t for the fact that John Marcone didn’t get embarrassed, I’d swear that was how he sounded.

“But maybe I should. I’ve got The Captive Princess with me. Fancy a bedtime story?”

John’s couldn’t-be-embarrassment vanished, and he gave me one of the small rueful smiles that meant he was laughing at himself. “Well, I’m definitely sitting comfortably. Why not?”