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that was called love (the workers in song remix)

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Sebastian had clothes and supplies laid out on the bed for Erik. Erik looked them over: black leather pants, belt, black shirt, black lace-up boots. Half a dozen condoms, a few lube packets. No underwear to speak of.

"Go ahead and get dressed. Leave the pants unzipped. Come on out to the living room when you're done."

Erik nodded, and once Sebastian had disappeared out to the living room, Erik dropped his towel and got dressed. He slipped the lube and condoms into his pocket, and with his cock tucked down alongside his left thigh, he headed out to meet Sebastian.

Sebastian was sprawled across the couch, but once Erik was there in front of him, he sat up, reaching to the coffee table for the last few pieces of Erik's outfit. The first was a metal cock cage-- metal, damn. Erik held his breath while Sebastian slid the base ring up and over his cock, not being gentle about it as he pressed Erik's balls through the ring to hold it in place. Just as well, though, because the smooth cool feel of the metal sleeve fitting over Erik's cock probably would have gotten him hard under other circumstances, and that was something he couldn't afford to have happen now. The sleeve barely fit as it was; it definitely wasn't comfortable enough he could ever have forgotten about it.

Sebastian fit the lock into the cage and fastened it, caressing the metal sleeve as he stepped back. "Perfect," he murmured. "Zip up."

Erik tucked his shirt in and carefully fastened his pants, buckling the belt as well. Sebastian was already reaching for the final accessory, and he made a fast rotating gesture with his hand, indicating Erik needed to turn around.

As soon as he did, Sebastian set a hand on his shoulder and shoved, pushing Erik onto his knees. The collar was no surprise, but having it cinched on fast and tight still made Erik struggle for the first moments, both hands coming up to grab at it. He wasn't choking, Sebastian knew exactly how tightly to buckle the collar, but that momentary burst of fear and panic was enough to get Erik's heart racing as Sebastian finished with the collar and walked around him, tilting his chin up to get the full effect.

"Absolutely gorgeous. They're going to love you." He pressed his thumb against Erik's mouth; Erik parted his lips and took the tip of Sebastian's thumb between them. Sebastian pressed in a little deeper, rubbing the pad of his thumb against Erik's tongue. "Blow somebody tonight. Anyone you want. If something else happens..." He shrugged. "You've got stuff for that. Make sure they use it."

Erik nodded, and Sebastian patted his face gently before walking away. Erik took a few deep breaths to compose himself and came to his feet, pausing just long enough to grab his keys before heading out the door.

The club was loud and the clientele anonymous; those were Erik's main qualifications. The lighting was dim enough no one took a second look at Erik-- although most of them probably wouldn't have recognized Erik by his face, anyway.

He got a few interested looks as he walked around the room. A couple of people were more flagrant about it, patting their crotches, licking their lips.

Near the bar, a man about Erik's age with wavy brown hair was sucking on a beer bottle, looking at the man on the bar stool beside him. The man Erik had zeroed in on was almost overdressed for this place: black trousers, a white button-down shirt that was open halfway down his chest, a black vest that matched the trousers. Part of a suit, maybe, but he'd lost the tie and the suit jacket somewhere along the way.

He set his bottle down and smiled, which made the rest of the room seem to fade out around him. Lips like that curved up in a smile as he looked someone else over-- God. The things Erik could do to a mouth like that...

He shifted a little, reached down to adjust the cage on his cock. It didn't help much; the cage wasn't designed to leave Erik comfortable at moments like this. There was nothing he'd be able to do to that gorgeous mouth, not tonight, anyway. It wasn't why he was out here, after all. He had orders. Blow somebody tonight. Anyone you want.

Fuck it. Orders were orders, and if it was about what Erik wanted-- well, he wanted the man at the bar, and to hell with whoever it was he was flirting with or here with or trying to pick up. Erik walked up to the bar, caught the man's eye, and there was no point in playing games or being subtle.

"Can I blow you?"

The man laughed. "I beg your pardon?"

It was loud enough he might have misunderstood, though Erik didn't think so. Erik leaned in a little closer, put his mouth at the other man's ear, and said, "Can I suck your cock?"

The man slipped his hand onto the side of Erik's neck, squeezing gently. His fingertips slid over Erik's collar, running back and forth along the edge of it. "Were you put up to this?" He leaned back to look Erik in the eyes. "Was this a dare?"

Sort of. Erik shook his head. "I was in the mood to blow someone."

"And you picked me."

"Unless you've got other plans." Erik arched an eyebrow, tilted his head back the slightest degree, toward the man his target had been watching earlier. If Erik was going to have to start over, he might as well find that out now. "Do you?"

The other man glanced behind Erik for a moment, his expression going wry and apologetic. "This always happens..."

"Don't worry about it, Charles, we'll catch up some other time." Now Erik did look back, watching as the man his target-- Charles-- had been, what, flirting with, talking to, catching up with-- slid off his bar stool and stood up. About Erik's height, dark brown skin, short Afro, broad shoulders, slim waist... very handsome, and slightly familiar. Erik narrowed his eyes, trying to remember if he'd seen this man before...

"Armando," he said, offering Erik his hand.

"Erik," Erik answered. He shook Armando's hand as Armando looked him over, a hint of recognition crossing his face, too. Maybe they'd run into each other here before. It was always possible. He'd been here often enough, and he couldn't remember half the people he'd fucked or who'd fucked him. He didn't think Armando was one of them, but maybe he'd been watching. Maybe Erik had watched him with someone else.

"Have a good night." Armando raised an eyebrow at Erik, then looked back at Charles and nodded. "See you around."

It left Erik able to turn his full attention back to Charles, and one question had been lingering in Erik's mind since Charles had said it... "This always happens?"

Charles slid both hands onto Erik's shoulders. "Absolutely. Gorgeous men in miles of leather always offer me blowjobs while I'm catching up with old acquaintances. They're almost always collared, too." Charles dug a fingertip just underneath Sebastian's collar. "Come on. You wanted to suck me? Let's go."

There, that-- Erik didn't need to be curious about Charles. Didn't need to wonder how close he and Armando were (old acquaintances, Charles had said, but that didn't explain the way he'd been looking at Armando, as though he'd been ready to pounce before Erik interrupted), didn't need to wonder how serious Charles was about this sort of thing happening to him often... all he needed was a free patch of wall and room to get on his knees.

Charles dragged him into the back room; he leaned back against the wall just like Erik had hoped he would. "Down," Charles said, and Erik dropped for him, reaching for Charles's belt only to have his hands brushed away. "Are you in a hurry?"

Erik sat back on his heels. "No."

"Then earn it. You'd like to earn it, wouldn't you?" Charles drew a fingertip down Erik's cheek. "A man comes into a bar on a mission, dressed up and collared..." That fingertip slipped under Erik's collar once again, and Charles tugged lightly. "It doesn't take much imagination to figure that you like doing what you're told."

"That's not--" Erik pulled back, pushed Charles's hand away from his collar. "This doesn't have to be complicated. I just wanted to suck you."

"Am I making it complicated for you?" Charles grinned down at him. "How much does that turn you on?"

Erik sucked in a breath and held it. Looking up into Charles's eyes, he could almost feel a pull happening between them, some kind of connection-- chemistry, he might have said once, back in the days when chemistry wasn't completely irrelevant to Erik's circumstances.

Chemistry was irrelevant. Complications were dangerous.

But Charles was crouching down in front of Erik, reaching between his legs, and Erik rocked up against the palm of Charles's hand purely on instinct. It wasn't as if he could feel that touch. All the same, the metal surrounding his cock was feeling tighter by the moment.

Charles's eyes went a little wide, and he groped harder, caressing the metal cage, his fingers lingering for a moment before he finally drew them away. "It feels like you bring all the complications to the table on your own. You're right; you don't need me adding more." He stood up again, leaning back against the wall now, and he unbuckled his belt, the inside of his wrist flashing pale and smooth as he did. Erik wanted his mouth on that patch of skin, wanted his teeth on it, but he'd have his mouth on something else in a minute, something he'd been told to put his mouth on. No complications. Just orders. That was all he was here for.

Charles unzipped, but Erik held still, raising his eyebrows. Charles wasn't... wrong, exactly, about Erik being the sort of man who liked doing what he was told. That was why he was here, wasn't it-- another night, another order, another one of Sebastian's twisted games.

It had just been years since he'd thought about it in terms of liking it. Earning things, instead of punishment or reward coming out of whims...

"Good," Charles breathed; too soft to hear, with the background noise being what it was, but Erik could read the word off his lips, almost feel it in his mind. "You're not in a hurry, I'm not going to want to give up that mouth any time soon... let's enjoy the anticipation, shall we?"

"If it's what you're into." Erik shrugged, rolling his shoulders back, and when the motion made Charles's eyes widen a bit, Erik drew his hands behind his back and folded them there. "Or are there other things you're into?" He raised an eyebrow. "Do you want me to earn it?"

"You're doing just fine as you are," Charles said, reaching out and sinking one hand into Erik's hair. He didn't draw Erik forward, though; he just held him there, looking into Erik's eyes, keeping him there. That look... part of Erik wondered if Charles was staring directly into his soul with that, and he flinched back, twisting out of his grip.

"It's all right," Charles said, but this time when he reached out, his grip was tight and solid, dragging Erik towards him. And that was better, that made sense. Erik let out a breath and leaned in, let Charles press his face to his open fly and took in his scent. A little sweat, all his own; a little musk; soap underneath everything. Erik groaned softly and flicked his tongue out, licked gently at the stiff white fabric of Charles's boxers. He might have been flirting, but Erik was the first man who'd gotten to him tonight. Charles was all his.

Charles tugged Erik's head back, his other hand coming down and slipping into his fly. "Say it again. Just like you did at the bar."

What the hell had he said... Erik licked his lips, staring at Charles's hand, his fly, the tease of knowledge that his cock was right there, and Erik was about to have his mouth on it. Orders, what had his orders been... Blow somebody. "Can I blow you?"

"Oh, yes, I'm going to let you blow me." Charles brought his cock out: hard, uncut, thicker than most. Not as long as Erik's, maybe, but long enough to choke on. "Did you bring condoms?"

Erik's mouth was already watering, his tongue slipping out to flick over his lips-- condoms, for pity's sake, yes, he nodded and reached into his pocket. He drew one out, opened the package, and slipped it into his mouth; a party trick, something he'd mastered ages ago, the first week Sebastian took him in.

"Well, I'm not going to leave you with nothing but a condom to suck on," Charles teased, tugging Erik's hair again. "Put it on me."

He held his cock steady as Erik ducked his head down, and then Erik pressed his tongue hard against the head of Charles's cock, holding the condom in place as he sucked gently and moved his mouth forward, an almost instinctive motion by now. Charles groaned, though-- maybe he hadn't seen it often enough for it to lose its novelty, maybe it was just the visual of Erik's mouth taking his cock in, or maybe it was the feel-- hot and tight, even if all the vivid sensation from having Erik's tongue licking up the underside of his cock was blunted by the condom.

Erik kept his hands behind his back, tried not to let the aching weight of the cage get to him too badly. Charles felt so good in his mouth-- the thick length of him filled Erik's mouth just right, just enough that Erik knew he'd be leaving here with a sore jaw and a hoarse throat.

I've got you, he thought, now fuck me.

Charles's other hand came up to the back of Erik's neck, and he rolled his hips forward, groaning with it. "Look at you," he panted, drawing Erik back slightly and then burying his cock in Erik's throat all over again. "Look at you, down on your knees like that... my cock in your mouth... hands behind your back... you're perfect, God, you were absolutely made for this."

Made for it or trained for it, it didn't matter which; Erik held still while Charles changed his grip, settled into a slow, easy rhythm, almost like he was getting to know Erik's mouth and his throat instead of racing for the finish. His fingers trailed down, traced Erik's face, his cheeks, touched his lips where they stretched around Charles's cock; he reached down and put his hand over Sebastian's collar, his thumb rubbing back and forth against the leather. As he started moving faster, he dug all four fingers underneath that collar, dragging Erik forward with it, too.

Erik could have told him to stop. He could have knocked Charles's hand away from that collar, let him know it wasn't the kind of collar that was meant to be played with or touched-- but this was too good, Charles's grip and his hands and the insistent, steady rhythm of his cock sliding in and out of Erik's mouth. He didn't want Charles to stop. He didn't want Charles to back off.

He wanted Charles's hand under that collar, and he wanted the lock on his cage opened; he wanted to pin Charles against the wall and fuck him; he wanted to bite that pretty throat of his until Charles was bruised; he wanted Charles to make him earn it, make him earn everything all over again, and this was all insane, it was more than he was supposed to want from a simple, straightforward blowjob...

Charles pushed Erik back, drawing his cock fully out of Erik's mouth, and stared down at him. His hair was mussed, his face flushed, he'd bitten his lower lip until it was swollen and red, and Erik could only stare back up at him, wanting him.

"If this were mine," Charles said, jerking at Erik's collar-- but that broke the mood, sent Erik's gaze back to the floor, and Charles let out an exasperated sound and caught Erik by the jaw. "Open. Open, you were here to suck me, don't stop now--"

That, Erik could give him. He opened up wide and let Charles in again, pushed his head forward with every one of Charles's deep, nearly-punishing thrusts, and when that wasn't enough, he got his hands in front of him and grabbed Charles by the hips, pulling him forward, forcing Charles to plunge harder into his mouth, deeper. He drew Charles in over and over, until Charles's hands were twisted into Erik's hair and he was shouting, curled in on himself and clutching at Erik with both hands. He held onto Erik as his cock pulsed and jerked, the condom leaving Erik feeling cheated. He wanted more than this, he wanted to taste Charles, lick him clean, God... anything, there had to be more than this.

Charles leaned back against the wall as he started to catch his breath, and Erik finally drew back, wiping his mouth with the back of his wrist. For all Charles hadn't given Erik his come, Erik had still come away from that messy, saliva slicking his lips and his chin. Charles hadn't gone easy on him, thank God.

After a while, Charles stripped the condom off, produced... a handkerchief, which almost didn't surprise Erik at all, and cleaned himself up with a few perfunctory motions. He got his clothes back in order, tucked the handkerchief back in a pocket, and offered Erik a hand up. Erik took it, coming off his knees in a smooth motion that had Charles looking at him all over again, head-to-foot.

"Are you here very often?" Charles asked, finally.

Erik hadn't managed to let go of his hand, and he rubbed the pad of his thumb over Charles's knuckles. "Not so often."


"But when I'm anywhere, I'm here."

Charles raised an eyebrow, nodding through that sentence as though he could actually make sense of it. "Maybe I'll see you, then."

"Maybe. Thanks for the--" Erik flicked his eyes down to the ground. "That."

"Same to you."

Back at home, Sebastian peeled Erik out of his clothes and dragged him into bed. He wrapped his hand around the cage, stroking the metal as if he were stroking Erik's cock. Erik groaned, hips twisting involuntarily. "Please."

"He really got you hot and bothered tonight, huh?" Sebastian chuckled. "I'll get it off you in the morning, maybe."

Maybe. Erik nodded. "All right. Thank you."

Sebastian squeezed the metal again. "You're welcome." He kissed Erik's forehead. "Good night."

It was a week before Erik got another order to go out. Worse this time, because the cock bondage Sebastian put on him was a set of metal cock rings bound together with a leather strap-- a Gates of Hell, it was called, and while it wasn't so bad now, with Erik not yet hard, it would be worse later.

"If you find somebody who can make you come through that, you have permission. Once."

"Thank you."

"Don't thank me yet, we're not done."

Sebastian pulled Erik back over to the bed and shoved him over the edge of it. Erik was used to being thrown around that way; he didn't lose his balance. When Sebastian kicked his legs apart, Erik braced himself-- no lube, this might hurt-- but instead of the jangling metal sounds of Sebastian unbuckling his belt, Erik heard Sebastian moving to the dresser again, the drawer rolling open, closed.

"Here we go. You might have some trouble keeping this in." There was a cool sensation, lube, not much of it... something cold, then, smooth, not very big, and Sebastian eased it inside him as if belonged there. Erik gasped. It was curved a little, just enough to be a tease, and it was metal, a metal plug inside him, God.

"Now you can thank me," Sebastian laughed. "And then you can get dressed."

Erik had to struggle for breath for a while before he could get the words out. "Thank... thank you."

"You're so predictable," Sebastian said, sweeping his hand up Erik's back. "Anything metal. Anything up your ass. I can't believe it took me so long to put two and two together. What can I say, I was old-fashioned, I liked the ones in the packages that read 'Large Ass Buster'. The look on your face when you opened that one..."

Erik didn't remember. Then again, right now he couldn't think of much: just the curved metal inside him and the rings around his cock, gripping him tightly. Sebastian wasn't wrong about Erik's fondness for metal toys.

"Go out. Get fucked. Make him put that back inside you before you come home, and try to keep hold of it. If you can't, I want to know."

"All right."

Sebastian tossed a pair of jeans and a loose grey t-shirt on the bed; he brought Erik's boots over and dropped those next to him. "Dress. Come out when you're done."

Moving around with the plug inside him wasn't easy-- it was so smooth, it kept sliding, he was sure he'd end up letting it slip out. The nervousness about dropping the damned thing was enough to keep the Gates from becoming too much of a problem, and by the time Erik walked out to the living room to see Sebastian again, he was less worried about anything getting to be too loose and more worried about whether or not he jingled when he walked.

"Knees," Sebastian said. The only thing on the coffee table tonight was the same simple leather collar Erik always wore to go out. Erik went carefully to his knees, the plug shifting inside him. This time Sebastian wasn't trying to startle him with the collar, merely fiting it on and buckling it.

"Don't wash up before you come home. Whatever mess he-- or they, hell, feel free to pull a train if someone offers-- whatever mess they leave on you, I want to see it."

Erik nodded, and headed for the door.


He paused with one hand on the doorknob, turning halfway, not looking at Sebastian.

"Have a good night."

"Is that an order?"

Sebastian laughed, and Erik almost smiled, too, as he left the apartment.

The chances of actually running into Charles again were nearly zero, but Erik headed for the same club anyway. The same club, the same walk through the club to the bar at the back, the same side of the bar-- the same man Charles had been talking to. Armando, Erik recalled, though he still hadn't managed to remember where he'd met Armando before.

Charles wasn't there, but Armando waved Erik over anyway. Erik headed for the bar; no reason not to, not if Charles wasn't an option. Armando was more than good-looking enough. Erik could imagine going home with him. He was mentally undressing Armando as he reached the bar.

Undressing. That was it. He remembered, now. "Armando," he said, as he reached the bar.


"You were in the XtaC underwear commercial last fall. I was in the lineup, too."

He could see the penny dropping for Armando, who nodded and said, "That's the one. I couldn't place you last time, but yeah, that's where we've seen each other before."

It was a relief knowing that he'd actually met Armando through work and not through-- other channels. On the other hand, it meant having to make small talk instead of simply getting down to business. "How have you been?"

"Not as good as--" Armando nodded over Erik's shoulder. "--Charles will be when he sees you."

Erik turned, and just in time; Charles was there, practically on him, and when Charles didn't stop coming forward, Erik just opened his arms, let Charles tackle him into a hug. A hug, all right, that was-- strange-- it wasn't as though they were old friends, they'd just hooked up once, a week ago.

And again, now, if Erik was lucky. "So what's on your agenda for the night?" Charles asked.

No better opening was going to come along, so Erik put it out straight. "Getting fucked."

"Fantastic. Yours or mine?"

As the back room didn't feature in those options, Erik answered, "Yours."

Charles waved at Armando, who nodded back at him. "I'll see you later." And that was that; Charles drew him away from the bar, out of the club, down the road. He hailed a cab, but promised Erik as it rolled up, "Don't worry. It isn't far."

In the back of the cab, Charles slid over, into Erik's space. Erik glanced down at him, blinking, but where they were going-- what they were about to do-- it didn't make much sense to pull away now. He sighed, and as Charles tucked himself in against Erik's chest, the only natural place to put his arm was around Charles's shoulders. Charles leaned up, brushed his lips against the side of Erik's jaw. Erik looked out the window, wondering just how far Charles's place might be.

Not so far, as it turned out. The cab dropped them off in front of a three-story brownstone, and Charles paid for the ride, leaving Erik to wait on the sidewalk as Charles caught up with him. Charles's eyes raked up and down Erik's body; when they lingered at Erik's cock, Erik took a breath. Seven metal rings, all reminding him that his body wasn't his to give away. He was here on orders, damn it.

Charles pushed close to him, pressing into Erik's space again. He'd been pushy both nights, but here Erik was, back for more. Erik wasn't going to back down if he could help it.

"Are you all trussed up again?"

Erik managed a smile. "You ought to let a man preserve some mystery. At least until we're somewhere private."

"Privacy is overrated," Charles dismissed, and heat streaked up Erik's spine. Careful. "I'm guessing you are," Charles went on. He glanced down the front of Erik's body as they walked toward the front door. "But it's not as severe as the last time." He looked up, caught Erik's eye for a moment before taking a key from his pocket. "You like it just as well, though. You liked it the last time, too."

"Do you need a hand with the key?"

"I've got it." Erik looked up at the building as Charles let them inside. It wasn't what Erik had expected; he'd imagined them heading for a tiny apartment, maybe something Charles was sharing with two or three other people. A place like this was more what he'd expect one of Sebastian's friends to be living in, someone who could afford to buy and sell people-- people like Erik-- people like the boy Erik had been, just a few years ago.

There were no lights on, and no sounds coming from inside the townhouse. No coats or scarves on the coat rack next to the door; no shoes by the bench just inside. Unless the rest of Charles's-- family, perhaps-- was on vacation, Charles lived alone.

He spared a moment to wonder how old Charles was-- he'd guessed early twenties, initially, but that was partly due to his spending time with Armando, who was definitely Erik's age. Twenty-two, twenty-three, getting to be old for a model... at some point, Sebastian's good grace and interest were going to wear out, and there'd be another boy heading out to the clubs, looking for someone to fuck him or someone to blow. He'd be all right, he was sure of that much, but he hadn't given a lot of thought to what he'd do when it was all over.

He wasn't going to waste time thinking about it now, either. Charles entered a passcode on the alarm panel, re-arming it, and Erik waited for Charles to turn back to face him. Charles gestured-- down the hall, Erik could make out the shiny stainless steel of a kitchen. "Do you want a--"

Erik grabbed Charles by the shirt and jerked him forward. It pulled Charles off his feet, but he got his arms around Erik's neck and matched him kiss for kiss, moaning against Erik's lips as he caught his balance. The minute his feet were planted, he pushed back, slamming Erik into the nearest wall and pinning him there.

"Don't talk," Erik whispered. "Just fuck me."

"Where have you been, I'd have fucked you every day," Charles shot back, but God, too much, it was too much to think about. Erik groaned, the steel rings of the Gates feeling tighter and tighter, and the plug-- he could hold onto it, was still holding onto it, but only just.

"Do you have a bed, or were you planning to fuck me in the hall?"

"I could." Charles stepped back just enough to have a good view of Erik's face. "I could put you on all fours right here, draw that plug out of your arse, make you beg for it before I fucked you." He came in close again, slipping his hand down the back of Erik's jeans. "I'm right, aren't I? You're-- ah, very nice," he breathed, his fingertips brushing against the smooth metal base of the plug. "Get your jeans undone."

Erik slid his hands between them, unbuckled his belt, unfastened all those buttons. It gave Charles more room to maneuver, and he rocked the plug into Erik a little harder, set it in more securely. Erik gasped, trying to arch against him, but he was trapped between the wall and Charles, cock completely hard now and hurting, God, hurting so much from those Gates. He bit his lower lip, muffling a groan.

"You come around collared and plugged and you tell me you need to get fucked-- who is he, who's telling you to do all this..." Charles's breath was hot against the side of Erik's neck. "Boyfriend? Lover? Partner?" He pressed a kiss to Erik's neck, just above the collar. "Owner?"

"Pick one," Erik whispered. "Close enough."

Charles drew his hand out from Erik's jeans and brushed Erik's hair back from his face. "You used to think you liked it. And now you put up with it, because you can't leave." Erik tried pulling away; Charles pinned him more securely against the wall, his hip twisting, pressing hard against Erik's cock. "But when you got sent out again you came back to that club for me. Tell me I'm wrong."

"You--" Erik turned into Charles's touch, Charles's fingertips resting against his temple. "You've got your own mind games, don't you."

"All sorts." Charles caressed Erik's temple for another moment before easing up, stepping away from Erik and leaving him to lean against the wall. "Come upstairs. You need to get fucked tonight? I'll fuck you."

Erik nodded and followed Charles upstairs; in a dark bedroom, Charles pulled off his clothes, tossing them into a corner, not bothering with a light. Erik hesitated, but in the end he stepped around to the other side of the bed, stripping down, climbing onto the bed with just the Gates of Hell around his cock and the metal plug up his ass. Charles met him halfway, levering him down on his back, straddling his thighs.

"It's a little late to get this off you..." Charles reached between them, curled his hand around Erik's cock. Erik gasped; Charles's hand was hot, much warmer than the metal, and the contrast of rings surrounding him and Charles's hand on him made Erik's heart race. He took fistfuls of the sheets, held on tightly. Charles gave Erik's cock a few hard, lingering strokes. "Are you even allowed to take it off, anyway?"

"No." Erik swallowed. "But if you can make me come despite it, I'm allowed to do that."

"If," Charles laughed. "Just once?"

"Just once."

"I'll have to make the most of it. It'll hurt." Charles raised an eyebrow. "Do you care?"

"No," Erik breathed, and when Charles bent down to kiss him again, he moaned, reaching up with both hands to sink his hands into Charles's hair. He could have kept kissing Charles all night; with Charles on top of him, he could have come this way. Just from the kiss, and Charles's weight on him. Charles was an amazing kisser, his tongue hot and wicked and just right, coaxing Erik's mouth open and giving Erik every reason to let Charles do whatever he wanted. It all felt so good, Charles tasted good, and Erik rocked up against him, the plug shifting inside him, the Gates tight but somehow easier to take now, much easier with Charles's hand still wrapped around him.

"You're dying for it," Charles breathed, his tongue curling over Erik's mouth between words. "You need it. Do you think I can't tell, that I can't read that off your body?"

"God. Shut up," Erik panted, tightening his grip on Charles's hair. "Shut up and fuck me."

Charles laughed and planted both hands on Erik's chest, levering himself up, shaking his head as he pulled loose from Erik's grip. "Of course I'm going to fuck you. What did you think we were here for?"

Endless mind games, as far as Erik could tell, but he held still as Charles slid back, pushed Erik's legs apart so he could kneel between them. He pressed Erik's legs to his chest, and Erik held them there without having to be told. Charles reached down, catching the base of the plug in his hand. "Metal all over. You were wearing metal the last time we met, too. Is that because he likes it, or is it for you?"

"Does it make a difference?"

"It makes a remarkable difference."

Erik hesitated, but was there any point? Charles could probably see it in his face, anyway. "It's mine. He likes it, but it's mine."

"He doesn't know what he has in you. He bores you, doesn't he. He sends you out and you look for something you can't get at home--"

Erik dropped his hold on his thighs and sat up, pressing his hand over Charles's mouth. "Do this, or I'll find someone who will."

He held Charles's gaze for a few seconds, until Charles nodded. Erik settled back into the bed. Charles's expression had gone hard, not quite blank, but he'd set his jaw, and when Erik lifted his knees to his chest again, Charles shook his head.

"Not like this," Charles said. "Roll over."

Erik put himself on all fours as Charles headed for the nightstand, coming back with a condom, more lube. Finally. Erik let his head drop down as Charles finished with the condom and put his hand on the base of the plug.

"All right?"


Charles drew it out; Erik gasped, both at the stretch as the plug came free and at the feeling of emptiness, after. He heard the cap on the lube snap open, and Charles was reaching for him, fingers cool with the lube and pressing hard inside him. Erik moaned; the Gates were going to kill him by the time this was through.

"You're loose enough, you can take this." Charles curled his fingers; Erik shivered in response. "Ready?"


It was all the warning Charles gave him; he drew his fingers out and was on him, pressing in hard, easing his way past tight muscle and seating himself in Erik's body. His hands went to Erik's hips, drawing him back further still. Erik locked his arms in place, shoving back as far as he could. "God."

"Is that good for you?" Charles squeezed Erik's hips, slid his hands down to press at the front of his thighs. "It's good for me, I want it to be good for you--"

Again with the goddamned talking-- Erik huffed out a breath in frustration, pulled forward, and shoved back again. "Fuck me."

Charles met that thrust with one of his own, one that made Erik throw his head back and gasp. "Ask me nicely."

Easy enough, Erik knew what an order like that meant. "Please fuck me."

Charles groaned and sped up-- God, so good, Erik could just hold himself steady and let Charles do the work. He could let Charles use him, let Charles push him and move him and shove into him, his cock opening Erik up and giving Erik what he'd needed--

He bores you, doesn't he. He sends you out and you look for something you can't get at home...

Erik hadn't had this in so long he'd forgotten it: this mindless pleasure, his body aching for relief and release, all while knowing he'd have to work for it. They found a rhythm together, Charles's hands tight on Erik's hips, and Erik let himself get lost.

"I've got you," Charles panted. One of his hands moved down, reaching around... taking Erik's cock in his hand. Erik groaned, hips jerking as Charles stroked him. "I've got you... do you still want to come?"

Under other circumstances Erik would have laughed, but for now he was grateful for the question. It would hurt, it'd nearly kill him, but he could, he knew. Charles could make him.

He nodded, looking over his shoulder so he could see Charles's face. "Do it," he said, bracing himself for the pleasure, for how much it was going to hurt to get to that pleasure. "I want it."

This time when Charles started up, he was brutal about it, no mercy, giving Erik stroke after stroke that sent Erik's cock thrusting through the circle of Charles's fingers. "When you can, do it," Charles growled, and Erik panted, head bowed low now, letting Charles's hand and his cock and the firm weight of his thighs take over Erik's entire world.

Another thrust, and another stroke, and Erik was held on the edge, breath drawn in as he waited to be pushed over. The moment stretched out for heartbeat after heartbeat, until Erik's chest was tight and he needed to come, he needed it as badly as he needed to breathe. It hit him in a rush, then, the pleasure taking him over, the tight ache of coming that way, but apart from the one rough yell he let out, the pain didn't matter-- he was there, consumed by the pleasure and the force of his orgasm, barely noticing the way Charles was crying out behind him, his cock slamming into Erik again and again.

He collapsed, and he brought Charles with him, and when Charles kissed his shoulder, Erik didn't flinch away. He closed his eyes and stayed there, catching his breath.

"Do you want a shower before you go?" Charles's eyes traveled down Erik's body as Erik scooped his t-shirt off the floor.

Erik shook his head. "I can't."

"God, what a waste."

"That's not your call."

"No." When Erik looked back up at Charles, Charles's lips were pursed, his eyebrows drawn together slightly. "Probably another week before you're back in the clubs, then?"

"I don't know."

"Can I see you again? We don't have to fuck. You're allowed friends, aren't you?"

Erik finished pulling his t-shirt on, threw his jeans over the foot of Charles's bed. "Would you put that back inside me, please?" He nodded at the plug, still lying on the bed where Charles had left it.

"You can't do it yourself?"


"Bend over."

Erik leaned over at the foot of the bed, and Charles came around, one hand sliding over Erik's hip before reaching down to hold him open. "Suppose I said this isn't his anymore. That it's mine." He pressed the plug against Erik's ass. "Would you believe it?"

"It wouldn't matter," Erik said quietly, staring at the rumpled bedcovers. "Do it, please?"

The plug went in easily, too easily. Erik was going to have trouble keeping it in all the way home. He'd get a cab; he could do that. "Thank you."

Erik pulled his jeans on, sat on the floor to take care of his boots. Charles was still undressed, and didn't seem to give a damn. It was hard not looking at him. It was hard getting these damned boots laced; the laces were knotted, and Erik's fingers felt numb and awkward on them.

"I want to see you again."

From the floor, Erik looked up, sighing. "Maybe we'll have the chance. It could be as early as next week."

"Does he monitor your phone? Can I give you my number?"

Erik scratched his hands through his hair. "We've met twice. We've done pretty much nothing but fuck-- why are you so damned determined? What do you know about me?"

Charles was in front of him in a heartbeat, his hand outstretched, his fingers tucked underneath Sebastian's collar. "Everything," he said, tugging, and Erik's eyes went wide.

It was a few seconds before he could pull away and come to his feet. "That isn't everything."

"It's enough to start with."

"I have to go."

"Wait." Charles grabbed him by the arm, swung him around so they were facing each other again. Erik stayed still as Charles came up on his toes and kissed him, but he couldn't stay still against that mouth for long. Charles might not know everything about him, but he knew that. Erik couldn't deny that much.

"I want to see you again," Charles murmured, lips brushing against Erik's as he spoke. "I'll wait for you."

"I don't know when."

"I'll wait."

Sebastian rolled him over on his stomach, drew the plug out-- Erik had managed to keep it in all the way home. He wondered if he really would have told Sebastian if he'd failed at that. Maybe. Maybe not. A year ago he wouldn't have thought twice: he'd have confessed. A month ago he would have told the truth.

"Did you have fun?" Sebastian asked, sweeping his hand over Erik's ass.

"As much as ever," Erik murmured.

"Get some sleep. You did fine tonight." Sebastian tousled Erik's hair. "I'll have to think of some new things for you to do for me. Maybe I'll have you call me the next time, let me listen in. How would that be?"

"Whatever you'd like," Erik said, eyes already closed. Sebastian might have said more, but Erik was already sinking deeper into his pillow, half-asleep and getting closer to sleep by the moment.

Days passed, a week, two weeks. Erik stopped wondering when he'd get to go out again, find someone, find Charles; he stopped thinking about whether Charles was right. He bores you, doesn't he...

He kept busy enough. There was work, usually, or there were all the little things meant to lead to work: photography sessions for new headshots, time at the salon, the kind of shopping that Sebastian expected his trophies to do. He was running late this morning, though, and he got in line at the coffeeshop, tugging the collar of his t-shirt up a little. A few days before he'd have to be on camera again; Sebastian had left him marked.

"You'll need a different shirt if you want to cover that."

Erik spun on his heel. Charles was behind him, hands tucked into his pockets, eyebrows up. "And hello to you, too," Charles added.

"Hello." Erik's palms felt as though they were already starting to sweat. He glanced back at the line ahead of him. He was next, but the line hadn't been moving very quickly. "This isn't your usual neighborhood."

"Things change." Charles shrugged. "Armando tells me you've booked a commercial for some sort of body wash. What's it like filming those? I hope their hot water supply doesn't run out easily."

"They're usually careful about that," Erik says. The small talk was-- odd, confusing. He looked Charles over. Unassuming, but he'd always been that. Today he was dressed in neat grey trousers, a charcoal sweater vest, a button-down shirt-- no tie, no jacket. His sleeves were rolled up to the elbows; Erik flicked his eyes down at Charles's forearms, took in the freckles and the pale skin. He remembered wanting to bite the inside of Charles's wrist, the first night they'd met; the instinct hadn't gone away. "Shrinking effects aren't what they want people associating with their product."

"Probably not," Charles said, lips curving up into a smile. He looked Erik over, slowly, head-to-foot, and it occurred to Erik that they'd had no opportunity to see each other in daylight, despite their two intimate encounters. Maybe that was why his heart was racing; finally getting to see Charles, outside dim club lighting or the few lights they'd managed to turn on at Charles's townhouse...

"So--" Small talk. Right. Erik barely remembered how to do that. "What brings you to...?"

Charles nodded, but not at Erik-- in front of him. "We're up next." He set his hand on Erik's shoulder and leaned in toward the barista. "Double espresso for my friend, and a tall Earl Grey for me, thank you."

Erik looked back at Charles, brow furrowing, but Charles met his look with a sunny smile and gently pushed him toward the cash register, where he handed over his card and paid for both drinks. The tea and espresso didn't take long; once Erik had his in hand, he stalked out of the coffeeshop, leaving Charles behind.

That didn't stop Charles from following Erik out to the street. "I hope you didn't need any sugar with that--"

Erik turned, pushed forward so far Charles had to lean back to avoid being knocked over. "I don't know what you think you're doing, but stop."

"Stop what? Buying coffee for a friend?"

"We're not friends."

"It's the nearest thing to a polite term there is for what we are."

"We're not anything." Erik shoved his espresso at Charles; Charles took it out of self-defense. "If he tells me to go out and get fucked, I'll look for you. That's as far as it's ever going to go. You don't have to ask Armando about me, you don't have to buy me coffee-- how you even knew I was going to be here, I'm not sure I want to know--"

"Because you have an amazing potential in you. I've felt it." Charles pressed Erik's espresso back against his chest, and this time Erik wrapped both hands around Charles's, held on. "I don't give up on people."

"You may not have a choice, this time."

"There are always choices." Charles left the espresso in Erik's hands, slipping his hand out of Erik's grasp. "Even for you." He stepped closer, his hand sliding into Erik's pocket, and no, unacceptable, not allowed, Sebastian would never forgive him, but he wasn't going to say no to Charles, not even if Charles wanted it to be here, on the street, a million people walking by...

Charles drew Erik's phone out of his pocket; one-handed, he navigated to the address book and added an entry, Charles, and his phone number. Once done, he slid the phone back into Erik's pocket. If he noticed the effect he'd had on Erik-- and how could he not, with his hand practically down the front of Erik's jeans-- he said nothing. His eyes didn't even linger.

"Call me when you're ready to make one."

And just like that, he was gone, vanishing into the crowd, tipping his Earl Grey up and sipping at it as he walked away.

Clothes on the bed, boots on the floor; Erik didn't have to be told he was going out tonight. He dressed, quickly, and picked his phone up from the nightstand. Charles, still there, still with his phone number beside it. He wouldn't even have to go to the club tonight.

He walked out to the living room, phone tucked into his pocket. Sebastian was seated in the armchair, and he crooked a finger at Erik, waited for Erik to be standing in front of him before he snapped his fingers and pointed at the floor.

Erik folded to his knees and waited, hands at his sides. Sebastian had Erik's collar in his hands; he fastened it onto Erik's neck and stroked the leather, rubbing his thumb up and down the center of Erik's throat.

"Before you go," he said, and he shifted, lifting his hips slightly as he unbuckled his belt, unfastened his trousers, pushed everything down around his thighs. He wasn't even hard yet, and for a moment, Erik remembered Charles's words all over again: He bores you. Were they boring each other these days, Erik wondered, what were they doing...

What Sebastian was doing became obvious the moment he put his hand on the back of Erik's neck. He drew Erik down, face in Sebastian's lap, Sebastian's hips working gently. Sebastian's cock got harder as he held Erik in place and thrust up, rubbing his cock against Erik's cheeks, his mouth.

"Suck me," Sebastian murmured. Erik twisted his head, licked and sucked until Sebastian's cock was in his mouth-- still not fully hard yet, but getting there. "Hands behind your back." Erik slid his hands into place, lacing his fingers together.

From there it was fast, Sebastian thrusting into Erik's mouth again and again, not even letting Erik move-- it was all about holding him still while Sebastian used his mouth, and Erik let out a muffled groan even as Sebastian began to speed up. Being held in place and used like this, it was too much like the last time he'd seen Charles, when Charles had steadied him and fucked him and left him feeling like he belonged.

Sebastian wasn't the man Erik was thinking about now, and when he finally came and flooded Erik's mouth with the overwhelming, bitter flavor of his spunk, Erik was almost startled to taste it. He hadn't been able to taste Charles, that damned condom in the way, but he knew, somehow, that it wouldn't be like this.

Shoving Erik away, Sebastian didn't even bother cleaning up before getting his clothes back in order. Erik licked his lips-- because he was expected to, not because he liked the taste on his tongue-- and sat back.

"Go out. Find someone." Sebastian's words were clipped; Erik wondered if that was irritation, or if he'd actually managed to affect Sebastian with that meager excuse for a blowjob. "Don't eat or drink anything, don't brush your teeth, not until you find someone and kiss him. I want him tasting me on your mouth. So go fast."

"All right." Erik came to his feet. "Anything else?"

"I don't give a shit what else you do."

"When do you want me back?"

Sebastian looked up at him, frowning. "It's been a long time since you had a curfew. Do you want one now?"

Shit. A rock and a hard place; there was no right answer. Saying no would probably get him one; saying yes would probably get him one that was early. Erik stood still, saying nothing.

"Come back when they kick you out."

Erik nodded and stepped out of Sebastian's apartment, waiting until he got out to the street before fishing his phone out of his pocket and dialing Charles's number.


"It's me." Would Charles know him by voice? Did Charles even remember what his name was? "It's Erik."

"Is this a social call...?"

"Of a sort."

"Ah." If Charles was disappointed to hear it, he was covering for it nicely. "Out on assignment tonight?"

"Yes." Erik stretched his hand out at the street, hailing a cab. "Can I see you?"

"Do you remember my address?"

Erik rattled it off to the cab driver; it earned a soft chuckle from Charles. "You do remember my address. What's our game plan for the evening?"

"I have to kiss you."

"Better and better."

"You might not think so when I get there."


"Given what I taste like."

Charles was silent for a while. Erik kept the phone to his ear, watching as the cab moved through the streets. Further from Sebastian; closer to Charles. It felt right, somehow.

"What's forbidden tonight?"

"Nothing, as far as I know." Erik took a deep breath. "No curfew. I'm supposed to come back when you throw me out."

Charles made a frustrated noise. "I take it he's expecting me to throw you out once I've had you. Maybe after the second round, if I'm the sort to have stamina."

Are you? Erik wondered. Maybe he'd find out tonight. "Probably."

"Keeping you overnight, then--"

Erik scratched at his neck, just above his collar. "Likely not a good idea."

"It'd be on his orders, though. You'd be doing what you're told. Can he complain about that, really?"

"He'd find reasons to blame me. I'll be there soon, Charles."

"I'll be waiting."

Charles was waiting in the front doorway when Erik's cab pulled up to his townhouse. Erik took the stairs two at a time, and Charles grabbed him by the shirt, pulling him inside.

"I'm supposed to kiss you," Charles said. He slammed the door shut behind Erik. "So first things first." His fist tightened in Erik's shirt, and he pulled Erik down, dragged him to his knees. "Tilt your head up."

Erik did, and Charles bent over him, cupping Erik's face in both his hands. Erik had barely had time to take this all in, what Charles looked like tonight, what he was wearing. A thin grey sweater, long sleeves, tight at the chest; a pair of worn-thin black jeans. A determined expression, with a small crease between his eyebrows.

"I'm sorry for--"

"You don't have to apologize. I'm going to kiss you, and then I'll get you a toothbrush or some Scotch or whatever you'd like. All right?"

"Yes," Erik whispered, and Charles's mouth came down on his, fast. He opened his mouth, let Charles in, and Charles licked into his mouth, quick and almost perfunctory, sweeping in and tasting, and then backing off, standing up straight again.

He held a hand out to Erik; Erik took it and let Charles help him back to his feet.

"And now I've met your whatever-he-is-to-you," Charles said, grimacing. "Tell me what I can get you."


"Upstairs. Bathroom." Charles didn't let go of Erik's hand. "Come on."

In the bathroom, Charles leaned up against the doorframe while Erik brushed his teeth, flossed, rinsed his mouth with Listerine. Erik turned to Charles once he was finished, and Charles smiled, just a little.


"You tell me," Erik said, coming forward, not stopping until he was pressed up against Charles. Charles wrapped an arm around Erik's waist, and Erik tilted his head down, lips parted, offering. Charles came up on his toes, just a bit, and kissed Erik for the second time-- this time real, soft and slow and lingering.

"There you are," Charles breathed. "Yes, that's better, that's much much better..." He brought one hand up to stroke Erik's cheek. "I never know if you look the way you do because you're a model or because the bastard never feeds you. Do you want dinner?"

"I--" Erik hesitated, and rather than staying still and stunned and quiet, kissed Charles again to fill the time. Dinner. Absurd. Or not so absurd; they had time, he could stay for a while. Not all night, maybe, but long enough for company. "All right."

Down in the kitchen, Charles threw the refrigerator door open and let Erik pick through it, find whatever looked appealing. Erik managed a creditable salad-- "it's the job... or it's just me... I do eat," he promised Charles, and Charles's lips looked just a little less tight at the corners as he assembled a sandwich. Sharing a meal didn't mean Erik was able to come up with any conversation, though. What do you do? Not something he needed to know. Do you try rescuing every kept boy who comes out looking to get fucked? Ridiculous. Inappropriate. Besides, if Charles were the sort to bring home strays, the townhouse would be full of them. Unless he had other places, other apartments...

"How do you know Armando?" he finally came up with. Charles smiled, settling back in his kitchen chair.

"I was the TA for one of his classes, last year."

"I didn't realize he was in school these days."

"Part-time. I imagine he's thinking about exit strategies for the modeling business." One of Charles's eyebrows went up, but he didn't ask the obvious next question. Erik was grateful.

"So you're a teacher."

"Again, part-time. Still in grad school." Erik mentally revised his estimate of Charles's age up by a few years. He didn't look much older than twenty, early twenties at most, but looks could be deceiving. "But it's what I want to do, in the long run. Start my own school, maybe." He tilted his head forward, and now it was inevitable, the question too obvious in the air for Charles to avoid asking it. "And you?"

"I've never had a long-term strategy. But maybe that's evident."

"I could help with that."

"I think we're better off focusing on tonight."

"Fair enough." Charles took their empty plates to the dishwasher, loaded them in. "But if I'm going to have you here for the better part of the night, I might as well give you the grand tour. Come on."

For the most part it was like any other townhouse Erik had visited, usually in Sebastian's company... other people like Sebastian, other patrons of the arts... or other things. Formal living room. Family room. Dining room. Things that looked as though they were never used. He'd seen the bedroom already, the bathroom; Charles showed him the other bedrooms, obviously unoccupied.

The top floor was half library, half-study, and if any room in the townhouse saw use, this was it. There were papers strewn over a large desk backlit by a window, and the library shelves went all the way to a vaulted ceiling; a rolling ladder was attached to a track that went all the way around the room. Some of the books were old, sheltered behind glass, but any number of them were new, well-read, everything from-- Erik looked-- books on genetics to books on string theory to a full set of Ian Fleming's Bond novels, all the spines creased and worn.

There was a fireplace in the back of the room, opposite the desk, and couches to either side of it, facing a coffee table with a wooden chessboard. Erik took a seat, looked over the game in progress. Only three or four moves in, a Scotch Game opening.

"Do you play?" Charles asked. He sat down on the other couch. Erik had landed on Black's side, Charles on White. "It's your move, if you do."

Erik brought his knight forward, captured one of Charles's pawns. "Not in years."

"Maybe that explains why your long-term strategy is rusty. I'll have my queen out in a few moves, after that trick."

"Fair enough." Erik waited; Charles scooped up Erik's knight with his own knight. Erik used his pawn to complete the knight exchange, and Charles moved his queen out, as promised. The center of the board was mostly clear, now, Erik on the defensive, but it felt reasonable. It felt like possibility. "We can start here, if you want. Or we can go back to bed."

"I'd rather have you in bed." Charles gave a demonstrative little bounce on his couch. "Vintage. Not exactly as sturdy as I'd like."

"Do you have particularly athletic plans for tonight?"

"I prefer not to rule anything out this early."

Erik caught himself smiling. It wasn't a hardship, following Charles back to the bedroom, and when Charles turned the bedside lamps on, Erik didn't object. He glanced around and headed for the bay window, sitting on the window seat to take his boots off.

Charles sat on the edge of the bed, watching him, keeping up; when Erik got his boots off, Charles reached down and unlaced his shoes, too, kicking them underneath the bed. Erik stayed put, peeled his white t-shirt off over his head; Charles took his sweater off, his chest bare of everything but freckles.

I want, Erik thought, and then, free rein tonight, and he came off the window seat, hands moving up Charles's chest, his palms stroking over Charles's throat, his shoulders, cupping Charles's face in his hands. Charles closed his eyes, his mouth falling open in a moan. He turned his head, resting his cheek against Erik's palm.

"Yes?" Erik whispered.

"Yes. Touch me." Charles moved backward, fully onto the bed, and Erik tugged at his belt, unfastening it, getting his jeans and boxers down over his hips, off his legs. Charles kicked them off the rest of the way as Erik unbuckled his own belt, shoved his jeans down, stepped out of them and left everything but his collar behind. He climbed onto Charles, mouth already open, body aching for this, and when Charles wrapped arms and legs around him and kissed him, Erik fell into it, losing himself in the clutch of Charles's arms and the eager press of his mouth against Erik's.

Charles slipped his hand down the back of Erik's neck, and Erik remembered the collar then. He grimaced, eased himself up from Charles to reach for the back of his neck, the buckle.

"Can you--" Charles began, but then he was coming up, too, jaw set, his hands knocking Erik's away and drawing the tongue out from the buckle, loosening the collar and finally getting it off, flinging it aside as soon as it opened. He grabbed the back of Erik's neck again, harder this time, dragging Erik down, and when Erik kissed him, Charles took over, his thumb curled around the side of Erik's neck, caressing the place where the collar had been.

"Erik," Charles panted. "Erik-- I need--" He shoved at Erik's shoulders, and Erik rolled for him, let Charles push and pull and tug until Erik was lengthwise on the bed, on his back, Charles straddling his thighs and bending down on him. He nuzzled Erik's throat, forced Erik to tilt his head back; his teeth and tongue were on Erik's neck, tracing the sensitive strip of skin he'd never been able to touch before. Erik grabbed Charles by the hair-- he could pull Charles up, he could make him see reason, bring both of them back to Earth and remind them what they were doing here...

He held Charles's mouth in place, gasped while Charles sucked on his skin. He could leave a mark that way. Erik would never be able to cover it.

"Do it," he hissed, "go on, bruise me, mark me--"

Charles let out a strangled sound, and he pushed one hand between them, curving it-- God, yes-- around Erik's cock, around his own, both of them, stroking hard. He bit down on Erik's neck again and again, sucking, licking, drawing up a mark-- probably more than one. Erik kept his head in place, rocked his hips in time with Charles's strokes, and for once Erik didn't wait, not for a signal or permission or anything but his own desire. He came with a gasp, cock jerking against Charles's, his come slicking Charles's strokes.

"God, you're--" Charles drew his mouth away, gasping against Erik's shoulder. "You're-- yes, Erik, Erik--" His turn next, and the strokes grew harder and harder to bear as Charles pushed himself to orgasm, groaning and biting Erik's shoulder as he came.

They lay there for a while, longer than Erik really cared to think about. All he knew was that he wasn't going to let Charles go until Charles asked him to.

It would be hours before Sebastian would start wondering where he was, maybe even longer before he'd be angry. Erik tucked his face into the curve of Charles's neck and held on.

There were any number of things they hadn't had time for. Lying in bed kissing for what felt like hours was the first thing Charles wanted to do, after they'd made a rudimentary effort at cleaning up. He kissed Erik until Erik was panting for it, needing more than just the kisses; he kissed Erik until his lips were red and swollen, the lush curve of Charles's upper lip more of a tease than it had ever been. Erik licked that curve again and again, letting himself have it, indulging himself.

The luxury of a shower together was something Erik hadn't even known he'd wanted. Charles soaped him up thoroughly, his hands strong on Erik's shoulders, massaging away all his aches, any stiffness he'd come here with. By the time he reached for Erik's cock, Erik was practically in tears from all the pleasure; God, Charles knew how to use his hands. And there, again, Charles kissed him, mouth demanding and knowing, by now, his kisses taking Erik apart piece-by-piece under the hot stinging spray.

He came like that, orgasm drawn-out and slow this time, and Charles let Erik lean on him while he recovered. "Your turn," Erik murmured. "Whatever you want."

"Whatever I want." Charles made a little hmm sound, raised an eyebrow as if he were giving it serious consideration. "You sound like you mean it."

He cut the spray, and they toweled off together. Erik caught Charles around the waist from behind and licked up a drop of water that was curving down the back of his shoulder; Charles laughed.

"I did. I do. Whatever you want."

"Stay. That's what I want."

Erik's grip tightened. "You know that isn't what I meant."

"I'm fairly certain it is what you meant, at least somewhere in that twisted maze of illogic you call a mind."

"You think you know so much about me--" Erik leaned down and set his teeth on Charles's shoulder; Charles went still in his arms. Erik let him go, without biting. "You don't know everything."

"Maybe not. From what I do know about you... tell me I'm wrong to be surprised you've stayed here this long." Charles turned in Erik's arms, wrapped his arms around Erik's neck. "You don't want to go."

Erik sighed. He rested his forehead against Charles's. "I've got tonight. Isn't that enough?"

"You know it's not."

"What, then? I just-- stay, I never go back, I stay with you and... what?"

Charles drew back. "And what, yes. What is it you need? Do you think I can't give it to you?" His gaze was starting to have heat behind it. "Do you think I can't do more for you than Shaw can?"

Erik thought back, fast, to whether he'd ever mentioned Sebastian's name in front of Charles. He couldn't remember ever doing that. He drew back, too, eyes flashing. "The coffeeshop. Not a coincidence."

"Did I ever even hint that it was?"

"You asked about me. You asked about Sebastian--"

"I wanted to know what kind of competition I was facing," Charles's expression broke into sheer frustration, both his hands coming up to drag through the messy strands of his wet hair. "And it's not much, is it, God, Erik. I was right all along when I said he bored you. When you were young, yes, I gather he had a great deal to offer, but now--"

"Now, yes," Erik snapped back. "Now there are debts and obligations and promises-- do you think I wear that collar of his because I like it--"

"I think you'd like it if it were mine," Charles said evenly, meeting Erik's eyes.

Erik gritted his teeth, turning on his heel and heading for the bedroom.

"Am I wrong, Erik? Am I wrong, really, would you be here if I were wrong--"

Erik was already grabbing for his clothes, getting dressed. "You've known all along why I was here, Charles--"

Charles dragged his jeans on, belt still hanging open in the front. "Things have changed. At least admit to that."

"All right. All right, yes, things have changed, but that doesn't mean I'm going to trade belonging to one man for belonging to another."

"It doesn't have to be like that."

Erik huffed out a laugh, shaking his head. He knelt on the floor, lacing up his boots. "Collars. Orders. You telling me to stay overnight when I've said I can't. What else can it be like, what else do you have it in you to allow?"

As soon as Erik stood, Charles grabbed him by the arms, shoved him back down until he was sitting on the bed again. "We could belong to each other."

"Mutual give and take?" Erik almost laughed. "From you. Do you ever roll over, do you suck cock, lick boots, beg? What do you think it is about Sebastian that bores me, Charles-- the fact that he doesn't give enough of a damn to work with me hands-on anymore or the fact that I might actually like being off the floor now and then?"

Charles had backed off a few steps, by the end of all that; his skin was tight in gooseflesh, and he rubbed at his arms. "I thought I was giving you what you needed," he said quietly, voice raw.

Erik exhaled, looking down at the floor. "This isn't all I need."

"I still want you to stay."

"I can't."

"You can."

"I'm going."

Charles hissed softly and shook his head. "Then I won't stop you leaving." He raised an eyebrow, meeting Erik's eyes. "I could. I think you know I could. But I won't."

The cab ride back to Sebastian's was cold, lonely. The collar felt tight around his throat; Erik dug a finger underneath it, pressed against the marks and bruises Charles had left there.

He could feel the weight of his phone in his pocket, and he wondered if he could stand to erase Charles's number from it.

It might come to that. But not tonight.

Sebastian stood behind Erik in the bathroom, watching him shave. Erik didn't let it hurry him; he was careful about it the way he always was, taking off the stubble and the shaving cream in smooth, even strokes at first, tiny motions with the straight razor by the end of it.

His skin was red and sensitive by the time he was through, and when Sebastian came over and slipped his hand around Erik's throat, Erik held his ground, staring straight into the mirror. Sebastian's fingers covered Charles's marks, and Erik took a long, slow breath, in case Sebastian felt like throwing breathplay into the mix this morning.

"I've been thinking," Sebastian said. "I'd like to see you with someone else."

Hardly a surprise at this point; Erik nodded. "Should I find them, or...?"

"I'll take care of it. It might be a few days. Is there anything you'd particularly like to do, if I let you off the leash?" Sebastian trailed his fingertips down Erik's back. "You always liked getting fucked so much I never sent you out for anything else. What else would you do, if I let you?"

Stay. That's what I want...

Erik blinked the thought out of his head and shrugged. "Might be nice to top for a change."

"I'll get you somebody pretty to fuck." Sebastian put his hand on Erik's throat again. "Next time I send you out, don't come home with bruises unless I said to come home with bruises."

Erik nodded. Sebastian tightened his hand, but only for a moment, not enough to cut off Erik's breath.

"Get yourself dressed and then come out to the living room. You're not going anywhere without a collar for the next few days."

Another nod, and Sebastian turned on his heel and left the bathroom, leaving Erik to run his fingers over his throat, feeling Charles's teeth and Sebastian's hand on him, fighting to leave the strongest impression. He had a feeling the collar was going to be tighter than ever, and when Sebastian buckled it on him, it turned out he was right.

It took three days, and then it came on suddenly. Sebastian glanced at his watch; it was five minutes until nine, and he said, "Head downstairs. You'll be picking up tonight's entertainment in the lobby."

"All right. How will I know him? Her?"

"Him," Sebastian said. "Look for someone with brown hair and a pretty mouth. He knows what you look like, so if you don't find him, he'll find you."

Erik nodded and headed downstairs. He only spent a few minutes pacing before someone matching Sebastian's description walked in... worn blue jeans, an oversized t-shirt, a brown cordoroy jacket that fit him badly, scuffed sneakers. Brown hair, a bit mussed, a very pretty mouth, which he was biting, and the moment Erik got over his shock at seeing Charles walking into the lobby, he grabbed Charles by the arm, pushing him right back out the front door.

"What are you doing here-- you can't just come here, it doesn't work that way--"

"It does, actually." Charles pulled his arm out of Erik's grip. "I'm here for you. I'm here to see you, or..." Charles raised an eyebrow. "More than that. As I'm sure you know."

Unreal. Erik shook his head. "No, that doesn't make any sense--" He looked Charles over from head to foot, though. Charles looked nothing like he had when Erik had seen him before. He looked younger than ever, and in this outfit... maybe he could have convinced Sebastian that he was the right boy for the job. God.

But he knew Sebastian, and he was sure. It couldn't be Charles, it couldn't have been. "He wouldn't have asked you. He likes people who come at him a little scared."

"Does he?"

Erik flinched. "At least at first," he murmured.

"I had a feeling. Don't worry, darling, I can cry with the best of them." Charles sighed. "I've fit all his requirements so far, haven't I?" He glanced down at himself and rolled his eyes. "Shaw has a woefully conventional mind--" At Erik's raised eyebrow, Charles amended, "--in certain aspects, at least. All I had to do was dress down and bat my lashes and he never would have imagined I could top, let alone take someone like you to your knees. Commendations for your ability to think outside the stereotype, but your-- patron--" he grimaced-- "doesn't have your imagination. He sees what he wants to see in people." Charles's eyes were sharp on Erik. "No matter how true or false that's turned out to be."

Erik felt his skin heat and shook his head. "This is going to be different."

"I'm multi-talented." Charles flashed him a grin, one that turned serious quickly. "I know what I'm getting into. I can do this, Erik."

He strode back into the lobby, walked to the elevator bank. Erik assumed he'd need to wait for Erik to come over, for Erik's proximity card, but no, apparently Sebastian had given Charles one of his own-- which explained how he'd gotten into the lobby without being buzzed in. Charles swiped the card across the sensor and pressed the "up" button, and Erik caught up just as the elevator arrived, stopping Charles before he could step in.

"How did he find you?"

"I found him."

The elevator doors closed as Erik stopped and stared. "Why?"

"You won't be with me on my terms, you won't make up your own terms. If all I can have of you is you on his terms, well. Here I am."

Charles reached for the elevator call button again, and Erik yanked his hand back a second time. "Do you know what he's going to have me do to you?"


"Have you ever--" Erik gritted his teeth, let out an explosive, irritated sound. "You've never bottomed for me, have you done it at all?"

"No." Charles flashed him a smile, one that instantly turned innocent, a little scared. "You won't hurt me, will you?"

"I will if he tells me to."

The innocence and fear slid right off Charles's face, and he gave Erik a smile Erik had seen on him every night they'd been together, one that was aroused, hungry. "Will you like it?"


"Will you?"

"Damn it," Erik burst out. "You could have left this alone, you could have left me alone--"

"I couldn't. I can't leave you."

"What do you think we're going to get out of this tonight? What are you trying to prove?"

Charles tilted his head back, looking at the display above the elevator. It hadn't gone anywhere. "You didn't believe me before, when I said we could belong to each other." He looked back at Erik. "When we get through this... will you believe me then?"

"I don't know." Erik sucked in a breath through his teeth. "What did he hire you to do?"

"He was a little vague. I'm going to be fucked, of course. Maybe slapped around a bit." Erik's lips parted, and this time when he stared at Charles, he was looking at Charles's pale skin, imagining his handprints on it. "Oh, you will like that, won't you?"

"That's not-- I won't--"

"If you're determined to play by his rules, you'll have to. So I'm asking you..." Charles stepped closer, stroked a fingertip down Erik's chin. "Will you like it?"

Erik caught Charles's hand in his. "You should go. I'll tell him you didn't show up..."

"You asked, before. You asked if I roll over, suck cock, lick boots, beg. I will, for you. And if you want to hurt me, I'll like that, too. If it's you." Charles took one of Erik's hands in his and pressed Erik's palm against his cheek. "Do you think I haven't imagined your hands on me..."

Erik jerked his hand away. "My hands. What about his hands, what will you do when it's his turn?"

"He doesn't get a turn." Erik drew in a breath, held it until his chest tightened. "He offered me five hundred to let him put his hands on me, but I said no. I made it look good, don't worry, I looked like I was really considering it." Charles laughed; Erik started breathing again. "But he agreed not to touch me. I think he liked that I was brave enough to decide five hundred wasn't enough to buy that, even if I am a poor starving college student."

"Is that what he thinks you are."

"Of nearly twenty."

Erik paused. "Is that what you really are...?"

Charles's expression tightened. "I'm old enough to put you on the floor every time you come to see me, I don't think you should be complaining now--"

"Nineteen," Erik said. "You know a lot for nineteen."

"Not enough to get the man I want, apparently, without resorting to something drastic." Charles sighed. "I went to college early, started grad school at eighteen. I've always known what I wanted. Who I wanted to be. I've picked things up along the way, I've seen people, I know what's out there, yes." Smirking lightly, Charles straightened a bit, his whole demeanor changing; much like the man Erik had met that first night at the club, he couldn't imagine Charles as a nineteen-year-old. Erik imagined that attitude and a good fake ID could get Charles nearly anywhere. "I didn't know how far I was willing to go. Not until I met you."

Erik looked Charles over again as Charles relaxed back into his slouch, as his face showed all the nervousness of a nineteen-year-old who'd been hired to have a wealthy man's whore deflower him. Pinching the bridge of his nose, Erik said, "You could at least have found someone else first. Someone who could afford to be gentle with you. You know he's not going to let me give that to you, not when you can cry with the best of them."

"I want it to be you."

Erik's eyes snapped back to Charles's, and the serious look on Charles's face sent Erik reaching for the card reader and the call button on the elevator. The elevator doors opened obligingly, and Charles and Erik stepped on. Erik shoved Charles into the back corner of the elevator as the doors slid shut.

"Why are you here, why are you doing this-- why me--"

"Erik," Charles breathed, reaching up to the back of his neck and pulling Erik down to him. Erik kissed him, but he held Charles in place, making sure it was soft-- if Charles arrived with swollen lips, Sebastian would know why, and they'd both pay for it.

So he drew back after just a moment, trying to steady his hands, trying to catch his breath. Charles didn't bother with any of that; a rumpled appearance was part of the disguise.

"We're going to get through this together," Charles murmured. "You're not alone, Erik. Not anymore."

"That's what I'm afraid of," Erik gritted out, as the elevator came to a halt.

Erik led Charles to the apartment. The cloyingly sweet sounds of Edith Piaf were already playing: La Vie En Rose, on Sebastian's antique turntable, piped through his modern, expensive stereo system. When Erik led Charles inside, Sebastian glanced over his shoulder and smiled, walking over to the two of them. He took both of Charles's hands in his and kissed Charles on one cheek, then the other. It hardly seemed possible, but Charles paled even more, his smile wavery and uncertain.

Maybe he was a better actor than Erik had given him credit for. Or maybe Sebastian was making him more nervous than he'd anticipated. Either way, it was too late for Erik to get them out of this, and he held still, trying to maintain the blank look he'd had to perfect over hundreds of photoshoots, thousands and thousands of still images, commercials, music videos.

"Charles," Sebastian said warmly. "Welcome. I trust you've been well?"

"Well enough," Charles answered. He glanced over at Erik, still maintaining that nervous expression. His eyes raked over Erik's body, though, moving up and down before he looked back at Sebastian. "Thank you."

"How are your classes going?"

"Fine. Your, ah..." He flicked his eyes toward Erik again, and then pointedly ignored him as he continued, "loan helped take my mind off some of the more basic worries. So that was helpful. Thank you."

For the first time since they'd walked in, Sebastian turned to Erik. "Charles is supporting a family on his scholarship and stipend. A sister, I think you said?" Charles nodded. Erik wondered if that was true or not; if she existed, he'd never seen her, or any sign of her at Charles's townhouse. "You're a good brother to her. But I'm glad I was able to help you." Another sharp look at Erik. "I have a bit of a reputation for taking in lost sheep. Helping them get what they need in life." Back to Charles, then, and Sebastian reached up to cup Charles's face in one of his hands. Erik clenched his fists, struggling for calm. "I'm sure I can help you, too, if you'll let me. Will you let me, Charles?"

Charles trembled; Erik could see the minute vibration traveling all over his body. "Yes," he whispered.

I can cry with the best of them, Charles had said. Erik wondered if he was going to start now. Erik remembered how much Sebastian liked to see boys who were wrecked with fear and struggling to face it all the same; no wonder Charles had gotten to him. How had Charles known? How had he known what Sebastian needed him to be?

Maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise at all. He'd known so much about Erik. Not everything, maybe. But enough.

"Let me tell you what's going to happen tonight, Charles," Sebastian said, his hand dropping away from Charles's face. "Erik's going to hurt you for a while. You're going to get to come once. Erik isn't. Erik, you have creative license over how you'd like to hurt Charles for me." Sebastian gave Charles what he might have thought was a reassuring look. "Don't worry, Charles. Erik's good at taking the occasional initiative, for all he looks like a brainless mannequin."

Erik saw it before Sebastian did-- God, he hoped he saw it first, the way Charles's eyebrows were beginning to draw together. He grabbed Charles by the arm just as Charles was saying, "He doesn't," and as soon as he jerked Charles to face him, Charles stopped talking, his eyes going round with surprise. Erik lifted his other hand, and Charles saw it happen, saw the intent in Erik's frame. He tilted his chin up just a little, just enough to be defiant, to invite it, and Erik slapped him once, hard, across the face.

Charles's head whipped to the side, and Erik stood there, still holding Charles's arm, suddenly hot and flushed and breathing heavily. Charles panted for breath, his face still downturned. Sebastian let out an appreciative little chuckle, but that was the least of things drawing Erik's attention now. Charles's body, tense and tight; the weight of him, leaning against Erik's grip; the soft, panted breaths, in and out, as Charles let the pain take hold.

Erik waited, and when Charles looked up at him again, his eyes were wet with tears, but his mouth was forming a gorgeous round "O", a look of shocked desire and a red palmprint coloring his face together.

Sebastian was there in the room, watching, but it didn't matter. Erik pushed Charles across the room, up against the wall, where he held Charles by the throat and growled softly, pinning Charles in with his body and rubbing his cock against Charles's stomach. Charles's hands came to Erik's wrist automatically, but after a few moments and the realization that he could still breathe, he stopped fighting. His mouth formed the words, Erik, I, and Erik kissed him, bruisingly hard, protecting them both from whatever his words would have inspired from Sebastian.

He'd kissed Charles so many times by now, he'd had Charles's tongue in his mouth, Charles's teeth on his lips, but this was his kiss, his, and he took full advantage. He held Charles still and explored his mouth, forced Charles to open for him and take it, and for every tremor or breath or whisper he felt under his lips, he kissed Charles harder, his thigh pressed hard against Charles's groin. Charles was firm under that pressure, no way for him to hide his hard-on from Erik, but he was still playing his part perfectly, reluctant and struggling and afraid.

If Sebastian didn't want Erik coming from this, Erik would have to stop soon. He wrenched his mouth away from Charles's and looked at him, taking in his flushed face, the still-reddened spot on his cheek where Erik had slapped him. Charles opened his mouth, eyebrows drawn together in an expression that looked like a plea of some kind, but then he looked off to the side, to Sebastian, and he swallowed that plea instead, eyes fluttering closed.

"Don't close your eyes," Erik said, arousal making his voice harsh and rough. Sebastian would hear that on him, but the hell with it; Sebastian would expect Erik to get off doing this. It was Charles who needed to hide his desire, not Erik. "Open your eyes. Look at me."

Charles looked, and Erik pushed back, hand raising again. The slightest hint of a smile played at the corners of Charles's mouth as he lifted his chin to take the blow, and Erik slapped his other cheek, even harder than he had the first time.

When Charles looked up at Erik again, it took several seconds for him to blink his eyes open. His lashes were wet, a single tear threatening to fall. Erik felt his chest tighten with want; he wanted to kiss that tear, lick the salt up and draw more out of him.

He let out a quiet, satisfied sound, something low in his throat, and advanced again, slow this time. Charles backed into the wall as Erik reached for his cock, but when Erik took hold of him, he let his head fall back against the wall, exposing his throat. "Good," Erik whispered.

"Not that I don't love watching you use your hands," Sebastian said, "but there are toys in the bedroom, Erik." He laughed. "As if I need to tell you that."

Charles looked up again, the struggling, blissful expression on his face gone. Something possessive was threatening there; Erik caught Charles's wrist as Charles began to reach up. If he touched Sebastian's collar now, if he tugged on it the way he'd always felt free to do before... no. Erik simply nodded to Sebastian and began pulling Charles towards the bedroom, ignoring it when Charles stumbled and nearly tripped his way through the unfamiliar apartment.

In the bedroom, Erik shoved Charles over the edge of the bed, pushing at his cordoroy jacket, his shirt. He reached beneath Charles, unbuckled his belt, unzipped him. This way was better; if he turned Charles face-up, Sebastian would see how much Charles had been affected by the kissing, by the slaps. By Erik. Erik snarled softly as he pushed Charles's trousers and boxers down his thighs; he didn't want to share that with Sebastian, none of this should have been his. If Charles was willing to give Erik this, it could have been theirs, just the two of them, Erik bending Charles over willingly in Charles's townhouse.

Too late to think of that now. Erik ran his hand over the pale curve of Charles's ass, scratched hard with his fingernails as he drew his hand back up. Charles stuttered out a breath, struggling up onto his elbows. "Please."

Behind him, Sebastian hissed-- a pleased noise, if not a pleasant one. Erik left Charles as he was, the pale streaks from his nails reddening by the moment, and headed for the chest of drawers, the one with all of Sebastian's favorite toys. "Belt or cane?" he asked mildly.

"Cane," Sebastian answered. "He's been paid well enough, he won't object."

Won't you? Erik chose a thin one, rattan, twenty-three inches. He gave it a few testing swings through the air. "It's been a while."

"Has it? I thought it was just last week that we-- oh, a while since you used it on someone, yes, of course it has, darling." Sebastian smiled at him.

On the bed, Charles turned his face so that Erik could see him, so that Sebastian couldn't. He flicked his eyes over the cane, and his tongue swept over his lower lip. He rolled his eyes. He couldn't nod-- Sebastian would see-- but the challenge couldn't have been more clear. I can take this. Do your worst.

Yes, then. Yes. Charles was telling him yes, and Erik came over to the bed once again, swept his hand down Charles's ass, deciding on the perfect place to land the first strike. He brought the cane down across both of Charles's cheeks, making Charles jerk forward against the bed. The cry he let out drew a satisfied noise out of Sebastian, but Erik knew he'd made a similar sound himself. Charles was beautiful like this, absolutely stunning when being hurt.

Erik laid down four perfectly-spaced stripes, first, and after those four Charles had to put his head down. Erik could have been erratic or inconsistent about the strokes, but there was something about a beautiful canvas of meticulous stripes that suited him, that he thought would suit Charles somehow, both in temperament and in aesthetic. He could have kept it up all night, he thought, one blow after another, one above the last, one below, welts forming on Charles's skin along with momentary red lines. He tugged down Charles's jeans when he ran out of unmarked skin, and began to work on his thighs. When those were marked, too, Erik moved back up, and he landed one harder blow on top of the first welt he'd given Charles, then paused to let Charles breathe.

Charles forced his face up, slightly off his arms; his hair was hanging in his face, hiding his expression. "Can you," he panted, "can you-- stop now."

Sebastian wouldn't know that tone of voice, the measured control in it, but Erik did. Charles wanted, maybe wanted too much, maybe he was afraid he'd come if he got much more from Erik. Erik stood there with trembling hands and waited for Sebastian to make a decision.

"Show me your face, sweetheart," Sebastian murmured. Charles took a few breaths and turned to face Sebastian, and Erik stepped around to see that look, too. Pained, suffering, flushed, or perhaps blotchy; his cheeks were streaked with tears, his eyes red, his lips vivid where he'd bitten down on them to keep from crying out. Erik ran his hand up Charles's reddened skin, squeezing Charles's ass lightly, so lightly, but it drew a long, sobbing moan out of him, and when Erik looked over at Sebastian, he watched as Sebastian reached down and deliberately adjusted his cock in his trousers. Erik could have stood to do the same.

"Again, Erik," Sebastian said. Erik caressed Charles's ass again, his palm aching to come down hard against all that heat, and Charles jerked forward against the bed, moaning and moaning. Erik wondered if he was moving forward to get away, or if he was rubbing up against the bedcovers, leaving streaks of precome behind.

"Lovely. Yes, Erik, you can stop now. Charles, Erik did such a beautiful job with you, what do you say...?"

"Thank-- thank you," Charles managed huskily.

"Erik, is he hard?"

Erik reached underneath Charles; Charles was still hard, yes, harder than ever, and a pass up the length of his cock left Erik's hand wet with precome. But Erik squeezed, not gently, and Charles garbled out a pained moan. This was his. He'd earned this from Charles, not Sebastian; he was damned if he was going to share that knowledge unless there was no way of hiding it. He wiped his hand subtly on the duvet as he withdrew it. "No."

"Pity. You'll fix that, though, won't you?" Sebastian came over to them, caressed Erik's hair, left his hand light at the back of Erik's head. "You know how."

Erik knelt, then, his hands on the sides of Charles's hips. Sebastian stayed there, close, still touching Erik's hair-- too close, Erik didn't want to share this with him, either, but there was nothing he could do about it. He rubbed his cheek gently against Charles's ass, and the pained moan Charles let out made Erik squirm with arousal and frustration. He wanted this-- maybe too much-- and he wanted it to be happening anywhere but here, in any way but this.

Charles reached back, groped behind himself blindly. Erik took his hand without even thinking about it, and even as Charles squeezed his hand in reassurance Erik remembered why he was there. He shifted his grip and pinned Charles's wrist down, and began licking Charles's sensitive skin, fast merciless strokes with his tongue over the slim welts and raw marks he'd left there.

Charles's hand twisted in Erik's grip, but Erik held onto him. Sebastian's breath was coming faster and faster as Charles moaned and jerked and slowly began to press backward, arching into Erik's broad licks. Erik groaned, too, licking closer and closer to his cleft, tasting a little salt and the tease of copper, the hint of blood that he could draw out if he just bit down and broke the skin. That-- copper, yes, God-- that nearly had Erik scrambling to undo his fly; he needed to be touched, needed to fuck, needed the man sprawled out on the bed before him. It was almost worth the risk of standing up and taking that initiative-- he didn't care what Sebastian did to him-- but the thought of what Sebastian might do to Charles kept him on his knees.

He put his hand gently on Charles's ass, trailed his thumb up and down Charles's cleft. Charles moaned again, hand twisting hard, but Erik wasn't about to let him get away. He gave Charles's cleft one long, swift lick, just enough to make Charles cry out. "Please!"

"Outstanding," Sebastian whispered. "Charles, dear, take off the rest of your clothes and turn around again. On your back."

"I don't..." Charles's voice shook. "I don't know if I can stand..."

"Erik. Help him."

From here, it was easy enough to remove Charles's jeans and boxers; he helped Charles out of his shoes as well, leaving him bare from the waist down. He stood, and wrapped an arm around Charles's waist, drawing him back, pressing his thighs hard against Charles's ass as he helped Charles up to standing.

He might have looked weak to Sebastian, but in Erik's arms, he was strength and resilience and fury. Erik bit at the side of his neck, drawing another feigned gasp from him, and he could feel Charles's heartbeat racing under his teeth.

Getting Charles's jacket and t-shirt off him took only another few moments' work, and then Charles was naked, exposed. Erik felt the impulse to cover Charles with his own body, not just for the pleasure of doing it, but to keep Sebastian's eyes off him. He was beginning to reach for Charles's wrists when Charles pulled away, crawling onto the bed with a pained sound that might actually have been real, this time. The bend and flex and stretch of all that reddened skin could very well have been enough to leave him groaning.

He stayed on hands and knees for a moment, until Erik reached out and placed his hand on Charles's ass. "Back," Erik reminded him.

Charles dropped his head down, between his arms, and whispered, "Please." Erik held his breath, but when Charles looked at him, met his eyes, there was a spark behind the tears, and Charles nodded just the slightest bit to Erik, as if telling Erik to get out of the way, to let Sebastian see him. Erik tightened his jaw, but moved, and Charles's eyes filled with tears as he looked pleadingly at Sebastian. "Please, I... it hurts so much..."

Sebastian was quiet. And stayed that way. Erik looked up at him, his own heart thudding painfully in his chest. "I don't think so," Sebastian said tightly. "You're not bleeding. Here's what I expect from you, Charles. I expect you'll turn over and get on your back, or I expect that the next time I tell Erik to hurt you, you'll bleed."

Erik's hands were shaking; he flattened them against his thighs, trying to hold still. But Charles sniffed, once, and then rolled onto his back, gasping as his ass and thighs made contact with the duvet.

"Better. Erik, strip off, get on the bed." Erik followed orders as Sebastian looked Charles over. "You liked something about all that. What was it? Getting hurt? Erik's mouth? He does have a fantastic mouth-- trust me, I know all about that. And I caught the way he was trying to lick your ass open for him. Maybe I should have let him. He's pretty well-hung, and you said this was going to be your first time. I hope you weren't lying to me, Charles."

Charles simply stared at Sebastian, wide-eyed, tears still falling. But on his opposite side, his hand was curved down on the bed, hidden from Sebastian's sight by Charles's thigh, and without breaking his gaze with Sebastian, Charles crooked one finger at Erik-- once, and then again, deliberate, no mistaking the motion. Beckoning him.

"Can I get him ready?" Erik breathed, his cock aching. All this, all that pain, Sebastian's words, and Charles was trying to get Erik closer, trying to get him to give more.

Sebastian finally took his eyes off Charles; he laughed softly and took the lube and a condom out of the nightstand, handing it over. "I don't blame you for being eager to get into that. They're always so tight when they're hurting, aren't they? When it's their first time? You remember."

Charles looked back up at Erik, but Erik was busy with the condom, rolling it down over his cock. If Sebastian didn't want him to come, he'd need the thin barrier between them-- and he couldn't help a fierce relief with that, even as he slicked lube over his palm and coated his cock with it. It might be their first time, but they still had something to save for the two of them, something that would be just theirs-- someday they'd touch skin-to-skin, and Sebastian would have nothing to do with it.

He came forward, fingers slick with still more lube, and he spread Charles's legs wide, reaching between them to get at Charles's tight hole. "Open for me," he murmured. Charles twisted one hand, the hand facing Sebastian, into the duvet, but the other beckoned Erik forward again, all four fingers twitching as they signaled him to go on. Erik held his breath as he pressed in with one finger, just one, and felt Charles's body tighten hard around him as Charles threw his head back and gasped.

He was never going to make it; he'd never manage to get inside Charles like this, and if he did, he wouldn't last. But when he saw Charles's fingers curl again, he gave Charles another finger, watching as Charles twisted his head from side to side, trying to bear the pain and the stretch.

Two fingers was enough to give Charles a stretch, enough to start with, anyway. Erik waited for Charles's signal, and then started up, fucking into Charles with his fingers, groaning out loud as Charles began to adjust to the feel of him and bore down, squirming to get more. "That's it," Erik whispered. "That's it. You want it, don't you, I can see how much you want it--"

Charles put his teeth on his lower lip and moaned. Sebastian came over to the bed in two huge steps, reaching out as if to grip Charles by the hair-- and then thinking better of it, rocking back on his heels. He agreed not to touch me, Erik remembered Charles saying, and thank God, Sebastian was keeping that agreement. "Tell him," Sebastian said. "You don't get to stay quiet, Charles. Tell him."

He was too close now; Charles couldn't give Erik his hand signal without giving everything away. He looked up at Erik and licked his lower lip, eyes wide, blinking slowly, and said, "Yes, Erik." His voice wavered, but his eyes were steady and sure. "Yes-- please--" His voice broke; his gaze didn't. "Please, Erik, I want you to--" and again, throat shattering on a sob, eyes so blue, so bright, real, "fuck me."

Erik drove three fingers into him, trying to stretch him as much as he could. Charles wasn't struggling against it, but he was still so tight, so incredibly tight, Erik could barely stand it. He brushed up, looking for-- could he make this good for Charles, could he find-- there, Charles's head snapped back, his eyes fluttering closed, and he moaned, cock jerking, precome leaking down onto his stomach.

"Enough," Sebastian snarled. "Fuck him. Go on." He stepped back, mercifully-- maybe to get a better view of the two of them together, maybe just to give Erik space. Either way, it meant Charles could give Erik his hand signal again. Come here. Come on.

Erik was more than ready. He slid his hands up Charles's thighs, leaning in to lever them back against his chest. Charles bent for him, easily, both hands coming up to hold himself there, open, as prepped as Erik could get him. Erik braced himself, one hand down near Charles's hip, and steadied his cock with the other hand, pressing the head of it down, in-- Charles bit his lower lip as Erik got started, but in another moment he was nodding, biting his lower lip and giving up any pretense for Sebastian's benefit. "Go on," he groaned, "go on, I want you to, please, Erik, fuck me!"

Did Sebastian know, Erik wondered; could he see what was happening, could he see his control slipping moment-by-moment? Erik wasn't going to stop now, Charles was asking him, begging him, but for all they were here in Sebastian's bed, this wasn't for him. This was Charles, coming to meet Erik on whatever terms Erik asked for, and Erik, saying yes. He said it out loud, eyes fixed on Charles: "Yes-- yes, Charles--" He groaned, pushing forward harder, nearly there, almost there. "Charles..."

Charles reached up, fingers hooking underneath Sebastian's collar. Erik heard a curse, saw a flash of movement out of the corner of his eye, but Erik was there, deep inside Charles now, moving, fucking him, and Sebastian stopped, frozen in place-- this had gone so far out of bounds that Erik knew he wouldn't be able to recover.

He caught Charles's hand in his and looked down at him. Theirs, now. "I believe you," he breathed, and Charles laughed, grinning up at him. "I believe you. I'm here--"

"Oh, ahh, yes, yes, you are," Charles panted, still laughing a little. "Do it, go on, take me--"

"--beautiful," Erik groaned, and he moved in deep, hard, sparing Charles nothing. Charles winced, but kept his hand on Erik's collar, tugging him forward over and over, demanding everything. His other hand went down to his cock, and while he'd lost his erection somewhere along the way, he stroked himself anyway, cock growing hard again as he tightened his grip on Erik's collar.

"My turn," Erik said, almost a protest, and Charles blinked up at him, smiling. Sweat was beginning to bead at his temples, his body was slippery with it, and Erik could only clutch at Charles's thighs and hang on for the rest. He was too close to slow down or stop now, and he bit off a gasp, arching forward and holding perfectly still, buried deep inside Charles, as the orgasm nearly blacked out his vision.

"Hand," Charles panted, "Erik, your hand," and Erik regained just enough strength to put his hand between them, letting Charles fold his hand around Erik's fingers as they stroked him off together. It amazed Erik that Charles could come after all this, but the high from realizing yes, we can belong to each other might not have been just on Erik's side-- and when Charles came, throat arched and eyes closed, Erik could only stare at him, watching the flutter of his heartbeat in his neck and holding his breath until Charles's cock stopped jerking in his hand.

He eased out of Charles as gently as he could, but Charles still winced at the end of it. Erik stripped the condom off, not caring about the mess anymore; he wasn't spending another night here anyway. He bent down to kiss Charles's forehead. "You probably would have worn me down eventually," he murmured. "You didn't have to do it this way."

Charles wasn't so fucked out he'd lost his reflexes; his hands came up, fast, and he reached for the buckle at the back of Erik's neck. "I want this off you. I want it off."

"I'll take it." Sebastian came over, and Charles jerked back as much as he could, trapped under Erik. His eyes were blazing, though, and Erik started to climb off him, trying to make sure he was free to move or run or fight if it came to that.

But it didn't. Sebastian opened up Erik's collar and tossed it onto the bed. "We're through," he said.

"You noticed," Erik responded dryly. He rubbed at the center of his throat.

"You get five minutes. Because I'm a nice guy like that. But then you're gone. One set of clothes, one pair of boots, nothing else." Sebastian glanced over at Charles. "I'm pretty sure you didn't live up to our end of the bargain."

Charles smiled at him-- and for all that Erik had never seen a smile on Charles that didn't go straight to his cock, he was glad he'd never seen this smile leveled at him. "You ought to have asked for references."

Erik pulled their clothes off the floor, handing Charles's over. One set of clothes, one pair of boots. He'd probably have a hell of a time getting work in this town again. But fuck it. He reached out for Charles's hand as soon as they were both dressed, and Charles took it, squeezed Erik's hand hard. Out the door, down the elevator, out of the lobby, and Charles grabbed Erik by the shirt once they were out on the street, dragging Erik down to kiss him.

"I'm not going to say 'you're mine now,'" Charles told him, "even though God knows I feel like saying it--"

"You did just say it, technically," Erik said, reaching up to cup Charles's face in his hands. "It's all right, Charles. You're mine, too." He slid his hand down Charles's back, hesitating just before reaching Charles's ass, but Charles shoved his hand down further, let Erik cup his sore ass in his hand. Erik groaned, maybe more than Charles did, and he kissed Charles again.

"Each other's," Charles murmured, lips moving gently against Erik's. "Agreed?"

"Agreed," Erik said softly. "Let's go home."