It really was embarrassing.
Neal tried, when he was younger, just...not having sex. Maybe being constantly turned on would go away in a week or two. But that didn't so much happen, and it caused a lot of other problems. So he figured he was seventeen, this was probably normal, and other people would think it was too. It worked for quite a few years, convincing people that if they were sleeping with a young guy, this was just the way it was.
Kate didn't fall for that. Neal made a game try at monogamy for her sake; he and Alex had always been on-again off-again and that gave him the chance to blow off steam when she wasn't around, but this was Kate. She was The One, and he didn't want to hurt her.
He lasted about four months, too, before he figured out that Kate wasn't ever going to want sex as often as he did -- seemed like nobody wanted sex as often as he did -- and she'd figure that out, and she'd be hurt anyway, even if he wasn't stepping out on her.
Not that it was easy, explaining it. He blushed and stuttered, which wasn't like him at all. Kate, trying to put him out of his obvious misery, just patted his arm and grinned at him and said, "So you're...a guy?"
He'd laughed, because it was funny, but also because he was nervous she didn't get it and didn't know how else to react. "I don't think that's exactly it."
"Neal, I know you're a romantic," she'd said, sliding into his lap. Kate fit him perfectly, everywhere. "I know you're in love with me. And you know what? That much sex is a little exhausting. So here's the deal."
Neal had swallowed and looked up at her.
"Never the same person twice," she'd said. "Condoms with everyone. Tests every three months. Nobody dangerous. Don't bring them back here. But," she added in his ear, rubbing up against him, "you can tell me about them if you want."
It was such a relief to have someone who understood, because he'd been called a slut by a lot of people and he was over it, mostly, but he couldn't bear it coming from Kate. And she wasn't just saying that -- she really did love to hear about the one-night stands and the quick alleyway grinds, especially the men he picked up. After he figured that out he stuck to men, mostly, tailoring his tastes to hers. He didn't understand the appeal for her, especially, but he figured he didn't have to.
When he was with Kate, waking up hard in the morning, nearly every morning, wasn't really an issue. Kate was always up for early-morning sex, liked slow, sleepy fucking. After prison -- without her, and without enough privacy, really, to bring someone home, Neal was reduced to jerking off in the shower. Which was kind of...lonely.
But it took care of the problem for the day, unless Peter wore that one really tight shirt, in which case around lunchtime Neal either had to start thinking about how gross Peter's lunch smelled or make his excuses and try to get off in the bathroom. Otherwise he'd start daydreaming -- about Peter, which was bad, or about Diana, which was slightly more dangerous. He didn't even let himself think about Jones, because at least Diana and Peter were both off the market and therefore safe. Neal knew better than to fire up anything with anyone he worked with. For so many reasons.
And sometimes when he got home Mozzie would be around, and that was a fun challenge. Neal knew most people didn't think Mozzie was very attractive, but he was surprisingly...burly, and Neal dug on that. He was into Mozzie's ass at least as much as his brain, when they met, and nothing had changed over the years. If Neal flirted in just the right way, Mozzie was usually cool with a little man-on-man action (a term Neal has tried to break him of, with little success).
Once in a long while, June came up to his place after dinner and they'd have some wine and fool around, but June made it clear she wasn't usually interested. It was always on her terms, and Neal told her he could live with that. He was a gentleman, after all. He did sometimes wish, wistfully, that she got the itch just a little more often. June had amazing legs, amazing breasts, and a really great mouth.
(She also made it clear that Cindy was off-limits, which was a shame because Cindy was twenty-two and could probably keep up with him. Hell, maybe Cindy wasn't even interested, but a man could dream.)
When he was seventeen it was normal. When he was twenty-five it was a little weird, but he had Kate. When he was in prison, most guys thought that sex was about power and dominance, but there were still a couple who just wanted to have a good time. Not a lot of chances to have a good time, really, but he got what he could, and got very close to his own right hand for the rest of it.
By the time he was thirty and working for the FBI, he thought he really shouldn't want sex twice a day. He tried not to be ashamed of it; he saw enough doctors in prison and out of prison to know there wasn't anything to be done about it short of a lot more chemicals than he wanted in his system. But it was still a little embarrassing, like an awkward medical condition.
The first time Peter caught him with someone, after Neal got out of prison, he'd met this gorgeous brunette at an art gallery and risked bringing her back to the loft. They were on the couch and he had his hand up her skirt and was loving the noises she made, and Peter just barged the hell in with a case file and stopped dead in his tracks. Neal stared up at him, patient and a little amused.
"You're busy," Peter said.
"Little bit," Neal answered, without moving his hand.
"I'll come back," Peter told him, and about-faced and retreated. Which was better than Neal had expected; maybe Peter had been shocked into good manners.
"Roommate?" the brunette asked, biting his ear.
"Long story," Neal told her, and rolled her over onto the couch.
The next morning, Peter eyeballed him for a while but eventually seemed to shrug mentally and assume it was none of his business who Neal slept with while trying frantically to find his girlfriend.
He loved Kate. He did, with all his soul, and he was desperate to get her back, but she’d understand. Neal recorded every encounter in his mind, pinned down the details so that when he did find Kate and they were together and happy, he could tell her about them. He figured she'd laugh her ass off at Peter walking in on him.
He never got the chance to tell her, of course. She was dead before he could even kiss her hello.
Grief does funny things to a person. He found himself back in prison, sleeping twelve hours at a stretch, eating only so that they didn't put him on suicide watch. He spent most of his time in his cell, ignoring the fantasies and the physical arousal and not fucking at all.
Which led to the damp sheets in the morning and a couple of guys getting the wrong idea when they saw him in the shower, so he went back to his right hand because at least that took care of the problem.
Things got better, slowly. Peter got him out, the second time. Mozzie was still there, thank God, though Neal wasn't sure what he'd done to deserve that much loyalty. There was work to do, cons to pull, people to meet, even people he found himself attracted to. Sara Ellis provided months of fantasy fodder. Though Neal stayed away from women, mostly, except in fantasy. With actual women there was always that catch in his chest, that stab of Kate! when he tried.
Instead, he got pretty well-known to some of the bartenders in the gayborhood.
Which was when Peter walked in on him the second time, and he should really know better by now -- well, Neal should know better than to bring people home, too. And to be fair to Peter, he probably didn't expect to visit a man grieving for his girlfriend and find him getting handsy against the kitchen counter with another man.
"Busy again, I see," Peter said, a little less stiffly this time. Neal leaned back, giving Peter a guilty grin.
"Boyfriend?" the man asked, turning to Peter.
"Colleague," Peter replied.
"Shame," the man said, and Neal caught him leering at Peter and suddenly wanted to rip his eyes out.
"Neal -- first thing tomorrow?" Peter said calmly.
Neal nodded, and Peter left, and Neal threw the guy out because nobody, nobody got to look at Peter that way except Elizabeth. And Neal, but Neal at least had the decency to hide it. And anonymous sex with someone who grunted through his nose wasn't worth letting anyone leer at Peter anyway.
They caught a case the next day, which didn't leave Peter a lot of time to ask all the awkward questions people always asked, like Are you just desperate? and So really you're closeted, right? and Did you pick that up in prison?
Peter didn't bring it up, didn't even seem to be thinking about it. Which would have been great, fantastic, except Neal was. Because along with the homicidal urge the night before there'd been a little tick of Yeah, come on Peter, I can show you a good time.
He was still dealing with that mess late in the afternoon when Peter said cheerfully, "Stakeout!" and they ended up spending the evening in the Taurus listening to the game and watching the house of some guy who had probably gone to bed and was sleeping the sleep of the criminally satisfied.
"Okay," Neal finally said, when he couldn't deal with baseball anymore. "Let's talk this out."
"Talk what out?" Peter asked absently, eyes on the house, but he turned the radio down.
"This. What happened last night."
"Hmm." Peter took a sip from his water bottle. "You mean where you're a consenting unattached adult and I need to learn to knock?" He glanced at Neal. "Or are we talking about how you stare at Diana's hips and Elizabeth's breasts and very carefully avoid ever being alone with Jones?"
Neal blinked at him.
"Look, as long as you keep it in your pants at work, and it doesn't interfere with the cases, it's not my problem," Peter said, turning back to the house. "If it was an issue I'd have brought it up before."
"You knew?" Neal asked.
"I know you seem to have a thing for pretty much everyone you meet," Peter said. "I don't know if you just really like sex or you're...coping this way, or what, but it doesn't matter. You keep it professional at work and you can look after yourself, so it's not a big deal."
Neal was silent for a while. "I'm not a sex addict."
"I didn't say you were."
"And I'm not a freak."
"Well, yeah, you are, but not because of this," Peter assured him.
"I just..." this was even more awkward than the conversation with Kate, and a lot less likely to end in an orgasm, too, but he had to get it out there. "It's just the way I am. I've tried fixing it."
"Can't fix sex," Peter said with a grin. "I imagine you know that by now."
"For a guy who can't flirt to save a case, you're pretty calm about this," Neal observed.
Peter shrugged. "Everyone has issues."
"You and Elizabeth don't."
"Sure, we do. What, you think sex gets easier when you get married?" Peter replied, and Neal almost choked on his water. "We have issues sometimes."
"Like what?" Neal asked, though he didn't really expect an answer. Peter's usual MO when sex was involved was to blush and tell Neal to shut up.
"Timing's a problem sometimes," Peter said thoughtfully, instead. "I like it in the mornings, she likes it in the evenings, it's something you work out. She's -- I don't know, it's not like I'm not into it, I'm very into it, but she's more into it than I am. Though not as into it as you are, apparently."
"How'd you work it out?" Neal asked, fascinated. Peter frowned a little, but more like he was thinking about it than like he was feeling awkward telling Neal about it.
"Tried nooners," he said, and Neal laughed. "Sure, laugh, but my phone kept ringing and she kept being late for client meetings, so that was out."
"You ever swing?" Neal asked.
"Eh. When we were dating, but I didn't like the parties and there was this one guy who kept not wanting to take no for an answer, so she didn't really feel very safe. So I," Peter said, digging in his brown paper bag for a terrible deviled-ham sandwich, "bought her a really nice vibrator and promised I'd keep morning sex to three days a week, and we're okay."
"That sounds very..." Neal tried to figure out the word he was looking for.
"Scheduled?" Peter suggested. "It's not quite that formulaic. That's broad guidelines."
"Huh." Neal sat back in the seat, considering things. "I like morning sex."
"Yeah? Maybe it's a guy thing," Peter said around a bite of sandwich.
"And evening sex."
"Well, aren't you lucky."
"I'm really not," Neal said. "People think it's weird. Plus, you know, inconvenient sometimes." He hesitated. "But if you wanted, in the mornings..."
Peter wiped his mouth with a napkin. "Yeah, I'm sure Elizabeth would be happy about that."
Neal shrugged. "So, take me home for dinner, give her vibrator a break."
Peter turned to him. "Did you just proposition me and my wife?"
"Beats nooners," Neal said contemplatively. He glanced at Peter and found that Peter's eyes were sweeping him, up and down, casual but appraising.
"Probably would," Peter said, and then the bad guy actually left his house and got in his car and the conversation was cut short because they had to go be heroes.
Neal went to bed late that night, jerking off to the image of Peter and Elizabeth having a very successful nooner indeed.
He woke later than usual the next morning, and he was just getting out of the shower when he heard the door slam and Peter call out, "Neal?"
"Out in a minute," Neal yelled back. He tied a towel around his waist and was about to emerge when the bathroom door opened and the steam went whooshing out as cold air whooshed in. He felt himself pushed back against the wall, Peter's hand on his chest. He didn't actually have time to ask what the hell Peter was doing before the door slammed shut and Peter kissed him, hard.
"Talked to Elizabeth," Peter said around the kiss, while Neal got with the program and started trying to climb Peter a little, or at least get his belt buckle undone.
"How'd that go?" Neal asked, and Peter ground his body up against Neal's, erection rubbing his thigh.
"You're invited to dinner," Peter said. Neal whimpered.
"You should’ve phoned," he said, wishing like hell he hadn't just come in the shower.
"Want to stop?" Peter asked, biting his shoulder.
"Nuh," Neal shook his head and dropped to his knees. Peter grunted pleasingly when he rubbed his face against his hip. Neal got his pants and underwear down to at least his thighs and Peter's cock was -- nice, well-proportioned, on the thick side, already hard, hell yes. Neal prided himself on the quality of his blowjobs, but it was always nice to have good material to work with.
Peter smiled all the way to work and well past lunchtime. Neal, warm and satisfied and looking forward to the end of the day, managed to behave pretty well, for him.
That evening, when they arrived home, Elizabeth brought Peter a glass of wine and told him dinner was going to be late, and then pushed Neal down onto the couch and straddled his lap as soon as he took his hat off.
"I'm okay if we never make it to dinner," Neal said, as Peter sat down next to him. "I had a big lunch."
Elizabeth kissed him. Peter leaned into his neck, nuzzling his throat.
"Told you she liked evenings," he said, and someone undid Neal's fly and Elizabeth wasn't wearing any panties and it got a little blurry after that. Peter just stayed there, warm against his side, mouthing at his neck in a lazy kind of way while Elizabeth fucked him so thoroughly he was afraid he'd sprain something.
"Okay," he said, catching his breath afterwards, head tipped back on the couch. "I don't know about you guys but this is really going to work for me."
Elizabeth, curled up in his lap, tucked her head under his chin and kissed Peter for a while before replying.
"Well, we can't do it every day," she said. "But I'm pretty sure we can wear you out if we work together."
"We're good at that," Peter added. "It's a marriage thing."
"By all means," Neal said, gesturing weakly with one hand. "Happy to help."
"He's adorable," Elizabeth stage-whispered to Peter.
"Kind of an expensive pet, though," Peter replied. Neal whacked the back of his hand against Peter's stomach, which was the best he could do at the moment in terms of expressing annoyance.
"You want...uh, anything?" Neal asked, turning his head to Peter, who smiled.
"I'm good," he said, kissing him. "One thing, though."
"Mm?" Neal managed.
"This isn't because you're pretty," Elizabeth said. "Or because you're handy."
Neal gave her a confused look.
"We have something we can give you," Peter said. "That, you know. Stuff."
"Peter," Elizabeth said sternly. She turned back to Neal. "We care about you. We like this, with you. It's not about sex. It's about you, okay?"
"It's a little about sex," Peter muttered. Elizabeth elbowed him. "But mostly about you," he repeated dutifully.
"Because we love you," Elizabeth said.
Neal tightened the arm he had around Elizabeth's waist and leaned into Peter, hiding his face against Peter's hair.
"Okay," he said. "That...changes things. In a good way," he added, feeling Elizabeth tense. "It's -- I, yeah. This is totally going to work for me," he said, and Peter laughed.
"Good. Now. Wash up for dinner," he ordered, and eased off the couch, and Neal let Elizabeth go. Something in the kitchen did smell really good, and he was pretty sure tomorrow morning Peter was going to fuck him. And maybe this weekend he could get them to agree on a time they could all get in bed together and have sex until they fell asleep, and nobody was going to call him a slut (unless he asked, he supposed, which could be fun).
Definitely something to be said for married life, he decided, as he helped set the table.