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Bright Lights

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Bright Lights
Chapter One

The door to CyberLife Publishing slammed open as Reed stormed inside.

“I’m not working with that fucking maniac anymore!” he declared to the entire room.

From his office, Kamski, the manager, heard this and came rushing out. “You’ve only been working with him for TWO DAYS! You can’t just QUIT!”

“Fuck that and fuck him! The bastard threw something at me! He’s fucking crazy!”

Kamski visibly deflated. This was the third editor in a year that Hank Anderson - famous murder mystery author - had chased off. He glanced around the room, looking for a replacement, but all the senior editors were pointedly avoiding his gaze. The only eyes on him belonged to their newest editor and current office gopher, Connor Davis.

“Davis! I’ve got an assignment for you!”

Connor didn't wait to hear who he’d been assigned to. “I can take it!”

The manager quickly scribbled an address on a scrap of paper and pushed it toward the kid. This was cruel, sending him out to such a tough author on his first proper job, but there was no one else. “They’ve got a deadline in a week. You have to get it in on time. We can’t be late again!”

“Yes, sir. I can do that.” He grabbed the paper from Kamski without hesitation and went to collect his things from his desk. He never actually sat there; he was always running around fetching coffees for the senior editors. Now he had his first actual job! There was no way he was going to mess this up.

***

When Connor arrived at the address he’d been provided, no one was home. He rang the doorbell at least five times to no avail. It wasn’t until desperation kicked in and he started peering in the front window that an older model car finally pulled up haphazardly onto the front lawn. Connor flattened himself against the house in surprise, then looked around the porch to see who was emerging from the car.

The driver was an older man with graying hair down to his chin, which was also covered in a thin stubble of gray hairs. He carried a bag of something that clinked when he walked and was struggling to figure out which of his two keys opened the front door.

Connor panicked at the sight of him. Was this really the Hank Anderson? Wasn’t he like a big shot? Why had they sent a nobody like him to work with an author like Mr. Anderson!? Whatever the reason, he had to complete this assignment. Taking a deep breath, Connor stepped fully onto the porch and announced: “Hi Mr. Anderson! I’m Connor Davis, the editor sent by CyberLife Publishing.”

The author froze, key in the door, and stared hard at Connor. Was this the same guy that he’d just chased off? No. He was dressed much nicer than the last guy. “Don’t call me Mr. Anderson ever again.” He growled as he pushed open the door - and promptly slammed it before Connor could take a step inside.

“Mr. An— Hank! I don’t think you understand! You have a deadline in a week and your manuscript must be edited before then! Let me in and it’ll be easier on the both of us!” Connor couldn’t believe he was shouting at a grown man through his door.

Hank’s only response was to lock the door and loudly greet his dog.

Stubbornly, Connor pressed his ear to the door. “Do you have a dog?? I like dogs!” From somewhere further inside he heard Hank curse in surprise. “What’s his name?”

Silence.

Connor frowned and sat down on the front step for a moment, trying to plan his next attack. There had to be a way to get inside. Was this the maniac that Reed had been shouting about? If that oaf could make it two days, so could he. Alright. Plan A: see how long he could shout at Hank through the door until he came up with a better Plan B. Plan B was currently doing a James Bond move through one of the windows, but he hadn’t quite figured out the logistics of it. So, Plan A was in use for now.

***

It had been two hours. Two. Fucking. Hours. Hank might have survived at least three, but now Sumo was whining and doing his stupid dog dance. He literally got a dog so that someone would give a damn to make him get up and go outside once in a while, but now he was truly regretting it.

“Why are you doing this to me, Sumo?”

Connor was saying something to the door again.

“Why Sumo!?”

The dog kept whining. Hank imagined Connor doing the same thing outside the door, pee dance and all.

“Fine!” He snarled at the dog, and the editor, as he grabbed Sumo’s leash. “We’re going out!” That was a lot angrier than Sumo deserved, but his big lug padded happily up to the door and didn’t complain. He didn’t expect the same from his new hound dog out front. With a huff he pulled the door open and glared down at the boy. “We’re going for a walk. Do.” He grit his teeth and let out a slow breath. “Whatever you want.”

He stormed around Connor and out into the yard with the eager Saint Bernard.

Connor’s eyes widened when Hank opened the door and he broke into a broad smile. Before Hank could get back and change his mind, he darted into the house with his things. What he found was a morbid hole of despair. There had once been a nice house here but it was currently hidden in the dark and covered in liquor bottles, torn up paper, and dog toys. He managed to locate a desk covered in old magazines and began to clean off a small spot for himself. He arranged a few stacks on the floor to be recycled later, set up his laptop on the desk, and even turned on some lights to fend off the cave-like atmosphere of the house.

Hank returned not 30 minutes later to find his house invaded by light and an overly cheerful kid. The boy sitting at his desk was no more than 25 by his guess but his hair was combed flawlessly and he was wearing a sweater vest. What kind of kid dressed like that in this age? Hank winced away from the light, hung up the leash, and stormed into his bedroom before Connor could trap him with words.

“Sumo, attack!” He called from the safety of his room.

Connor panicked for a moment, but Sumo’s great attack was a deep woof and a slobbery lick.

“Good boy,” Hank added with a chuckle.

Sumo always distracted the young editors for at least a few minutes. Maybe he could get nice and wasted before the energetic boy came after him.

Connor gave himself two very satisfying minutes of petting Sumo, and one extra minute of giving him Good Boy Tummy Rubs, before prying himself away to find his delinquent author. Hank had barely lifted the glass he’d poured himself to his lips when Connor came in.

“Damnit.” He scowled and knocked back the drink before Connor could start yapping at him about the benefits of sobriety.

“Now listen, Hank. It would be best for both of us if you didn’t fight this. We need to get your manuscript in on time. Kamski was very insistent.”

Hank glared sullenly at Connor. “Kamski’s always got his pants in a wad. I’ll get it done when I get it done!”

“At least send me what you have? I can start editing it.” He paused for a moment then tilted his head imploringly. “The sooner you do that, the sooner I can go away!” And leave you to your drinking, Connor thought in dismay.

That seemed to appeal to Hank. He grumbled beneath his breath without actually answering Connor, and pulled his laptop off the nightstand. A few clicks and he had transferred the file to a USB stick. “There. Take it, do your thing, but leave me the fuck alone so that I can get some fucking writing done.”

Hours later, when Hank finally ran out of alcohol to accompany his writing, he headed out to the kitchen for a fresh bottle. To his surprise, he found the editor was still in his house. It was late in the evening and the day had apparently worn him down, because he’d fallen asleep at the desk.

Hank hated to admit that the kid was kind of attractive.

Without saying anything, he pulled his coat from the rack and gently laid it over Connor’s shoulders.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Two

Connor woke with a groan. He’d laid his head on the desk for just a moment and must have fallen asleep. Something heavy was on his shoulders, filling his senses with something musky but masculine that made his stomach twist in an unexpectedly pleasant way. He was grateful no one was around to see the blush on his cheeks when he realized the nice-smelling thing was actually Hank’s coat.

He slowly sat up, stretching out his stiff limbs, before pulling the coat close to himself again. It was nice and, for a couple hours at least, it was his. He moved about the small house carefully, trying to disturb as little as possible in his pursuit of coffee. Instead he wound up with another bag of recycled bottles, a stack of pizza boxes, and enough dishes that it warranted running the dishwasher. Connor glanced back toward Hank’s closed bedroom door and then pressed the start button before retreating back to his work.

The result was roughly what he expected. Halfway through the cycle the door to the bedroom slammed open, cursing filled the house, then the door to the bathroom slammed shut. Connor smiled to himself and continued editing. There was a good amount of work to be done with the drunken manuscript he’d been provided, but as he cleaned up the spelling and grammar he had been coming to understand why these novels were best sellers.

Hank slammed the bathroom door again as he stumbled out, growled incoherent words at Connor, and started toward the kitchen. “There’s coffee in the pot,” the boy called cheerfully. Hank didn’t answer, but he went straight to the pot and poured himself a cup. He turned around, leaning on the counter, and glared at Connor from across the room.

“Where do you get off touching shit in my house?”

“If it was cleaner, I wouldn’t have to. Besides, you locked yourself in your room and I have work to do. I just don’t think it’s wise to go out for breakfast and leave you unattended when you also have so much work left to do.”

Hank just stared at him for a long moment, unsure of how to handle how direct and cheerful this editor was. He glanced around his kitchen, far from spotless but a bit more put together, and then back to Connor. “Fine. Do what you want.” He took a step toward the bedroom again then paused beside Connor. “Next time, don’t sleep on the damn desk. I’ve got a spare bedroom that’s never used.” He disappeared again.

“If you’re sure, I will take you up on that offer.” Connor thought for a moment and realized he didn’t want to spend the next week or so in the same clothes and Hank’s jacket — no matter how good it smelled. Now, how would he get home and come back without his cranky author locking him out again?

Luckily as he shifted in thought, the coat pocket made a noise. He reached in and found a pair of keys. Hopefully they were to the house. Draping the coat over his chair, he quietly tried the key in the front door. It fit! “I’m going out to get some stuff, I’ll be back later!” he called cheerfully as he left.

Hank paused as he heard the boy call out to him. What? He poked his head out of the room and carefully stalked into the living room. Connor’s laptop was still there, but he had already went out the door. Perfect. He locked it smugly and made his way back to his bedroom. Now maybe he could get some damned sleep.

***

Connor arrived back a short time later with a duffle bag stuffed with fresh clothes and personal items. With an amused smile, he tried the door. Locked. Of course. He pulled out his “borrowed” set of keys and swiftly unlocked the door. Shutting it gently behind him, he re-locked it and greeted Sumo, who wagged his tail happily.

“I’m back!” he called.

No answer.

He found the spare bedroom and placed his bag in there. Then he sighed and ended up dusting everything in the room with Hank’s meager cleaning supplies. He wondered if he might get paid extra for also doing the housekeeping.

By the time he’d finished, the door to Hank’s room was actually open and he heard sounds coming from the kitchen. The smell of cooking food wafted through the house and Connor could even hear Hank humming to himself as he cooked. In the kitchen he found Sumo asleep in his food bowl and Hank looking surprisingly cheerful - right up until he turned around and saw Connor.

“Jesus, fuck! What the hell are you doing here?!” He held his plate of food at Connor accusingly. “I locked the damn door!”

Connor pretended to look puzzled. “I told you I’d be back.”

Hank looked both confused and furious. He set the plate down on the counter. “And I locked the door! How the fuck did you get back into my house?!”

The boy smiled and shrugged. “What are you cooking?”

Connor had broken him. Hank just stared at the boy for a few moments trying to process his feelings of rage, confusion, and indignation. Slowly he set the plate on the table and turned his back on Connor. “Made a fuckin’ omelette.” He growled and started slamming things around on the counter. “Sit the fuck down and eat, I’ll make myself another one.”

Honestly, Connor wanted to say no, (he didn't want to take advantage of Hank's hospitality) but his stomach rumbled annoyingly. It did smell really good. “Okay, thank you!” he replied, genuinely, taking a seat at the table.

Hank glanced over his shoulder briefly then turned back to his cooking. Damn, how was he so peppy? As he cooked he glared at the pan and, finally, asked: “How’s it look so far, Mr. Editor?”

“Really good,” Connor said in between bites of the delicious food. “I do have some questions about a few things here and there but we can discuss it later.”

Hank finished his omelette, slammed a few things down to make sure Connor knew he was still feeling sour, and then joined him at the table. He was surprised none of the chairs collapsed from the sheer audacity of two people sitting at the table at once. “Good.” He took a bite of his food as he tried to think of how to be as unhelpful as possible, and then just sighed. “Let me know when you’re done. I should have the rest finished by then.”

“Okay,” answered the younger man, still bright and cheerful. He was really excited to have his first job and for it to be going .. uh .. sort of smoothly.

Hank just shook his head. “How are you so damned happy? Most of my editors are screaming by now.” He felt oddly defeated.

“For one thing, working on a book that you’re writing is quite thrilling. Also, I don’t understand why you go through so many editors. It’s not like you’re mean or anything. Just grumpy.” Connor smiled and took his plate out to the sink and automatically began to unload the dishwasher so he could fill it up again. There were plenty of things that still needed to be washed.

The older man just blinked then turned over his shoulder to watch Connor casually go about cleaning. “I think… most of them would disagree.” He was utterly confused and, despite himself, mildly intrigued. Damnit. “Kid, you don’t have to clean my house. You’re here to edit my manuscript, not be my maid.” …Now he had a very unhelpful mental image of Connor in a maid outfit. Fuck.

“I don’t mind. Think of it as payback for letting me stay here.” He peered back at the table and noticed that his author seemed more disgruntled than usual, but he had no idea why.

Hank thought of a couple different arguments, but ultimately none of them seemed worth it in the face of his perpetual happiness. “You’re an odd one,” he muttered as he finished up his meal. With a huff he stood up and placed the plate on the counter. “Just…” He stared at Connor, thought of the maid outfit again, and turned on his heel. “Just let me know when you need the rest.” He stormed off to his room and slammed the door behind him.

Connor didn’t get a chance to answer before the door was already shut. He wasn’t remotely surprised. He finished up his work in the kitchen and then returned to his laptop to get back to his real job.

***

Hank’s mood deteriorated throughout the day. Not just because his writing was coming more easily than it had in weeks, but because he was also starting to feel… happy wasn’t the right word, but positive… about seeing Connor sitting in his living room. He wasn’t used to either of these things and he hated the idea that he might actually enjoy this kid’s company. Connor was quiet, didn’t ride his ass all day like his previous editors, and he was just a never-ending torrent of pleasantness.

It took effort to remind himself that Connor would leave too, just like everyone else, when he eventually ran out of patience for his depressive spirals. It wasn’t worth getting attached to him or the idea of company, but it was hard when it was so forcibly shoved in his face.

The damn kid even surprised him with dinner that wasn’t out of a bottle and, frankly, he didn’t know what to do with any of it. He couldn’t even think of a proper protest so he just thanked him, ate his food, and shoved the remainder of his manuscript at the kid before retreating back into his room. What the fuck was he doing?

***

Connor’s head snapped up. Oh no. He had fallen asleep at the desk again. He yawned, sitting up and found Hank’s coat over his shoulders again. It pleased him that, in his own way, Hank was actually a thoughtful guy. He just wasn’t great at … people-ing. Most of the people at the office considered Connor ‘odd’ as well, so he felt a sort of .. kinship with the author. He breathed in the now familiar smell of the jacket and sighed. Hank was not going to be happy that he fell asleep out in the chair again and he would definitely hear about it later.

Rubbing his eyes, he scanned his laptop again to see where he had left off in his editing. He’d been working on it for days now, and simultaneously taking breaks to clean up the areas he used in Hank’s house. The house was seeming less like a cave and more like a — well, an actual house. He was pleased with the progress.

Hank was in the kitchen, freshly showered with his hair tied back, when he noticed Connor had finally woken up. “Hey sleeping beauty,” he snarked, “what did I tell you about sleeping at the desk? There’s a bed for that.” And the deadline wasn’t that close… was it? He was actually pretty terrible at keeping track of that. Maybe that’s why the publisher was always throwing tantrums… Hmm, he was way too sober if he was having these sort of thoughts. He cleared his throat and turned his attention to the kitchen to find a bottle of something, anything, that would stop all these responsible thoughts.

Connor actually almost did a double take when he looked into the kitchen. This was the first time he had seen Hank with his hair tied back. He could actually get a good look at his author’s face. Hank was even more handsome than he had originally thought! He caught himself staring and shook his head. No, no. None of that now. This was his job, so he couldn’t get distracted. “It won’t happen again.” he promised Hank, turning back to the computer before he got any other ideas.

Hank snorted. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” he called, teasingly.

The older man collected a beer from the fridge and made his way out into the living room where Connor was working. He hated how adorable he was, still fucking wearing his coat even now that he was awake. Without saying anything, he plopped on the sofa and sipped his beer.

“Hey kid, you drink?”

Connor looked over his shoulder, honest surprise in his eyes. “No. I’m too busy to do that.”

Hank’s brows furrowed as he stared at Connor. “Really? What do you do for fun?”

The look Connor gave Hank was priceless - confused, mildly horrified, and frustrated - and then he turned resolutely back to his laptop. “Too busy for fun too.”

Hank frowned and took a sip of his beer. “That sucks,” he said finally.

“Yeah.” Connor replied in a resigned way. It wasn’t as if he didn’t want to have fun; he just didn’t have time. He didn’t even have ‘fun’ at college. It might have made his perfect GPA drop. He frowned for a moment. This wasn’t something he liked to think about. With even more determination, he focused on his editing.

This kid was sad as fuck. Hank drank in silence for a few minutes, struggling with how he felt about that. “Well,” he started slowly, “when you get finished, why don’t you have a drink with me? To celebrate.” He finished his beer after that and slid to his feet. “I’ll go walk Sumo and let you work.” As he made his way back to the kitchen he paused at Connor’s side and ruffled his hair. “Don’t kill yourself working, kid.”

Connor stiffened at the touch at first but then eased into it. Hank was being friendly. Maybe Connor was actually wearing him down. “I will .. think about it.” he answered. The fear of failure held him back. If he had time to “celebrate” with Hank, he’d like to .. but for now, there was still editing to do.

Hank shook his head a little but smiled to himself. “Alright. I’ll leave you to it.”

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Three

Hank took a nice long walk with Sumo, trying to give Connor adequate time to work while also clearing his head. The boy was too kind to be as sad as he was. Hank knew from experience how much that sucked. At least Sumo was having a good time, smelling everything and peeing on old ladies’ bushes. He waved cheerfully at one old lady who was hollering at him while Sumo did just that and then went on his way.

He didn’t know how to feel about Connor or about his concern for Connor. This wasn’t the sort of shit he had to deal with. Not to mention that he had fucking inspiration again. He wanted to go home and write shit. He wanted to actually talk to people, though mostly that was just Connor for now. It was still… different.

It was maybe an hour later when he returned from what would usually be a 30 minute walk and Sumo was clearly exhausted. The Saint Bernard collapsed in a fluffy heap the moment the leash came off and Hank stared at him in confusion. “I thought I was out of shape,” he chuckled to himself.

Then he remembered the source of his distraction was sitting at the desk on the other side of the room. It was weird how aware he was of Connor. Should he bother him? Should he leave him alone? Without saying anything, he went to collect his laptop from the bedroom and returned to sit on the sofa. Sumo was thrilled by this. The large dog came to sit by the sofa and Hank propped a foot on him affectionately as he began to type.

For now he’d let Connor work and just get this idea that was pestering him out of his head.

Connor was still struggling between editing and thinking about his pitiful social (or otherwise) life when he heard Hank come back in. He managed to tune everything out until he heard the keyboard on the laptop.

He felt kind of honored that Hank would write with him around. Apparently he was very secretive and usually only wrote in his room while editors were around. Or so said the gossip he overheard at the office.

Hank glanced up when he heard Connor stop typing. The older man arched a brow curiously. “Need me for something?” he prompted casually. It was rare indeed to catch him working, rarer when he felt like writing without someone busting his balls, and he realized belatedly, even rarer to catch him wearing his glasses as he worked. Shit. He was pretty sure he’d managed to hide that from just about all of his editors. Hopefully Connor would just keep his mouth shut about it if he pretended everything was normal.

“Uh, n-no.” Connor stammered, feeling his face turn red. Hank looked even better with glasses on. So handsome and professional! Connor squashed the attraction before it go any further. He. was. too. busy.

What the fuck am I doing? Hank thought as he found himself admiring the way Connor looked when he blushed. He should’ve been more concerned that the boy was going to go gossip about his secret ‘flaw’, but instead he was biting his lip and thinking about Connor blushing and wearing that stupid maid outfit. Just great.

“What’s that now?” he teased playfully. “Why are you blushing?”

“I’m not.” Connor replied, trying to sound indignant. Instead, he just felt his face get hotter. Good God, he couldn’t tell his first client that he had a crush. It’d been a problem most of the week, actually, but it hadn’t reached an actual peak until that day.

Hank chuckled to himself, unaware that Connor’s blushing had more to do with attraction than just the awkwardness of seeing him in glasses. “You’re too easy to tease - you’re blushing all the way up to your ears, kid.”

Connor just mumbled something unintelligible back because he couldn’t think of anything to say. He kept his eyes on the screen; after all if he didn’t look at Hank, then there wouldn’t be a problem.

Hank tilted his head as he stared at Connor until he caught himself wishing Connor would play back… and realized he was, in fact, getting stupidly attached to this kid. He forced himself to pay attention to his writing, even as he also realized his newest inspiration for a young new detective might have something to do with the boy in the room. Fuck.

“So, you don’t do anything for fun… Do you at least date?”

The younger man’s fingers froze over his keyboard. “Uh, no. I don’t do that either. I can’t go on dates when I should be working.” Ugh, he sounded pathetic even to himself. Get it together, Connor! he thought to himself.

“Hm… That’s too bad. I could use some help figuring out what boys your age do for fun now.” He tapped his fingers against the laptop thoughtfully. “Didn’t want the next book to come out sounding dated.” It was only partially a lie and not that he was just curious about Connor. It would’ve been a helpful perspective. “Do you work all the time?”

“Yes.” Connor pressed his lips together tightly. “I would be working right now as well.”

Hank smirked to himself. “Sorry.” Not sorry. “Maybe you need a bit of a break? If you’re having trouble focusing.”

Connor pondered the idea. “I could go take out the trash and recycling.” he said, a bit too enthusiastically. But at least he could clear his head.

“That is not what I meant!” Hank sputtered, though he didn’t really know what he’d been aiming for either. “Taking out the trash isn’t taking a break!”

“That’s what I normally do on my breaks here.” Connor frowned and finally spun the chair around to face Hank. “What do people do on their breaks then?”

Hank didn’t know how to respond at first. The frown on Connor’s face was new to him and left him feeling a tad bit guilty. “Relax for one? Have a beer, grab a bite to eat?” He shrugged. “Watch some tv?”

“I think the deadline is too close for me to be slacking off like that, Hank.” Connor replied, with a responsible tone in his voice.

“You’re laced far too tightly, kid.” Hank sighed. “I’ll leave ya alone then, let you focus on your work.”

“Okay.” Connor turned back to the computer, but that phrase kept repeating in his head. Does that mean Hank thought he needed to be .. unlaced? He tried not to shiver at the ideas that unleashed. He’d told himself relationships were out of the question. Crushes were fine because they stayed in his head. They weren’t supposed to get out.

***

It was about a day and a half later that Connor finally put the last touches on the manuscript. He let out a deep breath and leaned back in his chair. “I’m all finished, if you want to take a look.” he said to Hank.

Hank was on his third beer after dinner and enjoying a bit of mindless television when Connor finished. The older man smiled to himself and shut off the tv as he got to his feet. “Yeah, I’ll take a look.”

He leaned over Connor’s shoulder and flicked back to what they had gone over last. Ever since their conversation about how tightly laced Connor was, he’d been behaving himself to a degree. Three beers down, however, and he was feeling mischievous. He didn’t give Connor room to slip out of the chair was he re-read his work accompanied by Connor’s edits. The kid was really good, actually.

“You’ve got a good eye for pacing,” he muttered. “Thanks.”

Hank had a couple complaints, but ultimately Connor had polished everything up nicely. He honestly liked it better than the last editor’s work. “You do really good work. I don’t say that lightly, either.”

Connor’s eyes lit up. “I appreciate you saying that.” He couldn’t stop himself from smiling. His first job had been a little strange … and a little embarrassing but it was all worth it to hear the author himself give him praise.

Hank was pleased to see Connor beaming again. That was more like it. He’d been looking a bit too uptight since Hank had teased him. The older man ruffled his hair affectionately. “Well… I mean it,” he added, feeling a little bashful at his own pleasure. “I suppose you’re cutting it close, huh? Need to get that back to Kamski now?” He had planned this out earlier and now seemed as good a time as any. “I’ve got something for you before you go… As thanks for all the cleaning and shit.” He pulled an envelope out of his pocket and thrust it at the kid. “Don’t refuse it or I’ll mail it to Kamski and make him put it in your paycheck.”

Speechlessly, Connor clutched the envelope. “I can’t — I mean ..” he finally stammered, unsure what to do. He didn’t like accepting what he thought of as charity. He was sharing Hank’s space and he liked clean things; it wasn’t a bother at all. But the way Hank was eyeing him, he figured he’d better just accept. “Um, thank you. I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t worry about it. Not like you’re cutting into Sumo’s treat fund or anything.” He grinned and shrugged. “If you want that celebratory beer, let me know.” That was probably a bad idea with how pleasantly buzzed Hank already felt but… well, that’s how drinking went. One always lead to another.

“I might take you up on that at a later date,” the younger man replied, already beginning to pack up his laptop. He was excited to show Kamski that not only had he completed the work, he was going to submit it early! “I just need to grab my bag from the other room and then I’ll be going.”

Hank smirked as he leaned against the desk. Damn he was an eager little thing. “Alright. Take care of yourself.” A dark thought lingered in the back of his mind: this was the last time he’d see this kid. No one ever came back a second time. He pushed away from the desk as Connor went to get his things, and meandered into the kitchen for that fourth beer. “Want me to call you a taxi?” He called into the other room, even though he was already making his way to the phone.

“Oh, no, I can handle that.” Connor replied, returning with his already packed bag. He stood in the doorway of the kitchen to address Hank. “I did want to let you know it was a pleasure to work with you and I hope to see you again.”

Hank grumbled and cracked his beer open. “Alright.” He was surprised by Connor’s earnest answer but he waved him off. “Yeah yeah, pleasure was mine. Thanks for the work.”

With a friendly little nod, Connor smiled, turned, and quickly made his way out the door. He left Hank’s stolen keys in the spare bedroom. He didn’t know if he would see Hank again, but there was a little part of him that hoped.

And now Hank was alone again.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Four

He had warned himself not to get used to having Connor around and now he was paying for his lapse in judgement. The absence of the little ball of sunshine had an immediate effect on Hank’s home - primarily in the form of no one turning on the lights and him tripping over a dog bone. It had only been a couple hours and he was not off to a good start.

He switched from beer to scotch after that.

The next week went by in a liquid haze - too drunk to care about the void that had reclaimed his life. At some point he got the call from Kamski that his book was flying off the shelves and everything was great. He had left the phone on and taken Sumo for a walk. The line beeped blissfully when he returned.

That damn call was probably what made Connor creep back into his thoughts. He was staring at himself in the mirror, trying to will himself to give a damn, when he noticed that the sticky note he’d placed on the mirror months ago had a reply. He recognized his sloppy handwriting, keep smiling, but the note beneath it was penned in a fine little script with brightly colored ink: Have a good day!

He blinked in disbelief.

How long had these been here?

For the next few minutes Hank wandered around his house collecting the little sticky notes that he knew he hadn’t written. A note on the TV reminding him to eat. One on the fridge suggesting he grab a water instead of a beer. The freezer announced that there were easy meals inside. Absently he made his way to the spare bedroom Connor had been staying in and found the pile of sticky pads along with an additional note: Take care of yourself! On which his spare keys had been placed.

Hank slumped down onto the bed and curled into a ball. At least he knew how the brat had gotten back into his house. He must have left the keys in his coat pocket one of the times he’d covered the boy up. It made sense. He clutched the handful of crumpled notes and tried to figure out why the sight of them all made him feel like such garbage.

He was lonely.

For a brief time there had been sunshine in his life and now it was just gone. Everything felt gray and, while that was really nothing new, it suddenly felt so much more bleak. He couldn’t help but compare the dull aching nothing with the vague sense of purpose Connor had created in his house. Always diligent, always doing something. The absence of it was almost unbearable. He’d avoided this pain for years just by keeping people at an arm’s length. How had Connor gotten under his skin?

Usually he made it at least a month after he’d published something to start feeling this low, but his attempts at leading a functional life had already fizzled out. He drank more to numb the pain, but the less sober he was the more his thoughts began to wander to the one thing he’d been really trying to ignore: his attraction to a boy that was both half his age and completely inexperienced. Not to mention a boy that he’d probably never get the chance to see again anyway.

Well, unless he went to one of those awful publisher parties that Kamski was always begging him to attend. Connor would certainly be there… but so would all those weirdo groupies who liked his work a bit too much. And Kamski would try to get him into a suit, or cut his hair, or any number of god awful combinations. To top it off their wine was always shit, so he always drank too much, made an ass of himself, and puked on at least one person. The whole idea was a joke, and to top it all off he was only considering it so that he could potentially flirt with a kid who probably thought of him as a grandfather.

He was an absolute creep.

By three months out he’d just stopped trying all together. Usually this was around the time he’d start sitting down and working out the plot for his next book, but this time his inspiration was just gone and his motivation had gone along with it. Hank hated writer’s block more than he hated himself. It always resulted in the same useless patterns: stare mindlessly at the tv, aimlessly hit up bars, contemplating jumping off the bridge near his favorite park because what the fuck was the point anymore?

Instead of falling into his cycle, he drank himself unconscious and woke to a horrible draft of a smutty romance novel involving the captain of the police from his main series and the hot, young detective. It simultaneously made nothing better and made him feel oddly content. Instead of throwing it out, he wrote out the plots for three more smut-filled serials before sexual frustration won out and he couldn’t look at them anymore.

When Kamski started calling, it became a real challenge not to pitch the damn romance novels to him. Instead he listened while Kamski begged him to try and sober up and maybe get something written on time. He told him to go fuck himself, hung up, and put the phone on silent so that he could drink himself into oblivion in peace.

***

Connor went over his paperwork again. Luckily he was working on a short book of poems, and the author didn’t need to be babysat. Like someone. He felt a strange twinge of regret whenever he thought of his messy author. He’d been told (and overheard) way too much gossip in the office about Hank. He was uncomfortable with how they saw him and also concerned for the older man’s wellbeing. Clearly, Hank had issues, but he hadn’t been aware how bad.

Wow, Connor! You actually got Anderson’s script in on time? That’s unheard of!

He’s such a fucking lush.

Did he nitpick every edit you made?

I bet he was drunk the whole time.

You poor thing! I hope he didn’t hurt you.

He should realize how much trouble he causes the editors. He only cares about himself.

He wouldn’t even get dressed when I was there! Fucking gross.

Putting his head in his hands, Connor sighed. They just .. didn’t get him, he supposed. Hank wasn’t friendly but he also wasn’t a bad guy. It also wasn’t helpful that Kamski seemed to never grasp the whole “privacy” thing and the whole office was aware that Hank hadn’t done any work on his new book and that the manager was begging him to get sober enough to write. That didn’t help his image any. Connor was concerned but he wasn’t officially assigned to Hank anymore. He needed to finish up this poetry thing. And besides, Hank probably wouldn’t want to see him anyway. It would be vastly inappropriate for him to show up unannounced. They weren’t friends after all, only co-workers.

It probably wouldn’t be good for him either because as much as he tried to shove his attraction to Hank back in the closet where it belonged, it crept up on him when he was alone. Especially when he was alone and not busy. He pushed the errant thoughts back again. Hank wouldn’t be interested in a naive kid like him anyway. Connor tried to focus on editing again.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Five

It was a short couple of days later that Connor was witness to yet another one of Kamski’s freakout sessions. He was practically shrieking at his secretary, Chloe. The manager was positive that Hank had “finally done it” and Chloe was trying to talk him down from that assumption. He panicked and thought about calling the police to check on him but his secretary reminded him that the last time that happened, Hank didn’t submit any work for half a year.

Connor felt like someone had thrown ice on him. He couldn’t sit by anymore. The poetry book was done and he didn’t have any current obligations. “I’ll go check on him.” he said, coming up to the office door.

Chloe smiled. “There, problem solved.”

Kamski hesitated. The little go-getter had made it work last time. “I was going to assign you to something else since you already had your little ‘hazing’. But if you want to go again, it’s all yours.” The manager dug in a drawer in his desk and presented Connor with a key. “Crazy idiot almost killed himself a few years back, so I had a key made.”

Connor felt the color drain from his face. Kamski was way too casual about the situation now that he knew he didn’t have to personally go to Hank’s house. He took the key and gave his manager a tight smile before leaving the office.

***

The amount of time it took to go home and get his bag and then head over to Hank’s house was frustrating. He felt like he was wasting time but he knew once he got there, he didn’t want to have to leave. He anxiously let himself in the house the moment he arrived.

“Hank?” he called out. The room was ridiculously dark except for the TV. What he could see was messy, of course. “Hank? It’s Connor, from the publisher.” he tried again, his eyes still adjusting to the lack of light in the room.

Connor was finally answered by a sound of disgruntled confusion from the floor. Suddenly Hank flopped into view from beside the couch, his face considerably less kept than the last time Connor had seen him. “What the fuck are you doing here?!” He slurred aggressively and then let out a howl of pain as Sumo literally walked over him to excitedly greet Connor.

The editor breathed out a heavy sigh of relief and began to pet Sumo’s head for something to do with his hands. “Kamski said you haven’t answered your phone for two days. He thought you might be dead.”

Hank frowned. “Why the fuck would I be dead?! My phone hasn’t rang!” He glowered at Connor and the traitorous pooch. “Did he really fucking send you over here to find my fucking corpse?”

“Well,” Connor thought about it. “.. yes. Yes he did.” He cringed as Hank rolled about on the floor in anger, yelling about Kamski sending a kid over to find a dead body because he was too much of a coward to do it himself.

The older man snarled and punched the floor. “Bet he would’ve been asking you to check my corpse for my manuscript too.” Hank punched the couch this time, winced in regret, and then grabbed the arm of it. He tried to heave himself up to his feet — and failed spectacularly. “And you! You’re in my house again!”

Connor looked around the room and nodded. “Yep. I am.”

Hank was speechless for a moment, eyes wide and nostrils flared as he tried to formulate words around his drunken, enraged confusion. “HOW?!”

“You know, I’m not really sure myself.” smiled Connor, only realizing now just how much he missed this banter.

Hank just stared at Connor, but his anger seemed to have melted into confused exhaustion at this defeat. “What the fuck?” he asked.

Setting his bag down, Connor took a seat on the sofa. “I’m supposed to be here to check on your work, but I’m guessing we will have to talk about that later.” He pulled out his phone to text Kamski really quickly. ‘Not dead. Just drunk.’ he wrote.

Hank’s face screwed up in frustration as Connor - and thus Sumo - walked past him and sat down on the couch. Sumo laid at his feet. “Traitor,” he muttered before trying, once again, to brace himself on the sofa. This time he made it, struggled to get his balance, and then lifted a hand to point accusingly at Connor. Instead of saying anything, he turned around and stumbled to the bathroom.

Connor reached over to the coffee table and managed to find the TV remote. He didn’t really watch TV but it was something to do while he waited for Hank to sober up a little. They weren’t going to get any work done like this. He tried not to think about it, but he was actually pleased to be back in his author’s house again. It felt familiar now. He reached down to scratch Sumo’s ears while he flipped through channels.

It was a good few minutes before Hank stumbled back out of the bathroom, but he looked considerably more coherent now. He flopped down on the sofa and eyed Connor like he didn’t trust him to actually be there. “You’re really here? I don’t need to have anything done for like… a month…?”

“Kamski said you haven’t written anything yet.” Connor didn’t look at him as he flipped through more channels. “Are you going to write a novel in a month? What is this, nanowrimo?”

The older man looked at him blankly and then shrugged. “I wrote a bit but I’m all fuckin’ dried out.” He shook his head. “Might as well be with the shit I’ve got,” he added as he thought about the rough romance plots he’d been fucking around with.

“I guess you can show me what you have and maybe we can work up an outline?” Connor suggested. He wasn’t quite sure where Hank got inspiration from or why it would suddenly be gone.

He huffed and pouted at Connor’s suggestion. “Yeah, yeah… Tomorrow, I guess.” After all his drinking and his frustration over Connor’s absence, having the boy sitting next to him felt oddly surreal. “My bed’s still available,” he started, before stopping himself. “The spare bed. If you’re even staying.”

“I brought my bag, as usual.” Connor nodded. “Thanks for always letting me stay over.” He kept his eyes on the tv after he spoke though because the bed comment affected him more than he would have liked to admit. He hoped the blue light of the TV hid the blush in his cheeks.

Hank hated the fact that he was smiling. The idea of Connor staying pleased him more than he liked admitting to himself. “Apparently Kamski thinks I need a babysitter, so it’s the least I can do.” The longer he watched Connor the harder it was to keep his hands to himself. Too much liquor. He couldn’t do this. “I think… I need to sleep this off before I do something stupid.”

“Oh, okay. Good night, then.” Connor’s heart thudded in his chest at the “do something stupid” remark so he didn’t say anything about it. Wishful thinking was a bad route to go. Especially if he was going to be staying here for what might be a month.

That was one of the best things about Connor - he didn’t push the stupid things he said, he just went with them. Hank was equal parts grateful and disappointed this time. Nevertheless, he stumbled off the sofa and ruffled the boy’s hair. “G’night.” He paused. “Thanks for coming to check on me.”

“O-of course,” Connor stammered at the fingers running through his hair. Damn. He blushed harder.

This time Hank caught sight of the blush and his heart leapt up into his throat in an attempt to strangle him. He bit his lip for a moment and gave his hair another little ruffle before dragging himself to his bedroom. What the fuck did he think he was doing? There was no way Connor would reciprocate any interest in him after he’d seen that drunken display earlier. He was hopeless.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Six

They were a couple days into working (begrudgingly on Hank’s part) and Connor had managed to navigate all the pitfalls of spending a lot of time with someone he wasn’t allowing himself to be attracted to with relative ease. That is until his curiosity got the best of him. He noticed there were a couple extra folders in the USB drive this time. Folders that seemingly had nothing to do with the novel they were working on. He made the mistake of clicking into them.

They contained a few drafts of what seemed to be well-written gay erotica. He skimmed them, and then glanced around anxiously. Hank was hiding in his room currently. Should he read this? His heart beat quickened and his face burned.

Hank wasn’t doing nearly as well as Connor when it came to managing this attraction thing. Still far from sober, he was at least trying to do his work… while keeping Connor at an arm’s length. He kept to his room as much as possible, ensuring that he wouldn’t be caught eyeballing the boy. The need for another drink drove him out into the living room.

He arched a brow. “Hey kid, what’s got you blushing like that?” Fuck, he couldn’t resist that cute blushing face of his.

“N-nothing,” Connor answered, hurriedly clicking off of the story he had open. He tried to come up with a realistic excuse, but nothing came to mind. ‘Sorry I accidentally read your gay porn’? That didn’t seem plausible.

Hank leaned in curiously but Connor had already clicked out of whatever had him all flushed. “That’s not fair - if you’ve got something good you ought to share with the class.” The older man snickered to himself even as he found himself admiring Connor again. Aside from enjoying teasing him, he did wonder what had gotten him to make such a cute face.

“It was really nothing,” Connor replied, the blush not receding whatsoever. Especially not with the older man so close to him. He tried to avoid Hank’s eyes.

Hank glanced back up at the folder Connor had open. He’d copied that to him yesterday, hadn’t he? “Ohhh, fuck. Did I actually write that?” He paused and looked back down to Connor before a mischievous grin spread across his face. “Was it good then?”

“Uhm, I mean .. what I did read was .. good.” the younger man attempted to regain his composure, but his body was having none of it. It was overreacting to the whole situation. He crossed his arms and tried to look critical. “Could probably use some editing though.”

Hank laughed as he watched the boy squirm. “You would say that.” His grin hadn’t faded and now all of his poorly held together control was unraveling around him. “Do you have any experience with that?” The older man sat on the edge of the desk as he waited for an answer.

“No, I haven’t edited any .. romance novels.” Connor offered, his fingers curling around the desk in front of his laptop. He attempted to stare at his hands, even though Hank was directly in his peripheral vision. Work, we only work. He reminded himself.

“I meant personally, not in editing.”

Connor’s voice went very quiet. “Not that either.”

Hank was still eyeing up Connor, he couldn’t help himself. He’d been ignoring how cute he was from day one. “Want to change that?” He froze as the words escaped him. That… was perhaps a bit too forward… Well, better to ruin what chances he had at a normal friendship early on and get all that worry out of the way.

The question made Connor’s stomach do flips. Could his author really be suggesting — no, he was probably teasing .. but if not — “Yes.” he answered before he could rethink anything.

The tension in his body eased before Hank realized he’d actually been anxious and his grin turned into a more easy-going smile. “Is that so?” He reached down and caught Connor’s chin, bringing the boy’s gaze up to his. “If you’re not interested I’m not going to pressure you.”

It wasn’t as if he could lie anymore — and to be honest, he didn’t really want to. “You wouldn’t be pressuring me.” Connor replied, finally meeting the older man’s eyes.

“I’m glad.” He leaned down and did what he’d been longing to for months: he kissed Connor.

With unexpected eagerness, Connor met Hank’s lips. The kisses began slow but then became quicker and more urgent. He tangled a hand in Hank’s shirt, feeling that he needed something to hold on to.

Hank made a surprised sound when Connor eagerly met him, but he didn’t back down. He stole increasingly hungry kisses, as his hands traveled up into Connor’s hair and tangled in those dark locks. “Someone’s been holding back on me,” he breathed when their lips parted. “I thought you said you didn’t have any experience.”

“I-I don’t — I mean a kissed a few guys but .. that’s it ..” Connor was embarrassed about those encounters since they all ended with him ditching the guy as soon as possible. He knew he liked men and he was okay with that and all — but relationships took time away from work and school, and that just wasn’t an option.

“I see.” He wanted to jump Connor, to ravish him, but he resisted the dirty urge for now. “Well, we can do more than kiss - if you’re interested. I could show you the ropes.” He brushed his thumb over Connor’s lips teasingly.

Connor did the math in his head — okay, no relationship, just learning about sex and maybe he’d get over his stupid crush! There were no downsides he could see. “I think I would like that.” he agreed.

Hank pulled Connor into another kiss as he slid off the edge of the desk and pressed himself closer to the boy. The older man was leaning over him now, one arm braced on the back of Connor’s chair and the other dipping down between his legs. He gave him a firm squeeze. “You’re so eager - I like that about you.” He muttered the words against Connor’s lips as he began to massage him through his pants. “So tell me, how much experience do you have? Ever had a boyfriend? Or am I your first?”

Inhaling sharply, Connor was actually unsure if this was really happening or not. “You’re the first,” he managed to say, biting down on his lip to keep any strange sounds from coming out.

Hank couldn’t help it, he liked the sound of that. The nice little inhale didn’t hurt either. He continued to massage Connor, fingers growing more confident the more he teased the other man. “You don’t have to hold back. I want to hear what kind of noises you make.” He leaned in and stole another kiss. He was going to be greedy today.

Connor let out a soft moan into the kiss; he only knew what it was like to touch himself. He’d had no idea it would feel this good to have someone else touching him. “If you’d like,” he answered, trying to relax enough to not hide his embarrassing reactions.

“Fuck, you’re cute.” How did he stop himself from just throwing him down and fucking him right then? He undid Connor’s pants and slipped his fingers into his boxers.

Clutching at the older man’s shirt, Connor couldn’t help the sounds he was making anymore. “Ahh—“ he pressed into the touch, wanting more, wanting it now.

It was tempting to take Connor right here, especially with how hard and excited he already was, but there was also a part of Hank that wanted to make this something special for him. It might just be sex, but Connor was too naive to just fuck and toss aside. The older man stood up abruptly and offered his hand to Connor.

“Come on. There’s no way I’m fucking a virgin in an office chair.”

Connor made a frustrated noise when Hank stopped touching him, but he did accept the hand offered to him. “The bedroom then?” he murmured.

Hank smiled at that little noise of frustration and pulled the boy up against him. “Yeah,” he replied and kissed him roughly. When their lips parted, Hank lead Connor back into his room and motioned the boy to the bed. He went to the nightstand and pulled out a bottle of lube before pulling his shirt off. His boxers hit the floor before he descended on Connor again. He reminded himself that he didn’t know how far Connor would be willing to go this time, but it was hard not to get excited thinking about fucking the boy senseless. To temper himself, he focused on Connor’s clothing. Surprisingly, he didn’t have much prompting to do. The eager little boy had already shed most of it for him.

The only thing Connor still had on was his button down (unbuttoned, of course) and his boxers. His thoughts felt fuzzy, as if this were a dream. His heart still thudded loudly as he looked his crush up and down, and unknowingly, licked his lips. Hank was exactly the type he was interested in.

That little flicker of Connor’s tongue darting over his lips made Hank’s stomach twist. Oh fuck, he was in so far over his head. He slipped onto the bed, ignoring the way his heart hammered with excitement. Without saying anything he guided Connor out of his boxers as the kid shrugged off his shirt. “There’s a lot we can do, but since you’re new to it all, I want to give you something first.” He kissed Connor’s lips and then began to trail his lips down his young, pale body. He couldn’t believe such a beautiful boy wanted an old pervert like himself touching him.

Watching Hank explore his body only added to the dream-like quality of the experience. This was so much better than the things he had imagined in the shower. He admired the way the older man’s hair fell across his face as he continued; he recalled how Hank’s lips tasted vaguely of warm alcohol. So far, this was perfect.

When Hank reached Connor’s cock, he flicked his gaze up to watch the boy’s reaction. He kissed the tip as his fingers glided along the shaft then gave him a smooth pump. Without ever taking his eyes off of Connor, Hank took the head in his mouth and began sucking. He’d work his way down slowly - greedily taking in all of Connor’s reactions while recalling all of his tricks from his more confidently outgoing youth.

Connor immediately tangled his fingers in the blankets with a sharp gasp, trembling as his hips tried to push upward. He spread his legs apart more, attempting to steady himself. He didn’t want to screw this up when it’d only just begun.

Hank took in the beautiful sight of Connor in ecstasy because of him. It was surreal, and yet perfect. He pulled back up to kiss and suck the head of Connor’s cock, then dipped down again - all the way this time.

“Fuck!” Connor moaned, his eyes half-lidded as he tried to watch what was happening. His hips still bucked upwards, wanting to press into the heat surrounding him.

Hank groaned softly, the sound vibrating against Connor’s cock as Hank bobbed his head. One firm hand glided up through the blankets and caught Connor’s hand before guiding it back to his head. He studied the boy curiously as he dipped down again.

Connor tangled his fingers in Hank’s hair and pulled lightly, completely unsure of what he was supposed to do here; besides that, it was very hard to think properly.

Hank made another throaty sound of satisfaction and, if he hadn’t been sucking cock, he might’ve chuckled. Such a naive little thing. How had he been so impossibly lucky? The longer he worked him, the more thoughtless Connor’s actions became. Need arched his hips, pressing himself deeper into Hank’s throat, and his fingers tightened in Hank’s hair. Hank loved watching Connor’s well-pressed facade come tumbling off as he came closer and closer to his orgasm.

“H-Hank, I’m close—“ the younger man tried to warn him, his fingers pulling harder at his author’s hair now. His body was tense and his breath was only quick gasps.

So hot. Hank was already aching and he hadn’t even been touched yet. This was going to be rough on his old bones… but that’s why he’d started Connor off like this. He bobbed his head as his hand pressed up to rub Connor’s balls. The added sensation was enough to push Connor over the edge.

Connor involuntarily bucked his hips against Hank’s throat as he came, spilling hot semen down the older man’s throat. Hank drank the boy up before leaning back to suck Connor clean. “You’re a hot little mess, you know that?” He rumbled, voice low and heavy with arousal. He remained between the boy’s legs, his fingers tracing the length of Connor’s cock. “Do you know how far you want to go today?” As he spoke his fingers dipped down and brushed Connor’s ass. “There are lots of different ways to have sex.”

For a few moments, Connor just panted uselessly in a collapsed heap. He was still in disbelief that the man he’d been forcing himself not to obsess over for the past few months just happily gave him a — a blowjob. He shuddered at the attention given to his still overly-sensitive body, and pushed himself up on his elbows to give his author an answer. “I want — I want to go all the way.” he said, trying to sound much more confident than he felt. Of course, Hank would take care of him, he wasn’t worried about that. He was worried that he wouldn’t be enough — or that he lacked something that would make Hank reject him after all.

Hank smiled, oblivious to Connor’s worries. “Have I mentioned that you’re inappropriately sexy?” he muttered as he drew closer to claim a kiss. “How am I supposed to control myself when you say things like that?” He ran his fingers through Connor’s hair and kissed him again. “Nnn, but I said I’d teach you - so we’ll start with the basics.” He shifted onto his knees then gave Connor’s butt a nice grope. “Different positions will make things easier for a first timer - but they’re also less…” he pondered for a moment. “direct. So if you’d rather not look at my ugly mug, I can do you from behind which’ll be easier on your ass.” Hank smirked and gave Connor’s ass a little pat.

Biting his lip hard, Connor shook his head. “No. I want to see you while — I want to see your face. Please.” If it was going to be his first time with anyone, he’d rather spend it looking at Hank than staring at the bedsheets.

Hank was surprised to feel his cheeks heat up at Connor’s words, and while looking so adamant. The older man’s smile was soft as he leaned down to kiss Connor again. “You don’t have to beg, kid.” He ruffled Connor’s hair affectionately. “I’d prefer to see that pretty face of yours over the back of your head,” he added with a playful smirk.

He reached for the lube on the nightstand and slicked his fingers before rubbing even more on the boy’s ass. “I like this shit,” he explained, “it’s cold as hell at first but - “ even as he was talking he noticed Connor’s expression change and his cheeks flush. “Yeah, it warms up.” He pressed a finger to the boy’s ass, teasing the entrance. “Ever touch yourself like this?” As he asked, he slid the tip of his finger inside Connor. Even if he had, he had considerably more delicate hands than Hank did. The size comparison was noticeably different. As he gently pressed his finger up to the first knuckle, he admired the way Connor’s expression changed in response to his every movement. So handsome.

“Uh— only a little,” Connor answered, knowing full well he hadn’t done this to himself in quite awhile. He shifted awkwardly as Hank’s finger pressed inside of him. It felt dirty and erotic, and he liked that part, but it also hurt as his body adjusted.

“Okay then,” he pressed his finger a bit deeper, easing Connor to the second knuckle. “Take even breaths for me, and try to relax.” He stroked Connor’s cheek affectionately. “And if it gets to be too much, let me know. I’ll slow down or stop.” If only his first time had been so kind, peh, maybe Connor had the right idea pursuing an old man like himself.

Connor felt warmth in his chest knowing that Hank would be patient and slow with him despite his own needs going unfulfilled. He breathed in and out slowly as Hank pushed the finger all the way in. The next finger teased his opening gently. “Nnn—“ he let out a hissing breath.

He slowly eased the second finger in, giving Connor the same amount of time to breathe and adjust as he had with the first. By now the boy would be feeling the pleasant tingling of the warming lubricant as it slicked the inside of his ass. “That’s a good boy,” he muttered affectionately. “Starting to feel good?”

“Mm, yes,” Connor answered, blushing at the ‘good boy’ comment. He didn’t want to admit it but he liked hearing praise. “More, please?” he questioned, absurdly polite.

Hank grinned. “Of course,” he teased even as he began to slide his fingers in and out of Connor. He’d get him nice and accustomed to two fingers inside of him and then stretch him up to a third. Connor didn’t complain or ask him to slow down, but by the time he was fingering him with all three, Connor’s chest was heaving and his hands were clutching the blankets desperately.

“Hank,” he gasped as his whole body shuddered. He wanted to say something more but only moans came out. Hank’s fingers felt so good but he wanted more. His hips bucked against Hank’s thrust and another shudder overwhelmed him. “Please?”

Connor made the most adorable face when Hank pulled his fingers out and he found his ass suddenly empty. “Hank!” His name had become a desperate plea as the boy tried to ground himself through his lust. His fingers tangled in the blankets, clutching tight as he watched the grizzled older man stroking lubricant down the length of his cock. Oh God he was big! Excitement and anxiety welled up at once, making his stomach twist as his tongue darted out to wet his suddenly dry lips.

Hank was watching Connor’s every move and, fuck, he was a hot mess. His cheeks flushed, his chest heaving, his legs spread but his knees trembling with anticipation. He forced himself to stay calm as he pressed the head of his cock to Connor’s ass, only to be broken by Connor whimpering and biting his lip. “Breathe, kid. Nice and easy.”

Hank pressed inside of him, barely more than an inch, and Connor was already squirming. “You’re so big,” he gasped but his hips weren’t listening to him. He rocked down against the press of the older man, desperate to be full of him.

“Jesus, Connor, calm down,” Hank grumbled. He didn’t want to hurt the boy any more than he had to. He pushed in more, keeping Connor’s hips held down. The younger man let out small frustrated noises.

“I want it,” Connor insisted. Some part of his mind was utterly horrified at himself, pleading and begging like this, but present Connor just wanted Hank inside of him now.

He was supposed to be taking care of him, but the way he squirmed and moaned… It made it unbelievably hard. Still, he made Connor take him inch by inch until it started to become too much for even his eagerness to handle. His grasping fingers found Hank’s hand on his hips and he let out a desperate, incoherent noise before Hank thought to lace his fingers with Connor’s. He was so small and tight around his cock. Without Hank holding his hips in place, Connor ground down against the man and let out a noise of pained pleasure.

“Fuck,” Hank groaned as Connor seemingly won this argument. “You asked for it, kid.”

Still holding tight to the boy’s hand, he began to thrust, slowly at first but with increasing speed. Connor was taking it like a champ - a horny, impossibly eager champ. After taking a few moments to gather himself when Hank started moving, Connor was moaning and gasping and meeting each of his thrusts with needy desperation. Hank found himself doubled over the boy, hungrily devouring his lips as Connor’s legs wrapped around his hips and drove the man closer to him.

“Y-yes,” Connor breathed out in between kisses. He’d been avoiding this? What was wrong with him? “Don’t stop,” he begged, locking his feet around Hank. It allowed the older man to move even deeper inside of him.

Hank couldn’t help the moan that escaped him when Connor begged like that. “Fuck,” he gasped. “You’re a mess.” But he loved it, loved his heat and his desperation. “You like it rough, don’t you?” He took advantage of Connor’s position to drive himself against the boy’s prostate.

“Y-eaaahn!” Whatever Connor had been able to say turned into a scream of passion as he arched his back and pressed into Hank. “Fuck! There! Hnn, please Hank!”

Hank obeyed, hammering Connor’s sweet spot as the boy screamed his praises. “Con,” he gasped, “I’m close,” his chest was heaving with exertion. “Do you want me to come on you or inside?”

“Inside, p-please,” he answered, clutching to Hank as if he needed something to hold on to as the older man fucked him.

“Such a - nn - good boy,” he panted. Always saying please. It was adorable, especially when he was asking for such lewd things.

His greedy ass was still rocking and rocking against him, desperate for more of everything, and Hank couldn’t give it enough. “F-fuck!” He roared with pleasure as he came, slamming into the tight boy as he spilled himself deep within his ass.

Connor almost came from the ‘good boy’ comment alone, but there was nothing for it when he felt Hank come and fill him up. He shuddered, his breathless lips mouthing the older man’s name as he came, dripping all over his own stomach.

“Fuck,” Hank sighed as he slumped down on top of Connor. It took him a few seconds of panting before he could flop down beside the hot little mess. “You’re something else, Con.” As he laid there, panting roughly as his head spun with pleasure, a nagging thought popped up: you probably should’ve used a condom, you jerk… But Connor had been so eager… Ah well. He peered over at him. “So how was it? Anything like you imagined?” He smirked.

His own first time had sucked, but perhaps that’s why he wanted so badly to give Connor a good memory.

Licking his lips, Connor’s mouth felt dry as he tried to regulate his breathing. He held his hand over his own quickly beating heart and smiled to himself. “Better than anything I could think up,” he admitted. His head still felt dreamy.

Hank couldn’t help the smile that tugged at him. Not the playful smirk, but a soft and genuine thing. It had been a damned long time since he’d felt like this - content. “I’m glad,” he replied. It wouldn’t be long before the guilt and anger boiled back over and stole this blissful moment from him. At very least, maybe he’d be able to get this infatuation for Connor out of his system now.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Seven

Connor at least made it into the shower before the realization of what he’d done hit him. He stood under the spray of warm water, and leaned his head gently against the tile. It’s not as if he couldn’t remember the way he begged for it. His face went red with shame. Not only had he broken the basic rules he set for himself, but he had sex with his author. He was pretty sure there was some rule against that. If not at work, maybe a moral one? He felt panicked and slightly dizzy. He took a seat on the floor of the shower, trying to pace his breathing.

He had wanted it, no doubt about that. All his polite ‘pleases’ and calling the older man’s name; no, he had wanted it badly. But it was something he shouldn’t have allowed himself to have. Their relationship might be completely ruined now because he couldn’t control his curiosity.

“Fuck,” he murmured to himself, his hips aching as a reminder that he had no escape from his mistakes.

***

As much as Hank told himself that this was nothing but fun, his doubts had no intention of letting him go so easily. You took advantage of that boy’s naivety and used him. You’re just a perverted old man. He hadn’t even thought to suggest safe sex… He just pounced on the opportunity to have the object of his desire.

He rubbed his face as he laid in the bed, listening to the shower running.

When Connor came back he’d regret everything, he’d probably leave. The thought made Hank’s chest ache. He growled in frustration and sat up, grabbing his laptop. Thinking was going to drive him nuts; he’d write instead.

Strange that it was so much easier to focus now.

***

Having gotten his little breakdown somewhat under control, Connor emerged from the bathroom in a towel. In the state he had been in, he hadn’t thought to bring any clothes with. They were scattered all over the floor of the bedroom. His face was still red and his eyes darted anxiously to Hank, who was sitting on the bed with his laptop.

Hank looked up over his laptop and smiled lop-sidedly at Connor. Outwardly he looked calm, like sleeping with gorgeous twenty-somethings was normal and this was all totally casual. Inside he was screaming in terror. The nagging voice in the back of his head promised him that he’d fucked up and it was hard not to agree.

“Why’s your face so red?” He looked Connor over, admiring the young man in just a towel. “Got something dirty in mind for me?”

Welp. He’d find out in a second what Connor thought of their moment together. Better now than later.

“Oh, no,” Connor said, a little surprised. He looked at his toes sinking into the carpet. “I do want to talk to you though, if that’s okay.”

It was kind of relieving to be right. He saved what he was working on and set the laptop back down. He hadn’t bothered to pick up any of his clothes from the floor, so he just threw the blanket over his lap and motioned for Connor to come sit. “Talking’s fine. What’s up?”

Connor sat down gently on the edge of the bed. He knew it was a little silly to feel nervous after Hank had seen all of him .. and like that … but he still was. “I think I need some advice .. about this.” he fidgeted uneasily.

Hank tilted his head to the side. “That’s what I offered, yeah? To show you the ropes. So do you mean this - as in what we just did - or this as in what happens next?” He was surprised at how calm and rational he sounded. Perhaps it was the resignation that did it.

“Well, some of it is what happens next but .. mostly I just —“ Connor sighed. He knew it was stupid but it was important to him. “I’m worried that I took advantage of our work relationship and that I’ve done something wrong ..”

Hank was quiet for a moment and then he doubled over, laughing hard. “Oh, fuck me… I thought…” He brushed his hair back as he tried to regain his composure. “No. You haven’t taken advantage of anything, kid… If anyone’s guilty of that it’s me — you’re young, inexperienced, and you technically work for me. I’m… I’m the one that should be sorry.” He reached up and pat Connor’s head. “If you’re uncomfortable with it, we don’t have to bring it up ever again.” Surprisingly, saying that hurt like hell. What the fuck was he doing??? “I… like… working with you… If you’d at least be okay with staying for that.”

“No, no, wait.” Connor shook his head. Hank had it all wrong. “I just don’t want to endanger my job. Its important to me. And I’m not uncomfortable, I’m just .. embarrassed ..” the younger man looked away again. “I didn’t even know that .. that’s what I would be like.”

That was really it? Hank looked both confused and uncertain for a moment before tilting his head slowly to the side. “That’s really it? There’s no rules against sleeping together - Kamski would probably think it was a brilliant bargaining chip to make me work.” He shrugged and slowly found his smile again. Connor was cute. “I can understand embarrassed. Everyone’s embarrassed their first time. How’s your ass doing, by the by? I gotta imagine you’re feeling it now.”

“A-ah, yes, that is .. not great.” Connor answered. He felt kind of sore all over really. Maybe he didn’t get out enough. On the bright side, he was pleased to know he wasn’t going to be fired for this.

Well, he had known the boy was polite… He just hadn’t anticipated how polite. All of his serious ‘we need to talk’ was just about whether or not his job was safe.

“Come ‘ere, lay down. Sitting isn’t going to be your friend for a bit.” He pat his pillow lightly, inviting Connor closer. “You’re probably exhausted too.”

The younger man paused for a second, but did as he was asked. He curled up on his side facing Hank. Connor looked thoughtful, reflecting on Hank's reactions during their conversation. “Did you think I would regret sleeping with you?” he asked, tactfully. That’s what it had seemed like. “Why?”

Hank blushed. “Well, yeah. I’m twice your age, I know my reputation in the office… Why wouldn’t you regret sleeping with me?” On top of all that he hated himself and pretty much everything he did, so why would anyone else feel differently? “I’m the last person in the world who deserves your attention.”

“Everyone in the office is an idiot.” Connor rolled his eyes. “And as for being twice my age, well —“ he swallowed hard. Okay, this was a weird one to admit. “I’ve kind of .. always liked older guys anyway ..”

“Well… I… I suppose that works for you then, huh?” He smiled awkwardly, but there was something considerably easier about his posture now. “Thanks, kid.”

***

The next day was a bit harder for Hank to wrap his head around. Partly because he was pretty sure all the alcohol had finally worked its way out of his system and he was rightly shocked with what he had believed was a ‘good idea’ at the time. Thankfully Connor didn’t downright hate him and, somehow, he even still wanted to work with him. There was also a possibility that he’d be able to get his hands on that cute little ass again someday. He looked forward to that.

Somewhere amidst his surprisingly pleasant thoughts, Hank had actually taken a shower and tidied up some of the living room. It was strange to feel at home in his own home. Wearing his usual boxers and t-shirt, he laid on the couch with his laptop in his lap, typing away. With his looming deadline he had no idea what he was actually going to do, but it looked like he’d have to consider incorporating some of his romantic side plot…

When he heard footsteps in the hall, he lifted his head up from his writing. “Hey Connor. There’s hash browns in the oven, but I want your help with this.”

Connor appeared in more comfortable clothes, as opposed to the “laced-up” stuff he usually wore while he worked. He leaned over the back of the sofa and looked at the laptop, his t-shirt falling just slightly to expose his collarbone. “What do you need me to do?”

Hank was momentarily distracted by the way his shirt fell off his shoulder. Fuck. He was close enough too that he could grab him if he wanted to… but that’d also mean he’d have to drop his laptop. Priorities. “Would it be too jarring to the readers to transition in some of the romance aspects I had written up? I can’t decide if I should hint at it.”

“I think it might be better to just lead into it in this novel and then add in the whole thing in the next one. It might be a little too sudden for some of your usual readers if you don’t give them some, uh, warning.” Connor said, helpfully. He pushed himself off the back of the sofa and stood up. Hank looked wonderful with his hair tied back and his glasses on and well, Connor was still in too much pain to consider anything fun. He limped into the kitchen to help himself to food.

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.” He paused, setting the laptop aside and climbing to his feet. “So you think the other stuff is good enough to stand alone in its own novel?” He was grinning mischievously as he pursued the limping boy into the kitchen. Jesus he was cute, and that made it so much harder to control himself. “You’ll have to read through it and tell me what you think.”

That was part of what made Connor so easy to like - he enjoyed the boy’s input on his writing. He didn’t find a lot of people that meshed with what he liked.

“That is my job,” Connor said in a dry tone as he retrieved his food from the oven. He added an unnecessary amount of ketchup and carefully sat down at the table with a cringe.

Hank eyed Connor as he sat down - and winced. Adorable. He reached down and gave Connor’s ass a squeeze. “You’d probably do better sitting on the couch than on a chair.”

“I’m going to eat at the table like a human being, Hank.” Connor insisted, trying to ignore the fact the wooden chair seemed to poking him in all his sore spots .. and the butt grab. He was definitely ignoring that.

Being ignored was no fun. He pouted a little but flippantly returned to the couch. “I suppose I’ll leave you to your human-ing.” He flopped down gracelessly onto the sofa, gave Sumo a good scratch behind the ears, and pulled his laptop into his lap again.

Connor staunchly finished his meal but was glad when he could get up from the table. He rinsed off his plate and went back to the living room. He stared at his usual office chair with disdain. “Hank? It’s not like this all the time, right?” he questioned, meekly.

The question pulled Hank out of what he was writing. He shook his head. “Nah, kid, it’s not usually that bad. You’re just extra tender because you were a virgin and you wanted it hard.” And I have the self control of a fucking goldfish, he thought to himself. Hank shifted so that he was sitting instead of laying on the sofa. “Grab some pain killers from the kitchen and come sit with me. They’ll take the edge off.”

“O-oh, okay,” Connor replied, his face red again. He went back to the kitchen to get some pills and tried not to remember the pleading he’d done. It was still .. too much to think about. He returned and grabbed his laptop and carefully sunk into the sofa with a sigh. There was work to do.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Eight

It was so much easier to remember to take care of himself when Connor was around. The house felt brighter and less empty, and he actually felt like picking up. He was determined to keep their shared spaces at least somewhat tidy. He didn’t like that when he fell behind he’d find Connor cleaning it up instead.

A week had passed and, to Hank’s surprise, he’d gotten a good chunk of his writing done. Connor was a huge help, both in being helpful around the house and with working him out of funks. Today wasn’t going quite as easily. He was frustrated with a plot hole he’d encountered and he’d spent the last few hours reviewing what he’d written… only to come up with nothing to show for it.

Usually he’d go to the fridge and get a beer, instead he turned his attention on Connor. He slipped up behind him as he was editing and pressed his lips to the nape of Connor’s neck. “Hey kid,” he muttered, “I can’t focus.”

Connor shuddered at the touch of lips on his neck. Hank had been a gentleman all week, which was great because the younger man was finally not sore anymore. He glanced at the editing on the screen and weighed his options. “Hm, how will kissing me help you focus?” he questioned.

Hank smiled against Connor’s neck, loving the way the young man tasted against his lips. “If I take a break, I’ll be able to focus better when I go back to it.” His lips trailed down Connor’s neck to his shoulders. “And I deserve a reward for all this writing, hmm?”

His heart thudded in his chest as if Hank had never touched him before. It was a fair argument, after all. “Maybe .. I could use more lessons?” Connor suggested, not familiar with the language of seducing anyone but determined to try his best.

“I bet you could.” He draped his arms around Connor and nuzzled up against his neck. “We could even say we’re still working.” He caught Connor’s earlobe with his lips and kissed it. “How about this - you decide where I fuck you.”

“I wouldn’t mind going to my room,” Connor said, looking intently at his hands. He couldn’t think of any place sexy! But he wouldn’t mind having memories of Hank in the bed he slept in. His face turned another shade of red.

“I’d say be more inventive, but I can’t deny that cute blush.” He spun the chair around abruptly and captured Connor’s lips against his own. “What about fucking in your room makes you blush like that, huh?” He slipped an arm around Connor and coaxed him out of the chair. Now that he knew he had Connor he was getting impatient.

Hank practically guided Connor to the room but the younger man didn’t protest. It felt nice to be wanted. He bit his lip and tried to avoid the question. “We haven’t been in there yet?”

“That’s all it takes to make those cheeks burn up?”

He pressed Connor to the wall outside of the spare bedroom. “Stay,” he ordered playfully before slipping into his own bedroom to fetch the lube. When he returned he picked up where he left off: kissing Connor as he pushed him right up to the bed. Hank tossed the bottle of lube onto the bed before sliding his hands up under Connor’s shirt.

“I like it in here though, it smells like you.” Hank muttered the words absently as his hands caressed Connor’s slender body and he pulled the boy’s shirt up over his head.

“Now it will smell like you too.” the younger man answered, taking the initiative to tug off Hank’s shirt as well. He fumbled a bit but managed and placed his hands on his author’s chest, feeling the beat of Hank’s heart under his fingers.

Ahh, was that it? He wanted his bed to smell like Hank? It was a strangely pleasing thought to the older man. “I suppose it will,” he muttered as he kissed Connor again. He sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled Connor down into his lap. Connor would be able to feel the older man’s need pressing against him, but Hank let himself focus on Connor’s body. He kissed his chest, lips exploring the boy’s pale skin and rosy nipples, and his hands dipped down toward his hips.

Connor grasped the older man’s shoulders to steady himself. God knows he’d need some support to keep him upright. Hank was already busy exploring his body and he responded with soft noises and tiny shivers.

“Did you ever fantasize about me?” He couldn’t resist speaking the thought once it had popped into his mind. Connor was so delicate and breathless when Hank touched him, but he wanted it more than Hank had ever anticipated. So the boy had to have been interested before his drunken advance on him. He found his way to Connor’s ass and groped him roughly, pressing their bodies together.

“Ahn—“ the surprised sound escaped Connor’s lips as their hips crushed together. “Yes ..” he finally answered. “I tried not to .. but I did.” He looked away, feeling a little guilty.

Hank was pleasantly surprised that Connor had answered him. He rocked lightly against Connor, moaning softly against the boy’s throat as he ground against him. “Why’d you try not to?” His fingers had continued to grope and fondle Connor’s ass. “There’s no harm in thoughts.”

“I-I respect you,” Connor murmured with a soft gasp. “It felt wrong to use you to get off without you knowing ..” He pressed eagerly into the hands touching him. He was already losing any semblance of control over his reactions.

That was terribly sweet of him. “I can understand that,” he replied honestly. “But I’m pleased to hear it now. It’s flattering to know you were thinking about me.” He slipped his hands into Connor’s boxers and eased the boy out of them. “Are there any fantasies you’d want to experience?” Hank wiggled out of his own boxers without letting Connor go - he wanted to see the boy squirming today.

“Mine were uhm, usually just about you touching me .. so .. we did that already.” Connor replied, honestly. “I’d like to have sex like this, if you don’t mind.” His thighs already squeezed against the older man’s legs in anticipation of an answer.

Hank grinned. “Glad we’re on the same page, kid.” He folded Connor into his arms and kissed him again. Connor would be able to feel Hank’s erection pressing against his ass, but the man continued to focus on kissing and teasing Connor’s body. “I’m not going to just fuck you, I want you to ask me for it.”

It wasn’t as if Connor was going to back down now, no matter how much it embarrassed him. Though he was starting to wonder if Hank liked that … he was also starting to wonder if he liked it too.

“Please?” he asked softly, touching Hank’s face with his hands even as his body rubbed up against the older man’s cock in a lewd way.

Hank didn’t expect Connor to ‘play’ so readily, and he definitely didn’t expect the way he rubbed against him. In one little motion his breathing had turned heavy and his ache had become a roar of need. “How can I say no to such a sweet request?” He nuzzled Connor’s hand then tilted his head up to kiss his palm.

He grabbed the lube from the bed and poured a good amount down his shaft, making sure to brush against Connor’s ass as he stroked himself. He pressed just the tip of his erection to the boy's entrance . “Think you can do this part?” With his other hand he pressed against Connor’s hip - coaxing him down ever so slightly even as he resisted the urge to whimper with need.

“I’ll try,” Connor replied, sucking in a breath before starting to take the older man inside himself. “Ahh!” he immediately moaned as his ass stretched again to take Hank in. “It's so b-big,” he murmured, panting slightly. It’d been a whole week and he had forgotten how this felt.

Fuck.” Hank groaned roughly as he clutched Connor’s hips. “Breathe out as you go down,” he instructed. “It helps to be relaxed.”

Connor’s fingers tightened nervously on Hank’s shoulders as he tried to do as he was told. He hissed out another breath as he took more inside himself. The boy shivered as he fought not to push down too fast.

“Good - nnn - boy.” Connor could feel Hank trembling beneath him as the man’s hands began to eagerly explore his body.

Moaning at the praise he’d been given, Connor continued to be a good boy and go slow, letting his ass adjust to how much it was being filled as he slowly worked his way down Hank’s cock.

Hank’s breathing grew steadily less controlled as Connor slowly filled himself. And moaning at his praise? That was almost too much. One of his wandering fingers found Connor’s nipples and he began to tease the soft nub.

The younger man bit his lip at all the sensations he was feeling and finally eased down onto Hank’s lap. “I did it,” he whispered, proud of himself.

“You’re inappropriately sexy,” Hank groaned out as Connor’s ass ground down against him. “You did good,” he dragged Connor into a kiss as he pinched the boy’s nipple. “I think you deserve a good fuck now, don’t you?’ He rocked himself against Connor briefly. “Unless you feel like fucking yourself on me?”

Connor looked thoughtful but ultimately ended up bracing himself against Hank, and slowly pulled back up and down until he managed to form some kind of rhythm to his movements. “Like this?” he questioned, breathlessly, still wanting to be ‘taught’.

Hank bit his lip as Connor started to ride him. “Hnnn - yes. Just like that.” A part of him had hoped that Connor would start begging him again - but something about the way Connor was taking his ‘lesson’ so seriously was… perfect. “F-faster now,” he encouraged.

Panting softly, Connor moved faster, rocking himself against his author’s body. “Am I a quick learner?” he asked, wanting more of those nice words from Hank’s lips.

“Ahh, god - yes,” he gasped. “You’re fucking amazing.” And he felt amazing too. Hank was breathless, groaning hungrily with each stroke. He wrapped his arms around the boy and kissed his smooth chest. “I don’t know how much longer I can, ah, control myself.”

“You can fuck me,” Connor answered, his face blushing at the dirty words he was speaking. He was still so new to all of this and still so pleased that Hank found it attractive and not awkward. He brought himself down a little harder this time to encourage his author.

Hank moaned softly at Connor’s words. “Amazing and filthy,” he shuddered, “I love it.”

Connor was absolutely perfect and Hank could definitely not hold himself back anymore. He held Connor tight against him as he finally started to move, and he wasn’t gentle this time. Connor had given him permission, after all, and he was going to wreck the beautiful boy for captivating him so fully.

Connor dug his nails into Hank’s back as he was fucked, hoping to leave marks. “Hnn … ahh ..” he couldn’t stop any of the sounds coming from his mouth anymore as his author pounded into him roughly.

Hank moaned when Connor’s nails dug into his back and rewarded him with a rough thrust. “Good boy,” Hank whispered against his ear, “I want to really hear you.”

“Hank, please,” he whimpered, his cock throbbing hotly just from the words the older man spoke to him.

He was too worked up already to do as much to the boy as he would’ve liked… Especially when he went and whimpered his name like that. Hank felt that knot in his stomach grow as he slammed into Connor over and over again. “Please?,” he teased between his moans. “Do you want me to come inside you again?”

“Y-yes, please,” Connor begged, wanting to feel that unique sensation again desperately.

Hank came with a growling moan, bucking against Connor as he filled the boy with his come.

“Yes, y-yes,” the boy cried out again, still rocking into Hank eagerly as he came himself. He shuddered, deliriously happy that he could fuck his author like this.

The way Connor squeezed him when he came and the sensation of the boy’s come splattering his stomach made him wish he had the energy to fuck him again. If only he were a couple decades younger, he could’ve really made a mess of this proper little boy. Groaning contentedly, he dragged Connor down onto the bed with him and found the boy’s lips.

“You’re a fucking masterpiece, kid.”

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Nine

Laying in bed with Connor, completely exhausted, Hank found himself tracing thoughtful circles against the boy’s hips.

“I know nothing about you,” he mused. Sobriety was weird. He had too many thoughts in his head, too many feelings. “Tell me something.”

Connor’s eyes fluttered open to look at his author. He was a little surprised Hank wanted to know more, but also pleased. “Hmm.. I’m 23, my birthdate is August 23rd, I have a bachelor’s degree in English, and you know where I work.” He laughed at himself. “I’m not terribly interesting, am I?”

Hank chuckled. “You’re only 23, kid.” He put extra emphasis on the ‘kid’ this time. Usually it was just meant to be teasing but, really, Connor was so much younger than even Hank had realized. “You have plenty of time to be ‘interesting’ and, frankly, I think you’re pretty fucking impressive. I mean, what, you’re probably fresh out of college and you already got your foot in the door of a good firm. Your parents must be proud.”

Visibly freezing up for a moment, Connor forced himself to relax. He hated talking about this and he had managed to successfully avoid it for a long time. He quickly debated lying, but when he looked up at his author’s inquisitive gaze, he just couldn’t.

“Maybe… I wouldn’t know. I never met them.”

Hank wished he hadn’t noticed that moment of tension - he would’ve played it off like nothing had happened… like what Connor said wasn’t a big deal. Instead, he sighed and gave Connor a soft kiss. “That sucks, a lot.” He’d stopped tracing designs on Connor and wrapped his arms around him instead. “So… Sorry if I’m prying now… but what about foster parents? … You’re not doing this on your own… right?” Even as he said the words, he knew. Connor’s love of praise made so much more sense now.

Pressing himself closer to Hank, Connor sighed against the older man’s skin. “I aged out of the system, but managed to get an academic scholarship. So, it’s just me.” He pondered ways to gloss over parts of his story if Hank asked any more questions. He didn’t like being pitied. Poor little orphan boy. He gritted his teeth at the thought.

Hank knew all about being alone. His parents had been there for him, yeah, but over the last few years he’d managed to chase away even his most stubborn acquaintances. “That sucks,” he repeated. The older man frowned slightly. “And you’re always busy, so let me guess: no friends? What about roommates?” He didn’t like it, this sudden image of Connor alone. The boy had become a rare piece of radiance in his dark world… He deserved to have a better life.

“Just me.” Connor said again, hiding his face now.

He didn’t have time for friends. Hank was the only person he had let get this close to him. It scared him a little to realize that. Keeping everyone at a distance was something he did without trying. He was just ‘that nice kid who brings the coffee’ and that’s all he wanted to be.

Hank gave the kid in his arms a brief squeeze. “Well, fuck. I know how that feels…” He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t have any magic answer to make it better, and he couldn’t imagine Connor wanting that either. He laughed darkly. “Get yourself a dog. It’s been the only thing keeping me from drinking myself to death.”

“I couldn’t get a dog because I’m always here,” Connor teased back, giving Hank a small pinch and a mischievous grin.

That made him oddly happy. He gave Connor a playful pat on the ass that turned into a satisfied squeeze. “Then I guess we can be alone together.”

“Sounds like a plan.” the younger man answered, pressing his lips to Hank’s. He was just glad to be able to distract the older man from talking any more about his past.

He kissed him back and ran his fingers through the boy’s hair. “Do you want to know anything about me? I mean, that the media, or the office, hasn’t already told you.”

“Ummm, well, okay. So why did you decide to write murder mysteries and not, I don’t know, gay romance novels?” Connor laughed, but he did also want to know the answer.

Hank couldn’t help the bark of laughter that escaped him and found himself smiling for the first time in what felt like forever. “I didn’t realize I had talent in the gay romance genre, I suppose.” He needed to re-read what he wrote now that he wasn’t drunk out of his mind. “But, believe it or not, I wanted to be a detective when I was a child - one of those mysterious noir detectives. I just… wasn’t suited for that sort of work.” He trailed off for a moment, briefly gritting his teeth before losing the smile all together. “So I started writing my own mysteries.”

Connor nodded, it making sense to him, though he didn’t like the way it made Hank stop smiling. “I could see you as a detective, in one of those big coats, delivering Humphrey Bogart type lines to people.”

“Thanks, kid.” Hank chuckled. “I like the sound of that.” He looked curiously up at Connor. “Got a question for you, though it feels a little… egotistical: had you read any of my novels before you worked with me personally?”

“Yes, I wanted to read things we published for research, and I did read a few of your books. I liked them. And I’m not just saying that because I’m naked in bed with you.” Connor grinned.

Hank smirked briefly and gave Connor’s ass a nice squeeze. “I could handle your honesty.” No critic could be as hard on him as he was on himself. “Were you disappointed when you met me? Most of the younger editors are.”

“I mean, no. You had a messy house but that’s it. That’s not disappointing either. That’s just life.” Connor decided against telling Hank that he was worried about how much the older man lost himself in alcohol, but as they weren’t actually dating, he felt it wasn’t his place.

Why was Connor so nice to him? Hank smiled briefly. “You’re kind… I don’t deserve it.” But he was happy to hear it; that he wasn’t just another burden on Connor’s shoulders.

“You do, though.” the younger man answered him, his voice soft. Connor wondered what it was that made Hank devalue himself so much; but maybe thinking about that was him getting in too deep.

Hank scoffed, “yeah.” He didn’t give Connor time to press the issue. Instead he kissed him roughly as his hands slid down to cup the boy’s ass. Sex was better than thinking by a mile. “You want to grab a shower with me?”

“I wouldn’t hate it.” Connor said, fully knowing Hank was avoiding the topic just as much he had been avoiding it earlier. Oh well, that was probably for the best.

***

Hank doesn’t notice it at first, the depression creeping back in, but he does notice that Connor’s presence is increasingly less soothing. It’s frustrating. He’s getting less and less writing done and trying to cover up his inability to find words by screwing around with Connor. Which worked… until Connor started getting annoyed that his work wasn’t getting done.

So he found himself returning to his usual coping method: alcohol.

It covered up the pain with numbness, giving him enough energy to continue to write, but that only worked for so long. He drank more, he wrote less, and slowly he started withdrawing back into his room where he didn’t have to face Connor’s relentless perseverance. How did the kid do it and why the fuck couldn’t he manage to do the same?

The worst part about all this was that he felt trapped and guilty and confused. Connor had made these feelings stop. They shouldn’t have come back. It should have been okay. But it wasn’t. He wasn’t. Not even Connor could keep up the masquerade of friendliness with him. After being brushed off repeatedly, the boy had just focused in on his editing and had left Hank to his own devices. That was fine. It always went like that.

At least, until Connor ran out of manuscript to edit.

“Hank,” the boy’s voice at the door startled Hank out of his thoughts. “Have you written anything else? We have a week left to get this in and I don’t have anything to edit.”

Hank’s only response was a gruff noise and the sound of a pillow hitting the door.

Connor stared at the door for a moment before huffing: “Thanks for nothing.”

Hank didn’t realize he had any more room for pain; he was wrong. Connor’s words hurt and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He took a swig of whatever bottle he had closest to the bed and found it empty. “Fuck!” he snarled at the bottle and chucked it at the door instead. “Just leave then! I’ve got nothing for you!”

“I can’t leave!” Connor slammed a fist back on the door, since that seemed to be the only way Hank was willing to communicate today. “It’s my job to edit your manuscript and I can’t do my job if you don’t give me anything!”

“Find a different fucking author then! I don’t have anything worthwhile to write!”

“You can write! You just don’t fucking want to!”

Hank froze up for a minute before anger overtook him. Good. He liked anger, it was a hell of a lot better than feeling nothing. “FUCK YOU! Just get the hell out of my house!”

“No! I’m not fucking up my job because you DON’T FEEL LIKE WRITING!”

Hank roared in frustration, shouted something incoherent, and then went sullenly silent. He didn’t like the implication that he was just withholding something. If he could fucking be happy, he’d just fucking do it! But it didn’t work that way and he hated it and he hated himself.

Connor let out a deep breath and rested his head against the door in defeat. He knew well enough that Hank was now done talking. He didn’t want to play the ‘bad guy’ but for god’s sake, this was his livelihood. He had volunteered to take this job on and it would look terrible if he didn’t complete the work. He couldn’t lose his job. It just wasn’t an option. He’d been trying to get Hank out of this slump for almost two weeks, and to be honest, inwardly, he was worried, bordering on terrified, for his author. But that would be too personal. And this wasn’t personal, he reminded himself.

Not to mention, Hank had spent some of that time trying to use sex (and him) as a distraction and he didn’t appreciate it. Yeah, okay, he had agreed to the whole casual relationship thing, its what they both wanted, but he wasn’t a toy to use when Hank got bored or unable to write any more. He was just as frustrated with the entire situation. Connor wanted to suggest that Hank maybe see someone about this, clearly he had emotional issues, but was it really his place? Again, too personal.

This whole job was too fucking personal.

Connor reluctantly left the door and went back to “his room” to try to figure something out. Mostly he just texted Kamski asking for a deadline extension, just in case, (which he felt shameful about) and then stared at the ceiling for a long time. He thought he could handle this and was very disappointed in himself.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Ten

Almost an hour later, Hank finally had to break his self-imposed isolation. He had run out of liquor in his room and sobriety was creeping up on him. That was something he just couldn’t deal with. Sumo was immediately up his ass, whining to go out for a walk. “Later, boy, later.”

He dragged himself through the house, into the kitchen. He found something hard, something he could sleep on. He paused, bottle in hand, outside of the door to Connor’s… rather, his spare bedroom. Sumo was still whining.

“Fuck, fine.” He opened the back door and let Sumo gratefully dart out into the enclosed yard. “This is why I got a dog,” he reminded himself. As he stood there, however, his thoughts kept drifting back to Connor’s room. Part of him prayed that Connor wouldn’t acknowledge him while the other begged the door to open. He couldn’t understand himself.

“Hank —“ the door flew open and Hank stumbled back. He hadn’t realized he’d been staring at it, and now he was staring into Connor’s startled face. Fuck, you’re beautiful, was all Hank could manage to think.

Connor obviously hadn’t expected him to be there. Why was he standing outside his door? He had heard the man take Sumo over to the back door, so he expected him to be… well, anywhere but right there. Now he couldn’t remember what he’d been meaning to say.

Something about the moment made his stomach feel like lead. Hank standing in his doorway… The last time that had happened they had been kissing, Hank’s hair had been pulled back, he’d been smiling. The man standing there now was not the same person. This man was a mess, barely standing upright as he leaned against the wall, blue eyes shadowed with bags and reeking of booze. Connor’s chest ached.

“I think you need to go to therapy.”

“What?!” Sumo came in, business completed and concerned about the sudden yelling. “No, fuck you! Don’t act like you fucking know me!”

Leaving the back door wide open, Hank stormed into his bedroom and slammed the door behind him. Why the fuck would Connor suggest such a dumbass thing. He didn’t need therapy, talking wasn’t going to make these fucking feelings go away.

Inadequate. Failure. Useless.

Living wasn’t going to make them go away.

So why should he bother? All he did was fuck up his life and the lives of anyone that tried to get close to him.

Usually Sumo would just pad off and lay by the sofa when Hank was like this, but this time he sat down in front of the man’s door and began to howl. Connor shuddered at the sound. Hank was silent. Sumo barked and pawed at the door, then barked again and pawed harder. Connor’s heart was in his throat as he watched the dog grow increasingly distressed. What… What was happening?

Something slammed inside the bedroom, something else smashed into the wall by the door erupting into a shower of tinkling glass. “FUCKIN SHUT UP!” Hank roared. Sumo growled and began to dig at the door instead.

Connor didn’t know what to do. He flinched away from the shattering glass and the upset dog, but he couldn’t bring himself to do anything. It felt like his head was in a fog. A sick feeling had taken hold in his gut and spread a cold nausea through his body. Before he really knew what he was doing, he was shoving past Sumo and throwing open the door.

“Hank?!”

Suddenly something whizzed by his head and smashed into the wall beside him. Connor’s blood ran cold at the rush of air past his cheek and he flinched away from the object. The full bottle of scotch smashed into the wall and exploded. Liquor and glass went everywhere and Connor sunk to the floor, wordlessly. Soaked and covered in glass, his eyes went blank as he attempted to process what had happened. Across the room, sitting on the floor, Hank looked white as a ghost as he stared at Connor.

“I thought…” he whispered, voice shaking. “I thought the damn dog…” He doubled over and puked in the waste basket beside him. When he could move without hurling again, he stumbled to his feet and moved toward Connor. “Fuck… Connor… I’m so sorry.”

Automatically, Connor put his hand up between them and crouched further into the corner. “Don’t …” was all he said.

Hank trembled, hand half outstretched to try and clean the boy up. He yanked it back as Connor pulled further away from him. “I didn’t… I never meant to…” Sumo had avoided the worst of the bottle’s explosion, though his fur was soaked with scotch, and now the big dog barged into the room to lick Hank. Hank’s outstretched fingers curled into the dog’s fur and he made a wretched noise in the back of his throat.

He had fucked up so badly.

What could he do to fix this?

He looked back toward the nightstand, the revolver, and then jerked his attention back to Connor on the floor in the corner. Sumo had abandoned him and slunk back to Connor, whining. Hank followed despite himself. What could a failure like him do for Connor anyway? He sunk to his knees an arm’s length away from Connor. “Let me get that glass off you, at least. If you’re hurt…” He didn’t know what he’d do.

“You’re not going to hit me, are you?” Connor asked in a very small voice, his hand still raised between them. His eyes seemed distant, like he wasn’t present.

Hank froze, eyes wide and his mouth suddenly dry. “Oh fuck, no. No, Connor, no.. I’d never.” The only person he’d ever wanted to hurt was himself. No one, not even Sumo, had been supposed to open that door. He edged closer to Connor. “I’m so sorry.”

Connor looked up at Hank, his eyes seeming to focus and he looked confused for a second. He wasn’t where he thought he was. He took in the older man’s worried expression and glanced at Sumo, wagging his tail nearby and then down at the glass on his clothes. “What happened? Why are we down here?”

Hank shook his head, trying to gather his thoughts. “I fucked up. I’m sorry… I need you to be careful.” He got carefully to his feet and offered his hands to Connor. Once he was out of this mess he could go have the rest of his breakdown.

Taking Hank’s hands, Connor looked around in confusion. Hadn’t he been in the hall with Sumo? Oh, Sumo! “We have to get Sumo out of here, he might get glass in his paws,” the younger man worried.

Hank nodded stiffly. “Yeah. He’ll come with us.” Sumo wouldn’t leave his side for hours after something like this. He usually needed it too. Today he definitely did.

He gently guided Connor to the bathroom and began helping him out of his clothes. He checked him for cuts as his hands shook violently. “Thank god, you don’t seem to be hurt.”

Connor knew they’d be arguing recently but was a little lost on why Hank was this upset. “I’m okay, though I reek of alcohol for some reason. Sumo does too; I guess we both need a bath.”

“Kid,” Hank trembled. “Did…” He hesitated. The guilty part of him wanted to lie, to pretend this hadn’t happened, but he couldn’t. “I was throwing bottles at the door when you came in… I thought I hit you, and you spaced on me… Fuck.”

“Oh.” Connor said, finally understanding. He could piece together what happened, although he couldn’t remember it still. This wasn’t the first time he had this experience. He hated that Hank had found out about it though. “It’s fine, just bad memories, I’m okay.” He attempted to cheerfully gloss this over; people usually accepted that, didn’t dig deeper and then went away.

Hank’s brows furrowed and he shook his head. “You asked if I was going to hit you! Connor, that’s not okay.” He rubbed his face in his hands, wishing he could forget as well as Connor could. “I… I’m just sorry. For all of it.”

“It’s fine, it was just an accident.” said Connor, trying to soothe Hank as best he could without actually having to reveal anything. ‘Casual.’ he thought to himself, bitterly.

Hank looked defeated and distraught. “I’m sorry.” He laid his head on the boy’s chest, still shaking as he did. “I can’t take care of anyone like this… I…” His thoughts went back to the gun, to his plan, and then back to Connor in front of him. He couldn’t leave him either. That was fucked up.

Connor wrapped his arms around his author, unaware of how self-destructive Hank’s thoughts were. “Maybe we can talk? And figure something out?” he suggested. He remembered again this wasn’t supposed to be personal. Too late, he guessed. He cared about this alcoholic writer more than he ever wanted to.

Hank pressed himself into Connor’s touch, still shaken by the reality that he could’ve harmed one of the few bright spots in his life. When Connor pulled back, Hank pulled back as well and kissed him deeply, desperately. “Okay. Okay… I just don’t ever want that again.” He never wanted to see Connor flinch away from him like that again. “I’m… gonna get Sumo cleaned up.. Do you want a bath too?”

“Yes, please. I smell gross.” Connor replied, wrinkling his nose.

Hank laughed, though the sound was awkward and more shaky than anything else. “Alright.” He got the three of them cleaned up after that. “Go ahead and get dressed, I can clean up the mess.” Sumo had been clingy ever since the incident at the door, and now he was determinedly following Hank everywhere he went. Hank’s shaking hands kept going back to the dog and burying into his thick fur. If it wasn’t for him, he didn’t know what he’d do — or what he might have done in the past.

Chapter Text

Bright Lights
Chapter Eleven

Connor settled into the sofa, sitting cross-legged and waiting for Hank to join him. Part of his mind was nagging him about the lack of work getting done. He would have to rearrange his mental priorities now. He sighed, pushing a hand through his still damp hair.

Hank finally joined Connor on the sofa. He had changed into something clean but comfortable and he was actually wearing pants. As soon as he sat down, Sumo was clambering on the sofa to curl up with his head on Hank’s lap. He absently stroked the dog’s ears.

“I can’t… keep doing this…” He clutched onto Sumo’s fur. “I wanted... to be someone good for you.” It sounded so stupid saying it out loud. How could he be good for anyone?

“You’re not bad for me—“ Connor began, but then his heart thudded loudly in his chest when it dawned on him that Hank might be in too deep himself. He’d accepted this one-sided love thing, it seemed typical. The prospect was daunting that it might not just be him.

Hank looked a bit like someone had dumped a bucket of water on him. That wasn’t the response he’d expected. “I… Yes… I am bad for you. You shouldn’t have to have someone scrubbing scotch off of you!” He smoothed his fingers through Sumo’s fur. “You shouldn’t have to be afraid of me. There’s nothing good in that.”

Connor tried to re-adjust his thoughts; he needed to focus! He swallowed back his hope. “I’m not afraid of you,” he insisted. “That .. thing I did. That had nothing to do with you. And you’re not a bad person. You just need to talk to someone.”

Hank made a frustrated face, but his shoulders slumped with defeat. “It had everything to do with me… But… I’m glad you’re not afraid… of me…” He groaned. This wasn’t the first time therapy had been suggested to him. “I don’t see how someone telling me something I already know will help me. I’ve been like this for years and I’m fucking sick of it! I’m sick of not feeling anything, Connor.”

“If you’ve never tried it, how do you know it won’t work?” replied the younger man. He felt a little hypocritical because he probably also needed therapy, but he thought he’d been handling things pretty well.

Hank felt useless. “Because nothing ever works.” He looked down at Sumo and back up to Connor. “Even if I can bring myself to go to therapy, this book isn’t going to be done on time. You should get CyberLife Publishing to assign you to someone who isn’t fucked up.”

“I don’t want to be assigned to anyone else,” Connor crossed his arms and frowned. He was behaving a little petulently, but the thought of leaving Hank, especially like this, terrified him.

“But your work is important to you… and I’m just fucking it up. I don’t want to do that to you.”

You’re important to me!” Connor’s eyes widened at his own statement. Fuck. No turning back from that one. Casual and non-personal were impossible goals; but they might have been that way for longer than he thought.

Hank shook his head. “Don’t fuck with me like that, kid. I can’t… I can’t take that today.”

“I’m not fucking with you!” Connor met the older man’s eyes. “Why would I?”

“There’s no… reason for you to be doing anything else! I’m trash that can’t even write anymore and you’re… you. Beautiful, successful. I’m the furthest from what you need… I’ll just destroy your career.”

“I’m in love with you, you fucking idiot!”

That certainly had an effect. He pulled back, startled by the realization. “I… You what?” His face was wet and he wasn’t entirely sure why. He had already decided! He was done… This wasn’t fair. All the pain and doubt was back, and he’d just fuck this up too. “But I…”

Hank was .. crying? Connor panicked and reached over to wrap his arms around his author. “I’m sorry,” he offered, unsure what else to say. Not even he had known that would come out of his mouth.

Hank slumped into Connor and cried. “You shoulda just let me die,” he muttered against the boy’s chest. Sumo lifted his head from Hank’s lap when the older man abruptly moved closer to Connor. “I can’t do this, kid. I’m too fucked up.” That said, he still couldn’t bring himself to let go of Connor. “Why couldn’t you just go get another assignment and forget about me?”

“I can’t do that now,” Connor answered, his throat tight. “You’re the first person I met that makes me feel anything. I can’t give you up.”

Hank’s breathing hitched as he listened to Connor. What kind of fucked up world did they live in if he was the one that made Connor feel? “That’s not fair,” he muttered softly, but he finally leaned back to see Connor’s face again. “I can’t leave you here alone…” He leaned in and kissed him lightly. “I love you too much.”

Connor’s own tears finally spilled over at that and he clutched Hank to him tightly, unable to respond. There were too many things he wanted to say; but none of them managed to leave his lips. Neither of them had wanted this but it happened anyway. Where did they go from here?

Hank didn’t like that Connor was crying, but he wasn’t in a position to stop him. He kissed the boy again and then pulled him close. “I’ll go… talk to someone… but you have to come too.”

Nodding, Connor tried to choke back some of his tears to answer. “That’s fair,” he replied, quietly. If Hank was agreeing to face his inner demons, he supposed he could do the same.

***

Hank hated therapy. He hated ‘drying out’ so he could try medications and he hated the medications he tried. It was all long and tiring and he had to manage his emotions without liquor. Thankfully his book had gotten an extension because he’d gone insane and apparently you can’t force insane, somewhat suicidal people to do things. Tiny victories. That was something they really enforced. Tiny victories and baby steps.

As they left the therapist’s building, Hank turned his attention to Connor. It had been a couple weeks since the blow up but something was nagging at him.

“How long are you going to stay with me.. now that Kamski’s extended the deadline….” Connor had said he loved him, but Hank had trouble accepting it. He kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Connor to just up and abandon him like everyone else.

“You mean, like what am I doing after we finish the book?” Connor asked, shrugging his messenger bag back over his shoulder. It was heavy, full of his own therapy materials. Honestly, he didn’t like it much better than Hank, but they’d made a promise.

“No, I was thinking…” he hesitated, embarrassed by how needy it felt. “I was thinking permanently… Would you like to stay with me?”

Connor almost stopped walking to the car. “Are you asking me to move in?” he asked, his voice a little incredulous.

Hank paused as he peered back at the boy then stiffly forced himself to walk the rest of the way to the car. “Well, I figured since you’re there all the time anyway...”

“No, I’m asking if you want me to move in.” Connor persisted, needing to hear the words.

Hank’s cheeks flushed. “Yes… I want you to move in… I don’t want to think about you leaving me when this assignment - or the next - ends.” He leaned back against the car, feeling pathetic.

Connor dropped his stupidly heavy bag on the pavement and embraced his author tightly. “Thank you.”

Hank didn’t expect the hug but he melted into it without hesitation. He wrapped his arms around the boy’s waist and pulled him close. “You’re welcome.” He pressed his head to Connor’s and laughed softly. “And here I was afraid you just didn’t want to stay with me.” Maybe therapy was good for something.

“It’s stupid,” Connor began, not wanting to be vulnerable, but knowing he needed to be. “But that’s the first time anyone’s asked me to stay.”

“It’s not stupid,” Hank sighed happily. “I’m kind of glad I could be the first, though. You’re the first person who’s ever made me want to stay here.”

“I’m glad for that too.” said Connor, pushing up on his toes to kiss his author.