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Clock me, Diogenes

Chapter Text

“Girl, tell us everything. Where did you find a house? And do you have any creepy neighbours? Or hot ones?”

“Hm, maybe both? The house I found space in is split in half and Henry Cavill lives in the other half. I have no idea if he rents that or if he’s my landlord. My assistant took care of everything. God I love saying that.”

“I’d think you would… why didn’t you let one of us be your assistant?”

“Because you’re my friends and I’d feel bad telling you to do literally everything for me, and on short notice.” You say, sipping on your Mojito.

“That might be a valid point. I hate doing tedious shit even for myself.” Tilly says. As your long time friend, she knew how utterly anal you could be about details. “Back to Henry Cavill tho. Have you met him?”

“No, not yet. I have a feeling I should, if he’s my landlord. And… even if he’s not, which I am more inclined to believe because he works so much now, I still feel like we should cross paths at least once.”

“He’s so hot. If you do meet him, get a bitch an autograph and a small video where he says hi.”

“I’ll see what I can do. Personally I’m into leaving actors alone in their private time. But, if the stars align…”

“What if he hits on you tho?”

“Why on Earth would he hit on me? I’m not the kind of woman he goes for. I am vehemently lazy, have a fat ass and zero time for games.”

“Yeah he seems pretty but only with his mouth closed.” Frankie concedes. “I still would tho. Only once, for research.”

 

“He said once that his cardio workouts are basically sex.” Tilly says dreamily. “He must be drowning in pussy.”

You give her a pointed look.

“Girl, we already know that sex doesn’t burn enough calories to count as a workout. Technically, you would have to fuck for a whole day to burn off a slice of cheesecake, and men don’t last that long. I think H Cavz meant he bought the Wank Yourself Fit DVD and he remembers to switch between arms. With the shit that leaves his trap during interviews, I am amazed he still finds women who give him the time of day.” You say. “See, a guy can be as chiseled and as dreamy as physically possible, but if he’s a douche, nothing redeems that. No one could pay me enough to hop on the dick of a guy who doesn’t think women are people. Life ain’t a rap video.”

“I think you’re being too stern. Mags love to twist words and quote out of context and he’s new at the whole fame thing.”

“Whatever.... I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. If I were to meet him and he were decent to me, then cool. But I still wouldn’t slip the pussy on him just because he’s H Cavz. If anything, famous men are even bigger pissbabies than regular men because they are used to most people sucking their dicks by default.”

“Only you, girl.” Frankie says, grinning. “You make being asexual look like a superpower.”

“Which it totally is,” you give back. “The power to see through bullshit without the bias of wanting to fuck a fool.”

***

Your resolve regarding your elusive neighbour lasts only until Frankie and Tilly take you to the movies to see Mission Impossible: Fallout.

“Alright, I stand by what I said about H Cavz, but August Walker can get it. And I am in that stupid place where I can see his bitch ass being irredeemable but I still want to stand in front of him and defend him while calling him my smol son.” You admit. “It’s the moustache and those curls. He looks so cute.”

Frankie laughs at you.

“Girl, is it really you or someone else under that face mask? But yeah I hear you. Tom Cruise was fine as fuck too, tho.”

“Agreed.” You and Tilly both reply.

“Like, not even that face burn, which… I did not understand why it had to be there… such a total cliche, the bad guy getting physically disfigured so you know he is utterly corrupt beyond redemption. Even with that face burn, I still found him utterly adorable and wanted to scritch him. Too bad August Walker was such a thundercunt. Like, he chose to be that evil.” Frankie says. “Ah, fuck that. We have a party to plan.”

Yes, it’s your new house party. Not an owned house, because this is rented, since your new lifestyle requires a lot of travel. London is where your publishing house is and where many of your friends live, so it’s a semi-permanent home and office.

You’ve been publishing successful novels for years now and amassed a nice fortune. To not be a complete hermit, you also put your choreography degree to good use by working with musicians for their videos. And while you’re very good and one of the most creative choreographers in the biz for your style, your body does this thing where you are ripped and limber, but underneath a cushy layer of fat that refuses to go away, the unfortunate consequence of an eating disorder that plagued you through your adolescence.

Which is why you’re absolutely positive that Henry Cavill being your neighbour is not going to lead to the porn scenarios your friends envisioned for you.

But then, you don’t know the guy and it’s unfair to judge him based on your own biases. So you choose the safer option of not giving a fuck to begin with.

Only bad things happen when you start to care.

****

Way before you have a chance to throw your housewarming party, Henry veers into your life like a Lamborghini swerving into a narrow street if it was narrated by the Migos.

It’s a public safety hazard and it happens on a day when you are due for a photoshoot and cover interview with a big magazine and you’re taking your time soaking in a luxurious bath and shaving all the places the laser didn’t get to this past round.

Just as you were ready to drain the tub and rinse, you hear the sound of an alarm and a voice amplified through a loudspeaker.

“Attention all residents, leave your homes right now and come out onto the road, a gas pipe explosion is imminent!”

Now that is something you do not expect to hear on a lazy Saturday evening.

“Take nothing along, leave at once!” The next warning comes and, halfway between actually worrying for your little life and malicious compliance being your second nature, you simply step out of the tub, not drying, and step inside a square carton that used to house a mini-fridge, then put your house key on a string and around your neck and hurry outside, waddling to the middle of the road while holding the box around yourself, like an updated version of the stoic philosopher Diogenes.

Everyone is out on the street, as requested and someone runs straight into you.

“Girl, chill,” you say out of reflex, and when they turn you notice it’s Henry. Unlike you, he is wearing a full set of clothing: flip flops, track pants, t-shirt and hoodie.

He’s also holding a slice of pizza in one hand and a mini cheesecake in the other.

“I’m sorry.” He says, as soon as he feels the impact and turns. “So sorry. I’m Henry. You must be the new neighbour?”

He extends his hand in greeting and you extend yours to shake it, while telling him your name.

Thus dropping the box to the floor.

“Oh. Oh wow. I’m… “ He starts, his eyes flicking down over your body for the briefest of seconds before he looks you in the eyes. “Sorry, man.”

Because when a true gentleman sees a woman naked, the most polite thing to do is to act as though she’s a man. You used to think it was just a joke.

The team sent by the council is measuring whatever they need to measure to clear your segment of the street.

“What do you think is going on? I really shouldn’t have abandoned my campaign… I was about to loot a necromancer king” Henry says. “Although I have a feeling you might feel slightly more irritated now.”

“No shit! I need to get back in there, I need to be places soon.”

The team of workers clears your house and Henry opens the gate, letting you go through it first and following after you.

“Uh, it was nice meeting you, regardless.” He says, looking hesitant. “Hope this isn’t a bad start.”

“You’re not the one who decided to Diogenes this queen-” you say, pointing at yourself. “In the middle of a fucking bath no less. I’m having the housewarming party next weekend on Saturday and Sunday, feel free to drop by if you want. There’s going to be more of that,” you add and point to the pizza and cheesecake, which he is now holding in one hand only, so that the two foods now taste of each other.

Henry looks at the food in his left hand and gasps, then looks back to you, mortified.

“And booze, fuckloads of booze.” You end your pitch. “Later! And good luck looting that guy.”

“Later, Diogenes.” Henry says and books it inside, to the safety of his part of the house. Probably to still eat both the pizza and the cheesecake away from judging looks.

Once you get back inside, you rinse off and finish getting ready for the meeting with the mag team.

Chapter Text

The next time you see Henry, it’s while you’re out on the terrace, working on a choreography. You’re dressed in a crop top and hot pants, doing a dance sequence for an upcoming rap video and of course, there are twerking elements involved.

A rustle of leaves from the bush dividing your terrace from his and the scent of very expensive men’s fragrance (applied in excess) let you know you’re being watched.

Going to the house and coming out the side door to the kitchen, you walk along the bush and reach your hand in it, encountering fabric and skin on the other side.

You tickle the surface your fingers encountered and withdraw your hand before he can react.

“Oh shit!” He gasps and you hear some fumbling with fabric and the creak of a ladder.

The little peeping tom brought a ladder to the bush. Of course.

And now he’s fallen off of it while trying to scramble away.

“Look, there’s no need to be creepy. If you want to watch me dance, come the fuck over. You’re a grown man.”

Silence. For many moments, you think he decided to go the “wasn’t me” route.

“I’m really sorry. I came to the bush to ask you something but I saw you dance and I forgot my question.” He says.

That’s kind of adorable actually. You do have a great ass.

“Do you now remember your question?”

“Yes, uh, about the party. Is there a dress code? Do I bring anything?”

“Come over. One of these days you’re going to have to look me in the eyes.” You instruct.

Three minutes later, he is ringing your doorbell, wearing track pants and a nice white muscle tank.

“I don’t go out much these days and despite what my more famous friends have said, it has gotten much harder to talk to girls, not easier like they promised.”

You think real hard of something he can relate to.

“Well, talking to women is like jiu jitsu. You don’t get good at it unless you train often.” You say, feeling like a mother with her barely-entered-puberty son.

Then, as he is following you inside to the living room, you remember all the other rumours about him. That he’s an arrogant guy. A narcissist. A guy who thinks women need to be chased… one who is three times your size and knows jiu jitsu.

 

But you’ve never been the most reasonable of people and being alone in a new town has made you even more reckless.

“Beer?” You offer, getting a can of Guinness from the fridge. He takes it gratefully. “Have a seat. No. You don’t have to bring anything or dress fancy. Look around. I just moved in and I’m throwing a small party. We’ll have catering and loads of booze served in solo cups. We’re not networking. It’s just friends goofing off. Some of them new to me. I’m new here.”

He opens the beer and has a sip.

“Aren’t you having one? Or did I get your last?” He asks.

“Uh, beer is not my thing. I already have a drink.” You answer and point to the long drink glass on the counter.

“I’m sorry I was watching you from a bush.” He says. “I didn’t mean to be that guy. But lately it’s all I manage to do.”

“I’m trying to understand. Why wouldn’t you just come over to talk face to face?”

“Too shy. I figured that would be more suspicious. I could pretend I just happened to be near the bush fence and pop the question like this.”

So that’s what it is. Coupled with a huge dose of white guy privilege, he wants to do the right, gentlemanly thing, but he second guesses himself out of the game.

“I saw you in Vogue. I had no idea you were the author of Embers. I loved that series. I’d love to be in the movie adaptation, if it ever gets made.”

“Thanks.” You say simply. People always expect you to spill a lot more in response to their admission to liking your books. “I’ll put in a good word, if and when.”

“Look at me. Doing the… networking thing. Mere minutes after showing my ass. Uh… thanks for the beer, I think I overstayed my welcome. I’m sorry I interrupted your work.”

“You did, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m half inclined to punish you.” You hear yourself say.

Henry’s eyes are the size of saucers.

“Excuse me?”

“Well, since you seem so captivated with this choreography, how about you learn it? Besides, the best way to get something is to teach it to someone else.”

“OH!” He says, looking at the terrace, where you have your music and sheets with the sequences. “Twerking part too?”

“It’s in the choreography, so yes.”

Half an hour later, he is sweating profusely and stumbling a bit as he tries to keep up with the fast-paced sequence. He needed a bit to get the movements memorized and then you kept demanding that he hit the end points right and like he’s feeling it.

“This is fucking hard!” He protests, not stopping though. “Fuck this is intense.”

You just turn to grin at him knowingly. Now he’s going to respect your craft a bit more, past the whole “it’s just clapping your asscheeks at the skies” most people say.

To his credit, he really gave it a try and listened to your pointers.

“You have stiff hips,” you remark clinically. “But that’s to be expected. Most straight white guys do. Which is a pity.”

“My BJJ trainer laments that too. We’re taking steps to change that.”

“Dancing definitely helps. You should let loose and shake it sometimes. For someone like you, who lifts often and lifts heavy, it can be the difference between getting injured easily and being able to power through months of intense training.”

 

“Mind if I sometimes come over for a lesson? With a call beforehand. No more creeping at the fence.” He asks.

That’s when you realise he’s not arrogant, just shy and trying to come across as confident. This guy has zero clues on how to talk to women and the tips he’s been given are contradictory and stereotypical… most coming from other clueless and bitter dudes, probably.

“I’m pretty busy these days but if you’re willing to put in the work and keep up like today, I can call you over for a workout.”

“Thank… thank you. I’m at home these days, I just finished shooting a massive project and I’m chilling before the premiere and the press tour. So, uh, call me maybe?”

“Alright Carly Rae… put your number in here.” You say and hand him your phone.

Henry looks at the iridescent crystal case and nods.

“Cool phone.” He comments, putting his number in. “Now yours?”

You take your phone back and call his number.

“Now you have it.”

“Well, I have to go.” He says and finishes his beer, taking it to the recycling bin and returning to you. “Please call soon. This was a WORKOUT.”

“Later, neighbour,” you say, watching him walk out of your part of the building and over to his.

“Later, Diogenes!” he says, flashing you a smile and disappearing inside.

****

Sometime later, you get a call from Henry’s BJJ trainer. He wants you to come down and teach one class of hip hop to his wrung out students because Henry has been hyperbolic about the effects of what he got from you.

You agree to do it and you surprise the man by telling him to donate what he was going to pay you to a local animal rescue organization.

According to your bookkeepers, you hit the billion euro in revenue back in February, so you don’t need the cash. But you don’t live like a billionaire because it fucks with your head and you are eager to go back to not being one by putting your money to work, helping other people and animals who have nothing.

The fewer people know, the better. It helps them reveal their true nature in your presence, unbiased by the ka-ching sounds.

When you think of it, Henry was so not like his reputation. People say he’s arrogant and narcissistic, that he loves boujee things and traveling first class, that he judges people based on looks and perceived status and he only fucks models and strippers.

Maybe all that is true, but the guy you met was shy and cute and he didn’t act like a dick towards you - while not knowing what you earn and after seeing you stark naked, which he also handled really courteously. And maybe he really doesn’t want to touch you with a ten foot pole, but people are allowed to not be attracted to everyone.

So you go and teach the class at the BJJ gym and everyone has fun, you see it on their shiny with sweat faces and in their smiles. The students ask the trainer if he can do this a regular occurrence. That remains to be seen, since you don’t always have time and you travel a lot, but you’ve got other choreographer friends who could step in.

Henry himself was in the front row behind you as you taught a dance sequence to Iggy Azalea’s Mo Bounce, which was one of your most intense routines.

In the mirror on the wall before you, you could see how everyone, including the instructor, was concentrating and giving 110%.

After the class, everyone went to shower, and when you were done, you left on foot, given that you had come by bus and it was a nice and cool evening, and walking at an alert pace was great cardio. Also, it calmed the restless energy that coursed through you every time after a nice dance class.

The truth was, the more you were around Henry, the more you changed your opinion about him… for the better. And seeing his latest movie in the cinema had left you weak for August Walker, his character. You had meant what you’d told the girls - August could get it. Even disfigured. You were at an embarrassing point where you had the hots for the second creepiest and most vile dude in the movie. Usually you were laughing at fans who were like that, and now you were that fan.

Not to mention the fact that your room under the roof, with a skylight to the stars, had become a bona fide masturbatorium, with printed out pics of August and his tag on tumblr on the big wall screen. It was the moustache and the palpable threat the character gave off.

Luckily you didn’t have to see Henry until the party.

 

Or so you thought.

One evening, you’re grilling for your team - your assistant, your editor, your makeup artist and your hairstylist and the whole yard was filled with the alluring scents of Italian herbs and grilled veg.

Just as you’re about to sit and dig in, your doorbell rings. You go to open and are met with the sight of Henry, with a small dish in his hands.

“Hi,” he says, not looking you in the eye. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but whatever you’re making smells so good and I have the most devastating cravings, I can’t concentrate on anything or fall asleep. I was wondering if you could spare some, please? I’ll make it up to you.”

You nearly melt where you stand, but the thought of your vegan grill dishes making Superman weak is awfully satisfying.

“I made enough for a small army, come in. Sit with us. That dish is not big enough for you to try everything.” You say, showing him in. “Heads up, gang, say hello to my neighbour Henry!” You announce him and your team all bleat a “Hi Henry!” before he’s fully into view.

Your hairstylist chokes on his drink and your assistant lets out a “fuck me” under her breath.

“Hi everyone, sorry to drop in uninvited.”

“Scooch a bit on that bench, fam,” you tell two of them, so Henry can sit next to them on the long bench while you bring him a plate, glass and cutlery. “What would you like to drink? We have Captain Cola, Mojito or Long Island Ice Tea.”

 

“Don’t you have anything manlier?” He asks.

“None of the drinks have dicks.” You give back without thinking. That was a ridiculous thing of him to ask.

“If you a pussy you get popped.” Your assistant says, quoting Bodak Yellow.

“Oh, Cardi B? Touché,” Henry concedes. “I’ll have the Long Island Ice Tea please.”

You turn up the volume on the background music a bit while your guests go back to talking. Now the topic is obviously Mission Impossible: Fallout and August Walker. Your team are used to being around rich and famous people and they know how to stay away from things that make Henry uncomfortable.

“Yeah, all of us here are weak for August Walker and I would not be surprised if a character from the new Embers novel has a moustache and a penchant for over the top violence.” Your make up artist says. “You made a great decision in doing this movie.”

“All of you?” Henry asks, looking at you, who are flipping some steaks and burgers, smiling when you raise your eyes and make eye contact.

“Yeah. Especially her. She is the one with a moustache kink.”

“A kink, huh?”

“I mean… eh. Not really. But she prefers a guy who can rock a stache to one who doesn’t. Her first crush ever, as a child, was Freddie Mercury.” The make-up artist sells you out.

“Awww. That’s lovely though. Who hasn’t had a crush on Freddie Mercury as a kid?” Henry says and thanks you once you put a big platter of food and his drink in front of him. “This is really amazing and it smells so good. Thank you.”

You sit back down at the head of the table and everyone goes back to the usual conversation.

Henry is digging into the goodies you put on his plate and he just straight out moans when he bites into the burger.

Cue silence and everyone’s eyes being on him.

“What? It’s yummy.” He says, wrapping you in a look that basically says you made the shortlist for marriage candidates.

If men’s loyalties didn’t shift so easily after a particularly good meal or fuck, you’d let yourself enjoy it. But like this, it just gives you a chance to let the undercover sadist in you shine.

“I’m really happy you love it,” you tell him, then turn to your team. “And those other motherfuckers think we vegans only eat lettuce.”

Henry’s face falls for a millisecond, then he schools his features.

“This… is vegan?” He asks. “But it’s delicious.”

“Are you shook, boo?” Floria, your make-up artist, asks.

“Yes! I may have been harbouring a very wrong idea of what vegan cuisine is like. But I’m happy to update those views.” He says, giving her a smile and then looking down and away.

That’s it, right there, a demonstration of his charm, because Floria is now blushing and fidgeting in her seat.

“So, now you know. Your new neighbour is a vegan.” You say and shrug.

The evening moves on uneventfully and Henry gets seamlessly involved into the conversation, although no one is dwelling on his profession and recent career highlights and he finds himself asking many questions and basically being made to feel like a regular guy.

If he’s as narcissistic as people say, his supply should be depleting quickly and he should be getting crankier by the moment… but he seems to have a good time talking to your team, who are like a second family to you.

Now and then he is stealing glances at you, smiling and blushing when he realises you caught him looking.

Chapter Text

The party turns out great and the vegan menu is a hit with everyone there. Henry and Kal make an appearance too, towards the middle of the evening, and Kal chases one of his toys all over your backyard.

Frankie and Tilly are all over Henry and they get their fill of videos and selfies. As Frankie’s alcohol intake reaches theoretical coma levels, she and Tilly are crowding Henry on a loveseat that’s actually only designed for two butts, but now has two girls, one dog and one very thicc man on it. Said thicc man is buried under girls and dog and his eyes say “help me”.

You catch his eye and head for them, wondering if you read the situation right.

“Didn’t you say you needed help with the thing?” Henry asks.

“Oh yes, come to the kitchen with me.” You helpfully throw him a line. “Girls, let the boy breathe. Baby bear, come along too, you’re getting treats.” The last sentence is for Kal, who is super stoked to be called baby bear and launches himself at you over the small coffee table in front of the loveseat.

As you lead Henry away, you catch Tilly flipping you the bird when he is not looking and Frankie mouthing the word “cockblock” at you.

Maybe the guy just dropped by a party to be nice and say hi, not thinking he was going to have an impromptu threesome with two very thirsty fans.

In the kitchen, Henry is drinking a glass of water and waiting for you.

“Thank you for that. It gets a bit much sometimes, even if they’re doing nothing objectionable.”

“Of course. They are just excited because well, I used to be the loser of the group until my first novel got picked up and in only a few years my life got seriously upgraded and, against their expectations, I didn’t drop my friends from my pleb days. Now they just like to see how far my perks extend.”

“Well they’d be super disappointed if they expect Superman.” Henry says.

“Frankie has been wanting to bang the entire cast of The Tudors. And Tilly loves your boujee photoshoots.”

“Oh… it’s a nice touch.” Henry says and looks up at you, smiling. “I’m feeling better now. Do you need any actual help?”

Kal sits in front of you and puts a paw on you.

“Oh, I promised this guy a treat. Can I give him a strip of moose jerky?”

“Yeah, he loves that, go ahead.”

You get the boy his treat and watch as he goes under the table to monch on it, then turn to Henry.

“You could help me slay this layer cake.” You say, taking the box out of the fridge. It is a decadent cake with chocolate sponge, caramel, vegan Irish Cream, Amaretto, whipped cream and dark chocolate and Henry looks into the box as you get plates and spoons.

“We could go to your roof. Your house is identical to mine and we could sit there in the semi-darkness and be undisturbed. Unless you want to share the cake with everyone else too.” He suggests. “But judging by the amount, that would not be very prudent.”

“I like the way you think. The roof it is.”

Henry takes the cake and the spoons and you follow, helping Kal up the ladder to the roof as well.

“Oh shit the plates!” You say.

“Stay. We can start in opposite corners and meet in the middle. I’m cool with that because cake.” Henry says and pops the lid open. “Wow. This is so rich and smells so good.”

You sit next to him, with the box of cake between the two of you and Kal barking at some bats that take off into the night, disturbed by the sudden presence of humans on their roof. He then comes to settle between Henry and you, at your feet.

Henry is already making a lot of headway into the cake, accompanying every bite with R-rated sounds.

Beneath you, at the house, people are starting to call taxis and leave, shown out by either Frankie or Tilly. They are the last to leave, and Frankie drunkenly yells:

“Don’t waste that goodass honey, fool!!”

You sigh, wishing you could liquefy and be absorbed in the tiles on the roof.

But Henry laughs, slapping his thigh with mirth.

“I’ve been called way worse.”

“Henry with the good stache,” you concede, shrugging.

“Beyonce reference caught and acknowledged. I hope you’re not cheating on any Bey to spend time with me because I’m having a great time and I wish it weren’t at someone else’s cost.” Henry says.

“There’s no Bey or any cheating to speak of. The only things I am cheating on are my diet and my writing schedule for the screenplay. I’m helping Lionsgate adapt the first Embers novel and then I’ll be directing.”

“Directing?” Henry asks, doing the confused white guy meme face. “That’s a whole new level ballgame.”

“Yes, but I am a barely repressed narc who needs to have her work well represented on screen. I don’t want my novel to come to life as a tropefest full of white straights where the token diverse character is played by Scarlett Johansson. As Deadpool would put it, daddy needs to express some rage.”

Henry looks at you, and you can’t see it, just feel his eyes on you as he stares intently, like he’s trying to figure out if you’re for real or calculating whether or not the box cake is good enough to justify putting up with crazy.

But instead of saying “fuck me, I’m done!”, he just throws his head back and laughs. And laughs. The kind of laughter that has his whole body shaking and leaves him slapping his thigh.

Once he calms down a bit, he takes your hand in his and laces his fingers with yours.

“Hello, are you me?”

Of all the reactions you’d reckoned with, this was not among them.

“Ever since I met you, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions, some of them scary. But time after time, I catch myself wanting to know what you’re up to and wanting to hear your verdicts. Usually when people call me out on shitty things, they themselves are shitty so I go in full defense mode, which for me is offense.”

You can immediately think of examples. Whenever he says something publicly that isn’t “woke” enough to some, out come the fat-shaming and creepy jabs at his looks or sexuality.

“But… you’ve had me laughing… and checking myself… and bloody dancing… dancing, me. I never dance!” He continues.

“It’s a fun workout. With the added benefit of making you more attractive if you keep at it.” You say.

It’s only now that you notice. You don’t mind how close he is, or his fingers squeezing yours softly.

This is so not like everyone has warned you. But now you’re presented with the likely scenario of two shy people trying to act smooth and ending up like two seals fighting over a grape.

Maybe he senses your tension or maybe he simply didn’t think as much of the moment as you do, because Henry soon pulls his hand away and spoons a large amount of cake into his mouth.

I like a man who’s not afraid of empty carbs, you think, watching him munch with a blissful expression on his face.

Now you regret misreading the moment and most of all, you regret he didn’t kiss you.

But he doesn’t owe you shit. Just because together you’re a man and a woman on a roof doesn’t have to mean he has to pull maneuvers.
You return to the real world from the clang of a spoon falling onto the roof surface and Henry letting his fall into the now empty box.

“I think I found my new favourite cake. Will you please share the recipe?” He says, almost reverently.

You nod absentmindedly. The moon is casting its cool blue glow onto the world, painting Henry’s skin a bluish, silvery hue and making his eyes sparkle mysteriously although most of him and everything around you is shrouded in shadows.

 

He could have long gone home. He could have invoked a billion valid excuses, like Kal being sleepy or his having something pressing to attend first thing in the morning, but he hadn’t. He’d just sat there, letting you take the piss out of him and bantering with you while he exterminated your cake.

This boy wants to be here, you tell yourself.

By now all the guests have left and you wince at the thought of having to pick up all the mess of empty cans, solo cups and cutlery they left. You could leave it and call someone tomorrow in the morning, but you have stuff to do and you can’t sleep with that much filth surrounding you.

Henry goes downstairs first, with the cake box, the glasses and the cutlery, whistling for Kal to follow.

The good pupper goes after his human, but the staircase leading down from the roof is dark and steep so he hesitates and sniffles.

You pick him up and you go down the stairs, to Henry’s obvious surprise.

“You can carry Kal.” He says, pointing.

“Your dog is at least 60% floof. Of course I can carry him. The baby needed help. I need to change that ladder.”

Henry smiles.

“I’ll help you clean up. This place looks like it survived an air raid, not a party.”

“You don’t have to… I wouldn’t dare ask.”

“That’s why I’m offering. I heard your assistant say you have a book signing in the morning. You need to rest.”

But that was days ago. At the grill evening. And he remembers?!

A rock would quiver at the attention. You’re not even trying to resist. While you didn’t go into meeting Henry from the “OMG he’s so hot, he’s Superman OMG” angle, he’s winning you over.

Between the two of you, the trash is quickly gathered in 4 huge sacks, which you carry outside to the wheelie bins, then wash in the downstairs guest bathroom.

“Thank you for a lovely evening and that absolutely divine cake. Kal and I are going home and letting you sleep.” Henry says.

It’s only now that the fatigue from the last few days hits you full on. It’s so overwhelming it brings tears to your eyes and makes you shudder visibly.

Henry’s hands immediately come up to rest on your cheeks.

“You’re burning. You need to be in bed, like, yesterday!” He says, but instead of letting you go, he pulls you close and into a big warm hug - not the distant, “nothing below the shoulders is touching” kind of hug.

“Go to bed. I’ll call you on Hangouts in five and if you’re not in bed by then, I’m calling your mum.” Henry says, trying to look stern although a smile is threatening to break through.

It’s not like your mother can do anything if you don’t want to sleep, but you find yourself not wanting to disappoint Henry.

Once he leaves, you brush your teeth and take off your clothes, settling into bed just in time for his call. Starting the video feature, you show Henry your head is on the pillow.

“Sweet dreams now, and have fun at the event tomorrow.” He says, smiling.

It feels like a reward you are grateful to receive.

Then the world cuts to black.

****

You text Henry a pic from the event, one where you’re smiling, surrounded by fans, from beneath at least 5 layers of full coverage foundation, holding up a “victory” sign.

His reply comes not one minute after he saw the pic.

“Very professional job from the team that propped you up and made you look so lifelike.”

You crack up and go into a full blown laughing fit before you manage to contain yourself, but only after you took a screen capture and tweeted it with the caption: “Hold on to friends like this with all you’ve got.”

You did forget one detail, tough.

After the event, three hours later, you have a new text from Henry.

“I don’t know what to believe about the fact that you have me saved as Juicy Peach in your phone. Isn’t that an ice cream on a stick with a very disappointing core?”

“You ever have one?”

“No. I was told it’s meh.”

“You should have one and then form an opinion. I happen to love it and think the core is the best part.”

“On it. Until then, thanks for having my back.”

He means of course the scenario where, had you saved his number under his actual name, the tabloids would now be going bonkers.

You send him the fist bump emoji before getting into your car and driving home.

Chapter Text

“I know you’re exhausted from having to people for so long today… how about dinner at my place, and I’m cooking?” He texts around six in the evening, just as you got into a bath with a glitter bomb from Lush and silly music at full volume.

“What time?” You text back, with a pic of yourself being swallowed by clouds of foam. “I can only make it in say… an hour?”

“Make it an hour and a quarter and food will be ready when you get here.” He texts. “I hope you like Italian.”

 

“One more thing? What should I wear?” You ask. He’s been going on forever about how he loves tradition and “proper” things and you don’t want to offend the man in his own home by showing up in jeans and a t-shirt when he’s putting on a suit.

“Whatever you feel like, I’m changing into a clean tracksuit.” He writes.

Exactly one hour and fifteen minutes later, you’re ringing Henry’s doorbell, holding a bottle of Distiller’s Edition Lagavulin whisky. You put on a trendy Gucci tracksuit in periwinkle blue and a crisp fresh white tank top underneath.

Kal is the first to greet you, even before the door opens, with his bark that means “yay friend!”

Henry looks like a snack himself when he opens the door, in black track pants, white tank top and grey hoodie. You can tell he’s just showered because his skin and hair are still moist and he smells great.

As he shows you to the terrace, where he set up the outside table, you get distracted by the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.

“I hope you like lasagna… I went online and found this guy Gaz who cooks really yummy looking vegan stuff so I hope it turned out fine.”

“Gaz Oakley? Yeah he’s low key the best vegan chef on youtube. His videos are so relaxing, too, and his recipes are tasty. We should be fine. Thank you for inviting me and cooking vegan. Usually the vegan option for me is make do or fuck off.”

“That’s just inconsiderate. I’m not that sure I could survive on a vegan diet all the time, with all the mass building I have to do for work, but I don’t resent people who make it work for their needs.”

“Well I’m not vegan for my health, that’s just a cool side effect. I think we’re killing the planet with factory farming and it should fucking go away already.”

“I can get behind that. Shall we sit down and eat?” Henry says. “Would you like to have wine after or during? I’m going to have a whisky before, but I know girls don’t go for that usually.”

“I’d like a whisky too. I’ll just have what you’re having and trust you to fling me across the fence if for any reason the alcohol mows me down.”

“If it doesn’t get me first. I have the opposite of a Superman liver.”

He leaves you briefly to pour some whisky and serve it in some really nice tumblers, directing you to sit on the side of the table that’s facing the view, where the sun will soon set.

You slink onto the comfortable rattan loveseat, covered with pillows and a white fuzzy throw.

“You know what? It’s not fair. You should sit next to me. We should both be able to watch the sunset. This bench is big enough.” You say, patting the seat next to you.

“Are you sure?” Henry asks, stopping in his tracks. He’s clearly considering it. “I don’t know if you’ve read, but I’m a dick who chases women and doesn’t take no for an answer.”

“I got to know you from up close and I’ve decided you’re not that guy. To me it matters a lot how someone acts. We all have moments when we talk although silence would serve us better.” You say, watching him move his plate on the same side as yours and putting the tumblers between you. “You’ve been nothing but warm and considerate towards me and cared about things I usually have to pay people to care about.” You add, reaching over and seeing your hand like in an out-of-body experience as it lands on Henry’s cheek and caresses it, sliding down to his neck, where it settles briefly, before repeating the motion.

That was forward. Too much? Too soon, you think and panic.

But Henry sighs out a breath you didn’t realise he’s been holding and closes his eyes, melting into the touch and turning his face slightly to kiss the soft skin on your wrist.

 

This is so at odds with what you’ve been told and warned about. The words used were gross, creepy and entitled. You could cry.

Granted, he could still be a histrionic type, who plays dreamy until he traps you, and the abusive side comes out when he knows he’s got you cornered.

But you are so not the victim type. You could eat him and anyone else alive if they tried anything. The kind of money and connections you amassed in your brief, but well strategized career make you unfuckwithable.

He opens his eyes and damn, up close they are so surprisingly blue. You never really looked but now they’re working their magic on you.

“Am I reading this whole thing wrong? Because I’m so giddy now,” he whispers, taking your hand and resting it on his chest, where you can feel his heart beat beneath your palm. “And I haven’t even touched the whisky.”

You fold a leg close to you so you can turn to face Henry with your entire body, then fling your other leg over his lap.

“Are you really that excited for your exhibitionist neighbour, with a glitchy mind to mouth filter and who made you twerk after your jiu jitsu class?” You say, drifting closer to him and meeting him halfway.

“Absolutely pumped.” He says, right before he leans in and his lips touch yours.

He’s gentle and moving slowly, one hand coming to rest on your neck, mirroring your gesture from earlier. As he deepens the kiss, you slide a hand into his hair, carding your fingers through it and ruffling it. It’s starting to dry and curl and feels even better than you imagined.

It’s one of those kisses that stop time around you; he tastes so good and you can still smell the shower gel on his skin, mixed with his warmth.

Way too early for your taste, he pulls away and you notice the blush in his cheeks. It’s nice that you’re not the only one this has made an impact on.

“Our whisky is getting warm.” You point out.

“Oh. Sorry.” Henry says and hands you a tumbler, getting the other for himself. “Cheers,” he adds, before sipping from his glass.

You take a sip and sigh. Whisky always tastes like regret and those bugs that live on raspberries to you, so it’s not something to slosh around and enjoy at length. Well, except for two kinds of whisky, which have fruity and lively components to their aroma. But no one openly admits they drink those because supposedly they are not badass.

You down your glass and bite your lips, scraping the last of the burn off with your teeth.

Henry has been watching you all through your weird routine, with a raised eyebrow and a confused look, up until you bit your lips.

You only see his pupils nearly engulf the blue of his irises before he’s on you again, this time pulling you closer, with one hand cradling the back of your head and the other on a buttcheek.

 

It’s one of those frantic kisses, like in the movies, where he takes the lead and you feel like a leaf adrift on a stormy sea.

His lips trail over your jaw, down your neck and to the exposed part of your chest peeking out over the hem of your tank top.

“Why are you so unbearably hot?” He asks, sounding out of breath and almost pleading. “I’d gladly have you on this table; fuck the lasagna.”

You laugh.

“How about eat the lasagna and fuck me?” You suggest.

It’s at least time to cool off and settle the less fun aspects of sex.

“You’re right. Where are my manners.” Henry says and sets you back next to him, plating lasagna for the two of you.

You cut a piece and chew thoughtfully, trying to ignore the fact that he’s turned your blood to lava and your brain is stalling.

It’s not a good lasagna, it’s spectacular as far as vegan lasagna goes.

“This is fantastic. My own mum doesn’t put in this level of effort.”

“Thank you. I wanted you to feel cared for.” Henry says. “I do want to please you. In every way you want.” He adds, unable to look you in the eye for long when he says that. And he’s still blushing.

***

“It’s really pretty out here,” you say, looking at the sunset that is painting the horizon golden in the distance. “And the company is excellent too.”

Henry smiles and finishes his food.

“Leave room for dessert.” He says and winks, disappearing into the kitchen with the used dishes and coming back with two Juicy Peach ice creams.

“You’re evil.” You say, but clap your hands excitedly at the prospect of the Juicy Peach. “There’s no socially acceptable way of eating this. It’s going to be messy.”

“I don’t mind messy.” Henry says and comes back to sit next to you, opening the wrapper on his ice cream and looking at it.

The sexual innuendo here is basically smacking you over the eyes.

You open your ice cream and look at Henry over the tip of the treat.

“I love to first bite off the tip,” you say, doing exactly that, without taking your eyes off Henry’s face as you then swirl your tongue around the fluid filling that immediately starts to trickle out like a thick honey. “Then I suck out the filling… otherwise the whole thing melts in your hand and the fun is over before it begins.”

Henry is just sitting there with his jaw slack and mouth hanging open. You can’t tell if he’s scared, aroused or both. You’re hoping for both.

He takes a few deep breaths before he can formulate a reply, eating his ice cream thoughtfully, following your instructions.

“It is a damn good ice cream though.” He eventually says, putting the stick on the table and closing the distance between you again. This time around he’s not frantic and he just pulls you into his chest, wrapping his arms around you and tucking your head under his chin. “You’re absolutely bonkers. I love that. Thank you for coming today. I was so nervous I’d be the only one excited for this.”

“According to Tilly and Frankie, I am a moron for not having already snatched you.” You say. “But this is good.”

“What are you looking for? I get the feeling this is a conversation we should have now, to spare each other confusion and heartache down the line.”

“Me? I want a boyfriend and a partner in crime. Someone who’s excited to spend time with me and who likes me for me, not because he has someone to fuck and bring to events. I want… I want to have fun and feel supported in what I do and I want loyalty. But the bar is low I guess. Just because we’re not in the same area code doesn’t mean a license to cheat. I have a lot of love to give, but I don’t want to waste it on someone who doesn’t want it.”

As comfortable and warm Henry’s chest is, you pull away to look at him.

“I’m also tired and jaded. Commitment is a bad word these days and everyone expects me to just put the pussy on them, fuck off discreetly and not tell a soul. I get how it can be fun for guys. But they all want to fuck every woman they like and then to complain that all women are hoez and they can’t be wifed.”

“I’m all for commitment. But I haven’t come across women who really want it. They are so pumped they get to smash Superman no one asks me what I want. So I take what’s available. But if you wanted to be part of an ‘us’, I’d count myself to be the happiest man.”

You shift to straddle Henry’s lap just so you can be closer to him, thoughts of sex having gone to the background for now. At least for you.

“I really like you Henry. I like the man I am getting to know. And I want us to be low key and try and keep us under wraps for a while.”

His brow furrows and he looks at you with hostility for a bit before he schools his features.

“Are you being cautious about being seen out and about with Creepy Cavill?” He asks, sounding weary and heartbreakingly sad.

“No. Henry, look at me. I want us to have a chance.” You say, caressing his face and raining little kisses on his cheeks, tip of the nose, lips and jaw. When he does look at you, you continue: “We’re two people who work and who travel a lot. We’ll be away from each other, momentarily trapped with insufferable people who have nothing better to do but spread shit about us to our faces and to the world. I don’t think they should get the chance to dig at the roots of our couple before we even get the chance to see if we’re good for each other. THAT is why I want to keep us hidden. Later, when we’re a thing already, they can have at it. Nothing can grow healthy and strong if it is fed poison from the very start.”

He sighs in relief and rests his forehead against yours.

“You’re so right. I’m sorry I assumed the worst. But… after a while, it became a reflex.”

“You, fair sir, are a good man. I’m going to teach you to listen to your heart more often.” You whisper, before kissing him and carding your fingers through the curls at the back of his head.

“Mmm, do that some more. It sends tingles all through me,” Henry says, smiling into the kiss.

You oblige and smile back. It feels good to you too.

“What should we do from here?” You ask.

“I would still very much finish the evening in bed.” Henry says, that blush from earlier coming up to tint his cheeks again.

“In that case I’m helping you clean up here and we’re going to mine. I don’t think I can take what you’re packing without some help.”

“I can go slow and gentle.”

“And then it’s not as enjoyable as it could be and it turns into a bomb-defusing job for you. Besides. As much as I hate them, I think it’s condoms for us for a while. I have a hormonal implant,” you say, pushing the sleeve of your jacket down your shoulder so you can show him the insertion scar on your inner arm. “I got tested a few days ago and it’s all around good news.”

“How come? Travelling to somewhere strict soon?”

“That too… but a girl can hope.” You say and shrug.

He gasps and smiles.

“Same. I know what rumours circulate about me and I wanted a signed and stamped proof that I’m not the skank everyone in my industry thinks I am.”

He untangles himself from under you gently, before going into the house and returning with a file which contains his test results. You show him yours on your phone, where the lab sent them to you in PDF format.

“So, you think we could skip the condoms? I have no problem using them if it means more peace of mind for you, although I… uh, how do I bring this up without coming across as an absolute cunt?” Henry starts. “I… I had a procedure done in Canada where they closed off the vas deferens so the swim team can no longer go to the pool. It’s easily reversible for when or if the woman I’m with wants kids. But until then, it’s an extra precaution against trap babies.”

“That. Is. So. Hot.” You say, licking your lips. “Thanks for sharing that with me by the way. My mum always said, have faith in people, but do lock your car. I stan a proactive man.”

Henry’s whole body relaxes and his posture changes. It’s like an invisible crushing weight has been removed from his shoulders.

“Then let’s hurry.” He says and holds his hand out for you to take. Together, you clean up the table on the terrace and load the dishwasher, then Henry packs a toothbrush and some other stuff in an overnight bag, plus Kal’s bowl, leash and some food, and the three of you make your way over to your house.

“Alexa, play my trap favourites,” you instruct the device, turning to Henry, who raises an eyebrow at your mention of ‘trap’.

“You’ll see.” You promise, smiling and taking his hand, leading him to your bedroom.

Kal follows, but doesn’t hop on the bed, choosing an armchair in a nearby corner. He clearly ships you two.

Henry strips off his hoodie while you take off your tracksuit jacket and step out of the pants, toeing off your socks and removing your tank top and boy shorts in a matter of seconds, standing naked before Henry.

“Those weren’t there when we met… “ He comments, referring to the sparkly nipple piercings you are now sporting.

“Yeah I had removed my old ones to get these bad boys in. I love the way they look and how they make my orgasms last as long as I want.”

“Oh. OH.” Henry says, licking his lips. “May I?”

You nod, moving closer to rid Henry of his remaining clothes.

Once you get the tank top off, you push his track pants and briefs and it’s your turn to gasp.

“Jesus Horatio Christ.” You whisper under your breath. That’s a two hander, and right now it’s just a semi. You’re suddenly very grateful he agreed to come to your place, where you have an amazingly helpful, self-heating lube that facilitates epic sexual exploits.

Your mind drifts to that “split me in half” tweet and his reply, which was DEFINITELY not a joke.

He’s also not currently in Superman shape, which is fantastic in your book. He just looks massive and daunting, and the gentleness he’s shown you throughout the evening is that much more alluring by contrast.

“Disappointed?” He asks, noticing you checking him out.

You only reply with a feral sound from the back of your throat as you rake your nails through his chest hair, down to his abs and then hips.

“Quite the opposite,” you say, getting distracted by his hands cupping your breasts and pinching your nipples, tugging carefully at the jewels. “Fuckkkkk.” You close your eyes and savour the heady mix of pain and pleasure that shoots up your spine.

Opening your eyes, you take in Henry’s heavy breathing, which he struggles to keep in check and the way his eyes are now darkened with arousal.

“Lie down for me,” you instruct, and smile at his eagerness to comply.

You get between his legs and take the time to caress his chest, his sides, his abs and hips before sitting back on your calves and caressing his thighs, tracing the muscles and lightly tickling the sensitive skin on the inner sides.

He’s definitely the most virile person you’ve been this close to and while for some reason in your mind body hair means higher likelihood of aggression and basically a warning to stay away, with Henry you feel no such thing. He’s been nothing but considerate and good to you.

“Reach in the nightstand to your right please and give me that bottle.” You instruct.

Henry does as told and takes some time examining the bottle.

“Glitter and caramel nuts? Really?” He asks, cracking up at the label.

“It’s edible and it has a natural numbing agent that makes things happen more easily and last longer. You’ll see.” You say and take the bottle from him, squirting a generous amount on his cock.

He hisses at the cool fluid, watching as you use both hands to spread the lube all over his length.

He rests his feet on the bed and pulls a second pillow under his head, scooching lower towards you.

“Thanks for letting me lie down. It’s no fun trying to focus on not collapsing and letting go at the same time… nghhhhh,” he interrupts himself when your lips are around him and your tongue swirls against the underside of his cock, tracing the ridge and sliding lower.

The thing is, it’s a fucking intimidating cock - the length is bigger than anything you’ve had inside you thus far, but the girth is the variable that made you enlist the help of the special lube.

As soon as you manage to completely swallow that monster, you’ll feel more optimistic about not literally being split in half tonight.

“You don’t have to… bloody hell!” Henry lets out an undignified squeak when your lips touch the base of his cock, the tip lodged deep down your throat.

This is the weirdest but most relevant benefit of all those Pranayama exercises your yoga instructor made you do in class.

You slowly pull back, starting to suck and caress his cock with your lips and tongue, one hand holding the base and the other straying between his legs, stroking his perineum and pressing gently until he lets you know you’ve found the spot from the outside.
Now and then you take him back in all the way, making yourself choke the slightest bit. The lube wore off already and now there’s just his taste. It’s much nicer than you expected, which seals the deal. Someone’s going to get their banana kissed every day.

The best part about sucking Henry’s cock though is seeing him gradually lose control and writhe on the bed, chest arching up off the sheets, thigh muscles tensing and relaxing as he holds on to the headboard and tries to hold back from thrusting up into your mouth, his hips still rocking slightly. He’s also running a constant commentary of expletives and animal-like sounds, that is when he’s not praising you.

“Christ look at you taking all that cock. Fuck that feels so good, don’t stop….aaaah right there hnnnng you’re so good you’re going to make me come so fucking hard… please… oh yes, right FUCKING there!”

You never expected him to be this talkative in bed, but it’s certainly flattering and you consider it a reward for a (blow)job well done.

“Please… babe… don’t… don’t make me come.” He pleads, sounding like he got carried away and remembered just now. He even reaches down to touch your shoulder. “Please…”

You let go of his cock, taking one last lick over the tip and pulling off with a wet pop.

He sits up and catches his breath.

“I don’t often get treated to this much,” he says, pulling you close and kissing you starting from your lips, down over your jaw and neck, to your chest.

“You should, though.” You say and arch into his kisses, wordlessly guiding him to where you need him and moaning loudly when his teeth scrape over one of your nipples and pull at the jewel. One of his hands is on your other boob, tweaking the piercing and caressing the nipple with the pad of a finger before his lips take over.

“God I love the sounds you make.” Henry comments, his voice low with arousal. “I’m considering a change of plans to see how soon before you come from my playing with your nips alone.”

You let out a panicked “fuck no! I mean, not this time.”

Henry smiles, that soft reassuring smile of his that made you look closer in the first place.

“I’m just playing. Don’t worry babe, I’ll take good care of you.” He whispers against the middle of your chest, leaving a kiss there before getting the lube and coating his cock with it, watching you and biting his lips.

“How do you want me?” He asks.
You briefly consider a happy baby pose, but decide against it for the first time with Henry.

“I can see a whole movie playing in your mind, do spill.” He says, amused.

“Sorry. I was already thinking of future encounters.” You say, finally making up your mind and going to lie down on your side with your head on a pillow. “Come face me,” you instruct and he immediately does as he is told, getting the idea.

Considerately, he squirts some more lube onto his fingers and brings them to your entrance, carefully lubing up the edges and slipping his fingers in, making sure your walls get coated as well.

You go cross-eyed when his fingers enter you, it’s one of your favourite things and you’re so very tempted to tell him to get you off like this, but that’s for another time.

Henry moves closer and puts your upper leg over his hip before lining himself up with your entrance and rubbing the head of his cock against it slowly.

He searches your face for any hesitation and, finding none, he presses in. Slowly.

“God you feel so good around me,” he says, eyes rolling to the back of his head briefly as he looks for some sort of composure. “So hot and soft.” He adds. “Are you alright? Am I not hurting you?”

You open darkened eyes to look at him and run a hand over his pecs before it settles on his shoulder, then on his back.

“You feel huge. But good huge. Every single inch of your cock is pure pleasure.” You say heatedly. “I want to feel all of you.”

He obliges and pushes in until he bottoms out. It’s unlike anything you’ve felt before. You figure it is the very sensation that gave rise to the “split me in half” description. But every single surface of your walls and innermost depths is being touched and stroked and your entrance is deliciously stretched almost to breaking point around Henry’s thick cock.

“Christ, look at you, taking it all.” Henry praises, pushing you backwards a bit, opening you up before he starts to thrust. First very gently and carefully, then picking up the pace. One of his hands is on your ass, squeezing the cheek and keeping you from sliding away from him.

The look in his eyes is soft, in contrast with his long, deep thrusts.

You can feel him ruining you for any other man. He’s watching you and your body’s responses, learning and adapting. He is touching you everywhere he can in this position, kissing and nipping at your neck and shoulder.

 

At some point, he changes your position, pushing you onto your back and guiding you into the happy baby pose without leaving your body as he shifts you, then burying himself into your depths again.

At this point you’re no longer coherent, the sounds leaving your lips mere whimpers and moans. You’re so exposed like this and the heightened intimacy is making you self-conscious but only briefly, because in this position he can penetrate you deeper than anything you’ve ever felt before. In the derezzed state your mind is in, you remember his quote about sex scenes being “smacking your nuts against someone” only this time everything is in and he’s leaning over you so his pubic bone is rubbing your clit.

You feel so small beneath Henry, especially with his huge arms flexing as he holds himself up above you, and even though he is controlling how much of his weight he is resting on you, it’s already a lot and you feel it in your hips. That little detail maddeningly adds to the pleasure he’s giving you.

“Do you think you can come on my cock like this, sweetness?” He whispers, his lips moving over the skin right below your ear.

“I’m so close… please, fuck me harder. Let me feel all of you, don’t hold back.” You plead.

Superman this hoe, your mind supplies. Miraculously, you manage not to convert that into spoken words.

Henry does as you tell him and closes his eyes, looking for that precarious edge, making eye contact with you again once he’s found it and lifting you up off the bed to hold you close, wrapped around him as he pounds into you, both his hands on your ass now, effortlessly moving you against him.

You have every best intention to let him know you’re coming, with actual words, but instead a long, staccato alien sound leaves your chest as you start to tremble and squeeze around him. When you rest your forehead on his shoulder, whimpering at the force of your orgasm, that’s when he follows, biting down on your shoulder and sucking the spot as he stiffens and empties inside you in hot pulses.

Mercifully, he first lays you down onto the bed before slowly and carefully pulling out and lying down next to you. He also gets out of bed, significantly steadier on his legs than you, to find a towel and dampen it, then bring it to clean the two of you.

“How are you feeling? Did I hurt you?” He asks, settling near you on the bed and pulling you close, so your head is on his shoulder and you have an arm and a leg flung over him.

You need some time for the system to reboot and content yourself with playing with his chest hair for as long as it takes your speech ability to return.

“Never been better. I think you dicked with my brain too… it’s all so sluggish now.” You say. “What if you actually fucked me stupid?”

He laughs for a long time, his abs contracting hard from it. Pulling you on top of him, Henry kisses your forehead and smiles.

“I’m falling for you.” He says softly, a dead-serious edge to his words.

Chapter Text

You wake up first, feeling thankful for it because since it’s your home, you want to make breakfast.

Before leaving the bed, you stay right where you are, with your eyes closed, savouring the warmth and the pleasant weight of Henry’s arms around you and his lips on the back of your neck, on the one vertebra point that’s sticking out the most. That simple touch fills you with delight and is amplified by you remembering the words Henry sleepily said to you last night.

You don’t know that it’s going to be good or that it’s going to end well. But nothing comes with guarantees and Henry has given you no reason to believe the rumours. He’s been nothing but amazing towards you.

In his sleep, he gathers you close to him and mumbles something before you feel him smile against your skin.

 

It feels incredible and his warm weight around and half on top of you is something you hadn’t even realised you were missing and needing, but now that he’s here, you won’t easily get used to not having him.

In his sleep, he looks so youthful and carefree and seeing him so vulnerable gives rise to a strange feeling of protectiveness in you. While, upon first examination, it’s ridiculous to imagine that you could protect him from anything, since he is so capable of defending himself as it is, there are still some things that he’s really exposed to, things that he’s never even given thought to.

Like people’s malice and willingness to exploit his gentleness and his generosity.

You shake your head, as though that helps clearing it. You can’t catch feelings, at least not too deep, for this man.

He’s not looking for the same things you are, he said so on the record.

But if he wakes up and pulls a Charles Brandon, putting on his clothes, leaving and then acting like “who dis, new phone?”, it’s going to be the last time you bang a guy after this little time of knowing him.

You manage to extricate yourself from his embrace so you can go to the loo, and while you’re in there, enjoying your moments of quiet solitude, you hear a distinct scratching at the door.

It’s Kal, and he wants in.

You figure it’s because you’re awake and he wants breakfast, but you don’t know how much he is allowed to have at one meal from the food Henry brought.

So, after brushing your teeth, you run yourself a bath and sit in the tub, relaxing while knowing full well that it’ll be short lived, since Henry will soon wake up.

But the Zen atmosphere ends quickly when Kal decides to hop into the tub as well, making a big splash and a small, very pleased bork.

The pupper is well behaved though, and he just wanted not to be left out, or maybe he worried you might drown in there, because he just sits in the tub, watching you scroll on your phone and now and then nipping at a foam bubble that floats past him.

“Why did everyone desert me?” Henry asks sleepily from the hallway. “Where are you? Kal? Where’s my boy?”

Kal says nothing, looking at you. This animal looks very smug in this moment and it would be reckless to assume he doesn’t have an agenda of his own. Getting a dog’s favour is way harder and more important than getting in any given human’s good books.

“May I come in?” Henry asks, ever the gentleman, standing outside the bathroom.

“Yes!” You say.

Henry walks in carrying the little toiletries bag he brought over and you notice he’s put his briefs back on. He stops to look at the scene before him, his dog bathing with his new… what? Big words have been spoken between you yesterday, but much of that could be attributed to how horny you both were. Now that it got taken care of, who knows how much of those feelings remains, on his side at least?

“That’s a first.” Henry says, pointing to Kal, who is still sitting in the tub and watching you. “He never cared to join me in a bath.”

“There’s room for you in here as well.” You say. “Though at this point it’s just fur soup. I’m going to have to get out and shower right after.”

 

“Thank you for the offer, but I’ll pass. Baths make me sleepy, without fail. And I just got up,” Henry says, walking to the other end of your bathroom and peeing. Once he’s done, he washes his hands and combs out his hair, then brushes his teeth, looking at you in the mirror above the sink. “But you can totally join me in the shower.” He says, taking off his boxers and going to the corner where the shower is.

You had one of those modern, techy showers installed, with infrared, steam and a rainfall head. The panel in the wall is pretty complicated and Henry stands in front of it for a long time, not yet ready to admit defeat.

“Hold on a sec, I’m coming.” You say, draining the water from the tub and using the tub’s shower head to rinse off the foam from Kal’s fur.

Kal is very cooperative and lifts his paws one by one, letting you rinse even his less accessible spots.

“What a good, good boy.” You say, planting a kiss on the animal’s snoot. Then, turning to Henry, you add: “How it shows on this dog that he is loved immensely. That’s your merit.”

Henry looks at you with a soft expression on his features, and like he’s totally forgotten you’re both naked.

“You’re great with him.” He says, the softness in his voice making you think that maybe he hopes for the same treatment.

“Dogs are easy,” you say. “They don’t play games. And don’t withhold their love.”

“Is this what you’re afraid of?” Henry asks, walking over to you and helping you dry Kal off with a towel. “That I’ll fuck you over and disappear into the night? That’s the treatment I usually get.”

“It’s hard to believe anyone would walk out on you.” You reply, incredulous. Henry has been nothing short of perfect so far. Even the derpy moments were adorable and made you love him more.

“Wait until you get past the demo reel. Apparently I’m only desirable in small doses and from afar.”

You lean in and kiss him, smiling against his lips.

“Let me be the judge of that. If we both want us to work out, there should be little standing in our way.” You say, resting your hands on his chest and tracing a heart pattern on both his pecs with your index fingers.

“I always offer to stay friends with my exes… they all pretend they don’t know me the next day.”

 

“Well, I know myself. I would also not like to be reminded of what I lost, if I did lose you.”

“But I’m not a car that got repossessed!” Henry protests. “Why the fuck are women this way?!”

“Easy with the generalizations down the stairs, my guy. I can’t speak for all women, but in my case, there’s always the built-in assumption that if the relationship tanked, it was mainly because of something I did or failed to do. So I feel really powerless when I watch a new woman succeed where I’ve fucked up and I’m not a masochist, to want to stick around and watch what I could have had.”

Henry frowns, seemingly giving your words serious thought.

“But why would you blame yourself that much? It takes two people to fuck up a relationship and well, things happen and sometimes they’re out of your hands.” He says.

“I grew up in a culture with stories where I was told that the main goal was to get a man and that if you can’t make him stay and wife you, you’re a loser and all that’s left for you to do is move into the woods with some cats and become a witch. I fight those expectations daily, but some of that lifelong shittalk has seeped into my subconscious.”

“Well that’s unfair.” Henry says, reaching over to caress your cheek. “I can’t promise forever right off the bat, but I can promise to always be honest and loyal and not willingly sabotage what we have. Oh, and I can also promise to always talk things through before getting upset and closing myself off.”

“That sounds like heaven right now.” You say and snuggle into his chest, loving how you can make yourself small against him and feel like nothing can reach you there. Especially when his arms come up and wrap themselves around you.

“I missed this,” Henry says. “Having someone to cuddle.”
“How about that shower then? I want to leave this bathroom at some point.” You say, reaching around Henry to switch the shower on. “Do you feel like getting the full experience or just a quick rinse?”

“I’ll have the full experience,” Henry says. “And you showing me how this thing works.”

You start by switching on the water, choosing the mist setting and then the infrared treatment.

“Mmm this feels like being out in the rain, or in the jungle somewhere really moist.” Henry says and pulls you to him, hands cupping your face and tilting it up so he can kiss you. “Do you have a shower puff and a gel I can use?”

“The coffee cake one on the shelf to your right. And I’d rather you used your hands.”

“This will not be a short shower.” Henry says, squirting a generous amount of the gel into his hands.

He’s of course drawn to your breasts and the piercings right away, but he tries to pretend he can be cool and wait, while at the same time very gently soaping all of you. Eventually he does give in and cups his hands over your breasts, thumbs moving to rub over the jewels.

“Don’t these hurt?” He asks. “I mean I can see why you got them, they look amazing but… ow.”

“Getting them did hurt like a motherfucker. But now it’s more like a pleasant heat and itch.” You explain. “Unless they get caught in a top when I’m undressing and I pull… that’s not nice.”

Henry winces visibly at your words.

“I could never. I’m really worried about how much my tattoos are going to hurt. And those heal and stop after a while.”

“Yeah but imagine being in a long boring meeting… that’s not ending any time soon. And you feel your body going numb from being in the same, seated at a table position.”

“Ugh I don’t have to imagine too hard. I have those meetings all the time.” Henry says, wincing.

“Well, now imagine you can lean forward and discreetly rub your chest against the table edge. Then cross your arms tightly and uncross them. Not only does it signal to other people that the meeting is criminally boring, it also sends super pleasant sparks up and down your spine and to places.”

As you speak, Henry’s eyes are getting darker and darker, the irises mere thin circles now.
“That is so inappropriate,” he grunts. “And unfair. If I get turned on, everyone will know. You are endlessly naughty without looking the part.”

He closes the distance between you and tips your chin up so he can kiss you.

His lips are gentle on yours and the kiss is unhurried, in contrast with his words. But by now you’ve learnt that Henry is like a candy apple, a hard but crackly exterior and a soft, tasty core.

You mhmm approvingly into the kiss, letting your hands go to his ass and rest on the cheeks, squeezing appreciatively and pulling him closer.

When he pulls away, a colourful rivulet of shower foam running down his torso, you follow it with your gaze, from his collarbone, over his pecs and abs and all the way into his pubic hair.

“You’re going to have glitter all over you for weeks.” You say, more for your own enjoyment than his information.

“You like that thought, huh?” Henry asks, a bit too hurriedly and breathlessly. “That everyone will know you’ve been all over me, staking your claim.”

“Big, big mood.” You give back, leaning down and pressing your teeth together around a nipple.

“I don’t… think they’re as much fu- ohhh fuuuuuckkkkk- Christ?!” Henry gets interrupted as all the blood rushes downstairs in response to you sucking sharply. “I stand corrected.” He whispers.

Your fingers have been dancing teasingly over the thin skin stretched over his hips, and one hand slid lower, between his legs, the pads of two fingers pressing on his perineum and looking for the right spot and angle. His sudden flood of expletives lets you know you’ve hit the jackpot and you carry on methodically, moving on to his other nipple and giving it the same treatment, until they are both hard, stiff peaks.

You look up at Henry and the look on his face is one of supplication. His lips part, but no words come out as he watches you kneel and lick your lips. He sucks in a sharp breath when you wrap your lips around his cock, eyes still on his face.

You don’t waste any time with teasing at this point - that can come in later. Now you just want to see what sounds you can coax out of him - since last night he begged you to stop before it got really interesting.

Henry pushes his hips forward, while his upper back and shoulders are pushing against the wall. You’ve barely taken a swirl of the head before he whispers the first “fuck”.

Soon, you manage to take his whole length down your throat and you hollow out your cheeks while moving up and down his shaft, tongue stroking the underside.

Your hands are busy too - caressing the sensitive skin on his inner thighs or raking fingers across his abs or squeezing a buttcheek. At some point, Henry lifts his leg and props it against a decorative edge in the wall to his left, opening himself up to you in a way you didn’t think he’d go for. So you set about trying to swallow all of him, cock first, or at least this is what it must feel like to him, judging by the soft and needy sounds leaving his lips.

There’s an overwhelming intimacy to taking someone’s cock down your throat like this and you’re glad it’s not a favour you dished out liberally before. Henry definitely is the first one who enthusiastically and loudly appreciates your efforts and the feeling of him, throbbing and heavy on your tongue, the taste of him filling your senses, the way the muscles in his thighs squeeze and release with your swallowing motions… it’s all getting to you in ways you didn’t think anything could.

When you slide a hand down the small of his back and over the swell of his ass, letting a finger dip between his cheeks and pausing to rub over his anus with the slightest pressure, he tenses slightly and you pull off of him, looking up and caressing his hip with your other hand.

“Don’t worry, I won’t enter you right now. It does feel good though, doesn’t it?”

“You can do anything you want with me, just oh God… please make me come,” he says, his voice breaking on the last word.

You smile up at him and take him back in, greedily fitting the whole length into your mouth and humming around his cock.

It’s not long before you resume the urgent pace you set before, moaning and massaging the underside with your tongue. You don’t push for now, your finger between Henry’s buttcheeks just circling lightly and persistently or tapping against the muscle. It’s not long before you feel him throb and pulse on your tongue and Henry loses all control as he empties down your throat, trying to hold on to something, his hands searching for purchase on the smooth walls at his sides.

You only stand halfway, enough to ease him down to the floor, letting him just collect himself for a few moments while you make the water run warmer and resume lathering the both of you. Before you get to rinsing the foam off, Henry pulls you close and wraps you on his arms, apparently needing the closeness in that moment. You rest your head on his shoulder and kiss his neck, giving him as much as he needs.

Soon his lips seek yours again and he pulls you into one of his searing, melting kisses that you might never get used to.

“Thank you for that. I’ve never been blown so hard I felt it behind my eyes.” Henry says, looking a bit affected still.

You can only smile smugly. There’s a sense of relief washing over you, because you wanted to do well. And now you learned such valuable information on what Henry likes, it will only make the following times even better.

He soon stands, helping you up as well and making sure you are thoroughly rinses by running his hands methodically over all your curves and plains. Before he’s even done, you’re turned on again but feeling too lazy and too good to do anything about it.

“Back to bed or breakfast?” Henry asks, kissing your cheek this time.

“I’d love to spend more time glued to you like this, but my yoga mat is calling.” You say.

“You think I could watch?” Henry asks, hopeful.

“You know my rule.”

“I didn’t bring any tights.” He laments.

“Your briefs will do.”

“Will you be able to concentrate then?” He asks, taking the towel you offer him and drying himself off.

“Let that be my one problem.” You tease back.

Eventually you did do yoga, following an intense workout from Adriene on YouTube.

At the end of it, Henry lies face down on the carpet and sighs.

“This looks a lot easier than it is. My abs hate me right now.”

“That’s a good start to the day.” You say and sigh happily and, having no reason whatsoever to hold back, you go and climb him, stacking yourself on top of Henry and kissing the spot where his neck meets his back.

“God I love this about you. These little touches that pack so much love in them. I feel so spoiled.” He says softly, not even opening his eyes.

It makes you wonder why they are so salient to him - all girlfriends do this, especially when they have such a yummy boyfriend to work with, right?

Chapter Text

Two weeks into the relationship, it becomes apparent that Henry is not used to the kind of girlfriend realness you are serving. He’s still cramped up about little touches and nice gestures.

It makes you think of that dynamic from “The Addams Family Values”, where Fester would scurry after Debbie, pleading with her to “give me a kiss” and she would cut him off with a “give me a 20!”

He keeps track of what favours have been dealt and whose turn it is to have a good time. He’s still suspicious about casual loving touches and he flinches at first.

But slowly, putting your hands to work intensively, you show him that there’s no score and you’re not keeping it. You try hard not to comment on how someone like him even ended up like this in the first place and what exactly you think the people who made him feel this way deserve.

In time, Henry relaxes around you more. He now even responds to the little gestures with some of his own.

The first night you sleep over at his place, it’s toward morning and you fall between the sheets together.

His sheets are crisp and cool and very pleasant, which is a blessing after the carpet burn you got from sex earlier.

When you settle in for sleep, Henry looks back at you and protests.

“I have to be the big spoon, I’m the man!”

“But baby… big spoons need love too.”

“It’s weird. You’re smaller than me, you should be here.” He says, pointing to his bare chest.

“You are still a big spoon. When the smaller person is holding the bigger one, it’s called a jetpack.”

When the light is out and you both settled, Henry finally figures out what you are getting out of the whole arrangement.

In the dark, you can hear the smile in his voice.

“You just want to cop a feel unclocked.”

“Well I guess you clocked me now,” you reply sleepily, squeezing the pec your hand is resting on. “You can get me for it tomorrow.”

 

***

A month goes by uneventfully, and quite blissfully if you’re honest, because Henry is a cuddler and that is a welcome bonus to everything that’s happening otherwise: sex, movie evenings, Saturday mornings, car rides, waking up together.

It’s as though, once you told him physical affection was not only okay, but encouraged and expected, he decided to unload all his stash on you.

You could get used to this - easily.

And he’s managed to be really good about keeping things about you two being a couple under wraps with the media. You know that he’s super stoked to have a girlfriend and frankly that’s adorable as hell. Which earns him even more points for keeping a lid on the news like you asked him to.

Maybe part of what he convinced him was the ease with which you can go places together. You took him to the movies, several times, and you’ve been that one obnoxious couple, making kissy sounds in the dark and running commentary in the back of the theatre. Henry did feel the need to wear some non-prescription glasses and a cap for going out and they worked like a charm.

The fact that the relationship is going to be a mountain of work to grind becomes slowly apparent though. There’s a certain entitlement to the way Henry speaks and expects you to support his every claim or at least fall back in wonder at his wisdom.

But the truth is, you don’t have to. He’s from a well-off, conservative and posh British family and you’re a mutt. You’re a vegan who thinks animals suffer needlessly for human pleasure and entertainment, he’s a guy who is still butthurt he can’t go fox hunting on Boxing Day. The frames of reference might as well be on different planets.

Still, you manage not to argue with him. You usually just point out a counter-example of why what he just said doesn’t hold up.

Like with his view of ancient times as glorious. He feels the world was built on bloody wars, conquests and armies and that, without those, we’d all still be in the Middle Ages, still shitting in pots and tossing the contents out the window in the morning.

“I personally could have done without the diseases being spread by wars. And without the rape and murder of children and other innocents who never asked to have destruction consume their whole existence.” You point out.

“But without war, there is no progress. Think of all the medical advancements that came about because they were needed to patch up soldiers during wars! Think of all the agricultural discoveries made because armies had to be fed somehow.” Henry continues.

“Progress happens despite war, not because of war. You’re saying that that arsonist should be praised for setting fire to the forest, because the plants regrew and the animals made it out somehow.”

“It’s not like that, you don’t understand… leave it, I don’t want to fight.”

“So what you’re telling me is I don’t understand because I’m too dumb and my female brain cannot possibly see the value of dying recklessly in a war? This is a dick move. Telling me I’m stupid because I don’t agree with you, instead of wondering if maybe there’s another way of looking at things. What are you really afraid of? That if you don’t uphold these terrifyingly entitled vae victis ideas, your family and friends will withdraw their love and support?”

This is all said very calmly, but Henry still clenches his fists and has to breathe deeply a few times before sitting down.

“I don’t like it when you stir shit,” he says eventually. “Why can’t we have a peaceful afternoon without my being put on trial?”

You snicker.

“So you wanna go to war, you are ready to go to a foreign land and kill people who are minding their business, but a little discussion upsets you? Honey, please.”

“Discussing things is what traitors do. Those who sit at home and who abandon troops in the field by making wrong decisions.”

“Black and white thinking never led to anything good. I’m just telling you, there is no need to keep performing masculinity at 100% until it hollows you out completely. “ You say, feeling the air in the room become charged. Still, because your self-preservation instinct is not glowing red at the moment, you go sit next to Henry on the sofa and rest a hand on his thigh. “People who love you don’t do it with terms and conditions… and if you find out that they, in fact, do so, well then… you know where you stand. But give them - give us some credit.”

“I just don’t see what’s so controversial about looking at history and recognizing shitty patterns. Whenever the world is left alone for too long, inequality soars. People reproduce without a care for their environment. Expansion can’t be limitless in a limited world. It needs to be curbed.That’s what war is good for.”

“Instead of making sure the best and brightest people who can contribute things of value to the world are also lost to the war, why not shift people’s consciousness towards appreciating the Earth and not breeding like entitled rabbits? Why have to kill existing people when you can make sure only enough people are born?”

The conversation went on after that, but at least it was had while snuggled together like a ball of snakes on the sofa and finally coming from a place of accepting multiple approaches.

Henry did bristle up once more, when you pointed out his privileged status in a way that got to him.

“Do you know why the Japanese Akita breed almost went extinct?” You ask.

“I read that they got wiped out during war time, which is normal. Things are lost.” Henry shrugs.

“But do you know how? Do you think someone gathered all the dogs in one place and bombed them?” You ask. “The japanese soldiers killed and skinned the dogs to wear their pelts as winter lining for their coats. Now imagine you are not a movie star, not a wealthy man… just a regular tax-paying citizen, who also happens to have a smart and loving companion dog. And one day, he gets… what is the word they use? Commandeered by an officer. How is that justice? How is that patriotic? The dog did not ask for it. Pleb!You didn’t ask for it.”

By the time you’re done, there are tears in Henry’s eyes and he struggles to speak.

“Please stop. You’ve made your point. I’d never let anything happen to my best friend.”

“I know you wouldn’t. But most people don’t get a say.”

He nods, and you can tell he’s thinking about it.

On the carpet in front of the electric fireplace, Kal sleeps on his back, with all his paws up in the air.

Chapter Text

Henry is also puzzled by your unwillingness to “be a lady”. Your infractions, in his view? Not wearing dresses when the two of you go out. Not tagging along to social events like the horse races or football. Not purging your vocabulary of “fuck” and its merry family of derivatives. Not deferring to him in everything and not asking for his opinion on “manly” things you encounter in your work.

The day the purple P1 is delivered is a volatile one that ends up with Henry very maturely leaving after slamming the door and announcing he is off to talk to his mother.

It’s a lovely, lazy Friday morning when you are notified that your new toy is getting delivered.
They brought it in the back of an eighteen-wheeler truck and, as you requested, no one drove it yet. So you get to climb in and drive it down the unloading ramp and into your garage, under Henry’s flabbergasted supervision.

It’s comical, really. His mouth opens and closes as he points at the large, flashy object, then sticks his hands into his pockets and shakes his head.

You tip the delivery crew royally and then turn to Henry.

“Well, wanna come for a ride?”

He still stands there, speechless for now.

“Did you just spend a million dollars on a car that is the epitome of poor taste?”

“Actually, milli and a half, with custom shit and everything.” You shrug. “And it may be poor taste to you, but I quite like it and I’m going to enjoy driving it. Whether you’re sitting next to me in it or not.”

You can see a great battle being fought in Henry’s mind, between him needing to have his feelings revered and his desire to come for a drive with you.

Eventually, he goes around the car and sits in the passenger’s seat, sighing.

“Why’d you have to get such a flamboyant colour?”

“Because it’s boujee and I like it. Why don’t you ask your buddies why they go hunting even though animals are going extinct?”

He sighs and says nothing for a while, stoically putting up with your choice of music for the ride too.

“How do you even afford this? And don’t you always say that instead of spending on frivolous things, we should donate it?”

“But babe, I have enough left over to donate. This was a small gift to myself for having done so well, beyond my wildest expectations, in this past year. Of course I can afford a little car, I’ve been donating like crazy and people keep buying my stuff so I’m STILL a billionaire.”

Henry goes quiet for the rest of the drive.

When you both leave the garage and go upstairs into the house, he takes a big breath in.

“You never told me you were a billionaire.” He says.

“Oh? Why does that matter? Doesn’t it feel good to feel loved for what you are, instead of being seen like a wallet with a dick? Or… did you expect me to be broke because I’m a woman and a writer and that’s usually seen as a frivolous, not really well paying niche?”

“No, that’s not it… but why did you hide it from me? This kind of changes things.”

“Aaaah, you mean, the power dynamics? Yeah, I admit, knowing I’m set for life and don’t have to take shit from anyone does make life incredibly simple. But I’m here and I love you. Isn’t that a more satisfying thought than wondering whether I genuinely look up to you or it’s just fear? Do you think women like to be towered over, physically, socially and financially?”

“No, no, that’s not what I meant… but my parents… they are being difficult and telling me I should be picky about the women I date and… and they are going to have a fit when they find out and tell me to break up with you.”

“Why would they say that and why would you listen? You’re a grown man, you can decide for yourself if you want to stay or leave… And I didn’t hide it from you, I just didn’t want to talk finances and put my everything on the table this early on. I’m allowed to want to be comfortable when I reveal things. Besides, my sales figures are public. I thought you knew, at least vaguely, that I make a good coin.”

“My mum will not like this. She will ask me if I like being a boy toy.”

“That’s weird. Why the hell are you supposed to only date women who are poorer than you?”

“It’s not that… but a billion is a lot. And I think she will be afraid I feel like less of a man.”

“Here’s the thing. This would not be a problem if you guys didn’t place so much value on how much someone earns and if your family wasn’t so obsessed with manly this, being a man that. So what if I have money? And the power that comes with it. Imagine you want to be cast in a movie but the producers don’t want you. Wouldn’t it be nice if I bought them out of the deal and got you the whole movie?”

“That would be epic. But… it would feel like… prostitution. Like I got cast because I’m fucking someone who can get me the part.”

“I’d never do that if I didn’t believe in your ability to deliver in that role.”

“Yes but people will still say I got the part unjustly.”

“People say a lot of things, Henry. If we both listened to what others say about us, we’d be living in council housing and never leaving the building except to take our twelve plus kids to the playground and to Mickey D’s. You would never be sober and I would always be black and blue and perpetually pregnant. Does that sound like a dream to go after, to you?”

“No, fuck’s sake… but I’m in an industry where image matters. What people say about me matters.”

“Yes but to some extent! And you can control what people see and talk about. I can’t believe no one is telling you these things, I am fucking done with how your publicist is always throwing you under the bus and letting you put out the fires yourself. Even though you’re a stubborn person, they should let their balls descend and do their fucking job. That should include keeping you in line when you’re about to casually put your foot into your mouth. I promise you, people have less trouble with whom you’re fucking than they do with you saying that every time you talk to a woman it’s a risk of being sent to jail. What the fuck.”

“Oh don’t even go there. You have no idea how hard it is to live with the fear that one of these thirsty women will decide to ruin my career and my life. Like, before we met, I used to have casual sex. Loads of it. That’s why I got the Vasalgel done. As insurance in case one of these women got the idea to publicly say I’m the father of her baby or something. You think that doesn’t happen? For some women, getting knocked up by someone famous is a career path in itself.”

“You forget that this is the era of injured fee-fees and ruffled feathers, everyone is hyper-sensitive and people watch celebrities like hawks to find something to get super offended about. So maybe go easy with those opinions down the stairs and don’t show your soul so much to strangers. They will tear you up like wolves and think nothing of it.”

“You’re asking me to change who I am out of fear? That fucking sucks and I’m not doing it.” Henry says, his voice gaining in volume. “It’s easy for you to speak, you’re a nobody hiding behind a male pen name…”

You gasp and look at Henry in shock, but say nothing, sighing and waiting for his words to sink in for him as well.

“I… I should have phrased that better. I meant you’re not famous, and no one cares when you leave the house.”

You raise an eyebrow at this point, because he’s just adding insult to injury.

“And I need to take a break, to gather my thoughts and speak to Mum. I am not sure I want to deal with this level of being demeaned and talked down to. Have a good day.” He says, leaving in a hurry.

In Henry’s case, going to his mum’s place involves a short flight to Jersey, so he can’t just storm off and go over. So what he does is lock himself up in his part of the house, call her and sulk.

Kal, significantly wiser than his owner, remains by your side.

The thing is, you’re not hurt, you’re angry. No one should get to talk to you the way Henry does, all because HE has a problem with you making more money, which threatens his idea of what being the man entails.

Who knows? Maybe he’s genuinely torn between being a good and supportive boyfriend and living up to his parents’ expectations… or maybe he just completely attributes these elitist feelings to his parents, who are just being generally supportive and want him to do well in life?
You don’t have the energy to wrack your brains and find out which one it is.

There’s also that nagging feeling of regret you always feel in the wake of a betrayal; regret of having shared your most naked and authentic self with another person who saw fit to disregard it; regret of having shared your body with someone to whom it means nothing at all, or at least not as much as it does to you.

But even that feeling doesn’t last long as you go back in the garage, followed by Kal, who hops into the P1 as soon as you open the doors and lets you strap him in for safety.

What Henry said IS partially true. You can afford to give fewer fucks.

The drive is long and relaxing. You return early enough that Kal can go for a walk and get food. He now has a plate at your house too and when he’s with you, he listens really well and you can take his leash off. However, you don’t want to risk anything, for the doggo’s protection, so you got him a leash too, which now allows you to take him on his walk.

When you return, you find Henry sitting on the steps to your house door, looking very small and apologetic.

“Why do you even put up with me?” He asks. “I’ve been a brat and I’m sorry.”

As soon as you free Kal from the strap, he runs to his human and licks his face. Henry lets it happen, sighing. He’s not a big fan of dog kisses, but the sentiment they convey now is welcome.

“You’re a good man, Henry. You just need to learn to sort your feelings. Learn to always ask yourself, what thought would make you the happiest at that moment, then choose that thought.” You say, going to sit on the stairs next to him. “You don’t have to be with me if it makes you so sad. You don’t have to listen to other people’s notions of how relationships should function. If you don’t see me as only my net worth, there should be no reason why my coins make you uncomfortable. This is not a threat, just like falling in love with a taller woman is not.”

“You’re right. I don’t know why I reacted so viscerally.” He says, sighing. “I expect better from myself, especially towards someone whom I love. I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry for the shit things I said at the peak of my anger. I’ll strive to do better and learn.”

“It’s all forgiven. You are forgiven. Friends again?” You ask, holding your hand out.

Henry takes it in his and, instead of shaking it, he brings it to his lips and kisses your wrist.

“For my part, yes.” He says. “I love you so much, I don’t know why I’m being so cruel to you.”

“It’s old stuff coming up for examination, I guess. Henry, look at me.” You say, waiting for him to do so. “You haven’t been treated kindly yourself and you’ve been told it’s what is normal. That shit takes a while to unlearn. Now, let’s go inside.”

“I really like being the one in the position to look after others. How will I do that, knowing what I know now?” Henry asks, later, as you’re sitting in a hot bath.

“One, you’re not broke, with not a penny to your name. You can definitely afford a bath bomb or a sachet of bath salts, or to surprise me with dinner. I don’t much care for expensive surprise presents. I get those for myself and I make sure it’s exactly what I want. Two, you can gift me with things I cannot get for myself, such as your support, your time and attention, sometimes taking care of food when I’m tired or looking after the house when you’re here and I’m writing. Love is also acts of kindness, not just expensive gifts.”

 

“I still feel like it’s the man’s job to be the one supporting the woman. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what’s normal to me. I’m not actively trying to be as sexist and as retrograde as possible.” he says, hesitation audible in his voice.

“How important is that to you? Having the power? Because the dark side of providing for a woman is that she feels defenseless and like she is at your mercy. Why not choose a thought that isn’t divisive like, we are both in the position to ignore the money aspect and we can focus on being in love and treating each other right, without underlying thoughts of, oh, I owe him this because he bought me that?”

Henry is silent for a bit after your words, giving them thought.

“Reach for the thought that feels best, I like that. That’s actually a great piece of advice.” He says, reaching over to your end of the tub and pulling you close, tucking a loose wet lock of hair behind your ear before he leans in and kisses you.

You melt against him, sitting in his lap, facing him and wrapping your legs around him so you can put your arms on his shoulders.

“How did I get so lucky? Someone up there really loves me, to have brought you in my path and kept you there, despite my being so cruel.”

Chapter Text

Months go by. Henry is off season and he’s hustled to get some work for the coming year, also doing some minor projects here and there. An ad campaign. Motion capture for a video game.

He stays active by going for runs with Kal and going to the gym you set up in your basement. You find yourself more and more attracted to your thicc boyfriend, and he notices after a while.

“What is going on? You’re insatiable lately. Hormones?” He asks.

“Ugh, no. It’s just… you’re looking like a real snacc these days.” You say, feeling heat rise in your cheeks.

“More like the whole three-course meal.” Henry says. “But I really can’t… does my looking like this really turn you on? I feel like there’s a punchline coming.”

“No punchline. I just… you glow so nicely and you’re so strong. I love when you hug me and you’re soft and warm instead of corded and shifting. I love nuzzling into your pecs.”

He watches you for a while, then smiles.

“I’ll take it. I like having a girlfriend I don’t have to hide from to eat like I want to. Though it still baffles me how you can like average looking me over the Superman shape.”

“You do realise that people with a high body fat percentage have higher chances of survival and recovery from cancer, heart attacks, strokes and Alzheimer’s, right? I’ll take a chubby, alive boyfriend over a dead supermodel any day. In fact, if it was only up to me, you’d never have to starve yourself and beat yourself into shape for a movie.”


“I do enjoy looking good and making everyone incoherent with lust. It’s flattering.” He admits. “Besides, it takes discipline and hard work to get to that shape.”

“I know. And that’s something no one can take away from you. I’m just saying I wouldn’t make it a condition for hiring you.”

The fact that he’s a hard working, iron-pumping clockwork machine doesn’t mean Henry doesn’t enjoy moments of being lazy around the house. Some mornings are such bliss, waking up half on top of him and feeling warm and safe, then kissing for what seems like hours before one of you needs a pee or Kal gets impatient.

Henry loves lingering under the blankets and he usually wakes up before you, but he stays in bed, soaking in the pleasant feeling of waking up in a crowded bed, feeling warm and listening to the sounds of birds waking up outside.

Sometimes, you sweet-talk him into joining you for a yoga practice for an hour before breakfast.

It still feels too early when he comes and asks you if you want to come home to Jersey with him and meet the family. For Christmas, nonetheless.

The stress that idea puts on you is immense. You think of his parents, what they will think of you. Of his brothers, who will all most likely come to you when Henry is not around and tell you they’ll break your legs if you hurt their brother. Of the army of kids in his family.

But, after a council meeting with your friends and team, you resolve not to stress and just sail through it. You grill Henry about what everyone wants and needs so you can buy them presents.

There’s a long conversation about who is buying what, because Henry is used to being Santa for the whole family. But, you tell him, this year he doesn’t have to worry about it because you want to step in, and he can help with picking the presents since he knows his family better than you.

You also start thinking really hard of what would be a nice Christmas present for Henry. It’s got to be something expensive, but not something he will deem “too much” or “in poor taste”. After long deliberation, you decide to buy him a full course of HALO jump certification, plus the exam fees, plus equipment, for him to use whenever he can fit it in his schedule. And with the option of making it a couple thing - you hope he will ask you to join him, but if he takes someone else, like a brother he feels safer with or a best friend, that works too.

Once you have his present sorted, you release all of your worries. Christmas with the Dalgliesh-Cavill clan is going to be interesting… and decisive. Because it’s a great chance to see where Henry’s loyalty lies and what room he makes for a partner in his life.

Once you get there, you’re stunned by the warm reception that feels like a rugby pile-up and not at all like the sizing up the enemy scenario you imagined.

Henry’s parents are so affectionate and his mum hugs you right away, holding you close for a long time and smoothing your hair as though you’re one of her kids too. Henry’s dad shakes your hand and then pulls you into a warm hug, welcoming you.

You feel yourself tear up, but catch yourself. Henry’s brothers are loud and intimidating, with the way they jump Henry either to give him nuggies or put him in a headlock or tickle him, but they too are nice to you and hug you, one hand slapping your back, the way they did with Henry earlier, as if to gauge what strength of blows you can take.

Henry is nearby, keeping an eye on you and taking your hand in his when everyone is done sniffing butts with the newcomer.

Kal is happy to have the huge back yard to himself and Henry’s mum shows you where you’ll be staying. They call it “The Extension”, it’s a modified sunroom with an adjacent bathroom and with a big two person bed which can actually fit four burly men.

So, none of that “you’re not married, you sleep separately under my roof” shit.

There’s been no awkwardness, no embarrassing questions or odd silences. You offer to help with making lunch and setting the table, but the boys insist it’s their job and you’re the guest. Charlie even jokes that they want to make a good impression and not make you think that that’s what women are good for, doing work wherever they pop up.

So, you find yourself in the living room with Henry’s dad and he pours you and himself a whisky.

“Henry tells me you’re a writer, and that you’re developing a movie based on Embers?” He asks.

“Yes, it’s true. I’m very lucky to have found a very supportive production company and people who are fine with my need to control the process.”

“That’s very hard work, I imagine.”

“Yes, it is, but hard work has never put me off and under current circumstances, it’s more than enjoyable. Henry has been very supportive from the very beginning.” You say, choosing to gloss over the sulking episode over how much you make. After all, he did come around to see he benefits from that as well.

“Is he good to you? Does he treat you with respect? Does he help you? Because we raised our children to be reliable and respectful, but the rest of the world likes to teach us men that we’re entitled to getting many things and having other people do things for us for free.”

That kind of line of questioning, coming from Henry’s dad, whom everyone from the outside assumes to be this uptight, conservative patriarch figure, is quite the surprise.

“Henry is very loving. He worries a lot about how he comes across and about what you and your wife would think of his actions.”

“I’m asking because I’ve looked up your net worth and I was left speechless. I confess I was expecting Henry to have an issue with the… difference in income.”

“Well, he sort of did? Because he was worried you would advise him to break up with me for the comfort of his ego.”

“We have been known to be very choosy about certain traits in people, but we’d never judge someone for being successful.” Henry’s dad tells you. “Now, I am sure dinner is ready by now, let’s join my wife and the boys in the dining room.”

You follow him to the dining room and the first thing you see is Henry, with the sleeves of his shirt rolled up and wearing an apron, setting cutlery onto the table.

It turns out, this time it’s just the boys, Henry’s parents and you. The spouses and kids will be coming the next day, for lunch and to open the presents.

Dinner with Henry’s direct family is lovely. So lovely in fact, that you catch yourself stifling tears a few times. There’s banter and ribbing, there’s heated disputes over stuff - but nothing ever becomes hateful. You remember your life at home and you cringe. At times like these, it becomes immediate and apparent to you how much it hurt you to have to be your own family and start all over again on your own.

“What about your family, dear? How do you celebrate Christmas at home?” Henry’s dad asks, wanting to include you in the conversation, while one of Henry’s older brothers is stealing carrots from Henry’s plate as your boyfriend looks condly over the table, to you.

“Thank you for asking, the last time I heard from them they were having Christmas with some family friends and donating presents to a local orphanage.”

“Aww, it must be so tough not being able to come home for the holidays some years,” Henry’s mum chimes in. “I’m sure they miss you greatly.”

“Actually, my family and I are not on speaking terms. They excommunicated me so to say when I left home and I’m not welcome in my hometown. They are two very influential narcissists who only care about what they look like in the eyes of other people. Sorry if this is rude, but I figured, if I dance around the topic to be polite, it might get awkward further down the line.”

“You never told me. Is it that bad?” Henry asks.

You shrug.

“It is, to me. I’ve been alone since I was 17. And I don’t have any deep dark secret that made me persona non grata in my own family and town… I just refused to continue living my life for my parents’ enjoyment and approval. They had big plans for me, and when I announced a lack of interest in those, it was time for me to walk the plank.”

“Well that is unacceptable,” Henry’s mum cuts in again. “I’m your new mum from now on. Our family sometimes resembles a wildlife reserve, but everyone gets love.”

“Aww, thank you. Thank you all.” You say and smile, feeling overwhelmed.

After dinner, everyone gets a glass of sherry and Henry comes to find you.

“Have you seen the garden? Let me take you and show it to you, mum worked wonders with it lately.” He says and offers you his arm.

Once you enter the fancy and very well kept garden, Henry starts talking again.

“How are you feeling? Did the talk over dinner upset you?”

“No, not at all, your family are very warm and welcoming. Your mum is a cutie. I’m more worried that I brought everyone’s mood down with my sad sack story and that’s rude.”

“You can’t help it if your family is not ideal. Don’t blame yourself. But I wish you’d talk to me more openly about yourself. I barely know any major things about you.”

“I’ll try. I just have this fear that if I tell you all the fucked up shit in my life it will subtly influence the way you see me and make you pity me or see me as broken. Which, fair enough, but I like to look at it as kintsugi - I’ve been shattered and glued myself back together with gold - and to the uninvolved outside eye, I might still come across as a ratty old vase made of shards.”

“Not to me. I already thought you were a badass before, but now that I know you accomplished everything on your own? Even more badass. I’m super proud of my girl.” Henry says and leans over to kiss your hair and squeeze you close.

Later, once you’ve gone to bed and Henry is sleeping curled up around you, you lie awake and watch the moonlight coming in through the glass panels.

“What’s the matter? I can feel you worrying.” Henry says sleepily, tightening his hold around you and pulling you close.

You melt inside. There’s something very endearing and very old couple-y about him knowing you’ve got things on your mind even in his sleep and wanting to help you overcome them.

“I just have this feeling that I’m experiencing life by looking at others living it. Your family is absolutely lovely and I’m having a great time here. But I can’t help but feel retroactively robbed when I think of my family and how they saw fit to raise me and treat me.”

His arms around you tighten and he pulls you close, kissing the top of your back.

“I wish I could just erase all that bad shit with a sponge for you.” He whispers, kissing his way up to your shoulder.

Now that you’re so close to him, he pushes his hips into you and you can feel he has a completely different priority.

“Dick is not the answer to all the problems, you know.” You say, not turning, but he can surely hear the smile in your voice.

“Granted, but it wipes your mind clean, allowing solutions to present themselves.” He gives back, also trying hard to sound serious and disinterested.

Under the blanket, his hand rests on your hip and pulls you to turn to him.

***

You have to give it to him, in retrospect, that amazing bedtime romp was exactly what you needed. You slept like a baby afterwards and you woke up feeling fresh and regenerated - ready to take on the extended Cavill clan.

The first part of the day is spent helping Henry and his mum with preparations for the family dinner.

Then, the sisters-in-law and the kids start pouring in and you find your refuge in the kitchen, with a huge glass of Hennessy, your trusted friend for times like these, which to you feel like “All crew on deck! Battle stations!”

Of course you meet all the nephews and the little niece, the most recent addition to the family. Her mum asks you if you want to hold her and you feel too embarrassed to say no, for now, so you do. And the bub promptly vomits on your Moschino sweater, rendering it unusable. You see Henry in behind his sister-in-law, cringing at the sight of the damage, but you take off the soiled garment and change into something else.

Soon, you are taken to the garden by one of the boys, and Henry warns you that he likes to tell tall tales.

“That’s alright, I’m a writer. I’ll be fine.” You say, squeezing his hand before going to the garden, followed by a few other boys. They want to hear your story and to ask only ALL the questions, since you’re new and foreign. They are all very polite and you find yourself enjoying the time spent with the kids, away from the kitchen and the adults running around like headless chickens.

When it’s time to go back in, the boys go first, called over by their mums, whereas you stay a bit longer, giving Kal some attention too and throwing one of his toys so he can play fetch.

Christmas dinner is amazing, albeit noisy, and Henry checks in with you now and then, even after he gets visibly inebriated, just like everyone except his mum and you. Normally you would drink as well, but you don’t want to make a dick out of yourself the first time you meet Henry’s family. And while you realise you don’t need them to have a good impression of you, it’s still kind of important to you anyway. Henry himself hasn’t seen you drunk, only slightly tipsy so far, and Christmas is not the occasion for leveling up on the drunkenness scale.

At night, Henry goes to sleep right away, since the alcohol has a tight grip on him, but he still pulls you close, like you’re his personal teddy bear. His light snore lulls you to sleep as well.

The following morning, you are woken up by a sonic wall of children screaming, but it’s happy screams. They must have found the presents.

When you join everyone in the living room, there’s packaging everywhere, kids and adults in their PJs on the floor Henry’s parents drinking coffee in a corner, looking the most dignified. When they spot you and Henry, they come over and hug you both, thanking you for the many beautiful and luxurious presents.

This time, you help with breakfast as the men move into another room to drink sherry.

That’s a record scratch for you.

“Is this a tradition?” You ask Henry’s mum.

“Yes, I came up with it. The boys feel important and I have them out of my way while I prepare things.” She says, looking pleased with herself.

You have to admit, it’s a nicely thought out and sneaky plan.

The kids are still ruling the living room, playing with their new toys and begging their mothers to configure their Switches and other new devices. Watching the bubbly chaos unfold around you, you feel happy, on one hand, for being able to procure some joy to all these grown-ups and kids. On the other hand, you feel a dark emptiness gape inside you as you realize you’re all too happy to make other people’s children beam with joy, while not feeling the drive to have your own. At over thirty, you feel set in your decision to not have children. Plus, there’s other reasons.

“Aww look at them, how nicely they play. Doesn’t it make you want to have some of your own?” Henry’s eldest brother pipes up from next to you.

“M-maybe? I mean, sure,” is all you manage, feeling like you betrayed yourself, like Peter betrayed Jesus.

“Because I know for sure Henry wants a whole football team of them. Plus reserves!” The good man says, making your knees turn to water.

Thirteen children? That’s some Duggar-level aspirations, and a facet of Henry you haven’t met. Yet. Maybe he cunningly left that unsaid, afraid you’d stop fucking him if you knew. Although… for a man who wants thirteen children, he’s waaaay too excited about your birth control implant.

You also know that you’re a shitty actress and negative emotions tend to show really clearly on your face, so you excuse yourself and bail to the relative safety of the room Henry and you share.

Now you’re safe from the prying questions, but the Trojan horse of worry and doubt is now within the city walls. And you don’t know how to bring it up with Henry without sounding grossly self-absorbed. So after some emotional compartmentalizing and doing what you usually do when you feel small and weak - which is review your accounts and read  fan comments on your books - you feel ready to join the company again.

Kal, you now notice, stayed by your side instead of following Henry. The doggo sensed, correctly at that, that you need the puppy support more than his human does.

When his mum goes over and calls them all to breakfast, Henry finds you in the dining room, on the sofa, with Kal sitting next to you, with his front paws on your lap as you feed him treats piece by piece, from the hand.

“Don’t do that, you’re spoiling him.” He says, not really meaning it. He just likes that his dog has a crush on you.

You give your boyfriend a pointed look.

“This dog is already spoiled, don’t come for me.” You give back, and you both laugh.

“Care for a treat as well?” Henry asks, getting out a bottle of Chivas.

“Sure. Please.” You say, feeling relief wash over you at the sight of alcohol. Not the healthiest of coping mechanisms, but one that is reliably always there when you need it and that is socially approved.

“You look like you’ve seen two ghosts fuck.” Henry says, pouring the whisky and joining you on the sofa, sitting in the small space left free on the side opposite Kal. “Care to tell me what’s going on? Or are you going to be heroic and let it consume you from within until you can’t enjoy anything?”

Welp, usually he’s not this perceptive. Who abducted your oblivious boyfriend and replaced him with this emotionally attuned clone?

He clinks his glass to yours.

“Cheers, babe. Have I told you how happy I am you’re here with me? The fam love you.”

He then caresses your cheek with the back of his hand, a gesture you’d otherwise see as a veiled threat, but the way he does it, it’s tender and conveys a very pleasant, silent “I’m here”.

Then he follows it with a boop to your nose.

“Bottoms up.”

You take him up on the challenge and let the whisky burn on its way down your throat.

“Now do you feel like telling me?” He asks, winking.

“Do you really want thirteen kids?” You blurt out. The alcohol removed your caution.

Even Kal stops chewing and listens.

“What? The? Fuck?!” Henry splutters, choking on air and looking at you like you just grew another head. “I need an Ambien to go with this. And maybe some crystal meth.”

“Your brother assured me that is your design.”

“Yeah, I also fully intended to be married by the age of 22 and be a father by 24. I also wanted to be in the military… look how that all turned out. I thought going to Hollywood would work out sooner than it did. Life keeps laughing at my plans, so sometime after turning thirty I decided to throw out the blueprints because all they were giving me were misery and anxiety. And I’m too busy to… how do you always say?... to fuck with that. Besides, I could want a legion of kids, but usually that involves another person too, and they might object.”

“What about your parents? They are happily married, have a lot of kids, are still in love…”

“Yeah, well, I’m not my parents. Regrettable, but I stopped giving myself a hard time for my life not replicating theirs. Also, they’re not actors and public figures. I think I’m on my own in this.”

You actually stop and give his words some thought. He’s basically saying he doesn’t have expectations.

“I admit I was afraid of breaching the topic with you,” he continues. “The older I get, the more I realise I enjoy kids, but I enjoy handing them back to their parents even more. I guess part of me hopes the whole nappies and papoose thing skips me, while the other part is reassured that if I do get to be a dad, the mum will be doing all the work and I’ll just be there for emotional support. Which, if I put it like that, is admittedly douchey.”

“Yeah… I never wanted kids. Kids were expected of me. I was always spoken about in terms of an annex to a womb. As soon as I was able to, I ran away from that and never looked back. I’m not giving up my freedom for someone else. Besides, I have shitty genes. I would never bounce back after a pregnancy. I would be depressed and ugly. My husband would leave me for a twenty-year old with firm tits and I would not blame him. Not very noble thoughts, I know.”

“I can relate to not wanting to lose your hard-earned looks. Do you think I would still get cast if gave my fat self the reins again?” Henry asks, sighing. “Although I feel so much better when I’m not dieting.”

“I like your off-season self best. I know you’re very harsh with him, but… uh… he’s very much my type.” You say, feeling yourself blush. "You know that already. But I'll tell you until you accept it." 

“What is it with women, most of you guys like chubby men.” Henry says, still sounding amused.

“We like it when you don’t die at 55. And when you last longer. Besides, stop talking so hatefully about your normal weight. You’re strong and an absolute unit. And I love it when… I love it when you climb on top of me and I can feel your weight push me into the sheets. It’s my favourite thing. I love how sensitive your thighs get and how your cock twitches when I bite them.” You say softly. “I’m insanely attracted to you, Henry. I dream of one day when the mad diets and the workouts will end and I will get you all to myself.” Once the words sink in for you as well, you sigh. “Did you put truth serum in that whisky? Look at me dishing out every little thing.”

“But babe. This is the most open conversation we’ve had since we got together. I’m enjoying this. I love being vulnerable with you, and it feels so good to see you be vulnerable with me too.” Henry says. “I’m not a shark, circling around you looking for a soft spot to bite into. Look at me?”

When you do, he leans his head on your shoulder, briefly turning it towards you so he could kiss your neck before speaking.

“In case it wasn’t clear. I love you. And I know it’s an overused phrase, but I really, really love you. And I want you to be happy. I’d prefer it was with me. And I would never, ever, ever expect you to sacrifice your happiness for mine, or choose some people who don’t yet exist over you. Between the two of us, we can make a lot of other people’s children and animals happy, and if we ever have doubts, we can adopt a legion of kids. Be like Brad and Angelina, only hotter and not messy. Look at Charlize, with August and Jackson. She’s a badass. We have options. We’re privileged in that sense. We’re unlike my parents, and anyone else. Our game, our rules.”

You feel yourself fall so much deeper in love with him. Sometimes he can sound a bit pompous and rehearsed, but this time he knew exactly what to say to reassure you.

“I always tell my family I have these grandiose plans to be traditional in every way and follow in their steps because I like fitting in and having peace. However, I also feel different and I feel like it’s my life, my choice how to live it. If they catch on and disown me, what can they do? Are they going to disown their famous, millionaire son?”

He has a point. Although…

“I never told you about my family. They were abusive to me in a myriad ways. Big and small. I was a disgrace to them. And as soon as I got successful, guess what? They wanted me again. I do send them money, because I don’t have the heart not to, but I don’t think they deserve it. However, they know that if they try to contact me, the money stops coming.”

Henry lets out a breath he’s obviously been holding for a while.

“You never talked about your family so far. I was beginning to wonder. Now I know why.”

“Oh, I built myself a family. Frankie. Tilly. My team. Some other people, whom you’ll meet at some point too, if all goes well. You. I’ve begun to think of you and Kal as family, as silly as that might sound. I mean, I don’t want to presume or impose. But - how do I not put my foot in my mouth?”

“Just say it?”

“The truth is that… that you feel very familiar and close, and it’s not the sex. There’s something reassuring about you. The way you never raise your voice at me or call me names. The way you don’t fly off the handle at the first little thing. The way you let me see you when you’re afraid and awkward and not feeling yourself. The way you consider my views on things and sometimes even adopt them as your own. You make me feel loved even without the words being said all the time. I’m terrified that if we ever… fall out… I will lose all that. It’s not about just not having a boyfriend and being without dick for a while. Not that ever mattered for me, but I don’t know. I feel like everyone just misses not having sex and routine and someone to go to events with for a while, then they move on. I don’t see myself moving on from you.”

“Those are huge words.” Henry says slowly, sitting up again so he can look at you.

Then you notice it.

His eyes are sparkling with unshed tears.

“I think this is it. Oh God.” He says, taking your hand in his. “I finally feel loved. Like really loved. It makes nothing else really matter. It feels so good. Maybe we are twin flames.”

“You believe in that?”

“Sure. There’s people in the world who feel like home. Like you do for me. And some of us are lucky to meet their twin flame.” He says, blushing. “I mean, I know it’s a witchy thing, and I had to read about it on my own because witchy stuff is kind of frowned upon in Catholicism. But it’s romantic without being… chocolate-box-y.”

Kal is watching you two, he’s been watching this whole time, finding that now is a very good time to mark the moment with a loud yawn.

“I frankly don’t give a flying fuck if there’s someone else out there who could fuck me better. Or give me kids and be a good Hollywood wife.” Henry says. “Kal loved you from the very beginning and if that is not a sign, I don’t know what is. Dogs know better than people.”

“Hm, well, there is another thing. That might jar your convictions.” You say, throwing caution to the wind. If this doesn’t send him running off to the hills, nothing will.

“Hmmm? An evil twin , perhaps?”

“I’m grey-asexual.”

Chapter Text

“Hold up. Ho-hold up. But… we fuck all the time?” Henry asks. “What’s… what does that mean? Are you faking everything?”

“No. I’m just normally not attracted to anyone. I’m not repulsed by sex, like many other asexuals. I am perfectly able to love and enjoy intimacy. I don’t feel the need for sex usually. I look at people and I just don’t want to fuck anyone. Never felt the drive or even the curiosity. I thought I was just lazy. And there were always better things to do than to pursue sex. Not to mention the fact that most of it is not good and a source of drama. And then I met you. Like, really got to know you. I always used to think you were incredibly good looking… like a boujee car or a Michelangelo. But then you let me in closer and I got to know you and bam! When we first kissed it felt like being yeeted into the sun.”

“Why didn’t you say anything earlier? Were you afraid?” Henry asks, his voice deliberately low and soft.

“Yes. No one has ever taken it lightly. My parents. My therapists. My straight friends. My queer friends. That one guy who decided to roofie me and prove to me I just needed to be introduced to dick and everything would flow after.”

“What the-?” Henry interjects. “Fuck me, that’s… that’s rape!”

“Yep. At the time I didn’t see it as such. Because I believed for the longest time, that I was broken. Born with missing parts. Everyone else is… not like me.”

“I’m sorry you were made to feel that way for such a long time. I definitely am still smitten with you. And I am all the more blown away because… because you’re the most generous and reassuring partner I’ve had. When I’m with you, I never think of whether you are imagining fucking Superman or August or whichever ripped, airbrushed guy I am not. And I’m never scanning myself, worrying if my belly is protruding too far out or if you think my dick is ugly. I’m really really grateful you trusted me enough to tell me. And I understand why it took so long. I can’t imagine how lonely it must have felt.”

“Frankie and Tilly know. They are accepting, but they sometimes don’t get it. Most of the times though, they roast me in a non-malicious way and that’s good. It keeps the loneliness at bay. It has its advantages too, though. Long periods of sustained concentration at high energy levels. Being above petty social permutations that I understand are common among people who seek out sexual encounters. Being spared a lot of messiness and STD risks. I’m not saying everyone else is a slave to their genitals and unable to focus, but I do know that if I had to worry about seeking out sexual partners, my life would be much more complicated and anxiety-filled. I often get asked, what the hell do I do if I don’t fuck? All the things that get neglected because people are busy fucking? Can’t relate.”

“Well I feel like a unicorn right now.” Henry says. “And I don’t think anyone has the power to make me feel like one like you do. I admit that when we met, I had this strange feeling, like I was in the presence of some eldritch being beyond gender, time and space. I felt like I had run into a character I’d only otherwise meet in a video game. Is that weird? Also, to know that I’m the one person you’re attracted to and on the receiving end of your love? Doesn’t get more boujee.”

You smile, for the first time since the conversation began. He’s taking it really well. Actually, no. He’s being decent about it. Maybe his money is where his mouth is. He did say he loves you.

“Let’s dance. And drink some more.” Henry suggests.

“But what about the kids, what if they see us drunk.”

Henry motions for you to come closer, then whispers in your ear: “this is my home. I can do helicopter dick in the front yard if I want to.”

You get up and he goes to the sound system.

Cringing, you expect Josh Turner to erupt from the speakers, unleashing auditory hell upon you.

But Henry hooks his phone to the system and blasts his party playlist - which is full of Migos and ASAP Rocky and some other good stuff.

The kind that, after another shot of that Chivas, has you twerking on Henry like you live there.

You feel him start to harden against your gyrating butt, but right now neither of you is capable of sex. There’s just too little blood in your alcohol at this point.

“My turn!” Henry proclaims, and gets in front of you, bending down and starting to grind his butt against you. “I know this move from Miley.”

You rest your hands on his hips and guide him, even swatting his butt at some point. Lightly. Anyone else but you would facepalm, but you’re used to this side of him and it’s one of the things you celebrate about your boyfriend.

His mum and dad, who are now standing in the doorway, mouths agape, don’t seem to share your point of view.

However, that only lasts for a second, before they look at each other, then back to you, starting to laugh.

“Ah, kids. Remember when we were like that, dearest?” Henry’s mum nudges her husband, taking his arm and pulling him away.

Henry is on the floor, on all fours, looking very shaken.

“I did not want to picture my mum and dad doing this themselves.” He says.

“I think that was the effect they were after.” You give back, offering him a hand to help him up. “What now?”

“Now we dress up and I show you off around my hometown! I want to take you to show you some places I love around the island.”

Although it hasn’t snowed for Christmas, the weather is still chilly and you wrap up warm for a nice long walk with Henry.

Here, he is not hesitant about taking your hand in his and walking like this, looking content and an indelible smile never leaving his face. Kal is walking calmly on his left while his right hand holds your left.

What he does show you of his home island is beautiful. On the way to the beaches where he used to play and hang out with friends growing up, people greet him warmly, but no one stops him to ask questions or for autographs. A blessing.

The island really isn’t big and for two fit people like Henry and you, there’s barely enough room for a decent, long enough walk to get hungry in time for dinner and to get rid of some of the alcohol.

Kal did get tired, bored or both, and he is dragging his feet, sniffling from time to time, just like a child who is complaining that they are tired and want to go home.

Henry thoughtfully suggests returning to his parents’ place and Kal trots ahead of you two now, excited to finally get to stretch out on the sofa.

“I’m so happy you came here with me.” Henry says, once again, holding your hand in his. “It’s been so long since I had a girlfriend home over Christmas and I’ve missed the feeling of belonging with someone… and with you, that came so soon and so easily. Thank you.”

“Awwww, my little buppy. You’re going to make me cry and my mascara will run. Not a good look for running into your parents again.”

Henry gasps at that and chuckles, his mind having joined yours in the gutter.

“You’re absolutely right, however, I can only recommend a good waterproof mascara, as I am afraid I cannot stop being a lovesick fool that easily.”

Chapter Text

Soon after Christmas, Henry finds out he has to do a photoshoot in another country, in the middle of preparations for New Year’s, which you’ll be spending at your place in France. Henry is excited like a little boy because you’ve shown him pictures of the actual castle you own.

This is why he is carefree and upbeat when he has to catch an early flight to Germany, kissing you and Kal goodbye at home before the car shows up to take him to the airport.

He’s gradually trusted you more and more with Kal and now he didn’t even think twice before leaving Kal with you and telling him to be a good boy and listen to you.

Kal likes you because, where Henry has a playful and erratic energy sometimes, goofing off and still learning how to navigate his busy work life and interacting with so many people every day, you are the calm and laid back energy, the allowing parent who lets Kal play however he likes and only rarely intervenes. Which is why doggo took to you really fast.

Snuggling in bed when you get to spend your nights together is cute too. Usually Kal is the little spoon, Henry - big spoon and you, the jetpack. Mornings find you tangled and piled together like puppies usually, with Kal managing to position himself so that he gets to touch both of you in his sleep.

He also learned to look forward to having his paws cleaned before bed because you made it into a reward with many treats, scritches and cuddles.

Henry is also confused at why Kal walks perfectly with you without a leash, but he always has to put the leash on Kal. (When they attend events or go out in town, the leash is mandatory and keeps Kal, Henry and other people out of trouble, and you use it too in those situations). But when you hit the hills or the forest, Kal listens to you without question. And Henry finds it easier to do the same himself.

Today, you have very little to do and get it done early in the morning, packing up your car in order to spend the day outside with Kal. There’s a dog park in a wooded area one hour away from your home by car and you plan to walk the forest trails, take photos, let Kal roam off leash for a bit, then go to the dog park and play with toys, meet other dogs and so on. You want the pupper to not feel so sad that daddy is not there for the two days.

The walk through the forest is amazing and you take all the photos of mushrooms, moss and little droplets of dew caught in spider webs, sparkling in the sun.

Kal is having a blast, peeing on every third tree and sniffing after all the little bugs that scurry away in the foliage.

At some point, he alerts you to an animal being close and when you look up, it’s a big owl, perched on a branch in a pine tree.

Kal barks, his voice resonating across the forest and sounding questioning.

“That is an owl. They are like winged cats. He’s a friend. He just sits there and judges us. He’s alright.” You explain and take a few pics of the majestic animal. Moving on, Kal keeps up, giving another shot bark in the bird’s direction for good measure.

Going around the small forest takes about three hours, and when you get back to the parking lot where you left your car, you grab the toy bag and the water, then cross the street to the dog park.

There are a few people there, most likely from the neighbouring village, who brought their dogs to stretch their legs and play as well. It is a great day after all.

Dog parks are great because here, the dogs get to be dogs and are protected by the big fence surrounding the enclosure and the many signs that read: “access allowed only to dogs and their owners.”

So you let Kal off the leash and he goes to meet the others and to play. All is going well.

So well, that you take out your phone and start filming.

At some point, a woman pushing a pram and with an older child, enters the park and sits on the bench near you. She seems harmless enough, maybe she came there to enjoy the sun and so her child can watch dogs. Although that has the potential to end badly, as kids tend to be reckless about touching dogs.

You stop recording Kal running and playing and put your sunglasses on, watching the lady get distracted on her phone while her child, who must be 11 or 12, watches the dogs play in the distance. Soon, he gets bored and he starts to ask his mother questions.

Kal soon comes to you for a treat and some water, which you give him.

The child whispers something to his mother and she says, “of course, go pet the dog,” looking at you and Kal and walking over with her pram and child.

“Maybe ask me for permission first?” You bristle up.

“I don’t have to ask you for permission. This is public space. We are at a dog park. Of course my son can pet a dog at a dog park.”

“You don’t know if my dog likes children or not and you’re telling your child to approach a 70 kilo animal without a single concern for his safety?”

“Look slag, my son is going to pet your dog and you’re going to let him. He’s a child and he likes dogs.”

Kal is a pretty laid back animal, but he is still an American Akita, very protective of HIS humans and wary of strangers. And the woman seems determined to cause an incident, which you cannot afford.

“Come on, we’re leaving.” You say and get up, packing your things.

The boy still approaches.

“Mummy I want the doggy. He so fluffy.” He says.

You put the leash on Kal and stand, feeling crowded and backed into a corner by the entitled mother. You let the insult slide, although it informed you to what kind of person you are dealing with.

“Actually, you should give my son your dog. He’s been a very good boy and has excellent school results. Your dog is already trained, I see. I’ll give you a hundred pounds.” The mother says.

You press the on button on your phone’s video camera again and stick it in your shirt pocket.  

“The dog is not for sale. He’s family.”

“Come on, it’s just a dog. It doesn’t care who feeds him.”

“Do you think I’d give him to someone who has no respect for animals? Learn to take a no.”

“You can buy yourself a new puppy. I don’t have enough money to train a dog. And this one is really pretty.”

“If you can’t afford a dog, you shouldn’t have one!” You say, out of patience, closing the toy bag and leaving past the woman and the child.

You make it maybe ten steps away when you hear the creak of the pram following you. You turn around to see if they are really following you, and the next thing you see is the woman’s massive bag fly at your head at full swing.

The blow knocks you down and you drop Kal’s leash.

“Brayden, take the leash.” The woman tells her son, who grabs the end of the leash and pulls. But Kal doesn’t budge, no matter how much the child tugs.

“Move, you stupid animal.” The woman says, and slaps Kal over an ear. Kal yips in surprise and backs away a bit.

That shakes you out of your daze and you stand, seeing red.

“Get. Away. From. My. Dog.” You say, losing all restraint. "Take your hands off of him.”

The child tries to move Kal again and Kal barks at him once. His deep, thunderous bark scares the child and he lets go of the leash, landing on his butt on the asphalt of the path.

“Your monster bit my poor baby!” The woman screeches and launches herself at you.

But this time, you’re prepared and you backhand her hard, deflecting her hands, which were headed for your neck.

Soon, park security arrives and asks what is happening.

“This slag tried to steal our dog. I’m a single mum, I just wanted to enjoy a day in the sun.” The woman says. “Now our dog is traumatised and won’t move.”

The constable looks at the two of you, disheveled, hair ruffled, bruise forming on your face.  Then he looks at Kal and his eyes widen.

“Lady, that’s not your dog.” He says. “That dog is internet famous, and you live here in the village.”

The woman goes paper-white and starts backing away.

“Can you prove the dog is in your care?” The security guard asks you.

“Sure.” You say and stop the recording on your phone, then slide over to the gallery, showing the guard some pics taken at your place, with Kal and Henry.

“You know Henry Cavill?” The guy asks. “Wow. Care to tell me what exactly happened here?” He continues, then says to the woman: “Madam, you’re not free to leave.”

“We came to the park for some playtime and this lady decided she wanted Kal for her son, and I said no. She did not like that.”

“Would you like to press charges?” The guard asks.

You think briefly of how there will be a written report if the police are involved, and how it might get traced back to Henry and he again will catch shit from the public like he always does, even when it’s not his fault.

“No. I just want to know why neither this woman or her old enough son could not read the sign that says this park is for dog owners with their dogs only. This is not a free petting zoo.” You say.

“Fuck you, you privileged cunt! I’m poor, how else is my child supposed to meet dogs?!”

“Not by disrespecting their owners’ instructions and trying to steal them.” You give back.

“Alright, alright, if you won’t press charges, I will. Also, I’m fining you. You came to the dog park without a dog and caused an incident” The guard says, first to you, then to the woman.

“Fuck you both. I’m not accepting your stupid fine.” The woman says and walks away, nearly running with the pram and the child in tow.

“She forgets I know her name and where she lives.” The man says. “I’m sorry your stay at our park was so rudely interrupted. My name is Dan and I’m a huge Superman fan, I follow Henry on Instagram and he’s inspired me to resume martial arts training and weight lifting. Will you please give him my best?”

“Sure. Thank you for your help. I have no idea what I would have done, the woman seemed determined to get Kal and disappear, even though she is in no condition to care for a dog.”

“I see this a lot, believe it or not. Some parents come to dog parks looking for incidents - so their kids get bitten and they can get an easy pay day out of the dog owners. Others are just entitled to high heavens.” Dan says, shaking his head. “This is what the world’s come to.”

“Well, once again, thank you for everything, I’d best get going. The baby needs comforting.” You say and walk to your car with Kal, giving him water and more treats and apologising to him for allowing the woman to touch him. He’s been a fantastically good boy through all the commotion and did not leave your side when you were down.

When you get home, you clean Kal’s paws and let him loose inside the house, filling his bowl with dog food before going to your computer and looking at the video your phone recorded.

There is only one blurry part, the one where the woman’s purse to your head sent you to the ground. But everything she said can be heard, and Kal can be seen sitting calmly as the child tugs on the leash, falls down and the woman screams Kal bit the child.

It’s only now that the adrenaline wears off and you start to cry. No one leaves their house for a fun day outdoors expecting this to happen to them.

In the evening, when Henry calls you on Hangouts, he can tell you are upset and you fill him in, sending him the video and telling him about Dan.

“I’m not proud, the moment that woman touched Kal my manners exited the building.” You say. “I’m so not a lady.”

“I would have probably done much worse. No one, and I mean no one, they could be the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus, I don’t care, no one hurts my baby. She’s lucky she only met you. Holy shit and look at that huge bruise on your cheek. You must be so sore.”

“I don’t even feel it now. It was so surreal. She was going to steal a hugeass dog even though she can’t feed or control him? Who does that, Henry? I feel like I’m going insane. I never took anything that belonged to someone else. Let alone try to abduct their beloved pet.”

“I don’t know. I’d say it was crazy, but this has nothing to do with crazy. Just entitled as hell. I know the type. I see them pushing aside kids in crutches or wheelchairs, wanting to get to the front of the line faster with their kids at meet and greets. Just… just know that it’s all good now, you had the foresight to record everything and that lovely man was there to help wrangle that harpy. I’m proud of you for letting that woman catch hands. I love you even more now, if possible.”

“I made sure to not mention to Dan that we were dating. He only saw pics of us playing with Kal in my backyard. I hope he doesn’t go to the press.”

“He seems decent. I hope the woman doesn’t piece things together, and even if she does, we have the video.” Henry says. “But, if we were to be revealed as a couple by the Mail or some other tabloid… would that be a huge issue with you?”

“Not anymore. The only reason why I like us being private is because I don’t want you getting hate from your fans for being taken. I couldn't care less what they say about me.”

“I kind of wish it would happen. I want to take you to events as my date.” Henry says. “I want you to take me to events as your date.”

“That would be very nice, yes.” You agree. “I’m no longer afraid the press will break us up. Remember what I said, that we needed some time to grow together before we gave fuckers a chance to throw rocks at us?”

Henry’s face is taken over by a beaming smile.


“You make me so happy.”

“How did the photoshoot go?”

“For the longest time, I just sat around because some equipment went tits up and they had to bring a replacement. But once they fixed that, it was pretty alright. I didn’t like the clothes, they weren’t my style or my age group I think. But you know me, I’m difficult when it comes to clothes and fashion.”

“You’re allowed.” You say and shrug. “Looks and style are important in your line of work. I still can’t wait to see you in the pics. You make any old rag look couture.”

“Well, coming from a woman who was wearing a cardboard box when I met her and who dropped the box to shake my hand? That’s the only compliment I trust.”