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Bound and Binding (Binding Bound)

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Nick’s feet squelch wetly in his shoes as water drips off him onto the porch. He sways slightly, hand raised, debating whether or not to knock on the door. It’s been an hour since Dorian kicked him out of the Gray Room, and wandering through the woods ended him here.

The door swings open before he comes to a decision about knocking on it, and Harvey’s standing in the doorway, head quirked. “Nick?”

Nick meets the mortal’s gaze. “Kinkle.” He leans against the doorframe to steady himself and Harvey’s eyebrows knit together.

Harvey looks out at the pouring rain and asks, “Do you want to come inside?” Nick follows him through the door and into the foyer, into the witch hunters' den.

A silence settles between them until Harvey says, “I guess you should get some dry clothes on,” and Nick could cast a spell to dry his clothes but his vision doubles and his head swims when he tries to remember the spell.

Harvey leads Nick upstairs and down a hallway, into a room covered in posters and drawings. Harvey rummages around in his dresser before he turns around holding plaid pants and a gray tee shirt. "These should work!" Harvey hands everything over. "I'll be in the kitchen," he says, and leaves Nick alone to change.

The tee shirt Harvey gave him is soft, and when Nick pulls it on he has "Greendale Middle School Basketball" emblazoned across his chest, and he walks downstairs with the plaid pajama pants pooling around his feet.

When Nick sees Harvey he's standing at the stove, stirring something around in a sauce pan and humming to himself.

"I'm making soup," Harvey says, and Nick's stomach grumbles at the suggestion of something that isn’t 80-proof.

Harvey slides a steaming bowl of soup in front of him and disappears into the living room for a second before returning with a sketchbook in hand.

Nick tucks into the soup as Harvey sketches beside him, spoon clinking against bowl and pencil scratching on paper.

"Where's your dad?" Nick asks as he gets up to wash his bowl.

Harvey looks at his watch. "The mines," he says, "The men have had to do a lot of overtime and he says he can't just sit at home while they work."

Nick turns around to face Harvey. He might even be getting sober enough to teleport back to the Academy, he can come back tomorrow for his clothes.

But Harvey says, "You could sleep in Tommy's room, if you're not up to going anywhere.” And suddenly Nick’s not up for leaving and he lets Harvey show him into a room at the other end of the upstairs hall, tidy but a little dusty.

"You know where to find me if you need anything," Harvey tells him with a lopsided smile, and shuts the door behind him on his way out.

With a flick of Nick's hand the lights are off. He lays down on top of the covers, eyes roaming the room. Sleepiness creeps up on him but he fights it as he tries to find something to focus on in the dark.

Finally, his eyes slide shut.

The air is warm and thick. He feels Lucifer fraying at the edges of his consciousness, feels the familiar soul-splitting feeling of The Dark Lord trying to destroy him from the inside out.

Nick jerks awake in the darkness of Tommy's room, eyes landing on Harvey standing at the foot of his bed in a crop top and striped pajama shorts, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes with balled up fists.

"Nightmare?" Harvey asks.

Nick bristles. What does the mortal know about nightmares? But something in the back of Nick's mind reminds him why Tommy's room is on offer and exactly what role Harvey played in that.

Nick hears Harvey shift on his feet. "Yeah," Nick says after a second, "It was a nightmare."

"You can come sleep in my room," Harvey offers, but he's a little quieter when he says, "I can't… I don't usually come in here."

Nick throws back the covers and follows Harvey down the dark hallway. Nick dreads the awkward you-take-the-bed-I'll-take-the-floor dance but Harvey slides right into bed and holds the blankets back for Nick.

The rustling sheets are loud in the quiet night as Nick climbs in beside Harvey, squirming until he finds a comfortable spot.

After a moment Harvey says, "After Tommy-" and he takes a breath and starts again, "After I had to…" Harvey trails off but Nick doesn't need to be reminded of the events of last fall. "I had nightmares all the time," Harvey tells him finally. "I still do sometimes."

Nick stares up at the ceiling for a long time, waiting to be so tired he can't fight it anymore. It takes a while, but eventually Harvey's breathing evens out beside him, and Nick's eyes slide shut shortly after.

Nick wakes slowly, hearing Harvey stir next to him. His head pounds and his mouth feels like something died inside of it, but being hungover is pretty par for the course. He blinks against the sunlight coming into the room. This is the first time he's slept through to morning since coming back.

He gets dressed as Harvey putters around in the bathroom, spelling his clothes dry and unwrinkled and folding Harvey's pajamas neatly and setting them on the bed.

They part ways at the bottom of Harvey’s porch steps.

Haltingly, Nick says, “Well, thanks-”

Harvey hitches his bookbag higher up on his shoulder and gives Nick a crooked smile. “Don’t mention it,” Harvey says. He heads towards town, and Nick heads deeper into the woods.

Nick walks through the woods aimlessly. He could go back to the Academy, he could head into town and mortal-watch. But there’s only one place he’s heading. The sun is getting high in the sky by the time he gives up the act and heads towards his destination.

The Grey Room is quiet as he enters, except for the crackling of the fire and the glass-on-glass sound of Dorian rummaging around the bar.

Nick slides onto his bar stool and leans on his elbows on the bar.

When he was freshly back from Hell, Dorian had a lot more patience for Nick trying to drown his sorrows. Today he greets Nick without looking away from the shelf he's browsing, "Continuing to attempt to pickle yourself, Scratch?"

Nick slides some cash across the bar and waits for Dorian to serve him, clasping his hands so he doesn't fidget. He's not allowed to serve himself even though he can reach the glasses, but thankfully Dorian was just bluffing about putting a blood curse on him last time.

Dorian finally turns around, reaching for a tumbler and a bottle of dark rum before squinting at Nick and saying, "Darling Nicky… you almost look well." Dorian's been seeing a lot of Nick since coming back from Hell, in all states of intemperance.

"I got some sleep," Nick says, downing his first glass in one gulp. It burns on the way down, but it's just the beginning.

"You've been back for two weeks," Dorian says carefully, “Have you not slept?”

Nick shrugs, “Not well.” It feels like he’s been back for maybe two or three days, maybe a year.

He slides his glass across the bar for Dorian to refill, but catches his hand before he pulls away, "Leave the bottle."

He stays planted on his bar stool, working his way to the bottom of the bottle as he watches the sun set through the windows. Dorian purses his lips and won’t give him another bottle until he can request one without slurring, but it’s pretty much all Nick can do to keep upright on his bar stool.

Eventually, he wheedles “one for the road” out of Dorian and heads out on unsteady legs into the forest, blue bleeding into the inky night sky around the edges.

No one is awake when he makes it to the Academy. It’s even too early for the Weird Sisters to be awake and coiffing their hair into their elaborate braids.

He crashes into his bed, one leg flung off the bed to combat the spins, and falls asleep as soon as the room stops rotating around him.

He’s in chains in the dungeons of the Academy. His wrists ache from where Lucifer yanks his body against the restraints, fighting viciously to get out ever since the salt circle became compromised.

Suddenly his grip on Lucifer slips and for a moment everything is still, then his body is overwhelmed by a wave of pain.

He wakes up gasping, soaked in sweat and still drunk. His heart feels constricted, wrapped in pain.

He stumbles out of the Academy and heads straight for the Grey Room.

Dorian raises an eyebrow when he slumps onto a stool, but gives a nod of acquiescence when Nick slides the fee for De Sade and Salo over.

De Sade fastens his wrists to the rack and he can hear Salo summons in their equipment behind him. De Sade leaves his field of vision and he waits, practically vibrating, for them to begin.

His brain is full of static since he came back, full of craters and valleys Lucifer carved while sharing his brain. He declines the blindfold, nervous about being snuck up on again.

It feels like it’s ages before they start, an eternity spent tied to the rack listening to them whisper behind him and rustle through their tools.

They begin with the whip, which did the trick last time. His eyes slide shut after the first crack, and he lets the pain tear through the static in his head. One of the demons loosens the restraints and pushes him to the floor. Dimly, he registers the ache of his knees on the hard floor.

He leans into the touch when one of them grabs his cheeks to lift his head up, doesn’t bother opening his eyes to see which demon it is. They slip a chain around his neck, cool heavy metal, and he feels himself be tugged forward. He follows, compliantly.

He hears some shifting around in the tools then feels the impact of a paddle on his ass, rocking his whole body with a shockwave of pain. Finally, he breaks. The sensations overwhelm his brain and he floats on the airy feeling of dissociated feeling of being outside of his brain.

Nick can feel the pain of the paddling and the aching in his knees, but it all feels so distant, so far away.

The demons can’t stay forever, though. Eventually he’s untied and sitting, sore, on his usual bar stool. Dorian takes one look at him stewing in misery on his barstool and pours a drink without asking.

The thoughts he had managed to escape are all cascading back, flooding his brain with the thick, numbing static he’s so used to by now.

The first drink doesn’t quiet the commotion in his head, but the burn of the liquor on its way down is familiar in a way that’s almost comforting.

The second, third, drinks do nothing to calm the storm in his head, and number four just makes it a little harder to balance on his barstool. When he slides his glass across the bar for a refill, it’s not returned with drink number five. When he looks up Dorian is quirking an eyebrow at him, and Nick feels himself sway under Dorian’s gaze.

Jaw set, Nick glares at Dorian as he slips out of his chair and heads for the door. He heads out on uncooperative, wobbling legs, leaning on trees to keep himself upright as he stumbles through the woods.

It's even later than last time when he turns up on the Kinkles’ porch, and Harvey answers the door already in his pajamas, in that stupid crop top.

He's got a little soft smile playing on his lips, like he figured Nick would be back. It softens the blow of turning up on the doorstep again.

Harvey steps aside to let him in. “Have you eaten?”

Nick doesn’t answer, but Harvey leads him into the kitchen anyways. He sits at the kitchen table and watches Harvey putter around the kitchen, grabbing the loaf of bread and rooting around in the fridge.

Harvey says, “Do you want one or two?” and Nick hasn’t eaten since the soup Harvey made for him last night, but he doubts that’s why he feels so hollow.

He croaks out, “One,” and stares at his hands folded on the table while Harvey stands over the stove. A few minutes later Harvey is settling down at the table with a grilled cheese, cut diagonally.

Nick inhales the sandwich. It actually combats how drunk and sick he feels, and the room stops spinning.

“Spend the night,” Harvey says after the dishes are in the sink and they’re looking at each other under the fluorescent kitchen lights.

Nick considers Harvey. He doesn’t need the mortal’s pity. But Nick isn’t so sure Harvey’s pitying him, and he can’t think of anywhere else he’d rather be than potentially getting another five hours of uninterrupted sleep in Harvey’s bed.

“Okay,” Nick says, and he lets himself be led upstairs and into Harvey’s room.

Harvey turns around to his dresser and produces the tee shirt and pajama pants he loaned to Nick two nights ago. “I washed them and everything,” Harvey tells him, “I kind of had a feeling I might see you again.” Nick can smell the dryer sheets as he pulls the tee shirt over his head.

There’s no Tommy’s Room preamble tonight. Harvey climbs underneath his covers and waits for Nick to crawl in next to him before switching off the bedside light. No sooner than the room is sheathed in darkness, Nick falls asleep.

The marble steps are cold beneath him, and he can sense eyes roaming over his exposed skin. He can hear demons mumbling around him but can't move his head to see if anyone is there. The dark lord laps at the edges of his consciousness.

Nick jerks awake. As soon as he's up Harvey is shifting in the bed next to him, "You're okay," Harvey says and that's a fucking stupid thing to say but with the phantom screams of Hell still lingering in his mind Nick clings to Harvey's words and lets him keep going, "You're safe. You're in Greendale. You're okay" and Nick feels his heart beat return to normal, feels his breathing calm down.

It's silent for a long time. Eventually Nick mumbles out, "Thank you," but Harvey is already asleep next to him.

The next morning when Harvey heads for Baxter High, and Nick makes a beeline to Dorian’s. His head is splitting, and he finds his place on his usual stool among the rest of the early morning regulars, looking for a little hair of the dog.

He presses his cool tumbler of bourbon over ice to his head. It calms the pounding behind his skull, but neither the glass nor the contents do anything to cut through the fuzzy static feeling in his head.

Dorian makes significant eyebrow movement with every drink he pours, but it doesn’t register to Nick past the din of his own brain.

Eventually, Dorian stops interacting with him, just leaving him the bottle and working the bar around him.

He'll be allowed to stew at the bar for as long as Dorian can stand the sight of him, this he knows from experience, but he ends up kicking Nick out shortly after sunset.

Head spinning, Nick knows he's too drunk to teleport, so he stumbles through the woods to the Academy. He doesn't know what time it is, but the sun is starting to set and it's starting to get chilly.

It's dark by the time he makes it to the Academy and the one or two students milling around in the lobby pay him no mind.

He's sobered up enough to not be stumbling over himself, but he's tired down to his bones and feels dead on his feet. Nick makes it most of the way to the dorms before he hears, "Nick?" from behind him and the bottom drops out of his stomach as the world spins.

Sabrina. He can see Lucifer's face in her features now, is always on the lookout for her father's influence on her actions. The Dark Lord doesn't need to whisper in her ear. She is more his daughter than either of them realize.

She’s speaking, he realizes, but the static in his head is too loud to hear her. His eyes flit over her face, unable to land anywhere. He sees Him in the cut of her jaw, in the assessing look in her eye.

Sabrina’s waiting for a response, he realizes, registering her looking at him in concern. Anger flares up in his gut, the flames fueled by the deluge of dark liquor sloshing around in his veins. Teeth grinding, Nick keeps his mouth shut. It’s not his job to make her feel better. Not anymore.

She follows him into his dorm. “Nick, just tell m-”

Laboriously, he manages to articulate, “Please just let me sleep,” and he keeps his back to the door until he hears her soft footsteps retreating. Then he crashes into bed. After a couple minutes of watching the ceiling spin, he finally falls asleep.

It's dark in the dungeon under the Academy. He hears someone coming, feels Lucifer contained inside of his own soul convulsing in fear. Fear?

The door opens, and his own mouth says, "Daughter."

Sabrina's standing in the doorway, hovering a couple of inches off the ground.

"Just one more loose end," Sabrina says brightly, as she conjures hellfire between her hands.

He screams as he's engulfed in blue flames.

Outside of the dream he hears screaming that sounds an awful lot like his own, and then he blinks and suddenly he’s in a different room with Sabrina standing over him in blue striped pajamas.

"Oh, Nick," she says, taking a seat on his bed, wiping at the sweat on his brow with her sleeve, "You poor thing," and he’s still in his nightmare, he’s sure of it, until he looks past Sabrina spots Agatha and Dorcas peeking around the doorframe in concern.

He looks around and sees the walls of his dorm in the Academy, sees his clothes in a pile on the floor, sees the cloying concern on all the girls’ faces.

The room feels so small. He thought about being back here when he was in Hell, longed for these same walls and floors and faces that are currently surrounding him. But it’s too much and not enough at the same time.

His stomach lurches like he’s going to throw up, as that darkness crashes over him like a wave.

He slips off the bed, out from under Sabrina, and grabs his clothes off the ground as he slips past Dorcas and Agatha, getting dressed as he heads for the front door of the Academy.

The cold air outside is a relief until most of the adrenaline wears off. He bolted without grabbing a jacket, only remembering his shoes by some miracle, and wraps his arms around himself, shivering.

The thoughts circle around him, suffocating him.

He doesn't speak to Dorian when he gets in, just slams the fee down on the bar and lets himself in to the sex demon room.

"Back so soon?" Salo asks but Nick doesn't answer, only strips his clothes off and throws them in a pile on the ground.

He doesn't even give the demons time to summon their equipment. De Sade straps him in, arms and legs, and they both go at him with their bare hands.

With every smack on his ass there's the sting of jagged claws breaking his skin. He struggles against the restraints to arch his back and give the demons more surface area to work with, screaming for more.

They get careless, or malicious, and the blows extend down to his thighs and higher up his back. He does nothing but ask for more, even as he feels blood drip down his leg.

The demons are looking slightly fatigued and he's still not out of his head, but De Sade drags her claws down the length of his back, breaking skin the whole time. The pain radiates through every part of his body but the headspace he's been chasing follows hot on its heels.

He floats through the rest of their ministrations, mind blissfully blank.

It takes Nick a moment to realize when they’ve stopped. He’s limp as they undo the restraints, and he falls to the ground as an icy spike of anxiety pierces his heart. He lays there for a while, sweating and bloody and unable to slow down his breathing.

By the time he manages to pry his eyes open, the demons have disappeared. It feels like he’s moving through wet concrete as he makes his way over to his clothes. It’s agony to try and drag his shirt over his torn skin, but his head spins harder when he tries to remember any spells that could help him.

In the end, he just has to summon what strength he has left to drag himself off of the floor and pull his pants on over his busted thighs and rear.

Keeping a hand on the wall for support, Nick limps out of the back and into the bar. He hears Dorian's sad "Oh, Nicholas," as he slowly makes his way through the room and up the stairs.

His journey through the woods is just as halting and painful but he knows where he's going tonight, he can't pretend he doesn't know what path he's walking.

He knocks quietly and leans against the door frame as he waits for Harvey to answer. He could probably try and teleport home, the faded house number on the Kinkles’ mailbox isn’t squirming as much as it usually does. But he doesn’t want to be at the Academy, doesn’t want to be alone. All he wants is the sleep that only Harvey can bring, the rest that drugs and liquor and magic are all failing to provide.

Harvey opens the door with a smile but he falters at the sight of Nick. Harvey reaches softly for his hand and tugs him inside the house. "You haven't eaten," Harvey says and Nick isn't sure whether he's taking an educated guess or figured out a way to tell but he hangs on to the mortal's hand for a second longer than he needs to after he’s through the threshold.

Nick says, "Later, please," and winces at the sound of his own voice, hoarse from screaming.

Harvey leads the way upstairs, glancing over his shoulder in concern when Nick isn’t right behind him.

He’s silent as he hands Nick his pajamas, and keeps his distance when Nick starts to change.

Nick gets his shirt unbuttoned, but stills when he tries to slide it off his shoulders. He has to bite his lip to keep quiet as his movements pull at his wounds and the fabric of his shirt is dragged over them. When he looks up at Harvey, Harvey is already looking at him, eyebrows knitted together.

Whatever has been happening here with Harvey, whatever silent understanding they seem to have come to, has been keeping Nick going for days. But when Harvey breaks the silence and says, “Nick…” he almost collapses in relief.

“It’s-” he starts to say not a big deal but his shoulders are so stiff from the restraints and his skin burns where his shirt glides over it and he says, “It’s my back.” Harvey takes a couple of tentative steps forward, and slowly slides Nick’s shirt off of his shoulders, keeping the fabric away from his skin.

Harvey steps around Nick to pick the shirt up off the ground, and gasps softly at the sight of Nick’s back. Harvey stutter for a moment before he says, “We should-”

Nick cuts him off. “I can heal,” he says. Just not with any fabric covering the cuts. He lets his pants and boxers hit the floor, too distracted to worry about Harvey being modest.

The air in the room feels cool on his exposed wounds. He mutters the incantation, and hisses as the edges of his skin slowly fuse together, cell by cell. He’ll have to find his way to a cauldron tomorrow, but at least for tonight he won’t be bleeding on Harvey’s bedsheets.

He’s sore all over but with his wounds closed, he can at least pull his pajamas on. He lays down gingerly on Harvey’s bed. Harvey turns the lights off and slides into bed next to him. They lay side by side in silence until Harvey says, “Nick, if someone-”

“It’s nothing like that,” Nick says quickly, but Harvey shifts on the bed next to him, radiating dissatisfied energy. Nick sighs, “After I came back from-”

“From Hell?” Harvey offers, and Nick nods before he continues.

“After being there, being trapped with Him for so long, sometimes I just need…”

“So that happened on purpose?” Harvey asks and his voice is so gentle, so free of judgement that Nick can’t help but answer him.

“It started on purpose and got out of hand,” Nick says, and takes a deep breath before he says, “It's demons. You can hire them and…”

“Does it help?” Harvey asks.

“Sometimes,” Nick sighs, “Not tonight.”

He lays awake until Harvey falls asleep, listening to the sound of Harvey breathing.

Nick sleeps through until morning. Harvey is still in bed when he stirs, and when he slips out of bed to get dressed.

He’s stumbling into his pants when Harvey mumbles, “It’s Saturday,” from under the covers, clearly not planning on moving any time soon.

Exhausted, Nick drops down onto the bed. He stares at his hands. A familiar shame burns in his chest at losing his grip so much he doesn’t know what day of the week it is, deepened by how long it’s taking him to remember what month they’re in.

"We can go get breakfast," Harvey suggests and when Nick looks over at him he's sitting up in bed with his hair all sleep mussed.

Nick pauses. "I don't want to run into anyone," he says. He tries to keep the nerves out of his voice, and he doesn’t necessarily succeed.

"We won't go to Cerberus's," Harvey promises and Nick wasn’t really aware that there was anywhere else the mortals ate, but yeah. Okay. Breakfast.

They walk side by side through the crisp morning air through the woods to town. They walk right past the little row of shops with Dr. C's restaurant nestled in between other cute shops. After turning a couple of corners, suddenly the sidewalks aren't as well maintained and every third storefront is boarded up.

There's a small diner sitting on a corner, and the neon signage buzzes gently as they walk inside.

It's nice, sitting in the red vinyl booth across from Harvey. His eyes glaze over as he tries to take in all 7 plastic-covered menu pages. He's so hungry his stomach is twisting and contorting painfully.

To Nick’s relief, Harvey orders for both of them when the waitress arrives.

He leans back in his sticky booth and says, “So what are you always drawing?”

Harvey goes into detail about his comic until their food arrives and silence settles over the table for a minute as they both tuck into their stacks of pancakes.

After breakfast, they're back on the street and the air has warmed up a little bit.

"Is there anything you want to do today?" Harvey asks Nick and scrambles internally for any activity he wouldn't be ashamed for Harvey to see him do and comes up blank.

Harvey says, "Well is it okay if we stop by the library?" and Nick agrees.

Harvey leads him down a side street to a towering old Victorian with an unkempt garden and the front door propped open with a thick book.

Nick hangs back as Harvey whispers with the librarian for a moment, and gets a little distracted by the couple of bins of comic books by the door available for check out.

He’s not about to sign up for a moral library card, but he pages through a couple of comics while Harvey disappears upstairs. Some of the older comics are cheesy but some of the newer ones are neat, with weird concepts and stylized design.

Nothing looks as cool as the art Harvey draws but Nick is flipping through a dark comic about secret warrior nuns when Harvey comes back and asks if he's ready to go.

The sun in bright as they walk through the streets. They pass the theater on their way back to the house and Harvey points up at the marquee. “Have you ever seen Raiders of the Lost Arc?”

Nick hasn't, and can’t help but smile as Harvey drags him into the theater.

They settle in with popcorn and sodas and sour straws, and Harvey leans over periodically throughout the movie to share some trivia.

On the walk back home they bump shoulders and discuss all the other Harrison Ford films Nick needs to see.

Nick stops before climbing the front steps, "I've taken up too much of your time already," Nick says and

Harvey snorts out a laugh, "You have not," and his voice is soft, with all of this emotion showing like only Harvey can do.

"Stay for dinner," Harvey offers and Nick wants to, wants to sit at the Kinkle's kitchen table watching Harvey sketch over bowls of mac and cheese or something.

His chest feels like it’s inflating with warmth, and the feeling is so much more overwhelming than the dull ache, the sticky static he’s been living through. He’s worried if he stays he’ll lose himself, but not in the way he’s spent a few weeks trying to.

And he doesn’t feel like seeing his own kind would be so bad now, not anymore.

"Hey, before you go," Harvey says and he disappears into the house for a minute. He comes back with a scrap of paper in his hand, the corner of one of his sketch book pages. It has his phone number written on it and his face gets a shade more serious when he says, "Call me. If you need anything. If you want to talk,"

Nick doesn't know if he can, doesn't know if sweet Harvey and sex demons are interchangeable but he takes Harvey's number and thanks him sincerely for everything before he heads back to the Academy.

He stops by the potion room to whip up a cure for his back, leaving only a couple of faint silvery scars behind.

Wandering through the academy, he finds the Weird Sisters casting a spell in their dorm

Prudence stops the incantation and eyes him carefully, "Drying out, Nicky?"

He offers nothing more than a shrug when he says, "Thinking about it."

But the girls let him stretch across Agatha's bed and watch them cast. Prudence's sacred geometry is on point, as always, and it's been a long time since he's heard them really play up the creepy unison.

The spells takes ages, they're trying a very complicated curse it would seem, but the sun has long since set and Nick is in and out of sleep watching them blow out the candles and clean up the spell remnants.

"I can move," he offers but Agatha shakes her head no. She climbs into the twin bed beside Nick as Prudence and Dorcas push another bed up against Agatha's and they all pile in.

"Gonna have a nightmare," he warns before he falls asleep entirely and he hears a small sad, "Oh, Nicky," before he's out completely.

He's laying on the steps at Lilith’s feet trying so hard to focus on her voice past the sound of Lucifer screaming to be let out, past the sensation of Lucifer trying to burrow his way out from inside of Nick's soul.

He blinks awake and he's back at the Academy the relief is cut short when he sees the pity and the horror on the Weird Sisters’ faces as they back away from him.

He's out of Agatha’s bed in an instant, street clothes slightly rumpled from sleeping in them. He apparently woke just about every remaining member of their coven and he pushes past everyone to just get outside.

He starts towards Dorian's because it's all of three minutes away from the Academy.

The door slams open as he rushes into the Grey Room. Nick must look as disheveled as he feels, because Dorian eyes him with concern and slight distaste. "How can I help you?"

Nick says, "Whiskey, neat. Do you have a phone?"

Dorian pours his drink and smirks as Nick figures out how to use the rotary phone he plopped on the counter. Everything kind of falls away when Harvey says, "Hello? Hello? Nick?" through the phone.

"You said I could call you," Nick says

Harvey says, "I'm glad you did." and Nick just spends a second listening to Harvey's even breathing coming down the line, tries to feel so steady himself.

"Where are you?" Harvey asks, "Do you want to come over?"

"I'm at a bar," Nick says and he downs his drink in one practised swig before he asks, "Do you want me to come over?"

Harvey says, "Yeah, I really do. Come over. Have you had dinner yet?" and it's convenient Harvey can't hear his stomach grumble when he says, "No."

He hangs up and slides some cash across the bar for his drink. "One for the road?" Dorian offers and Nick waves him off on his way out of the door.

He practically jogs to Harvey's house.

When he gets there Harvey opens the door before he can knock and Nick falters there at the door, movements halted and miserable, until Harvey hauls him inside and into a hug.

It's a mild night but Harvey is warm in a way that radiates all the way down to Nick's bones and he says, "I'm glad you called," before they pull away.

They head into the kitchen where Harvey peeks at something in the oven and stirs something in a pot on the stove. "It's almost ready," Harvey tells him and Nick just sits at the table and watches Harvey move around the kitchen.

A couple of minutes later they're eating chicken nuggets and peas and Harvey is telling Nick about his evening at band practice with Roz and Theo.

"You sing?" Nick asks.

"And play some guitar," Harvey says and Nick tells him that's pretty cool. Harvey, for a mortal, is pretty cool.

After dinner they head upstairs to get ready for bed. "Nick's" pajamas are already sitting on "his" side of the bed and if it weren't for the promise of a couple of hours asleep without nightmares, Nick would be a little embarrassed at the domesticity.

Harvey hums something quietly to himself as he slips into his customary crop top and flannel sleep pants, before he switches off the light.

Nick wakes up an hour later terrified and sweating. It had been a nightmare, but it hadn't been a usual one. He’s not trapped in Hell or with Lucifer but back in Greendale, running through the woods.

He’s running through the woods because something bad is behind him and there's someone at his side, but he's too scared to turn his head to find out who, running a few paces behind him.

Nick hears the heavy breathing, shouts for them to keep up. The footfalls slow even more and Nick can't turn around to see who it is but he's begging them to run faster, shouting and sobbing.

He slows down despite himself even though he can feel the thing closing in on them both. Right before he wakes up he hears Harvey cry out "Nick!" followed by a tremendous roar, and suddenly he's back in Harvey's room, sitting up in bed and gasping for breath.

Harvey is awake right after him, sitting up blearily. He waits for Nick's breathing to steady before he says, "Nightmare?" and he leans a little to his side so his shoulder brushes against Nick and Nick can’t help but lean into the contact.

Harvey is soft and sleep warm, whereas the sweat drying on Nick's skin is starting to make him shiver.

"It was a new one," Nick tells him, "It wasn't about Hell." He debates internally for a second before he says, "You were there."

Harvey nods, Nick can just see his outline move in the dark. "I'm still here," Harvey tells him, and pulls away from Nick's shoulder only to softly instruct Nick to lie back down.

Harvey slips back under the covers too and grabs for Nick's hand, loosely entwining their fingers.

It takes a couple minutes for Nick to fall back asleep, but once Harvey's asleep, Nick falls asleep to the sound of his steady breathing.

In the morning, neither of them make any move to get out of bed. Nick feels unusually rested, feels like the sun is shining unusually bright through Harvey’s blinds. Nick is no stranger to waking up in strange beds, and lately Harvey’s has been getting more and more familiar. But he’s in no rush to leave.

“Breakfast?” Nick asks, “We can head back to the diner, or I can cook?”

For a beat Nick worries he’s become overly familiar, is overstaying his welcome. But when he dares to glance over at Harvey the mortal is grinning. “You can cook?”

Nick can’t help but grin back. “Oh, a little.”

The Kinkles’ kitchen has everything he needs to throw together pancakes, and Harvey perches on the counter with his sketchbook in his hand, watching Nick navigate the kitchen. "You can cook for real," Harvey comments as Nick flips this batch of pancakes.

"I learned the basics from my mom before she died,” Nick says with a shrug, “And everything else I picked up along the way."

After pancakes, Harvey asks if he wants to take a walk.

His slacks are pretty good at hiding how wrinkled they are but his shirt is all crumpled up, and Harvey laughs at him trying to smooth it out before saying, "Just wear one of mine," and Nick ends up in one of Harvey's ridiculous flannel shirts, following Harvey down his front porch and down the path.

They're heading toward the mines but take the turn off the last minute, heading up the mountain the mine is under. The trail here is mostly just beaten down grass, the kind of trail that's been walked into existence.

Nick follows closely behind Harvey, dodging roots and branches, and comfortable silence descends.

When they're almost at the top Harvey says, "This is what I wanted to show you," and he gestures to a clearing in the trees.

Nick can see all of Greendale from here, if not further out. The sun is high in the sky and the town stretches out before him, nestled safely in the trees.

"Tommy showed me this spot when we were kids. I've never brought anyone here, until now."

There's huge rock that they can both sit on and they scramble up, facing out at the town.

"Harvey," Nick starts and Harvey looks over at him, brown eyes all big and open, and Nick says, "Thank you."

There's no hiding how Harvey's cheeks color in the bright midday sun, and Harvey says, "Thank you for calling. And coming over. I don't think I know what you've been through but…"

And in a lot of ways Harvey does know, Harvey charged into Hell with Sabrina to bring him back, but Harvey's continuing, "But I do know what it's like to get caught in the aftermath of one of Sabrina's plans," and that's probably the first time Harvey's ever brought her up, despite being arguably the only thing they have in common.

But they let it drop. Harvey pulls out his sketchbook and Nick just leans back on the rock, lets the sun warm his face.

He glances over at Harvey occasionally, who smiles at him if he catches Nick's gaze, but mostly he just relaxes.

He's pretty sure this is an old witch hunter lookout, but he's also pretty sure Harvey has no idea.

He knows what happened with Tommy, but Harvey Kinkle is not a killer. He's so sweet and pure, and his life is so short.

Nick feels something akin to protectiveness surge through him, feels the urge to manually shield Harvey from everything bad in the world. He's a little late to that party, Harvey's encountered his fair share of tragedy already, but maybe he'll let Nick keep coming around and maybe Nick can take care of him just a little bit.

Nick has no idea what time it is when they start to make their way back down the mountain but it's starting to get dark and chilly. He burrows deeper into Harvey's flannel shirt, which is surprisingly warm, and trails behind the mortal.

They're halfway back to the Kinkle's house when they hear, "Harvey?" and then a moment later, "Nick?!" and suddenly spending the day sober was a mistake.

He feels his heart construct looking at her, feels his blood turn to ice, and he comes to a stop beside Harvey, who takes one look at Nick's expression and sets his mouth into a thin line. "Hey, Brina." Harvey says.

She gives that little half smile she gives when she's not being genuine, "Are you two friends now?"

Harvey says, "Yes," before Nick can even start to wonder if that's what they are. He can feel her eyes on him, registering Harvey's shirt on his body, can almost hear the calculations going on in her brain.

Nick knows Lucifer like he knows the back of his hand, spent a month sharing a brain with him. and knows that even the devil himself will put his subjects before his own whims. Unlike-

He can't look at her anymore, can’t keep thinking about her and Hell and her father. He looks everywhere but at her. He hears Harvey tell her they were just out on a walk, and he hears her slow "Okay…" Sabrina says, "Is that Harvey's shirt?" and there it is. There is Nick's limit for today.

He leans into Harvey a little, nudging him, and Harvey studies his face for a moment before nodding in understanding.

"Well, we've gotta run," Harvey says, all outwardly cheerful, and Nick lets Harvey pull him forward and back down the path to Harvey's house.

Harvey doesn't let go of his arm the rest of the way back and Nick is grateful for the tether to reality. He's halfway back there, feels almost palpably like he's still in Hell and like Prometheus chained to the rock, his soul splits open again as the memories and sensations flood his mind and the feelings he's been keeping sedated in a kiddie pool of liquor bubble up full force.

He lets Harvey lead him upstairs and into Harvey's room but he stands stiffly near the bed, afraid his skin will split open if he moves and afraid he won't be able to control what comes out if he opens his mouth.

He eyes Harvey wearily when it looks like he might start prying so Harvey takes a step back, settling in criss-cross applesauce at the head of the bed with his sketchbook, eyes flicking up to Nick every minute or so.

Nick isn't sure what to do and, for the first time, regrets involving Harvey. This is too big for Nick, it's too much, he feels too much. "I have to go," Nick says, and bends to grab his shirt off the floor.

"To see those demons?" Harvey asks and there's no accusation in his tone, no judgement. He just cares enough about Nick to want to know where he's going.

Nick can’t help but snap, "Yes, to see those sex demons," and a fresh searing wave of regret washes over him for using that tone with Harvey but Harvey's face remains totally neutral.

Harvey closes his sketchbook and sets it down on the bed and says, "I would like it if you stayed, though." And Nick watches him carefully as Harvey springs off of the bed.

"Let me show you something," He says and goes to rummage at his desk for a while before he comes back with a thick book he places on the bed. The BDSM Manual. Oh.

Harvey says, "I think it makes sense that you go see those people," and De Sade and Salo are far from people, but he lets Harvey continue.

"It must be nice to surrender control," Harvey says, but he looks up at Nick and says, "But maybe it should be with someone who cares about you," and Nick doesn't know where Harvey is going with this. What does the mortal know about sex demons? Of course they don't care, you pay them not to.

Harvey opens the book to a book-marked page titled "Sub Drop" and he points to the page, "I think this is what happened to you on Friday," and Nick is too frazzled to focus on what Harvey’s showing him but he sees words like “depression” and “anxiety” and he has to admit, it could explain why he always feels worse after the release. Why he achieves his goal of getting out of his head only to crash back down to reality ten times harder.

"Before you go back there, please, let me try. I know I'm not a demon but-" Harvey trails off and looks everywhere but Nick and it takes Nick a second to realize that Harvey is a mortal offering this to him. His half mortal ex-girlfriend couldn't even stand to be in the same room as an orgy. This is a big offer Harvey's making.

Nick says, "Okay," and Harvey smiles at him.

"Do you have a safeword?" Harvey asks him and scowls when Nick laughs at him. "Our safeword is plantain," Harvey tells him seriously, "I need you to know that I'll stop whenever you want me to."

Nick repeats it back to him and Harvey pops back over to his desk before coming back with a handful of tacky cheap silk scarves.

"They were Theo's. He doesn't need them anymore. I didn't tell him what they're for." Nick would hope not.

"Are you ready to start?" Harvey asks him and Nick nods mutely, not used to the formality.

"Take your pants off," Harvey says. His tone is soft, but it's one Nick's never heard him use before, and it leaves little room for argument. When he's done Harvey says, "Now take my shirt off," and okay.

Harvey watches him unbutton the flannel shirt and drop it to the ground. Harvey says, "Get on the bed," and Nick does, he lets Harvey manhandle him onto his stomach with his hands behind his back.

Harvey makes sure he's comfortable before he ties the scarf around his wrists. He guides Nick into tucking his knees under his body to push his ass up in the air. "Good boy," Harvey murmurs as he fastens another scarf around Nick's ankles. It's not the usual vibe but sends a rush of warmth through his body.

He's all tied up, and having trouble sensing where Harvey is. He can hear Harvey shifting around but can't locate him, so he's surprised when he receives a sharp slap on his ass. He cries out but Harvey shushes him a gently, lightly stroking fingers over the sensitive skin where he just landed a blow.

"You're okay, I've got you." Harvey says and waits until Nick's breathing returns to normal to deliver the next blow. This time Nick just inhales sharply, rocking his hips back for more and Harvey chuckles a little at him before slapping Nick's ass again, same cheek and harder than before.

The pain intensifies, and that's more along the lines of what he's after. He tries to rock his hips back again but no third blow comes. After a moment he feels the mattress dip next to him and Harvey's fingers thread firmly through his hair, coming together in a tight fist, but not quite pulling.

Harvey leans down to his ear, "Don't forget I'm calling the shots tonight, Nick." Harvey tightens his fist in Nick's hair before letting go and Nick gasps in pain. "Do you need more?" And Nick nods.

"Open your eyes," Harvey tells him and Nick hadn't realized his eyes were shut. He blinks them open to see Harvey holding some kind of paddle, antique looking and dark wood.

"Is this what you want?" Harvey asks him and Nick nods.

Harvey slaps his ass again with his hand, "Sorry, I didn't hear you?"

Nick's croaks out, "Yes," only to have Harvey's hand collide with his ass again.

"Yes, Harvey," Harvey corrects.

Nick parrots, "Yes, Harvey," and Harvey strokes his back gently, calling him a good boy and again Nick is flooded with warmth.

When Harvey hits him with the paddle it sends a wave of pain through his entire body and he can't help but groan in pleasure. "Wait for the next one," Harvey tells him and his whole body tingles with anticipation.

Eventually another blow lands, harder than the first, and when Nick says, "Harvey, please," he can barely recognize his own voice. In between every strike with the paddle Harvey runs gentle fingers over the red skin on his ass, scratches gently at his back to send shivers down his spine.

Harvey gets him to relax almost completely, and when Harvey paddles him again, harder than ever, it sends Nick right through the roof. He needs more of that, is aching to ache more.

He rolls his hips back to see if that will make Harvey pull his hair again and sure enough it does, but Nick can't help the smile on his face when pain blooms all over his scalp again, and Harvey catches it.

"You did that on purpose, didn't you?" and before Nick can be smug, Harvey brings the paddle down quickly on one cheek and then the next. "I'm gonna take care of you, Nick. Let me take care of you," and it's sweet Harvey saying that in the voice he might only use on Nick, sweet Harvey leaving no room for argument.

Nick nods and Harvey moves back behind him again, and Nick waits, anticipating. Harvey's hand traces down the notches in his spine, traces over the faint scars from his last encounter with the sex demons, and when Nick is about to explode from waiting he gets a firm smack to the ass.

It only takes a couple more cycles of relax/paddle for it to happen. Nick's thoughts slide away. All he feels are the silk scarves around his wrists and ankles, the occasional blows from the paddle, and the air in the room. He lets himself float in the feeling, lets Harvey move around him and over him.

Eventually, he comes back down to the sound of Harvey's voice. He's beside him on the bed, back to his normal voice, murmuring an endless string of praise at Nick while he waits for him to come back to his body.

"Harvey," he croaks eventually, and he blinks his eyes open, taking in familiar walls and familiar sheets.

"Hey," Harvey beams at him, "Ready to get untied?" And Nick had more or less forgotten that he was tied up but he nods, and Harvey undoes the knots in the scarves and Nick slumps onto the bed.

"Was that okay?" Harvey asks.

Nick takes a second before he says, "That was amazing, Harvey. Thank you," and Harvey smiles, apples of his cheeks turning pink.

"Are you okay?" He asks Harvey and Harvey's cheeks go a deeper shade of pink.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Harvey grabs their pajamas from the dresser and offers Nick help getting dressed, but tonight’s sore joints only remind him of being taken care of by Harvey and he turns so Harvey won’t see him smile as he pulls his customary Greendale Middle School Basketball tee shirt over his head.

"Want to order a pizza?" Harvey offers, and Nick realizes the two of them haven't eaten since breakfast. He follows Harvey downstairs and they sit on the couch to wait after the pizza order is in.

Harvey turns the TV on and starts flipping through channels, and kind of casually tosses his arm on the back of the couch, more or less around Nick.

Nick, feeling out-of-it but not unpleasantly so, scooches closer on the couch and leans into Harvey. Harvey makes a little noise of surprise but Nick can see a smile stretch across his face, illuminated blue by the TV.

Harvey gets up when the doorbell rings to collect their pizza and sits back down a little closer to Nick than he necessarily needs to be.

Nick has a couple of pieces of pizza and leans into the feeling of Harvey so warm and solid next to him, laughing at the late night reruns they're watching and leaning forward for the occasional slice of pizza.

When they're done Harvey asks if he wants to go to bed, and then it sinks in just how exhausted Nick is.

They throw out the empty pizza box and head upstairs.

Not for the first time Nick notices how hot Harvey looks in his pajamas, and thinks today he might not have to avert his gaze. Nick lets his eyes roam the expanse of skin his outfit exposes, the strip of abdomen between his crop top and shorts with most of his thighs on display, too.

Harvey catches his gaze and turns a little pink, but doesn't mention anything. They slide under the covers and Nick’s head is spinning. He has so much he could say to Harvey, so many questions to ask.

He falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow.

Nick wakes up to Harvey thrashing in the bed beside him, mumbling in his sleep. It's still dark out, with moonlight sliding in through the cracks in the blinds.

Nick lays a gentle hand on Harvey's shoulder and shakes him awake, whispering, "Harvey… Harvey!" until Harvey jolts awake, eyes frantically searching the dark room.

"Hey, you're okay. It was a dream. You're safe," and Nick tries very hard to remember all the sweet things Harvey said to him to calm him down. "You're at home, you're safe." and Harvey’s breathing slows down after a moment, but he wiggles on the mattress until he's pressed up against Nick.

Nick opens up his arms and Harvey snuggles in immediately, burying his face in Nick's chest. He's a little sweaty but Nick wraps his arms around him anyways.

Eventually Harvey says, "It was about Tommy. I had to-" and Nick shushes him gently, carding his fingers through Harvey's hair. "That's over now," Nick tells him, tightening his hold, "You're never going through that again," and Nick means it's over, of course, the whole ordeal but also he can't deny the protective feelings surging through him.

He's aware the mortal literally brought him to Hell and back, that Harvey can pretty much handle himself in a fight, but right now Nick wants to absolutely destroy anything that causes Harvey harm. Instead he just keeps playing with Harvey's hair, and eventually tells him the bedtime story his mother used to tell him, about a lonely old Warlock from the Old Country. By the time the Warlock finds a coven and lives happily ever after, Harvey is fast asleep.

They wake up the next morning and Nick figures after two days in a row, Harvey's probably got to go back to school.

"I could skip class," Harvey offers as they get dressed, and Nick laughs at him.

"Go to school, Harvey." Classes are probably in session at the Academy today, too.

Nick grabs something off the floor while Harvey's back is turned, and when Harvey turns back around he's already zipping up his leather jacket.

"Want to stop by band practice tonight?" Harvey asks him as they tumble down the stairs and into the kitchen, "If you come at the end, we can get something to eat afterwards," Harvey says and with a laugh he adds, "I don't think you'd want to watch us tune up,"

Nick would probably watch Harvey do anything at this point, is having trouble pretending he's not smitten as they sit side-by-side at Harvey's kitchen table eating Pop Tarts.

"Does seven work?" Nick asks.

Harvey grins at him before saying, "It's a date!"

He walks Harvey to Baxter High, but it's not until he's halfway to the Academy that he unzips his leather jacket to reveal the flannel shirt underneath.