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The door clicked open and I raised my head from John’s desk with a great deal of effort. A Post-it note stuck to my cheek. “Hndrks,” I mumbled, hoping John was capable of doing something about this, because my brain wasn’t back online but I had a vague feeling that me sprawled naked and well fucked on a desk wasn’t something Hendricks was supposed to see. I just couldn’t remember why or what I was supposed to do about it.

“Ah. I thought I locked the door,” John said from behind me.

“Electronic lock,” Hendricks said, staring at the bridge of my nose. “Opens automatically when you trip the silent alarm. Also electronic.” There was no... nothing in his tone, and he stepped inside, closing the door tightly behind him before calmly flicking open his phone. Hendricks muttered a code word or two, before finishing the call with ‘false alarm’.

I’d caught up with his previous use of the word electronic. Usually if people used that word around me there was an obvious response, and I coaxed it out of my higher brain functions after a moment’s thought. “Sorry?”

“Not your fault,” Hendricks said, but he seemed to be addressing the keypad of his phone.

Good. I liked it when things weren’t my fault. But I wasn’t entirely sure what this thing was or who was responsible. Whatever the answer, playing naked paperweight probably wasn’t helping, so I eased myself up off the desk, wobbled when my body decided no, standing was a bit optimistic, and slumped bare ass naked into John’s leather executive chair. John was standing beside it, and I blinked up at him. He seemed fixed in place, fly open, shirt askew, eyes on Hendricks. “You can stand down. Thank you for your... concern.”

“Yeah. Alarm’s still going. I need to re-set it,” Hendricks’ gaze drifted back towards me, “and he needs a blanket or something.”

“Fr’got. Clothes,” I said, and nearly capsized trying to scoop my pants off the floor. John clamped a hand on my shoulder before I could kiss the carpet and reunited me with my jeans and button down. I wiggled into the pants without even standing up, and then stuck my arms through the sleeves of the shirt. But I ran into a little trouble when I tried to fasten it up. “Lost a button,” I said with a frown, and then slid off the chair onto my knees before John could stop me, set on tracking it down.

“Harry, it’s just a button,” John sounded a little strained, like he suddenly objected to me on my knees in his office. News to me.

“S’my button,” I grumbled, continuing the search, starting to crawl around the side of the desk to where we’d first started getting frisky. I was brought up short by the sudden appearance of Hendricks’ feet in my field of vision, and then his hand, a little white button dwarfed in his palm. I tipped my head back and smiled up at him, gleeful at the return of my property.

Hendricks was busy staring down Marcone. “Did you bang his head off that desk too?”

“No. He gets a little... giddy, occasionally. It passes.”

I plucked the button from Hendricks’ palm and then he offered his hand to me instead, hoisting me to my feet. But I didn’t account for his full strength, went straight past upright and through to leaning on him. Hendricks eased me back from his broad chest with capable hands.

Mmm. Strong.

I could see why John kept him around. This close up, Hendricks had an aura of unshakable dependability. It almost put me in mind of Michael Carpenter, but with Michael I never felt the urge to prop my head on his shoulder and have a nap.

...In fact, that urge was probably my cue to get moving. I had a perfectly good bed in a perfectly good apartment for all my sleeping needs, so I threw Hendricks a smile, blew John a kiss and shambled out of his office.

 

The next time I saw Hendricks, we were getting shot at. I rolled my eyes and raised my shield bracelet, because I’d wanted to say something to Hendricks and now it was difficult to make myself heard what with all the yelling and gunshots. Eventually, during a lull in which the militia types ducked behind the corner of a warehouse to reload, I managed to get a word in.

“So. Sorry?” I tried as my opening gambit.

Hendricks grunted. “Still not your fault.”

“John’s in the doghouse then?” That explained why he’d been so sulky over dinner. “Thought he was looking sorry for himself.”

“He’s lucky it was me. If someone else had been closer... ”

“Yep, discrete. I got the memo... Uhm.” The maybe-a-militia had reappeared. They had a rocket launcher.

“Can your shield-- ?”

“Let’s not find out.” We ran. It turned out Hendricks wasn’t much of a sprinter, and I had to keep slowing down to make sure what protection my shield could offer remained with him.

“Nevernever?” he panted.

“Not from here. Nasty place. I vote we give them the slip the old fashioned way.”

The old fashioned way involved rounding a corner into a storage yard faster than the where-the-hell-did-they-get-that militia, and worming into the space between two storage compartments. Hendricks was suddenly not all that keen about being dragged into a confined space with me, but I was really eager to keep him inside a layer of bulletproof force, so I kept a tight grip on his elbow and dug my heels in until he decided to be led.

It felt kind of like Hendricks was holding his breath when we settled, all pressed up against one another, elbows and knees and weapons at unfortunate angles, like he was trying to make himself smaller and further away.

“Hey, I’m pretty sure I don’t have cooties. Unless your boss gave them to me.”

“No,” Hendricks said, “it’s-- sorry.”

And then I moved my right hand so I wasn’t poking Hendricks in the stomach with my blasting rod, and tried to shift my weight to the side, eager to reduce the pressure from the gun barrel pressed against my thigh. All the maneuvering had me brushing up against an area I’d have politely pretended not to touch except Hendricks was kind of... yeah. “Uhm.” I said. “Adrenaline?”

Hendricks closed his eyes. “Ignore it, Dresden,” he said in a tight voice.

“Right.” I said. “So. Unseasonably cold for May, yeah?”

Hendricks made a choked noise; it might have been a laugh in a former life. All of a sudden I felt really, really shitty about dragging Hendricks into a position he didn’t want to be in and then turning it into a thing and, oh, fuck it. “Stay here,” I said. “I’m going to feed them their rocket launcher.”

I did. I also concussed myself slightly, so that by the time a quietly furious John Marcone finally made an appearance, I was lying on my back in a dirty puddle, staring vacantly at the stars.

“That was stupid,” John greeted me.

“That worked,” I countered.

“You nearly set yourself on fire.” John grabbed the front of my duster and hauled me to my feet with no discernible effort, apparently operating on the power of suppressed rage. “Car.”

“No,” I said. “Things to do.”

“Yes, sleeping and healing and eating. Tell me, could you actually stop me from bundling you off to a safe house right now?”

I glared at Marcone, ignoring the tight grip he had on my coat. “Maybe not right this instant, but I could make you really fucking sorry at some unspecified point in the future. Boundaries? Remember we discussed them?”

John wasn’t backing down, “We-- " but then he did stop, and I realised Hendricks had loomed up behind John to drop a hand onto his shoulder. John turned his head for one of their silent discussions.

Hendricks won.

John let go of my coat. “At least let me drop you at your apartment.”

“Sure.” Compromise. We were all about compromise. Except when we weren’t. I let John support me back to the car, and then stretched across the back seat and promptly fell asleep.

 

Hendricks woke me, leaning through the open car door to tap my shoulder. I jerked upright and scanned my surroundings through the front window. We were parked in the gravel lot of my apartment block, safe and sound and not cloistered away in one of John’s Bunkers of Paranoia. The man himself was several cars’ lengths away, pacing up and down with a cellphone glued to his ear.

“He putting eyes on me?” I yawned.

“He’s always got eyes on you.”

I nodded because yeah, that wasn’t news. “Does he know?” I was aiming for cool, casual. It didn’t help.

“Don’t.”

“I wasn’t. I’m not running to him to share the gossip, I just don’t get it. Me? Really?”

“Quit fishing for compliments.”

“No, really. I mean him yeah, the eyes and the muscles and... ” it’d be inappropriate to discuss John’s ass with his best friend/employee, right? ...Except Hendricks was nodding along with me. Wait. What?

“What?! You- He- Cujo, are you into some kind of masochistic pining thing? You haven’t told him-- ”

“Told me what?” John asked. Hendricks and I both jumped; nobody should move that quietly over gravel.

“Noth-- ” Hendricks began, and then bit down on the lie. “Please don’t ask, boss.”

John looked between the two of us carefully. “You’re sure I don’t need to know?”

“You never needed to before. It’s nothing new.”

John relented with a nod. “Very well. Harry, would you like a hand down to your front door?” I accepted the assistance, and the kiss goodnight, before pulling John into a tight hug so I could look behind him unobserved. Hendricks stood at the top of the steps, watching us in silence. Tell him, moron, I mouthed.

Hendricks shook his head curtly, and then turned to walk back to the car.

 

I’ve been told that I’m a busybody, that I don’t understand when to leave things well enough alone. But I sort of turned that to my advantage, what with making a career out of it and everything. So there I was, with a thing I wanted to know about, and an obvious way of finding out about it. It was kind of a foregone conclusion that I was going to pry. I had Hendricks’ cell number, one of the many ways I could get hold of John. So I called him.

“Hey. You’re an idiot.”

“Dresden. Which part of ‘I don’t want to discuss this’ are you struggling with?”

“The ‘don’t’ part. Seriously, what the hell? What’s with the love that dare not speak its name bullshit-- ”

“Enough. He’s got a job to do, I got a job to do, I don’t have the luxury of playing house with Gentleman Johnny, all right? A good lieutenant’s harder to come by than a lover.”

“You couldn’t be both? He’s not exactly easy to be with, but we make it work, somehow.”

“You do, so what exactly are you trying to achieve here, Dresden? You really bent on sabotaging your Happy Ever Now?”

“Uh-- ” I said, and Hendricks hung up.

 

So, Hendricks didn’t want to talk about it. I did. But I wasn’t about to try and bully his secrets out of him, and there wasn’t really anyone else I could discuss this with. I’d spilled half of it to Bob, before coming to my senses and retreating from my lab. Now the thing just lurked at the back of my mind, poking me at odd moments. Like when I lay sleepy and sated in John’s bed, with John draped across me in a post-coital blanket.

“John?” I said.

“Mmph.” Which meant ‘yes’ in certain dialects of I-deserve-a-nap-now Marcone.

“What’d you say if I said I liked Hendricks?” Oh dear God. I had problems. Burning curiosity wasn’t supposed to manifest itself as destructive relationship questions.

“That I’m glad you’re getting along.”

“What about the other kind of like?”

“The adolescent kind?” John lifted his head from my chest and blinked. “Harry, if you’re unhappy-- ”

“I’m ecstatic.” But Hendricks wasn’t.

“Then as hypothetical questions go, this is rather a strange one. He isn’t interested in-- ”

“Me? You? Men?”

John looked entirely out of his depth. “All of the above.”

“So you never looked at him that way?” Once I’d started asking it was impossible to stop, kind of like picking a scab; probably a bad idea but strangely satisfying anyway.

“That isn’t the kind of liberty I’d take with an old friend, no. Or one I should take with someone that works for me.”

I snorted. “Works with you, John.”

“With,” he agreed with a smile that turned abruptly serious. “Are you jealous?”

“Oh God no.”

“Then what brought on this line of questioning?”

“Curiosity.” I studied the ceiling quietly for a moment. “So. If I said I liked him?”

Marcone frowned at me. “It’s normal to find people attractive, Harry, even if you’re in a relationship. That part of your brain doesn’t suddenly turn off.”

“Even though he’s your... Hendricks?”

John laughed at me. “He’s not conventionally attractive, but he has far rarer qualities. I could understand the attraction.”

“Objectively?”

“There’s no such thing as objective attraction.”

“Mmmm.” Well. That cleared up nothing. I ran my fingers through John’s hair, aiming to lull him back to the brink of sleep. I figured he’d let this slide, seeing as we’d had stranger what if? discussions in bed.

 

Apparently John didn’t let it slide. Consequently, I had to answer my door at two in the morning before the persistent hammering woke the neighbors.

“What? What’s wrong? Is John ok?” I asked, after going through my usual defensive rigmarole and finally opening the door on a thunderous looking Hendricks.

“What the fuck did you say to him?”

“Uh-- ” I took a step back, because Hendricks was big and Hendricks was mad and sometimes I forget that he wouldn’t take a swing at me in the first place and I could knock him down with a whisper of will if he did.

He stepped into my apartment and closed the door. “What did you say?”

I raised my hands in the traditional gesture of please-don’t-kill-me-as-I-don’t-know-wh
y-you’re-mad. “Why, what’s wrong?”

“He’s been watching me all day.”

“Well, you work pretty close-- ”

“Like he’s never fucking seen me before. You got any idea how hard it is to type with Johnny staring at the back of your head? Now: What. Did. You. Say?”

“Nothing? Nothing bad. Nothing you told me, or you know, didn’t tell me.”

I think Hendricks actually growled, before dropping a hand onto my shoulder and squeezing tightly. “If you’ve fucked everything up-- ”

“Think very carefully before you finish that sentence,” I said. I kept my tone pleasant because it was Hendricks for Christ’s sake, and he obviously wasn’t thinking clearly because as soon as I finished speaking he stopped and closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

When he opened his eyes again, Hendricks looked less like he wanted to kill me. He looked tired. I covered his hand on my shoulder with my own. “Look, if you want a beer, or someone to talk to-- I mean, I’m not a great listener but Mouse-- ”

“The dog.” Hendricks pulled away from me and looked over to where Mouse was lying in front of the fire, watching us attentively. “Surprised he didn’t eat me.”

“He’s a good judge of character.”

Hendricks nodded absently, and then ran his hands over his close cropped hair, scrubbing at his weary face. “I-- I should go home, Dresden. I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah, around,” I said to his retreating back. “Sleep tight.”

 

After staggering to bed late, I got woken up early by my phone. I staggered back into the living room, picked it up, and mumbled something resembling a greeting.

“Fix it,” said Sigrun Gard.

“Muh?”

“Whatever you have done to the pair of them. Undo it.”

“Gard?”

“I will not bear another day of sad-eyed mooning.”

“Mooning?” I spluttered.

Pining, Dresden. Heartfelt sighs and wistful expressions.”

“John and Hendricks? Sighing? Bullshit.”

“Close enough. Get your meddlesome self over here, Wizard, and fix what you have broken. Straining a friendship is an ugly thing.”

“I haven’t-- ” I croaked, but I was speaking to the dialtone. Shit.

 

I did get over there. I got over there and into John’s office, and then pulled up short in the doorway. John was by the window, looking out at the street. Hendricks was at his desk, one hand above the keyboard but not typing, staring into the middle distance. They hadn’t even noticed me. Double shit. I cleared my throat. “Hi.”

John jerked his head around to look at me, half a second of surprise visible on his features. But I didn’t pay him any mind. I walked over to Hendricks instead, who was frowning at his keyboard like he could find the secret to life, the universe and everything hidden in the keys.

“It’s 42,” I told him. Hendricks looked up, and quashed something that had started to become a smile.

“Dresden. You want something?”

I did. Forgiveness, mostly. And maybe... something I wasn’t going to push for. But I’d asked Gard. I’d come prepared. “To apologise,” I told him, and set down a paper cup of overpriced coffee, and a bag containing a cinnamon roll. I thought back over the words I’d practiced. Overly formal, but I understood the power of ritual. “I beg your pardon for my foolishness.”

Hendricks blinked down at his offerings, apparently too surprised to do anything about them. John wasn’t. He came over and flicked the bag open, and then looked between the two of us once more.

“Your favorite. Well. Are you absolutely sure there’s nothing I need to know here?”

I looked at Hendricks. Hendricks looked at me.

“Yes,” he said in a steady voice, and before I could wince at the continuing car crash of their personal relationship he continued, “absolutely nothing you need to know, but there’s something I want you to hear.” John nodded slowly.

“Lets have it.”

Hendricks laughed, but he didn’t sound amused. “Your boyfriend’s cute,” he said. I blinked. Marcone blinked. “You’re-- ”

“Don’t say cute,” I yelped. “I told him he had pretty eyes once and he pinched me.”

“Handsome,” Hendricks revised. “Don’t worry yourself Dresden, I could take him.”

“So you could,” John said slowly. “I-- Harry, you seem remarkably collected. I presume you knew?”

I eyed him. Blank-face didn’t bode well, but then it was John’s default reaction to the unexpected. “Yeah. Are you freaking out?”

“No. I am, however, a little taken aback.” He looked at Hendricks. “You didn’t want to mention this earlier?”

“When? When you decided to take down Vargassi? To clear out the city? To turn the supernatural world on its head? When would’ve been a good time to distract you?”

“Now, apparently.” He was fiddling with his cufflink, and I felt a little uneasy. John didn’t fiddle. He just. Didn’t.

Hendricks shrugged. “It was becoming a problem. If I’m gonna fuck up anyway through not telling you, might as well be honest.”

“Well. Thank you. For your honesty.”

“You’re welcome,” Hendricks said tightly, and looked back down at his keyboard.

“No!” I yelled, and they both looked at me, startled. “No. Gard will kill me, stop it, now.”

“Stop what, exactly?”

“Being stupid!” I yelled, and then pointed at Hendricks. “Rarer qualities, John! Remember?”

“Yes?” he said, at the same time Hendricks followed up with, “What?”

“Oh Stars,” I said, and looked between the two of them. “Right. I. Ok. Come here.”

I crooked a finger at Hendricks, who looked a question at John, who shrugged and looked at me. I crooked again. Hendricks stood, moved around the desk, and I ignored the instinct to step back as he stopped arm’s length away. Seriously, built like a tank. I held out a hand instead. Hendricks eyed it dubiously and I put on my best smile. “Come on, I’m cute remember? Hold my hand.”

“Harry-- ” said John in a low tone.

“Shut up.” I wiggled my fingers at Hendricks. “Come on, big guy.”

Hendricks reached out and fastened his grip around my fingers. He was staring over my shoulder the whole time, to where John was standing. I reached behind me, flailed a little, and then found one of John’s hands and grabbed hold of it. “Ok,” I said. “I’d like to try something. And I’d appreciate it if everyone could take a raincheck on freaking out.”

They didn’t respond. I stepped forward, tugged Hendricks a little closer, and ducked my head. It was nothing. A chaste little brushing of lips, but John’s hand tightened on mine painfully, and Hendricks pretty much stopped breathing. I pulled back. “He look mad?” I asked lightly.

“More like he’s been electrocuted.”

“What are you-- are we-- Harry?”

“You broke him,” Hendricks said calmly. I looked over my shoulder. Yeah. I kind of had.

“John?” I said gently. “You with me? Us?”

Apparently that was a difficult question, because for a moment John just stared wildly, until Hendricks started to step back, trying to let go of my hand. But then John hissed out “Yes!” and I tightened my grip.

“Ok. Good. We aren’t in a hurry.” I released them both and stepped out from between them, leaned up against John’s desk and watched them watch one another.

“You don’t look sure,” Hendricks said to him.

“You had good reason not to act. You always have good reasons.”

“Yeah. But I’ve seen you do it now. Be the Gentleman and still l-- still be with someone.”

I snorted. “We’ve said the L-word, Hendricks. No-one’s going to erupt in a manly fit of denial if you use it.”

“I don’t know about manly,” Hendricks crossed his arms, and nodded towards an increasingly tense John Marcone. “He looks ready for a fit of hysterics.”

“Yes, thank you,” John said, and then closed his eyes. “This-- we need a better venue.”

“And time,” Hendricks checked his watch. “Because we should have been in the car five minutes ago.”

John’s eyes snapped open, and all of a sudden he was collected. “Harry, are you free to stay over tonight? We won’t be back until late.”

“Sure,” I said. “Where at?”

“The Pine Grove apartment. It has the biggest bed.”

Biggest. Bed. Right. That was decisive. “I, ok. Yeah. Uhm. If I get there earlier?”

“The concierge has instructions to let you in. As usual.”

Yeah. I knew that. I knew that. It’s just. I’d arranged a date. For a threesome. I stared at John blankly.

“Are you two taking it in turns to panic?” Hendricks asked.

“At least it’s efficient,” John answered with a short smile. “Do I need anything?”

“The De Paul figures. They’re in your briefcase already.”

“Of course, thank you.” John picked his case up from beside his desk, and then lent over to drop a kiss on my cheek. “Try and stay out of trouble.”

“Hey!” I protested, but then John was off and out the door before I could point out his profession ran on trouble. Hendricks thumped me companionably on the shoulder before he left, and I just stood there, frowning at the empty doorway.

Right then.

 

I spent the day being useless, thinking myself around in circles and mauling basic potions until I decided fuck it, I obviously knew I was waiting, I might as well go and wait in comfort. So I packed an overnight bag, shoved in a few unfinished case files so I could at least pretend to be productive, and made my way over to the Pine Grove apartment complex.

And then I mauled paperwork on top of John’s coffee table instead, stopping periodically to run nervous hands through my hair or fiddle with my pen. I was going to look like a scarecrow by the time they turned up. If they turned up. If one of them didn’t say something stupid or have second thoughts or--

By the time the door opened, I was nearly ready to launch myself at the person coming through it, because pinning them to the doorframe and wrapping myself around them was at least something I knew how to do.

It was Hendricks. With John’s briefcase. And no John.

“Is he-- ”

“Safe. Sudden pressing urge to speak to the concierge. Think he thinks we need a minute.”

“Or he needs a minute?”

“Maybe.” Hendricks didn’t move from the doorway. I was on my feet, twitchy, bare feet sinking into the soft carpet. I had to do-- to say--

“Want to take your minute, then?” I came out with. Fine. It wasn’t my best attempt at provocative, I don’t think I have a best attempt, but it had Hendricks nodding and shedding his jacket.

“I do. Sit back down.”

If John had said that... I’d have bared my teeth and sharpened my words and made him work for it, but Hendricks. Hendricks had never been interested in getting me to bow my head, and he made it sound like such a good idea, I found myself quieting, sitting back down and watching him, waiting. Hendricks joined me on the sofa and turned towards me, gaze running over my face but careful not to meet my eyes. “You’ve got ink on your nose,” he said eventually. I sighed and scrubbed at it. Of course I did. You’d think an imminent gay threesome would up my cool factor but sadly, no.

Hendricks didn’t look discouraged. He looked... warm. Gently amused. Maybe this was endearing. Maybe barefoot, ink smudged wizards did fall under the heading of ‘cute’. Still, I was almost surprised when Hendricks reached out and brushed a thumb along the line of my jaw, slid his fingers into my hair, and tilted my head ever so slightly to the angle that meant kissing. “Give me my minute then,” he murmured, and I did.

It was slow, leisurely. I slung an arm across Hendricks’ broad shoulders and pulled myself in close, practically in his lap. I could feel all of his silent strength as I trailed fingers across the back of his shirt, sense the heat of his skin through his clothing. I wanted more of it. Hendricks had already brushed up under my t-shirt, started exploring the skin and scars of my back. It wasn’t long before we worked our way horizontal, Hendricks lying back and swinging his legs up onto the sofa as I settled myself over him.

I had a sudden thought. “Shoes.”

“Shoes?” Hendricks repeated, kissing along my jaw and down my neck.

“On the sofa.”

Hendricks huffed his amusement into the hollow of my throat. “Right. I guarantee he won’t notice tonight.” But I heard him toeing his shoes off onto the carpet anyway.

I grinned, and started on the top buttons of his shirt. I felt his broad hand travel down across the curve of my ass, coming to rest just above my thigh. ”Hey... Hendricks? You done this before?”

“Been with guys before. Not two at a time.” Right. So, not only had John missed Hendricks’ whole torch carrying routine, he’d missed the going out and dating men thing. It took me by surprise, but I guess if anyone knew how to stay under John’s radar, it’d be Hendricks. “My question,” he said, and started tugging my t-shirt up my back determinedly. “Your first time. With Johnny.”

I sat up briefly to lose the t-shirt, before returning to his buttons. “Got a little out of hand,” I confessed. “Broke a bookshelf. And. Uh. A wall.”

“Yeah. Guessed that was you. You take things easier sometimes?”

I knew a request when I heard one, and I ducked my head to his chest, kissing the exposed skin there before working the last button open one handed. “Whatever you want,” I promised, and that’s when the door clicked open.

I took my weight on my arms, holding myself above Hendricks slightly instead of sprawling across him so I had a clear view of John in the doorway. I met his dark gaze.

“I take it we’re skipping dinner then?” John asked, tone deceptively light. Hendricks squeezed my ass, and I don’t think it was the hey, nice handful kind of squeeze, it was more like an oh, I’m groping Johnny’s boyfriend on his couch and now here he is kind of squeeze. I bobbed back down and landed a kiss on his brow.

“What’s wrong with working up an appetite?” I asked with a smile.

“Nothing,” John said. “I’d planned on a shower, I trust you two are happy keeping one another company?” Yeah, we were, but those words were a bit too Gentlemanly for my peace of mind, so I rearranged myself to get a better look at John, long legs folded underneath me a I knelt, straddling Hendricks’ waist. “Sure. But I want my kiss hello first.”

John made his way over and bent slightly to kiss me, and then he dropped smoothly into a crouch, bringing himself level with Hendricks who had taken up a tight grip on my thighs. John looked him in the eyes, in the way I couldn’t, and then took a breath. “I won’t hurt you,” he said.

“That a promise, Johnny?” Hendricks voice was low, quiet. He didn’t drop John’s gaze.

“A rule. A thing I will not permit.”

Hendricks nodded. “Good. Because I won’t let you.” And then Hendricks surged forwards, making me wobble, and caught John with one large hand round the back of his neck. Hendricks pulled John forwards with the kind of controlled force he hadn’t sprung on me, and John tumbled out of his crouch and onto his knees, catching himself on the arm of the sofa before he could drop onto Hendricks.

“Ngh,” I said, suddenly smitten by a slew of images illustrating exactly how I wanted to see Hendricks use his strength, and all the desperate little noises I wanted to hear John make. Watching John get pulled into a deep, relentless kiss had me biting down on some noises of my own until Hendricks let John up for air.

“Go clean up then,” Hendricks told John, who looked like he’d rather stay where he was or find out if you could cram three people onto an already full couch. “I’ll keep Harry warm for you.”

 

 

I was pretty confident this was going to be the quickest shower John had ever had. Distantly, I heard the shower start up as I wiggled down Hendricks a little, shifting back until I straddled his thighs. I’d felt him getting hard, brushing up against my ass, and he looked a little put out by my sudden relocation. But I wasn’t abandoning him, I just wanted a better feel. “Hmm,” I said, tracing the shape of his cock through his slacks. “I want to suck you already. That’s getting the party started too soon, isn’t it?”

“Your mouth. Christ,” he said. I’d take that as a yes. I wondered if Hendricks had thought about it before, on mornings I’d staggered out of one of John’s places with a rough voice and a red mouth. I bit my lower lip in an exaggerated portrayal of bashful, “So my mouth’s cute too? Should I pout for you?”

“You’re pretty as you are,” Hendricks said. “Johnny not tell you often enough?”

I threw my head back and laughed. I knew I was nothing near pretty, all unkempt uninviting angles and temper. “Only when I’m safely comatose.” I said. But hey, flattery gets you everywhere. I wiggled further back, and then bowed my head to drop a kiss onto the promising bulge of his slacks. I nuzzled against the heat of him, anticipating; I bet Hendricks was big. He’d be painstakingly careful not to choke me, maybe a gentle hand on the back of my head, encouraging but not demanding, his body flexing under me but refusing to thrust up, to fuck my mouth the way he knew he could.

I heard the water shut off. “Nearly showtime,” I said. “Give it a couple of minutes.”

A couple of minutes was more than long enough to get a little silly, to catch the zip of Hendricks’ fly between my teeth and ease it down a little teasingly. I got a sharp breath and then a rumbling laugh out of him because yeah, I probably looked insufferably pleased with myself. So sue me. It was a good way to waste a little time. “He’ll be in the bedroom, come on.”

I was harder than was strictly comfortable for a man still wearing his jeans, which made rolling off the sofa kind of hard too. Hendricks hauled himself up, still in his unbuttoned, untucked shirt and partly zipped slacks. I caught him round the wrist and led the way.

 

I was right. John was standing in the bedroom, a white towel knotted around his waist, unfolding a bathrobe he’d just pulled out of a drawer.

“You’re doing this backwards!” I said, “Less clothes, not more.” I confiscated the robe, leaving John in just his towel. He was a pretty sight that way; all shower clean and unusually open, lips slightly parted as he looked between the two of us. It was a thing for John, showering after work, and sometimes I wondered if water could wash away more than grime and magic. At moments like this, he looked a whole lot more John than he did all wrapped up in responsibility and reputation. Without the suits and the terrifying sense of purpose, you were left with the quiet assurance that lay at the core of him, that self-fulfilling presumption that he was enough for whatever he faced.

John dropped a hand to the knot of the towel, unpicked it casually, and then let it fall. I felt something inside me relax, something I hadn’t realised had been waiting for confirmation we were on solid ground. I smiled when I turned in time to see the same moment of realisation cross Hendricks’ face. Well. I’m not a mind reader, I guess it could have been plain lascivious glee at the sight of John naked. Because, yeah. He was worth looking at.

John crossed to the bed and settled, leaning against the headboard. “Enjoy yourselves?” he asked, taking us both in and looking more than a little pleased with himself.

“Yep,” I said, and shimmied out of my jeans. “Nice shower?”

“Very. Plan on joining me?”

The question was more directed at Hendricks than me, and I realised the big guy had kind of stalled. He was... staring. Hand resting on the waistband of his slacks like he’d started to unfasten them but got distracted. I wasn’t immune to the distractions of John Marcone all fresh and warm and wanting, but I’d seen him like this before, Hendricks hadn’t. Pictured it maybe, but that was different from having years of familiarity turned upside down. I decided Hendricks could use a little distracting in a different direction. I slipped his open shirt back off his shoulders, down his arms and away. There was so much of him to explore, I dropped a kiss onto his collarbone and wanted to wrap my arms around him, trace the contours of his body with my mouth, taste all his pale skin and drop a kiss on every freckle. Hendricks had less scars than John, which might make you think the two of them were doing the whole bodyguarding thing the wrong way round, but most of John’s scars came from a time no one realised he was worth guarding.

I trailed a curious hand down Hendricks’ broad chest as I dropped to my knees, intent on finally getting him out of those pants. I tugged them down, and Hendricks set a hand on my shoulder as he stepped out of them, leaving me to smile at his bulging boxer shorts.

Yep. Big.

“So you’ve worked up an appetite then, Harry?” Marcone called to me, with that particular he’s-on-his-knees smile that went straight to my cock.

“You bet.” I licked my lips at him cheerfully. “Mmmmm mmmm.”

John huffed a laugh. “I’m sure Nathan will appreciate your enthusiasm.”

I blinked. Surely we work through three people before adding a four-- oh. “Hey! You have a first name!” I said, pointing up at Hendricks.

“Most people do,” he smiled down at me.

“Naaaaaathan,” I said, trying it on him. “Nathaniel. Nat. Natey!”

“Don’t you dare, Harry,” he said, and I felt a weird surge of glee at all the first-naming as Hendricks hooked me under the arm and guided me to my feet. “Come on, bed.”

I admit, I leaped onto it, bouncing John enough that he took a swipe at the back of my head. I ducked, thanks to my hyper-developed Marcone-centric spidey sense, and rolled onto my back in time to see Hendricks lose his boxers and take a seat on the bed. “Come on come on come on,” I bounced, drumming my heels in excitement, and then springing back up to pull Hendricks down to join us. He ended up sprawled diagonally across the sheets, wearing me as a blanket. A giggly, giddy blanket.

“Wizard catnip,” Marcone murmured, crawling towards us. I worked my way down Hendricks happily. “Planning to show off, Harry?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, partly in answer to his question and partly as a greeting to Hendricks’ cock, bobbing towards me as I propped my chin on his thigh, sprawled between his legs with my own hanging off the bed. “Hi there, Natey.”

Hendricks made a strangled noise which cut off abruptly, and I peered round his cock to see John taking full possession of Hendricks’ mouth, slick and commanding. Show: officially on the road. I took my cue, curled long fingers around the base of Hendricks’ cock, and then traced a thick vein straight up to not-so-little-Natey’s head with my tongue. I lapped at the precome beading there, curious for the taste of not-John. Less bitter, more salt, and either the taste or the smell of him short circuited my self restraint, because I wrapped my lips around him and went to town.

By rights I should have choked, because Hendricks was more than I was used to and I was on the hasty side of enthusiastic, but I was right, he practically vibrated under me but didn’t thrust up. I was free to take in what I wanted when I wanted, and it was a strange change from Marcone’s hands tight in my hair and his pistoning hips. Over the sounds of my own greedy sucking, I could just about hear John murmur something between kisses. “You can tell him how you like it. He’s a quick learner.” I grinned at the compliment, because it was true. I’d learned how to do this on my knees, John shaking to pieces above me, slumped against a soon to be splintered bookshelf. But I wasn’t the only thing on offer here, or the only thing Hendricks should tell us he liked. I slipped him out of my mouth with a deliberate pop.

“Want to fuck me, Nathan? Or John? Or, hey, get fucked?” That got me a little jerk of his hips, and a garbled nonsense phrase that eventually turned into. “God. All of the above.”

“Huh,” I said, and dropped a kiss on his abs. The kiss turned into a lick, a slick dip into his belly button that made Hendricks yelp. Ticklish? Duly noted. “You should fuck John,” I said it with certainty but without consciously considering matters. All my best ideas happen that way, and as soon as I said it I knew it was right. As much as I wanted to lower myself onto Hendricks’ cock, filled further than I’d ever been, as much as he was delighted by me, his thing with John had history to it. Plus, John had dived for the bedside cabinet as soon as I’d opened my mouth, and was currently trying to shoulder me off Hendricks. “Oi!” I said, and shoved him playfully, but the man had lube and a condom and, apparently, a plan, so I ceded ground. Hendricks looked well kissed and maybe a little breathless, the way kissing John Marcone often left me. Obviously ready for more though, because he pulled me into his arms and met my mouth with his own.

“Johnny,” he rasped in a warning tone. I peered over my shoulder and there John was, looking exultant, one hand stroking Hendricks’ condom clad cock, the other behind himself at an awkward angle, working away.

“I’d have got that for you,” I pointed out with a roll of my eyes. “Multitasker.”

“Rather watch you,” John said.

“Still, need a hand?”

John grunted and shook his head, and then bam, sudden avalanche of Mount Hendricks. I yelped, knocked to the side, and John was borne down by a mobile wall of muscle, pinned flat on his back. I had a hilarious moment of thinking they were going to topple off the bed, but they came to a halt precariously close to the edge instead. Hendricks didn’t even bother relocating to safer ground, instead he pushed John’s thighs apart and slid straight into him.

“Fuck!” John ground out as Hendricks came to rest pressed up against him. “Fuck,” I echoed earnestly. It was too much just to watch, and I trailed a hand down to my cock absentmindedly, stroking as Hendricks gave into a fit of utter bastardry and decided to take things slow. He eased out of John, snuck a hand under John’s ass to simultaneously grope a tight handful and tilt him up at a better angle, and then slid gradually back home. I don’t know what noise John made, but it sparked a smile between me and Hendricks. He didn’t speed up, didn’t slow down, ignored John’s scrabbling attempts to set the pace. He just kept going, muscles of his ass and thighs flexing in interesting ways beneath his skin.

John wasn’t going to last long. He’d clenched one fist in the sheets above his head, wrapped the other tight around his cock. I watched him close eyes, and started a mental countdown. Five, four, three, two, one.

“Ah!” Marcone came, all over his stomach. I applauded. Hendricks didn’t change his pace. He kept going, steady, relentless.

“You are really good at that,” I groaned, and got a smile in return. “Next time, I have dibs. I’m riding your cock till you come.” Without warning he did, thrusting into John one last time on a sharp breath, trembling just for a moment. Apparently Hendricks wasn’t an afterglow kind of guy. He sat back on his heels, slipped out of John, and stretched. “Tag, you’re it,” he said.

John blinked up at us slowly. “Uh, Nathe, I don’t think he’s-- ”

Hendricks slid two fingers back into John, and then smiled at the noise he made, “Up for it? Sure he is. Johnny?”

It took a while for the words to sink through John’s sex-drunk haze, but then he nodded. “Harry. Yes. Please.”

Not the kind of invitation I’m in the habit of turning down. I took a second to grab a condom, and then slid straight into him. It was slick and easy, John as open as I’d ever felt him, welcoming me home. Seeing him pooled beneath me, all lax and well fucked was enough to nearly finish me. But I had a little self control, enough to hook one of John’s knees up towards his chest and then race towards my own pleasure, as fast as Hendricks hadn’t been. John fucking keened, and I nearly folded him in half, hungry to kiss his pliant mouth. Hendricks had done a good job, it’d taken me a long, long time to work out how to get John like this, to give it all up. I grunted with the effort of slamming into him, slap of skin against skin as I thrust frantically. Hendricks’ hand dropped onto my back, firm and reassuring. He followed my thrusts, hand easing down to my ass, and I felt something in me thrill to the reminder of his presence. I wondered if Hendricks could take me to pieces too, if he was strong enough to fuck me up against a wall, to wrangle my long limbs and lean muscle into a position he could work with. As I wondered, he brushed a finger up against my asshole and I whimpered at the same time as John. He’d started to moan and writhe on every thrust now, little spasms of over fucked sensitivity every time I slid home. We were getting to the limit of what he could take. Hendricks chose then to reach out and smooth a finger through the come on John’s stomach, along his spent cock. John hissed and then tightened around me and then oh christ I was done.

Fuck.

I crashed onto the bed, just about managing to miss John. “Best. Idea. Ever.” I said. “We’re doing this again, right?”

Hendricks, still sitting back on his heels, surveyed the human wreckage on the bed. ”We still gotta talk this thing through. But yeah, I want to. I want this,” he said. John made a pleased noise. “Shut up you,” Hendricks answered him.

“What?” I asked, scenting an in-joke.

“Surprisingly difficult,” John slurred. “T’find things he wants. Worse than you, sometimes.” I grinned; John’s bone deep satisfaction was audible.

“Hey, Hendricks, you a master cuddler too? Because John’s a hugger. Shut up, you are.”

As it happened, Hendricks had a black belt in snuggling. I set my head on his chest and grinned, listening to the steady beat of his heart. Yeah. He fit. We were doing this again, we were doing this all the time.