It was meant to be an experiment.
They stood in Harry's lounge in front of the fire and all his various eclectic furniture and Thomas grazed Harry's wrist with the back of his bare hand. It burned, almost audibly in the near silence of the apartment, Thomas wincing at the feel of it as he clenched his jaw so hard Harry could see the muscle working. That was their baseline before moving forward, Harry watching as Thomas pulled on gloves in that luxurious and impractical buttersoft deerskin that the average wizard couldn't afford but apparently Toe-moss the high-flying hairdresser could, amongst other things. Harry felt the leather warm against his wrist with the heat of Thomas' body but Thomas swore rather colourfully not quite under his breath and yanked the gloves right back off.
"I'd have to bruise her before I felt it," he said, and sighed, slumped down on the couch and Mouse jumped up to lay his head in his lap. Thomas apparently couldn't help but give a faint smile at that as he scratched behind the big dog's ears, fingers nudging at the fur. "At least I can touch you without look like a tragedy in a tanning salon, mutt," he said, and Harry shook his head. Love for a vampire of the White Court was a complicated thing.
Three days later, Thomas was sprawled on the couch with a glass of iced tea resting on his bare chest, petting Mouse idly with one hand as it lolled from the cushions. Harry rolled his eyes and tossed him a pair of white gloves that bounced off his cheek before he caught them without opening his eyes, giving them an experimental squeeze before he looked at them. They were a remnant of Chicago past, of flapper, prohibition and Al Capone, dress gloves for theatres and definitely never meant for keeping out the cold. He'd found them buried in a pile of assorted accumulated junk downstairs while looking for a little brass soldier he'd found on a battlefield, another of those things that he'd collected up just in case they came in handy one day; they were snug on Thomas' hands but he smiled faintly as he wrapped gloved fingers around Harry's wrists, fingertips over his pulse points.
"You're warm," he said, then glanced down at the gloves. "They're better." But after a few moments' inspection he peeled them off, gave them a haphazard fold and handed them back with a not quite wry little smile. "Thanks, Harry. It's a good start."
That one little test seemed to energise him somehow or give that energy a kickstart at least, and every few days from then on Thomas stopped by for another trial run. There were swatches of all sorts of fabrics strewn all over the apartment and Harry found himself stretched out shirtless on the couch reading a book on a regular basis while Thomas prodded and poked and stroked and tickled, teasing out the best of the lot, the one that let him feel the most without tiny breaks in the weave burning minute criss-crosses into his skin. Three weeks of Mouse giving them both odd looks across the room and then finally, finally, of all the rare and exotic imported fabrics he'd brought over and left covering all of Harry's stuff, Thomas picked out a silky-smooth translucent chiffon with a weave just tight enough that a few minutes' contact just left him a little pink around the edges while he felt everything with near perfect clarity.
The next thing Harry knew that stuff was a pair of light blue gloves gliding over his skin, just a whisper of fabric between his chest and Thomas' hands. It tickled, made him shiver and Thomas laughed. It was the best they'd found so far. Thomas actually seemed hopeful for the first time in a while and not just hopelessly defeated. Harry really couldn't begrudge him that.
The next thing was a shirt. Harry was sore and aching and sort of singed around the edges when he came back home that night to find Thomas lounging there on the rug by the fire with a glossy gossip magazine, wearing those gloves and a whole filmy shirt made of the same stuff. Harry knew the instant he saw him that this didn't bode well but he'd grin and bear it because if Thomas couldn't rely on his own (half) brother for help when he needed it then who could he? Of course, that meant he wound up stripped to the waist and pushed down to the couch in ten seconds flat and it probably would've been faster if it wouldn't have dislocated both shoulders. Then there was a grinning Thomas Raith sprawled on top of him in that same familiar, easy manner he did everything, pressed there chest to chest.
"Getting closer," Thomas said, and Harry had to agree; he could almost feel the texture of Thomas' skin through that vast expanse of blue chiffon. It was disconcerting to say the least.
Four weeks later, there was a whole Merlin-blasted suit of it when he walked in from a meeting with Murphy, a stubborn case and a date with Kincaid she'd decided to tell him about in minute detail if only because she was oddly curious about who Harry thought he was aside from Jared Kincaid, caretaker to the Archive. Harry was quite glad she hadn't come in when he'd asked because that suit, all sky blue chiffon tied loosely at his ankles and waist and wrists to keep it roughly in place, was about as see-through as it came. he'd really nev3er needed to see that much of Thomas but hey, he was a wizard and well versed in the ways of the world, he'd fought off warlocks and faeries and werewolves and vampires, trolls and ghouls, ghosts, demons and He-Who-Walks-Behind and lived to tell the tale... he could deal with a near-naked guy stripping him down to his birthday suit with wicked-fast fingers, even if he then rubbed himself all over him with a sort of goofy-grinned glee.
"All you need now is 15% elastane," Harry quipped as Thomas' hands brushed over his bare hips and brought him pretty close to blushing. He didn't know just how much he was going to regret that statement right at that moment, but from the thoughtful quirk of Thomas' brows he had an inkling.
It was another six weeks before he was back from his latest jaunt with Michael, an odd one through Louisiana where the Knights had come across a Denarian. Harry was bruised and battered when he got back up to Chicago though he supposed that was par for the course, but pleased to be sleeping in his own bed. he passed out for about one whole day and woke up to the smell of bacon and a dog the size of a mountain licking his face in an affectionate manner that he couldn't help but return with a big manly squeeze.
"Good to see you too, kid," he said, pretty much into Mouse's fur, before he was pounced down against the mattress by a low-flying vampire carrying a bacon sandwich, half of which Mouse promptly wolfed down. Thomas didn't say anything about it - he half suspected that half had actually been cooked for him anyway.
"Wait, are you naked?" Harry asked, brows rising as he looked at Thomas. Then he sighed. Closer inspection revealed it was another cursed bodysuit, this time shiny like they'd blended something stretchy in there. "Stars and stones, Thomas, is that Spandex?"
Thomas just beamed and proceeded to show off his skintight, see-through bodysuit by standing up and turning a nice slow circle with his arms stretched out wide. Harry was speechless, and that was a feat in itself. Honestly, even taking the well-concealed seams into consideration, Harry wasn't sure he could imagine how Thomas had actually managed to get himself into that thing and he wasn't sure he wanted to ask about it, either. He was just starting to feel relieved that he hadn't gotten the whole story in all its glory when he found himself naked and being rubbed up against in all the wrong kind of places.
It might have been frightening if he hadn't known Thomas couldn't possibly feed on him, but the fact was that he couldn't. Sure, Thomas was strong enough to wring his neck and leave him dead on the floor in a heartbeat but he was pretty sure he had more immediate concerns than that, like the way Thomas' hands were moving over him and the places they were going, pinching at one nipple, tracing his far from insignificant number of scars on the way down to press one warm palm between his legs.
"Uh, Thomas?" he said, and clearly he understood the not-quite-question because he just shrugged and wrapped his gloved fingers around Harry's penis.
"Well, there's still just a few more tests..." he said after a moment, a smile playing at his lips though there was something off about it. "Just stick with the process. " Harry didn't have the wherewithal to question it then, though, because a second later a silky chiffon scarf was spread over his cock and Thomas' mouth came down hot and wet and totally distracting over the head of it.
It really didn't take much to please Harry, something about how long it'd been and the utter weirdness of the situation that made him last an embarrassingly short length of time that Thomas was probably going to tease him for later. The chiffon over his skin actually felt good if a little foreign, not quite rough and not quite tickling but almost there and that was enough to have him coming after just a few minutes of Thomas' disturbingly expert ministrations that he really wasn't going to be asking him about. He was left breathless and panting, flushed and totally lost for words for the second time that night to find Mouse had understandably fled the room and Thomas was looking a mixture of that familiar kind of self-satisfied arrogance and something else Harry couldn't put his finger on for the life of him.
"It's an improvement," Thomas said. Harry just raised his brows and watched him go. "I think we're getting somewhere."
Then, just like that, he left. Harry was so staggered that he just went right back to work.
It was only the minute details that changed from visit to visit after that, seams switched positions to give him a maximum of feeling, the material tightened a touch though with a little more give so it stretched to outline every muscle in Thomas' body from head to toe. it even stretched with the line of his erection and Harry had to admit he was impressed that someone had managed to pull off a bodysuit that fit so well and apparently served its purpose; without it, his skin would raise blisters with the heat against Thomas'; with it, Thomas could straddle his hips and rock against him till they both came or wrap one long-fingered hand around the length of him and make him gasp while he tried to tell himself over and over that this was just a favour, an experiment, it wasn't so much to ask.
Thomas slicked his gloved fingers one night and used them to slick the length of Harry's cock; he sat down on it and rode him while Harry gasped and writhed, then left after a quick tuna sandwich. He slicked his gloved fingers one night and pressed them in between Harry's cheeks, entered him with his slick chiffon-covered cock and just about managed not to chafe. Harry had to admit in the end it was a pretty impressive suit. All that trial and error paid off.
Thomas was waiting there one afternoon when Harry came in from a council meeting, stretched out on the couch and stroking himself idly in that odd blue suit like it was the most natural, normal thing in the world. Harry realised that these days it actually was, and more oddly that didn't concern him at all. takeout for lunch and a wisecracking discussion of his case later, Thomas teasing himself the whole time, and they finally retired to a long afternoon in bed - Thomas teased him about the black eye and bruised toes he'd gotten from an offended college girl who didn't quite understand he'd saved her life, and the suit worked its magic once more.
"Y'know, Justine's gonna love this," Harry said later, tracing a seam with the tip of his finger. It was pretty well made for how flimsy it was, but he wasn't about to ask who he'd found to make him a catsuit out of blue chiffon. He expected a response but there was a moment's glaring silence.
"I'm not going back to Justine." Thomas shook his head. "I'm not going to put her through all that again."
Harry frowned. "But all this, I thought..."
Thomas gave a sheepish half-smile and an almost awkward half-shrug. Apparently that was his answer, totally contrary to his usually obnoxiously loquacious nature, and Harry just didn't know what to say.
They lay there in silence for a few long minutes, Harry catching his breath and letting his pulse slow into something like its normal resting rhythm while his skin cooled with the slight chill in the air. He pulled up the blankets and turned to his side, head propped up on one hand as he looked down at Thomas.
"If you're getting lonely, you idiot, you could just've said so," Harry said, shaking his head. "You didn't have to go this far."
Thomas smiled that same sheepish smile as he ran his fingers through his hair. "Yeah, I kinda did," he said, as he met Harry's gaze for a moment then looked away again like he expected he'd be tossed right out of the apartment at any moment starting then. "You're the only one I trust."
Harry gave it some thought, he really did; he didn't like to be lied to, even if Thomas had really only committed a sin of omission. But in the end all he did was sigh and close his eyes. He guessed he kind of understood. The safest thing for Thomas was getting close to someone he knew he absolutely couldn't feed from. The demon in him just wouldn't be able to control itself otherwise and that, they both knew, was unacceptable after Justine. Thomas was more than the demon inside him, but sometimes not stronger than it.
"Fine, but it's your turn to cook," Harry said, and Thomas let out a low laugh of something not unlike relief. Mouse popped his head over the side of the bed like a big furry radar for food and Harry nudged Thomas with one cold foot until he complained. Maybe this wasn't the most brotherly thing to do but nothing about their lives was normal. The fact somehow he knew that weird look on Thomas' face was all about the fact sex had never been about companionship before just compounded that. With Harry, it couldn't be a weapon - he just wanted to feel close.
And mostly, they were all each other had in the world. Somehow, as Thomas mock-grumbled and stepped from the bed, he thought he could live with that.