So the outline of the story is this: Jack is a nice guy and all, but honestly Rhys had never noticed him come into the coffee shop until after the whole "#NSA Dom/sub real ppl only" thing. And it seems like kind of a brutal coincidence really, more brutal even than the kind that usually happen to him.
And look. It's not like it sounds.
(It is though, and Rhys wants to melt into a pile of hate and embarrassment right at this very second.)
The very start of the story is that Rhys likes coffee FAR more than he likes his business internship. So he becomes a barista, finds a cute little independent coffee shop called ‘Yvette’s Place’ across the road from some scary corporation that sells God knows what, and pretty much decides to set up shop.
It’s not an easy kind of life, work hours too long and too regular, but it’s perfect. He knows his way around coffee, and even if he needs to be taught to use the machine more than a few times, nobody seems to mind. More importantly, Yvette seems to blame it more on his general clumsiness than the arm, and better even than that, when Rhys first wears the functional arm to work instead of the pretty, flesh-looking one, nobody even bats an eyelid.
It doesn’t take long to build a social circle up. He’s known Yvette for years, and Vaughn, who he’s known for even longer than Yvette, reappears in his life as a regular. Rediscovering them is enough to make him reel through the first year he works there. It’s wonderful, because after leaving the pit-of-sharks that was his business internship he’d hardly expected it to all fit together, and then when it does it is almost more than he can hope for. Yvette hires Sasha when she buys up the premises next door, expands down the little street to become more than a little pit-stop and more of a genuine coffee shop, and that is essentially the icing on the cake- Sasha is wonderful, a bright and laughing friend mostly because of her sheer… well. There was barely a word for someone like Sasha, indomitable and beautiful both . Fiona comes along part and parcel with her sister, but she’s something more in the way of Yvette: something stern and worried when he trips (which is often) or drops a mug because using the ‘robot’ arm needed more attention to control than he wishes it did.
It’s evidence enough of his attachment that to them all that he calls it that, really: ‘Robot arm.’ It was really a myo-electric prosthesis held up to the stump of his old arm, but he’d called it ‘claw’, before: though Vaughn had always called it ‘Clawrence’, because he was an asshole. The ‘functional’ one was little more than two grasping prongs to help him hold and steady things. Referring to it as ‘Robot arm’ is far cooler, and far more affectionate. It’s all very emotional the day he realises that he’s inadvertently picked up the phrase, that he actually liked it. He still likes the flesh-looking prosthetic, but it’s far less useful- and he’s got to admit, the ‘robot arm’ is becoming more charming by the day.
That Yvette doesn’t mind him using it to serve coffee regardless of the way the customers sometimes frown at it makes him feel about a million miles tall.
Anyway, he lives above the building next door because that was where Vaughn lived, and Yvette’s rent rates were a lot nicer than they could be.
That is about where the story starts to become socially unacceptable.
See, he has a lot of friends, loads of them- Rhys was crawling with very attractive, very charming people, and not one of them would have sex with him.
To be honest, he can hardly say he’s tried that hard. Vaughn was asexual, he’s never seen Sasha show any interest in him but the occasional mercurial jesting flirt, he’s pretty sure Fiona was too busy with her stacks of cash, and he would far sooner worship Yvette than go to bed with her.
And he’s tried relationships: that lesbian couple from The Hunt kept trying to set him up with people, from the sharp woman with blue hair and lips that had made his muscles so tense he’d ached, to the man with the thick accent that was clearly more interested in Sasha’s presence as a wingman than in Rhys himself.
It’s all very disheartening, frankly, and Rhys’ hindbrain shrieks: if relationships were out of the question, then so be it. He’s got his emotional stability covered, it was more the… physical stability that Rhys had issues with (and when Rhys realises the not-pun he winces at the poor taste of it).
So Rhys signs up for a ‘dating site’, and drops it out of his head almost immediately. When he leaves it dormant for almost a year, just the name saved with no details or pictures, it doesn’t really hit him. He gets no views and he's kind of glad of it. And it isn't- he- look, he told Vaughn and Yvette it was a dating site, and really, he isn't lying. Not, like, really.
It's just a dating site for very- uh. Specific purposes. Extremely specific purposes centred around the fact that he may or may not be into freaky sex stuff.
He may or may not really have a thing for being held down, is all.
It feels like an admission, a truth that he’d never say out loud sticking sweet and heavy to his mouth.
And it's not like it's jeapordising his (wonderful, amazing and sun-bright) relationships at all. He still serves Vaughn the right coffee without being asked and chats up everyone he can, and he still has to apologise to Yvette every time someone slips him their number and he gets so nervous he can't bring over their coffee.
If Rhys is a professional barista, then Yvette is a ‘super-ultimate Barista’, and you know. It all has very little to do with the fact that he might like being… controlled during sex.
It’s not an eventful day that makes him decide to do it. It’s more that Fiona barrels in at around midday, looking haggard and like she hasn’t slept in months. It only takes a second of looking at her before he knows what she’s going to ask for
“Americano? Chocolate shot?” She nods glumly, and stumbles over to the sofa. It’s thankfully free of any other people for her to bump into, but he takes a second to clear the table of cups even though there was plenty of room.
He likes it tidy, and Fiona could be kind of a drama queen- she could wait for her caffeine.
He shoots her back as stern a look as he can manage as he plods across the floor, back to the counter, slipping around the corner to work what Vaughn called “Caffeine Magic”.
It’s amazing to be good at something, even better to love the thing you were good at. Rhys loves coffee, adores it, and his hand is skilled and delicate at the machines. His robot arm is fine for grinding the beans, but he likes to keep the coffee itself a little more flesh-and-blood, especially if someone was asking for chocolate. Chocolate meant ‘bad day’, and it paid in more ways than one to give people having bad days coffee with soul.
It takes him by surprise when he hears her voice groaned up over the counter-top.
“I would like in advance to tell you that I want an espresso con panna, next. I can’t guarantee I’ll be awake for it but I want it.”
So, the bad day was beyond a bad day. Maybe she couldn’t wait for her caffeine: She wants as much of it as possible with a pound of sugar and cream on top, and it’s going to be one of those days where she wants a chat. A proper talk, where Fiona makes it abundantly clear that she’s got him wrapped around his little finger. Still, there wasn’t anything about that that was unusual- they were both ‘good-at-words’, able to wheedle and whine their way out of stuff. Hell, he’d been in business and she’s been in ‘ business’, so it was mostly a two-way street.
And besides, as he uses his long fingers to delicately smooth the chocolate into the mug, then tops it with a swirl of cream, he feels inordinately proud. Of himself, of course, for making such excellent coffee, but of her, too. Fiona was a tough person, probably more tough than most, and it must have taken a special kind of gut-deep-conviction to drag herself here instead of her little apartment a few streets away.
He doesn’t think Yvette will mind when he props a few of their little Italian chocolate thingies on the side of the cup, free of charge.
Balancing his way back over, Fiona is slumped over one arm of the sofa, hand clutching at her hat. He coughs and groans in sympathy.
“Bad day?” Her eyes are deep and heavy and swollen, far away with a tiredness Rhys hasn’t had to feel in a long time.
“You have no idea,” she croaks, grasping out with grabby fingers until he relinquishes his hold on the mug.
It takes a surprising amount out of him to turn back to the queue of customers, to leave Fiona staring into the drink like she’s stuck in a pit of tar. But it’s midday, and the whole world seems to want coffee.
He can hardly blame them.
The customers are kind that day, nothing difficult, lunch-time rush over quicker than expected. A million different caffe lattes, a few mochas and cappuccinos, one notable case of a woman far taller than he is that asks for a triple-shot flat white and tips him an awful lot more than she probably should. It’s nothing difficult, nothing exciting: he relishes when people ask for something difficult- Fiona’s espresso con panna would be fun, something a little more difficult- his fingers are practiced and deft as he works the machine, as his robot hand grinds beans again (and again and again). He pours his milk delicately, grins when people gasp at his latte art. He’d practised that for what felt like forever until he had it right.
He drops a little mickey mouse into a the coffee of a woman with a Disney backpack, a flower into Ms. Jennett’s latte, because her little florist’s served the whole area including Yvette’s Place, and just goes to town when he sees the regulars. An art student he knows is called Jeff gets a little teddy bear that he raises a thick eyebrow at, Marcie from across-the-street has a cappuccino with chocolate leaves, a little lightbulb for the engineer that is in every other day because people from the company that looms over the building seemed to keep their machines working at minimum 100% intensity all the time, and as the engineer tells him, things are “breaking constantly”.
None of it is really enough to distract from the fact that Fiona keeps shooting him grimaces from over her coffee, arms folded around a little note-pad that he’s not sure actually has anything inside. When the lunch rush slows and Yvette rolls in to take over, it’s not a moment too soon that he demands Fiona’s con panna from the machine, and works his “caffeine magic” at double speed. Fiona’s first coffee looks almost completely drunk, and when Yvette clacks over he only needs to jerk his head at her before Yvette winces and nods.
“Thanks,” he mumbles, adding the finishing touches. This one gets no free sweets because frankly, it doesn’t need it. The cream is dusted with sweet dashes of chocolate, and Rhys cannot imagine a world in which he could not make what was essentially the perfect cure to an all-nighter.
He’s tense and high and desperate to avoid spilling any as he walks delicately back over to Fiona’s sofa. He’s right, the first cup is empty, her eyes drifting shut as she tries to read tiny words from tiny pages.
“Hey, Fi,” and she jolts upward- he’d been expecting it, doesn’t put the cup down until after her wild eyes recognise him. “Coffee?” Her eyes go big and round, shoving the old mug aside on the table to make room for the much smaller, much stronger drink.
“The con panna?” It’s kind of redundant, because her grabby, reaching hands make it clear that even if it wasn’t the con panna, she wanted to have it anyway.
“Yep, just the way you like it.” The look on her face as she sips it is borderline orgasmic, and he chuckles despite himself as he plops down into the sofa next to her. “So,”
She’s busy having what he’s absolutely sure is the time of her life with the little drink, so he decides to wait for her to reply by clearing the old away to a different table.
When she finally clears her throat, she’s a little bit more “Fiona” than before. “So, Rhys, let’s talk.”
God, he’d been right. This would be one of those times where she seems to forget that they were in the middle of a coffee shop, makes him spill out all of his secrets where anyone could hear them.
He is not proud of the resigned tone of his voice when he asks: “About what?”
She grins, wicked and a little bit malevolent, “Any relationship opportunities on the horizon?”
And okay. No.
“Auuuuuuuugh,” he groans out, flopping back into the cushions of the sofa. “No. No there are not. Do not, Fiona.”
And Fiona can read him as well as he can read her, knows he doesn’t mean it genuinely- he’s not actually annoyed, which was annoying in itself: he definitely did not want to have this conversation.
“So I was in a meeting with the board today, and do you know who I met when I was on the way back?” She talks over Rhys’ pout and mumbled ‘no’. “Well, you know that cute lesbian couple that run ‘The Hunt’?” She hears Rhys’ groan this time, because it’s loud enough that customers at the table across from them can hear, which means she’s ignoring him, the bastard, “And you remember that Scooter man they tried to hook you up with? It turns out he’s interested in Sasha,”
“No kidding,” He isn’t going to pretend he isn’t a little in awe of Sasha. Mostly everybody was, after all.
“-But he has a friend that might be into you, and they want to set you up on a date next Tuesday, and I for one am all for witnessing the train wreck first-hand, so if you-”
She notices his groan this time, mostly because he’s grasped her by the shoulder and is groaning loud enough for even Yvette to hear, over by the counter with raised eyebrows and what could be slight smile, .
“Ahhh Fiona, I do not want a romantic relationship, I have plenty of friends, cease-and-desist-thank-you.”
It doesn’t throw her off her stride like he’d hoped, which is probably because he’s huffing out strained laughter under his breath. She stares at him in a deadly serious face and places her hand on his thigh like the terrible friend that she was.
“Rhys. You have to get laid.”
And she isn’t wrong, but that doesn’t stop him from poking her harshly in the side.
“You are an asshole,”
When she starts to try and set him up on what she has so delightfully termed “sexy play-dates”, he decides to take matters into his own hands.
His own, very sexy, half-robotic hands.
It’s mostly out of a mix of spite and frustration that he starts using the account.
He's mostly tipsy when he decides to activate the damn thing. His shift had gone on hours, and hours , Yvette’s meetings calling her away from about one until closing, and Sasha had been on vacation. It hadn’t been the worst that it could be, but Fiona had left when she’d started to fall asleep against the sofas, and then it had just been him and the customers until seven. It’s not torturous, but it’s something like it, and the tips he’d gotten from over-generous people in the cafe today seem to fly out of his pocket and into alcohol.
He's at a bar, ‘The Hunt’, on the same street as his goddamn work-place, because Rhys has no life and would thank everyone to just not mention it. There's a big office party ending over the street, sending people flooding into the little bar in droves. They're all drunk too, and when they start buying rounds for the whole damn bar, well. Rhys isn't one to turn down hospitality.
‘The Hunt’ was owned by the cute lesbian couple that everyone he knew seemed to call ‘that cute lesbian couple’, but who were actually Athena and Janey. When he asks the bartender where they are, because he has a bone to pick with them about feeding Fiona stories, he sort of shrugs and makes an indifferent noise. ‘The Hunt’ never seemed to have anything of the family of Yvette’s, just Athena and Janey holding up the heart of the place together. It wasn’t sad, just different. They’d been a couple when they’d bought the place, as far as he knows, but Yvette’s was almost ‘found-family’ at this point, something close and thicker than blood and water both.
Regardless, the thought of them laughing at his Fiona-induced embarrassment is enough to set him thinking about her “sexy play dates” again, so he takes out his phone and taps determinedly at the screen, barely even noticing as the bar crowds with people.
Dating website or no, Fiona’s involvement or no, he was going to get laid, and that was that.
The account is under a false name, because he's understandably nervous about putting naked pictures of himself on the Internet. Also because now he has decided to do this- paying no mind to the fact that he actually decided to do it over a year ago to no avail- Rhys has every intention of meeting up with people.
The first pictures he puts up aren't very successful- photos he already has on his phone, vain pictures meant for ego-trips and not dating websites. Heavily filtered, Instagram shots focused on his blue eye- the expensive glass one that actually matched his brown eye was the one he used at work, but the blue does make him look pretty, no matter what Vaughn said- they make him look pretty, but according to the comments that he gets almost immediately , he's not even a little bit naked enough. The praise for his face sends something purring in his chest anyway, something stirring in his gut as faceless usernames tell him just how good he’s been.
He fills out the profile dutifully- he's new to it all, maybe plays up the fact that he's never done anal before- and if he blushes to himself, then that's his business.
It goes through all sorts of questions, from his weight and age to whether he was into breath play or daddy kink. After looking into them both, scouring through profiles for a good ten minutes, he decides it's a definite yes to the first one, kind of a no to the second. It goes into crazy detail: whether he was a Dom or a sub, whether he was into denial, what kind of person he was looking for, his orientation-
Now, Rhys wasn't one to be vain, but sitting cradling some bland beer he doesn't remember the name of and filling out a profile on a swingers site, Rhys is pretty certain this is going to work out for him, even without any naked pictures.
It probably doesn't help that the situation itself feels somehow taboo, surrounded by company men and sipping at a drink he hadn't even bought, staring at his phone and pointedly ignoring it when the dude sitting next to him tried to get a glance at the screen. He's feeling hotter just doing it to be honest, thinking that maybe there'd be someone holding down and pressing on his neck as they used him like-
Okay. Rhys slams the phone down with too much vigour and downs the rest of his beer. Not for public, then.
The man next to him laughs quietly under his breath, but Rhys makes pains not to look over. The twinge of excitement in Rhys’ belly hasn’t quite gone, but the man doesn’t fail to make him nervous: he's got the air of something dangerous. Violent like an animal, or a fighter maybe, and from what Rhys can see out of the corner of his eye, he's staring at the group of laughing businessmen anyway.
There's a moment then when it feels all silent, weirdly so. The drink is getting to him, third beer downed. His focus is lasered onto the glass, the noise of the bar humming into nothing. It's a strange second, and can't seem to drag his eye away from the distorted reflection of himself. His blue eye doesn't blink quite as rapidly as the other one, and it certainly doesn't see, but he likes it, a lot, thinks it makes him look like something exotic and special, unearthly, maybe.
Someone over at the other corner of the bar cheers and demand to buy them all another drink, and this time Rhys asks for a rum and coke, whirling around and glaring when the man next to him sniggers. Everything sours all at once, the tense warmth in his gut dissipating. He's short but broad and has long, dark slicked up hair and a longer smile framed with a thick, black beard and eyes like a shark or a secret, dumb but brutal at the same time.
"Hey there, kid.” He smirks, laughs again. It sticks to Rhys like dirt and glue, “Knew you weren't an ale drinker, little guy."
That about does it: Rhys is totally a sub in bed, but he's not about to be mocked in public. The dirt of the asshole’s gaze burns off him, not worth his time. Rhys frowns and snarls at him, asks the bartender for a straight whiskey instead and downs it in one, relishing the tanging burn of it. Seriously, what an asshole- and kid? He can't be too much older than Rhys is.
"Don't be an asshole," says Rhys, and goddamn is he proud of the way his sneer sticks to his face through the slick-sweet fire of his drink, "Kid."
That doesn't wipe the smile off of Asshole's face, so Rhys returns a sour, brutal grin and hops off his stool, thankful that he lands on two feet and doesn't stumble.
"Thanks," he says to the bartender, and just strolls right on out of there.
It might not be the most graceful exit, since he has to let four people get past him on his way to the door, and when he's finally outside it hits him that he hadn't actually wanted to leave, but hey. The asshole hadn't followed him, and the cold air of the street would hopefully prevent him from getting too... Imaginative again.
Rhys and Vaughn live above the little grocery store next to Yvette's, so it's not difficult to get home, but Vaughn is out of town on business tonight, and the apartment always seems perilously empty when he’s gone. Even with the heat and lights on, a little less warm. So Rhys takes the long way back, walks around the back of the buildings instead of the front.
It’s still not a long walk even then, maybe ten minutes at best, but it’s a nice night. The moon is out, full and glaring, and he takes a minute to just look - he might be a little drunk, but hey. He got something done today, even if his head is fuzzy and the sweet-sharp taste of whiskey is still cloying on his tongue, the idea of why he’d gone into the bar in the first place still a bright and hot point in his abdomen.
When his phone buzzes against his leg, Rhys exhales heavily, puffing air in a violent huff onto the street.
“Fuckin’,” he curses under his breath as he scrabbles to get the thing out of his pocket, fingers too loose and head too open. When he finally gets it out, he has to squint to see the screen, and- holy shit.
Sixty new notifications?
The roll of heat through his gut blindsides him, hits him head on, and his phone buzzes again.
Sixty one people?!
If he walks very, very quickly back to his and Vaughn’s apartment, then he pointedly does not acknowledge it.
By the time he’s up the stairs he’s almost running, and he’d be embarrassed if he wasn’t a little drunk and his phone didn’t keep buzzing at him. When he’s at the door he has to force the key into the look, and he wrenches the door open with a pant and a gust of air. Throwing his jacket to the floor and kicking the door firmly shut behind him, he can barely stop his hand- the prosthetic one, stiffer and harder at his touch- from dropping down.
Over sixty people?
The thought rolls around his head, seems to flood up and down him,
“Oh my god,” It’s barely a murmur out loud, but in his head it draws the attention of sixty people, maybe more, watching him with his hands pressing desperately against his dick.
He reaches for the phone, left discarded on the side, and scrolls through- there are so many, so many and they all want to see him-
His hand rubs deeper, almost goes down his pants before he realises the cold metal of it and switches, metal hand forcing down the clothes as his flesh one palms his hard cock through his boxers.
“Nnnngh-oh,” he breathes deep and flops down onto his bed, phone dropped and forgotten. He can’t get it out of his head, sixty people, sixty people that want to see him palming desperately at his cock and rubbing up and down, thick and jerking strokes in time with his tremulous breathing.
“F-ffuck,” he shuts his eyes, rolls with the haziness of it all, and tries to imagine it as sharp as he can. Sixty people, half with cocks risen and hard at the sight of him, half with wet and hot folds just dripping at the sight of him- he’d be so good, suck them all, he’d try so hard.
They stare at him with heavy eyes and his metal hand goes us to pinch at his nipples, cold, harsh and painful on the tight bundles of nerves and so good, the crowd purrs and so does the thing in his chest. “Please,” his hand drops past his underwear, clasps against his shaft and grips when they smile, whisper “good boy, Rhys”, and put their own hands down to themselves and stroke-
He makes a strangled noise as they smile at him, sun-bright and warm and something positive-sweet, deep and curled up in his ribcage. His dick pulses against his fist and the crowd advances as one, kissing him up and down in a fell swoop-
He’s surrounded, so loved, cock pulsing in his hand as he jerks his hand up and down faster and faster. Sixty people, licking stripes up and down his chest and thighs, his cock is hard against him, so hard, so near-
The crowd are around him, all about him, sweet words and delicate praise worn like sandstone into something that fits, ( sixty people) kissing his dick, grasping his balls, nudging the tip and gasping as his balls draw tight, muscles tense, whole world narrows to nothing at once-
The world dissolves for a second, bed covers clasped greedily in his fingers as his hips jerk and his eyes roll back, cock pulses and jerks.
When he sees again, his thighs are still twitching delicately. He’s covered in cum, it’s everywhere. He groans as he leans to wrench a tissue from the cabinet, because not only was he going to need to shower before Vaughn got back tomorrow morning, but also because the haze in his brain is sticking and stuck, partly the alcohol and partly the sixty people that still seemed to be perched in his brain.
He is going to have a hell of a hangover tomorrow.