Chapter 1: crawling with sweetness
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.
Chapter 2: an unsubtle heirarchy
Rhys has a hangover, and things always seem to go from bad to worse.
Warnings for this chapter: panic attacks, ableism, fantasies,
Wallethead is back and he's kind of a dick about everything.
Once again, it's half one in the morning and this is read over but unbetaed. If anyone notices anything off, drop me a line!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
He almost feels vindicated when he first wakes up, because he’d managed to get up before his alarm despite the beer and whiskey yesterday.
His brain hurriedly informs him that vindication was not on the list of things he was allowed to feel at the moment, by making the room spin into pieces around him. He’s sweating now, arms tangled in the sheets as he rips upwards. He can’t believe he hadn’t noticed the very moment he’d awoken; he feels disgusting , skin clammy and gross to touch.
Rhys hates hangovers, head splitting out, and hates them even more when Vaughn was out of town, because there would be nobody around to make him coffee.
It might also have something to do with the fact that Vaughn was sympathetic to a T when it came to hangovers, and usually made everything very easy on him: He’d once even opened the shop, following Rhys’ groaned instructions on how to work the machines brilliantly. Rhys had made him a coffee for free, afterwards, Vaughn usually managed to wrangle free coffee anyway, so it had lost some of its practical significance, but the gesture was there, he supposed.
God, Rhys hates alcohol.
Plodding around the apartment without Vaughn mumbling numbers under his breath on the sofa is a strange affair, made worse by the fact that it’s summer and the whole world and their mother had come out to play- the birds are shrieking, little assholes, and the sun has risen far too early for any reasonable person to appreciate.
Working the little machine that perches on the counter is torture, but the satisfaction of getting the coffee poured almost makes it worth it. His mouth feels like death, something like a desert creeping into his tongue, and he hates it. He’s never going to drink again .
It’s quite obviously a lie, but hey. It was good to have resolutions, even if he was going to blatantly ignore them next time he’d had a long day and everyone else was out of town.
Leaning on the countertop with a hot cup of coffee and the curtains very pointedly shut is just enough to soothe his swirling gut. The birds thankfully calm down, and then it’s all blissfully quiet: it takes him a while to find a position that lets him relax, but when he does it’s like gold-dust, settled and soft. It takes him even longer to muster the courage to leave his spot and dig to find his phone in the mess of clothes, so he takes him time: every move is horrible , brain whimpering at everything it could, but the more moves he makes the less it hurts, so he makes the effort anyway.
Also, he can’t deny that even hungover he’s interested in putting faces and names to the mob of ‘sixty people’.
The phone screen is far too little and far too bright for bleary eyes, but he perseveres anyway. Sixty people, after all, was an awful lot .
The phone rather blatantly informs him that it wasn’t sixty people at all.
It was more like double.
His dick tries really rather valiantly to twitch, but the hangover that thrums in his head isn’t very accommodating.
“...Wow.” 150 people, most of which had sent him multiple messages, multiple likes… It’s all very sexy, does things to the part of his brain that salivates at “good boy”, and makes his cock try really really hard, before he sees their usernames, and okay. That was less impressive.
Scrolling through the list was like scrolling down a 2009-style forum. It’s kind of embarrassing really: “bigdickboi1980”, “toyfucker3”, “handsomej6969”, “hotforcock12”. A huge swathe of “hotdoms” and “fuckboys”, a fair few “mistresses” and an awful lot of “masters”.
It’s actually funny to imagine: apparently nobody had noticed that literally everyone else was claiming that they had the biggest dick, the most charisma, the most dominant streak, too. It kind of seems farcical, a huge gang of people with perfect proportions and twelve-inch dicks, people bearing whips and chains and huge boobs.
It almost starts to feel like Facebook, looking at all of their profiles. A weird, sexy kind of facebook, granted, but most of them have at least one refreshingly normal picture to their name. Some of course, didn’t go beyond the nudity: quite a few people were as generously endowed as their usernames, but most were emphatically not nearly as impressive.
The few that catch his eyes are the ones that feel real - a man with long shaggy hair and a dog perched on his knee with it’s tongue hanging out, a woman in a sun-dress clutching a mug of tea and pulling a silly face, a hazy picture of two twins with mismatched eyes stood in front of a water slide as someone comes up behind them, presumably to push them over. That last one is especially interesting- the bio informs him that “handsomej6969” is the one on the left, with a cocky grin and broad hands loosed over his twin’s shoulders. A cursory glance at his inbox reveals that Mr. Handsome has already messaged him- rather fittingly, number 69 on his list of suitors. He grins, and reads the note with trepidation.
“Hello there, honey. You’ve got a pretty face on you- those eyes are fantastic.”
It’s the notable absence of hashtags and trash-talk that litter his inbox that makes him reply. The little scrolling he’d done had revealed that of the many, many people that wanted to talk to him (he preens at the thought), most were clearly copy-and-pasted messages about curves and whatnot. To be honest, the self-congratulatory nature of it- praise for mismatched eyes coming from a man with heterochromia- is big part of the appeal. Confidence was a thing for Rhys, both in looks and in manner, and so far it looks like this man has them both in droves.
He types out a quick “Hello”, thanks Mr. Handsome profusely, and maybe tacks on a winky face. Or three.
The other photos Mr. Handsome has tacked to his profile are far less tame. He’s learnt that a few posey muscle shots were pretty normal, but Mr. Handsome looks like a damn model, big and broad and tensed in front of a mirror, face missing from the shot. He’s banded with tattoos, something of brutality about it, something very… well. Very sexy, if he was honest, the clear-cut divots of Mr. Handsome’s stomach really doing it for him, and moving through the photos reveal that whoo wow , Mr. Handsome’s cock absolutely lived up to the hype-
It’s around then that his brain shatters back into hangover mode with a wave of nausea, and he’s forced to drop his phone back to the counter with a groan.
“Auuuuugh,” it sounds wrecked and ill even to himself, but time was moving swiftly on and he’d need to open the shop in a while, so he drags himself off of his perch on the countertop and wobbles to the bathroom.
He can’t help but make disgruntled noises under his breath as he wrestles with the hot water. If alcohol was going to get into the way of him flirting with someone like Mr. Handsome, then maybe he could think about actually giving it up once and for all- the spring of hot water out of the tap as he steps into the shower is enough to distract him from that, though.
The water washes away the griminess that seems to come with too much beer and encounters with assholes at bars, and he scrubs at his skin gratefully, humming as he lathers soap too bubbly on his skin. He should probably talk to Janey and Athena about that, because although they could be terrible when they wanted to be, they were also pretty good friends. If he said the word, he could probably ban the asshole from drinking there again- though he supposed that wouldn’t be fair. He’d only been mostly an asshole, and Rhys had hardly stuck around to find out if he’d actually been a nice guy at heart.
It hardly mattered anyway: if it all worked out, he would be busy messaging Mr. Handsome instead of going to the bar, in future.
Opening the shop comes as easy as breathing even through the pounding headache, two years of it having cemented it deep in the recesses of his brain. He plucks the metal prosthetic from his bed, fastens it tight, and yanks his apron over his head, striding through the upstairs corridor that acted as a handy connector between Yvette’s and the grocers.
It’s always strange to step through the threshold of the cafe when there was nobody in it. Yvette’s was a lively place most of the time, bustling and very much alive in its own way. The sofas look strange without anybody on them, and it’s beyond odd to have to unlock the door- during the day it was wedged open by a huge sign with “Come in!” etched on it, a tiny smiley face inviting people in.
Nonetheless, Rhys honestly does enjoy his job, and even setting up with a hangover was part of that- to turn it from empty and cold to bright and filled with people was a reward in and of itself.
After a few minutes, everything was as it should be: tables aligned, flowers fresh on the counter and beans ready-ground for the first few customers to walk through the door.
When they finally start to trickle in, bleary-eyed and a little dazed still, Rhys’ enthusiasm for coffee breaks through his persistent headache. That was why he was in this job, to grin at people as they clutched the drink that would make their morning to their chests like it was a caffeine-based lifeline.
It isn’t a busy morning. Early Saturday was usually quiet at Yvette’s, most of their morning traffic during the week coming from frustrated commuters as they left the station only a few streets away. Saturdays were a blessing comparatively, calming even though he was the only one in the shop. Regardless, it was wonderful to see Sasha stroll through the door at around ten, something to distract him from the increasingly elaborate designs he’s begun to create in his coffees in boredom. There’s nobody waiting in line, so he relaxes along the back counter and tries to feel like he isn’t wilting into himself.
“Good morning, Rhys!” It’s not like she’s being any louder than the customers, but Rhys winces at the volume of it anyway. Sasha was a vibrant sort of person, which was fun at almost every moment except for ones where he’s hungover.
“Mornin’,” he grumbles. It’s meant to be an attempt at chipper, but his headache is still clinging to the sides of his skull even though he’s been up for hours. It’s probably something to do with dehydration, so he takes a second to pour himself a glass of water and cradles it in his flesh hand. It’s an uncomfortable parallel to him and his beer last night, a fact which Sasha has apparently picked up on.
She raises her eyebrows and grins. “Good night, last night?”
“Oh, shut up.” He throws the towel in her general direction, a little disgruntled when she catches it instead of having to grab it from the floor like he’d hope. “How was your vacation?”
She throws it back, and he is very disgruntled when he fails to catch it. He has to bend down, and when Sasha calls “nice ass” loud enough for the customers to hear, he has to bite back a laugh and a hiss both.
“Wow, Sasha,” he says, very deliberately placing the towel back on the counter to avoid a ‘throwing-stuff’ war, partly because they were self-respecting adults and also because Rhys would absolutely lose. Depth perception wasn’t exactly his forte, with the glass eye and all. “Real mature.” But he’s got a smile on his face when he says it, and Sasha’s grinning too.
It’s comfortable, the old routine of jesting has something bone-deep solid to it. If they weren’t the family that they’d grown to be, Rhys has a feeling that Yvette’s would fall apart, the backbone of it gone. Part of the reason people came to Yvette’s at all was the care in it: they weren’t the most upmarket, didn’t have the best beans in town, but damn did they all try as hard as they could.
Sasha tells him all about her vacation- a spa weekend, bought for her courtesy of everyone as a birthday present- and he relaxes into it, easy, slow and soft.
Serving customers is fine, most are easy to speak to, and having Sasha in his ear as she washes plates and mugs behind him made it even easier.
It’s not until midday that things start to go wrong. He doesn’t even notice the problem, doesn’t pick up on it- too busy being distracted by Sasha and the forbidden buzz of his phone in his back pocket.
The two girls that come to the counter don’t look mean, but there’s something up about them, he can feel it- They’re matched for height, both a lot shorter than he is, both in dresses too long for the warm day. He can just feel it in his gut, they pause and stare and he can feel that it’s coming, has to bite down a rebuttal before they even order.
“Hey there! What can I get you?” It’s as upbeat as he can manage through clenched teeth, and his eyes dart desperately to Sasha who is busy, damn her, because he just knows what’s going to happen.
“Uh,” they look at each other, Rhys’ skin sending chills crawling up and down his spine, “A medium latte and a small cappuccino, please.” And, okay. Maybe he’s misjudged them. He’s been wrong before, so he turns around with a smile to work the machine, robot hand up and ready to grind beans-
“Oh my god,” says the other one, and Rhys winces, “What’s up with your hand?”
It’s a touchy subject. It might be partly the hangover, partly something scared and cowering that sits and cradles his ‘claw’, but he’s not going to lie, it’s a very touchy subject.
“Excuse me?” he can’t help it, he puts the cups down onto the counter with far more force than is necessary. He doesn’t turn back, just looking over his shoulder, not sure even then if it’s going to be as bad as all that-
“Dude, we just asked you what was wrong with your hand,” there’s a tense note to it, which he supposes is well deserved because now he’s whirling back on them.
“There is nothing wrong with my hand,” He spits it at them, and Sasha’s looking up now, he can see her face contorted with concern from where she’s gathering discarded mugs. “My hand is just fine.”
It would be a power-trip to see their eyes widen as they lean back if it weren’t for the fact that he’s trembling.
“Fucking hell, man, we just wanted to know what was up with your damn creepy claw-” Rhys almost sees red, how fucking dare they, how dare they even begin-
It all goes from bad to worse in half a second.
“Excuse me kid, is there a problem here?” It’s the asshole. It’s the damn asshole from the bar, god damn it.
“No,” he says, teeth gritted and bared and snarling. This was too much, not even the slightest bit in his comfort zone, not at all. “No, there is nothing wrong, thank you.”
“Aww baby, don’t be a bitch about it.” He looms over the girls, and he’d wanted them gone but not like that. The man is huge, broad and bunched with muscles in a way that speaks of animals trained to fight. “It looked an awful lot like you two girls,” he points to them each in turn, and he looks around frantically to see Sasha rushing to put her cups over by the counter and save him, thank god, “were bothering him. I’d like you both to leave now, if that’s cool with you both,” they don’t move, and Rhys is stuck in place because this was so surreal, and the asshole leans over further, teeth bared in a grin that would scare Rhys even on a good day, “Right now, please ladies.”
They go. They run, abandon their coffee plans and straight-up sprint like Rhys only wishes he can right now, get out and move and be not-stuck anymore.
The asshole doesn’t leave. Instead, he offers a hand over the counter and grins wide, wide like a shark or something too dumb to understand the severity of this situation, too big and blase to notice that Rhys is still shuddering in and out of himself.
“Name’s Vasquez, cutie.” His hand just hangs there in space, and Rhys glares at him, puts as much of his shaking energy into it as possible. Vasquez’s expression sours quickly, turning from proud and smug to bitter and cold in a few seconds flat. “Hey, I just saved you from those…” He gestures behind him, nearly hitting Sasha as she advances around him, joining Rhys behind the counter. “Bitches. You owe me.”
Rhys is still tense and tight, muscles cringing and mind racing forward without him. Vasquez was totally getting banned from The Hunt, no way would Athena and Janey let someone like that back in, regardless of his intentions. Sasha’s arm is warm and strong against his, a comfort, a pillar of something very real next to him as he tries to shake the panic and the hangover and the word ‘claw’ from his head.
“Is there a problem here, sir?” She’s polite and that’s the kicker. Rhys knows without even looking that she’s wearing a smile curled at the corners, more vicious than anything Vasquez could hope to muster. “‘Cause I’m going to be honest with you, it kind of looks like you’re causing a scene.”
Vasquez gapes and looks indignant. Rhys feels like he’s coming back to himself a little with Sasha on side, notices that he’s wearing a suit that looks far too expensive for someone visiting a coffee shop.
“Look, lady, I just up and saved your…” His mouth twists into something sharper and more bitter. “Friend, I just saved your friend from those two girls-”
“What girls?” Sasha cuts over him with a tone as cold as steel.
“What?” Vasquez’s mouth is gaping open, and he looks ridiculous, gesturing out of the doorway with hair falling out of place. “Those girls, they just left-”
Sasha is walking around the counter, strong sure strides and something staggeringly huge in her posture.
“I said, what girls?”
He opens and shuts his mouth uselessly, and Rhys finally has the presence of mine to unstick himself from the counter.
He wrenches out his phone, taps out a quick ‘help in shop’ to Yvette, and then flips his eyes back up to Sasha and Vasquez, squaring each other up as a whole cafe of people watch. He has no doubt that Sasha would let it devolve to blows if she wanted, and that was exactly the kind of scene they didn’t need, regardless of the fact that he’s still clutching at the claw and feeling like there’s something dirty trapped in its gears.
“Sasha,” he murmurs. He’s quiet, but the room at large is so quiet there’s no way she didn’t hear- She ignores him, face scrunched up in a scowl as she tries to loom over Vasquez. To his credit, Vasquez doesn’t shrink away- anyone else Rhys knows probably would have done because frankly Sasha could be terrifying- but if Sasha pretends not to hear then Vasquez certainly doesn’t, wheeling on Rhys at the sound of his voice and opening his mouth like he’s going to start shouting.
It’s almost slow-motion for a second, because Vasquez jolts forward into Rhys’ space, somehow infringing even through the barrier of the counter, and Sasha growls out a sinister “Don’t make me call the manager” and Rhys feels like he’s choking on his own tongue-
And then: “I would really advise you against doing that.”
Yvette is advancing from nowhere, coming from the employees only entrance behind the back of the bar, striding in heels that were higher than they had any right to be, knight in shining armour, and Rhys could not possibly be more thankful because the shooting clacks of her footsteps halt Vasquez in his tracks. “Hello, sir. I’m the manager.” It’s dark and threatening, says everything and nothing all at once.
Rhys can’t even move, now, still trapped behind the counter as Sasha glares at Vasquez and Yvette sizes him up. She’s far taller than him, the kind of height in her stance that would probably make it look that way even if she were shorter. They hold like that, nobody moving- Sasha stares and Yvette bares her teeth without even opening her mouth, the pressure of her presence all around-
Vasquez steals a glance away from his staring contest to look at Rhys, and the tension shatters into a million pieces, lost across the floor- he thinks wildly that he’ll have to clean that up, but everything is just a little bit frantic at the edges of his head.
“I think it’s time you leave.” Yvette’s voice sounds like deep-rock, iron ore, hot and bright and powerful, something like a higher power in it, and god, he feels hysterical-
Vasquez doesn’t move, mouth open and brows furrowed. Yvette steps into his personal space, deliberately and slowly in a calculated move to make him step back. He does and she moves with him, snarls out “That wasn’t a suggestion , sir,” and when Vasquez turns tail and runs Rhys feels like he’s been punched.
He doesn’t even notice that he’s leaning heavily on the counter when Sasha’s appearing next to him, arms around him and hauling him around the corner to the sofa.
“Shh, shh,” Sasha’s hands are soft against his head, and he feels ridiculous all of a sudden.
It hadn’t even been anything serious, just a throw-away comment, and if it hadn’t been for that damned asshole- “Rhys. Calm down, Rhys, you’re okay. Look at me, Rhys, c’mon.”
She doesn’t look worried , per se, more a concerned kind of focus that is almost a balm to his thoughts.
“Fucking hell, Sasha.” She sighs and rests his head against hers, hand grasping at his arm reassuringly.
“I know, Rhys. I know.”
It takes a while for him to calm down. It takes longer than he feels like it should, even though Sasha was being warm-bright about fetching him hot chocolate when his arm refused to co-operate, and Yvette had given him the day off because she was best boss-friend ever and he adored her.
In the end, its the buzzing of text to his phone that calms him down completely. Vaughn- saved in his phone as ‘bro’ because Rhys was terrible and willing to admit that- texts him, announces that he’s coming back that day, and would hopefully be back soon. He finds himself relaxed against the chair, cradling the hot chocolate in his hand.
Yvette’s was an odd little cafe- it had been so tense and harsh not long before, but now it had morphed into a peaceful sort of hideaway. Yvette’s was warm even when it was cold- the feel of it was home , watching Sasha arrange little pastries on the countertop and Yvette pour increasingly elaborate coffees for plainly impressed customers was like sitting in front of a hearth. In all, it’s a lazy sort of afternoon, thrown with dusty smiles and calm- he needs it, after that , and he strongly suspects that they’re keeping the whole place quiet and fluid to let him just sit , and he’s so very thankful.
It’s largely an attempt to reassert his confidence when he finds himself scrolling through his notifications again. He’s a little bit vain, won’t deny it, and sometimes it helped to see himself a little more normal if other people saw him normally too. He gives kudos and upvotes to his own pictures and doesn’t feel bad one bit, especially not when he sees that not only has Mr. Handsome viewed and commented on all of Rhys’ photos, but also upvoted his own . It’s a weird kind of kinship, an odd thing to have in common, and one that makes him snort with laughter.
“What’s so funny?” Sasha’s sitting down next to him, watching as he slowly puts his phone away in a single fluid gesture. He smiles at her, trying to trap the warmth of the place in his head.
“Nothing.” He smiles widely and so does she.
She gives him a wry and knowing smile, then passes him another cup. He peers down at it- it’s covered in cream, but he can just make out the smell of coffee from underneath it- and then looks back up quizzically.
“What is it?”
She’s so smug, he kind of wants to poke her and hug her at the same time. Sasha was the best.
“Double shot mocha.” When he opens his mouth to reply and thank her, she talks over him with a grin as smug as he’s ever seen. “With a hazelnut shot.”
Sasha was the most glorious creature on the earth, and he nearly burns his mouth on the drink as he gratefully gulps it down.
“Love you, Sasha,” It’s an unspeakably tender moment, something on her face that sings with family as she grins back at him and says, “You too, asshole.”
Sitting next to Sasha on a sofa as Yvette closes up the shop might be the most peaceful thing he can imagine, even given the incident with Vasquez, or what Sasha has decided to call “Asshole most vile”. It’s a thing he feels deep in his bones- but he can’t stop checking his phone.
It isn’t like he’s bored of peace- Yvette’s was home, Yvette’s was family . But when Sasha leaves at seven for her date, and Yvette and Rhys welcome Vaughn back with coffee and a brute-force hug, he can’t help but feel like he’s missing something.
(He sends Mr. Handsome a message that says much the same, after they’ve been talking for a few days. He replies: “That thing you’re missing? I can absolutely, with 100% certainty, confirm that it is in fact me. I am that thing you are missing, specifically my dick. Seriously.” and Rhys can pretty much see exactly where this is all heading, and has to restrain himself from breaking out into giggles in the middle of his shift.)
thanks for reading!!!!
also: "Mr. Handsome."
Chapter 3: Sweet Nothings
'Enamoured' barely covers it.
Rhys and Jack speak on the phone for the first time ever.
This was originally part of the next chapter, but it hit 3,000 words so I decided to split it up!
The day I write porn that doesn't read like a religious experience will be a strange one indeed.
Updates will be slow for the next few weeks, I'm on vacation!
Content: phone sex, mutual masturbation, slight humiliation, oral sex fantasies,
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rhys is going to make two things absolutely clear: first, Mr. Handsome types like an English teacher on steroids. It's all capitalised in the right places, commas where they should be, and then he always manages to drag Rhys out of immersion by spamming him with emoji. It never fails to make him giggle, settle him deeper into the comfortable dynamic of Mr. Handsome's confidence. Worse, it's rubbing off on him. When they speak it's somehow easier to just speak in full sentences- and if he maybe reads them back over, a romance novel of his life, then that's his business.
Secondly: he is not hugely experienced with kink. Rhys has never gotten past that deep curling need to have something on him, the precipice of absolute succession of control, never done anything more than maybe an arm pinning his hands up. Never more than the heavy pressure of a body, hard and strong and big and so sweet-heavy that sometimes even that was just enough.
(Rhys always, always has sex with the flesh-looking prosthetic. Always.)
And the part of sex that Rhys adores is not the physical release, not the processes or the gender of the person he's rolling with. It's the closeness, that emotional connection flooding through him with a touch and with a flash and a bang, blinding and soft-morning-light at once, hot skin on hot skin. Fullness and filling, being connected.
So Rhys has never had any reason to try cybersex, or phone sex, for that matter.
Until Mr. Handsome.
Really, that name was part of the taboo, part of the strange newness that- well, that turned him on. He doesn't even try to guess Mr. Handsome's name, and certainly doesn't ask- especially since Mr Handsome avoids using Rhys' name too. He'd given it as "Reece", tried to avoid making himself findable but not jolt himself out of the taboo of it all with a false name.
The fact remains though, Mr Handsome has his name and opts not to use it, instead pouncing on little epithets that are sticky sweet like honeyed tar: 'cupcake', 'cutie', 'sweetheart', 'pumpkin'- the list went on, and Rhys was hardly going to deny what it did to him. A trembling jolt every time, an echoing shudder- he sometimes gets off just on that, hazed by sleep and focusing on what a good boy he's been. It's all soft and dark and dreamy, fuzzy angles and imagining what Mr. Handsome would look like over him, stroking his head with one hand and gripping him tight with the other.
So when he starts to call him 'Reece' instead, Rhys is understandably disgruntled. Rhys might want Mr. Handsome all over him (big hands everywhere, up and down and deep inside him) but he also knows what he wants: what he wants is dark smoke in his bones and words juddering up his spine. So, at the end of a long Thursday shift when everyone is out or busy or just otherwise not focused on work, Rhys sits heavily on the sofa in his apartment and taps out a message. He's been wearing the flesh-looking prosthetic a little more since the Vasquez-incident, so he has to shove the functional one out of the way as he does- it feels silly, because the one he was wearing now was barely articulated. He's hardly given up on the robot arm, it was just- harder, some days.
'So, Mr. Handsome.' It's not exactly leading, but Mr. Handsome reads the message almost immediately and starts his reply just as soon. Impatient- it's a subtle part of a breezy confidence that Rhys can't get enough of.
'Oh, I love it when you call me that. What's up, Reece?' He's tacked a little winky emoji to the end, because he was a terrible influence on Rhys and not the slightest bit subtle about it. Other people's messages to Rhys used tech-talk, hashtags and acronyms, but rarely was anyone quite so liberal with the emoticons- and the consistent dick references. Which to be fair, were in everyone's messages. It was just that he really liked it when it was Mr. Handsome, specifically.
'So, speaking of names...' He sends it by itself, a quick message to tide over Mr. Handsome, eager to make absolutely clear that he would very much like the casual praise back please- but Mr. Handsome has already replied.
'Oh, you're finally going to ask?' And, well.
He can't see the face that Mr. Handsome is making, but he's pretty sure it's either chagrined or laughing right now.
'My name, Reece. We've been talking for weeks now and you've seen my frankly fantastic dick like, 5 times. Five excellent times, granted, but still.'
'I wasn't going to ask about that actually.' It's a weird kind of embarrassment, mixed with a flooding anticipation-'I wanted to ask why you'd stopped calling me...'
He has to think for a while on that one. His immediate reaction had been to call the little nicknames 'sweet nothings', but on a swingers dating website that seems kind of lyrical. He settles for "nice things", mouths the words out loud and hopes that Mr. Handsome knows what he means.
The epithet sticks in his head a while- it wasn't bad, not knowing his real name, but- well, Mr. Handsome was right. He did have a name, after all, even if he seemed to like the praise just as much as Rhys does.'But I'll bite. Tell me, Mr. Handsome. What's your name?'
In reply to the frankly embarrassing number of winks, Mr. Handsome sends him a grinning emoji and he relaxes into the sofa, imperceptibly but with something clear-calm in the movement of it.
'Jack, honey. Call me Jack. Or you know, Mr Handsome. Either one. Both are good.'
Jack sends him some winks, some more smiles. It's strange, he seems like someone Rhys has known for years. Mr. Handsome- or Jack, now, he supposed- has only been his... Well. Friend was wrong, because Rhys wanted to sit on his lap and grind himself down until he screamed. Sex-pal was wrong, because they'd never had sex, despite the amount of dick-based snapchats they'd shared.
Rhys had kept the messages that called his dick 'so pretty, God, sweetpea, such a pretty cock for me,' and blushes an embarrassing amount as he feels his cock stiffen just thinking about it.
Regardless- the point was, he'd only known Jack two weeks but he feels like a whirlwind, like Rhys has got an addiction he didn't know existed, and he hadn't even known his name.
'Jack' fits right, works on his tongue like the imagined sensation of rolling his dick in his mouth- Jack seems to notice that he's not going to get a reply, and sends another message, the stark buzz of the phone against his palm sending him bolt upright.
His dick, he notices, is already slightly stiff.
'So, sweetcheeks, you like it when I call you names, huh?'
The embarrassment of it still floods him. He's seen Jack's (frankly impressive) cock, complemented said cock, but the idea of Jack wielding words like a weapon to make him talk is still so resonant, purring in the marrow of his bones as he taps out a 'yes' and waits for the reply with hands that almost tremble.
'You like it when I praise you, pumpkin? Like to know you've been a good boy, huh?'
That sends sparks to his groin.
Suddenly the whole room feels like wildfire, Christ-
"Yes, Jack." He murmurs it out loud along with the tapping of his fingers.
'Oh, man,' there's barely a pause in the reply, and Rhys can read the frantic note of it as something like his own,'Honeybun, you've got yourself a praise kink, huh?'
Then it's Jack's little writing icon that sends the purr through him- anticipation, readiness, rearing up on two legs and then prowling about him.
'So, sweetheart. That mean you wanna hear my voice?'
But that seems a little desperate against Jack, so he sends back a few question marks and waits. In hindsight, it's more that he wants Jack to say it: he wants to read it, that clarification of something more than just trading dickpics on snapchat and sending flirty emoticons at midnight.
'Pretty much, honeybun, I'm asking you if you want me to talk to you and call you 'nice things' as you jerk off to the thought of me and cum screaming my name. That sound good to you, cupcake?'
Oh. Yes. Yes, it did, blindsiding him with something like deep fire, forest-fire levels of heat- dragging up and down him. God, yes.
He doesn't even reply and then Jack is calling him, little icon taking over his screen and daring him to answer.
The click of the call is sharp, short against his heavy breathing. His lungs feel huge, like he can never get enough air in them-
"Hello there, baby."
God, Jack's voice isn't like he imagined but it's somehow better. It doesn't boom out like he'd guessed, it rumbles, like the purring thing that lives in Rhys' chest has grabbed the deepest parts of his voice from him and spat them back out.
"Hey, Mr. Handsome. Your voice is.... Wow." It isn't calculated, slips out of him with a soft breath and a wince, but Jack groans on the end of the line. A wrecked thing, deep and rough and tremoring.
"God, baby, I can just imagine you. So desperate for me, huh?" It seems like a quick start but Rhys had already been hard, and he stiffens further at the rough of Jack's voice.
"Y-yes," he's breathing heavily, each gasp a sudden hit to him. "Yes, Jack, I-" he drops his hand to his pants, forced to use his non-prosthetic hand and wincing. He almost considers taking it off and strapping on the robot arm, but then Jack is whispering sweet nothings again, and his hand is pressed desperately at his cock as the prosthetic tries desperately to clutch the phone to his ear.
"I can almost see you, honey, got your hands on yourself, right? Talk to me, c'mon."
One hand on his cock, whole body buzzing, electric, words seem to fall out of him like they've been ripped.
"Yes, imagining you- so big, you're so big. You could be on me, God, so warm-" his tongue feels big in his mouth, one hand still working his rapidly stiffening prick. "I- God Jack, you'd push me up against a wall..."
That sets him off. Jack's voice is so deep over the static it sounds like a growl, more the dull roar of some great beast than a man. The purring thing in him needs. "Fuck, baby doll, I'd do more than that. Bracket you in a wall, you'd like that, huh? I'd kiss you so hard you'd see stars, have you writhing and screaming my name. You got that?" Rhys only moans out- the thought of Jack on top of him, holding him, is tantalisingly hot, sends something shooting through his gut. "Tell me, tell me, c'mon,"
"Holding me down, please- whisper in my ear and I'd grind down on your thick, hard cock-" he might be laying on a little thick, but he can't help it- he doesn't have enough hands for this, not enough to simulate the pressure on his neck of a Jack leaning heavily on him and doling out sweet words- "fuck, not enough hands-"
"Speakerphone, sweetheart. God, such an innocent little thing- never had phonesex before, huh? We'll change that, baby, make you my little whore." Rhys does, moans, and then almost questions Jack's sigh. Then he realises that he'd been waiting for confirmation: To call him a whore, slip the word in between sweetness and sighs.
The absurdity of the whole situation seems to slip right past him, because okay he hadn't known he was into that until right this very second but he absolutely was, and he needs more of it right now, more of something tantalising and dangerous slipped between the sweet.
"Fuck, more, please- please, I want you so badly, Jack," it's a groan, a breathy rumble torn from right at the bottom of him.
His hand is at his dick, right and good and if he squeezes his eyes tight and lets the voice roll over him he can imagine it'sJack, with Rhys pushed against the wall and the bigger man (so big, broad and powerful ) grinning obscenely, nipping at his neck and hands a vice terrible and amazing both. He doesn't realise he's speaking aloud until Jack shudders out his own groan in reply,
"Yeah, baby, I'd hold you and bite your neck, mark you mine, you got that? Mine, until you only know my name, have you writhe as I make you cum, got that?"
"Yesssss, Jack." It's obedience, deep, cloying and sweet and making him feel hazy and so hot.
The feeling of it all is roaring in his ears, tumultuous and shivering off of nothing but the grasp of his own hand and the force of the prosthetic clutched at his shoulder.
"Tell me, baby, c'mon. What would you do? Open your pretty mouth, take me whole, like a good little whore?"
There's another groan, taken from his chest and thrown out everywhere. His hand is clutching desperately to his prick still, working up and down in motions as smooth as he can get them with the juddering tenses of his arms.
"Jack, yessss," his mouth seems to work by itself all over again, head too hazy to hold it in, "Down on my knees, head between your thighs- you're so big, fuck, I-" he has to take a moment, groan out at the image of it. His prick is so hard, throbbing and leaking in his grip with every heartbeat that thunders through him. "Jack, Jack- I would be your whore, please, take you whole in my mouth and suck you deep and good, I-" Rhys breaks off and moans again, head thrown back with the hand at his dick his head is saying is Jack's, brain caught in something hot. "Jack," it's a prayer, a mantra for a man he's never even met.
"Christ, sweetheart," Jack sounds as wrecked as Rhys does, and if this feeling was prayer then Jack was a god, a new-found fierceness flooding his tone as he speaks down the phone with the force of something beyond.
"You'd take me whole, huh? See you on your knees, servicing me- you'd kiss me up and down, suck me down. Bet you'd swallow too, bet you'd take me down further than you think, have me jammed down your sweet little throat until there's no room for air,"
Rhys's hand has left his dick, because it was pulsing and desperate but he needs something in his mouth; he sucks on his own fingers in what seems suddenly like desperate fervour,
"God, you just put your fingers in your mouth, didn't you? Fuck me, honey, I'm going to fuck you stupid, let you swallow me down and then open you up- you'd open so easy for me, look at you, so desperate for my dick," Jack has to break off then, makes room for a groan that sounds animal, something deep and primal.
"You're a little thing, pick you up and force you up onto a desk, bend you over- you'd love that, me bending you down with my hand on your neck, wouldn't you? You'd love it, I'd pin you down, hold you there, kiss you as I work you open- God, so good for me,"
Rhys feels alight, hot with his hand out of mouth and back onto his dick, rolling and jerking in time with Jack's words, no longer whispered but growled. Rhys makes no effort to speak but the little gasps of his breath come like speech anyway, pleas for God knew what rolling in his head with bone-deep heat.
"That's right, honey, let me hear you- c'mon, let me hear you," it's all Rhys can do to force out a groan before Jack is off again, tirade strengthened and renewed. "That's it, God- I'd stretch you so much, have you writhing, and it still wouldn't be enough- my cock fills you up, little thing, bent over tight against the desk-"
"God, fills me, so deep, so good," Rhys can imagine it, almost feel the spark of his prostate and he's so near, God, just from gentle hands on his dick and a few choice words. His voice is running away from him, spilling out and moaning out nothings and endless praise, "you'd fill me so much, Jack, I'd buck into you but you'd hold me down- big hands, God," it sounds disjointed even to himself, but he can barely contain it and the words loose themselves regardless, "In and out of me, I'm so near Jack, Jack-" Jack is growling, words hot and deep and striking something in him that makes him want, and he is so near it almost drowns him in the force of it.
"Fuck, pumpkin, bet I could make you cum from that- I'd hold you down, fill you up, make you scream- you'd love it, right? You'd get off on every second of it, God, all mine, my little-" he cuts off, groaning, "my little whore, I'm going to make you cum until you see stars, until you can't remember your own damn name," his voice is so deep that Rhys feels the tremor of it in his ribcage, rough and trembling as his hands works his dick but it just isn't enough: he's thumbing at the slit and palming himself, grasping at his balls and squeezing in all the places that make him scream but it isn't enough. "Sweetheart, I'm going to make you cum until the only name you remember is mine, scream it out as I pound into you."
A pause, something tense and tight and shared as they groan back forth at each other, moaning in tandem as Rhys' muscles start to tighten, the building of orgasm so tantalisingly near, so near. Just a little more, a little more and he has it, a few more words- just a few more-
"P-please Jack, please, make me cum, let me cum, please, I need it, fuck, need your cock, hot and big in me-"
"Fuck, kid, I'm gonna make you mine."
And that's it, all it needs, something wrenched from him as he cums and the world bleeds white, the steady groan of Jack over the static a lifeline, the only thing he can understand as he bursts, into a million pieces. He recognises dimly that Jack was cumming too, vibrations of the phone on the seat threading into him, all around him- God, he was still cumming, Jack still whispering dark swirling little things into the phone, a joint chorus of what burns like liquor and floods him through.
When he sees again, Jack is still there, breathing heavily.
"Well, fuck." It slips out of Rhys before he notices. He hasn't orgasmed so hard in a very long time.
Jack laughs, bright and very real- it's so different from the sex-rough curl of his growl, something new about it. Clear, and almost loud enough to make the phone speakers crackle.
"Ha, you're not wrong, sweetheart."
There's a brief pause and Rhys feels like he's known this man forever.
They've never even met.
So it's Rhys that suggests it- not Jack, like he'd fantasised.
"I need to do that again, Mr. Handsome Jack." Jack laughs again, startled and sweet.
"You and me both, honey."
Another pause- Rhys has to work the phrasing into an order that sticks, but Jack is just waiting. If they're on the same wavelength- and after that, Rhys is pretty sure that they are, his own cum sat drying on his abdomen- then Jack is waiting patiently just so Rhys is the one that gets to ask.
"In- in person?" Rhys curses the tremor of it but Jack is laughing again.
"Oh, cupcake. Sure as hell."
So Jack is typing like a normal person instead of a 4 am tumblr shitposter, and that's because he plans to read all of the messages back to Rhys and watch his face go flushed.
Find me at: verulamfic.tumblr.com <3
Chapter 4: the asshole brigade
All of his friends are assholes.
A friendship chapter before we get to the next few, which are essentially just several thousand words of dirty talk and kink.
I'm on vacation, so this chapter is written on mobile- let me know if there are formatting errors!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"So," Sasha is leaning on the counter, arms bracing her chin and legs stretched back, mouth curled up and eyes sharp. She's lucky that the cafe is quiet this morning, because Rhys can just tell that if he'd had to bring over coffee he'd have tripped on her. Depth perception quite aside, Sasha had a gift for being as obstructive as possible, even for people with two working eyes.
As it was, he's once again the only person serving, and is therefore safely behind the counter, idly chatting to customers and letting Sasha bother him in the interim.
"Are you willing to tell me Mr. Handsome's name yet?" He shoots her a glare. For some reason, it feels private. He'd had to wait weeks, and he can't shake the idea that he'd earned Jack's name. It's come up a lot in the past few days, because he'd had to catch himself from saying it outright- when they (mostly Sasha) started to notice, it became a quest to try and wheedle out his real name.
It hasn't even been deliberate to tell her about the online dating in the first place, but apparently Fiona had wandering eyes when it came to reading texts over shoulders, and from then on Sasha had pounced on it like a cat with a mouse. He'd planned on leaving out the circumstances of their meeting out of conversation, honestly, but they'd all taken it surprisingly well, outside of the jokes that Jack was actually a catfish. Regardless, none of them had even come close to his real name despite the promise that he'd come clean if they guessed correctly, so Mr. Handsome had, for the most part, stuck.
Regardless, Jack seems to think it's hilarious that somewhere on the other side of the city there was a whole cafe of people referring to him as "Mr. Handsome," so he's hardly going to press. He wants Jack all to himself, and he doesn't have it in him to be subtle about it.
"Will you still tell Fiona?" He asks, still glaring as he leans over to put some mugs back in the cupboard.
The morning fervour always seems to leave him with more washing up than actual customers. Not that Rhys minded so much: Whilst it was always nice to have more customers, more washing per person usually meant that he'd managed to rope a few more regulars in than normal. Either that or Ms. Jennett had brought her entire book club a round of coffee as they giggled about that 'nice barista' she was 'always visiting.'
Rhys knows because Ms. Jennett seemed to find it very funny to tell him just how many of her over 60's gatherings featured a comment about that 'sweet boy from the coffee shop.'
It probably had something to do with the fact that he blushes horribly every time.
(The blush is caused partly by the praise, and partly by the time Jack had described in great detail a world where Rhys was his 'sweet boy' and served him coffee whilst largely naked and stuffed with a vibrator. According to Jack, he'd 'stagger about as he tries desperately to bend and put the cup on the counter without letting the vibrator tap his prostate and just come apart completely-')
(God, it's been days, and he still has to shake his head with the image of it.)
The sharp clack of him dropping a cup onto the counter jolts him back- he grins sheepishly at himself, very pointedly does not look to check if Sasha noticed his momentary lapse, and goes back to work. "Seriously, Sasha. I'm not telling you if you'll tell Fiona."
Sasha stretches languidly, seems to consider it, then flops over so her head is dropped against the counter. He swats at her- he needed to make drinks there, thank you, and Sasha's hair should not go where he's meant to try and arrange the food.
She sticks out her tongue, and laughs when Rhys sighs and just wedges a dish towel between her and the pastries instead.
Sasha was a force of nature, and if a dish towel was as close to a clean work space as he could get without shoving her away entirely, then he would simply have to live with that.
"You know, I think I probably would tell Fiona. Like, I'd probably feel kinda bad about it at first," she yawns. Rhys can't help but be jealous- he's had a long few weeks of being the only person working in the morning, and Yvette always gave Sasha the nicer shifts. "But, no, who am I kidding. I'd totally tell her."
"So you know I can't tell you, then," Rhys plants himself on the edge of the counter and counts it off on his fingers: "If I tell you, you'll tell Fiona, who'll tell Yvette, who's bound to tell Vaughn, and Vaughn would absolutely tweet about it." He gives her a pointed look. "And if Vaughn tweets about it, goddamn-"
He glances up as a customer walks through the doors. He waves- they wave back. It's a sweet little moment, made better by the fact that they don't seem to stare at his arm. He can't help but bite back a little sigh, though- he still, kind of perversely, had hoped that it would be Vaughn, even though he isn't due back for hours.
Vaughn's been busy with work for months, only seeing each other briefly for the few hours he could grab at the apartment before he was off again. He was due to spend the next few months at home- starting in a few hours, and Rhys will neither confirm nor deny that he's been counting down the minutes. There's a sort of unspoken understanding at Yvette's that the plan was to monopolise as much of his time as possible. "If Vaughn tweets about it, everyone will know about it. Ms. Jennett will probably end up knowing about it."
She props herself up on the counter as he starts to restock the pastries. It's usually a fun job, because they smell amazing and the bakery near Fiona's apartment made them fresh every morning; but today he has to contend with Sasha leaning over and plucking them out of the basket before he can even get them onto the counter, let alone into the display.
"Speaking of Ms. Jennett," she mumbles through a mouthful of pastry, grinning widely and opening her mouth when Rhys grimaces at her and mumbles 'ew' under his breath. "She's got an Instagram now."
And Rhys isn't going to lie.
He's kind of floored.
(He laughs at himself for that. It was one thing to love a job, another to be so invested in it that he's genuinely shocked at one of his regulars getting an Instagram.)
"What?" He gapes at her. Ms. Jennett was old, objectively old. Ms. Jennett, as far as he knew, was still using her niece's old flip-phone. "Ms. Jennett doesn't even have a Facebook."
It goes on like that for a while. Ms. Jennett, apparently, had received an iPhone for her 63rd birthday, and had no idea how to use it.
She did, however, seem to have developed a newfound love of photography. They scroll through her profile, giggling. Pictures of her cat, a few of some sunrises, the view of the city from the top of her florists, littered with inspirational messages and it's all going fine, until his phone buzzes and a little notification pops up at the top of the screen.
"HANDSOMEJ6969 MESSAGED YOU."
(The message isn't in capitals, but Sasha has her eyebrows raised so high and an open mouthed sly grin on her face, so it pretty much feels like it's screaming.)
"At work? Rhys, I am disappointed in you." Rhys groans a noise and locks the little handset before putting it pointedly in his pocket. "Hang on, how old is Mr. Handsome, exactly?"
...oh. Fuck, he'd been hoping she wouldn't ask that. He was definitely older, something grey-ish streaked up the front of his hair, and harsh lines at his eyes and brows- it didn't matter so much to Rhys, but really it was the kind of thing he should know.
"You're not, like. Cradle-snatching, right?" At Rhys' blank look, she mimes taking a phone out and tapping at it. "That username. Not really getting maturity from it, you know?"
He can't help but splutter out a laugh, at that.
"Oh my god, Sasha, I'm going to tell him you said that, oh my god." She just keeps an eyebrow raised and stares at him, which in no way makes him stop laughing. "No, no, I am not cradle snatching. He's older than me."
Then her eyebrows drop downwards, mouth twisted up. "How much older?"
"Uh."That's the question he hadn't wanted. "He's, uh. Older." He just doesn't know how much older.
"Rhys. Rhys, tell me that you know how old he is."
He coughs. "Uh."
"Rhys. He could be a pensioner! Rhys, you could be sexting an 80 year old, oh my god-" she cackles. He has to look around furtively to check that nobody's overheard, but it seems like the regulars are mostly used to hearing her laugh at him. "Holy shit, Rhys, you wait until I tell Fiona!" Then there's a moment where her mouth drops open and she gets something dark in her eyes.
God damn it.
Her smile is sly. Sly and smug, and Rhys has to put both hands to his head because oh my god, he does not want to hear this-
"Wait until Yvette finds out."
That sends him scrambling, reaching out for her as she goes to grab her phone-
"No, no- absolutely not, you put that down, he isn't that old- !"
It was an established fact that Yvette was the only figure of responsibility in the group.
It was also an established fact that if Yvette thought he was dating someone 40 years older than he was, he would get the thrashing of his life, probably concerning gold-diggers and 'you're better than that, Rhys'-
And then he's launched into quick-thinking mode, because Sasha has got her hands at the buttons and is tapping steadily-
"L-look, I've seen pictures, he's not an OAP, oh my god, please don't tell Yvette his username-"
That stills her fingers. She glances up at him, pointedly rests over the send button.
"You've seen pictures? Rhys, they could be doctored." She narrows her eyes. "They're probably doctored. You said he had different eyes too, that is too much of a coincidence- you are being catfished by a pensioner, oh my god-"
He sort of has to steel himself, then, because he was about to tell Sasha something she really did not need to know.
"Look," he says, face serious as he can manage. He leans over the counter, tries to draw himself to full height, and places his hands delicately on the table.
He flinches when the metal one clinks on the counter, which admittedly ruins the effect of composure somewhat.
"Look, I hate to say this," which is a lie because he's embarrassed but this whole thing is almost beyond embarrassing now so who cares, "But I have seen his dick. I have seen his dick on webcam. It is not an OAPs dick." Then he pauses as she processes that with an oddly blank look on her face. "It is a nice dick."
"Nnnnnnnnnnoooooooo," she moans, abrupt and loud. He grins. "No, no, now I'm imagining you complimenting his dick. That was so unnecessary."
"It was completely necessary." He relaxes against the counter and laughs, the crisis temporarily averted. He'd have to talk to Yvette himself, convince her he was talking to a nice, normal boy that he had absolutely not met on a swingers website.
Then she sighs, picks herself up from where she'd flopped over to the empty table near the pastry display, and stares intently at the ground- she frowns, and visibly psychs herself.
"See, now I have to know. Now I have to ask, it's 'necessary'. I have to know, it's all your fault, Rhys." She shakes her head.
Then she stares up at him, face hideously deadpan.
"Tell me about Mr. Handsome's dick."
After that, Rhys makes a conscious effort to find out more about Jack outside of his dick measurements, which he may or may not have exaggerated to Sasha.
It was hard to tell without a frame of reference. The snapchat he gets after mentioning it to Jack is absolutely not safe for work, but did make it clear that he was very much deserving of the praise.
It's borderline concerning, the amount that Rhys likes that dick. It would be concerning even if they had met, but as it was Rhys decides to make it a top priority to find out more than just the degree to which Jack likes his own cock, to expand his knowledge of the other man beyond his frankly fantastic dick.
He's mid-thirties, as it turns out, nearly 7 years older than Rhys, which is not nearly as bad as it could have been and is most certainly not fodder for Sasha and Fiona.
He works in IT, in a company that manufactures something that he is very shady about. Rhys doesn't push because he was learning Jack had a tendency to withhold information only when it was genuinely serious. He brings up the heterochromia, for example, mostly to boast about how cool it was, but doesn't talk about the fact that the only photos of his face that Rhys has ever seen were heavily filtered or far away. There's something he wants hidden, which Rhys supposes isn't completely unprecedented. They've known each other weeks, but still only weeks: it might feel like he and Jack go back years, but the fact remains that Rhys has never seen him in person.
(It has... Slipped his mind, somehow, to tell Jack about the arm. The eyes had been a point of bonding, but Jack has only seen the cosmetic arm on shaky webcam so far, and after- after Vasquez, he's been kind of shaky about it all. Sleeping dogs and lying down, and all that.)
He's rich, and has a thing for bothering Rhys. He has a roommate that by all accounts Rhys is terrified by, a woman called Nisha who was just as in to the Dom/Sub thing as Jack, but whom he seemed to be engaged in both friendship and rivalry with.
He gets off hard on being called 'sir', but loved it even more when Rhys said his name.
He speaks with a kind of easy confidence that Rhys adores, sticks to like tar. He speaks like a fountain of honey, soft-sweet-viscous to Rhys' tongue whenever they talk- even the messages that they send each other are full of it, clear with the simple understanding that Jack could have an awful lot of people under his thumb at any moment if he chose.
(It's at the point where it isn't that Rhys fantasises about being on his knees, rolling Jack thick in his mouth and feeling knees tighten around him, though he still does- it's more that he fantasises about kissing him, hands on the back of his head and shoved against the wall, Jack a column of something hard and riveting to watch. Something easy to get lost in.)
It's late, about one in the morning, and he's trading messages with Jack in what has become almost routine. Jack had been pretty clear that he wanted them both to meet, but Rhys had wanted to know more about him, so they keep putting it off- it didn't matter too much in the short term, because the phone sex had become regular phone sex, each one a snapshot of the time when they'd finally meet and Rhys would probably have to restrain himself from climbing him like a tree.
Regardless, he's speaking to Jack through speakerphone, lulling himself to hazy nothings and praise and just letting Jack's voice wash over him. Rhys has heard plenty of both of Jack's voices now, the clear and the sex-deep, and the twitch of his muscles at the sound of the rough, vibratory growl is almost Pavlovian.
And he's just getting into it, just starting to feel the love, Jack reciting the songs of a world where Rhys has Jack's big hands on his neck and he's shuddering in and out of himself, when Fiona bursts through the door.
"Your boyfriend is back!"
He stares at her, one hand at the front of his pants, and blinks.
"Rhys, I am going to pretend I didn't see this, but Vaughn is back."
A silence, and a moment where he doesn't know what to do because Vaughn was back, and Jack was on the phone and-
"Excuse me, but who the hell is Vaughn?"
Tension abruptly broken, a lot of things seem to happen at once. Fiona stares with an incredulous "Mr. Handsome?" on her lips, Rhys stands and scrabbles to do up his fly; and Jack snarls "Your boyfriend?" down the phone, but Vaughn was back, and he might be really into Jack but Vaughn was back.
He grabs the little handset, jams it to his ear and gabbles into it at a million miles a minute. "He's my best bro, I mentioned him, he's not my boyfriend, he's been gone for nearly six months and I've only seen him for a few hours at a time and he's my best friend and he's back-"
He takes a pause for breath, and notices absently that Fiona has her hand at her hips and is laughing at him.
Jack, thank god, sounds equally as amused.
"Your.... 'Best bro?' I see." Rhys doesn't even get a chance to launch into another garbled speech when Jack talks over him. "Don't worry about it Rhys, go and see your 'boyfriend'," Rhys groans internally at that. He's going to hear about it for weeks, he can tell. "I'll catch you later, cupcake. Tell your bae I said hi."
And then Jack just hangs up on him.
Fiona is staring at him. "Uh," she looks bemused, but the little noise jerks him forward and onto the bed.
He flings a gesture at the phone, yanking on a pair of shoes.
"The hanging up? Yeah, he does that." But then she's shaking her head, and a thick smile is spread on her face.
Racing down through the corridor and down the stairs seems to take years but really Rhys knows that he's sprinting at full pelt, somehow keeping pace with Fiona, because Vaughn was back, and even though his love of ice cream made him far less fit than Fiona, his love of Vaughn made him far faster when it was called for.
(It's unspoken that they'll congregate in the cafe. The coffee, as Fiona said, was where the heart is.)
Rounding the corner with a screech as his feed skid on the floor, he slams the door into the shop open and drags to a stop in front counter.
He takes no notice of Sasha's rolled eyes or Yvette's raised eyebrow. Vaughn was back, perched on an arm-rest with something warm and weary spread over his features and Yvette standing behind him with her arms crossed and a smile on her face. He lights up when Rhys starts walking towards him, springing out of the chair and smiling.
"Bro." And that's pretty much as far as the conversation gets before they're careering at each other, Rhys picking his best friend up and whirling him around like they're children, and Vaughn is hugging him back and it's unspeakably sweet, if he could send this moment on a postcard he probably would-
"Bro. I missed you man!"
"I missed you too, dude! How are you, how are you!" He's frantic, and looking around at everyone stood in the corner of the dimly lit cafe at midnight makes him feel like his heart might burst-
"Oh my god, dude, I'm so glad to be back, you have to make me a coffee, I haven't had anything good for weeks-"
"Bro, I will make you such a good coffee you have no idea-"
The jabbering is cut off by the sharp crack of Fiona clearing her throat behind them.
"Vaughn." They stop abruptly, Rhys still with Vaughn hitched up in his arms, legs dangling.
(He's not embarrassed to admit that he swings Vaughn around a little just to watch his legs flail and catch his disgruntled frown.)
"Your boyfriend," she nods at Rhys, and he winces. "Has got a boyfriend>."
Rhys drops him suddenly and groans at her.
"He called Rhys 'cupcake'. Unironically."
Vaughn stares at him, mock-offence in his face and in his rather irritated stance.
"Rhys," he says, voice flat and deadpan. "Are you...Cheating on me?"
They all burst out laughing, and Rhys sweeps Vaughn back up into his arms.
Terrible assholes, all of them.
(They spend the rest of the night talking to each other, Rhys in charge of pouring drinks. The moment is so warm, deep and strong, and when Jack messages him and asks how his 'bae' was, he shows them all the message and revels in their laughter.)
(He replies. "Next week? Friday?" It's tentative, no emoji on the end, but Jack replies as per usual, three different faces as a preface to the message. "It's a date, pumpkin.")
(Everyone laughs at Rhys' flushed face, but they cheer and drink to it anyway.)
(...terrible, wonderful assholes.)
I really struggled writing this. After staring at it and sighing for a few days I decided to just upload it, so if anyone has any constructive criticism that would be much appreciated!!
Find me at: verulamfic.tumblr.com <3
Chapter 5: so glozed the tempter
Rhys is going on a date, and Mr. Handsome gets inventive.
People always seemed to say that being nervous for dates made time crawl by. That nerves and trepidation would make it so the hours before would take days and those after would zip by in a blink.
Frankly he thinks that they have no idea what they're talking about. Or maybe they weren't talking about sex-dates, who knew.
Regardless, that is absolutely not what is happening right now. That morning he traipses into the shop in a daze, head still flooded with sleep and trying desperately to shove down thoughts of Jack. Rhys is a good barista, though, and he serves customers dutifully, smiles and laughs in the right places and revels in their wide eyes when he paints masterpieces onto their mug.
He's not ashamed to admit that he preens when the regulars tell him he's improving. Even some of the art students look impressed, and he is very, very proud of himself and absolutely not vain at all.
It's a normal day, albeit increasingly nervous as the hours tick by, and for the time being, at least, it’s glorious.
It might have been because Vaughn was back, settled into his sofa and tapping out something complicated on a spreadsheet, or because he's trying really hard not to think about the not-date later tonight, but Rhys is absorbed in the humdrum comfort of his work so completely that when Yvette clacks over at midday he still feels like he's only just gone on shift. Sasha's still clearing away after a day of finding excuses to avoid her job, so he's been the only one serving all morning. The sharp crack of Yvette's heels on the floor shocks him; he doesn't even notice her approach until she's standing next to him beside the counter.
"Rhys, take your break." She sticks out a hand and smiles, one eyebrow raised. "If I have to watch you argue with a customer's order again I am going to fire you."
He returns her smile and dutifully unties the apron. When he clacks accidentally on the back of the counter with the robot arm he winces, and when he finally catches on to the rest of her sentence he makes an indignant noise in the back of his throat, because wow, firing him?
"Fire me?" Rhys drops the apron into her hand and tries to sound as pitiful as possible. "That's a bit strong, Yvette. I'm not that bad."
Rhys will neither confirm nor deny that he is 'that bad'. He's got an issue with frappucinos and people trying to pass them off as real coffee, that's all, and if he tries to convince people that they should drink other things then that wasn't a crime. Besides, he only ever argued with the regulars.
Frappucinos were not coffee, and that was that.
Real coffee was hot and warm in the hand. Real coffee made you feel like home- a little bit of love in it, at least the way Rhys made it. Real coffee was huddling in the sofa with Yvette, Fiona, Sasha and Vaughn and eating frozen yogurt and laughing at everyone's love life.
Frappucinos did not do any of those things. They were cold and terrible and Rhys hates them, and honestly, it's not his fault that he makes bad frappucinos. It's also not his fault that frappucino sales drop, absolutely not. It is all entirely coincidental, and whenever Yvette asks after it he makes her lattes that have cat faces painted across the top- she usually frowns at him, sighs and lets it go, because she was the best, and understood that frappucinos were literally the worst thing on their menu.
(And people ordering frappucinos always seemed to forget to tip too, so he can hardly be blamed for trying to convince people out of it.)
Yvette gives him a pointed look and adjusts her glasses with one hand, tying up her apron with the other. He smiles winningly at her and leans on the counter, which doesn’t do much except prompt her to raise an eyebrow.
"Yes, you are. You are that bad." She shoos him out from the counter with flapping hands, and moves to clean the machines. "Worse than normal, actually, I counted at least three times today."
...Okay, that was a lot, even for him. Frappucinos were bad but they weren't bad enough to risk putting a dent in Yvette's profits; he'd have to work on that.
She glances up at him from under her glasses, hands working precisely but briskly with a cloth against the metal. "Nervous about something?"
And, look. If Rhys hadn't mentioned the date to anyone since the day Vaughn came back, then that's his business.
Honestly, he loves them all a lot, but- they were assholes.
They would demand to come, or something, and whilst he can't blame them for being worried he can blame them for being deliberately unsubtle, which he can promise is absolutely something they would be.
Regardless, Jack’s name still seems to speak of something private, little epithets and viscous endearments not meant for his friends of all people. Rhys is allowed to be a little selfish, after the fiascos of his recent arranged dates- and honestly, some of the messages shot between he and Jack were just- well. Not meant for his friends eyes.
(Or, if Rhys was honest, anyone's eyes. Jack was a whirlpool of something dark-hot, and in the moment Rhys wants to get down on his knees and beg but even then he almost looks at himself and blushes, at the imagined collar on his neck or the bound up line of his dick, or the way his mouth lolls open at Jack's hard touch and his head drops back-)
(Not, ah. Not something to be shared.)
But really, it was Yvette, and it would probably be okay to tell her that he was going out tonight. Probably. He could explain himself with coffee and early rent later, because Yvette was an ambitious person and early money tended to mean more money in the long term. So Rhys opens his mouth to explain it all away and try his hardest to lie as little as possible whilst speaking through gritted teeth-
"He's got a date!" Vaughn hollers out from his seat, and Rhys puts his head in his hands and groans loud enough to get a look from some customers. And as if that wouldn't have have been bad enough, then: "With the handsome dude from the dating site!"
See, that's what he's talking about. Rhys loves Vaughn. But that just was so unnecessary.
Admittedly, it probably also doesn't help that Rhys' head is starting to flood with what-ifs, worries and shooting concerns. He almost balks at 'date', pales further at the near-lie of 'dating site', worrying that maybe he'd over idealised their online 'relationship.' It had mostly been arranged as an opportunity to work out the details of what would probably be extremely dirty and kinky sex, after all, and the glorified Dom/sub Tinder that had led them to each other was hardly worth the term 'dating site'.
As far as Rhys knew, most people on normal dating sites didn’t plaster their profile with dickpics and kinks. Admittedly, over time Rhys’ profile had become much the same- not dickpics, maybe, but certainly over-graphic descriptions of kink and maybe a few shots of his long legs and long torso. And if he gets at least 20 likes on each one, and if he ignores most of those in favour of Jack’s comments (“Fuck, honey, you’re killing me here,”) then, well. It’s not like Rhys is maybe the slightest bit over-invested in his hot, funny, online-dom, nope. Not at all.
It was just so hard to tell whether he was being idealistic without being able to see a face in real time, and whilst Jack was clearly flirting (see: pretty amazing phone sex) it remained to be seen whether he was doing it romantically.
Yvette accidentally scrapes a nail against the metal of the machines, and he jumps back to the present- when she opens her mouth to speak he grins in a manner he hopes is winning and almost leaps around the corner. He dashes over to Vaughn's sofa and plops down into it, eager to avoid the 'meeting dangerous people online' conversation that is bound to be coming soon- and does his best to glare at Vaughn even though his gaze is glued to the screen.
Vaughn puts his hand up and twiddles his fingers, but keeps his eyes trained on the spreadsheet. Rhys tries his best not to feel vaguely affronted at that, because strictly speaking Vaughn was actually still on the clock, working company hours on what was very much not company premises.
"You're welcome.” Vaughn flashes him a grin behind the screen, “She was going to find out anyway, you doofus, she's probably going to be at home when you're getting ready."
"Not if nobody told her, she wouldn't."
"What, were you just going to pretend it wasn't happening?" He looks up then, gives him a smarmy grin complete with eye contact, and darts his eyes back down. "Nice."
"No, I was just going to pretend I hadn't met him on a-"
"Look, Rhys," he sighs, "I couldn't care less about where you know the dude you're looking to bang from. Just... Be careful okay? Yvette loves you, man. We all do."
"That's sweet, dude." And it is. It hits the same kind of craving for warmth in him that coffee does, makes the whole place at once seem brighter and bathed in the sun, and although he's still (very) annoyed at Vaughn, he's a sucker for love. "I love you all too."
"Seriously though, if you won't even tell anyone his name? Yvette is gonna tear you a new one."
"Yes, thank you, Vaughn."
They're still bickering and trading joking insults when Fiona rolls in the door, with tired eyes but a bright face. She waves, then walks over to the counter. It would be a coffee kind of day instead of a tea one, Rhys can tell from the way she has to haul her shoulders forward with every step. It would probably be something strong, too; Maybe a con panna, if everything had gone particularly terribly.
The board of directors had been bad, recently, and although he's not sure what Fiona's job actually is (something in business, maybe acquisitions- he's more than a little fuzzy on the details) he's pretty sure that he really, really wouldn't want to be the one doing it.
Once, Fiona had asked him how he felt about being surrounded by women that earn at least three times what he does. "Yvette," she had said, "even owns your apartment." He'd had to think on it for a while, and then decided that he's going to make Yvette buy lunch a little more often.
He doesn't have it in him to begrudge their success. Besides, they were all close enough that success for one meant success for them all- and if Fiona could occasionally afford to pay for them all when they all went out to dinner then that wasn't bad for anyone, even if she did have to suffer through the occasional bad month rather than Rhys' bad days.
He smiles winningly at Fiona as she drops into his sofa, putting her feet up next to Vaughn, still curled up opposite and tapping at the keyboard.
The smile shrivels abruptly when he sees Fiona's sharp and laughing grin.
(Oh, for Gods sake.)
"So 'cupcake', this... date that Yvette tells me you're going on..."
Vaughn bursts out laughing.
It devolves from there, Fiona trying to find out Jack's name and Vaughn somehow egging her on without even bothering to look up from his screen. Even with only Fiona actually trying to provoke him, it still feels like he's being ganged up on. Fiona was annoying like that, always knew exactly how to push his buttons.
But even then, it's another of those moments where there's something underlying the irritation, something warm-spun and love-drunk, and the excitement of the 'date' is rekindled. God, he can't wait.
Tonight was the night he'd meet Jack.
He was going to meet Jack.
(Jack was going to pound into him until he couldn't walk the next day.)
(... Look, Rhys is a big enough man to admit that he's equally as excited for Jack's hands on him as he is to meet the man in general.)
Rather worryingly, Rhys finds himself wandering, ignoring his friends in favour thinking about Jack in general- little questions, the kind he'd know if they'd met in person. How did he look when he woke up with a bed-head, how did he hold himself, would his voice rumble quite as much in real life when Rhys has his mouth wrapped around his cock-
Rhys goes back to thinking about the domestics and pointedly doesn't notice Fiona's raised eyebrows. It's almost a forcible peace, trying to avoid the fact that Jack had gotten in touch with him mostly just because he wanted to Dom the shit out of him, and holy hell did Rhys want to submit, get down on his knees and present-
He coughs abruptly, shakes himself, and tries to focus on what kind of coffee Jack would drink. Probably something dark, he figures, as deep and strong as his voice, which of course only makes him think of sweet little nothings at midnight, and he has to shake himself again.
He notices absently that Fiona and Vaughn are still talking around him, and seem to have noticed that he wasn't actually a participant in the conversation anymore. Shaking his head again to clear it of Jack-thoughts, he tries to pay attention.
"Honestly," says Vaughn. "The nerves are palpable. He's barely going to be able to button up his shirt, later."
"-Are you kidding?" Fiona laughs, "You'd let him dress himself? Have you seen that God-awful skinny tie he wears?"
He realises with a rather disgruntled start that they're talking about him.
"Hey." He says, indignant. And they both stare at him for a moment, like they've timed it down to the second, before looking at each other and making faint derisive noises. "My tie is fine. It's a nice tie."
And of course they both start laughing.
"Okay, I'm going to need you both to stop that, I have a date tonight. It’s an obligation to be nice to me."
The fall back into the conversation is easy and sweet, camaraderie strong and ties close. And that's all it is, warm and soft and sun-glazed until Rhys' phone buzzes in his hand and he can't help but look down and check, because he is a weak, weak man-
"Oh my god, is that-" the message vibrates again at his hands as they clutch the little device, because holy shit, holy shit- "Is that- is he sending me poetry?" Fiona glances at the message over his shoulder.
"HandsomeJ6969, huh? Wow, Rhys. So classy."
Rhys flaps his hands at her, nearly hitting her with robot arm by accident and struggling to care very much, "Okay, fine, yes, whatever, he's got a dumb screen name, blah blah Sasha told you blah blah, look at the message."
She grins and raises an eyebrow, but peers back down anyway, which all pales to the fact that Mr. Handsome sent him poetry??? Mr Handsome Jack, with two sixty-nines in his screen name and a sense of humour like a frat boy, was sending him poetry?
"'As when of old some orator renowned, of Athens or Free Rome...'" She murmurs. "That certainly sounds like poetry. Or song lyrics, I guess." She grimaces and wrinkles her nose, nudging at Rhys' shoulder. "Ew. That's like, sickeningly sweet."
Vaughn, sitting on the sofa opposite, 'awws'. "That's cute. You two are cute." Rhys notices through his internal haze of "he sent me poetry oh my god he sent me poetry-" that Vaughn's eyes are glued to the spreadsheet again. He puffs out his cheeks and tries to look indignant.
"I haven't even met him yet!"
"Yeah, but you will." He says dismissively, giving a flounce of his fingers but not looking up from his screen. "It’s cute."
Rhys doesn't say: ‘Actually I'm not sure if I want it to be cute because I think he's just in this for Dom/sub sex and I've let myself get too attached even though I thought that I was just in it for that and we haven't met yet and I don't even know what he'll be like in real life but I still want to sit on a sofa and drink coffee with him and then possibly climb him like a tree,’ because most of his internal monologue was now just embarrassed giggling.
Instead he makes a dismissive noise and glances pointedly back at Fiona. He could save the dramatics until after they'd actually met, especially since he can't get "Mr Handsome sent me poetry!!!!" out of his head.
Fiona frowns at the screen. "I think that's ‘Paradise Lost’, maybe? I studied it back in school. What does the rest of it say?"
And look, no matter how worried he is about the potential pitfalls of romancing an online Dom, Rhys is excited, and frankly, he doesn't feel like he can be blamed for showing it to Fiona.
A man he is very, very attracted to has just sent him poetry. A very, very, handsome and charismatic man has just sent him poetry.
The idea of Mr. Handsome reading it to him in soft evening light as they curl up on a bed purrs around and makes soft noises, preening at the notion of closeness. He smiles at the romance of it, the idea that this man he met through a swingers dating website- a man he was about to meet tonight- would send him poetry, and scrolls through to his most recent messages.
(Mr. Handsome sent him poetry.)
It does not even occur to him that maybe opening messages from Jack with Fiona watching was not the best idea. It also does not occur to him that maybe over-romanticising Jack, who as it turns out was mostly just a normal guy (albeit a very charming one), was not the best idea.
He, uh. He doesn't make that mistake again.
The message reads: "as when of old, some orator renowned, in Athens or free Rome, where my huge dick flourish'd, up-to-now hidden from the masses, and people gathered around my huge dick, I collected myself, and then jerked it, each act, part and motion making the audience (that's you) want to blow me-"
Rhys closes the message.
(...oh, god. This was going to be worse than 'cupcake'.)
Then he notices that he has three other missed messages, all of which include the words 'huge dick' at least once in the little sample the screen shows him.
Rhys puts down the phone, very slowly, very carefully, and drops it into his pocket like he's cradling eggshells.
Rhys gets up from the sofa.
Rhys does not look back at the spot where Fiona was now hailing Sasha and cackling wildly. Instead he goes behind the counter, demands the apron back from Yvette and shakes his head at her questioning eyebrow.
Jack was an asshole.
(And rather worryingly, Rhys is absolutely smitten with him.)
A few hours later, another message alert buzzes at the pocket on his hip.
“Just FYI on plans for tonight: we’re going to talk about what you want to do, we’re going to talk about all the unspeakable things that I want to do to you, little thing, and then what you want to happen before and afterwards. Then if that’s cool with you- and you need to tell me if it isn’t- I’m going to take you home and fuck you so hard into a bed that you’ll see stars. Trust me doll, I’m going to make you scream. See you later, sweetpea.”
Rhys blushes and very pointedly does not look at his phone again whilst he’s on shift.
After that, the day does drag by, mostly because he spends it avoiding everyone’s gaze and trying not to laugh at himself. When the clock finally ticks over to the end of his shift and he notices that there is literally nobody else in the shop, he sighs and drags the apron over his head.
And of course when he finally gets through the door of the apartment everyone is already there. Of course.
“Are you going to wear your skinny tie?” Sasha snickers from the chairs in the kitchen. Everyone is here, Yvette and Fiona talking about something probably very economical and difficult, Vaughn opposite Sasha at the table shoveling fruit into his mouth and grinning.
Rhys puts his head in his hands and makes a sound filled with as much chagrin as he can manage. “Why are you here, why are you in my house? I am busy. I am getting ready for a date, you terrible, terrible people, and no, I hadn’t planned to wear the tie but the fact remains that you are in my house, why are you in my house?”
“It’s Vaughn’s apartment too, Rhys,” Sasha says dryly. She and Vaughn were terrible and Rhys really wishes he could hate them, “Don’t be so rude.”
“Actually,” calls Yvette, smiling when all three of them look over at her. “I think you’ll find it’s my apartment.”
“Yes, thank you for the home Yvette, we’ll get you the rent as sooooooon as possible!” He drags out his syllables and tries his best to be effacing, but he imagines his glare at Sasha and Vaughn rather ruins the effect. “Hey, how come you two are ganging up on me?” He jerks his head at Vaughn and Sasha and scowls. “He used to be scared of you, you know.”
It’s a cheap shot but his not-date is in two hours and he is having some issues controlling his nerves.
Sasha, rather annoyingly, looks delighted, and Vaughn just gives him a grin and eats another strawberry.
“Yeah,” he says through a mouthful of fruit. Rhys notices out of the corner of his eye that Yvette and Fiona are walking over, and that Fiona is muttering ‘ew’ under her breath, “And then I grew up. You still wear that skinny tie, you big baby.”
“Growing up just like you are doing now, Rhys. You are flying the nest,” She puts her hands up to her chest and drops backward in the chair. “Our little baby Rhys, flying the nest! Whatever will we do!”
He scowls at them and toes off his shoes, arm braced on the table. “I’ve been on dates before, you know.”
“Yeah,” laughs Vaughn, “but this one sent you poetry.”
“Wow, nerd,” scoffs Sasha.
They are all terrible and Rhys is not having a good time right now.
Yvette pads over and sighs, strangely short without her heels. Rhys had tried on a pair once, and god, he had no idea how she did it. He’d been a limping mess in minutes. Honestly, he'd prefer that to this, forced to make conversation when all he wants to do is get ready and get out.
“Look,” she says because she continued to be literally the best person he knew and may possibly have been a knight in a past life, “I think it’s sweet. This ‘Mr. Handsome’ is clearly very into him, you know? Lay off.”
Yvette was the best and now he maybe feels kind of bad for not telling her, so he backs away in the direction of his room muttering nervous agreement.
“Yeah! Yeah, it is, ha ha, thank you, Yvette! Poetry is sexy, you know. Paradise is… very sexy.”
And with that he turns tail and runs through the door. The last thing he hears before he slams the door shut is Fiona’s dry voice:
“I’m really not sure that it is, actually.”
“How do I look?” He poses in front of the door, nervously running his fingers through his hair. He’s not wearing anything special, just… dark clothes, maybe some long lines that make his legs look even longer. Maybe something with a high collar so he can hide… things, tomorrow.
“Terrible,” retorts Sasha, but her eyes are warm.
“Eh,” says Fiona.
Vaughn puts his head in his hands but he’s biting back a smile, and props a thumbs up on the the side of his face.
It’s Yvette that walks over to him and puts her hands on his shoulders, so much shorter without her shoes. “Rhys, you look very handsome, and you know it.”
And well. Yeah. He does.
They’re meeting at The Hunt, because after some serious thought he figured he’d rather deal with the gossip than with meeting somewhere he didn’t know. He's already worryingly certain that he's going home with Mr. Handsome tonight, but it paid to be cautious- and it had helped to ease everyone's nerves as he walked out the door. And Rhys' too, honestly, because he seems to be having some problems separating out the thrumming nervousness from the general building need that’s settling into his gut. The latter was a bigger problem because he keeps having to quash the urge to look through Jack's profile, and if he did that he'd probably make some very questionable decisions.
Besides, Janey had given him a drink on the house when he explained he was waiting for a date, and laughed, bright and loud.
"Good on ya, Rhys. Go get him, tiger!" And after Rhys had very pointedly told her never to say that again, she'd smiled and directed him over to a little table in full view of the door. It looks a little dark, only lit by a lamp that sits on the table to the left- but the seat looks very cushioned, and he'd had a very long day, between dodging date-questions and actually serving coffee.
Besides, the rest of the bar was busy, filled to the brim with moving bodies and drink-plied tongues.
The Hunt was one of the most popular bars in Haven, partly for the location between the station and the industrial estate over the road, and partly for the drinks themselves. They were notorious for their strict hiring process, so most of the bartenders could make Martini's in their sleep- as it was, those skills rarely got put to good use. Near to the business-led part of town, it was difficult to find many people looking for anything other than beer or shots.
Sitting down gingerly on a plush purple seat with a view of the door, he tries his best to stop tapping nervously at the phone in his pocket.
He doesn't do very well, and instead resorts to checking his watch every two seconds and darting his eyes around the bar in the interim.
Honestly, although the employees weren't the family of Yvette's, Rhys still finds something very endearing in the way of the place. Something darker, a little more distant perhaps, but every bit the home to Athena and Janey as Yvette's was to him.
He’s sitting in hazey, thrumming silence for a few minutes, and then Athena seems to pop up beside him out of nowhere, a sharp crack of nothing and then a body stood next to him like she'd appeared from thin air.
"Ahh!" He jumps in his seat, which to be fair, was to be expected when Athena was involved. "Uh," He blinks. "Hello."
Athena sits down purposefully and stares him deep in the eyes. She had a gift for looking imposing, even if she was more than a foot shorter than he was, and shorter even than Janey- it was probably the eyes, which right now look dark and full of something held-back animal.
"If there's any trouble, let me know." She says it with such conviction that Rhys genuinely believes that if Jack made ‘trouble’ she would do everything in her power to make ‘trouble’ happen to him.
"I, uh," but Rhys doesn't get the chance to reply because then she's off again, pushing up from the seat in a single fluid motion.
As Athena stalks away, Janey gives him a little smile and twiddles her fingers, and he tries not to let the butterflies in his stomach turn to acid. Instead he gives in to the desperate urge to shake out patterns against the screen of his phone.
The whole room feels heavy with people, saturated even though the door is open, and every time someone walks in he stares.
A tall woman with deep brown hair and haughty look on their face.
A sharply cut, androgynous figure in a suit, hands clutching at a device Rhys can’t quite make out.
(His gut clenches painfully every time, something disappointed and something nervous crawling about him. God, he’d swear he wasn’t desperate but he’d be lying.)
After ten minutes of juddering sighs and timeless tapping, he decides to vacate the seat. It probably wasn’t doing his tired feet any good, anyway, what with all the tapping. He must’ve been wringing at the wrist of his cosmetic hand subconsciously too, because the spot where it binds to his old arm aches and twinges.
The worst part of it all was that Jack wasn’t even late, Rhys had just been inexcusable early.
He’s talking to Janey, her sweet-lilted verse at odds with his frantic mumbles at the bar, when Mr. Handsome walks in.
The room doesn’t quite fall to silence, but god, Rhys feels like it should. Jack spots him almost immediately, partly because he’s sitting right under a light and partly because Rhys can’t stop staring-
Big hands. Holy shit, he’s got big hands.
Jack’s gaze is zeroed in on him, forcing through the crowd and staring with a gaze that is so intense Rhys preens and a smile so wicked and wide-
If he could, he’d puff up his feathers and sing, because holy shit, holy shit-
It’s Jack, Jack that Rhys has been talking to for over a month. Jack, that sent him stupid dick-poetry. Jack, that upvotes his own pictures.
And then suddenly Jack is on him, a real-life Mr. Handsome with square shoulders and big hands and eyes alight-
“Well, hello there, honey.”
if anyone wants the other dick-poetry texts let me know on tumblr
find me at: verulamfic.tumblr.com <3
Chapter 6: Like a King, Like an Emperor
Mr. Handsome is introduced to the arm, and Rhys is introduced to the wonderful world of kink negotiations.
Content For This Chapter: Ableism, Dirty Talk, Kink Talk, Negotiated BDSM.
It’s ‘give Rhys emotional whiplash’ and 'kink talk': the chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
His voice is steady but quiet, more breath in it than he intends. The smile on his face is subconscious and wide and-
“So, sweetpea, you were early. Reece, right?” His voice rumbles just as much as Rhys had hoped. It's not the tone-dark bass of his familiar sex-rough growl, but there's something powerful to it. Something familiar, close, a strong grip at his arm and a palm at his neck, a smile at midnight into a dark room.
“Rhys, actually.” He corrects the too-slurred pronunciation with eyes that seem to drop half-lidded without permission.
He’s finally meeting Mr Handsome, and Rhys revels in it.
“‘Rhys’,” he repeats, rolling the word on his tongue. “Huh. Weird to have that instead of a screen name, huh?”
Jack is broad. Broad as he expected; brighter and bigger and thicker around the muscles than he’d expected, yellow shirt stretched tight over his chest.
Power-stanced, rolled up sleeves and a strut in his step all the way down to his too-expensive boots, he seems almost more powerful than he had every time he’d made Rhys cum from nothing but whispered sweetness and an imagined touch.
All his leather jacket seems to do is drag up Rhys’ eyes to Jack’s collar, the divots of his neck rolling up towards his face. Angular, strong-jawed and… well. Handsome.
Nothing of the thin and pale models painting billboards outside, everything of finely styled hair with a streak of something grey, and a strange shine to his skin, like the intensity of his eyes was flooding him through.
Two mismatched eyes- Rhys had made the effort to wear the blue eye tonight and knows his eyes must look equally as ethereal in the dim light- and brows decorated with both frown lines and a map-work of laughter. His brows are as arched and high as his cheekbones, and his whole face somehow screams power.
(Jack’s eyes, he notices, are raking him with something hot as coal.)
“H- Hello.” He says again, and he smiles so wide when Jack grins back at him that he feels like his heart might burst.
Jack raises an eyebrow, and gestures towards the seat- Rhys is suddenly very aware of the fact that his knees are trembling, and sits down with a relieved and soft laugh.
“So, cupcake, I’m Jack,” he says, meeting his eyes and smiling. “‘Mr. Handsome’ Jack.”
And that’s that. It’s the way it falls from his tongue with something of a held back snort of laughter. It’s the way he plops himself into the chair opposite with far less grace than he probably thinks, and the way his shirt pulls up at the bottom to expose a few hairs as he stretches.
It’s Mr. Handsome.
“It’s good to meet you, ‘Mr. Handsome’ Jack.” Parrotting the phrase with a wide grin makes the moment sweeter: a little private joke, between just the two of them. A close-spun bond based solely around the fact that somewhere in the grand old city of Haven there was a cafe where everyone called him ‘Handsome.’
They grin back at forth at each other, and in the dim light the tight ball of nerves in his gut releases.
“And you, babydoll. I’ve been, uh, waiting for this.” A wry twist at the corner of his eyes. “Now, you get my messages?”
At Rhys’ raised eyebrows, he laughs- a cackle, almost- and shakes his head. “Not the poetry. Though I guess I can see how that went down.” He’s smiling widely, eyes crinkled at the edges, nodding at Rhys and leaning forward across the table.
Rhys is blushing.
(So much for playing it cool, then.)
“I did, yeah. The poetry was…” He raises an eyebrow at Jack’s widening smile. “Interesting. Got an eye for literature?”
“Yeah, I reckon you could say that,” Jack cackles, winking at him, dropping his head to the side in the process-
And then he’s staring at the arm.
(Something gut-deep feels that old tense nerve spring and bolt about him.)
Jack is staring at the arm.
(And it had all been going so well.)
Rhys sighs and abruptly feels old. Another of the same story, another person that freaked out and then pretended that they hadn’t- he tries to shake the itch that always seemed to crawl through the arm when people stared.
“Oh,” Rhys mutters. “It’s a prosthetic, yeah. Sorry, I probably should have told you. I hope that isn’t going to be a problem?”
God, he hopes it isn’t going to be a problem, because he had been so nervous about this date for almost a week, and he isn’t ready to add Mr. Handsome to the list of failed meetings just yet. He’s not ready to give up shitty snapchats and emojis and ‘handsomej6969’, and certainly not when they’ve only just met.
Jack is focused on the false flesh of the arm intently, and it’s all so stupid, god, he should have told him, all he wanted was to meet Mr. Handsome and have great sex and then go home, curl up on a sofa with Yvette and Vaughn and eat frozen yogurt-
“I- Hey, Can I look at that?” Jack is staring with wide eyes, which was… Well. Unexpected.
People stared, but they didn’t stare like that, like the arm was some marvel of engineering. Usually people got stuck on the fact that it wasn’t real flesh, but Jack seemed to be staring at the joints. He leans forward in his seat so far he’s nearly over the table, bracketing himself up with his forearms.
“Uh,” he says, but gingerly props the cosmetic arm up onto the table anyway. “Are you… Can you stop staring, please?”
At that, Jack snaps his gaze up to Rhys’ and asks, his tone alight with something almost fervent: “You're okay if I...?”
And Rhys thinks of Vasquez and all of the times he’s dropped mugs and all of the times he’s nearly hurt people from the force of it, from not knowing quite how hard he was gripping.
And then he thinks about “Clawrence”, about Mr. Handsome and dick-poetry, and the fact that they both upvote their own pictures. He thinks of all of those failed dates, all those midnight dickpics with scatter-shot emoji, and takes what feels like a leap of faith.
Jack almost pounces on it, humming over the shell of the hand’s casing. He traces it with fingers that seem soft despite the way Rhys can’t shake his twitches- Rhys can’t feel any of it, but it’s clear from his steady-sure palms that he’s confident.
The way he strokes along it is almost reverent, dipping in the grooves for the terminal where his hand secured in, and delicately examining the planes of it. He touches anything he can get to from under the sleeve: Rhys is very glad he took off his jacket, and watches him with eyes as wide as saucers.
Jack takes the joints in his hands, wrapping his fingers around the limb and evaluating, and Rhys is suddenly very aware of the fact that Jack is very close and very… not freaked out.
The nerves begin to give way to shock and then something sweet starts to build in his chest.
Nobody did that. The doctors and prosthetists had turned it over and checked the articulation and then oh-so-carefully dropped it. They’d treated him like glass, like something cowering. Nearly everybody had, as if the shoulder straps would come away one morning and Rhys would find himself lost in a sea of four-limbed people, as if the arm was somehow all that was holding him together.
Everyone had, except Jack. Apparently.
“You take good care of it, huh? Only signs of wear are a couple of scuffs up by your socket.” Jack doesn’t look up from where he’s fingering at the seam of the hand and the arm. “What made you get a passive hand? I could make you something prettier than this, goddamn-doesn’t have any articulation, either.”
(Rhys’ heart tentatively swirls with something warm, a feeling illuminating the remains of discarded nerves.)
(Rhys could do with more surprises like this.)
“Uh,” says Rhys.
He’s not really sure his stuttered words are his fault at all, because although he can’t feel Jack’s fingers he can certainly imagine how they might feel. Barely anyone ever touched the arm, Rhys included. There was just never usually any point, since he couldn’t feel it, but this… This was something different, a scrape of transferred sensation as he watches Jack trace out the bound plastic and metal joints. He still can’t feel it, but honestly that didn’t seem to matter, every touch a sharp, sweet jab of imagined feeling.
It doesn’t hurt that Jack seems to know his way around it- he taps the same places Rhys does when he cleans it, drags his thumbs up the same planes that Rhys would.
It is starting to feel more difficult to focus on the fact that they are in a bar, and in public, because Jack’s hands are on him, deft and sure and really very big, and Jack is still cradling him with steady grip.
(He thinks briefly of Fiona’s dry stare and “Rhys, you need to get laid”, then looks up at Jack’s face.)
(She hadn’t been wrong.)
“Seriously, I bet I could 3D print you a better looking hand in like, ten minutes flat. You’d look so damn pretty with a silver hand.” He doesn’t preen at the praise, he swears he doesn’t. “Maybe a yellow one? How flashy are we feeling?”
“Uh.” Jack looks up at him, raising an eyebrow and resting his fingers delicately on the arm Rhys can’t feel.
“Not feeling very articulate this evening, pumpkin? You seemed more vocal before.”
Okay. That wasn’t fair. His juddering nerves seem to have given way to something very different, and he seems to have spent an awful lot of this conversation being distracted in one way or another, and it was all Jack’s fault.
“Hey, shut up. I was feeling very articulate until you…” Rhys jerks a head at where the pads of Jack’s fingers still sit at the crook of his limb, and Jack huffs out a laugh and drops the arm back to Rhys’ control. When he leans back in his seat, he sprawls, limbs falling about and feet stuck out to the sides of the chair. “Until you… did that. Most people don’t… do that.” He coughs. “How do you even know about prosthetics, anyway?”
Jack shrugs and very pointedly lodges his feet further out to the side.
Christ, he manspreads, thighs open and jeans too tight, and judging by the way he’s searching for Rhys’ reaction with a grin on his face it’s completely intentional. Rhys raises an eyebrow and smirks, and has to bite back a sly comment about “compensating for something” whilst pointedly flicking his gaze from his crotch to his face and back.
It was their first meeting after all. And after the display with the arm, Rhys is getting the very strong feeling that there will be more than one.
“Call it engineering experience, I’ll tell you about it later. Anyway, now we’ve got that out of the way...” He makes a muffled noise in his throat, “Though don’t think I’ve forgotten about the hand-talk. I would love to have a look at that baby close up. Give it racing stripes or something, I dunno,”
-and then the mood abruptly changes. Jack leans forward and smiles a shark smile, legs back under the table and hands pulled up under his chin, “Speaking of things I’m going to be doing to you...”
“Just want be absolutely clear, sweetpea- are you still cool with the idea of me bringing you home and having my way with you? By which I mean I’m going to fuck you until the sun comes up. Just checking, you know.” He flaps his fingers but his eyes are locked on to Rhys’, and when he says: “To avoid misunderstandings and whatever,” Rhys can see him roll every syllable on his tongue.
“Yes.” No hesitation, just something with a little too much gasp to it, a little too coloured with the remains of the sensation of Jack's hands on him. "Yeah, I'm... Yes. I’m… into that idea, yeah."
He grins again, widely- teeth on show and sly beyond belief. “So then, I’m just going to check through a little something, if that’s...” He’s digging through his jean pockets, and again Rhys has to bite back a smart comment. The material sticks so tight to his skin he can barely force the phone out of his pocket, almost having to rip at the yellow case of it before it jolts out and he nearly overbalances. He totters in the chair, and for a split second he loses that hard-lined presentability of tight muscles and a strong jaw.
He’s less ‘Mr. Handsome’, Rhys realises with something warm and close blooming in his gut, and a little more ‘dick-poetry-Jack’.
The revelation is quickly quashed as Jack finally manages to tap at the little device, and regains his composure by clearing his throat and pretending nothing happened. “So, I happen to have a list of stuff you’re into, and it’s got a couple of things on it that I think we should talk about, in, ah... Great detail, since you said you don’t have much experience.”
Rhys doesn’t have it in himself to be embarrassed about that. He might have been new to kink but he was hardly new to sex, and it was most certainly in his best interests to have Jack know exactly what would make him fall apart. At his nod and a smile that probably borders on lecherous, Jack brightens and returns a dark-sweet grin of his own.
“Before we get into that, though, couple of things we’ve gotta get out of the way. First up,”
He props his elbow on the table and holds up a finger, and as Rhys is very pointedly not focusing on how damn big his hands are, he carries on. “I do BDSM following the whole ‘Safe, Sane, and Consensual’ thing. Which is to say that before whatever it is we do, we’ve gotta go through how to make it safe, we’ve gotta make sure we’re both in the right frame of mind to do it, and we’ve gotta make sure we’re both into it.” He peers seriously at Rhys over the table. “You with me, babe?”
“So, nobody gets… non-consensually hurt, I got it.” He nods vigorously. “Nothing without acknowledging what could go wrong and trying to prevent that, I’m with you, yeah.”
And if Rhys is very careful about keeping his options open, then that was in no way an indication that he may or may not want to try painplay, absolutely not.
(He’d seen the word when he started researching, and he hadn’t been able to hold back his shivers at the thought of a sharp-sweet sting and a resounding thwack.)
“So,” Jack grins at the entirely unsubtle invitation, and puts another finger up. “Safewords. Want to stick with the standard for now? Red for ‘stop’, yellow for ‘slow’, green for ‘it’s all fucking good, please don’t stop Jack’?”
And then it sort of hits Rhys that they’re doing kink negotiations in a crowded bar that is owned by people he knows, and his heart does an uncomfortable flip in his chest.
“Uh. Yeah, that’s fine, but..”
Jack looks at him sharply.
Rhys glances around at the crowded bar and leans into the table, one hand up to shield his mouth.
“But look, we’re in a bar. With people I know.” The only reason he doesn’t glance up at where Janey is still bartending is his sheer force of will. “Can’t we move this to somewhere more… private?”
Jack raises an eyebrow. “Usually I would be all over the idea of taking you somewhere private, honey, but it’s kind of important that we get all this done before you feel obligated to stick around.”
Jack drops his hand, and flaps his fingers a little. “Public spaces as safer spaces, and all that. ‘Sides,” he grins a little, leans in over the table until he’s so close to Rhys that he can feel his eyes drop half-mast without permission, breath ghosting over each other’s faces. “I’ve read your little list, sweetcheeks, and it says more than a couple of things about being out in public…”
And they are so close over the table, all it would take would be a little movement forward and they’d be on each other, and Rhys would grab his hand in that perfect hair and pull, drag him forward and clash their mouths together. He can just imagine the way Jack kisses, all teeth and tongue and biting at bottom lips, lecherous and harsh. Their breath holds strong in between them and Jack is so close, eyes twinkling and heavy eyed and big, his hands are on the table and grabbing at Rhys’ elbow, thumbs digging in at the joint, and he can almost feel it happening when-
Jack coughs and leans back. “Bad boy.”
Rhys doesn’t even try to hide his shiver. He doesn’t try to hide the way his eyes track Jack like he’s stuck to him, either, but he hopes that it’s more subtle regardless. Jack grins, but continues on.
“We’ve gotta do the boring stuff first, sweetpea. I’m going to try and make this as sexy as possible but we still need to do it. I’ve got your little profile right here.” He holds up the phone, and waves it around. “No nudes, huh?”
Rhys smiles at him through the haze of lost contact, then raises a brow. “You’ve seen plenty of my nudes. Just because you think you work the camera doesn’t mean everyone else does.”
Jack’s brows shoot up, and his tone is rife with mock-offence. “I resent that. I do work the camera, baby doll, don’t even try to imply that I don’t look every inch as good as I think I do.” He can’t keep a straight face through his smile, though, and Rhys takes pride in that. There’s a twitch at the corner of his lips and a dangerous glint in his eyes. “We’re going to have to work on that insolence though, sweetheart. Which, incidentally,” he waves the little device again. “Is something you said you’re into. What I want to know is-”
And then he’s over the table again, leaning in and squaring his shoulders out at the same time.
“How into it are you? Orders? Calling me sir?” He raises an eyebrow, and Rhys watches his lips curl with something wicked and in parallel to the thing purring and crooning in his gut. “Boot worship?”
“A-” He clears his throat. “All of those things. Please. Especially, uh. Especially those last two. The ‘sir’.” He glances down at Jack’s boots, now wedged back outside of the table again. “And the- And the boots.” He flicks his eyes back up to Jack. “The boot thing. That’s like, me cleaning your boots, right? With my... tongue?”
Jack smiles again, teeth showing and eyes low-lidded, wide enough to be some big cat. “Yeah. That’s the one, sweet pea, where you’re down on your knees and you lick ‘em clean. Take it that’s a yes on the submission, then?”
Rhys thinks of hands on his neck and the crawling, wrenching need for skin-on-skin-on-force, and the late-night desperate fantasies of Mr. Handsome bracketing him in a wall and forcing him down.
“Yes. I’m into that.”
That seems to be enough, because Jack smiles and seems to subconsciously rise up in his seat, back suddenly ramrod straight and looking down on Rhys. Which is good, because Rhys isn’t sure he could answer in any more detail without spilling out the deep thing inside him, that stirs and murmurs at the word ‘submission’.
“Okay, then. We’re gonna take advantage of that. Moving on, bondage? Tie you up, maybe cover those pretty eyes of yours? Maybe a gag to stop that sharp tongue, huh?”
Rhys feels his mouth part, feels something hot drop out in his breath.
“God, kid. You’re a gift, huh?” Jack has his legs spread again, jeans too tight and posture imposing against the wooden table. “Damn, I’m barely going to able to get all the details out of the way before I jump you. Tone it down, honey.”
...Okay. It’s around then that he at least tries to shake himself, dislodge the settling warmth from his bones. He sounds wrecked, and all they’re doing is talking- though he knows from experience that is was unwise to underestimate Jack’s way with words.
“O-kay.” He says, a little stronger and a little more force to it. Jack just raises an eyebrow and smirks, which probably said a lot about how convincing it was. Rhys can still hear that undertone of gasp to it, and if he can, Jack can. It’s the thought that counted though, and when Rhys gestures at Jack to continue he does, albeit with something sly and smiling on his face.
“Your profile was kind of sparse on the masochism. Painplay? Spanking?”
Jack whistles. “Shit, kid, for someone with no experience you’re a kinky fuck, huh?” He smirks again, and it hits something deep down swirling in Rhys’ gut. “Anyway a few more things- actually, fuck, I forgot to ask. Aftercare. What do you like?”
“I… what?” Rhys draws a blank. His research for his profile hadn’t even mentioned that.
“Aftercare,” Jack repeats. “Never heard of subdrop?”
“No?” Rhys shakes his head, perplexed. Jack shakes his head back, and makes a faintly disapproving face.
“Terrible. That’s the kind of thing people should tell you. Pretty much, it’s to stop all of those endorphins from fucking you up when they go away afterwards. Aftercare is just easing the come down, so you don’t feel shitty afterwards.” He shrugs. “Doms get it too, so. What do you like?” He gesticulates across the table, flinging careless arms left and right. “Blowjobs? Giving footrubs? Ice cream?”
Jack talks with his hands, and it is very distracting, partly because he can’t get the image of Jack’s hands on him out of his head. He doesn’t even have to think about his reply.
“...Hands. On my neck. Just on me, I guess. I like your hands.” He doesn’t have it in him to cringe at the disjointed nature of his speech, because Jack is chuckling. “Also, ice cream. And blowjobs. And warm clothes.”
Jack smiles. “I’ll note that down. Last few things before we can get to the fun. Any major turn-ons we haven’t covered yet? Anything for today?”
He looks at Jack like his vision is electrified, stuck on him like glue and something sticky-sweet. Jack is big and broad across from him, somehow both in his space and painfully far away. It takes him a second to reel through his fantasies, dredge up the ones that hadn’t been mentioned, but then Jack brings up a hand to scratch at his chin and he feels his gut clench.
“Breathplay? Is that a thing we could do? I’m- I’m into that. I’m very into that.”
But Jack furrows his brows and his face looks almost tortured. “Okay, you have no idea how much I want to say yes right now, because holy shit I have been waiting a long time to hear someone say that? Strangulation is a big thing for me.” He throws his arms out. “A big thing. But it’s a difficult kink. It’s very easy to do wrong, and I’d rather avoid breaking the ‘Safe’ rule on our first scene. So, no. Sorry, kiddo. Not today.”
“...That’s not a ‘no, never’, is it? That’s a definite ‘not today’, but I didn’t hear a never.”
When Rhys tries to remind himself that ‘he’s not desperate, he isn’t’, it falls flat.
(He’s very desperate.)
“Ohhh, trust me,” Jack smiles more of that shark-smile, “I am going to get the opportunity to put my hands around your pretty neck. But it’s not today. Anyway,” Jack pauses and looks at him with something a little less lecherous. “Hard limits? Major turn-offs, major no-nos?”
Rhys has to think about that a little longer. “Humiliation is fine, but… don’t say anything about the arm. And nothing… too bloody. Can we say no blood? Please.”
Jack raises his brows. “Yeah, kid, we can say no blood. We only do it if we’re both into it, remember? If you remember anything else, let me know. It’s only good for me if it’s good for you, yadda yadda. I’m not going to cut you unless you ask me to.”
There’s a brief moment of silence when Rhys smiles at Jack and he smiles back. It’s a little sign of tenderness, a delicate thing, but it does very little to dislodge the warm growl of the beast still purring in his chest.
When Rhys bites his lip, Jack’s smile snaps out, dark and dangerous and powerful.
“So, now we've got that out of the way.” He stretches forward, mouth once again oh-so-near Rhys’ own, bridging the gap of the table with ease. “Tonight I've got a few things in mind that I think you'll like. First, I’m going to push you up against a wall and hold you there, then I'm gonna bend you over and hold you down with one arm, work the other one into you. Gonna stretch you wide, make you open for me,”
Suddenly Rhys is alight. His mind falls back into a mantra of ‘close-near-strong-Jack’, strong bracketing arms and something dark pushing back into Jack’s hold, keening and begging, struggling out for something more than a whispered conviction.
When Jack nudges at his leg with his foot, Rhys shifts easily. Jack leaves them there, parted and open, still purring into Rhys’ ear.
“And you’re just gonna sit there and look pretty, right? You’re going to scream my name and call me sir, coming apart beneath me,”
When Jack presses his boot into his cock, he bites back a groan and hopes to god that Athena and Janey aren't watching, because they'd tell Fiona and then everyone would know he'd played some hardcore kind of footsie with someone he'd only just met, and he’s feeling slightly hysterical as his fingers go white knuckle on the edges of the table and Jack keeps talking, pressure at his cock and the aching cold, harsh bite of the sole-
“Can you imagine it, baby? I’m gonna have you on your knees, sweetheart, I’m gonna make you cum on my command,”
“Nnngh- Oh,” it’s ripped from him as Jack’s boot presses harder, something achingly sharp and close, and it’s not until Jack leans further in and shifts his weight and- “Please-”
“You wanna come home with me, baby? C’mon, get up.”
And Rhys does.
He gives Janey a wave as he follows Jack out of the bar, and when she smirks he tries his best not to blush.
He doesn’t do very well, but Jack’s grip on his wrist as Rhys runs blindly behind him makes it kind of difficult to care.
thank you for reading!
find me at: verulamfic.tumblr.com <3
Chapter 7: hands and arms and power
Jack is a wildfire, and he kisses like one.
Jack’s hand at his wrist is warm- it’s an odd thing to be stuck on, but it keeps catching in his head as they race through the old streets of Haven. Every step is a little too fast, a little too pounding on the concrete, and when Jack rounds the corner and pushes him up against the cold flat of a wall it’s all he can do to gasp.
“I’ve waited so long for this,” Jack croons and brackets him, squeezing their bodies together. As Jack leans over, Rhys’ head floods with the sound of gushing breath over him, with the tenebrous heat at his lips and limbs clashing against the bite of the brick. He wonders absently if they’d even make it to Jack’s apartment if they were going to start here- but then Jack is on him, lips on his own and Rhys sighs out with everything he’s got.
Jack kisses like fire. He kisses like the wilderness, a desperate thing with swirling tongues and nipping teeth, hands wrenched into his hair and legs hard lines against Rhys’ own. Bites at his lip, bites at his tongue- It’s a stampede of something powerful, hot and sweet and as Jack pulls back Rhys has to catch his breath.
Jack is so big, big against him, one hand at his head and the other a stark bar against his shoulder. Rhys gasps, back against the wall with his head tilted back and suddenly so warm. The alley they’ve rounded into is empty and cold, but Rhys feels feverish and hazy-sweet, Jack a presence of power standing over him like some predator- except Rhys wants. Rhys is willing prey, offering his neck and panting out something desperate. Jack pushes further into his space, hands yanking his neck closer as Rhys groans out, tongue suddenly swiping heat against him.
“Oh,” It comes out a little more wrecked than he’d hoped, but Jack is smiling against him, sucking and nipping his neck and bracketing him against the wall. Jack’s teeth are sharp, and when his tongue laves over stinging bite-marks it sends something like sparks and something like brute force up and down his spine, “Oh.”
“C’mon,” Jack says it roughly into his ear, growls against his neck. Rhys can feel smiling teeth against him at the way a purring mewl escapes his chest, rolling and rumbling the little space between them.
They are so close- Jack’s hands at his side, holding him up. His thumbs cut deep into his sides and Rhys finds himself arching, spine jolting away from the cold of the wall and into Jack’s chest-
And then he’s pulling away, and Rhys feels the absence of ‘warmth-heat-closeness’ as an ache.
“C’mon, babydoll, let’s get moving. Wouldn’t want to end up fuckin’ you right here in public, right-?” but it isn’t public, not really. It’s late, and the street is deserted- nobody would even see, but Rhys feels the forbidden thrum of it hit him like a freight train anyway. He’s gasping out on nothing, his breath catches at his throat. Jack smiles down on him. “Oh, you like that, huh?”
“God, yeah,” Rhys murmurs into the air, “Please,” and then Jack is off again, too-fast footsteps slamming at the ground and dragging Rhys along for the ride. The roads streak into a blur, brief landmarks and neon signs lighting the streets.
The apartment block isn’t far away, according to Jack’s whispered words against his neck as they stop-and-kiss-and-grope and set off again. Regardless, it seems to take an age; every alleyway, every dark side-street is another opportunity for skin-on-skin contact, another opportunity to put his mouth on Jack. He’s whirling with it, gasping at exertion and the grasping sensation of fingers at his arms and face. It’s thrilling, a gut-deep roar calling out and keening as he finds himself shoved against brick again and again, groaning with the weight of kisses and ‘Mr. Handsome’, real and in the flesh and so hot against his skin he wants to melt.
Jack pulls him along- a power-strung thing in tight-jeans and a leather jacket, dragging him up into a storm.
Rhys leans in and lets it happen.
He’s arching in an elevator, Jack’s hands in his hair and pushed up against the side. The mirrors show it as something like a dance- hands up and down him, Jack’s head bowed and whispering. An embrace with them both entwined, curling words sitting hazy at his flushed cheeks.
“Nearly there, honey, nearly there,” Jack purrs it against Rhys’ neck, and from where Rhys’ legs are wrapped around his waist he can feel the vibrations of it all over. “Such a good boy, baby, so pretty for me, huh?"
Rhys has imagined this moment, wrapped tight in Mr. Handsome and moaning with teeth at him and hands clenched hard. The way they look in the mirror- him, long and sweaty, eyes drooped and docile against Jack, who brackets and protects and growls out every other word- he hadn’t ever anticipated that.
Jack is so close at his skin that Rhys wants to sing out, but all he can do is gasp and steal fevered glances at the way their reflections coil together.
They roll through the entrance with a crash, Jack wrenching the door open and whisking him up. Strong arms at his shoulders and the crook of his knees, and Rhys groans out as Jack just moves him. Rhys mewls, shaking-warm against his broad chest as Jack manipulates his limbs, pulling him through the door and taking care to avoid banging his legs.
It takes him a little while to realise they’ve stopped moving. They’re in a bedroom, Jack’s arms holding him up above the bed, clutching him in his arms. His legs dangle, held high from the floor and he grips tight at Jack’s chest, the muscles of his arms warm and barred.
“Hello, Mr. Handsome.” Rhys says it quietly, lets it fall from his tongue in hot breath. Jack’s face is only inches from him, grinning with wild eyes and skin that seems over-bright.
Jack smiles wider, reaching out the hand supporting his legs, “Hey there, honey.” When Jack’s hand brushes his dick, he gasps. It’s electricity, burning hot, close and right, and he’s still reeling with it as Jack drops him to the bed unceremoniously.
He lays still where he’s sprawled, eyes wide and breath speeding and looking at Jack like the sight of him is a life-line. Jack is stood over him, towering- His hands are at his hips and he’s smiling like an animal, broad and strong and fever-wild.
“I’m gonna say it one more time, baby,” His breath is coming as thick and fast as Rhys’ is. The tone of it hits Rhys deeply, something honey-sweet and burning, like liquor settling in his gut as Jack looms. “I’m going to push you down and hold you there, and then I’m gonna own you. All mine, sweetheart, you’re gonna be all mine.”
Rhys feels his lips part and doesn’t bother to close them again.
Jack looks delighted. “Oh, you like that, doll? Like the idea of being mine?”
He tuts and sighs when all Rhys can do is leave his mouth open, lick his lips and breath heavily. “Speak up, honey. Don’t be shy, pretty boy, I’m gonna have you writhing on my dick pretty soon anyway. I’ll hear you then, that’s for sure.”
...okay. Rhys was into that. It’s another spill of sweetness from Jack’s lips, another sweet nothing to add to the list of things that make something bright and needy flood in his veins. ‘Pretty boy’ resounds in his head, and he imagines himself stretched out for Jack and preening-
“Yeah, I-” He swallows audibly and shifts his position on the bed. He spreads his legs, faces Jack with something soft rolling in his head. He returns the phrase softly, turns his tongue over it like honey: “Yeah. I like the idea of being yours, Jack.”
Jack laughs, low and rough and deep. “Mm-hmm, yeah you do.” He crouches, beckons Rhys up with a finger and a smile. When Rhys hauls himself up to the edge of the bed he puts out a hand; his fingers tangle in Rhys’ hair, blunt nails at his scalp. It’s more electricity, more of something delicate-close, sparking out at his spine. Relaxing into it is easy- a soft sigh and a roll of his neck and Jack’s hand is cupping his face. There’s flushing warmth high at his cheeks, the intimacy of the soft, cradling touch prompting closed eyes and a whisper-thin mewl. “See, baby? Knew you’d be an obedient little pet. Didn’t even need to ask you, did I, sweet thing?”
Jack slips fingers down his face, dragging nails along his skin. It’s something calm and ravenous both, a sweet-near veneer as Jack’s thighs press dangerously close between his legs.
Jack’s fingers hook into his mouth easily, slipping in against his tongue and pressing down. Rhys keeps his eyes open, keeps this burning contact between them going, sucks on his fingertips and tries his level-best to ignore the urge to press his hips up against Jack and relieve that trembling tension. Instead he swirls his tongue against Jack’s long, blunt fingers, grazing them up against his teeth and relishing the deep groaning noise he gets in response.
He tenses against the blooming vibration, aching with the urge to cant his hips forward. He’s only just started- he doesn’t want to slip up, doesn’t want to disobey; Even if Jack hasn’t said that he can’t touch himself, he hasn’t said he can. He can feel the warmth of it settling on him, airs of obedience, submission and ‘please, do to me what you will and I will thank you’. It’s the same kind of forbidden craving that he has for warm bodies pressed against him, bracketed arms and hands with big palms against his neck.
Jack starts edging forward, still crouched on his haunches with fingers buried in Rhys’ mouth. He rumbles with something tense-tight-close against his skin, and Rhys is so absorbed by the way his fingers curl around his tongue that when suddenly there’s a hand at his crotch he starts and mewls out. Unbidden, one hand grasps at the sheets beneath and the other braces on Jack’s shoulder.
Jack’s got a sharp grin on his face, ripping his fingers from Rhys’ mouth and placing them too-delicately on his crotch, the heat of them not nearly enough. Rhys has waited too long, doesn’t need this tentative, sly touch. Jack runs his fingers up and down, presses down and traces lines over his zipper but never pulls it open. He cups at him, delicate one second and squeezing the next, too light and too forceful at once. Rhys’ breath comes heavy with it and he stares at Jack; he can’t bear to look away.
“Jack, Jack.” He groans it out, but then Jack moves his fingers away entirely. “Please.”
Another rumbling laugh- Rhys pushes up from the bedspread only to find solid hands at his hips, keeping him down. “No, baby,” Jack says, sly and smiling. “We’ve got a lot of fun to have before you get to cum.”
That, of course, does very little to stop his cock from filling up and his breath catching in his chest.
“Oh, you like that too?” Jack grins, leans into his side and nips at him. “Like being told you’ve got to wait?” Rhys is too busy thinking of ‘Mr. Handsome’ and nuzzling sighs and the way Jack’s teeth are sharp and breath warm against him to reply, so he shuts his eyes instead. “Not that specifically then. Is it the control? Oh, Tell me that it’s the control. Tell me it’s giving me the power to dictate everything, your pretty little cock included?”
Rhys makes a strangled noise deep in his chest and Jack’s hands squeeze wickedly at his hips.
“That’s the ticket.” He laughs and pushes Rhys over onto the sheets. “Hah, I’ve got your number now, don’t I, sweetness? Praise kink, servitude… You’re craving submission.”
Rhys just falls back, lets it happen. He’s smitten at the feel of it, Jack’s broad hands at his chest and following back until Jack sits beside him. He leans down to kiss again, and this time Rhys nearly loses it, Jack’s palm over his cock and pressing.
He pants out against the pressure into Jack’s mouth, reeling as Jack smiles and nips at his bottom lip. Jack presses harder, blunt fingers digging into where he dick presses painfully against his pants. He jolts backwards and arches, groans as Jack huffs out a laugh. “What do you want, baby?” Jack purrs it out as his fingers crook and squeeze, and Rhys is pretty distracted right now so he mewls out the first thing that comes to mind.
“More, harder,” But all Jack does is pull back, removing the pressure and looming over him again, thick palms resting on his legs instead. He moans out at the loss.
“No, no. You’ve gotta earn it, kitten.” And that leaves Rhys being pulled up, guided onto his hands and knees as Jack kneels before him. He gestures to his too-tight-jeans. “Take ‘em off, get to work.” But Rhys doesn’t move- he’s too busy staring, lips parted and eyes wide and panting from the sensation of being moved, pliant and pliable.
When a few seconds pass and he makes no move forward, Jack drops down in front of him and puts out a hand. “Colour, Rhys?”
Rhys blinks and snaps his eyes up. “Huh?”
Jack looks at him seriously. “I know you’re new to this, sweetness, but you gotta tell me if we’re going too fast. If I ask for a colour, I mean ‘tell me if you’re okay’. Green for good, yellow for slower, red for-”
“Green.” At the way it spills from his lips almost unbidden, Jack grins and straightens out again.
“Then I’ll make it easy for you, buttercup: Unbutton ‘em, pull them down, suck,” Jack orders, and Rhys is scrambling forward under it before he can blink.
The jeans really are far too tight, and when he pries the button undone they bulge open. Rhys smirks at the way the seams have left indentations in the flesh of his hips. He takes his time pushing the fabric down, slowly and surely, leaning in to nuzzle at Jack’s cock through his underwear, sighing when he feels a big palm land in his hair.
It stops feeling forbidden right around then- the idea of warmth and restraint and submission stops being forbidden, and starts being something Rhys craves more than anything. He huffs out rolling breaths against the heat of it, groaning at the tensing of Jack’s hand before pulling down the jeans proper and moving to grasp at the underwear.
...He’s big. Rhys had guessed as much, had caught it in the swagger of him and in numerous dickpics, but Jack was big. Pulling down the fabric, Jack’s cock bounces up and god, he’d expected something, but not a concern that the thing wouldn’t be able to fit.
“Stop drooling over my dick and suck it.”
The curling want to obey tightens, so Rhys opens his mouth wide and laves over it with his tongue. The response is instantaneous- a sigh and fingers gripping at his head. He braces himself with his flesh hand, slings the other around Jack’s back and leans in.
God, he is big- Rhys feels his mouth stretched obscenely around him, hollowing his cheeks and rolling his tongue at the slit. When he hums around it, Jack grasps tighter. This sharp crackle of the sensation at his scalp is enough to get him groaning again, and in turn that’s enough for Jack’s hips to snap forward.
“Mmngh, yeah, got pretty lips, don’t you sweetness?” Jack croons out, cock hard and hot in Rhys’ mouth. “Good with your tongue, huh. You’ve imagined this moment, right, dreamt of it? Gotten off at the idea of suckin’ off a Dom you met online? Suckin’ me down your sweet-” he grunts, thrusting again as Rhys hits something sensitive with his tongue, “-Little throat?”
Rhys gasps as Jack yanks him off his dick, the sharp bite of pulled hair shocking him.
“Answer me, baby.” A short pause where Rhys reels at the way Jack is threading possessive fingers through his hair, little jolts of energy when he catches on a tangle, “Now.”
“Mm-hmm, I- Yeah, I-” When Jack raises an eyebrow at his fumbled speech, he coughs a little. “Yes, I- I have. I do. Yes.” Rhys can feel the flush high on his cheeks, partly at the sensation of Jack’s cock lingering on his lips, partly at the admission of the fantasy.
Suddenly Jack drops down beside him. He grins over Rhys’ form, leaning heavily at his sides; Rhys pressing further into the bed at the weight of his knees at his sides. Jack’s fingers tilt his head roughly to expose his neck and he gasps- the huffs of breath against him send him shivering, and he slides his eyes shut with a breathy moan. Jack licks thick stripes up and down- one hand drops, traces a harsh line over his crotch and presses. Rhys keens out, a strangled mewl only intensified when Jack presses harder- and his arms fly out, clutching into Jack’s sides.
Jack jolts. “Fuck. Careful with the arm, there, baby.” And Rhys would cringe at that, but Jack’s hand is still at his crotch and pressing, the other one back up at his neck and squeezing at the muscle where it meets his shoulder.
“Sorry, sorry, I-” Rhys puts the prosthetic at the bed again instead, bracing himself upwards and trying to control his shaking hips. “Sorry. I don’t usually- don’t usually do that.” The harsh press at his dick loosens, Jack’s hands instead resting softly.
“You wanna take it off?” Jack murmurs.
There’s a split second where Rhys wants to say yes, but-
“No, I- Maybe sometime. But no,” Rhys mumbles. “Not today.”
Jack nods at him, and presses his hand down flat, before crooking his fingers to grab at the zipper. “Still good to go, doll? Colour?”
He’s struck with it, the sensation of Jack’s big hands and warmth all through him. It feeds that rumbling urge in his gut, and when Jack looks down at him with a smile because he knows exactly what colour Rhys is, he gasps.
Jack strips him, chuckling. He pulls down the fabric his legs and roughly throws it across the room, Rhys lifting up from the bed to let him remove the shirt. Rhys falls back down and sighs, purring at the sudden grip of Jack at his thighs and then gasping as Jack flips him, turning him onto his knees with ease.
“There you go, sweetheart,” Jack rumbles from behind him, grabbing something from the bed-side table, “Now, you wanna tell me all about those fantasies of yours?”
When all Rhys does is groan and drop himself down, Jack tuts, the sound of opening plastic and then slicking fingers ringing like a promise.
“That wasn’t a suggestion, honeybun. Tell me all about how you’d imagined me, babe, and do it quick.” One hand squeezes roughly at Rhys’ flank, the other pulling up underneath his hips. God, Rhys can barely imagine how he must look, head down and ass up and moaning.
“I… I’d be pushed over, you’d bracket me in a wall and- and, you’d have your fingers in me, work me open-” he says, Jack’s presence big and warm behind him, “I’d be so good for you Jack, Jack-” Rhys is slurring his words, face against the bed as he shudders his hips up towards Jack. “Jack, you’re so big- I want to- I want, I want-”
Jack’s finger is sliding into him, the other hand coming around and wrapping around his prick. He’s so close behind Rhys, knees hitting the sides of Rhys’ calves, so tight to him that Rhys can feel the thrum and movement of his breathing.
He’s reeling, the pressure in his gut building and building, Jack’s hand at his cock and sighing out- When Jack adds a second finger he cants his hips up further, desperate for something filling him. He’s waited- he did the smart thing, waited and didn’t rush it, but now Mr. Handsome’s got hands all over him and Rhys is desperate.
“Good boy, Rhysie,” Jack’s fingers crook up, and Rhys makes a noise that’s wrecked and moaning when they tap at his prostate. “But I didn’t tell you you could stop.”
“Ngh- I,” He’s panting, spilling words from somewhere deep inside of him and Jack’s hands just feel so good, three fingers now and pressure building- “I want you inside of me, please- I, I imagined- Mr. Handsome- Oh.” Rhys winces at the slip of the tongue, but Jack is laughing, the crooking fingers and shooting pleasure telling him to carry on. “Jack,” he corrects himself, breathing out the heat, ”I- You’d fill me up, so big, and I’d- I’d take it, let you, I’d let you, ah-!”
He stutters to a halt, Jack’s fingers pulled out of him with an obscene pop.
“Such a good boy, baby. Just desperate for it, huh? You want it that bad?” And then he’s lining up his cock, blunt pressure at Rhys and he’s stopping- Rhys butts back, tries to get it in himself, because the desperate ache in him is spiralling. An arm plants in the small of his back and he groans out, face smashed against the sheets.
“Oh, you do, you want it so bad. Look at you, pretty thing, presenting to me. Buckin’ back just to get my cock inside you, huh? Wiggling your little hips up and down, huh?” And Rhys is- he’s alight at the pressure at his back and the way Jack’s so big that he couldn’t move even if he’d wanted, the crawling spark as Jack slowly, ever-so-slowly, pushes in, stretching him as he moans.
The burn of it hits him suddenly. He grunts and braces his arms, fingers on one hand clenching tight and the other pressing down hard into the bed.
“Shh, honey, breath with it,” Jack’s hand at his hip caresses him, curling and stroking at his cock one second and then squeezing at his hipbone the next. Rhys groans out in desperation, torn between bucking into Jack’s hands and cock or staying still and trying to get used to the burn. He squeezes his eyes shut and judders in place instead, unable to decide and too busy fixated on sensation. Everything is hot, everything feels alight, Jack’s hands on him and dick pressing in.
Suddenly, Jack’s hand finds something that makes him yelp, and when he presses back into it the pain is gone. He rutts back instantly, taking shallow breaths that don’t seem to get him enough air to deal with it, not enough to deal with the snaking pleasure at the way Jack fills him, at the way he’s presenting, at the way Jack’s hands cut deeply into his hips-
“Look at that, I knew I’d have you writhing on my cock, sweetheart,” Jack says, groaning in tandem with Rhys as the pleasure-tight part of him tenses. “I knew it, knew you’d be tight,” And if Jack is feeling anything like what Rhys is, he’s very impressed at his ability to talk, because Rhys is almost wordless.
He’s mewling out groans and “Yes, harder,” and Jack does, moves harder, deeper in him until he sees stars, trembling with it and bucking back.
“God, you’re so good, so pretty on my dick, knew you would be,” Jack’s thrusts are getting wilder but hit up into his prostate all the same, sending sparks snapping and firing up his spine, back arching and mouth left open as he gasps. “Knew you’d make a beautiful toy, babe, I was so-” Jack grunts, groans out, and Rhys can feel the precipice rising up before him, “So sure, moment I saw you, knew you’d be so fucking good.”
Rhys is so near it is almost blinding, something rushing up behind him and clenching in his gut-
Jack cums heavily inside him, suddenly, pulsing in his ass and making Rhys mewl at the sensation- he hadn’t felt full before, can’t have done, because now he’s got Jack flush with him and jerking, and he’s so near and all kinds of good and he can’t think straight-
“Good boy,” and then Jack’s hand is at his cock, the other still forcing his back down into an arch, and he’s burning bright and swirling and-
“Ja-ahh, Jack-!” He screams, the noise wrenched from somewhere bone-deep and wrecked.
He’s tensing, he’s alight, eyes rolling back and shaking out, groaning hoarsely as Jack’s hands stay at his cock and stroke gently as he shudders, cumming hard against the sheets.
When the shaking stops and Jack’s hands pull away, Rhys lets his hips sag bonelessly against the bed. Jack discards what’s left of his clothes and throws the condom away, before clambering over to Rhys and laying down beside him with a satisfied groan. Rhys is not ashamed to admit that he curls up against the warmth of him, squeezing closer against the heat.
It’s somehow more obvious now- Jack is big. He’s broad at the shoulders, muscled in the kind of way that only people that had gym memberships could be. Rhys makes no attempt to hide the way he’s staring with low-slung eyelids, instead drawing nearer to Jack’s arms and smiling.
Jack’s grinning, too, propped up on one shoulder and lounging.
“So,” he says, “Do you wanna talk about the fact that you called me ‘Mr. Handsome’ in the middle of dirty talk? Because I do. I really want to talk about that.”
Rhys scowls at him, but all Jack does is grin, so he rolls away and buries his head in a pillow.
“Seriously though, Rhys. Rhys, I don’t think you’re listening to me. Rhys. C’mon, let’s talk about the fact that you called me ‘Mr. Handsome’, you know you want to-”
Rhys throws a pillow at him.
next chapter is aftercare. it's gonna be great
find me on tumblr at: verulamfic.tumblr.com <3
Chapter 8: shelter
Aftercare, blowjobs, and meeting Nisha Kadam in nothing but a hoodie and his underwear. It’s, uh. Interesting.
“Flattery will get me everywhere,” He purrs, and well. To be honest? Jack’s not wrong.
Rhys sighs and rolls over, abandoning the potential pillow fight to hug Jack’s arm. It’s warm- so warm, a soothing and calm-spun thing that purrs, and it gets harder and harder to concentrate on the fact that he’s meant to be playing disgruntled.
Jack rumbles with something underneath him, stretched out like a big cat. There’s little that’s predatory about it, though; he just lets Rhys come closer, allows Rhys to feel the slow breathing of his chest and sigh. When Jack’s hands curl around him, sitting at his skin with something that makes him want to melt, it’s all he can do to moan. It’s somehow more intimate than before- sprawling over Jack as he lies back, calm and entirely satisfied. Jack shifts, grabs a tissue from the box on the bed-side table, and then leans back over.
“Wha’?” Rhys doesn’t even have the energy to finish the word so he mumbles out something like it instead.
“You got the sheets dirty, babydoll. That can wait, but if you fall asleep with it on you you’ll bitch at me later.” Rhys nods at Jack’s tone more than anything, slow and smooth. “There we go,” He murmurs, and lifts Rhys up until he’s slumped over his abdomen. Rhys hadn’t even noticed that he’d cum over himself, which probably said a lot. Jack’s fingers smooth over him gently, brush the sticky mess from him in slow swipes. Rhys moans out at the curl of it, and is not ashamed to admit that he drops his head back. He tries so hard to keep eye contact, to keep ahold of the way Jack is looking down at him, but his eyelids are as slow and drooping as the rest of him, the brush of the tissue at his stomach something of a grounding point as the rest of him sways.
Jack gently shifts him back to the side again, then rises up to discard the tissue before sitting back down.
Rhys props himself up on the prosthetic, and then extends a hand to Jack’s face- he isn’t sure what he means to do, but it felt right- but Jack clasps at it instead. Stroking at the base of his fingers, Jack rumbles beneath him, gently manipulating him back down- he lies mostly on the bed again, propped up against the thick muscle of one of Jack’s arms.
Jack, of course, only gives the tender moment a few more seconds to shine before ruining it completely.
“Seriously,” he half says, half laughs, “Are you sure you don’t want to talk about the ‘Mr. Handsome’ thing, ‘cause-”
“You are so bad at pillow talk,” Rhys groans. “Go away, Jack. I’m busy.” He flops over further on Jack’s chest and stretches luxuriously, prompting Jack to shift beneath him. He pulls up the arm that Rhys had been clinging to, but Rhys just squirms closer into his chest instead, head filled with hazy sweetness and warmth. He shuts his eyes and lets himself be lulled by the steady drumbeat of Jack’s heart, lets it flood over him like sunlight.
“Oh, you’re busy, huh?” Jack murmurs, rolling slightly so Rhys’ head is pointing up towards his own. “I see, I see. No: ‘You’re welcome Jack, thanks for giving me the best orgasm of my life’. I see.” He’s smiling though, tone light and joking. “You wanna tell me what you’re busy with?” Rhys scowls, and resists the urge to stick his tongue out at Jack.
“I am busy feeling fucked-out,” he mumbles into Jack’s chest. “Thank you for asking, please be quiet.”
Jack snickers. “‘Thank you for asking’, he says, like I didn’t just make you cum so hard you can barely move.” He nudges at Rhys, rumbles in delight when Rhys remains pliant and flops off his chest with an ‘oof’. “Oh, baby, look at you. All boneless and well-fucked, tell me I’m good. Aren’t I good?”
Rhys opens one eye to peer at Jack from where he’s pillowed his head in his arms. The prosthetic bites a little at the flesh of his face, but it’s kind of difficult to care. “You were better before you started talking again. I am trying to bask in the afterglow, go away.”
Jack clicks his tongue and rolls over onto his side, bracing an elbow on the bed as he looks at Rhys. “Nope, nuh-uh. Not gonna happen. I know you’re just saying that, kiddo, I can see you smiling. Aftercare, remember? Gonna keep you feeling warm and easy, just ease out that comedown.”
“Nnngh,” Rhys groans. “Do we have to? Can’t I just… Can’t I just lay here?” Jack snickers and pulls him closer.
“Give it five minutes and you’ll be asking me about the ice cream I mentioned. What was it?” He taps a finger at his lips, posing. Rhys laughs under his breath, curling around the circle of warmth that Jack has built for him. “Ice cream, warm clothes… What was the other thing?” Jack smiles winningly as Rhys raises an eyebrow. “Began with a ‘b’, ended in ‘job’…"
Rhys huffs out a giggle through his nose. “You know it was blow-jobs.” He swats lightly at Jack’s arm. “Don’t be a dick about it. You will get your blowjob. Now let melay here.”
To his credit, Jack does, resting his head against the pillows and turning onto his back again with a smile. Rhys relaxes into it, lets that spiralling curl of tenderness wash over him. It’s odd, really- this is his first time seeing Jack in the flesh. They’ve spoken for over a month, but this was their first time meeting. It would make him blush if he wasn’t so hazy. He feels like he’s boneless, loose and burrowed in soft at Jack’s side, a pliant, moveable thing. It’s a murmur under his skin, deep in his bones and relaxed. It’s… nice.
And he’s just thinking about that, the calm, fuzzy power of Jack, when his stomach chooses to growl. Jack snorts as Rhys clutches at his belly.
“So, that ice cream, huh?” Jack grins, and chuckles a little when Rhys shoots him a dry look but pulls himself up anyway. “C’mon, buttercup, up you get.”
They don’t bother to put on clothes. It’s far too late at night for ice cream, though Rhys hasn’t looked at a clock, and he feels like it would just be silly to bother to put on clothes now. It’s probably too cold to stay naked, but it just doesn’t seem important- Jack’s got a body that Rhys wants to stare at for days, and Jack hardly seemed to be complaining. Broad and warm and wrought with something strong, it seems to Rhys that Jack barely fits inside of himself. The kind of power in him seems to roll of his skin in waves, though Rhys is willing to admit he might be biased. Jack keeps hands at his neck and shoulders, threading through his hair and stroking at his sides when he stops in front of the freezer.
The kitchen, Rhys notices, was certainly... Impressive. Perhaps not a millionaire's luxury, but it was still a badge of money nonetheless- the floor is tiled with something white and shiny, the countertops a blackened granite that sticks out stark against it. It's well designed- clearly someone with an eye for aesthetics had arranged the place, and everything from the silver utensils to the metal oven matches. The kitchen island has a bowl of fruit on it that looked far more like it was there purely for the view than for the taste, with apples and oranges arranged like some classical painting. Rhys isn’t sure he’s ever seen apples that ripe.
It's odd, and not something he would have expected Jack to design- though now he thinks about it, he's not sure why. Honestly, it just didn't seem... flashy enough to match the bright yellow sweaters of Jack's wardrobe- he thinks briefly of Jack's suggestion to paint "racing stripes" onto the arm and blushes.
Jack pauses to check his face in the mirror that hangs off to the side, and is evidently not disappointed, because he grins brightly at himself and then at Rhys. “You like cookie dough, right? The Ben and Jerry’s kind?" He says, pulling open the door.
Rhys narrows his eyes at him. "It's somehow concerning to me that you knew that."
"Hey, I'm just that good, you know? ‘Sides, they ran out of all of the caramel stuff. And that crazy marshmallow ice cream. And the espresso stuff that everyone’s been jackin’ it over, lately." Jack replies, plucking the tub from a shelf and snapping the doors closed again. He strides over to the drawers, grabbing two spoons before walking back to where Rhys is sat at the kitchen island.
"...did I put it on my dating profile?" Rhys asks dryly.
Jack snorts, and pushes himself up onto one of the stools opposite Rhys. "Possibly. Trade secrets, babe. I'm not obliged to divulge." He hands Rhys a spoon, grinning, before smirking widely and sticking his tongue out. He licks up the side of the handle, lapping at it like it were honey and waggling his eyebrows at Rhys.
It looks ridiculous. Jack is far too wide to lounge in the chair comfortably, hunching his muscles in order to pop another scoop of ice cream in his mouth as he grins. God, and if Jack looks silly then Rhys must look ridiculous- perched on a stool and naked in the kitchen, not quite managing to fit his legs in the space under the countertop. It doesn’t help that Jack won’t stop making salacious faces at him. He waggles his eyebrows again.
...It's... It's something, that's for sure, and Rhys is laughing before he can even really process the fact that Jack is still grinning salaciously.
“What,” Jack says, a smooth laugh in his voice as he leans over the table, staring at Rhys intently. “What’s funny?” And that’s about when he really gets into it. He kisses at the top of the spoon almost delicately before grabbing another scoop and plunging it into his mouth, cocking his brow and laving his tongue over it as obviously as possible.
And here’s the thing: Rhys isn’t one to back down from a challenge.
So Rhys picks up the spoon and gives it all he’s got.
Licking up and down the spoon is the first thing that gets Jack’s attention proper, and Rhys flicks his tongue in swipes that are calculated- up, down, a soft lave all the way down to the bowl of it, scooping the rest of it up in a way that he’s sure lets some rest on his lips. He continues to lick delicately at the spoon anyway, trying his best to let out convincing, breathy moans.
Jack’s eyes laser in on him, eyes caught at his lips- when Rhys licks them, he flicks his gaze back up to Rhys, and smiles. It’s playful, sharp-edged and with the air of a man who was not about to be beaten.
“Oh, so that’s how it’s gonna be?”
Rhys, kind of worryingly, is into it. Mr. Handsome and Jack together, a combination of them both culminating in sitting in a kitchen, too late at night and making stupid faces at eachother. He likes this- there’s something easy to it, something simple. The ice cream probably helps, sitting sweet on his tongue as he licks the spoon and winks at Jack, an embarrassing grin on his face as he resists the urge to shut his eyes at the taste.
And then Jack shoves two fingers into the tub, and then pushes them both in his mouth with a wet ‘pop’. The noise he makes is bone-deep, a sigh, a rumble like a thunderstorm, except- well.
Except it was from pretending to give a blow-job to an ice cream spoon.
Rhys gives him a dry look, raising his eyebrows and stopping his ice cream spoon in its tracks.
“Jack,” he says, and tries his level best to stop his smile from bleeding through into his voice. “Will you excuse me, I am trying to eat my ice cream in peace.”
Rhys does his very best to not crack a grin. He tries his hardest, he really does, as he shoves his hand into the ice cream tub. He likes to think he’s successful, right up until the point where he shoves the ice cream and his fingers in his mouth, and lets out the most impressive moan of his life. He moans out like he means it, groaning around his fingers and making a delighted noise when Jack visibly swallows.
When Rhys sees Jack rise back up with competition in his eyes, he laughs. “Okay but really, though. I need to eat my ice cream. I’m very hungry.”
Jack gives him a wolfish grin and pops another two fingers of ice cream in his mouth anyway.
They don’t finish the ice cream. By the time it’s halfway done, both of them have stopped laughing about how ridiculous the whole situation was, and have started staring at each-other. Rhys knows because he’s been very busy staring at Jack’s eyes and lips, and he’s noticed that it’s emphatically reciprocal, tracing Jack’s line of sight as he curls his tongue around the spoon- and watching with delight as Jack licks his lips too.
“So, Mr. Handsome,” Rhys murmurs, tapping the spoon on his lip. Jack grins at him, teeth on show.
“What?” He asks, voice a little rougher than he’d probably intended.
“What was that last thing, again?” When Jack looks at him blankly, Rhys very obviously swipes his tongue over his lips and looks up from under his eyelids. "Ice cream, warm clothes..."
Jack cuts off the last word, which was mildly disappointing because Rhys had been planning on describing it in meticulous detail and punctuating it with licks and scoops of ice cream, but Jack is pulling him back towards the bedroom, and Rhys decides that he doesn’t care all that much.
Jack’s hand is at the back of his neck again, and Rhys decides he doesn’t care very much at all.
"I am going to keep you. Alright? I just,” Jack grunts, juts his hips forward a little, “Just wanna make that clear.” Jack growls, hands at his hair and dragging his blunt nails through Rhys’ scalp. “I'm gonna fuck you many, many times. Probably countless times, in fact. I'm gonna fuck you until you can't get off unless I'm there."
Rhys is on his knees, Jack’s thighs spread around him as he hollows his cheeks and licks desperately at Jack’s cock. With Jack sitting on the edge of the bed, Rhys can feel every twitch of his legs- if the words weren’t enough, it’s pretty clear Jack is enjoying himself. Rhys doesn’t reply because he’s busy trying to fit as much of Jack in his mouth as he can.
“Nngh, yeah, I'm gonna fuck you until you can cum without being touched. I'm gonna fuck you until you beg and you aren't sure if you want more or you want to stop cumming, 'cause it just feels so good that you can't bear it." His hands grip hard at Rhys’ hair, tensing. Rhys groans, pushes himself forward- Jack is almost down his throat, blocking out his air as he sucks and tenses his tongue in erratic beats.
Jack groans out, crooning down at him. "You like that, huh? I'm gonna fuck your pretty little hole until you're desperate, 'till you need my cock inside you. 'Till you need me on top of you, right? 'Till you forget your own name, baby, until you can only scream mine- goddamn, sweetheart, look at you. Writhing, right? Can't bear it, can't bear the way you want it, the way you're so desperate just to suck me off-"
Rhys mewls around him, and Jack cums, thick and pulsing against his tongue.
When Jack pulls him off and discards the condom, Rhys genuinely doesn’t expect the thick hand that drops to his cock and strokes. It’s a surprise, the way Jack stares at him as he flushes and shudders, but he’s not sure why. Jack, as it turned out, really, really wanted to see Rhys shout his name. Jack shifts him, grasps him at the sides and pulls upwards, until Rhys is planted firmly in his lap, spread across his legs.
One strong hand at the small of his back, the other a punishingly erratic rhythm at his dick, Rhys almost wants to relax into it, except that he can’t- Jack goes fast and then slow, a too-soft back and forth that makes him want to groan.The soft noises Jack drags from him are quite, breathless affairs, and most of them are Jack’s name.
When his muscles tighten and he clutches desperately at Jack’s shoulders, it doesn’t have the same kind of earth-shattering blast of the first orgasm. But with Jack crooning down at him and holding him, it feels pretty good nonetheless.
“So,” Jack says. They’re on the bed again, and Rhys has no idea what time it is but he’s certain it is far too late to be awake. He yawns and stretches, crawling over to Jack’s side. The man really was inexcusably big- the same height as Rhys but twice as broad, and cloyingly warm against his skin.
“So?” Rhys murmurs, nudging his head against the bottom of Jack’s arms in order to get closer to the side of his chest.
“Wanted to go over the scene with you, babydoll. Anything that worked particularly well for you?” Jack accentuates the consonants with a thick tongue click, the sharp of it making Rhys jolt a little against him. “Anything that didn’t work so well?”
Rhys groans out, digging his head further in and pointedly ducking his face away from Jack’s. “Do I look like it ‘didn’t work well’ to you?” He shifts again, propping his leg up over Jack’s. “I liked… I like the, uh. The dirty talk. Also, um. The- The ‘good boy’, I, uh, liked that.”
God, that’s going to be seared into his memory for a long time to come; Jack’s hands pulled around beneath him as Rhys jerks and screams out his name. Jack laughs, and Rhys feels the vibrations of it in his ribcage.
“Ha, yeah, no kidding. Praise kink, right? And you were such a good boy for me, babe,” Jack drops a hand down, lets it sit on the top of Rhys’ head. “But, really. Thought you were going to safeword out a couple of times, there.”
Rhys makes a soft noise. He doesn’t mean to, but it slurs out in a breath as he leans against Jack. “Just… It was kind of overwhelming, for a little bit there. A lot all at once, you know?” Jack makes an encouraging noise above him. “Didn’t expect to hit you with the arm, either. Sorry about that.”
Jack snorts. “Don’t be. It wasn’t a problem, and neither is the arm. Though I gotta say, I’d prefer it if it were articulated. Or something other than flesh-coloured.” He taps a hand around the socket, nudging at Rhys’ arms. Rhys clenches his hand around Jack’s bicep in response.
“I have an articulated arm, actually, back at home. On that note, arms.” Jack shifts the muscle beneath him, and he tries valiantly not to bury himself further into Jack but fails. “I- I like the- the… thing you did. With the... pushing me down.” He pauses, preens at Jack’s hands and the way they’re stroking at his arms and shoulders. Yawning, Rhys goes boneless against the warm-clasp of the big arms around him. “Could we… do that again?”
Jack hums. “Yeah, we can do that again. To be honest, sweetheart, there’s a lotta stuff I want to do to you. We’re gonna have plenty of time for me to, uh. Grant your wishes.”
They talk like that for what feels like hours. It’s soft, really, the kind of warmth that sat gently on Rhys’ head. Hazy, dozy, sweet- it’s almost unbearably close, falling to sleep next to Jack, but every so often Jack will turn around to face him directly as they mumble to each other in the dark and Rhys feels so calm. Calm as scattered stardust, maybe, spread across over some great galaxy with big open spaces and sighs.
It’s… it’s warm.
Rhys, as he pillows his head into Jack’s arm and laughs softly at some dumb joke, decides that he likes it.
By the time the words slow, and the night drags on so far that it was really time to either sleep or start the morning, Rhys is so tired he could be lulled asleep in a second. But, as he yawns out and feels the bite of the prosthetic at his side, there were things to do first.
"Listen, I- I'm gonna take the arm off, okay? I'm... I'm not meant to sleep in it."
Jack yawns and waves a hand in his general direction, shifting in the soft light.
"Sure, sure. You can put it on the cabinet." He points at the little table next to the bed and then flops down. Rhys follows suit, undoing the straps and carefully placing it on the cabinet before flopping back down with a sigh.
"Hey, Rhys." Jack murmurs, waiting for Rhys' answering sleep-curled noise before continuing. "How'd you lose it?"
...okay. So Jack wasn’t at all good at pillow talk, then. It’s late, though, and Rhys is feeling not only charitable but still pretty fucked-out, so he murmurs out his reply into Jack’s bicep.
"The arm? I never had one. I was born without it." A brief silence, Jack mumbling out beneath him.
"Ah. And the eye?" Jack asks.
A silence, but not an uncomfortable one- they're both too sleepy for it. Rhys feels like that kind of question was meant for this time of night, too late and too drowsy to be reasonable about it.
"...You aren't great at pillow talk, are you, Jack?”
A short pause, a silence that should feel uncomfortable but doesn’t, the slow thrum of Jack’s heart next to him a grounding point as he drifts towards sleep. Jack’s waiting for him, letting him choose to answer or not, and the knowledge of that isn’t quite as warm as Jack beneath him but was damn near close. Eventually, Rhys talks, speaking slowly against tired lips.
“I lost it,” he yawns. “I don’t remember much. There’s not really that much to tell.”
“Hm,” Jack rumbles beneath him, shifting a hand to scratch at his eyebrow and sighing deep in his throat. “Okay, pumpkin.” There’s a delicate, mellow pause before Jack leans over to switch off the light, looking back to raise an eyebrow at Rhys. Leaning up on his elbows seems like the polite thing to do, even if he does want to sleep for the next two days, and it’s worth it for the way Jack smiles wryly at him. “You’re tired, huh?”
Rhys flops down onto the bed, and Jack laughs and switches off the light.
That night, Rhys sleeps well.
The morning after is… interesting.
“I look like your mistress, Jack. I’m not wearing this,” Rhys says, stood in front of a mirror and posing with what he hopes is an affronted look on his face. He’s wearing a bathrobe- one he assumes is Jack’s, since Jack had been the one to throw it at him.
Jack turns around, pulling his sweater over his head with a grunt. “Hey, come on. What’s wrong with it? It suits you, pumpkin.”
Rhys shoots Jack a dark look and quashes the urge to preen. The robe does not suit him. He's swamped by it- Jack's deep burgundy monstrosity isn't his size, doesn't hold to his frame, and absolutely makes him look like some decadent mistress. It drags at his arms and clings too tight at his hips and the red of it isn't his colour. The only effect it really seems to have is to paint the red of his cheeks higher, drawing attention to the marks at his neck. Given that his hair is still messy, it makes him look debauched; Bite marks litter his neck and there are hickeys everywhere.
And whilst he wasn't necessarily complaining, Jack had a housemate.
A housemate he’d mentioned on numerous occasions to be mildly terrifying.
A housemate, apparently, who was in, sleeping just next door and also now waiting in the kitchen.
"Why do you even own this?" Rhys asks, pointing at the way the fabric falls off him. "Do you... Do you actually wear it?"
Jack shrugs, yawning and creasing up the folds of his sweater as he stretches.
Rhys tries really hard not to notice the few exposed hairs as Jack wrenches his arms above his head, but ultimately fails spectacularly as he watches the muscles in his abdomen clench. It’s still hitting him- Mr Handsome, but in the flesh.
"Not really." Jack says, groaning and sighing with the crack of his muscles. "Looks good on the door, though, gives the right impression. And on you, sweet cheeks." Jack shoots him a lecherous grin, smiling widely when he catches Rhys' eyes focused below his navel.
Rhys throws him a pointed look over a barely concealed smile. "Flattery will get you nowhere." He ignores Jack's derisive snort. "I'm not wearing it."
Jack splays his fingers and shifts across the room, blocking Rhys' view of the mirror. "C'mon, kiddo, it looks good on you! You look hot, you know that? Dressed in my too-big clothes, all pale and pretty..."
Then he leans in, and suddenly Rhys is reminded of the fact that Jack is very warm. It's almost instantaneous, the mood snaps from jovial to heated in a split second flat, and then Jack's face presses so close to his that he can feel the hot gust of it on his lips. "And besides," he murmurs against Rhys in a rumbling purr, "Flattery will get me everywhere."
And then they're kissing, Rhys buried in Jack's robe and grasping desperately at his shoulders. God, Jack kisses like- Rhys isn't even sure what, just that he needs more of it, harsh press of his lips against Jack and the soft, wet swirl of his tongue-
There's a grasping hand buried deep in the fabric of the robe, sliding it open and digging the pad of a thumb into his skin, and he's groaning. Everything even smells like Jack, deep scent of something dark and smooth clinging to the robe as Jack kisses and sucks on his bottom lip, nipping lightly and laughing when Rhys yelps out but doesn't stop. It’s messy and dirty, it’s kissing like Jack’s got something to prove and Rhys is all too willing to hear it, kissing him back with as much ferocity as he can muster and kissing at the corner of Jack’s mouth as he-
Jack pulls away, and Rhys makes a small noise in the back of his throat at the loss.
"Here," Jack laughs, rummaging in a drawer and then throwing him a bright yellow hoodie. "Put this on. I'm going to the bathroom, try and stop blushing by the time I'm back."
… What an asshole.
Shrugging on the hoodie feels kind of indignified, but he was cold and the ‘mildly terrifying roommate’ was outside, so Rhys is hardly going to turn down the offer of warm clothes. By the time Jack gets back, he’s been sitting on the bed for quite a while, lounging and scrolling through Facebook with his phone- Jack’s arrival shocks him, especially since he walks out in boxers and that damned bath robe. Rhys can’t deny he looks good, though- his skin is somehow bright, grinning widely at Rhys from across the room and posing. He bares his muscles and stances his feet apart like an ancient Olympian, pouting in Rhys’ direction and grinning when he laughs.
“See something you like, babydoll?” Jack asks, before relaxing his pose and padding over. “Hey, why didn’t you go and speak to Nisha?”
Rhys looks up at him, and hopes his face looks every bit as unimpressed as he feels. “What, your terrifying roommate? Nope, no thanks. I will pass unless you are there.”
Jack stares at him for a second. “You-” He bursts out laughing. “You’re scared of her! I don’t blame you, but- oh my god, c’mon, you gotta meet her, she’s gonna- she’s gonna love this-” And then Jack is pulling him by the crook of the elbow, up off the bed and through the corridors.
When they get into the kitchen, and someone that might be the most intimidatingly gorgeous woman Rhys has ever seen stands with a hip cocked against the counter, he finally realises that he’s wearing only a hoodie and underwear. She frowns at Jack before focusing her attention onto him.
“Uh,” says Rhys, which he would kick himself about except he thinks it’s kind of reasonable to lack eloquence when you’re stood in front of your extremely handsome Dom’s beautiful roommate in nothing but a hoodie and underwear. “Uh,” he says again, because he’s really not sure if it’s clear that he is stood in the room in only a hoodie and underwear.
The beautiful woman looks at him. She’s not tall, but she looks like she could crush Rhys in a second- a power even more than Jack was, built of stamina and a mean-looking leather jacket.
“Oh, Jack. You said he was pretty, but you brought him to me all wrapped up.” She purrs, cocks her head, and glances at Jack only to train her eyes back on Rhys, eyeing him up. “Name’s Nisha, honey. What’s yours?”
“H-ha! Uh-!” Rhys stutters, but suddenly Jack’s hands are clapping his mouth and he’s braced around him, front pressed tight to Rhys’ back. He’s like an octopus, stuck and steady and very unwilling to let go.
“Nope!” He says, flapping his free hand over Rhys’ shoulder, gesturing at Nisha and scowling. “Nope, nuh-uh, babe, don’t tell her. Your name is ‘that cute tall sub’ for the purposes of this conversation, you hear me?” When he extricates himself and removes the hand, Rhys rips his mouth open to speak, only to have Jack rest a finger on his lips and stare him dead in the eyes. “Shh, no. C’mon, doll, she can’t know. It’s like… like a game, and one that I’m winning.” Rhys gives him a look as deadpan as he can muster, but when Jack only raises his eyebrow and gestures frantically, he sighs against those long fingers.
“Okay fine.” He tries hard not to let his confidence slip as he looks Nisha in the eyes and tries really hard to pull off the ‘I’m-wearing-an-ill-fitting-hoodie’ look. “Hey, Nisha. My name is ‘that cute tall sub,’ how do you do?”
The look on Nisha’s face is… well. Her eyebrows are high and she’s smiling with a kind of incredulity, hands suddenly dropped to her sides instead of propped on the counter.
Jack, of course, bursts out laughing.
The morning passes a lot quicker when he isn’t tripping over his tongue, and by the time they’ve eaten- Rhys had sat on Jack’s lap and laughed when Jack fed him- it’s already nearing midday.
Which was to say that, if Rhys wasn’t quick? He wasgoing to miss his shift. By a lot.
He’s tugging at the curls of his hair when Jack walks him to the door, nervous and kind of flushed. “So, uh,” He says, toeing on his shoes. “D’you- could you call me a cab? Maybe? Please?”
Jack stares at him. “I- do you- don’t you know where you are, right now?” At Rhys’ sheepish smile he scowls. “Oh my god. We literally walked so you could- we’re right in the center of Haven, Rhys. Like, straight-up. This apartment is riverside. That shit is premium, Rhys, I can’t believe you came home with me without even- What if something had gone wrong-?”
There’s a second where Jack seems to struggle with himself, and Rhys genuinely isn’t sure if he wants someone to hug or to punch. He starts to put his hands up to his face but then seems to think better of it, crossing them solidly over his chest instead.
“Okay, fine.” Jack says, exasperated. “I’ll call you a damn cab. Next time you come over you’re walking and you’re gonna remember where you are, for the love of God.” Jack roots in his pocket for his phone, taps at it, then puts it to his ear.
Rhys repeats: “‘Next time’, Mr. Handsome?” back at him, then laughs at himself.
As if it was even a question, really, because Rhys wants to come back to this. Rhys wants to come back to this place, lodged high above the river and warm with Jack, a calm and easy place so different from home. It’s not better, Rhys thinks, but it’s different- and different in a way Rhys can’t get enough of. Home, compared to this- there wasn’t enough force to it, though that wasn’t the right word. Home had none of this blunt pressure, and Rhys is already bemoaning the dissonant loss of it. Not bad, per se, but jarring.
But then when Jack winks, Rhys relaxes against the doorway. When Jack puts a hand over the receiver and mouths ‘soon’ around a wide smile, Rhys smiles back, and opens the door. He sighs and lets the morning air over him.
Okay, ‘soon’. Okay, he could deal with that.
sorry for the wait! i've been feeling kind of ill, and although I can't guarantee things will speed up, i can guarantee i'll keep working on this!
find me on tumblr @ verulamfic.tumblr.com
Chapter 9: adulate!
Jack's having kind of a bad day. Elsewhere, Rhys is having a good one, even if he's somehow missed Masterchef and all of his friends were assholes.
Content for this chapter: Alcohol, Jack’s constantly fluctuating mental state and total lack of ability for introspection, references to ableism, interrupted phone sex.
This is the first time I've gotten to write Jack's POV, and the second time someone has barged into Rhys' room unannounced. Boy needs to get a lock, or something.
thanks to Lucy for the beta!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jack slams his hands down onto the table, and feels suddenly, irrationally, like the whole damn world is crumbling about him. "Stop friggin’ laughing, it isn't funny! I didn't- I didn't know."
Nisha cackles across from him, gripping her wine glass and shifting in her chair. "Oh come on, sugar. Of course you did. It doesn't sound like he hid it."
The day is bright but cloudy, and the noise of the river is dulled against the way the radio crackles and Nisha kicks her boot against the table. Her smirk is so sharp he can almost feel it, pin-sharp prickling at his face as she stares.
"No," Jack growls, spits it and feels it resonate ugly in his chest. "I fuckin’ didn't. I knew about the arm."
Nisha purses her lips and sips at the wine with raised eyebrows. "What did you expect?" She pauses, taking another sip, and Jack tenses his arms hard at the table. “This is good wine, by the way, Athena’s got good taste-”
"I thought it was like Tim’s eye.” He cuts over her, trying not to snarl. “I didn't know- oh for god's sake, stop fucking laughing."
" What did you think was more likely, sugar? Don't be obtuse, Jack, it’s not a good look on you.” She purrs, and raises her eyebrows, wearing a look on her face Jack would want to punch if it weren’t for the fact that Nisha could probably beat him in a fight. “And don't think I didn't notice all of that time you spent in the bathroom yesterday."
Nisha could probably beat him, but he’s getting closer and closer to wanting to brawl anyway.
Jack grinds his teeth so hard it aches at his jaw. "I can spend as much time on my face as I like. It's a damn good face."
"Yeah, not that he got to see much of it."
He doesn't have it in him to reply to that in a way that isn’t screaming, so he stares ahead at the clock and watches it tick. It isn’t even mid-afternoon yet, barely an hour after midday, but the morning feels like it has passed in a flash; So quickly he’d probably think it was still yesterday if it weren’t for the fact that Rhys had gone. Nisha looks at him for a second, crossing her legs and bracing herself on the counter.
"You need a drink." She passes the bottle of red across the table. Jack has no idea what she's drinking, but if Athena had recommended it, it was probably good. She had good taste in most alcohol, really, which was helpful because he and Nisha got through a lot of it. He turns his nose up at it anyway, taking a smooth gulp straight from the bottle before returning it and pushing up from his stool.
"Gonna need something stronger." The whiskey, at least, is something familiar.
Nisha eyes him as he unscrews the top and drinks from the bottle. The glare itches on his skin. When Nisha stared, she was usually about to say something he didn’t want to hear. She sighs, and he glares back at her. “Why is this such a problem? It’s not like he’s going to care.”
And that’s exactly it.
He isn’t going to care. And that’s fine, you know, that’s all fine, whatever, not a problem.
But Jack hadn’t expected.
“I didn’t know.” He snarls. “I didn’t know, that’s the damn problem. I signed up to be a Dom, not to-” He swallows viciously, grunting at the burn. “Not to find a….” He trails off, face still set in a snarl.
Nisha stares at him, eyebrows quirked. “A what?”
“Fuck off,” he says, which annoyingly probably said a lot.
Nisha drinks her wine, frowning. “Jack, you sent him poetry.” She shrugs. “It was shitty poetry, sure, but that at least says you, ah…” She drinks again, and smirks. Jack resists the urge to yell. “You... like him. You’ve gone beyond the ‘Online Dom’ stage, sugar. And besides,” she swirls the wine around the bottom of the glass, fingers placed delicately on the stem. “He’s cute. He isn’t going to go to waste, honey, if you don’t want him, I’ll have him-”
“No.” He takes another swig, staring at her seriously. “No.”
Nisha sighs, drinks deeply from her glass, and then stands. The scrape of the stool on the tiling is sharp enough that he winces and scowls in her direction. “Okay, sugar. You keep telling yourself that you only like him as his Dom. Sure, fine, whatever.” She flaps her hand, moving around the back of the stool and leaning on one hip. “But you're the only one buyin’ it, Jack." She steps away, then seems to think better of it, swinging back around to face him. “Also, I’m gonna be using the playroom for the next two weeks. Or until you get over yourself.” She waves a dismissive hand in the direction of the door. “Whichever one comes second. Bye, honey!”
“Hang on, I booked it- you asshole!” He makes an outraged noise as Nisha walks out of the room and shuts the door. It shakes a little on its hinges, and Jack takes another drink, gulping at it viciously and twisting his mouth at the burn. Bullshit. As far as he’s concerned, his face was his business, and so was his sex-life. And everyone bought it, not that there was even anything to ‘buy’. His face was hot, he was hot, he was a great Dom. That was all there was to it.
Jack thinks briefly of Rhys’ eye, of Rhys, of the way he’d mimicked Jack’s messages and the way he’d fallen over himself to obey, and ends up staring at his phone screen with a scowl.
He leans heavily against the countertop and grips the bottle tight in his hand.
It’s an overheard phone call that relights the fire in the search for Mr. Handsome’s name.
It is emphatically not a conversation that Rhys would have liked anyone to hear.
Because the thing is- okay, look. Rhys has a thing for Jack’s voice. It’s as simple as that, no use hiding the truth; Jack’s voice was like warmth, rumbling warmth. Like closeness, honeyed whiskey, or warm spots of light- like some big cat purring, even if the crackle of the phone speaker did ruin the effect somewhat. And they haven’t even started, that’s the thing. Jack is murmuring through the handset, tremulous promises that make him gasp, but Rhys doesn’t move, and he can tell that Jack hasn’t either. He goes untouched, but he feels himself harden under the way Jack spins words anyway. He weaves them roughly, shoves syllables together and uses blunt force suggestions in a way that makes Rhys’ spine arch, his toes curl, his mouth drop open in a slow sigh.
They’re both just talking to one another, Jack showering him in praise and Rhys lapping it up and replying in kind. Jack calls him darling, sugar, sweetheart, kitten, and Rhys tells Jack just how good he is at this, just how good he is, how easy it was with him. The words spill from his lips and he isn’t even being touched, nothing but the deep-spun assurance that Jack was there and Jack was listening, Jack was talking back, and Rhys murmurs that he wants nothing more than to drop at his knees and fall with him-
Jack’s breath stutters, and the door slams open. Light floods the room, and Rhys shoots up from where he had been relaxing against the bed. The crack of wood slamming sharp against the door-frame makes him twitch a little, but mostly he just sits, pauses, stares wide-eyed like a rabbit in headlights-
A figure stood in the door, a television remote clutched in their hands and-
It’s Sasha. It’s Sasha.
...Fuck. Rhys grabs a pillow and rolls over onto the bed and tries very, very hard to hide his erection.
“Rhys,” She babbles, eyes shining and oddly wide- Rhys shifts the pillow. “Rhys, I don’t want to spoil anything but you’re missing Masterchef and Jason just made this terrible souffle and-!”
Rhys can see the moment she realises. He watches every second of it. He watches the shock, and then the vague embarrassment, and then the sly glee as she notices the handset abandoned on the table.
“Oh,” She says, and Rhys buries his head in his hand.
“Don’t,” he groans. He wants the floor to eat him. He wants Sasha to leave right now this very second, or earlier if possible. “Please don’t.”
“So. That’s him, right?” She snickers, advancing into the room. Her hands sit on her hips and her eyebrows are raised, and she pointedly looks away from the pillow clutched to his crotch. “That’s your Mr. Handsome, on the other side of that phone line?”
Jack, of course, chooses just that moment to chip into the conversation. His voice comes tinny and crackled through the handset. “Hey, Rhysie, hello?” There’s a pause where Sasha looks at him with something like delight. “Rhys? C’mon, babe, you were about to tell me exactly what you wanted to do with your m-”
“Ah hahah!” Rhys interrupts. It’s a mess of tone, cracking at the edges. He’d wince, but he’d already had his face scrunched up in embarrassment. “That- that’s funny, Mr. Handsome.” There’s a pause. Sasha’s smiling widely, and Rhys would really like the floor to eat him.
Or for his erection to flag completely, so that he could move the pillow and disconnect the call. Either one, really.
“Hello, Mr. Handsome!” calls Sasha, tone light and thoroughly evil, just loud enough for Jack to hear.
And that would be fine, because if Jack was anyone else, they’d disconnect the call. But Jack wasn’t anyone else. Jack was an asshole.
“Hello there.” He says, crackled and strange through the speaker. “You’re… Fiona? Sasha? I’ve heard all about you.”
Rhys covers his face with his hand. That’s… well. Jack might be a whirlwind of romance and charm, and probably the best fuck Rhys has ever had, but although he was so good in bed? Out of it, he was a terrible, prancing asshole.
“Sasha,” Sasha advances across the room and everything was terrible. There’s nothing Rhys can even say to avert it; he knows exactly what’s going to happen: she’s going to ask his name and Jack will give it and he will have lost the dumb little game and also had Sasha walk in on him having phone sex in the space of about a minute. “Good guess, Mr. Handsome. Speaking of names,” Sasha makes direct eye contact, wide smile and eye alight with glory, “What should I call you?”
…Rhys sighs and shoves the palm of his hand into his face.
A pause, and Rhys is sure that all is lost, he’s lost the game, Sasha has won and would lord it over him for weeks-
A tinny, crackling laugh. “Ha, the name’s Mr. Handsome.” He takes a pause to let Sasha take that in for a second, which is good because Rhys is punching the air and almost dislodges his pillow- “Handsome J sixty-nine, sixty-nine.”
Rhys resists the urge to screech with laughter. “Yessssssss.” Rhys can’t hold back his giggle. Sasha whirls on him, clearly biting back an amused smile, which would worry him except that he’s won.
“Uh, huh. I can see you laughing there, Rhys.” And yeah, of course. He’s hardly trying to hide it, because he’s won, and Sasha still didn’t know his name. She narrows her eyes and stops hiding her sly smile. “So what’s your username, then?”
“What? Uh. Nothing,” He stutters, and glares in the direction of the phone when he hears Jack snort. “Nothing.”
Sasha raises her eyebrows and leans back, crossing her arms and smiling with a look that says that maybe Rhys hasn’t won this round after all. “Nothing?” She parrots, staring down at him.
“Nothing, yep. Nope. I don’t- Just go by Rhys, regular ol’ Rhys, that’s- That’s me,” He coughs and winces and feels his face flush. God. As if it hadn’t been bad enough before. “No username. Not- not for me, nope! Don’t have one.”
There’s another burst of laughter from the phone and Jack yells out from the tinny speaker: “Yes, he does!”
Everything was terrible and everyone was an asshole. “Oh my God, J- Mr. Handsome, shut up.”
He snickers, and Rhys tries really hard not to look at Sasha and the way she’s leaning back on her limbs and smiling victoriously. “C’mon,” says Jack, and Sasha’s grin is triumphant. “Like she’d buy that? I am building friendships, cupcake. Be proud of me.” There’s a pause where the only sound is Rhys’ strangled groaning and Jack’s huffed laughs, but before long Jack’s purring again. “Anyway, kiddo, I gotta go. Have a good night, Sasha. Ciao!”
There’s the click of a call disconnecting, a vicious sound that makes him jump.
Rhys remains lying down, and Sasha crosses her arms, and Rhys wants to fall through the floor and never have to look her in the eye again.
She didn’t manage to get his name, he supposes. That was something, at least.
“So,” she says, and Rhys shuts his eyes and sighs. “Your username is that bad, huh?”
Rhys rolls over and pointedly does not move until she’s left the room.
“Record Masterchef for me!” he hollers as she shuts the door.
She doesn’t reply, which he assumes is a ‘yes’.
Jack’s message buzzes at his hip as Rhys hands Ms. Jennett a latte and smiles. Jack’s got his phone number now, so he gets it direct rather than through an app- which means that Rhys can always tell it’s Jack. The message thrums in a pattern that reminds him of a heart beat, and he will neither confirm nor deny that he’d been thinking of lying on Jack’s chest when he’d changed it. It’s been about a week since they’d met in person, and Rhys isn’t going to pretend he hasn’t been desperate to meet again. Still, work is a solid comfort against the buzzing excitement, even if he does want to check his phone every two minutes.
The shop is full, this morning, and had been for the whole week after their… date? Rhys still isn’t sure if that’s the right word, but hey, it had been the word he’d used when talking to Vaughn and Fiona about it. They hadn’t seemed to mind about the fact that he’d had sex on the first date, and had been more concerned about the fact that Rhys hadn’t actually known where he was most of the time.
That… that conversation had been awkward, yeah.
Still, it had relaxed by the next morning. And it was sunny today, which always helped, because the open windows of the front of the cafe attracted customers in droves. A busy cafe was a better cafe, especially when Sasha was actually doing her job for once, serving customers right alongside him. Sasha was better with espresso than he was, just that bit better at catching the shot before it started to go bad.
Rhys is willing to admit that he’s a little impatient, and still has resist the urge to make sour but faster coffee.
Still, she was impatient where he wasn’t, so they work well as a team. It wasn’t really a two-person job, but they get set into comfortable routine before they know it; Rhys takes the orders, she grinds the beans and uses that bullet-sharp precision to pour espresso, and then collects the money as Rhys turns it from espresso into whatever it was he was making. Lately, the favourites have been milky coffees, which left Sasha with an easy job and him with a fun one, making up new designs on the fly and learning to compensate when he fails miserably at them. One student had come in with a dinosaur backpack, and despite his best attempts, he’d made something that looked more like a pigeon than a raptor. Still, practice makes perfect. It was a good thing that Rhys loved Yvette’s so much, because he got a lot of practice.
Sasha nudges at his side with her hip, and he looks at her quickly before handing Ms. Jennett her change. “What?” He asks out of the corner of his mouth, already welcoming the next customer in the line. They aren’t a regular, but he recognises them vaguely anyway.
He smiles and taps at the till as Sasha busies herself with the grinder. “I have such a good story to tell you when I’m on break,” she says, smiling at him as she works the machine. “You know that douche that came in the other day?”
Rhys frowns and scratches absentmindedly at his arm. “Yeah. You mean the one with the…?” He puffs out his chest and puts on his sleaziest smile. Sasha laughs lightly and nudges at his hip again. It’s a soft moment, even given the subject.
“That’s him, yeah. He works over the street.” She whirls around, a shot of espresso clasped in her hand, nodding at the window as she hands it to Rhys. “We’ve been seeing him a lot in the mornings. We stare at him, it’s good fun. He scowls.”
“You mean you and Fiona?” Rhys asks.
“Yeah,” replies Sasha. She smirks, looking over at the sofa Fiona usually had documents spread out over. She isn’t in today, roped into something stressful elsewhere, and the table looks oddly empty without her swearing at her organiser. Sasha continues, prodding too-sharply at Rhys’ elbow to make him move. “We want to make him as uncomfortable as possible so he won’t come back in.”
Rhys raises an eyebrow and resists the urge to dig his thumb at his arm. “I thought you were going to tell me later?” She flaps a hand as he wrestles with the steam wand, steadying the mug with the robot arm. Sasha grins widely and pats him on the side.
“I am going to tell you later. Trust me, my story is much better than just staring at him. You’ll love it.”
Which of course means she’s going to make him wait. Sasha was terrible like that. He sighs, exaggerates it with a heave of his chest and a grin at the customer. “You’re going to make me wait until your lunch break, aren’t you?” He asks wryly. She shoots him a beaming, innocent grin in response, and passes the newly filled mug over to the customer. When they smile out a thanks and heads towards their seat, Sasha plants her hands on her hips and smiles up at beatifically.
“C’mon, Sash!” He tries to keep the volume from his voice, but Sasha was always doing this- ‘oh, this story’s the best, you’ll love it’ and then just not telling him. “You can’t hype it up and then make me wait-!”
“I’ll tell you right now,” She says, but says it in a way that makes Rhys want to sigh. That tone of voice said there was a ‘but’, because there was always a ‘but’. “If you tell me Mr. Handsome’s name.”
Rhys looks at her flatly. “No.”
“Okay,” she says, considering. “What about your username?”
He tries to get as much of his abject ‘No!’ into his eyes alone, that time.
“C’mon, Rhys! It’s a good story, it’s worth it-!”
That’s pretty much how the rest of the shift goes, after that. Rhys makes coffee and Sasha prods at his side and tells him just how good this story would be, and then whines when Rhys won’t tell her his name.
Later, when it’s her break, and they’re both sat at a sofa with mugs clasped in their hands, she finally seems willing to tell him all about this ‘amazing’ story. Yvette’s at the counter, and had let them take a break at the same time- Rhys is pretty sure it was partly because she wanted to know Jack’s name too, and Sasha seemed to be the closest to finding out.
“So.” She says, clutching a pastry in her hand. “That asshole works across the street.”
Rhys nods at her and curls up in his chair. “Yuh-huh,” he mumbles, tucking his feet underneath his legs. He’s facing away from the door, but he knows where Sasha’s talking about- it’s the huge, terrifying corporation. The one where everyone wore suits and scowled all the time.
“Wait wait, I forgot to tell you. That cute lesbian couple from The Hunt were here, okay? That’s important, they were having lunch or something.” She pauses, and looks thoughtful for a second. “Hey, did you know that Athena drinks the same coffee as Fiona? She had a con panna, it was odd-”
Rhys clears his throat, and she shakes her head. “Anyway, so they come in, and later, that, uh. Friend of ours, Assquez, came in.”
Rhys nods, and she takes a huge bite of her pastry. It’s some kind of chocolate croissant thing, too flakey to really be eating without a napkin or something. Sasha tries her best anyway, getting pastry everywhere. “Yeah, so- the dickbag comes in, and he-”
“Hang on,” Rhys interrupts. “He wasn’t scared off the other day?” Sasha had been.. well, terrifying. And Yvette had been too, perfectly able to take care of the problem with a firm hand and a tap of her heel.
Sasha shakes her head. “Nope, apparently not. He’s trying to stir up trouble, and-” She stops, suddenly, squinting.
“What?” Rhys asks, and she looks slowly back over at him with a dark look on her face. “I.. thought you were going to tell your story..?”
“There’s a guy staring at you. Looks kinda mean.” When Rhys starts to turn, she puts a hand on his arm and stops him. “Look, Rhys- just. Do you want me to handle it?”
Rhys frowns at her. He appreciates the concern, but he wasn’t made of glass. He says as much. “C’mon, Sash. I can take care of myself, you know.”
She makes a small noise in the back of her throat, and lets him turn, and-
She’s right. There is someone staring at him. And. Well. That was. Well, that was a coincidence.
Rhys blinks and stands and turns to face him.
“Hello there, honey.”
It’s Jack. Of course it is. Of course it’s Jack. He’s posing and in that damn leather jacket, wearing red boots and a smile.
“Hello,” Rhys says, and feels his face smile so wide it almost hurts his cheeks. “Hello, Mr. Handsome.”
Sasha gasps from behind him, and Jack grins.
“I’m gonna get a coffee. Cool if I join you?” He asks, smiling and posing and looking at Rhys with something shocked and warm both.
Rhys doesn’t bother to check with Sasha. He says “Yeah”, then flops down into the sofa as Jack walks over to Yvette. He stares between Jack, Sasha and Yvette, eyes wide and open and-
“Oh my god,” says Sasha, and tugs at his sleeve. “Oh my god.”
“I know,” answers Rhys, because he does know. They both end up staring at the counter, coffee and pastry left abandoned on the table.
Rhys feels his heart stop a little when Yvette glances from Jack to Rhys and then back again. She was going to do the thing. The thing where she was terrifying and responsible and the only one of them that really had their shit together. “So,” she says, and Rhys has to strain to hear it but goddamn does he want to hear it. “You’re Mr. Handsome, huh?”
Jack laughs, leaning back and looking so at ease it’s almost hard to look away. “That’s me. I’m Mr. Handsome.”
She smiles, gesturing to the board that sits behind the counter. “What can I get you to drink?” As Jack peers up at the board, she gestures at Rhys and keeps talking. “Anyway, ‘Mr. Handsome’, you’ve got my approval if you can train him to stop correcting customers orders when he doesn’t like their drink. You’ve made him a very happy man.” Jack stares at her, and Rhys can’t help but shriek across at them.
“Y-vette! Oh my god, I only change them if they’re wrong!” He yells. Sasha laughs next to him, and he blushes when he notices that customers are smiling in his direction.
Yvette’s long-suffering tone somehow manages to carry just as far as his yell does, which he supposes is good because he’s not sure he could deal with any more embarrassment. “Just because someone likes frappucinos doesn’t mean they’re wrong, Rhys.”
Jack stares at them both flatly for about half a second, clearly trying to absorb the dynamic and see if there was actually a problem here. He must decide pretty quickly, because then he opens his mouth, and- “I like frappuccinos.”
Rhys looks at him sharply. He doesn’t notice it because he’s busy glaring, but Yvette and Sasha do the same. “What.”
Jack shrugs. “I like frappuccinos,” he says, tone blase as if he doesn’t realise the severity of the situation. It is a very severe situation. There’s a silence. He looks around, eyebrows quirked, and smirks at Rhys. “What?”
Oh, for fucks sake.
Rhys buries his head in his hands and tries not to sigh when Sasha claps her hand to his shoulder and laughs.
God damn it.
find me on tumblr here!
Chapter 10: anecdotal
Jack’s in the coffee shop, Rhys and Sasha talk, and Jack once again proves himself to have quite the way with words.
Warnings for this chapter: Dirty talk, Discussion of: Oviposition/Furry/Sybians, Referenced Ableism, Anal sex, Safe Sex, Sexist language,
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Stop looking at me like that.” Rhys says, scowling at Sasha. “Stop it, I’m not going to do anything.”
Sasha raises her eyebrows at him, and he tries to both scowl harder and also school his face into something more reasonable at the same time. He ends up grimacing, and Sasha laughs. Leaning back in the sofa, she prods at his side and smiles. “Sure you’re not. I give it a few minutes before you’re being an asshole about it.”
“Uh, excuse me,” says Rhys. He puts as much of his affront into it is possible and brandishes out his arm with a flourish. “I am not the asshole here! What even was that story going to be about?”
Sasha looks over his shoulder and Rhys tries not to let the butterflies in his stomach get too rowdy. “Is that the important thing right now, Rhys? Your ‘Mr. Handsome’ is here.” Rhys glares at her, biting at his tongue. He’d noticed, thank you, and he was trying to play it cool.
“Shut up, I am being calm and collected-”
Sasha puts a hand up to his side, and rests it there. It’s steadying- a point of contact he hadn’t realised he’d needed. “Rhys. Are you okay?” Sasha glances pointedly at where his arm is resting on his lap, juddering slightly, and-
Oh. It’s a flash of something, fear and tensing energy- the recognition of it, he’s wearing the functional hand, and Rhys’ mind jumps back and forth between “claw” and “Vasquez came in,” and he thinks “Fuck”, in a way that makes him wince and stare wide eyed, and then-
He thinks of racing stripes and tracing fingers. Rhys turns around just as Jack picks up his (frankly terrible) Frappe, and it’s okay. It’s maybe not as easy as he would have liked, but his arm stills, and Jack smiles at him, and Rhys thinks: “Okay”.
Sasha pats him on his arm, and he smiles.
Jack sits heavily on the sofa behind him, and without thinking Rhys scooches closer, closing the gap.
He pointedly doesn’t mention the way Jack tenses and then relaxes slowly, the fingers of one of his hands sat delicate and stroking on Rhys’ thigh.
“Your arm,” he says, legs pressed against Rhys’. The heat of it is solidity, close and calm.“Y’know, this one is way prettier than the other one. I’m into it.”
Rhys can feel the way Sasha perks up with something like terrible glee at his side.
He is willing to admit he might preen a little, and relax just a touch into Jack’s side.
“So, Mr. Handsome.” Rhys says, and tries so hard not to giggle at the way Jack is smirking at him, eyes caught to his lips and his uniform. “What brings you here?” His voice does not break. It doesn’t, and the fact that Sasha makes an amused noise in his direction does not change that.
Jack leans back into the chair and props his feet up. “Hey, you said I could drop by. I dropped by.” He smirks again, lolling around with something easy-sweet. “How’re you doing, honey?” His eyes track down to Rhys’ arm, and he puts a hand onto the bolted mechanics of the robot arm, and absentmindedly rubs over the metal points of it.
“I’m fine,” he says, and pointedly does not look around to Sasha. He knows that she’s staring pointedly at the frappucino sat on the table anyway. “Pretty damn good, actually.” There’s a pause where he doesn’t want to say it, because Sasha will judge and he will have to mark himself as compromised by his not-boyfriend, but before he knows it he’s thrown caution to the wind and is smiling widely at Jack’s relaxed grin, “Better, now that you’re here.”
Sasha makes a faint gagging noise, and he stamps his foot back onto hers with a jolt.
“So!” Sasha announces, voice high and over-bright. “You’re Mr. Handsome, right?” When Jack grins widely, she smiles back. “Do you like your coffee?”
Oh for god’s sake. He and Sasha were going to have words about this.
“Sure,” Jack says, picking it up and taking a deep gulp. Rhys watches the way his throat moves, smooth and worryingly captivating. “It’s a frappucino, what’s not to like?”
Rhys coughs, but stays silent when they look at him. Sasha’s got a shit-eating grin on her face, and he will not be beaten. Not by Sasha, and certainly not by a frappe.
They carry on.
“Uh-huh,” Sasha replies, still smiling widely and now leaning forward to take another bite of her pastry. “Rhys is really good at making those.” She prods at Rhys’ side in a way she probably thinks is surreptitious, but in reality is made pretty damn obvious by the glare he sends in her direction.
“Oh yeah?” Jack is looking at Rhys with a sharp glint in his eyes, smiling widely. Rhys sighs. That either meant that Jack had cottoned on and knew that Rhys was trying hard not to bash the drink out of his hands and holler about how to make real coffee, or he was still pleased about being called ‘Mr. Handsome’. Or possibly both.
Knowing Jack, probably both: he seemed to get a kick out of it, especially since Rhys had called him that when they met before. That he’d moaned it out with Jack barred above him, poised with strong corded muscles.
Yeah, that… that was probably it.
Rhys still remembers the look on Jack’s face.
“...I... I prefer to make Lattes so I can do the art. And difficult drinks, honestly.” He tries hard to send a glare in Sasha’s direction, but he’s still got his eyes caught on Jack’s, so he stamps his foot back again instead.
Jack smiles, sharp at the corners but soft in his eyes. “Oh, you, uh.” Jack’s smile sharpens further. “You like a challenge?”
It’s meant to be innuendo, he’s certain of it, but Rhys isn’t sure how. Jack’s lips are curling up, and he’s running his tongue over the front of his teeth, and it’s all very clearly innuendo, but Jack has a frappuccino in his hand and Rhys is not about to just let that stand.
“Uh. If you’re asking whether I can make you a better drink, then yeah.” He shoots a quick glare in Yvette’s direction for letting this be a problem in the first place.
Jack raises an eyebrow. “A better drink?”
“You’re essentially drinking a milkshake right now.” He snaps, and winces as Jack plays mock affronted and takes a huge gulp. “Uh- Seriously though, I’ll make you something better. Even an iced latte. Or an affogato, we have ice cream, I think…”
He can feel Sasha raise her eyebrows, and he’s anticipating it when she speaks. “You’d make an affogato?! You’d literally rather just… put ice cream in your coffee?!”
Rhys grits his teeth and shoots her a look. “Apparently.”
That’s how they pass the time. Jack’s not in Yvette’s for long- he drinks his coffee quickly, chatting idly and pointedly leaving his fingers on top of Rhys’ metal hand the whole time. It’s… well. It’s possessive, but not cloying- it’s not even territorial, it’s just… present. Rhys… well.
Rhys likes it, and he is not concerned by Sasha’s raised eyebrows and pointed glances, thank you very much.
It works. They chat, they laugh, they smile. Rhys likes it. He likes this, this thing where Jack is… well. A boyfriend, and not a ‘not-boyfriend’.
When Jack finally finishes his coffee, and sets the cup on the table, Rhys gives himself a second. He-
Okay, he might regret this. He probably won’t. But he might.
Jack glances at his phone, and by the time he’s looking back over, Rhys leans up, leans across, presses his lips softly to the side of his face and braces his flesh hand on Jack’s thigh. He presses the mechanical one closely to Jack’s side and sighs. It’s chaste and sweet and only a peck on the cheek, but Rhys’ heart beats faster anyway.
“Let me make you better coffee next time, Mr. Handsome.”
Rhys grins at him. Jack doesn’t quite flush, but there’s something in his eyes that says he could. Jack’s wide eyes gradually soften to something warm and calm. It’s soft and sweet- pulled caramel, maybe- and at odds with the sharpness of his mismatched eyes. He smiles at Rhys crookedly, and Rhys smiles back.
“Sure, babe.” And that’s that. Jack stands, straightens his jacket, salutes at Sasha and then shoves his phone into his pocket with a grin. “I’ll see you later, sweetheart.”
When Jack walks out the door, Rhys relaxes down into his seat, and smiles at Sasha when he realises she’s done the same. He hadn’t even realised he’d been tense, but something deep in him uncoils as Jack smiles in his direction and waves from the street. He’d worried that maybe the cheek kissing had been a little much for “no strings attached”, but it seemed to have worked out okay.
He grins, waves back, and bites back a laugh when Jack aims finger-guns at him. When he passes by, and all that’s left is the steady stream of strangers, Rhys feels oddly settled. Calm waters, soft and quiet and content.
It’s not something he’d expected, especially since it could have been disastrous. It could have been the worst experience of Rhys’ life, ‘fisticuffs at dawn’ except it was actually ‘Sasha beating up his ‘not-boyfriend’ at lunchtime’.
Instead, Jack had smiled and been charming and purred along, had played ball. He’s been easy, which… well. Rhys supposes he had no reason to expect otherwise. It was just the fact that he’d wanted it to work so much- he wanted a whole family, not Jack as a separate entity. Besides, he had talked about ‘his Mr. Handsome’ to everyone so much that it made sense for them to meet.
It made sense for Jack to fit in.
He makes eye contact with Sasha, smiling. Sasha waggles her eyebrows and glances pointedly in the direction Jack had gone.
“Shut up.” Rhys says, sitting back in his seat and smiling. “So,” he smiles, catching Sasha’s eye. “About that story?”
Sasha’s eyes light up. “Oh! Oh! Yes!” She nods, putting her mug down and practically vibrating in her seat. “So.” She starts, and Rhys curls up and settles in. “So Athena and Janey came in for lunch,” She says, and smiles when Rhys rolls his eyes at her.
“Yeah,” he murmurs. “Yeah, I know.”
“Shut up, I am trying to tell a story. Anyway, so Athena and Janey are here, and then he comes in. And he comes in all puffy and arrogant.” She giggles as Rhys puffs up his chest and does his best to do an asshole impression.
“Ohhh my god, wait, wait- just raise your eyebrow a little?” He does, and she falls back in peals of laughter. “Oh my god, you’re the spitting image. I am impressed, you pull off ‘asshole’ well.”
Rhys tries not to let that offend him. Sasha smirks at him, and continues: “Anyway, anyway, he’s being an ass and he’s obviously trying to cause trouble, because he doesn’t even bother to order anything! He just comes in and starts fishing for your name, and then, when I go over to him, he says: ‘what is it with this cafe and bitchy girls?’”
Her Vasquez impression is eerily good, and she makes a face that makes her look more than mildly constipated, so Rhys has to take a second before the phrase ‘bitchy girls’ hits him.
Well. Vasquez probably wouldn't be coming back again, at least. “And then, then he starts talking about you, and he has the fucking nerve to call you ‘claw-’” She breaks off, and seems to struggle with herself. “He calls you really shitty things, and I was so near to just...” She breaks off.
… Well, then. Frankly, Rhys is a little surprised Vasquez isn’t in hospital. At least, he assumes Vasquez isn’t in hospital. It was hard to tell sometimes, with Sasha. “You punched him, right?”
Sasha grins. “I woulda done. I’m right up in his face by this point, he’s all backed up into the counter and everything. And then.” Sasha pauses, takes a drink, gives him a shit-eating grin-
He leans forward. “And then?” Rhys asks, partly because that was what she wanted and partly because he wants to know, dammit.
“Then Athena and Janey come over. They are just-- you know how Athena looks like she could kill you? I’m pretty sure she actually could, because she-- she just put his hand on his shoulder really hard, and he yelped. She’s this tiny woman, and she looks like she’s gonna rip his arm out. Janey sorta stepped around him, and she just glares at him, y’know? And then, Janey comes up-”
Sasha clears her throat and makes an odd face. Rhys guesses she’s probably trying to do a Janey impression.
It is not nearly as convincing as her asshole impression, which probably says a lot. “Janey comes up, and says in the cutest, highest pitched voice ever: ‘You’re barred, sweetheart. Set foot in The Hunt again and she’ll rip your nuts off.’ Seriously Rhys, imagine it. It was so good, I was cheering.”
And, well. Frankly, Rhys is cheering too.
The Vasquez situation dominates the conversation for a while. They mostly talk about how fucking terrible he was, and how if Rhys ever sees him come into the shop, he’s going to give him a piece of his mind. Or, you know. Invite Athena back to punch him. Either one.
For all the subject matter makes his skin crawl, there’s still something soft about it.
After a lull in the conversation,, Sasha raises her eyebrows. “Anyway, Rhys. I’m impressed.”
Rhys grins. “You should be. He’s very charming, isn’t he-?"
Sasha snorts and huffs, pushing herself back into the cushions. “No, you doofus, you. You did well.”
“Uh,” replies Rhys, because he was eloquent. “What?” Mostly all he’d done was blush and avoid making fun of Jack’s coffee choices. And try not to giggle at the way Jack had looked embarrassed after Rhys had kissed him on the cheek. That had taken a lot of effort, but Rhys had the feeling that wasn’t what Sasha was referring to.
Sasha smiles at him and drinks her coffee. “He’s your boyfriend, you know. Coming to Yvette’s, meeting your friends…” She glances over at the counter, and then at the spot where Fiona and Vaughn usually battled with their paperwork. “Meeting your family. To be honest, I thought you were going to be way more embarrassing. You did well!”
“Uh,” Rhys says again.
Sasha raises an eyebrow. “What?"
Well. That was exactly it. ‘What?’ Jack wasn’t really his boyfriend. They’d just… not talked about it. Jack had taken him home and fucked him hard into the bed, and Jack had called him sweet things, and they had decided safe words before they’d touched. Jack and Rhys had met on a swingers website, and Jack had said: “no strings attached, real people only” on his profile.
But Jack had come to Yvette’s. And Jack had traced patterns into the plastic casings of his articulated hand.
“Maybe,” Rhys mutters, clutching his cup like a lifeline. “Maybe boyfriend is the wrong word.”
Sasha raises her eyebrows again. “You kissed him on the cheek.” When Rhys pointedly doesn’t relinquish his grip on his mug, Sasha sighs. “You offered to save him from his frappe ways. You didn’t change his order.” Rhys flicks his gaze up to hers. “You wanted to change his mind, you doofus, and he looked so flustered when you kissed him on the cheek.” She sets her cup down and crosses her arms, crossing her legs and looks disbelievingly at him. “You’re totally boyfriends.”
She claps a hand over her mouth. “God, who’s gonna tell Vaughn? You’ve been cheating on your ‘bro’, Rhys, he’s gonna keep the furniture in the divorce-”
“Oh my god, shut up.” He rolls his eyes at her and shifts his legs, curled around with his knees up and flesh hand balancing the mug on his thigh.
“Seriously though,” Sasha says, patting at his shin. He guesses it’s comforting, but he’s been sat in the same position for a while so his leg is a little numb. Still, the gesture is appreciated, and he smiles at her until she sits back in her seat. “You two are good. I like him.”
Oh, Rhys thinks. Oh.
Rhys thinks of dates and eating in restaurants, giggling and playing dangerous games under the table. Then he thinks of home-cooked dinner so badly made that they end up ordering take out, and eating sat on Jack’s balcony overlooking the river. He thinks of peering out onto the river, and the soft-bright moonlight reflected onto Jack, and of kissing him softly with a bad movie playing in the background. He thinks of “Did you just call me Mr. Handsome?”
Rhys swallows. He... needs to talk to Jack.
Rhys does not talk to Jack. Of course Rhys doesn’t talk to Jack, that would be far too sensible.
Rhys is kind of disappointed in himself, really, because even he can see that it was an important conversation.
He keeps thinking of ‘what-ifs’; If Jack had meant “no strings attached”, if his pet names meant anything other than a booty call. If the reason Jack seemed to have a ‘thing’ about Rhys touching his face was just because that would make it too romantic.
So, no. Rhys does not talk to Jack.
Instead, what Rhys does is go over to Jack’s every night for a week.
(Now he’s been there a few times, he doesn’t need the taxi to get home.)
It’s good. Good in the kind of way he loves- easy, simple, smooth. He gets off of work, hangs up his apron and laughs with everyone for a while, then he meets Jack, and they walk to his apartment.
That’s how it works. And it does work.
Jack opens the door, Jack takes his jacket off for him, and they laugh and joke and poke fun at eachother. Rhys pokes fun at the fact that Jack wanders around in socks and slips on the tiled kitchen floor, and Jack will laugh at- well. Pretty much anything he wanted. Jack was good like that, an excellent distraction. Then, Rhys will look at Jack like an invitation, and Jack will wrench him from his seat. The moment they get through the door to Jack’s room it’s a flipped switch. Jack is usually a big cat, curled and purring with a grin, but when the door shuts he’s ravenous.
Jack is… Jack. Jack is Jack, and Rhys is into it. He’s never quite had this kind of relationship before, certainly never had sex this good, certainly never felt hands around his neck and stroking fingers at the casing of his arm.
Rhys wears the functional arm during sex for the first time ever, and it turns out that Jack is into that.
As it turns out, Jack is into a lot of things Rhys does.
They lay together, warm and sweaty but not minding very much. Rhys is probably going to feel disgusting in the morning, when everything would be set and uncomfortable to his thighs and abdomen. Still, it doesn’t matter very much now, not with Jack letting him use his arm as a pillow.
“Hey,” Jack says, nudging at him lightly with a shift of his chest. “You’re into coffee, right?”
Rhys raises his eyebrows at him, and tries to figure out where he’s going with this. “Sure.”
“Hear me out, but: espresso enema.”
Rhys gives him a look so dry it made the Sahara look verdant.
“What?” Says Jack, indignant and rolling beneath him until Rhys flops off to the side. “You seem to get off on everything else I suggest. I thought you might just…” He twiddles the fingers of his free hand. Rhys is gripping the other one tight, and is not planning to let go of his makeshift pillow anytime soon. “Go for it.”
“I do not get off on everything you suggest to me.” At Jack’s raised eyebrows Rhys gives him a look that’s even less impressed. “I will have you know that I am innocent and pure and I have been corrupted by a very dangerous and handsome man.”
It has the potential to be a sexy moment, because one of Rhys’ legs is tossed up over Jack’s, and if Jack shifted just a little his leg would brush into Rhys’ cock, and his face is pressed into the side of Jack’s chest and all it would take would be a little shift, and-
“Oh kid, you haven’t seen corruption yet.”
Jack shifts him, moves him easy, and then Rhys is lying on top with arms and legs braced to the side and lips so near to Jack that they could kiss and a little more pressure and Rhys would be going for it, rolling with him and feeling-
“Okay, kid. But really,” Jack’s hands are pushing up at his shoulders and holding him away easily.
“Really. You totally would go for anything babe. What about…” He taps a finger against his lips, and Rhys resists the urge to flop painfully on top of him. “Oviposition? Furry stuff? Uh… Sybians? P-” He catches Rhys’ eyes suddenly. “You just shivered. Sybians?”
Rhys looks down at him and grins, says “Yeah”, in a voice too shaky to be acceptable, and then they’re kissing again, sweaty and too hot and rolling with it, tongues wet and lips parted. Rhys heaves for breath and sways on top of him, gasping and shivering as Jack kisses up his neck.
“There we go,” Jack purrs, “Into it now, huh?”
Rhys isn’t going to lie about it. Jack’s rolling his hips up, cock brushing against his own. “Yeah,” he gasps.
Jack grins sharp, banded hands and sly fingers. “Okay,” he says. “How about this: I tie you down, keep you there, switch it on, and watch you come until you physically can’t anymore. Sound good?” Jack is whisper thin and pointed at a spot just behind his ear, and grinding his hips up against Rhys.
“Mmh- Mmm-hmmm, yeah, y- es,” Rhys mumbles, face against Jack’s necks and panting desperately.
He’s… kind of a mess, right now.
“Good boy. Now let me just...” Hands pushing him up, palms flat against his chest- Jack’s face is shiny with something like sweat, bright and flushed and grinning. “Ooph, there we go- up you go-”
Rhys ends up perched, knees braced- he’s hovering over Jack’s cock, shivering, and when Jack leans up to spread his fingers around his hole, he mewls. “There we go,” He mumbles, “You like that, right? All ready and waiting for me?” Rhys bucks up, warm and hot, Jack’s fingers are so hot-
A sly grin, biting teeth at his neck, Jack rears up properly and Rhys topples back- his limbs fly out, legs spread, and when he lands he can’t help but bring a palm to his dick-
“Nope,” Jack says, and nudges his hand away. He’s looming, power in his skin and arms stretched forward- a pause, and he drops something cold into Rhys’ hand. “I want a show.”
Jack guides his hands, steady grip at his wrist, the cold of the lube making him shiver.
Jack’s hands bring one of Rhys’ fingers to his hole, and then drops, and then-
Well. If Jack wanted a show, who was Rhys to deny him?
Leaning back on his haunches, Rhys meets Jack’s eyes and presses a finger into himself, smooth and easy, running his tongue over his lips and purring. The groan he lets out is pornographic, and he bites his lip- rolling his hips, up and down, fingers sliding ever-so inside him. He watches Jack like he’s caught, like something trapped in honey as Jack rolls a condom over his cock.
The second finger is easy too, so he moans out again, canting his hips up and keeping eye contact- Jack is watching him, wide smile and wider eyes, mouth open a little and hands clenched tight around Rhys’ ankles. The third finger burns, so Rhys takes a second- drops his mouth open, pants, and lets his eyes slide closed.
His neck tips back, and Rhys’ is pretty sure he’s never looked more debauched. His fingers are in to the knuckle, slick and wet and sliding.
“J- ahn,” Rhys wines, panting at the tight-wet-burn of his fingers and the rising heat in his abdomen as his fingers slide in and out.
“Good boy,” and then he’s rearing forwards, dragging Rhys back- Jack’s cock rubs against his own, and he gasps. “Good boy,” Jack growls, deep and rumbling, and Rhys-
Well. Rhys is a little too hazy for thought right now, but if he weren’t he’d probably be thinking of Jack’s grin and the way his hands are at his ass, pulling up at his hips until there’s blunt pressure at his hole and-
Jack thrusts in and then it’s all heat and gasps and panted breath, friction-force at his cock and Jack’s hands, lifting him up and down and-
“Next time,” Jack breathes, grunts, growls, “Next time I’m gonna wreck you so badly you’re not gonna want anything but me for a long time,” Rhys judders up and Jack slams him down. “I’m gonna make good on that deal, you’re gonna scream my name, not get off without my dick in you.”
Rhys rolls his hips down hard. “Please, I- need-”
“Want it bad, right? Good boy, move your hips- there we go, good boy, you’re doing so well,” Rhys preens and shivers, clenches down and Jack’s grip at his flanks tightens. “God, yeah,” and Rhys feels himself melt. Pliant and moveable, Jack in control, flickers of something soft in his hands. Rhys’ mouth drops open and his head falls back.
Jack twists him, whirls him around and then pushes. Rhys recognises dimly that it was the same as before, that Jack had remembered him saying he liked it, that he liked being held down, and now Jack was holding him and his face is against the bed and he’s groaning.
Jack’s forearm plants across the small of his back, and the impact of Jack’s hips against his is enough to make him buck, groan and shunt back. Jack is harshly corded behind him, groaning, muscles twitching and Rhys is- Rhys is lost in it, mewling and asking for more.
“You like that, babe? You- Unh, You like it?”
Rhys tries to say yes but he’s busy heaving in breath, and his face pressed to the bed makes it difficult to speak. “Aa-hn,” he gasps, which he hopes gets the point across because he’s kind of focused on the shooting-electric-bright pressure right now, and all he can do is shove back and try and keep his ass in the air-
J ack hits his prostate and his back arches without permission. The noise he makes is strangled even to his own ears, yelled and desperate and breathy, and Jack’s got good aim, because then he’s yelling again and Jack’s putting more weight on him, bearing down, god, Jack is everywhere, and Rhys is desperate, not built to withstand this kind of want, not when it’s rising around him and everything is bright against his nerves, shooting sensation and begging.
“Ah-!” It’s- rising, rising, and-
Rhys shudders, stops, starts, gasps. His eyes roll up and he sees stars.
“Hngh, oh.” He says eloquently, noticing absently that Jack has paused, cock still deep inside him as his hole tenses.
“You good?” Jack’s voice is rough and growling and-
Rhys’ voice is slurred but there. “Green,” he says, and Jack’s hips wrench forward, one hand still pressing him down and the other tight at his hips, and every thrust makes him jolt, weakly- because it’s- it’s so much, so much, and Rhys is reeling, clenching, begging-
A grunt, a noise, and then Jack has pulled out and he notices that he’s covered in his own come. Again.
Rhys tries not to focus on the sudden feeling of emptiness, and instead flops his hips down to the bed. “M’not cleaning that up,” he mumbles and Jack sighs from behind him.
“What, no ‘thanks’? Babe, I’m gonna need to teach you some manners.”
Rhys groans and twists bonelessly on the bed as Jack discards the condom and grabs a tissue from the side table, making the mattress dip and bend. “I’m very thankful. Very.” He turns to meet Jack’s eyes and bats his eyelashes. “Thank you very much, Jack. I’m very, very thankful.”
Jack laughs, and wipes slow stripes up Rhys’ abdomen. It would be nice if it weren’t so gross. “Damn right you’re thankful. You came about a million times, thanking me is the least you can do.”
Rhys snorts. “Sure, Mr. Handsome, a million times.” When Jack discards the tissue and flops down next to him, Rhys pats his thigh. “You keep telling yourself that.”
“Uh, I will, actually.” Jack runs a hand through Rhys’ hair, and he can’t help the way he tries to arch up at the blunt fingers on his scalp. “We did at minimum four rounds, and my dick is pretty damn pleased with that.”
Rhys digs his chin into Jack’s side. “Seriously though,” he says, meeting Jack’s eyes. “That was three rounds with no break. Something good happen today?”
Jack shrugs his chin off and moves his hands- one thumb is in Rhys’ mouth before he knows it, fingers braced on the side of his face. “I’m just that good,” He murmurs, and watches Rhys intently- Rhys takes a second to shut his eyes and lave gently, taking it into his mouth and sucking. “Also you’re insatiable.”
“Mm-hmm,” Rhys mumbles. When Jack takes his fingers out with a crooked and sly smile, Rhys raises and eyebrow. “I’m the insatiable one? You’re the one that just put your fingers in my mouth.”
“Uh-huh,” Says Jack, grinning. “What’s your point?” Rhys glares at him, which annoyingly doesn’t seem to do much to dispel the smile. “Hey, maybe it’s all of those wonderful frappucinos you’ve been making me-”
“I’m breaking up with you.” Rhys interrupts.
…Okay, time to quickly change the subject and pretend that never happened-
“I’m gonna teach you to make better coffee, you asshole.” Rhys says, propping himself up on his elbows and smiling. “I will have no frappe-lover in my asshole, no sir.”
Jack relaxes, and so does Rhys. “Is that so? I’m pretty sure I was in your asshole until very recently, actually, so if you could retract that statement for factual inaccuracy? That’d be great.”
“Seriously,” Rhys laughs, collapsing down back onto Jack’s chest.”I’m gonna make you an espresso freddo, or something. Literally anything other than the milkshakes you’re drinking.”
Jack peers down at him. “You’re, like, eerily into coffee.”
Rhys frowns into his chest. There’s a stupid joke coming, and Rhys can feel it.
“Really, Rhysie,” Jack snickers. “If you thought I was kidding about the espresso enema-”
Rhys has lost count of the number of times he’d had to hurl pillows at Jack for being insufferable in bed, but the count was probably far higher than it should have been.
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Chapter 11: Once More, with Feeling
Rhys shows Jack how to make good coffee. Then they have sex, because after all, that's what it's all about, right? ...Right?
Guess who's back! No guarantee updates will come fast, but here's the best I can do for now. Here's five pages of banter and several pages of sex.
This chapter is unbetaed because I wanted to get it out as soon as I could. I'll go over it later and fix it, but for now! Here's the next chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“So when you said you were gonna ‘teach me to make coffee’,” Jack makes inverted commas in the air, presumably to make himself seem as obnoxious as possible. He’s reasonably successful, and Rhys raises his eyebrows in response to his sharp grin. “What you meant was that I was gonna come to your cafe and watch you make me coffee?”
Rhys considers that for a second, and butts the fridge doors closed with a sway of his hips. “Yeah, actually. That’s… pretty much what I had in mind, mm-hmm,” Rhys smiles winningly at Jack, which seems to work because he raises a brow and leans back against the counter.
“So on a scale of one to ten, just how useless is this going to be for me?”
Rhys pauses again, smiling widely and tilting his head. “Give it maybe a four. You get to see me, and you get free coffee.”
“Uh-huh, okay, sure. I see you’ve thought this through.” Jack smiles coyly in Rhys’ direction, nudging at his side with an elbow. He always seems like some big cat- he's pressed back against the counter, posing. He almost looks like he could start grooming himself, flicking a long tail and stretching. “Okay, whatever. Why not? Impress me, kid.”
Rhys raises his eyebrows at him, but all Jack does is smile wider, so he butts him out of the way with his hips and tries valiantly to restrain a grin when Jack splutters. Rhys whirls around him, and if he lingers a little too long in front of Jack then that was his business.
It’s late. The shop isn’t closed, but at half five in the afternoon, it would be soon- there’s soft light filtering from outside, and it’s all soft and sweet and calm, with Jack leant against the counter and grinning.
Rhys takes that as a challenge.
Machine on, heat- the snap of the espresso clicking into place in the machine is familiar and routine. Warm in his hands, it buzzes and hisses- that’s more than familiar, it’s borderline comforting- he knows his way around here, the drip-drop and whirr of the machine under his steady hand.
The ice cream is the same brand as the one he’d had at Jack’s, that first time, and he takes a moment to waggle his eyebrows before grabbing it from the shelf and knocking the freezer door shut again. It burns his hands a little from the cold, stinging at the fingertips of his hand- his robot arm pries the lid off with a sharp pop.
Jack, he notices, is watching avidly.
“You wanna know what I’m doing?” He doesn’t slow, dropping the ice cream into the bottom of the tiny mug and pouring the espresso over the top.
“You’re… pouring.” Jack says, apparently completely sincerely.
“No,” corrects Rhys, making grabby hands at the chocolate shaker that's sitting next to where Jack’s reclined on the countertop. “I am making art. This is an art, it is a labour of love,” Rhys blinks, “It is beautiful, and you will enjoy it.”
Jack stares at him for second. As Rhys turns back to the machine, tapping out the grounds into the compost bin, he can feel Jack’s gaze like a brand on the back of his neck.
He tries not to shiver.
“Uh-huh. And this is… what are you making?”
“It’s a real frappe.” Rhys sticks his tongue out, brushing the extra chocolate off of the table. “You’ll like it. I promise.”
Jack raises an eyebrow. “Oh really? Starbucks make a damn good-”
“How dare you compare my coffee to Starbucks.” He flounces as he passes the mug to Jack, grinning as he goes. “I could’ve put Starbucks out of business if I finished my business stuff.”
Jack inspects the mug, leaning down and propping his elbows on the counter to examine it. “Yeah?” He pauses, contemplating the mug. Which, Rhys supposes, is sort of a compliment in itself. His coffee was so good it took time to contemplate it.
He’s going to stick to that as his version of events if anyone ever asks, probably. Jack suddenly draws himself up, squinting at him.
“Why didn’t you?”
“Why didn’t you finish business, put Starbucks out of business?” Jack gestures widely, and Rhys winces as his hands nearly brush the cup and knock it off the table. “I mean, the whole shebang, right?”
Huh. Well. That was a question.
Rhys bites his lip. “I’m- really? It just wasn’t... very me. I like friends and close relationships, not sharks like…” He clutches at straws. “Like- you know the company that lives off of South Street? It’s just down the road a little.”
Jack’s eyebrows raise up his face significantly. “Yuh-huh,” he says.
“Well,” continues Rhys, “Apparantly they treat their employees like dirt, and everyone’s looking over their shoulders to see who’ll fuck ‘em over next. It’s- I don’t think I could stand a trial by fire.”
“Yuh-huh.” Jack says, again. He coughs, one eyebrow raised. “Are you talking about Hyperion, by any chance?”
Rhys taps his lip with his hand. “Yeah?”
Jack smiles widely. “Yeah. That’s mine. I own that.”
Of course he did. Of course he owned the business building on South Street. Of course he did. What else would he do?
Rhys coughs. “Your coffee’s getting cold.”
“It’s a frappe.”
So. Jack the high-flying business-owner.
For some reason, Rhys now feels like he’s been ridiculously underdressed every time they’ve met.
“You’re- You own Hyperion? The- the weapons manufacturer?” Rhys asks, nonplussed.
Jack shrugs, sipping at his frappe. His expression gives nothing away as to whether it’s good or not, which is kind of disappointing. “Eh,” he says. “Not really? I mean, we do that, yeah. Lots o’ fingers, lots o’ pies, etcetera, right?” He clears his throat. “This is really good, by the way. I’ll give credit where it’s due, babe, this is a good coffee.”
Rhys releases a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding.
“But,” Jack waves his hands again. “Sometimes we do tech stuff for that, yeah. We also have solar panels and prosthetics research going on. It’s a mixed bag, you know?” When Rhys doesn’t reply, he blinks and takes another sip. “Most of our guns are on the decline now, anyway. It’s the real technology where the money’s at.”
Rhys is still reeling a little from ‘I own Hyperion’, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to own a company that Rhys had once applied for jobs at. Jack could have been his boss.
“Yeah, like. We tried fracking, moving into oil, tonnes of other stuff. Not- Not our jam, really. So now we work with solar panels and environment stuff to make money and hey presto! Plenty of money!”
“Do you-” Rhys coughs. All he can think about is his English Literature classes, where they’d talked about guns as phallic metaphors. He tries really hard not to laugh at the thought of Jack with a gun for a dick. “Do you like guns, then?”
Jack shrugs, again, gulping down the rest of his drink in one go. “Eh. They’re sexy, I guess. Nisha’s got this gorgeous little thing that she uses for gunplay, but I prefer things a little… dirtier.”
“Yeah, gunplay. Like sex but there’s a gun involved.” At Rhys’ open mouthed, presumably gormless looking face, he laughs and keeps talking. “You’ve never heard of it? Hey, maybe we could try it, you know? Nisha tells me it’s adrenaline like nothing else.”
Rhys tightly closes his mouth. “Uh-huh.”
“What, you don’t like the idea of a firearm near your junk?” Jack is smiling wildly.
“Tell me you’re joking. Please tell me you’re joking.”
Jack cackles. “Only a little bit.”
“Next you’ll tell me you’re a furry or something. God damn, Mr Handsome.”
Jack smiles even wider. “Hey, Rhys. Have you ever heard of a thing called a ‘whirry’?”
And actually, here’s the thing. Rhys has heard of whirries. Like furries, but for robots, as far as he knew. And Rhys was, in theory, part robot.
He glares. “Do you mean to tell me,” Rhys frowns harder at Jack’s suddenly sheepish look. “That you have a thing for people who are part machine? Or- Androids?”
“And- And you’re telling me that it’s a coincidence that you came across someone with a prosthetic?”
He has, at least, the humility to wilt a little under Rhys’ sharp glare. He pushes the mug back into Rhys’ hand with some odd kind of tentative certainty.
“Well, at- at first, you know, i just wanted to fuck someone who was part-computer. And your arm, I thought it was myoelectric. Like, BeBionic?”
Rhys keeps glaring at him.
“What?!” Jack says, indignantly. “I know you aren’t an android now, right? And you know, speaking of, if you let me buy you a BeBionic arm you totally would be. Cool as fuck.”
“No, no, wait.” Rhys peers at him seriously. “I just want you to clarify something, Jack.”
Jack looks at him. Rhys strongly suspects that he’s hiding nervousness under a mask of smugness. Rhys pulls out his phone, flicking to the recorder.
“Can you just- can you just rephrase the thing where you said you found computers sexy?”
Jack looks almost aghast. “You wouldn’t fuck a computer?!”
“I mean,” Rhys is- he had not expected the whole ‘show Jack how good he was at his craft’ plan to backfire quite so much as to suddenly find out that Jack was- well. Whatever he was. “No? I don’t think so Jack. I can’t say I’ve really thought about it.”
“Hey, then! You should try a new thing. New things everyday, and whatever, right?” Jack, for whatever reason, seems to find Rhys’ concerns completely unconcerning.
“I don’t think they meant ‘fuck a computer’ when they came up with that saying, Jack.”
“You don’t know that.” Jack retorts. “Look, I’d fuck a computer is what I’m saying.”
“What wouldn’t you stick your dick in, though?”
Jack glares at him, eyes crinkling up in a smile even so. “Not you if you don’t stop bugging me. I’m still on the clock, you know. I’ve got paperwork to do.”
Rhys copies Jack’s pose from the other side of the counter, perching his face on one hand. “No, you don’t. I know you don’t. You don’t ever do paperwork and you wouldn’t want to work from home.”
“Look,” says Jack, exasperation clear. Rhys giggles a little just to see him scowl, then bursts into peals of laughter. “Wanting to fuck a computer is normal. They are designed for pleasure.”
“Where do you draw the line though? Oven? Toaster? Grill?”
“Oh, shut up, you little brat.” Jack is smiling. Rhys’ heart is full with warmth.
“Really though,” Rhys says, through his laughter. “You want to fuck everything. What makes androids special?”
“Well, I’m struggling to want to fuck you right now, so I guess it’s not a universal thing.”
The sunlight streams in through the window. The sky is splashed with reds and purples, fading into blue. There’s nobody else left in the cafe. The sunlight streams through the window and paints the floor with gold.
There’s an ache in the small of his back. He’d asked Jack for a massage, andt had seemed the most perfect idea in the world at the outset. All he had to do was pose and look pretty and have Jack’s hands all over him until such a time as he said no more.
Except that somehow the message has somehow turned into Jack pounding into him from behind on the bed, Jack’s hands doubling as a massage and a grip firm enough that he’ll have bruises the next day.
If Rhys could turn around, he’d see Jack’s body spread out, tanned and muscled and bulky, flexing and moving with each thrust.
He feels like he’s drowning in gold. It’s- It’s indescribable, his limbs soften under Jack’s hands at the same time as they tighten around his cock, leaking precum all over the bedsheets. And at his neck, there’s something like a chain, not painful against his neck but forcing him to look upwards, and it’s strong-solid around him. It’s-
There’s thrumming in his bones. He doesn’t know how to describe it, rolling around in his head and lungs and heartbeat, growing and swelling with each forceful movement, swaying and being slammed backwards.
In bed Jack's an emperor, and apparently that meant he could make Rhys feel like-
He’s not even sure what this is like.
“J- Jahh, Jack,” The pull of the chain loosens slightly, and one of Jack’s huge hands comes forward, forcing him to arch his back. Jack’s hand massages at the base of his throat. “Mnnph,” he says, rolling forward in waves.
Suddenly, Jack groans, slipping out of him with a faintly wet noise that makes Rhys mewl. Jack seems to get the hint, slowly pushing three fingers in, and then pushing in to brush at his prostate.
“God, please, I-”
It’s rising in him, rising and pulling him, dragging him upwards and his muscles tense and tense and tense, until-
Jack’s hands stop moving.
“J-! Jack! No!” Rhys shoves his hips back. “M- More!” There’s a pause, and Jack removes his fingers entirely.
He feels himself tumbling in the worst way, backwards, downwards, back down the mountain not over the precipice, and he groans deeply.
“Please,” He whispers. He feels everything in his bones. “Please, please, Sir, pl-”
Jack’s fingers shove back in and his vision goes black for a second. He falls over the edge of a cliff. “Oh,” he says, quietly.
“Good boy,” says Jack, and Rhys flops ungracefully down onto his belly.
After a few moments of deep breathing, he buries his face in a pillow and makes a soft noise. “Hello, Mr. Handsome.”
“Hey there, baby.” Jack’s voice is gravelly and melodic in his ears. “How was that?”
Rhys nods, frowning to emphasise his point. “Good.”
“Good,” Jack replies, before leaning down and-
Rhys flips himself over.
“Did- did you just kiss my butt?" Rhys squirms around to face him properly- Jack takes his hand off Rhys's thighs and places it with a huff on the bed. "
Yeah, I did. What, you've got a problem with butt kissing?" But there's a smile on his face. "No, it's... It's just cute." Rhys is laughing out loud at Jack's disgruntled pout as he brings their faces together in a sloppy giggly kiss.
“‘M not cute.” Jack huffs. “I’m a weapons manufacturer.”
“Sure you are.” Rhys crawls into Jack’s lap.
It’s the morning, about 9, and it;s around then that Rhys realises it.
It’s the morning, about 9, and Rhys wakes up to the sound of Jack hollering the chorus to Anaconda at the top of his lungs, with another voice adding in the sound effects with imaginative aplomb.
It’s the morning, about 9, and Rhys thinks, ‘oh fuck’. And then when he sits up properly, he says it out loud.
Rhys is in deep.
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Chapter 12: deepsoft; terrifying
Rhys continues to not-talk-about-it. And then... something happens.
oh! hello there! fancy seeing you here! god, its been what. two years? my god i didnt think id ever see you again! ahaha, oh thats so weird. you've changed ur hair! you look SO GOOD.
anyway, all jokes aside, yes MDLC is back! updates will be slow and (regrettably) largely reliant on donations to my ko-fi, which you can find on my tumblr @ verulamfic.tumblr.com
It’s not, by any means, an immediate or crashing realisation. He knows he’s in deep, and that had felt like a weight cracking down onto his ribcage. But the understanding he has to actually talk to him? Have this conversation?
Like adults, and not like… whatever it was they’d been pretending to be. Horny teenagers, maybe. Lovebirds.
Regardless, there is almost a moment in particular that he can feel where it clicks over from ‘not to worry’ territory into the ‘panic and at least try to talk about it’ zone.
It happens when he sends a sneaky text behind the back of the cake display, and suddenly Jack is calling him.
At the disapproving glance Yvette shoots him from where she’s cleaning the machines, Rhys is quick to click off the call and text him back.
‘What,’ he types. There's no one at the counter, thank god. Texting was always a little fiddly for one hand. ‘What's up?’
Almost immediately, Jack replies. ‘That was a meme. You can't send me a meme and get away with it.’
So Rhys sends the image of the dog again.
And it's the ease with which he laughs as Jack tells him that he’s ‘suddenly busy and will never have time to see Rhys ever again, sorry’ that catches him out. That’s when he knows; it’s nothing devastating right then and there, nothing too powerful. But what it is, is easy.
It's too easy. Far too easy, fits together like pieces of a shitty kids’ puzzle, for Christ's sake.
And he still doesn't get to call Jack his… boyfriend? If that was what Jack even was. (And there again there’s a spiral of worry, dripping down his neck. If that’s what Jack even was.)
He still hasn't mentioned it, either: Singing an old Taylor Swift song at a ridiculous hour of the morning in the kitchen just wasn’t… the time for that kind of conversation, he reasons with himself. And then, afterwards, Nisha had come in so she could tell them to shut up, and he couldn't possibly have mentioned it with Nisha in the room. He doesn't feel bad about leaving it just a little longer. But still. It sits in his gut, and it itches, and not in the warm, craving way that he’d come to associate with Jack. It lies like some malformed beast in his tummy like he’s swallowed snakes and doesn’t know what to do to get them out.
Except he does know what to do to get them out. He just has to-
Talk to him.
Rhys sighs as he absentmindedly makes a customer a… coffee. It’s a latte or something, and he tries desperately to force himself back into the present.
He hands the latte to the customer, gives them a vague smile, and then he’s back in his own world.
The problem with being in lo-
The problem with being...
He blinks, shudders, takes a deep breath. Okay. Perhaps not, then.
The problem... with a guy like Jack is that he was busy, and most of the meetings they can arrange are ad hoc or in the middle of the day. There’s not much time to make it work, really. There’s not much time to have the conversation about how things are good. There’s not much time to have the discussion about how things are excellent, actually.
So he makes plans to meet, to pick up Fiona's birthday present and then go for lunch afterwards. It's all very simple, very sweet, very innocent. It's... nice, although he's a little worried that it's kind of unacceptable to discuss love over lunch. He'd… well, he would panic.
But whatever. It's too late to change his plans now, probably. That’s just a fact, he thinks to himself as he chews his bottom lip and taps his fingers against the counter.
He shakes his head at himself. He was ridiculous. God. Who even says ‘relationship’ to someone like Jack? Who even says ‘like’, when their whole thing was meant to be no strings attached? That was the deal, right?
And who… who even tries that shit when… When he was in…
Rhys takes a deep breath and cleans the espresso machine. Who’s interested, he revises, in an online Dom from a sleazy website?
When he wakes up in Jack’s apartment, the sun hits his whole body, gentle through the window.
Jack, a sleeping lion next to him, is as soft as can be. His face is glowing in the sunlight.
Rhys is barely awake at all, can barely keep his eyes open. Heat seeping slowly, pulsing, easing into his skin then pumping around, beating into his heart and ribcage. Sensation harsh and soft at once, he breathes out and falls back to sleep.
“Hey,” says Jack, reclined on the pillows and tapping at his phone. “How do I take a picture of the screen?”
Rhys snorts and props himself up on his elbows. “It's called a screenshot, old man. Didn't you say you used to work in IT?”
Jack raises his eyebrows at him. In the glare of light through the window, there's something about his face that Rhys can't quite put his finger on. “Not in so many words. Figure I had it on my profile though, right? A little bit of background to my dick?”
Rhys squints at him. Well. Yeah. “I guess. Why lie, though?”
“Nobody on the Internet ever lies,” Jack says faux-scandalised. He puts a hand over his heart and rears back slightly. Rhys swats him.
“Really though. Why go with IT instead of ‘business manager’?”
Jack squints right back. “Why go with ‘rh-eeze’ instead of ‘Rhys’, huh?”
Rhys rubs at his neck, licking his tongue over his teeth. “So people couldn't search for me, I guess. You didn't want the company finding out you were kinky?”
Jack snorts at him again. “Again, not quite in so many words. I'm all for openness, but I could do without having pictures of my dick in the newsletter.”
“Are they not already in the newsletter?” Rhys scoffs and feigns a gasp. “Mr Handsome! Do you mean to tell me you didn't win ‘Mister Hyperion Big-Dick’ 2015 like you told me?! I feel betrayed.”
Jack laughs. “Yes, I understand. You're shocked and appalled etcetera.” He grabs a drink from the dresser, sipping at it quickly. “Speaking of, I had to promote someone yesterday, right? And he had these criminally tight pants on, bitchin’ about something or other in this weird, fruity voice.” Jack does what Rhys assumes is a poor impression of the guy’s voice. “And he's wearing these amazing pants-”
“Lemme guess. You could see his dick through his pants?”
Jack laughs again, and Rhys grins back at him. “Yep. Every. Single. Inch. With ‘single inch’ being the operative term in that sentence.”
And it goes on like that for a while, soft and sweet and only a little like an old married couple.
They laugh, and Rhys feels the nerves at their impending lunch date tighten in his gut.
When Rhys comes into the cafe that afternoon, Jack and Sasha are sat together on a sofa. To his horror, Jack is once again clutching at a frappucino.
“Is that-?” Rhys starts, dropping his bag onto the table in front of them. “Sasha.” He gasps. His tone is as accusatory as he can manage. “Did you make him a frappe?!”
Sasha and Jack are staring at him. They have huge grins on their faces. Rhys is affronted. “Sasha, I'm going to disown you as a friend! A frappe behind my back? Don't encourage him. He needs to learn.”
She and Jack are cackling on a sofa. Rhys swallows and reminds himself that it wasn't unusual for new… partners to fit into old friend groups. “Well,” he says. “I'm glad to see you've started to get on."
Not, Rhys supposes, that they ever didn't get along. As long as Jack doesn't mention the fact he’s Hyperion they'd get along fine, though when she eventually finds out the conversation will be... tense. Sasha had… strong ideas concerning work and how people should be treated.
“Anyway,” Rhys says, pulling his cardigan around himself. “You're early, huh?”
Jack shoots him a nonchalant look, still sipping from his hell-drink. “No,” he says. “I'm never early. Or late. I'll have you know that I am 100% an on-time individual, right? Always. All the time, on time.”
Jack is not, in fact, ‘all the time, on time.’ He'd been early to every single meeting they'd had, first one included.
At Sasha's questioning look he snatches an empty coffee cup off the table. “We’re going to pick up Fiona's present. Stop having so much fun. We have a date to get on with-”
“C’mon, it's not a date. I only take people to classy places. I am also always on time for my, uh. Appointments.” He raises his sharp eyebrows, drinking the last from his mug. “Not,” he adds, “that I am ever not on time.”
Rhys bites back the ache in his gut and scolds himself. This pining thing was getting kind of ridiculous now. Jack continues: “We're gonna go pick up something-”
“The AeroPress!” Rhys finishes, because otherwise he's going to say something about dates, and that would not be okay. Once again, Sasha looks at him questioningly. She's suspiciously quiet, and he squints at her as he explains. “It's like a French Press,” he says, to both Jack and Sasha. He had a feeling that a person that drank frappucinos might not be in the know as to coffee making. “But speedier. And also none of us have one yet, and it's always good to have more coffee-”
Sasha laughs. “Fiona's never gonna let you use it communally. She barely lets anyone at her instant coffee, and that's instant.”
At that moment, Yvette clacks over. “You two,” she says over the sound of her phone shrieking out a tune. They both look up. “One of you. Please serve for a second? I've got a call.”
“I'm on break,” says Sasha, just a millisecond before Rhys says “I'm leaving.” So it's Rhys that tracks up to the counter, dragging Jack up behind him.
“I'm 100% sure I'm gonna be a distraction here-”
“Mm,” says Rhys. “A welcome one. Get your butt behind this counter and look handsome.”
“Fair,” mumbles Jack, and then Rhys pulls an apron over himself, and is suddenly in his element.
He swirls around the counter and- god, he’s smiling. It’s so easy, simple and soft and sits precisely like it should in his brain. He knows this. He might not know how to… deal with his… Jack. He might not know how to deal with Jack, but he certainly knew coffee, soft and hot and good god, so fluid that he almost feels it replace the blood in his veins.
Maybe that was dramatic, but who knows. He… hasn’t eaten much today.
He takes a deep breath as he hangs up his apron. Honestly? Jack might be right about his coffee thing. When the rush dies down, and there’s finally a space to breathe something other than caffeine for a moment, they look at each other, and Rhys smiles without thinking.
Jack smiles too.
They leave the shop in step and wave at Sasha, still trapped behind the counter, as they go.
“So, we’re going to market on Bridge Street-”
Jack looks at him with something like glee. “We’re going shopping! Are we going to the mall?” The noise he makes is lilted and preppy, bent up at the corners to make him sound like some kind of teenager. It’s ridiculous, and Rhys looks up at him incredulously. Big- huge, tall and broad man, acting like a teenager.
They walk down the street still in step with each other. “Stoppit,” Rhys swats at him. “We’re hardly going on a ‘shopping spree’.”
And if he affects the same accent, and if Jack bursts out into delighted laughter, and if it makes his heart go bump in his chest, then that's his business.
“Besides, we’re going wholesale here. There's a shop that'll give us a…” He fumbles for the word, waggling his fingers and making ineffectual noises with his tongue. “Well, they'll give us some beans too, and Fiona has expensive tastes. Since we can't bring her to the beach, we’re gonna bring her good coffee.”
“Wait,” says Jack. “You- what about the beach in Haven?”
They stop walking.
“Excuse me?” Rhys asks. “What beach?”
Jack looks at him like he's concerned for his sanity. “The river beach. The beach. The beach in Haven, the Haven-beach.”
Rhys stares. “Excuse me?!” He says. “I've lived here years. What beach?”
“I... You've lived in Haven this long and never bothered to go to the beach?”
And so it turns out that Jack’s apartment is literally next door to a beach. A beach that Rhys had apparently walked past several times without noticing.
“Sorry, I- how long has this beach been here? Has there…” he feels ridiculous asking, but it slips through his lips unbidden. “Has there always been a beach in Haven?”
Jack frowns at him and then quirks his mouth up. "Yeah,” he says. “What, you didn't know? I mean, the river has always been there, babydoll. It isn't a recent development."
“So you know Fiona?” He asks, shaking his head at Jack and then ushering him forward. “Loves the beach. You may have just made her birthday, you wonderful thing.”
Jack raises his eyebrows. “Wait ‘till you see it, babe. You'll love it, or you'll hate it. Like peanut butter.”
And then, after a pause: “Or monarchy.” He grins. “Hey Rhys, where do you stand on the monarchy debate?”
Rhys flat stares at him, mouth quirked up in the corners despite himself. “‘The monarchy debate’?” He mimics.
“Hey, I'm not judging, I’m just saying you know? Your position on monarchy is probably not gonna affect the way I fuck you into the bed, and I say probably because-”
“Oh shut up,” says Rhys, shoving at his shoulders. “My position on the monarchy is ‘probably’ not that important-”
“Probably, huh? Not definitely?” He clicks his tongue, and Rhys laughs despite himself. “I'll keep that in mind when I fuck you into the bed.”
“You're a dick, Mr Handsome Jack.” There's a pause where they just walk, and then he tacks “Sir,” quietly to the end, and is so pleased when Jack smiles and throws a natural arm over his shoulder.
“Sure, I am.”
The little cafe-turned-shop is one of Rhys’ favourites, made so by the family running it. Gaige runs the shop from a cafe that looked more like a front room than Yvette’s place, and the shop, named simply “Haven”, sold beans that were so good Rhys is willing to overlook the fact that they are both very expensive and in direct competition with Yvette’s, for the most part.
“Hello, Rhys!” says Gaige, brightly. Her counter is very different from Yvette’s, orange stained wood on top of a white counter.
“Hey Gaige,” he returns. “How's business?”
She smiles. “Ever more a shop than a café. You come to pick something up?” She glances between Rhys and Jack and smiles.
“Yep. Wholesale for Yvette’s Place?”
Gaige smiles, swiping her hair behind her ear. “Company business, huh, Rhys? I'll go look in the back.”
And off she goes, fingers tracing at the countertop’s wood as she goes.
Jack clears his throat. “So, uh,” he says. Rhys leans heavily on one hip, looking around the little cafe and fiddling with his arm’s socket absent-mindedly. It's not as busy as Yvette’s would be this time of day, though the queue for the shop itself is pretty long.
Jack continues. “Gaige, huh?”
Rhys nods, still glancing around the little shop. The cafe itself is almost crushingly empty, despite the queue of people for the shop lined up behind him. It’s concerning because although he was in direct competition with Gaige, it would be… very sad, for all of them, if she ended up unemployed. Gaige was always one step away from getting her pay rise, and everyone at Yvette’s place was rooting for her to get a new job at the ‘shop so she could work on cars like she actually wanted.
“You, uh.” Jack clears his throat. “Mm. She seemed pretty interested in your cute butt, right?”
Rhys laughs. “It's sweet that you think my butt’s cute Jack, but I'm totally not her type. You've got nothing to worry about, big cat.” Rhys says, patting Jack on the shoulder and smiling at him.
Jack grins back, eyebrows raised. “‘Big cat?’”
When Gaige comes back from the storeroom, Jack is still making cat puns about his purr-fect ass. Gaige doesn't seem to pay any mind to the fact that Jack now has his arm slung over Rhys’ shoulder.
They hand over the money, and as they walk out of the little store, Jack shoots him a winning smile. “Shall we go to the beach meow?”
Rhys smiles back and shakes his head at him. “I think that's a meowvellous idea.”
(It was only a pun. Only people that were... interested in each other laughed at definitely unfunny jokes, right?
Rhys thinks of Vaughn laughing at coffee bean puns earlier that morning and frowns. He shouldn't get ahead of himself.)
He coughs. “So, tail me how your day’s been! Has it been furrbulous?”
Jack slaps his butt. “C’mon, big cat.” He says, laughing. “Let's go to the beach.”
“This is what you meant by the beach?” Rhys says, incredulous, dropping his hand from Jack’s.
It’s a tiny spit of land lodged between Jack's apartment block and the vast expanse of river. It's barely even that, just a few feet of land between them and the estuary.
Jack shrugs, smile wide on his face. "Sure. There’s sand, there's water. There are cigarette butts lodged beneath every pebble. What's not to love?"
Rhys frowns at him. “There are plenty of things not to love. The vague smell of rotten fish, for one. You are terrible, and I am never taking your advice on anything again.”
Jack grins and steps into his space, backing them both up against the cold brick of the apartment. "Hey, honeybun," Jack is suddenly hot against his ear. “I resent that. I'm full of good ideas, like..."
Then he's kissing along Rhys' neck because he was terrible and Rhys was a weak, weak man.
So they don’t talk about it. So instead, there’s this whirlwind of physical contact and need, and they just keep not talking about it.
Until Rhys is sat on the floor of the playroom, legs splayed out.
The Sybian sits ominously in the middle of the room.
“So!” says Jack, leaning back in his chair. “First, you're gonna open your tight little hole for me, and then you're gonna sit on that, and you're gonna be a good boy while I make you cum so hard you pass out. You with me?”
Rhys, very slowly, nods his head. He glances at the Sybian and then back at Jack, who purses his lips.
“C’mon kid. Little more oomph. Colour?” He asks.
“Green,” groans Rhys. His dick is already hard at his thigh, prone as he is, and with the Sybian say in the middle of the room he's already breathing heavily.
He's naked. Completely, from head to toe, crouched on his haunches and very, very, exposed. Something hot and tight swirls in his gut.
“Okay, honey,” Jack throws him the lube, and he catches it quickly with one hand, nearly toppling himself in the process. “Have at it.”
Rhys heaves a deep breath. “Yes,” he assents, and as he tilts himself back, tacks “Sir” onto the end. There's a silver spark up his spine at the statement of it, as there always was, and he purrs even when jolting as his fingers press against his hole.
He's tilted back completely, legs spread and head facing upwards, prone. His fingers trace at his ass, and he breathes slowly and evenly.
“Okay,” he says, mostly to himself. “Okay.”
One long finger slips into him. He's accustomed to it already, but he lets out a long groan anyway. In front of him, Jack eases out a sigh and a “good boy”, so he slips in another finger and whispers out a “Jack,” under his breath.
His fingers are slick and hot against his asshole, and he slips a third finger in, gasping at the burn.
He notices hazily through the heat that there's soft breathing coming from Jack's direction.
The realisation cracks into him with a jolt.
Jack was jerking himself off to the sight of Rhys.
He blushes and shoves his fingers in more vigorously, soothing them back and forth, relishing the way he feels sparks of heat jet into himself.
“Yeah,” he mumbles, just as Jack does the same, and suddenly the whole room is a few degrees hotter, and few inches closer, a little bit tighter against his consciousness.
“Now,” says Jack. “Up you get. Good boy, there you go,” Jack is suddenly above him, hands under his armpits and supporting him to his feet. They make the staggered few steps over to the Sybian together, and Rhys gasps out a pornographic moan as he's dropped onto the thick rod of the machine.
“Green,” he mumbles, swaying as he sits. “This is very-”
“You want me to switch on the machine?”
His hole twitches against the dick inside him. “Yeah,” he says, softly, still swaying. He feels- vague, hazy, warm. Soft and sweet. He thinks as if there's fog in his brain.
Suddenly he is set on fire, and he groans out with something like thunder. The machine is on, drowning him out, shuddering as something animal makes him keen.
And it doesn't take much. It doesn't take much at all until he's clenching, clenching and all of the muscles in his body rolling up, something swirling and pulsing as the cock inside him hits at his prostate, and he purrs. “Good,” he splutters, mouth tensed and soft in turns, “Good! I- yeah, good, good-”
And Jack is stood in front of him, staring, staring at the way his dick is up and twitching at his tummy, and Rhys is-
God. God, God fuck, He- he-!
Suddenly he's rearing over a precipice, groaning out, and then-
His mouth snaps shut.
The machine has stopped. Suddenly he's trembling with anticipation, desperate for it.
“No,” he says. “No please, I- please-”
“Green, now please-”
He is tumbling back down with all the grace of a rock down a mountain. His gut aches.
The machine, good on Jack’s word, starts again, and he yells. “Fuck a-! Good!!! Thank you,” he groans desperately. “Thank you, thank you, I'm-”
He clenches his hands at the side of the machine, claws them-
Except he doesn't do that. Because he's not wearing the arm. His brain hears “claw” from inside his train of thought and screeches to a halt.
His dick twitches and abruptly, Rhys feels sick.
The machine switches off. “I-”
His brain hurts. Nothing is moving.
“Shhh,” mumbles Jack, clutching at him. He is infinitely warm and soft.
He feels like he's been punched.
“I feel- I feel sick,” he mumbles, gripping at Jack’s back with grabbing fingers. “I’m- thanks.”
“For what?” Jack mumbles, pressing his face against Rhys’s neck.
Jack laughs a strange short laugh against his neck. “Don't-” he pauses for a second, lifting Rhys again to sit him on top of his lap on the chair. “You're welcome, Rhys. You're welcome.”
Rhys finally pulls away from the hug and realises that he may have just fallen in love with Jack another time over. He pauses. There's… something about Jack’s face.
“Are you… Is your face…?”
Jack’s breath holds tight in his throat. Rhys can see the way he forcibly loosens himself, gritting his teeth and wrenching his mouth open.
His face isn't shiny, and there's something- it looks painful. Rhys isn't sure what it is.
“I-” Jack takes another forcible breath. His voice breaks. “I have something you'll want to see.”
Chapter 13: sting/venom
"Not now, later."
Rhys makes some coffee.
And then, in a flash of lightning and a crushing body-breath, Jack says: “Not… not now. Later.”
Rhys, shaking and clutching to Jack’s back, takes a deep breath of his own. “What… do you want me to do?”
A taught-pulled kind of moment, like the sharp sting of a thread of yarn pulled too close to the skin. There’s something tethered, an animal, maybe, something that’s almost tyrannical, power deep and strong, and then he can almost watch vulnerability thread it’s way up the sharply corded muscle.
Rhys is still shaking.
He feels, quite abruptly, terrified, and he doesn’t… he doesn’t know why.
“Jack?” he asks, because Jack at some point lost his wrought iron control, and is now facing away from Rhys with his shoulders shaking.
“Uh,” he rumbles, and it’s not entirely like- it’s not quite the same as normal, it’s… frantic.
He reaches out a palm that Jack can’t see.
“Jack, are you okay?”
“Yeah,” he grunts out. It reverberates in his throat.
And then, in a short-sharp moment of clarity, Rhys realises that he might love this man regardless of whatever it is he’s been hiding.
“Jack,” he mumbles. “I’m gonna… I’m gonna turn around now, okay? You can... You can... If you want me to leave, I can.”
And then Rhys turns around.
It’s like Jack is suddenly shaking off his tethers. As he faces away, he can almost hear the way Jack is moving, hear the muscles stretch and the joints pop.
“Give me…” he growls out. “Give me two seconds. Don’t…” He huffs a breath. “Don’t leave.”
If it sounds desperate, Rhys doesn’t comment.
He pads out of the room, and Rhys shivers. It’s the first time he hasn’t been the main focus of a scene, the first time Jack’s been… Well. God knew what the right word was.
In retrospect, he realises that it’s the first time Jack has seemed more human than Dom. He’d just… he’d seen jokes, certainly. He’d seen a real genuine strand of brightness, he’d seen the bit of him that wanted to beat Rhys until he screamed out Jack’s name, and he’d seen the bit that would eat ice cream with him at two in the goddamn morning, but… He’d not seen this.
He hadn’t seen this.
Rhys thinks about Jack’s face, and about how it looked like it hurt.
Rhys thinks about how it looked like it really hurt.
All of a sudden, he notices that he’s stopped shaking. He realises, dimly, that there are voices outside. Hushed but sharp words, and though Rhys can’t make it out he can hear that there’s some kind of urgency there, some sort of desperation punctuated by a soft thump around the doorframe.
Then he hears, clearly, a call of “Please!”
And he’s not sure he’s ever heard Jack- and it must be Jack, though it didn’t sound like him- with such a clear vein of panic. And then there’s Nisha’s voice, muffled again.
Another thump at the doorframe.
(In another world, Rhys hears him say: “Please. Not now.”
In a different world to this one, Rhys hears him say: “Soon! I- I can do it soon-”
And on a separate plane of existence, Rhys hears him say: “I…, please. Help me,” and then he hears Nisha’s voice take a second in pause before saying, “okay.”
But of course, he doesn’t hear it in this world. Rhys doesn’t hear anything in particular at all.)
So he settles himself, adjusts his limbs and curls in on himself, just a little.
If it was possible to feel like he’d somehow trespassed on sacred ground with a sybian looming next to him, then he sure felt that way right about now.
He glances over at it as he shifts his legs again. It doesn’t look so hot, anymore. Plastic and rubber, shining black against the dim yellow light of the playroom. He sees his arm, sitting discarded next to it. Abruptly, he feels sick again, the uneasy calm shifted off him and replaced by a deep-seated nervousness he hasn’t felt since he agreed to meet Jack in person so long ago.
Blinking, he swallows against his dry throat and tries not to think about how distinctly he can smell sex in the room.
There’s movement in the next room, and as Rhys adjusts his aching legs again, he hears a clank and a curse and a sigh, clearer now that he’s desperate to distract himself.
And then there’s a hum. It changes to a quiet whistle and then turns into lilting song.
And for just a brief moment, he’s not sure what to think. He feels- he feels like stuttering, broken signals at a busy interchange, or even like those same signals at two-in-the-morning, devastatingly quiet.
It feels rather like speeding out into a space between roads, into unexpected oncoming traffic, into what might as well be the pit of snakes skittering in his belly for all he thinks he’s likely to survive it.
Jack is not only singing softly, melodically and in a cast wrought rumble, but he is also singing what Rhys dimly recognises as a One Direction song.
Rhys laughs to himself, gently, softly. He breathes out. The gentleness of it sits on his skin, and my god, if there were some kind of insurance reward he could claim for the emotional whiplash he was currently experiencing, he’d probably get thousands.
The thought hits him like a tonne of ridiculous bricks. He laughs again, louder this time, and the singing stops.
A pause, liquid from a faucet, and then a door opening and closing.
And then, Jack.
He smiles up at him. He looks okay, thank god, the same as he always had. If Rhys knows now to be sceptical about the over-shining of his skin, then he doesn’t say anything.
What he says instead is as warm as he can make it: “Mr Handsome,” he smiles, kneels up on legs that shake a little from adrenaline still, “How do you feel about a little aftercare?”
Jack huffs a breath through his nose and smiles. “Knew we were onto a winner with you, kid.”
And then, in a single fluid movement, he goes to his knees, drops to them next to Rhys on the floor.
“Now then,” he rumbles, and this time it’s soft and gentle and curved in the right sort of places. It sounds comfortingly rough. “Where were we?”
And they’re kissing.
And it’s not like nothing ever happened. It’s not like they’re pretending it’s fine, because it’s not fine. Instead, they’re both languidly pretending that even though everything wasn’t fine, they had all the time in the world.
They don’t, and it’s clear from the almost frantic way that Jack sometimes clutches at him.
So Rhys breathes out soft thoughts into Jack’s neck, winds his limbs around him. They intertwine, and once again he’s struck by how organic it feels. It’s not that they were meant to be together. It’s that it doesn’t matter either way, it doesn’t matter that maybe it wasn’t his god given right to have this moment, or that maybe Jack had secrets he wasn’t willing to tell yet, or that Jack’s stomach makes a grumbling noise in the middle of this weird bliss that they’ve cultivated.
It matters that this moment is soft, that Jack’s face is too, and that their lips together feel like a gentle earthquake filling him from the bottom up.
“Oh,” he mumbles out.
Jack snorts another half-laugh through his nose. “I think I-” he starts. He stops, looks Rhys dead in the eyes and says, “yeah,” and then doesn’t say any more.
Rhys smiles out a laugh and thinks: ‘God.’ And he thinks, deliberately and with more coherency than he has all night, ‘I think I do too’.
Instead, he says, “Yeah,” and curls his hands into Jack’s hair.
And that’s how they spend the night, curled on the floor of the playroom. Jack folds kissed messages into his back, and Rhys’ bowed head make it feel a little like some sacred offering to a God he doesn’t follow, but fuck.
They spend the night curled on the floor of the playroom, and Jack feeds him kisses and Rhys breathes deeply and wants honest to god to live this moment forever, and-
God, god, they spend it all lodged on the floor next to the sybian until their goddamn asses hurt, and then they stay there longer still until the sun starts to peek through the blinds and Rhys smothers his laughs with his hand and god, god, god-
He loves him.
Honestly, it should be an earth-shattering realisation. It should, really, inform every interaction they have, it should be sewn into the sinews of skin above his veins. It’s not, though. It’s not like that at all.
“Hey, babe!” he says, brightly. It’s 8 am, before the rush of business-y looking folks has calmed. Jack arrives in the midst of people, and Rhys doesn’t even see him at first. He sidles his way past the queue, smiling smugly at the other business people he’s passing. It’s odd, they’re all in similar-looking bland suits, but somehow Jack sticks out like a sore thumb. A broad, well-groomed, sore thumb.
“Hey,” Jack returns, pressing a kiss to his cheek as Rhys absent mindedly plucks a receipt from the machine.
“Enjoy your coffee!” Rhys says, and then in a swirl of movement Jack is holding his sides and kissing him hard.
A customer waits.
Jack kisses him deeply, the hot bite of his teeth clanking against Rhys’ in a way that makes him startle, smile, and kiss back.
The cafe is bright and warm today, summer still clinging to their footsteps. Jack places hands at his hips and Rhys would curl his fingers in his tie if he had any spare hands, which he doesn’t. Instead, Rhys rests the milk jug he’d been holding on the counter, and sighs into Jack’s lips as he smiles, and then glances at the people waiting in line. The queue is long, but it’s not a businessman that’s first in line, and when Rhys leans back to heave a breath, he realises it’s Ms Jennett.
Just standing there. Watching.
He raises an eyebrow and leans back, Jack’s warm and broad hands still at his waist.
“Hello, Ms Jennett,” he says, matter-of-fact. “What can I get for-”
“I’ll see you later,” Jack rumbles, and as quickly as he’d arrived, he threads his way back through the queue, laughing when notices that Ms Jennett is staring at him.
Rhys coughs, blinks, and smiles. “What can I get for you?”
And Ms Jennett wants a latte, and she also wants a fruit tea.
“Sure, Ms Jennett. I’ll start that for you now, are you at the usual table?” He asks, and she nods, fingers gently resting on the counter.
“As always,” she says, “But Marlon and Nuala couldn’t come today. They’re at line dancing, I think.”
“Oh, really?” Rhys returns, sweeping past the coffee machines to get to the tea. “And why aren’t you at line dancing, Ms Jennett?”
Rhys smiles when she laughs. “Well,” she says, “I couldn’t miss my chance to see my favourite barista, could I?”
It’s routine. Gentle, expected, and soft. He laughs, and says, “But whatever will Marlon do without his dance partner?”
“Ah,” she says, “He’s old hat. I’m sure he’ll schmooze his way through the other ladies easily.”
She’s right, really, because he’s only met Marlon twice, but even though he’s fairly sure they didn’t even do partnered dances in that class, he’s also fairly sure that Marlon would earn himself some brownie points for being as charming as he was. The man knew how to dress.
She smiles, as knowingly as older women tended to around Rhys, and says: “Ah, to be young.”
Rhys laughs without thinking, easy and simple. “Like Marlon?” Marlon, of course, was at least in his seventies, which would actually make him older than Ms Jennett.
She raises an eyebrow. “You know exactly who I mean, young man.”
He laughs. “Sure, Ms Jennett,”
“You boys be safe, though, alright?”
He- Rhys has to bite his lips to keep from laughing, that time. The advice seems genuine, too, like she’s got some inkling of all of the hideous things he and Jack get up to. He thinks briefly that he should probably avoid saying anything about ‘safe words’ in front of the woman who called him ‘that nice sweet boy from the cafe.’ “Sure, Ms Jennett,” he says instead and places the latte onto the counter in front of him. “I always am.”
next time. ;)
also, this fic is looking like its going to be upwards of double the size by the time it's done. If you're interested in betaing, please let me know! the more the merrier and i need all the help i can get :)
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Chapter 14: cathexsis
They go back to the sybian, Rhys gets fucked.
The tension spills across the floor.
They go back to the Sybian, of course they do. It’s not the next day or the day after, and honestly, it’s not even in the same two weeks. But yeah, they go back to the Sybian. He’s gay and not in control of his life as it currently stands, and god, if the damn thing was capable of giving him a thunder-clap realisation of love, then he could do with a good machine-fucking to get it the hell out of his system again.
Though it has to be said, he’s not totally angry about the whole situation. He seemed to have been able to get away with the whole not-telling-Jack thing up to now, so there was no reason he couldn’t get away with it further.
The thought is swiftly put to rest by Jack heaving a breath as he hauls the Sybian from its spot in the corner to the center of the room. Rhys is restless, just a little, shifting his weight from side to side on the floor. The weird agitation nips at his knees as he moves them, settling cross-legged on the floor- it sinks deeply into him, almost over-tender. There was something too personal about going back to the Sybian, something about it just a little disquieting. After all, he did still look a little too long at Jack’s skin, sometimes, perfect and over-shiny though it was. He blinks and focuses instead on the way Jack moves with an angular kind of grace.
“So,” Jack announces as he stands back up, hands as his hips and back iron rod straight. “This time, we have a plan.”
“Mm,” agrees Rhys, clenching and relaxing his muscles, putting his legs out in front of him.
“The plan is a very good plan. You’ll be pleased to hear that it is a really good plan, actually. A perfect plan, you could say.”
“Yeah,” says Rhys, smiling back at Jack. He’s in this weird black undershirt, and it clings to him. Still broad, still triangular. Rhys crosses his legs and puts a hand up to his mouth, gently and softly, and then sighs behind his smile when Jack looks at him expectantly. “Okay, Mr Handsome, fine. What is the plan?”
“Oh, I’m so glad you asked, ” he says, and gesticulates widely with his hands.
Broad hands, Rhys amends, in his head. Still very broad hands. Again, there’s something about them that sticks to the edges of Rhys’ brain.
“So the plan,” Jack announces, again in this bright voice like he’s a news reporter or something. He crouches, suddenly, and Rhys would flinch back if it were anyone else but…
It’s not anyone else, and as Jack extends his palm towards Rhys’ face, fingers curling around his jawline and thumb brushing over his throat, Rhys smiles again and leans forward.
“Good boy,” Jack rumbles.
“Always, sir,” he returns, without even fucking thinking, like this is so ingrained in him that he might have been born to do it.
“Mm,” returns Jack, even deeper this time, like it’s caught in his chest. “So this plan...”
“First,” he says, low in his throat, “We’re gonna get you on that,” he nods gently at the machine, fingers still splayed across Rhys’ neck. “And then we’re gonna set up some rules about… the words you’re allowed to say.”
“The…” he blinks. “The words I’m allowed to say? You want me to be quiet?”
Which, honestly? Didn’t quite…gel. It didn’t quite fit right with anything, because Jack, as obvious as anything, liked to hear noise. He wanted to be in a constant drum of sound, and for Rhys to make it rampantly clear at every given moment that things were going well. The oddness of it clangs against the same bits of his mind that the power-strong image of Jack usually sat in, purring.
Jack laughs, and Rhys leans further into his outstretched hand as it rests around his throat. The laugh rumbles out from him, shakes his fingers. It’s like he’s fucking bass-boosted, and Rhys never gets tired of it.
“No,” he breathes. “I just want to work on your.. Vocabulary, how’s that?”
“My… vocabulary,” he repeats, nonplussed.
“Yeah, sure,” Jack smiles. “Why not.”
“Okay, and-” he swallows. “And…”
The tenderness in the way Jack acts as if this is set in stone is in some ways welcome, and it’s joyous, ecstatic, soft and sweet and extremely warm to his skin. And he’s not saying he doesn’t like that. It’s just that- sometimes it sits a bit too warm. And it had to be said, even though they were good at this kind of closeness, Rhys still-
He kind of-
He doesn’t even know how to say it, so instead, he says, “Ah, don’t- don’t worry about it."
He thinks of weight on his skin, feels out the way that sometimes the cloying pull of softness was sometimes too soft.
He thinks of the sharp sting of teeth at his lips, at the shell of his ear, at the skin above his heart.
Jack drops from his haunches to his knees in front of him. “Hm, uh. I think I will worry about it. What’s up, kitten?”
“Well, I’m-” he says, and then feels himself flush bright red as the words slot into place. “I’d like to try… Hu….”
Jack splays his fingers. “Come on, sweetpea, work with me here.”
Rhys looks down. “Can we try, um. Can we… try humiliation?”
Jack looks floored. “Huh,” he says.
“It’s okay if not, I just didn’t want to- I just thought I should say it, because this seemed like a good time, if we’re doing something that’s like- you know, that involves, things, where I’m doing things wrong and-”
“What, like, now?” Jack asks.
“And I was never- huh?” Rhys screeches to a halt. “Sorry?”
“What,” Jack repeats. “Like, now?”
Jack seems to consider that, and says, “Remember the safe words?”
“...Yes? Red for stop, yellow for-”
“Yeah,” sneers Jack, cutting him off. “Humiliation? Not likely. Not on the list.”
Rhys blinks, pauses. “We have a list?”
“Uh, are you questioning me? Maybe I misunderstood, but it seems to me-” his grip at Rhys’ throat tightens, fractionally, and Rhys feels his head tilt back, just a little. “It seems to me, that you’re not the one in control here, are you, bitch?”
Something uncoils in his gut.
“Oh,” he says.
“Oh,” mimics Jack. “You’re into that? You’re into it when I call you a bitch? God damn, kid. You’re disgusting,”
Rhys makes a noise he hadn’t known he could make as Jack’s other arm goes out to the front of his underwear and palms his dick.
“See,” he says, and he might as well be roaring because his face is right there, right next to Rhys’ ear, and the breath on the shell of it makes him shiver. “See, I’ve got plans. I’ve got big plans for tonight, and just because I’m letting you use my stuff, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to enjoy this-”
“Yes, sir,” he groans.
The hand on his dick immediately retracts. He almost mewls in response, Jack’s hand is at his mouth now, covering it. “No,” Jack’s voice is acidic, biting. “No, you’ll speak when you’re asked. I’ll tell you when to speak.”
“Y-Yes, sir. I understand,” it’s ripped from him, breath stolen in some way from Jack’s hand over his mouth.
“No,” he growls. “I don’t think you do.”
And then he stands, releases his hold on Rhys and steps away, and Rhys groans.
He points at the machine in the middle of the room. “Sit on it.”
Rhys blinks. “I-”
“What,” Jack snarls. “What’s the problem?”
“I can’t- I’m not- It would hurt…” He stumbles, mumbles, and tries to think about how completely impossible it was for him to sit on that machine right now, instead of how his dick is hard underneath his underwear, straining against the fabric. He stands, slowly, and shivers as the material pulls. He swallows and takes his boxers off. “Do you have… do you have any lube?”
“Oh, what,” says Jack, crossing his arms. “Is your ass not already aching? Aren’t you already open , aching for me?”
“Yeah, I… Sorry, sir, I can’t-”
Jack smiles and throws him a bottle.
“Thank you, sir,”
“You’re welcome, kid,” he says, arms crossed in front of him. “We good so far?”
Rhys nods, smiling just a little.
“Good. Now,” he says, sitting into a black chair Rhys hadn’t noticed was there. He reclines, legs loosely crossed and body somehow both carefully arranged and casual at once. An orchestrated kind of calm. “Now you’re gonna tell me what you’re doing.”
“I’m, um-” he coughs, splutters, starts again, and abruptly feels very exposed. “I- I’m- oh, it’s… cold.” And it is. Wet and cold on his skin in a way that was unsexy , and in a weird fluttering thought he considers that it was possibly the least sexy sensation he’d felt this week. It’s decidedly unsexy.
Jack looks at him, abruptly serious. “Colour?”
And Rhys genuinely has to think about that one. His fingers pause as they slip and slide, and he says, “um,” and watches as Jack unfurls his limbs and stands.
“Colour, kid,” he demands it, but somehow it’s still gentle. He tries to figure out how that was possible, that weird maelstrom of brutality and soft, tries to somehow track it on Jack’s face. Rhys, bent over on the floor of the playroom, is suddenly reminded that Jack was so often capable of both at once, this odd gentle tiger, as Jack steps forward again. “Colour?”
He doesn’t respond, because he’s still not sure, and Jack cocks his head. “Colour,” he growls, tone violent, suddenly, tumultuous. “ Now. ”
Rhys clicks back to reality. “Yellow, sir.”
Jack clicks his tongue, then crouches, arranging his limbs in a way that looks careful, but really only serves to make him seem softer. “What’s working? What’s not?”
“The- humiliation, it’s…”
Jack winces. “Too much?”
Rhys snorts and is unfortunately reminded of his fingers in his ass by the way his walls shift inside him. “No, that’s the good bit. I’m just not…”
“Not?” prompts Jack, hands once again flitting to Rhys’ face. When Rhys shivers, he grins.
“Not good at… prep? I’m not good at,” he nods, gesturing absently to the side. “You know, the whole, um. Getting ready.”
“Ah,” smiles Jack. “Then how about we…?”
And with that, he hauls Rhys up with him as he stands, and when he squeaks out, Jack laughs.
The rumble in the soft material of Jack’s chest filters through him.
“Hey, baby,” Jack murmurs, pulling Rhys about bodily until he’s laying on Jack’s lap.
“Hello,” says Rhys, smiling and laughing breathlessly. “Hello.”
And Jack, leaning down, body curved and arched like the swerve of a dragon’s neck, says, “did I ask you to speak?”
The coil in Rhys’ gut tightens. He bites his lips, feels Jack’s fingers slip slowly into him. He doesn’t say anything, and he can feel Jack smile, hair dusting gently at Rhys’ skin.
“Well done,” Jack sneers, slipping into this old role Rhys hadn’t known he had, “See, even a bitch like you can learn, right?”
Rhys shivers and Jack’s big fucking hands grip at him, and he’s never felt so grounded -
He’s deep in the goddamn earth, he’s so grounded, the grit of the insult sticking to him and catching the light of the dim playroom.
Jack’s fingers splay, opening him. He lets it happen, sighs, breathes. “Mm,” he sighs, doesn’t allow a single coherent word to slip from his lips.
Jack, leaning over, still, like being caged over Rhys is precisely where he belonged, nips lightly at his skin, and when Rhys groans, he can feel Jack smile. “Oh, you like that? Little whore, look at you. Moaning, splayed out- just waiting on me, huh?”
Rhys sighs out little nothings and starts when Jack’s grip on his ass tightens, incrementally, until the hold is uncomfortably tight, and he winces and looks up into Jack’s face.
Jack stares back.
The hold is iron wrought, now, digging into him, and it hurts and he-
He wants to-
The coil in his gut keeps tightening, rising as Jack slowly opens him up with one hand, the other one so tight that it would probably leave marks. Rhys realises that actually, it-
It definitely wasn’t a problem that it hurt.
“Green,” he keens out, without being asked, and Jack’s face lights up like a goddamn Christmas tree.
“Thought so,” Jack purrs, and then almost immediately shoves Rhys off of his lap. He sniggers when Rhys makes a noise, deep in his throat.
Jack draws himself up to his full height in a single fluid motion, leaving Rhys crumpled on the floor, and then rolls his eyes dramatically. For a second, Rhys doesn’t quite understand why, but then Jack’s rolling his eyes even harder . He leans down, grabs Rhys under his armpits and hauls. He’s unceremoniously righted, placed on unsteady feet and blinking owlishly as Jack stares down at him.
If Rhys didn’t have a raging erection and a desperate need to please, he might wonder how exactly Jack was staring down at him, when they were the same height.
He doesn’t wonder about that, though, because Jack is sneering, “Oh, look at baby! All shaky and nervous. You’re a slut, act like one.”
Rhys’ mouth opens and closes, and he looks from Jack to the Sybian. Without a thought or permission he drops to his knees and clambers over to it.
“Yeah, there we go,” Jack rumbles, as Rhys gently drops down onto the rod and shivers. “Knew you had it in you. It’s what you were made for, right? What you were meant to do. Put on a pretty show for me, alright, slut?”
And then it starts vibrating. He’s-
His hand is at his cock before he can think, gasping out noises, shivering out something that would maybe resemble a melody if he wasn’t so immediately lost.
And he’s already climbing, feeling that tension rise and rise. He cries out. Jack laughs, and when Rhys opens his eyes, Jack is reclining in that chair again.
It feels right, good, hot and- oh, oh, how was he ever scared of getting on this thing, he feels his muscles tense and tighten and everything tightens, and soon he’s screaming out-
“Oh,” he yells. “Oh god, Jack! Oh fuck-“
Everything stops. The machine stops, his heart may as well have fucking stopped and his words die in his throat. He makes a questioning noise, desperate, eyes blinking blearily and flitting between Jack and the little remote he held. Jack laughs.
“Oh yeah,” he says. “Forgot to say! I’d say I’m sorry for forgetting but, you know how it is, I’m like. Not actually sorry, so…”
Rhys’ mouth opens and closes, wordlessly.
“Anyway,” Jack purrs, leaning forward into his seat and lip curling, sneering: “I mentioned the plan, right? You, uh- hey, wait. Actually, I have a better idea. How about you, uh.” He taps a finger against the remote. “How about you figure it out, shall we say?”
Rhys blinks at him as he grins. Suddenly, the machine is on again, and immediately his hand is a claw gripping at thin air and his tongue feels heavy in his mouth. “Oh!” He sighs, “Oh shit-”
It’s off again. Rhys lets out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding.
Rhys hears Jack laugh, softly. “Colour?”
“...green,” says Rhys, “but only if you actually let me-“
“Baby,” accuses Jack, and the machine switches back on. It’s almost an electric shock, tenses his muscles and pulls at his limbs, and he yells out incoherent, garbled language until he lands on “ fuck.”
Jack says, “Ha, nope.”
He feels bereft. Something about it must be clear on his face, because Jack smiles widely. He looks delighted. Rhys feels his face scowl, unbidden, because Jack was an asshole.
The machine is on and his hand is desperately stroking at his cock, and suddenly Jack is in front of him, grabbing his hand and pulling it up and away-
He whines, makes a soft noise and then a louder one, frustration building and he desperately screeches out a plea, and Jack laughs.
“Oh, absolutely not,” he says, staring down at Rhys.
He looks- oh god, he looks politely fucking disinterested, and there’s pressure building but none of the stimulation he wants, and he’s crowing out Jack’s praises, and he eventually lands on desperate pleas of “please, sir, fuck me-”
And the machine stops.
“Come on,” Rhys sobs, and if he sounds petulant than that was because he absolutely was, the frustration crawling in his guts as the tightness dissipates again.
Jack cackles. “No,” he says. “Foul mouth sluts-“ he blinks and pauses. “All foul mouth sluts and no good submissives make Jack a dull boy.”
Rhys blinks and scowls at him as he laughs at himself. “Please,” he asks again, “just let me-“
And he’s rocking back and forth, but- something about the vibrations had desensitised him, and he’s pushing back and forth with Jack’s hand still holding his wrist and he’s fucking begging and Jack says-
“Hey, kid,” so Rhys looks up at him with frustration. He grins a tiger-grin. And he says, “You into post-orgasm torture?”
And god, if it meant he got to cum in the first place? Rhys was into anything at all, so he sobs out “yes, please-“
And it’s on again, and through bleary scrunched-up eyes Rhys watches as Jack drops to his haunches and grins, even wider this time, and with one hand still holding Rhys’ wrist, puts the other to Rhys’ cock.
He thinks: oh, he thinks: oh, thank god, because Jack’s hot fingers against him make him throw his head back and the deep thrumming- the bass vibrations, they don’t stop, and soon his eyes are rolling back into his head, and it’s higher and higher and higher and-
He rolls over the precipice, tumbles down into muscle convulsions and bright white light in his eyes and he makes a broken noise and oh god, he howls-
Garbled language spills out from his mouth. He convulses, limbs spitting signals from and to his brain, and he curls up as his stomach rolls and toes point, unpoint, point again-
It- it doesn’t stop.
He howls, Jack’s hand holding his wrist as he strains against it, and if he could possibly notice anything in this moment he’d be able to tell that the machine is off and everything, everything about this world was brought to a halt somehow by Jack’s broad palm at him and the way his hole twitches around a thick rod-
And it hurts. He yowls out, screams out, desperately clenches and scrabbles his fingers against air, and then-
As soon as it started, with a glorious and gentle sigh, it stops.
“Good boy,” murmurs Jack. It’s soft and solid, grounding and whispered into his hair. He has no idea how long they sit there, because at some point Jack hauls him up from the Sybian and makes even softer noises as he shivers. Rhys clings to him, legs clenched around him and body curled up as much he can. Jack moves him to- somewhere soft.
There’s a moment where Rhys can finally properly see again. He glances around the room, to check that he wasn’t, in fact, dead; down at himself to make sure all remaining limbs were still present; and then- up at Jack. Jack seems to know what he’d been doing, an internal catalogue done so robotically it might well have been done after a near death experience. He realises that last orgasm could as well have been a religious experience.
Jack laughs, softly. “You okay, there?” he murmurs.
Rhys smiles back at him. “Yeah,” he breathes. “You?”
He laughs, again. “Mm. Better, now you’ve returned to the land of the living. I was, uh. A bit worried I sprung that last bit on you.”
Rhys stretches and feels like he’s a goddamn new man. “I mean-“ he starts, stopping abruptly when his voice breaks. “You did, but I’m not mad at that,” he slurs, and then buries his face in Jack’s chest. “I trust you.”
(This time, it happens in a softer moment.)
They’re in bed, and there’s soft breath on his neck as they lay, quiet, together.
When the warmth on his back becomes just a little too warm, he shifts. Jack’s answering grumpy groan is enough to make him snort.
“Shut,” he murmurs, doing some kind of shitty acrobatics move to try and face Jack without actually disturbing the weight on him.
Jack props himself up on an elbow, leaning back to let Rhys settle back in. “‘Shut’,” he repeats, smile so big Rhys can hear it in his voice.
“Mm,” Rhys returns, “I stand by it.”
And its unspeakably tender. There’s a yellow light filtering into the room, softening the angular planes of Jack’s face, and he looks so...
Rhys doesn’t know what the word is, so he reaches out a hand to Jack’s face and smiles. Jack shuts his eyes as Rhys’ fingers brush his skin, and he sighs, quietly, a huff of breath as smooth as the quiet rumble of traffic outside.
“Ah,” Rhys says, and his fingers press so softly against Jack’s temples and ridiculous, sex-mussed hair that he could swear the touch was almost not there at all.
Regardless, when he pulls his fingers away, Jack’s eyes shoot open and his mouth drops, just a little, hand shooting out in a crash of shattering tension to grab at Rhys’ wrist and Rhys-
Blinks, looks at his fingers, and they catch the light.
Jack holds his breath, takes a second, and slowly releases his hold on Rhys’ wrist.
“Okay,” he says, taught and strung. “Let’s… let’s try this again, shall we?”
Rhys bites at the inside of his lips and doesn’t say a word.
“I…” mumbles Jack, sitting up in the bed. “I have something you’ll want to see.”
Rhys stays quiet. This is almost- it’s virtually sacred space, like he’s intruding, and then when he opens his mouth to speak and Jack looks at him with eyes that widen and then scowl, no sound comes out.
It’s unspeakably tender. Rhys doesn’t know what to do.
Jack clicks at the lightswitch by the bed. He hauls himself up, a single fluid motion that wrenches at the sides of the tension in the room, and Jack stands to his feet in a way that invites a fight.
Rhys watches as he relaxes, muscle by muscle, limb by limb, and he opens his mouth and says, “Okay.” He scowls, looks down, and says, “I have something you’ll want to see.”
He holds out a hand for Rhys, and he- he takes it, almost hesitant, because-
Jack pulls him up, kisses him, quietly. It’s soft and intense and like-
Rhys thinks wildly that it’s smoother than the best shot of espresso he’s ever pulled.
“You… you know I said I got into a lot of fights when I was younger?”
At Rhys’ tentative nod, he scowls again, then looks up with eyes that look troubled and more mismatched than ever.
“Good a time as any, I suppose,” he says, in one breath, then opens his mouth again, before chewing on the inside of his mouth and frowning. And then, in a split second, he growls, “It’s makeup.”
Rhys bites the inside of his cheeks, gnawing at the flesh. He thinks of the foundation he’d seen in Jack’s bathroom, far too light for Nisha’s skin. And he thinks of the way Jack’s skin, always, always shined as if it caught the light.
And he thinks about- he wonders… he wonders why, despite himself.
“And I’m not-” Jack wrenches the words from somewhere inside, and it’s clear he doesn’t want to say them because his whole body is shaking, just a little, and his eyes are dark and fists clenching. “I’m not saying- I’m not saying I wear makeup because like, I’d rock eyeliner or whatever, I’m saying... I’m saying that I wear it all the time.”
Visibly worked up, Jack cracks his knuckles and tenses his fists, untenses them, tenses them again, and Rhys would almost be caught up in it were it not for the way Jack is staring at him with his mismatched eyes, and saying, “There’s...”
He mumbles the rest of it, and Rhys reaches out a hand that he can see Jack almost flinches away from.
“Jack?” he asks, soft as he can.
"Mm,” he rumbles, and then says, swallowing harshly around the words, “There’s a cloth in the bathroom, if you…?”
So Rhys, grabbing the bathrobe from the back of the door, pads to the bathroom and picks up the cloth as if it’s a talisman, sacred, terrifying.
He almost tip-toes back, quiet as a goddamn mouse, and if he catches Nisha hovering from the doorway, he doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t say anything, either, and he briefly considers smiling at her. She gives him a little salute, throwing her fingers to her head, but her mouth is a grim line, so he nods, and gently opens the door to Jack’s room.
Jack’s hunched, elbows resting on widely slung knees. He doesn’t look up, but Rhys… can’t, he genuinely can’t bring himself to speak, so instead he treads a little heavier on the floor, and heaves a sharp breath when the floor creaks.
“Hm,” murmurs Jack, and Rhys thinks, god, whatever this was, it was very painful, still. “Hm…” he says again, deeper still in his throat, and then when Rhys is stood directly in front of him and still doesn’t look up, he rumbles, “okay.”
And when he does look up, finally, it sits uncomfortably in his guts. Just a little to the left, he thinks breathlessly: a little to the side and a little out of the grooves that they had worn so well into the fibres of their relationship, because Jack has a hand over one side of his face and eyes that look thunderous.
And then he blinks, and says, “Yeah.”
And without prompting, without asking, Rhys brings the cloth to the skin, to the flesh of this ridiculous, ridiculous man, and as he does he drops to his knees between Jack’s legs.
Rhys says, “yeah,” breathes it out over his tongue, and gently swipes the cloth over skin.
“It,” Jack starts, but it sounds garbled and strangled in his throat. “It, uh. Used to be- worse.”
So Rhys curls his fingers, brushes them gently over Jack’s forehead, and he realises in a deep thud that Jack’s eye-
Was like his eye. He’d never looked closely enough before, and it was a good eye, as good as his own. Close up, it’s more beautiful, intricate. Spun in the same way he knows his own is.
He swipes the cloth over skin that looks angry, that looks ruptured in a way that looked- still looks, however many years after the fact- painful. And the tension hangs in the room, unspoken, unchanged in a way neither of the two people in this room could speak of.
Jack’s face, with the gentle softness of Rhys’ hand and the even more gentle movement of cloth on skin, is slowly revealed. Bit by bit, he’s like a puzzle, and when Rhys thinks he’s done, he leans back, but-
Jack gently, but with a deep seated clarity, clasps his hand around Rhys’ wrist, and meets his eyes. It feels electric, but not in the way that- not in the way he was used to. It speaks of pylons and grand supplies over continents instead of the spark between skin when they touched. He says, softly, deeply, with a rumble that once again rears its head as a megacity’s constellation painted on the planet, the kind you might see from a fucking spaceship , and he says, “the other side, too.”
And Rhys blinks back to earth.
“Mm,” he hums, “Okay,” and he leans in, extends to his full kneeled height, and gently, ever so gently, touches their foreheads together. Jack shuts his eyes.
“You want me to…? Your whole face?”
Jack, squeezing his eyes shut even tighter, says, “Yeah, I think- I think that’s… yeah.”
Rhys hums, and when he leans back, Jack takes a breath like he’s never had air in his lungs before.
“You know,” he starts, and then when Rhys stops with the cloth against his skin to let him speak, he says, “No, uh.”
Rhys doesn’t know what that means, so he just- sits there.
“Carry on,” Jack says, and then when he does, the ridiculous, ridiculous man sat in front of him starts to explain.
“When I- I was young, and people used to- I had a rough childhood. People always fought. It’s how-” Jack swallows. “It’s how we solved problems, and I was- I was always… I was fuckin’ good at it, right, like, I was excellent at it, and then- We did, we just kept fighting. And we…”
He heaves a breath.
“I used to- I use to drink. A lot, less now, and better. But I went… I had a reputation, see, people- people barred me. From bars, I mean. And we, uh, we- I mean. I mean, I mean me, I used to get- rowdy. We’d shout. We’d- There was… There was this girl, ha! God, I always-”
He sours his lips, and Rhys, ever so aware of the tension, drags cloth over skin and lets him talk.
“Look, I never thought I was like, sexually straight, like, I knew that I was- I liked you , and I liked- anyway. Anyway, it’s not important, I just- Anyway. There was a girl. I almost,” he chokes, “I almost married her. We were- We weren’t good together. I was angry. She was, uh. She was too. So angry, and one day she-”
Jack swallows, so Rhys pulls the cloth to his neck.
“She said she wanted kids, said she wanted something good in her life. Talked about having a guardian angel, and I felt- God, I was so angry. She was talking like I was some kind of deadbeat, like I’d never done anything good in my life, and I always used to- I used to be so jealous, that she could separate herself from the whole fucking thing and say she was somehow better. ” He gulps. “Than me! She always thought she could just- get out. Like there was some easy way, like there was some fucking solution I’d never seen, and we-”
He widens his eyes, and if Rhys had two hands, he’d put his other hand to Jack’s head and hold it.
“God, Rhys, she- She told me, she said, after I- I told her that I couldn’t, I was selfish but not that selfish, and god, think of what the fuck kind of damage I’d inflict on a fucking child, and- I- She-”
“She told me, ‘I’d have kids,’” just a seconds pause to heave a breath, “‘but not with you’, and I told her, I was-”
He looks up, desperate, and the scar is suddenly so clear, Rhys wonders why he’d never seen it before.
It’s this inflamed, discoloured skin, and it stretches in a triangle right the way across his face. It bisects his eye, and Rhys things, god, what was done to you-
“I- It was my… I-”
Silence. It trembles beneath the air, sits underneath like shitty creaky floorboards.
“I told her. I looked her dead in the eyes and told her she’d be as terrible a mother as I’d be a wretched fucking father, and she-”
He raises his fingers to his face, and presses gently at the skin next to Rhys’ hand.
“She, uh,” he meets Rhys’ eyes, and smiles, savagely, he says, “You know those little, the little squarish bottles of vodka you get?”
He looks down. “Yeah, uh,” he looks up, “She fuckin’ dug that shit into my face.”
And Rhys thinks, I love you, and instead he curls around Jack’s lap, and whispers soft nothings into his ear.
If it doesn’t accomplish anything other than Jack no longer being able to bury his head in his hands, then Rhys counts it as a win anyway.
The next day, Rhys says, into the sunny morning, “You okay?”
Jack seems to genuinely consider it, arms buried underneath a pillow and body stretched out. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah.”
He doesn’t smile, but Rhys kisses his forehead, and thinks, oh god.
He thinks, oh god.
It was starting to get very difficult to pretend that love wasn’t on the table, it was getting harder and harder, and-
Rhys blinks, thinks of the night before, and thinks oh , god , because after last night, after- after all of this, all of it-
There’s a chance Jack might love him too.
So I've been using the wrong tags and didn't notice for Three Years lol
anyway, your comments and reblogs go a long way! you can find my tumblr here.
Chapter 15: (a break; a pause; a good view into hell)
A softer moment.
I'm back at University now, so updates will be slow! I'm helping to run a creative writing society right now, so whilst the quality of my updates should hopefully improve, the sheer word count of them will probably drop.
Many thanks to Asylos on tumblr for the beta!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Rhys is sputtering around a drink, coughing a quiet laugh at a remembered thought, and he walks in.
Rhys minds his own fucking business, in the cafe that he works in, and the man walks in.
God for-fucking-bid Rhys be allowed to exist in peace .
The clink of the door, opening and closing. There are heavy footsteps, almost like a Western movie, and the man walks with boots that click and clack. They’re leather, probably. He might think they looked a bit too heavy for the man’s legs, but he knows that the only reason that the man seems thin is his pinstripe trousers.
He takes one step forward, and Rhys takes one step back.
He takes another step forward, and then smiles with tombstone teeth. They look white, Rhys thinks, absently. They appear well cared for. He had dental, probably.
High fliers, big dog businessman, Rhys thinks wildly of animal metaphors and the way the man prowls forward.
He doesn’t shake, doesn’t step back again.
“Hey, honey,” Vasquez says, saccharine, simpering, acidic.
And Rhys, without thinking, says, “What the fuck do you want? ”
Vasquez smiles. It’s a weird, not-crooked thing. It’s straight and perfect, and the sight of it makes Rhys choke, and he thinks that he’s not sure why, because Vasquez had been a prick but so were so many other people in his life-
“Aww,” Vasquez mumbles, stepping forward again. Rhys stands his ground and his vision tunnels, and he feels everything else fall into nothingness. “No way to treat a customer, huh?”
And Rhys, robotically, says, “Sorry,” blinking. He’s swinging between poles, trapped like- like one of those fucking shitty pinball games where it was made so badly the- the ball got stuck, the ball used to get stuck and it sat between the two paddles and it meant that you couldn’t win-
He heaves a breath, blinks, centres himself.
If Vasquez was a beast, then Rhys has never felt less of a dragon slayer.
“Yeah,” Vasquez says, “I thought you might be.”
And they stare at each other in silence. It’s not much of a contest, because he can feel himself blinking- and it wouldn’t have been a contest anyway, because there was no victory , no failure, just this weird moment with Vasquez in front of him and nobody else in the shop.
“I’d like an Americano, please,” Vasquez says. Silence falls, even though it doesn’t. There’s gentle chatter, but there isn’t. It is abruptly as if he were trapped under crowd-crushing-weight, and yet abruptly like outer space. He thinks giddily that in space, nobody could hear you scream. Or, really, that nobody could hear the cogs in his brain turning slowly at Vasquez’s request.
And Rhys slowly says, “Sure,” and turns around, clicking around the machines and swaying, just a little, back and forth. He feels the weight of the stare on his back and pretends he doesn’t.
“See,” Vasquez says, in a way that makes it seem like he’s rolling the word around in his mouth. “My boss told me to come here,” he purrs.
Rhys says “Mm,” It’s robotic. It’s metal on metal like gears ticking over, like his arm, maybe. He cringes, just a little, and reminds himself not to think about it. “Yeah?”
It’s assent. He-
He doesn’t know what to do, so he stays quiet, lets Vasquez talk, and tries not to look at his arm.
“Yeah,” Vasquez agrees, conversationally. “It’s the best place in town, he said. Said I should get a frappe or something, but you know how it is. I’m a busy man, figured something stronger was more my style.”
“Mm,” he mumbles and rams the tamper into the coffee. He shoves the filter holder into the machine, taps his fingers against the counter, and blinks.
He doesn’t turn around.
“Yeah, you know, I couldn’t stop thinking about this place! The coffee is so good, ” he purrs and leans over the counter. Rhys watches from the corner of his eye and doesn’t recoil. He doesn’t move, doesn’t do… anything. “And the baristas! You might not have an arm, but you’ve got skills, right?” Rhys stares at the coffee machine. “Wouldn’t you say?”
“Mm,” he agrees.
“Yeah,” Vasquez says. “You would. It’s all in the, uh,” he chuckles, “All in one wrist, right?” He leans further forward, staring holes into Rhys, and abruptly, Rhys is thinking about space. He thinks about neutron stars and implosion. He blinks back, in a split second, and Vasquez runs his tongue over his teeth. “All in the heart, they say, it’s all in the soul. All in the belief, right, all in the idea of it. Coffee’s a religion, right?”
He grins. His teeth shine. “You, uh, you worship, don’t you kid? Barista-types, you’re all sass and charm and then when you get down to the nitty-gritty it’s just- just you and your coffee, huh?”
“Mm,” Rhys says. He bites the inside of his mouth. A pause rattles around the space.
“Now let’s be honest, kid, you know why I’m here.” And Rhys really hopes, for a brief moment, that the reason he’d come was more than just- this. This conversation. This conversation with Vasquez leaning into the conversation as if he was allowed to be there. The door opens, and he thinks wildly that it could be Sasha, or Yvette, or any one of the people in his life that were not this man, that were better than he was at- at this.
He blinks and shoves down something sad and desperate, something weepy and solemn. He forces it down, lifejacket on the sea, and soon he’s reeling with an image of himself desperately treading water, a million miles out to sea.
He blinks and thinks practically. The person that had come into the shop was not Sasha, not Yvette, not even Jack, no white knight in shining armour. It’s a customer, and what’s more, they don’t even come up to the counter. They find the table with friends that for the love of god, Rhys hadn’t registered were there, and they sit down, and they laugh.
They’re late, or something, but that’s all Rhys can glean from the conversation before Vasquez is snapping fingers in front of his face. “Hey,” Vasquez says, softly. It crunches sickeningly against his ears.
“Hello, sir,” he replies, dull.
Vasquez, grinning, runs his tongue over his teeth again. “Oh, I like that,”
Rhys tries to sigh but feels it turn to a retch in his throat, so he keeps his mouth shut. “Sir?”
“Yeah, see, I know your type, kid. It’s like I said, right?”
“Mm,” Rhys finally remembers he’s meant to be making coffee and drops the espresso into the hot water and turns, bodily, towards Vasquez. “Here’s your coffee, sir.”
Vasquez laughs.”Yeah, I totally know your type. So stand-offish, it’s like you don’t even care. ”
Rhys blinks at him owlishly, drumming his fingers on the table for a second, before clinking the prosthetic onto the table and clicking his tongue.
When he asks for the money, Vasquez doesn’t give it to him, not straight away. Instead, he strokes the leather of his wallet, fingering the lining of it. He smiles, still, a shark smile. “Yeah,” he rolls it into his mouth, “See, I don’t think you call anyone else around here ‘sir’, am I right?”
Vasquez seems to take his silence as some kind of assent, purring and rolling his words. “Yeah, I’m right. You’re playing all hard to get, but- but you want it, don’t you kid?”
Revulsion, suddenly, clings to his skin. He feels filthy, and then, without bidding, his mouth says, “No,” which had not been the plan, because non-committal, non-confrontation, avoiding a war, all that had been the plan, and that was apparently not the plan now.
Vasquez blinks, but he’s still smiling. The coffee sits on the table, unpaid for, undrunk. “No?”
Rhys steels himself and says, “I’m polite to every customer.” Meeting Vasquez’s eyes is difficult, but not impossible, so he carries on: “You’re not anything-” and his brain falters, spits out fried nerve endings, before he lands on “ special , sir.”
But Vasquez’s smile, after dimming briefly, returns. “Sure, kid, sure. Whatever,” he slurs. “Anyway, I’ll just leave my number here,” he drops a little slip of paper to the counter, still leaning over it with his presence crowding Rhys back. “And you can call me whenever, okay?” He finally steps back from the counter. Rhys heaves a breath. “We’ll, uh. Work out some of those frustrations, how’s that?”
And he drops the money on the counter, picks up the coffee in front of him, and struts out of the shop.
Rhys feels the weight of his tongue in his mouth but feels worse the way the prosthetic isn’t quite sitting right on his flesh.
He shoves it from his mind, pretends it’s not happening. He leaves it in the pocket of his apron because he can’t stand to look at the fucking thing. It’s not even a scrap of paper, it’s a business card. All black, sleek and matte, save for glossy white lettering. When Rhys looks at it his eyes unfocus and slip like they're not meant to be there. Like it’s something he’s not supposed to see.
Instead, he thinks of Jack, and the way they fit together. He doesn’t think about love, because he’s firmly not-thinking about that, too. Rather, he thinks about Jack’s hands, Jack’s smile, Jack’s grit-teeth power, and he doesn’t, not even once, think about anything else.
Sasha smiles at him when she gets back to the cafe. She squeezes his shoulders, and it all clicks back into light.
“Hello, Rhys!” she chirps, tying the apron around herself in a single fluid motion. “How’s it going-”
“ Well,” he starts, and his brain sings out a weird tirade of menial tasks. “We have to-”
“Oh, wait no, no, no- let me guess!” Sasha pastes her face with a smug grin, and leans on the counter bodily, propping her head with her hands. “Mr Handsome came in, and you were all swooning, and you both put off the customers with-”
“No,” he cuts in. “Not quite.”
“Okay so,” she starts again, undeterred. “So Handsome Man comes in, and then you have sex on the counter and everyone watches and I shouldn’t touch the counter again, and it kind of upsets me that you didn’t stop me, there, because I am currently leaning on the counter and ew. ” She draws a breath, springing back with a smile. She leans back, still smiling, and laughs at his raised eyebrows. “What? I’ve caught you doing worse-”
“No, you haven’t , are you kidding? Having sex on the counter is not high up my list of priorities right now-”
“Mm-hmm,” replies Sasha, as she flits back and forth behind the counter, organising. “Mm-hmm, yes. Sure.”
Rhys opens his mouth wordlessly, and then things seem to slot into place for the second time. He’d somehow forgotten how easy it was, how gentle when it was just he and Sasha chatting shit behind the cake display. “It shocks me, you know, how desperately invested you guys seem to be with me and J-” he stops abruptly, running his words against a brick wall.
Sasha’s eyes light up. “J?!”
“No,” he says, slowly.
“Oh, this is it, you have to tell me now-”
“ Will you tell Fiona?”
Sasha blinks at him, trying to purse her lips through a smile. “...No,” she says.
“Then his name is, uh. J-uh,” he stops and starts. Jack’s name was- Jack, he acted like Jack and looked like , and suddenly he can’t for the life of him spit out another name beginning with fucking J.
Sasha looks at him, seriously, and then launches into speech. “J… John. Jim. James. J-Jack? Joaquin. J...”
Rhys prays to any god that will hear him that she hadn’t noticed the twitch of his eyelids at the guess, but if she had, she doesn’t let on. “Jonathan,” she says, “J- James. Did I say James? I feel like he’d fit that. He’s called James, isn’t he-”
“No,” he returns, immediately.
“Yeah, he is, it’s like a James Dean thing isn’t it-”
“What,” Rhys blinks. “Like the porn star?”
She opens and closes her mouth. “No,” she looks completely perplexed, thrown off, and then with slow movements of her mouth, says “ No, like- like the actor.”
“Oh,” he mumbles and laughs at Sasha’s expression. “What? It’s an easy mistake-”
“What?! What! It’s James Dean, what kind of relationship do you two have that you think of a porn star instead of actual James Dean -”
He splutters a laugh. “I mean-”
“No, don’t answer that. I want to hear no more about this, I want to pretend that I don’t know how big this dude’s dick is, I want to pretend I haven’t had the misfortune of thinking of you both having sex, and I most definitely, certainly want to pretend that I didn’t just think of you both starring in a porno- ” She heaves a breath and quiets a little when Rhys laughs.
“What,” she demands. “What’s funny?”
“It’s just-” he coughs out between peals of laughter, “It’s just that-”
And he’s thinking of all the ridiculous, salacious things he and Jack have done, and then he thinks of the most recent poem Jack had sent, and it’s-
Rhys stops, suddenly. “One second,” he says, “I just have to-” And he whips out his phone.
Sasha looks abruptly bereft, but stays quiet and waits for him to finish, eyebrows raised but body relaxed.
He opens his mouth as little as possible, and spits it through his teeth: “Bu-” and he bursts into laughter. “Busy!”
Sasha raises her eyebrows even higher, but the laughter seems to have taken life in Rhys’ body, sitting and rolling with it, so he shoves the phone in her direction and lets her read it for herself:
“Busy young fool, my unruly dick,” she says, blankly. “Why does thou thus, through my pants, and through your pants, call on us? Must to my dick’s motions lovers’ seasons run? Saucy pedantic wretch- I-”
She puts the phone on the table and makes a deeply chagrined noise, and Rhys cannot fucking stop laughing. He feels like his face might split in two, like his muscles have never been goddamn used before, like this was the only important moment he’s ever had-
“Rhys,” she says seriously, and he bites at his lips to stop the laughter from reeling out. “Rhys, I can’t read any more of this, I feel like I’ve intruded on something-”
And he bursts into peals of laughter again.
Over the phone that evening, because Jack is working late, but Rhys was nothing if not needy, Rhys asks, “can I come over tonight?”
“Mm,” Jack rumbles. “I’m a busy man, honey, I can’t fuck you tonight-”
Rhys clicks his tongue. “No no, I mean to just chill, you know?”
A silence falls, and Rhys tries desperately to figure out if he’s misstepped, or something, but-
“Huh,” Jack says, inscrutable. “Sure."
“Okay,” Rhys says, slowly. “What- What time will you be back?”
“Mm,” Jack murmurs, and Rhys hears click-clacking at a keyboard. It’s distant, but it’s there, and he wonders what exactly Jack’s job title was. “I dunno, but, uh. Nisha’s there. She’ll let you in,” he says. And it’s through the back of his throat, through the soft palette of his mouth, and Rhys knows that even though it’s lost through the tinny signal, it would be through his chest too, he says: “I’ll see you later.”
And before Rhys can respond, he hangs up, and Sasha walks over to him with a smile. She jangles the keys, and says, “You ready to lock up?”
Rhys nods, just a little, still staring down at his phone.
“You, uh,” Sasha clears her throat. “You really like him, don’t you?”
And in a very soft voice, in an empty cafe with soft yellow light filtering in from the sunset outside, looking at one of his best friends in the world, Rhys says, “Yeah.”
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