It took weeks for Rivers to put himself back together. The doctors kept telling him not to rush it, that it was a deep wound and he couldn’t expect to bounce back right away. And he knew they were right, knew he was lucky just to be alive and he shouldn’t be in a hurry, but that didn’t make it any easier to sit on the sidelines while life went on without him.
Creegan was there the entire time, fidgeting around the edges of his consciousness and taking up space in Rivers’ life. Not that he minded, because there was nobody else to take up space, and the longer Creegan hung around, the more Rivers discovered that he kind of enjoyed the company.
He enjoyed Creegan’s company, which was something he didn’t think was possible six months ago. Then again, six months ago he hadn’t expected Creegan to kiss him, let alone take care of him, so maybe he didn’t know as much as he thought.
At first all he got were a few kisses, on the forehead and then on the corner of his mouth, on the cheek and one night, after Creegan helped him to bed, square on the lips. That was the night that Mark finally worked up the courage to reach up and grip Creegan’s tie, to pull him close and murmur, “Stay.”
“The doctor said…” Creegan had started, but Mark just shook his head and patted the mattress next to him.
“I promise your virtue is safe. It’s more comfortable than the couch.”
After that Creegan started coming to bed every night, sitting up against the headboard with his files and reading until long after Mark fell asleep. At least he assumed that was what Creegan did; he’d woken up to the sensation of Creegan kissing his forehead a time or two, and it always felt late when he did it.
The first time he woke up with Creegan’s arm draped carefully around his waist, Mark dared to hope that maybe Creegan was finally done worrying about whatever the doctor had told him after Mark’s surgery. He was still moving a little slow, sure, but he was mostly healed, and he wasn’t anywhere near as stiff as he’d been in the beginning. He’d managed the shower on his own for a couple weeks now, and Creegan had mostly stopped waiting on him.
When Mark shifted onto his back he found Creegan watching him, eyes bright and clear as though he hadn’t been asleep at all. Maybe he hadn’t; Mark was starting to think that Creegan never slept at all, and his idea of taking care of Mark was lying next to him all night keeping some kind of creepy vigil.
"Hey," Mark said, blinking up at Creegan. "How long you been awake?"
"Not long. Awhile," Creegan answered, like it was totally normal to lie there staring at somebody while they slept. Then again, for Creegan it probably was.
Mark rolled onto his side until he was facing Creegan, wincing a little when he landed on the still-tender spot in his side. Instantly Creegan's hands were on him again, helping him into a more comfortable position. And it was nice that he cared and all, but Mark was pretty tired of being treated like Creegan's patient.
"I'm fine," he said, reaching down to cover the hand that was still hovering near his hip. "Honest."
"I know," Creegan answered, but Mark could tell he didn't really believe it. Which meant Mark was going to have to convince him, and there was only one way he could think of to do it.
It hurt a little to push himself up far enough to slide a hand around the back of Creegan’s neck, but Mark managed to keep the pain off his face. He knew if he winced again Creegan would shut him down faster than he could say ‘tease’, so he bit the inside of his cheek instead and dragged Creegan forward to kiss him.
Part of him expected Creegan to push him away, to ease him back down onto the pillows and insist that it was too soon, that the doctor hadn’t given him the all clear yet. When Creegan’s hand landed on his chest Mark braced himself for rejection, but instead of pushing him away, Creegan’s fingers curled in the front of his t-shirt to hold Mark close, flexing and relaxing like he wasn’t sure how hard to hold on.
Like maybe he was afraid he was going to break Mark, and it was sweet and all, but after weeks of sleeping next to Creegan without touching him, Mark couldn’t take any more sweet. “I swear to God, Creegan...”
“What?” Creegan asked, letting go of Mark’s shirt to stare down at him. “What’s wrong?”
“You,” Mark answered, and he didn’t mean to sound so angry, but he was seriously losing it. “Would you stop being so damn careful?”
For a second Creegan just looked at him, then he shook his head and sat up. “No.”
Mark let out an exasperated breath and fell back against the mattress, ignoring the flash of pain in his side. He wasn’t going to ask Creegan to stay, because there was pathetic, and then there was begging, and no way was he going to beg Creegan for anything.
Only Creegan wasn’t climbing off the bed, and when Mark felt the mattress dip next to him he looked up to find Creegan leaning over him, staring at him with that impassive expression that used to make Mark want to hit him. “I promised Hank I’d take care of you.”
“Hank...you told our boss about this?” Mark said, hands on Creegan’s -- bare, and when did that happen? -- chest and staring back at him.
“Not this part,” Creegan answered, shrugging with one shoulder like it was no big deal that he’d been discussing Mark’s condition with their boss. Like Creegan was responsible for him somehow, and even if it was sort of true, Mark wasn’t sure he wanted everyone knowing it.
“Then what did you tell him?” Mark asked, but it was hard to focus on the conversation when Creegan was staring at him like he was plotting some kind of hostile takeover.
“I told him I was making sure you took your medicine and got to your doctor’s appointments.” Creegan leaned close, lips brushing Mark’s collar bone before he pulled back to look at Mark again. “I didn’t tell him I moved in.”
He pressed a kiss to the side of Mark’s neck this time, his hand sliding under the hem of Mark’s shirt, and it was almost enough to distract Mark from the fact that Creegan had just announced that they lived together now like it was no big deal. Like it was as natural as Creegan being the one to make sure Mark took his medicine and went to the doctor, and he wondered if Creegan had already put himself down as Mark’s emergency contact.
“Are you...so you’re staying,” Mark said as he sat up far enough to let Creegan pull his shirt off. “I mean after I get the all clear to go back to work and everything.”
Creegan shrugged again and tossed Mark’s shirt onto the floor, then he reached for the drawstring of Mark’s sweatpants.
“I gave up my room at the motel.” He paused again, hands resting on Mark’s stomach just above his waistband, like this wasn’t the first time he’d peeled Mark’s clothes off like this. “I could probably get it back.”
“No, I mean I...” Mark stammered, because the truth was he wasn’t sure whether he wanted Creegan to stay or not.
Creegan was weird and annoying and he was probably going to drive Mark crazy inside of a year, but he’d already been staying in Mark’s place for almost two months, and it hadn’t happened yet. So maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, having Creegan around. It beat that motel room he’d been crashing in, anyway, and maybe the company would be good for both of them.
“You should stay,” Mark said, nodding more to convince himself than Creegan. “I...uh...stay.”
“Okay,” Creegan said, like it had been Mark’s idea all along, then he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Mark’s lips.
Mark slid his hand around the back of Creegan’s neck, holding him there while he kissed Creegan back. It was soft and slow, almost romantic in a way Mark didn’t usually allow himself. But this was Creegan, and he knew Mark better than most of the people in Mark’s life, so there wasn’t much Mark could hide from him anyway.
“You’re not just doing this so I won’t kick you out, are you?” Mark asked when Creegan pulled away to stare down at him some more.
“No. Would that work?”
“Would what work?” Mark said, lifting his hips off the bed to let Creegan work his sweatpants and underwear down his thighs. His cock sprang free and Creegan reached out, running a hand along Mark’s length and dragging a moan out of him. The whole time he just watched with that look on his face, like Mark was some puzzle Creegan had to solve.
“I’ve never had sex with a man before,” Creegan said, his fist still wrapped around Mark’s cock and moving slowly. “Not that I remember.”
“You’re doing okay so far,” Mark said, then he pulled Creegan forward and pressed a hard kiss to his lips. He felt a fresh stab of pain in his side, but he ignored it and parted his lips, tongue teasing Creegan’s mouth open to deepen the kiss.
As soon as he did Creegan let go of his dick, and that hadn’t really been the plan, but Creegan didn’t stop kissing him. His hands landed on either side of Mark’s face, thumbs stroking along his stubble and kissing him slow, like he was committing the moment to memory.
Mark’s hands landed on Creegan’s hips, fingers curling in the fabric of the pajama pants he’d stolen from Mark’s drawer and trying to drag him down onto Mark’s lap. As soon as he did Creegan pulled away, but before Mark had a chance to complain he was reaching for Mark’s sweatpants to pull them off the rest of the way.
Once they were gone Creegan stood up, shoving his own pants down before he climbed back onto the bed. He was half-hard already, which was definitely a good sign, and when he stretched out next to Mark and leaned in for another kiss, Mark hooked his leg around Creegan’s thigh and rocked up against him.
Creegan let out a shuddering breath against his lips, eyes sliding closed and his head dropping for a second, like he was trying to hold himself together. Mark huffed a soft laugh and did it again, and this time Creegan moved with him. He turned his head to kiss Mark again, hand sliding into his hair and gripping hard. It hurt a little, but Mark was glad, because it meant Creegan actually could lose control.
Mark had seen Creegan lose it a few times; he was pretty sure he was the only one, and even Creegan didn’t know about all of them. But it was nice that Creegan was letting him see it this time, that he didn’t mind Mark knowing that he could get under Creegan’s skin the same way Creegan got under his.
Creegan’s grip on his hair loosened, then his hand slid down to curve around Mark’s neck, holding him close while Creegan kissed him. Kissed him and kissed him, like he was just learning how and he was planning to try every trick he could think of before he let Mark up again.
His hips were still moving against Mark’s, and when Creegan gripped his thigh to pull him even closer Mark couldn’t hold back the sharp hiss of pain. It didn’t even hurt that much; mostly it just surprised him, but as soon as he gasped Creegan let go of him. He was moving away before Mark could argue, that space between his eyebrows crinkling with his frown.
“It’s fine, I’m fine,” Mark said, reaching for Creegan to try to pull him close. “It was nothing, I swear.”
Creegan shook his head, but instead of climbing off the bed and putting his clothes back on, he pressed his hand to Mark’s shoulder and eased him onto his back. “Stay.”
“Bossy,” Mark said, grinning up at Creegan. “And what happens if I don’t? You gonna get out the handcuffs?”
“My handcuffs are at the office.”
Mark laughed and opened his mouth to answer, but before he got the words out Creegan was swinging a leg over his thighs to straddle his hips. His hands landed on Mark’s hips, thumbs tracing the grooves of his hip bones and making Mark hiss and arch up into his touch.
“You’re not staying still,” Creegan said, glancing up to frown at him again, and Mark didn’t bother trying not to laugh.
“Seriously? I know you’ve had sex before, Creegan. You really expect me to stay still while you’re cataloging your evidence or whatever the hell you’re doing?”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Creegan said, like he was really worried about it.
Mark stopped laughing, but when he tried to sit up Creegan planted a hand on his chest to stop him. “Fine, okay, I get it. Staying still.”
He held up his hands in surrender, and when Creegan reached out to catch one of them, Mark threaded their fingers together and tugged until Creegan leaned close enough to kiss him. He didn’t argue this time when Mark reached up, free hand sliding through Creegan’s hair and tugging Creegan even closer.
When they came up for air this time Mark held Creegan there, foreheads pressed together and just breathing each other’s air. Creegan’s bicep twitched with the effort to hold himself up, palm pressed flat to the mattress next to Mark’s shoulder and his other hand moving restlessly on Mark’s chest.
He breathed the words against Mark’s mouth, but before Mark had a chance to ask what he was supposed to be showing Creegan, exactly, Creegan sat up and reached for Mark’s hand to wrap it around Mark’s cock.
And okay, he hadn’t put on a show for anybody in a while, but if Creegan wanted to see what Mark liked, Mark wasn’t going to argue. He nodded and gripped the base of his cock, eyes on Creegan as he slid his hand up to squeeze just below the head. He watched Creegan’s pupils expand, eyes going dark when Mark let out a hiss of pleasure and slid his thumb across the tip of his cock.
His eyelids fluttered but he fought to keep them open, gaze locked on Creegan as he dragged his hand back down to the base and then up again. Over and over, picking up speed as his breathing got more ragged and his hips started to move. He rocked up into the circle of his own fist while Creegan watched, hands stroking up and down Mark’s thighs and it was weirdly hot in a way Mark hadn’t expected.
His orgasm took him by surprise, wet heat coating his fingers and his stomach as he squeezed his eyes shut and arched up into his own grip one last time. When he opened his eyes again Creegan was still watching him, lips parted and red and when his tongue slid along his bottom lip Mark reached up to grip his bicep.
“Come here,” he said, voice ragged as he dragged Creegan down to kiss him again. He reached between them and wrapped his fingers around Creegan’s cock this time, still slick with come and when Creegan sucked in a sharp breath, Mark grinned against his mouth and tightened his grip.
The angle was a little awkward, but Creegan’s hips were moving, thrusting into the circle of Mark’s fist while he kissed Mark like his life depended on it, so Mark didn’t even think about stopping. He knew his wrist would be sore later, but it was worth it when Creegan breathed his name against his lips, thrusting forward one last time to come in Mark’s hand.
Creegan didn’t collapse on top of him. Instead he carefully held his weight off Mark while he panted against his mouth, and when he finally caught his breath a little he straightened up and climbed off Mark to stretch out on the mattress next to him. He propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at Mark, reaching out to trace the angry red scar on Mark’s stomach.
“I’m fine,” Mark said, turning into Creegan to press a soft kiss to his lips.
Creegan nodded, but his fingers were still tracing Mark’s scar like he was trying to convince himself. Like he was still expecting to lose Mark the way he’d lost his family, like Mark had lost his brother.
Only that hadn’t happened, and Mark was planning to do everything in his power to make sure it didn’t. If that meant letting Creegan keep fussing over him for a little while longer, Mark was pretty sure he could live with that.