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Afternoon Itches

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The living room lights flickered, signaling that someone was at the door. Thom Pinckney got up from the couch to answer.

It was Alexander, looking miserable and covered in small red dots. He held up his phone to show Thom his pre-typed greeting. Thumb, there is a pox on me. I am disfigured and horrible. I plead entrance, but perhaps you should flee while you can. Or make fun of me behind my back like some of my classmates have, for being an adult who didn't get exposed or vaccinated earlier. As if it was my idea to have a spotty immunization record. Your call.

Sorry to learn that, Unicorn. Is it chicken P-O-X? He motioned Alexander inside. There went his afternoon of obsessively looking up sample questions from the Foreign Service Exam, but he wasn't taking it until next year and acknowledged he might be over-anxious about it.

Alexander slumped his way into the apartment and shed his backpack just inside the foyer. Was one of those words C-H-I-C-K-E-N? Then yes.

Thom nodded. He mentally noted to drill Alexander on the word later. If Alexander knew more food-related vocab, cooking together would go more smoothly. Though watching him struggle to spell the two sets of double letters in "fettuccine" had been kind of funny.

At least after eight months together, five of them as a confirmed romantic relationship, Alexander could fingerspell like wildfire, and his vocabulary and understanding of grammar grew by the day. Alexander's girlfriend Polly and Thom's girlfriend Liz helped Alexander sometimes. However, Polly could hear, and Liz could lipread very well and speak aloud if needed, though she found it tiring. So Alexander's best practice time came with his only loved one he couldn't chat with aloud if he wanted to.

How long? Thom asked before helping Alexander out of his jacket and hanging it up.

Alexander held up two fingers and enunciated, "two days now, god dammit" clearly enough for Thom to follow. His arms were a mess of welts. And his hands. And neck. And collarbone. Thank God he wasn't currently in a depression or mania.

Thom, knowing how Alexander reacted to bug bites and rashes, glanced at his boyfriend's fingernails. Then he grabbed one of his hands to inspect more closely. A tiny bit of blood under each nail. Unacceptable. Strip. Get in bathtub. Don't turn water on yet. Do not scratch. Do not rub. Do not touch yourself at all. He didn't think Alexander had learned 'scratch' yet, but it was obvious from context.

I-T-C-H Alexander spelled with his free hand.

Thom let go so he could talk. The word is 'itch'. I know, baby. I had it in childhood. Do as I say. Then he kissed him with the slightest hint of tongue and while briefly grabbing his ass - Alexander became more pliant if tantalized but unfulfilled. Finally he shoved him towards the bathroom.

They weren't a kinky couple except for a bit of very light bondage here and there. Alexander described it as being "vanilla with sprinkles". However, Polly, whom Alexander sometimes nonsexually submitted to, had shared some tips for making Alexander take better care of himself. And to get Alexander to let someone take care of him. (Thom thanked her and joked that she was a lot broader in her duties as "interpreter" than his previous ones had been.)

Today Thom would need to be creative.

He still had a bottle of Calamine lotion from his brush with poison ivy last summer. Did he have gloves small enough to fit Alexander's hands?

Raw oatmeal. His mom made him take a bath with rolled oats when he had chickenpox, and he was 85% certain she wasn't pranking her seven-year-old son. He should quickly look it up online, to parry Alexander's inevitable accusation of it being a bizarre South Carolina tradition John Laurens/Shoulder had neglected to warn him about.

A robe he didn't mind getting stained with pink. Maybe the one he got from an ex and hadn't gotten around to tossing. Or setting on fire and dancing around on the ashes.

Then a distraction. Something that would force Alexander to use his hands for good, when he would probably be too uncomfortable and slathered with Calamine to have sex per se....

Chapter Text

Thom changes tactics and instructs Alexander to sit on the edge of the tub while it fills up with warm - not hot - water. He hands Alexander his phone, open to the WikiHow page on oatmeal-baths-as-chickenpox-soother, to forestall any questions. He also drapes a towel over his shoulders because Alexander is looking so pitiful right now, wow. Alexander clutches at it with his free hand like it's a security blanket.

There wasn't any muslin cloth in his apartment to make the sachet out of, but the article says a bit of nylon stocking will do, and Liz keeps a small stash of clothes and accessories in his bedroom closet so she can pack light for her visits. She wears cheap pantyhose most of the time. He'll buy her a replacement for the pair he just quickly cut up and repurposed. Don't want oats sloshing around.

That's supposed to soak a little and exude a 'milky-looking liquid'. Which is a gross phrase in written English, in Thom's opinion. He wonders if Alexander's going to make a joke about that. Whatever gets him to use his hands for something other than scratching.

Speaking of which. Thom keeps an eye on the tub, but he shoots Alexander a death glare. What did I say?

Alexander reaches over and tucks Thom's phone in his breast pocket for him. Thom likes keeping his phone in shirt pockets because he's sure to feel it vibrate. He gets shirts from an online store that has a style where the pocket can be buttoned. T-shirts are for layering, working out, or sleeping in. He's always worried it'll fall out of pants pockets. Jacket pockets and bags are out of the question. He loves his phone and its text-to-speech. He loves Alexander for rarely making him use it.

Was not scratching. Was rubbing.

There's a bloom of pride at how much better Alexander is at emoting in ASL these days, through nuances of speed and exaggeration/minimalism in gestures. Even when the emotion is petulant frustration. I said not to touch yourself in any way.

That does not remind me of anything. No. Not at all. Alexander looks at the water and the oatmeal doing its promised thing. That does not, either.

You have a dirty mind, Unicorn.

You're the one bossing around a naked man.

Thom grins. Get in the tub.

Alexander is initially permitted to scrub himself with a washcloth, but then he goes at it with worrisome vigor. Thom takes over. He kisses Alexander's jaw in hopes of making him not clench it so hard. Pouty and antsy, Alexander doesn't seem inclined to kiss back, but he relaxes a fraction whenever and however he's touched.

I think Parrot has the P-H-O-B-I-A where looking at B-U-M-P-Y things makes her very uncomfortable. Polly's Sign nickname actually came before her current out-loud nickname. She was still going by Paul when first assigned as Thom's in-class interpreter.

Thom can't talk without pausing his task, but he hums briefly. He knows Alexander can hear it and will correctly interpret it as the equivalent of "Mm, go on."

She was nice but she could not look at me. I think she feels bad about it. So I came to you. Polly lives with her romantic primary, Cornelia. Alexander has a decent roommate, but Patrick Henry is not soothing company, and it must be worse for people who can hear him. Alexander tends to flee to Polly or Thom when he's unwell enough to want it but well enough to do something about it. Patrick sometimes texts Thom if he thinks Alexander isn't up to asking for help himself.

Slowly, carefully, Thom pushes Alexander backwards so more of him comes in contact with the water. Alexander goes along with it and lifts his hands up to keep talking. I am a lot of work, Thumb. Lizard and Parrot are healthy and F-L-U-E-N-T.

Time to put the washcloth aside. This is too important. Not relevant (R-E-L-E-V-A-N-T, sorry). Work worth doing. Also, Parrot and I do not want sex together, and Lizard does not tell me when I am being a 'racist, classist disappointment'.

Yes, Alexander Hamilton is the sort of person who learns how to say 'racist, classist disappointment' before he learns how to say 'chicken'. I will not apologize. It is not S-L-A-N-D-E-R if true. But you paid attention and R-E-T-R-A-C-T-E-D. I am proud.

It happened before they were officially dating, before Alexander had the immense manic episode that sent him to a psych ward in Virginia for a month and made him take the rest of the semester off. In response to the controversial expulsion of a grad student, Thom had tweeted, "Sadly not all students come from backgrounds w values desired here. #DenmarkVesey "

It hurt and I had to reevaluate (R-E-E-V-A-L-U-A-T-E) what being a white rich guy really means in discourse and the impact (I-M-P-A-C-T) I make. But you gave me a pre-typed transcription of your argument before you started yelling. Important. Impressed me.

Hearing people usually either treat Thom like he's made of glass, or ignore/begrudge his accommodations. Alexander accommodated him while calling him out just as thoroughly as he would anyone else. A few days later, Thom asked Liz if it was hypothetically okay for him date another person rather than simply sleep with him.

Thom isn't inclined towards having a romantic primary. He doesn't rank the two. However, he's not out to his family. Alexander is very understanding about it and doesn't consider it a priority at this stage in their relationship. If it ever will be. This means Liz is the one his parents have met.

He wonders if Alexander feels like both he and Polly prioritize other people over him. He suspects John Laurens would prioritize Alexander over John's new boyfriend Ned, whom John only knows because Alexander did the 'Now kiss!' mash with those two, like in the meme. He wonders if it means anything that when Ned and Alexander were in school together, they were frequently assumed to be brothers, given how similar they are in appearance.

This is not the time to ask.

After the bath, Thom instructs Alexander to pat himself dry with the towel rather than rub. They work together to get him all Calamine-lotioned. Alexander jokes that he looks like he fell into a vat of Pepto-Bismol. The soft robe Thom received from an ex fits Alexander nicely, and Alexander promises to ruin and defile it with or without Thom's help. He's sweet that way.

Whenever Thom's back is turned, Alexander tries to sneak a scratch. If their positions were reversed, Alexander could tie Thom up for awhile and that would work fine, but that's his kink and not Alexander's. That won't fly. Then he has an idea.

Go sit on the bed, baby, please.

Alexander does, walking backwards so he can visibly sign, Is this a kink I did not know? It will be hard to S-I-M-U-L-A-T-E after I am better. He won't trip over anything. He knows this apartment well by now - especially its various flat surfaces - plus Thom is about four times tidier than Alexander.

No, not my kink. Regardless (R-E-G-A-R-D-L-E-S-S), nobody's fucking anybody while you're this uncomfortable. Sit comfortably. Good. I am making you a deal. You are going to tell me, in great detail, the sexual fantasies you have about at least three people you aren't dating. Friends and queerplatonic partnerships are okay.

Are you implying something? Alexander reaches his arms out like he wants to be picked up. What it really means is that he wants Thom to join him on the bed and cuddle him.

Before he answers, Thom gets them arranged so Alexander is sort of lying in his lap, but sufficiently propped up with pillows so that he can see Thom talking and correcting him. Then he says, You are aware that you are dating the queer son of a wealthy, intolerant South Carolinian family, who requires extra support for medical reasons. And who has lots and lots of freckles (F-R-E-C-K-L-E-S). Right?

Thom has guest-starred in a few of Alexander's frequent Skype calls to John. He's not jealous; he wants to understand what makes Alexander tick. The ways he can love. If he will be okay when Thom can't be there for him, if he and Liz join the Foreign Service like they want and leave Alexander behind.

I knew you before I met Shoulder! J-E-S-U-S, learn the laws of C-A-U-S-A-L-I-T-Y. I am going to talk about E-L-I-Z-A, M-A-R-I-A, and A-A-R-O-N. What do I get when I'm done?

An almost unbearably (U-N-B-E-A-R-A-B-L-Y) slow and detailed blowjob.

Alexander raises his eyebrows. Let's go.

Chapter Text

I feel a little feverish. But I don't want to get up for aspirin. Or make you move.

I keep aspirin in my bedside drawer now, and water to take it with. Here.

Thank you. Why did you start doing that?

I started private (P-R-I-V-A-T-E) lipreading lessons and they give me stress headaches. But important for career plans.

That is bullshit. Not you learning. It is bullshit that you feel societal pressure to learn. That people think you need to E-S-S-E-N-T-I-A-L-L-Y learn a new language instead of them B-R-I-E-F-L-Y working a little harder to talk to you.

Not everyone thinks like you do. I love you. Now get to work. Spell out whatever you need to and I will show you the correct word and you will repeat it. Talk aloud too if it helps you think. I know it does when you monologue (M-O-N-O-L-O-G-U-E).

****

Slavedriver.

You don't know the sign either? That's pretty funny.

I'm not serious. This is a much more fun idea that you sitting on me or something. Me blushing and squirming is not a bad signal. If I want to stop I'll tell you.

Being manic in a psych ward really lent itself...sorry, I forgot idioms can be hard to translate...facilitated? It really facilitated fantasizing about the staff. My emotions were high, I had less contact with the outside world than usual, and they were taking care of me whether I like it or not. In my extremes I don't want to be taken care of. Yet no matter what I am drawn in some fashion to people who do. Not always sexually. In this case though, damn, those three were hot.

I didn't really fantasize about the other patients. They were almost all there to heal and simplify, not entangle and complicate. Tiny Pie's problem was straightforward and neurological in basis, and if he had been past his teens and was less small and fragile-looking than I am, he might have been the exception.

One of these days I'll learn to get to the point without spiraling around it first. Maybe I'm nervous. Yes, I'm nervous. I remember what happened last New Year's Eve.

Eliza makes me think of cool, clear water. Is that weird?

I can't imagine us having sex without imagining a preamble of some kind. Especially after New Year's Eve. I'd take her out to dinner at the bare minimum. Or we could go for a walk uptown, through the nicer neighborhoods. A quiet walk uptown. We could go dancing. She always wore blue shirts under her various shades of approved nurse scrubs. I imagine her in blue dresses. Maybe greenish blue. Not super flashy, but well-cut, with the kind of skirt that flares out when she twirls.

Here it is: We go to her place. It might be tidy, or it might be a mess, but it is part of her and I want to see it. She's tired but happy from the walking and/or dancing. I urge her to sit on the sofa and I give her sore feet a massage. I am not particularly into feet in general. I am into Eliza feeling relaxed and special.

After a while I start kissing my way up her legs. (I have no idea if she shaves any part of herself. I don't care.) Her dress is still on. She asks me if I want her to undress, and I say only if she really wants to, and she says she doesn't want to move from her current position at the moment. She sounds stuttered and breathy as she says it.

I only lift her skirt up slightly. For air. I enjoy the darkness, the closeness of it, the safety, the focus. I find her underwear and carefully pull it down with my teeth. I make sure not to bite her skin - unless she wants me to - and I make sure not to stretch the fabric. I don't want to ruin any of her clothes. I don't want to ruin any of her anything.

As I lick into her, she tells me how to make it better. I lose track of time, as I do in all my best moments, and when she's oversensitive and needs to take a break, she pulls me up to kiss me. I take a seat beside her. She continues kissing me while slipping a hand down the front of my pants. Eventually we're both naked, but we don't get there in a frenzy. We say sweet, silly things to each other while helping with buttons and clasps.

We don't "go all the way", because she wants to know me better first. She says she would do everything in her repertoire if she was with a one-night-stand, but she wants to be gradual with me. Even if we don't end up dating, she wants what we have to last, because I matter to her.

It's all hands and mouths and sweet silly things. When we're tired we pull the covers over us and tell stories until we fall asleep. She is content. I feel refreshed and clean.

****

Having said all that, I'm worried I put her on a P-E-D-E-S-T-A-L. Especially compared to what I'm going to say about M-A-R-I-A. There's a thing called a whore/M-A-D-O-N-N-A complex, and it's gross, and...

Baby, it's okay. Fantasies do not have moral value. Actions do. Your actions towards both women have been respectful, right?

Yes. Flirty at most.

You separate reality from your fantasies, right?

Yes. For example, my fantasy version of you doesn't G-I-G-G-L-E over unrelated thoughts when either of us is fingering the other one. I know he and you are not the same person and never will be.

My fantasy version of you doesn't try to grab his laptop ten minutes after we're done fucking. No pedestals (P-E-D-E-S-T-A-L-S) here.

That's because we're in love, not infatuated.

I agree. But we digress (D-I-G-R-E-S-S). I notice you have not been very sordid (S-O-R-D-I-D) so far. Hot, yes, but not dirty.

Do not worry, Thumb-Pinky. Just you wait.

Chapter Text

My fantasies always seem to need at least a vague semblance of context. The usual one for Maria is that her ex-husband gets parole, breaks parole, and goes all stalker. And she leaves Virginia to stay with family until he's stopped. Then she's afraid he'll figure it out. Last-minute, she somehow finds out where I live and shows up at my door.

(In this fantasy, I live by myself. Having Patrick underfoot would ruin it.)

I let her in, of course, and tell her she can stay as long as she needs to. I go fetch some extra blankets and a pillow to put on the couch so it's super clear I'm happy to sleep on it. At least for that night. She'll be tired and achy from the trip. We can negotiate for after that. I consider "chivalry" (as opposed to courtesy) the heteronormative technique to distract people from deeper inequalities. Plus you know how, unless someone's touching me to keep me grounded, my nightmares can make me flail off any space smaller than a twin mattress.

I'm getting off track.

When I turn around from my rummage in the linen closet (in this fantasy, I have a linen closet and use it for its intended purpose), holding an armful of useful cloth things, Maria's standing very close to me. Her blouse is less buttoned than it was a minute ago. I can see a hint of red lace peeking out from underneath.

She says - purrs - that she wants to show her appreciation. I tell her that she can show it by washing the dishes after dinner or something. This isn't necessary. Then she says she hasn't gotten laid in months now, and she's always eyed me appreciatively - I can say no if I want to, but she can ruin me if I let her.

I don't say no. Then her mouth is on mine, and I don't say no. The linens fall to the floor, I kick them aside, and I don't say no. Maria starts undoing my pants. No "no" is forthcoming. My body's saying hell yes.

Well, I do stop her when she makes as if to sink to her knees. I tell her I already have a boyfriend who is incomparable at blowjobs, as if he did a Little Mermaid-style deal and traded his ability to speak aloud for this inhuman gift...

***

I am skeptical (S-K-E-P-T-I-C-A-L) that telling her about my cocksucking prowess is a standard part of your fantasy.

Come on, Thumb, can't we have an I-N-T-E-R-M-I-S-S-I-O-N? Look at the state of me. Take pity.

The word is 'intermission'. No. We agreed. Do not touch yourself, either. Continue with your cutely stereotypical, yet in some ways progressive, porn concept.

***

Okay, okay. There are a few variations on the sequence. Let's go with the one where Maria presses me against a wall and grinds our hips together. We're both bare below the waist, but I've still got my shirt on and her shirt's open rather than removed. It feels almost dirtier than total nakedness. I slip fingers between one of her bra cups and the swell of the breast underneath, though, to tease at the nipple. My other hand is tangled in her hair. I switch it up later, obviously. I'm not the kind of lover who neglects half of pairs of body parts.

Maria makes me think of summer heat, cicada buzz outside, like lying in the sun on an afternoon that's almost too bright. Her tongue takes up my mouth, fills it like she's trying to keep secrets from escaping. Her fingernails dig into my back and thighs. It stings so sweetly. Soon she takes a condom from her shirt pocket and soon she's sinking herself onto me.

We have a second round later that evening, more traditional. In bed with me on top, one hand clasped with one of hers and the other bracing myself. We get a sheen of sweat over us. Meaning we have to shower later. Together. She doesn't want to be alone during this temporary, difficult time. I'm happy to make sure she isn't.

Chapter Text

I can think of plausible scenarios in which I might actually have sex with Eliza or Maria. I can even think of a few - involving significant changes in our circumstances - in which having sex with Eliza as I know her wouldn't necessarily be unhealthy or foolish.

I can make no such claim about Aaron Burr. My sexual fantasy version of him is so different from the one I knew in real life that I call him "Burr", quotes and all, rather than Aaron. It helps maintain separation. Aaron is a long-suffering, responsible, model employee and devoted father, with a placid boringness that I suspect he maintains to cover something more private and painful. This is the fantasy I feel guiltiest about.

The "Burr" construction, unlike Aaron, eventually snaps at all the needling I did to the real one while I was manic. And is massively unethical enough to whisper in my ear that if I want his attention so damn much, he'll give me the honor. Remember my earlier mentions of how keyed-up I was for my first week and a half or so there? Remember your own observations of how impulsive I am when manic? Yeah.

Not sure how we give everyone else the slip and end up in a hall closet (yay cliches). We make some excuse about how I have an early meeting with someone he needs to escort me to. He gets me out of the ward itself and finds some quieter part of the building. Vernon's big. Men's First Floor Ward takes up slightly less than one wing.

At no point does he force me into anything, and it's debatable how out-of-it this imaginary me actually is, but we are definitely missing the "sane" part of Safe-Sane-Consensual. Not insane but not reliable. I think "Burr" has something going on himself. (I suspect that of Aaron, too, but if he does, he functions on a very high, well-managed level. It doesn't make him an immoral and dangerous disgrace like "Burr" is.)

He's not gentle. He drags me into that dark space after him. The closet is wide enough for both "Burr" and me. He tells me I've cast aspersions on his competence and integrity. I make his job harder with my attitude and disrespect. He asks if I have anything to say to him. I refuse to apologize and I get right in his personal space. Taunting.

He doesn't just back me against a wall. He backs me into a corner. One of his hands slips under my shirt and grips my side, between two ribs, so tightly that I know the mark will last for a long time. It hurts but is grounding somehow, like all the background noise and yelling in my head cuts out and there's only my voice in there, my thoughts, even if they're rapid and frantic as they always are in mania. He pins my right wrist above my head, like I'm pointing at the ceiling. He doesn't pin my left one because I'm getting both our pants off.

We don't kiss. We bite. In places where it won't show when we're clothed. He's always got me in his hold in some way or other, but the placement changes. It allows for some shifting around. I always imagine digging my nails into his chest, though. He mostly calls me insults - "bastard" and "whoreson" come up a lot - and growls at me to shut up when I try to sling some back. Every once in awhile he throws in an endearment and it's weird but gets me hotter. He pulls my hair a lot and laughs when I say that isn't fair. He doesn't have any, you see, he shaves it.

This is all standing up. Never totally naked, always something between us. It's a combination of our shaky hands and the sheer friction between us that gets us off. I go limp and nearly collapse, the way I tend to after I go hard and subsequently come hard. That upsets him. He doesn't want me to actually collapse.

That means he follows me to the floor and props me up a bit. Opens the door a fraction for more air and light. The original rib-bruise is the biggest one, and at some point he bit it, too, making it vivid and multicolor. He seems distressed over the extent of it. Over his loss of temper leading to more viciousness than sits well with him now. That I didn't give him anything nearly so dramatic to carry in turn.

I end up reassuring him that it was my idea to accept his challenge. That's when we kiss a few times. Not passionately. He strokes my cheek and says something stupid and vulnerable that makes him come across as human again.

(Shoulder told me once that Aaron is one of those rare people who look more human when they stop smiling, and I was never able to unsee it after that.)

****

I'm still itchy and I am also in painful arousal.

Poor thing. Climb off my lap and lie back.

[Unintelligible]!

One of my few regrets is not hearing you moan. No more storytelling, babe, you did well. Grab a tissue and tap me on the shoulder when you're close.

Chapter Text

Thom takes his time, lazily working with the dick in his mouth, undistracted by the copious amounts of vocal babbling and cursing that Polly tells him Alexander keeps up while getting this kind of attention. He has a promise to keep.

Afterwards he turns down Alexander's offers to reciprocate or move on to "other sexiness". I am fine. You need rest. Also, you are pretty gross right now. He grins to show he's teasing. He doesn't have a thing for dirty talk, and when he focuses on pleasuring someone else he doesn't have the headspace for his own arousal. He could get into that headspace in about thirty seconds if he wanted to. Why, though? He has other priorities for this afternoon.

Alexander hasn't had any solid sleep since the onset of the chickenpox, Thom is certain. He hopes he won't have to drag his doctor-shy boyfriend to get some kind of medical treatment. He saw a home remedy involving Icy Hot cream and standing fan they can try later.

Meanwhile, Alexander's drowsy and letting his hands hang limp except to make short statements. Thom gets him water and wraps an easily-washable blanket around both of them. If I cuddle you, will you stay still?

It is your best chance. Alexander settles into the little-spoon role and yawns. You are so responsible. Good responsible. The love kind. I love you.

In lieu of an answer which Alexander won't be able to see without moving, Thom kisses the back of Alexander's neck and curls closely around him. The arm draped over Alexander's side happens to cross both of Alexander's arms at some point. Hopefully that will be enough to deter scratching.

Thom was up late last night working on a group project, finishing his part early so they can have a lot of time to work out how they'll manage the presentation. He doesn't mind an excuse to nap. He won't set an alarm, like he does for solo naps, because Alexander's sleepy brain interprets Thom's alarm clock going off as BED SHAKING = EARTHQUAKE = WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. He could set an audible alarm on his phone to wake Alexander a minute before Thom's alarm goes off. But his phone is all the way over there. It's not all squishy and content and after-glowy like what he has in his arms right now.

Hunger for dinner will wake him up if all else fails. He can finally, properly teach Alexander how to say 'chicken'. There must be room for that in his head on top of all the new vocabulary Thom's given him for the sake of sharing his adorable perversions.

Learning, talking, work, and sex are the best ways to keep Alexander occupied. Thom will do - will continue to do, wants to always do - whatever it takes to keep him from picking at scabs and not letting them heal.