As soon as they hit the floor Joe presses Fist of Justice back, tongue in his mouth, hands on his wrists, just above the gloves. Christ, the gloves. Fist of Justice is gasping, shoving his knee between Joe's thighs, and after a total of about 0.7 seconds he yanks his wrist free so he can pull at Joe's zipper, which rips. Well. That's another pair down. At this point Joe's pretty sure he's singlehandedly keeping JoS. A. Bank in business. "I want," Fist of Justice is gasping, rolling Joe over onto his back; he drags Joe's boxers down around his ankles and then rolls him over onto his face. Joe can't do much more than gasp. Fist yanks Joe up onto his knees and spreads him, his gloves rough on Joe's ass.
"Christ," Joe gasps, as Fist of Justice spits into him, bending down with a groan. Joe blinks, hard; sweat is dripping down his face, rough with plaster dust and gritty in his eyes, and—and Jesus, Jesus Christ, if he'd known that there were good odds he'd end up with superhero tongue up his ass he would've started getting captured by psychotic villains ages ago.
Fist of Justice is groaning into him, slobbering all over him, and—oh, oh, Christ, his finger. His huge finger, in his thick leather gloves, thrusting into Joe hard and relentless, over and over again. Joe tries to raise his head, his vision blurring, and Fist of Justice spits into him again, works in another. "Fuck," Joe gasps, his whole body clenching down, and behind him Fist of Justice groans, "God fuck kevlar-infused spandex, I wish I could," and bends back down, shoves his tongue in alongside his fingers, pushing in deeper and harder while Joe moans into the carpet and fucks his ass back onto Fist of Justice's face. "I wish," Fist of Justice is gasping, "I wish I—hngh—" and then he stops trying to talk completely, and buries his face back down in Joe's crack.
Joe can't hold on at all, after that. He's pretty sure he cries. The whole thing is pretty embarrassing—but not as embarrassing as the way he just crumples into the carpet, after; feeling hollow and wrung out, hazy. Fist of Justice is rubbing himself through the costume. Joe can't do a whole lot other than lie on his side and watch, but that image is going to keep him going for ages: Fist of Justice lying on his crumpled-up cape (what) on Joe's living room carpet (what) with his gloved fingers in his mouth (what) and his other hand rubbing the fairly impressive bulge under his ridiculous yellow spandex jumpsuit (what) as he whimpers and moans, eyes squeezed tight shut under his stupid Zorro mask as his hips jerk up—and up—
Fist of Justice's whole body goes still, and then limp; melting into the rug. Joe's heart is still slamming against his breastbone, but he's starting to catch his breath. Fist of Justice's perpetually photogenic blond hair is dark with sweat.
Joe stares at him. After a minute, Fist of Justice turns his head, blinking back. There's a spreading dark spot on Fist of Justice's costume. Joe's pants are around his ankles and he has come on his tie.
They can't keep doing this.
"I really didn't mean to do that," Fist of Justice says. He sounds embarrassed.
"You didn't exactly trip and fall tongue-first into my ass," Joe bites back.
Fist of Justice winces. "It just seems sort of inappropriate," he says. "What with the way you keep getting kidnapped by my nemesis...es..."
Joe struggles up to sitting, reaching for his pants. "Oh, yeah," he says, "because after the blowjob in the basement of the courthouse—"
"Is it nemesises?" Fist of Justice sits up, cross-legged. "I'm not sure nemesises sounds right."
"—and that time we somehow ended up dry-humping on the lavender line—"
"Nemeses? Nemesises?" He frowns. "Nemeses sounds better..."
"—appropriateness is definitely at the top of my list of concerns, thanks." Joe stuffs his shirt into his waistband. The tails stick out the broken zipper: ridiculous. "I don't suppose there's any chance of you actually taking your costume off, is there? No? Well, fine, you can just get the hell out."
He points out the broken window. Fist of Justice looks up at him, forehead wrinkled.
"Get out." Joe points harder.
After a minute Fist of Justice picks himself up, sighing. "Joe," he says.
"Out!" Joe roars, shaking his finger.
Fist of Justice scowls at him. Then he steps out the window.
Joe doesn't bother looking down at the crash. The pit in their sidewalk from where Fist of Justice likes to land is basically permanent, by now.
At least Harry's not home.
"Hi." Joe licks his lips. "I'm Joe."
"Hi, Joe," everyone says. At Joe's left, Kevin is jiggling his knee, but he goes still, recrosses his legs, brushes his hand against Joe's shoulder. It's reassuring. Kevin drops his hand back to his lap.
"This is my..." Joe shifts. "This is my fourth time? But I—I always feel kind of weird, talking at things like this." He laughs. "But, um, Kevin has been trying to talk me into it, so."
He hesitates, and Mirabel says, "That's all right, Joe. We all know how hard it can be to open up. Take your time."
The room murmurs its agreement.
"Thanks," Joe says. He shifts. He's pretty sure he recognizes a few people in the room from the news; he knows they probably recognize him, too. "Well... the thing is, I'm still pretty new to Angel City—I just moved out here last August, and I—I don't know very many people, so the first couple times I got picked up, I thought it was because of my job, because—well, I'm a deputy district attorney, and I work—a lot of my cases have had to do with—with perpetrators with new skills, and."
Kevin puts his hand back on Joe's shoulder.
"I mean, you hear about it on the news, right?" Joe clears his throat. "A.C. has a special skills problem, right? Everyone in the country knows that, CNN never shuts up about it, so—I guess I don't have much frame of reference for how many kidnappings are and are not normal."
Kevin's fingertips are just resting against Joe's skin, just above his collar. Kevin runs the coffee cart just outside Joe's office building and always chats with Joe while he's pulling his shots, and if it's slow, sometimes he draws pictures on Joe's cup. Kevin also has a huge cut on his forehead, just scabbed over, from when the Baby Boomers took out half their block with timed explosives; and every time Joe gets kidnapped Kevin's coffee cart ends up smashed to bits. Joe is pretty sure he wouldn't be his own friend. He thinks it's probably more trouble than it's worth, but he's not got so many spare buddies lying around that he's willing to point that out to Kevin.
Joe clears his throat. "Anyway, at first I thought it was about work, and then." He laughs, kind of awkwardly. His face is getting hot. "Well—Fist of Justice kept stepping in, you know? And I. Well. It's pretty, um."
He stops. Hot, his brain supplies. Being repeatedly saved and then debauched by an incredibly butch superhero in spandex that leaves very little to the imagination? The word you're looking for is 'hot'.
"Flattering," Joe says. "The attention, I mean."
Everyone makes sympathetic noises.
"But then." He takes a breath. "Word started to get around—I mean, what, is there some kind of supervillain mailing list, or something? Where they all trade tips on who their nemes... es are fu—dat—seeing?"
"These days they're mostly on Twitter," pipes up a girl on the other side of the room.
"Well, that explains it," Joe says, pointing at her, "because I swear, ten minutes after we kissed every bad guy in Angel City started breaking my apartment windows, leaving me weird voicemails, lurking by my car to kidnap me and tie me up in creepy basements... Really, it got completely overwhelming, almost instantly." A few scattered mm-hms, for that one. He sighs, and takes a deep breath. "I mean, it just doesn't seem like it's really worth it: we've never been out, we've never even had a real conversation, I don't think I'll ever even get him out of his costume..."
He trails off. It's depressing, really.
"You know," he says, then laughs. "I don't even know why I came tonight. It's not like you're going to tell me anything I don't already know."
"We're not here to judge you, Joe," Mirabel says gently, "or even give you advice, unless you ask for it. The goal of this space is to be a safe space, for you to talk about what you need to talk about and get the support you need." Everyone else hums their agreement. Kevin rubs Joe's shoulder. "All of us here understand what you're going through."
"Well." Joe laughs. He doesn't say, Glad someone here does.
After, two of the volunteers have laid out supermarket sugar cookies from Securetrak under the Support for Persons Affected by New Criminal and Community Skills banner, and there's a huge cooler jug of iced tea; Joe ends up balancing two cocktail napkins with two cookies apiece and his Dixie cup and making awkward small talk with the girl who first brought up Twitter.
"I mean the first time I found out one of my 'rescues' was trending under #saveviolet I was just like, what." Violet throws up her hands. "I mean, seriously, I got kidnapped in my pajamas and tied to the Ivyvine sign—"
"—that was you?" asks a slight, good-looking studenty type with huge glasses and a beard. "I saw that!"
"Everyone saw that, Will," Violet says, but she's laughing. "And I didn't even have a bra on, and the wind up there—ugh, it was terrible." She shakes her head, takes a gulp of tea. One of Joe's cookies is decorated like the American flag. It takes him a while to work out why. Is it really almost July?
"So you just, what?" Joe gestures vaguely. "Start sleeping with better underwear, or..."
"Well, I don't know." Violet sighs. "It was different for me, because I've known Evasive Mae for years—you know, we started dating back in college, before she really got into full-time crimefighting. We broke up, finally, but God, I've still got three of her capes in the front closet, you know? It's never really over."
"Yeah," Will sighs, sounding glum. "I don't know if I'm ever going to get enough of a reliable reference to move out." It's his landlord who's involved in the scene, Joe knows, from what Will said during the meeting; Joe thought it sounded like a pretty stupid thing to have to go to a support group for until Will started talking about the endless property damage and his ongoing treatment for PTSD.
"I keep telling you!" Violet says, as Kevin sidles back up, giving Joe a small smile. "I'm sure I can talk to the landlords, if you want me to start looking—"
"Violet's in real estate," Kevin says quietly. Joe nods and gives him back his cookies.
Joe keeps catching himself staring at the cut on Kevin's forehead and then looking away, embarrassed. He'd ask how it's feeling, but he worries that would be insensitive. With him the villains always monologue a lot about not marking up his pretty face.
Joe clears his throat and asks, "Any word?" Kevin has been playing phone tag with his insurance company all evening.
"Well, they'll pay it, but they're not happy about it." Kevin sighs. "My premiums are going through the roof, let me tell you."
Joe eats a cookie. "Maybe you should move around the corner," he suggests.
"Well, I've thought about it, but I'd be cutting into my business." He shrugs, looking up at Joe from under his eyelashes. "Lawyers love coffee."
"This is true," Joe says. "We do love our coffee."
Kevin grins at him. "I just think of it as doing my part for justice," he says.
Joe laughs and bites into his other cookie.
When Joe gets home his roommate is sitting on the edge of the workout bench in the living room, doing biceps curls. He looks like he's been doing them for a while. Harry's wearing a ratty old undershirt, soaked through, and his hair is dark, plastered to the edges of his face.
"Hey," Harry says, and curls his arm, biting his lower lip just like he always does. It was more distracting before Joe started getting sexed up by a superhero on a regular basis.
"Hey." Joe gets a Smirnoff Ice out of the fridge and roots around in the drawer for the bottle opener.
Harry grunts. "Working late?" he asks.
"Not tonight. I had a..." Joe waves a hand, then pops the top off his drink. "A thing." He'd never be able to discuss the whole thing with Fist of Justice with Harry. Joe hopes to God Harry keeps being out when Fist of Justice decides to drop by. "I saw your truck down by Grand Park today—are they still stringing you along after that renovation contact?"
Harry grunts again. "Yeah." He does another curl.
Well. Joe doesn't live with him for the conversation. The vanishingly few occasions they've tried to actually hang out, they ended up watching TV and drinking to cover the awkward silence. Their intercom rings, and Joe goes over to answer it.
"Yeah?" he says.
"Package for Mr. Hammerhand," the voice downstairs says.
"Hang on, the buzzer's broken." Joe looks over at Harry. "You want me to go down and sign?"
"No, I've got it—thanks, though." Harry sets down his dumbbell and stands, wiping his face fruitlessly on the hem of his abused shirt, which reveals a wide strip of tanned, hard belly. Joe takes a drink. The door slams shut behind Harry's back, and Joe reaches over for the remote, to flip on the news.
"—due to the rising cost of living," the anchor is saying. "The increase in home and auto repair costs has already driven many citizens out of Angel City and into the suburbs, but as the percentage of the population with new skills increases across the country, there is widespread fear that soon, even the suburbs will not be safe."
Joe snorts, digging out some frozen spinach and the leftover chicken. He kind of overcooked it, but it should be fine in pasta, he thinks. He didn't do all that much cooking in law school. On the TV, they're playing clips of a distraught-sounding woman who lived inside the blast radius from Fist of Justice's latest encounter with Sparkthrower; Sunny Dee and Excellent Boy had turned up eventually to lend a hand, but not before Sparkthrower had torched three city blocks and Fist of Justice had knocked down half an elementary school. "I was terrified," the woman is saying tearfully. "From outside the police tape I could see that my son's classroom was demolished, and the fire kept getting closer—none of the parents could get through. Sunny Dee and Fist of Justice eventually flew the kids out, but they each could only carry them two at a time, and the waiting was just—it was terrible. Every moment I was worrying, 'What if they can't find him? What if I just wait and wait and they never bring him out?'"
"Didn't Excellent Boy help with the evacuation?" the anchor asks.
"Oh, well, yes," the mother says, in a different tone. "But Excellent Boy can't fly."
Joe rolls his eyes and grabs the remote again, flipping the TV off just as Harry comes back up, a huge box tucked under one arm like it weighs nothing.
"More action figures?" Joe asks, curious. He met Harry via Craigslist; he'd needed a roommate because the DA's office pays peanuts and Angel City rents are ridiculous, but even after almost a year, Joe can't quite work him out. Harry seems like such a chronic jock, but Joe's pretty sure that most of the guys who used to give him swirlies for being skinny and too-smart and obviously and overwhelmingly gay didn't also secretly collect Fist of Justice action figures for fun. Of course, Harry doesn't exactly collect them—
"I'm just checking them for accuracy," Harry says, with wounded dignity, and takes the box into his room.
Joe sighs and goes back to making his pasta.
Kevin had said, You should come with me, to this meeting I go to, and Joe had hesitated; Kevin had said, You can't just work constantly—you need to meet new people, and then drawn sad faces on Joe's cup until Joe had given in. Kevin had had a point: Harry is a senior editor on the Fist of Justice wiki site, too.
"Now," Mr. Manners is cackling, "I will teach you the value of polite discourse!"
"Mr. Manners," Joe says, annoyed. "For the hundredth time, I'm a deputy district attorney. I'm not rude for fun." His glasses are slipping down his nose; he can't fix them with his hands tied behind his back. It's driving him crazy. "I'm sorry, but could I bother you to push my glasses up?"
"Oh, my apologies, my apologies." Mr. Manners leans over and removes Joe's glasses, polishes them with an enormous, snowy-white handkerchief, and then slides them neatly back up Joe's nose. "Better?"
"Yes, thank you." Joe flexes his fingers, twists his wrists in the plastic ties. No give at all. "Much better." He hopes Fist of Justice gets there soon.
Mr. Manners says, "Now, Mr. Clark—" and the window shatters in.
"No!" Mr. Manners cries, fumbling for something on his desk. "Not—not—"
"Yes, it is I!" roars the man in the window. "Fist of Justice!"
"Not you, Fist of Justice!" Mr. Manners moans. His hand closes around a metal cylinder on his desk, and Joe twists his face away as the room explodes in bright, white silence.
Joe comes back in single frames, second clips: the crisp shower of glass shards on slate floors—the lights over Angel City—the wind in his hair—Fist of Justice carries Joe in through Harry's window and sets him gently down upon Harry's bed, stroking Joe's hair back from his forehead with one huge, gloved hand.
"Are you all right?" Fist of Justice is asking.
"This isn't my room," Joe says. He can't quite unwind his arms from around Fist of Justice's neck. His shoulders are cramped and aching, from being tied up so long.
"What?" Fist of Justice blinks down at him.
"My roommate," Joe says, and then presses up to kiss him. Fist of Justice has saved him again, after all. Joe is very, very grateful. Fist of Justice kisses him back.
Joe does remember, very vaguely, that he was not going to do this anymore, but: hot, sweaty superhero. With his tongue, in Joe's mouth. Joe's only human. He reaches up under Fist of Justice's cape and starts feeling around for buttons, a zipper, anything—
"What the hell?" Joe breaks away. "Does this jumpsuit... thing... actually not come off?"
"Its fastenings are secret to protect my identity," Fist of Justice tells him seriously.
"Okay, no?" Joe laughs, incredulous. He says, "Seriously, dude, at a certain point you have to put up or shut up on the actual nudity front—" and Fist of Justice flips Joe over onto his face and pins him down. Joe gasps, tensing, just as Fist of Justice grinds down against Joe's ass, panting into his ear.
"Do I?" Fist of Justice breathes, into Joe's ear. He feels—he feels huge, actually, but also fucking far away—
"Yes," Joe grits out, arching up, "if you don't, I—" and Fist of Justice grabs one wrist, than the other, quick; and wraps them in a strip of fabric, and ties them up to the top of Harry's metal bed frame. That's. Joe's pretty sure that's Fist of Justice's mask; he tries to twist, and Fist of Justice grabs him by the hair and presses his face to the bed.
"If you look I leave," Fist of Justice saying, rough, just against the nape of Joe's neck.
Joe squirms. "You," he manages, "are a complete dick."
"Oh," Fist of Justice says. "Do you want me to leave?" He flattens himself down along Joe's back, heavy and hot, and Joe moans, pressing his ass up. The ties around his wrists drag at the muscles all down his sides and his back, until the knot in his shoulder pops free—oh, perfect— "Because," Fist of Justice is panting, "because I could leave, if—"
"If you don't actually fuck me," Joe grits out, and Fist of Justice gives a low, heartfelt sigh, and curls his tongue around Joe's earlobe, grinding his hips into Joe's ass. Jesus.
"I thought so," Fist of Justice murmurs, nuzzling down the back of Joe's neck. Every hair on Joe's body quivers to attention. "I thought—I think you want to keep your face down and do what I tell you to." His gloved hand is sliding up Joe's chest, under his shirt. Joe doesn't have a dominance kink. He doesn't. "Am I right?" Fist of Justice pinches brutally at one nipple; and Joe sobs, arching back, and nods.
"Stay there," Fist of Justice tells him, and then moves away, his weight a huge, unbearable absence at Joe's back. Joe can hear zippers. Snaps. And he can hear Fist of Justice breathing hard, and then—a glove, on his back, pulling his shirt tails out of his pants. "I think about this all the time," Fist of Justice tells him, and then rubs—shit—rubs the head of his cock, already leaking and wet, against the small of Joe's back. Joe whimpers, pushing back, and Fist of Justice grabs his ass through his pants, whispering, "Fuck, if I had my way I'd send you around all day all lubed up and ready with a plug in that ass, kept just for me."
Joe thinks: Item, To-do, for tomorrow, June 27; Lube ass, insert buttplug, direct-message @TheMawlibooTerror: I'll be standing outside the courthouse at half past six, looking kidnappable. Help me, Fist of Justice, you're my only hope.
Fist of Justice is massaging Joe's ass through his trousers. He's breathing hard. "Fuck," he gasps, and then says, "can I—can I try something?"
He sounds almost bizarrely eager, and Joe's not really in a mood to protest anything. "Yeah," he says. His heart is slamming against his ribs, even before Fist of Justice gives this funny little sigh, and then—and then pulls. Joe startles at the sound: a seam ripping, all along his ass. "What are you," he says, and then—oh, fuck, finger—what does Fist of Justice think he's— "Christ," Joe gasps, and grinds his face into the sheets. Fist of Justice makes a little, pleased noise, and then yanks at Joe's boxers, too. A rush of cold air sneaks in against Joe's skin, and he shivers.
"Shh," Fist of Justice whispers, and then shifts his weight. Joe hears the nightstand drawer opening, and squirms. He can hear slick, skin-and-lube noises, and then Fist of Justice flattens himself back down against Joe's back, the wet head of his cock just sneaking through the tear in Joe's boxers, just barely catching against Joe's hole.
"Oh my God," Joe gasps, and presses back.
"Oh, Christ, always knew you'd beg for it." Fist of Justice's voice is breathy. He rubs: against, but not in; Joe is going to die. "You want it, yeah?"
"Oh my God." Joe rubs his face on the sheets. He doesn't think he can say anything else.
"I think," Fist of Justice whispers, and then pushes the head of his cock just into Joe, just barely, and then stills. "I think—" Fist of Justice's voice shakes— "you should ask me for it."
Once upon a time, Joe had something sort of like dignity, he thinks. It was a while ago. "Fuck, yes, please," he groans, is already groaning, pressing back; and Fist of Justice moans and shoves himself all the way inside. It's fine. Dignity is overrated.
Fist of Justice drags Joe's ass back, pushing his ripped trousers to the sides, so they cut into Joe's thighs. Joe tries to move, just to see if he can. He can't. Fist of Justice's cock is huge and rough; he just barely shifts his weight and Joe's whole body quivers, helpless. Fist of Justice wraps one arm around Joe's body, pushing Joe's shirt up; Fist of Justice's forearm is bare against Joe's ribs. He's still wearing his gloves. He drags his palm over Joe's abdomen, then pulls nearly all the way out. Joe feels every millimeter. Fist of Justice grunts and pushes Joe's knees up under him, towards his shoulders, and Joe's boxers twist around his hips: not enough to give him any decent friction. Fist of Justice gives him a couple shallow thrusts and it gets even worse.
Joe squirms, yanks at his tied wrists, tries to get his hips back down to the mattress. "I need," he gasps. "I need—"
"What," Fist of Justice groans. "Fucking—bossy—"
Joe bites down on his own lip, trying to shift. "Your hand," he manages, "or—"
Fist of Justice grunts at him. "You want me to jerk you off?" Fist of Justice's breath is hot against Joe's ear. "You want me to—to let you fuck something?" and Joe groans, "Yes," and Fist of Justice drags Joe's hips higher, away from the bed.
What the fuck. Joe didn't think Fist of Justice was actually stupid.
"You want—" Fist of Justice pulls Joe's ass up again, so he has better leverage; Joe feels like he's going to cry— "you want me to let you fuck your roommate's bed, do you?" and it all comes back at once: Harry's bed, fuck, fuck—this is so not in their roommate agreement. "You want—you want to put your face in his pillow," Fist of Justice is panting, "and smell him, maybe smell where he's fucked it, maybe rub your face on his jizz—"
"Jesus," Joe gasps, blinking hard.
"—maybe you want to think about him," Fist of Justice says, with something strange in his voice. "Maybe you want to think about him in my place."
"You were the one who dumped us in here—Jesus!" Joe squirms, desperate; Fist of Justice is pushing his knees up higher underneath him, so that Joe's ass is pulled open wide. He's losing circulation in his thighs. Every one of Fist of Justice's thrusts feels like it's hitting Joe's tonsils, scraping along every hungry, wanting cell of his body; and Joe still can't fucking—he can't fucking come, he—
"Maybe you want to think about both of us," Fist of Justice says, low into Joe's ear; "maybe you want—that it?" His voice is ragged. "Two cocks, shoving into you, all at once?" Christ. "Him in your mouth, me in your ass, or—or both of us down here, maybe, just—just screwing into you—ah, fuck—" Fist of Justice stops talking and shoves himself deeper, and deeper; gasps; pulls back, and then starts fucking Joe double-time, so that the mattress creaks and shakes. Joe keeps squirming, trying to—trying to get something—even the pressure from his pants is unbearable, just not quite enough—and then Fist of Justice is whining and jerking, pressed deep, and then goes limp, and Joe is—
—Joe is really pissed off.
"What the fuck," he grits out, "are you doing? Are you actually going to—"
Fist of Justice pulls out. He laughs, rough, and says, "Maybe I should leave you here."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" Joe says, squirming. He yanks at his wrists. "What kind of asshole—"
"Maybe I should just leave you here for Harry to find," Fist of Justice snarls, "if he's what you want, or—"
"Mostly I want to come, you complete—" Joe stops.
"But you're happy to just go with it," Fist of Justice says, rough, "aren't you."
"I never told you my roommate's name," Joe says. His heart is pounding.
Behind him, Fist of Justice is silent.
"Untie me," Joe says. "Right. Fucking. Now."
After a second, Fist of Justice reaches up and unties his wrists, and Joe rolls over onto his back.
Harry's still wearing the gloves—and the cape. He looks like a tool. Joe can feel Harry's come running out of his ass.
"Oh, you owe me so many explanations," Joe says grimly.
After a second, Harry takes a breath. "Want a blowjob?" he asks.
Joe pauses. His pants are ruined. His wrists hurt. His roommate is naked and a superhero and this is shaping up to be the worst night of Joe's life.
Joe says, "Yeah, all right."
"Hey, Joe," Kevin says. "The usual?"
"Um." Joe rubs at his face. "Um—yeah. No. Make it a quad?"
Kevin whistles, but he's already pulling the shots. "Rough night?"
There are seven people behind Joe in line, so Joe really doesn't want to get into it, but he feels like he's been run over by a train. He's running late—he'll only be in the office about twenty minutes ahead of his boss, and he prefers to be at least a half-hour early—and he's not sure he put on deodorant and he spent two hours last night tied up in a fucking tea parlor and then another three—well. He feels pretty shitty, that's all.
"Yeah," Joe says, and rubs at his face. "How much is the quad?" He digs out his wallet.
"Two seventy-four," Kevin says.
"That's the double," Joe says.
"Extra shots on the house," Kevin says, passing over Joe's cup. "You look like you need it."
"Oh—thanks," Joe takes his cup and steps to the side. "Um... listen."
"Double nonfat vanilla latte," says Bethany from third. "Hey, Joe." She smiles at him. "Just pretend I'm not here." She flips her A.C. Weekly up and fake-reads it, completely transparently.
Joe clears his throat. He can feel his face reddening, but Bethany's all right. Besides, it's not like Joe's doing anything actually worth gossiping about. "I was just going to ask," he says, "if I could—um. Buy you a sandwich later, or something. And maybe." He shifts, uncomfortable. "Talk?"
Kevin glances up at him. "Are you going to happy hour tonight?"
"Happy hour?" Joe echoes.
"Yeah," Kevin says. "SPANCCS has a monthly happy hour—didn't you hear Mirabel talking about it on Tuesday?"
"Uh." Joe stuffs his hands in his pockets. "No, I—to be honest I think that was the first time I heard anyone say the acronym out loud, and I got kind of distracted."
Kevin laughs. "Well, anyway, it's tonight," he says. "She'll text out the location just before—the one time she announced it on Tuesday Linnea told her husband and twenty minutes in, we got invaded."
"Wow," Joe says. "I thought Linnea was a single mom?"
"Is now," Kevin says. "She really wasn't amused."
"Jesus," Joe says.
"Ah, well." Kevin shrugs. "When her ex moved up north The Darner followed him, and I don't think anyone misses those needles."
"Yeah, no." Joe takes a deep breath. "All right, I'll... see you there, then."
"I'll let you buy me a beer and you can tell me your troubles," Kevin says, grinning.
Joe gives him a little salute and heads inside with his coffee.
By half past ten Joe has an empty cup, a stack of files on his desk that literally towers above his head, and a raging migraine.
The migraine is probably why he doesn't notice the tapping at first; he needs new glasses, probably, but he just doesn't have the time to go and get them, so he's squinting at a deposition in the Marshall case and trying to tune out any extraneous sensory information, but the tapping just gets louder and louder, and when he looks up, Fist of Justice—Harry is hanging outside is fourth-floor window, drumming his gloved fingers on the glass. The other window got broken last week and is still covered in plastic sheeting; when Joe looks up, Harry gestures at it, and Joe pushes his glasses up to rub at his eyes, then goes over to pull it open so that Harry can climb in.
"What are you doing here?" Joe asks, voice low. "Is something wrong?"
"I heard that there was a fight," Harry says. He glances over at Joe's desk. "The Mawliboo Terror and Doctor Darkling were having it out outside the DWP station on Main Street, so I thought maybe I should check on you.
Joe blinks. "That's nowhere near here," he says.
"Doctor Darkling is too interested in you," Harry explains. "He keeps making edits to your page on the wiki."
"You know, I actually do have work to do, you can't just—wait." Joe stops. "I have a page on the wiki?"
Harry glares at him, rubbing his hand through his stupid floppy bangs. "After the broken water main outside Mount St. Margaret's he kept insisting you were born in 1986!"
"Why do I—wait, I was born in 1986," Joe says, "but seriously, dude, why do I have a page on the wiki?"
Harry crosses his arms and turns away, looking over at Joe's desk. "They think you're my boyfriend," he says. He sounds embarrassed.
"I'm not your boyfriend," Joe says sharply.
"I fucking know that," Harry snarls. "You drink Smirnoff Ice."
Joe shakes his head, stepping back. "Even if I were—look, you can't just come down to my office whenever you feel like it," he says, flat.
Harry steps towards him. "Well pardon me for being worried that—"
"I'm serious," Joe says. "Half the bad guys in this city track you around town, and I have work to do—could you just, for once—why do you keep looking at my desk?"
Harry doesn't say anything. It takes Joe a couple seconds to notice the way a flush is creeping up from the collar of his stupid yellow jumpsuit, slowly darkening his fair cheeks.
"Okay, no," Joe says.
"Half your office is at lunch," Harry argues.
"It's not even eleven, and also no," Joe says. "Seriously, I have work to do! Go away!"
Harry steps closer. "Later, then," he says, low and rough, and Joe says, "We really need to talk about this someplace that is not my office," and Harry says, "Later—at home—on—on the sofa."
Joe has to force himself still. The hair on his arms and legs is all standing on end. "I have a thing after work," he says. He pulls the plastic sheeting back on the window again. "I'll be late."
"Yeah, so," Harry says, "after," and steps out the window.
June's SPANCCS happy hour turns out to be at a glossy, blue-lit bar in Little Tokyo with pomegranate martinis on special and half price yakitori before seven. It's hard to completely gather the size of SPANCCS from the weekly meetings, but everyone shows up for happy hour: the place is packed to the walls. Mirabel apparently knows the bartender, who has offered them a blanket 30% off.
"I think the bartender likes Mirabel," Joe yells, over the noise: everyone talking over each other over a dance remix of a club cut of some awful pop song, reduced down to nothing but kick drum and bass. Kevin's arm is warm where it bumps his; they've managed to snag the last two stools at the end of the bar, but they keep getting jostled into each other.
"Mikey?" Kevin asks, and Joe nods, as Kevin takes another piece of yakitori. "Mikey wants to get in Mirabel's pants," Kevin corrects clumsily, his mouth full. "Try the gyoza."
Joe snags one off of Kevin's plate. It's good. Salty. "Mm." Joe nods. He's not drunk, but he can tell he's had a couple. He feels warm. Nice. He sips his pomegranate martini. "You need another beer?"
"Won't turn one down," Kevin says, and brushes his hand over the back of Joe's shoulder. Joe signals the bartender, who's sliding two highballs across the bar to Nate and Alice, but who nods back. "Weren't you going to tell me your troubles, in exchange for these?" Kevin asks. "I mean, not that I'm complaining about free beer, but."
"Mostly I was going to whine to you about Fist of Justice," Joe says, then laughs, and shakes his head. "Seems stupid, now."
"I dunno, man, I've been in SPANCCS for a couple years," Kevin says. "I'm pretty sure I've heard it all, and not much of it seems stupid to me."
Joe shrugs one shoulder. "How'd you end up here, anyway?" he asks, as Mikey heads over. "Another Sapporo," Joe says. "And... what the hell, another pomegranate martini." He forks over his cash; he knows better than to run a tab this close to payday.
"Well, it was my sister, originally," Kevin says, then sighs. "But she left for grad school back east last fall, but—seems like it's everywhere, these days. Sunny Dee and her roommate play D&D with two guys in my building, you know?"
"Besides, you run a coffee cart outside the DA's office," Joe says. Sammy bumps into his back and Joe leans towards Kevin.
"Besides," Kevin nods, "I do run a coffee cart outside the DA's office."
"That's not a recipe for keeping a low profile," Joe observes.
"No, probably not the best life decision, in some ways, but." Kevin glances at Joe. "It has its perks."
Joe takes a long drink of his martini, shifting. His legs knock against Kevin's, so Kevin shifts closer.
"Maybe you should even up the score," Joe suggests. "Take up supervillainy, or something."
"That terminology is insensitive, Joe," Kevin intones, and Joe kicks at Kevin's ankles. Kevin snorts, then covers his mouth. Joe wants to touch Kevin's back so he does.
"Seriously, though," Kevin says, leaning his chin on his hand. "It's not like I have any special powers."
"You do make an awfully mean espresso," Joe says. He points his chopsticks at Kevin's last gyoza, questioning, and Kevin slides it towards him. "You could be the Caffeinator," Joe suggests.
"No, really," Joe says. "The ability to power up your friends: that's pretty ferocious, for a special skill."
"Raawr," Kevin agrees, giggling, as he bends forward against the bar.
The apartment is mostly dark, when Joe gets in. He dumps his keys in the bowl by the door. Harry is slouched on the sofa watching Comedy Central with the sound off, his arms crossed over his chest.
"I think it's probably best if we screw first," Harry says, without looking up. "I mean. Just, in the interests of efficiency."
Joe pauses, then hangs his messenger bag on its hook. "Screw first," he echoes. "Screw... before what, exactly?"
Harry twists his head up to look at him. "Talking," Harry says flatly.
Joe nods, then spreads his hands. "I'm just not all that sure what, exactly, we have to talk about," he admits.
"Well, I need you to sign an NDA," Harry says. "For starters."
Joe comes over and sits on the ottoman. "You really want me to sign a nondisclosure agreement," he says. "But... after we screw."
Harry isn't looking at his face. More around his collar... throat... area. Joe's tie is hanging loose around his neck. "Standard procedure," Harry says. His hand twitches against his thigh, which falls open. It's no yellow spandex jumpsuit or anything, but even through his jeans that bulge is pretty impressive.
"Um." Joe licks his lips. He's definitely not going to fuck Harry on the sofa and then sign an NDA; that'd just be... tacky. "You seriously think there's much risk of me... outing you, or whatever," he says, as Harry rubs up his own leg, then rests his fingers against his fly.
"I think it's important to protect all elements of my brand," Harry tells him, very seriously, then unzips.
"Jesus, you're such a douche," Joe sighs, as Harry gets his cock out. Joe doesn't look away, though; credit where it's due: it's a very nice cock. Big. Not too big. Nice and thick. Harry licks his lower lip and strokes it a little, lets Joe watch it stand up.
"You like that?" Harry says.
"I'm not dead," Joe says, irritated.
"You should come over here and show me how much you like it," Harry tells him, and spreads his knees.
Joe sighs. "Do you really think I'm that easy?" he asks, dragging his eyes up to Harry's face.
Harry licks his lower lip, which is curling up. Red. He's been biting it again. "Yeah," he says. "I do."
Joe narrows his eyes.
"I think you're that easy," Harry says, and then lifts up his hips, so he can push his jeans down to his knees. "I think you're gonna suck it until your jaw aches." He's not wearing underwear. "And then I think you're going to let me bend you over that ottoman," Harry murmurs, rubbing his thumb over the head of his cock, spreading his wetness out. "And see if I can make you come just from fucking you, just right." His fingers leave a shiny streak down the shaft. "And then," Harry says. "I think you're going to sign my NDA."
Joe shifts in his seat.
"We've got a month left on the lease," Harry adds, apropos of nothing. He's staring at Joe's mouth. His balls are big and heavy-looking. Joe wants to lick them. Harry says, "You just let me know if you come up with something better to do, between now and then."
He meets Joe's eyes.
Joe's heart is pounding. His mouth is dry. He can't move, he's so turned on; if this pair of trousers gets torn it's still going to be Harry's fault, and they're not even touching.
After a second, Harry reaches out, and grabs Joe's tie.
"Fuck," Joe says, fervent, and lets Harry pull him down onto his knees.
Joe's phone buzzes, just as he's stepping into the elevator. Violet: are you coming to will's dj set tonight?
Joe shouldn't. He has too much work; he probably won't make it out of the office before eight, and even if he could, he should try to work ahead, a little, because who knows when he'll next be kidnapped and held hostage at the top of Angel Records—though actually, that was Circuit Delay's stomping grounds, and she just got sentenced seven to ten, didn't she—but still.
His phone buzzes again as soon as the elevator door opens. 9pm, the tesla, I have guest passes :)
His phone buzzes again. kevin is coming, Violet adds.
Joe sets his cup down on his desk, slides his messenger bag off his shoulder. There's a brontosaurus on his cup today, frowning comically down at an open book. Kevin has also added a jagged-edged balloon, the kind they use for sound effects in comics. It says, EXISTENTIAL CRISIS!
Sure, Joe texts back. See you there.
He deserves a break. He does deserve a break, doesn't he? He thinks he probably deserves a break.
He has a late morning meeting full of hurt feelings and inevitable passive aggression, but otherwise, it's quiet, as Fridays go. Joe tries to keep his head down and get as much done as he can. It'll be nice to go out, he thinks. He sort of remembers that he used to like to go out, in undergrad. It was a while ago. His Twitter feed bings at him periodically, but he mostly ignores it; it's almost all alerts over some argument that Sammy is having with Mirabel about the new Superman movie, or Kevin reminding everyone that his pastries are half off on Fridays.
It probably says something about his life these days that he hears the first siren, but doesn't think all that much about it. Twitter bings at him: @SunnyDee, @Moneymaker spotted in Grand Park—oh, just great. That'll shut down traffic for a mile in every direction. Joe minimizes his client. A second siren joins in, and a third—and maybe it says something else about Joe's life these days, that it takes him this long, but a dull, throbbing crash billows up from the street before Joe thinks: Kevin.
Joe doesn't bother with the elevator. The stairs are faster. He slams out the front doors, panting—someone's taken out the fire hydrant again, and water is spraying everywhere. Kevin is shoving the half-and-half jug and his sugar packets into a plastic bin, as fast as he can; Joe runs over and grabs the tea display.
"Can we move it?" he yells. "If I push and you pull?" The sirens are getting closer. There's a low, droning wail, and Sunny Dee goes flying, slams into the parking attendant booth for the lot next door. Joe yanks Kevin down behind his cart. Kevin's hair is soaking wet from the fire hydrant. Joe yells, "Can we move it together?"
"Brakes," Kevin says, then nods.
Joe nods back and pushes up to his feet, shoving the tea display under his arm. Kevin folds the front awning down and unlocks the brakes. Joe pushes at the back end, and Kevin pulls at the front, and the cart starts rolling, finally, just as Sunny Dee is shouting, "Show yourself, Moneymaker! This cowardly display has gone on—"
They roll the cart down Hill, across the street, around the corner, up First.
"This thing," Joe pants, as they maneuver it into an alcove at the back of the building, "weighs a ton."
"It's really more 'movable in case of emergency' than it is 'genuinely portable,'" Kevin explains, breathlessly, half-collapsed against the side. He nods at Joe. His face is red. "Thanks."
"Sure," Joe says. A fire truck wails its way up Hill. Joe extracts the tea display from under his arm: the Earl Grey box got a little squashed, but it's not too bad.
Kevin wipes his face with a bar towel. "Can I get you anything?" he asks. He tosses the towel into a bucket under the espresso machine.
"What?" Joe blinks at him, then straightens up. "I—no, I just didn't want your cart to get demolished again."
"Oh." Kevin glances over at him, then away, then over at him again. "Thanks," he says, sort of awkwardly.
"I mean," Joe says, and then stops.
Kevin doesn't look at him. He sets up the tea display. He sets out the sugar packets and the half-and-half and restacks his cups neatly, just next to the espresso machine. A big guy with a backwards baseball cap and a mangy-looking goatee comes by and says, "Yeah, got a discount for news crews?" and leers at Kevin, who smiles at him and says, "50% off pastries today, just for you."
Joe stands there like the huge, pathetic loser that he is while he watches Kevin make the guy an Americano and pop a sort of tired-looking croissant in a bag. The guy doesn't tip. Joe feels obscurely offended.
"I mean," Joe says, when he's gone. "Your cart shouldn't get demolished. It's yours and you like it and it sucks that it does get demolished. I mean, that it has. That it used to get demolished."
Kevin leans on his palms on the edge of the coffee cart's counter. "Oh," he says.
"So." Joe clears his throat and puts his hands in his pockets. "I mean—anytime you want me to come down and help you move it."
"Oh," Kevin says. His eyes are wide.
"I can always take a break," Joe says.
"Oh." Kevin's cheeks are a little pink, too. "Um—thanks."
"Sure." Joe nods, and steps forward. "Listen," he says, "Violet said you're going to Will's DJ set tonight?"
"Yeah," Kevin says. "You?"
"Yeah, I thought." Joe clears his throat. "I mean. If you are. That'd be nice."
Kevin's quiet. "Yeah," he says, after a second. "That'd be nice."
"Excuse me," says a woman, loudly, leaning in between them. Joe steps back. "I'm trying to get to Grand Park, but there are police barriers all along the sidewalk on Hill," the woman says. She has a camera hanging around her neck. "Can you tell me—"
"I think they're probably shutting down access," Kevin says. "What with the, um. Special skills showdown, and whatnot." He gives Joe a little smile.
"I better go," Joe says, "but I'll see you—"
"But I was told," the woman says, "that I could get—"
"Yeah," Kevin says. "See you. Later."
Joe nods and ducks in towards the back entrance, swipes his keycard. Outside the lobby, Sunny Dee slams Moneymaker into the front doors, which vibrate, but don't break.
"I told you that new Ultra-Glas™ would solve all our problems," one security guard says to another, sounding satisfied. Joe ducks into the elevator, and heads back up to his office.
His Twitter client is binging. He should've just quit it in the first place. It bings. And bings. His jacket is sort of damp, so he hangs it up over the back of his chair, then clicks on his client—2 emergency vehicles torched in @SunnyDee, @Moneymaker battle in Grand Park—BREAKING: @FistOfJustice spotted over City Hall?—and goes to quit it, but—new direct message:
The Fist @FistofJustice
I'm over by your office
The Fist @FistofJustice
getting off soon?
Joe opens a reply, just as a huge thump outside shakes the building. It's not even four, he says.
The Fist @FistofJustice
because you could be. getting off soon, I mean. if you know what I mean.
Joe snorts. The sirens outside get louder. Thanks, he says, but no thanks.
He's barely even hit send before his client bings again.
The Fist @FistofJustice
want to *see* what I mean? could send a pic
Joe rolls his eyes. Seriously, Harry's like a high schooler. Joe glances towards the door, but no one's looking over. Half the office is clustered around the windows, watching the fight in the park.
If this ends with you publicly tweeting a snapshot of your junk, he types, what will it do to your *brand*?
He gives Harry a second, but there's no reply. Joe tabs over to his email and gets back to work.
His phone buzzes a minute later: a text, from Kevin: I still have one lemon scone left, if you want it, before I close up for the day, just as his Twitter client bings again.
The Fist @FistofJustice
man you're picky. am I supposed to just save it for later?
On my way, Joe texts Kevin. He grabs his keycard, then bends over his computer, just for a second.
No thanks, he types. I came up with something better to do.