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Some Truths (Are a Crooked Path)

Chapter Text

Some Lies -

One day, Colby's question just slipped out. "How can you stand it?"

Colby had been going into the evidence locker at the end of the day, and met Matt heading out.

Matt said, "What?"

They were alone, so Colby faced him squarely. "How can you live a lie?"

Matt's friendly smile vanished.

"David suffers," Colby continued. "He can't say he's got a boyfriend or else people might realize it's you. He can't bring you to a party or even smile at you at work. And how should he react when he gets hit on?"

Matt's eyes flashed. "Who hits on him?"

"See? How can you stand to live a lie?"

"You did. With the spy thing."

"Hey," Colby snapped. "That was for my country. I didn't have a choice."

Matt folded his arms. "You think I have a choice?"

Colby blinked. "Of course you have a choice. It may not be easy, but …"

Matt sighed and looked toward the closed elevator doors. Stepping closer to Colby, he lowered his voice. "Either my life before David was a lie or my life now is a lie. I don't want either. So, just leave it alone."

"I-I don't understand."

"Obviously."

The elevator opened to show David.

"You ready, Matt?" David said, then he eyed Colby suspiciously. "Matt?"

Silently, Matt headed to the elevator. When he reached David, he slid his arms around David's waist and lifted his face for a kiss.

David's face showed surprise, then happiness, then he captured Matt's mouth with his own.

Matt leaned over and pressed the elevator button. As he did, he shot a look at Colby, then went back to being thoroughly kissed by David.

The elevator doors slid shut and Colby gazed at them thoughtfully.

Maybe some lies were worth living after all.

Chapter Text

Some Questions-

"What's up?" David said, breaking away from Matt's kiss, pleased but uneasy. Matt had never shown any sign of their relationship at work before, even in private. Well, except for that first intense week in the downstairs showers.

Matt tugged David's mouth back to his for another kiss. David let Matt linger over the kiss, then pulled back again firmly.

"What was that about, with Colby?" David asked again.

Matt shrugged, letting go of David with obvious reluctance. "He was just being nosy."

David tensed. Once when Will and Don had 'gotten nosy', Matt had gone into a real state of shock. David had needed a weekend to coax him out of his near catatonia.

"You okay?" David asked cautiously.

Matt nodded, his eyes shifting away. "I know he is-all of them are- just trying to look out for you, but I wish they'd leave it alone."

"Me, too," David said. He carefully put a hand on Matt's shoulder. "They're good friends, baby."

"I am, too, right?" Matt said, suddenly looking very young. "He said you 'suffer' when you can't-"

"No, no," David interrupted. "Forget what he said. He doesn't understand."

"No, he doesn't get it."

Neither do I , David thought with an internal sigh, but it was a perplexity that had grown old and familiar.

"I told him to leave it alone," Matt added.

"He will, don't worry," David said. He'd have a word with Colby tomorrow. He appreciated that Colby was concerned, but Colby should have come to David. Bothering Matt was not an option. What if he, David, had gone to Charlie about some touchy Colby issue? David was getting more upset by the second.

"So," Matt said, with a forced casualness that brought David to instant attention. "Who exactly has been hitting on you?"

Chapter Text

Some Thoughts-

"Hitting on me?" David said, frowning.

Matt looked away. He hated the sick, helpless feeling that he got in situations like this. Not for the first time, he wished that he actually was gay. It would make things so much easier. He could lay public claim on David, fend off anyone who dared approach his gorgeous man. However, he knew that he wasn't gay. He'd loved and lusted after girls and women all his life, not boys or men. Then what started out as a 'man-crush' on David grew into a real crush, then into really being in love. And when he'd found out that David loved him back - O happy day! But also O bewildering day. There was no way that he could be in love with David, a man, but the intensity of his feelings left him no doubt that he was.

The problem gave Matt stomach cramps so he tried not to think about it. He tried just to enjoy the now, the loving David and being loved in return, as well as the comfortable companionship and glorious sex. With David as his roommate, boyfriend, and lover, he'd never been happier in his life.

But when something like this came up, Matt was reminded of the frightening paradox of their relationship.

Finally, David said, "Who told you someone was hitting on me?"

"Colby did, just now."

"I'm going to kill him."

Matt's stomach sank to his knees, because that meant that it was true. Someone had been hitting on David, and maybe David had even responded. Because as Colby had said, David couldn't admit he had a boyfriend or people might realize that it was Matt. David would need to respond like he was unattached, flirt back.

And there was shit that Matt could do about it.

Chapter Text

Some Assumptions-

Matt waited for David to explain himself.

"Maybe," David said thoughtfully, "Colby meant that agent from San Diego."

"Which agent?" Matt said.

"Agent Wilburn."

"Wait," Matt said, "that hot chick?"

David gave one of his familiar shrugs. "She asked if I wanted to get a drink after work."

Matt stiffened. "And?"

Another shrug. "I told her 'Not tonight'. She said, 'Coffee tomorrow?' I told her that I don't drink coffee. She kept asking about different possibilities, like I was a case she was trying to solve. I finally told her that I don't date other agents."

Matt frowned. "Sounds like sexual harassment."

"It wasn't that bad."

Matt glared at him. "You liked it."

"Who wouldn't like someone attractive-"

"Wait," Matt interrupted. "She's black. A hot black chick came on to you?"

David's eyebrows shot up. "Why should it matter that she's black?"

Matt felt his cheeks grow hot. "It just seems like it would."

"You think I should date someone black?"

"No, no, I didn't mean that."

David's face had gone completely blank. "You think I'd be more likely to cheat on you with someone black?"

"No," Matt said. "I know you wouldn't-"

"So should I assume that you'd be more likely to cheat on me with someone Asian?"

"Hey, I didn't-"

The elevator door opened to the parking garage.

David looked coolly at him. "We'll talk about this later."

Matt nodded miserably and followed David out of the elevator. They walked across the garage floor, their footsteps echoing in the tense silence, and headed for the car. The walk seemed endless, with more cars and concrete than there had been that morning.

Without warning, David grabbed Matt and shoved him up against a wall.

He put his mouth next to Matt's ear and growled, "It's later."

Chapter Text

Some Proposals-

David held Matt against the wall, pinned there with his knee between Matt's legs, and waited to see what Matt would do. Matt could smear the floor with David or just tell him to let go. Maybe this would be the end of their relationship, right here in the garage. He wondered if Matt could feel his heart hammering, because it felt like it was leaping from his chest.

"Uh," Matt said finally. "David?"

Not too bad of a reaction. "I want to tell you what's going to happen tonight."

Matt shrank a little away from David. "Sorry I made you mad."

David shook his head. "I'm just going to have to prove to you the hard way that you don't need to worry about someone hitting on me."

David braced his hands on each side of Matt's head and said in a low voice, "I am going to take you home and fuck you so hard and so long that you won't be able to shit for a week. I'll make you come so many times that you'll have to wear your cock in a sling to pee. I'll give you so many love-bites and suck so hard on that sweet spot on your neck that you'll have to wear a long-sleeved turtleneck for a month."

Matt's jaw had dropped open as David talked.

"Maybe then you'll finally feel in your bones that you belong to me. That no one is going to take you away from me. That some black chick means nothing. That what I'm really into is smart, funny Asian men who have great bodies and really thick skulls."

Matt stuttered, "O-okay," but his eyes were gleaming with anticipation.

"And to prove that I belong to you?" David said. "I've got a bit more radical of an idea."

 

Chapter Text

Some Explanations-

"More radical?" Matt asked warily.

David put his hands on Matt's shoulders. There was something he'd been thinking about, a huge gamble that could ruin everything or, possibly, shake up Matt's rigid thinking.

"I know a place," David said. "A very private club where anything-fucking anything goes. It's extremely difficult to find but I had a girlfriend who was a member. I saw the … possibilities of the place and became a member myself."

David continued, "They even know I'm 'David Sinclair, FBI'. That's how careful they are about members. They made me sign this huge pile of paperwork and disclaimers-" David stopped, took a breath, and then said, "I want to take you there."

"Why?"

"Everyone wears masks and all identities are kept strictly secret. We can go there together and you can show me off as yours. Even if no one knows who 'we' are, I want to feel it."

"'Feel it'? As in have sex in public?"

"Not necessarily," David said quickly. "Maybe just get a drink and watch the entertainment."

"Like when you sent me to Don and Will's to watch them?"

"Here you won't know the performers and you'll be watching from a distance, but people might also be watching you."

Matt eyed him. "So what's the big deal about this place?"

"What's going on around you might be a lot less … vanilla."

"You're calling Don and Will vanilla? Whoa, this place sounds intense."

"Very intense. You don't have to go."

"But you want to."

"Yeah," David said, and until this moment, he didn't know how much he wanted it. To have Matt show in public, even pseudo-public, that David was his.

Matt frowned. "I have a ton of questions, but first … just what did you and this girlfriend do there?"

 

Chapter Text

Some Talking-

David looked away from Matt to hide the nausea that swept over him. Given what had happened the last time David had gone to the club, he was surprising himself by wanting to go back. The Guild of Retired Royal Glassblowers was a full-service, conscientious club, but things could still happen.

Taking a subtle, calming breath, David looked back at Matt. "I'll tell you, I promise, but not here or now. I'll answer every single one of your questions, but not tonight."

His hand stroked Matt's cheek then slid down to tug on the necklace that was always around Matt's neck. "Tonight is about you, and me showing you how much I want you."

Matt frowned uncertainly. "Promise you'll tell me what you and this girlfriend did? I'm starting to think I really need to know."

"Yeah," David said, summoning up a smile for Matt. "But right now all I want to talk about is you." He leaned close again to Matt.

"All I want to talk about," David murmured, "Is how sweet your skin is, how good you smell. I just want to taste you, have my lips against your pulse. I want to feel the strength of your muscles as you hold on to me, hear you beg and plead and swear at me for release.

"I want to see you try to keep your eyes open when you come. I want to hear you laugh right after, for the sheer pleasure of the thing. I want to control your breathing so that each inhale is a gift from me and each exhale is your gift back."

"God, David," Matt said hoarsely. "Please …"

"Please what, baby?"

"Take me home already," Matt lifted his chin and bared his throat. "Take me home and show me I'm your bitch."

 

Chapter Text

Some Plans-

David should know by now that sex with Matt wasn't going to be what he planned. This had been true from the very first time they'd touched. Matt had a way of taking all of David's careful plans and tossing them into chaos, like a pile of leaves in a whirlwind. David would be forced to act in the moment, with truth and real emotions and reactions. It was one of the things that David loved about Matt. But he still tried to make his plans.

After their tense conversation in parking garage, David had intended sex with Matt that evening being hard, silent, and strong. David had talked the talk about impressing on Matt, with bruises if necessary, that Matt belonged to him. That Matt didn't need to be worried about some 'hot black chick' hitting on David. And also that Matt better not consider stepping out on David, no matter how 'natural' Matt thought it was for Matt to be with someone female and Asian, not with someone male and Black. David had nursed his hurt and fury throughout the drive home, as he and Matt had taken their separate cars to their shared apartment. When David had stalked through the apartment door, Matt had actually shrunk back. David had felt a grim satisfaction as he'd half-led, half-dragged Matt upstairs to their bedroom.

Yet, once the initial flurry of stripping off clothes and tossing all the sheets and pillows off the bed was past, and David had Matt pinned down underneath him, all David felt was tenderness. And a fierce need to claim every inch of Matt's skin.

He started with that particular sweet spot on Matt's neck.

"Tell me," Matt hoarsely whispered, "Tell me I'm your bitch."

And David's plans were blown away again by the wind.

 

Chapter Text

Some Action (At Last)-

David looked down at Matt, pinned underneath him. "Are you my bitch, Matt?"

"Yes ..." Matt's breathy, hungry response sent fire through David.

David strapped on his cock-and-balls rings and went to work.

He murmured, "My sweet fuck-baby," as he prepped Matt's ass for the insertion of their favorite anal plug.

"Yes, more talk," Matt begged.

David raised his eyebrows but said, "Are you my favorite slut?"

"Yes …"

As David spoke harsher and harsher, Matt responded each time with his fervent 'Yes' and David was driven to new depths.

The evening passed in a haze of words and impressions.

He pushed his ready cock into Matt's eager mouth.

Suck my dick good, slut.

Matt held his knees while David teased the butt plug.

My goddamn fucking amazing ass whore.

He fucked Matt slow and hard for the second time.

Take it, my little cock slut. You can't get enough. Show me how much you need it.

David kept constant control of Matt, either with his hands and legs, pressing down on Matt with the full weight of his body, or a tied belt or scarf. Matt regularly squirmed as if to better feel David's control.

David's cock screamed for release, but David was determined to make Matt come until he was jelly.

At some point, they stopped for dinner, and to recover a little, but Matt stayed tied down while David fed him bites of sandwich and fruit.

Back to your job, my hard-working whore, and lick my balls like the bitch you are.

Matt came for the third time with a shaky moan.

There was a moment coming, something they'd been working towards all night, getting closer with every possessive touch, every orgasm, every begging word from Matt. The moment was almost there.

And David was dreading it.

Chapter Text

Some Reservations (May Be Need to Be Set Aside) -

Matt liked it when David strangled him. However, David had always refused to actually cut off Matt's breathing. David had enough EMT training to know it was foolhardy and dangerous. Even if David could avoid injuring Matt, sometimes choking made the heart just stop. It wasn't the simple and casual act they showed on TV.

David and Matt had played with breath control since they first got together, but it was play. It was usually Matt that was gasping for air, but David also encouraged Matt to show off his amazing strength and flexibility.

Then, six months ago, Matt wanted to try actual asphyxia. David had refused utterly and they'd fought over it.

But later, David had thought more about it. Matt could be unimaginably stubborn when he got an idea. His scientific streak could also come out at the worst times. That meant there was the remote but very real possibility that Matt would try it out sometime by himself. That terrified David. There were so many ways autoerotic asphyxia could go wrong, More than a few 'suicides' were actually people strangling themselves in search of the ultimate orgasm.

So David studied, planned, prepared, prayed … then did it. He put in place as many safety measures as he could, then simply held Matt's nose and mouth closed. David had hated it but Matt had said it was the most intense orgasm of his life.

A few months later, for their 'anniversary', Matt had asked for it again. This time David was more confident but still hated it.

Now, after all the rough talk, David knew that Matt would expect it again. In his passion, David had as much promised it. There was no going back.

If Matt wanted to flirt with dying, it would be at David's hands.

 

Chapter Text


Some Anticipation (Is Expected)-

David fed Matt chocolate ice cream drizzled with honey, but didn't tease Matt as usual about his favorite dessert. David was too focused on what was coming next.

Matt seemed to be as well, since he ate just half of the bowl before shaking his head. David set it aside and released Matt's wrists from their tie to the headboard.

While Matt stretched his shoulders, David got out the safety cuffs. They had a release Matt could reach himself.

David asked, "Do you want to do this?"

"Yes," Matt said firmly. His eyes gleamed in anticipation.

David nodded and attached the safety cuffs, stretching Matt's arms above his head again. He then buckled on a strap that went between Matt's knees. Matt wouldn't be able to hold his knees up and David wouldn't have spare hands either. It would be easier if David was behind Matt, but he wanted to see Matt's face at all times.

"Remember," David said, as he put his cellphone where he could easily grab it. "I won't stop if you shake your head side-to-side. If you don't feel right, you need to nod up-and-down, remember?"

"Yes," Matt murmured, his cock already hard against his stomach.

David pressed his lips together and nodded himself. He then removed the cock-and-balls rings that had kept him from orgasming all evening.

David slid condom-free into Matt's well-loosened asshole, then lay down, pushing down the strap so that Matt's knees were held towards his chest.

Locking eyes with Matt, David quickly accelerated to full speed and strength. He watched Matt's face as he fucked him and soon he could tell that Matt was nearing orgasm.

"Big breath," David commanded.

They both took a deep breath, then David pinched Matt's nose with one hand and covered his mouth with the other.

 

Chapter Text

Some Seconds (Last An Eternity)-

David watched with clinical detachment as Matt struggled for breath. Matt's hard cock rubbed against David's stomach and David continued to thrust into Matt's ass while he held Matt's nose and mouth closed. Matt's eyes grew wider and he swung his head from left to right, instinctively trying to shake David loose.

David counted seconds in his mind. If Matt didn't reach orgasm within his time limit, David would release him. The first time they had done this, David had silently and then out loud begged Matt to give the emergency nod. Now David knew Matt wouldn't. In fact, his asking might even make Matt more stubborn.

Finally, though it was in reality a short wait, Matt began to shake and his cock began to pulse against David. Matt's whole body spasmed but David kept ahold of Matt's nose and mouth. His ass tightened around David's cock and David felt hot cum on his stomach.

David counted to three, letting Matt ride a little further into the orgasm, then released his face. Matt sucked in air just as David felt Matt's muscles start to go slack, signaling a faint. Matt's eyes went unfocused and his face was shockingly pale.

Instantly, David tilted Matt's head up, expanding his breathing passage. With his other hand, David pushed his own body up, relieving the pressure on Matt's chest.

Matt began to gasp heavily and the color returned to his face. His eyes were still unfocused, though, and his expression was blank.

"Matt?" David asked urgently. He reached for his cellphone, heart thumping. "Matt? Matt? Baby?"

Matt's eyes slowly turned to David, a slight smile on his lips. "Hey."

The relief was so strong that David sobbed and his orgasm ripped out of him, flooding Matt's ass with warmth and David's eyes with tears.

 

Chapter Text

Some Regrets (Are Painful)-

David lay on Matt, their mutual gasping filling the air. David was shaking and couldn't stop. He kept seeing that slack look on Matt's face and wondering if he'd caused brain damage. If his funny, intelligent lover had been lost to some idiotic sex stunt.

"Well," Matt mumbled, "Not going to do that again."

David's head came up. "What?"

"Damn, that's incredible," Matt said, "But I think that's enough games of Russian roulette."

David blinked at him. "Really?"

"Never again," Matt said, adding with a wry smile. "I think I saw my life flash before my eyes and it was way too short."

"Are you sure?" David said. "You say that now, but …"

"I promise," Matt said, releasing the safety cuffs. "If I ever ask again, you have my permission to dump me into a bathtub filled with ice."

David grinned, relief coursing through him almost as intense as his recent orgasm. "I'll do that."

"And those things you said to me?" Matt shuddered happily. "Ok, wow. Not like I'd want that normally."

More relief. "Good, good. I didn't really like it myself, not that hard." David eyed Matt. "You realize that I don't actually think that stuff about you?"

"Oh," Matt said with a smile. "Some of it's kind of true."

David raised his eyebrows.

Matt nudged him and David slipped out of him and lay on his side next to Matt. With a grunt, Matt raised his hands above his head, arched his back and stretched all the way down to his toes. Even as exhausted as David was, the sight made his heart beat a little faster.

"I feel so …" Matt started then trailed off, looking thoughtful.

"Dizzy? Nauseous?"

Matt shook his head.

"Sore? Light-headed? Weak?"

"No," Matt said with a wobbly smile. "Claimed."

Chapter Text

Some Assertions (Might be Made)-

"Claimed?" David said cautiously. "Is that a good thing?"

"Oh, yeah," Matt said with a wide smile that reminded David of a satisfied cat.

David smiled back with relief. "Ok, then the evening's activities haven't been in vain."

"Not at all." Matt replied. He turned his body fully towards David. "You're so good to me."

"You deserve it."

"You do, too," Matt said softly. "I wish you believed that."

Knowing what Matt knew about him, David grimaced and looked away.

"David Sinclair," Matt said in that soft but definite voice. "You are the most amazing, beautiful, wonderful man ever."

"Because I do what you want?"

"David!" Matt said, sounding shocked. He turned David's face so he was forced to meet his eyes again. "If I'd wanted someone who did whatever I wanted, I'd have looked at … I'd have gone to … I'd have gotten a dog!"

David had to laugh. "Not a cat?"

"No way. A perfectly well-trained dog who sits and rolls over when I tell him to, not a smart, hunky FBI agent who does his best to keep me safe from my own stupidity."

"It's a full-time job," David murmured.

"I know," Matt said. "It's a lot of work."

"Worth it."

"You're probably the only one that thinks so."

"Who cares about anyone else," David growled. "I think so and that's all that matters."

At that moment, David felt ashamed for ever being concerned what anyone else thought. He felt ashamed for ever wanting more than he had right now with Matt, because it was already so much.

Matt smiled at him quietly and stroked David's cheek with his thumb. "You really are wonderful, amazing, everything. And we are going to go to that club and I'll show you off like the big prize you are."

 

Chapter Text

Some Impressions (Of A Short Life)-

"Forget about the stupid club," David said as he undid the strap between Matt's knees. He didn't know if lying on his back with his knees-up had helped Matt stay conscious, but it hadn't done any harm. David cleaned up while Matt lay smiling at him.

David continued, "The club is a bad idea. I was just mad."

"But you sounded so definite."

David shook his head and lay down on his stomach next to Matt. "I've always heard about your life flashing before your eyes, but what exactly did you see?"

Matt blew out a noisy breath. "Impressions mostly. Things I've done, things I haven't done. No white light or voices, just…" Matt shrugged. "I've gotten my doctorate and black belt and Eagle Scout and job with the FBI and taken my crack at the Millennium Problems…"

David waited for the 'but'.

"But…" Matt turned and put his hand on David's bare shoulder. "I love you, David, all of you, even the guy parts."

David blinked at him. "Okay…"

"I mean, I'm not ashamed of you and me together."

"Good…"

"It's just private, that's all."

David eyed him.

"But it might be nice to try being out in public together, if you count wearing masks as public."

"You're talking about the club? Forget about the club."

"No, no," Matt said firmly. "You've always jumped through hoops for me, done every ridiculous, difficult or stupid thing I've ever asked you to do. It's about time that I stepped up and did something you wanted. Something for you and me, you know, for us."

David smiled at him, hiding his uneasiness. He was thrilled that Matt was finally 'stepping up'. But David was afraid that Matt might have chosen the worst way possible to do it.

 

Chapter Text

Some Apologies (Might Be In Order)-

The next morning, David was still smiling about the night before. It was easy to forget the bad parts now that Matt had promised never again. Then Matt had said he wasn't ashamed of being with David and wanted to show it. David was humming under his breath - when he was met at the elevator door by Colby. His smile vanished.

"Hi," Colby said. "Shall we go somewhere private so you can yell at me?"

Disarmed, David nodded and they walked outside to the pedestrian bridge.

"First," Colby said, "Is Matt okay?"

"Yeah," David said. The smile crept back onto his face. "He's wonderful."

"Good," Colby nodded. "Okay, yell."

David chuckled. "Clever. I was planning on being silently pissed at you all day for what you said to Matt."

"Sorry, it just slipped out," Colby said. "I hate how he hurts you."

"He doesn't-" David snapped, then stopped himself. "Okay, but it's worth it."

Colby sighed. "That was the impression I had." He added, "You know, people don't really understand how I put up with Charlie and his 'quirks'."

David had to nod. "I'd have kicked Charlie to the curb after the first twenty times he blew me off."

"He gets distracted. … So everything alright with you and Matt?"

"Well," David said. "Don't take this this wrong, but you might have been the jolt we needed to move forward."

"Really?" Colby grinned.

David shrugged. "Sometimes we just avoid talking about stuff."

"Heh, Charlie and me, too."

"No kidding."

"I swear, the way that Don and Will always talk is just unnatural."

"Yeah," David laughed. "Very touchy-feely."

"I'd like to see you say that to Don's face."

"I like my job."

"Or to Will's face."

"I like my face."

Colby laughed, then said. "So what's your next step forward?"

Chapter Text

Some Hesitations (Can't Be Explained)-

"Well," David said, stroking his beard. "We're talking about going to a club together."

"Really? Going out in public together?"

"… Not really. It's a private club."

"Like a country club?"

David gave his one-shouldered shrug. "More like… a sex club."

"Whoa, like The Chamber? Where Don almost died?"

"No, a much more responsible place."

"Still, why would you want to?"

"I'm not sure I want to anymore, but I told Matt that I wanted to. Now he's determined to show me he's not ashamed of me."

"That's good, right?"

David shrugged again. "Probably. In this place we'll wear masks, but it's still a step for him."

"Good, good."

"But I'm worried this place might be too much for him."

"Sounds… interesting."

David shook his head. "I don't think you or Charlie would like it."

"But you would?"

"I don't know…I can't predict how Matt will react."

"Yeah, he's not exactly predictable. At least when it comes to Charlie, I usually know what I'm going to get."

"Ignored?"

Colby laughed. "Naw, if I really want Charlie's attention, I can get it."

David smiled back. "I bet you can. I remember some things that-"

"La-la-la!" Colby said, clapping his hands over his ears. When David stopped talking, Colby gave him a mock glare. "You know I can't stand to hear about you and him."

"Sorry," David said and added with a straight face, "Charlie was untouched before you got together with him."

"Better believe it," Colby grumbled.

David shook his head, his mind turning back to his current lover. "I think I need someone who might have more insight…" he trailed off, then groaned. "God, I'm going to have to go talk to that smug bastard."

"Who?"

David raised his eyebrows.

"Oh, that smug bastard."

 

Chapter Text

Some Conversations (Are More Annoying Than Others)-

As fortune would have it - or maybe it was misfortune - the 'smug bastard' came to the office that evening to pick up David's boss.

"Don said that you wanted to talk to me?" Will said, standing by David's desk.

David nodded and silently gestured him to an empty interrogation room. Will followed him, radiating curiosity.

Will shut the door behind them and David asked without preamble, "Have you ever heard about the Guild of Retired Royal Glassblowers?"

Will blinked, then his face seemed to shut down. "Yes."

"You've been there?"

"Yes."

"Recently?"

"No."

David grimaced in frustration. Will couldn't make this easy, could he? "I'm thinking about taking Matt there."

"Are you-" Will paused and visibly collected himself, then continued, "Are you out of your freaking mind?"

David glared at him. "It's not that bad of an idea."

Will sat down across from David and leaned towards him. "You're talking about taking someone who went catatonic at the idea that he might be bisexual, to a place where bisexuality would be considered as threatening as marshmallows?"

"He didn't go catatonic, not technically." There was something about Will that always put his back up.

"Really?" Will snorted. "I wouldn't want to see another 'not technically' breakdown."

"I'm just-" David stopped and tried to unclench his teeth. He took a deep breath. He needed Will's peculiar insight. "I thought he might be willing to go because your identity is hidden."

"Go to a costume party."

"And maybe Matt would see that there are plenty of things that are much further out there than just liking both men and women. I was only planning on us watching, not participating."

Will sat back and looked at David for a long moment. "Well, it could work. Or it could shatter Matt past repair."

 

Chapter Text


Some Things (Are Never Forgiven)-

"I know it could be disastrous," David said. "That's why I'm asking you which way you think he'll go."

Will shook his head. "No predicting."

"No idea at all? With all your 'expertise' in sex and psychology?"

"If I was his actual counselor, maybe I could predict his reaction. But otherwise, it's a toss of the knife."

Frustrated, David lashed out. "You're such a know-it-all, why couldn't you be useful for once?"

Will's eyes blazed. "What would 'useful' be? Giving you false assurances about something that could be terribly damaging?"

"So you think I shouldn't take Matt?"

"Not if you care about him."

"Of course I care about him."

"But you simply care about yourself more."

"What?" David snapped.

"You have to admit," Will said coolly. "You don't have a history of putting your lovers' needs ahead of your own."

David leaned forward and lowered his voice. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Will gave an eloquent shrug. "Oh, just that you enjoy taking unsuspecting men and turning their worlds upside down for a quick fuck, then abandoning them when someone more interesting comes along."

David gritted his teeth. "You're just mad because I had Don first."

"Then dumped him."

David smiled fiercely, his anger at Matt finding a much more appealing target. "Shall I tell you how Don felt, how tight his sweet ass was?"

"Shut up," Will growled.

"How he moaned and begged me to go harder and faster? How he felt when he came, screaming my name?" That wasn't quite how it happened, but it was worth it to see Will's face getting darker and darker.

"Shut the fuck up, Sinclair," Will snarled. "Or you won't need to worry about the Guild or Matt or anything else but how to get my fist out of your esophagus."

 

Chapter Text

Some Curiosity (Has to Wait)—

Don had been burning with curiosity ever since David had asked if Will was going to be at home tonight. Don had replied that Will was picking him up at the office later. David had just nodded and ignored Don asking why he needed Will.

David and Will had never gotten along, though they’d held a long-term truce since they were so often in the same room or at the same dinner table. It wasn’t surprising Will disliked David, considering Will first knew David as the man who’d turned Don’s world upside-down then abandoned him. Don wasn’t as sure why David disliked Will so much, though Don had to admit that Will often evoked strong feelings in people. Don loved Will immensely but still regularly wanted to strangle him.

Then Will had arrived and he and David had disappeared into a closed interview room, and now Don could only watch through the glass.

From the beginning, the conversation didn’t seem to go well. Will looked cool and David irritated. What could David need to ask Will? Was it Will’s DEA expertise, his undercover skills, his local knowledge of LA? None of those would need to be kept private. So it was personal, which meant it was about Don or Matt.

There was a look that Will got when he was about to leap to Don’s defense, and to a lesser degree, that of anyone else Will considered family, but Will didn’t look like he was about to attack.

Until suddenly, he did.

David and Will were standing, faces inches from each other, snarling, tensing, ready to spring.

Don was halfway across the office before he even realized he was moving.

Don would bet on Will in any fight—except one where his opponent was trained, fast, and carrying a gun.

 

Chapter Text

Some Assurances (Would Be Nice)-

"Do you think I'm scared of you?" David growled. They were both standing, leaning towards each other over the interview table, hands braced on the table and voices low.

"No," Will growled back. "But you're scared of something, or else you wouldn't be trying to open up old wounds just to piss me off."

David snarled wordlessly and pushed back from the table. He turned and banged his fists against the nearby wall, then he rested his forehead against the cool surface.

After a long silence, Will said quietly, "We all knew that the situation with you and Matt couldn't stay the same forever."

"Why not?" David grumbled, not turning around.

"Because people grow up, at least most people do, and realize that they do eventually have to deal with that big, ugly elephant in the room."

"I can live with the elephant."

"Maybe Matt can't anymore."

David watched his breath condense on the glass wall then vanish. "Maybe I'm the elephant."

"Maybe you are."

David gave a bitter laugh and turned to look at Will. "You really are against false assurances, aren't you?"

"Yes."

David leaned his back against the wall. "Why am I even talking to you? I don't even like you."

Will smiled cheerfully. "And I don't like you. Maybe that's why you're talking to me, because you know I'm not trying to 'spare your feelings.'"

"Maybe you could try a little sparing," David grumbled.

"Talk to Colby then."

David gave a wry nod. He picked up the chair that had tumbled over when he'd stood up. He opened his mouth to ask, How can I love Matt so much and understand him so little? But a different question came out instead-

"So just what did you do at the Guild?"

 

Chapter Text

Some Discussions (Are Enlightening)-

When Will didn't answer, David repeated, "So what did you do at the Guild?"

Will's eyes were hooded. "It was a long time ago."

"Surely you remember," David needled.

"Not necessarily," Will said, his voice perfectly even.

David knew he should stop asking, but it was too tempting. "You don't remember or you don't want to admit it? Something that was too kinky even for you?"

In that same quiet, unemotional voice, Will said, "More likely it was so similar to what I did every day that the venue hardly made an impression."

David stared at him. "What?"

Will looked at him for a long time. Finally, he said, "I was in a relationship at the time that required constant sexual subservience. Whether it was to my Master, or to any of his many friends, it hardly made a difference."

David felt like his eyes were going to fall out from staring. "You? The Great Will Stevens?"

"Sinclair," Will snapped. "I know that Don considers you family, but you are making me regret telling you."

"I don't get it," David said. "I can see doing it occasionally, but why would you want to live that as a lifestyle?"

"It wasn't a choice," Will growled. "I didn't have anything else to sell."

"… Um, what?"

"Drugs, Sinclair," Will said roughly. "I did whatever he wanted me to, with whomever he wanted me to, wherever he wanted it, and he gave me all the coke I could snort."

"Y-you?" David stuttered.

"It's why I went into the DEA. You'd be surprised how many DEA agents have similar-oh, shit."

David blinked. "What?"

Will gave him a bright, terrifying smile. "Now that you've reminded me of the Guild, I'll have to tell Don about it. And he'll probably burn it to the ground."

 

Chapter Text

Some Battles (Are Quietly Fought)-

Don had almost reached the office where Will and David were about to go for each other's throats - when David suddenly turned away and banged his fists against the wall. Will looked through the glass door at Don, as if he knew that Don would be there, gun halfway out of its holster, ready to come to Will's defense. Or to David's defense, if David didn't get his gun out fast enough to counteract Will's speed and deadliness.

But David had turned away. Will met Don's eyes and shook his head. Don frowned, but reholstered his gun and found an empty chair nearby. He didn't want to be far away the next time the fireworks started.

Will and David began talking again, and after a moment, David sat back down. The tension in the room remained high, though, almost as if the interrogation room was being used for its FBI purpose. Will seemed as much under attack as David did, however. Don had to grip his hands tightly together when Will's face went blank. Don knew Will's minute expressions very well and this meant David had just asked Will something very personal, probably about his painful past. Will's jaw was tight, and under the table, he was digging his fingers into his own leg.

What surprised Don, however, is that Will kept talking. Whatever he said next obviously shocked David and Don saw Will take a grim satisfaction in that shock.

Don felt a sharp pain in his hands and realized he had almost broken his fingers with his own grip. Shaking his hands, he watched Will and David continue to talk and wondered if he should have gone in before, regardless of Will's warning him off. It looked like David and Will were tearing each other up after all.

 

Chapter Text




Some Implications (Need to be Considered)-

David stared at Will. "Why would Don want to burn it down?"

"It's… I can't guarantee…" Will sat back in his chair and smoothed stray hairs away from his face. "Okay. There are two camps in the DEA - the legalizers and the strict-law people. The legalizers want lesser drugs like marijuana to be legalized so that we can focus on the really bad guys and the really destructive drugs. Also, so those lesser drugs can be regulated, made safer. It probably doesn't surprise you that I'm a legalizer."

"This has to do with… what?" David said with irritation. Will loved to hear himself talk.

"I think the same about prostitution. People are going to do it. If it was legal, it could be made safer for everyone, especially the sex workers."

"Wait, are you calling the Guild a whorehouse?"

"No, not really, though I'm sure there are some 'professionals' there. It's just that…" Will shifted again, looking uncomfortable. David had to admit that he enjoyed seeing Will squirm. "I haven't been to the Guild in years and I'm sure the secret location has moved a couple of times since then, but I imagine the setup is the same - one big room and many smaller private rooms."

David frowned. He'd been so distracted by the activities in the big room that he hadn't thought about what might happen further into the building.

Will nodded at David's expression. "Maybe it's just for privacy, but maybe things happen in those rooms that are illegal and also in most people's eyes immoral or even evil."

"Huh."

"The Guild 'regulates' such activities, making them safer and maybe better for those that aren't… in control of the situation."

David shuddered at what Will was implying. "Forget Don. I might need to burn the place down myself."

 

Chapter Text

Some Burdens (May Be Unwelcome)-

"Hang on," Will said. "Before we start lighting the torches, let me check with a friend at LAPD Vice."

Will got out his cellphone and stepped out of the office. Glumly, David watched him go. What was he supposed to tell Matt now? That he'd wanted to take him to a place than even Will Stevens wanted to burn down?

And as for Will Stevens… David stared through the glass wall as Will paced in the hallway and talked on his phone. David couldn't reconcile the Will Stevens he knew with the image of a younger, drugged-out sex slave.

Why had Will even told him? He said it was because Don considers David family. I guess to Don 'family' means you tell each other things. Nice rosy view. To David, 'family' meant 'keep your mouth shut.'

David rubbed his forehead. He didn't want this new insight into Will. He much preferred it when the man was just an irritation that he tolerated because Don was happy. David now felt burdened by Will's revelation, just as he himself had always tried to avoid burdening others. Matt knew about David's childhood sexual abuse by his brothers, and Matt was the only one who needed to know. After David's revelation, Matt had stayed with him, still loved him. With Matt, David didn't feel weak, he felt warm and understood. But anyone else? David didn't need the pity and the gossip.

So now I know more about Will. He's still a bastard. Just because there might be a reason for it doesn't make him any less of an arrogant, I'm-too-cool-for-you bastard.

David stared impatiently at Will while he finished his call. Finally, Will pushed open the office door.

"Well," said Will with a crooked smile. "We don't need to light the torches just yet."

 

Chapter Text


Some Speculations (Might Be Off-Base)–

Don was about to break into David and Will’s conversation when Will stood up, pulled out his cellphone, and stepped out of the office. Before Don could say anything, Will was talking to someone on his phone and pacing the hall.

Drugs, it has to be drugs. Why else would Will need to call someone? Will didn’t look furious, so David hadn’t accused Don of anything. Matt, then. Matt had to be on drugs. Was it the stress of his job or his secret romance? Maybe it had started with uppers. Charlie had dabbled with uppers once as a teenager. Charlie had hated all the possible math time he’d ‘wasted’ sleeping. Mom nipped that in the bud. She wouldn’t even let him drink much coffee.

If Matt was into amphetamines, it was a tragedy – Matt had a great mind. Maybe not at Charlie’s level, but Matt was also a lot more functional and a great team player. Charlie would make a terrible lab tech – or doing anything that required organization, deadlines or admitting that anyone else might be right.

Don almost smiled at the image of Charlie in a lab tech coat and floundering, but then he remembered Matt’s situation. If David had gone to Will, it was probably a problem with a supplier or other criminals. No wonder David looked so frantic, if Matt was in that deep of trouble. Matt’s drug use couldn’t be that high, though, since he didn’t have any of the obvious physical signs of a heavy user.

Fortunately Will’s call was short and he was soon heading back into the room with David, so Don had to abandon his wild speculations. Don tensed, ready to burst into the room. David might get some bad news and just be angry enough to attack the messenger.

 

Chapter Text

Some News (Gets Mixed Reactions)—

“Good news,” Will said as he sat back down. “My friend in LAPD Vice says they’ve run multiple in-depth undercover investigations into the Guild and never found any evidence of—how did he put it—‘forced participation by children, animals, or anyone incapable of giving true consent.”

David grimaced. “Animals?”

“Yeah,” Will said, mirroring his expression, then continued, “He said that there are persistent rumors of a Guild Two that is even more underground and deals in things like children or animals, but ‘diligent and regular investigations’ by Vice have been unable to turn up a shred of evidence that such a place actually exists.”

“That’s good,” David said. To even contemplate such a place made his stomach turn over. He’d pour the gasoline and light the torches himself.

“That’s not to say that there aren’t ‘paid participants’ at the real Guild,” Will said wryly. “The Guild hires them as ‘independent contractors’ for ‘special hosting duties’.”

“Prostitutes.”

“Yes, but surprisingly rare. My friend said that Vice estimates at least 95% of participants are actually paying the Guild to be there. That percentage means Vice has never bothered to bust any of the sex workers.”

“Hmm.”

“I’m glad that’s cleared up.” Will’s face turned thoughtful. “I always felt safer at the Guild than at the house where I stayed. I bet many sex workers – whether paid or coerced – feel the same. The Guild’s a controlled, supervised environment.”

“So now you’re saying it’s a good place?”

“Well… I wouldn’t invite my sister there or anyone that was at all squeamish, but it’s good that there’s a place that certain people can go.”

David sat back in his chair and eyed Will. “So we come back to the original question – Are Matt and I ‘certain people’ or would we be the squeamish ones?”


 

Chapter Text

Some Lines of Inquiry (Are Too Close)-

"I don't know if you're squeamish," Will said with a wicked twinkle in his eye. "But what's the kinkiest thing you've ever done?"

David actually started reviewing possibilities in his mind before he snapped, "None of your business!"

"Well, in the main room of the Guild, it's everyone's business."

"In masks," David reminded him. "And not people I know."

"At least you don't think so."

David rolled his eyes. "I think I can safely assume so."

"Well," Will leaned forward and said softly. "We already know that you're not bothered by incest."

David jerked back. How did Will know about the sexual abuse by David's brothers? Had he guessed or had Matt told him? No, Matt would never tell and they would never tell. They were safely in prison, weren't they?

Will was looking at him oddly.

"Oh!" David said with sudden understanding. "Don and Charlie!"

Will held up his hands to quiet him. "Your fantasy about Don and Charlie, right?'  

"Of course," David said, belatedly remembering that, while no one should be listening to them, they were in the FBI office. The fact that David had talked Don and Charlie into a threesome was much too dangerous to say out loud. "My fantasy that I told you about."

Will nodded, but he was still looking at David a little too sharply. David hoped he appeared calm, but Will was doing even more than his usual damage to David's cool.

"Does Matt know?" Will asked.

This time David thought before he answered, "About my fantasy?"

"What else could I be talking about?"

David glared at him. "Yes, Matt knows."

Will nodded, as if David had answered both questions. "And he was okay with it?"

"He was understandably upset," David snapped. "But I told him that was all past."

"Well," Will said slowly. "Maybe there's hope for you two, yet."

 

Chapter Text

Some Risks (Must Be Weighed)—

David gritted his teeth and clenched his hands into fists. He’d wanted to hit Will before, but never as much as now. Will’s sympathetic, knowing look was making David’s blood boil.

“It’s so generous of you to think there’s hope for Matt and I,” David snapped.

Will nodded, seeming to ignore the sarcasm. “I really do think so. Knowing about your… past and not—”

“Knowing about my ‘fantasy’,” David interrupted.

“Of course. Knowing about your ‘fantasy’ and not thinking less of you is a promising sign for Matt’s ability to absorb the shock of what he’ll see at the Guild.”

David forgot his anger in a rush of relief. “You think so?”

“I can’t guarantee, but it’s promising,” Will said, but then shook his head. “Though I still think it’s too risky.”

“I’ve never seen you shrink from risk.”

Will answered soberly, “If there was a good chance of losing Don, of having him walk away from me? That’s too risky.”

David sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Maybe I’m the one who can’t live with the secret anymore.”

“Maybe so.”

“Something’s got to change.”

Will nodded and they sat in silence.

David didn’t have anything else to say, and he wanted to escape Will’s sharp eyes. He wanted to get home to Matt, whose gaze was warm and understanding, not cool and speculative.

“Well,” David said, pushing his chair back and standing up. “It’s late.”

“I’m glad you felt you could talk to me.”

David shot Will a glare, but the bastard seemed sincere. David nodded and pushed open the office door.

“Do you have a time frame?” Will asked.

David hesitated, then said, “A few weeks. There’s a lot of prep to do.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

Then David did his best not to look like he was fleeing.

 

Chapter Text

Some Expressions (Reveal Too Much)-

Don watched as Will relayed to David whatever he'd heard on the phone. David looked relieved, then sickened, then he suddenly jerked away from Will. The look on David's face was one that Don had rarely seen even in the worst of situations... Fear. David always stayed cool even when he was being yelled at, shot at, or trapped in an elevator with a raving psycho. The only time that Don had seen David go totally berserk was when Colby had been thought to be a spy, and that had been pure rage. This was mouth-going-dry, hands-clammy-with-sweat, blood-draining-from-the-face fear. Was Matt's life in danger?

Don was so distracted by David's unusual expression that he almost missed the next flare-up. David suddenly looked like he could chew glass and Will had that calm, sympathetic but somehow condescending look that had been known to push Don over the edge.

Then abruptly, David's anger was gone and he was almost smiling. He and Will talked a little more, then David stood up and walked out of the interrogation room.

David gave Don a short nod as he hurried past. He swung by his desk, grabbed his coat, and was standing at the elevator, jabbing the down button, before Don had the chance to ask what had just happened.

Don was staring at David's tense back when Will came and leaned against the desk next to him.

Don demanded, "Well? What was that all about?"

"Tell you later," Will said quietly. "In private."

Don was about to ask more, when he looked at Will's face. Will had that particular conflicted look that Don recognized on any law enforcement agent - the satisfaction of solving a difficult case mixed with the grim realization that the answer to the mystery was far worse than he had imagined.

 

Chapter Text

Some Disbelief (Is Reasonable)-

After David left, Don and Will followed suit. They travelled in silence to the parking garage and got into Will's car. Don then turned to Will, assuming he'd been waiting for privacy.

However, Will started the car. Don's stomach twisted into knots. Will didn't want to have to look at Don while talking. That was a very bad sign.

"Will?" Don pleaded.

Eyes forward, Will asked, "Is there anything in David's file about being a victim of child abuse?"

Completely thrown, Don replied without thinking. "David? No way, he's too strong."

Will's whole body tensed, his hands viselike on the steering wheel. Don realized his mistake immediately.

"I didn't mean that," Don said, waving his hands in apology. "I know anyone can be a victim of abuse, that it doesn't mean you're weak. It's just that David doesn't show any of the classic signs of an adult victim of child abuse."

Will's death grip on the wheel loosened and Don sighed in relief.

"On the contrary," Will said, though he still wasn't looking at Don, "I think David shows many of the signs - inability to commit to a relationship, having sex with others regardless of the consequences …"

Don gave a wry laugh. "Will, you've just described most guys."

Will finally gave Don a small smile. "True. But would most guys stay in a committed, covert relationship for as long a time as he has with Matt?"

"It's odd," Don admitted. "But I figured it was just because David's finally fallen in love."

"Maybe that's all it is," Will said. "But I think that David's past is worse than he wants anyone to know."

Don had to shake his head. "This got by the FBI's shrinks but you somehow figured it out?"

"I didn't figure it out. He told me."

 

Chapter Text

Some Acceptance (Comes Slowly) -

"He told you?" Don asked in disbelief. "He kept it secret all these years then just told you?"

"He didn't actually tell me, per se," Will admitted. "But he was in an emotional, out-of-control state and he gave himself away."

"I can't see… Wait." Don suddenly remembered that moment of fear he'd seen on David's face. Could that have been because he'd realized Will had figured it out? That would certainly account for the pure terror that David had shown.

"David?" Don said again, shaking his head. "I just don't see it."

"A family member, I'm guessing a brother, and from his reaction, I'm guessing that it wasn't once or twice but long-term."

"I…I don't understand. How could he … Why would he hide it? He's got to know by now that silence only helps the abuser."

Will shrugged. "He must have been really young when it started. It probably powers him now, drives his need for justice for others."

Don blew out a breath. "I'm going to have to think about this. About what to do."

"He needs counseling."

"Maybe."

"No 'maybe', it's an automatic."

Don bit back a sharp response. Counseling was the last thing a private person like David would want. Don had needed to be dragged there kicking and screaming himself.

"Poor David," Don said. "With what's going on with Matt and then this. You sure he knows that you know?"

"Yeah, I was stupid and so surprised - then realized it made so much sense - that I let him know that I figured it out. It's even worse that it's me that knows."

"Yeah, you're not exactly each other's biggest fan."

"No. And he knows I'll tell you, so he has to deal with you knowing, too."

"I can't imagine what he's going through right now."

 

Chapter Text

Some Exposure (Is Devastating)-

David was shaking so much by the time he got home that it took several attempts to open the car door. The apartment door was even more difficult. He fumbled it closed and leaned against it, breathing hard.

"Hey," called Matt from the kitchen. "I'm going to try that whole wheat pizza-what's wrong?" He set down a cup of flour and hurried over to David.

"It's nothing, baby," David said, but he pulled Matt into a hard hug.

"Bull," Matt snapped, squirming in David's arms. "What happened? Did somebody … get hurt?"

"No," David replied quickly. "Everybody's fine."

"Except you."

"No, I'm-"

"Talk to me, David."

David sighed. He knew that Matt would harass him until he explained. Releasing his death-grip on Matt, David closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the door. "Will knows."

"Knows what?"

"About my brothers."

"And the…?"

"What they did to me," David said tightly. "What they did to me for years and no one else knew and just out of the blue that smug bastard figured it out."

"Oh, honey." Matt put one hand on David's chest. "I'm so sorry. What did he say?"

"He didn't have to say anything, it was there on his know-it-all face."

"You're sure?"

"He was looking at me like he was about to break out in psychoanalysis right there."

"But maybe he doesn't-"

David pushed away from the door and away from Matt. "He knows." He flung his coat at the nearby chair. "He'll tell Don, because he tells him everything. Soon everyone will know. It'll all start now - the pity and disgust and questions, 'Why didn't you tell someone?' and 'Did it make you gay?'" David put his head in his hands. "Oh God, there goes my career, there goes my life."

 

Chapter Text

Some Lenses (Are Warped) -

Matt kneeled in front of David's chair and put his hands on David's knees. He wanted to cry, to yell, but he reminded himself what was at stake and kept his voice calm.

"David, I love you," he said quietly. "Nothing can change that. No matter what happens, you'll always have me."

"Oh, baby," David said and reached out to hug Matt's shoulders and bury his face against Matt's neck.

Matt felt a sudden, fierce protectiveness for this man who had such strength, yet hid such pain at his core.

"Don won't tell anybody," Matt said firmly.

"Maybe," said David's muffled voice. "But he'll look at me and I hate pity. And he'll know that he can't trust me." David sat up, pulling Matt onto his lap. He rested his face against Matt's chest. "I lied, Matt. I lied on the FBI entrance exam, in interviews, in investigations. I've gotten asked many times about my brothers in prison and I have to pretend that I'm sad they're in jail, when really I hope they die there."

"Don won't care about those kinds of lies."

"He has to care, it's his job. He'll realize I'm weak and unreliable."

"No way, he knows better."

David sighed. "I've seen it happen too often. Something comes to light and suddenly you're no longer a person but a victim. You're dirty, broken-everything you do is viewed through the lens of how defective you are."

"But you're not defective," Matt protested.

David sighed again. "Yes, baby, I am."

"That was so long ago! You were just a kid!"

"I should have told someone, done something. Instead I let it happen over and over. Maybe I even liked it."

"No!" Matt cried out. "You had no choice. You're a survivor, you survived."

"Maybe I shouldn't have."

 

Chapter Text

Some People (Simply Survive)-

"No!" Matt said, tears spilling out of his eyes. "No! I wish I could go back and kill those bastards! They are the ones that are defective, not you."

"That's sweet of you, baby, but-"

"And where was your mom?" Matt demanded, finally asking a question that bothered him for a long time.

"Hey," David snapped, pulling back and looking Matt in the face. "She did what she could. It was enough work to just keep us all alive. Besides, she was scared of Mick, we all were."

"Mick?" Matt prodded carefully. David had never used his brother's name before.

"He was bigger than my mom by the time he was ten and he wasn't one of those guys that 'fell into' gang life, he chased it down. He loved being a gangbanger." David gave a dark laugh that hurt to hear. "He probably loves prison."

"And the other …?"

"Isaac-Ike-always wanted to be just like Mick. He followed him everywhere, into the gangs, into prison."

"Into your bed," Matt said then held his breath, wondering if that was too far.

"Whatever Mick had, Ike wanted," David said bitterly. "Lucky for me he wasn't as big as Mick, and I wasn't so small anymore. Mick was gone by then and so I just had to beat Ike. My mom helped, when she could."

"So she knew."

David nodded and Matt saw tears finally welling up in David's eyes. "She knew. She used to patch me up afterwards. I think she was just happy he left the girls alone."

Matt got to his feet, unable to sit still with his anger anymore. "It was okay that he kept attacking you, though."

"He had to hurt someone," David said softly. "I'd much rather it was me than anyone else."

 

Chapter Text



Some Breathing (Is Required)-

"Oh God, oh God, oh God," Matt said, pacing and waving his hands in agitation. He was pretty sure he was still crying, too. "That's just so awful."

David was just sitting in the chair, silently watching him.

"That's just so sad and horrible," Matt continued. He tried to remember what he was supposed to say now based on all the reading he'd done on supporting adult abuse survivors. He couldn't think, though. He was just sick and angry and wanted to hit something.

Finally a coherent thought came through. "I don't understand. If you did it to protect your family, why do you feel weak and defective? It worked, right?"

David looked away from Matt. "I let it go on too long. I should have stopped it sooner, protected my family another way. I should have stood up to him much earlier, and never let Ike do it at all."

"He's how much older than you?"

"Seven years."

"How could you have done anything about it?"

David's voice was very soft and heavy. "Gotten a gun, shot him."

"What? You feel guilty because you didn't kill your brother?" Matt giggled, edging into hysteria. "That's crazy!"

David didn't look at him, didn't reply.

Matt felt wild, his heart jumping in his chest. "Is he still alive in jail? I could kill him for you, make it look like an accident, like he choked on his mashed potatoes or something." That giggle escaped again. He was still pacing wildly and the room seemed to be lacking air.

Then somehow he was on the floor and David was bent over him. "Breathe."

David helped him sit up and lean against the chair.

"I need to do something," Matt said weakly.

David pulled him close. "You already do, baby," he murmured. "Every day."


Chapter Text

Some Gold (In the Dung) –

“I mean, really do something!” Matt protested. “He needs to pay!”

“He’s already in jail.”

“But you said that he probably liked it there!” Matt said, then realized David was shaking. That made him feel awful in a whole new way. “God, David, I’m talking about revenge and you’re…”

Matt flung his arms around David. “Don’s not going to fire you or anything like that.”

A long moment then David replied, “But he should. I’ve been lying to him for a long time.”

“Then come clean! He won’t fire you, he better not fire you. I’ll beat him up.”

David laughed – weakly, but it was a laugh.

“I could, you know,” Matt said.

“I know, baby,” David said, and Matt heard life creeping back into his voice. “Then we’d have to deal with Will.”

“I could take him, too,” Matt said, though he wasn’t as sure.

“Now that I’d love to see,” David said with a genuine smile.

Matt grinned. Then he was serious again. “I’m sorry if it sounded like I was blaming your mom.”

David’s smile weakened, but still stayed on his lips. “She called me her ‘Golden Boy’. She said I was the one going places.”

“And you did!” Matt said. “FBI special agent in LA, wow! I bet she’s proud of you.”

David nodded. “She would be.”

“She’s…passed away?”

“Yeah, though not before I’d gotten into college.”

“Think she’s looking down at you?”

David gave his one shoulder shrug that said he didn’t really want to talk about it. Matt was happy to let that particular subject drop. There were a lot of other things he wanted to talk about, like just what David and Will had been talking about where that had come up.

But they could both use a break. “So… pizza?”

 

Chapter Text

Some Moments (Of Quiet)-

David found it comforting to watch Matt make pizza. Matt had been having difficulties getting consistently good dough, so he'd addressed the problem in a very Matt way - with graph paper, measurements and meticulous notes. He kept track of everything from the yeast temperature to the mixer speed to the flour disbursement rate.

Matt would get very focused on projects, his forehead furrowed and his mouth pursed as he leveled out the flour with a knife. David could just lean against the wall, watch his lover work, and try to get himself to stop shaking.

The last twenty-four hours had been very intense, from arguing with Matt, then an evening of dark, edgy sex, to worrying about the Guild, through to the conversation with Will that had taken so many unexpected turns. Then telling Matt things that he'd never told anyone, never even said out loud before. David hadn't thought of Mick and Ike by name for years. He'd never responded to requests to appear at their parole hearings - though he always checked later to confirm parole had been denied. After his mom's death, he had interacted with his family as little as possible, even ignoring the occasional Christmas card from his sisters or baby brother. He knew he had nieces and nephews he'd never met, but as far as he was concerned, his family only existed in the past tense.

With a careful plop, Matt dropped the pizza dough into a greased bowl. He placed a towel over the bowl then began to stack dirty dishes in the sink.

David needed to use the bathroom before helping Matt clean up. He was looking at his tired face in the mirror when he heard a scratching sound. Frowning, he turned around - and found the bathroom door had been jammed shut.

Chapter Text

Some Musings (Between Beers)-

Don sat on the back porch by himself and nursed a beer. He had so many questions for Will, the chief being how Will had tricked David into revealing a secret he'd kept his whole life. Don doubted Will had planned it, but he had a way of just worming his way to the truth of any matter. Remembering the first time he'd talked with Will, Don still had a hard time believing that he had told so much to a complete stranger. A complete stranger who had just saved my career and my life and I was lying naked and bloody in his bed. Oh, and he's nice to look at.

Don laughed at himself and looked towards the house. He couldn't see Will in the kitchen but could hear him moving around, making dinner. Don had suggested they pick up food but Will found cooking soothing and his nerves must be as jangled as Don's by David's stunning revelation.

David, sexually abused, long-term, by a brother.

What was Don supposed to make of that? The horribleness of it, then hiding it all these years.

Don remembered that two of David's brothers were in jail. Could it be one of those? At least it saved Don the need to track down David's abuser, like he'd tracked down the man who molested teenage Will. Actually, it was Megan who tracked him down. Maybe I should talk to her now. No, this wasn't his secret to tell. Or was it? From the FBI's prospective, David was now a liability who couldn't be trusted with abuse cases or maybe any cases at all.

Don's cell phone rang and he sighed. Couldn't work leave him alone for one evening?

He glanced at the Caller ID, then quickly answered it with "Matt? David okay?"

Chapter Text

Some Closed Doors (Should Remain Closed) -

David tried the door again but it was jammed shut. "Matt?"

"Sorry, David," came Matt's muffled voice through the door. "I can't sit here and do nothing."

"What?" David said in alarm.

David heard Matt move away. "I'm just going to call Don."

"No, no, no, no," David called out. "Maybe I was wrong, maybe Will doesn't know or he won't tell Don."

"I'll be quick."

"Matt, baby, come on …" David said, trying for calm. "Let's talk about-"

He heard the sound of Matt's phone. His heart jumped and he pounded on the door. "Matt, goddammit, don't confirm it!"

David heard Matt talking quietly.

He must be on the phone.

Talking to Don.

About me.

David leaned his back against the door and gently banged his head. It made a thunking sound that matched the thudding of his heart. He wanted to hear what Matt was saying and he didn't want to. He wanted to stop Matt and he didn't want to. He tried the door again, just for form's sake.

My boyfriend is talking to my boss about my brother. The phrase went singsongy in his mind. Boyyyfriend, bossss, brotherrr… Everyone was going to know. Colby would ask why he didn't trust him enough. Charlie would quote statistics on how likely David was to abuse his own children. Megan would psychoanalyze him. Liz would stop talking to him. Nikki would be too nice. The rest of the office would look at him sideways and talk behind their hands. Even his relationship with Matt - he didn't think that it could stand the extra strain of the gossip. Or of David having to get a job as a waiter at a Mexican restaurant.

At least the question of the Guild is solved. I won't have anyone to take.
 

Chapter Text

Some Dialogue (On a Touchy Topic) ---

"Matt? David okay?"

"Yes, I mean, no … Look, I don't know how long I can keep David trapped in the bathroom-"

"What?"

"So we need to talk fast."

"What's going on?"

"I need to know if Will said anything to you about David's past."

"Um…"

"What did he say?"

"Well, that he suspected, though it may be just his imagination-"

"Spit it out."

"Okay, maybe he thought David might have had some… negative experiences in his childhood-"

"Spit it out, Don. That screwdriver isn't going to hold for long."

"God, Matt, I can't just say something like that!"

"I'll help you. Make a sentence using the words 'abuse' and 'brother'."

"Damn, it's true then?"

"Make a sentence."

"Okay, fine. Will thinks that David was abused by his brother."

"Brothers, but mostly one. For years."

"Shit."

"Yes, shit. But what are you going do about it?"

"What?"

"David thinks you're going to ruin his life."

"He should know me better."

"So you aren't going to fire him?"

"I don't think so, but I have to find out the policy-"

"Promise you won't fire him."

"Matt, I can't just-"

"Promise me."

"But I need to think-"

"Promise!"

Silence.

"Okay, Matt, I'll promise that I won't fire David-"

"Good."

"Only if David goes to counseling of some sort."

"I don't know if-"

"That's the deal."

Silence.

"Okay, I'll make it happen. But don't ever bring it up again."

"The counseling or …?"

"Anything. And don't you dare pity him or look down on him."

"I wouldn't-"

"He feels guilty enough."

"That's why he needs-"

"Gotta go."

Don stared at the silent phone then fumbled open another beer.

Matt took a deep breath and pulled out the screwdriver from the bathroom door frame.

 

Chapter Text

Some Deals (Have Been Made Without You)-

The bathroom door opened to reveal Matt's anxious face. Before David could say anything, Matt said, "Don promised he wouldn't fire you."

David blinked in surprise. A promise from Don meant something.

"If you get some counseling," Matt added.

"No."

"It's the deal."

"No," David said again. He'd spent his entire life avoiding counselors and other people that wanted to pry open his brain.

"It doesn't have to be a Bureau shrink," Matt continued. "It can be someone private, or a religious person."

"No and no," David said, trying to push past Matt.

Matt stood his ground, folding his arms and raising his chin. "Listen, I made a deal. If you want to keep your job, you need to talk to someone. I don't care if you sneak into an AA meeting or call one of those psychic hotlines, just someone."

"I talk to you," David said.

"Someone other than your idiot boyfriend who can't hear details without going hysterical and almost fainting."

David tried a smile. "But you're cute when you're hysterical."

Matt glared at him. "I mean it."

David shook his head. "You don't know what you're asking. They will rip apart my life. I've finally gotten to a good place with my job and you, and they'll shred me into little pieces."

"No, they won't."

"They can't help it. It's their job to smash through walls and I'm quite happy with those walls."

"We know that they're not leak-proof."

"Okay," David admitted. "Occasionally things trigger me, but I have you to get me through them."

"So where you are now is good enough?"

"Don't you think so?"

"No," Matt said flatly. "It's taken me a long time to realize it, but the status quo is not good enough. I want more. Even if it shreds us both."

 

Chapter Text

Some Arguments (Can't End Well)-


David stared at Matt, thinking how Will had said that some things were too risky.

"Baby," David said softly. "Is it really worth losing what we have now, for some theoretical 'more'?"

Tears showed in Matt's eyes. "I don't want to lose you. I want to help you."

"You do help me. Don't your books say that being in a loving relationship helps me?"

Matt flushed. He must not have realized that David was aware of his reading about helping someone who'd been sexually abused.

"Okay," Matt admitted. "But there's a limit to how much you can heal without counseling."

"'Heal'?" David echoed, his anger rising in spite of himself. "That's counseling bullshit. There is no 'heal'. There's only forgetting the bad memories and replacing them with good."

"Papering over the wound."

"You've been reading too much," David snapped, pushing past Matt.

"Probably."

David threw himself into a chair and covered his eyes with his hand. "You really want to risk everything? You hate the status quo that much?"

"I just think things could be better."

David heard Matt go into the kitchen and start cleaning up. David said, "Relationships aren't pizza crust. You can't just fiddle until you get the outcome you want."

"It's not 'fiddling'," Matt said, banging the dirty dishes loudly. "It's called 'working' on a relationship'."

"Since when have you wanted to work on this relationship, Li? Before or after you decided that it had to be secret?"

"That's not fair," Matt snapped. "That's a different issue."

"That you don't want to work on."

"You're just changing the subject!"

"Fine," David growled. "If you're so ready to push things until they break…" David got to his feet and headed for the stairs.

"Where are you going?" Matt demanded.

"To get the phone number of the Guild."

 

Chapter Text

Some Misunderstandings (Carry On) -

Don watched Will push spaghetti around on his plate. Will had made a delicious creamy basil sauce, but neither of them was hungry.

"Gonna talk to me anytime soon?" Don asked.

Will smiled faintly. "Yeah, just… the conversation with David brought back certain… memories."

Don nodded. If Matt was into drugs like Don thought, it would remind Will of his own druggie days.

Finally Will set down his fork. "Have you ever heard of The Guild of Retired Royal Glassblowers?"

"The what?"

"It's a sex club," Will said. "A very unusual one."

"Huh?" Don said, once again thrown by Will's opening remark.

"David wanted to know if I thought Matt might like going there."

"To get his mind off of it?"

Now Will looked confused. "Mind off of what?"

"His drug issues."

"Who's drug issues?"

"Matt's."

"Matt has drug issues?"

"Of course he does," Don said. "Why else would David need to talk to you?"

"About drugs?"

"You know," Don said, feeling less certain, "Because you're DEA. And, well, you've had your own drug issues, though I don't know if David knew that."

"He does now," Will said. "Because I told him. I thought you'd want me to."

"So he'd feel better about Matt's issues?"

"Well, Matt's 'issues' are the whole problem, though they're really David's issues, too."

"Right, because he cares about Matt."

"If David didn't care about Matt, there wouldn't be a problem."

"Of course there would be a problem! Matt needs help!"

"I want to help them both but I don't know if this is the way to do it."

"An intervention?"

"A what?"

"Or rehab?"

"I wouldn't call the Guild 'rehab'."

"You said it was a sex club!"

Don and Will glared at each other. Then both picked up their forks and stabbed at their plate of spaghetti

Chapter Text

Some Talking (Around Each Other)-

Don stood up from the table and got another beer from the fridge - Bud, even though Will had served a microbrew honey ale with supper.

He opened the bottle and tried again. "Is it uppers?"

Will stared at him. "What in God's Name are you talking about?"

"Matt's drug problem," Don said with deliberate slowness. "What David came to you about."

Will shook his head. "I don't know anything about that. David came to talk to me about the Guild."

"Not about drugs?"

"No, though I'm sorry to hear about Matt. What is he into?"

"But I thought…" Don said, flushing. "You didn't call your office about Matt's dealer or something like that?"

"No-o. I called a buddy at Vice to check on the Guild."

"So Matt doesn't have a drug problem?"

"I don't know, does he?"

"Why are you asking me? You're the drug dog."

"So," Will snapped. "I'm supposed to 'sniff out' anyone who has a drug problem?"

"Well, it's your job," Don said, "It's reasonable that you'd know the signs."

"I haven't seen Matt in weeks!"

"Yes, you did, at Charlie's thing the other night."

"I didn't exactly talk with him during Charlie's presentation."

"You don't think he's on drugs?"

"No …"

"Then why did you make me think that he did?"

"I didn't say anything about it!"

"Yes, you did, you talked about Matt's 'problem'!"

Will threw up his hands. "Matt's problem is that he doesn't believe he's gay!"

Don pulled up short and blinked. "Oh that old problem."

"Ye-ees," Will drawled snidely. "That old problem."

"David came to talk to you about that?"

"No, about whether to take Matt to the Guild."

"The sex club?"

"Yes! The goddamned out-there sex club!"

"Oh," Don said, sitting back down at the table. "Why didn't you say so?"

 

Chapter Text

Some Definitions (To Chew On)---

"Dense as a black hole," Will snapped. He reached over and took a swig of Don's Budweiser, then made a terrible face. "Nasty."

"Snob," Don said cheerfully. "So tell me about this club."

Will took a slow drink of his own beer before answering. "'The Guild of Retired Royal Glassblowers.'"

"The what?"

"My guess is because the initials are G.R.R.G. and if you say 'R.G.', it sounds like 'orgy'. So the name is orgy backwards and forwards."

"Huh."

"It's very secret- you arrive in a car with blacked-out windows and everyone wears masks."

"Whoa."

"Anything and everything goes there. And most of it goes on in a huge room where everyone can see everyone else's… activities."

Don teased, "Why haven't you taken me there?"

"I don't think you'd like it."

Don's eyebrows shot up. "Why not?"

Will played with his fork for a moment. "Do you know the difference between a kink and a fetish?"

Don was used to Will's seeming non-sequiturs. "No."

"A kink is something that you sometimes enjoy with sex. A fetish is something that you can't have sex without. Like I enjoy being tied up sometimes, but a fetishist is someone who can't get aroused unless they are tied up."

"So they like just one thing, what's so bad about that?"

"It goes beyond 'liking' to something nearly pathological. Many serial killers are fetishists."

"So it's a sex club for serial killers?"

"No, it's just…" Will sighed. "Sometimes you see people there that don't seem to be enjoying themselves - they're more frenzied or… psychologically sick."

"Some people would say anything we do is sick."

"True."

Don drummed his fingers on the table. "So how did David get from 'Should I take Matt to this weird sex club' to 'Let me tell you my deepest, darkest secret'?"

 

Chapter Text


Some Reminders (Are Uncomfortable)—

Will gave Don an oddly embarrassed look. “I was trying to test his kink level, so I reminded him that he obviously doesn’t mind incest.”

“God, why would you say that?”

“He’s actively promoted it, in fact.”

“Huh?”

Will cleared his throat. “You and Charlie. Sex, hotel, then sex, Watson?”

“Oh,” Don grimaced. “Don’t remind me of that, it was weird and far away from the real world.”

“From my understanding, David really maneuvered you and Charlie into it the first time.”

“You were the one maneuvering us the second time.”

“True, because you and Charlie had left some things unfinished and possibilities hanging. I never would have suggested it out of the blue like David did. I would honestly prefer that it had never happened, though I have to admit that it was a lot of fun for the rest of us…”

Don shook his head as the memories resurfaced. “Great, now I’m going to have to forget all over again. Remembering me and Charlie together is creepy.”

“Interesting,” Will said.

Don gave Will a glare but Will’s thoughtful expression showed that he was off on his own track.

Will said, “I wonder if, by getting you and your brother to engage in sex, David was attempting to ‘normalize’ incestuous relationships?”

“‘Normalize’?” Don snapped. “That’s psychobabble bullshit, there is no normal here. How can you call something like that normal?”

Will looked at him, eyebrows raised, and Don realized that he’d been shouting.

“Sorry,” Don said, taking a breath. “Just don’t call sex with your brother ‘normal’. Not in any world.”

“No, I just meant that David might have been wanting to pretend that it was. I’d say that it’s generally a monumentally bad idea.” Will peered at him. “But that’s not really why you were shouting, was it?”

 

Chapter Text


Some Changes (Aren't) -

"Are you okay?" Will asked.

Don rubbed the heel of his hand against his forehead. "No, I'm not. I just found out a good friend of mine, someone I rely on every day, that he…" He sighed and tried to rein in his racing emotions. "I feel like I was ambushed by Matt. I don't know if David needs counseling, but it's all I could think of."

"And?"

"And it makes sense, learning this terrible thing about David, it fits, and I don't want it to. Knowing something like that about a person shouldn't suddenly explain them, and I'm falling into that trap of 'so that's why he did that' and I hate it. I don't want this to change how I feel about David. It shouldn't change how much I trust him but it's probably going to."

Will put his hand on Don's arm. "Give yourself time. You'll realize he's the same person he's always been."

"But he's not."

Will squeezed Don's arm. "Yes, he is. You've always known that he climbed out of awful circumstances to get where he is. That his brothers were in jail. You know he's smart, sensitive but level-headed, and hard-working. He may not be my favorite person in the world, but he's still your good friend and team-member."

Don nodded slowly, trying to impress Will's words into his mind. Maybe David hadn't changed, but things felt different. Don sighed and picked up his fork again.

They ate the rest of their dinner in thoughtful silence. After their plates were clear and their beers drunk, Don sat back. He'd been putting off this question, because, frankly, he was afraid of the answer. But there was something still hanging over Will's head.

Finally, Don said, "Aein, tell me what really bothers you about this Guild."

 

Chapter Text


Some Havens (Are Hidden)---

Will got up from the table. He tucked his hands under his arms and looked out the kitchen window. "I thought I was worried about abuse - that the Guild might overlook people including children or animals in their scene. There are plenty of private rooms in the Guild. But I called my guy at LAPD Vice, and he was able to assure me that the Guild has been thoroughly investigated and is now still carefully watched and they've never crossed those lines."

Don nodded, waiting. Will looked unexpectedly fragile.

Will continued, "I thought I was prepared for whatever David wanted to talk about, but when David asked me if I knew about the Guild, this awful flush went over me. I said I'd gone there years and years ago. What I didn't say was that I'd managed to forget about it since then, though I wonder if there might be people still there that recognize me. I was quite a regular - Master used to take me there a lot."

Don stiffened. There was only one person who Will referred to just as 'Master' - a scum cocaine dealer that had kept the young, drug-addicted Will as a sexual plaything for far too long.

Will's voice was almost dreamlike. "He liked to show me off at the Guild. 'Look at my boy, he'll do anything, just tell him to do something. Make him bark like a dog and hump that man's leg. Rub garbage on his face. Pack his asshole with ice. Make him go down on hands and knees and stay perfectly still, and we'll put a table top on him and eat dinner.'"

Don's grip tightened painfully around his beer bottle.

"It might sound bad, but the Guild was a haven, compared to what waited for me at Master's house."

 

Chapter Text

Some Retellings (Are Chilling)-

Will continued, still looking out the kitchen window, his voice quiet, "I preferred going to the Guild and being around Master's friends, rather than alone with Master at his house. It was impossible to keep him happy all the time, though I tried. Not just sex, I cooked for him and cleaned for him and cared for his psychotic dogs. I washed his cars, mowed his lawn and did everything else, though I wasn't allowed to leave the property. But eventually I'd make a mistake or something would set him off and he knew how to inflict pain like a pro. And bleeding, burns or dislocated joints were never sufficient excuse for not cooking perfectly or keeping the house spotless.

"At the Guild at least he'd praise me and keep the pain low enough that I'd still be able to perform. It was a nice break." Will rubbed his wrists absently. "I always swore up and down and on documents that I was there of my own free will, that I wanted what was done to me, so the staff at the Guild couldn't interfere. But when things got too rough, they'd patch me up, and even do what they could for old wounds. When Master made me get those genital piercings, they helped me over the infection. Actually, one medic tried to get me to go to a domestic abuse shelter, but I knew Master would just track me down and make me regret being born. Besides, I needed the drugs too much.

"I haven't been back there since I got clean. The staff there knew me at my lowest and they were kind to me." Will scrubbed his hands over his arms as if he was cold. "I wish that I knew why I hate them so much."

 

Chapter Text

Some Permission (At Last) -

Don had sat stock still while Will talked, knowing Will needed him to just listen, but now Will was silently staring out the window. Don started to stand, then stopped to pry his clenched hand from around his bottle. Slowly he realized his whole body was shaking with rage.

He made it across the kitchen, took hold of the counter and caught Will's eyes.

"That's it," Don growled. "I'm going to get a subpoena or warrant and get that bastard's name from the Guild records. If they won't give him to me willingly, I'll tear that place down brick by fetish brick until I get a name, a face, and an address of that bastard who's gone free for way, way too long."

Will looked at him without expression.

Don continued, voice rough, "You've told me before that you couldn't track him down because you didn't know his name or where you lived. And I've wondered if you just didn't want to find him or deal with it. Well, now you've given me a lead, and I am turning over every rock on the planet until I find that sadistic bastard and demonstrate to him exactly how I feel about what he did to you."

Will's face didn't shift.

Don stepped closer. "Aein?"

Will's mouth moved but no sound came out. He visibly swallowed, then whispered, "Okay."

Don blinked. "Okay what?"

Will's voice was barely audible. "You can find him."

"And make him pay?"

"Yes."

Don was stunned. Will had never let Don attempt any retribution against the many people that had mistreated Will in his life.

"You'll help me?" Don asked.

"I'll try."

Will's weak answer only hardened Don's resolve. "When I get done with him, babe, he won't be able to hurt you or anyone else, ever again."

 

Chapter Text

Some Time (To Cool Down)-

"Let's clean up," Don said. "Then LA's playing tonight."

Will nodded and they cleaned up the kitchen, then went into their bedroom and turned on the TV. Don coaxed Will to lay his head in his lap. He stroked Will's hair, trying to ease Will's lingering tension.

Slowly Will began to relax and a sigh escaped him. The TV droned on and Don's eyelids drooped.

Don was almost asleep when Will said, "One request."

"Anything," Don mumbled. He glanced down and Will was looking up at him with serious eyes.

Don shook himself and continued, "And I mean that - illegal, unethical, or even just horribly embarrassing - anything."

Will gave him a faint smile. "When you do go after him, try to leave the Guild standing. People need a place they can go."

"Oh, okay," Don said. When Will didn't say more, Don asked the long-delayed question, "So, after all that, what did you tell David about taking Matt there?"

"I told him it was too risky, a bad idea, and that he shouldn't."

"So he's going."

"Yeah."

Don shook his head. "Don't know why David asked you, if he was going to do it anyway."

Will shrugged then turned back towards the TV.

Don watched him for a moment, then forced himself to relax back against the headboard.

While Don wanted to start tracking down 'Master' right now, he knew it would be better for Will to give him time to deal with his rediscovered memories. Thanks to Will, Don was also annoyingly self-aware enough to know that any investigation right now would be clouded by Don's anger at David's abuse. Some time would do everyone good.

Revenge was a dish best served cold, and when Don finally faced Will's past 'owner', Don wanted to be at Absolute Zero.

Chapter Text


Some Calls (Are Made)—

David hung out upstairs after locating the Guild’s phone number. He and Matt could both use some cooling off.

Finally Matt called, “Pizza’s ready.”

David went downstairs, but Matt didn’t look up from his notebook. David set the phone number of the Guild on the table and got a slice of pizza. He set up their usual weeknight eating positions in front of the TV.

Matt sat down quietly next to him.

“Crust looks good,” David said as he took a bite.

“Yeah,” Matt replied. “Think the second stirring is the key.”

David started a show Matt had recorded, called ‘Explosions Gone Wrong’, about the science of disastrous explosions. Any other night and David would have found it very interesting, but tonight he couldn’t focus. He kept thinking about his own explosions gone wrong.

While things blew up on the screen, they silently worked their way through several slices of pizza each. Finally, David couldn’t stand it anymore and he paused the show.

Matt looked up. “You're going to call them now?”

David nodded and quickly got the number and dialed before he changed his mind.

You have reached the office of a private club. If you are a member, press #.

#

Please leave your name, address, and any work, cell or home phone numbers you have. We will verify your membership and return your call.

“David Sinclair. I’ve moved a few times since the last time I was there, but I’m still with the FBI so I’m sure you can verify me through that.” He recited his last few addresses anyway and then the phone numbers. He ended the call, then set down his phone and stared at it.

“David,” Matt said quietly. “I think it’s about time you told me what happened to you at the Guild.”

 

Chapter Text

Some Bombshells (Are Quiet)-

David stiffened and Matt held his breath, wondering if he'd pushed at the wrong time. However, David silently nodded, walked over to the couch and sat down. Matt followed then sat carefully a foot away from David, wondering what sort of bombshell David would drop this time.

David began, "My girlfriend at the time, Geena, introduced me to the Guild." He looked up at Matt with a small smile. "At first, it was a lot of fun. She really enjoyed watching me have sex with other men and, hey, I was into that. She'd direct me and two or three men with all sorts of fucking and blowjobs, and sometimes even hardcore bondage stuff. I'd wear a cock ring and have to hold back while the other men got off. At the end, I'd get to fuck her and she'd be so, wow, so hot and ready, it was mind-blowing. The whole experience was some of the best sex I've ever had. I got to be with some amazing men and one really turned-on woman. Plus we got to watch some other people do some pretty wild stuff." His smile had grown as he talked, the sparkle in his eyes one that Matt loved.

Matt gave a cautious smile. "That does sound like fun."

"Oh yeah." David grinned, then his grin vanished and his eyes grew dull. "The last time we went…" He pressed his lips together, then continued, "I was expecting the same as before. But Geena had changed things up. I signed the scene plan without really reading it, even though the Guild tells you over and over to 'read into your scene' and 'be certain of your role' and 'make your choices carefully'…"

"But I didn't." He sighed. "So what happened was my fault. I was raped."

 

Chapter Text

Some Horrors (Re-visit)-

Matt stared at David. "It was your fault you were raped?"

"Yes," David said calmly, as if he was reporting on an FBI case. "My first hint something was different was a tux waiting for me in the changing area. Geena came out in a slinky evening dress with an excited, feverish look in her eyes. At our designated area, we met a man - a dark-skinned black, with huge muscles and tattoos covering his arms and neck. Even though his tats weren't gang tats, he had a very strong resemblance to Mick."

"Your horrible brother," Matt said, his stomach sinking.

David nodded. "I told him that this wasn't a good idea. He took that as a sign that our scene had begun, that we were there to play the victims in his fantasy about raping a husband and wife while the other had to watch."

Matt sucked in his breath.

"I fought at first, told him to stop, but he was super strong. I could have hit the room's panic button or yelled out the Guild-wide safewords, and everything would have stopped. But I couldn't think. When he got me down on the floor with my pants off, I gave in. Mick liked me passive so I simply got on my hands and knees and waited. I think the man was disappointed that I didn't fight more. I just let him fuck me bloody, even though he yelled and cursed at me that I was small and weak and girly. But that was just what Mick would say while he worked me over.

"When the man finished, he hit me a few more times, then left me laying there. I just pulled my clothes back together and curled up on the floor. I closed my eyes when Geena started screaming."

 

Chapter Text

Some Experiences (Are Shattering)-

Matt tried to find breath to respond to David's recount of his horrible rape.

Before he could, David continued, "It seemed like Geena screamed forever. I think he must have used something on her, to penetrate her, while he recovered from doing me. I had my eyes closed the whole time." David gave a tired shrug. "I don't know if it was what she was hoping for, if she got what she wanted. But everything that Geena and I had together was shattered that night.

"When it was over, he left and she left. A staff member came and asked if I needed help. I let the doctors check that I was okay, or would be okay in a week or so, then I left, too."

David squeezed his hands together. "We never talked about it. She must have realized, though, that the experience hadn't been the best for me. The next day she came and got everything that she'd had at my apartment and left the key. I haven't seen her since."

"Oh my God," Matt said finally. "God, that's so awful." A wave of fury swept over him and he clenched his fists. "I want to kill that man!"

David shook his head. "I don't blame him. He didn't know I was actually unwilling."

"No, you blame yourself!" Matt said with disbelief.

"And Geena."

"Absolutely! How could she have signed you up for something like that without talking about it?"

David looked up at Matt and his eyes were sad. "I guess she thought rape would be exciting, when actually it's cruel, cold, and sexless."

"And evil," Matt added.

"Yes."

They sat silently for a moment than, with a jolt, Matt remembered David's recent phone call to the Guild. "And you want to take me to this horrible place?"

 

Chapter Text

Some Memories (Can be Papered Over)-

David's smile was crooked but warm. He reached out and stroked Matt's cheek. "Baby, you know that I like to replace bad memories with good ones. That night has haunted me for too long. I want to take you there - and it's not a horrible place. It was a horrible misunderstanding. Stupidity on my part and breach of trust on Geena's."

"Still," Matt said with a shudder. "It sounds horrible."

David shook his head. "Remember I had a great time on every other visit. That's what I want to take you for - the place is wild and loose."

"Hoping it'll loosen me up?" Matt asked wryly.

David gave a sheepish shrug.

Matt frowned at him. "But I thought you said we didn't need to have sex there, that we could just watch."

David nodded. "Just watching is fine."

"You'd be disappointed."

"Only if you act like we're just buddies. I want us to be obviously lovers."

"O-kay," Matt said slowly. "And how do you plan on us doing that without having sex? Holding hands?"

David smiled. "Holding hands with you in public would be as good as sex."

"C'mon," Matt snorted.

"Alright, an exaggeration. But it would be really nice. They do catering - we could just get a space and have dinner."

"While watching weird sex all around us?"

"Yep."

"Huh. Some dinner theater."

David threaded his fingers through Matt's fingers and held up their joined hands. "Just as long as we aren't there as roommates or co-workers. Me and you, boyfriends, okay?"

Matt nodded thoughtfully. He longed to erase all the bad things from David's past, but covering over bad memories with good ones would have to be enough for now.

David cleared his throat. "One more thing." And then he was actually blushing. "Could we go in costume?"

 

Chapter Text

Some Requests (Are Fanciful) -

"In costume?" Matt snorted. "You want to be firefighters or Peter Pan and Tinkerbell?"

David's cheeks turned even more purple. "I meant like something different than every day clothes. I don't know what, just different."

Matt raised his eyebrows. "How different?"

"I thought you could decide," David said. "I want you to be comfortable."

"Like sweatpants and t-shirts?"

"You wear that every weekend. No, something dramatic or… fanciful."

Matt looked at him thoughtfully. "Are you sure you don't have anything in mind?"

"Sexy would be good. You'd be a very sexy Tinkerbell."

"No way," Matt laughed. "I'd look like a punch line to a gay joke."

David grinned. "I'd laugh at that joke."

"I bet you would! And take pictures."

"Definitely."

Matt shook his head. "No Tinkerbell. But I'll think about it. How sexy?"

"As sexy as you want," David said. "All the way down to wearing nothing at all."

"I'm not going naked!"

"You don't have to go naked, though it would be fun."

"You promised we didn't have to have sex!"

David nodded firmly. "We don't have to, I mean that. Not that I'd object if you wanted to."

"Just because I've done exotic dancing," Matt said defensively. "It doesn't mean I want to have sex in public."

"I know," David said and his smile turned wicked. "I had to explain that in great detail and with much emphasis to several of your 'fans.'"

Matt chuckled and relaxed. He'd never told David how much he appreciated David not pressuring him to stop stripping. The choice to stop had been Matt's, when he'd no longer needed that appreciation from the audience. He now got as much appreciation as he could want from David.

If David can handle me stripping, I can handle one night at a stupid sex club.

Chapter Text

Some Memories (Never Cool) –

As a trained investigator, David recognized when Matt capitulated. So we’re going to the Guild, after all. Even now that he knows what happened. David didn’t feel triumph or trepidation, only numbness.

He’d never intended to tell anyone about that night. It was a horrible mistake that he just wanted to put behind him. But he’d told Matt, after he’d just told him far more than he’d ever intended about his abusive childhood. David rubbed a hand over his face, but even that felt distant.

“I’m going to go take a shower. I’ll clean up later.”

“I’ll do it,” Matt said, even though whoever hadn’t cooked was supposed to clean.

David nodded and maneuvered his leaden body up the stairs and into the bathroom. He took off his clothes, stepped into the shower and turned it on. Warm water sprayed out and he turned the knob slowly to the right, until icy water poured down on his upturned face. The sharp needles of cold cut through his numbness, sending painful shivers through his whole body, sluicing him clean.

He’d always taken an ice cold shower after Mick was done with him. Hot water had felt too much like Mick’s breath on the back of his neck. David would stand in the shower and scour off every last trace of bodily fluids – vomit, blood, spit, cum, tears – until he could no longer feel his own skin. Then he’d get out of the shower, shaking with near hypothermia, and his mother would be there with a towel.

David turned off the water and pulled back the curtain - to find Matt standing there with a towel and a hot tea. He didn’t ask how Matt knew, just let Matt wrap him in the towel and place the cup between his shaking hands.

Chapter Text

Some Chills (Are Internal) – 

Matt vigorously rubbed towels against David’s skin, alarmed at the blue tinge to David’s lips.  When David was dry enough, Matt led David into the bedroom and wrapped him in his own ridiculously fluffy bathrobe, though it only went to David’s knees.  Matt coaxed David to drink some tea then crawl under the blankets.  David closed his eyes and Matt watched him anxiously, ready to dial 9-1-1 if David’s color didn’t improve. 

Fortunately, David’s skin soon began to return to its normal rich brown and his shaking eased. Matt set the tea on David’s bedside table, wondering if there was something else he should do.   He shrugged and, even though it was early, got ready for bed himself, turned off the light and climbed into bed.  He slid slowly towards David, knowing that his own body heat would help David but unsure of his reception.  However, when he got within reach, David grabbed him and pulled him hard into his arms.  Matt felt David’s arms tighten and he buried his face in Matt’s hair.  They lay like that for a long moment, even though Matt was having some trouble breathing. 

Finally, David’s grip eased and Matt took a deep breath.  Silently, David handed Matt the TV remote, a sign that he wasn’t in the mood for sex.  Matt was relieved because he certainly wasn’t either, not haunted as he was by the image of naked, post-rape David, curled into a fetal ball on the carpet while his girlfriend screamed.

Matt shook his head, and tried to take a page from David’s book – to look towards creating a new, better experience to ‘replace’ the bad one.  Matt turned on the TV, but didn’t watch it.  Instead he stared at the ceiling and began to spin bright, golden fantasies in his head. 

Chapter Text

Some Opportunities (Are Unwanted)—

The next morning, David felt almost normal. A night wrapped around Matt could do wonders.

As he was riding the crowded elevator up to the office, he started listening to his voice mail.

Mr. Sinclair, this is a private phone message. I’m from a certain club.

David cut off the message and got out of the elevator as soon as he could. He found an unoccupied office and continued the message.

We at the Guild were glad to hear from you again. We’re aware that your last experience here was… unfortunate. I wanted you to know that since then we’ve made strong revisions to our policy concerning ‘consent play’ and other intense scenes. While we had a lot of physical safeguard measures, even giving wireless panic buttons to someone who would be gagged, we hadn’t considered someone who would want to exit a scene but be unable to take action – a psychological paralysis where a participant, for some reason, perhaps external coercion or personal history, could not press the panic button. We have trained our staff to be much more aware of dissonant behavior – say, a rape ‘victim’ who was not fighting back - and take action on the participant’s behalf. We are so happy that you are returning that we’d like to offer you a scene at no cost, including anything and everything that you would like to have. While we can’t erase what happened, we’d like to do what we can to make it up to you. Please call me directly and I will put you in touch with one of our best scene planners. Thank you for this opportunity.

David quietly wrote down the phone number, deleted the voice mail, and ended the phone call.

Then he turned and hurled his cell phone at the nearest wall.

Chapter Text

 

Some Awkwardness (Needs to Be Addressed)-

 

Don was starting the morning's paperwork when David dropped a mangled piece of electronics on his desk.

"Going to need a new phone," David said.

Don picked up the phone - smashed screen, back missing, electronic guts hanging out.

"I dropped it," David said evenly.

"From a ten story building?"

"Then stepped on it."

"With steel-toed boots?"

David shrugged and Don realized David wasn't meeting his eyes.

Oh, right. Don knew now about David's past and David knew he knew.

Don said quickly, "What Will found out? I'm okay with it-no, I'm okay with it but I understand-I mean, I can't really understand…"

David's face hadn't changed expression.

Don took a deep breath and slowed down. "What I'm trying to say is - while it might feel like everything has changed with me and Will knowing, nothing has really changed."

David's eyes finally met his - and the patent disbelief in those eyes made Don wince. He wouldn't have believed his words either, if he'd heard them yesterday.

"David," Don said firmly. "I still trust you. I still trust your skills, trust you to have my back. You're still a friend and an important part of my team."

David continued to look dubious.

Don gave him a crooked smile. "And if I was going to hold someone's past against him, I couldn't be with Will."

David blinked then some of his tension eased.

"Yeah." Shaking his head, Don lowered his voice. "Whenever I think I know all about the dark places in Will's past, he shares more." He sighed, remembering Will, pale and shivering last night. "But those bad things are part of the man I love today."

Don shook himself. Then he grinned and held up the battered phone. "But that doesn't mean I'm going to approve a new phone."

Chapter Text

 

 

Some Reasons (Are Sufficient)—

David smiled slightly. “But my phone died in the line of duty.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, it was doing its duty by giving me my voice mail, then it had an accident.”

“Or it was murdered. I’m going to need more before approving a new phone. You obviously didn’t just ‘drop it’.”

David grimaced and rubbed his hand over his head.

Don waited patiently. Finally David leaned closer and said in a low voice, ‘Have you ever had something awful and horribly personal happen to you and it was made just slightly easier by the fact that no one else knew?”

Don started to speak and David cut him off – “No, I don’t mean the stuff that Will figured out yesterday.”

“Alright,” Don said carefully. “I’ve had bad things happen, not like you but still bad and I was glad only a few people knew.”

David grimaced. “What if you thought that it was all in the past and suddenly you get a voice mail from a total stranger talking about it?”

Don frowned. “Someone’s trying to blackmail you?”

David gave a bitter laugh. “No, someone’s trying to apologize. In fact, my terrible personal experience is now a goddamned teaching tool for staff sensitivity training.”

Don stared at him. “God, that’s horrible!”

“Yeah. I’m sure they changed my name but it’s still me they’re talking about.”

“Wow, that sucks.”

“Yes. It was fortunate that I was still holding my phone or else it would have been my fist smashing into the wall.”

Don winced then nodded with a wry smile. “So, the phone died saving your hand from injury. Good enough for me. I’ll put in the request for a new phone this morning.”

“Thanks,” David said then straightened up and walked away.

Don could almost see the ghosts that followed him.

Chapter Text

 

 

Some Reassurances (Can Stick)-

Frowning, Don watched David walk away. Even Don knew it was foolhardy to suppress bad experiences like David did. They always came back to bite you, like this one apparently just had.

Don couldn't help wonder what Will would be like if he suppressed all the awful things that had happened to him instead of working through them. Should Don be more worried that Will hadn't worked through this Master thing?

Don swept David's broken phone into the trash and got out his own phone. He'd left for work that morning before Will had gotten up, so they hadn't talked after the harsh revelations of last night.

He stepped outside and dialed home.

"Hey," Will answered sleepily.

"Hey babe, did I wake you?"

"Kinda. What's up?"

"You okay this morning?"

"Yeah," Will said, sounding more alert. "Sorry I flipped out on you last night."

"It's okay," Don said firmly. "That's what I'm here for."

Will chuckled. "Been reading relationship books again?"

"Hey," Don grumbled. "But really, have you… changed your mind about anything?"

"You mean about letting you go after that sicko? Nope."

"Good!"

"Though it would have been fine with me to never remember that stuff. Thanks a lot, David."

"Oh!" Don said and related his conversation with David.

"Ouch, teaching aid, huh?" Will said, then added cheerfully, "Though I use my own life as a training tool all the time."

"More healthy than what David does."

"Repression has its benefits."

"Like what?"

"Like not having to tell your partner that you once had an afro."

Don paused, shocked, and then burst out laughing.

"It was cool!" Will said with mock affront, then started telling a story about trying to wear his baseball cap on top of his afro.

And Don knew that Will was going to be okay.

Chapter Text

 

 

Some Choices (Are No Choices)-

After pacing the halls for an hour, fuming, David stood looking out a window. The city stretched before him, hazy and ugly as always. Don's words echoed in his ears - while it might feel like everything has changed, nothing has really changed.

David didn't believe it, but had to admit Don believed it. Don's perception of David was colored now, but boyfriend Will was a compelling demonstration of Don's ability to get beyond someone's past.

But I can never get beyond it. As hard as David had tried to become a new person in LA, he was still haunted by his childhood. He couldn't even react like a normal rape victim. Then getting into a relationship with Matt, who carried his own heavy baggage. Why, of all the people that David had been with, Matt was the one who stuck? That an impulsive, secret fling would become the longest relationship David had ever had? That he would care more for a skinny geek than every beautiful man and woman he'd slept with put together?

Don was right, nothing had changed - All David had were questions without answers. His past was going to dog his heels until he died. All he could do-all he'd ever been able to do- was pick from the unappealing choices before him. He and Matt were at a crisis point and none of the options seemed to lead to a future together. A future without Matt was as bleak as anything David could imagine.

Yet, when it had come to choices in his life, David had always chosen action, and would again.

He turned away from the window and found an empty office with a working phone.

"Hello," David said, proud of the cool, even tone of his voice. "You left me a message?"

Chapter Text

 

 

Some Plans (Should be Big)-

At lunchtime, David and Matt were walking to their usual sandwich shop.

"The Guild called," David said quietly.

"Already?"

"Yes, and… they know."

"They what?"

"They know what happened to me last time."

Matt stopped short. "They know? And they never did anything about it?"

David continued walking, forcing Matt to start walking again. "They are now training their staff to make sure it doesn't happen again."

"Whoa, wow," Matt said. His mouth kept moving as if he wanted to say more but nothing came out.

David said calmly, "As apology, they're footing the entire bill for an evening, anything we want."

"And they think that makes up for it?" Matt snapped. "As if it-"

"I want you to plan it," David interrupted. "Go crazy."

"Ohhh," Matt said, a gleam coming into his eyes. "Make them pay through the nose?"

David nodded. "Think of any fantasy you want, anything that was too outrageous or expensive to do before, and they'll set it up."

"Hmm… Anything?"

David smiled at him wryly. "I'd like it to include me, if possible."

"Yeah, of course!"

"And with us as an obvious couple."

"Right, yeah."

"I'll give you the contact information for the 'scene planner' and you dream up something big."

They walked in silence for a few minutes. David found himself unable to stay annoyed at the Guild as he watched the wheels turning in Matt's head. David could only imagine the sorts of ideas that might be forming in that clever brain of his. Maybe this could be fun after all. Maybe it might even give David some clues into the unfathomable workings of Matt's psyche.

Then, as if offering a prime example of how little he understood Matt, David was stunned by Matt next question -

"Could we have other people join us?"

Chapter Text

 

 

Some Other People (Might Be Included)--

David tensed. "Other people?"

"A few, just for fun."

"For fun…" David echoed. Had he made a terrible mistake telling Matt to let his imagination run wild? Was he prepared to share Matt with other people? People he knew? Or would total strangers be worse?

"Maybe more than a few," Matt said thoughtfully.

"Really?" David managed.

"Depends on how strong they are."

"Oh?" David said, trying for a casual tone. "Don and Will are pretty strong."

Matt stared at him. "What? No, not them."

David wasn't sure if he felt relieved or not. "Who, then?"

"Players, actors. The Guild can do that, right?"

David swallowed. "Yes."

"Maybe six strong men, gorgeous ones."

At least it's men, David thought, but again didn't know if he was relieved or not. Did Matt want to recreate David's earlier experiences at the Guild, where David had sex with many men while his companion watched? Or was Matt going to be the center of that group of 'gorgeous' men? David felt ill.

Matt put his hand on his arm. "You okay?"

"Well," David said carefully, "I know that the Guild would be a reasonable place to suspend our pact to be exclusive, but…"

Matt stared at him then began to laugh. "I don't mean have sex with them, silly. Just have them for… window dressing."

"Oh, good," David breathed out.

Matt shook his head. "Not everyone's into big parties like you and your buddies."

David smiled weakly. "Just for special occasions."

"Or having sex in public, remember?" Matt said. "I haven't agreed to that."

"Right," David said. "I know, I just…"

Matt leaned towards him. "I'm not sharing you, David, even for special occasions."

David nodded, finally feeling that relief.

"And I would never," Matt added fiercely, "Open you up to danger again like that."

Chapter Text

 

Some Needs (Are Bone Deep)-

After Matt's reassurances, David gave him the Guild's contact information - an act that David would regret often in the days following. Matt seemed always to be on the phone or emailing the scene planner, Ziegfeld, but wouldn't tell David anything. David and Matt would be watching TV or eating dinner and Matt would get a sudden gleam in his eyes and have to go call 'Ziggy'. David bit his tongue more than once against the urge to press Matt for details. It was being harder than David expected to just let Matt run with it. He worried that Matt was in over his head, that this Ziggy was leading Matt down all sorts of perverse paths. David had always thought he was up for anything - other than rape play - but he began to wonder if he really was. He knew that the Guild dealt in levels of kink that were far past anything he'd done or even imagined.

However, it was hard not to smile at the impish grin that flashed across Matt's face when he got a new idea. And David was certain that Matt was taking the mandate to 'make them pay through the nose' very seriously.

Still, David had to resist the urge to check Matt's computer history to see if he was researching corsets or erotic uses of electricity. He had to resist giving Matt more caveats, like 'nothing that would cause permanent damage' or 'nothing that will jeopardize my job if it got out'. There was also the fear that Matt would want to do more breath play. But Matt had promised never again and David would just have to trust him.

Because that was what David needed, far more than anything else - he needed to completely, absolutely trust someone … and not get burned.

Chapter Text

 

Some Worries (Are Wearing)-

David wasn't usually a worrier - except when it came to Matt. He was getting exhausted by worrying about Matt. So he made a serious effort to relax and let go.

He focused on his job.

He ignored Matt's calls to Ziggy.

He refused to be concerned about the private tailor who came to their apartment to measure them. Even when the tailor measured his neck, wrists and ankles. Even when the tailor asked him to undress then measured his balls.

Their scene was scheduled for next Friday night. Matt asked Don to give David the whole day off and Don approved it with a wink.

Matt told David to be at a certain address at 11am on Friday morning. David couldn't resist looking up the address in advance and found it was fancy men's spa. At least it wasn't a tattoo or piercing parlor. A massage and a sauna would a great way to relax before the evening. If I can relax.

David told himself that after the Guild night, he and Matt would either be more 'out' as a couple or Matt would be silently packing up his things to move out. David told himself again and again that the risk was worth it, that he wasn't being reckless or careless or unfair to Matt, that he really needed this. It would be worth it when he could openly smile at Matt the way that Colby did at Charlie, when Matt could invite David as his 'plus one' to a computer conference dinner. Was he hoping for too much from a simple visit to a sex club? Definitely. But he had to dream for a big upside, because the downside was terrifying.

Then something happened that made David wonder if he wanted anyone to know about Matt after all.

Chapter Text

 

Some Cases (Cause Nightmares) -

The Lee-Kalikea Case was every LEOs nightmare. All cops, whether federal, local or forest ranger, worried that their job endangered their family and friends. When FBI Agent Steve Lee-Kalikea's wife was kidnapped, it was the only case the LA office worked on, regardless of department. Lee-Kalikea wasn't even in a front line job - he did forensic accounting for the Fraud department. But someone had taken his wife to force him to lie in court.

The FBI searched for two nerve-straining days, trying to find the wife without tipping off her kidnappers. Each agent knew that it could be their loved one that they were looking for, their loved one whose corpse they expected to find. In the end, the wife was discovered gravely wounded but alive. The kidnappers died in a hail of bullets, a few of which came from Lee-Kalikea's own gun, since he'd been allowed to strap on a vest and be at the scene. His wife was rushed to the hospital.

That night, David and Matt silently held each other. The two of them worked with a lot more violent people than Lee-Kalikea did. In the last year alone, David could think of twenty cases where he'd been threatened. If those scumbags knew about Matt, would they be tempted to grab him?

"She'll be okay," Matt said quietly. "She should be out of ICU in a few days."

"Could've been at lot worse," David agreed.

"She could have died."

"Yes."

"I mean the odds were that she would be dead."

"Yes…"

"It really was remarkable that-"

"Matt," David interrupted impatiently, "Something you want to say?"

"No," Matt mumbled.

They lay in strained silence for a moment.

Finally Matt said, "But everyone understood about them, a guy with a missing wife. Who would go looking for me?"

Chapter Text

 

Some Fears (are Extreme)-

"Matt," David snapped. "What are you talking about?"

"You know, that some bad guys could kidnap me to get to you."

"Or kidnap me," David said with a forced smile. "To make you use your hacking skills for evil. But of course we would all go looking for you if you were kidnapped! Not that you need to worry about it."

"Hmm."

David waited for a moment, but Matt didn't say anything further.

"Matt," David said. "No one-hardly anyone-knows about us."

"Right."

"So…" David pressed. "No one would grab you, you're safe."

"Yeah." Matt didn't seem happy about that though.

"Matt?"

David felt Matt shrug.

"Isn't that a good thing?" David asked.

"Sure, of course. I mean, I don't want to get kidnapped or anything."

"But?"

"But…" Matt said, then said in a rush, "But what if someone figures it out and grabs me and then you can't say why you're upset except that you're my roommate and no one knows why they kidnapped me and you have to explain that we're together."

David sat up and stared at him. "You're worried about getting outed by kidnapping?"

Matt flushed and gave an embarrassed shrug. "Never mind."

David continued to look at him. Matt was that scared of being exposed as his lover? Maybe all of David's fantasies about being a public couple were just that - fantasies.

David flopped back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

After a few minutes, Matt said, "David?"

"Yes?" David said, not bothering to hide his grumpiness.

"Sorry that it's a stupid fear."

"It's okay, baby," David said tiredly. "I'm used to it."

"Nice," Matt snapped.

"Sorry," David sighed.

Looking away, Matt rubbed his forehead with shaky fingers.

"That's stupid, I know," he whispered, "But it's not what really terrifies me."

Chapter Text

Some Terrors (Make More Sense)-

"What terrifies you, then?" David asked.

"You being kidnapped and me not being able to be there, like Lee-Kalikea was. He actually shot the bastard."

David's eyebrows went up. "They're not going to give you a gun."

"Yeah, but if they found out about us, they wouldn't let us work together at all, anyway, ever."

David stared at him. He'd honestly never considered that.

Matt continued, "There are definitely regs against couples working together."

"They let Colby and Charlie-"

"Charlie is always the exception, you know that."

David nodded and tried to think of other couples that worked together. There were plenty of partners in the agency, but never in the same department.

Matt sat cross-legged, facing him. "If you get hurt or shot or get in an elevator with a psycho, I want to know about it. I want to be right there, working on the problem, trying to help. I don't want to find out later or maybe even never find out at all. I don't want to be the person getting the knock on the door and consolation visit from other agents, saying that you died bravely in the line of duty."

Matt leaned forward. "Fuck it," he said harshly. "If you get killed, I want to see it."

Tears sprang to David's eyes. The thought of Matt watching him die was like a kick in the stomach. But Matt wanted to be there.

"Baby," David said softly. "Is this why you don't want to go public?"

"Yes-no, I don't know. Maybe. I hadn't really thought about until now."

David nodded and wrapped his arms around Matt. This was a lot more rational fear, one he could understand.

"If I get in trouble," David said with a shaky smile, "I want you working to save me, too."

Chapter Text

 

Some Regs (Can Be Gotten Around)-

 

"Talk to you for a minute?" David asked Don and Colby quietly.

Don and Colby put down their paperwork and David got right to the point. "Matt might have finally offered a reason to keep 'us' quiet that I understand."

Don and Colby looked as surprised as David felt.

David continued, "He's worried we won't be allowed to work together anymore."

Colby's eyebrows shot up and he looked at Don.

"Um," Don said slowly, "You're not his supervisor, so that's okay. I think it might be officially against policy but no one's going to care unless you start making out at your desk."

"Or fighting," Colby added.

David nodded. He'd thought the same but confirmation was good.

"So all this time, Matt thinks he's going to lose his job if you go public?" Don asked.

"What about the 'I'm not gay' thing?" Colby asked.

David shrugged. "I think this is just a piece of the big problem, but every piece I can knock off…"

Don fiddled with his pen. "You know… Matt could really do better than his job."

"Yeah," Colby agreed. "Especially now that he has Master's degree, he's totally overqualified."

David smiled. "I know. But he thinks he needs to keep an eye on me."

"Worried you'll cheat on him?" Don asked sharply.

David's smile widened. "No, he's worried I'll die on him."

They stared at him then slowly started smiling as well.

"Charlie thinks that too," Colby said. "That if he doesn't personally run the numbers, some other schlub will mess up."

Don added, "Will just pesters me with questions, making sure I really had to go into that dangerous situation."

They shared a mutual smile at their ridiculous partners, each man's smile saying, 'Doesn't he know by now that it's my job to keep him safe?'

Chapter Text

 

Some Problems (Walk Back In the Door)-

After talking with Colby and Don, David was in a pretty good mood, relieved by their assurances that Matt's job wasn't in danger. David was also looking forward to telling Matt that at least one of his many fears was unfounded. David's good mood vanished, however, as soon as she walked into the office.

Agent Janice Wilburn, from the FBI office in San Diego, was a skilled, talented investigator. She was also the 'hot black chick' that David and Matt had fought over a few weeks ago, on that possibly relationship-changing night that had started in the elevator. Wilburn-Janice-had flirted with David, quite pointedly, and David had been forced to lie and tell her that he didn't date co-workers. Colby had told this to Matt and the argument had begun.

Janice's eyes met David's and she gave him a wide smile, giving him notice that she intended on having another run at him and his excuses. David smiled weakly back. She really was everything David wanted in a woman - smart, attractive, ambitious, and straight forward. A few years ago, he would have been thrilled at her attentions, and probably slept with her within days. But now he didn't want her, or any woman, or anyone at all, except for Matt.

Janice was wearing a perfectly tailored black pant suit, with black lace showing at the neckline. David's guy brain immediately pictured the rest of the lacy underwear and the full breasts underneath. His eyes, of course, followed his thoughts, then he looked back up. Janice had noticed his look-over and was grinning.

She sashayed over to him, her round hips swaying. Heads all over the office turned to watch her - and her obvious target.

"Agent Sinclair," she purred, outrageously fluttering her eyelashes. "You are looking lovely this morning."

Chapter Text

Some Flirtations (Are Hazardous)

David had to smile and laugh at Janice's over-the-top approach. She perched on the edge of his desk, leaning slightly forward, and said, "Wow, you have a nice smile."

David smiled wider - who could resist? - and said, "Agent Wilburn, what brings you back to Los Angeles?"

"You, of course," Janice said. "And a little thing called work."

"Hope you sold your boss on the second one," David teased.

"Oh, he's been telling me for ages that I should settle on a good man," Janice replied. "I tell him 'I've been looking!'"

David grinned. "Any luck lately?"

"Maybe," Janice said, swinging her leg, "I've met a fine-looking man, who has a good job and seems to have his head on straight. Know how hard it is to find that in a 'brotha'?"

David's eyebrows shot up. "You only date black guys?"

She shrugged. "Can I help it if I love dark brown skin? No different than men only dating blondes."

"Hmm," David said non-committedly.

"What do you like in a woman? I'm hoping you'll say, 'goes after what she wants'."

David smiled. "A lady who doesn't play games, I like that."

"Oh, I like to play games," she purred. "I'm up to all sorts of games. Even those involving leather and silk."

"Wow," David laughed. "And just who is wearing that leather and silk?"

She gave a husky, sexy chuckle. "Oh, I like both ways - me, you, frontwards, backwards…"

David's eyes went automatically towards her ass. He did love a big, round ass. He felt his cock grow hard at the thought. Brains, beauty, sass - Agent Janice Wilburn might just be the perfect woman.

"Now, David," Janice said, leaning forward again, her warm, spicy perfume tickling David's nose. "Look me in the…eye and tell me again how you don't date co-workers."

Chapter Text


Some Discussions (Should Be Private)--

David weakly repeated his earlier excuse, “I don’t date coworkers.”

Janice gave a sigh of frustration. “David, I don’t understand you. I’m giving you clear signals and it seems like you’re giving them right back.”

David shook his head. “I don’t mean to.”

“Ha,” Janice scoffed. “You just like smiling and flirting like crazy with me, then giving me the lamest excuse since women were allowed to join the FBI.”

“I haven’t—“

Abruptly, David thought to look away from Janice – and discovered the whole office was staring at them. When David met their eyes, most people pretended to be busy, but Don and Colby returned his gaze with disapproving glares. Thankfully Matt was still down in the evidence garage.

“You’re right,” David admitted in a low voice. “I got carried away. It’s just…complicated.”

“No doubt,” Janice said dryly. “You’re a eunuch, taken a vow of celibacy, or only date women with X or Q in their name.”

David had to laugh again, which made Janice raise her eyebrows.

“Sorry,” David said, schooling his face back to seriousness. “Look, can we go somewhere less public and talk?”

“Afraid I’ll make a scene?”

David gestured at the rest of the office. “I think you—we—already have.”

Looking around, Janice grimaced. “Sorry, I tend to be very focused.”

“Well, too many people are too interested in this conversation. Can we go somewhere more private?”

“Sure,” Janice said, standing up.

David stood up as well, then led the way, feeling Don and Colby’s eyes drilling into his back.

He was opening the stairway door and waving Janice to go ahead of him, when Matt came around the corner. Matt stopped short and stared at them, his face going white. David gave Matt what he hoped was a reassuring smile, and followed Janice.

Chapter Text

Some Eyes (Might Start to Wander)—

David tried to put Matt’s shock-white face out of his mind as he and Janice climbed the stairs. Then he had to try to stop thinking about Janice’s fine ass ahead of him. What was wrong with him today? Old habits? Really old habits, considering how long he and Matt had been together.

Maybe he was just tired—tired of the drama and uncertainty with Matt, tired of not being able to publically flirt with him, tired of going as a single guy to events but not able to mingle. When he was with Matt, he felt like he could wait forever, but lately, when Matt wasn’t around, David found his eyes wandering. He would see an attractive woman and wonder what a normal relationship would be like. They could go on dates and hold hands at a restaurant. They could challenge another couple to basketball then all get ice cream. They could snuggle in a movie theater, instead of sitting a chair apart so they wouldn’t be tempted.

Even an ‘out’ man would be wonderful. David would himself be willing to come out as bisexual for the right man. Problem is that Matt was the right man. Yet Matt was in a frozen state, unable to move forward but unwilling to let David go. Not that David would ever let Matt go…right?

Deep in thought, David almost ran into Janice who’d stopped in front of him.

“Where are we going?” Janice asked.

“Rooftop,” David said. “Smokers hang out up there, but no one should be there this early.”

Janice nodded and they climbed to the top in silence. They stepped out onto the flat roof and David shut the door behind them.

Janice turned and put her hands on her hips. “Alright, David, so what is your real excuse?”

Chapter Text

Some Men (Might Want More)-

Matt stood, frozen to the spot, and tried to process what he'd just seen. David and her. Going somewhere together, somewhere private.

Matt had almost forgotten the woman's existence, forgotten how she'd looked at David, and, more importantly, how David had looked at her.

Maybe he's getting tired of men. For most of David's life, he'd only dated women. He'd slept with men but his only long-term relationships had been with women. He'd even married one. David had said they'd broken up because they'd been too young and hadn't known what they'd wanted in life. What if what David wanted was a woman? With a house and…kids?

Matt felt sick. He hugged his laptop close and continued to stare at the door that David had closed in his face.

Matt did believe that David loved him, but what was that against the chance for a real family life? David enjoyed working with kids, showing them possibilities other than gangs. He'd make a wonderful father and family man.

Matt had investigated Agent Janice Bub and she was smart, educated, hard-working, moral, highly attractive and, well, female. Why wouldn't David's head be turned by her? David was an ass man and Janice had a particularly nice ass.

And all he's had to fuck in years is my scrawny one.

Matt realized he was trembling…and that he was very, very angry. Goddamn that woman, coming here and showing David what he's missing. We've been doing fine until now.

Matt knew that he and David had their issues, but they'd been working on them.

I'll fight for him, she better watch out, because I will…I will… What would he do? He knew what he would do.

He would stand here, alone, in the hallway, staring at the closed door, and do nothing at all.

Chapter Text

Some Complications (Can Get More Complicated)–

David faced Janice. What was his excuse, anyway? “It’s complicated.”

Janice snorted. “That’s a Facebook status, not an answer.”

“True,” David agreed wryly. Why did he have to like this woman? He’d have a much easier time shooting her down if she didn’t appeal to him on so many levels.

He faced her squarely. “I’m with someone.”

Janice’s eyebrows shot up. “What? Why in the name of sanity didn’t you say that first?”

He shrugged. “It’s a secret.”

“A secret,” she said flatly. “That sounds like just another excuse.”

“Unfortunately, no. It’s the truth.” David’s eyes strayed to the rooftop door, remembering Matt’s frightened face.

Janice eyed him. “Don’t tell me you’re gay.”

“No, no,” David said quickly. “I like women.” And men, he added silently.

Janice frowned. “Then why the big secrecy? Is she a criminal?”

“No!” David protested.

“The daughter of a major drug dealer? An undercover CIA agent?”

“No, no,” David said, smiling slightly.

Janice’s frown deepened. “She’s your best friend’s girlfriend? Or is she rich and her family disapproves?” Then she laughed at herself. “Those sound like mindless romantic comedies.”

“You don’t—“

But Janice was on a roll. “She’s in a mental hospital? Maybe you’re undercover. Wait, is she underage?”

“No way,” David snapped.

“I’ve got it,” she said. “She’s married.”

Still thinking about her earlier accusation, David was slow in saying, “No.”

Janice’s eyes narrowed. “That’s it, she’s married. But her husband ‘doesn’t understand her’ and she’ll ‘leave him soon.’”

David shook his head, but Janice looked grimly triumphant.

“It makes sense,” she said.

“I’m not dating a married woman!”

Janice glared at him. “I thought you were a good guy, but now I find out you’re scum. I think it’s time your nasty little secret came out.”

Chapter Text

Some Lies (Carry a Grain of Truth)-

"I'm not seeing a married woman," David repeated.

Janice didn't seem to hear. "I bet she's a skinny white bitch."

"What?"

"A skinny, rich white bitch with fake boobs and no ass that you 'couldn't help' falling in love with. Especially when she starts buying you presents like a diamond watch and silk suits, so that you'll be her big black 'jungle lover'."

David stared at her. That sounded a bit too personal for Janice.

"Not white," David said faintly.

"I bet not black, though, why does every black man chase white bitches like they're-"

"Okay," David interrupted her. "I'll tell you."

Janice folded her arms.

Thinking quickly, David said, "My lover comes from a culture where the parents arrange the marriages."

Janice blinked.

"We're very much in love but the family would never approve, especially of a black man."

"That's awful."

David added with honest sadness, "We've been together for years, and trying to change things, but it's taking so long." He gave her a weak smile. "So sometimes it's tempting to flirt openly, instead of all the sneaking around and secrecy."

"Wow," Janice said. "It's hard to believe that people can still be so backward. Why not run away together?"

David shrugged. "I could hardly go into hiding and stay with the FBI."

"True." Janice shook her head sadly.

They stood there for a moment in silence.

Then Janice said, "I should go… work on stuff."

"Yeah," David agreed.

Janice gave him a sympathetic nod and left the roof. David gave her a head start then made his own way slowly down the stairs. It wasn't a total lie that he'd told her. But the 'culture' he was fighting was inside Matt's own head.

David reached his floor and opened the door - to see Matt still standing there.

Chapter Text

Some Waiting (Is Rewarded)–

Matt had been staring at the closed door for an eternity. He was trembling with anger—or maybe it was fear, he couldn’t tell. His fingers were numb from his death grip on his laptop.

The door opened and Janice almost ran into him.

She muttered, “Excuse me,” then walked down the hall. She didn’t look flushed or happy, just thoughtful. Is she thinking about what beautiful babies she’ll have with David?

Then David emerged.

“Matt?” he said, surprise in his voice. David checked the hall then grabbed Matt’s arm and pulled him into the stairwell.

“God, baby,” David said, running his hands along Matt’s arms. “You’re shaking.”

Matt just glared up at him.

David shook his head and pried the laptop from Matt’s grip. He set the laptop on the floor then, with a sigh, gathered Matt into his arms.

Matt held himself stiff for a long five seconds then succumbed to David’s embrace.

“C’mere,” David murmured, his familiar hands running over Matt’s back. “It’s okay.”

Matt grumbled a negative.

David leaned back and looked at his face. “God knows I never know what’s going through your head, but I just had to get Janice away from prying eyes so I could give her a real set-down.”

“…Yeah?”

David gave him a tight smile. “Yes.”

“But she’s so…” Pretty, sexy, smart, female…

David shook his head. “Don’t worry about her.”

“Then why—”

Grabbing the back of Matt’s head, David silenced Matt with his own mouth. Matt returned the kiss, pouring his anger and fear into it. David matched Matt’s intensity, strong emotions driving his lips and tongue. By the time they broke apart for air, Matt felt bruised and sore, but oddly calmer.

“David—” Matt began.

“Please…just listen to me,” David interrupted. “We’ve got a big problem.”

Chapter Text

Some Outcomes (Can Be Ugly) -

Matt snapped, "Why can't you just tell her to fuck off?"

David gave a short laugh. "I did, don't worry."

Matt broke into a big smile. "Then what's the problem?"

"Janice," David started. "She was-"

"Janice," Matt growled harshly. "Why don't people just leave us alone? Everyone's always sticking their nose into our business. If everyone would just leave us alone, we'd be fine!"

David simply raised his eyebrows.

Matt felt his face grow hot and he mumbled, "Okay, mostly fine."

"The problem," David said coolly, "is rumors. You know rumors around here can get vicious. I've got to clear the air before things get blown out of proportion."

Matt rolled his eyes. "Rumors? What's the worst that--"

"I could get charged with sexual harassment, or Janice could. I could come off as a jerk, a womanizer, and a predator. Who would want to work with a guy with that reputation?"

Matt snorted in disbelief. "It doesn't stop Don."

"I don't have Don's charm or his cute brother. And he's white."

"That shouldn't matter!"

"But it does matter."

Matt stared at him. "What do you think Janice is going to say?"

"Maybe the story I told her."

"What story?" Matt demanded. "About me and you?"

"No," David sighed. "I told her that I was seeing someone who'd been promised in an arranged marriage."

"You…what?"

"That the person came from a very strict family that didn't approve of a black man."

"And she bought that?"

"How's that any more bizarre than the truth?"

Matt glared at him. "It's not bizarre, it's just private."

"Even if Janice doesn't say anything, people are already speculating. We have to stop it before it gets ugly."

David put his hand on Matt's shoulder. "Baby, we're going to have to tell them the truth."

Chapter Text

Some Difficulties (With Breathing)-

"What?" Matt said faintly, feeling liked he'd just been punched in the stomach. "Tell everyone the truth about us?"

David answered quietly, "Would that be so bad?"

"Yes!" Matt pushed David's hand off his shoulder. "Yes!"

"Why?"

"What do you mean, 'why'? We've talked about this!"

"Actually, we haven't talked about it for a long time. We need to talk about it again, right now."

"Right now? But…" Matt began to tremble.

"You know that if I don't push," David said grimly, "we'll never talk about it. But the conversation with Janice brought home to me some difficult truths. I've been patient so long and I don't know how much longer I can wait."

"Wh-What?" Matt's chest tightened, and he couldn't get a full breath.

"What would happen if people knew about us?"

"Wait, wait," Matt managed, gasping for air. "You're saying that you're going to leave me?"

"Of course not," David snapped. "We just need to move forward somehow."

"Forward? But if we don't…" Matt's vision was narrowing and he grabbed blindly for the wall. "You're going to leave me?"

"Are you okay?"

"I…I…" Matt's heart thudded erratically, sending waves of pain to his chest and arms.

"Matt!" David grabbed hold of his forearms.

Matt's throat closed up and he couldn't feel his hands or his feet.

"Matt, take a deep breath!"

"Can't…" Matt rasped. "My chest…"

David let go of Matt with one of his hands to scramble for his cellphone.

"David…" Matt whispered. He was sweating from the bitter cold.

"Get me Emergency Medical Services now!" David said and his voice sounded distant.

The walls slid sideways. "David…sorry…"

"Matt, don't you dare-"

Hearing faded. He was no longer attached to his body, his spirit numb and drifting upward, and he knew he was going to die.

Chapter Text

Some Voices (In the Darkness) -

"Baby, c'mon, breathe!" Matt's head is tucked between his knees.

David speaks into his phone, "Hurry!"

Unknown voices are echoing in the stairwell. He senses himself being lifted.

Sirens. Hands are on his face, throat, chest.

David is trying to answer questions about Matt's health history, stumbling, his usually smooth voice full of frustration, fear.

Matt was laying on a cool sheet, an annoying beeping in his ear. There was a needle in his arm and own of his hands was gripped between two dark brown ones. David was sitting by his bed, head bowed.

Chapter Text

Some Assurances (Have to be given)-

"Hey," Matt said hoarsely.

David's head jerked up. "Matt!"

"Hi…"

"Baby, oh God!"

"Hi…"

"Matt, it's all my fault! I'm so sorry that I pushed you about-"

"It's okay."

"No, it's not okay!" David growled. "I'm such a goddamned idiot. I almost gave you a heart attack."

"So I-"

"No, you didn't," David said quickly. "All the tests came out fine."

Matt sighed in relief. "I thought I was having a heart attack."

"That's what you told the doctors."

Matt frowned. "I talked to the doctors?"

"Don't you remember?"

"No…"

"Well, they're going to do some more bloodwork, but they said you could go home later today."

"But what happened?"

"Overwork, exhaustion. You've been staying up all night, working on that Pimpkin project. You haven't slept in what, 72 hours? And when was the last time you ate actual food? Anything that wasn't Red Bull and chocolate?"

"Um…"

"Well, you're going home and eating a real meal, then sleeping for a week."

"But I need to-"

"No way," David said, sounding determined. "You're going to rest. And we'll never talk about that again."

Matt sighed. "Yes, we will."

"No, baby, I mean it. I'll never push you again."

Matt shook his head. "I meant-they're sure I didn't have a heart attack?"

"They want you to check in with your regular doctor, but they're pretty sure."

"Because I think we need to talk about it, right now."

David stared at him. "What? No! You need to rest!"

"But I also need to-" Matt interrupted himself with a huge yawn.

"Rest," David said firmly.

"Yeah." Matt let his eyes droop shut again. Talking could wait, but not long. Tomorrow at the latest. Or maybe the weekend. Or maybe after he talked to his doctor. Soon, very soon.

Chapter Text

Some Gifts (Are Too Precious)-

Fortunately, it was a quiet Friday and Don gave David the rest of the day off.

David helped Matt get released from the hospital and drove him home. Right on time, Don appeared with lasagna from Alan, and David watched while Matt wolfed it down. They didn't talk and David didn't eat.

After that, David led Matt upstairs and settled him into their bed. Matt was asleep before he closed his eyes. David gently smoothed down the blankets and crept out of the bedroom. He shut the door, then leaned against it and sank to the floor.

He put his head in his hands and let the craziness of the last few hours finally catch up to him.

He'd thought Matt was dying.

David knew everyone thought Matt was a great guy - smart, funny and upbeat, but David had always suspected that his friends didn't understand why he'd stayed with Matt so long. They didn't question that the two of them were in love, but maybe, privately, they thought David was nuts to put up with Matt's obstinacy. They didn't understand that David trusted Matt.

David imagined one of his friends saying, "Okay, that's good but…" (It sounded suspiciously like Will.)

"No," David argued with that imaginary voice. "That's not a 'good' thing, it's everything."

David had never told anyone else about the details of his brothers' sexual abuse, about his anger at his mother's helplessness, or about his more recent rape at the Guild. Matt had opened up David's dark, rotten places to the sunlight, and for that, David could never love him enough. To think that he'd almost lost Matt because of petty selfishness…

David shivered. Then he got up from the floor, went back into the bedroom, climbed in bed, and wrapped himself around the sleeping Matt.

Chapter Text

Some Doctor's Visits (are Shocking)-

While he'd been at the hospital, Matt had been able to schedule an appointment with his doctor the next morning, even though it was Saturday. David let Matt sleep in, then bundled him into the car with coffee and an egg and ham sandwich. He drove the car to the doctor's office and helped the still-wobbly Matt into the waiting room. He watched as Matt went back into the doctor's office and closed the door behind him.

Folding his arms, David leaned back in his chair and stared at the door. A half-hour passed, then an hour. David's nervousness rose with each minute. What could Matt possibly be doing back there? Was the doctor running late or was she just giving Matt a long lecture about taking care of himself?

When Matt finally emerged, he looked worse than before - his shoulders slumped, his skin more pale - and David's anxiety sky-rocketed.

"Matt!" David said, putting his arm around him. "What's wrong? What did she say?"

"Oh, uh," Matt said, not looking up. "Just that I needed to get more sleep and eat better."

"Then why do you look like Hell?"

Matt looked up, with a ghost of a smile. "Thanks." His eyes dropped again and he mumbled, "Let's go."

"But-"

"After we get home."

David nodded and helped the weak Matt back downstairs to the car. They rode in silence back to their apartment, while David conjured horrors in his brain - it really had been a heart attack, it was cancer, it was some other terrible disease like MS.

But when they got home, went inside their apartment and David shut the door behind him, Matt turned to David and what he said was much more horrific than anything David had imagined.

"David, I think it's time I moved out."

Chapter Text

Some Diagnoses (Come Into Question)-

"Move out?" David echoed, uncomprehending.

"Well…" Matt began to pace back and forth. "My doctor and I talked and… That thing in the stairs… It's happened to me before."

"What?"

"Back when we were first… starting. When Don and Will said… You had to come get me, remember?"

David frowned. "Yeah… You'd collapsed."

"Well, she-the doctor-thinks this was the same."

"Huh?"

"That it was… well… a panic attack."

"Oh." David sat down hard. "That makes more sense. I've seen you live on popcorn and yerba matѐ tea for a week without problems."

"When you said you'd leave me-"

"I never said that!"

"-unless we went public, it triggered another…"

"Panic attack."

"Yeah."

"Wow." David rubbed his head. "Wait, how do you get from there to moving out?"

Matt stopped in front of him. "Isn't it obvious? There's clearly something wrong with me-the doctor recommended counseling-and I can't do this to you anymore."

"You're not-"

Matt continued in a rush, "You deserve so much better than me, you deserve someone that isn't afraid to be seen with you, that would run off someone like Janice instead of freezing up. Someone that you wouldn't have to pretend sleeps in a different room, that you can put your arm around at a party and say, 'This is my boyfriend.' Someone you could have a family with."

David stared at Matt, horrified that so many of his own selfish thoughts were coming out of Matt's mouth.

Matt nodded. "I've been… selfish, keeping you for myself, when all I do is cause you pain."

"No, you-"

"Yes, I do. Panic attacks can happen because a person doesn't see any way out. But there is a way out, David. It's me walking out that door and letting you live a real life."

Chapter Text

Some Exchanges (Become Heated) -

"You can't just leave!" David said. "I need you!"

"Why?" Matt said with a bitter laugh. "All I'm good for is taking up space in your bed, although the sex is still amazing-"

"It is," David agreed. "But that's not the only-"

Matt continued, "But I bet you would have amazing sex with anyone."

"No, I wouldn't, but-"

"Though I haven't let you find out, have I?" Matt paced the room feverishly. "I go crazy when you just flirt with someone, let alone sleep with them."

"I don't want to-"

"No, you're stuck with this emotionally-crippled albatross around your neck."

"You're not-"

"God, I couldn't even sit with you at the wedding, what the fuck is wrong with me? All this time Colby and Don and everyone was right, I hurt you-"

"Matt!" David snapped. "Just listen to me!"

Stopping, Matt glared at David and folded his arms.

"Wait." David's voice shook with the effort of staying calm. "Maybe things haven't been ideal, but I really do need you."

"To fuck?"

"No! You have given me so much, the way you love me-"

"So it is all about the sex."

"Damn it, Matt!" David snarled. "I have just been through hell in the last 24 hours and your solution is just to get up and leave? I should have known you'd never come around to acknowledging you're gay and we're a couple! You've been cowardly since the day we met, and you're still a coward!"

"Coward, huh?" Matt shot back. "Try this for coward!" He spun around, opened the apartment door and slammed it behind him.

David jumped up and stared wildly at the door. Then he turned, picked up one of Matt's ceramic dragons, and threw it full force against the wall.

Chapter Text


Some Cooler Heads (Are Needed) -

David gazed unseeing at the heap of ceramic that had once been one of Matt's prized dragons. His chest felt impossibly tight. Was this what a panic attack felt like? No, it felt like dying.

Forcing his lungs to expand, David took in a few deep breaths and struggled to think. Should he run after Matt right now? Would it be better to let Matt cool down? He should try to talk to him later, when they were both calmer.

David shook his head and pulled open the door. He headed towards the parking lot, though he knew he was probably too late.

He rounded the corner and saw Matt sitting silently on a parking barrier, facing away from him. David approached, making sure that Matt could hear him coming. He didn't want to know what damage an angry, startled black belt could do to him.

Matt didn't look at David when he sat down.

They sat for a moment, before Matt said hollowly, "You're right, I am a coward."

"No," David said. "I'm sorry I said that."

"But it's true. I'm afraid of everything, or at least anything that matters."

"C'mon, Matt, don't be-" David stopped his irritated reply and took another breath. He carefully moved closer to Matt and put his arm around his shoulders.

"Baby," he said gently. "You've just had a very scary experience. Now isn't the time to make big decisions."

Matt gave a bitter snort. "Maybe it's the only time I can."

"Let's just use it as a catalyst to conversation, okay?"

"Catalyst?" Matt said, looking at David with a slight smile. "You've been hanging out with us nerds too long."

"I don't mind."

Matt's smile vanished and he looked away. "Well, just for two more weeks, then you won't have to anymore."

Chapter Text

Some Statements (Need to Be Explained) -

David blinked. "Two weeks? You're giving me your two weeks' notice, like this is a job?"

Matt avoided his eyes. "It's when the rent's due, so I'll try to have a new place by then."

David forced a joke, "You're trying to skip out on rent?"

"Yeah, sorry."

"Sorry?" David said incredulously. "You're apologizing about… Damn it, Matt, you can't just leave me!"

"Yeah, yeah," Matt said bitterly. "You need me."

"I do!" David put his hand on Matt's chin and compelled Matt to meet his eyes. "I do, Baby. I do."

"Why?" Matt asked softly.

David's heart clenched at the despair in Matt's voice. He smiled tremulously. "Because you're my sunlight, my happiness."

"I am?"

"Yes, you've taught me that that there can be goodness and joy in the world, instead of just shame and fear."

"How?"

David released Matt's chin and brushed some hair out of Matt's eyes. "I've never told anybody, ever, the things I've told you."

Matt blinked. "Not even...?"

"No. I told you and you stayed with me anyway."

"Of course!"

David stroked Matt's cheek with his thumb. "Not everyone could. Certainly no one could keep loving me like you do."

"But," Matt protested. "It's because I love you that I'm trying to, for lack of a better phrase, set you free."

David shook his head. "I'll never be free, not truly."

"From your past?"

"Yes, and from caring about you."

"But that's really not-"

"Do you know," David interrupted, "That you're the longest, most stable relationship I've ever had, including family?"

Matt's eyes widened. "Not even your mom? Or when you were married?"

"None of those relationships were particularly stable."

"Huh," Matt said thoughtfully.

"So can't you see," David said, ruthlessly playing the guilt card, "What you leaving would do to me?"

Chapter Text

Some Lines (Need to be Held) -

"David, as much as I want to, we can't go back to how things were."

"I'm glad," David said firmly. "We were stuck."

Matt hunched his shoulders. "I liked stuck."

"I know."

They sat there silently for a moment.

"Now what?" Matt finally asked.

"Good question. But first there's something I've been needing to do." David took Matt's chin and pressed his lips to Matt's. Matt responded instantly, opening his lips and pulling David closer. They kissed for a long time, forgetting that they were in a public place, both pouring into the kiss all the chaos and fear of the last 24 hours.

When they finally broke apart, Matt rested his forehead on David's shoulder. "I needed that, too."

"Yeah," David agreed, quickly suppressing his desire for more. "The next thing," he said, stroking Matt's hair, "is to follow your doctor's prescription and talk to a counselor."

David felt Matt stiffen. "I don't want to talk about personal things to a stranger."

"You don't have to worry about pleasing a stranger," David replied gently. "You can tell them anything without worrying about their judgment."

"I don't worry about people's judgment," Matt said weakly, and David could tell that Matt himself knew he was lying - not in a deceitful way, but in a wishful thinking way.

"So you'll go to a counselor?" David pressed.

Matt made a grumbling sound, deep in his throat. "I'll think about it."

David squeezed Matt's shoulder then carefully held Matt away, forcing him to meet his eyes. How David wanted to give in to those anxious brown eyes, kiss Matt again and tell him that 'whenever' would be fine. Instead, he steeled himself and said, "Matt, we're not going back inside until you commit to seeing a counselor this week."

Chapter Text

Some Threats (May Need to Be Made) -

"I can't see a counselor this week," Matt protested, his eyes wide. "I need to get referrals and an appointment could take months."

"Not if you explain you were just hospitalized for a panic attack."

"And go into counseling with the guy thinking I'm a basket case?"

"Doesn't matter."

Matt flushed and shifted away. "You've never done counseling."

"I have," David said sharply. "Multiple times. I just never opened up to them. Don't make my mistake."

"Hm," Matt mumbled.

David sighed. This was getting nowhere. "Do I need to get everyone else involved?"

Matt's head jerked up. "What?"

"If I have to, I will invite everyone over and let them browbeat you in submission. Don, Will, Colby, Charlie, Alan, Megan, Larry, the mailman, the President, whoever you'll listen to instead of me."

"You wouldn't," Matt said angrily.

David gave him his best implacable FBI agent glare. "Try me."

Matt glared back, his mouth set in a stubborn line.

David held Matt's gaze for a moment, then shook his head. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and looked at Matt again. "I thought you were dying," he said softly. "I've never been so terrified in my life. I'd rather run naked into a gun battle than feel that way again."

Matt's angry glare vanished. He searched David's face for moment, looking for something David couldn't guess. Finally, he said, "Okay."

"Okay?"

"I'll see a counselor."

"This-"

"This week."

Flooded with relief, David gave Matt a big hug. Matt shakily hugged him back.

David pulled back and gave Matt a warm smile. "Thank you."

Matt nodded stiffly.

"C'mon, let's go home," David said, standing up. Matt followed slowly and they started towards their apartment.

Remembering, David stopped in mid-step. "Umm, Matt… You know those nice ceramic dragons you have?"

Chapter Text

Some People (Will Have Questions)-

David and Matt spent the rest of the weekend not talking about anything important. Nothing about deadlines, promises, or even the shattered dragon statue. David tried to make sure that Matt ate and slept well, but eventually Matt snapped at him and David had to back off.

On Monday morning, David reluctantly drove them both into work. Matt swore that he needed be there in person to hand off his project and that he'd let David take him home immediately afterwards.

When they walked into the office together, Matt was overwhelmed by people with questions. It's not every day that someone is carried out on a stretcher. David slipped away and sat at his desk, but there he was descended on by his own questioners. He silently got up and went into a conference room and Don, Colby and Charlie followed. Megan rushed in, out of breath, behind them.

David shut the door and turned to face everyone. "Matt had a panic attack," he said without preamble. "I tried to push him about our relationship and he had a panic attack that landed him in the hospital."

Megan: "Oh my God!"

Charlie: "He what?"

Colby: "Whoa!"

Don: "Dammit, Will was right."

David looked at Don. "Will thought so?"

"Yeah," Don said, running his hand over his hair. "I said he was reading too much into it."

Don nodded. "Matt's finally agreed to see a counselor, though."

Megan: "That's great!"

Charlie: "He what?"

Colby: "Really?"

Don: "It's about time."

"Yeah, this week." David smiled without humor. "His doctor told him to, but I had to threaten to sick all of you on him before he would go."

"Glad we could help," Don said wryly.

David looked at their excited faces and said quietly, "Too bad he's going to leave me anyway."

Chapter Text

Some Lives (Remain Unexamined)-

A wave of questions rolled over David after his pronouncement, too many to answer. He focused in on Don.

"Don," he said quietly, and everyone stopped talking. "Don, he's running away again."

"Why?" Don asked.

"He's scared."

"Of what?"

David clenched his hand into fists until he had squashed the urge to bite Don's head off. Instead, he responded in a calm voice, "How should I know?"

Don shook his head. "So nothing has changed, even after all this time?"

"Sometimes I feel I don't know him any better than the first time I saw him dance."

"Wow."

Yeah, Don, David thought with unexpected bitterness. Not everyone is into minute psychological self-exploration like Will.

"He just thinks like…" David searched for the right words, and ended up with a computer analogy. "His mind is like a black box, even to himself. As long as he doesn't disturb it, it does its job just fine by itself. He doesn't sit around and think about his feelings."

"Sounds kind of like you," Don said.

David glared at him. "At least I can talk about why I care for him. He still says he doesn't know why he loves me, just like he said when we first got together."

"Still says he's not gay?"

"Yeah."

Don snorted derisively. "That's still the stupidest thing I've ever heard from a guy who's lived with his boyfriend for years. I understand not sitting around talking about feelings, but that's way past-"

David interrupted. "He's moving out at the end of the month."

Don pulled up short. "Why then?"

"Rent's due."

Don stared at him open-mouthed, looking like David himself must have looked when Matt gave him such a mundane reason for such a drastic action.

David could only shrug.

Now I will never understand him.

Chapter Text

Some Tensions (May Arise)--

Megan spoke up, "So that's it?"

David blinked at her. "What?"

Her face grew dark. "He's moving out, so you're just giving up on him?"

"I'm not giving up, but he wants to leave, so…"

"'So' what?" Megan snapped. "You're going to let him walk out like some temporary roommate?"

"You want me to hold him hostage, instead?"

"No, but unless you make it clear that this isn't the end for you, it will be the end."

Finally, David could no longer keep his voice calm. "I've made it damned clear. I've made it so clear that a baboon could see it."

"You've made it clear in a gentle way," Megan said. "Maybe it's time you did something more firm."

"I tried and put him in the hospital!"

"Maybe that's what it takes."

"W-what?"

"Another panic attack," Megan said flatly. "It appears to be the only way he'll open his 'black box' and examine his life."

"God, no! I'd rather get shot than go through that again!"

"It can't make the situation worse."

"Of course it can!"

She folded her arms. "So you are giving up on him."

David stared at her. "I'm not going to play games with his life!"

"He's been playing games with your life for years."

"It's not the-"

"David Sinclair," Megan said harshly. "We've all watched you be miserable for years now. I, for one, would rather see this relationship end than go on hurting you."

"So sorry," David snarled, "that my love life is bothering you. Maybe you could just keep your nose out of it and it won't bother you."

"I'd happily stop worrying about love life," Megan fired back, "If you would just start worrying about it! Goddammit, David, are you ever able to think with something other than your dick?"

Chapter Text

Some Accusations (Must be Disputed Forcefully) -

"I do not think with my dick," David growled through gritted teeth.

"No?" Megan said. "With how you fucked your way through the men in this room? Since you've been staying with Matt all this time, I figure the sex must be out of this world, to let him treat you like dirt."

"He does not treat me like-" David shouted, then stopped abruptly. Their heated conversation had been gathering quite a bit of interest from people outside the conference room. He leaned over the table where Megan was sitting, and spoke in a low, tight voice. "Matt has done more for me than anyone in my life, ever. You think I don't worry enough about my love life? You are wrong. It eats away at me every day. But I realized, when Matt got taken away in an ambulance, that none of that mattered. Having Matt in my life is worth the secret relationship and the lies."

Megan leaned towards David and said, "Then how are you going to stop him from leaving you?"

David grunted in frustration and pushed away from the table. He looked around at the others in the room. They looked like they'd been holding their breath.

"Well?" David snapped. "You have something you want to say as well?"

Charlie quickly shook his head, but Don said quietly, "If Will said he was going to move out, I'd tie him up and throw him down in the basement." He smirked. "Though he'd probably like that."

"Yeah," David replied wryly. "I don't have a basement, though."

"Neither do I."

They lapsed into silence, and David felt the familiar weight of helplessness settling on his shoulders. It's all coming apart and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Colby cleared his throat. "I have an idea."

Chapter Text

Some Ideas (Are Very Simple) ---

Everyone turned to stare at Colby. He noticed that even Charlie looked surprised that he'd had formed an original idea. Even after the triple-agent thing, his friends still thought of him as a meathead. Colby pushed aside the irritation with practiced ease.

"The army taught us to break down problems into parts," Colby began. "There are a lot of parts here - Matt won't admit he's gay, Matt demanding secrecy, how he reacts to pressure, but how you need to move forward, how you're getting into trouble because can't tell anyone. There's more, but I think it's the last one that we can do something about."

The others were still staring at him, and he had to push that irritation aside one more time before he could continue. "My idea is this - remember what happened to Steve's wife?" He paused to let them remember Agent Steve Lee-Kalikea's wife who had been kidnapped to force him to lie in court. "Everybody knew it could have been their wife, husband, or kids."

Everyone nodded in sad agreement.

"So… use it," Colby said. "David can explain he's in a serious relationship but doesn't want to tell anyone in case of something bad like that."

David shook his head. "Matt is sure that if I say anything, people will figure out it's him."

"Then lie," Colby said with a shrug. "Tell everyone it's a girl."

Megan jumped in. "Or just let everyone assume. It's not like you haven't had girlfriends before."

"You know," Don said, "this could work. People will want to know, but give them some misleading tidbits and they'll be sure it's some girl at your church."

David still slowly shook his head. "Matt will never agree to it."

Colby looked David in the eye and said, very quietly, "Then don't tell him."

Chapter Text

Some Opinions (Are Varied) -

David stared at Colby. Could that actually work? How would Matt react if he didn't know until afterwards? When he saw that the world hadn't fallen apart?Though there's always the possibility that the world - or at least Matt's world - will fall apart. What if someone asks if my 'serious relationship' is with my roommate? Should I just lie? Will Matt have a panic attack anyway?

"You don't have to decide right now," Don said gently. "Think about it a little."

Megan suggested, "Let Matt recover first. He's just been through a physical and emotional trauma."

Charlie looked uneasy. "I'm not sure you should do it at all without telling him. That could trigger a strong adverse reaction."

David looked back to Colby. He was pleased that his partner had been thinking about how to help him, as opposed to Megan - What the hell was that about? - who thought he should just dump Matt. As if Matt was only a passing fancy, someone David was staying with because the sex was good and he paid his rent on time.

Just the idea of being without Matt… It felt like a pair of huge black hands had reached into his chest and were squeezing his heart inside their meaty fists.

"I'd do it today," Colby said quietly. "Waiting this long has only made things worse and Matt more… entrenched."

But maybe Matt doesn't plan on leaving any more, David fretted. Maybe he's just not told me. Do I want to put our new understanding in jeopardy? Another internal voice scoffed, 'New understanding'? As in you 'understand' that you're going to live in tense uncertainty until one morning you wake up without him?

David squared his shoulders. "I'll do it. I'll get Matt out of here, then I will… I'll tell everyone."

Chapter Text

Some Apologies (Backfire)-

As they filed out of the room, Megan gathered her nerve and said, "David?"

David stopped, his face unreadable, and let the others leave. In the years she'd know him, she'd only seen him show deep emotion a few times - like just a moment ago when she'd said some rather awful things.

"I'm sorry," Megan said when they were alone. "I didn't know until how mad I still was."

David just looked at her.

"When all that stuff happened with Don," Megan continued, "I blamed you. When you started with Matt, it just seemed like the same hustle all over again. But this time you're the one getting hurt and…"

"You think I deserve it," David stated coolly.

Megan winced. "Some. But then you stayed with him, and I can't understand why."

Without changing expression, David said, "I'm sure you've spent hours speculating about me. You thought if you could just slot me into one of your profiles, everything would make sense."

Megan winced again, because he was spot on. "David, I-"

"Look past your psych degree. Matt is good for me. He-"

David stopped himself and turned away from her, gripping the doorframe tightly. Finally, he said, quietly but clearly, "I trust him."

"But-" Megan started, but David walked out. She stared after him thoughtfully. So he trusted Matt to do the right thing with their relationship? But Matt had shown no signs of…

Megan sucked in her breath as what David had really said struck her. David, who talked as little as possible, who kept his closest friends at arms' length, who had suffered God knows what in his life but never revealed any of it, had finally found someone that he could trust.

She stared at David's retreating back and murmured, "Now I understand."

Chapter Text

Some Office Tasks (Must be Done in Person) -

When Matt finally got to his desk, he found an angry Stendhauser.

"What are you doing here?" Stendhauser demanded. It was the same tone she used when talking to her children after they'd done something foolish.

"I need to hand off the new data processing algorithm to Raphael," Matt said, as he logged in to his computer.

"You don't need-" Stendhauser started, but she was thankfully interrupted by the just-mentioned Raphael.

"Thanks tons, Li," Raphael snapped. "They're announcing a new policy about how many hours you can log from home. There goes my paycheck."

Matt winced, particularly because exhaustion hadn't really been the cause of his collapse. "Sorry, man. I'll make it up to you."

"How?"

"The algorithm's almost done but you can claim lots more time on it while you play Warcraft."

Raphael looked slightly mollified as Matt handed him a USB drive and a folder with confidential paperwork.

"Email me if you have questions," Matt said and turned back to his computer. He hadn't actually needed to come into the office for the project, rather to shut down some programs left running when he was taken away in an ambulance Friday. In particular was a sophisticated cryptography program he was developing - and what he used to exchange private and often explicit email with David. He'd kept all of their emails to each other, partially to test each revision of the code, but mostly because he couldn't bear to get rid of anything David gave him. However, he'd also saved the emails on his computer in simple text and didn't want anyone else to be reading them.

Stendhauser grabbed Matt's chair and turned him to face her. "Alright," she snapped. "What are you doing here, what happened, and how the hell did David let you get that way?"

Chapter Text

Some Misconceptions (Clear Up Unexpectedly)-

Matt quickly shushed Stendhauser. She was a good friend, and one of the few people who knew that David was much more than a roommate to Matt. In fact, she'd known that Matt had been interested in David before Matt himself did.

Quietly, he said, "Don't blame David."

Stendhauser shook her head. "How could he just ignore you getting exhausted?"

Matt frowned. "He's not responsible for me."

"Well, obviously someone needs to be, if you-"

"Wait," Matt said. He looked around, but no one was within earshot. He lowered his voice and said, "It wasn't exhaustion."

"I didn't think so," Stendhauser said. "You're really sick, aren't you? Cancer?"

"What?" Matt blinked. "No, no, nothing like that! It was a panic attack."

"Good! Good," she said, smiling. Then she eyed him. "You had a panic attack?"

Matt sighed and pushed his bangs away from his eyes. "David kinda gave me an ultimatum about moving our relationship forward."

"Good for him!" Stendhauser said firmly. "It's past time you two came clean!"

"We aren't doing anything 'dirty'!"

"If you have to keep the relationship secret, then something's wrong."

"It's not wrong, just private."

Stendhauser raised her eyebrows. "So you don't mind David flirting with that agent from San Diego?"

Matt winced. "Of course I do, but it would look funny if he didn't. People might wonder if we're more than roommates."

"Would that be so bad?"

"Yes!" Matt stammered. "I'm not gay!"

Stendhauser stared at him. "But you are."

Matt clenched his fists. "No, I'm not!"

Stendhauser slowly shook her head. "I take back all those nasty things I've ever thought about David. See, I always thought he was taking advantage of you, because you're so in love with him. Now I know that up you're the deadbeat bum in the relationship."

Chapter Text

Some Friends (Can be Blunt)-

"Hey!" Matt protested. "I'm not a deadbeat bum!"

"Matt," Stendhauser said gently. "What would you call someone who refuses to let a relationship grow but also refuses to end it?"

"Happy?" Matt snapped. "Happy where I am right now?"

"Is David happy?"

"Of course!" Matt said sharply. "Why is everyone butting in?"

"Because we care about you." She put her hand on his arm. "Matt, we've been friends a long time and I love you like you were one of my own kids. But if you were one of my kids I'd be whapping you upside the head and saying, 'Wake up! You're about to lose something really important.'"

Matt grumbled under his breath and turned away.

David walked up. "You ready to go home?"

"Yes!" Matt said, powering down his computer. "I'm feeling besieged here."

"I know what you mean," David said wryly.

Matt eyed him and noticed that there were tension lines around his eyes and mouth. Had he gotten his own talking-to? Probably from Don and company, especially Megan. She's never really liked me.

As Matt got up, he wobbled a little.

David immediately helped steady him. "You okay?"

"Just tired," Matt said and realized that he indeed was very tired. Maybe a week off of work was just what he needed. He leaned on David's arm and they walked that way to the elevator.

They rode the elevator down in silence. There seemed to be a lot of uncomfortable silence between them lately. They walked to David's car and David opened the passenger door and helped Matt in. Matt settled gratefully back into the seat, exhaustion washing over him.

David looked around, then leaned down and brushed his lips across Matt's. "Just rest here and I'll be back in few minutes. Got something I need to do."

Chapter Text

Some Announcements (Are Long Overdue)-

David rode back up in the elevator, his heart starting to pound. Was he actually going to do this? Could he even say the words, after holding them back so long?

He walked into the office and caught Don's eye. Don nodded and whistled loudly to get everyone's attention.

"Brief in five about the robberies," Don called out.

David smiled faintly at Don. A briefing about the recent high-stakes robberies would be a good excuse to get the whole office together. He went and stared at his computer until Don whistled again and everyone began to gather.

David hardly heard Don's briefing. His hands were sweating and he kept needing to wipe them on his pants.

Finally, Don finished up, then said, "Hang on, everybody. David has something he wants to say."

The whole crowd looked at him and David felt the weight of their curiosity. He had no doubt there had been a lot of gossiping about David's obvious flirtation with Janice, then leaving with her. He hoped that no one had connected that to Matt's episode.

David cleared his throat. "I just wanted to clear up some stories that might be floating around, before the rumor mill gets a little out of hand."

A number of people laughed - the rumor mill was notorious for distorting news - and their curious gazes only intensified.

"Agent Wilburn - Janice - was here last week and people might have thought we were getting pretty friendly. But that wasn't what was going on." His mouth felt dry and his palms wet. He swallowed and continued, "In fact, once Janice and I could speak privately, I told her what I'm now going to tell all of you.

He took a deep breath and said, "I'm already in a committed relationship and have been for some time."

Chapter Text

Some Rumors (Must be Redirected)-

David spoke over the babble of comments and questions. "I believe in having a life separate from work, and I've gone to great lengths to make that happen, but Janice brought it to my attention - rather forcefully," he rubbed his jaw like he'd been hit, "that I'm being dishonest to anyone who might think I'm available."

Questions came at David from every direction.

"Who is she?"

"Are you married?"

"What's her name?"

"Does she work here?"

"Are you hiding some kids, too?"

Over them, David said, "There might be a rumor going around that I keep it secret because my girlfriend's family disapproves of me, but that's not the reason at all."

"Who'd believe that?"

"What's the problem?"

"C'mon, spill!"

"Who is she?"

David held up his hand. "I'm not going to answer any questions because there's a real reason I keep it secret." He took a breath then began the misdirection. "I have a dangerous job, and I accept that. But too many times I've seen friends and families pulled into that danger."

He looked around until he saw Agent Steve Lee-Kalikea. "I really worry about something like what happened to Steve."

People went silent. Steve's wife's kidnapping had hit everyone in the office hard. She'd survived, but it had been a close thing. It was every LEO's nightmare to have their loved ones threatened or hurt because of their job.

"So," David said, "now you understand why I've never told you. I'm not ashamed of the relationship, it's been really good. But I'm not going to give you any information, even a name, because I just couldn't live if something happened." He paused to let that to sink in. "So don't ask me or try to find out. You'd be putting someone very important to me in danger."

Chapter Text

Some Congratulations (May be Premature) --

There was a heavy silence as everyone thought about their own loved ones who might be in danger. David smiled apologetically. "Just wanted you all to know that this stallion has been corralled."

"And gelded," Colby added and everyone laughed, more from relief of tension than anything.

"And…" David said. "And that's it, that's all I wanted to say."

Don stepped up and said, "So get on those robberies, people." He shooed the crowd away. "Carry on."

Don turned to David with a big smile on his face. He clapped David on the shoulder and Colby and Charlie shook his hand. Megan gave him a big hug.

"Welcome to the Publicly Committed," Don said. "How does it feel?"

David wiped his sweating hands on his pants. "I don't know."

"Glad you used my idea," Colby said.

"Yeah," David replied. "It really stopped the questions."

"Won't stop people from being curious," Megan said. "And even fishing a little."

The rest of the office was going slowly back to their desks, chatting in groups of three or four. David had no doubt they were discussing him, not the latest robbery case. Asking each other about any clues I might have dropped in the last while. I hope the word 'girlfriend' was enough of a diversion.

"I'm sure people noticed that we didn't look too surprised, so they know we know," Don said, then added, almost angrily. "Of course, we know!"

"You never technically lied," Charlie said, sounding impressed. "Just didn't correct erroneous inferences on gender."

David gave Charlie a weak smile. So he hadn't technically lied, but he sure felt like he had.

The remaining people were now returning to their desks, and, by habit, David looked over at Matt's desk…

…to see Matt standing there, all blood drained from his face.

Chapter Text

Some Items (Should Be Left Behind) --

I should have just left my jacket…I should have just left my jacket… kept running though Matt's mind as he witnessed David coolly dismantling his life. The car had been too cold for sleeping, so Matt had come back up for the jacket he kept in his desk. Just in time to hear David make his declaration. His confession.

'…committed relationship…girlfriend's family…dangerous job…if anything happened…stallion corralled…carry on…'

No one turned to look at Matt. No one pointed at him. No one called out his name, not yet.

He was too numb to feel angry. He was too numb to feel anything. Including his hands and feet.

"Matt!" Someone grabbing his arms. Were they congratulating him or arresting him?

"Hey, just sit down!" It was Stendhauser, trying to steer him into a chair.

"Matt!" said someone else, someone with a dark honey voice and strong hands. "Shit, baby, you were supposed to be gone!"

Gone… The word echoed in Matt's ears. All gone…

"You look awful," Stendhauser snapped. "I said you were too sick to come in today."

She knows why…she knows…and now everyone else does too…

Other people, voices, helping him into the elevator, into David's car. Someone…his boss telling him that he was not to show his face here for two more weeks under threat of losing his job, along with vital parts of his anatomy.

You see now…you see…you all see me now…

David fumbled Matt into his seatbelt, his hands shaking. He shut the door, came around to the driver's seat, shut that door.

"Goddamnit, Matt!" David said. "Why did you come back? I was going to tell you, just not like this!"

Matt looked over at him. The golden undertones of David's skin had turned grey.

"I needed my jacket," Matt said, then closed his eyes.

Chapter Text

Some Silences (Are Deafening)--

David got no more from Matt after the comment about his jacket. Matt kept his eyes closed until they got home, then silently let David help him into the apartment and up to the bedroom. There Matt lay down, his back to David, and David could only leave him there and go back to work.

After David got home that evening, he tried talking to Matt again, but Matt shut him out and ate dinner in his office. The day after that was more of the same and the day after that. Matt barely spoke to him, and he certainly didn't touch him. David felt numb, cut off from himself and everything around him. He couldn't even feel angry at Matt or himself for causing this mess. David's friends tried to help, but he pushed them away.

David spent most of his waking hours at work, reading through cold cases until his eyes burned. He ate take-out at his desk and only went home to sleep. Matt, still on medical leave, slept during the days and was awake every night. David only knew Matt was around by the faint sound of Matt's music coming from his office.

Matt's self-imposed deadline for leaving got closer. David saw no signs of packing, but that didn't mean anything - Matt could move out with just his laptop and a suitcase of clothes. In a way, Matt had already left.

Late Thursday evening, David was reluctantly gathering his things to go home. He contemplated going for a drink before heading to his grim apartment. A drink would give him an excuse for the numbness.

As he was leaving, Don said, "See you Monday."

"See ya," David said automatically and pressed the elevator button.

Suddenly all thoughts of a drink vanished. Tomorrow was Friday.

That Friday.

Chapter Text

Some Responses (Aren't Heard) -

When David got home, he found Matt sitting at the kitchen table, fiddling with a business card.

"Hi?" David asked.

"Hi," Matt replied tightly. "Do you still want to go tomorrow?"

David grimaced. Their long-ago scheduled night at the Guild was tomorrow, but the last thing David wanted to do was go to a sex club with his silent, angry soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend.

"I knew it!" Matt snapped. "I've only been planning this for weeks!"

"I'll go," David said.

"I've put a lot of time and effort into making an amazing fantasy that might maybe wipe out the bad memories you have of that place, but do you care?"

"Okay, I'll go."

"It was your idea in the first place, and now you're skipping out even after all that work and measuring and watching freaky videos. It's probably just because I made it clear I'm not interested in having sex in public, but could we at least just go and have a nice meal that I think you'll love and-"

"Hey!" David interrupted. "I said, I'd go."

Matt blinked. "You will?"

"Never said I wouldn't," David grumbled. "Just with the way things are between us, I figured you didn't want to go."

"We can still go." Matt gave an uncomfortable shrug. "It'll still be fine."

"Yeah," David lied. Part of the point for him was to go as boyfriends, to be out together. But they weren't even together in private any more.

"One last hurrah before I move out, huh?" Matt said with forced cheerfulness.

David sighed. So Matt hadn't changed his mind.

"Here's the place for tomorrow morning," Matt said, handing him the business card he'd been holding. "11am."

"Got it," David said. "I'll be there."

Then he turned and walked back out of the apartment, heading for that drink.

Chapter Text

Some Mistakes (Are Made with Open Eyes) -

David didn't drink much Thursday night. He knew he'd need his head clear for Friday.

On Friday at 11am, his head was fine, but his stomach was queasy as he stood outside the For Men Only Spa. Walking through that door meant committing to whatever scene Matt had created for the evening. Though David could technically stop at any time, he didn't want to go into this half-heartedly. Only in committing could he find the answers he needed about his and Matt's relationship.

David sighed and sat on a nearby bench. What sort of relationship did they have now, anyway? He supposed he should be happy that Matt wanted to go through with this evening at all. It meant Matt would have to spend time with him, at least.

However, David knew from experience that just being at the Guild, with all the sex and perversion on display, he'd get very turned on. Matt had made it clear that he wasn't going to have sex in public. Would Matt just let him quietly jerk off?

Groaning, David ran his hand over his head. What he should be worrying about was whether his and Matt's relationship would survive the unbelievable intensity of the Guild. David had lost one relationship to the Guild already, and that relationship had been more sexually open but a lot less important. Would David not be able to forget his last horrible experience at the Guild? Would Matt, with his panic attacks, even survive the evening? This was all a mistake.

David laughed bitterly under his breath. Going forward was probably the worst mistake he could make, but he couldn't seem to stop making mistakes with Matt. He might as well go out with one huge, final, soul-shattering mistake.

He stood up and walked to the door.

Chapter Text

Some Specials (Are Too Special) -

David pushed the door open and entered the chrome and LED waiting area of the For Men Only Spa. The place was as sleek as a dance club, oozing masculinity. It felt almost familiar. He snorted under his breath as he realized this place reminded him of the 'for men only' strip club where he'd first seen Matt dance. He wondered if it also had a catwalk and pulsing music.

"Glad you decided to come in!" said the perfectly manicured man behind the desk. "Do you have an appointment?"

"11 o'clock, David Sinclair."

The man looked down at his computer screen. "Oh! You are a lucky man - you're prepaid for the Boyfriend's Special!"

"What's that?"

"The whole shebang - mani-ped, skin exfoliation and wrap, massage, full body sugaring, facial…"

"What's sugaring?"

"It's like waxing, but much less painful."

"Oh," David said. "Wait, full body?"

"Hang on," the man said, holding up his hand and David relaxed. Matt liked his beard and normal body hair, right? They probably just meant a 'sugaring' for his head.

After examining his computer screen again, the man looked up at him. "Not a full body sugaring. My mistake." He grinned. "You get to keep your eyebrows."

Chapter Text

Some Moments (Before the Plunge)-

Matt paced back and forth in his apartment. He clenched and unclenched his fists, his chest feeling tighter... He sat down and tried to do the calming techniques he'd learned since his collapse.

It was a struggle to force air into his lungs, hold it, and let it out slowly, but finally, his chest loosened. Leaning forward, he rested his head in his hands. The next 24 hours-hell the next seven-were so crazy important yet so much could go wrong. It could have already started going wrong, with David's appointment at the spa. Had David even shown up? Could Matt count on David having that much interest left in their relationship? David hadn't even commented when he had prodded him about that stupid moving-out deadline. Had he burned up all of David's patience and faith while he'd been focused on himself? Was the Guild just too much, too late?

Matt jumped to his feet and got his phone. The man at the spa assured him that David had appeared on time and had agreed to all the scheduled services with only minor complaining. Matt ended the call, somewhat reassured. At least David was there, accepting the first in the long line of challenges set in front of him.

Sighing, Matt sat down again. They weren't supposed to be challenges, per se, at least not in terms of David proving something to him. Rather, in this 'scene' that Matt had labored over, he hoped that David could prove some things to himself. And maybe, if everything went well and Matt could fight against the fear that constantly threatened his breathing, he could prove a few things to David as well.

Finally, Matt's phone chimed and it was time for him to leave for his own appointment.

Here we go…

Chapter Text

Some Travel (Can Build Anticipation)-

Even the plush leather seats of the limousine couldn't distract David from the strange sensation of his shaved body. He kept shifting positions and rubbing his bare chin, now smooth as silk. Somehow the spa had made his freshly-exposed skin pliable and comfortable. It must have been all those herbal treatments, exfoliation, massage, sauna. He'd never been quite so… worked over in a non-sexual way before. He'd actually enjoyed it, though he wasn't sure he was going to admit that to Matt.

Shifting again, David looked around the interior of the limousine. It had a bar, television, computer, packed refrigerator, but it was like a cocoon because the windows and skylight were completely blacked out -- in a tasteful way, of course. In the past, David had driven himself to the Guild, but maybe they'd moved and were keeping the new location even more of a secret. The limo had been travelling for a lot longer, anyway, than it would have taken to get to the old location.

David gazed at the black windows and started to feel the beginnings of excitement. Matt had already surprised him with this spa thing, what else might he have planned? After all, Matt had started planning things before their big, silent fight. Maybe seeing David in the scene he'd devised would remind Matt of the dreams they used to have together.

David laughed wryly. The spa's scented candles must have affected his brain. Having 'dreams' meant looking at the future together, and he and Matt had always been very careful to not look ahead. They hardly even planned for the weekend. In fact, this evening might be the farthest ahead that they'd ever planned something together.

'One last hurrah,' Matt had said.

David could only hope it was a hell of a hurrah.

Chapter Text

Some Papers (Might Remain Unread)--

"We'll be arriving in five minutes," came a voice from the speaker in front of David's seat in the limo. "Please make sure you have affixed your mask."

David blinked. He'd been thinking about the first time he kissed Matt, instead of thinking of the evening ahead. He hadn't even been paying attention to where the Guild's limo had been taking him. Yes, the windows and skylight were blacked out, but he could still listen. He closed his eyes and noticed what he'd been hearing for a few minutes - the unmistakable sounds of the LA Port. The Guild's new location must be in one of the many warehouses here. The limo driver had taken a very long route to get here.

He looked over at the mask that had been on the seat next to him. It was gold-colored half-mask, made of some sort of rubberized plastic. It also, strangely, had cat's ears. He put it on and was surprised to find it very soft. It molded to his face, almost like skin, and he immediately forgot he was wearing it.

Underneath the mask had been a burgundy document envelope with a gold tassle. This, David knew, had to be the scene instructions. Everything laid out in complete detail, so there would be no surprises. David grimaced. No rape fantasies to be sprung on unsuspecting boyfriends.

Then again, maybe Matt was into rape fantasies and David was about to make a terrible mistake. Again.

David shook his head and pulled out the papers and a pen. Squinting, so he couldn't read the print, he flipped through the pages and initialed and signed where highlighted. Then he shoved the papers unread back into the envelope.

If Matt was going to burn him, David wanted it to be total, unexpected, and…

Utterly fatal.



Chapter Text

Some Reintroductions (To an Unfamiliar Place) --

David stepped out of the limo. The driver, now wearing a simple white mask similar to David's gold cat one, held out his hand. David gave him the signed documents and a smile he hoped looked anticipatory. The limo was parked inside a garage, next to a large, black door with G.R.R.G on it in gold and burgundy.

Standing by the door was a tall white woman, also wearing a mask. "Mr. Sinclair. Welcome back."

David recognized her voice from the voicemail that had started this whole venture. She gave a thank-you wave to the driver.

"I'm Bix," she said, holding out her hand.

David shook it and followed as she opened the door into a wide corridor. Turning to the left, she opened another door marked 'Staff Only.' They walked up a narrow corridor of closed doors.

"I hope Ziegfeld has been taking good care of you," she said, referring to the scene-coordinator that Matt had been plotting with.

David nodded noncommittally.

"Your partner has been doing his best to bankrupt us," Bix said cheerfully. "I don't mind. I've been…haunted by the tape of your experience since I saw it, years ago."

David grimaced.

"On to new and better experiences!" Bix reached the end of the corridor and a door that said 'Director.' Inside was a large office, cluttered with paperwork, costumes, and props of all sorts.

Bix continued, "I wracked my brain for what might give additional comfort to your experience tonight, and I thought I might offer you a privilege very few have ever been allowed." She winked at him. "And they paid a ton of money."

She went to a door on the far wall. "This is my personal balcony."

She opened the door and gestured for David to step through. "Come see the new Guild."



Chapter Text

Some Layouts (Have to Be Seen to be Understood) -

When David stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the heart of the Guild, he had trouble processing what he was seeing. In defense, he looked straight ahead versus down. The Guild was built inside a massive former warehouse. The offices like the one in which he stood were in a story above the floor, overlooking what must have been a manufacturing facility. The high ceiling was lowered with hanging acoustical tiles.

Then David looked down. Spread out before him was a huge floor and everywhere was the timeless, unmistakable movements of sex. He slowly began to sort out at least the outlines of what he was seeing. Snaking through the room, like organic vine tendrils, were two waist-high structures that divided the floor into many smaller areas.

"You're in F23," Director Bix said behind him. She pointed to a picture on the door next to him that David had thought was artwork. Now he saw it was a diagram. The winding walls segmented the floor into 56 large and small numbered circular areas. F23 was one of the larger areas. He tried to find the spot on the actual floor but his eyes kept getting diverted by intriguing activities.

He could see that the sides of the vast floor were lined with doors. Checking on the diagram, he saw that they were rooms, labeled P1-P43. Some of the rooms had dotted lines, so could be made larger, for private parties. Also on the diagram, on the far side of the room, were areas labeled 'Bar' and 'Meetup Board.' He looked out across the room and dimly made them out.

Bix waited another moment for him to look, then said, "This view costs a lot of money. What I'm going to show you next, there's no amount you can pay to see."



Chapter Text

Some Views (Aren't For Everyone)--

David looked for another moment at the Guild from above - some activity in the far corner looked particularly interesting - then he turned and left the balcony.

"Thank you," he told Director Bix. The Guild in its previous incarnation had always been sensory overload, so he appreciated seeing the layout before being plunged into it. "Did my…partner see this?"

"No," Bix said curiously. She would have no idea Matt was a total babe-in-the-woods when it came to sex. "Do you think he needs to?"

David thought then shook his head. Matt must have seen the diagram for the floor when he made the reservation.

Bix directed him down another hallway. At a numbered door, she put her hand on a sensor pad. After a beep, she pushed the door open. There was another door on the other side. She waited until David followed her in, then shut the first door behind them. The second door had a number key pad which she covered then typed in.

On the far side of this security was a large room full of giant, crystal-clear screens. They showed every section of the Guild, like massive walls of bizarre porn. There were even sections showing the bar, dressing rooms, and entranceway. A dozen people were watching the screens intently.

"You are the only non-staff person that has ever been in this room," Bix said. "Privacy is everything to the Guild."

One screen-watcher looked up at David and her eyes widened. She quickly turned back to the screens.

Bix said quietly, "This is one line of defense that what happened to you never happens again."

David swallowed. He wanted to forget that, but Bix kept bringing it up.

Then he saw something on one screen that made his heart pound harder than any sex display.

Matt had arrived.

Chapter Text

Some Arrivals (Are Jarring) -

On the screen, Matt was stepping out of a limo like the one David had arrived in. He was also wearing a gold mask, but different than David's.

Bix was talking to David. Something about security and privacy and how recordings were stored and managed. There were some phrases that David recognized as cutting-edge security that Matt would love to hear about, but all David could do was look at Matt on the screen.

Matt looked excited, chatting to the limo driver. Or was it agitation, anxiety? Seeing Matt here, on these screens, juxtaposed against out-there sex scenes made David nauseous. What was David doing, bringing Matt here? Matt was an innocent. David hadn't even considered taking him to the Watson anniversary orgy. David was Matt's one and only male sex partner. Maybe this place would give Matt ideas, thoughts about other men. Maybe Matt would want to go back to experimenting with things like breath play. Maybe Matt would just melt down.

This wasn't going to save their relationship, it was going to destroy it. Just like what happened with Geena after the disastrous rape scene. But Geena had been just another in a series of enjoyable but shallow relationships, nothing like what he had with Matt.

He should have talked with Matt about their issues, quiet and thoughtful conversations where he showed how much Matt meant to him, even with the hiding.

Instead they were at a sex club where Matt would be battered with sights and sounds of high-end perversion, and there would be no conversation possible.

What the fuck had he been thinking?

"Mr. Sinclair?" Bix said, in a tone of voice that implied she'd said his name more than once.

David blinked and looked at her.

She smiled. "It's time to get your scene started."



Chapter Text

Some Procedures (Carry You Along) -

David swallowed the urge to tell Bix he wanted to forget the whole thing. It was too late now.

Bix led him out of the video room, down the hall, back out the 'Staff' door, and into the main corridor. "Would you like to meet up with your partner after you're dressed?"

David nodded automatically. He didn't want to see Matt at all.

She took an earpiece out of her pocket and put it in her ear. "Hold guest 62A."

Smiling, she gestured for David to go ahead. The plushly-carpeted corridor quickly became a slope and spiraled in a gentle curve downwards. The walls were lined with burgundy fabric and decorated with wooden figures accented with gold - stylized nudes of people with all body types.

On the floor below the office level was another corridor lined with doors. These had wooden-gold numbers. Bix opened door number 4 and waved David in.

"Your dresser will be in shortly. I'll set up your partner in another room."

David nodded and she left. He wondered why she kept calling Matt his partner. Was that standard Guild terminology or did Matt use it? It made David feel warm to think that Matt might have suggested the word.

David shook his head. Matt would never admit their relationship to anyone. Then again, one of David's few requirements for the scene were that they would be obviously a couple. About the only other things David had mentioned was some sort of fanciful costumes.

Frowning, David looked around the lavish dressing room. There was no costume on a hanger, like he expected. Just a flat white box on a table.

He went over to the box. Opening it, he found only a large pile of gold chains.

"Hello!" said a voice. "I see you've found your outfit."

Chapter Text

Some Preliminaries (Before Getting Dressed)

"I'm Starre," said a short, round black woman. "Would you prefer a male dresser?"

"It's fine," David pointed to the chains. "This is my outfit?"

"Yes," she frowned.

David belatedly remembered he was supposed to know what his outfit was. "I mean, it looks complicated."

Her face cleared. "I agree! Ziggy gave me instructions though. First things first, please put all your clothes, cellphone and any other recording devices into that bin."

David undressed. It had been years since he'd been to the Guild and was unused to being naked around strangers.

Starre pulled aside a curtain to show a full body scanner. After he put his things in a large numbered bin, she said, "Great! Please stand here."

He stood in place while she ran a scan. The Guild was serious about privacy.

"Alright!" Starre said. "Now to the fun part. Plug first, I think." She held up a small box. "Shall I insert it?"

"I got it." David took the box and looked around.

"Bathroom behind that screen."

"Thanks."

David took the box to the bathroom. Inside was a gold butt plug with gold flecks. He was surprised. He wasn't sure Matt realized he had an asshole. Matt was adamant about not wanting to fuck David, because he 'wasn't gay'.

Shrugging, David used the toilet, cleaned himself, then inserted the plug with some handy lube. It felt strange - he hadn't been fucked for ages - but quickly settled into place. It rubbed his prostate lightly as he moved. Wonderful… He was going to have a difficult enough time here as it was, considering Matt had made it clear they wouldn't be having sex.

Starre smiled as he emerged. "Fit well?"

"Yes." David looked at the chains, but Starre held up a small pot.

"Shall we start with the paint?"



Chapter Text

Some Foundation (Before the Art) -

"Let's start with the paint," David said, pretending he knew what she meant.

Starre pulled out a stepstool. "Please stand on this."

David stepped up and watched as she opened the small pot of clear gel. She got out a small brush and began 'painting' his legs.

"Wow, your skin is so smooth and supple. We're not going to need much of this."

"Got a spa treatment today," David said, looking straight ahead as she covered his lower body, except cock and balls, with a thin layer of gel.

"Very nice! Making a day of it really enhances the whole experience. Now the powder."

David looked down and she had a second pot, this one full of gold powder. She took a makeup brush and deftly dusted powder over all the gel areas. The powder adhered to the gel.

"Okay, now swap. I'll get the stepstool. You're too tall for me, everyone's too tall for me."

David smiled automatically. He stepped off the stool and she stepped on. He stood close by and she covered his whole upper body with the gel.

She asked, "Would you like some under your mask, in case you choose to remove it?"

David took off the mask and closed his eyes. Everyone at the Guild already knew him on sight anyway.

She covered his face and head with the gel, then the powder.

"Okay, turn around slowly for me, in case I missed a spot."

Eyes still closed, David revolved slowly. The gel was already drying, he could hardly feel it anymore.

"Lovely!" Starre said. "Check out the effect."

Starre pulled back a curtain to show a body-length mirror.

David stared at himself. The powder gave him subtle gold glints everywhere. He didn't look like a metal statue, just… shimmering.

"Now for the outfit."



Chapter Text

Some Outfits (Are Golden)-

David watched as Starre took the gold chains out of the box. There were larger, medium and fine chains, connected in places, along with larger gold flat pieces. Starre muttered to herself as she moved the parts around, arranging them in some way that made sense to her. At the bottom of the box, David finally saw a bit of fabric.

"Go ahead and put that on while I figure this out," Starre said.

David picked up the gold-striped fabric sack. Then he remembered an area the Guild tailor had measured. He slid the sack over his soft cock and balls and drew the string tight against his freshly waxed skin.

"Okay, step right here," Starre said.

David put his feet in the middle of the chains where Starre instructed. Closing his eyes, he let Starre move chains up his legs.

He gritted his teeth. He knew Matt could be tone-deaf but surely even he realized that you don't put a black man in chains?

David could feel and hear chains being pulled up his legs to his waist. More chains around his waist, up his torso, down his arms. They didn't feel heavy, except in a few places.

"Stay put," she said.

David stood still, thinking this was another sign that things were going to go very bad this evening. Why did Matt need to put David in chains? Was this how Matt saw their relationship - as a master and slave? Would the slave collar around his neck be next?

Starre fussed with things for a moment, then she said, "Wow."

David opened his eyes. She was grinning and waved for David to turn and look in the mirror.

He turned slowly, dreading the moment.

What he saw in the mirror made him stare and stare.

Then he understood.



Chapter Text

Some Comprehension (From the Mirror)

David stared at himself in the full-length mirror. He'd put his gold cat mask back on, or maybe he wouldn't have understood.

The thin chains were formed together like the seams of a body suit, though it more emphasized his nakedness than covered it. At his forearms and calves were small teeth-like shapes attached on top of the chains. At his waist and draped across his collar-bone were heavier chains with more sharp oblong gold shapes.

With the gold body powder, every muscle was outlined in high relief. He had never looked more buff.

"Your shoes."

She slid onto David's feet two gold slippers with claw toes.

"Last piece," Starre said, and she attached a transparent gold cape to the collar-chains. The cape stood up stiffly behind his head and swirled down to his ankles.

David nodded. "Christopher Priest."

"What?"

"Christopher Priest. Wrote 62-issues of Black Panther from '98 to '03."

"Oh?"

"Reshaped the character. Made him from a random black crusader to a strategic mastermind with a full backstory. One of my all-time favorites."

"Cool."

Because with the chains and paint and…

David had been transformed into a gold and sex version of Black Panther. He never would have imagined it, but somehow Matt had.

David straightened up, feeling tall, powerful, majestic. Whoever had designed this knew what they were doing - no sliding about of chains, no clinking, no sagging. It was quite comfortable and he looked like an erotic feline superhero. No suit of armor could make him feel more powerful than this fanciful outfit.

He let out a shuddering breath. Once again Matt had surprised him and this time it was a good thing. Maybe the rest of the evening wouldn't be too bad?

"You're ready to go. Wait until you see the rest of your group!"






Note: This story takes place well before the Black Panther appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so the reference material that Matt had to design the costume from are all comic books.




Chapter Text

Some Preparations (Before the Big Show)--

Imagining the Guild was light years different from being there. Even just the backstage rooms.

Matt looked around the opulent dressing room. He was blushing from the explicit decorations, how was he going to manage actual people? Having actual sex?

Matt shook his head. The first time he stripped he wasn't sure he could handle that. He could do this.

For David.

Matt was already naked among strangers. His dresser, Dai, a small Middle-Eastern man, had just finished his security screening.

Matt picked up something he'd brought from home and asked, "Is Ziggy here?"

"Ziggy? He usually doesn't… come out."

"Oh." Matt had been hoping to meet his scene planner, his co-conspirator.

"Shall we get you dressed?" Dai gestured to a nearby outfit which didn't look promising. Would it fit Matt's fantasies? Would David like it?

Matt was avoiding thinking about David's outfit. It could go so wrong. So many things could go so wrong. He felt his chest starting to tighten and he forced several full breaths.

"This first?" Dai said, holding out a box. "Bathroom is behind you."

Inside the posh bathroom, Matt opened the box to find a gold anal plug. It was shallow and wouldn't reach to stimulate his prostate. But he wanted a visual barrier, in case anyone got ideas.

He lubed and inserted the plug. Then he put on what he'd brought. It settled him a little, and he returned to Dai with more confidence.

Dai helped him into his outfit. The silky fabric slid sensually over his freshly waxed body. He checked the mirror and decided, yes, the outfit worked after all.

He took a deep breath.

The scene was set, the players costumed, the orchestra tuned.

All that was left was to push back the curtain and step out onto the stage.



Chapter Text

Some Steps at Last (Onto the Stage) -

Following his dresser, Dai, down a hall, Matt tried to settle his nerves. What would David look like? What would everything look like? Matt made sure his mask was secure.

Dai reached a door marked 'Floor' next to a door marked 'Private Rooms.' Matt had considered a private room, but one of David's few requirements was that they were a couple in public. They were already a couple in private. Matt frowned. Or at least they had been. Before Matt messed everything up.

Dai opened the 'Floor' door, saying, "You'll meet your group in the staging area. Please do not linger. You'll have a good view from your designated area."

Matt nodded. Dai was presumably not familiar with the details of Matt's scene, so wouldn't know he'd soon have an even better view. Dai waved him to go ahead.

Walking through the door was an assault on the senses. Sights, sounds and actions that Matt couldn't even identify flooded his senses. Even smells and pressure on his skin felt like he was stepping into a swimming pool of sex. Spread out before him was a carnival of humanity, in all colors and constantly moving. Underneath was a subtle exotic music.

It reminded Matt suddenly of a science fiction convention, in terms of color, motion and people focused on their own agendas but also watching others. He could handle this.

Matt took a deep breath, then lost it.

David stood nearby.

Matt felt flashes of hot and cold followed by pure lust. David had been transformed into a superhero god. The gold chains draped perfectly, the paint revealing his sculpted body, the cape framing him. If the Black Panther had been real, he could hardly have looked more sexy.

Matt strode over to David then dropped to one knee. "My King."



Chapter Text

Some Silk (Both Covers and Reveals) –

David laughed in surprise at Matt on one knee. "You like the transformation?"

Matt's admiring eyes roamed David's golden chain-and-paint Black Panther outfit. "Fuck, yes."

David laughed again, feeling lighter and more hopeful. "Rise."

Matt bounced to his feet. David looked Matt over. David hadn't even known that it was Matt at first. He was dressed from head-to-toe in form-fitting white silk, including a white scarf covering his lower face and a sleek white helmet. He had on long yellow gloves and knee-high yellow boots, a white cape with a red interior, and a belt with gold half-moons on the buckle and a matching half-moon on his helmet. His gold mask echoed the shape of cats-eye sunglasses.

David asked, "Who are you supposed to be?"

"C'mon." Matt turned around to show off his outfit.

As Matt twirled, David noticed something that made him remember where they were. Through the partially translucent white silk, David could see the white thong Matt had worn when he stripped.

"Nothing?" Matt said.

David was too busy looking at Matt's fine body in tight silk to answer.

"Gekko Kamen," Matt said, putting his hands on his hips. "Moonlight Mask."

David blinked. "Right, Japanese superhero." He added, teasing, "Trust you to pick a costume that totally hides you."

"Well, I…"

David stepped close and put his hand on Matt's hip, on the strap of his thong.

"Not totally hides, though," David said huskily. "I see you brought something from home."

"Call it a security thong…"

They stood there, David's hand on Matt's skin through the thin silk. David's cock was waking up already. They weren't even on the Guild floor. How was David going to survive not having sex while there were here?

Matt visibly swallowed, then said, "How about we get ready for our ride?"










Chapter Text

Some Additional Players (Join The Scene)—

"Ride?" David asked, following Matt across the staging area. They were heading towards a group of muscular men dressed in white loin-cloths and gold masks.

"Gentlemen," Matt said. "Welcome."

The eight men were all attractive, though that wasn't hard to find in LA. Were these the 'other people' Matt wanted in their scene? What was their role? They came in all skin colors and styles of hair and body art. Was Matt looking for a variety of sex partners? David supposed he should be grateful there were no women here. Maybe they'd be joining them later.

A female Guild staff member David didn't recognize said, "Over here," and gestured to two ornate gold chairs with white cushions.

"You're in front," Matt said. "Have a seat."

David slowly sat in the chair. Why were they sitting here instead in their designated area?

Matt sat in the chair behind him and the men came and stood on each side of their chairs, two to a side. They all seemed to be the same height. The staff member brought out four long rods and the men slid them through braces under the chairs. David realized with a start that they were sedan chairs and the men were going to carry them to their area.

"Before you get too tall," the woman said, then she was putting a loop of fine gold chain around David's waist. Looking behind him, David saw the other end of a perhaps 10-foot chain was getting wrapped around Matt's waist.

David had to chuckle. He'd requested they be an obvious couple, after all. He was going to have to explore Matt's unexpected obsession with chains some other time.

"Okay," the woman said. "On my count. Ready, set, lift!"

Then they were off on a tour of the Guild floor.

Chapter Text

Some Activities (Shock the Eyes) -

David and Matt's chairs wound through the Guild floor on the shoulders of their carriers. David tried to ignore Matt behind him and just check out the action.

…A massively obese woman being fed chocolate cake by two men as they caressed her fat folds….

…A man staring into the distance as a woman inserted hundreds of safety pins through the skin…

…Two women on a plastic-covered bed, their blissed-out grins smeared bright red. More red seeping from between their legs…

David noticed some people looked up as their chairs went by, but most were focused on their own activities.

…A group of about twenty people engaged in every sexual combination possible, their acrobatics made possible by colorful foam building blocks…

…A person hidden by a giant squirrel costume being mounted by a person in a giant cat costume…

…Two men in wrestling singlets grappling on a mat, grinding their erections against each other…

David thought of Colby and smiled.

…Several men wearing horse's masks, hooves for hands and knee pads, with horse tails in their asses, being ridden by women in cowboy outfits. The horseman near David had flanks that were bloody from his rider's spurs…

…Two people, one man and one woman, strapped into side-by-side fuck machines. They were covered with bodily fluids and their eyes were glazed but still the machines pounded on…

Near to the people in fuck machines stood a Guild staff member, watching the contest closely. As David looked around, past the activities, he realized that the staff, in their white masks, white polo shirts with black and gold collars and black pants, were everywhere throughout the floor. Watching and ready to help, though definitely not engaging in any of the fun.

David finally gave into the urge and looked at Matt behind him.





Chapter Text

Some Images (Stagger the Senses) -

Matt held onto his sedan chair as if was a raft in a tumultuous sea. Images assaulted him.

…A woman suspended from a frame, her body wrapped in intricate rope knotwork…

…A man tickled by a feather as he giggled, tears running down his face, then orgasmed convulsively…

…A nun forcefully finger-fucked by a man dressed like a boy. A priest strapped to a desk nearby, his balls and cock in a vise…

…A woman, who looked remarkedly like a famous actress, lying on her back on a table with the remains of a meal spread around her. Another woman dribbled wine on her thighs then licked it off…

…A man smacked by a woman in a schoolgirl's outfit. He grabbed her and threw her to the ground….

Matt's stomach roiled and he quickly looked away.

…A giant, bald, heavily-tattooed man, with the biggest cock Matt had ever seen, being lovingly washed from head to toe by two men with sponges…

…A man spread-eagled in a frame, being burned by one man, while another demanded confession…

…Three Asian businessmen, drinking and looking about avidly. They gave Matt a long, curious look as he went by….

…A circle of men, all stroking their cocks and standing around on a single kneeling man who was already covered in cum….

…A woman pissing into a bucket, which was connected by a tube to a man's mouth, his body entirely encased in rubber…

…A group of Disney characters. Pocahontas pegging Prince Charming. The Beast stroked by Ariel. Peter Pan dancing with Hercules. Cinderella licking the pussy of Elsa while being fucked by one of the seven dwarfs…

…A man nursing from a woman's breasts and rubbing her milk all over his body…

Matt looked ahead to David, hoping that soon they'd reach their destination.



Chapter Text

Some Locations (Are a Relief) -

After completing a circuit of the Guild floor, David's chair finally turned into an unoccupied area. The back of a large circle held a pile of gold and white cushions with two chair-shaped spaces. David's carriers maneuvered his chair into position then removed the rods. Matt's chair was placed next to him, the gold chain still suspended between them. David examined Matt, trying to figure out what he was thinking, but Matt's costume covered his face.

The eight chair-carriers arrayed themselves around the edges of the circle.

David leaned over. "Matt? You okay?"

"…yeah." Matt's voice sounded strange. David noticed that Matt was still gripping the arms of his chair tightly with his yellow-gloved hands.

"Did you like the tour?"

"…yes…no…I don't know."

David gritted his teeth. He'd known it would be too much. Why had Matt insisted on seeing everything? It would have been overwhelming enough with just walking to their area. And why were the men sticking around? Did they have another role?

"Juh-" Matt began, then cleared his throat. He said louder, "Gentlemen."

The eight men turned to look at Matt and David tensed.

"For the moment, please direct your attention elsewhere," Matt said, then with a touch of returning humor. "I'm sure you'll find something to look at."

Smiling, the men nodded and turned away from them, looking out over the floor.

Matt pulled down the scarf that covered his lower face. "Fuck, David, how do people stand this?"

David grimaced. "I guess-"

"I feel nauseous, disgusted, horrified."

"Sorry, I-"

"And more turned on than I can remember being in my life. I'm so turned on it hurts."

"I know what you-"

Abruptly, Matt stood up, then dropped to his knees in front of David's chair.

"My king. Let me service you."



Chapter Text

Some Resolutions (May Weaken) –

David stared at Matt on his knees in front of him. Matt had been very clear he didn’t want to have sex at the Guild. “Service me?”

“Give you a…you know,” Matt said.

“I thought—”

“I know, I know. It’s just…it’ll look strange if there isn’t sex going on here.”

“No one will notice. You don’t have to.”

“Dammit, I’m on fire!”

“I am too,” David admitted. “That gold ass plug isn’t helping.”

“Sorry. I just didn’t want anyone getting ideas.”

“About my ass?” Matt hardly acknowledged David had an ass, let alone claimed it.

Matt shrugged. “It’s a nice ass.”

“Wasn’t sure you noticed.”

“I’ve got a trainer plug,” Matt said. “You know I can’t handle the real thing.”

David smiled. Memories of Matt trying to wear one at work, to prove that he’d do whatever David asked, could still make David warm – in many ways. “I’m glad that you’re wearing the trainer, since I don’t want anyone getting ideas about your ass, which I’ve definitely noticed.”

Matt gave a little moan. “Don’t say remind me of that. I’m having a hard time not coming in my thong as it is.”

“I know what you mean… Did you see…” He shook his head. “Never mind. Wouldn’t want to endanger your thong.”

But Matt’s eyes were only on him. “God, David, you look incredible. I never dreamed it would work so well. You’re like a… feline god.”

David grinned down at him. “Maybe a little worship would be okay.”

“My king,” Matt said fervently.

Matt’s tone almost had David coming in his gold pouch. Holding up his hand, he looked away. To settle himself, he calculated how many of the players in the room (half) were wearing masks.

Finally, he looked back at Matt. “You may service me now.”



Chapter Text

Some Worship (Is Called For) -

From his knees, Matt gazed up at David in his Black Panther outfit. Who wouldn't want to worship him?

Matt looked over his shoulder at the chair-carriers. They were turned away, as instructed. He checked out the Guild floor. No one was watching. Why would something as pedestrian as a blowjob warrant a look here?

He focused back on David. He took off his gloves and, with a feather-light touch, ran his hands up and over David's strong legs, not disturbing the gold body paint. David's pouch was straining, his long cock pressed in perfect outline against the fabric.

Matt carefully untied the string and the pouch sprang off. David gave a moan of relief. Matt took a moment to just admire, knowing that David wouldn't last long. Then he got his hands and mouth to work, using all the tricks that he'd learned in the time that they'd been together.

David put his hands on Matt's head, like usual, but it was uncomfortable with Matt's helmet. With an internal shrug, Matt removed the helmet. David's fingers dug into his hair eagerly.

Matt took it as slow as he could, but soon David was groaning and thrusting into his mouth. Matt held himself still and let David drive his cock, deep and harder than he normally did. Matt gagged, but that was okay. David tightened his hands into fists in Matt's hair then he was shooting down Matt's throat. Matt swallowed as fast as he could, trying to keep up, and remembering belatedly that it had been weeks since they'd had sex. Matt couldn't remember why at the moment, with David's hands in his hair and cum in his mouth.

Finally, David shuddered and stopped. He stroked Matt's hair.

"Now, what can the king do for his most loyal subject?"



Chapter Text

Some Reciprocity (Might Be Needed) -

"I am your loyal subject," Matt said, licking David's cum from his lips. David shuddered pleasantly at the sight. It had been far too long since Matt had touched him, let alone sucked him off. The loose chain still stretched between them and David had no desire to undo it. It was a rush to be associated in public with Matt, even this public.

"You said you were on fire," David said. "Let me help you out."

Matt nodded then, to David's disappointment, covered his face back up with his scarf. As David tucked his cock and balls back in their gold pouch, Matt got to his feet and looked over his shoulder at the chair-carriers.

Turning, David checked out the area behind theirs. A woman was apparently trying to set a record for how many cocks could be stuffed into all her orifices. David eyed the contortions for a moment then turned back to Matt.

"Standing, sitting, what?" Matt asked. "My dick is like…something very hard and urgent."

Matt's cock was indeed making a large bump in his tight white silk pants.

David smiled. "Stand over there and hold onto the chair and I'll see what I can do about your urgent dick."

Matt wrestled his cock out of his thong and through his fly. He was panting when he finally got it out and David guessed that he'd come very close to orgasm already. David was going to have to do this carefully if he wanted to give Matt anything but quick relief.

And it had been so long since he'd touched Matt that he wanted this to last. Who knew if he'd get a chance again, after tonight?

"So, Moonlight Mask," David said, getting to his knees. "Maybe I can get you to reveal your secret identity."

Chapter Text

Some Return Favors (Are Welcome) -

Matt gripped the chair as David took Matt's aching cock into his mouth. A shudder of relief went through Matt's body and it was a struggle to not come right then. It wasn't just the Guild and all the intense stimuli, it was David and it had been far too long since David touched him.

David lifted his head. "Don't forget to breathe, baby."

Matt whimpered and had to yank back his orgasm again. David calling him 'baby' was as welcome as his touch.

"Count to twenty or something," David said.

Matt closed his eyes and wrote some SQL programming statements in his head. As he did, David did a few briefly uncomfortable things to him. Soon Matt felt the painful intensity of his orgasm back off.

He opened his eyes and nodded.

David smiled then his mouth was again on Matt's cock. He quickly had Matt gasping in pleasure. Matt pulled down his scarf so he could gulp in air. He didn't look at the Guild activities around them, just focused on David at his feet.

David's head glistened, his gold cat ears bobbed. Matt stroked David's skin, reaching down to touch the gold chains. He wanted to stay in this moment and forget everything else he had planned. For now, David was with him again and none of the stupidity of the last month mattered.

Too soon, Matt's orgasm rose and he couldn't hold it back this time. He moaned David's name then he was shaking, cresting, and shooting between David's familiar lips.

He held on to David as he released weeks' worth of missing David's touch. David sucked down every drop.

Finally, David leaned back, smiling.

"I got the Moonlight Mask to reveal at least part of his face," David teased. "And I'd know that chin anywhere."

Chapter Text

Some Traps (Are Walked Into) –

David and Matt both put their clothes back together, sated for the moment. David was glad to see Matt left his face scarf undone.

Sitting back in his chair, David looked around. The men who’d carried their chairs were still facing away. Matt was rummaging in the pillows.

“Here it is.” Matt opened a small drawer that had been hidden by pillows. Turning on a two-way radio, he said, “This is, uh, F23. We’re ready for the table now.”

Table? Maybe for dinner?

“Right away,” came the response.

Matt turned the radio off and put it away. “Got lots of food coming. Hope you’re hungry.”

“I was,” David smiled. “Not anymore.”

Matt smiled back. It felt good.

“You’ve gotta tell me,” Matt said, sitting back down. “Does the Black Panther costume live up to its promise?”

“Yeah, definitely. The Guild has amazing costumers.”

“You said you’d be willing to wear nothing at all, so I thought it would be okay.”

“It is,” David said, remembering seeing himself in the mirror. “Your outfit was a little easier, I imagine.”

“Yeah. I bet you thought I’d go with a more modern interpretation of Moonlight Mask, which is why you didn’t recognize it.”

“Sure,” David said, trying to not outright lie.

“What did you think of your outfit when you saw it in the scene instructions? Did it match the illustration?”

“Still hard to imagine, even with the picture.”

Matt’s face darkened and David knew he’d slipped up.

Matt leaned closer and said quietly. “There wasn’t a picture. You didn’t read the scene instructions. Even after all the warnings, even after being raped last time because you didn’t read the scene instructions. You signed them and didn’t read them.”

“Dammit, David,” Matt said, his voice low and harsh. “Are you a fucking idiot?”



Chapter Text

Some Revelations (Are Quiet) -

Matt stared angrily at David. How could David not have read the scene instructions? The Guild was very strict about that. David had to have been faking it this whole time, pretending to know what came next. How could he risk that? The last time David had been to the Guild, he'd unknowingly walked into someone else's rape fantasy because he'd not read the scene instructions!

David just looked at him, his face unreadable behind his mask.

Matt growled, "I could have - still might, you don't know - have set up something horrible." Matt felt a cold flush go over him. "Then I could have done something to you that you didn't want and I wouldn't know it… I can only imagine what that girlfriend of yours felt when she realized…"

"You're not Geena," David said finally.

"I could be-"

"You're not."

"But what if I-"

"I trust you."

"But I might-"

David abruptly leaned forward, close to Matt's face. "I need to trust you."

"What?"

"You don't get it." It was David's voice that was now harsh. "I don't trust anyone."

Matt blinked. "What about Colby, or Don?"

"No one."

"Oh… I didn't-"

"Then I went and betrayed you by revealing our relationship to the whole office. You trusted me from the beginning and I broke your trust." David's eyes glittered through the mask. "So I'm going to put on this blindfold and walk through this minefield because I have never trusted anyone in my life the way I trust you, and I need to know if I was wrong."

"Wow," Matt said, his throat tight. "Wow. I'll…I'll try not to mess this up."

David's face relaxed a little. "You're doing alright so far."

"I hope I can continue…"

Someone said loudly, "You requested a table?"

Chapter Text

Some Meals (Are Carefully Planned) -

Matt watched them set up a table in front of his and David's chairs, but he couldn't get David's words out of his mind. David trusted no one but Matt? Not even his FBI team? What did Matt ever do to deserve that kind of trust? He only flailed around, hurt David, ended up in the hospital because of stupid panic attacks, made a mess of everything.

"What are we eating?" David asked with a smile. He looked more relaxed, now that he didn't have to pretend to know the plan.

"Umm…" Matt said, blinking to try to get himself to focus. "Kobe beef filet mignon. Lobster and black truffle salad. Some ridiculously pricey cheese."

"Pricey cheese?"

"It cost so much it'll make your eyes bug out."

David chuckled and nodded. "Anything else?"

"Red wine. Baked potatoes with all the fixings, in case we don't like the rest of the stuff."

"Good plan," David said. "Though I've always wanted to try Kobe beef, it's supposed to be really good."

"Nothing but the best for you."

"And you too!"

"Yeah… I've always wanted to try Kobe beef, too. No idea if Ziggy is having it cooked here or catered. I let him figure that out."

David's smile faded. "Did you meet this Ziggy?"

"No. I was bummed. But my dresser said that Ziggy doesn't usually 'come out,' whatever that means."

David didn't look like he was interested in meeting Ziggy, but Matt was. Ziggy would want to know how their elaborate planning worked out.

Not that it was a settled question yet. Things with David could still go poorly, especially with the next part.

"So!" Matt said, then winced internally at how falsely cheerful he sounded. Nothing to do but plow forward, though. "Shall we get ready for the dinner show?"



Chapter Text

Some Setup (Before the Action) -

"Dinner show?" David asked.

Before Matt could answer, a Guild staff member came with a wine bottle, goblets, and some delicious-smelling bread on a platter with cheese and fruit. A second man brought a water carafe, glasses, and a small box. While the men were pouring drinks, Matt opened the box and took out some printouts, pencils, and numbered badge stickers. The staff set the bottles down and left.

Matt raised his voice and called, "Gentlemen!"

The eight chair-carriers turned back around to look at them.

"Time for your other task, hopefully a more enjoyable one," Matt said. "But a word first… I know that this was supposed to be clear, but I want to state again that you are not required to do anything. The chair-carrying was the only required part of the job! You can do something with others, by yourself, or just wait quietly." Matt smiled. "I'm a scientist, so reactions of all kinds are of interest to me."

David eyed Matt. What did he have planned?

"Come get your numbers," Matt said.

The men came up and each took two badges with the same number.

Matt said, "Two opposite places on the body."

The men peeled off the stickers and stuck them on their bare chests or shoulders or hips. Some helped others put them on backs. They were now 'labeled' one through eight. David noticed that all the men's loincloths were lifted by erections. Eight attractive almost-naked men were watching Matt, waiting for instructions.

David tensed. Was the numbering the order they'd have sex with Matt?

"Alright, you have until they bring the salads to decide." Matt grinned. "Try to be subtle so we don't get too many clues."

Matt handed David a printout and a pencil. He smiled at David. "Test time. No peeking!"

Chapter Text

Some Games (Need Explanation) –

Confused, David stared at the printout Matt had given him. It looked like the baseball scoresheet that he’d seen people fill out at baseball games. There were eight rows of boxes, numbered one through eight, like the chair-carriers were now numbered. To the right of the number was a blank space, labeled ‘Description.’ To the right of that was about ten boxes with faint Xs in them.

His eyes went to the bottom of the page…and things began to become clear. Where a baseball card has codes for things like strikeouts, base hits, and home runs, this page had codes for things like hand jobs, kissing, and anal penetration (penis). There was an explanation of how to show who was the recipient and who was the receiver, including a note on how to mark masturbation and even just watching others.

“What the hell is this?” David snapped. “Some sort of weird game?”

Matt’s face darkened. “I’m trying, alright? I’m trying.”

“Trying what?”

“To expand my…expectations of people.”

“You think you can know what people like by looking at them?”

Matt gave a half-shrug. “You do. You knew, with me.”

David shook his head. “I didn’t know. It was wishful thinking. Then things you said and how you reacted to things I said.” David paused then forged ahead. “I didn’t know that you’d never want to fuck me. I didn’t know you would never admit to being bi.”

Matt looked down at his hands that were tearing apart a piece of bread. “Yeah, who knew how messed up I’d be.”

David sighed, putting his hand on Matt’s arm. “Sorry, I didn’t need to say that.”

“Yeah, maybe you did,” Matt mumbled.

“Hey!” David said brightly, picking up his pencil. “I bet I you’ll be better at this game than I am!”



Chapter Text

Some Descriptions (Of Strangers) -

Matt eyed David, but David seemed on board with the 'game' that Matt had created. David was now drinking wine and studying the men in front of him. Matt knew it was weird, trying to guess what kind of sex eight strangers were going to have. But he was a scientist, and the only way he knew how to arrive at conclusions was data.

To start, Matt filled out the 'Description' box for each man. He could see they were all gorgeous. Why wasn't he attracted to any of them? Did that prove his claim that he wasn't gay? Or have no bearing?

Matt wrote: One, Hispanic, hirsute. Two, White, tattoos on upper body. Three, pale White, red-head. Four, dark-skinned Hispanic… He stumbled over that one. The only thing that came to mind was 'nice ass' but that didn't seem distinctive. He ended up with, piercings. Five, East Asian, short & muscled. Six, Black, dreads in ponytail. Seven, dark-skinned Black, tallest. Eight, South Asian, back & hip tattoos.

Eating some very good cheese with apples, Matt watched the men's interactions. Five was talking quietly with Seven, but they were looking at One. Were they negotiating who would have sex with One? Or were they going to take him on together? Who would be on top?

Matt suddenly smiled. "This is kinda fun," he said to David.

David surprised him with a responding smile. "It is. Weird, but fun."

Matt laughed. "That's me, weird but fun!"

David reached over to squeeze Matt's hand. "I've missed you."

"Yeah…" Matt said. The last two weeks had been the longest of his life. He'd broken everything - for good reason - but God, it had hurt.

Matt squeezed David's hand back. "Good try, Sinclair," he teased. "But I know you're just trying to read my answers."



Chapter Text

Some Doubts (Weigh Heavily) -

David enjoyed watching sex. What he didn't enjoy was watching Matt watching sex. Matt was barely eating what had to be the most expensive salad he'd ever seen. Instead, Matt was avidly watching the eight men in front of him. A large bin of lubes, condoms, and sex toys had been placed by Guild staff. Five had his fingers in One's ass, as One attached a set of nipple clamps to Seven's nipples. Six and Two were kissing heavily, hands on each other's cocks. Eight was face-fucking Three, Eight's hands gripped tight in Three's red hair. Four was inspecting the sex toys.

David looked sideways at Matt. Was Matt ready to join in with these men? An image popped into his head of Matt fucking the nearest man and David felt a hot flush. He had no reason to think Matt would fuck another man, when he refused to fuck David, but even the idea put David on edge.

The only other time Matt had watched men have sex was when David had sent him to watch Don and Will. But then, David had trusted-okay, Will was an unpredictable bastard, but David trusted Don to not have Matt join in. These eight strangers didn't know Matt had very limited experience with gay sex. They'd just invite him over and overwhelm him.

Would David stop them? Or would he just let Matt go, hoping the experience would expand Matt's horizons?

Staring down at his salad, David suddenly remembered what Will had said when David had told Will that he was going to take Matt to the Guild. Will said that it might help Matt become more open to his homosexuality, or it might shatter Matt past repair.

This moment, in this place, David felt that the shattering might be his.



Chapter Text

Some Offers (Are Unexpected) -

Matt forced his eyes down to his lobster truffle salad. It really was good, and not just for the extravagance factor. He checked on David who was quietly eating. But then Matt's eyes went back to the dinner show, in case he missed anything.

The man labeled One was hands-and-knees on a large floor mat. Five was fucking him from behind. One's mouth was wrapped around Seven's cock, while Seven was pulling hard on his own nipple clamps.

Six and Two were swapping blow jobs and anal fingering, leisurely enjoying each other.

Three was deep-throating Eight's cock, while Eight rubbed and squeezed Three's neck.

Four was alone, which was disappointing to Matt. Four was enjoying himself, though, exploring the toy chest. He'd undressed, exposing a gorgeous body. Matt had never liked piercings before but… Matt kept staring at the gold ring that went through the end of Four's cock. Four was currently running a vibrator over his pierced nipples and down to his pierced cock.

To settle himself, Matt ate more of his salad and updated his 'game sheet.' His guesses hadn't lined up whatsoever with what the eight men were doing - an intriguing outcome Matt planned on thinking about later, when he had some functioning brain cells.

Matt heard a sharp buzz and looked up. Four was holding something electronic that come in sections. Four wrapped one part around his cock, then lubed and inserted another part into his ass. He then pressed a button on a remote…

Matt could almost feel Four's deep groan. Four pressed the remote again. Another deep groan.

A few more presses then Four looked at the other men.

Then he turned around and looked straight at Matt.

And grinned.

And walked over and put the remote on the table in front of Matt.



Chapter Text

Some Stimulation (Via Remote) -

David mechanically ate his expensive salad, his eyes on Matt. While Matt was watching - and tracking on his 'game sheet' - all the sex the eight men were having… Matt lingered most on the man enjoying himself solo. Number Four had pierced ears, nose, nipples and cock. Did Matt like that? David had never masturbated in front of Matt. Did Matt want that?

Four now had wrapped a stimulator around his cock and inserted into his ass. He was jolting himself with a remote and Matt was riveted.

Then Four smiled, walked over, and set the remote in front of Matt.

Matt stared at the remote, eyes wide. He looked at David.

David forced a smile onto his face. He brought Matt here, after all, to expand his horizons. "Go for it."

Matt hesitated.

"Just no touching, ok?"

Matt smiled, the restriction seeming to relax him.

Four grinned and gave Matt an encouraging nod.

Matt picked up the remote.

 

Matt studied the remote, its two rows of two buttons each. One row had a circle next to it - must be the cock ring, the other an egg - the anal insert. Each row had one button with wavy lines, a second button with lightning bolt. Matt pressed the circle+wavy button. He heard a buzz and Four's cock twitched. Four shivered pleasantly and rubbed his pierced nipples.

Matt wasn't sure what the lightning bolt meant, but he soon discovered that egg+lightning=deep moan from Four. Circle+wavy=shiver, circle+lightning=breathy gasp, egg+wavy=shudder. The power in Matt's hand to make Four make those noises was intoxicating.

Matt soon found his own cock aching, in that intense, painful way that it had earlier, before David gave him the relieving blowjob.

But looking at Four, at Four's muscular pierced body, Matt knew this time that simple relief wouldn't be enough.

Chapter Text

Some Interaction (Becomes Overwhelming) -

The salad was delicious but David couldn't eat. He sat, gripping his fork tight, his teeth clenched together, and watched Matt stimulate another man.

Matt was playing with the man, like the vibe/e-stim remote was a video game. He was leaning forward, attention fastened on the man's every reaction.

David forced his eyes to the other activities. The man labeled One was now on his back, with Five's cock in his ass and Seven's cock in his mouth. From the urgent way Seven was yanking at One's cock, Seven was close to orgasm.

Two and Six were kissing slowly, hands on each other's cocks.

Eight had put a pillow under Three's neck and was now stuffing his cock down Three's throat. Three was stroking his cock in time to Eight's thrusting.

What they were doing was exciting, but David couldn't watch for long.

He had to watch Matt.

Watch Matt being turned on by another man.

 

Matt's eyes traced the shiver caused by pressing the button to make Four's cock ring vibrate. The gold piercing on the end of Four's cock trembled. The muscles of Four's strong legs flexed and moved with each stimulation controlled by the remote in Matt's hand. Four's eyes were locked with Matt's and Four was putting on an obvious show. Matt's cock was throbbing and pressed against his thong under his tights.

Four had moved closer to the table. Matt could see how Four's nostrils flared, making his nose ring glint. Matt could almost see the pulses travel through Four's body when he pressed the buttons. Matt's fingers were tingling, like he could feel the electricity. Matt's breath was coming short, his heart was racing. He could hardly hold onto the remote. In his vision, Four was shrinking, fading, moving away…

"David!" Matt cried out.

Chapter Text

Some Breaks (Might be Required) -

"David!"

David jumped guiltily. Matt must be annoyed David was acting grumpy, even though David had told Matt he could remotely stimulate the man. Then David looked at Matt.

David was instantly moving to Matt's side. Matt's face was covered with sweat, his chest rising and falling rapidly.

"Matt!" David said. He took the remote from Matt's weak grip and turned Matt's face to his. Matt's eyes were wide, but at least he hadn't lost consciousness. "Matt, baby, breathe with me."

"Is he okay?" It was the man that Matt had been playing with.

"First time here," David said without looking at the other. "A bit overwhelmed. Give us a minute?"

David promptly forgot about the man. He held Matt's face in his hands. "Breathe, baby, breathe. Here we go, in and out, in and out."

Thankfully, Matt's eyes focused on him and he followed instructions and began to breathe more slowly and deeply. After a minute, Matt blinked and shuddered.

"There we go…" David said.

"It almost happened again, didn't it…"

"Yeah, but you caught it in time and called for help. Good job."

Matt smiled faintly.

"Been expecting it since we came here," David admitted. "It's an intense place."

"That's putting it mildly!"

"I'll send them away. Let you calm down."

Matt looked over at the men who were, other than Matt's playmate, all involved in their own sex. "That would be mean."

"Okay, at least stop with this guy."

"I was having fun," Matt said defensively.

"I could tell."

"You said it was okay."

"Yes, of course," David backpedaled. "I just thought that you needed to pull back a little. This is all just too much sex, considering your inexperience. Maybe if we move back to just watching and-"

"No, I need you to fuck me."

Chapter Text

Some Reversals (Can't Be Explained) -

"You want what?" David asked, sure he had misheard.

"Fuck me," Matt repeated.

"Uh…"

"While I use this remote to drive that guy crazy."

David shook his head in amazement. "You were certain you didn't want to have sex here. Swapping blowjobs, then this?"

Matt gave an uncomfortable shrug.

Worried, David said, "You don't need to prove anything."

"Maybe I do."

"No, you don't!" David put his hand on Matt's shoulder. David was struggling to remember why he'd wanted to take Matt to the Guild in the first place. Everything had gotten so convoluted.

Suddenly David smiled. "Well, I wanted people to see us as a couple. Fucking would help."

Matt relaxed. "Yeah, even more than this." He held up the gold chain that still stretched between their waists.

David grinned, anticipation starting to pound through him. "Got supplies?"

From the drawer, Matt got lube and a condom. They often went bare at home, but here condoms were required, unless you passed rigorous medical criteria.

David peeled down Matt's white tights, exposing his lovely ass and anal trainer plug. Matt would thankfully require little prep. David pulled the plug out and added more lube.

He murmured in Matt's ear, "You really like this guy?"

"No… Yes."

"You like piercings?"

"I don't think so… I don't know why he turns me on more than any of the other men." Matt paused then said, "Or any other man except you."

David raised his eyebrows. "Him and I don't have a lot in common, physically."

"I know." Matt shrugged again.

Quietly, David asked, "You want him to fuck you?"

"No!" Matt said, startling them both with his vehemence.

"Okay," David said in relief. "Not that I want to share."

Grinning, Matt tugged on the gold chain. "Just anchor me. I'm going back in."