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Bad Habits

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The first time it happened, John’d been bored out of his goddamn skull.

The day had started well enough. They’d robbed a bank coach, out a couple miles east. It had been easy pickings, not enough guards, border towns still complacent, thinking a few guns would keep their money safe. It had meant a simple job, meant Hosea could pull one of his performances and they ended the day with no bloodshed. Even John himself, normally itching for the thrill of some returned fire now that he was finally old enough to be allowed on jobs as more than just a lookout, had gotten a split of the cash large enough that he wasn’t complaining.

Dutch and Hosea, riding high with a job well done, had suggested stopping into the tavern not far from camp to celebrate, and John had agreed just as quick as Arthur did. He’d expected a night he could get drunk, or watch Arthur get drunk, enjoy being flush with cash.

But then John was being ignored. And that’d prickled at him like nothing else.

John’d always hung around Arthur in saloons, mostly because it was one of the only ways he could get a drink. He was still baby-faced enough then that most bartenders wouldn’t serve him—or, if they did, only a drink or two, which wasn’t enough for John to get drunk, even when he was smaller. And Dutch and Hosea were no help, usually telling him he could wait until he was past twenty if he really wanted to drink heavy as much as he did. They were far removed from the temperance movement this far west, but it didn’t mean it didn’t still have its claws in, local bartenders and John’s own guardians the same.

Arthur, more often than not, was the one who took pity on him, the one that let John finish off the bottom half of his beers, or would buy him a shot of something harder when he was feeling particularly generous. It was humoring him, John knew it, but at least it kept him busy and he did get drinks out of it.

That particular night, though, Arthur’d ended up wrapped up in some conversation and John was just about ready to split his own chest open just for something to do. Dutch and Hosea had been folded into the local poker game and, judging by the way the chips were falling, Hosea was likely cheating as Dutch played his wingman. But John had watched that sort of play too many times for it to be interesting, and Arthur was usually the one he counted on to keep him entertained on drinking nights, seeing as he’d always been a particularly fun drunk. But Arthur wasn’t drunk, was just talking, caught up enough he was outright ignoring John and with his beer tucked close to his body so it wasn’t like John could even sneak a mouthful or two.

John’d found himself fading in and out of eavesdropping on the conversation Arthur was having. At one moment the man was telling Arthur about a buck he’d tracked and hunted, next Arthur was telling some story about following along as Hosea tracked a moose, and then John got distracted by a working girl having a go at a man at the next table.

And John faded into listening again and Arthur and the stranger were discussing poetry, of all things. And that was confusing enough that John had actually followed the conversation for a few seconds. The stranger, whom John was now noticing was not much older than Arthur, younger fair than most other men in the bar and softer faced for it, said, “Not much for Thoreau, but Emerson! Figure he knew what he was on about, way he saw the world, lines he wrote.”

Arthur leaned in closer then, said in a voice just a touch lower, “More a fan of Whitman, myself.”

And the stranger murmured, “Whitman, huh?”

John’d had no idea who Whitman was and he stopped listening again, turned to considering picking some pockets just to have something to do. He’d decided he was beyond caring if it might risk enough ruckus to ruin the night when Arthur patted him on the shoulder, said, without even checking that John was looking at him, “Be back in a minute.” It only took a moment for John to look up and realize that the stranger Arthur’d been talking to had left the table already.

In that moment, John’d made an assumption, and, to be fair, it was a decent one. After all, it wasn’t the first time Arthur’d disappeared in the middle of a round of drinking, and John knew Arthur had, at times, returned from those escapades with cash in his pockets. Arthur’d probably been talking to the man to let him relax, let his guard down, encourage him to get drunk. Now that the man had left, John assumed he was planning to follow and rob him.

That rankled at John. They were flush with cash, so it wasn’t like Arthur needed more money. And Arthur’d been ignoring John all night, didn’t even think to bring him along even though John had been robbing drunk men since he was ten, no matter how much Arthur still treated him like a kid. Hadn’t even offered to buy John a drink before he went, in fact drained the rest of his beer as he stood up from the table.

And so, when Arthur left out the back door of the bar, John, subtly as he could, followed. He had some vague idea about how he’d wait for Arthur to begin the robbery and then suddenly appear to help him, show Arthur he was actually useful, that he shouldn’t have been left behind. It wasn’t much of a plan, but John was indignant and irritated and willing to make a stupid decision just to kill the goddamn boredom kicking around in his skull.

It was only once John slipped out of the bar and spotted him that John realized the stranger was waiting for Arthur just outside. They’d left together, more like, and that didn’t entirely jive with John’s previous theory of robbery. Still, maybe it was one more thing Arthur was trying. Easier to get a man alone when you could direct him there yourself.

John followed them from a distance. He knew how to be unseen, had practiced it plenty before he joined up with Dutch and then had only perfected it. He’d needed it, apparently, because both Arthur and the stranger were edgy, glancing back behind them or around them with a decent frequency. Again, seemed odd, seeing as it was normal for Arthur if he were fixing to rob someone, but didn’t make sense for the stranger.

Still, they didn’t catch John, as far as he could tell. When they ducked into an alley on the outskirts of town, John pressed himself against a barrel just around the corner, hand on his gun, and listened for his cue to join the robbery. But whatever Arthur was pulling, it was no sort of robbing John had ever heard. Both Arthur and the stranger’s voices were hushed, whispered, and John couldn’t even parse what they were saying. Finally the whole thing had gone on long enough that John got fed up, peered around the barrel just to catch a glimpse, to figure out what Arthur was pulling.

John liked looking at Arthur, more than he had any other men in the camp. Of course he did—by both John’s own judgment and the way women reacted to Arthur, Arthur was nice to look at. John had known for years that he liked men just as well as women, and had known longer that men got hanged for that sort of thing.

Thing was, that sort of thing was never a problem in camp. They were outlaws after all, and they could’ve been hanged for all sorts of things. Sure, some folks in camp had expressed their distaste with inverts, but Dutch wouldn’t kick anyone out for who they slept with. It was against his whole philosophy, for a start, seeing how laws against sodomy were one more way civilization was poisoning the wild world Dutch wanted, and that would be without consideration of his thing with Hosea besides.

And there was no harm in looking at Arthur, far as John could tell, because the man didn’t notice and, even if he did, most he’d probably do was just cuff John on the back of the head. When looking too much could get him killed with any men outside of camp, paying particular attention when Arthur took his shirt off was safe, in comparison.

But John had never gone beyond just the looking, not even in his own head. Not until now, at least.

John caught just a brief moment before he was jerking his head away, heart pounding. All in all the glimpse was practically tame, seeing as all it was was a prelude to something, not the act itself. But still: Arthur sinking slow to his knees in the packed earth of the alley, one hand on the stranger’s thigh, and the stranger with one hand in Arthur’s hair, the other scrabbling at the buttons at the front of his own pants.

That was all John’d seen, and still he was harder than he figured he’d ever been in his life.

John found some hidden corner not far away and got himself off right there, the image of Arthur on his knees burned into his brain. And then he stumbled back to the bar, found a seat again, and realized that Dutch and Hosea hadn’t even noticed either he or Arthur were gone.

Arthur returned sometime after John, and when he did, he was loose, relaxed, his voice just a touch hoarse, his knees well dusted off like he hadn’t been kneeling in the dirt just a handful of minutes earlier. To anyone who didn’t know, it might’ve seemed nothing was different. But John’d known.

And John must’ve looked something off, because Arthur turned to him, cheeks flushed with the drinking, said, “Y’alright? Look a mess.”

“’m fine,” John muttered back, somewhere between still frustrated over being ignored in the first place and embarrassed at what he’d seen, then done.

Arthur didn’t seem to notice the mood, just slammed a palm down on the table and said, “Here, I’ll buy you somethin’, hold on.”

And Arthur bought John and himself a shot of whiskey, and that was all John had wanted in the first goddamn place.

 


 

John didn’t follow Arthur every time he disappeared with strange men. It wasn’t like it happened all that often in the first place, of course, as Arthur was never the type to go whoring, but even when it did, it wasn’t like John could always get away from the bar without being noticed. It was only on the busiest nights, jobs gone so well or so poorly that the only choice seemed to be to get stinking drunk, that John found an opportunity to slip away.

It was a stupid idea, and he hated himself for it, but he was young and dumb and a goddamn horny teenager and, though he always stopped himself before catching sight of any sort of real action, the little glimpses he did catch—Arthur on his knees in alleyways, or with his mouth on some stranger’s lips, or his hands down someone’s pants—it was enough for John to send a little blessing to whatever god looked kindly on self-pleasure that he’d finally convinced Dutch to buy him his own tent.

Of course, it wasn’t like he always got a glimpse of something, either. It was dangerous, what Arthur was pulling, what John himself would pull when he got old enough, daring enough to try it. It wasn’t like picking up a working girl, where you’d have to shell out some cash but end up guaranteed getting off by the end of the night. Sure, sometimes Arthur would come back to drinking loose, relaxed, a hoarse edge to his voice or a well-hidden limp to his step. Other times, though, Arthur’d return with split knuckles, with dust all over him like he’d been dropped to the ground in a brawl, or a spatter of fast-drying blood on his clothes.

And John had seen the reason for it, both the fights and the aftermaths. Had watched Arthur go off into the night and come back injured more than once, had watched a scuffle or two. Seen, once, Arthur disappear for a long time on a night slow enough that John couldn’t get away after him and not come back afterwards. Took long enough that John went to fetch Dutch and Hosea, followed them out of the bar only to find Arthur sitting on the porch of the saloon, both eyes blacked and a rag held under a sluggishly bleeding nose.

Earned him a cuff over the head from Dutch and a quick and non-arguable ride back to camp, and the consensus between Dutch and Hosea after, judging by overheard conversations, was that Arthur was lucky it hadn’t been worse.

So it was dangerous, what Arthur was pulling. And dangerous, John watching him pull it, if only for the fact that his instinct was always to help Arthur. There was a guilt lodged in him that never really went away over the fact that John was perfectly content to sit back and watch, whether it was foreplay to sex or fighting, if only Arthur didn’t find out.

Arthur pulled himself out of them. He always did. And if he once returned to a bar with a few drops of blood that weren’t his own at the corner of his jaw, only visible when he titled his head a certain angle, and a necklace of purple-black bruises in the shape of fingers John only spotted when he loosened his bandana on the ride back to camp, well, that wasn’t any of John’s business anyway.

Neither was the looking either, of course, but it wasn’t like John could stop himself doing that. For the handful of attractive looking men that cycled through camp when Dutch first decided to start growing the gang, Arthur was the best of any outlaw by far. Even when John started making his own rendezvous with strange men behind bars and in hotel rooms, there was something in watching Arthur, in knowing what Arthur got up to in private, that was like nothing else.

If Arthur did it, after all, then all the folks saying there was something unnatural festering inside of inverts couldn’t possibly be right.

John grew out of it, eventually. Or, at least, he thought he did.

 


 

A job had gone badly. Not so bad that anyone had been shot or killed, but bad enough that they were out a score. Bad enough that they’d fallen into old, bad habits, ended up at a saloon to lick their wounds and drink enough to mask what couldn’t be licked. Bad habits—drinking, whoring, or, in Arthur’s case, making friendly with some man at the bar and eventually leaving with him.

It’d been six years at least since the first incident, and John had grown out of a lot of habits, not just watching Arthur. Well old enough now to have a real role in jobs, to handle a gun and use it too. Still, he knew what to look for when Arthur was exiting a bar with a stranger with the intent of getting off. That was a habit well ingrained. And he knew immediately, sizing up the man Arthur was leaving with, that it wasn’t going to end well.

It was rare, now that he was full grown, that a man was bigger than Arthur. The benefits of being the workhorse, like Arthur called himself, was being built like one. The only ones to rival him were Mac or maybe Bill, and even they carried their weight more in their bellies rather than across their frames.

And, yet, this man was bigger. Taller, broader shoulders, the kind of man shaped by doing hard labor day in and day out. The kind of man who’d just as soon beat a man something fierce just to let some steam off. To say it didn’t sit right in John’s stomach was an understatement, only made worse by the look he caught on the man’s face, which was something near smirking. Christ, even Arthur had to know a man like that weren’t going to end well.

It was for safety’s sake, John told himself, as he slipped from the bar stool, told Davey to watch his seat. Gave it just enough time to not look suspicious before exiting out the back door of the saloon, trying to find where Arthur and the man had ended up.

As it turned out, John waited too long. He heard it before he saw it, voices trying to stay some sort of hushed and failing to do so. And it was the tone in the voices, the venomous glee, that had John rushing forward, rounding the corner of a building at something that wasn’t a run, but near it.

Got stock of the situation immediately when his eyes lit on it. After all, it wasn’t like John hadn’t been in the same himself. A handful of men had Arthur pinned against the wall of a woodshed. Too many, because, while Arthur could come out of situations where he was outnumbered on top without even breaking a sweat, even Arthur had a limit.

And the way Arthur’s head hung, like his own muscles couldn’t keep it straight, suggested some hurt, foul play, suggested he’d been taken by surprise, overwhelmed. And when he got out of this, John was gonna give him a piece of his mind, tell him just how stupid he was, going off with a man so clearly angling to kill him. They lived in a world that was out to kill them already, being outlaws and all, so it weren’t like Arthur needed to take so much a risk with finding folks to fuck as well.

A big man took a step forward, and a hush fell over the group of men, and, of course, it made sense. The man was the one Arthur left with, and it was little surprise that he was the leader. Still, John could feel himself bristling as the man leaned in, unflinching at the way Arthur struggled against the men holding him down, and seemed to be examining his face. And the anger thrummed harder in John’s chest when the man straightened, said, “What d’you think, boys? Face like that, cocksucker’s just askin’ to be roughed up a bit.”

Arthur said something back, but it was rough and low and growled enough that John couldn’t make it out. It made the big man laugh, though, and his hand went out to Arthur’s face. Even from a distance, John could see the way he cupped his fingers around Arthur’s jaw, held it tight.

“Aw, got a mouth on you, don’t you, boy? No wonder you was so eager. Be good, and maybe we’ll let you do what you was intendin’. First, though…”

John couldn’t see what the man hefted in his hand, but the fleshy thump as he swung it into Arthur’s torso carried to him. Could hear, too, the grunt Arthur made, something choked, pained, even over the jeers of the other men, and that alone made John’s hand go to the holster on his hip.

Not yet, though, not yet. Arthur didn’t know, couldn’t know that John had seen what went on during normal nights like this, and John wasn’t about to let him find out if he couldn’t help it.

Once the shouts had settled down again, the man went right back on to talking. “Ain’t what you deserve, though? Comin’ in our town, thinkin’ we ain’t gonna notice?” Murmured noises of agreement sounded in the night air, and John’s stomach rolled. The man stepped in, grabbed at Arthur’s face once more. “Nah, you deserve no more’n a noose around your neck. Or, hell, maybe just a knife in your goddamn belly.”

John caught a flash of steel, and that was bad. Because he knew Arthur, and though Arthur could take a beating and still put down the men doing it, if he could’ve gotten free, he’d’ve done it by now. If he wanted to get free. And the man’s knife was pressed to Arthur’s chest, tip first. And he was saying, “So what do you think, invert? You gonna be good?”

It happened in an instant. John heard Arthur spit more than he saw it, but, judging by how quick the man was with the knife, the saliva had hit him something good. But then the metal flashed as the man swung it down, and the knife bit into the flesh of Arthur’s shoulder.

John wasn’t even aware he’d pulled his own gun from his holster until he was firing it.

With the bang of the bullet, the big man’s head jerked sideways and he went limp, the blood spattering the dirt nearly black in the limited light. And then again, and again, and more men around Arthur falling, until the chamber of John’s revolver clicked empty and each man was on the ground bleeding out.

Arthur didn’t go down, but his hand did go to his side, cradling the hurt of what was likely bruised ribs at the very least, and that was leaving out his shoulder. But they didn’t have time to deal with the hurt now, not when there was a clamor of voices from the center of town and shouting that sounded suspiciously like calling for law.

John was to Arthur in what felt like an instant, already whistling for the horses before he pulled at Arthur’s coat. “C’mon, c’mon, on your feet.”

“John?” There was confusion on Arthur’s face, and John didn’t exactly blame him, seeing as Arthur thought he’d been alone with the men, but they didn’t have time for that.

He tugged Arthur’s arm again, tried to wrap an arm around his back to encourage movement. “C’mon, we gotta go.”

But Arthur just shrugged him off, and the confusion was fast fading into anger. “What’d you goddamn do?”

“Arthur, we gotta go. You think the law ain’t heard that?”

“Goddamn law wouldn’t’a—” But the horses were trotting up to them, and Arthur cut himself off, instead hauled himself up into Boadicea’s saddle. And John barely caught the muttered, “Dutch is gonna goddamn kill us, Marston.”

Even so, John elected to ignore that in favor of snapping his reins, spurring his mare forward. Because Arthur was right, after all. Dutch was going to goddamn kill them.

 


 

They stopped a couple miles outside of town, only because otherwise they might run the horses to death. Let them drink from a creek, one sheltered enough by trees that they wouldn’t be seen from the road.

And they’d barely dismounted before Arthur was already whirling on John, snarling, “What in the goddamn hell was that, Marston?”

John couldn’t help blinking back at him. “You’re mad at me?”

“’course I’m goddamn mad, seein’ as I ain’t the one what shot half the town’s workin’ population.”

Here was Arthur, looking like he was about to fall over, bruises already starting to form on his face, a split lip already scabbed over, a dark stain on the shoulder of his coat where the knife had nipped him, probably with some broken ribs, and he was mad at John. John snapped, “You’re a real son of a bitch, Morgan.”

Arthur jerked his head away, laughed a humorless laugh. “Sure, I’m the son of a bitch.”

“They was gonna kill you. You want me to just leave you to the wolves?”

“I had it handled.”

And that made a spike of anger bubble up in John’s chest, and he found himself pushing into Arthur’s space, forcing Arthur backwards until his back was leaning against a tree. “You had it handled? Arthur, I killed five goddamn men today, and you think you were on top of the goddamn situation?”

Arthur snorted, looking entirely unphased at John’s anger. “Ain’t the idiot who brought guns into the equation. Believe that was you, Marston.”

“Only idiot I see is the one trying to get himself killed. Thought you weren’t that goddamn stupid, Arthur, gettin’ goddamn jumped.”

“I ain’t needed rescuin’, Marston. Just ‘cause Dutch thinks you’re the goddamn golden goose doesn’t mean the rest of us—”

John couldn’t help it, he shoved Arthur harder against the tree, uncaring about how it probably worsened his various hurts, because Arthur had started this fight, and John was goddamn angry. “I ain’t about to watch you get goddamn beaten to death, you stupid bastard.”

“Why were you goddamn watchin’ in the first place, then?”

“’cause you were goddamn leavin’ with the biggest goddamn fucker in the whole damn bar and you think that weren’t gonna end with you gettin’ your goddamn chest caved in?” John was right up against Arthur now, anger making him near lightheaded, because how dare Arthur get mad at him for saving his goddamn life.

It didn’t make a difference. “I had it handled, Marston.”

“Like hell you did.”

“Ain’t none of your goddamn— goddamn…”

John realized too late what had made Arthur pause, only noticed he’d shifted so his crotch was leaned up against Arthur’s hip when it was far too late to fix it. And he was goddamn hard, near painfully so.

There was a pause, only the sound of them breathing hard echoing through John’s brain. The crickets, the creek babbling, none of it registered above the hammering of John’s heart in his ears beyond Arthur catching the breath that arguing had spent from him.

And then, in one fluid movement, like there was no thought in it at all, Arthur slid to his knees, and his hands were on John’s belt.

It was like all the air had gone out of John’s lungs. He’d already been preparing to stumble through some sort of half thought through apology, or explanation, or something, something to justify the fact that he’d been out watching Arthur, that he’d made a habit of watching Arthur, that all they’d done was argued and he was still hard in his goddamn pants.

But suddenly, he couldn’t breathe. Because Arthur was on his knees in front of him, something John had wanted for years and had never ever thought would happen, and he’d already unlatched John’s gun belt, let it slide to the ground.

If it weren’t for the tree at his back, John wasn’t sure Arthur would still be upright. Shoulder wound still bleeding sluggishly, holding himself stiff, his face pale even in the little light they had. And yet—

Arthur unclasping John’s jeans—

Arthur drawing John out through a few unfastened buttons in his union suit—

“Arthur, you don’t—” John started, but then his cock was in Arthur’s mouth and the idea of speech left John’s mind entirely.

Christ. It wasn’t that it was the best technique John had ever experienced. After all, whores were paid for that sort of thing, and all that practice and the fact that it was their livelihood meant that ones that did it, did it well. But, somehow, that didn’t matter. Not when it was Arthur doing it, Arthur running his tongue along the underside of John’s cock, Arthur taking the head of it in his mouth, Arthur all soft and warm and things entirely unlike Arthur, and yet, still goddamn him.

John leaned an arm against the tree in front of him just to keep himself upright, his head still spinning, like this was a dream he was bound to wake up from. And then Arthur did something nice with his mouth and John’s hips jerked forward unconsciously and Arthur gagged. And the noise itself almost made John finish right then and there like a goddamn teenager.

John pulled back near immediately, because, Christ, this was all he had wanted for ages, and taking too much, pushing too far was a decent enough way to guarantee it would never happen again. But then Arthur was grasping at John’s hip, keeping him in place, and sunk down on John. Took John entirely in his mouth, nose pressed to the tight curls of hair slipping past the folds of John’s union suit.

And Arthur goddamn swallowed.

Christ.

It was a moment, or a lifetime, and then Arthur was moving again, and John was able to catch thoughts in his brain again. He slipped a hand down, tangled his fingers through Arthur’s hair, cupped the back of his head. Let himself move with Arthur, and Arthur let him the same.

To think, not even an hour ago he’d killed a handful of men. Some inverts they were. Hanged for who they killed and who they fucked both.

“Arthur,” John muttered. And then, again, “Arthur,” because he was getting close, felt that familiar tightening in his lower belly, and no more coherent words would cut it, not with Arthur on his knees like John had been seeing in his fantasies for years, not with all of it too real, the warmth of Arthur, the cool of the night on John’s skin.

One more choked, “Arthur—” and John came hard into Arthur’s mouth.

Maybe should’ve given Arthur more proper warning, judging by the face Arthur made when John had come back to himself enough to look down at the other man. Arthur tipped his face to the side and spat, whitish phlegm spattering the leaf litter scattered around them. Spat again, swiped the back of his hand over his mouth.

And then, finally, Arthur looked up at John, asked, “S’at what you wanted, Johnny?”

And then John was sliding to the ground, his mouth on Arthur’s before he even knew what he was doing. Arthur’s split lip was bleeding again and that meant John probably had blood on his cock, but he didn’t goddamn care. And John could taste the blood as he kissed Arthur, and under that he could taste himself, and goddamn

His hands slipped inside the front of Arthur’s pants almost without him willing them to, and then past the buttons of Arthur’s union suit, found him hard and wanting. And the noise Arthur made, something John might even call a whine if it was anyone but Arthur, was prompting enough, and John wrapped a hand around him.

It couldn’t have been good for Arthur, not without any sort of slick, just John’s gritty fingers, but it didn’t seem to matter. A few strokes and Arthur was coming, his spend spattering slick over John’s hand.

And then, for the second time that night, they were left trying to catch their breath. John pulled his hands from Arthur’s pants, wiped them down on his own jeans. Couldn’t be assed to do more than that, let alone get up, because Arthur’s forehead had dipped down to rest on John’s shoulder and the contact was more than he had ever hoped.

Still, John wasn’t sure if Arthur’s exhaustion was with what had just transpired or instead because of the hurts he’d sustained, and, with the angle he was at, he couldn’t help but see Arthur’s shoulder, still not bandaged, coat soaked dark with blood.

And, beyond that, John was finding some bits of him getting mighty cold now that things had calmed down. “Arthur?”

“Mmm?” Arthur hummed, not moving.

“Gotta button up my goddamn pants.”

And Arthur sighed, settled back against the tree, and the look in his eyes was annoyance more than anything else. And that eased the fluttering in John’s stomach near immediately.

They were alright. John had done some things he shouldn’t’ve, sure, but they were alright.

He pulled back from Arthur, stood. Put himself back together as quickly as he could before turning back to Arthur, whose eyes had slipped closed.

“You okay?”

“Ain’t dyin’, if that’s what you mean,” Arthur muttered, not opening his eyes.

“Sure,” John said, and then, “C’mon. Longer we wait, madder Dutch’ll get.”

That got a snort out of Arthur, and he blinked his eyes open, took John’s outstretched arm, hauled himself upright. And when Arthur stumbled a bit on his feet, John ducked under one arm, helped him over to Boadicea despite Arthur’s grumbling. It was something John had done many times before, and would do many times more.

They weren’t going to talk about what just happened. John knew that, knew it like something inherent inside of him. They were men of the dark, after all, and what got done by inverts weren’t things that got talked about, not even by the men what did them.

Things were different, things were the same. They were still the same men as they were before, inclined to share the company of men just as well as women. This wouldn’t change that, wouldn’t change that they were outlaws neither, nor that they would put their lives on the line for each other.

Still, John thought as he mounted up onto his own mare, loose and ready for his cot at camp, if he played his cards right, this wouldn’t be the last of he and Arthur engaging in bad habits. Not by a long shot.