Alex is kneeling on a pillow a few metres from the bed. His wrists and ankles have been cuffed and clipped together behind his back. He can’t move. Can’t lean too far forward without falling on his face, can’t lean back or to the side without getting stuck, like a tipped over turtle. There’s a rubber bit gag in his mouth, too. He’s dully aware that he’s drooling around it, spit dripping down his chin, but his focus is on the scene in front of him. Lafayette’s got his mouth around John’s cock and two fingers in his ass, working mercilessly while John arches and cries out. He’s beautiful, Alex thinks, with his glowing freckled skin, brown curls tumbling down the pillows, his muscles taut, fingers gripping the black ropes that tie his wrists to the headboard.
Alex is being left out on purpose. He was a brat, all day. Was too needy and clingy. He’d pestered Lafayette with endless texts while he worked, told John that spending all day in a lab was boring and that he should come home. When John had admonished him for distracting him, Alex had bitten him on the shoulder, too hard, and when Lafayette had told him off, he’d kicked him in the shin (not hard, and besides, Alex has tiny weak legs) and run off to hide in the bedroom. He’d been hoping to goad his boyfriends into ‘punishing’ him. Wanted them to do their worst.
Well…they’d managed that. They’d tied him up and gagged him, left him to watch. Said nothing to him then, are saying nothing to him now. Lafayette’s not even taunting him, not even describing what he’s doing to John, how sweet he tastes, how it’s too bad he’d been naughty and doesn’t get to join in on the fun. Even when Alex whines, high and needy, or tries to spit out curses around the gag, he get no acknowledgement. Not even a chuckle.
He whines again now, hears it come out as a frustrated gurgle. He’d wanted them to pay attention to him . He’d been stuck at home all day alone. Working, sure, always writing, but it was lonely , dammit. He hated being lonely. Had been lonely for so long. But he was still so bad at asking for attention, couldn’t manage doing it like a goddamn adult. Had to be a brat. Made his boyfriends ignore him because he’d been a dumbass. They’d probably keep ignoring him, probably wouldn’t want to keep him anymore, wouldn’t want him…
He’s vaguely aware that tears are slipping down his face. His body feels cold. Icy. Far away from everything.
He’s a kid again, shivering on top of the half-submerged couch in his flooded living room, listening to the wind rip up trees, the screeching of car alarms and tearing metal, crying because his mother was still at work and he didn’t know if she would make it home, if she would make it at all, if he would. Was sure that he was going to drown and die alone in the dark and the cold.
A dull part of him is aware that he’s in the present, in a dry warm apartment in New York, but he feels disconnected. Feels the floodwaters rise. Lets himself drown.
John knows he’s supposed to be ignoring Alex. But Lafayette’s got his eyes closed, head bobbing on his dick, so. John figures he probably won’t notice if he tips his head just a bit to the side, just to look.
He expects to find Alex staring at them, face heated, lust in his eyes and maybe a bit of anger, body strained with the frustration of being denied. Instead he sees him slouched over, body slack. His eyes are glassy and unfocused. There are silent tears falling down his face.
“Laf,” John croaks out, clears his throat, then louder, “Laf! Red, red!”
Lafayette’s mouth is gone from his dick in an instant, his fingers twisted out gently, and then he’s up on his knees, looking down John with wide eyes while he reaches for the safety scissors.
John splutters, “No, no, not me, Alex!”
Lafayette’s head snaps to the side, and then he hisses, “ Shit ,” and is up from the bed and kneeling in front of Alex in a heartbeat.
He takes out the gag and runs his thumb across Alex’s cheek, unclips his wrists from his ankles and pulls him into his arms. Carries him to the bed, lies him next to John. Laf takes off Alex’s cuffs and runs his hands over his limbs, checking. Then over his face, feels his pulse point, all the while murmuring at Alex in rapid, soft French. Laf reaches for the scissors and frees John. He immediately turns to his side and curls around Alex.
John makes a choked noise when he says, “Laf, Laf, he’s so cold.”
He can see Lafayette desperately trying not to panic, and if John wasn’t still lost in the haze of submission himself, he would try to be more helpful. Lafayette grabs a blanket from the chest at the end of the bed and drapes it over John and Alex, and then says, “Sweetheart, I am going to go make a bath and make some food, are you okay to look on him until I come back?”
John knows Laf’s panicking, because his grammar’s going south fast, so he nods and says, “I’ve got it.”
Lafayette hurries off and John turns his attention to Alex, cupping his cheek in his hand. His breathing is shallow, face streaked with tears that keep flowing. John presses small, insistent kisses against his forehead.
“Alex? Baby, are you in there? Sweetheart, it’s time to come back. Baby, you gotta come back.”
Alex lets out a small whimper. John holds him tighter, tucks Alex’s head under his chin. Rocks him gently.
“You were so good baby, so good, it’s all right now, you’re okay, you’re safe.”
Alex lets out a hiccuping sob that breaks John’s heart, makes him curl around Alex even tighter, makes him press kisses to every inch of skin his lips can reach.
John lets out a small sigh of relief when he feels Alex’s arms gently wrap around his waist.
“That’s it, baby, come back up, you’re doing so good.”
Alex snuffles in response, and that’s good enough for now. John hears water start running in the bathroom. Alex keens.
“Baby? Baby, what is it?”
“Don’t--” Alex rasps. “Don’t wanna go.”
“Where don’t you wanna go, honey?”
“It’s cold. Don’t go. Please.”
“We’re not going anywhere, baby, I’ve got you. I’m right here. You’re here with me.”
“Gonna keep me?”
“Oh baby, yes, yes we’re gonna keep you, always.”
Alex seems to calm down at that, keeps clinging but relaxes against John’s chest. John keeps holding him tight, keeps rocking him and murmuring praise into his skin.
Lafayette comes back into the bedroom. He’s thrown on a fresh pair of briefs and a t-shirt. Re-tied his hair.
“How is he?” he asks. His voice is shaking. His eyes are red rimmed.
“Baby--” John starts, his face creasing with worry. Lafayette shakes his head.
“Do not worry about me. Let’s take Alex to the bath, yes?”
John nods and moves to untangle himself from Alex. Alex whines and grips him tight, burrows his face into John’s shoulder.
John whispers, “Baby, we’re gonna go to the bath. Is that all right? Lafayette made it all nice and hot, the way you like it. Right?”
“Yeah,” Laf says, with a smile that doesn’t quite meet his eyes. “Just what you like, baby boy.”
Alex nods and relents, allows John to extract himself from the bed. Lafayette lifts him up and carries him to the bathroom. The dimmer’s on, the light low and warm, and Lafayette’s put Alex’s favourite jasmine bath salts in the water. There’s three mugs of hot chocolate on the counter, the kind Lafayette makes with this fancy chocolate he brings backs with him from France. John can easily tell which one’s Alex’s; it’s the only one piled high with whipped cream and marshmallows, and then covered in a layer of chocolate flakes.
The bathtub is only big enough for two of them. Lafayette insists that John sits in the tub with Alex in his lap, and John doesn’t argue. Lafayette sets Alex down into the bath as gently as a priest baptising a baby, and John wraps his arms around him. Holds him close to his chest and kisses the top of his head.
Lafayette asks Alex in a soft voice if he can wash him. Alex lets out a contented moan and wriggles a bit, which they both figure is a yes.
Lafayette grabs a washcloth and this liquid body soap, also jasmine scented. Foams it up on the cloth and starts at Alex’s feet. He’s perched by the end of the tub, squatting on his heels, which can’t be comfortable. But John doesn’t say anything. He can see penance written in the lines of Lafayette’s body. He can’t not let him have this.
Laf washes Alex slowly, reverentially. It starts to make John feel sleepy, watching Lafayette’s loving, soothing motions, feeling the warmth of the water and the weight of Alex in his lap. Laf reaches Alex’s arms, washes his right and then left. He’s rubbing the washcloth into Alex’s palm when Alex’s fingers close around his.
“Why aren’t you in the tub?” Alex mumbles, all sleepy-like.
“The three of us don’t fit, baby,” Lafayette murmurs back.
“Oh.” Alex tilts his head back onto John’s shoulder, blinks up at him. “Hi John. I thought everyone was Laf.”
John and Lafayette both snort out a laugh. Lafayette drops his forehead to Alex’s hand. His shoulders start shaking, the laugh turning into a sob.
“Laf?” Alex’s voice is all soft and sweet. He flails a bit as he tries to sit up, so John pushes him, props him up in his lap. Alex presses his damp forehead to Lafayette’s.
“Laf, why are you crying?”
Lafayette just shakes his head, clings to Alex’s hand and trembles.
“He thinks he fucked up,” John supplies. He combs his fingers through Alex’s hair, starts braiding the wet strands.
Lafayette says something in French, and John can’t understand it but it sounds strained and despairing. Alex murmurs back, his voice soothing where Laf’s is broken.
“What’s he say, baby?” John asks into the back of Alex’s head.
“He’s mad at himself because he hurt me. Said he’s never seen me drop that bad. I told him he didn’t know, didn’t mean to do it.”
Lafayette snaps something, and Alex hums, “English, love, speak English for John.”
Lafayette’s voice rumbles, sounds like a swollen stormcloud that a refuses to break. “It’s my job to know, to see how you feel, both of you. I failed and hurt Alex. I was so scared, love, mon coeur, you were so cold and quiet. I thought I’d broken you.”
“Not broken,” Alex says. “Just too much. I should’ve signalled that it was too much.”
Lafayette’s head snaps up then. John’s chest aches at seeing him like this, eyes red, face flushed and streaked with tears.
“No,” Lafayette says. “No, no, not your fault love, never your fault.”
“Takes two to tango,” Alex mutters. He leans back against John.
“I didn’t even notice,” Laf says. Chokes. “It was John. John called red.”
“Takes three to tango,” Alex amends. John giggles. Laf gives him a look that says, Really, Laurens.
“It’s my job, too,” John says in answer to Laf’s glare. “I mean, the scene hierarchy went… You, me, Alex. So looking out for Alex was my job, too. And I did it. We’ve all called red for each other before. It’s okay.”
Lafayette looks like he wants to argue, but then Alex says, “Laf, is that your fancy French bullshit hot chocolate?”
“It is indeed,” John says with a smirk. “Would you like your fancy French bullshit hot chocolate?”
Alex reaches out with his free hand, says, “Gimme gimme,” and Laf has no choice but to untangle his hand from Alex’s and fetch the mug. It’s gone kinda lukewarm by now, but that’s okay. Alex hums into the drink, savouring the perfect sweetness. Laf grabs the other two mugs and hands one to John, and they sit like that for a few minutes in peaceful, contented silence.
Alex whines that his fingers are going pruney, and Laf helps hoist him out of the bath. He wraps both his boys in fluffy towels and they all go and flop on the bed. Alex immediately burrows into Lafayette’s arms, nestles into the crook of his neck. Lafayette lets out a long, shaky breath. Squeezes Alex tight. Starts crying again.
“Baby,” John whines. He curls around Alex so he can wrap his arms around the both of them. He feels Alex start to shake too.
“Mon coeur, my love, I’m so sorry I hurt you,” Lafayette whispers, voice ragged.
Alex shakes his head. “I wasn’t clear. Denying me stuff when I’m being a brat is normal. I should’ve said that I needed attention instead of making you guess.”
Lafayette shakes his head violently, but Alex continues. “And I should’ve used my safe signal, and I didn’t. And that’s not your fault. I fucked up. You fucked up. Laf, honey, it happens. We’re okay.”
Lafayette buries his face in Alex’s shoulder and lets out a horrible sob. Alex and John immediately dissolve into a litany of shushes and murmured reassurances. Alex’s whispers slip between French and English with the effortlessness of the tide, and John decides to complete their multilingual mess by softly singing one of his mother’s Spanish lullabys. Alex quiets to listen, and even Lafayette’s sobs settle into snuffling.
John sings, “Arrorró mi niño, arrorró mi sol, arrorró pedazo, de mi corazón. Este niño lindo ya quiere dormir; háganle la cuna de rosa y jazmín. Háganle la cama en el toronjil, y en la cabecera pónganle un jazmín que con su fragancia me lo haga dormir.”
“Of course you know lullaby that sings about lying in a bed that smells like jasmine,” Alex mumbles when he’s done.
“I thought it was thematically appropriate,” John says with a smile in his voice.
“I love you. Both of you,” Lafayette says suddenly. His voice is quiet, almost too quiet to hear with his face buried against Alex. But they hear and both hold him tighter.
“Love you too,” Alex says. “You and John. No matter what, okay?”
Lafayette nods vigorously. Alex elbows John in the ribs.
“Ow! What was that for?!”
“Say it too, you dipshit.”
“I love you too, Lafayette. And I guess Alex is okay.”
“Be nice,” Lafayette says weakly, but the warmth is creeping back into his voice.
“Fine. Love you too. Asshole,” John mumbles into Alex’s hair.
They end up dozing off, waking up later when Alex complains that he’s hungry and Lafayette swears because he forgot that he put chicken and rice in the rice cooker hours ago. Alex laughs and drags him out of bed. John follows behind them and smiles.
Yeah, they’re gonna be okay.