|The Man on My Right (Pete/Joe)
||[Dec. 31st, 2009|03:53 pm]
Bandom Story Swap
Title: The Man on My Right
Word Count: 1250
Warnings: Mentions off-screen BDSM
Summary: Joe’s phone rings at two in the morning and the only reason he answers is because he forgot to turn the fucking ringer off before he crashed.
Author's Notes: Thanks to R for an incredibly fast and helpful beta.
Joe’s phone rings at two in the morning and the only reason he answers is because he forgot to turn the fucking ringer off before he crashed. The Power Rangers theme cuts through the low hum of air conditioning and traffic and Joe’s reaching to smash his alarm clock into silence on instinct before his brain connects GO GO POWER RANGERS with Pete fucking around with his phone and putting in custom ringtones.
He gropes blearily for it on his bedside table, hitting his glasses, a tin of mints, his clock, the lamp, and something that might be a stick of deodorant, before landing on his phone. He fumbles, trying to get uncoordinated fingers to work with the fucking touch screen. It’s harder than it should be and he’s just about ready to throw it through the window when the line finally connects.
“Dude, what?” Joe says. It’s two oh seven, according to the glowing green numbers of his clock. “You had better be dying or something.”
There’s a pause a beat too long for it to be that Pete forgot what the hell time it is or that Pete's drunk and had the need to talk. Joe rolls onto his back and shimmies up to a sitting position, leaning uncomfortably on half the pillow. “Pete?”
“I’m fine,” Pete says. His voice is high and tight and the words come out too fast, tumbling on top of each other and landing with a dull thud. “I didn’t think. Go back to sleep. I’m fine.”
Joe shoves back the blankets. “I’m on my way.”
The highways are never really deserted, but they’re emptier at night. In his car, wearing pajama pants and the first hoodie he yanked out of the laundry basket, Joe breaks the speed limit and keeps the radio off.
It’s not that he thinks Pete is back in the Best Buy mentality. Joe firmly believes that he’d notice if it ever went that way again, partly because he’s sort of semi-constantly looking out for the signs of it now. But the question of maybe hovers uncomfortably in the back of his mind almost always.
Pete takes five whole minutes to answer the door, because his house is bigger than he needs and he's obviously a douche who has no concept of what midnight phone calls do to Joe's blood pressure.
He’s wearing battered black sweats that hang off his hips and an unzipped gray hoodie. “Hey,” Pete says, biting down hard on his lower lip. “I told you I was okay.”
The thing is, Joe’s not stupid. He speaks Pete better than most people could ever hope to; he notices that Pete’s shoulders are dropped in and down, that he’s keeping his eyes anywhere but at eye-level, and that his hands are shaking in fists pressed into his thighs.
Also, he’s got some weird red marks going on across his chest.
Which is new.
“What the hell happened?” Joe takes a step forward and, unthinking, presses the tip of his fingers gently to one of the marks, right by Pete’s nipple. Predictably (or maybe not, because Pete takes pride in being unpredictable) Pete shudders at the touch; a series of expressions spasm across his face too fast for Joe to parse.
“Candle wax,” Pete says.
“What the hell.”
Pete shrugs and looks past Joe, to the cars on the freeway and the lights. “It’s okay, I consented.
So, yeah. It’s one of those things and Joe bites back his comments.
Years of experience have taught Joe that sometimes, when it comes to making Pete do the things that are good for him, it’s faster to start doing and assume that he’ll come along for the ride. Ninety-five percent of the time it works and, when it doesn’t, Joe knows to call in backups and start digging for a much worse problem.
“You need a shower,” Joe says firmly, shuffling through Pete’s dim house, through the master bedroom, and into the bathroom.
When Joe flicks the switch, the brightness of the overhead lights make them both flinch. Pete hovers in the doorway while Joe rummages in the linen closet for a clean towel and turns on the taps, testing the water on the inside of his wrist. “I thought the other person was supposed to take care of you.”
“I told him to go,” Pete says, rolling his shoulders. He shrugs out of his hoodie and tosses it toward the bed. Goosebumps rise up on his skin and his tattoos seem more starkly burned into his skin than they usually do. “I didn’t want him around.”
The question caught in the back of Joe’s throat is one he never wants to have to ask.
“He didn’t hurt me or anything,” Pete says, fast and defiant. “I mean, like. He did, but I told him he could. He didn’t hurt me.”
Everything with Pete has at least two meanings and it’s almost three in the morning. Joe steps back. “Get in,” he instructs and then he sits on the toilet for the twenty minutes Pete stands motionless under the spray.
Pete’s pliant when he gets out, but not loose. He lets Joe maneuver him into sweats and a tee shirt. He accepts a pair of Advil and downs them dry, throat contracting hard as he swallows. “I’m not tired,” he says unnecessarily.
“I know. Sleep is for fucking mortals, dude.”
Joe steers him back to the living room and down onto the couch. Pete’s still shivering, despite the shower and his clothes. Of his own volition, after walking in on Pete with a tail in his ass and a dude flogging him, Joe did a little research. Adrenaline highs and lows, apparently, have the same effects no matter what causes them.
“Here.” Joe grabs a blanket jammed down in the big easy chair and sits down, pulling Pete close and tucking the blanket around them. Pete burrows in close, tucking his nose to the hollow of Joe’s throat and wrapping his hands in the front of Joe’s hoodie.
“It’s cool, dude,” Joe murmurs. “I’m here.”
Maybe an hour passes. Maybe a minute. Joe’s counting the one two three in and out of Pete’s breath and the steady thrum of his heart. Pete slowly stops shaking, settling into a kind of boneless heavy weight on Joe’s chest. It's both moderately uncomfortable and deeply comforting and he smells like that stupid Nightmare cologne he insists on wearing and the faintly fruity undertones of his shampoo.
“You awake?” Joe asks.
Pete makes a low noise of assent in the back of his throat and shifts in closer.
“I know this whole thing isn’t really my scene,” Joe says slowly, picking his words with infinite care. “But, like. It’s supposed to be safe, right? Sane and consensual.”
With a snort, Pete lifts his head and meets Joe’s eye. “SSC, yeah. It was SSC. Precautions were taken, we both knew what was happening, and we both said yes. Criteria met.”
“You have a fucking weird definition of sane, though,” Joe says, frustrated. “Dude, like I said, this isn’t my scene, but I would think the point is for you to walk away feeling better about life and the universe. You shouldn't have to call me at two in the morning, sounding like you’re falling to pieces, dude. And you can tell me I don’t get it and I can fuck off, but shit, Pete. I worry about you.”
Pete doesn’t say anything.
“Will you stay with me?” Pete asks eventually.
Joe smooths back his hair and nods. "Yeah," he says. "Of course."