Part of finding a way through a relationship that's a series of relationships all tangled together is knowing when to laugh and when to shut up, where the lines are and the limits. Sam doesn't mind having them twit him about "surveillance" when the word's voyeurism, really. It's taken some talking to convince them--not to convince them he's not mad, because they'll never quite believe that--but to convince them that it's a benign madness. Annie says she's studying the correlation of anticipation and perceived strength of orgasm, like that Kinsey bloke only more personal. Her data collection's flawed because she only thinks to ask when she's taking the piss.
Gene's come on a bit about the kinds of things he'll do, but sometimes he's got his head all wrong about it. The first time he said, "I'm fucking your wife, Sammy-boy," well, it was true.
Annie'd kissed him and said, "And doing a lovely job of it too," but Sam stared at them for a few seconds before he demanded that everyone put their clothes back on, that they had to talk about that kind of thing, that that wasn't what this was, not like that, for God's sake.
It took more than one discussion, and the uncomfortable but undeniable "I say things to you that aren't a tenth as true because you want to hear them, and you're getting your knickers in a twist over plain fact?"
Sam had tried to explain that he did have a point, somewhere in there, but he hadn't managed it till one of those red-letter days--the kind of day when Annie was in one of those voracious moods--and he managed to keep quiet till they were done, and exhausted. It wasn't the best time to have a discussion starting with "You know, Guv, it's bloody hypocritical to call someone a 'dirty girl' when all you mean is she wants it as much as you do."
"What are you on about now, Gladys?"
Annie sighed. "I knew what he meant."
"Christ." Gene thumped his pillow. "Next you'll be at me to stop calling you a fairy when you're sucking my prick."
Sam coughed. "No, I don't mind that at all."
Annie patted his shoulder. "My data show you like it."
It does work better when they've had it out, even if they have to have it out five times before it's all right.
Friday's another day when Annie's in one of those moods, ready to take on the world and wanting everything. She's off in the toilet, and the rule of women and toilets before sex is that if you have to ask what they're doing, it's better not to know. Something to do with a diaphragm, among other things, and Sam had enjoyed explaining the mechanics of that to Gene till Gene shouted him down.
Gene has nearly the same look in his eye that Annie does, once he's got his shirt off and he's as much at home as he'll be all night. "Fight you for her," he says, his chin up at the angle that means he's joking, but not only joking.
Sam backs off and hangs his shirt up as an excuse to be half the room away. It's not the fighting that bothers him, it's that if they start, Annie will tell them off for being selfish and beginning without her. "You go on. I'll get mine later."
Later--not so very much later--Sam's on the chair by the bed, hands on his knees and squeezing till his knuckles go white, as they've both told him to keep his hands off himself, Annie with a smile and "I've plans for you," and Gene just to see him squirm.
"God," he says, and tucks his hands under his thighs.
"You're a good boy for being so patient," Annie says. She's on her knees with Gene behind her and inside her, making her make those breathless-whimpering noises--and she hasn't forgotten Sam's there, not for a moment. He shifts and the bloody chair creaks she laughs and pats the bed, just where she could reach him. "Come here, love. There's space."
But Gene's feeling like a bastard, apparently, or the cat that got the canary, because he says, "He can wait," and distracts her so much she doesn't ask again. It's still true, right then. But he gets her somewhere on that plateau where it only takes a little to bring her off, more than once, more than twice, and it's not bloody fair. Even if Sam go along with it, to start. Not if Gene's going to spend the whole time talking her through it--half telling her to come for him, again, there's a girl, half knowing she will anyway and he might as well encourage her.
Somewhere in there, Sam's got limits. There are things he can't hold still for, and things he won't.
But his limits don't exactly extend to stopping them. Or much, really, that they wouldn't like--Annie kisses him back and gives him that smile, that dazed, too much-not enough smile. She's not half done yet. She sounds nearly drunk when she says, "Can't wait anymore?"
Sam doesn't say, "I'm sorry." Not very loudly, at least.
"You're bloody ridiculous," Gene says, and pats his cheek with less dexterity than normal. "Kiss her again--got one more in you, do you, love?"
Annie nips at Sam's lip. "At least. Nearly there?"
Gene laughs, his face in the back of her neck. "One more good wriggle and that's me done."
Annie says, "Good thing I've got the two of you," and gets that frown of concentration that makes Sam have to kiss her again.
"I'm not going anywhere," he promises her.
Gene swears, not even half coherent, and pats her hip a minute later. "All right, there?"
She rolls her hips slowly, lazily, and pokes Sam's chest. "Lie down, love."
Sam shifts on his back with Annie over him, and she's not leaning on Gene as much as she might be but if he wasn't holding her up she wouldn't be sitting up. "You could lie down," Gene says, and Annie makes a face and moves his hand from her shoulder to her breast.
"It's better like this," she says, and rolls her hips again, easing up, then down.
Sam hadn't planned to argue, and doesn't have the least objection now, except that he's going to lose his sense of rhythm entirely, for all the times he's had his fingers on her just like this, buried in her drenched curls.
Sex isn't quiet, unless it's got to be. But it's not usually so -- loud. Wet-sounding. "Fuck," he says, and digs his nails into the palm of his free hand.
Gene smacks his hip. "Open your ruddy eyes, Gladys."
"I'm fine," he says, lies. Tries to breathe.
"More than--than--fine--" and he knows that moan in Annie's voice, the shake in her thighs.
And he holds onto himself as hard as he can--it's a question of honor, of thirty bloody seconds, and he is not fourteen. He can do this.
"Christ, Cartwright," Gene says, and he is not, is not laughing at Annie for enjoying sex. If he were, Sam would have to punch him and mean it. He's not--quite--laughing. "We're going to have to find you someone else for when you wear Sammy out, aren't we?"
She smacks Gene obliquely on his side, barely aiming, not hurting him. "Takes more than this, doesn't it?" she says to Sam, and grinds down harder till he has to close his eyes and just, just breathe, and not arch off the bed, much.
It's not been two minutes, and he's--fine. "That depends what you need," he says, after a sincere effort to make the sentence make sense.
Annie's the one who laughs, light and breathless. "More of this, right now," she says, and he wouldn't deny her if he could speak to say it.
"Should I nip out and find you a rubber prick?" Gene asks, managing to make it sound sweet, like she's got the lurgy and he's going to make her chamomile tea.
Annie shakes her head. "I'm just--God, do that again--"
Sam groans and tries to remember what he's just done, what combination of a thrust and a wriggle of his thumb made her squeeze him--and he gets it right, or close enough, because she does it again, and he puts his free hand over his mouth and bites down on the pad of his thumb.
He doesn't mind screaming, not here, not with them, but not--yet--not quite yet--
Gene clears his throat. "Told you you'd wear him out right quick, love."
"I'm--fine--" Sam says, and he doesn't sound it even to his own ears. "--fuck."
Annie pats his cheek. "Better than fine," she says, and she has to know he's close.
"I'm trying," he says, because he doesn't want to lie to her any more than he absolutely has to.
"It's all right." Annie's going to kill him if she tells him to wait. She doesn't--she says, "One more, and I'll kneel up--I haven't worn your tongue out yet, have I?"
"I'm not holding you up till you manage that," Gene says, not managing to sound as grumpy as he's trying for. "My arms'll give out."
"God, please--" Sam stops trying so hard--there's no reason to, and the thought of it's enough to make him mad, enough to make him not sure what he's trying to do anymore except give her everything he's got, everything he can think of.
"Just kiss me," Annie says, as she does, sometimes, when she's on the edge of orgasm.
And the day it doesn't make Sam shake to see them together will be the day he gives up on himself, but that's not today--not at all, and especially not with the promise that she's not done with him just now either.
Gene's too busy kissing her to laugh at him for needing permission for this--which he bloody doesn't, not always,, but it's good to have it, however sideways-subtle it is right now. It's enough, with Annie pressing her knees into his sides and bearing down around him till he can't feel anything but her.
"God," Annie says, and for a moment Sam feels guilty, as ridiculously as he ever has, as out of place with everything he's just done. "Give me a hand up," she says, and eases off him, onto her side, loose-limbed.
"Had enough?" Gene asks, with that edge he uses when he's after Sam with all the words that apply at least as much to himself. He's never yet called Annie a slut, but it's just around the corner in that tone.
Sam pushes himself up on his elbows. "I haven't," he says, because he doesn't mind being the randy one. Or being called it, at least.
"Nor have I." Annie pets Sam's hair and smiles at him, all sweat and dimples. "Come here, then."
The days--all the days, all the hours, all the probably weeks by now--he's spent with her legs round his neck--have been some of the best hours he can think of, up there with solving the hardest crimes and saving people's lives.
Most of the time it's harder than this, for all the practice they've had, harder than easing his fingers inside her, harder than getting his tongue on her clit three seconds in--faster than he'd ever go, if she wasn't so far gone, if she wasn't shuddering and tugging at his hair, urging him on.
If she wasn't so dripping, surging wet with all that fucking, it'd be different. He could drown in her like this and he wouldn't mind in the least.
Gene smacks his arse, which isn't a remedy for drowning, but reminds him there's more to the universe than Annie--which he might have been in danger of forgetting, for a second there. "When you give him a break, love, you might want to let him catch his breath."
Sam can't exactly shake his head, but he tries, and Annie says, "No--keep going--" as lost and needy and overwhelmed as he feels.
She writhes for him, moving with him and against him, crying out and holding her breath by turns. Gene swears fondly and kisses her, between orgasms, during them. Sam has lost count by the time she lets him go, petting his sweat-and-everything-else damp hair and tugging at his shoulder in case he doesn't get the point. "I can't breathe anymore," she says, obviously lying, as she's breathing well enough to speak.
"Enough?" he asks, and she gives him a sleepy look, loving and dazed, finally or at least temporarily sated.
"Yes." Annie pulls him up with the faintest gestures till he's lying next to her. "You?"
He needs a shower more than sex, and sleep, perhaps, more than a shower. "I'll be all right," he says, and it's true. He's aroused, but of course he is, after all of that.
Gene sits up enough to glower at him. "Get your scrawny arse over here," he says.
Sam sighs and tries to decide whether he has the energy for it, for him, for himself. It's easier to go than to argue, easier to kiss Gene than to try to explain.
"Do you know how you look right now?" Gene asks him, and there's that edge again, the one he didn't use with Annie. The one he shouldn't, because it doesn't make her shiver the way it gets to Sam. If he said it to her, it wouldn't sound like love.
"I can guess." Sam licks his lips. It doesn't do anything much to help matters.
Gene kisses him again, licking at his mouth as though he means to clean Sam's face the hard way. "Filthy little bastard," he says, and gets his hand round Sam's prick. "I wager you'll come for me faster than you did for her."
It's not a fair bet. Watching is watching, but Sam's been busy, and he would have been fine--would still be fine. He could put it off if he had to, but there's no reason to try to save face here, and if he manages it the only payoff will be that Gene's wrist is sore in the morning. "Does it matter?" he asks, nearly too tired to play the game properly.
"Of course it matters." Gene tugs at his hair more harshly than Annie did, meaning it to hurt. Sam leans into him, going with it, shivering. "Do you know what you taste like?"
With perfect clarity, but Sam's not going to say it. "Yes, and you kissed me," goes better with the game, with the dirtiest smile he can manage, and with the punch, mostly pulled, to his shoulder.
It wasn't a fair wager to begin with and it's only getting worse.
"You're not even trying to pretend, are you?" Gene shakes his head as though he's disappointed, as though he's not tugging at Sam's prick, faster now. "Covered in it and loving it."
There's no argument against that, even if Sam had a reason to try. "Best place to be," he says, and Annie laughs, reaching up to pet his back.
"For you, at least," she says.
"That's where you belong," Gene says, harsher now, quieter. "Cleaning up all my ruddy messes."
Sam buries his face in Gene's shoulder to hide his smile, to stop himself from moaning too obviously at the wrong point--though they're past that now. "If they were all--God--that much fun to fix--"
Gene gives him one last squeeze, hard enough, fast enough, and says, "You'd do it all again, wouldn't you? Perverted little tosser," as Sam starts to come.
Sam kisses him again when he can think well enough to move and clean up a fraction of the mess, and lie down, curling into Annie's warmth. "We're washing the sheets in the morning," he says.
"If we can peel them off in one piece," Annie says, smiling sleepily at him.
"Might have to haul Sam into the bath, but we could manage between us." Gene turns the light off and gets an arm round both of them. The sheets will be a dead loss, but it was worth it.