As a Time Master, instinct and love hadn’t been allowed, and for most of his life Rip had listened to every bit of that doctrine. Being a Time Master was all he knew—after being taken in from the ragged, apocalyptic streets of 22nd century East London, he’d been convinced that it was the Time Masters or life as a cutpurse, and he wasn’t too keen on returning to the latter. He’d been given a chance to be more, to be better. It was a chance that one wasn’t meant to squander on something as shallow as one’s own human nature.
And yet with Jonah, it’d been precisely about tapping into that. Instinct, nature, the rush of adrenaline; Jonah gave as hard as he got, biting into Rip’s lip, rasping into his mouth, growling around his cock when Rip slid down his throat. Jonah dug nails into bark and howled when Rip fucked him into it, egging him on for more, for harder, for ah, fuck, Rip, right there, fuck me fuck me fuck me—and Rip’s blood boiled, and his heart raced, and he drew blood when he bit into the meat of Jonah’s shoulder and filled him with seed.
He had to be smarter than that, he told himself as he stole Jonah’s coat and absconded into his timeship. He had to be better. He couldn’t very well fuck whoever he wanted, much more anyone he was only ever meant to meet in passing. If the Time Masters found out, God, who knew what they’d do to him? Who knew what would become of him, with all the secrets of time he now knew?
But with Miranda, God, it was all about love. The way she smiled at him, the way she held his hand, the way she called him “hero” and meant it—these were things that happened because she was head over heels in love with him, and Rip knew without a shadow of a doubt that he felt the same. When he kissed her it was soft, hands on her cheeks and Miranda’s breath sighing happily between them. When he made love to her, it was with their fingers entwined, and Rip didn’t bother looking away when he told her that she was his everything, and that there would never be another after. He would love her forever, and it was beautiful because she loved him too, and that was it, wasn’t it? That was what it was to be human: to be loved and cherished and to offer the same.
The day Miranda left the Time Masters had shattered him, but the wound had been balmed by the promise of eternity and the secret passion of their marriage. It had disappeared entirely when Jonas had been born, Rip just barely making it to hospital in the second before Miranda disappeared past swinging doors. He’d been happy, living the life of a man and a Time Master all at once, and he’d loved his wife and child and wanted nothing but the best for them.
Then they were murdered, and as much as Rip remembered that the Time Masters had always warned against such connections, and as much as he felt guilt for loving them, he felt the need for revenge more.
This isn’t revenge, though, he imagines. The tall man with the kind brown eyes and the boy scout smile is too kind for revenge—is something else entirely, something beyond instinct and love.
“You can’t,” Rip tells him, and Ray Palmer looks at him in confusion before Rip elaborates, “you can’t—be with me, not when you belong in my past. Not with everyone I’ve touched and—and lost, not with…”
“I’ve lost someone, too.”
“Raymond, I’m no good man.”
“I don’t believe you.”
But Ray doesn’t. Ray kisses him, Rip isn’t used to being the one kissed, and though for a moment he imagines Ray dead and gone and slaughtered just like everyone else, in the end he finds the man’s face with his hands and draws his fingers lower to grasp narrow hips and pull them flush to him.
Rip doesn’t know what it is when Ray whimpers in his mouth, softer than Jonah and louder than Miranda, doesn’t know what it is when Ray falls to his knees and smiles his way down Rip’s dick. He’s so happy, so open, so honest in a way that all his past lovers had been too damaged to be, and it makes it so easy to believe that this is something he’s allowed to have.
“Raymond,” he finds himself saying more than once, more than twice, more than ten times, and every time Ray is there for him, wanting him, and it feels so much like Rip’s found some kind of loophole, some cheat in the system, something false and wrong and undeserved.
He says as much, hands around Ray’s wrists and Ray’s cock an angry, red line over a heaving belly: “I never feel like I deserve this.”
Ray only shakes his head, though, as his legs wrap around Rip’s waist. “You deserve love, too.”
Is that what this is, he wonders. Is that what it is to watch Ray writhe beneath him, crying out, fingers digging into sheets and knees raised high as he rides the length of Rip’s cock? Is that what it is to hear Ray moan, to hear him beg in quiet pleases and oh, God, I’m so close, Rip, so close?
He can wish that Ray never asked for it. He can wish that he’d never given in.
But most of all he can wish it doesn’t feel as good as it is to hold Ray down even as he struggles to get away, long legs tight against Rip’s sides, chest heaving as he cries out at the hard hold on his wrists, at the blinding heat as Rip pushes his way in, again and again and again. He can wish it doesn’t feel so good when Ray moans and bucks up, meeting him, wailing when Rip slams in hardharderhardest, hips pistoning as he tries to get deeper, as he breaks through the last piece of resistance and Ray’s liquid under him, between them, soft and pliant and tight ass squeezing around his dick like a living corset.
He can wish he doesn’t live for the way Ray gasps when Rip starts to make love to him after, fucking a hole that’s too tight until Ray’s sputtering and squirting all he has left. He can wish he never fell for Ray’s whispered you can come inside the first time and all the other ones after.
“You’re free now,” Ray tells him, kissing him through the afterglow of orgasm, “you can do whatever you want, Rip. Be with whoever you want. Be with me…”
And, God, the Time Masters had never warned him against freedom.
Just because he’s got wishes doesn’t mean he knows what to do with them.