Joshua Faraday really had to try and kick his bad habit of waking up on random people’s sofas. It never ended well, although Billy had at least thrown a blanket over his unintended house guest — who he had vaguely recognised from the various networking parties they both attended — before upending a bucket of cold water on him later on in the day when he wanted Faraday gone.
He half cracked an eye open — the pounding in his head only ramping up further with that small action — and groaned slurred curses at the sun that was determined to pierce into his skull. It definitely smelt like a student apartment that he was lying in: a particular scent in the air of cheap alcohol, coffee and stress. The walls were bare brick beneath the plastering of newspaper articles.
Blindly, he groped for his phone, wincing as the light pierced his eyes. It took three attempts to make out the time, numbers losing all the meaning the moment he glanced at them, but the rest of his screen was blessedly blank.
“You’re not dead.”
Joshua just managed to bite back his yelp at the unexpected voice, fumbling with his phone as it slipped through his grip, catching it moments before it hit his already bruised jaw.
“I don’t think so,” he replied, voice meandering between his natural burr and the clipped accent he used for court. Sitting up was a struggle, one hand gripping the back of the sofa to try and retain some stability, but he managed it, black spots dancing in his vision.
The scent of coffee was a blessing, the words he would need to cajole and wheedle a cup from his surprise host already queuing up on his tongue when he turned — and they all fell out of his mind.
His host — the word applied loosely, but Joshua knew enough to make it stick — was facing away from him, busying himself with a pan on the stove, the hissing sound of bacon joining the bubbling of the coffee. But that wasn’t where Joshua’s attention landed.
The man was naked, save for an apron loosely tied around his hips. He swayed slightly as he made breakfast, long dark hair pushed back over one shoulder, muscles flexing and his arse —
“You’re really hot.”
Joshua could have slapped himself the moment the words slipped out, bypass any sliver of common sense he had — despite what Billy told him, he had some — but the man only laughed, tipping his head back and twisting just enough to catch Joshua’s gaze.
“Is this a common occurrence for you?” The man waved a hand at Joshua — sleeping in the clothes he had worn out the night before, one shoe dangling from his foot with the laces knotted too tight to untangle, the taste of alcohol soured on his tongue.
“I’d like to say no, but honestly?” Joshua shrugged, the motion somehow making the room lurch uncomfortably, “I've made some good friends by waking up on their sofas.”
“I do enjoy honesty.” The man’s grin was predatory, shark like in its intensity and a thrill twisted in the pit of Joshua’s stomach. “Are these friends the kind you fuck, because that wouldn’t go amiss right now?”
Joshua was good at thinking on his feet. The gift served him well in court, but it was honed by a lifetime of getting himself into bad situations, then having to talk his way out of them — his silver tongue the only thing standing between another drink pushed into his hands or waking up bruised and bleeding.
“I could be persuaded,” Joshua purred as the man moved closer, passing him the full mug of coffee as he settled in the other chair. He had an abstract tattoo on his forearm, all overlapping lines that eventually formed a shape, and Joshua let his gaze wander over what he could see of the man’s chest. “Name’s Joshua Faraday, in case we haven’t been formally introduced yet.”
“Red Harvest.” Red’s eyes glittered, and he waited for Joshua to take a sip of his coffee before continuing, “So now you know what you’ll be screaming later.”
Red shook his head, sipping at his coffee as Joshua glared at him, cheeks pink from choking on his coffee. “I’m confident.”
It was a good fuck.
It was an even better breakfast, eaten while sweat was drying on Joshua’s skin and Red’s handprints bruising on his hips. Numbers were exchanged — Joshua promptly adding an eggplant emoji next to Red’s name, the other man laughing as he showed Joshua the peach emoji he had added next to his — and Joshua was gone.
His exit was with some regret. Joshua would have liked to impose on Red’s hospitality, among other things, some more but work has reared its ugly head, and he was forced to answer the call. Literally.
He was still limping when he ran up the steps to the courthouse a few hours later, shirt buttoned up to his neck to hide Red’s teeth marks.
“Press is here already.” Billy easily fell into pace beside him, crushing his cigarette into a nearby ashtray without missing a beat. “It’s a big case and you smell like a brewery.”
“I wasn’t even meant to be in today, Billy,” Joshua groused, his glare doing nothing but amuse the other man.
“And yet here you are. Now, behave.”
“Scouts honour.” Joshua fashioned his fingers into a passable salute, Billy only sighing harder before they moved into the corridor.
Joshua couldn’t say if it was Red’s hair he noticed first — now pinned up with an impressive array of bone-white pins — or his voice, firing rapid shot questions at another reporter, lips curled into a grin.
Joshua’s step faltered for a moment, Red stuttered on a question as their eyes met. And the moment was over, Red lost in the press of bodies, Joshua tucked into the small alcove of peace by Billy’s elbow as they moved through the crowd.
“You know that reporter?” Billy hissed the moment the door closed behind him.
“Fuck, Faraday. Really? Now of all times.”
Joshua sighed, ignoring Billy’s dramatised dry heave out of the corner of his eye, and pressed his fingers into his hips where he could still feel the imprint of Red’s touch.