Merritt McKinney was a flirt, always had been and probably always would be. Anyone who'd ever met him could tell you that; He winked at the guys and he blew kisses to the ladies and damn if he couldn't get most of them to blush. Flirting was a harmless way to interact and disarm, and he'd found that it added to his carefully crafted persona, distracting from the sharpness of his mind. The idea of a mentalist could put folks on edge, but very few people remembered to shield their secrets when met with some well targeted flattery and a goofy smile.
Flirting with the public was a tool, one that he wasn't afraid to apply liberally. As for his flirting with the team...Well.
Merritt flirted with his fellow horsemen for a lot of reasons. Because they were hot, because they were always together, because at this point it was habit. And there was exactly a 0% chance that his advances would be returned, so why not?
Why not get all up in Danny’s space on the couch when he was looking extra cuddly in a new sweater? Why not drop an unexpected kiss on Jack's forehead to gain the upper hand in a scuffle for the TV remote? Why not offer to relieve all of Henley's stresses on days when she looked especially put out. Everyone but Danny got a good laugh out of it, and even then that was because Danny had a strict regimen of frowning to keep up with. Flirting was just a low stakes way to express himself, to control their interactions and keep them at arm's length without them knowing they were being worked.
Or it was, until the other three decided to flip the script on him.
One day there seemed to be a shift. His innuendos stopped being met with groans and rolled eyes, instead earning him smirks and heated gazes. When he went to ruffle Jack’s hair, the kid began to lean into the touch where he would have struggled to get away before. Danny...well Danny started making a clear effort to be less unpleasant with him. All at once, something that had been in his control began to change shape, leaving him disoriented.
Merritt McKinney flirted with everyone, but they weren't supposed to flirt back.
It had started with Jack, really.
Make no mistake, Merritt knew that he was old. He had been old for years, washed up probably even before that. And he had never felt that so keenly as he did living with these three children The Eye had sidled him with. They texted constantly, they ate whatever the hell they wanted whenever the hell they wanted, and - in the case of Henley and Jack - thought that clothing was entirely optional around the condo.
“Would you please for once put a shirt on,” he said to Jack over the top of his book. Normally he would just enjoy the view, but Merritt had been in his feelings all morning and, absurd as it was, it felt like Jack was taunting him. The kid was lounging in the armchair adjacent to the couch Merritt was reading on, tossing playing cards into a hat on the other side of the room. One of Merritt’s.
Jack smirked, flicked his wrist. “Why? Am I making you uncomfortable, old man?” Uncomfortable was one way to look at it.
“No, I'm just concerned for your modesty.” He tried to sound bored, sarcastic, like he was in no way interested in Jack’s modesty or lack thereof. He thanked God that he was the only mentalist in this place, because the bullshit that he threw out there sometimes...he'd be found out in a minute.
Jack chuckled and eyed him up and down. He said, “Trust me, you're modest enough for the both of us.” Sure, Merritt was fond of his scarves and his cardigans, but he wasn't a strapping 20-something anymore. To Merritt's surprise, the kid didn't sound nearly as judgmental as he probably meant to. Instead, Merritt read disappointment in both his tone and his expression.
He stumbled through his next response, confused by what he saw. “Gotta leave the ladies something to look forward to,” he joked. “You know what they say, nobody's gonna want to buy the cow if they get the milk for free.”
“Why are we talking about milk?” Danny rounded the couch, face in some blueprints on his phone as usual. “I just bought some two days ago.”
“Merritt here was just slut-shaming me,” Jack said, pointing a finger from his non-throwing hand his way. Danny tsked. “He doesn't want me sharing what I've got, Danny.”
“I'm not saying that,” Merritt defended, frustrated. They were having too much fun with his words. He should have just kept his mouth shut...”Just that maybe you shouldn't be sharing what you got with me. Save it for someone who matters, kid. Cover up.”
Jack threw his last card and stood, those infuriating grooves above his hip bones making themselves known. He shook his head and asked Merritt, “What makes you think you don't matter?” He exited the room before Merritt was able to come up with a response to whatever the fuck that was supposed to mean. He looked to Danny for some clarity and only received a pat on the knee for his trouble. Kid didn't even look up from his phone as he, too, left Merritt to figure out what that was.
From there it was all downhill.
”Daddy, which of us is your favorite?” The question was asked sweetly, all faux innocence and curiosity.
Merritt looked sharply at Henley, wondering what the hell she was doing. He forced a smile onto his face for the benefit of the middle-aged waiter standing beside their dinner table. The guy was grinning pleasantly at the four of them, clearly believing them to be a family, Merritt the portly father to these fresh faced youngsters.
“Now, honey, you know I could never pick a favorite between you three.” He tried to imbue his tone with a subtle warning and knew that it had been heard loud and clear when Danny, who was sitting closer than Henley, at his right, joined in on whatever game she was playing.
“C’mon, daddy.” He tilted his ridiculous curly head to the side in a way that would've been cute any other day. Merritt usually admired the way his mop of hair softened the sharp lines of his face, but now Danny was using his powers for evil. He placed his hand atop Merritt's on the table. “It won't hurt her feelings too bad if you tell her I'm your favorite. On some level she's got to know.” He used his index finger to play with the band of Merritt's watch, slipping underneath to graze his skin. He had never had a thing about being called that, daddy, but the way they said it, how they held his gaze as it passed their lips. It got certain parts of Merritt interested, at the least.
He cleared his throat, buying a second to respond. Now he knew exactly what they were up to. “On second thought, I pick Jack. Jack's my favorite.” He was smug as he took a gulp of his water. Served Danny and Henley right for trying to team up on him in public. At least Jack had some sense, and that deserved to be rewarded. Henley pouted cutely.
“Oh, daddy,” Merritt heard Jack sigh beside him, before the kid rested his head on his left shoulder, unknowingly (or, quite possibly, knowingly) contributing to a very confusing tent in Merritt's slacks. “I love you best, too.” Damn them all.
The waiter laughed at the younger horsemen’s antics. “Fatherhood,” he said, shaking his head like he understood Merritt's struggle. He didn't know the half of it.
Merritt was about to agree, share an exasperated chuckle and send the guy on his way, when Henley put on a confused expression. She better fucking not...
“ Who said he was our father?”
The last straw came a few temptation-filled weeks later.
You see, Merritt was a mentalist for a reason. Cards would not obey him, he was allergic to rabbits, and, up until this tour with Tressler, high glitz and glam weren't really his things. And above all of these things, he did not enjoy being trapped.
“I’m not so sure about this, Henley. Really isn't my strong suit.”
“Just trust us,” she assured him.
He didn't know how he let them convince him to do this. Danny and Jack were watching from the couch as she tied Merritt's hands together behind the back of the chair he was sitting in. Henley pulled the knot tight and went back to the couch to sit beside the boys.
He immediately began pulling against the rope, struck by the similarity his current situation bore to dozens of failed escape “exercises” he'd been forced into as a kid. He had never gotten out on his own, sometimes left to struggle for hours.
Merritt heard Danny murmur to Jack, “Rookie mistake, he's only making the ropes tighter.” He was right, the restraints were already beginning to rub uncomfortably against Merritt’s skin as he struggled, but he didn't know how to fix it.
Under their interested gazes, Merritt worked. He felt panic begin to build as he did, but he fought it down as best he could. Reminded himself that this wasn't like those other times. He could count on his friends, right? Merritt tried wiggling, he tried tugging, he tried jerking, and he tried twisting, only succeeding in rubbing his wrists nearly raw and wrenching his shoulders. Which weren't that good in the first place, dammit.
When it became clear he wasn't getting free any time soon, and Merritt's breath began coming shorter and shorter, he looked to the trio on the couch for help. Danny rose immediately - See, told you so, brain - and came to let him loose. Attempting to save face, Merritt smirked, “I think I made it so much worse even you'll have some trouble with this one, Danny.”
“Oh yeah?” Danny paused. Instead of walking around the chair, he came to stand in front of Merritt and, after a second of consideration, sat on his lap. Chest to chest, nose to nose, crotch to crotch. Merritt's eyebrows leapt toward his nearly nonexistent hairline. “What the-”
Danny looked him in the eyes and wrapped his arms around him. “I'm proving you wrong,” he explained, like it was obvious. Like he hadn't just mounted a slightly panicked Merritt in their living room.
“Duh,” added Henley, unhelpfully.
Danny maintained eye contact as he got in close, closer even than a few moments before, and gave a single well placed tug on the rope. In two seconds flat, Merritt felt the ropes slacken and then fall. He thought Danny might release him after that, but the younger man grasped his hands and gently brought them around his sides, back to the front of his body. Maybe he hadn't done such a good job of keeping up a calm façade if Danny was treating him like this. They had become a lot less antagonistic in the last few months, but they hadn't quite progressed to hand holding yet. There were stinging red marks where he'd struggled against the restraints. He watched their joined hands, transfixed as Danny began to rub his thumbs delicately over Merritt's pulse point, panic subsiding with his new focus. Long moments went by while they sat there, intimate and heavy. When the redness began to fade away, and his breaths returned to normal, Danny stopped the repetitive motion at his wrists, merely cradled his upturned palms. Merritt looked up, trance broken. Danny’s eyes lacked their usual smugness, instead holding a softness Merritt had hardly seen directed his way. Warmed, and frankly unnerved by that fact, he pressed his forehead into Danny's shoulder instead, hands falling to his narrow hips. “You did great,” said the boy.
Merritt scoffed. “I tried to get out and made it twice as bad.”
“Well yeah,” admitted Danny, “but the point of this wasn’t to escape. The point was to trust that if you needed help, we would be here to have your back.” Same wavelength, he thought, maybe we can do this.
“It's something you haven’t really got the best track record with, Merr Bear,” Jack chimed in.
He sat back in the chair. That name. Merritt’s fingers twitched involuntarily on Danny’s hip before he gave a small nudge. Danny quickly stood, shooting a worried look over his shoulder to the others. Merritt knew he was going hot and cold on them, but he couldn't help it. One minute he was letting himself be lulled into whatever this thing was between them and the next he was reminded of the reason he should be doing the exact opposite. What he needed was to clear his head.
With a muttered “Sorry,” and three concerned gazes on his back, Merritt got up, grabbed his coat, and walked away.
He spent hours circling the trails in Central Park, reliving a lifetime of experiences telling him that this wasn't the right place for him. Years of failed relationships, a tanked career, and one betrayal to drive it all home...That was Merritt's life. Until a few months ago, when those kids came into it. Now he was almost happy and he didn't know what to do with that.
Resolved to put some space between himself and the others, for his sake and theirs, he began the walk back to the condo.
Merritt was relieved to find that, by the time he got home, the common areas of the condo had emptied. He hung his coat at the door and toed off his shoes beside the mat. Three other pairs sat along the wall.
When he walked to his room, Merritt had to pause just inside the doorway. Jack, Henley, and Danny were there, sleeping on his bed. Quietly, he approached. They had all changed into their pajamas and looked incredibly soft over his dark bedspread, illuminated by the moon's glow that seeped through the windows. Danny lay in the center, with Henley on the far side and Jack closest to Merritt. They'd waited for him. He sighed and made his way over to the dresser, pulling out a pair of silk sleep pants. He would change in the bathroom and make his due on the couch for the night.
He was halfway out of the door when he heard it, a soft, “Don't go.”
It was Danny who had spoken, but when Merritt looked back over his shoulder all three of them were looking at him through droopy lids. It had seemed a much simpler decision to push them away when they weren't right in front of him with pillow-creased faces and hopeful eyes. “Please, Merritt.”
He relented. The bathroom still seemed like the better option to switch pants, but he came back when he was done. He didn't even know how he was going to fit in with three other bodies, but when he came to stand at the foot of the bed they parted right down the middle, Danny and Henley scooching to one side and Jack to the other with room for him in-between.
Merritt crawled into the space and his first thought was that it was so warm. His bed had never felt like this before. In moments, Jack had spooned up against his back, curling his slight frame around Merritt's larger one in a way that should have felt silly but instead only made him feel safe. In front of him Danny was pressed close, their foreheads nearly touching. Red hair fell over the front of his neck from Henley resting in the curve of his shoulder. Merritt could feel his and Henley's breaths on his cheeks. The tip of Jack's nose rubbed against the knob of Merritt's neck as he wiggled around to get comfortable. It was all so much.
He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath. “I don't get good things.” Danny tried to interrupt, but Merritt shushed him as soon as he started. He was glad he'd closed his eyes for this. “Let me get this out, kid. I need you three to hear this...I don't get good things, and when I do, I don't get to keep them for very long. I made peace with that a long time ago. Got real good at being alone.” He sighed, chuckled a bit. “The Eye really had me pegged. I was the Hermit, alright. Kinda ironic that that card led me to you.”
He finally reopened his eyes. Just inches away were those belonging to Danny and Henley, watching his face with rapt attention. They looked sad, and where Jack had buried his face between Merritt's shoulders a small wet spot was growing with what he guessed were tears of sympathy. Jack had always been more open with his emotions than the rest of the horsemen. This was exactly why Merritt needed to stop whatever this was! They didn't deserve to be sad, and in the end that was all Merritt would give to them. A sad life with a sad old man.
“You kids are the best thing that's happened to me in my whole life, you guys have got to know that. But you deserve better than this, and I don't want you to waste your time on me when you could be building something great with each other.”
“Why do you keep calling yourself that?” Danny asked with shiny eyes. “You're not a waste of time, you've never been a waste of time. If I could I would go find every person who ever made you feel that way and I would make them pay for it.” He said it like he meant it, sharp jaw working. Knowing that it would hurt his cause, he reached out and placed a hand there, hoping to soothe him.
“That'd be one long line of folks, Danny. Wouldn't be worth it,” Merritt saw the anger in Danny's eyes as he said it, Henley's too, but that didn't make his words any less true in his mind. He didn't understand how they weren't getting it. Defeated, he dropped his hand. “Even my own- my own twin brother figured it out eventually. You know what his last words to me were before he split?” He put on a faux-cheery voice, an approximation of his last conversation with Chase. “Let's face it Merr Bear, it's only a matter of time until they get tired of you. I'm just getting out while the getting’s good.” He dropped his eyes as well as the veneer. “Spent a lifetime letting him beat on me, tie me up, always giving him the upper hand because that's what brothers do, and he still left me. I'm a decent mentalist and a half-ass anything else. And middle aged on top of that! Sounds like a waste of time to me.” He shrugged, jostling the still-clinging Jack. He'd made his case and hoped that they would understand.
Someone reached out to him, Henley he guessed by the smallness of the hand that caressed his cheek. He was compelled to look up. She said to him, “All I'm hearing are reasons to love you even more.” Merritt frowned. “Stop that!” she commanded. Admonished, he put on a straight face and just listened. “You grew up with what sounds like a horribly abusive brother, made a name for yourself in a tough business, and then, despite the odds, did it all over again a decade later. How could someone with that much talent and drive be a waste of time? The Eye doesn't think so, and neither do we.”
Merritt looked in her eyes and saw that her outrage was real. She really believed those things. A glance at Danny’s earnest gaze revealed the same. Merritt could almost physically feel his resolve weakening.
“Besides,” Jack spoke up from over his shoulder, “being middle aged doesn't mean anything. You're intelligent and sweet, you're funny, and we all agree that you're damn handsome. We already love you, Merritt. You just have to let us. Let us show you.” With that he placed a single kiss to the back of Merritt's neck, and Merritt knew it was lost. These three kids wanted to share their love with him and, against his better judgment, he was going to accept it.
The other two must have seen it on his face, because in the next moment they'd descended on him, kisses being peppered all over his face in tandem with those Jack was placing up and down the slope of his neck and along the collar of his t-shirt. When one set of lips met with his, he reveled in the softness and the sweetness of it all. When the angle changed and he felt stubble against his chin he knew it must be Danny.
One of Jack's hands slipped under his shirt and began stroking up over his chest. He felt self-conscious about the shape he was in compared to these younger, tauter bodies, but they didn't seem to lack any enthusiasm as they touched him. Jack raised himself up on an elbow behind him and used the hand on Merritt's chest to ease him onto his back. Merritt turned to finally look at him and saw a hell of a lot of love and determination in Jack’s eyes and in the set of those dark eyebrows.
He allowed himself to be pulled into a long, deep kiss. It was a kiss made to steal your breath away, fitting that it come from Jack. By the time they'd separated for air, a major shift had occurred on the bed. Never one to let a good diversion go to waste, Danny had come to straddle him for the second time that day and Henley was now plastered to his side. She was placing biting kisses along his jawline and up under his ear, her little excited breaths doing almost as much for him as the kisses themselves.
Merritt couldn't believe this was actually happening.
He delved back into Jack's mouth, enjoying the eagerness with which each kiss was met. Jack's tongue glided slick along his and up to tickle the roof of Merritt's mouth, drawing moans from deep in his chest.
Moans that turned sharp when Danny began rocking back and forth on his clothed dick. If you could even call it clothed with only a pair of silk pants and Danny's boxers separating them. Danny slid his hands forward underneath Merritt's shirt beside the one belonging to Jack, pushing the fabric up to bare his chest. Henley slid into place, pressing open-mouthed kisses into his collarbone and on down, until she was suckling at his nipple. Merritt's mouth fell open, the speed with which he'd gone hard honestly making him lightheaded.
A well-coordinated assault was what it was, and later on you couldn't convince Merritt that they hadn't planned it carefully beforehand. He didn't have the chance to think that, though, in the moment. Together, the three younger horsemen worked seamlessly to divest him of his clothes, losing a good deal of theirs in the process until they were all pressed skin to skin in the most beautiful ways. Danny still sat astride his hips, his dick a perfect weight against Merritt's. He reached behind himself and gripped for Merritt's knee, the one closest to Jack, rearranging them so that he was straddling one leg and the other hooked over his shoulder. The new angle gave Danny the leverage he needed to slot his dick in beside Merritt's and pump against him until he was panting into his kiss with the youngest horseman.
“Fuck,” he whispered, losing his concentration. Jack, desperate, continued kissing his face, his neck, anything he could reach. Merritt focused, getting himself back together enough to tug Jack's body into his, encouraging him to take what he needed from him. When his dick slid into the crease between Merritt's lifted leg and his hip, Jack turned and hid his face in the crook of Merritt's neck, releasing a broken moan against the skin. Merritt got a hand on the small of his back and encouraged his stuttering hips until the boy was fucking the sweat-slick skin on his own. The sight fulfilled fantasies that Merritt didn't even know he'd had.
He couldn't forget Henley, though, no matter how he wanted to get lost in the sensation. She too had turned to rubbing herself against Merritt's side, the slide of her lips matching the rhythm of her breathy moans in his ear. He turned his head to take her mouth in a kiss, swallowing her sighs. “C’mere,” he commanded in a whisper, rearranging them as best he could with only one arm so that she had one knee hiked up high against his chest and his hand between her thighs. His elbow was bent at an awkward angle, but it was worth it to feel the change in her body when he began to stroke her, dipping his fingertips past her lips and into the heat of her pussy.
“Yes,” she moaned, the words disappearing into his mouth along with her tongue. When he finally gave her an entire finger, her breasts quivered with the resulting undulations. When he gave her two, stroking long and deep, her eyes rolled back. At three she began begging him, “Faster, daddy, please!”
It was like her saying it triggered something in the boys, because in the next breath it was coming from all three of them. Yes, daddy. C’mon daddy, fuck me. Come for me, daddy, wanna see you come.
His orgasm caught him off guard with its suddenness, though how he lasted as long as he did he'd never know. With their moaned encouragement, he came, spilling onto his own stomach, adding to the precum already pooled there on his skin. Apparently he liked the Daddy Thing™ a whole lot more than he knew.
Jack was next, seemingly pushed over the edge by the sight of Merritt's still pulsing dick, followed by Danny, who finished himself with his hand and came so hard the thick ropes of cum reached Merritt's clavicle.
Finally able to think straight, Merritt focused on Henley. He removed his fingers (amid protest) and she honest to god squeaked when he got an arm around her waist, using his strength to pull her up and over his body until it was clear he wanted her to straddle his face. “You know,” she said, getting situated, “I was never really swayed by the macho thing before, but y-you...manhandling me u...up here was...oh god.” Halfway through her sentiment he'd gotten his mouth on her. It was nice to see her composure fall apart as he worked her over with his tongue.
“ Shit ,” groaned Danny at the sight. His dick twitched where it was cradled against Merritt's thigh.
He felt Jack shift, coming to kneel over his chest snug behind Henley. As Merritt looked up at the gorgeous stretch of Henley's body, two hands came into view, cupping her full breasts. Her hips jerked against his mouth when Jack tweaked her nipples, and she gasped her satisfaction at the sensation. Merritt hummed his encouragement around her clit. It was Jack who took his direction, rocking his hips forward into hers, guiding Henley to fuck herself on Merritt's mouth. His already stiffening dick was caught between her ass and Merritt's chest, movements slicked by Danny's cum, and as Henley chased her orgasm so did Jack approach his second of the night. What Merritt wouldn't give to be in his twenties again, ready to go for round two at the drop of a hat.
Danny, who had come to take Jack's vacated spot on the bed, reached out to caress Jack's cut hipbones and firm ass, trailing over to Henley's plush thigh. “Fuck, Merritt, they're so beautiful,” he whispered, barely audible over their moans and the wet sound of his tongue working Henley's folds. “All for you, daddy.” He raised his voice some, “Isn't that right, Hen?”
“Mmhmm,” she moaned.
“You wanna come for daddy?”
“God, yeah,” said Jack this time, hips working furiously. They both sounded so wrecked. Merritt guessed that the Daddy Thing™ did as much for them as it did for him.
He was impressed with how close to simultaneous it was when they both came to a shuddering finish above him, Jack’s cum adding to Danny's on Merritt's chest. Jack fell over immediately, but Henley stayed above him for a few moments to catch her breath. Merritt pulled back with a last chaste kiss to her lips and then she too dismounted.
He was both relieved for the breathing room and regretful of their absence. The air was cold, hitting the pools and smears of cum on his body. The musky smell of Henley's slick, drying on his nose and chin, was strong with every gasping breath he took. “So,” he panted, “is this what sex is going to be like from now on? Everybody just dog pile on Merritt?”
“Not every time,” Henley assured him. “You can't blame us, though, I mean look at you.”
He did, taking in the mess the boys had made of him. He felt well and truly marked. “I look like a debauched old man.”
“Possibly,” she conceded, “but you’re our debauched old man.”
They all laughed and Jack got up to go to the restroom, returning in a moment with a couple of damp washcloths. He handed one off to Henley and another to Danny so they could clean themselves up. The last he used on Merritt, gently wiping away the release drying on his torso. Merritt had never had a lover care for him like this before and it made his chest twinge in the most delightful way.
Sated, they curled back up, Merritt once again in the middle. He was flanked by Jack and Henley, both of them using his chest as a pillow. Danny curled into Jack's other side, but his arm was thrown across his waist to reach Merritt, resting on his belly. He fell asleep with two sets of breaths on his chest and Danny's thumb stroking back and forth over his navel.
Merritt opened his eyes not nearly enough hours later, betrayed by the sunlight spilling past his curtains. He rolled over, hoping to get away from the light for just a couple more hours, and came face to face with Jack.
Jack smiled a sleepy smile at him, and Merritt felt like he could melt into the bed with the warmness of it. “Hey,” he said, keeping his voice low. If their soft breaths were any indication, the other two were still asleep.
Smiling, Merritt pulled him a little bit closer for a kiss, morning breath be damned.
“Hey,” he whispered back. “You come here often?”