Javier tells himself it’s care and not cowardice that has him stealthily shutting off the alarm clock in his bedroom before it can ring and wake Steve up. That it’s out of kindness when he leaves him a note, I called you in sick, and heads to work by himself, leaving Steve to catch up on his sleep. He lingers in the doorway as he’s tying his tie, watching the rise and fall of his back with each steady breath, and thinks, it’s better like this, letting Steve wake up alone in Javi’s bed so he can head back to his own apartment and by the time they see each other tomorrow he’ll have had time to get over any embarrassment he feels and they can just. Forget the whole thing ever happened.
The thing is, Javi is used to a little loneliness by now. He knows how to cope with it, who to call. Knows better than to turn to his partner for a helping hand when he gets desperate for someone’s skin on his. But it’s new for Steve. He hasn’t figured it out yet. He’ll get there. And this is part of it.
So it’s not that he’s afraid to face him. He’s just looking out for him, as a friend. Giving him the space he needs to feel ashamed and wallow alone and maybe—Javi’s heart twists a little in a sensation he decides to label hope—maybe call his wife and apologize sincerely, now that he’s hit rock bottom.
He does a good enough job convincing himself of this that it takes him by surprise when Steve shows up at the office a little after noon, and then he belies the entire story he’s concocted for himself when Steve looks at him and Javi immediately looks away, unable to meet his gaze. Like a fucking coward.
In the halfway glances he makes, the bits and pieces of Steve fitted together in the corner of Javi’s vision, he can tell that he’s more energized than he’s been in weeks. He’s sharper, actually able to contribute an idea once or twice, and he even chuckles briefly at a joke one of the junior agents makes.
But he keeps looking at Javi with these curious, frowning glances that Javi bravely ignores.
He’s run out of smokes and he’s heading out to buy a new pack, walking down an empty hallway, when he hears footsteps catching up behind him and then Steve’s bony elbow jabs into his side.
“Hey,” Steve says. Javi’s steps falter for a second but he nods and keeps walking. “Hey,” he says again, and grabs Javi’s arm, and finally, Javi dares to look up and meet his eyes.
If he’s embarrassed, he doesn’t show it. He’s watching Javi with a studious expression, squinty-eyed focused, and he’s silent for a long moment, like maybe he’s expecting Javi to speak first. He’s crowding into his space, like he always fucking does, towering over him with his extra few inches, boxing him in till Javi’s back is pressed against the wall. But he drops his arm so they’re no longer touching, just hovering in front of him. And then he says—
“What are you doing, Javi?”
As though he’s not the one who was begging Javi for it the night before.
Javi’s not sure what to say to that—not sure he could answer that question privately to himself, much less to Steve—so he stays silent for long enough that Steve sighs in frustration and shakes his head.
“I just. You said—” Steve doesn’t finish the sentence, just frowns a little harder. Javi’s fingers itch for a cigarette and he’s painfully aware they’re in a public hallway and Steve is standing so close he can almost feel his breath on his face. Can see every variation of blue in his eyes. He clears his throat.
“Can we possibly not have this conversation here?” he asks.
Steve blinks and backs away an inch, glances sideways down the empty hall and bites his lip thoughtfully. “Right,” he says. “Sure.”
And then a little meanly he reaches his hand up and presses his thumb firmly against the spot on Javi’s neck where he’d sunk his teeth in the night before, and he says, “Next time, then,” and walks away, leaving Javi alone to catch his breath.
Steve leaves early, and he’s waiting when Javi gets home, leaning against the wall next to Javi’s door and smoking a mostly burned down cigarette. Javi’s steps slow momentarily but he gives Steve a nod and keeps moving toward the door.
“Hey,” Steve says. “You wanna talk about it now?”
Javi’s not really clear on what it is exactly that Steve thinks they should talk about, but he’s absolutely certain he doesn’t want to be part of the conversation.
“No,” he tells him, a little irritably, already bracing for the pushback. Steve is the youngest sibling in his family, used to always getting his way, and when you tell him no he tends to run roughshod all over you and force things how he wants them to go anyway. So Javi tells him no and fits his key into the lock and doesn’t turn it yet because he knows as soon as he gets the door open that Steve will be shouldering in past him to argue about it, and he’ll most likely fucking win. But—
“Okay,” Steve says, easy. Javi blinks in surprise and gives a little nod, good, and lets his mouth quirk up into the tiniest smile, just an acknowledgment that he’s relieved they’re on the same page. Steve mirrors it, smiling back at him. “Hey, hold this for me?” he says, passing Javi the cigarette. Javi takes it, automatically, and then in the next second he nearly drops it because Steve is grabbing his wrists, using all his strength and the long length of his body to pin Javi against the door, and he bends his head down to land his hot mouth on Javi’s neck again, biting down with intent and sucking hard enough to leave a mark this time.
“Motherfucker,” Javi spits out, tensing his wrists against Steve’s hold. He wants—he wants to push Steve away and he wants Connie to come home and he wants Escobar caught and he wants his hands slipping through Steve’s hair again and he wants—he wants—
He wants his fucking mouth on his mouth.
“Christ,” he says, feeling the fight go out of him, and Steve’s grip softens incrementally. Finally he pulls his mouth away, dragging his lips across Javi’s neck as he goes, and he looks down at him again from an inch away, making Javi nearly go cross-eyed with the effort to keep him in focus. “That’s so you can’t keep pretending,” Steve tells him quietly, and he lets his wrists go free and turns away and heads upstairs to his own apartment.
Javi only moves when the cigarette still clenched in his fingers burns down and the heat hits his skin, making him wince and swear. He drops the butt, stamps it out with his boot and sucks his burned fingers into his mouth and tries to focus on that pain instead of the aching bruise on the side of his neck or the buzzing sensation he feels in his body, like a live wire strung through his veins all the way to his toes.
Pretending echoes in his mind and he tries not to let himself wonder what Steve meant by that.
Steve mostly lets him alone after that, no more surprise ambushes at work or at home, and this time, when a couple of the guys in the office rib Javi about the hickey on his neck, Steve is the one to look away, unable to hold his gaze. Mostly, he thinks, things are okay. If Steve thinks Javi can’t keep pretending that things are fine when they’re not, he might not know him as well as Javi would have thought he did by now.
So everything’s fine.
With Steve no longer looking at him, Javi’s able to watch Steve, and as the days go by he observes him going quieter, looking more and more exhausted again, heavy bags growing under his eyes.
By the end of the week, Javi feels tired just looking at him. He nudges his shoulder as they’re standing together by the office coffee pot, waiting for it to finish brewing so they can both get a refill. “You okay?” he asks quietly.
Steve shrugs dully and says, “I fucking hate staying in that apartment by myself,” and for a second, Javi feels flayed open, a strange sense of guilt settling achy into his bones. He shifts his jaw and moves instinctively, forgets to stop himself from clapping his hand on the back of Steve’s neck, squeezing it lightly and scratching his nails into the short hair on the back of his head.
Then he drops his hand and looks away so he can keep pretending he didn’t see how Steve’s eyes had fluttered closed at the contact.
Maybe it’s catching, the sleeplessness thing. It’s late, closing in on two AM, and Javi feels too restless to go to bed. Instead, he’s sitting in his lounge chair, nursing his third glass of whiskey and listening to a Miles Davis record turned low enough it won’t wake the neighbors. Thinking about home and what are you doing, Javi, and trying to make his mind go blank.
It’s only because the night is so still that he hears it when a door opens and shuts on the second floor, and quiet feet pad down the stairs. He’s idly curious about it, thinking about going to spy out his peephole, and then he hears a key in his door and he leans his head back against the chair and sighs.
The key is supposed to be for emergencies. Typically they abide by the formality of knocking and waiting to be let in.
Steve’s face looks wan in the shadowy dim light but his eyes are bright as he steps inside, making his way into the living room. He’s barefoot, in pajama pants and a worn-out t-shirt, and he tilts his head when he sees Javi in the corner of the room.
“You’re still up,” he says.
“Yeah,” Javi tells him. “I couldn’t sleep.”
Steve huffs out a laugh, like he thinks it’s ironic. “Me either.”
Javi is silent and Steve doesn’t say anything else, so finally Javi nods at the door.
“What’s with the breaking and entering?”
Steve takes a breath, lets it out on a deep sigh, and moves closer until he’s standing directly in front of him, looking down at him. “Javi,” he says, voice low and pleading. “I want— Can we—?”
Javi runs a hand over his face, presses hard at his temples. He hears a shifting sound and when he moves his hand again Steve has dropped to his knees and sat back on his heels before him. He’s looking up at him with imploring eyes.
“Can we,” he whispers. “Please.”
It’s—humiliating, a little bit, knowing he’s serving as a convenient stand-in for Steve’s wife, but there’s also some kind of rush that comes with holding Steve’s trust, a deep-seated pleasure in knowing that—he likes that—he can make him feel good, can make him feel better, can help him to sleep when he needs it. Even if that’s all this is.
And he was never going to say no to Steve, who nearly always gets what he wants in the end.
“Yeah,” Javi tells him, and the small, pleased smile that spreads slowly over Steve’s face is almost worth the twisted feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Steve gets to his feet and heads to the bedroom, which is. Not exactly how this went before, Javi thinks, but he tosses back the final dregs in his glass and stops the record so it won’t go staticky skipping when it reaches the end unattended, and he follows Steve.
Steve is standing by the foot of the bed. He’s turned on the bedside lamp so there’s a glow of yellow light illuminating half the room. The dim light makes him look young, soft around the edges, and this is—this is what they’re doing now so Javi lets himself reach out and cup his hand around the back of Steve’s head, lets himself watch the shadows his lashes cast on his cheeks as his eyes fall shut in response.
Steve opens his eyes again, lazy slow, and pushes Javi backwards onto the bed. He doesn’t let him sit on the end, keeps pushing him, murmurs, “Move up,” and then climbs over him till he’s got Javi lying on his back and Steve is straddling his thigh, leaning over him.
This is—Javi wants to give Steve what he wants, but this is—this is different than it felt the other night, when Steve was hot-eyed and panting. He doesn’t know. What this is. It feels like more and better and so much worse.
Steve hovers over him and presses a hand to his side, tucking his thumb under Javi’s shirt to stroke his bare skin. “This is next time, right?”
Javi looks at him dumbly. Uncomprehending. “What?”
“Next time,” Steve repeats, like it means something. It doesn’t. “You said—shit, Javi, you said next time I could touch you back. It’s—this is next time, right?” And he slips the rest of his hand under Javi’s shirt, splaying his fingers broad and warm over Javi’s belly. It feels nice, comforting even as he tries to work out what Steve is talking about.
“Um,” Javi says. He’s not drunk enough for his brain to be working this slowly. “If you want. If it helps.”
Steve laughs a little and tilts his head in confusion. “What does that mean?”
“I mean—” Javi doesn’t understand. “It’s not about… me.”
“It’s not—This whole fucking thing—Javi. You started it,” Steve says, baffled. His accent is going thicker, rounded out vowels drawling his name, Jahvi. And when Javi squints up at him and doesn’t say anything, he continues, hand pressing tighter on Javi’s skin, “You fucking touched me like—and you wouldn’t let me touch you back but you said next time and then you wouldn’t fucking look at me and it was like you were fucking—pretending it never happened but you said—”
“Next time,” Javi finishes, remembering now. Starting to figure it out.
“Yeah. So this is next time, right?”
“Yeah,” Javi breathes.
“You’re so goddamn stupid sometimes,” Steve grumbles, and he leans in and crowds against his mouth, hesitates for a second letting his lips skim just barely touching over Javi’s, a funny rasp of their mustaches brushing against each other, and then he kisses him.
Yeah, Javi thinks. He’s starting to realize that.
Steve grinds against his hip and presses his thigh against Javi’s cock, dipping his fingertips under the waist of Javi’s pants and laving his tongue over the fading mark he’d left on his neck.
“You’re so fucking…” Steve murmurs, and he doesn’t finish the thought but he nips lightly across Javi’s throat and reaches a hand between them so he can open Javi’s pants. Javi’s breath catches in his lungs when Steve’s long fingers run over his dick, slow and measured like he’s learning him by touch alone. He touches him back, stroking a hand along Steve’s warm skin under his shirt.
“I wanna suck you off,” Steve tells him, breathless and sincere, and Javi thinks his heart might stop for a second. But Steve is continuing, deep voice murmuring to him as he works his way back up Javi’s neck to reach his jawline. “I wanna get my mouth all over you. You know how long I’ve wanted you, Javi?” He twists his hand, tightening his grip on Javi’s cock, and it takes him a moment before he can work his throat to answer.
“How long?” he rasps. Javi has never counted the days or months or years to keep track of how long he hasn’t allowed himself to think about wanting Steve. He doesn’t know what Steve’s answer will be. Since you touched me, maybe, or, since Connie left, or perhaps there has been some slow build to this, little things adding up to stoke the fire over time until Javi had inadvertently dropped a tree branch worth of tinder onto it that night on the couch.
“Since the moment I fuckin’ met you,” Steve tells him, and all the air goes out of him.
“Jesus,” he says, and, “Jesus,” he says again, and he gets his hand in Steve’s hair to tug him up so Javi can meet his mouth again in a deeper, biting kiss.
Steve moans, a high-pitched, broken off sound from the back of his throat, and traps his own hand between them when he rocks his hips forward to grind against Javi again. “Take off your fucking clothes,” he mumbles against Javi’s mouth, before biting down lightly to drag his bottom lip between his teeth. “Let me taste you.”
Javi almost laughs, disbelieving, but he starts to unbutton his shirt in compliance. He pulls back far enough to speak and tells him, “I didn’t think you’d be this pushy.”
Steve’s face goes dirty-pleased, smirking down at him, as he idly runs his hand along Javi’s cock, pressure too light to give him what he needs.
“Yeah? What did you think I’d be like?”
“I thought—” He hadn’t thought about it, hadn’t let himself think about it, hadn’t let himself imagine this except for all the times he had, and he’s just given himself away, walked himself into an interrogation that Steve will happily see through to the end. So he gives in and tells the truth. So you can’t keep pretending. “I thought you’d want me on top. Holding you down. I thought I’d—” He leaves his shirt halfway unbuttoned and moves his hands to Steve’s wrists, circling them with his fingers and squeezing hard enough to make it ache, just a little. Bites his own lip so he can feel that mild sting of pain, too. “Hold you still, like this,” he whispers, “Get you off slow, get you to beg me for it.”
Steve’s eyes are shadowed, lust-blown pupils staring down at Javi, watching his face, focusing on his mouth as he speaks, and his smirking face has fallen into an expression of want. He takes a shuddery deep breath, lets it out slowly, his body settling a little more relaxed against Javi, like the words have calmed him down. “Yeah,” he says, “Like that, I want that too.”
“Yeah?” Javi says, and leans back up to kiss him slowly, teasing his tongue alongside Steve’s. “What do you want right now?”
“I want…” Steve pauses, like he’s really thinking about it. Or like his brain is getting stuck on the possibilities and he’s struggling to weigh his options. Then he frowns, and when he speaks he seems annoyed at Javi for having distracted him from his initial goal. “I want to make you come, I wanna see your face, I can’t believe you fucking—” he wraps his fingers around Javi’s cock again, stroking him firmly— “didn’t even let me touch you last time, Jesus.”
“Sorry,” Javi gasps out, arching into him. “My mistake.”
“No shit.” Steve finishes undoing the buttons on Javi’s shirt and pushes it open, ducks his head to graze his teeth over his nipple. “I could be really good at this, for all you know.” He drags Javi’s pants down over his hips, freeing his cock, and slips lower on the bed so he’s hovering over it. “I could be the best you ever had,” he tells him, challenging, and Javi’s already thinking, yeah, you fucking could be, when he closes his mouth over him.
For about twenty seconds Steve sucks him hard like he’s got something to prove, and then he shifts into this hazy, exploratory mode, kitten licks at the tip of his cock to taste him, rolling his tongue over him and running it slick down the underside, teasing his fingers lightly over Javi’s balls, just feeling him out. It might be the worst thing he’s ever experienced, the way he’s kept just on the edge of pleasure without ever getting the pressure and heat he needs.
He props himself up on his elbows, craning down to watch as Steve leaves his cock entirely to focus his mouth on the delicate skin of Javi’s inner thigh, and Javi growls. “Steve.”
Steve flicks his gaze up to meet Javi’s eyes. His face is still tired, shadowed undereyes reminding Javi that it’s the middle of the night and he still hasn’t slept yet, but there is a light glinting in his blue eyes, playful and challenging and content. Javi reaches a hand down and cards his fingers through his hair, watching Steve’s face relax, remembering again he likes that.
He likes that, and his face goes pleasure-flushed, eyes dropping unfocused when Javi grips his hair and tugs lightly. He pulls Steve’s head away from his thigh and lets go briefly so he can use his hand to guide his cock down to rest at Steve’s lips. Steve presses forward eagerly, mouth a tight circle around him, and reaches up to take Javi’s hand again and put it back in his hair, pressing Javi’s fingers to his scalp with intent.
He likes that. Javi’s breath is coming heavy, overcome by the intense pleasure of Steve’s mouth on him, good at this, could be the best you ever had when he’s focused on it like he is now. Javi strokes his hair, pushes his fingers through the strands over his forehead, feels around to the back of Steve’s skull and pulls experimentally, lightly, bringing Steve down further on his cock. Steve moans, breathes out harshly through his nose, and pushes his face closer, letting Javi hit the back of his throat. He swallows around him and Javi goes lightheaded, falls back onto the bed and runs his free hand through his own hair and then over his bare chest, fingers playing over the tingly electrified feeling of his skin. His bare feet slide on the bed, toes curling to grip emptily onto thin air.
He twists his fingers in Steve’s hair again, pulls harder, and Steve moans again, needy and good, and rolls his hand over Javi’s balls, making him groan and thrust up.
“Fuck,” Javi pants. “Fuck, that’s so—I’m gonna come in your mouth if you don’t pull off,” he warns.
Steve hesitates, sucks him hard one more time and then pulls away, replacing his mouth with his hand, stroking him slick and fast. He surges up on the bed to hover over Javi, watching his face, and his voice is rough, desperate, when he murmurs, “Come on, baby, let me see you, fuck, Javi, come for me.”
He comes so hard his back arches off the bed, eyes slammed shut tight, pleasure pulsing through his body and Steve’s hand steady on his cock, working him through it.
“Fuck,” Steve swears, grinding against Javi’s hip and fumbling, like he’s trying to balance himself to keep one hand on Javi where he’s squeezing the last vestiges of orgasm out of him, and get one hand down his own pajama pants to get at his own cock. “Fuck, shit—” he’s breathing hot at Javi’s neck and Javi comes back to himself finally to knock Steve’s hand away from his sensitive dick and shift Steve to straddle over him, replacing Steve’s hand on his cock with Javi’s and getting his other hand back in Steve’s hair to guide him into a kiss as he strokes him off.
Steve whimpers against his mouth, needy, and bucks into his hand. Javi grips him tighter and Steve gasps and comes like that, adding to the mess streaked across his stomach, lips going slack and panting against his. He collapses onto his side, pressed tight against him and tucked under Javi’s arm, and Javi turns his head to follow his mouth, kisses him softly in between his heavy breaths as he comes back down, and turns his fingers gentle, stroking through his hair.
“Goddamn,” Steve says after a long, quiet moment. “I need a cigarette.”
Javi huffs out a laugh and pulls away far enough to reach the pack and lighter on the nightstand. He feels the come slip over the planes of his stomach as he moves and he makes a face, shifting carefully to keep his sheets clean. He steals Steve’s cigarette as soon as he’s gotten it lit, takes a drag and feels the hit of nicotine steady his pulse, and then hands it back to him. “I need a shower,” he says.
Steve runs a hand along his side, nails scratching lightly at the edge of his rib cage. “Yeah.”
Javi extricates himself from the bed and makes his way to the bathroom, cleaning off his belly and finally taking off the rest of his clothes while he waits for the shower to heat up. He’s just stepped into the tub when he hears Steve enter the room, and he crowds in behind him, greedy and in his space and taking exactly what he wants. And Javi lets him. Steve leans against his shoulder as he showers, quiet and content, and he’s nearly asleep by the time Javi shuts off the water. He tosses him a towel, makes him dry himself off, and then Steve follows him back to the bedroom like, naturally. Naturally where Javi goes Steve will follow. He climbs into Javi’s bed, tucks his face against the inner edge of the pillow, and mumbles sleepily, “You better make me breakfast tomorrow,” and Javi falls asleep trying to remember if there’s a box of pancake mix in his kitchen cupboards.