Welcome To The Harem

This and That by D. Sidhe
Summary: Byers is caught in a compromising situation. And he's not the only one. Frohike/Yves, Langly/Byers. NC-17 for both the het and the slash.

This and That
By D. Sidhe: Erika
Category: Slash. Het. PWP. Challenge: Byers is on his own.
Pairings: Frohike/Yves, Langly/Byers
Rating: NC-17 for both the het and the slash. Also some language. Okay, a lot of language.
Disclaimers: Nobody's mine, but I think at least Frohike wouldn't mind too much. Poor Jimmy gets busted, and doesn't even get laid, so I imagine he's a little less happy with me.
Archive: If you can think of somewhere it'll fit, help yourself.
Spoilers: There's a couple of cracks about "All About Yves".
Relevant Denial: "Maximum Byers" hasn't happened, because Byers doesn't strike me as the sort of guy who can make good-natured jail jokes after having spent time on death row.
Beta: Call-Me-Betty skimmed it briefly and said, "Good Lord, doll. What next, hermaphrodites?" Then he stopped answering my mail.
Author's Note: Uh, yeah. Okay, this is explicit het sex, as well as explicit slash. I can't begin to explain how that happened. You can skip the first half if you just want the slash, or the second half if you just want to see Frohike and Yves together. You can assume that everything resets and that nothing that happens here has any bearing on anything that happens anywhere else in any of my little story universes, so don't worry about missing vital plot points. It's not like there's any plot anyway.

Summary: Byers is caught in a compromising situation. And he's not the only one.

"?can and will be used against you?"

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that? I sigh, and I nod. Yes, believe me, I know my rights. I would, even if I didn't have them recited at me on an all-too-regular basis. And every time I get here, I find myself wondering how I got here. My high school class didn't vote me "Most Likely To Be Arrested At Least Once A Year".

Langly's probably did. And Mel's. So what the hell am I doing out here? As usual, it started out with us playing catch-up with Yves.

A few days ago, Langly spotted her sneaking out of HQ. It wasn't the first time, but it's never been a welcome sight. It always presages some unpleasantness, and this time turns out to have been no exception. For me, at least. Everyone else is likely to find it amusing. Everyone but Yves, at any rate.

"What do you want to do with Barney and Baby Bop here?" That's one of my? keepers. The latest mug shot is going to be fantastic. I don't even want to think what Langly's going to demand for erasing the records this time. It's probably time I learned how to do that myself. I suppose I should be grateful I'm not completely covered in dye, though I think this jacket is ruined. I will be grateful, though, if that's the worst of it. The look in Yves' eyes wasn't promising. If she hasn't cooled down some by tomorrow, I may regret that there won't still be cell bars between us.

Anyway, Langly spotted her slinking away, and with Frohike gone for the week to a "convention", Ringo and Jimmy and I did a little looking around HQ. It seemed she'd been deleting some emails from Mel's computer. Mel can take care of himself, we know that, but with Yves in the picture, we weren't going to just leave him to it. Once she gets involved, it's everybody's problem.

So Langly worked some of his magic and got back part of one email that hadn't quite been erased completely. He got part of a signature, part of a name, part of a number. In anyone else's hands, it wouldn't have been enough to do anything with, but Ringo's really quite skilled. I watched his fingers flying across the keyboard, and I admit? Well, I appreciate his talent.

Within a half hour we had an address for one Veda Ayers Howell.

I suppose we could have, should have in retrospect, waited for Frohike to get back, and told him what we'd found. But he was gone for the week, I mentioned that. To a "convention", as I think I said. We've tended to assume that Frohike's disappearing acts were actually occasion for him to sneak away with a close companion, if you will. Langly likes to speculate on the identity of Frohike's travel companion, though I personally had no opinion on the subject. (I admit I did chuckle a little when Ringo suggested it was Mulder.)

But we didn't wait. Yves is the sort of problem it's best to take care of before she lures you into absolute disaster. We staked out the address, an elegant older building with an actual doorman, and waited till she left, which it seems she did quite late this evening. The woman has the timing of a minor demon, because she left, with a companion, shortly after Jimmy had taken over for Ringo, who'd come home to catch some sleep. Jimmy couldn't describe her companion when he called, but he'd taken pictures. He thought he had, anyway. Being Jimmy, they turned out to be several blurry shots of his thumb and index finger.

Langly was already asleep, so I left a note. He's not going to appreciate that, I know, but I hope he's not going to be so petty as to refuse to come bail us out. Frankly, I didn't relish the thought of trying to sneak Ringo in past the doorman. He wouldn't really have fit in.

The suit look is good for social engineering, though, and I can carry off innocent when I need to. So I left Jimmy as lookout, which I should have known better than to do, and I eased past the doorman in the guise of Ms. Howell's accountant. The doorman didn't blink, which led me at the time to wonder why Yves would live somewhere with such slack security, though certainly Yves has always been more than capable of providing her own security.

Not that I wasn't aware of that, after the incident with the blue dye, another reason I was content to let Ringo sleep. I did consider bringing him as lookout, but the last time we did that, Frohike and I both got arrested while Ringo and Jimmy argued over code phrases. Which isn't to say I consider this a more successful outing: Jimmy seems to be quite capable of getting us arrested by himself.

I wasn't unprepared for the dye this time. I had a towel in my CPA-camouflage briefcase, and I was feeling pretty clever as I picked the lock and waited for the dye to splatter against the towel. But it didn't, there was none. Not then, anyway.

I crept inside, quietly, at least partly relieved. It does seem I'd let my guard down early. The place was empty, and I was very relieved. In retrospect, that's where things started to go wrong, and where they always do for me. I checked the usual places people hide things, looking for a laptop. Figuring she had to have one somewhere. There was something a little odd about her medicine cabinet, and I spent probably longer than I should prying, pressing, and prodding. But eventually part of one side fell into my hands, and I found a hidden compartment behind it. The little shelf was three inches wide, recessed into the wall about an inch and a half of that. Just big enough to hold the laptop. I reached in and pulled it out, looking to see if there was anything else stashed behind it. There was, unfortunately. A dye capsule. It shot out and coated the arm of my jacket and most of my face purple.

I'm not proud to say I dropped the computer. It hit the floor, and bounced twice, cracking shards of plastic into the air as it met the tile. One of them stuck through my pant leg and into my calf, and it hurt like hell.

Jimmy's voice came into my ear from the small comset. "Byers! What happened!"

I pulled it away from my head a little and said, trying to calm my racing heart, "Remember what I said about names and yelling?"

"Oh! Oh yeah." He paused for a second, and went into his usual Trucker Jimmy routine, only slightly quieter. "What happened? Over."

I sighed. "Booby trap," I explained briefly. "I'm going to leave the back way. I can't get past the doorman like this. She got me with the dye."

"She's there?" Jimmy sounded startled. "Over," he added.

"No, she's not. Just wait for me to get outside. I'll tell you, and you can come around the alley and pick me up. Okay?"

"Whatever you say, Byers. Oh, sorry. Over."

"It'll be a few minutes." There was no way to hide the fact that someone had been here, I realized as I pulled the plastic from myself, gasping a little at the pain. So I decided I might as well take the computer with me, and let Ringo sort through it, which he'd be better at, obviously. There aren't that many problems you can solve by making them worse, but I guess this was one of them.

The blood spurted out far too quickly, and I grabbed a washcloth to press to the wound, wincing. In a couple of minutes the blood stopped, and I took one hand away to clean up the blood on the floor, hoping to leave as little evidence as possible. That's when I heard the key in the lock. I hissed a word Jimmy would have been shocked to learn I knew, and pushed the bathroom door closed with the tips of my fingers, grabbing everything I could and retreating at a half crouch into the linen closet.

If we ever get the money, I'm going to let Mel send Jimmy to Junior Gumshoe Camp for an intensive seminar on Stakeouts and Lookouts. As Fro likes to say, if he passes, we might send him a ticket home. I know he's trying, but sometimes I prefer competence to sincerity. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe for a minute that Yves would have killed me if I'd walked out and said hi, at least not at that point. Right now, anything's possible. But she's certainly capable of making me *wish* she'd just killed me.

The door opened, and Yves walked in, thanking someone for dinner in a sultry voice. Then the someone said, "My pleasure, Pretty Lady. You can pick up breakfast," and I almost fell over. Because, Good Lord, I know that tease and that laugh. It was, of course, Mel, in high flirt. I didn't think I could have been more surprised, but it was only going to get worse.

"How about dessert," Yves practically cooed, and she was flirting back.

I bit my tongue, hard, forcing myself to stay quiet. The conversation got quieter, and there was more low laughter. I heard something rattle onto a hard surface, and a long, indrawn breath from Mel. I heard bedsprings creak softly, and realized my feet were taking me to the bathroom door. I had to see what was happening, and I told myself I needed to know so I could help Mel. I put my eye to the crack and came to the abrupt conclusion that Mel didn't need any help. At least not any help I was qualified to give.

He was laying on the bed, staring avidly up at her. His clothes were disarranged, as was her hair. She was leaning over him, her hands at the back of her neck. Her burgundy silk dress slipped over her shoulders and puddled on the floor around her feet, revealing black lace like an engraved invitation to hell. Her heels accented her perfect legs in a way even I could appreciate. Dangerous, yes. But beautiful. She moved like a panther, and my skin tingled from watching.

I know Yves well enough to know that she wasn't going to kill him, but I had to assume that she was using him for something. I was sure Mel saw that, too, but at that point it didn't seem like he cared. I watched, enraptured, as she sprawled onto the bed beside him and pulled him to her for a kiss. It went on and on, and my jaw dropped. He slid a hand between them and she moaned sharply, apparently in genuine pleasure.

She is, however, very good at lying, a fact which I was probably having less trouble remembering right then than Mel was.

His other hand went behind her back and lace slid free from breasts perfect as the moonlight that held them. Mel chuckled, and Yves made a noise that was half a sigh. I was getting hard from watching, and I scolded myself this was just voyeurism. There wasn't anything I was going to learn from watching this that would help us with whatever Yves had planned. But I couldn't?quite?drag myself away. They were beautiful together, an observation that surprised me. So different, and neither of them my type, really, but shockingly erotic.

She shifted, draping herself over him, pushing him onto his back and undoing his shirt with both hands. The moonlight outlined her shoulder blades, her skin smooth and glowing softly. He held her hands as she reached to remove his glasses. He made a noise of protest, and slid his hands up her arms to her shoulders, pulling her towards him.

"Closer," he said hoarsely. "Please. Let me see you."

I was stunned. I've seen?heard?felt?Ringo do the same thing. This was more than sex for Mel, and he was beyond any help I could give. I just hoped she wouldn't hurt him too badly when she was done using him.

She moved close to him and he laced his fingers into her hair. She said something too quiet for me to hear, and leaned in to kiss him. I watched as it got deeper, more urgent, and Yves made a sound I've heard from Ringo, a breathless sort of laugh, and arched her neck where he was touching her, and I decided that the pleasure at least was genuine, for both of them.

He pushed her onto her side, surprisingly gentle. She ran her hands across his furry chest where it was exposed by his open shirt, and he stood up, not entirely letting go of her face. He caressed her cheek with one hand while he slowly pulled off the rest of his clothes. It wasn't the first time I'd seen him naked?we live together, after all, and occasionally we even get strip-searched together?but there was something different about this. In the soft light, in his arousal, with that look on his face as he watched her watching him?he was, I surprised myself with the word, beautiful.

She pulled him back to her and helped him lose the rest of her own clothes, the black lace falling softly to the thick carpet. He moved his hands down her hips, along her thighs, leaning in to kiss her calves, sliding his lips along her legs, nipping at her ankles as he removed her shoes with a slow pace that seemed to leave us each holding our breath. Her heels clicked against each other as he dropped them, his skilled fingers dancing across her feet and making her moan. She leaned back, pulling her hands away from his shoulders and running them up her own body, playing with her nipples. I could see part of his face, it was almost glowing as he watched her tease. The need in it was real and raw.

When she looked back up at him, there was a tiny, wicked smile touching the corner of her mouth, and a gleam in her eyes I could see from where I was. "Well?" she said softly, amused. He let her foot fall and slipped onto the bed, kneeling between her long legs. He bent in to kiss her, but paused.

I heard her sigh. "Melvin," she said, a hint of menace in the silky voice.

And I heard him chuckle. "Patience, my dear."

"Mel." She twisted her hand through his hair and pulled him to her for another deep kiss. He broke the kiss, finally, moving his mouth down her neck, pausing at each breast until she was gasping with it. He trailed eager kisses down her belly and at long length buried his face in her mound. Within minutes she was writhing and moaning, both hands moving compulsively over his head and shoulders.

One of his hands roamed her leg and hip, the other disappeared under his head, and I heard soft, wet noises, and watched Yves cry out sharply, arching her back in extremis.

Suddenly I realized I was stroking myself through my pants, and I was instantly ashamed of myself. I sternly reminded myself why I'd come here, telling myself that this was not helping me to figure out what Yves was up to, and further was none of my business.

I was still scolding myself when I heard Yves calling his name, and there was a note to it?

I couldn't help myself. When I looked back, one long arm was stretched over her head, clutching at the headboard. The other moved restlessly across Mel's back, her fingers playing across him like feathers. Between heartfelt moans she called his name over and over again. It struck me abruptly that this was love, and it shocked me to the core. I would never have dreamed she was capable of it?and with Mel. How the hell did this happen? She wasn't using him, I realized, and I wasn't sure that made her any safer to him.

He thrust into her, relentlessly, his head bowed and his mouth plucking moans from her as he teased her breasts. He was? amazing. I'd never imagined Mel could be like that. I'd speculated about Yves, of course. She is a beautiful woman. But it would never have occurred to me that she would give herself so completely, that she could make herself so vulnerable. Especially not to Melvin Frohike. When the hell did this happen? How did this happen?

Stunned, I retreated to the closet again, sitting down and trying to get my thoughts in order. It was clear she wasn't using him. That in itself was a major shift in the way I'd been thinking for so long that it was hard to even process.

But I had bigger problems, I knew, as I held the briefcase with her laptop in it to my chest. With any luck at all I could wait until they were asleep?after that performance it seemed like they'd sleep very soundly?and sneak past them. I was still working on the plan, trying to remember what kind of locks there were and if I could undo them quietly enough, when Jimmy's voice was clearly heard saying "Ground Control to Major Tom, over." I thumbed the volume off, but it was too late.

I heard Frohike leap to his feet, and trip on his way into the bathroom. I could hear Yves moving, too. Then she pulled open the closet door, aiming a gun at where my head would have been if I'd been standing. She looked down, leading with the gun, and my heart stopped. She was standing in front of me, completely nude, and between her height and mine, my view was pretty amazing. She realized this and gestured with the gun. "Get up."

Frohike moved up behind her, also nude. "Byers! What the hell are you doing here?"

I shook my head helplessly. Even if an explanation were possible, I don't think I'd have gotten to it before Yves ripped my lungs out. She was still glaring at me. I was fully dressed (with a purple tint), they were both, well, not, and yet I was the one who was mortified. Yves was incandescently furious. And Mel gave me a look that was more than a little smug.

Yves snatched the briefcase away from me and shoved it at Frohike. "My computer." She kept the gun on me, not giving an inch. He turned around and set the case on the counter, opening it.

"For Chrissakes, Byers. What are you doin'!" He sighed and slid a hand across her closest hip. "Relax, Yves. I can guess." He glanced at her. "You can lose the gun, babe. You're not going to kill him."

At that moment, I wasn't entirely sure. And the look she gave me, she probably didn't even need the gun. But she lowered it, and stalked back to the bedroom, presumably to put some clothes on. When she came back, in a robe, she handed Mel a sheet, which he wrapped around himself. "Okay, Byers. Spill it."

"I?" I shrugged helplessly.

Yves pushed Mel aside. "Byers," she snarled, shoving me back against the wall with a hand on my chest. "If you don't tell me what you're doing here this instant, I'm going to chop you into tiny pieces and feed you to the birds."

I smiled weakly. "And if I do?"

She wasn't amused. "I might still."

I cast a pleading look at Frohike, who was still trying to fight down some emotion that didn't look entirely like outrage. He shrugged. "You saw us together, and you figured you had to find out if she was using me, am I right?"

Close enough. I nodded. He moved in and gently pried her fingers off of me. "Look, Yves. They're?paranoid. Right? They're just trying to look out for me."

She stalked off again. "I may not kill him, but I'm still thinking about shooting him."

Mel tried not to smile, but failed miserably. It came out as a smirk. "Okay, so where's Jimmy and the hippie?"

"Jimmy's downstairs. Ringo's at home. Is she going to??"

He chuckled. "Why? You worried?"

I looked past him, but she was gone. "Yes."

"I'll get you out of this. Don't sweat it. Gimme your cell."

Confused, I handed it to him. He dialed a number as Yves stalked back into the bathroom, fully clothed, still furious, and still carrying the gun. "I've caught an intruder in my apartment," he said into the phone, sounding completely believable. I reminded myself Frohike was a pretty good liar too. "He's still here," he said, acting like a man who's scared but trying to sound tough. I'm pretty familiar with the sound of it, frankly. "You gotta send someone, right away, okay? Hurry. He's still right here, no, I'm pretty sure he's not armed." He recited the address from memory. "Hurry, okay?" he said again, and hung up. He looked me over. "You're not armed, are you?"

I shook my head, speechless. Yves seemed to be in a similar state.

"You'd better hide the gun, Yves," he said to her. She left again, fuming. "Okay, Byers, what else do you have that's gonna get you in trouble?"

I handed over the comset. "Gimme your wallet, okay?" He glanced at me again, still amused. "You know you're purple?"

I sighed and nodded. "The computer was hidden."

"It should take you long enough to explain that to the cops. Hey, the apartment is rented to Veda?"

"Ayers Howell, I know. That's how we found you."

"Right. Whatever you do, don't mention Yves Adele Harlow. Come up with a story. You don't know either of us, you were paid to search her apartment by a PI, whatever. Boyfriend's suspicious. I don't care what you tell them. Don't mention the computer, at least for a few hours, and not at all if you can help it." He grinned at me. "So, uh, how much'd you see, anyhow?"

My blush probably gave me away, because he snickered. "She's not using me, John," he said quietly. "I'm not using her. Okay? Don't worry about us. We're consenting adults."

I nodded.

"Stay put. I'm gonna get dressed. By the time you get out, she should be calmed down some." He grinned at me again. "Doin' this for your own good, Byers." He closed the bathroom door behind himself. I thought about locking it and seeing if I could find a razor with which to defend myself. Or kill myself. I was having some trouble deciding. There came a knock on the apartment door, and I abruptly realized I'd be a lot better off coming up with a story. Fast.

I could hear Yves in the other room, every inch the frightened, outraged bystander. "He's in there!" she wailed. "I've never seen him before in my life!"

I could hear Mel comforting her and posturing for the police. "Just some sleaze, I guess. He was in the bathroom when we got back from dinner. I shut him in there and told him I had a gun, and I'd shoot him if he tried to come out."

Yves was weeping, putting on a great show. "Do you think he came here to murder us? Or rape me!"

Mel made an angry noise and said, "It's okay, baby. You're safe. You know I'll protect ya."

The cops knocked on the bathroom door. "Okay, buddy. Come on out, hands over your head. And don't try anything."

"I'm not armed," I yelled, trying to sound scared. It wasn't hard. The last thing I needed was to get shot by a couple of twitchy uniforms because Mel called them in.

"Okay, buddy. Just come on out. Slowly."

I did, as slowly as I dared, hands up. One of them tackled me and pushed me face first against the wall, handcuffing me. I sighed.

When they got me downstairs, Jimmy came dashing over to see what was going on. Typical Jimmy. Once they got a look at the surveillance equipment, of course they arrested him too.


I finally got my call to Langly, after telling pretty much the story Frohike'd given me. Suspicious boyfriend, checking her out, spotted her with this guy, searched her apartment. They weren't happy about the lack of ID, but since I didn't have a gun, they were basically considering us to be a couple of harmless bumblers.

Langly answered, highly amused himself. "Yeah, I know. Fro called. Did they nab Jimmy, too?"

"Unfortunately. Uh, can you bring my PI license? I didn't have it on me, just in case."

He smothered a laugh. "Okay. So where are you, and how much should I bring."

I sighed and told him. He was enjoying this way too much.

"Got it. Be there in a while. Hey, baby," he said, obviously trying not to laugh, "I'll wait for you."


"Is that any way to talk to the guy who's posting your bail?"


"Be there in a while, Johnny. Just don't drop the soap."

I sighed. "Asshole."

He laughed and disconnected.


"What I don't understand is how Fro knew where you were. Is he back in town?"

I sighed, toweling myself off, inspecting myself in the mirror. It was going to be days before the purple dye entirely went away. "I suspect he never left."

Langly gave me the perfectly clueless look I get from him sometimes, but to be fair, I wouldn't have even considered Mel and Yves if I hadn't seen it myself. I wrapped the towel around myself and went across the hall back into my bedroom. Langly followed me and leaned against the door watching as I got dressed for the day. It'd been a long night, and I really just wanted to sleep, but we were up against a deadline.

"Why didn't he bail you out himself?"

I shook my head. "It's a long story."

He advanced on me. "I got time."

"We have a deadline," I reminded him. "He's the one who called the cops, Ri."

He was blinking at me. "What?"

I flopped onto my bed. "They were? together."

"Oh, shit. What's she got him into?"

I pulled a pillow over my head and tried not to laugh too hard. Once I started coughing, he flipped me over and pounded me on the back.

"Jesus, Johnny, you okay?"

The panic in his voice forced me to get it together. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine," I gasped. "It's okay. It was just?" and I started chuckling again.

He rolled me over again and pulled my head to him. I had a sudden vision of Yves and Mel. My own lover broke into it, still worried. "Hey, don't start that again, Johnny. You okay?"

I did what I could to slow my breathing and nodded. "I'm okay."

His look shifted from concern to irritation. "Okay, so what's so goddamned funny?"

I closed my eyes and shook my head. "Did he tell you why she had us arrested?"

"He said she caught you snooping." He gestured at the traces of purple dye. "I can guess."

I stifled more laughter. "You can't begin to guess, Ri."

He pushed me back down and threw himself onto me, his face inches from mine. "Listen, are you gonna talk, or do I have to make you?"

Another image of Mel and Yves rose in my mind, and my cock started to twitch. I had every intention of telling him, I mean, even Jimmy knew so it wasn't going to be a secret long, but he was starting to make this interesting. I gave him my best innocent look and said, "I can't betray a confidence like that, Ri. I mean, I'd like to tell you, but it's not my place?"

He glared. "I can't believe you, John. I bailed you out, remember?"

I did remember, yes. I remembered, specifically, the look he gave me through the bars. I had the feeling he wanted to take me right there. But he's more fun when I tease him a while, so I was doing my best. "Don't be like that, Ri," I said, still trying for innocent. "It's just inappropriate for me to tell you someone else's secrets."

"Inappropriate?" he demanded in outrage. But there was more to it than that. He loves it when I get prim. He loves knowing he can take that away from me, strip me of everything he thinks I am, make me beg for him. He loves knowing he can turn me into a slut. He complains about the suits, but he's a big part of why I wear them still. He loves getting me out of them.

Which is exactly what he was doing, and exactly what I wanted.

"I'll give you inappropriate," he muttered as he wrestled with my shirt buttons. "You're going to tell me, you know."

I closed my eyes, knowing the gleam in them would give me away. "Ri, I can't," I said self-righteously. "I swear it's nothing we have to worry about, okay? I just can't tell you."

"The hell you can't," he growled. I wasn't sure if he'd caught on yet, but he was definitely getting more desperate by the second. He gave up on my shirt buttons and started on my pants.

"Yves will kill me if I tell you," I offered.

He stopped and glared at me. I think that's when he realized I was playing with him. A smirk flashed across his face in a fraction of a second. He leaned in and kissed me hard. I opened my mouth and let him in, let him do anything and everything he wanted. Let him leave me panting and aching. Let him bite my lip, let him drag his teeth across my chin, let him suck greedily at my neck. Let his hands bring me to full hardness, nearly humming with tension. Let him stick his tongue in my ear. Let him trace fire across my skin and leave me burning. Let him whisper incredible threats in my ear. Let him take hold of me and make me beg.

"Okay, Johnny," he said in a low, amused voice, "Who're you more scared of now? Me or Yves?"

I fought for breath and control. I didn't need too much of either, which was a good thing. "They're lovers," I gasped, and was rewarded with a look of total confusion.


"Yves? and Mel."

His jaw dropped almost as far as my own had. "She told you that?"

I shook my head. "No. I saw it."

He groaned, closing his eyes. I know him well enough to know what was going on in his head. "Jesus," he whispered.

"Jimmy didn't see them come in. I hid in the bathroom. I saw? the whole thing," I explained.

He stared at me. "Jesus, you're lucky she just had you arrested."

I laughed, a little breathlessly. I could feel him, still hard against my leg, could feel his heart pounding.

"What? What was it like?" He closed his eyes, trying to picture it.

"Unbelievable," I said, half-chuckling. "Incredible. God, they were hot. Ri," I reached up and held his face, looking him in the eyes. "She's not using him. I think they're really into each other."

"Are you serious?" He was almost as shocked as I had been.

I nodded. "Yeah. I don't know how it happened, but it sure looked like love to me."

"Yves," he said carefully. "And Fro."

I nodded again.

"Jesus." He groaned again and shoved a leg between my thighs. "God, unbelievable. And you watched the whole thing."

I should have been embarrassed, ashamed. But they were so hot together, and anyway it's been years since I was embarrassed about anything with Ri. He knows me inside out, and loves it all.

"What's he like?" my lover asked me hoarsely. "What's she like? Jesus, Johnny. Tell me everything. Please."

I told him. Everything. I didn't even consider not telling him. By the time I was done, he was collapsed on top of me, eyes closed, imagining it. His hands were still roaming across my body, he'd gotten our pants down, and was grinding his own erection against mine, panting heavily into my neck. "Jesus, Johnny. Unbelievable. Man?"

I pulled him up and kissed him again, like Yves had done with Mel. The heat in his eyes was incredible. His hands burned me with their urgency. He pulled away, groaning deeply. "God, Johnny. I need to fuck you. Let me fuck you. Please."

I was breathing pretty hard myself. "What are you waiting for?"

He got us both out of our clothes, and had me on my knees in front of him before I could repeat the invitation. He stretched me quickly, and I could feel his desperation almost as deep as my own.

"Ri?" I was practically whimpering when he finally pushed roughly into me. A long, low moan tore itself from my throat. He paused, trying to get himself under control. He curved himself against my back, both hands moving over my chest, trembling as he tried to keep from digging his nails into me. He took a deep breath, then another.

"Johnny, God? God, so good?" I squeezed with all my muscles and felt him shudder. "Jesus? God, you're hot."

"Fuck me, Ri," I begged. "Fuck me hard."

He gasped, tightening his hold on me. He straightened up, pulling me with him, still bathed in the heat from his body. He readjusted his grip, buried his face in my shoulder again, and started thrusting. Hard, fast, everything I had to have.

"Beautiful, Johnny. God?" A hand latched onto my nipple, rolling and squeezing with a gentleness at such contrast to his nearly-frenzied rhythm. I closed my eyes while he whispered to me, and let the memory of Mel and Yves flow over me. I came with an intensity that I was totally unprepared for, and I could feel myself falling against Ringo, I could feel him grabbing me to keep me upright, could feel him splitting me open, grunting as he too came. My head roared, and spots danced in front of my eyes. I sobbed his name over and over, and then everything went dark.

"Johnny, God?" Ringo was whispering as he settled me against the pillows. "God, you're? incredible." His voice was hoarse, his hair falling into his eyes, his face an expression of pure bliss. "God, Johnny," he said again. "That was?"

I smiled. "Yeah, wasn't it."

He grinned back, and kissed me. The deadline was going to have to wait.


It wasn't until two nights later that I finally got Mel alone. Ringo was at a game, and Jimmy was watching TV.

Mel was in the kitchen, sitting at the table, reading one of the dozens of papers we get from colleagues. I walked in and sat down. He glanced up at me.

"No hard feelings?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Not on my part. How about? Yves?"

Mel grinned. "She'll be okay. Just stay out of her way for a while. Look, I'm sorry, Byers, but it was the only way I could think of to give her time to cool down. She'd have withdrawn the complaint even if the kid hadn't erased the records." He snickered. "Eventually, anyhow."

"I really didn't mean to?I mean, I had no idea," I was stammering. Finally I gave up and shrugged helplessly. "We were afraid she was up to something."

We sat like that for a few minutes. Then: "Mel?"

The look he gave me was tinged with humor. "You have to ask, don't you."

I could feel myself blushing, but I forced myself to say it. "How? did this happen?"

He almost smiled for a moment. Then he got up and went to the fridge. He brought back a couple of bottles of beer, and handed one to me before he sat down across from me. He opened the bottle and took a long draught. Then he leaned back into his chair, looking at the wall to the left of me. His hands laying flat on the table, he started to talk in a calm voice, never looking at me.

"When I was? a lot younger, let's say. There was this cat, this ratty tom, used to hang around my building. Missing an eye, torn ear, from a shotgun I guess. Big mass of scars, fur sticking out all over at odd angles. Mean old thing."

I wasn't sure where he was going with this, but I've found over the years that when Mel uses that voice, what he has to say is worth my time to listen. So I sat and sipped and listened.

"First time I tried to pet him, he sank his teeth into my arm. Ended up infected. So I learned to keep my hands to myself. But he hung around, never went away. Scavenging the garbage, drinking out of puddles in the parking lot. I started putting out food for him."

"After he bit you?"

"He was an animal, Byers. You can't hold a grudge when an animal acts like an animal. Especially not one like that." He was silent for a moment, focusing on something in the past. Then he shook his head slightly and turned back to me. "What he was, he was made into. By people, by dogs, other cats, whatever. When you try to get close to something like that, they bite. You can't hold a grudge. But it didn't matter. Not at first. He wouldn't come near the food, not for weeks. Didn't trust anyone. Little by little, he's getting closer, less suspicious. Eventually, I even got him to let me pet him. Sometimes he'd bite or claw, but after a while mostly not."

"What happened?" I asked quietly, caught up in the story.

He sat up and shook his head, face tight for a second. "The landlord poisoned him. With the food I left out. I found him, he was dying. Scratched at me. I got him to the vet, but he was dead by the time I got him there.

He was silent for a long time. Finally I said, "And Yves?"

He leaned back in his chair, looking at the ceiling. "Sometimes you get there in time."

It was all the answer I was ever going to get from him. And maybe all the answer I needed.



Harpy dsidhe@comcast.net Handmaiden of the Goddess of Irony