Retired secret agent Ben Smith will do anything for his husband. So when Simon's brother calls from London to say he's being blackmailed, Ben and Simon pack up and head to the glittering world of English aristocratic younger sons and parties and incriminating photographs. The mission itself isn't complicated -- but it's a reminder of the past, even as Ben's been trying to move on.
Simon Ashley adores his husband, and loathes most of his family ... except for the older brother who once gave him a home. He's here because Stephen needs help, but being back in the family house stirs up too many memories, none of them pleasant.
In London, Ben and Simon will confront a blackmailer, face the past, and find comfort in each other ... with some leather and tea, of course.
Simon wandered over to the window. Touched a curtain. Ben, hands unfolding a button-down, waited.
"So familiar," Simon said. "Familiar, and not ... this was my room for a while, you know. Only about three years. Steve redecorated after I moved out, or more accurately the designer he was dating redecorated everything. A portfolio project. There was a photo shoot. The past meets the present, modernizing tradition, all of that."
Ben, who had known that, encouraged, "It came out nice. Sophisticated. But I like our house better."
"Even after I spilled tea on that blue chair you loved, the one you'd had for so long ..." Simon fiddled with the curtain, gathering folds, worrying them. "You saw my old flat, once or twice. I never meant for it to be such a mess, exactly. It just seems to happen."
"I've seen worse. And, y'know, the first time we ended up there, I was more concerned with seeing you. Naked."
Simon smiled but didn't quite laugh. Ben let the moment be what it was, honest and true, and found a spot in the wardrobe for the shirt. He knew Simon loved him; he knew it the way he trusted his aim, his instincts, woven into his body and soul.
He finished the unpacking, without fuss. He found his phone and sent a quick message to a very specific contact at a very specific branch, here in London. She owed him a favor, and she was a friend; they settled on meeting up at half-past ten, in the morning. He did a tiny bit of research, looking up a name, an address, details about the building and about the woman herself. That part didn't take long; he regarded his own information-gathering skills with some satisfaction. Not too out of practice, then.
He looked up. Simon hadn't moved, hand toying with the curtain, eyes distant. He might've been looking out at London, at street-lamps and headlights and the park at night. He wasn't, Ben knew. The past sat on short shoulders and gloomed like a gargoyle.
He came over. Touched his husband's shoulder. Batted away some memory-claws. "I like the view."
"Hmm? Oh -- the park's lovely, yes. Small, but worth a walk round. I used to go and sit out there sometimes. When I needed to get away. There's a pond, even, though you can't see it well in the dark."
"Didn't mean that view." He slid the hand lower. Cupped Simon's ass, firm and round under fine trouser fabric. Made for his hand. "How're you feeling?"
"Better with your hand there." Simon leaned weight back against him, unearthed another smile, let Ben's arms wrap around and enfold him. Ben's cock, half-hard -- proximity to his husband did that every time, though at the moment he wasn't sure about the mood; melancholy lingered-nestled between their bodies, comfortable there. Simon wriggled against him. "Very much better."
"Oh yes. Would you like to take me to bed and make me forget about everything that isn't you?"
"I would." Ben bent to drop a kiss against the side of Simon's face, amid hair, over a temple. He kept arms tightly in place: control and support. "Would you?"
"Yes." Simon turned, in his arms; turned, and slid hands along Ben's back, pulling him closer. "Yes, please, sir. I love you, and I want you, and I need you to take care of me. Please."
"Well," Ben said, unsteady with joy and tenderness and heartbreaking love and care, "okay, then. We can do that. Right now. Taking care of you. I can do that."
"Yes," Simon informed him, grave and solemn about the wanting, eyes all wide and blue and hopeful; Ben kissed him, and made the kiss into a command, a vow, an assertion. His mouth taking Simon's. His tongue, his teeth. The tastes of caramel and scotch and smoke. The way Simon let out little noises of need and melted into being kissed. All of it: perfection.
His pulse sang. He could do this. They could do this. He could give his husband this. And tomorrow they'd go and have a meeting and deal with some pictures, and they'd clean up Simon's brother's mess, and three days after that they'd go back home, and the universe would be fine again. Nothing world-shaking. Everything back in place. Finding equilibrium.
They could start here and now. With Simon in his arms, and in bed. Ben took a break from kissing his husband to order, "You. Naked. On your knees."