|Learn to Crawl
Author: Guede Mazaka
While they were in the elevator, the problem Ruud had brought back with him from Amsterdam was quiet. Suspiciously quiet. He seemed to have recovered not only from the physical ordeal Jens had subjected him to, but also the mental one, and was even looking speculatively at Jens. Which wasn’t an experience Jens was really used to having, and for good reason.
“What’s your name?” Jens asked.
“Robin van Persie.” About as Dutch as one could get. Curious how Michael had met him…Jens would have to look into that.
“What do you think—okay, okay, I’m twenty-three.” Robin was watching Jens very closely; Jens had barely begun to lift his hand when the other man had shifted tactics. His English was all right. “Born in Rotterdam. Dutch citizenship. Yes, I have actual papers—I left them with my bag in Ruud’s car, though. Anything else?”
Jens’ phone vibrated in his pocket, but since it was on the side that wasn’t facing Robin, he ignored it. Since the other man seemed so sharp, he didn’t want to give away any more than he had to before he decided exactly how he was going to handle this one. “What was the deal you made with Van Nistelrooy?”
“Perform illegal acts—” theatrical pause; the cocky little shit “—specifically Internet and computer-based, against one Alex Ferguson in exchange for a compensation that was still to be negotiated.”
“Hmm.” Just what Jens had thought. He spent a few moments scolding himself for not catching Ruud’s imbalance sooner, then switched to thinking about how he was going to work around things.
The elevator dinged for the parking lot level and Jens absently reached across, seizing Robin’s arm again. The other man muttered something that Jens ignored, then stumbled when Jens pulled at him. He quickly recovered and followed along closely enough so that anyone coming across them probably wouldn’t notice anything odd, other than possibly thinking they were a couple. As if Jens would court that kind of trouble.
Ruud hadn’t locked his car. Whether that was his habit, since this was a very exclusive building, or another sign of his disturbance was impossible to tell, but for the moment, Jens was grateful for it. “Go get your bag.”
After a long, somewhat puzzled look at him, Robin did so. He only had a large duffel, but it appeared to be stuffed full and quite heavy. It’d keep him from going very fast if he tried to run, so once they’d gone over to Jens’ car, he took the risk of walking around to the far side. He wanted to see what Robin would do.
Robin shot Jens a half-smile, like he knew exactly what was going on, and got in the passenger’s side. He was arranging his bag on his lap when Jens got into the driver’s side.
“Can I at least get my plane ticket paid for? It was pretty expensive,” he said.
This was going to eat up the whole afternoon, Jens thought. Honestly, if Cristiano wasn’t such a damn good singer, and Ruud didn’t have so many big accounts…never mind. No point in whining now. “We’ll discuss that.”
“Oh, good. Discussion,” Robin drawled. The duffel bag limited his space, but he still somehow managed to sprawl in a faintly obscene manner beneath it.
Then again, Cristiano would at least take care of yelling at Ruud for thinking with his dick first. One less thing on Jens’ to-do list.
* * *
Office gossip occasionally was useful. It’d let Jens know earlier that a newly-fired executive in another division of the label had left behind an empty apartment in a high-security building that was paid for, by the label, through the end of the month. He headed there, refusing to answer Robin’s attempts at starting a conversation, and escorted the other man up to the flat. Then he locked him in. “I have a full day at work to see to,” Jens called to the door. “I’ll be back at five, and then we’ll negotiate.”
He was already running late for his next meeting, so he didn’t stay to hear Robin’s answer, if the other man gave one. The moment he turned his cell-phone’s sound back on, it went crazy, and Jens’ attention was quickly distracted.
At five o’clock, Jens drove into the underground parking lot of the building tired, cranky, and in absolutely no mood for games. Kahn had beaten him for signings for the second time running, and the prune-faced bastard had managed to mention it fifteen times in an hour-long board meeting. Actually, Jens didn’t mind a game as long as he got to kill somebody.
As he parked, he got a glimpse of a striking car—huge, black, and murmuring sex and power with every voluptuous curve. He took a closer look as he got out: it was an antique, of course, and immaculately maintained. Probably ran into the millions of dollars…and Robin van Persie had just stood up beside it. He grinned widely enough for Jens to see the flash of teeth, waving some papers.
Jens took the time to lock his car, then put away his keys as he slowly walked over. “What the hell is this?”
“An audition?” Robin had gotten rid of his leather coat, and was now in a plain white t-shirt and jeans. He handed over the papers with a flourish, then settled back against the car with a thoroughly self-satisfied air. Even the blue-black finger-shaped smudges that ringed his throat, which looked quite tender, couldn’t detract from it.
The first time Jens glanced down at the papers, two works immediately caught his eye. He frowned and read the top sheet through, then read it again more closely. Then he looked back up at Robin. “These are ownership papers.”
“Yeah,” Robin said, so incredibly smug that it was amazing he didn’t explode from his overinflated ego.
More to the point, they were car ownership papers with Alex Ferguson’s name on them. And now that Jens thought about it, he did recognize the car; it’d been featured in a recent article on Ferguson’s extensive antique car collection as the man’s favorite. His headache, along with a couple other things, spiked.
Teeth gritted, Jens made himself stay calm. He carefully folded up the papers and strode around the front of the car, then tried the front passenger door. It was unlocked, so he opened it and put the papers back in the glove-box. He heard Robin start to trail after him; when he closed the door, the other man had made it to the middle of the car hood and was staring curiously at Jens. For the first time, a little uncertainty was peeking out of Robin’s eyes.
“I thought your whole label hated this guy. What? This is his most expensive car.” Robin gestured at the hood, blinking a few times. He started to say something else, but stopped to watch Jens slowly walk up to him.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Jens stopped about half a meter away, close enough for his height to have an effect but far enough for him to be able to look up and down the whole length of the other man.
Which was made provocatively easier to do when Robin put his hands behind himself and rested them on the hood of the car. He shrugged. “Well, technically I’m still under contract.”
“Contract? Excuse me? Did I see a piece of paper? Did I hear a tape recording? You don’t have a contract. You’re just some hustler out for a piece, and you’re just good enough to think that it’s a high instead of a game. You get off on it,” Jens snarled. He jerked his hand up, then yanked it down, twisting it to shove the heel of it up against Robin’s crotch while the other man was still blocking the throat-grab feint.
The little jackass was hard, and when Jens squeezed, he gasped and his dick tried to fill out his jeans even more. A wild, challenging light came into his eyes. “Well, why not?”
“Because it’s not a game.” Jens paused, as if he were backing off, then slammed his weight forward. He felt the jolt as the backs of Van Persie’s thighs hit the car and leaned into it, grinding his hand in till he felt the crotch-seam start to dig bruises out of his palm. “It’s a business, you ignorant little fuck.”
Robin opened his mouth; Jens sliced his hand down between Robin’s legs and corkscrewed his fore- and middle-fingers into a pressure point. Robin closed his mouth and hissed a pained whine through clenched lips, hands flying out to claw at Jens. A second jab saw him grabbing for support as he went down. He’d be feeling like little bombs were exploding down his thigh and knee.
He did manage to get hold of Jens’ elbow, and Jens used that to push the other man back so he could slide his hand back over Robin’s erection to the top of the man’s jeans. The belt he took care up with a few curt motions. He flicked the fly-button out of its hole, then jerked down the zipper. “You’ve just walked into an industry of highly-trained professionals who spend their entire lives devoted to mastering the art of molding minds and breaking bodies and turning talent into cash. They don’t get a high off it. They don’t get that distracted.”
No underwear, which was what Jens had expected. He pulled out the cock so it laid lengthwise against his palm, getting an estimate of its proportions since Robin was still bent over and blocking his view. Then he wrapped his hand around it, tight enough to feel the pounding pulse through its veins vibrating in his fingerbones. Robin gasped, half-coherent and swearing, and twisted hard to the left; Jens twisted his hand with it, then jerked at Robin’s cock till the other man stood straight up. The tip of his prick briefly grazed Jens’ leg, burning through the thick silk-cotton of Jens’ trousers.
“They don’t do it for fun or for any kind of rush. They do it because they’re better at it than anybody else, except somebody’s always trying to say they aren’t. So they have to keep working at it. They never slack off at being perfect.” Jens breathed in, smelled leather starting to steam up. He was close enough to see the sweat beginning to film over Robin’s face, the violent red Robin’s lip was turning beneath the teeth chewing at it.
He brought up his other hand and flipped the fingers up under Robin’s chin just when the other man started to speak. Then he shoved again, dropping Robin’s ass hard enough on the car hood to make the metallic bang ring throughout the empty garage. About two centimeters of Robin’s prick was yanked out of Jen’s grip from that, but he quickly pushed his hand down to recapture that, and then he extended his fingers to press around the ball sac, working it in time with Robin’s choking swears.
“You are not messing with fucking amateurs. You act like it and you’ll rightfully get your goddamn head ripped off,” Jens said. He gave Robin’s cock a vicious twist and Robin whipped up his chin in panic.
All the cockiness was gone now, replaced with wide pleading eyes and a slack open mouth. Wet cherry lips. The blood in his prick thumped against Jens’ palm and the fingers he had glued to Jens’ elbow were crushing the joint. He writhed, trying to buck his hips up, and Jens pulled his cock and balls down and around, smashing them so Jens could gouge his nails into the thin skin just behind the scrotum. Robin let out a wheezing keen and threw his whole body towards Jens in a violent, frantic lunge.
Jens let go. He stepped back just as Robin’s feet slammed into the floor again, watching the force of that rip up through the other man and set him off. Robin nearly continued his pitch forward, but at the last moment, managed to wrench himself sideways to fall curled up against the car, one hand going down so his come spattered from his jeans, all knotted up around his knees, to his chest and even the underside of his chin. It pinged musically on the shiny chrome bumper.
For several moments afterward, Robin stayed as he was. His head was down, but the flush in his face was too bright to be due only to that, and his legs were shaking even though he had all his weight against the car. He jerkily slid his right hand up onto the hood for better balance, breathing fast and harsh and short.
“Tu sais, je suis trop fou de temps en temps et c’était une des fois,” Jens reflectively said.
“The same to your mother,” Robin automatically snapped. His voice broke three times, and before he’d even finished speaking, he’d put his head down on the hood. He pulled in his lower lip and bit it hard, then let it flip out so Jens could see the dot of blood on it.
Well, no French. Good thing. Jens pulled out his cell and hit speed-dial, hoping to God that that meeting was over.
*Jens?* Thierry answered after a moment. *I thought you were heading down to Premier after the last one, but I’m here and—*
“I need to ask you about something,”’ Jens muttered in French. “Let’s say that hypothetically speaking, Ruud was stupid enough to go and pick up a hacker with some half-crazed idea about going after Ferguson, only I got to him first and took the hacker off his hands.”
Robin shifted so he could look at Jens. The daze was fading from his eyes at an unusually rapid rate. He ran his tongue over his lip; the side of his cheek bulged out a moment later as he rolled his tongue around inside his mouth, making audible savoring noises.
*Well…Van Nistelrooy, hypothetically, should have psychiatric counseling. And that kind of foresight deserves champagne, yes?*
“I’m not done with the situation yet. Say the hypothetical hacker was a teasing little cock and I’d had a bad day, and then he shows up with Alex Ferguson’s car at a company-owned location, acting like it’s a gift for me.”
After another moment, Robin pulled himself up and shifted himself down the bumper, away from the come. He made a half-hearted attempt to tug up his jeans, but left them undone and still around his hips to hitch himself up into a sitting position on the hood. “I thought Ruud was pretty impressive when he got the drop on me in Amsterdam, but he acted so tense afterward I don’t think he really knew what he was doing. You definitely do.”
*Jens. Oh, God, Jens, tell me you didn’t lose your temper. Tell me you took a deep breath and told yourself that disemboweling people is medieval and nowadays we have much neater ways of dealing with pests.*
“Well, theoretically, I did, but it wasn’t that bad. And anyway, that’s not the real problem. The real problem is, he seems to have liked it. In theory,” Jens muttered. The tension in his hands was making his fingers curl and uncurl. It hadn’t gotten to his breathing yet, but it was getting close. He could feel the muscle in his jaw ticking as well.
Robin put both hands back on the hood again, tipping his head to the side. “No, listen, really, I think we can work something out here. You’re exactly the kind of person I would love to work with.”
*Wait, what? How would—how is it that—Jens, what did you do?* Thierry yelped.
The buckle-end of Robin’s belt was hanging down between his legs and banging against the hood every few seconds. The noise was driving Jens absolutely—he stepped forward and grabbed it, and that was when Robin tried to kiss him.
The cell phone went…somewhere. Somewhere loud and clattering and if it hadn’t broken, later Jens would have to apologize to Thierry. Right now, he’d just stiff-armed Robin back and somehow managed to jerk the belt all the way out of Robin’s belt-loops. Robin was saying something smug and teasing, and Jens wasn’t listening because really, when it came down to it, people wasted so much time doing that. He didn’t waste time.
The shove that Jens had given him rocked Robin back hard, sending him down on his elbows. Jens let his weight fall against Robin’s legs and the other man came whipping back up, and this time Jens did let Robin kiss him. He didn’t respond because he was using that one moment to yank Robin’s hands off his face; Robin started to jerk back in alarm—too late—and Jens returned the favor. In a way. Bit down into Robin’s lower lip and hung on, squeezing out blood from the fresh cut on it while Robin hissed and swore and twisted and finally just opened his mouth wide to try and attack Jens with his teeth. He did manage to rake over the tip of Jens’ nose, but by then Jens had gotten the belt looped around his wrists.
Jens shoved the end through the buckle and yanked it all the way through till Robin’s curses took on a different, more frantic tone. He finally took his teeth out of Robin’s lips and leaned back, hauling Robin’s arms up and then over his head before the other man could use the sudden space to his advantage. Then Jens forced them to bend down till he could press Robin’s fists into the back of his neck.
He pulled them together again and fucked his tongue into Robin’s mouth, then slid it out a second before Robin’s teeth snapped together. The other man was struggling furiously, and for real this time, but with his legs pinned to the car grille and his arms bent up, he wasn’t going far. In the space of a breath, Jens had the remainder of the belt looped around Robin’s neck, holding the wrists there. He pulled it tight—Robin gasped, tight and hurt as the leather cut into the bruises there—and guided the end through the buckle again, using his fingers to find the buckle tongue and then a hole in the belt.
“Wait—please—” Robin twisted up, choking on the rest.
After a moment, Jens went down a hole and then threaded the belt end through the strap that’d hold it in place. It was more than tight enough to stand any pulling, but wouldn’t strangle Robin. If he didn’t fight it too much.
He was breathing a little hard, he noticed. He leaned back a little, dropping his hands to Robin’s waist. The other man swayed, taking air in huge gulps. His elbows were shaking with the strain of staying up, and he finally looked like he was really afraid.
“I can’t blame you for knowing what the past month has been like for me, but let me take care of that now by saying that it was absolute hell,” Jens said in a pleasant voice. Same one he used when he had to talk to Kahn.
Robin stared at him, confused and terrified. A couple times, Robin shifted his arms around, trying to move the strain around, but he didn’t say anything. The blue-black bruises from earlier peeked out above and below the belt, nicely displayed by the fact that Robin was holding his chin stiffly up. It wasn’t out of pride, it seemed.
Jens lifted his hand and softly drew a fingertip across Robin’s throat, following the belt. He traced back, then up and down a few times, following the bulge of the belt as Robin swallowed hard. “The last thing I’m in the mood for is a joke,” Jens told him.
Flicker of eyelids. Sweat was rolling down Robin’s forehead to get trapped in his eyelashes. “Okay.”
He kept his teeth to himself when Jens kissed him, though Jens didn’t spare him any. It wasn’t long—and wasn’t that surprising, Jens had to say—before Robin was moaning and rocking into it, pressing his body into Jens so every strung-out muscle could be felt. He opened his mouth and made every part of it yield to Jens’ tongue.
Jens put his hand back on Robin’s waist, then moved it to the small of the other man’s back to support him while Jens’ other hand roamed over the shivering belly, the smooth planes of the chest, the rapid fluttering pulse at the base of Robin’s throat. Robin’s shirt was damp all the way through and clung to him so every straining muscle was outlined against it. His nipples had pebbled up and at the slightest graze over them, he arched even more and whined. A sharp twist at the right one turned him boneless against Jens.
He rubbed against Jens like a kitten desperate for attention, turning his head and pressing his mouth against the side of Jens’ jaw, the tendons in Jens’ throat. His thigh was shaking when Jens slid his hand down to it; the smears of come there hadn’t yet dried and Jens collected all that he could before pulling Robin towards him, off the car.
Robin’s knees buckled as soon as he had to put any weight on his feet and Jens had to wrap his arm around him to keep him from falling. After turning him around, Jens pushed him back against the car, then made a belated grab to help ease him down without him concussing against the hood. Jens held his hand on Robin’s neck, over the bound wrists for a moment, then let it drift down over the angled shoulderblades, thrown into high relief by Robin’s shaking arms. Now Robin could rest his elbows on the hood, but he wasn’t going to get much relief from that.
Jens had barely touched Robin’s ass before the other man was groaning, shoving himself against the car and spreading his legs. The come wasn’t much and Jens could feel it scraping away as he shoved his fingers into Robin; he thought about it, then pulled them out and reached up to press them against Robin’s mouth.
The other man immediately sucked them in, generously laving them and wrapping his tongue around the joints, then pulling it away. There was a little bit of teasing in that—Jens yanked them out and stabbed them into Robin’s ass up to the knuckles. Robin jerked, swearing in a choked voice. He swore again when Jens pulled them out and repeated the whole procedure, and by the third time, he was sobbing. This time, Jens left them in and twisted them back and forth, searching around till suddenly Robin heaved up with a hoarse cry. He held the impossible position for a split second before crashing back into the hood. It stilled him for just a moment before he was whining and rolling his hips up at Jens, and to hell with it. Jens yanked open his fly, pulled his trousers and pants down as far as he had to, and then shoved his cock in.
God. Beautifully tight. For a moment, Jens just stood there and appreciated it. His definition of a moment wasn’t the same as Robin’s, and when the other man’s writhing threatened to ruin his enjoyment, he had to press his knuckles into the base of Robin’s spine. Robin quickly stopped, so Jens dragged those knuckles up the backbone, then spread his forefinger and thumb and grooved them down on either side of the spine. A whimpering moan dragged itself out of Robin. His hands clenched and unclenched, his nails scratching raw red lines across the back of his neck.
Jens took a deep breath, shifting his hands to Robin’s hips, and then tried a preliminary thrust. He had a bit of a hard time—too much dry friction, and something else was wrong—but Robin hissed and shifted and Jens jerked his hips, and then the second time, he hit the right angle. And then he fucked the hell out of the little shit. Fucked him till he’d screamed and jerked and come again, fucked him through that so his after-shocks clamped his ass blissfully around Jens’ cock, and then fucked him even when he’d gone limp. Fucked him till finally Jens’ eyes rolled back into his head and saw black, and Jens came so goddamn hard that he almost forgot he was pissed off.
After a couple moments, Jens decided he’d recovered. He pulled himself up, braced his arm against Robin’s buttocks, and then yanked himself out. Robin let out a raspy, surrendering noise and Jens grimaced, thinking about how he’d just gotten out of the habit of doing this with Ruud, and then he knew he really had recovered. Except he’d gone down in the first place, damn it.
He tidied himself up with some tissues and saw to his clothes, then turned around. The first thing he saw was his cell, lying on the ground with the display facing him. Surprisingly enough, it was still lit. And when Jens walked over and scooped it up, still working.
*--have to call down the police, you boneheaded German idiot!*
“Thierry, I’m not an idiot,” Jens said. “I just have anger-management issues, remember?”
*Yes, of course, because I was there for that psych profiling, and I was there when you sent David to that seminar you were supposed to take for that! You never even looked at the notes he took, did—oh, never mind. Jens, did you just fuck the hypothetical hacker jackass on Alex Ferguson’s car?*
Jens turned around to look at Robin, who hadn’t moved an inch. Even his arms looked slack—as much as they could be like that. After a moment, he walked over and picked at the belt till he got it undone, unwrapping it from Robin’s throat and hands. Robin groaned exhaustedly and pulled his arms down, but otherwise still didn’t move. “Yes,” Jens told Thierry.
*You are so—so—I don’t know what to say to you sometimes. Except that you are completely crazy. All right. All right. In theory, where are you right now?*
Right after Jens gave him the address, Thierry hung up. That wasn’t like him, but then again, Jens had probably pushed him pretty far with this one.
Robin slowly lifted his head a few centimeters, then paused to drag his arms beneath himself. He repeated it a couple times till he’d managed to get his head high enough to look up at Jens. Or point his face in that direction. He was still panting as if he’d just run a marathon, and his pupils unfocused every few seconds. “You…that…do you want me to take the car back?”
“What?” Jens started to put his cell-phone away, but then it rang. He checked the ID and it was goddamn Oliver Kahn, so he definitely wasn’t answering it. He hit ‘silent.’
“Did you want his banking records instead? Or…he bets on horse races. He probably has some illegal transactions going on there,” Robin rasped. He looked…eager. Weirdly hopeful. He had a disturbing resemblance to a puppy asking its owner if it could show off right now. “Want those?”
The phone started to vibrate as another call came in. Jens didn’t even look at this one and just slid his thumb over the power button, but then the vibrating rate changed—two calls coming in. Good God, could he not get a break?
“I just…please?” Robin stared up at Jens. His tongue flicked out and went over his swollen, bleeding lip. “Forget the plane ticket. Just…can I do something for you?”
The cell—needed to go away. And Van Persie was completely wrecking Jens’ mental groove. The world swam black for a moment.
When it cleared up, it was to the sight of Robin weakly twisting, desperately whimpering as he hung on to the top of the hood. He’d yanked himself up so he was lying on one hip on the hood, repeatedly scissoring his legs as the cell-phone buzzed and buzzed and buzzed. More muffled now, but Jens could still hear the damn thing. He sighed and grabbed Robin’s thigh, then grabbed it again when the other man thrashed free. After putting his weight on that, Jens reached around and pulled the cell phone out of Robin, who instantly collapsed, looking utterly gutted. When he wasn’t looking utterly…at Jens, and Jens just snarled as he wiped off his phone with what tissues he had left. They would keep making the damn things skinnier and smaller and he knew women used the vibrate function that way so why n—
Thankfully, Thierry’s car screeched up and saved Jens’ sanity. Thierry didn’t even bother parking properly, but instead just slammed on the brakes so the car fish-tailed to a stop meters away. A second later, he was out and striding towards them with arms waving and screaming in English. “Jens!”
“Yes?” Jens flipped open his phone to see who was calling him now. Schweinsteiger. Oh, no--he hit the power button while he could.
“Jens, you—you—” One of Thierry’s arm-swings turned him around so he got a good look at Robin. He stopped, jaw somewhere in the vicinity of his knees.
Robin stared back, but he was…oh, damn it, Jens recognized that expression. Cristiano got it every time someone got too familiar with Ruud.
“Who is this?” Thierry finally asked. Then he held up a hand to stop Jens and took a deep breath. Smoothed down his tie. Set his shoulders and turned to Robin, who now looked completely baffled. “All right, that’s better. Hello. I am…Thierry Henry, and I work as a scout and signing agent for Jens. I think you’re the bad idea Van Nistelrooy brought back from his trip to Amsterdam?”
After a moment, Robin hauled himself up on his elbows. His expression had gone through a sudden, complex shift and now Jens couldn’t quite read it. “I suppose. Robin van Persie.”
Habit almost made Thierry say ‘pleased to meet you’ after that; Jens could see it in his face. He cut himself off and turned back to Jens. “There are security cameras all over this place, Jens. And then what if someone saw him drive the car in here—”
“I took care of that,” Robin interrupted. “I do know what I’m doing—” he flicked his eyes to Jens “—when it comes to this.”
“And…and Jens, you look actually relaxed.” Thierry frowned and took a step back, putting his hand up to his chin. He looked at Jens for a moment, then nodded. “You do. See, I told you to get out more.”
Jens almost made a face. “What, by fucking random Dutch punks on expensive cars?”
Robin rolled his eyes and flopped over the hood, hiking himself up with his elbows till he could semi-sit against the windshield. His jeans were loosely puddled around his calves now. “I don’t have any piercings, in case you somehow failed to miss that.”
“Shut up,” Jens snapped, jerking around to glare. He blinked when Robin promptly dropped his gaze.
“Oh, God help us, you’re going to keep him, aren’t you?” Thierry said. He threw up his hands, then brought them down on top of his head. After pressing them there for a few seconds, he put them back down. That didn’t mean anything; Thierry always had an initial reaction that was more to make people comfortable than anything else. After that, he then did his real thinking, like now. “Well…you know, normally I’d say you need a therapist, but Freddie just called and said the two openers for Victoria Beckham we scheduled? They canceled on us. Went with one of Ferguson’s new dancehall girls, and because he offered more ‘security.’”
“What?” Jens took a step forward.
Thierry held his ground, but his face twitched enough to let Jens know. Annoyed with himself, Jens backed up till he hit the car. He still had a lot of angry energy wanting to get out, but he really should try not to do anything hasty again. He had to be sane. God, if Kahn got him booted out on mental instability, he’d never forgive himself.
“And they implied they won’t be using anyone from us again.” A flash of rare rage went over Thierry. “Salauds. Ferguson got leverage from somewhere.”
“Top says that their hands are tied—I think they’re just distracted with the American branches right now. Either way, it looks like it’ll be down to us and another straight-up street war to settle it,” Jens said, absently pulling at something. He glanced down just as Robin twisted his hips, then winced and fell against Jens, grabbing at his shoulders.
Robin nuzzled at the side of Jens’ face while Jens finished jerking up the man’s jeans. “Ferguson? Illegal betting?”
“Can’t be just that. He’s pushing singers that don’t sell, but he’s still got the bankroll to out-buy us.” After a moment, Jens sighed and stepped back. “I can offer you an official position as a talent scout, but you won’t do any actual scouting. You’ll do…whatever it is you do, and your paycheck will go to that, so don’t ask for more on top of it. And if you get caught at it, then we’ll offer legal support, but if I get a hint that it was due to you going beyond what I asked for, I’ll sink you myself.”
“Mmmm, fine,” Robin muttered, now licking at Jens’ jaw. He flinched when Jen grabbed his ass, but clamped his legs right around Jens when Jens lifted him off. “What about the car?”
Jens dropped him on his feet, then grabbed Robin’s arm to steady him; Thierry absently grabbed Robin’s other arm. “You really can’t keep it,” Thierry said to Jens. He sounded a little wistful.
“I know. I can’t take a sledgehammer to it either—that’s too crass. Plus it is a nice car, and it didn’t do anything.” After a moment, Jens nodded. He gave Robin a push so he was leaning mostly on Thierry. “You know what? Scrub it down but leave the dents—Ferguson would be paranoid enough to have forensics done on it. Send it to that asshole who just fucked us over. He’ll get it back to Ferguson. Oh, and Thierry, could you—”
“I’ll take him back,” Thierry said, gaze knowing and forgiving and all of that. Even a little amused.
It just…he had to know, but he’d never been anything but a wonderful friend. So no to that ever happening, but Jens still always felt a little wistful himself thinking about it. “Thanks.”
He was already walking off. He heard Thierry telling Robin something as he turned on his cell, but then a ridiculous number of voicemails popped up on the display and Jens was busy again.
* * *
Voices were coming from Jens’ kitchen when he finally made it home, but he recognized one as Thierry so he didn’t bother to check. He went to his office to drop off his briefcase and do a few quick things, watered the plants, wandered into the bedroom to take off his tie and coat. Then he headed for the kitchen, unbuttoning his cuffs as he went.
“Ah, finally. The wine’s disgustingly warm now, but we saved you some pasta,” Thierry said. He still had a few noodles on his plate.
The plate in front of Robin was clean, and if Jens didn’t know that Thierry usually cooked like he was expecting an army and therefore the big bowl in the center should’ve had much more pasta in it, he wouldn’t have thought Van Persie had eaten at all. Thierry had also gotten the man through a shower and into some better clothes.
“David came running up with an emergency last-minute.” Jens was too tired to rinse up that many dishes, so he just pulled the big bowl over and started eating out of it. “Did you get him set up?”
“I put Torsten on notice and he’s started on it. By the way, he’s not happy about Robin’s criminal record.” With that, Thierry got up and took his plate over to the sink. He didn’t miss the dirty look Robin shot him, but just grinned it off as he started to wash up.
Robin turned to look at Jens, then stared off to the side. “Nothing to do with what you want me to do. Look, I went to university, the classes were boring, I liked playing pranks.”
“Worst prank?” Jens asked.
“I got caught having sex in a lecture hall and they found some speed on me when they patted me down. I’m not on anything now,” Robin muttered.
“I’ll just be going now. See you tomorrow, Jens—oh, Robin, if you see me, remind me about the movie,” Thierry airily said, breezing out.
As usual, the pasta was fantastic. The only chance Jens had had to eat since his banana for breakfast had been half a sandwich late in the afternoon, so the moment the food hit his stomach, it started screaming. He decided to take care of that first.
Robin leaned on his arms and fidgeted with his spoon. He shot Jens a couple more looks. “I got bored with drugs, too. Nothing’s been good enough to keep me interested so far. Really.”
“I’m still having you checked out. We’ve got a doctor on call—I’ll schedule an appointment for you tomorrow.” Well, damn, it was a little late to be thinking about that now. Yet another thing for Jens to kick himself over. “By the way, if you gave me anything? I won’t stop and let you breathe the next time.”
“I didn’t! I told you, I’m clean. Never met anyone worth that much trouble,” Robin protested. At first he sounded genuinely offended, but then that segued into flirting again.
Jens snorted. “What about Ruud?”
A flicker went over Van Persie’s face. It wasn’t exactly putting his heart out there, but it did reveal another pressure point for the man. “I like him. Of course, you hauled me off before I really got a chance to know him.”
“I probably saved your life. Cristiano is completely unbalanced when it comes to Ruud,” Jens said, finishing his last mouthful. He wiped off his mouth, then got up and grabbed Robin’s dish while he was at it.
The other man turned to watch him, an oddly innocent look of curiosity on his face, and Jens noticed something: Robin was sitting with one leg folded up beneath himself, his weight mostly pressing on it instead of on his ass.
“How are you feeling?” Jens asked.
“How do you think? I can barely walk and I look like a gang of sailors worked me over.” Not that Robin sounded particularly unhappy about it. “What, you aren’t getting it up again, are you?”
“Don’t flatter yourself on getting under my skin.” After racking the dishes to dry, Jens went back and pulled Robin up from his seat. He led the other man into the bathroom, then let go so he could poke around in his medicine cabinet. He needed to refill some of his painkillers, he noted. “Pull down your trousers.”
When he turned around, Robin had done that and was leaning against the wall with a whore’s look of welcome on his face and cool eyes. Amused, Jens stepped up, squirting a dollop of the ointment onto his fingers, and then pushed his fingers into Robin’s ass. He’d long since gotten tired of paying a specialist all the time, so he’d taken the time to learn a thing or two about touching with intention—acupressure in particular came in very handy—and when he wanted to, he could be as clinical as Rául examining a patient.
Robin’s expression slowly turned confused. He glanced down at himself, like he had to see that he really was still limp, then up at Jens. “What are you doing?”
“Lowering the doctor’s bill for your visit. Like I said, this isn’t a game. I’ve worked all day, I’m exhausted, and now I need some sleep so I can get through tomorrow. Fuck with me right now and I’ll just throw you off the balcony,” Jens said.
Still looking confused, Robin let Jens spread the stuff up his rectal passage, then dress the bruises on his wrists and neck, and a few chafed patches on his groin. He wandered out while Jens was washing off his hands, for which Jens was thankful because then he could take a shower in peace.
The light was on in the living room when Jens went out into the bedroom. He checked, but Robin just looked like he was examining Jens’ music collection. The office door was locked, so Jens just went to bed.
He woke up a few hours later, not sure why at first, but then Robin snorted and burrowed more deeply against his chest. It’d been a long time since Jens had had someone actually sleep with him, and for a moment, he thought about shoving Robin off. Then he sighed, far too tired, and closed his eyes. He fell asleep again with surprising ease.
* * *
Jens woke up by himself, but the spot next to him was still warm. He didn’t have to go far to find Robin: the other man had hooked up Jens’ laptop to his computer and was lying down on the floor with the laptop, staring at lines of incomprehensible gibberish scrolling over the screen. His weight was mostly on his hip, and he was dressed only in a pair of loose sweat-pants.
He hadn’t even twitched when Jens had walked in, so it probably was safe to leave him alone for a while. After all, Jens could always have Michael double-check his laptop at work.
Robin was still there after Jens had finished getting dressed and shaved and all the other thousand little details that went into morning preparations. He stayed focused on the laptop even when Jens was standing right behind him, holding a glass of orange juice and a steaming-hot, fragrant pastry bun.
Jens opened his mouth, then closed it and instead lifted his foot. He had on socks but hadn’t put on shoes yet; he used that to his advantage when he put his foot on Robin’s ass, digging the heel into the side of one buttock and wriggling his toes into the crack till he met resistance. A little gasp had jumped out of Robin’s mouth the moment Jens’ foot had come down, and now it turned into a long, low whine. He twisted hard, then wrenched his head around to look up at Jens. “I thought you were worried about medical bills,” he said.
His eyes were flickering, thinking about it and willing to be further persuaded. It was tempting, but Jens had a schedule. He took his foot off, letting Robin roll all the way over. “I am. Raúl charges overtime if we’re late, so eat up and get dressed.”
Wincing, Robin sat up—gingerly, rocking from hip to hip so his weight never quite went on his ass—and stared dubiously at the orange juice. “What are you, a health nut?”
“If I liked being around sick people, I would’ve been a doctor instead of having to pay one.” Jens bent over and handed the glass and plate over in such a way so that if Robin hadn’t taken them, he would’ve ended up with a mess in his lap. Then he walked around the other man and started getting the rest of his things together. “And get off my laptop. I need that.”
After a moment, Jens heard crunching and swallowing noises. “You know, wouldn’t surprise me if somebody’s hacked your home system already,” Robin muttered, chewing loudly. “I need to get to an electronics warehouse or something like that. Is that in the schedule?”
“Afternoon, Freddie Ljungberg will take you down.” The laptop made its usual shutting-off beep and Jens swung around, bent over at the waist, to grab it.
Robin ducked in and kissed him on the mouth, tasting of citrus and warm cinnamon. He left flaky buttery crumbs all over Jens’ chin, and for some reason he was laughing when Jens shoved him off. Jens picked up the laptop and put it in his briefcase one-handed, using his other hand to wipe his mouth. “How is this funny?”
“Oh, it’s not, except me laughing gets you upset, and you’ll fuck me when you’re pissed off,” Robin said. His voice wasn’t quite light enough to mask the odd way he worked his jaw over the words, and he looked away instead of pulling the shutters over his eyes. “Am I living here?”
“Apparently,” Jens said without really thinking. He stopped. He could sense Robin’s attention snapping completely to him, which made him grimace inside. But after a couple moments’ consideration, he went back to packing his briefcase.
Robin got up, grunting, and limped out of the room. He showed up dressed properly a few minutes later, and then they went to work.
* * *
“Well, it’s not right, not by the way most people would see it, but with you it’s usually different. It might work.” Thierry philosophically stared into his coffee. “And I wish you were less stressed, since that never helps your temper, and you do seem to be. So for now I will stand back.”
Jens sat back in his chair and swirled the dregs of his morning cup around, watching the grains come up from the bottom. “But—”
“Of course if it turns bad, I’ll tell you. I told you what I thought about that thing with Ruud, and then you went off and had a fit and missed most of the Cristiano drama at Premier that night.” Somehow Thierry managed to bring that up and come off as caring and direct, not blunt or tactless or preachy. He shrugged and sipped his coffee. “Anyway, I think I like him, a little. Robin’s a little wary, but it’s mostly his experiences talking.”
“Like him?” Jens said a little too sharply.
The other man flicked up his gaze and looked at Jens for a minute. Then he sighed, making a little mock-grimace. “Jens…you know, if I did go for men, it’d probably be you. I’m sorry, I know, because sometimes I feel like it almost…but it’s not and I want your friendship too much.” Grin, bright but laced with regret. “I’m selfish like that.”
“Apparently I’m slow like that today.” Jens had suspected for a while, but Thierry rarely ever went out with anyone he didn’t work with, and lately he’d mostly been going out solely to drag Jens along, so it’d been a little nebulous. Not anymore. “God. All right, enough coffee. Thierry, you’ll have to finish yours in someone else’s office…now, who’s first? David! Where’s my updated schedule? I know this one isn’t it because I don’t see the marketing meeting on it!”