One of these days I’ll write a flat-out fluffy bit of porn and the world will be shocked. This is not that day.
But it is closer.
Feedback: Will be hugged like a puppy. Even if it bites.
Author’s Notes: the_moonmoth wanted to know what it looked like from John’s side of the street. So did I. The title is once again from Bradbury, specifically ‘Fahrenheight 451’.
The Sieve and the Sand
John knows himself fairly well, even if no one else ever will. He’s aware of his own penchant for disaster and the creation thereof. He’s at his best in a crisis. He’s often at his worst in one as well. If his greatest enemies didn’t include a race of soul eaters and an unkind universe, he might think he was his own.
It’s a familiar pattern. He waits out the quiet times, the itch rising in him until he’s crawling just a little under the surface. Until words come harsh and sharp against his skin, and he flings them away in the same condition. The cycle ends one of three ways, and how each one is chosen is anyone’s guess. When the odds are in his favor, the world comes near to ending and he plays the hero for a while. It’s enough to bring him down, and make those who should be angry forget.
When the odds are against him, the world ends around and despite him. There are bodies and black marks and no one who should be angry forgets a thing. Some who shouldn’t be remember. It isn’t his choice which scenario will play out. It’s just his burden.
Lately, though, there’s been a third option. Door number three is solid and sturdy, and has no windows through which to spy. He doesn’t know what’s behind it. Every now and then he gets a glimpse through the keyhole, though, and maybe likes what he sees. It comes as an extraordinary surprise to find it unlocked.
The first few times it makes him angry. It feels unfair and cruel, more so for its unconscious sting. He lets himself be brought into the air because he’s learned sometimes the storm can be left on the ground. Not always; he’s flown into it before, and wound up choking and spinning in the aftermath. Mostly, though, the air gives him time and space to move, and he prefers the view on the way down.
So when Rodney asks him, John agrees to share his wings for a while. They go up, and if the foot or so between them seems too far, at least the ground doesn’t seem too close. Against all expectations, John settles. Eventually, he even relaxes.
After that, John begins looking more closely. It doesn’t take long to find the rhythm. It comes to the point that John shows Rodney sometimes, gives him some view of the barren stretches and shrieking winds. He does it sideways and cautious, and never gives more than he needs, but it gets him this and so is worth it.
John knows it’s probably another form of self-destruct, and doesn’t care. He’s always expected to be ashes in the end. He might as well enjoy the warmth.
They’ve made fourteen trips like this, and he’s given fourteen lessons to a man who doesn’t want to learn, before it’s too much. Rodney holds the controls like they’ll escape if he lets go. He twists them and jerks them about in ways that are neither healthy nor kind. He has no feel for the systems, no sense of their responses, and curses them loudly for it. John wants him more than he’ll ever say.
He’s raw inside and out as he sets the jumper to fly itself. He’s shaking to pieces and the rattle of his bones is loud enough to drown out everything else as he kisses Rodney.
They hit the bulkhead hard and slide gracelessly down one of the benches in the back compartment and finally they’re on the floor. John’s only steering by default, since Rodney’s given up all else in pursuit of John’s skin. Rodney’s hands seem to be doing their best to map him, no real intent or direction behind them. John’s left to work fastenings on the way to release.
He gets pants down and Rodney’s shirt up, mouthing a trail from navel to chest, and that’s as far as determination takes him. From there it’s all want. He thrusts against whatever skin he’s in contact with and doesn’t have the will left to care. Rodney’s hands are still wandering, under John’s t-shirt to grip his back, over his shoulders, down to his hips. He’s pulling John to him, forcing the rhythm faster, and John doesn’t have the strength left to fight. His hands are on either side of Rodney’s head, and every time Rodney turns to one side or the other he can feel sweat-slicked skin and damp hair against his wrists. He does it now, and the brush of the fine strands at his temple against John’s pulse is more than John can take.
He puts his head down and bites his lip on the sound that wants free of him and shudders through it. For a moment, the only sound in the world is the heartbeat in his ears. When it’s over, the quiet stays with him.
John changes position just enough to let him move an arm down. He keeps his head on Rodney’s chest. From this vantage point, he can see everything he needs to, and he can feel the rise and fall of Rodney’s breathing below him. He does his best to make it grow faster, more ragged. Every stroke brings a sound rumbling out of Rodney, vibration traveling through the skin and bone of John’s forehead, bypassing his ears and going straight for his spine. The rest of him tunes to it, a fine tremor that runs all through him. He’s fairly sure Rodney himself is beyond knowledge of it.
Rodney gets a little more desperate, writhes a little harder beneath him, and John kisses the nearest available bare skin to calm him. He’s surprised when Rodney instead goes rigid, hips clearing the floor and breath catching in his throat. He keeps stroking as the tension gradually leaves and Rodney’s breathing levels.
John tries his best to pull himself together. It takes a minute before he can make himself move, before he can stop pinning Rodney down. He tries to drag himself to the side, but Rodney has other ideas. John freezes, not expecting to be kept, and finally lays himself back down as carefully as he can. Rodney’s remarkably resilient, but John knows he’s got sharp edges. He does his best to keep them hidden, but there is no cover here. If he's lucky, though, there just might be shelter.
Somewhere in his head there’s a quiet notion taking hold. Maybe he has more say in the way of things than he’s believed. Maybe it just requires the right force applied at the right moments to keep him level. Rodney cut his teeth on equations like this. Maybe he’ll be able to balance one more.
For the time being, he’s determined to stay here, miles above the unforgiving ground and less than inches from something far better. Rodney’s arms aren’t letting John go, and it’s almost startling how much he doesn’t want them to. For the first time in quite a while, he’s content to be still.