Kirsten (kirstenlouise) wrote,
Kirsten
kirstenlouise

#433 - [FIC] How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (C/N, N/Y, A/A)

Title: How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
Word Count: 7, 335
Pairing: Cobb/Nash, Nash/Yusuf, Ariadne/Arthur
Rating: R
Summary: Office AU. In which Cobb and Nash have relationship problems, Yusuf doesn’t help, Arthur wears a really ugly sweatervest, and no one ever seems to do their job.
Enticements: hickeys and hookahs, pegging, and drunk!Nash
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. Title shamelessly swiped from film of the same name. TITLES, I HATE YOU.
Author's Note: Eternal love and adoration for koushi and forgerness, my lovely betas without whom this piece would not be! Thanks so much to both of you for making this a billion times better. Follows Where There's a Will and Post-Its and the Problem of Thursdays. Reading in series is recommended, but all you really need to know is that Cobb has ED, Arthur’s a megadick, and Yusuf is one suave motherfucker.


Nash was spacing out. He couldn’t help it—he’d tried every trick he knew to focus, including enough caffeine to jumpstart a Hummer, but Cobb had been going on about procedure and pre-existing condition limitations for the better part of two hours, waving around a green laser pointer and clicking by slides on this hideous default PowerPoint that made every one of Nash’s aesthetic sensibilities recoil in sheer fucking terror. Was that—oh, Christ, it was. Fucking Papyrus. That was the last straw.

He’d switched to autopilot out of self-defense.

No one cared about that shit anyway, except maybe Arthur, who’d commit it all to memory and bitch nonstop if anyone—heaven fucking forbid—forgot line 54, subsection D of clause 7 when it came time to handle their next round of claims; like letting a diabetic sneak through was going to bring the whole infrastructure crashing down or something.

Not even Cobb’s pants, pinstriped and tight in all the right places, could keep the 5 PM fog from rolling in.

“All right, everybody,” Cobb said at last, “we still have some ground to cover, so get up, stretch your legs, and we’ll meet back here in fifteen.”

A-fucking-men. Nash yanked off his tie with more force than was strictly necessary as Cobb walked out without giving him a second glance. He was doing that more and more lately. A few months ago, a fifteen-minute break would have meant a quickie wherever they could get a little privacy, but Cobb’s hands-on approach to synergy seemed to have disappeared with their last seminar on sexual harassment in the workplace. Nash had tried to feel him up under the table at the last department meeting and wound up walking away with a bruised ego and a sprained wrist.

He snatched the stapler from the middle of the table and scowled down at it. Now that the honeymoon was over, life was looking pretty fucking bleak. They hadn’t even managed to fuck twice in as many weeks. And the few hand-jobs he’d gotten barely counted. They hadn’t been real sex when he was fifteen and he sure as shit wasn’t going to promote them now just because his boyfriend was too much of a selfish bastard to get him off properly.

A polite cough sounded to his left. “I hope you aren’t plotting to bludgeon anyone with that.”

“Can’t tell you either way,” Nash said, swiveling around and passing the stapler from one hand to the other. “Turns out pre-meditated killing’s a crime in this state. Fucking weird, right?” Anyway, he’d been thinking more along the lines of stapling Cobb’s lips to his dick. Something that would get him laid, anyway. “You think I could staple my eyes open?”

“Considering the thickness of the human skull?” Yusuf shook his head. “I doubt it. But it would certainly be enough to earn you a hospital visit, if you still want to try.”

“Hey, man, at least it’d get me out of here,” Nash said.

Not that he was that desperate.

Nash eyed the stapler in his hands and calmly set it down. Okay, so maybe he was. But it wasn’t like he didn’t have a good reason. He had a few of them, even. First, and this was the big one, it’d been days since he’d had anything around his dick but his own fist. But someone had also put his favorite tie through the shredder—it was kind of a tossup between Cobb and Arthur at this point—, he’d had to shell out 2k to have his transmission rebuilt, and he was so fucking bored, he was seriously considering stapling his eyelids to his forehead. And it was a Thursday.

Just the cherry on top of a perfect shitheap of a month. Nash switched his attention back to Yusuf. “How you holding up?”

“Well, I don’t blame you for falling asleep,” Yusuf said with a dry chuckle. He leaned up against the table. “Given the choice, I would rather listen to Arthur.”

“No shit, right?”

He might not like the guy but if Nash had to choose between suffering this shit at his hands or Cobb’s, he’d pick Arthur any day. It wasn’t just him, either. Everyone in the office agreed that, hands down, Cobb gave the worst, most mind-numbingly dull presentations. Nash had never heard anyone make so many horrible, pun-driven jokes in so little time.

“You think he’d get better at it after so much practice.”

“Truly an enigma,” Yusuf agreed. He smiled and waggled his eyebrows. “I think it’s time we mutinied. Are you in?”

Nash leaned back in his chair. “Depends. What’s the plan?”

“There’s an excellent hookah lounge downtown, if you smoke. And if you’ve never tried, it’s really very easy,” Yusuf said. “You’d like it. It’s very relaxing.”

He didn’t really know what a hookah was but smoking it up with Yusuf definitely seemed like a better idea than getting the life bored out of him. Still, they weren’t likely to be overlooked if they fucked off somewhere.

“I don’t know, man. Playing hooky probably won’t go over too great with Truant Officer Cobb.”

Yusuf shrugged smoothly. “So we make up an excuse. I’ll tell him I took you to the emergency room after you collapsed in the hallway, or that you tripped and hit a filing cabinet and I was worried that you might have a concussion.”

“You been thinking about this for a while, haven’t you?”

“Since the fifteenth slide. Come on,” he said, pulling Nash to his feet and slinging an arm around his waist. “It’ll be fun. He isn’t going to fire you for missing the tail end of one meeting.”

Well, when he put it that way…

“All right. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

- - - - -


Two hours, a plate of baba ganoush, and half of a very fine shisha sampler later, Nash was feeling pretty good. Smoking a hookah took about as many braincells as smoking a bong, once you got it all put together. He’d left that part to Yusuf, who seemed to know what he was doing. The rest had been easy. A few hits, and he felt like a pro, content to just sit back and chill on the overstuffed orange sofa they’d staked out.

The atmosphere was low-key, a couple dozen people smoking it up and chatting over the music that played. The old posters and garish furniture kind of made him feel like he’d been transported back to the 70s, but he could handle it. Anything for a change of scenery. Besides, he was pretty comfortable, shag carpet notwithstanding.

If only Cobb would take a fucking hint already. Nash’s pocket buzzed angrily, signaling the latest in a series of bipolar texts from Cobb, who kept wavering between worry and anger like a fucking yo-yo.

“For fuck’s sake, man. Just gimme a sec, will you, Yusuf?” He flipped open his phone: i called every hospital w/i 30 mi. u nvr went dickhead. where r u? plz call/txt im worried.

“Cobb again?”

“Yeah,” he said, distractedly. He punched in a quick reply message: fuck off stalker im fine. Maybe that was a little too harsh. He added a quick c u tomorrow bb and tucked the phone back into his pocket. “Sorry about that, man.”

Yusuf waved away the apology. “It’s fine. I take it he’s giving you trouble?”

“Nothing I can’t handle.” Later, when he’d run out of better things to do. Nash was aware of Yusuf still watching him, eyes bright with quiet humor. “What? Did I get eggplant on my face or something?”

Yusuf laughed. “No, I’m merely intrigued by how interested in you Cobb seems.”

Oh, shit. Busted. Think fast, Nash. “Yeah, well, we hang out sometimes.”

Before the words were even halfway out of his mouth, Nash wanted to cringe. We hang out sometimes. Right, man, right. He might as well have said they had slumber parties and braided each other’s hair for how smooth that sounded. The sheer amount of stupid packed into that sentence—fuck, man, he wasn’t even going there.

“I see,” Yusuf said, tone making it clear he didn’t buy that for a second. He smiled as he busied himself with breaking up another clump of shisha for the hookah. “Well, I won’t pry. Your business is your own.” He sat back with the long hose, one arm settled along the back of the couch, and gave a low chuckle. “In any case, it would be very hypocritical for me to criticize.”

Nash had nothing to say to that. He thought it might be a come on, but ‘til he knew for sure, he was going to keep playing it cool. Until his big, fat mouth went and got him into trouble again, anyway. He settled back to smoke, unable to help shooting Yusuf the occasional appraising look out of the corner of his eye.

Yusuf lounged back against the cushions, all loose-limbed and blissed-out as he puffed out soft rings of smoke. Yusuf could be straight, he supposed. Hell, he could be pussy’s number one fan, but Nash thought the odds were against it. Yusuf was letting him get pretty cozy, for one, and with a mouth like that? Come on. Mother Nature didn’t make ‘em that way for just anyone.

Nash swallowed hard, pants just a little too tight for comfort. Yusuf’s sleeves were rolled to his elbows, shirt unbuttoned at the neck, setting off all that smooth, dusky skin. Not to mention his sleepy-soft brown eyes or that crazy fucking hair that made Nash’s fingers twitch with the urge to comb through it, just to tug on all the little kinks and curls. He’d always liked men with a little something to hold onto.

“You aren’t like I thought you would be, you know,” Yusuf said, abruptly.

“Oh, yeah?”

“When I see you at the office, you usually look ready to sink your teeth into Arthur’s throat.”

“Yeah, well, with a dick for a supervisor, I don’t get much chance to show off my sparkling personality.”

“That does make a difference, I suppose,” Yusuf agreed. “No offense, of course, but my impression of you tonight is much better than my first.”

“Let me get this straight.” Nash set aside the hose from the hookah and crossed his arms over his chest. “You thought I was a dick, but you skipped work with me on the off chance I might not be.”

Yusuf shrugged. “I thought you might prove me wrong.”

“And what was your plan if I didn’t?”

“Pawn you off on someone else, naturally.”

Nash had to laugh at that one. He liked Yusuf, how honest and laid-back he was, obviously comfortable in his own skin. And there were plenty of guys like that, sure, but most of them couldn’t manage to be confident without being a complete dick about it. Nash didn’t know when his inner dialogue had started sounding like something out of fucking Cosmo, but whatever.

He was just thinking about how to get things rolling when he felt Yusuf’s arm slip around his shoulders. He was really in trouble now. Nash couldn’t help the sweat that sprung out on his palms, because it wasn’t just this fantasy track playing in his head anymore, it was real and that meant he was going to be in deep shit.

After all, he wasn’t exactly on the market.

“Hey, man,” he began, the words awkwardly rolling around in his mouth, “nothing against you, but I, uh, I—”

“Have a boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” Nash agreed. “One of those.”

He knew he sounded like a fucking idiot, but he couldn’t concentrate, or even care, with the way Yusuf’s fingers kept curling around the hairs at the base of his neck, fingers stroking softly over the skin under his collar. It was nothing, but it still made him feel weak in the knees, stupid and eager like the first time he’d gotten good and laid in the back of some guy’s Chevy after prom.

Yusuf leaned in, eyes gleaming wickedly. “I won’t tell him if you don’t.”

Holy fucking shit. It was such a bad line, but hearing Yusuf say it, all low and smoky and fucking right there made his dick spring up so fast, Nash was sure a sproing! action caption was going to materialize out of thin air.

On second thought, he wasn’t really off the market, either. Sure there was Cobb and sure, they’d had a few fucks—so what? They weren’t fucking married. They weren’t even living together. He was a free agent.

Free enough, anyway.

Yusuf took another draw from the hookah and then his hand was slipping around to cup Nash’s cheek, drawing him into a soft kiss. Yusuf thumbed over the ridge of his cheek bone, blowing sweet, blueberry scented smoke into Nash’s mouth. There was a sound like someone flicking off a light switch in his head as his brain shorted out for a full three seconds before whirring noisily back to life. Yusuf licked at his mouth on the pull back and Nash swallowed on reflex, letting the smoke burn warm in his lungs.

“Jesus Christ,” he breathed. If his dick tried any harder to stand at attention, he was going to tear through his pants. “You trying to fucking kill me here?”

Yusuf only laughed and dipped in for another kiss, his hand dropping to Nash’s thigh to rub along the inseam of his pants. Making out had always been an activity that fell under the heading of couldn’t-care-less, but Nash thought maybe it was just because everyone before now had done it wrong. This was nothing like the way Cobb kissed him, all tight-lipped and white-knuckled and about as responsive as a fucking mannequin. This was something else.

Nash dragged Yusuf down on top of him, the two of them sinking down into the couch, opening his mouth for the slick, slow press of Yusuf’s tongue. Fuck, it was good. There was still part of him that was impatient, ready to get to the good stuff, but the rest of him was perfectly content to lie around all night, letting Yusuf rub at him over his clothes, kissing until his lips were sore and swollen to the touch.

He had the sneaking suspicion Yusuf was the kind of guy who could elevate a hand-job to the status of Real Sex.

It looked like he was about to find out for sure. Yusuf’s hand was still working between Nash’s legs, cupping his crotch so hard it made him light-headed. He wasn’t really in the habit of letting guys palm him off in front of a live studio audience, but there was a first time for everything, even that. Nash couldn’t find it in himself to give a shit with the way Yusuf was sucking on this spot just below his jaw that seemed to be wired straight to his dick.

When Yusuf tugged down his zipper, though, Nash decided it was time to reconvene. His exhibitionist tendencies only went so far.

“As much as I’m enjoying this, unless you wanna get us kicked out, we gotta tone it down or go somewhere else.”

“The owner is a good friend of mine,” Yusuf said, dismissively. “They’re very accommodating.”

Accommodating? Nash laughed. Accommodating was what you called a bar that offered more than one kind of cheap whiskey or a public restroom that actually bothered to keep its condom dispenser stocked. Places that let two guys get freaky in the common room were fucking insane, not accommodating.

“Yeah, well, unless they got beds in the back, accommodating ain’t gonna cut it for all the things I want you to do to me.”

Yusuf gave him one more squeeze before relenting. “My place?”

There was a little voice in his head, telling him that this was a bad idea. He had a boyfriend and even if he was a limp-dicked corporate tool with no flair for graphic design, it was better than spending his weekends beating off to amateur porn until he’d sloughed off a full layer of skin. Amateur porn couldn’t cuddle him after another round of sex ruined thanks to Cobb’s ED and, the voice told him, Yusuf probably wasn’t looking for anything serious.

But what the fuck—Nash never listened to that voice anyway.

“Lead the way, baby.”

- - - - -


Once the excitement wore off, the guilt had set in, and Nash had slipped out while Yusuf was still sleeping, pouring himself into bed somewhere around 2 AM. He’d avoided an awkward morning after, but he was still having some difficulty holding his head high when he walked into work. One, Yusuf would probably call him on it, and two, he’d probably just sabotaged his first actual relationship in five years. It had been good sex— the thought of filing claims sure as shit wasn’t what was putting that skip in his step—but the timing was shit.

And just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse, there was Arthur waiting for him at the end of the Walk of Shame, all done up like a Catholic priest’s wet dream. He was wearing pleated khakis with the usual Oxford and tie and this dorky fucking sweater vest Nash wouldn’t have been caught wearing if he was eighty, blind, and going golfing.

Fuck the guilt. He’d deal with that later. Right now, he had the perfect opener for engaging in his favorite office pastime—getting Arthur’s panties in a twist.

“Art, buddy, someone’s gotta do a better job explaining this casual Friday thing to you.” Nash clapped him on the shoulder and shook his head. “I’ll be sure to use little words when I write my report, all right?”

Arthur shrugged him off and fixed him with a scowl. “You’re late.”

“Late?” Nash glanced over at the clock. “The fuck are you talking about, man? It’s like two after.”

“Not by my watch.”

“Yeah, well, according to my watch it’s high time you got a life, but this place don’t run on my time. Or yours for that matter. Now excuse me,” Nash said, elbowing his way past Arthur to flop in his desk chair, “I got some work to do.”

After a minute of shuffling around papers and waiting for his desktop to start up, Nash realized Arthur was still standing there.

“You got a problem or something?”

Arthur continued to stare sullenly at him, foot tapping out an impatient rhythm on the linoleum. He didn’t mind the silent treatment—the less Arthur opened his whiny little mouth the better—but he wasn’t digging the bitchface/creeper-stare combo. Not cool, man. Not cool.

“Arthur, use your fucking words. I can’t read your mind, man.”

And even if he could, there was no telling where that thing had been.

“I don’t make a habit of sticking my nose in other people’s business. I’m here to work,” Arthur said finally. That was a riot. What a liar. “But when you come into the office covered in hickies, I have no choice but to make it my business.”

Hickies? The word hit him like a ton of bricks. Nash could feel the color flood out of his face. Fuck, man. Fuck.

Cardinal rule number one of fucking around: no bite marks, scratches, bruises of any kind, and definitely no hickies. Granted, it wasn’t like he’d minded at the time, but that just served to highlight the importance of cardinal rule number two: stay sober enough to remind partner of rule number one.

It floored him for a minute, but he managed to pick his jaw off the floor.

“Is that all?” Nash tipped his chair back and crossed his arms over his chest. “Last time I checked, hickies weren’t against the dress code. I must’ve missed that memo.”

Arthur gave his sweater a tug and pushed up his glasses, puffing out his chest like there was a shiny superhero logo on it and not some argyle monstrosity.

“No one should have to tell you that it’s not okay to parade around just because you got laid and didn’t bother to hide the evidence,” he said primly. Evidence? The hell was he—a fucking crime scene? “No one wants to see you air out your dirty laundry.”

“Sugar, you don’t know the half of it.” Nash stood, toe to toe with Arthur. Might as well milk that three-inch height advantage for all it was worth. “I’m gonna give you a little unsolicited advice, Arthur. You ready for it?”

“I don’t need your advice.”

“Well that’s just too fucking bad, ain’t it?” Arthur’s jaw stiffened, clenched up so tight Nash swore he could hear the grind of the guy’s molars. “You know, if you spent a little more time sucking dick and a little less being one, maybe people’d actually invite you to shit ‘stead of letting you go home and watch soaps with your cat or punch numbers or whatever the fuck it is uptight, closeted queers like you do in their free time.”

“You are such an unprofessional creep,” Arthur said, voice dripping with disdain.

“And you’re a tight-assed nancy boy, but hey,” Nash said with a shrug, “some guys are into that shit. I got an ex-boyfriend I could introduce you to, if you’re interested.”

“My sex life is none of your business.”

Nash laughed. “Honey, you been getting so little business, you should be grateful for some window shopping.”

Arthur was standing ram-rod still now, nostrils flaring so wide Nash thought clouds of smoke were going to start billowing out of them, possibly followed by flames.

“You’re one step away from getting written up for sexual harassment and I’ll remind you, because I’m a nice guy, that this office has a zero tolerance policy. But keep going,” Arthur snarled. “Say something else, Nash. Say it and not only am I going to write you up, I’m going to wipe that shit-eating grin right off your stupid fucking face.”

He sure sounded like he meant it. “Is that a dare, or a double dare?”

Arthur pulled back his fist. Nash was pretty sure it would have come slamming down on his face, too, if it hadn’t been for Yusuf running to the rescue, catching Arthur’s wrist out of nowhere. Nash flopped back down in his chair to watch the fun, high on the adrenaline of having narrowly avoided an intimate introduction to Arthur’s fist.

He couldn’t hear what Yusuf was saying to Arthur, but whatever it was seemed to work. Arthur’s shoulders relaxed, even if his eyes were still reading bloody murder. It was a strange thing to see Yusuf with his hand on the back of Arthur’s neck like it was nothing after he’d had those hands all over him. And Arthur letting him?

Wonders never ceased.

“He’s not worth it anyway,” Arthur said at last. He gave Nash one more glance, all haughty superiority, and walked out.

“That’s right, Arthur. You just walk away,” Nash called after him. “This cubicle ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

Yusuf leaned against one side of the entryway, arms crossed over his chest. Goddamn, his arms looked good in that t-shirt. Nash’s heart fluttered a little looking at Yusuf—his big, burly knight in business casual. Who’s the sap, now? But whatever. He could afford a little uncharacteristic hero worship.

“You think he’s still gonna write me up?”

Yusuf shrugged. “He might, but I think he’s gone to cool his heels and ask for the rest of the day off.”

“Good riddance.”

“Maybe I should have let him teach you a lesson.”

“Yeah, right. When Arthur stops picking fights over stupid shit, I’ll consider my lesson good and learned. ‘Til then, though, I’m pressing his buttons as hard as he presses mine. Anyway,” Nash said, “he shouldn’t dish out shit he can’t take. The military should’ve taught him that.”

A grin was starting to spread over Yusuf’s face.

“What?”

“You really didn’t notice, did you?” Yusuf made a sweeping gesture. “There are quite a lot of them.”

Between the invective and the threats of bodily harm, he’d forgotten all about the hickies. His hand went to his neck immediately. “Shit, man, is it really that bad?”

“If by ‘bad’ you mean it looks as if you might be a leopard hybrid, then yes,” Yusuf said. “It is that bad.” His smile took a turn for the wicked as he admired his handiwork. “Personally, I think they suit you.”

“You would,” Nash said with a snort. “I guess I’ll be wearing a turtleneck the next couple of Fridays.” He fiddled with a pen in the long stretch of silence that followed, a pang of guilt twisting hot in his stomach as Yusuf surveyed him calmly. Expectantly. “Hey, Yusuf, about this morning…it was a dick thing to do.”

Not that Yusuf was really the top spot on his list of people to apologize to, but he had to start somewhere, okay? Might as well get the easy ones over with for practice, if only to keep from throwing in the towel.

“Yes, it was. But I’m willing to overlook it this once,” Yusuf told him. “I had better get back to my desk, but if you’d like to get together again sometime, just remember—I’m only one cubicle away.”

He walked out and Nash was left to stare at his monitor and wonder how the hell he was going to get himself out of this one.

- - - - -


Sprawled on the floor of his cubicle with a bottle of Jack Daniels in hand and his personal soundtrack set to the world’s smallest violin, Nash was absolutely sure of three things: One, juggling two guys at once, though sure to keep him well-laid, was going to be a full time job and he didn’t need another one of those. Two, he was a terrible liar and unless someone took a baseball bat to his head in the next 48 hours and made him forget everything, he was going to spill, which meant that three, he’d better confess now before his subconscious got the bright idea to tack it on as an addendum to the next interoffice memo.

And three and some change, he was not nearly drunk enough for this shit.

Still, he was getting there, thanks to one of his coworkers who’d had the sense to be an alcoholic and the naivety to keep his desk unlocked. Cheers, man. His taste might not be quite up to snuff but knowing that Cobb was still holed up in his office, doing whatever it took to make sure he wouldn’t have to bring his work home over the weekend, was reason enough to drink up.

Merry Fucking Friday. No pun intended.

Nash stared down the neck of the bottle with a sour expression as his mind automatically shifted focus to the one person he knew past, like, puberty who thought puns were a legitimate form of comedy. So Cobb was about as funny as a knock-knock joke, but that was no reason—okay, it was kind of a reason—to write him off completely, even when you factored in the fact that he was an asshole on top of it. But everyone had their flaws, right?

Nash wasn’t exactly in the running for this year’s Mr. Congeniality award, either. Cobb was a good guy, a good boss even, and even if he had about as much chance of sustaining an erection as a balloon with a leak had of holding air, the times they did manage to go at it were pretty magical, not gonna lie.

Plus, Cobb kept trying. Maybe not lately, but there was a definite upward trend overall. Nash had to give him credit for that. Any sex was better than no sex at all. Granted, Yusuf had been a fucking beast in the sack, topping the hell out of him not once, not twice, but three times over the course of the night, but there was nothing like sex with someone you loved.

Or in Cobb’s case, someone stupid enough to fall for your even stupider excuses. Call it love, call it loneliness, call it whatever the fuck you want, but it took dedication to be that obtuse.

And as far as sex went, Nash was willing to compromise. In fact, he was prepared to go crawling back on all fours with a ribbon tied around his dick and a shiny, vibrating plug up his ass if that’s what it took to get Cobb to go back to trading sexual favors between the hours of nine and five. Nash hadn’t been on his back in the break room in so long, he’d almost forgotten what the top shelves looked like from a worm’s eye view.

Nash wobbled to his feet and waited for the world to stop spinning before he took the first tentative steps out of his cubicle. He had it all figured out. He could do this.

First, though, he needed to take a piss.

Someone had dimmed all the lights and the way his vision was doubling, Nash might as well have been stumbling through the dark, but at least he was staying vertical. Thank god for small favors. Everything seemed spaced differently, closer—he certainly ran into enough shit—but he eventually managed to find the doorknob. It took a second to fumble it open with the hand not curled around the neck of the whiskey bottle, but he got it eventually.

His hand was halfway to his zip before he froze in his tracks. This wasn’t the bathroom, that much was obvious, but Nash was pretty sure it couldn’t be the copy room, either, because that copy room, the one where Cobb had sucked his brains out through his dick and made him kick the copy machine so hard it malfunctioned for a week? It sure as shit wasn’t part of any universe where it made sense for Arthur to be bent over a stack of boxes, glasses askew, getting his ass pounded by a brunette wielding a cherry-red strap-on.

What was this, the fucking Twilight Zone?

They didn’t seem to notice that they had company, Arthur or the little bombshell coaxing those pathetic, kitten-mewling noises out of him with every hard snap of her hips. Nash grinned, barely resisting the urge to applaud. This had blackmail written all over it in big glossy letters. A leer here, a lick of his lips there, and Arthur would be shitting bricks worrying Saito would revoke his Employee of the Month privileges or whatever perks kept Arthur’s ego inflated. Nash wouldn’t have to lift a finger to send Arthur into an unholy rage where he’d stay all day long, letting it build and build and never getting to blow his load because one word and the jig would be up.

God, that was fucking beautiful. Poetic justice at its finest.

He should have known. Arthur was such a domineering prick on the clock, it figured he’d be an eager little bitch once someone got his pants around his ankles. Arthur was shaking all over, sweater rucked up under his arms to show off the arch of his back and his pretty little ass pushing back for every thrust. It was… oddly not nauseating.

Oh, fuck, who was he kidding anyway? He’d take it to his grave, but seeing Arthur get pegged was giving his dick ideas, none of them good. He was looking forward to the money shot Arthur was going to leave all over that brand-new ream of copy paper, but when you were blackmailing someone, the element of surprise was an important tactical advantage. Besides, he still had to piss.

Nash was making his exit when Arthur choked out the first coherent word he’d heard during his little foray into voyeurism: “D-d-daddy!”

That was too good. Nash laughed aloud, the sound catching in his throat when Arthur’s “daddy” immediately whipped her head around. Fuck, he was so dead. Like, body-in-a-ditch-please-identify-by-dental-records dead.

“Hey, uh, Nash. From claims,” he clarified with an awkward wave. He gestured with the bottle of whiskey. “’m kinda smashed.”

“Ariadne, from Marketing. Unfortunately sober,” she said, a little out of breath. “Not to be rude, but this isn’t really a good time for me.” Arthur moaned pitifully and Ariadne smacked him hard on the ass. “I’ve got a bad boy to punish, so if you could go, that’d be great.”

So, that wasn’t weird or anything.

“Gotcha. I’m just—so, yeah. Nice to meet you.” Nash took a few steps and lingered on the threshold for a second, unable to help his grin. “You take care of this one, Arthur. She’s a keeper.”

He ducked out before Arthur could lob anything heavy at him.

- - - - -


Cobb had been staring at him for a good five minutes by the time he managed to do anything but sigh in Nash’s general direction, slumped down in his chair with the wear and tear of the day. That didn’t bode well. A tired Cobb was not a happy Cobb.

“Please tell me you don’t keep that in your desk. Lie to me if you have to, but please,” Cobb said, leveling a tired-eyed stare at him. “For my sanity.”

“Nah, this ain’t mine,” Nash said. “But lemme put it this way—if every asshole who’s ever been to an AA meeting skipped work on Monday, you’d be calling temps in all day.”

“I don’t know which part of that is supposed to reassure me.”

“Christ, you’re a stiff. Take a joke, man.” No sense of humor at all, and apparently it was rubbing off on him. Any more puns and he’d turn into Cobb and what a fucking nightmare that would be—that’d really be the last nail in the coffin of their sex life. “Anyway, know what I just saw?”

“The business end of a toilet bowl?”

“Real funny, asshole,” he shot back. He curled up his chair and cradled the bottle of whiskey to his chest. Jack would never let him down like that. Cobb wasn’t making this easy on him at all. Didn’t help that his mood was swinging like a pendulum, either. “If you’re gonna be that way, I ain’t telling.”

Cobb combed a hand through his hair and over the back of his neck, rubbing like he was trying to work out a kink. “You know, I’m not sure why you’re still here, let alone drunk, but frankly, I don’t want to know. So unless you have something real important to tell me, I’d kind of like to get back to work.”

There was his opening. Nash watched the moment go by with a sinking stomach. Liquid courage or not, he wasn’t cut out for this. He’d been cheated on enough times to know how that felt, but now that the shoe was on the other foot, he was starting to realize it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk from either side. He sat quietly and watched Cobb pore over the array of papers spread out over his desk in stacks. After a while, Cobb glanced up from his work.

“What’s with your neck, anyway?”

“Hives,” Nash said automatically. “I got terrible seasonal allergies.”

“Hives,” Cobb repeated. He licked his thumb to turn the next page, pen flying over the surface. “That’s funny, because they look a lot like hickeys to me.”

“Luck of the draw.”

“Right.”

Screw it, he was diving right in.

“Also, Yusuf fucked me last night. Gave me these as a souvenir.”

He cringed on reflex, awaiting the inevitable outburst from Cobb, possibly followed by a whirlwind of destruction and part two of the lecture on Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. He was going to be fucked six ways to Sunday and not one of those ways was going to even vaguely resemble makeup sex.

“Was he any good?” Cobb asked after a moment, sounding not the least bit interested, like they were talking about a great cup of coffee and not what had possibly been the best lay of his life, bar none.

“I—you—what?” He didn’t even know what to say to that. And okay, maybe it was warped that he was the one getting offended here, but seriously, what the actual fuck. “All you got to say is ‘was he good’? You don’t even got the decency to act jealous?” Nash gaped at him in disbelief. “Who are you and what the fuck’ve you done with the real Cobb?”

Cobb didn’t even bother to look up from his stack of papers, brow furrowed. “I was never under the impression we were exclusive. I don’t really care who you fuck as long as you stay clean and keep coming into work.”

What. A. Dick.

This was not how he’d pictured it going. In his head, it had all been pretty simple; a tearful confession, maybe a little groveling thrown in for good measure. Cobb would drag him down to his knees to finish the apology and they’d fuck on the desk to seal the deal with nothing but a little spit to ease the way and Cobb draped over his back, telling him he’d let it slide just this once, but from now on it was his dick or nothing.

When everything else in his life felt like a poorly scripted cross between a skin-flick and a soap-opera, it wasn’t that unlikely. A guy could dream, anyway.

Which reminded him. “How come you never eat me out?”

That got Cobb’s attention. He looked up, a mixture of affront and alarm on his face. “That’s not—it’s not like I don’t—” He broke off with a frown. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Everything,” Nash said. At least, somewhere in the drunken scramble of his mind, it was apropos of something. “You ain’t asking the questions here. I want answers.”

“You’re interrogating me about eating you out. That’s what we’re doing.” Nash shrugged. Sounded like business as usual to him. Cobb settled back in his chair, hands folded in his lap. “Okay, then, I think your definition of ‘never’ needs some serious work, because I can think of at least five separate occasions where I had my tongue in your ass.”

Nash wasn’t exactly a math whiz, but… “That’s like, once a month and a bonus for good behavior. Seriously, you are such a one finger, two fingers, dick kind of guy. And let’s face it, baby—I’m lucky if I get the dick for more than thirty seconds.”

Cob twirled his pen. “So he was good, then?”

“Rocked my fucking world.”

He really hadn’t meant to say that. He really, really hadn’t. Nash gingerly set aside the bottle of whiskey—Jack wasn’t doing him any favors. They traded insults back and forth like other couples—and they were a couple, goddamn it—traded endearments, but that was a low blow, even for him. Cobb wasn’t saying anything, wasn’t even looking at him, but the defeated slump of his shoulders told Nash all he needed to know.

God, he really was an asshole, wasn’t he?

Nash wet his lips. “Well, what—what if I wanted us to be exclusive? What then?”

“You could start by not fucking other people. And, for the record, making fun of my ED isn’t endearing me to you. At all.”

“I’m trying, okay? I’m sorry Yusuf gives a great rimjob and I’m sorry I made fun of your super serious medical condition, but you ain’t doing much better, sweetheart.” There he went again, going off half-cocked (ha ha), but he really wasn’t the only one at fault, here. “You could stand to pay me a little more attention, ‘cause I’m thinking I could get ploughed by a bus and I’d be lucky if you looked up from your paperwork long enough to sign my full-body cast.”

“That’s not even fair and you know it. And,” Cobb said, jabbing a finger at him, “you aren’t making any fucking sense. Your reasoning is so fucked up, I don’t even know what to make of that. If I treat you that badly, the last thing you should want is something exclusive.”

“Jesus Christ, do I have to spell it out?” Nash leapt to his feet and leaned across the desk. “I fucking love you, you stupid sonofabitch.”

Nothing could buffer that humiliation, but it wasn’t like he could take it back, so he just stood his ground and waited for Cobb to say something. Anything. Any reaction at all. At this rate, he’d be waiting all night. Even his face wasn’t giving anything away and Cobb had one of the worst poker-faces Nash had ever seen.

“I said I—”

Cobb clapped a hand over his mouth. “I heard you Nash. I’m pretty sure the whole goddamn block heard you, so relax. Give me a second, will you? I just need a few minutes and then I’m going to drive you home.”

Nash huffed. “Who said I need you to drive me home? I got a fucking license.”

“Jack Daniels, that’s who,” Cobb said in a tone that left no room for argument. “Now let me finish up the rest of this. It won’t take long, okay? Just, I don’t know, amuse yourself.” He seemed to realize the flaw in that statement half a beat later. “And don’t break anything.”

“Fine. Process. But you better have something to say when you’re done.”

Nash dropped back into his chair, glad to see that Cobb was looking pretty shell-shocked now, even if he hadn’t passed judgment yet. He’d been worried someone had swapped Cobb out for a robot while he wasn’t looking. Time for the moment of truth. Any time now. He hated waiting. Waiting just flicked on all his fidgety genes and made him feel like he was going to crawl out of his skin.

“Hurry it the fuck up, will you?” he snapped. “If you’re kicking me to the curb, at least make it quick.”

“Okay, okay. Jesus, I’m finished, you impatient little fucker,” Cobb said, all of his papers finally tucked neatly inside his briefcase. “Dealing with you’s like taking a toddler out in public.”

“Yeah, I don’t wanna know what that says about your taste, pervert.” Thankfully, Cobb let that one go without saying anything. He didn’t mean it, anyway. It was just the nerves talking. “So, what’s the verdict?”

“Let’s just consider it water under the bridge,” Cobb said at last. “I’ll forget about Yusuf if you forget about what a dick I’ve been being. And we’ll both try to be more communicative. Just… better about things.”

“Deal.” Nash tried not to smirk. “So you were jealous, then.”

“Of course I fucking was. You’ve got some other guy’s hickies all over you.”

Okay, clearly that not-smirking thing was a lost cause. “You just wait till you see where else he left ‘em.”

“Don’t press your luck, asshole.” Cobb got up, pulled Nash out of his chair, and curled an arm around his back. That was new. “Come on, let’s go home.”

“By home, you mean bed, right?” Nash eyed him critically. “Because I ain’t ready to let this go unless you’re willing to work for it.”

“Yeah, jackass. I’m taking you to bed.” Cobb smiled and leaned in for a kiss, catching Nash’s bottom lip between his teeth. “Come on, the sooner we get out of here the sooner I can get you naked and spread out for me.”

“That sounds promising. Keep talking, slick.”

Cobb leaned in close, hot breath against his ear. “When I’m through with you, you aren’t even going to remember Yusuf.”

Nash wasn’t so sure about that, but what the fuck. He could deal. It was the thought that counted.

“I’m gonna hold you to that.”
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