hi all. sorry it’s been a dead month (at least i thought to turn off january billing?). have a story with a couple of new characters (and a mention of an existing one).

cw for mentions of violence, homophobia, and more than mentions of sexy times

The door opens, bringing a gust of biting wind with it. Bishop doesn’t glance up to see who’s walked in; he’s expecting multiple pickups, so that someone came into the shop at all isn’t odd. But he’s also busy. And if he stops working on what he’s doing right now, there’s a very real possibility that he will not, in fact, be able to pick it back up again because the artifact he’s working with is just barely stable, and questionably so at that. Even he’s not entirely sure what it will do if he leaves it like this.

So he keeps working. Whoever’s arrived should know the drill. Have a seat, don’t interrupt, don’t touch anything. Except he can tell from the shift of motion in the corner of his eye that the new arrival is not, in fact, sitting down.

Clearing his throat, Bishop says, “Have a seat. I’ll be with you shortly.”

For a brief moment, he dares to hope that the matter is handled. The movement stops, at least, although Bishop can feel eyes on him. He’s just turned his attention fully back to the task at hand when he hears the sound of footsteps on the wood, unmuffled by the rug that covers the waiting area floor.

“I said I’ll be-”

“What’re you working on?” the voice asks, closer now.

Bishop frowns and glances up. The man is entirely unfamiliar to him, his features striking enough to render him memorable where his size, only barely concealed by the layers of winter clothing, would’ve left him indistinguishable from so much other hired muscle sent to retrieve things from him. “Who are you and why are you here?” he replies, looking back down at the device. A piece slips into place beneath his fingertips and the shudder of magic subsides to a controlled hum.

“Rourke, and I was sent to pick up an order for Chapman.”

Eyes narrowing, Bishop looks back up. Meets the almost inhuman green of his eyes, waiting to see if he’ll break first. When he holds it instead, Bishop asks, “Which one?” despite the fact that he knows exactly which Chapman has an order waiting on the shelf.

“Miss Helena Chapman. She assured me you two were acquainted. Unless you mean which order, and then I couldn’t tell you. She didn’t say there was more than one.” He produces a sealed envelope from some inner pocket and extends it toward Bishop. When Bishop reaches for it, though, he withdraws it just far enough. “I’ll take the package first, if it’s all the same to you. I just thought the seal might help confirm who I’m here for.”

Bishop’s frown deepens. “That isn’t how this works.” Without taking his eyes off of the man – Rourke – he makes a few more tiny adjustments to the device, which begins to glow.

“Well that’s fun,” Rourke mutters, reaching for it.

Aghast, Bishop snatches it away. “Do. Not. Touch. I would have expected Lena to explain the rules to you, but apparently she didn’t so now I must. You come in. You do not touch anything that is not specifically provided to you. You do not leave the carpet unless explicitly instructed. You pay me, take the order, and leave. And most importantly, you do not. Touch. Anything.” The metal heats beneath his fingers, although Bishop isn’t quite sure if it’s his own magic seeping over into the device or if it’s the device itself. All he does know is that the glow intensifies, as does the hum of magic coming from the smooth brass.

“Is it supposed to do that?” he asks, like he didn’t hear a single word Bishop just said.

Something venomous coils at the back of his throat. He forces his attention away from the wall of a man in front of him and back to the device. It’s difficult to manage while standing since the piece that he’s fairly certain turns it off has to be pulled away from the body and twisted at the same time, but he does it and the thing goes silent. “The money, Mr. Rourke,” he snaps.

Once more, Rourke extends the envelope between two fingers. He’s close enough now that all Bishop would have to do is take a hand off of the device and take it. When he does, though – when he tucks the device under his arm and reaches for it – Rourke twitches his fingers and pulls it away again. “The package, love,” Rourke says.

Bishop swallows down the caustic reply on the tip of his tongue and says, “As you’ll see, there is a shelf clearly marked Orders. You give me the money. You pick up the appropriately labeled package. You leave.” He doesn’t ask how many additional times he’s going to have to state this to get it through the man’s thick skull, but only because of the amount of money Lena Chapman is willing to pay to get her hands on things simply so her brother cannot. It’s petty, but their game has been impossibly lucrative for him so he doesn’t care. Their little foot soldiers are the ones who bear the price of it, and Bishop has yet to encounter one who could even vaguely be called a loss.

He doesn’t give Rourke more than a few months, if this is what he’s like.

Smiling like he’s just been passed an envelope containing several thousand pounds, Rourke passes him the envelope. As he turns away from Bishop, he retrieves what appears to be a toothpick of some sort from behind his ear, tucks it into the corner of his mouth, and crosses to the shelf. Bishop watches wordlessly as he carefully examines the labels of each one, waiting.

It’s the other test; another level of security for his orders. None of the tags contain names or other descriptors. Only order numbers which are written down for and provided solely to the collector making the purchase. The only other place that Bishop records them is on the package itself. No ledgers. Nothing to tie his clientele to the objects they’ve purchased.

Rourke stops, eyes focused on the package in front of him as if he can see through the layers of brown paper protecting its contents. The package with Lena Chapman’s order number written on it and a very old book of magic inside. “Right,” Rourke says, straightening. “Well, it’s been a pleasure and I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again soon.” He smiles that same insufferable smile and nods, like he and Bishop were having tea instead of conducting business of questionable legality. The thought forces a silent huff of amusement from Bishop. Tea. As if he would ever do such a thing, especially with a man like Rourke.

If Rourke expects a reply from Bishop, he makes no show of it. He just leaves as if he’d gotten one, and from the ease in his posture and the crinkle in the corner of his eyes just before he turns to exit the shop, Bishop very much doubts the reply he’s imagining is anything close to reality.

Unlikely. A few months, and nothing more. A man like him couldn’t hope to last much longer than that in a world like this, especially working for a Chapman. And good riddance.

Months pass.

More than a few, and with each successive one, Bishop thinks to himself perhaps this will be the one. He even debates hiring someone to take care of the problem himself; Nathaniel Chapman’s people might not be able to get the job done, but Bishop is fairly certain the vampire who wanders in from time to time for Bishop’s library could get the job done. And unlike Nathaniel Chapman, he’s fairly certain that Kol would agree to do this for him. For a price, but a comparatively small one if it means he no longer has to deal with this.

Because it’s bad enough that Rourke progressed from touching things in the shop – books and artifacts, some of them even…cursed – to touching Bishop’s things – his own books, and pens, and his research and plants – but then Ozias- Ozias!

He’d gotten the snake as part of a deal. The trader had almost been desperate to get rid of him, saying the snake had brought her nothing but bad luck since she’d accepted it on a deal of her own. That she couldn’t even take it out of the bag, or even open it without fearing for her life. Well of course not, Bishop had said. After all, who wouldn’t be angry after being kept in a bag for that long. So he’d accepted the bag and turned the snake loose. From across the room, of course; he’d used magic to open it, a mouse sniffling about nervously on the floor a couple of feet away. Ozias had wasted no time, striking with a level of ferocity that rivaled some of Bishop’s own darker impulses. Then he’d slithered off, curling up in a sunny window between a few of Bishop’s plants.

They’ve lived in peace since. On more than one occasion, Ozias has proven his value as a companion – helping to dissuade potential buyers who thought they could get the best of Bishop and keeping pests out of the shop. And in exchange, Bishop kept him happily fed and allowed the little thing to use him as a heat source when it got cold.

Except now- Now he walks into the shop, mentally running through his list of things he has to get done and his research and the latest strange artifact he’s been brought, its use unknown, and unlocks the door to find Rourke leaning against his desk with the cold-blooded traitor curled around his arm like- like a fucking pet.

“What- What are you doing here?” Bishop demands, seething.

Rourke doesn’t move, other than to cock his head slightly and lift his arm, allowing Ozias to slither from one large forearm to the other. “Wake up on the wrong side of the bed, sweetheart?”

“There’s only one side to wake up on. The other’s against a wall.”

The corners of Rourke’s mouth quirk up, his strange toothpick drifting through the air with it. “I’m actually here with a personal request. I’ve been told if someone needs something found, you’re the man to come to.”

With a dismissive snort, Bishop says, “As if you could afford me.”

“I’m hoping this one you might already have an answer, or at least a direction for me to look.”

“I told you,” he repeats, mouth hardening into a thin line, “you cannot afford me. Now if that’s all, Mr. Rourke?”

Rourke’s smile disappears, his expression going flat and closed off. With an unexpected level of care, he unwinds Ozias from around his arm and straightens. He’s invaded Bishop’s personal space before, stepping behind his desk while Bishop was working or hovering if he didn’t happen to have an order ready by the time Rourke arrived, but this is different. This time, Rourke steps so close that Bishop can smell the hints of soap and tea that linger on his skin. If he shivers it’s because of the way Ozias curls around his neck, a dangerous, multicolored scarf.

He says nothing, for once. Just turns and leaves Bishop alone in the quiet of the shop. Something about it seems to cling to Bishop as inescapably as the thick heat of summer, the little details of the interaction worming their way into his thoughts as he goes about his day. Shortly after lunch time, he decides it must be simple curiosity. That not knowing what it was Rourke wanted is what’s bothering him. The solution is easy enough, or would be, were it anyone else. But then, were it anyone else, Bishop would’ve heard them out in the first place.

Instead, it’s Rourke, who on top of being insufferable on his own merits is the hired man of one of his best clients, and he can’t quite decide how doing business with both of them might play out. He spends half an hour pacing around the perimeter of the shop, pausing once to glare enviously at Ozias who’s curled up in the cool, damp dirt under a fern, before he gives up and scribbles the note. From there it’s simple enough to pay a boy to run it to Lena’s house, and then anywhere else that he might need to go to find Rourke. He doesn’t pay for a return trip, though. That can be Rourke’s problem. After all, the man has already caused him enough of a headache.

Rourke’s response comes shortly before Bishop intends to leave, and to his surprise, it’s quite thorough. A request for information about the effects of repeated magical damage and its treatment. Bishop frowns, not because he doesn’t know anything about it, but because it’s an odd question, especially from Rourke. The envelope contains a second page as well, with a list of specific bits of information he needs. With a sigh, Bishop sets the note on his desk and turns toward the rows of shelves. Four books. He’ll need four books to provide all of the information Rourke needs. It shouldn’t take him long. When he returns to his desk, Bishop pens another quick message.

£100. I’ll have your answers tomorrow.

At some point, Bishop comes to the realization that Rourke is another one of those things in his life that he has little choice but to tolerate. Like extreme weather, or tomatoes in his food when he requested very politely that there not be tomatoes. Unfortunate, but there. Some days it’s worse than others; most of the time the horrible man knows when to stop his near-incessant picking and prodding and staring until Bishop’s cheeks start to heat, but sometimes he continues until Bishop snaps. Sometimes, he continues until the air between them crackles dangerously with magic that Bishop can’t quite get a handle on and something strange glints in Rourke’s eyes.

But he is, at least, expected. Predictable. A sort of constant in Bishop’s shifting life; while countless other lackeys and henchmen and even collectors and entire families have come and gone, Rourke seems to be the one marring fixture in his otherwise ideal little life. Sure, here and there things go awry, but those are isolated incidents. Even the ones where Bishop has to get his hands dirty, while unfortunate, are part of the territory.  And his territory has grown. So much that it is a struggle to keep up with it sometimes, but he can’t just hire an assistant. He doesn’t want to, anyways, so he just works more. That’s what really gets him in trouble.

Bishop realizes something is wrong before he’s even opened his eyes. The pillow under his head smells wrong, and the bed itself is entirely off. He shifts, brows furrowing before he places the smell and his eyes snap open.

“Oh good, you are alive,” Rourke says, crossing from what appears to be a little kitchen area to the bedside. “D’you know who I am and who you are?”

Reflexively, Bishop sneers.

“That’ll do. When’s the last time you ate an actual meal or drank something? I don’t have much, but I just made tea. The water should still be hot.”

“I’m fine, thanks,” he replies tersely

“Right, well I figured I’d ask the most pressing questions first, and I think if I asked when you last did something other than work it’d just make me depressed and tired.”

“I’m fine,” Bishop says again.

“Bishop, you’ve been asleep in my bed for well over a day now.”

“I-” He frowns, unable to argue that he wasn’t tired. “It isn’t any of your concern,” he says instead.

Rourke breathes a laugh. “You’re unbelievable. You know that?”

Bishop just glares at him.

“I won’t ask for a thank you, but you could at least try to relax every now and then. Take care of yourself a bit.”

“Because you’re clearly the expert,” Bishop snaps, looking pointedly at the dingy room around them.

The laugh Rourke lets out is humorless and sharp. “Yeah well, some of us don’t make the sort of money that allows us a different little waistcoat every day. But I at least make an effort. Try to actually enjoy my life. You know, relax every now and again instead of working all the time.”

“Yes well I would imagine such a thing comes more easily for a man like yourself. In my case relaxing isn’t as simple as it might sound.”

“I could make it that simple,” Rourke says, sitting down on the edge of the bed. The insinuation is barely that, the interest plain in his gaze. More so than it’s ever been at the shop. And that means that despite himself, Bishop feels his face heating. There’s discomfort but not quite danger, because Rourke sits on the opposite site of the bed. Between Bishop and the door, but out of arm’s reach. Large enough to be a threat, but size means little where magic is concerned. Bishop might be tired, but he can still put Rourke on his back.

“Does that head of yours ever stop?” Rourke asks, pulling the ever-present pick from his mouth to take a sip of tea.

Bishop has to swallow, his throat gone suddenly dry, before he can speak. “I thought that was for me, and no, it does not.”

“We can share, if you’d like.” He smiles and tilts the cup toward Bishop, who grimaces and recoils. “Or I suppose I could make you one,” he adds, aggrieved.

“No, that’s- I should really be going.”

“Back to sleep, yeah.”

“I can do that in my own bed,” Bishop snips, sitting up.

Rourke catches him with a firm hand on the shoulder – all it takes to have him sinking back into the pillows like the energy has once again been leached from his body.

“Do you want tea or not?” Rourke asks, expression hard. Bishop’s seen it like that before, but never had it directed at him. At competitors who he’s had to deal with. Other customers whose attitudes he hasn’t liked. But never at Bishop.

It stings a little, not that he could say why.

“Darling,” he says, softer, “you might not realize it because you don’t see yourself, but you’re a wreck and you’ve been getting worse.”

“Is that your professional opinion? I didn’t realize your qualifications were so expansive.”

“You don’t know the first thing about me or my qualifications, love. In all the years we’ve worked together, you’ve never asked me a single question about myself.”

“That’s because I don’t- I’m not. Good. At all of that. I just want to do my work and be left alone. Everyone else seems to have gotten that by now.”

“Oh, I’m aware.” He smiles like he’s proud of himself, although Bishop couldn’t possibly begin to say why.

“Wait a moment, how did I get here?”

“I picked you up, put you in the car, and brought you here? I’d’ve taken you to yours, but I don’t know where that is.”

“Astonishing,” Bishop mutters. “But the shop?!” His mind picks up again, compiling lists of things he was meant to do, running through wards he’s put in place to protect the shop and its contents in the event that something did happen to him.

“Locked up. Put a sign up saying you’d taken ill and would be back after the weekend.”

“But I have meetings. Appointments. I have a sale-”

“And they can all wait. You do realize that I found you passed out at your desk?”

“But why?”

“Why? Because I had a fucking pickup, Bishop. Unless you’re asking the incredibly fucked up question of why I didn’t leave you there, because if I had, who knows who would’ve found you and what unsavoury things they might have done. And if you’re not around, who am I meant to annoy then, hm?”

Bishop frowns, resisting the urge to cross his arms over his chest like a child.

Rourke smiles again – that same satisfied thing, like he knows something Bishop doesn’t.

“Stop that.”

“Stop what?”

“Smiling at me like that.”

“Who says I’m smiling at you?” he asks before taking another sip of his tea.

His frown deepens at that. Unsure of how to respond, Bishop sits there in uncomfortable silence while the weight of Rourke’s eyes only seems to grow.

“What do you want from me? I’m not going to- to let you have your way with me or whatever.”

“No, I wouldn’t imagine you would, although I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve got the wrong idea about your inclinations altogether.”

Bishop coughs, feeling his face heat once again. His inclinations. As if those are any of Rourke’s business. As if that’s a safe thing to discuss, even in the relative privacy of what is, apparently, the place Rourke lives.

“Never mind,” Rourke says, somehow even more smug than before.

“What makes you think that I- that I’m-”

“Darling, do you know how many women come into your shop?”

He shrugs. “Some. Not many.”

“And how many men?”

“I don’t know. Most of the people sent to handle pickups and the like are men-”

Rourke breathes a laugh and puts his cup down on the floor beside the bed. “Sweetheart, I know just about everyone in this business, and you’re something of a hot little mystery that a good number of people are doing their damnedest to crack.”

“So what, you thought you’d try to be the one who wins?”

Rourke gives him another one of those infuriating smiles and Bishop hates him impossibly more.

“And what makes you think you’ve got any chance at all?”

The smile grows and Rourke twists to face him, one leg drawn up on the bed. “How many of your regulars can you name? Not the collectors or the dealers – the people who actually come into your shop.”

“Well. There’s… Adelar-“

“Hasn’t come in in three years. Think you hurt his feelings.”


Rourke scowls at the very mention of his name, and for the first time, Bishop wonders how deep the bad blood runs between them. If it was just the incident at the shop or if they had… history. “Right,” Rourke interrupts, before he can ask the question, “well how many of them have you commented on their wardrobe?”

He makes a face, confused by the question. “None. Why would I concern myself with that?”

“D’you know how many times you’ve commented that my pants were too tight, or the color of my shirt didn’t suit me, or that I ‘really should do something about my hair, it’s an embarrassment’?”

“Well, it is. You’re supposed to be a professional.”

“Bishop,” Rourke says, sounding equal parts amused and exasperated.

“Mr. Rourke,” he replies, those three syllables suddenly all he can manage.

“So was I wrong?”


Rourke’s finger is light under his chin, tipping his head up just slightly. He pauses long enough for Bishop to pull away. To tell him off. To curse him, his family, and everything he might ever touch, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t, because to do so would mean that Rourke would stop touching him now, and now that he’s doing it, Bishop doesn’t want him to stop.

The faintest of sounds escapes him when Rourke’s awful, full lips meet his, and he’s fairly sure a whimper would follow a moment later when he parts his own and the taste of bergamot meets his tongue, if only he were capable of such a thing anymore. But the reality is that he isn’t. The reality is that he has both of Rourke’s large, solid hands on either side of his jaw and Bishop can’t care about anything else. With a grace and ease unexpected for his size, Rourke somehow shifts so his knees bracket Bishop’s hips without their lips ever parting.

“I um- there’s something you should know. Before you-” he nods, hating it even as he does it. Hating that he’s about to have this conversation with Rourke. That it’s gotten this far, and that he wants more. It has to be because it’s been so long since he’s been touched by anyone else. That’s the only thing that makes sense. Too long and a moment of weakness. But he’s here now, already in too deep. Even if he left immediately, the smug bastard would have won. He might as well get something out of it.

Sitting back on his heels, Rourke says, “Go on.”

“I’m- well you see- I haven’t got an um- all that.” He gestures to the obvious bulge in the front of Rourke’s trousers, actively fighting his attention back to the man’s face. “I mean sort of. A mix of magic and physicians, but it’s not like…”

Rourke isn’t smiling now. Not smiling when he says “I see,” and scrubs a hand over the bottom part of his face. “Anything else?”

“Anything else?” Bishop echoes, confused. “I mean, I’ve killed a few men, but that was out of unfortunate necessity.”

Rourke hums thoughtfully, eyes on Bishop’s face. He wonders if he’s looking for some sign – something he missed that might’ve clued him in. “Well,” he says, and Bishop is sure that the next words out of his mouth will be a dismissal, “I suppose if we’re coming clean, I might as well too.”

“Oh, um, alright.”

Rourke drops back onto his hands, his face close enough that Bishop can feel the puff of his breath again. Can smell the faint, lingering hint of his tea and his aftershave. “I don’t care.”

He opens his mouth to ask what Rourke means and is met once again by the taste of bergamot. This time it’s Rourke who groans, needy and desperate. His hands make quick work of Bishop’s buttons, his mouth trailing down the sliver of skin exposed in their wake until he reaches Bishop’s pants. He pauses, then, glancing up to meet Bishop’s eyes like he’s looking for confirmation.

Bishop can only breathe and lift his hips so Rourke can pull his pants and underwear off. He tugs off Bishop’s socks as well, pressing a kiss to each ankle before he moves again to settle between his thighs. And gods, if Bishop thought his lips were something noteworthy before, they’re truly a wonder between his legs. Rourke clearly hadn’t been joking when he said he didn’t care. He practically buries his face in Bishop’s cunt, licking him open until Bishop can’t breathe and then apparently deciding that that was the time to suck Bishop’s clit into his mouth.

He might actually cry then, it’s so good. Certainly a moment later when Rourke works one thick finger into him, he at least makes a sound, spreading his legs further in a desperate plea for more. His wish is granted in the form of a second finger, the combination thick enough that Bishop can only wonder what his cock will be like.

Gods, his– Bishop’s thought is cut off by a whine and the realization of how close he is. Dangerously so. “Mr. Rourke if you don’t stop that I’m going to-” he starts, another frustratingly small, high-pitched little sound slipping past his lips when Rourke releases him.

“Sweetheart, I’d hoped we could at least drop the formality in bed,” he murmurs, eyes flicking up to Bishop’s face.

“Rourke, I’m going to-”

Rourke licks his lips, attention fixed on Bishop’s face now. And gods, his mouth, all shiny and pink. Bishop wants it on him again. Wants it everywhere. He gets the briefest brush of lips on his thigh before Rourke asks, “Yes, and? I sort of thought that was the point, but if you don’t want to…”

Rourke’s fingers haven’t quite stilled, rubbing lazily at a spot that makes Bishop see stars so he has to concentrate to say, “No, I do, I just thought, well…”


“That you were going to, you know…”

Ohhh,” Rourke breathes, that same insufferable smile on his lips again. He shifts his weight onto his knees, using the hand that isn’t teasing Bishop to adjust himself in his pants. Whether he actually gets caught up in it for a moment or notices the way Bishop’s eyes are drawn to it is beside the point because he can’t stop looking either way. His attention is torn between the movement of Rourke’s hand and how long his fucking eyelashes are as his lids flutter closed.  “This what you want?” he asks roughly, eyes still closed.

“Well I just thought that maybe-”

“Tell me what it is you want, Bishop.” There’s a hint of an order in his quiet words this time, his eyes finding their way to Bishop’s face once again.

Bishop huffs, frustrated. He’s just opened his mouth to say it because apparently the horrible man intends to make him do exactly that when Rourke sneaks a third finger in beside the other two. A moan comes out instead, his back arching away from the mattress. “Oh fuck you,” he whimpers, catching his bottom lip between his teeth to stop another noise from escaping when Rourke’s thumb drags over his clit.

“Mm, happily. If that’s what you want.” He traces slow circles with his thumb, his fingers rubbing in all the right places inside of Bishop.

“You really don’t know how to be anything but infinitely frustrating, do you?”

“Where you’re concerned? You’ve never given me the opportunity to do anything but.” His fingers fuck in and out of Bishop so rhythmically that it’s almost unreal. Almost magical.

“Rourke,” Bishop warns again.

“What, sweetheart, can’t go more than once?”

“I can, I just- I haven’t ever-” He whines again, feeling himself approach a peak he knows he won’t be able to keep from tipping over.

In a move that bounces Bishop off the mattress, Rourke drops back down and replaces his thumb with his mouth. A second later, Bishop comes with a cry, his body clenching around Rourke’s fingers in uncontrolled bursts. He can feel Rourke’s pleased smile on his skin, but this time he can’t find it in himself to care.

“Mm, that’s better, isn’t it?” Rourke asks. He presses a kiss just below Bishop’s navel. Then another. Then he withdraws his fingers and wipes them on the sheets before planting his hands on either side of Bishop’s head. “Told you I could get you to relax,” he says. But this time when Rourke kisses him, Bishop’s arms and legs both wrap around him, pulling him closer.

Rourke groans and ruts against him. Licks into his mouth. “Bishop, I can’t- You’ve got to let me take this off if you want-”

Bishop digs his heel in more, fitting them closer together.

“You’re going,” Rourke kisses him, hard, “to be the death of me.”

In reply, Bishop bites his bottom lip and releases his neck to start working on his shirt. At the same moment, Rourke adjusts his weight again to undo his pants, putting just a bit of space between them.

“Oh… my,” Bishop says without even meaning to. His eyes wander down the broad expanse of Rourke’s chest, taking in the dark, fractal-like spread of magical scarring.

Clearing his throat loudly, Rourke sits back on his heels and pulls his shirt closed.

“Mist- Rourke.” He sits up quickly, fingers clenching in the fabric of his shirt. After a few moments in which he can’t find the words, he does the only other thing he knows how and works his free hand out of his sleeve. He can feel Rourke’s eyes on his skin as he shakes his shirt off of his shoulder, baring one half of his chest.

“Darling, they aren’t exactly the same thing-”

“And I wasn’t-” Bishop sighs and loops his arms back around Rourke’s neck, pulling him close. He doesn’t try to stifle the moan he exhales into his mouth. Doesn’t fight how immediately the kiss deepens into something else. “I just didn’t know,” he says when they part.

“As I said, there’s quite a lot you don’t know about me. But if it’s all the same to you, it’s a conversation I’d rather not have while I’m trying to have my way with you.”

“I thought you weren’t trying to do that,” Bishop says against his lips.

“Fine, when I’m trying to get you to have your way with me. So if you don’t mind…” He strips his shirt off in one quick motion, dropping it on the floor.

Bishop does the same, then leans back against the pillows and lets himself look while Rourke hurries to get free of his pants. “Oh my.”

This time, he gets the cocky grin instead of self-consciousness. Rourke settles between Bishop’s thighs once again, his cock warm where it touches Bishop’s hip. He kisses Bishop again, softer this time, but still hungry. “You gonna need me to-?” he asks, voice rough.


“I know not everyone is alright with it if you finish inside. I’m not even particularly fond of it. And I know um-” Rourke gestures vaguely. When he meets Bishop’s eyes, there’s something almost nervous in his expression.

“Oh. I mean you can, it’s fine. I can’t like… they did that part too, although that one was just a magical thing.”

Nodding faintly, Rourke kisses him again. It starts practically chaste – entirely the opposite of what Bishop expects – but when he tugs at Rourke’s bottom lip with his teeth, it’s like something ignites. One moment there’s space between them and in the next, Rourke is lining them up and pushing inside, their chests flush against each other and the fingers of one of his hands tangled in Bishop’s hair.

Bishop is fairly certain he cries out at some point. He can’t help it; it’s… a lot, and it just keeps going until Rourke’s hips are flush against the backs of his thighs and he can’t go any deeper. He pauses then, lips pressed to Bishop’s temple. Bishop can feel every slow breath he takes, the controlled rise and fall of his chest contradicted by the frantic beat of his heart.

“Alright?” Rourke asks, sounding strained.

“Mm.” Bishop shifts slightly beneath him, adjusting to the weight of him. “You?”

Rourke exhales slowly, his breath hot on Bishop’s skin, and says, “Yeah. You gonna laugh at me if I said it’s getting to me a little after all this time?”

“What is? And after all of what time?” Bishop asks, barely able to think around how full he is.

“D’you really not know how long I’ve been trying to do this? With you? Don’t think anyone’s ever made me work this hard for it, but gods, sweetheart, I’d do it again.” He pulls out just slightly, then rocks back in with a groan.

Bishop only whines in reply, uncertain of what he’d say even if he were able, and hitches his legs higher around Rourke’s waist. After another heated kiss, Rourke finally starts to move. It starts as a slow, grinding thing, which gives Bishop time to get used to it, but gradually he picks up speed. Puts more force behind his thrusts. It’s all Bishop can do to hold on, then, arms and legs wrapped tight around him as a stream of embarrassing, needy sounds tumble from his mouth.

He isn’t even sure how long he’s close for – just that he’s been on the edge for so long that it’s driving him mad. Bishop has his face tucked up against the thick muscle between Rourke’s neck and shoulder, desperately trying to remember how to breathe when he suddenly slows.

Another pitched, frustrated whine escapes before Bishop asks, “What- what’s wrong?” He blinks at Rourke, head spinning as he tries to figure out why he’s stopped.

Rourke, the devil, smiles at him. “Oh I’m sorry love, something you wanted?”

Bishop opens his mouth, then closes it again. “I…”

“That gets tiring after a while, you know.” And indeed, Rourke’s skin is slick with sweat. Bishop’s sure his own is no better, but he tries not to think about that right now. It’ll only ruin his mood, and right now he’s content to keep enjoying himself. Rourke ducks to kiss him, rolling his hips slowly as he does. “You’re more than welcome to get on top, though.”

“But I- um. No, that’s alright.”

“Mm, but maybe I want you to,” he says against Bishop’s lips. Before he can argue further, Rourke somehow manages to roll them so he’s lying on his back with Bishop on top of him. The shift in gravity forces Bishop further onto his cock, making him gasp as he’s made aware once more of how full he is.

“I don’t- um-” he falters, face still hidden under Rourke’s jaw. The change of position makes him feel impossibly exposed. He doesn’t want to know how red he’s gone. How much worse it would be if he had to feel Rourke’s eyes on him – see his face.

“What?” Rourke asks, not unkindly. He threads fingers into Bishop’s hair, thumb pressing just behind his ear, then stills. Doesn’t rub, or trace little nonsense shapes on his skin like some people try to. He simply holds Bishop there while he waits for an answer.

“The thought of you watching. It’s- it’s embarrassing.”

“Embarrassing?” He turns his face to nose at Bishop’s temple, a brief brush of skin on skin. “What’s there to be embarrassed about?” Rourke rocks up into him a couple of times with a low, pleased sound.

“I can’t… concentrate. Like that. Can’t keep a steady pace like you do and manage my own reactions.”

“And who says you have to do either of those things?” Another slow roll of his hips, almost like he’s trying to entice Bishop to move. Or maybe he is just teasing himself. Chasing his own release, however slowly.

“Who says that? Everyone! Me! It’s one thing when you look like- well, you. But I don’t, and that’s already bad enough. But then I’m not good at this either, and gods only know what my face does, and I can’t-“

“Shhh.” Rourke presses his lips to Bishop’s jaw, his hips moving at a slow, steady pace now. His other hand drags down Bishop’s side until his thumb catches at the crease between his hip and thigh. Then he moves his other hand from the back of Bishop’s head to match it; the push-pull is slight enough that it takes Bishop a minute to catch on, but by the time he does, he’s too caught up in the slow grind to protest. “Sit up for me,” he says, softly enough that Bishop feels compelled to do it.

He moans at the slide of Rourke’s cock inside of him, realizing how wet he is for the first time. And it is embarrassing, but that doesn’t make his eyes flutter closed of their own accord any less.

“Love, we’re already in bed. And more than that, I already know you’re a weird little shit.” Rourke’s tone is oddly fond, but that does nothing to prepare Bishop for the look on his face when he opens his eyes again. There’s some of the teasing expression he knows well, but there’s also something else.

He isn’t sure where the decision to lean down to kiss Rourke comes from, but he does, moaning again at the changed angle. Reminded of the need brewing just below the surface, Bishop rocks back against him again. He gasps into Rourke’s mouth, forehead dropping to rest on his until he can muster enough concentration to sit up. It’s uncomfortable having Rourke’s eyes on him, but the man doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that Bishop is looking anywhere but his face. He can’t do it. Doesn’t like to in general, but especially can’t be expected to now. And then Rourke’s thumb is on him again and he closes them entirely. The added stimulation tips him over the edge, turning his movements jerky and unsteady. Beneath him, Rourke swears and pulls him close, fucking up into him a handful of times before he groans and spills, his lips pressed to Bishop’s skin.

Once his breathing has slowed, Rourke kisses his temple and shifts, slipping out the rest of the way. “Alright?” he asks, one large hand spread over Bishop’s back, bleeding warmth into his skin.

Bishop hums a confirmation, lazy and boneless against him.

“Need anything?” Rourke’s voice is low. Comfortable and rough in his ear, and Bishop can’t find it in himself to be anything but lulled by it.

“Want to let me up to piss, then?”

Bishop huffs, amused. “Charming,” he replies drily, but he forces himself to move nonetheless. “D’you even have a toilet in here?”

“No. Usually just go out the window.”

“Out the-” he starts, aghast.

He’s cut off by the familiar sound of Rourke’s laughter, though, and before Bishop can snap at him the man ducks back down to kiss him quiet.

“It’s down the hall. Told you my job doesn’t come with the fancy perks.”

Bishop frowns. He wants to say something – feels like he should – as Rourke pulls his pants and shirt back on, but he can’t quite find the words.

When Rourke returns, he falters slightly.

“What?” Bishop asks, dragged out of his own thoughts by the unexpected hesitation.

He shakes his head and says, “You want me to take you home, or can I convince you to stay?”

Bishop stretches, thinking. He should go back to the shop. He has things to do. But he’s also still so tired, and despite the concerning state of his surroundings, he’s comfortable. The thought of spending the night with Rourke’s warm bulk pressed against him is- well. Comfortable.

“I can walk. You don’t need to inconvenience yourself further for me,” he replies after a moment.

“Bishop,” Rourke says, his accent curling around the two syllables in a way that makes him shiver involuntarily.

“I have things to do, Mr. Rourke.”

It gets the response he’d hoped for. In the span of a moment, Rourke is across the room and sitting on the bed, his expression serious. “Name one thing that cannot wait until Sunday evening, at least. Otherwise, stay.”

“Stay? Until Sunday?”

Rourke nods.

He reaches plaintively until Rourke leans down enough for Bishop to wrap his arms around his neck, then he pulls Rourke down to fit their mouths together. “I’ll stay tonight, but-” his eyebrows lift in silent challenge when Rourke opens his mouth to argue. “But,” he continues, “perhaps we could consider… relocating. Tomorrow. To mine. I don’t have any clothes here and I need a bath.”

“There’s a shower down the hall.”

Bishop gives Rourke a look. The laugh he gets in response is equal parts amused and something like disbelieving, accompanied by a brief shake of Rourke’s head before he kisses Bishop again. “Fine. Tomorrow we can talk about the possibility of relocation. In the meantime, do you need anything while I’m still up and wearing pants, Your Grace?”

Scowling, Bishop gestures rudely and says, “Come back to bed.”

“Bossy.” He’s smiling as he says it, though.

Like this, with the covers pulled over them and the warm bulk of Rourke’s body stretched out beside his own, it feels… different, somehow. Rourke doesn’t seem bothered by his silence, though. Maybe this really was the trick to shutting him up; if Bishop had known that was the case, he might’ve let the man take him to bed ages ago. After all, it wasn’t exactly a chore. But it was him.

“You don’t do this much, do you?” Rourke asks eventually, the corners of his eyes crinkled in amusement.

“Sorry if I wasn’t up to your standards. I told you I didn’t want to get on t-“

Rourke cuts him off with his mouth, letting out a muffled noise of displeasure when Bishop bites his bottom lip.

“Ow. What did I do? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought you enjoyed yourself.”

He scowls and folds his arms over his chest. There’s not much arguing that, unless he lies. The bit he’s struggling with is that it’s Rourke who all of this happened with. In the moment, he’d been fine. Better than. But now, reality has set in, helped along by Rourke’s return to being insufferable.

“Darling, it was a question, not a judgment. An observation at most, meant to break the tension since you seemed like you were working yourself up in your head again,” Rourke says. Once again, he’s no longer smiling because of Bishop. This time, though, Bishop’s fairly certain he won’t just be able to kiss him and make it ok again.

Sighing, Bishop opens his mouth before he can stop himself. “I did… enjoy myself. I actually haven’t um. No one else has been able to do that. Certainly not twice.”


There’s a sharp edge to Rourke’s tone, mixed with disbelief, so Bishop repeats himself. “No one else has ever managed to er- finish me off, is I believe how the euphemism goes? So the fact that you somehow managed to exceed expectations is unsettling.”

“Thanks,” Rourke laughs. “Although if you’d said that ahead of time, I would’ve kept going. Think I could’ve gotten a few more out of you.”

More? I think I might actually die.”

Rourke makes a dismissive sound and shifts so he blocks Bishop’s view of the ceiling. “Are you going to bite me, or are you done being a petty little shit?”

“I very viscerally despise you,” Bishop mutters in reply. The words aren’t even fully out of his mouth before he catches Rourke by the jaw and tugs him down, though. “But no, I don’t… do this often,” he says when they part. “And certainly never with anyone related to my work.”

“Well I know of a good few people who are going to be sorely disappointed by that.”

“If you mean to tell them-“

“Tell them? No. Sweetheart I have no plans to do anything of the sort. But at least a few of them have something rattling around in their skulls. We might not all have your mind, but there is a bit more of a range than you might think.”

“I-” Bishop blinks at him. He isn’t quite sure of what to say to that. Isn’t sure if it’s a compliment or an insult. Another line of thought saves him from the confusion, however. “Can I ask you something?”

Rourke cocks his head slightly; one thick eyebrow lifts as he says, “Sure.”

“That request, a couple of years back? It was for you, wasn’t it?” Bishop licks his lips, mind moving faster than his mouth can. “Did it- were you able to figure something out?”

The look Rourke gives him is equal parts sad and confused – like Bishop’s concern is just as unexpected to him as it is to Bishop himself. Carefully, he reaches over and brushes the backs of two fingers against Bishop’s cheek. “No,” he says simply, “but I’m still here.”

Before he can question the impulse, Bishop turns his head to kiss Rourke’s palm. “You could’ve said- How did it… happen?”

“How do you think? The war.” Rourke’s expression goes hilariously judgmental for a moment, the polished edges of the accent Bishop is used to giving way to the rougher notes that he’s heard slip over the course of the night. Hints that Rourke’s upbringing wasn’t quite so neat and tidy.

Bishop reaches over to tentatively trace the patterned magical scarring, freezing when Rourke twitches beneath his fingertips. “Sorry. Does that hurt?”

“No. Not usually. Not… always.”

“But you haven’t found anything to help.”

This time, Rourke gives him a rueful little grin. “Oh, I have. The problem is that what helps, it um-” he inhales and scrubs a hand over his face. “Well apparently that’s just me killing myself slowly and a waste of my abilities. Your Miss Chapman seemed to have pretty strong feelings about it. Cleaned me up, and told me if I tried it again that she’d find a way to curse me herself. That I wasn’t the only one who had to live with a bit of pain, so I should suck it up and actually live the life I’d fought for in the war.”

Unable to help himself, Bishop snorts. It does sound like Lena.

“Like I wanted to fight in the bloody thing.”

“Well, you signed up, didn’t you?”

“Absolutely fucking not. My old man dragged me down to the enlistment office after he caught me sucking off one of my mates. Said he wasn’t going to have me growing up to be a whore like my mum.”

“Wait, he didn’t really-“

“Say it? Or mean it? Because he did, and she was, but I fail to see how that’s worse than killing people because the crown is scared of anyone else having magic.”

Frowning, Bishop says, “Maybe I got off easy with mine after all.”

Rourke raises an eyebrow in question and Bishop has to exhale slowly before he can even think about answering. About telling Rourke this when he hasn’t told anyone. Ever.

“When I was um… five? Or six? Somewhere around there. I was asleep one night, when I woke up to voices outside. My father’s, and another man, and what sounded like my mother crying. They had apparently decided I was a changeling and were desperate to be rid of me. I suppose I’m lucky they simply had me taken out into the woods and abandoned instead of throwing me in the fire. Who knows how that would’ve ended up,” he says, letting flames curl between his fingers.

“About as well as Nathaniel Chapman trying to have me hexed, I’d think.’

Bishop hums his agreement, letting his eyes linger on the flames for a moment before he lets the magic go. Anything else, he needs words for. Whispered, at least, but the flames have always come naturally. Even that night. It was how Calder had found him, all those years ago. Why he’d taken Bishop with him, kept him fed, taught him his business.

“Speaking of, do you still want the lights on or should I…?”

“Be my guest. Saves me having to get back up.”

He focuses on the points of light around the room, letting his gaze soften until they’ve all gone blurry, then mouths a spell that sucks the energy from them, killing them all at once. It’s a nasty thing in other circumstances, but in this one it’s simply efficient.



“You’re an odd little thing,” Rourke says, tone entirely serious. Despite the darkness, he still somehow easily catches Bishop by the waist and drags him close.

“I’m beginning to think you like that.”

With an amused sound of agreement, Rourke leans in to kiss him, lazy and filthy all at once. “Now you’re getting it.”

“Yes well, you could have saved us both a lot of trouble and been a bit more direct instead of harassing me endlessly for years.”

“Oh, I still intend to do that. It’s too much fun to stop now. Besides, are you really going to deny me this one thing now that you know what I have to live with?”

Bishop frowns at him through the darkness.

“You do know I don’t mean anything by it? At least not anything bad.”

“Yes,” he sighs. “At least mostly. You’re still impossibly frustrating.”

“But now you know I can make up for it,” Rourke says, lips brushing against Bishop’s as he speaks.

“I suppose, although one night hardly makes up for all of it.”

Rourke’s fingers card through his hair gently, his blunt nails making Bishop shiver and shift impossiy closer. “Who said anything about one night, love?”

“Don’t- Mr. Rourke, I hardly expect-“



“I do have a first name, you know. Not that anyone’s used it since, well.”

“William,” Bishop repeats. He exhales slowly, not quite certain how he feels, possessing information like this. In his field, names are somewhat of a touchy subject both due to legality and their power, in a realm where fae bloodlines are common. It’s part of why so many use intermediaries to do their business, or pseudonyms at the minimum.

And here Rourke was, lying in the dark across from him, giving Bishop his.


Rourke hums thoughtfully, then leans in to kiss him again. This one is entirely unlike the others. It makes something churn terrifyingly in his stomach, like the ground beneath him has given out.

“I came across it in a book I was reading, not long after Calder – the man who owned the shop before me – took me in, and it stuck.”

“It suits you,” Rourke agrees easily. His hand is a comfortable source of heat low on Bishop’s spine. One he’s sure to hate himself for missing later. As if he’s read Bishop’s mind, Rourke says, “It doesn’t have to be one night, unless that’s what you want.”

“I- you don’t expect me to believe that you actually want… me.”

“And why is that?”

“Because you’re you and I’m… not easy to be around. There’s a reason I don’t have friends. No one ever- It’s only ever one night, and I’ve come to accept the reality that that’s what I am. So don’t think that you have to- to lie to me to sooth my ego or something.”

“Haven’t we already established that ‘soothing your ego’ and coddling you is something I’m not really interested in? Since you seem to need it spelled out, I like you because you’re a difficult little prick. So if you aren’t interested, say that, but don’t suddenly start acting like you suddenly think highly enough of me to think I’m doing this to be nice.”

A helpless laugh slips out of Bishop’s throat and he gives in to the urge to curl into Rourke, tucking his face against his shoulder and wrapping an arm around his ribs. He can feel the faint, crackling sensation of the scarring against his chest, the diffused magic still lingering just beneath his skin like some living thing, waiting to claw its way out.

Curious, Bishop focuses on the strange, tingling feeling, concentrating on it like he did the lights earlier. His lips move silently around the words of the spell, siphoning the energy away. To his surprised, the buzzing stops.

“What did you just do?” Rourke asks, pulling back to peer at him through the inky darkness.

“Oh. I’m sorry, I just um. Well, I could feel… magic, and I thought maybe-“

“No, never mind that, how did you make it stop? I didn’t even realize it was starting to hurt until it was gone.”

“I just- it was the same spell I used on the lights. It’s used to pull energy from things. Normally used for, well. Worse things than putting out lights. But I thought maybe since it’s used to draw power, or magic, in this case, away from its source, that maybe it would work on you. I couldn’t use it to kill you, which had I known that I might’ve been a bit more concerned upon waking up here, but since I was acting on the magic directly, it seems to have worked.”

Rourke kisses him, hot and consuming once more. “You,” he says roughly, “truly are something magical.”

“A very astute observation, Mr. Rourke.” And then he catches himself and smiles. “William.”

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