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“Am I bothering you? I don’t want to distract you from your work.”

Javi looks up from a mess of papers sprawled on the second-hand coffee tables. His eyes are dark, so dark in dull yellow light, but he blinks and offers a small smile anyway, toward you, toward the camera in the phone propped up on a half-empty whiskey bottle. “No. To both questions.”

“You sure?” You cup your hand in your chin, eyebrows arching. Skepticism met with earnestness: the distillation of you and him, mixing in the way you can’t always tell if the cigarette butts are his or yours.

He smiles as he glances around his empty apartment. Neck muscles ripple with the practiced movement, assessing that no demon has slipped in while he’s been unawares. This is for you & him: no one else can watch as he strips away layers of self like he peels the jackets and heavy badges away from his body.

“Yeah.” Javi glances at the floor and flicks his thumb on his mustache reflexively.

You want to reach through the screen and do that for him, want him to rest his head in your lap — the weight heavy against your thighs — and watch the contours in his face tighten and stretch as he smokes a cigarette and lets himself get lost in your warmth.

He is speaking now, and you wonder how you could ever want him to rest in silence when his voice drips milk and honey, even through the tinny speaker. “I’m glad you called,” he is saying now. “I think of you often at this time of the day.” And he leans back, like the intimacy is too much, like he needs space to voice his declaration. “All the time, actually.”

A soft smile creeps across your face. Smiling for real, with your teeth, seems too brash for this moment. Too brash for this Javier, the one who leaves the bulletproof vest on its silver hook in his locker. The one who reaches for your hand through the screen instead a tumbler of his preferred vintage.

Javier will never pretend to be anything less than a complicated, twisted mystery of a man who ties together any threads of salvation he can find — lingering on buttons, or on the back of your dress, or fraying on the edges of a worn jacket. He is a man in search of more, always more, always other, anything to help him make sense of who he is (the monster, or the victim, or the savior; what is it in him that metamorphoses by the hour, by the mission?).

He is a man that should have sent you running for the hills. Or for Malibu, at the very least. And yet. What had turned into a glance turned into a hello had turned into a drink had turned into you sighing his name into his mouth. Logical. If you didn’t know better, you would swear that Javier Peña is a narcotic. One as powerful as the one he hunts; the ones his employer combats.

It should not make sense that the way you fell together sounds rational. But when Peña lays his eyes on you, and the top two buttons of his almost-too-tight teal shirt are undone, and his tongue does the thing where it just teases past his lips, and he asks if you are okay, and places a weighty hand on your bare arm: that is the moment when everything blends into fabrics and colors, and the pattern of deliverance weaves into focus.

And that is why you smile, and shut your eyes against the intrusion of the world — and opt instead for a reality where it is just you and the knowledge that you can do for this him. It is a power trip of the softest, most tender variety, maybe the two of you aren’t as frayed as you think, maybe if you keep trying, you can introduce him to new fabrics, new colors, new ways of being, and he can try something different. Because he has said it now. Javier has told you the gun on the table in the foyer, not by his bedside, and his jacket is the closet. When you open your eyes, his shirt is untucked and hair mussed.

It could be just another late night, for him. Javier’s words fall out of him in a steady, simple sort of way. Always actionable. And somehow. Somehow these are past tense, aspirational, confessional. It’s in the words themselves and in the way he nearly smiles, and lifts a hand to shield himself. A surge of something; anger, perhaps. Javier don’t you dare arrange your face with me: bitterness creeps, teetering towards a scolding. He shifts. The light catches the diamonds in his eyes and you pause, because there is so much depth to him. you could drown. you might. you might submerge yourself in the essence of his being and never resurface. it’s a half-aware realization, one that should alert you that you are not wholly conscious, not awake, not yourself. but why do i feel so alive the rest of you (your heart, your body, the hands that struggle to stay steady, now) say back, and you slip into the abyss.

“I think of you, too,” you admit, using your free hand to run through your hair. It’s a habit you picked up as a child. It drives your mother crazy. It drives Javi crazy, too, but only because the way your fingers pace through the silken strands is downright distracting.

“Yeah?” He leans forward, elbows resting on his knees. “That’s good to hear, cariña.” You can see his Adam’s apple bob when he swallows, and you eyes follow down, spanning across his exposed collarbone, to the space where he’s undone a third button. “I wouldn’t want you to get bored of an old guy like me.” If he’s noticed your distraction, he doesn’t say anything. Just cants his head to the right, a slight movement that casts shadows across cheekbones. It suits him: Javier is a man built of solid things upon which shadows press their weight.

“Christ, Javi. You’re not old.” A throw pillow makes contact with the small camera and your tablet jerks at the contact, pushing against the stack of books holding it steady.

Javier laughs, a low sound that once again serves a reminder of his latent joy. “What the hell?”

And you explain that if he was there in person, you would throw a pillow at him. So you did it anyway, at him through the camera, but you didn’t think it had the same effect. He shakes his head and returns to his paperwork, and you imagine he rolled his eyes in exaggerated exasperation.

Easiness settles between you. He is working, and you are color-coding your planner (green for set days, red for studio days, pink for photo shoots, green for meetings). Soft music echoes in his apartment and pads into your ears through the headphones. Thick fingers keep time with gentle salsa beat, strumming onto the wood. The movement catches your eye when you reach for a new pen.Typical Javi.

If he were there, Javi would probably poke fun at your system, you think, frowning at smudged ink. He feels far away; you wish he were here, on the other side of your bed, messing with your colors and watching the way you work. One hand would be on your waist and your shoebox apartment would smell like your favorite candle and the peat of his whiskey. Fuck, you miss him.

You’re underlining another client’s name — next week, Thursday, 2pm — when you realize that the man on the screen in front of you doesn’t understand the concept of a list. How he’s as successful as he is, you haven’t the faintest clue. Come to think of it, you don’t really know how successful he is, or what is it he…does, exactly?

“Javi?” the green pen twirls in your hand.

“Qué?” It’s absentminded, cursory, perfunctory, mass of dark curls still visible to camera as he cradles himself into charts that bend under his gaze.

“What do you do?”

“I’m…I’m a DEA agent.” Javier lifts his gaze and graces you with a fond smirk, features scrunching together. “Why? What do your other boyfriends do? Can’t keep them all straight?” He slams a palm on the table, trying and failing — miserably — to mask a grin. “Shit, baby, don’t tell me you’re fucking Murphy too?”

“That’s not funny, Javi.” But your lips press together to hide a smile. He notices and does that infuriating thing with his mouth, and you nearly trip over your next words. “I’m serious. What do you do when you go to work?”

“I, uh. Do what everyone else does, I suppose.” He runs a massive hand over his face, lines appearing in the cracks. Considering. “Write reports. Read reports. Talk to people I don’t like. Get yelled at by my boss.”

“And weapons practice?”

The exhale comes slow and steady. “Yeah,” Javi nods. The movement casts his face in and out of shadows, and he suddenly seems as old as he claims to be. It seems to drag him down, pulling him and that mind of his deeper with each passing moment: occurrences of time, hazards of being, that he struggles against in dual instances. “Yeah, weapons practice.”

Like everything else he does, he breathes into the pause. You’ve heard one needs to exhale when one shoots guns — or is it inhale? you can’t remember. Maybe that is why he is so soft when he speaks. Soft, and oppressive, that voice digging into every part of you until it’s just him and his words, and the sight of his unbuttoned dress shirt, and those hands on the table—

“You’re talkative tonight,” he says a few minutes later. He’s staring at you, watching you, analyzing you even through artifices and cables and technological constructs. Which means he’s seen the way you’ve flipped through your agenda, fingers catching on pages and lists, but never on him.

You raise a shoulder. It’s enough for him. He never talks much. Not with words, anyway. Do you still speak even when it’s not with words, not with your mouth, though? Or is it something else — a different way of thinking, one darted with touch, and presses of colors at the seams, and jolting esoteric remembrances?

You adjust an earphone, sighing. If only he were here, maybe he’d knock aside your work, and pull you into his lap and murmur in your ear about how he’s wanted to take you all day—

“Why do you have your headphones in, cariña?” His voice is impossibly lower now, and he’s moved closer the camera. As if that will help him see you better through plastic and metal and blocks of apartment buildings. He shakes his head at your answer. Disappointment seeps from every feature, from the downturn of his mouth to the hand now on his knee. “Your roommate isn’t home. What is it?” Brown eyes narrow, burrowing into you with a single-minded intensity. “Tell me.”

And you almost gasp at the edge in his voice, fine-tipped and well-practiced. Heat surges in deep in your core, so achingly familiar when he enters your space and pushes himself into your orbit (like when he took your arm, or whispered to you in the elevator, or crept his hand along your leg at dinner: it is the watchword of your story, yours and his).

He nods again and mutters something about how you want him to fill you up — fill your head with his voice, he means, of course. You know he’s done it on purpose, dropping down to nearly a whisper so you have to focus on each word he’s saying. The words coat you, sticky sweet and yet you can’t help but let out a frost-bitten exhale, sharp and urgent.

Javier smiles. He’s got you now, and he fucking knows. “You said you think of me, hermosa. What do you think of when you miss me?” The right index finger comes to his mouth in thought.

“Javi…” the plea is halfhearted, your mouth barely parting. It’s refusing to take part in your token protest.

“I know what I think of,” he announces, voice rich and full, jumping over your non-objection. “I think of how soft you are beneath me.” His pink tongue flickers over the knuckle and need courses through you in scalding waves. “And how you sound. Fuck, I love how you sound when I take you, when you ask me for it.”

“Who’s needy now?” you tease, but you’re far too breathless for the barb to be effective. “Keeping saying how i’m so chatty; you’re the one who won’t shut up now, Javi.”

He’s still cataloging every move: the shift of your hips, trying to alleviate your gathering wetness, the rapid rise and fall of your chest, teeth closing down around your lower lip to sink into the tender flesh.

“You’re right, cariña,” he admits eventually, one hand reaching forward. “I absolutely need you,” he adds, tilting the camera to reveal the strain in his jeans. But the phone is quickly replaced to its perch, away from him, and the evidence of his desire. “C’mon baby, don’t be shy.” Javier pauses briefly and verbally offers you an out if you want one.

But you don’t want an out, not when his words push you just over the edge, not when he raises his eyebrow, eyes darkening with faintest hint of a challenge, not when he’s telling you how pretty you are for him —

Your fingers make their way into your cotton sleep shorts seemingly of own volition, experimentally rubbing your clit. The touch, however slight, makes you keen. Gasping, the other hand grips your sheets.

Javier catches the sound, the clench of your fingers twisting into grey linen. He inhales through the nose, sudden and tense.

“Fucking hell,” he seethes when you place your now-slick finger in your mouth. You moan shamelessly, making a show of sucking on one before adding another and relishing the sensation. You open your eyes and take in the sight of him: jaw slack, one hand still touching himself as he watches your tongue slide up and down your digits.

“Bet you wish that was my cock, huh?” he says low and dark, the sound vibrating through your headphones. It makes you shiver, a fresh wave of arousal pooling between your thighs. “Don’t you, pretty girl?”

You withdraw your fingers. Somehow you are nodding fervently, and although you don’t remember thinking it, you know it is something you want. “Yes, Javier.”

“That’s right, baby,” he coos, and you nod again in agreement, chasing the high of his praise. “You look so pretty when you take me in your mouth.” Javi leans edges forward and speaks again. “Show me, princesa,” he commands.“Show me how you touch yourself when you miss me.”

Maybe it is the way his words coil in on themselves. Maybe it is the way his voice cascades from your ears to your toes, diffusing throughout your limbs in white-hot heat that almost tickles in its intensity. Maybe it is the way you feel the dampness leak through your layers.

Maybe it is all of these things, and maybe it is none of them. But you feel empowered, outside of yourself, as you brazenly run your hands over your body. You think he swears softly when your pinch your nipples, visible and hard through the cheap tank top, and you fight back a grin. No, you’re not the only one who’s…needy tonight.

You are about to slip beneath your shorts when he speaks again. “It seems you misunderstood, princesa.” Javier sounds dangerous, like honeyed gravel, the roughness brooking no room for argument. “I told you to show me. And I can’t see your pretty little cunt with your shorts still on, can I?”

Swallowing a moan, you lift up your hips and slide the soft grey cotton out from under you, leaving only a pair of old underwear. But he’s too intent on your fingers to notice, his gaze burning as you push aside the thin fabric at the apex of your thighs and run a finger up your slit. It’s a hesitant and lazy motion that nevertheless elicits a gasp.

Javi smirks. “So wet for me already, “ he murmurs, heady in your ears, closer than close. “What do you think about, baby?” Harsh metal cuts through your haze and you realize he’s unzipping his jeans. “Tell me, cariña.”

“I think” you break off, swallowing an expletive when you brush your sensitive nub. “I think about your mouth me.”

He’s all words and heat and texture, mixing with the own sound of your breathing. “That’s right. Want to see my face between those beautiful thighs? Want me to fuck you with my tongue?”

“Oh god, Javi.” A broken moan wrests itself from you and you don’t recognize your own voice. “Please. Want you to - shit - want you to taste me.”

“Look at me” he orders, and when you drag your gaze to the screen he’s pointing the camera down towards himself again, now fisting around his length. “See what you do to me, baby?” He thrusts into his hand. “Make a me fucking mess, sweetheart, being so good for me.”

“So good, Javier” you whimper, fingers circling on your clit, arching into the touch. “Fuck.”

You can hear him now, labored breathing mixing with his filthy encouragements that tumble from his velvet mouth. do you like playing with yourself for me, like thinking about how I fuck you, pretty girl?
“Go ahead baby,” he urges, voice taut when he sees you clench around nothing again and again, desperate. “I know what you want to do.”

The sigh of relief that comes when you finally push inside yourself will haunt him until the day he dies. He is transfixed, watching you pump in and of yourself as he grips his own length. “Fuck, you are such a good girl, aren’t you?”

Your whimper is the only answer he requires, and he forges ahead, shamelessly keeping pace with your fingers. “Been thinking about you all day. Dreaming of how you would look bent over my desk, wearing on those little sundresses,” he grunts. “Being so quiet while I take you in my office. Could you do that, hermosa?” he asks, breath ragged. “Could you be quiet if I fucked you in my office?”

Someone is talking - you think it might be you - a broken voice wantonly begging for more.

it’s not enough, is it, you hear that coffee-stained voice in your ears again and it’s all you can do to not cum right then and there. “No Javi, no one fucks me like you do, no one fills me up the way you do.”

always so fucking tight fuck baby just like that don’t stop don’t stop it doesn’t matter whose words are whose when you’re both crashing over the edge together, a symphony of mangled curses and hampered breaths and whispered names and scrambling endearments.

He’s quiet. The camera jerks as you’re transported from the couch to his bedroom, as he changes out of his work clothes, as he slips in-between clean sheets.

And then Javi smiles around a yawn and a stretch, the lean muscles of his arms obvious in even in the dim light. “Stay on the phone with me tonight?” He sounds bright, even in his drowsiness. Content. Close. And warm, so warm, like sunlight when you step out of a frigid office building.

“You know I will,” you say, burrowing into the pillows. He likes to do this, sometimes, when he’s scared to admit how much he needs you. You let him; you will let him need you always.

“True,” he murmurs, breathing heavy and eyes slipping closed, “you’re always my best girl, querida.”