David gets Senna tucked into her bed safe and sound, like the innocent little girl she isn't. She doesn't do much more than strip down and caress David's cheekbone coyly, which is pretty low-key for Senna, coked or not. He nods at April on the way out. She's still muzzy from sleep, a mess of red hair atop a white t-shirt and a dark smudge between her legs that may or may not have been underwear. She probably didn't even know Senna was gone. Despite what she does for her, April has never been Senna's keeper.

It's only a flight of stairs to his own shitty apartment. David leans against the door for a minute and starts wondering when Senna's shit began to bother him so much. When Loki began to affect him so much. He's been half-hard ever since the diner and he can't think of too many things that would piss him off more. It means he's lost just enough control to not have any at all, and that's just enough to push him into a uselessly self-destructive mood. David is the only fucking thing that David can count on. If he can't count on himself, well, nothing here is going to save him.

David takes a deep breath. Wills himself to calm down even as he knows that it won't help.


He makes himself breathe out one more time before doing anything, then palms himself through his jeans, deliberately not imagining anyone as he does it – not Senna, not Loki, not April. Not even a nameless, faceless body. He punishes himself with the rasp of wet denim across the head of his cock – three or four short, vicious strokes just this side of rough. It feels good, almost good enough. Not really what he wants and he knows that too.

Talk about things that piss him off.

He can't remember the last time he had to masturbate because he was so hard it hurt –

except he lies, he can: last month, Loki's sharp smile and warm hand where it probably technically generally shouldn't have been, warm words with just the right sharp edge of meaning and David couldn't stop thinking about it for a week

because it doesn't happen very much anymore. He doesn't need to "take the edge off" like when he first started. He's past that horrifying adolescent stage where everything turned him on and he's moving onto the stage where he has to work for it sometimes. It's all right. Makes him feel less like a slut, more like its actual work. He appreciates it. It's the one thing he could say he envied the girls, if he were being truthful. They get to lie about it. They grow up expecting to fake their orgasms, to tell lies about them, to maybe never have any at all. No one can really tell they're turned on, no one can really tell they're not if they learn how to fake it well enough. If they aren't really interested in paying attention.

David's never had that luxury. He either lives terrifyingly in the moment, or he focuses so hard on splitting his mind in two, on keeping this from that, that he can't reconcile the two when he wants. And he knows, he knows Loki would want both. Would demand both. The thought sends another jolt through him, and David squeezes himself again, a hiss of air escaping through his teeth. Punishment or pleasure? Which was he looking for? Which does he want?

This doesn't happen to him, this wishy-washy passive aggressiveness. This isn't him. David's always been prone to extremes. He either knows or he doesn't. He likes it or he doesn't. He'll do it or he won't. He isn't one for regrets or deliberation, and maybe that's what confuses him most about Loki. Whenever David tries to make a decision one way or another he can't commit himself to it. There's nothing about Loki he can count on.

Except, of course, the part where he gets frustratingly hard every damn time.

Payday in Everworld.

That's the name for the neighborhood. Loki's neighborhood; it stretches from Valhalla Drive to Greco South. They call it Everworld because it tends to suck people in. The customers, the junkies, the dealers, the whores – all lifers. Stuck here for better or worse, forever and ever. Sure, people drift their way in, and some manage to claw their way out, but that's definitely the exception to the rule.

"Everworld," David remembers Athena whispering to him. "A place that shouldn't exist, but does anyway, babycakes."

Athena's one of the few that got out. Alive, at that. Loki probably had a hand in it. They had some tie between them that David could never quite figure out. Nothing sexual, nothing familial, but something beyond business. Friends, maybe, if you could use that word down here and expect it to mean something.

Anyway. Payday. Payday for Loki that is. Every second and fourth Tuesday, all the hookers and some of the dealers bring down a portion of their earnings. No one's ever stupid enough to stiff Loki. At least not anyone that sticks around for very long. Fenrir makes sure that everyone hands over just the right amount. He knows who's really been sick and who's coming down off a bad dose, who got beat bad enough to stay off work and who's just being goddamn lazy. Etain tries that sometimes. David doesn't consider that an excuse anymore than Fenrir and Loki do. Tricking is a job like any other when you come down to it. No fucking excuses. Etain's a lazy bitch, one who thinks she's a lot prettier than she is, but that's not really the point.

The point. Christ. Like he fucking has a point. Do your work, hand in your money, take a day off and do it all the fuck over again. Simple. David's breath doesn't start to shorten when he walks up the stairs to Loki's office. His face doesn't flush, his heart doesn't beat any faster. He doesn't expect a goddamn thing. He doesn't, because he never knows what to expect.

He nods at Fenrir and opens the door.

Loki always looks more at home in his office than David thinks he should. Loki, in both look and deed, has always reminded him more of a rogue, a pirate, a criminal. His office is a study in understated elegance. A throwback to the real gentleman's clubs, when only gentleman went into them. You can see it in the furniture – lots of wood and leather. Everything earthy and solid, plain and sturdy, but high-quality. Beautiful. Nothing bright, nothing feminine. It fits Loki better than anyone – except maybe Loki – might have guessed.

When Loki looks up at David, there's a hunger in his eyes that's almost entirely animal, and an intelligence that's anything but. It has to be Loki's fault, all these contradictions.

David drops his money on the desk and starts to walk away. He's not in the mood for barbs or innuendoes, or, worse, Loki's devastatingly honest questions about how he is.

In retrospect, it was perhaps a bad idea not to say anything. Like a challenge, maybe. Or giving in. Something David should have known better than to dangle in front of Loki's face. And it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion, the way Loki's hand stretches past his head to press down on the door and clamp it closed. David's eyes slide closed.

Loki presses up against David's back, one hand on the doorjamb, the other around David's waist. Never dipping too low. Not really. there. Not really anywhere it shouldn't be. It shouldn't feel quite so much like an invasion. Not until Loki moves again, pushing David up against the wall, sliding in so every inch of his body is flush to David's.

It's all Loki can do to breathe on the back of his neck instead of bite it. David must know that.

And still, not an inch of David's body betrays him. His heart doesn't beat any faster. His breath doesn't catch. Loki envies that kind of control. He wants to rip it apart with both hands. With his teeth.

"Little General." The nickname is mocking. The tone is honeyed. Loki pushes deep, even breaths along the back of his neck. "How long have I waited?"

"A long time," David says, and Loki is only half-sure he heard a small waver. "Probably going to be even longer."

A low, genuine chuckle bubbles up out of his throat. He wants to throw his head back and feel it down to his toes. "Ah, David. I would enjoy you. And you would enjoy yourself. I'd make sure of it." He lets go off David with luxuriant slowness. With a promise of all kinds of heat.

David shuts the door carefully, slow enough to hear the lock click into place as his hand slides off of the doorknob.

Then he collapses against the door.

His pulse starts to hammer. His knees are weak and he's breathing hard through his nose, like he's just run a marathon. There's something in him like a dam breaking. His left hand is clenching and unclenching, the other pressed like a knot to his lower stomach. His blood is – his blood is pounding, and Fenrir is all ready half out of his chair, his normally stoic face twisted, contorted with something that David finally realizes is concern, and it still takes David a half-moment to pull himself up.

His voice is raspier than he expected. Shakier than he would have liked. "Does he have anything important to do tonight?" Or tomorrow, he thinks about asking. Christ.

Fenrir shakes his head slowly.


David reaches for the doorknob. He knows. He knows this is probably a big fat fucking mistake, and that here, even little mistakes can get you killed.

That said… yeah. David's gonna do this.

He swings the door open with a nonchalance he doesn't feel and closes it with a steadiness he doesn't think will hold up for very long. Not if anything he knows about Loki holds true.

Loki is all ready sitting back at the desk, and when he lifts his gaze his face betrays nothing, like he wasn't just wrapped around David in that very doorway a minute and a half ago.

David can feel his palms sweating. "I thought maybe I'd stay for awhile." He isn't one for excuses or lies. Loki would see through them anyway.

At least… finally, a decision. The look in Loki's eyes isn't something he'll be able to forget anytime soon.

"As long as you like."

David has the almost disconcerting feeling Loki means it.