This is all M.M. Florin’s fault…
This is what happens when Hugh gets a label maker. And his men steal it for nefarious purposes. Despite that build-up, it’s totally safe for work; all the sexy bits I leave to your imagination.
(As I’ve just scribbled this on a whim, I’m likely missing the typos I’ll see the next time I read it down the line. Feel free to point them out if you like.)
Wedding planning and more wedding planning.
Will sighed and stretched his back, gathering up the notebooks, folders, and brochures he’d been gathering in order to dump them on the coffee table.
Saturday mornings used to be about coffee and sex. Why do I feel like I’ve just done four hours of homework?
He felt around for his coffee—at least he could do one of those things—but it had long gone cold.
Heaving a melodramatic sigh, he managed to stand, causing only a minor avalanche of papers.
He should pick those up. Mister “everything in its proper place” would definitely demand it. Except Hugh was upstairs in the office doing—actually, Will had no idea. Except it involved even more paper, so he’d averted his eyes and ignored the whole thing.
Truman, though, was in the kitchen. He looked up when Will entered and smiled.
“I’m so glad you’re here. Are you taking a legally mandated break?”
“Oh my god, that’s so how it feels.” Will refilled his coffee and sank into the chair across from Truman’s. “You just sitting here? You want some work to do?”
“I’m plotting.” The smile turned mischievous. “Are you aware Hugh recently bought a label maker?”
Will almost choked on his coffee. “You’re kidding me.”
“Seems like the kind of thing he’d have already. Though I don’t know what he’d label.”
“He bought it because of all the paperwork necessary to put his estate in order.”
“So basically John told him he couldn’t add you to everything until he did a research paper and passed a test? That’s adorable. I love that he’s up there doing it right now, not just going to John and saying, ‘Do it.’”
“I know. The other thing John said was that ignoring his estate all these years hasn’t made it any easier to cope with the loss of his grandparents and a man in a field such as Hugh’s should have realized that by now.”
“Oh damn.” Will swallowed reflexive discomfort on Hugh’s behalf. “That’s awkward.”
“It was, in John’s way, very loving, I think. But awkward as well, yes.” Truman leaned in a little. “But here’s what I was thinking, about the label maker.”
“What, like you have a plan?”
“Will, Will. I have so many plans. Will you help me?”
“I’m only here for like another twenty-four hours.”
Truman reached across the table for his hand. “That’s all it will take to drive Hugh to distraction. Now listen.”
* * *
The office was stifling.
Clearly he ought to have opened the window. Hugh sighed and stood up. Nature called. He carefully stepped among his piles and slid the window open before retreating to the bathroom.
Everything seemed perfectly normal when he returned. He’d started by sitting at the desk, but soon his piles overtook the surface and he realized he’d need floor space. Years of financial statements and investment information, growth, loss, risk…his eyes blurred and he forced himself to focus. He had planned to start with the house and work out from there, but it was all thrown in together by his highly scientific “if it’s not a tax form, throw it in a file box and try never to think of it again” filing system.
How many years did John say he needed to keep? Seven. Yes. Which meant that everything 2006 and earlier could be put in the “to shred” pile.
Which had already taken up most of the doorway.
“I am going to wall myself in like the Collyer brothers,” he mumbled, turning to swipe a vague path and wondering at what point it would be wiser to simply burn it all and tell the government there was an unfortunate accident should it ever require those documents.
John, however, would not be taken in by that story.
And so he continued, recognizing his own fruitless resistance. He should have begun by purging all the old years. That was it. A simple check of dates. Keeping his gaze away from amounts or his name, his name emblazoned on every damn paper: Hugh Reynolds, as if he was worthy of all this, as if he’d done any damn thing to earn it.
Yes. He knew his attitude toward the grandparents’ money wasn’t healthy. He’d never pretended that it was. But acknowledging wasn’t the same as altering, and dammit, wasn’t it his defense mechanism to do with as he pleased?
Oh god. Another form he had no idea what to do with. This one was old—older than the rest—and bore Grandfather’s name. A certificate of **. That seemed…important.
He needed a folder for miscellaneous things John could sort out for him. He picked up a fresh new folder and reached for the label maker.
The label maker. Which had been on the chair, for safe keeping.
The label maker. Which was no longer on the chair.
He peered around, unsettled, wondering if he’d misplaced it. But no. He always put it back right there.
It had been there when he’d gone to the bathroom. It was not there now.
Ergo. It had been taken.
Hugh smiled a little to himself and reached for a pencil. He could make a label later. Though when he found the label maker again, making a “miscellaneous” label would likely be the last thing on his mind.
Newly reinvigorated by the promise of later, he went back to work.
* * *
Playing with Will was always fun. Truman tried—as he had before—to imagine a life with Hugh that did not include Will. Impossible. The idea of subtracting either of them was impossible. He had realized long ago that each of them felt the same, despite having actually had a relationship that predated him.
Such a weird, unexpected turn.
“Oh my god, we’re wasting this in the kitchen! We should be in the guest room, Truman!”
Truman met Will’s excitement with a small, confiding smile. “I want to change things up a little in the guest room. And then I have an idea about dinner.”
Will caught on quickly. They labeled their favorite items in the armoire not with descriptions but with body parts. “Ass” on a paddle. “Back” on a single tail whip. Will grabbed his favorite flogger and labeled it “everywhere”, but that wasn’t quite what Truman wanted. He took a deep breath and printed out another label for it: “on Truman”. He passed it to Will, who looked up, eyes wide.
“Please. If you don’t mind.”
“Uh, no. Like oh my god, no. Truman. I definitely do not mind. Because like…ugh. That is so hot. I’m kind of getting hard right now.” Will adjusted himself, in emphasis.
Silly to blush, but Truman did. “I’m looking forward to it as well. Now, for the other part of the plan.”
“I’m so game.”
They returned to the kitchen and began a planned, precise system of mis-labeling.
The edge of the cutting board got “paddle”. The serving bowl they knew would be used for potatoes got “blindfold”. The handle of the knife that would inevitably be used for the meat got “feather duster”.
Hugh’s plate, already set out, got “flogger”. Truman flushed again, remembering the label on the flogger. Thinking about what he was hoping would happen later. He’d never understood how tangible anticipation could be until he’d experienced it like this, as a game, as sex. The label was a physical manifestation of his eagerness, his arousal, and the little spike of fear that he always felt when it came to sensation play.
Hugh’s footsteps, finally, on the stairs.
“His timing is un-fucking-canny.” Will tucked the label maker away in a corner of the counter. “I’ll check the roast.”
They made themselves busy, and by unspoken pact ignored Hugh’s entrance. He—careful as always—walked into the room slowly, pausing every few steps.
“How strange that I somehow left the label maker down here when I specifically remember placing it on my chair in the office.”
“Dude, labels are powerful, right? They must have like powered the label maker all the way to the kitchen.”
Hugh tugged on the back of Will’s hair. “You’re getting damn good at those stairs. I didn’t hear you.”
Truman continued his ignoring for a long moment, aware of the prickle along the ridge of his shoulders that meant his fiance’s considerable attention had turned to him.
“Really?” Hugh breathed.
Truman neither rolled his eyes nor blushed in pleasure. He made his voice very even. “We’re almost ready, if you want to sit.”
It might have been his imagination, but he thought both he and Will went still and angled for a view of Hugh sitting at his usual seat.
The seat with that label.
“It seems a mistake has been made here,” he said, after a beat of non-reaction. “This is most certainly not a flogger.”
“It’s a clue, genius.” Will nudged Truman. “I forget he’s so dense, you know?”
“I certainly hope this is a clue about what I get to do to you later, Will.”
Will giggled. “Ha. Maybe. But first you gotta do what it says on the flogger.”
Hard to miss the way Hugh looked between them. Truman turned away so the truth would not be quite so obvious.
The chair scraped.
“I’ll be back.”
Hugh’s departure made Will sag. “My fucking god, he’s so intense. I miss that so much when I’m somewhere else, you know? Like no one does that the way he does. Just like—takes over the whole room without even saying anything.”
Privately, Truman agreed. But he had other things on his mind. “Help me with the potatoes, please.”
Will nodded and took over, shoveling them into their bowl, placing it on the table. Leaving Truman standing over the stove. He mechanically double-checked the burners were off, and the oven.
They heard Hugh walking through the sitting room and Truman went very still.
Hugh. Hugh’s steps. Hugh’s body, suddenly pressed against his back.
“Yes?” His voice was a purr. His arms wrapped around Truman’s body in a move calculated perfectly to make him feel exposed.
Anticipation like spun sugar, delicate, close to breaking, or melting, or in any case disappearing with the very real hardness of Hugh behind him.
Hugh kissed his neck. “I will do anything for you. Or everything. But later.”
No resistance when Hugh turned him. Truman arched into the kiss like it was life-giving, and maybe it was. A kiss that promised a future he had never known to hope for.
“So unless one of you wants to blow me before dinner, we should get this show on the road. I’m fucking horny.”
Hugh, never breaking eye contact, said, “Will, remember what I said about rich meals?”
Will groaned. “Oh god. Stop it.” The clatter of utensils and dishes made it clear that Will had started without them.
“You, Mr Jennings, stole my label maker.”
Truman smiled, knowing it wasn’t quite as seductive as he wanted it to be. “I suppose you’ll have to punish me for it later.”
“Oh no. No. Reward you for it, I think.” Hugh kissed him, this time not deeply, with no strain of possession. “Handsomely. We’re getting married, you know.”
“If you need a reminder, feel free to help me in the office.”
“That has nothing to do with us getting married. Don’t make your issues with John about me, Hugh.”
“Nothing to do with John, either.” Hugh led him to the table, pulled his chair out for him. A silly, chivalrous, ultimately unconscious move that Truman still found helplessly attractive. “No, I figured it out. The office is the past. Everything in it is the past. This is just—me sorting out the past to make room for the future.”
Will laughed. “Knew you were a genius.”
“Indeed. What am I using on you later, if I’m using the flogger on Truman?”
“Oh, there are a few more clues around. You’ll find them.”
“Excellent.” Hugh leaned over for one more kiss before serving both of them food. “I think I might love that label maker. Such a simple thing, but it brings so much clarity to my life.” He paused, serving spoon over the potatoes, and tilted the bowl just so. “Blindfold? Hm.”
This time Will blushed, and Truman smiled, and Hugh assumed an expression of neutral contemplation that both of them knew could not be trusted.
Truman relaxed. Unconventional, maybe. Unexpected, certainly. But the shape of his family was so right, fit so well, that he couldn’t really question it.
“I made no progress today at all,” Hugh said. “In fact, I believe I’ve now made everything worse.”
“Me too! I started with organized stacks and now it’s all just a huge mountain on the coffee table!”
Truman listened to his men and let anticipation—not just for the night, but for his life—bubble up like a hot spring inside him.