This story takes place during the course of Threshold of the Year and is a Control the Smutwriter story, picked by V for Promptapalooza, 2016. If you’d like to play our reindeer game, go ahead and join the list.

V wanted to see Nick and Bernie negotiate people. Or possibly Jase. Enjoy!

Bernie was waiting, expectantly, in their room. He gave Nick a look as he dried his hair.


“So. Jase.”

Nick’s eyes narrowed. “Jase, yeah. All hard muscles and undisclosed need. Good guy, though.”

“Is that all?”

“Is what all?”

There was no point in talking, so Bernie didn’t say a word. He stared at Nick and waited, not letting his eyes leave Nick’s.

Of course Nick broke first, looking away, draping the towel over a chair. A sure sign he was invested in the conversation; if he was trying to provoke, he would have thrown it.

“I shouldn’t have argued with you in front of him.”

Or Hugh, who matters more to you. “I don’t mind.”

“I know you don’t mind, Bern, but not everything’s about you!” Still naked, Nick sank down on the bed. When he ran hands through his hair little drops hit his shoulders, slid down his chest, still red from the mop flogger.

“So.” Bernie made his voice dry. “Jase.”

Nick growled wordlessly at him. “I’m not asking, so can it.”

“Why aren’t you asking?”

“Because. I barely know him. You barely know him. Plus, you’ll let me fuck him without it, so what’s the point?”

Bernie sighed, moving closer, gesturing until Nick turned so he could get his hands on Nick’s shoulders. “What does it matter how well we know him? If he intrigues you, that’s enough.”

“He doesn’t—it’s not—” Nick’s head lowered. “I know the way his eyes take in a room, looking at everyone, knowing he’s not a part of it. That was me for years. All the years before we met, and all the years we were too stupid to be together.”

So ask me for permission, you fool. But Nick wasn’t a fool, not really. There was some line here for him that Bernie wanted to understand. He dug in a little harder with his thumbs, surprising a groan out of Nick.

“Oh god, you’re fucking evil. That feels so good.”

It was a blessing that Nick couldn’t see his expression, didn’t know how much it hurt that even after all this time his brain casually categorized feels good with evil.

“He’s proud, and arrogant. He doesn’t want anyone to know he’s in pain. Nicky, do the man a service and talk to him.”

Nick’s shoulders stiffened. “What’re you saying?”

“I’m saying ask the fucking question.”

“I don’t want to. Everyone else is family, people I can’t hide from even if I try.”

“You won’t ask me for permission to speak freely with Jase because…if you want to, you can deceive him? How in your twisted brain does that make any sense?”

“It’s not about deceiving him, it’s about—” He broke off. “I think it’ll freak him out. Okay? He’s arrogant, and proud, and if he knew I get you coffee in the morning because it’s how I serve you, I think he’d freak out. If he knew we had to have this conversation, he’d freak out.”

Oh. Bernie shifted to the side and pushed Nick down, kneeling over him, fully clothed, sitting over his tenderized nipples. Letting denim drag. “Are you ashamed?”

Nick’s eyes, blue and clear and unyielding. “You know I’m not.”

“You won’t share yourself with him because you don’t want to make him uncomfortable? Public-spirited of you, Nicky.”

“Maybe I don’t want to see the thing where someone thinks I’m a battered woman.”

“Really.” Bernie pressed his fingers to Nick’s lips and they parted, Nick sucking lightly. “You will tell him about us. Today. If you’d like to have an actual conversation with him, you’ll need to ask for permission to speak freely. But you will tell him that I make all the decisions, Nick. You will tell him that if I didn’t allow it, you wouldn’t speak to him at all.”

Teeth, still gentle enough, closed around his fingers. A protest. Nick’s brows drew down, but he wouldn’t say anything until Bernie released him.

Bernie leaned down to kiss Nick’s forehead, lower still to whisper in his ear. “Think of how much easier it would be to fuck him if you could speak. Not that I object to being your voice, but he might find it even stranger than you making my coffee.”

This time the bite was more pointed and Bernie slapped Nick’s face without removing his fingers.

“Naughty. Stop resisting the thing you want.” He reached back to give the cage a few hard knocks, making Nick’s body jolt. “You won’t come until you fuck him. Is that what you want?”

He could feel Nick’s sigh—grateful, relieved—underneath him, could feel the exhaled breath on his hand where he still fucked Nick’s mouth.

“You are so good.” He stroked through Nick’s hair until his eyelashes fluttered. “My beautiful boy. I don’t keep you quiet because I want you isolated. I do it because when I don’t, you give yourself away to everyone. This is different. I’m here, and I won’t let you give too much of yourself to Jase, Nicky.”

Nick sighed again, and this time Bernie slid his fingers free. “I can feel myself doing it. The part of me that wants to reach out, show him things, help him, try to…shore up the parts of himself that are crumbling.” He blinked up, still struggling for another long moment. Finally, he said the words. “May I have permission to speak freely to Jase?”

Deep in Bernie’s mind, where light did not penetrate, he imagined saying No. That Nick believed him, that a man who expected everyone to betray him actually took on faith that he would keep his word was a rare gift. But, like all gifts, it could be misused.

Bernie banished the cruelty with a mental shake. It was the kind of thing he would have done when he was younger, before he understood the nuances of sadism, before he realized there was more power in restraint than there ever could be in action.


“Jesus. I can’t believe you just hesitated, you jerk. I almost lost my shit.”

Even in this, I serve you, love. “I need to work on some invoices today. Talk to him before dinner, Nicky.”

“Yeah, okay. So I should—make it explicit, right?”

“Let’s not repeat the Will’s-uninvited-guests problem. Make it clear to him what it means.”

He expected a defense, or a return-jibe. But Nick only nodded.

“Got it.” His hands moved up Bernie’s arms. “Shouldn’t you mark me as your own or something? You know, before you send me out to talk to smokin’ hotties like Jase.”

“You want me to piss on you, Nicky, so he smells that you’re mine?”

“Ha. Not unless we can get Leo down here again to make horribly uncomfortable.”

Bernie grinned down at him. “Ah, memories.”

Fingers tightened on his biceps. “Really, though. I’ll talk to him, explicitly, but I want to feel you on my skin when I do.”

“I think I can do you one better. You remember that dildo I showed you? The blue one?”

Nick shuddered. “I still maintain there’s no way the dude on the video took all that without muscle relaxers at the very least.”

“Oh, I’m more of the ‘find the correct incentive’ school.” Bernie held his gaze. And waited.

“You. Did. Not.”


“Oh my god.” Nick’s body went tight. Such a pleasing ride when Bernie was on top of him. Fear, excitement, dread. “Jesus Christ, Bern. If you fuck me with that thing I won’t be able to move for the rest of that day.”

“I guess we’ll find out.”

Another shudder. “I loathe you.”

Bernie leaned down to claim a kiss. “Oh, I know.”

“Maybe I’ll just pretend it’s Jase’s dick.” Eyes glittering with mischief, Nick smiled. “What do you want to bet he has a monster cock?”

“I predict we will find out. Bear in mind, Nicky, if you continue to provoke me I might have to keep you stretched so wide you hardly feel him.”

“I’m not afraid of your threats, Bern.”

Except he was, just a little. Just enough.

Bernie only smiled.

New Year’s at the beach house had yet to disappoint.