armartello: (Default)

No sex in this chapter, 'cept for some implied adult fun between Jazz and Savin... But Jazz gives Devin a run for his money, during their next Presidential Dinner...
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

It was not a conversation that was easy to have, Jazz found. The week came and went, another dinner done and another night spent in bed with Devin -- this time in Jazz’s, just like he suggested the week before. And during the ride back to Devin’s place, Jazz couldn’t bring himself to discuss the future of his relationship of sorts with Devin.

The relationship was a professional one, Jazz reminded himself. When he no longer needed Devin’s services, the relationship would end. Or at least, that’s how it should be -- even if Jazz wanted something more than that. And he knew -- he knew -- he shouldn’t bring up his budding feelings for Devin. That would change the nature of things between them, but…

He wanted to. He wanted to tell Devin that he thought Devin was more than just arm candy. That Devin was beautiful and smart and funny and that Jazz enjoyed his company far more than an employer should.

“Do you think I should tell him?” Jazz asked Savin later that afternoon. He cradled his phone between his shoulder and his ear, stirring noodles into a pot of boiling water. “I don’t want to make things awkward for him, you know?”

“Dunno if you should or not, mate,” Savin said, sighing quietly into the phone. “You see him again when, on Saturday?”

“Yeah, that’s the last night of Piere’s little dinners for a while,” Jazz answered, switching the phone to his other ear. “So I wouldn’t need his services again for a while after that -- but if I tell him how I feel and he doesn’t want to see me again after…”

“You told people he was your husband, didn’t you?” Savin asked, clearing his throat. Jazz could’ve sworn he heard an odd, little hurt, tone to Savin’s voice. “Couldn’t you just tell them that your husband had to go back to the Empire? It’s not like that’s not what happened this time, y’know.”

Jazz sighed. “I could, yeah.” He glanced at the instructions at the back of the package and chewed on his bottom lip for a moment. “Could always bring you instead -- I mean, all I’d have to say is that Devin and I were having problems and that you and I were just starting to see each other…”

“Dunno about that, either, mate,” Savin said, his tone wry. “Don’t wanna give them the wrong ideas about you, either, when we’re inevitably all over each other later, y’know? It’d just be easier to lie and say he had to go back home.”

“You’re probably right.” Jazz licked his lips and snapped the water off. As he wrapped his fingers around the handle, he continued: “Do you think he would just -- stop letting me see him, just because I had feelings for him? I mean, I think I should tell him either way -- I know he doesn’t take regulars because he doesn’t want clients to get attached to him, but…”

“I’m -- pretty sure you know I can’t give you the answer to that, love,” Savin murmured, sighing a little himself. “You think he likes you, don’t you?”

“I do, but -- that’s kinda his job, you know? To make me feel like he likes me? I mean, as a client I’d be more likely to sleep with him if I felt like there was something there and pay him more and all that, you know?” Jazz drew in a deep breath, fixing up the rest of his quick dinner and pouring it into his bowl, cradling his phone between his ear and shoulder once again.

“All I can say is to talk to him, mate,” Savin said, sounding exasperated. “You’re the one who always stresses communication -- might wanna get on with communicating with him, soon…”

Jazz nodded, forgetting for a moment that Savin couldn’t see him do so. With a quiet noise of agreement, he picked at his dinner and settled into his seat at the kitchen table. “I know, I know,” he said. Clearing his throat, Jazz shifted his phone from one ear to the other again and frowned. “Hey, when are you coming home again?”

“I should be coming home next week or so,” Savin said, his voice quiet on the other line of the phone. “‘Tousan said if I stay much longer he’s going to start charging me rent.”

Jazz snorted. “If he did, I would probably have to stop sleeping with Devin, at the very least,” he said with a quiet snicker. His mirth faded some as he picked at his noodles. “Are you okay?” he asked, catching his bottom lip between his teeth. “You sound tired.”

“I’m… I don’t know,” Savin said, and Jazz heard him fumble the phone. Once Savin seemed to have righted it again, he cleared his throat. “‘Kaasan seems to be doing well and I’m so ready to see you again, I just -- I’m gonna miss the Empire.”

“You don’t have to come back to Cliffton, love,” Jazz said, though the words weighed heavily on his chest. “You don’t have to sacrifice everything for me. I can come visit -- or you can come visit me…”

There was a soft, sad chuckle on the other end. “Weren’t you the one who said he didn’t think he could do long distance?”

“Pretty sure that was you,” Jazz said, trying to push his tone to teasing and knowing he didn’t quite hit the mark. He winced and ran his fingers through his hair, scratching the back of his head. “I mean, I’ve never really done long distance? But if you’re not happy down here, I don’t want to force you to stay here, you know?”

“Your assignment down there isn’t permanent,” Savin said, and Jazz could hear the shrug in his voice.

“But it could be,” Jazz pointed out, swirling his fork through the remaining noodles and broth. “And honestly, Savin, I really like it down here -- Cliffton’s a beautiful country, you know?”

“And there’s a Devin,” Savin said. His tone was dry -- and not at all teasing. Jazz opened his mouth to protest, but Savin cut him off, saying: “I know, I know, it’s just a crush and you just like him, but -- if you tell him how you feel and you find out he feels the same way, what are you going to want to do? Date him for real?”

“I might?” Jazz returned. He toyed with the collar of his shirt. “I mean, if you were okay with that, anyway…”

“I don’t know if I would be or not,” Savin admitted, his words even, but tight. “I know you’re poly and all, but -- it’s been a while since you’ve dated someone else, you know?”

Jazz sighed and put his hand to his face, raking his fingers through his hair as he swallowed his disappointment. “I’m so sorry,” he said, clearing his throat. “I’ve probably been making you uncomfortable this whole time --”

“I was fine when it was just about sex,” Savin said, hastily cutting Jazz off. “I’m just -- a little jealous, that’s all. He’s been all you fucking talk about for the past few weeks and it’s -- it’s almost like I don’t exist to you at all, anymore.”

“Oh, Savin, love -- I just don’t have anyone else to talk to him about him, here. Most of them think he’s you, you know?” Jazz rubbed his eyebrow and bit his lip. “I love you more than anything and I talk to him about you all the time, too. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you again and I don’t really want you to stay in the Empire unless you think you’ll be happier there, you know?” He paused, holding the phone close to his ear. “Would you prefer to do a video chat? It might be easier to talk about this if we can see each other…”

Savin gave a quiet chuckle. “No, if I see you I’m going to want to change the subject to something much sexier than my being jealous of Devin,” he said, and finally his words contained their normal warmth. “I miss you, too. The Empire’s not the same without you, Jazz… ‘Kaasan and ‘Tousan keep asking about you and how you’re doing and it just makes me miss you more.”

“I’m just glad that they don’t hate me for taking their only child so far away from them,” Jazz said, a teasing lilt to his voice. “Nina’s still doing better, I take it?”

“Looks like it, yeah,” Savin said, though Jazz could hear the nervousness creep back into his voice. “I’m still not confident she’s in the clear, but -- I’m not on her medical team, y’know? And she does seem to be doing a lot better, I just -- can’t shake this feeling…”

“Did you talk to Nina about it?” Jazz asked, leaning forward and folding his arms on top of the table. He pushed his bowl away from him and pouted a little in thought. “Maybe talking to her about it would help?”

Savin sighed. “Maybe…” There was a pause, then: “She did tell me she was happy I came up to help out my father, but that I really should go back to Cliffton and spend time with my adorable husband.”

“Well, your adorable husband does miss you very much, you know,” Jazz said, smiling a little as he looked up towards the ceiling. “Also -- did she actually call me adorable or are you embellishing, a little bit?”

“Hm, I’m not sure I remember exactly what she said…” Savin teased, snickering quietly into the phone. He continued a moment later, his mirth having obviously faded: “I think she’s trying to get me to go home before it gets bad.”

“Then don’t come back,” Jazz said, his tone utterly serious. He scratched the back of his neck and pushed himself out of his seat, taking his bowl with him and placing it gently in the sink. “If she’s trying to protect you, she’s not doing a very good job of it by sending you back here…”

“Are you sure you’ll be okay if I stay here a little longer?” Savin asked. “I want to see you and I want to be here in case my parents need me again.”

“I know,” Jazz said, smiling softly into the phone as he moved out of the kitchen and down the hall to the living room. He settled onto the couch, his legs bent and curled to the side of him on the couch, leaning one elbow on the arm of it. “You’ll get to see me again eventually, you know. I can always arrange a visit to the Empire -- I’m supposed to take a vacation here soon, anyway, you know?”

There was another pause, and then: “You wouldn’t rather spend your vacation getting to know Devin a little better?”

Jazz tensed at the question and frowned a little to himself. He bit his lip, weighing his next words. “I miss my husband a lot,” he said after a moment. “I love him dearly and he’s been gone for almost two months now and I can’t wait to see him again. Yes, I’d like to spend time with Devin, but -- he’s not my husband. Not my real one. And as much as I like him, he’s not you, Dr. Bates.”

“Mm, I love it when you call me Dr. Bates,” Savin hummed. His voice had deepened; grown rougher. “Would you really be able to fly out here and see me, if I stayed longer?”

“You know I would drop anything for you in a heartbeat, Savin,” Jazz said. He drew in a deep breath and relaxed against the couch. “I would just have to get permission from Lin and from Piere to leave -- but considering that my vacation is coming up and I’ve been sending Lin various weeks for approval already…”

“Miss me that much, huh?” Savin teased. “Hm, maybe we should switch to a video chat -- I really want to see your face all of a sudden…”

“I’m sure you want to see more than just my face, Dr. Bates,” Jazz quipped. He glanced around the living room and sighed when he realized his laptop wasn’t out here with him. “My computer’s probably in the bedroom -- want me to just stay in there once I find it?”

“Mm, yes. I want you to show me what you did with Devin, last night,” Savin said, his tone sultry. “You topped again last night, didn’t you?”

“Mmhm,” Jazz hummed. He pushed himself up from the couch and sauntered down the hallway to the bedroom, glancing in his office just to make sure he didn’t leave his laptop in there, instead. “I topped him and I tossed him around, a little… he likes it rough, you know?”

“Rougher than me?” Savin asked, his words a little breathless already.

Definitely rougher than you,” Jazz said with a quiet chuckle. His mood sobered a little, though, as he climbed onto his bed and pulled his computer into his lap and booted it on. “Are you sure you’re okay with me continuing to see him? It’s not like you to get jealous…”

“I know it’s not, but I think it’s partly because I’m not there and I can’t see you, y’know?” Savin said, his own tone sobering a little. “I think if you were coming home to me every night like you did when we were still in the Empire, that’d be different.”

“Well then, we need to get you back in Cliffton soon, Dr. Bates,” Jazz purred, typing in his password one handed. “Alright, I’m ready to chat when you are…”

His computer chirped, alerting him to Savin’s call. He answered it, still holding his phone to his ear and grinned at the sight of his husband. Green eyes smiled back at him, and Jazz found himself reaching towards the screen just as he hung up and tossed his phone to the side.

“I guess Nina’s been making sure you eat while you’re there,” he said with a quiet snicker. “Looks like you’ve put on a little weight, love.”

Savin gave him a half-pout and nudged his glasses further up the bridge of his nose. “Really? You’re gonna tell your husband, who so desperately misses you and wants to pound you into the mattress, that he’s put on weight?”

“It looks amazing on you,” Jazz said, putting the computer down onto the bed. He pushed it forward and rolled down onto his stomach, making sure to do so in a way that would help arouse Savin further. “I bet I’d look amazing on you, too, though…”

“I bet you’d look amazing on Devin, too,” Savin said, smirking up at Jazz. He leaned back against the headboard to the guest bed at his parents’ house, one hand sliding down the length of his chest. “Have you tried riding him, yet? I know how much you love to control how fast you take a cock.”

Jazz breathed in sharply and closed his eyes, a quiet whimper escaping him at the thought of crawling into Savin’s lap and lowering himself on Savin. And then he reimagined the situation with Devin -- how Devin’d look up at him in wonder like he sometimes did and Jazz tried to ignore. “I haven’t bottomed for him, yet,” he said, licking his lips and smirking at the screen. “I figured I’d only let my husband have the pleasure of being inside of me.”

“Mm.” Savin’s own eyes drifted closed, and Jazz could see even from the bad camera angle that Savin was growing hard underneath his jeans. “I guess you do put a lot of things into consideration, huh?”

“I do,” Jazz whispered, his smile softening. “I love you. I married you. As much as I like him, he couldn’t replace you, love.”

Savin nodded, sliding a hand over the forming bulge in his jeans. “I never thought you’d replace me,” he said after a moment. “I just -- forgot what you were like when falling for someone, that’s all. But -- I feel better, now that we’ve talked about it.”

“We’re probably gonna have to talk about it more than once, you know,” Jazz said, lifting himself up just like he used to do when he stripped, making sure to show off the flash of cleavage he had in his v-neck shirt and watching as Savin’s eyes followed it. “If you’re okay with me dating him for real, anyway…”

“I know,” Savin said, turning his eyes towards the ceiling. Jazz eyed his chest and wished more than anything to be able to run his hands over it. To kiss Savin deeply while grinding against him. “I am okay with you wanting to date him for real, by the way -- I just…needed to vent some of my frustration, first, I guess.”

“Good,” Jazz said, tugging his shirt over his head. He leaned in closer to the computer, making sure to keep his own chest visible in his own little video window. He brushed his fingertips over his nipple, smirking a little as Savin licked his lips in response. “I mean -- it’s good that you told me that you were feeling jealous. I promise you I’ll be more careful of your feelings -- the last thing I want to do is hurt you.”

Savin’s eyes met his, even in the grainy webcam picture, and he gave Jazz a lovesick smile, reaching towards the screen. “If Devin’s got any sense, he’ll like you back,” he said, undoing the button to his jeans. “Tell him how you feel this weekend, okay? I think it’s killing you to keep it to yourself.”

“Okay,” Jazz breathed. His breath caught in his throat as Savin pulled himself free of his jeans, his nimble fingers sliding up his length. “I’ll talk to him Saturday, I promise.”

Right now, he had other matters to attend to.


Jazz gave Devin his best smile as Devin opened the door. He looked the taller man up and down, a low whistle escaping him as he took in Devin’s ensemble. “You look stunning,” he said, resisting the urge to run his hands up Devin’s chest. Instead he let Devin step past the door, a small, shy smirk making its way across his lips.

“Gotta say something different every week, huh?” he said, smoothing his hand over the length of his braid before gently tossing it over his shoulder.

Jazz winked at him and offered him his arm. Devin took it, his touch light and sultry at the same time. “I really don’t have to if you don’t like it,” he said, glancing up at Devin. “I just wanted to let my beautiful companion know I find him hot no matter what he’s wearing.”

“Could wear nothing, if you want,” Devin said, leaning in close so he could murmur the words in Jazz’s ear. “Think you like that best.”

“Mm, I do like that outfit a lot,” Jazz said, turning his head so he could brush his lips against Devin’s. “But -- before I get you naked tonight, I think there are a couple of things I need to tell you, first.”

Devin tensed beside him, and Jazz shot him a reassuring look -- even though he didn’t feel reassured, himself. “Not gonna fire me, are you?” Devin asked.

Jazz could’ve sworn he heard Devin’s voice tremble.

Jazz cleared his throat and gave Devin another reassuring smile before opening Devin’s door for him. “Now why would I talk about getting you naked if I was just going to fire you?” he asked. He leaned up again, kissing Devin a little hungrier than he meant to. “No, I’m not firing you. But we do need to discuss some things -- and it’s nothing bad, I promise.”

“Wanna do it now?” Devin asked, furrowing his brow as he settled into the passenger seat.

Jazz bent forward and brushed his lips against Devin’s forehead. “How anxious are you going to get if we wait ‘til after I bring you to my place?” he asked, crouching beside the open door. He took Devin’s hand in his, running his thumb along the knuckles. “I promise you, Devin, it’s nothing to be anxious about.”

Easier for him to say. He’d been tying himself up in knots, thinking about this conversation. He knew he had to tell Devin how he felt. But he selfishly wanted to wait ‘til the dinner was done. So that way, if Devin wanted to fire him, he wouldn’t get to until the dinner had already passed.

Devin gave a long, hard look, his full bottom lip caught underneath his teeth. He then met Jazz’s eyes and squeezed Jazz’s fingers. “‘ll be okay,” he said, a slight smile tugging on his lips now. “Should be, ‘slong as you’re not firing me.”

“Trust me, I’m not,” Jazz said, rising to his feet. He brushed his lips against Devin’s forehead again before shutting Devin’s door and walking around the front of the car. As he slipped into his own seat, he sought out Devin’s hand with his and tangled their fingers together. “I don’t think I’d find a better Sidearm, and even if I could, I doubt I’d enjoy their company nearly as much.”

“Not that many dude Sidearms, anyway,” Devin said with a shrug, his little smile growing slightly wider as he relaxed against his seat. “Don’t think you’d like taking a woman with you.”

“Oh hell no,” Jazz said with a quiet laugh. He turned in his seat, backing out of Devin’s driveway with practiced ease. By now, he had the route memorized from Devin’s home to the secret location of the dinners, and he was grateful that his memory was as good as it was. “Women aren’t my thing. Savin, on the other hand…”

“Likes chicks?” Devin asked, his brow furrowing again. “Don’t think you’ve told me that before…”

“He’s bisexual,” Jazz said, still grinning as he leaned back in his seat. He kept one hand on the steering wheel and glanced over at Devin. “So he likes both guys and girls -- though most people think he’s gay because he’s married to me.”

Devin shrugged his shoulders. “Can like whatever he wants. Wes likes chicks and dudes, too,” he said. He squeezed Jazz’s fingers. “Ever get jealous?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Sometimes. He has this friend -- Mari. He’s known her since he was practically a kid and they used to date, you know?” Jazz said. He licked his lips and swallowed the sudden flutter of nervousness. “They’re really close and I’ve offered to give him permission to sleep with her again -- multiple times -- but he never takes me up on it… I almost feel like I’d be less jealous if he would just fuck her and get it out of his system.”

Devin snorted. “Think so?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “Might just make you more jealous, knowing he did.”

“Maybe…” Jazz said with a sigh. “It’s just -- I know he really likes eating a woman out -- and I’m… not a fan of rim jobs. So I can’t even really give him that, you know?” He gave Devin a soft smile. “I know giving me a rim job wouldn’t be the same to him either way but -- it’s a similar act…”

“Hm. Guess that’s why you’ve never asked for one,” Devin said, looking out towards the road. “Know you like giving them, though…”

“Mmm, yes, I do,” Jazz said, smirking. “You and Savin both become such a mess when I do that…”

The two of them fell into a relaxed, comfortable silence, and it didn’t take Jazz long to realize he and Devin’s fingers were still intertwined. Squeezing Devin’s fingers, he paid attention to the road for a few long minutes before clearing his throat. “Hey -- do you like to top at all?” he asked, glancing at Devin out of the corner of his eye.

“Most of my clients just wanna stick it in me,” Devin said with a shrug. “Would top, though, if asked to.” He paused and regarded Jazz, his brows knitting close together. “Why?”

Jazz’s face heated up at the question and he let go of Devin’s hand, reaching up to rub the back of his neck. “I just -- I was wondering, that’s all.” His face was on fire, now, the more words he spoke. “I usually bottom for Savin, honestly, but I enjoy topping you a lot, so…”

Devin snickered. “Been thinking of having me top instead, though, huh?” he teased, letting go of Jazz’s hand only to drift his fingertips along Jazz’s thighs. “Would top for you, y’know. All you gotta do is ask…”

Jazz shivered, both the thought and Devin’s feather-light touches arousing him far more than he’d like to be, this early in their interactions for the evening. He did his best to keep his eyes on the road and to keep his little gasps at bay, but Devin seemed to notice the shift in the air. “Think you’d feel amazing around me. Bet you’d make the best sounds, too…”

“Oh god,” Jazz groaned, shaking his head. He found Devin’s hand just as it was starting to palm his forming arousal and tangled their fingers together again. “I told Savin I wouldn’t bottom for you…”

Devin started, blinking a little at Jazz and his eyes wide. They shared a glance, then Jazz looked away and wished his face wouldn’t burn so hot. “Guess that’s something else you need permission for, then,” Devin said, his tone dry. He cleared his throat and pulled his hand away. “Shame, that. Could always tease you instead, though…”

Jazz lifted his hand to his face, half-covering his mouth with it as he groaned into his palm at the thought of Devin teasing him further. Still, he needed a moment to gather himself back together. Ever since his conversation with Savin a week ago, he’d been thinking more and more what it’d be like to be on the receiving end of the pounding, for once. Or what it’d be like to slide himself around Devin’s length and to be filled slowly, inch by inch.

“I’d like that,” he said after a while. He flashed Devin a reassuring smile. “Just -- don’t be surprised if I start begging you to fuck me, if you do. And don’t follow through with it, okay?”

“Don’t worry,” Devin said, his hand returning to Jazz’s thigh. Still, something felt off about the touch, and Jazz wasn’t sure how to fix it. “Won’t do anything we don’t got permission for, promise.”

Jazz nodded, relaxing a little in his seat and leaning his head back against the headrest. He drew in a deep breath and let his eyes flutter closed as they came up on a red light, his fingers finding Devin’s once again. “I know you won’t,” he said, finally succeeding in willing his heart to slam a little less against his ribs. He glanced at Devin, feeling shame rise in him for the first time since he and Devin started this whole thing.

He was falling for this man, young as he was, beautiful as he was, and Savin was jealous of him. Jealous like he’d never been over Mitchel or the other various men Jazz had crawled into bed with. And while Savin had said this was all still okay, Jazz knew it wouldn’t be, if he didn’t deny himself the feeling of Devin pushing himself inside.

“‘Swrong?” Devin asked, his expression shifting to worry. He squeezed Jazz’s fingers. “Didn’t upset you, did I?”

“I should be asking you that,” Jazz countered, his lips quirking upwards in a brief attempt at a smile. “I should have known better than to bring up something I really want and can’t have,” he continued. He eased the car back up to speed once the light turned green, drifting his thumb over the length of Devin’s.

Devin shrugged. “I’m okay,” he said, his eyes still studying Jazz intently. “Just -- haven’t seen you like this before. Not like you, y’know?”

Jazz nodded. The two of them fell into a heavy silence, their fingers still intertwined as Jazz drove them towards their destination. “Savin’s jealous,” he said, breaking the silence before he could stop himself. “He’s so rarely jealous of any of my partners, pretend ones or not.”

“Guess I’m special, then,” Devin said, surprise filtering through his tone. “Don’t get why, though. Just doing my job, y’know?”

There was an odd note to Devin’s voice -- one that Jazz willed himself not to acknowledge. Jazz found himself relaxing further at it though, letting go of the steering wheel just long enough to brush his hair out of his eyes. “I know you are,” he said, doing his best not to let his disappointment at that show. He cleared his throat. “And he’s only a little jealous, and he felt better about everything after talking to me about it, but -- I don’t want to do anything that might make it worse for him.”

“Yeah.” Devin cleared his throat again, squeezing Jazz’s fingers. “Don’t wanna get between you two, either, y’know? Can tell just how much you love him.”

Jazz smiled a little at that, heaving a light-hearted sigh. “He’s so worried about his mom, too -- though he should be coming home in a few days,” he said. He turned to Devin, letting his eyes sweep over his face in order to gauge his reaction.

Devin made a startled little noise. “Thought you said you weren’t firing me,” he said -- it was obvious he was doing his best to make his tone light and teasing. But Jazz could hear the note of fear underneath. “Gonna be taking him to these dinners instead?”

“Nah,” Jazz said, giving a slight shake of his head. “It’d look a little weird if I started bringing another man and started calling him my husband, you know? So no, I’m not firing you. If anything, hiring you in the first place kinda insured I’d keep hiring you from here on out.” He gave Devin a slight smirk and let go of his hand. “You’re damn good at your job. I wouldn’t let you go that easily.”

The two of them bantered back and forth after that -- light, teasing touches being exchanged as Jazz continued to drive. He was half-tempted to ask Devin to give him head, but they were too close now to the venue. Maybe he could ask for it on the way back -- or maybe next week, when they had another dinner scheduled…

When they arrived, Devin stuck close to him and flashed him the occasional, heartfelt smile. They sipped at champagne; made small talk with Piere. Avoided Ellis and Murdock, who both happened to be at the dinner once again, this time. Jazz wondered if he was just going to have to expect them from here on out, though Ellis seemed to keep his distance, this time, even if Jazz did catch him eyeing Devin appreciatively more than once.

When their gracious hosts served the first course, Jazz and Devin resorted to doing whatever they could to avoid eating it -- it was yet again one of those tentacle meals, and this time, Jazz was determined not to take a bite of it just as Devin was. During this, Jazz’s pocket vibrated and his brow furrowed.

He ignored the first call. He couldn’t get up and answer it -- not with their current company. But Devin gave him a questioning look when Jazz’s hand flew to his pocket when it started vibrating a second time.

“Everything okay, cutie?” Devin asked, keeping his voice low as he leaned in close. His lips brushed against Jazz’s ear, and this time, that didn’t have the effect on Jazz like it usually did.

“Someone’s calling me,” he answered, trying to swallow the note of nervousness in his voice. “Should I excuse myself and go answer it? They’ve tried calling me twice now so it’s probably important.”

Devin was better versed in Majerian conduct -- though Jazz likely had equal etiquette training, just in a different way. Back in the Empire, he’d just excuse himself from the table an answer. He’d get an earful about it later from the Emperor herself, maybe, if it wasn’t important -- but now his phone was buzzing a third time and Jazz could feel the color drain from his face.

“Go answer it,” Devin said, glancing around the table. “Might be Savin, y’know?”

Jazz’s blood ran cold. “Okay,” he said. He cleared his throat and offered the table an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, but I need to excuse myself for a moment.” He stood and pressed a kiss to Devin’s temple. “I’ll be right back, sweetheart.”

He toyed with the button to his suit jacket, throwing his shoulders back as he made a beeline for the restroom. Along the way, he pulled his phone out of his pocket, his stomach sinking towards the floor as 3 Missed Calls flashed on the screen. All of them were from Savin. Just as he was about to dial Savin back, his phone started rumbling in his hand.

“Savin?” he answered, slipping into a bathroom stall. “What’s wrong, love?”

“I really hate to call you like this, but --” Savin’s voice was choked; full of emotion that made Jazz’s stomach twist and turn.

“It’s Nina, isn’t it?” Jazz asked, raking his fingers through his hair before burying his face in his open palm.

“She’s --” Savin drew in a deep, steadying breath -- though Jazz could hear how shaky that breath was over the phone. “She passed away like an hour ago.”

Jazz closed his eyes and lowered his phone to his shoulder. He turned his head towards the ceiling and willed his tears to disappear as he took in a sharp breath. “Is there anything I can do?” he asked, lifting the phone back to his ear. “I’m at one of Piere’s dinners right now, but -- Devin and I can leave and I can find a flight back to the Empire, if you want.”

“No, stay in Cliffton,” Savin said. Jazz could just see the way he must have shaken his head as he said that. “‘Tousan and I are going to figure out the funeral together and after we have that I’m gonna come back. You don’t need to come out here for me.”

“Savin, like hell am I going to let you be at the funeral alone,” he said, doing his best to keep his tone even. “Let me know when it is and I’ll make arrangements to be there as soon as I can be, okay?”

There was a long, stifling pause where Jazz heard Savin sniffle into the phone. “Okay,” he managed eventually. “I know you can’t stay on the phone very long. I’m surprised you even answered, honestly. I just -- don’t want to take up too much of your time. You have a date with Devin to enjoy.”

“He’s not my husband, and he’s not the one who’s hurting, right now -- you are,” Jazz said, supplying all of the conviction he had in his voice. “I’ll be back in the Empire as soon as I can be -- don’t worry about picking me up from anywhere, I can arrange all of that. I’ll explain everything to Lin and the people here and I’ll get to Delborne on my own, okay?”

“But you do need to go back now, right?” Savin said, clearing his throat. “You have to at least finish out the dinner with Piere, right?”

“I do,” Jazz said, sighing heavily into the phone and pacing the tiny stall. “Do you want me to call you again when I’m done?”

“No,” Savin said, and this time he sounded certain of it. “I need you, but -- I need time to myself, too. Call me in the morning?”

“Okay.” Jazz nodded, knowing full well that Savin couldn’t see him do so. “I love you. Is there anything you need from me before I go?”

“Don’t sleep with Devin tonight,” Savin whispered. “I know you probably already paid for it, but --”

“I won’t sleep with him,” Jazz said, cutting Savin off. He smiled into the phone, wishing his stomach would just settle itself already. “I think he’ll understand that something’s come up.”

Another pause, then a trembling sigh. “Alright.” Savin cleared his throat again. “I’m gonna let you go now. ‘Tousan needs me for something I think, anyway. Love you, mate.”

“Love you, too, Savin.”

Jazz hung up the phone only when he was certain Savin wouldn’t say anything else. He nearly dropped it, but instead fumbled it while moving to stash the phone away again in his pocket. He drew in another deep, steadying breath, raking his fingers through his hair and doing his best to settle his everything.

His mother-in-law was dead. His husband was a wreck. And Jazz was here in Cliffton, thousands of miles away playing house with a man who got paid to sleep with others. With a quiet groan, Jazz blinked away tears. He loved Nina. And Savin’s feelings were so often right -- why couldn’t it be wrong, this time?

Eventually, he pushed himself out of the stall and shut the door behind him. He glanced around the sinks; was grateful that he was the only one present in the bathroom. Maybe no one had overheard his conversation with Savin -- but he wasn’t so sure he cared about that anymore. His secret utilization of a Sidearm had almost come to light just a couple of weeks ago. He wasn’t so sure he cared if it did, now.

When he finally returned to his seat, he had acquired another glass of champagne and downed it in a single draft, lowering the empty glass onto the table as he settled in. Devin gave him a bewildered look. “What’d I miss?” Jazz asked, toying with the edge of the glass. He knew that wasn’t proper etiquette.

He wasn’t so sure he cared.

“Not much,” Devin answered, his perfect brows knitting close together. “Everything okay?”

Jazz shook his head. “No,” he said, plain and simple. He let go of the empty glass and resisted the urge to push his plate into the center of the table. “Everything’s not.”

Devin continued to eye him for a moment before turning back to his meal. During Jazz's time in the restroom, they had been provided with the main course -- a series of steaks that Jazz normally would be grateful to see after the slimy seafood presented to them just moments ago.

"Savin's mother passed away an hour ago," he said, wishing his voice didn’t tremble the way that it did. He cleared his throat and glanced around the table, scooting closer to Devin and picking up a knife -- which Devin was quick to correct. He rubbed at his forehead with his other hand, wishing his sudden blooming headache would go away.

Devin’s eyes widened, and he brought his water to his lips. As he sipped at it, he fretted with the bottom of his braid. “He okay?” he whispered.

Jazz shook his head again. “He did a good job not breaking down over the phone with me?” he said, giving Devin a weak smile. He turned and picked up another glass of champagne as a man passed with several balanced on a tray. As he knocked that glass back too, this time downing half of it and leaving the rest and swirling the remainder in the glass.

“Could leave, y’know,” Devin said, keeping his voice low as well. He eyed Jazz’s glass of champagne and frowned a little to himself. “Could say it was your ma that died. Think that’s as good an excuse as any, y’know?”

“I think I’d prefer getting drunk and then dancing with you until it’s acceptable for me to leave,” Jazz said. His face felt hot and he blinked away another round of tears.

Devin held out his hand. “Gimme your keys, then,” he said. Jazz quirked an eyebrow. “Know how to drive, just don’t got a car.”

Jazz glanced down at Devin’s hand, resisted the urge to roll his eyes, and looked away from Devin. “I’m not gonna actually get drunk,” he said, his words a bit more biting than he had meant them to be.

“Already working on your third champange, cutie,” Devin said, keeping his hand outstretched. “Get tipsy from just one.”

They locked eyes for a long, heart-stopping moment. Jazz grimaced and reached into his pocket, passing Devin the keys all while looking away in shame. “True,” he muttered, turning back to his meal.

They sat in silence after that, Jazz trying to eat as much of his meal as he could without overdoing it. He could feel the alcohol start to filter through his system, infusing with it and slowing him down as he finished off his third glass and began working on a fourth. Devin kept casting him furtive glances, but he couldn’t pull himself out of his head enough to address them.

Nina was dead. Savin was all alone in the Empire and Jazz was here in Cliffton, playing make-believe with a man several years his junior.

“Ambassador Callahan.” Jazz looked up from his plate, resisting the urge to glare at Ellis as his ice blue eyes met his. “Is everything alright between you and your husband? The two of you have barely spoken all evening.”

Jazz chewed on his tongue for a moment before offering Ellis a splintered smile. “Everything’s fine, Major General,” he said, leaning back in his seat. He glanced at Devin for the first time in several minutes, lightly placing a hand between Devin’s shoulder blades as he picked at his meal. He leaned in close to Devin and kissed his cheek. “We’ve both just had a long day, today. That’s all.”

And it was going to be an even longer night, he added to himself. He had to keep resisting the urge to look at his phone, and as the time ticked forward, it was getting harder and harder for him to do. He could be messaging Savin right now, talking to him and keeping him company from several thousand miles away the only way that he knew how. Except instead, he was sitting at a dinner table with people he hated and his head lighter and his movements slower and less coordinated than usual, and --

Devin took his fifth glass of champagne out of his hands just as soon as it was in them. “Gonna be sick later,” he said when Jazz glared at him, as if it were the simplest explanation in the world.

“It’s helping me feel better,” Jazz muttered, picking the glass back up. He sipped at it, though, instead of downing half of it in one shot.

Devin shook his head, a slight scowl forming on his lips. “Don’t think it is,” he said after a moment, sounding sullen. “Can have that one if you don’t drink it fast, okay? But no more after that.”

Jazz slumped a little in his seat, feeling his face burn as the rest of his body felt warm and heavy. He’d eaten a lot; his tolerance wasn’t that bad. But champagne was frequently stronger than people thought it was, and it had been a while since Jazz had more than one or two drinks at a time. He gave Devin a curt nod of his head, breathing a sigh of relief as dessert made its way onto the table.

His stomach sank a little as he realized Devin’s normal joy at seeing the intricate pieces of chocolate wasn’t at all present in his demeanor, his slight frown still marring his features and his brows knitting together. Jazz toyed with the idea of apologizing for his sullen behavior, but something about his fifth flute of champagne had robbed him of his ability to do so. He wanted another drink, and he considered trying to negotiate a sixth out of Devin, but his tongue felt thicker in his mouth than usual.

They finished dessert without exchanging a single word, and when it came time to dance, Devin rose to his feet first and offered Jazz his hand.

When Jazz took it and stood, he almost lost his balance, his body far looser than he thought it would be.

“Not drunk, hm?” Devin quipped. There was no warmth in his voice or on his face.

Jazz had the good graces to grimace, and clung to Devin’s arm as the two of them moved their way to the dance floor. “I can still dance,” he said, pouting a little.

“Not without looking like an idiot,” Devin said, keeping his voice low. He glanced around the room, his expression continuing to sour. “Lemme lead, okay? Don’t need you stepping on my feet.”

“I’m not gonna,” Jazz said, petulant. He glowered up at Devin, letting Devin direct his hands and then his body once the music picked up. He yelped as he felt himself move off-kilter, his face flushing again as Devin just gave him an exasperated look.

He was being a child. He knew better than to act like this in front of the higher ups of the Cliffton government -- he knew better than to drink anything more than two glasses of champagne. And Devin -- Devin was supposed to stop him sooner, was supposed to keep him from looking like an ass in front of all of these people, and --

“Doing my job,” Devin said, as if reading his mind. “Promise. Keeping you away from Ellis so he can’t ask questions. Okay? Figured letting you drink was better’n letting you run your mouth right now.”

Jazz blinked, giving Devin an almost startled look. “You -- thought it was better to let me drink myself stupid than it was for me to talk?” he asked, tilting his head one to side. “Why?”

“Easier to pull you away from people if you’re drunk,” Devin said with a shrug. There was a tiny smirk tugging on his lips. “Don’t think you like being manhandled much, though.”

Jazz snorted. “Like it just fine,” he said, swaying a little unsteadily on his feet as he and Devin made a particularly fast turn, as according to the step sequence they were doing now. He gave an exaggerated pout. “Just rather do the manhandling.”

“Don’t think you’re getting that tonight -- don’t fuck drunk clients,” Devin said, leaning in close as he said it. There was no malice in his voice. “Union doesn’t like it much if I do.”

“‘Sokay,” Jazz slurred, resting his head against Devin’s chest as he scooted closer to him. “Savin said he didn’t want me to tonight, anyway.”

Devin’s arms tightened around him, and he cradled Jazz’s head close to his chest. “Don’t gotta stay much longer,” he whispered.

Jazz choked back a sudden sob and shook his head. “I don’t wanna go home,” he said, blinking back tears once again. “Savin’s not there and I can’t comfort him and he doesn’t want me to call him when I get back and I think he’s upset that I’m not there but there’s not anything I can do about that, y’know?”

“Wouldn’t have to worry about appearances if you went home,” Devin pointed out. He pressed a light kiss to Jazz’s forehead -- one Jazz frankly didn’t deserve, considering his behavior all evening. “Can be as much of an ass as you wanna be, there.”

“Don’t wanna be an ass,” Jazz said, pouting and shaking his head. He pulled away from Devin and looked up at him, wishing his vision would stop moving when he did. “We can go in a little bit. I know we can’t leave until Piere’s up and dancing and I think if I stay too long I’ll start in on Ellis or something and neither one of us wants that…”

Devin blinked, a small smile winding its way across his lips. He then chuckled under his breath and shook his own head, glancing around the ballroom. “Think that’d be fucking funny if you went off on him. Dude’s been watching us all night. Can tell he’s dying to say something else.”

“It would be fucking funny,” Jazz said, grinning back at Devin. He reached up and patted Devin’s cheek, half leaning up to kiss him. Devin met him halfway, the kiss chaste compared to their usual. “Can I have another drink before we go?” he asked, giving Devin his best pleading look.

Devin considered this before cupping the side of Jazz’s face with his hand. “Dunno, dude. Seem pretty drunk right now and I know alcohol takes a while sometimes to hit. Might be even drunker if you wait a little longer, y’know?”

“I guess,” Jazz said with a sigh. He rested his head against Devin’s chest again and closed his eyes, focusing on the way his body felt under the assault of the drinks he’d just had. It’s possible that Cliffton champagne was stronger than the Empire’s, too, and he did more or less have five glasses fairly rapid-fire. And he didn’t exactly have the best tolerance -- even when he drank more habitually, it would only take him several shots to go under, and only a couple of more to push him into a hangover the next morning.

Though he was typically more of a fan of darker alcohols; ones that had a higher chance of fucking you up the next morning. The number of times he’d found himself sick off of fewer beers than clear shots --

Devin was leading him off the dance floor just as his stomach twisted again. “Gotta make a call real quick,” Devin said, pulling a high tech device out from his pocket. A waveless, Jazz recalled vaguely, furrowing his brow. Devin helped Jazz settle into a seat by the bathrooms. “Wait here for me, ‘kay?”

“Okay,” Jazz said. He gave Devin a shaky smile. “Am I allowed to talk to anyone?” he quipped.

Devin went pale. “Try not to?” he suggested, swallowing hard. He leaned in close again and pressed his lips to Jazz’s forehead. “Be back in a minute, cutie.”

Jazz nodded, and even that action felt exaggerated. He groaned as the movement shifted something in him, making him feel wildly uncomfortable. Vaguely, he wondered what kind of call Devin would be making right now, before they left, but -- he decided it was best not to ask as Devin strode towards the restrooms without another word.

Sighing, Jazz put his head in his hands. He raked his fingers through his hair and did his best not to think about how Savin must be feeling. So of course, he found himself fumbling with his phone and pulling it out of his pocket.

No new messages. Jazz thumbed through his text messages, finding Savin’s name. He tapped out a quick, likely typo’d to all hell message, and continued to toy with his phone as he waited for Devin to return. When he heard light footsteps, he looked up and couldn’t stop himself from scowling at the sight of Ellis in his impeccable dress uniform.

“Are the two of you planning on retiring early again, this evening?” Ellis asked, settling in the seat beside Jazz. He moved slowly, his eyes never leaving Jazz’s face as he did so.

“Is that a problem?” Jazz shot back, doing his best not to slur his words. He glared at Ellis for a moment, then looked away from him and shook his head. “Wait, don’t answer that. I’m not supposed to talk to you.”

Ellis raised an eyebrow and folded his arms over his chest. “Is that so?” he hummed, still studying Jazz. “You’ve enjoyed quite a bit of the champagne this evening -- I hope you know you’ve put your lovely Sidearm under a lot of stress, keeping you from making a fool of yourself in front of President Piere.”

Jazz bit his tongue and sucked in his bottom lip, catching it between his teeth. Devin told him not to talk to anyone. That probably included Ellis, the only other person who knew for sure that Devin was a Sidearm and not his actual husband. That probably meant especially Ellis, because he knew so much that others didn’t. Still, with Ellis’s words, Jazz lowered his gaze to the floor and blinked away more tears.

He was more trouble than he was worth. He was useless, both to Savin and to Devin, and here Ellis was, joyfully pointing that fact out to him.

“A true gentleman doesn’t test his Sidearm in this way,” Ellis muttered, sitting with perfect posture in his seat. “A true gentleman knows how to hold his liquor and provide support for his Sidearm.”

Jazz scoffed and rolled his eyes. His lip hurt, his teeth were so far buried in it. But he didn’t dare let up on his self-imposed torture. Ellis was trying to rile him up. Trying to goad him into saying too much much too loudly, for everyone at Piere’s little event to overhear. And as drunk as he was, he had the tiniest amount of restraint. Restraint given to him by Devin’s request to do his best not to talk to anyone.

“He’s not a prize to be won,” Jazz muttered before he could stop himself, half-tempted to push himself up out of his seat. He didn’t, for fear of his lack of balance would be too obvious to anyone who might observe his gracelessness.

Ellis’s brows shot towards his close-cropped hair. “Of course he isn’t,” he said, sounding almost offended. “You made it quite clear that you thought I was viewing him just as an object last time, Ambassador.”

Jazz lifted his chin, turning his gaze towards the hallway Devin had disappeared down, just several minutes ago. He had made that clear last time. That he had picked Devin because Devin had made him feel at ease. And right now, he wished for nothing more than Devin’s comforting presence and to apologize to him a thousand times for his behavior, for his lack of restraint, for his lack of alcohol tolerance. He should have known better, he should have just gone home when Devin first suggested it, he --

“Devin!” Jazz cried, a relieved smile tugging on his lips as he thrust himself out of his seat. He stumbled over to the younger man, all but clutching at him as he buried his face in Devin’s chest. “I am so glad to see you…”

Devin tensed against him, though his arms came to surround him slowly. “Can see that,” he murmured, a hint of laughter in his voice. Jazz felt Devin’s breath against his ear. “Didn’t say anything to Ellis, did you?”

Jazz shook his head. “I mean, I tried not to and I said a few things but I didn’t say anything important, y’know?” he rambled, lifting his head from Devin’s chest. He gave him a pleading look. “Can we leave now? Please?”

Sighing, Devin brushed Jazz’s hair out of his eyes. “What’d you say?” he asked, keeping his voice low.

Jazz glanced between Devin and Ellis. Ellis, for his credit, had yet to move from his seat, his posture still impeccable, even as he rose to his feet. “He said you were not a prize to be won,” Ellis said with a discrete clear of his throat. “I’ll let President Piere know that Ambassador Callahan needed to go home a little early, this evening. Should I cite a specific excuse for you?”

“Yeah,” Jazz answered before Devin could say anything. “My mother died.”

He couldn’t help the snide smirk making its way across his lips at the surprise registering on Ellis’s otherwise unreadable expression. Jazz turned away from Ellis and began to march Devin towards the exits. Except it was really Devin providing Jazz with the support he needed to walk in a straight line and remain upright, the two of them maneuvering slowly through the crowds until they were out the main building and standing in the parking structure.

“Didn’t really tell him that, did you?” Devin asked once he began picking the way towards Jazz’s car.

“Tell him what?” Jazz asked, looking up at Devin, his brows knitting together.

“The prize thing.”

Jazz’s face heated up, and he dropped his eyes to the ground. He continued to cling to Devin, but coughed a little to try and hide his embarrassment. “I did say that to him, yeah. He was saying all these things about how I was treating you and trying to goad me into responding I guess and that just -- kinda came out…”

“What’d he say?” Devin asked. He pulled Jazz’s keys out from his pocket and unlocked Jazz’s car, gently guiding Jazz into the passenger seat -- which Jazz pouted over, but didn’t argue about.

Sighing, Jazz leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes, clumsily rubbing at his forehead. “He said I was putting a lot of stress on you, getting drunk like this and acting like an idiot.” He cleared his throat. “He said a -- a ‘true gentleman’ doesn’t test their Sidearm in this way. Like he would do any fucking better if he found out his mother-in-law died an hour into one of these stupid things.”

Devin didn’t say anything as he adjusted the driver’s seat and mirrors. Jazz watched him for a moment, then looked away again, turning his eyes out the window. “I’m sorry for getting drunk,” he said after a moment, his voice quiet and small. “I knew better.”

“‘Sokay,” Devin said with a sigh. “Could’ve told you not to drink more sooner, too, y’know.”

“That’s not your job, though,” Jazz said, indignant. “It’s not your job to babysit me. I’m an adult. I can fucking take care of myself and Ellis’s right, I should be taking care of you, not the other way around and I’m so, so sorry for being this way.”

Devin gave a small, noncommittal noise, finally pulling the car out of the parking space and driving them out of the lot. Jazz wanted to ask him how long it’s been since he’d been behind the wheel of a car, but kept the question to himself as he settled into his seat and pulled out his phone. No new messages. His stomach twisted, and Jazz put his hand to his face and breathed into his fingers.

“Really cared about her, huh?” Devin asked, his voice cutting through the muddle of Jazz’s thoughts.

“More than I cared about my own mother,” Jazz answered with a bitter laugh. “Nina’s -- she’s so much better than my mom. She accepted me and Savin, y’know? My mother just kicked me out of the house when she found me sleeping with another boy -- and that’s all we were doing, sleeping. I mean, we’d fucked just before we fell asleep but I mean -- we’d cleaned up and gotten mostly dressed and she wasn’t supposed to get home that early…”

His chest tightened, choking off the rest of his words as he sniffed and tried to keep his tears at bay. But he was in the privacy of his car, now, away from all of those prying eyes, and Jazz found that he didn’t give a damn if Devin saw him cry. “She was a good woman and she didn’t deserve to die this young and --”

Jazz cut himself off with a shake of his head. He reclined the seat and turned onto his side, facing away from Devin. As he tried to get comfortable in the restricted space, he jumped as he felt a light hand on his shoulder. “Tell me about her,” Devin said quietly. “Might help a little.”

Jazz bit his lip. “I met her first, when Savin and I’d just started dating,” he said after a moment, speaking through tears. “Savin and I had um -- we weren’t careful and someone took pictures of us out on one of our dates. And they sold the pictures to our media and of course the story blew up because oh no! one of Emperor Cruz’s councilors are gay!” Jazz snorted and shook his head. “She recognized Savin in one of the photographs though he wasn’t really visible in most of them -- I mean, Savin is… very comfortable with public displays of affection? So he was kissing my neck or my cheek and had his head angled in ways where it was hard to see his face but not mine…”

He sniffed, curling in tighter around himself. “But anyway -- she recognized him and decided it was time to visit him and the first thing she said when she saw the two of us together was, ‘He’s very pretty, Savin. How long have you known him?’” He chuckled a little. “She just -- completely accepted us before he’d even told her he was seeing anyone and she teased him about me and she -- she felt like home. She was just that comforting to be around, y’know?”

He continued to ramble for a while, until his mouth felt dry and it was difficult for him to continue speaking. Devin remained silent all the while, one hand drifting along the outer edge of Jazz's arm. It was almost enough to lull Jazz into a brief sleep, but Devin's voice brought him away from the edge of sleep.

"Almost home, cutie," he said, his voice quiet and subdued.

Slowly, Jazz pushed his seat upright and cradled his head in his hands. “We have -- a guest bedroom, if you wanna sleep in there, tonight,” he said, his voice hoarse from all the talking he’d done on their way back to his place. “You don’t have to share a bed with my drunk ass if you don’t wanna.”

“Wes said you might get sick,” Devin said, clearing his throat. Jazz looked around and realized they were on his street -- how Devin did that without asking for directions, he wasn’t sure. “Wanna be close if you are. Hard to take care of you, otherwise…”

“That doesn’t mean you have to share my bed though and I don’t think I --” Jazz put a hand to his stomach as Devin rode over one of the speed bumps just before his house. His stomach climbed into his throat, sitting there uncomfortably as it twisted. “Okay, maybe I did drink enough to get sick and if I did I’m really really sorry because I -- I didn’t think I would and --”

His tongue felt thick, and his breathing uneven. Maybe he was just working himself up -- he could be very suggestible while drunk and it had been a while since he’d downed a decent amount of alcohol that quickly, and maybe it was what he ate and not what he drank, and --

He was never more grateful to see his driveway in his life. Devin had barely placed the car in park before Jazz was scrambling out of it, thanking a God he barely prayed to anymore that he’d left the front door unlocked as he found himself skittering into the hallway bathroom. He collapsed onto his knees and ducked his head inside the toilet, his stomach heaving.

“Don’t think you’re gonna get sick, huh?”

Jazz gave a weak snort, spitting into the toilet and doing his best to catch his breath. “I only had five glasses,” he whined, half-sobbing as his body shuddered from the exertion of vomiting. “I’ve had way more than that in the past and not gotten sick…”

He looked up at Devin from his position on the floor of his bathroom, giving him the best apologetic look he could muster while his stomach continued to stir. “You really don’t have to stay,” he said, clearing his throat. “You got me home, I can call for someone to take you back to your place if you want because if I’m throwing up now I’m probably gonna --” He stifled a burp, covering his mouth with his hand and closing his eyes, willing his stomach to settle. “‘Sgonna happen again.”

Devin stood in the doorway, his arms loosely folded over his chest, his head turned to the side and his eyes focusing on some point beyond Jazz. “‘Sokay, dude,” he said, his voice quiet. “Don’t think you need to be alone, right now, y’know?”

“I’m a big boy,” Jazz said with a snort. He pushed himself up and settled on the edge of the tub. From here, he could at least sit and also aim for the toilet, if his stomach decided to rebel once again. “You listened to me talk about Nina for a good hour and you’ve done more than enough for me already and…” Jazz gave a slight shake of his head and closed his eyes, cradling his head in his hands. “I know I’m an idiot and that I made a fool of myself but if you -- if you hadn’t been there, sweetheart, it -- it would’ve been a lot worse, probably.”

“Maybe,” Devin said, and Jazz could practically hear the shrug he gave as he said it. “Ellis wouldn’t give a shit about you if you weren’t hiring me, y’know. Would’ve left you alone…”

“I guess.” Jazz drew in a deep breath, then slowly eased himself back onto his feet. He rifled through the medicine cabinet for his toothbrush and toothpaste. Satisfied that his stomach had at least taken a moment to relax, he brushed his teeth as best as he could, though his fine motor control was obviously, horribly shot. “The fuck’s in Cliffton champagne?” he grumbled once he’d finished, stumbling his way out of the bathroom.

“Dunno. Just know it’s fucking strong,” Devin said with a shrug. “Pretty sure you told me that, too.”

Jazz gave a harsh, quiet laugh. “Probably did,” he said. He shoved open his bedroom door, managing to make it to his destination without Devin’s support. He nearly lost his balance as he began to tug off his shoes and the rest of his ensemble, pulling his tie loose from around his neck and tossing it god knows where into the abyss by his dirty laundry hamper.

He made a mental note to retrieve it come morning as he took off the rest of his suit, brushing Devin’s hands away as he tried to help Jazz to remain steady on his feet. “I can take off my own clothes,” he protested, giving Devin a wicked pout and half-glaring at him as he struggled with the buttons to his shirt.

Devin just shrugged his shoulders, a slight smirk making its way across his lips as Jazz felt his face burn hotter than it had all evening. “Ears’re turning red, dude,” Devin said with a quiet snicker.

“They do that sometimes,” Jazz grumbled, managing to halfway remember how buttons even worked. He stripped himself of his shirt and placed it sloppily on the hanger Devin handed him. “Blush all over if I blush hard enough.”

“Oh?” Devin sounded intrigued, his smirk growing into a grin. “Wish I could see that -- bet you’d look fucking adorable all red like that…”

Jazz just glared at Devin in response, thinking just far enough ahead to sit down on the edge of his bed as he pulled his legs free of his pants. Now stripped to just his undershirt and a pair of boxers, he looked up at Devin and gave him a quizzical look. “You don’t have anything more comfortable to change into, do you?” he asked. He stood up from the bed, swaying as he began to rifle through his dresser. “I have some pjs and stuff you could borrow if you want -- I wouldn’t want you to ruin your suit or anything and I know we’re not having sex tonight, but if you’re gonna stay here….”

“Don’t think your clothes’d fit me, dude,” Devin said, raising an eyebrow.

“Savin’s almost as tall as you,” Jazz said, pulling a pair of flannel pajama bottoms free from the dresser. “I mean, I think we’re closer to the same size around the waist but his legs’re longer and he always wears his stuff a couple sizes too big ‘less it’s for work, so -- try these.” He pulled out one of his own black undershirts and handed that to Devin, too. “My shirt should fit you okay, though.”

Devin looked down at Jazz’s offerings, the internal conflict obvious on his face. “Not some kink of yours, is it?” he asked, his eyebrow still quirked as he gently took the clothes from Jazz. “Some guys think it’s fucking hot to make me wear their shit…”

Jazz laughed, a wide grin splitting his face as he did so. “They’re just pjs, ‘dude,’” he said, grinning even wider at Devin’s confused expression. Despite the flash of confusion, Devin began to strip, and Jazz climbed onto his bed as ungraciously as possible.

He felt so much better after throwing up. Maybe too good, he wondered, as he lay on his back pillowed his head with his hands. “I don’t think seeing you wear my shirt’s gonna have that kind of an effect on --” Jazz lifted his head just in time to see Devin tug on the shirt he’d handed him, his eyes widening a little at the sight of how it fitted him. It wasn’t too small, but it certainly clung to Devin’s form. “-- me,” he finished, snapping his eyes back towards the ceiling. His mouth went dry and he closed his eyes, trying to fight the urge to pull Devin down onto the bed and start making out with him.

Devin didn’t sleep with drunk clients, anyway. He’d mentioned earlier that the Union wasn’t particularly fond of that, and it’d be one thing if he and Devin were both drunk, but Devin was sober and he wasn’t. He could see how that’d be a liability, even though Jazz had certainly paid Devin already for the privilege of stripping him out of his clothes and having his way with him.

But then he remembered Savin and his request that Jazz keep his hands to himself tonight, and Jazz’s heart sank in his chest just as the bed sank under Devin’s weight. Savin’s pajama bottoms fit him well, too, though they were even a bit loose on Devin’s fuller-frame. “You okay?” Devin asked, settling onto the bed close to Jazz.

Jazz blinked up at him, then gave a slight shake of his head. “Just kicking myself for drinking that much,” he said, turning his eyes towards the ceiling. He scooted closer to Devin and curled himself up against him, resting his head on Devin’s chest. “I must’ve put so much stress on you -- trying to keep me from acting like an idiot…”

Devin shrugged, one arm wrapping around Jazz’s back. His fingers drifted along Jazz’s spine, the action certainly more soothing than Jazz had expected it to be. “Could’ve been worse,” he said after a moment, his voice soft. “Know you were upset -- isn’t like you to get drunk like this either, y’know? ‘Sokay, I promise.”

“I don’t want to make your job harder though,” Jazz half-whined, burying his face in Devin’s chest. “You’re so good at being a Sidearm and I don’t wanna do anything that might compromise that, y’know?”

“Not gonna,” Devin said. He buried his nose in Jazz’s hair. “Bet she loved you too, y’know.”

Jazz groaned, almost flinching in Devin’s arms at Devin’s words. “I took her only child away from her,” he said, shaking his head. “I made him move all the way out here with me and she probably hates me for it and is just really fucking good at hiding it or something…”

“Doubt that. Can’t imagine anyone hating you,” Devin said, speaking just loud enough for Jazz to hear him. Jazz lifted his head from Devin’s chest and looked up at him with watering eyes; shivered as Devin cupped the side of his face with one hand and met Jazz’s eyes. “Pretty sure Savin wanted to move with you.”

Jazz sniffed and scrubbed away his tears with his palm. He could feel his whole body grow warm under Devin’s gaze, and he dropped his eyes to Devin’s lips and licked his own. “I guess,” he said, lifting his eyes back to Devin’s. He leaned into Devin’s palm and closed his eyes, nuzzling Devin’s hand. “Why’re you still here? You can go home -- I can take care of myself while I sober up… I probably look and smell terrible…”

“Look fine,” Devin said, letting his hand fall away from Jazz’s cheek. He brushed Jazz’s hair out of his eyes. “Not leaving you, either. Don’t think Savin’d want me to.”

Jazz blinked at him, still choking back tears. “Why would you say that?” he asked, tilting his head to one side.

“Only one you got, here,” Devin said, glancing around Jazz’s bedroom. “Bet all your friends’re back in the -- the Empire, right? Closest thing you have to one.”

“I wish you were more than that,” Jazz said, the words tumbling out of him in a rush. He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against Devin’s shoulder, tightening his arms around Devin in return. “Either way -- thank you for staying with me. It means a lot to me, okay? And I’ll pay you extra for having to deal with my dumb ass, promise. Just remind me, okay?”

“‘Kay.” Devin didn’t say anything else, and Jazz settled further into his arms, sinking into the bed and squeezing his eyes tightly shut.

He’d done enough crying in front of his Sidearm for the night, after all.

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June 2017

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