Written for Aderam for Yuletide 2006.
Many, many thanks to my betas, who put up with all my panic and made this much better: elynross, Mary Crawford, Merry, and Therienne. 

written December 2006, posted January 1, 2007



by Arduinna


Johnny reached for the shirt, hand shaking, hoping it would look like the usual pre-vision tremor and knowing it looked exactly like what it was -- a man desperately afraid to touch what he was reaching for.

They'd known they were dealing with a serial killer weeks ago, when the second mangled body had been found, and Walt, frantic for leads, had brought Johnny in to help. Those first deaths had been messy, but fast. Johnny shuddered, revulsion sweeping through him at the knowledge that he'd give anything for his next vision to show him something similar. Every piece of evidence the police found gave him visions worse than the one before, his mind filling with a nightmare of blood and rage until he wanted to throw up from the horror of it all, wanted to run and hide, wanted to lose himself in silent, safe darkness.

But Walt, standing in front of him, solid and warm and worried, was relying on him, waiting for him to tell them where to look next. Hoping they could find this bastard before he grabbed another kid, before it was too late. "John?"

Johnny swallowed hard. "Yeah," he said roughly, and touched the corner of the cloth Walt had carefully tugged out of the evidence bag for him.

Blood, oh, God, so much blood, not spurting clean and fast anymore but flowing like a river, pouring in endless streams and trickles across flawless skin, and the boy was screaming, thin and high and desperate, music to his ears, a pure sound that made him want to sing, so he sang, he sang as he sliced the tender young skin, rich hot blood sliding over his hands like a benediction, and blood filled his cock, pulsing in time with the boy's wounds, two hearts beating as one, so beautiful, so perfect, just like it was supposed to be -- but the blood slowed, it cooled, the screaming went thready and faint and died away, and he was alone, so alone, always alone, they always left him!

The vision fell away as the cloth was yanked out of his hands, and Johnny choked back a sob, still feeling all of it, right down to -- oh, God, oh, God, he was half-hard, his cock still pulsing in the same rhythm as--

Walt must have seen his face change. He dropped the bag he'd just resealed and got Johnny by the collar, pulling him up and shoving him toward a bush safely outside the cordoned-off area just in time for Johnny to heave up everything he'd eaten that day. When Johnny was done, Walt silently handed over a water bottle, waiting while he rinsed his mouth repeatedly.

"I'm sorry, John," Walt said quietly, dark eyes gleaming. "I wish I didn't have to ask--"

Johnny shook his head, spitting out a final mouthful of water. "This guy's a monster, Walt," he said flatly. "I don't want to be in his head -- I cannot tell you how much I don't want to be in his head -- but he has to be stopped. Whatever he's looking for, he's not getting it. The torture's escalating with every new victim, and it's turning more overtly sexual. He's going to start raping them soon."

Walt grimaced. "Great. Like this wasn't bad enough already." He blew out a breath. "Did you get anything else?"

"It looked like the same place, like a warehouse," Johnny said, scrubbing a hand through his hair in frustration. "I wish I could see more of it, but in the visions I'm always looking through his eyes, and he's always focused on his victims."

"It's okay, John," Walt soothed. "You give us stuff the forensics can't, and anything is a help at this point. What about the light? Was it nighttime again?"

Some of the tension eased away as Walt began the familiar gentle grilling, helping to tease out any little bit of information Johnny might have seen, even without realizing it. They'd gotten damn good at this over the years, and Johnny took heart from that. Eventually, they'd figure this out. He let Walt lead him back over to the car, answering question after quiet question to help Walt build a picture of this bastard.

Walt took him back to the station and handed him over to the sketch artist while he went to hear preliminary reports from everyone on the scene, hoping someone had spotted something useful. Johnny slipped right into the routine he and Melissa had developed, expanding on their composite of the warehouse the killer was using, and holding his voice as steady as he could as he described the latest blond-haired, blue-eyed teenage boy he'd seen himself eviscerating.

He headed back to the main office when they were done and handed copies of the new sketches to Roscoe to be added to the evidence board, trying to let his eyes slide past the too-familiar features in the sketches all lined up in a, skin crawling at the sudden memory of his unwilling arousal earlier. God.

A warm, heavy hand settled on his back. "Hey, John, you okay?" Walt asked. "You need to sit down? You don't look so good."

Johnny shook his head. "No, I'm okay. But, look, if there's nothing else--" He glanced around a little helplessly. Walt had picked him up to take him to the crime scene, so he had no way to get home, and he really didn't want to be here. Maybe he could call Bruce.

Walt's hand slid up and squeezed his shoulder lightly before dropping away. "No, we don't need you for anything else, at least not at the moment. You did great today, John, really." He took the few steps to his office and leaned in to snag his coat, sliding his arms into the sleeves as he returned to Johnny. "C'mon, I'll take you home. Sarah insisted I take a break long enough to at least have a hot meal, maybe grab a shower and some fresh clothes, and I hate to admit it, but she's right. More than right. I need to get away from this for a night, let the lab guys do their job and come back fresh tomorrow."

Gratefully, Johnny slid into his own coat and followed Walt outside. "Thanks, man. You have no idea."

Walt slanted him a wry grin as he slid into the car. "I think I can guess."

He handled the car with easy competence, even as exhausted as Johnny knew he must be, big hands sure and steady on the wheel as he drove them out of downtown. Johnny started to relax for real for the first time in hours, rolling down his window to let the crisp air blow away the last dregs of horror.

"Listen, I know this one was rougher than usual -- you want to just come to the house, have some dinner, maybe stay the night?"

Any other day, the offer would have been irresistible; Johnny treasured the time he got to spend with his family, but he hated thinking that he was intruding, so he almost always waited for an invitation, and the invitations almost always came from Sarah. For Walt to offer so easily, not just dinner but a place in their home for the night, touched Johnny somewhere very deep. Warmth flooded him and he smiled as he let himself revel in it for a minute, before letting bitter cold reality back in. "Thanks, Walt, really, but I think it's best if I just head home, maybe take a shower for about three hours, you know?"

"Sure, okay," Walt agreed. "But we're just a phone call away, all right? Seriously -- if you want to come over, or you want someone at your place with you, you just let us know." He took the turn that would send him toward Johnny's instead of the Bannermans', and Johnny stifled a pang of regret. He couldn't risk it. Not after today. Not till he was sure, not till he knew he was safe.

"Careful, I might take you up on that," he said lightly. "Next time I have a nightmare, I'm gonna have you come check under my bed for monsters."

Walt chuckled, blessedly normal. "No problem. Unless JJ gets that stashing-pizza-under-the-bed thing from you."

Johnny held both hands up, the picture of innocence. "Hey, that's gotta be pure nurture, man, it's got nothing to do with me."

Walt whapped him in the arm, grinning. "Turn the radio on, gimme something to listen to besides slander."

"It isn't slander if it's true," Johnny observed, ducking back away from the next mock-blow and turning the radio on with a grin.

A few minutes later, Walt pulled up under the carport. "Door to door service, can't beat that," he said cheerfully.

Johnny got out of the car, leaning back in through the open window for a minute. "Thanks, Walt. Listen, call me if you find anything out, okay? I really want to see this guy caught."

Walt nodded soberly. "Promise," he agreed. "Don't worry, John. We'll catch him. He'll make a mistake, and we'll be ready."

Johnny smiled. Thank God for Walt, touchstone for all that was normal and solid and good. "Yeah, we will. Night, Walt."

"Night, John." Walt waited until Johnny was inside, then flashed his lights and was gone.


Blood was pouring out of a boy with JJ's face, JJ's eyes, skin sliced in patterns that Johnny almost recognized, shapes that almost made sense, but someone was screaming and screaming and he couldn't think, he couldn't see, couldn't see anything but blood, streaming wet and glistening across pale, pale skin, the blue veins underneath like tiny hidden rivers peeking through the red and white, like a candy cane, so sweet, but the screaming wouldn't stop, and it wasn't high and perfect it was strong and loud and wrong, this was wrong, oh God...

"John. JOHN."

Desperate, Johnny lunged for the voice, hearing safety and sanity there, opening his eyes just as Walt touched him, and it was clean, God, thank God, it was clean, like plunging into a mountain stream and letting all the filth of the day wash away. Johnny raised his hands and wrapped them around Walt's wrists, holding him, wanting to bury himself in the feel of him, let Walt fill up all the corners of himself that had been piling up with horror and death for far too long now.

Walt's eyes were warm and steady, and he made no move to pull away. "Sarah called earlier and you didn't answer, so she got worried, asked me to swing by and check on you. When I got here you were screaming," he said quietly. "Nightmare?"

Johnny choked out a laugh that was mostly a sob, closing his eyes as Walt carefully freed his wrists and raised his hands to Johnny's face, wiping tears away. "That's one way to put it, yeah." He blew out a hard breath and shook his head. "Sorry."

"Been getting them a lot lately?" Walt asked calmly, pushing at Johnny's legs to make room on the bed.

Johnny shifted without thinking, shoving pillows behind him as he sat up and rearranged himself, relaxing a little when Walt's reassuring bulk settled down next to him, bed sagging under his weight until Johnny gave up and let his legs slide back over to rest against Walt's hip. "Since the first victim," he admitted. "They've been getting worse."

"No surprise there," Walt said, still calm, so normal that Johnny could have hugged him. "It's all been getting worse. Have to admit, I've had some pretty crappy nights myself." He looked consideringly at Johnny. "Man, you look really awful. Stay put." The bed felt empty when he got up, leaving Johnny alone in a lonely pool of lamplight until Walt was suddenly back again, damp towel in his hand. "Here."

Johnny wiped his face because Walt seemed to expect it, only then realizing how sticky he felt from sweat and tears. Grimacing, he put more effort into it, running the towel over his hair and neck as well, amazed how much better it made him feel. "Thanks." He handed it back with a tired smile.

Walt looked down at it. "Anyplace I can put this in here where I won't ruin an antique?"

"Not so much, no."

"Yeah, I didn't think so. You should really do something about that," Walt called over his shoulder as he headed back out the door to the bathroom.

"I'll get right on it!" Johnny shouted after him, smiling a little.

Walt came back a minute later, cell phone to his ear. "Hey, honey. Yeah, he's fine, he was asleep and didn't hear the phone, is all."

Johnny flashed him a grateful look. He'd been trying not to think about how Sarah would react to the news that he'd screamed himself awake with tears running down his face. Her protective instincts would have kicked into overdrive, and he really hated it when she started mothering him. It was just... creepy.

"No, I'm just gonna stay here," Walt was saying. That okay? he mouthed to Johnny.

Bemused, Johnny nodded.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'll call you in the morning. Okay. Love you too." He hung up and put the phone on the nightstand.

"Um. I don't have a spare bed set up, but I can get sheets..."

"Don't bother," Walt said, and started unbuttoning his shirt. "I hate sleeping alone, and I'm not so sure you should be alone tonight anyway."

"Okay," Johnny said vaguely, watching wide-eyed as Walt toed out of his shoes and shucked his pants, draping them over a chair along with his shirt. He looked even bigger standing there in boxers and t-shirt, muscles outlined under skin that gleamed in the soft light from the bedside lamp.

Walt snorted and moved around to the other side of the bed, sliding neatly under the covers and settling his head on the other pillow. "Looks like you're already half-asleep. C'mon, hit the light and lie down."

Johnny reached for the lamp but froze halfway there. "Um."

"I'm right here," Walt said quietly. "No monsters under the bed, I promise." He brushed his hand over Johnny's shoulder, and suddenly Johnny was standing in Walt and Sarah's bedroom.

"He's not answering," Sarah said, hanging up the phone and climbing into bed.

Walt frowned, sliding in next to her. "I know he's home, I dropped him off myself and saw him go inside."

Sarah smiled and kissed him lightly. "I'm sure he's fine. You said he was going to take a long shower, right? I'm sure that's what he's doing." She snuggled into him, resting her cheek on his shoulder.

Walt glanced at the clock, frown deepening. "Yeah, you're probably right, but -- I dunno. Today was kinda rough on him. I tried to get him to come here, spend the night with us; maybe I should have pushed harder."

By now Sarah was frowning, too, and had pulled away a little to look at him. "Do you really think something's wrong? What happened today?"

"No, I'm sure you're right, he's probably fine. He just saw some pretty bad stuff on that case we're working, shook him up a bit." Walt settled back on his pillow, staring up at the ceiling, then sighed and sat up. "I'm sorry, honey, I just--"

Sarah propped herself up on one hand. "You're going to check on him?"

Walt grimaced ruefully. "Yeah, I guess I am." He climbed out of bed and reached for tomorrow's uniform, hanging neatly over the chair ready for him.

Sarah watched him, eyes wide and wise. "Are you going to be staying over there?"

"I dunno," Walt said, buttoning his shirt and glancing at her. "If he's just in the shower and is annoyed I stopped by, probably not, but--"

"But if he needs someone there," Sarah said calmly, smiling a little.

Walt nodded. "Yeah." He leaned in and kissed her deeply. "I'll call to let you know, okay?"

"Okay. Take care of him, Walt."

"I will."

Johnny blinked and was back in his own bed, Walt rustling around under the sheets behind him as he got comfortable. The warmth from earlier that day came back redoubled, and Johnny turned out the light without a qualm.

Within moments his eyes started to adjust, moonlight creeping in past the curtains to soften the darkness, without making anything truly visible. It was the sort of darkness that tempted you to whisper truths you wouldn't dare in the light. Johnny held himself still, listening to Walt's quiet breathing, feeling the heat rising off his body to warm the air between them.

"Might help to talk about it," Walt said softly.

Johnny shook his head. Sometimes he forgot how very good Walt was at this sort of thing. "I don't--" He hesitated. He didn't want to tell Walt, but he also didn't want to keep this to himself, festering away deep inside, rotting his soul. He took a deep breath and started with the easy part. "They look like JJ, Walt," he said, barely audible. They'd never said it out loud, not this whole time. He linked his fingers together, determined not to reach out. Walt was giving him too much already.

"Yeah," Walt agreed, going still for a moment. He cleared his throat. "Yeah, they do."

"And--" Johnny hesitated again, afraid he was about to lose everything, but not able to keep this a secret now that he'd started whispering in the dark. His and Walt's and Sarah's relationships with each other all had secrets, truths untold to keep from telling lies, and in a strange way it bound them all even closer together, but this one could destroy them, one way or another. He closed his eyes. At least telling meant Walt could protect their family.

"And what?"

"I told you, it's starting to get sexual, right?"

"Yeah, you told me," Walt said, his voice suddenly perfectly neutral, his body so still on the other side of the bed that it almost vanished from Johnny's perception.

Johnny swallowed hard and stared at the ceiling. "I feel-- When I'm in the vision, I feel everything he feels." He risked a glance to the side, but Walt was just a darker shadow in the dimness. He made himself keep going. "It's... it's awful. It's twisted and horrible and revolting, and I feel it."

"Including the arousal," Walt said, still neutral.

Johnny nodded miserably. "Yeah."

"That why you threw up this time?"

"Yeah." He risked another glance; Walt was nodding slightly, clearly thinking. Not hitting, that was a good sign, and not storming out, telling Johnny to never darken their door again.

"So, you didn't like it."

Horrified, Johnny jerked upright. "No!" He snapped the light back on and turned to face Walt, needing him to see his face, see that he wasn't lying about this. "No, I didn't like it."

Walt's expression was carefully bland, the professional interrogator looking for the truth, even lying in Johnny's bed with one arm tucked behind his head. "Ever feel aroused by teenage boys before?"


"What about JJ, he ever turn you on?"

Johnny's fist was flying before he realized he'd made one, but his leverage was terrible and Walt caught it easily before it connected.

"Look, I'm sorry, okay? But you needed to see your own, real reactions. You're just messed up from being in his head, John, really -- John?"

Johnny stared at Walt's hand. "Oh, my God."

"John, what? What do you see?"

"Nothing. I--" Johnny stopped, shaking his head helplessly, pure, clean desire thrumming through him. No visions, other than images of Walt naked and sweaty and laughing, and he had a feeling his imagination was supplying those. Good imagination. He opened his fist carefully inside Walt's cradling hand, sliding them together palm to palm. This was nothing like the twisted, heavy feeling that had nearly smothered him in guilt and revulsion when he was looking through a killer's eyes at a killer's obsession.

This was joy. This was Walt.

He threaded their fingers together and leaned in, wanting to taste skin.

"Who are you with, John?" Walt asked, pulling free to grip both of Johnny's biceps and looking intently up into his eyes.

"You," Johnny gasped, trying futilely to move closer against that iron grip. "Please."

"Say my name, what's my name?" Walt said urgently.

Oh, God, Walt thought he-- "Walt," Johnny said, forcing himself to be still, to hold back. "I'm with you, Walt." God, he hadn't had a vision of this, what if Walt didn't want this?

Walt smiled, slow and easy, heat sparking deep in his gaze. "Okay," he said calmly, and slid his hands down Johnny's arms and inward, catching the bottom of his shirt and burrowing underneath, spreading against the skin on Johnny's back. "Just making sure."

Johnny moaned, relief and desire swamping him in equal measure. He leaned forward to bury his face in Walt's neck, breathing in the scent of him while every bit of skin-to-skin contact brought him images of Walt being Walt, warm and alive and caring and a bulwark against the darkness Johnny'd been swimming in. "I need--"

"I know," Walt rumbled in his ear, and bit him gently on the earlobe. "It's okay, John. I've got you. I'm here." Walt's hands were busy, pulling and tugging at the sweats Johnny wore to bed, keeping part of his skin against Johnny's every second, like he really did know. "Why do you wear so much to bed, anyway? Sheesh."

Johnny laughed, and sat up to pull all of it off, tossing it in a heap on the floor. Walt's eyes gleamed.

"Hey, hey, you too, you know," Johnny said, mock-indignant as he stared down at Walt's chest, where his t-shirt was clinging in fascinating ways.

Walt grinned at him, and God, when had he gotten so damn sexy? Johnny's breath caught in his throat when Walt leaned up to strip off his t-shirt and wriggle out of his boxers, unselfconsciously beautiful, heavy muscles marking lines and curves that Johnny itched to trace with hands and tongue.

"Well?" Walt asked, raising his eyebrows as he lay back against the pillow.

"Trying to decide where I want to start." Johnny let his eyes roam further, following the line of hair that arrowed down Walt's belly to his groin, where his cock was starting to fill. Johnny licked his lips, then shivered at Walt's low chuckle.

"Anywhere you want," Walt said, stretching under Johnny's gaze, muscles bunching and flexing.

"God. Walt--" The need in his own voice startled Johnny, and softened the teasing light in Walt's eyes.

"Hey, c'mere," Walt said, pulling him down. "C'mere."

Johnny filled his hands with the feel of Walt's skin, warm flesh and coarse hair that made him hungry to feel everywhere, and leaned helplessly forward for Walt's mouth, needing to taste. Walt met him halfway, his mouth hot and urgent, his tongue sliding into Johnny's mouth like it belonged there, and all Johnny could do was moan his approval, clutching Walt tighter and pulling him close, nerve endings sparking all through his body.

Walt chuckled wickedly into his mouth and pulled back. "So, I take it I can assume you're happy to see me?"

"Oh, my God," Johnny groaned, laughing. "I can't believe you actually just said that." He leaned forward to bite lightly at Walt's shoulder as he deliberately rocked his hips forward.

Walt rocked right back, just as hard, dark eyes alight with affection and desire and a little curiosity. "Hey, are you seeing anything now? Visions?" His hand were stroking wherever they could reach, but moving steadily closer and closer to Johnny's hips and groin.

Johnny licked his lips and paid closer attention to the images flickering through his mind. "Nothing really definite, just lots of flashes of you. Um. Having, um, sex."

Walt snickered. "It's okay to say it, John, really."

Johnny glared, then blinked. Huh. He shifted, lifting up and nudging Walt's legs apart to settle between them. A wiggle and a little help from his hand got their cocks aligned the way he wanted, and he spread pre-come over both heads with a twisting motion that made Walt gasp and buck upward. "You like this," he said confidently, leaning forward and kissing Walt deeply as he started rocking in earnest, his right hand still trapped between their bodies to rub his thumb against the sensitive head of Walt's cock.

"That's cheating," Walt said when Johnny pulled away from his mouth long enough to let him talk.

"You complaining?" Johnny thrust a little harder.

Walt settled both hands on Johnny's ass, squeezing just hard enough and adjusting Johnny's rhythm to suit him better. "Nope," he said, grinning. He wrapped his legs around Johnny's thighs to give them both more leverage, moaning when Johnny changed his angle a little in response, and driving his hips up to meet Johnny's every downward thrust.

Johnny laughed, delight bubbling through him, and settled into the new rhythm, loving the feel of Walt beneath him, cradling him and holding him close. Some distant corner of his mind regretted not taking the time to play, in case this was his only chance, but God, he needed this so badly.

Walt's hands were all over him, moving and stroking and kneading, heat blazing in Johnny's skin at every touch. Johnny eased himself down onto his elbow carefully, wanting more contact but not wanting to crush Walt, feeling Walt's rumbling chuckle through his chest.

"It's okay, John, I'm not gonna break."

Johnny grinned and deliberately pushed more weight onto Walt. Walt grunted and smacked him lightly in the back of the head, then pulled him even closer to kiss him long and deep. Johnny moaned.

Sweat and more pre-come made a slick tunnel between them and Johnny keened as the pressure built and built, Walt's rough voice urging him on, legs and hands and arms holding him tight, giving Johnny everything he needed.

"Next time, I suck you off," Walt rasped straight into his ear, and God, Johnny saw it, saw Walt, sweaty and flushed, his cock still twitching with the after-effects of orgasm, sliding down the bed to take Johnny's cock in his mouth, lips swollen from kisses stretching around Johnny, looking up at him with sleepy, sated eyes still dark with arousal--

Gasping Walt's name, Johnny came in long pulses between their bellies, then collapsing gracelessly onto Walt's broad chest.

"Jesus, John," Walt grunted, but his hands were petting Johnny soothingly. "Guess you liked that idea, huh?"

"You could say that," Johnny agreed weakly.

Walt was still hard between them, his hips still rocking up into Johnny, a little too much for Johnny to take. Carefully, he shifted to the side, wrapping his hand firmly around Walt instead. "C'mon," he urged, starting to stroke, remembering the twisty bit at the top and grinning at the gasp it wrung from Walt.

Walt reached down and adjusted Johnny's grip just a bit, holding his hand over Johnny's to show him how fast he wanted it, then let his hand fall away when Johnny got it just right. Walt's head fell back on the pillow, the line of his neck taut and gorgeous as his chin stretched upward.

Johnny feasted his eyes on him, watching closely for the signs that Walt was about to come, grinning in triumph when Walt's breathing changed and his hips started pumping hard under Johnny's arm. "That's it, that's it," Johnny crooned quietly, and Walt came, cock jerking in Johnny's fist as he shot. Johnny left his hand there, curled loosely around Walt's softening cock, knowing he liked to be petted and soothed after.

"That's cheating again," Walt said lazily, opening sated eyes to smile sweetly at Johnny when he realized what Johnny was doing.

"Always with the complaining," Johnny said lightly, patting Walt's cock one last time and letting him go.

"Heh. No complaints here," Walt said, closing his eyes again with a deep, contented sigh.

Johnny grinned and rolled over to lay back on his own pillow, grimacing a little as the sweat cooling on his skin went from pleasantly tingly to chilly and uncomfortable. He glanced at Walt, still clearly flying on endorphins and feeling no pain -- or cold -- and sighed, making the effort himself to lean up and reach precariously for the covers to flip over both of them.

Reality settled in with the blanket.

He sneaked a glance at Walt, perfectly relaxed on the other pillow, a faint smile still curving his lips. "You seem remarkably calm about this," Johnny said.

Walt's smile stretched into a grin as he opened his eyes and turned his head to face Johnny, unconcerned. "C'mon, John -- you're telling me you weren't expecting something like this to happen at some point?"

"You're telling me you were?"

"Well -- yeah. I mean... yeah!" Walt's eyebrows drew together in a faint frown, and he propped himself up on one elbow to look more closely at Johnny. "You're serious, you didn't see this coming."

"No, I didn't! And I can't believe you did." Johnny was not sulking.

Walt lay back again, chuckling. "Well, well. Guess you really don't see everything."

Johnny scowled at the ceiling, feeling strangely put out. He was the one who was supposed to be ready for stuff like this, the one who got the advance warning on all the important things. Not Walt. "So--"

Walt leaned back up and put a hand on his chest, stroking lightly. "John. Don't... Look, it was just going to happen, okay? Look at us, all of us, how tangled up everything is. I don't know why you didn't get a vision of this. Maybe... your visions are all about specific circumstances, right?"

Johnny nodded.

"Okay, so maybe the circumstances were never right before, that's all. I mean, obviously they weren't, because nothing ever happened before. And this time, your visions of--"

"Don't," Johnny said, voice low. "Please."

Walt's hand pressed harder against his skin, a silent apology. "This time, you had other things to focus on," he said gently.

Johnny relaxed. "Or maybe I'm just really, really stupid about some things," he said ruefully.

"Or that," Walt agreed, a smile in his voice. "Now can we get some sleep, please?"


"Knows I'm spending the night, remember? And no, I have no idea if she knows this is how I'm spending the night," Walt said calmly, smiling at little at Johnny's reaction. "But -- we're family, John. All of us. Together." As if to prove it, he stole Johnny's pillow and made himself comfortable, draping one arm over Johnny's waist and nuzzling into his neck.

Johnny shook his head, huffing out a laugh. "Weirdest family ever, man," he murmured.

"Whatever works," Walt mumbled behind him, lips moving against Johnny's skin. "Now would you for the love of Pete shut up?"

Johnny grinned and reached precariously to turn out the light, then settled in snugly against Walt, liking the feel of him there along his back, a shield no nightmares could possibly get through. "Yes, dear," he said lightly, and caught the mock fist Walt made against his chest, cradling it close, and closed his eyes.


He woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and the sight of Walt sitting in the chair dressed but barefoot, and with his tie dangling around his neck. Johnny's stomach fluttered happily at the flash of Walt's bare ankle as he started pulling on his socks, and he shook his head at himself ruefully. Walt grinned smugly at him, clearly having caught the reaction.

Johnny threw a pillow at his head, then gave up when Walt just caught it and tossed it neatly back on the bed. "What time is it?"

"Early," Walt said, sliding into his shoes and lacing them up. "I'm sorry to wake you, but I didn't want to just sneak out."

Johnny started to say something about the situation being awkward enough already, then blinked as he realized that it wasn't awkward at all. Huh.

Walt must've caught that reaction, too. "I told you, we're family. We're a weird family, but we're family." Walt walked over and leaned down to kiss him, sliding a hand behind Johnny's neck and taking his time about it.

"Oh, man," Johnny said a little breathlessly when Walt let him go. "I should warn you, I think I could get used to that."

Walt nodded. "Me, too. We'll figure something out."

Johnny believed him. "You need me to come with you?"

"Nah. No new victim this time, thank God, just some reports the lab guys want me to see. They think they found something." Walt walked to the doorway and hesitated, looking at Johnny. "We're gonna catch this guy. And we're all gonna be okay."

Johnny looked back for a long moment, and smiled. "Yeah. We're gonna be fine."

~ fin ~

Feedback of any sort, from one line to detailed crit, is always welcome, at arduinna at trickster dot org.


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