In which Hancock is just trying to have good times and Danse is angrily unable to control his urges.

Weeks passed with no words exchanged or any kind of real interaction between them. Hancock saw Danse around time to time when they both happened to be at the settlement; banging out dents in his armor at the workbench, patrolling the perimeter, or just sitting and relaxing somewhere. He seemed to like the heat of the sun and the cool breeze of the night equally. On the few occasions one caught the other's eye, Danse would look away first, face neutral as if he didn't recognize him. The first couple times Hancock couldn't help but smile quizzically after him, amused at the very obvious cold shoulder he was getting. After that he forgot about it. Made sense.

The weather turned from warm to sweltering. Fans were on full blast all over the co-op and everyone was turning a little more nocturnal than usual to avoid the blistering daylight hours. Hancock lay stretched out on his bed, clad only in a thin pair of cotton pants; heavy velvet coat long since abandoned in the small wardrobe on the wall. There was one last little hit of jet in the red plastic inhaler in his hand. He took it, sucking in the mist and relishing the horrible acrid taste of chemicals burning down his throat and into his lungs as time crawled slower and the colors around him deepened and spread. So gross, but so good. His eyes closed as he held it in, then opened again and let the breath out in a quiet hiss. His head and lungs felt airy and expanded, his heart fluttered in his chest, and a cool prickle ran over his scalp, stomach, and splayed out legs. Time passed sluggishly as he lay there, staring upward at flickering gold dust motes passing through the light from the solitary lamp in his room. As the high gradually faded away the vibrancy of the light faded back to normal and the darkness of the room pressed in again.

A quiet knock sounded at the door; quiet enough that if he'd been asleep the sound likely wouldn't have woken him. It was the dead of night, probably pushing more toward morning by now and he wasn't expecting anyone, but jet had a lovely lingering effect of pushing away things like "concerns" and "suspicions". He licked his lips and raised his voice a little to carry it to the far wall, "Come in, come in... whoever the fuck goes there."

He heard the door creak open and tick shut again. Then deliberate, carefully measured footsteps, with an unmistakable weight to them. Only one person around here walked like that. "Paladin," he said, surprised. He turned his head to see Danse approaching, head tipped down and face in shadow. Following the tune of everyone else around, he'd forgone his standard brotherhood-issue jumpsuit in lieu of a plain t-shirt and pair of lightweight slacks. Seems the heat even got to tin cans. It was a good look for him. As he drew closer, Hancock could see that his expression was blank but his jaw was clenched tightly shut. That probably meant trouble.

Before he could get another word out, Danse yanked Hancock to his feet. His back was slammed against the wall and Danse loomed up around him, dominating his view. An uneasy thrill spiked through his chest as his breath was rattled loose and adrenaline flushed through him. His body was stirring, reacting enthusiastically to the sudden show of force.

He had invited Danse to come find him, he remembered that much. But the paladin looked overly aggravated at something. Enraged maybe. Even if Hancock wasn't still feeling the last smeary pulses of the jet, it was going to be a lop-sided fight if Danse really wanted to go after him. It was kind of exciting, actually; the not knowing. Was he going to kiss him again, or break his jaw? Who knew!

Hancock looked back into the blazing face, burying his feverish energy under a warm, easy voice, "Hey, man." He tried shifting his shoulders around experimentally. They didn't move a centimeter in Danse's grip. "Can't sleep?"

Danse closed his eyes, looking like he was trying to hold something big and volatile back before he exploded. He leaned forward and touched his forehead against Hancock's. Like his hands, the skin was damp and very hot. His words were halted and intense. "No. I can't."

The gesture and the answer said everything. Hancock tilted his face up, the side of his lips resting on Danse's cheek. His breath flowed over burning skin, jaw scratching against the short, scrubby beard. "Hmm. And so you came to see me." His voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. "What on Earth for?"

"I..." Danse's throat clicked as he swallowed, uncertainty edging through the aggression. He sounded as if he was seriously considering turning and marching back out the door. "I don't know."

Hancock bared his teeth in a mocking smile. "Yeah, horseshit. You know why. You wanted to come touch me again. Feel my skin under your hands," he said, words getting more pointed as he spoke. "Or maybe something more than that. You wanted my lips around your cock; fingers clawing at your hips as you slam into my throat." Danse shuddered and blew out a shaky breath. He might have him physically pinned here, but Hancock had Danse hooked on his every word. "No? Something simpler then. Just a quick fuck to scratch that itch I know you've got. Pick me up and pound into me right here against the wall like a bar slut, huh?"

A hard pulse ticked in Danse's body and his hands clenched. He could smell the desire on Danse, leaking out of his pores, on his breath. Resentment, excitement, dirty animalistic lust. "Come on, I know what you're here for." Hancock scraped his teeth over the damp neck. "What are you gonna do to me?" he mumbled before biting down harder.

That did it. Danse drew back and his eyes twitched from Hancock's face down his body to the drawstring on his pants. His hands ripped the closure loose followed by a foot stepping on the cuffs and then Danse simply lifting Hancock up and against him. Fuck. It was very apparent how strong Danse was just from looking at him, but when he made a show of it... it was incredibly arousing. One large hand supported his ass, the other curled tightly around his thin waist. His own hands ran up over Danse's collarbones before coming to rest in the air with his arms laid loosely over the thick shoulders. His legs wrapped around Danse's hips, supporting himself as his back was pinned against the uneven wall. It was unusual being completely naked with a fully-clothed partner, but it was kind of working for him.

Danse's lips pressed against his, ungentle and needy. His hands grasped hard and pulled Hancock's hips against his stomach. He bucked into it, chasing the friction and contact. The lips were soon replaced by fingers. Looking back at Danse, the all-black eyes set on dark brown, he slowly sucked them into his mouth. Danse moaned softly, his other hand squeezing tight around Hancock's thigh. The ghoul's tongue licked down the sides of the thick index finger and then up to flick against the fingertip. "Actually," Hancock said, pulling off slowly. "There's some lube in there if you want to make this a little easier on us both." He nodded down at the nightstand in the corner.

Danse wrapped his hand around Hancock's jaw, wet fingers smearing his cheek. "Yeah, fine," he breathed against him. Danse dropped him back onto his bed and moved to open the drawer. After several moments of rummaging he had a container in hand and came back to stand over Hancock with an amused look on his face.

Hancock crossed his arms under his head, chest pushed out and legs dangling off the edge of the mattress. He pointed his toes, flexing the muscles of his calves. "What's that look for? I like to jerk off in comfort sometimes."

Danse's face was back to carefully neutral as he knelt on the bed and uncapped the tube, looking down and unbuttoning the fly of his pants. "It was mostly about the other stuff in there."

"Oh. Yeah. Well, listen," Hancock said, laughing a little as he watched Danse pour some of the oily liquid onto his hand and work it over his cock. "When you grow up, paladin, you can buy yourself toys too, you know."

A grunt and low roll of his eyes was his answer. "I'll remember that when I get more mature." A hand lifted his hips as slick fingers probed against him then slowly pushed in, twisting. Hancock's breath hitched and he closed his eyes, feeling the pressure and slight sting gradually give way to warmth and a need for more as the fingers rocked into him. Danse grabbed Hancock again, handling him like he weighed nothing and roughly returned him to his previous position against the wall.

Danse wasn't gentle with him. There was a desperation in his rough, jerky thrusts and harsh panting. His hands dug into Hancock's waist, keeping him at the right height as he slammed up into him. Hancock's back was rubbing into the wall, but even that felt fine. His hands curled into the hair at the back of Danse's head as they both leaned forward, mouths open and breathing hard. "Please," Hancock panted, not really knowing what he was asking for. Just more. His heels dug into the small of Danse's back and his short nails scratched across the fabric of his shirt as Danse pounded into him. Both of their bodies dripped with sweat; each small breath of wind from the outside giving just a tease of relief.

Danse was starting to come close; Hancock could feel the way his body was tensing and how the harsh rolling of his hips began to falter. He took Danse's chin in his hand, tipping it up so he could see his face. Heavy eyebrows drawn together in concentration, eyes both focused and far away, mouth red and wet. He leaned in and kissed the full lower lip, sucking on it then gently biting.

"C'mon, sweetheart," he growled. "You can fuck me harder."

Danse grunted and his hands dug in tighter, thrusts getting stronger and deeper. He came, his sultry, half-closed eyes locked on Hancock's and moaning along with each hard spasm. God, he was beautiful.

Danse slowly pulled himself free and lowered the ghoul's feet back to the floor. Hancock leaned against the wall for a moment, not trusting his legs to hold him quite yet. His ass burned and his dick was extremely hard, the tip brushing against his belly as he breathed. He found an old towel to wipe off with and then tossed it over to Danse, who'd sat on the edge of his bed.

"Thanks." Danse fastened his pants, again fully clothed. He beckoned to Hancock. "Come here." His voice was still hoarse with exertion, but the tone was friendly enough. Hancock obeyed, taking the few steps to stand in front of him, hands on bare hips.

"You weren't wrong, earlier," Danse started, putting out a calloused hand and pulling the fingers softly down the jagged skin of Hancock's stomach. It trailed down hip and thigh and clasped around his leg, thumb moving in small circles. His skin prickled where he'd been touched and he leaned into Danse's hand. He wasn't too far off from his own release and the gentle petting was pushing him closer. Danse continued, his eyes downcast as his other hand stroked up from calf to knee to thigh, "I do want to touch. Here, sit." He moved back, spreading his legs out to make a space right in front of him. Hancock raised his eyebrows, but did so, nestled comfortably between Danse's thighs with his back against his chest.

Danse's breath fell over the nape of his neck as he spoke. "Never really had the chance before... and also never wanted to." He sighed, frustration turning his breath into a grumble. "Until you."

He could feel both the hesitation and eagerness in the way Danse touched him, and damn if that didn't make it even hotter. Both hands lit on his thighs, pressing into the crags of his skin and the taut muscle underneath. Up to his hipbones, which he grabbed and pulled Hancock's ass firmly back against him. One hand continued up, tracing over stomach and then smoothing down over his ribs. A feathery graze over one collarbone and then down over the other pec. Hancock was straining against the other hand remaining on his hip, trying his best to tense and roll into the air. Each touch was sending a new jolt through him, starting at Danse's rough fingers and ending somewhere behind his balls, tingling and spreading. It was torturous but also felt so good. His breathing had picked up again, needy panting as Danse continued the exploration but very conspicuously avoided one area.

Hancock threw his head back, and growled into Danse's ear, "Finish me. Right now. Stop being fucking mean."

At first, Danse ignored him. His lips pressed into Hancock's shoulder and then tilted against his neck, sending yet more shivers down his back as his hands lightly touched Hancock's chest. He murmured against the straining cords of muscle, deep voice rumbling into him, "Is that what you want, ghoul?"

He could beg for it, he wasn't proud. "Paladin, please." His voice sounded desperate and pained. Fine. It matched the throbbing ache in his body. "Please let me come."

Hancock could feel the thick lips curl into a smile against his neck and the scruff on his cheek scratch against him. Danse gripped him firmly and began a slow, controlled stroke that immediately had him squirming and rocking his hips. All the heat in him seemed to draw together and cling where Danse's hand was.

"Oh, fffuuuck— fucking shit," he groaned out, feeling the rush surging through his body as his orgasm began to crash over him. Danse latched his teeth onto Hancock's neck as he came, turning his moan into a hoarse series of shouts and curses as he spilled across the floor. The hand stayed on him, teasing out the last few spurts until Hancock collapsed backwards into Danse's chest, legs shaky and lungs burning. He leaned against the solid wall of person behind him for a moment, closing his eyes and letting the adrenaline drain slowly away to be replaced by warm satisfaction. Motherfuck yes.

Reluctant to do it, but also unwilling to let himself get too comfortable, he left the circle of Danse's arms and retrieved his discarded pants from the floor. Pulled them on and retied them, then looked up to see Danse hadn't moved. He still sat on the bed, arms now propped stiffly behind him and his face seriously deep in thought. Hancock watched him, waiting for the inevitable words that went with a look like that.

Danse stared off at the closed door on the far wall. "I can't," he stopped and cleared his throat. "I shouldn't let myself do this again."

It shouldn't have been a surprise but he still found himself a little taken aback. "Alright, 's fine," Hancock said. Disappointing, sure, but Danse had no obligation to him; they weren't fucking dating or anything.

That called up an ugly thought. "You're not cheating on someone with me, are you?"

Danse frowned and looked up at him. "What? No. Nothing like that." He sighed and rose to his feet, looking like he wanted to reach up and pinch the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Come walk with me for a minute, if you don't mind. I need some air."

Hancock moved over to his closet and picked through it, wondering what the hell this was about. "A walk, huh," he grinned a little. "As long as this 'walk' doesn't end with my body being dumped in the woods, I'm all yours."

Danse dragged a palm down his face as he crossed the room, muttering, "Be serious, would you? I just want to talk, for god's sake."

Hancock had been only mostly joking; Danse's attitude when he'd come in had been confusing enough to keep him a little on edge for most of the visit. Enough to constantly expect some kind of physical lashing out. But at least the snippy response was reassuring. He pulled on his boots and followed Danse outside.

The night air was a relief to both of them. Relatively cool, breezy, and just a little damp. Danse turned toward the back of the shack and crunched off through the dead leaves, winding his way around the tall, pale-barked trees. Hancock matched his strides, picking his way through the woods at Danse's right. A half moon filtered light down through the sparse canopy of leaves overhead. Hancock laughed a little, again trying to lighten up the weird mood, "Well, this is romantic as hell, paladin. But you're supposed to seduce someone before you fuck their brains out, not after."

Danse blew a sharp breath of air out of his nose but didn't have a response. Eh. It was better than nothing. They continued on, making their way down a few steep, eroded embankments to the edge of the large lake that stretched out to the north of the co-op. Danse slowed his pace to a meander, aimlessly walking back and forth along the rocky mud of the lakeside. Hancock stood back under a tree and watched him warily.

"Go on. Say what you're gonna say, sweetheart," Hancock said. The environs were nice, but he was sick of the ridiculous tenseness from Danse. It was making his jaw and back ache from sympathetic muscle strain.

"I have to stop." Danse's words were stilted and awkward like he really didn't want to say them, but still had to get them out anyway. "I shouldn't be fraternizing at all, let alone with a... non-human." His cheeks flushed slightly darker. "Particularly not to this extent. I would be suspended indefinitely or, more likely, cast out for such a severe lapse of judgement."

A lapse of judgement. Shit. Hancock snorted, knowing already this wasn't going to be pretty and feeling a light lick of anger in his mind. He could've easily taken a simple rejection and moved on. What was the point of this? "Oh, yeah, that's right. Sex with a ghoul. You're pretty much ruined now," he said, sarcastically cheery.

"According to Elder Maxson, yes," Danse muttered.

Hancock's eyes snapped up. "Fuck your elder. What the fuck does he know?"

Danse was silent for a moment, gritting his teeth and turning away to frown at the ground. "He's our leader. I have a duty to him to uphold his rules and carry out his orders no matter what they are; all of my brothers and sisters do." He paused, heaved a sigh, and spoke again, quieter and chewing the corner of his lip. "You asked if I was cheating on someone. It feels like I'm cheating on the brotherhood."

Hancock folded his arms across his chest and glared at the back currently turned to him, annoyed and mildly disgusted. He had to make an effort not to just childishly say 'That's fucking stupid.' and leave it at that. All the way out here in the sticks, and Danse was still trying to follow their most nonsensical tenets while being miles away from anyone who gave a shit. "Trying" being the operative word there. It was a little late to say he'd done a good job at not fooling around with a ghoul. Twice.

"I'm not gonna say you're not, but so what? So fucking what?"

Damnit. He'd known right from the start that this was going to be a mess. Danse and his buddies had anything ranging from mild disgust to outright hatred when it came to ghouls and other mutants and Hancock had known it. It had been fine as long as it never actually came up. But why wouldn't it? What had he been thinking…? Well, he'd been thinking with his dick and (ha ha) screw the consequences. And now here it was, awkward and ugly.

Danse was watching him, looking equally upset and temporarily at a loss for words. So Hancock continued, "I didn't wanna have this conversation for a few different reasons, but you obviously do, seeing as we're all the way out here." He swept a hand out at the empty lake. "So, fine. Listen." The open hand turned into a pointing finger jabbed at Danse. "I know exactly what you brotherhood pricks think about ghouls. Seen it myself and I've heard the horror stories coming from up north. I know you aren't real friendly with anyone that's not in your little assholes-in-power-armor club but, oh man, it doesn't even come close to the treatment ghouls get does it? You fuckheads kill any you come across, feral or not. Isn't that right? 'Put us out of our misery'? 'Release us from our torment'?"

He realized he was falling into a rant, but couldn't stop. He didn't like turning into one of those ghoul rights advocacy guys, but something was really pushing his buttons tonight. Danse looked even angrier, but there was something else in his eyes. Guilt, maybe. Hopefully. Some kind of reluctant realization.

"I could see what you thought of me when we were introduced fucking forever ago. You had that shitty look on your face and you wouldn't stop trying to touch your gun every time I moved. Is that the kind of person you are? Do you really believe that kind of shit? You want to hate a bunch of people you've never met and don't know? Hate me? For what? The fact that my skin looks like a Yao Guai chewed it up? Because all RadAway does to me is make me puke my guts out?"

Fuck. He was shouting. Shouting and probably looking a little feral himself with the way his shoulders were hunching up and his hands were tensing into claws at his sides. Good foresight on Danse's part to come out here.

"I'm just a guy, same as you. Get it? We don't need your disdain or your fucking mercy killings. I'm a person; we're people. We're not humans, but we're definitely not fucking monsters," Danse winced and closed his eyes at that. "And we're not whatever the holy Elder Jerkoff decided a ghoul is. You don't have to keep thinking there's some massive rift between what I am and what you are for fuck's sake."

Danse stepped closer and Hancock tensed in preparation for a strike or a shove; something. He didn't expect Danse's hands to softly fall to his arms and just hold him there. Hancock quieted and he stared up at Danse, eyes burning and blood thrumming through him. Why was Danse still waiting around here? For that matter, why was he still waiting around here? Why was he letting a brotherhood soldier's stupid, backwards views on ghouls bother him so much? Why was he leaning into Danse instead of tearing away and going the fuck home? God damnit, this was making his head hurt. He'd thought he was okay with just using Danse and being used in return, but then why did he care about getting this straight?

Why was he still trying?

"Are you always gonna do whatever they tell you to?" Hancock's lips slid into an uncertain smile. "And look, I'm not saying this because you're a really fun lay and I badly need to keep you around, cuz you are, but fuck, man. Make your own fucking decisions. Go if you want; you don't have to talk to me or even fuckin' look at me ever again, but do it cuz you want to, not cuz someone else is pullin' your strings." He wanted to reach out and touch Danse, see if he was getting any of this, but his arms were still pinned to his sides. He shifted around in the unyielding grip instead and sighed, suddenly tired. "Say something, would you?"

The moment stretched out. Hancock could hear the wind shifting through the trees and the water, his own thudding heart, and the imaginary echoes of his own shouting.

"You're right," Danse mumbled.

Hancock looked up, startled. "...What?"

Danse took a deep heaving breath and closed his eyes. When they reopened his expression was subdued and he spoke, his voice a quiet rumble.

"I said... you're right. John."

Hearing his name coming from Danse stunned him into complete silence.

Danse continued, his hands relaxing and almost apologetically falling back to his sides. "Along with the brotherhood's teachings and the Elder's views, I... have my own reason for feeling this way. But I'm starting to see that it isn't a very good one. It's an emotional reaction to... something that happened a long time ago and I shouldn't let it keep affecting me like this." Danse took another deep breath and tipped his head back. Hancock watched the cords of his neck tighten and shift as he swallowed against what might have possibly been the threat of tears. He was insanely curious about what the hell the 'something' had been to provoke that kind of reaction, but had the presence of mind to realize that this wasn't the time to pry.

Danse released him and turned away, dropping to the ground and sitting on a grassy patch facing the water. His left hand laced through his hair as he tilted his head to watch Hancock out of the corner of his eye. "I owe the brotherhood a lot… everything, really. Hell, I've been a part of them for almost half my life. But you're right. I can't make an argument against anything you said." His lips thinned and he looked away again. "That kind of hatred isn't worthy of them. Or of me. You don't deserve it either."

Hancock joined him on the ground, not really sure what he was feeling. Some kind of drawn-out bewilderment; waiting for an unfunny punchline or the inevitable 'gotcha!'. Danse turned to fully look at him; his voice was strained and somber. "So I need to apologize to you. I've been unnecessarily antagonistic; I've said and done plenty of things I wish I could take back." His eyes cut away. "I'm not saying I can change this all at once; it's a lot. But I'm going to make the effort."

Danse's hand slid from his hair to the back of his neck. His voice was quiet but firm when he spoke. "I'm sorry."

Hancock felt an insane desire to laugh at how damn serious this had all gotten and how titanic of a reversal this was. Self-preservation somehow triumphed over the nervous urge and he resigned himself to staring wide-eyed at the side of Danse's face in disbelief. That was something he had never expected to hear from a brotherhood soldier, nevermind Danse, and it was actually sort of ...sweet of him if he actually meant it.

Well, shit. It was good to be proven wrong about how much of a complete asshole Danse was, but it still sort of irked him that he couldn't feel that pure, uncomplicated dislike for him anymore. Frustrating to get his nice, orderly thoughts and opinions all mixed around. At least the paladin was still mostly an uptight, snotty asshole. Just maybe not quite so hate-able anymore.

He stuck out his legs, digging the heels of his boots into the soft lake mud and breathed out a low, disbelieving breath. This whole entire thing had been such a stupid idea; and brought on by what? One inebriated stumble and a few heated words. But he was caught in it. And really, what was life without weird shit like this? Fuck it.

Hancock steepled his fingers under his chin and leaned forward, frowning thoughtfully at the water. "I'm only gonna accept that apology if you get drunk with me," he said.

Some of the tenseness ran out of Danse's body; his shoulders slumped a little and he laughed quietly in surprise, the sound blending in with the water lapping at the nearby shore.

"And not just one beer and 'Oh, look at the time,' I mean dr-unk," Hancock continued.

"If that's what it takes I could likely set some time aside for that."

"Well then..." he paused and smiled, "...Danse, I think we're square." He leaned back up and stuck his hand over, and Danse awkwardly shook it in the small space. Even after all else, that brief touch stuck out as feeling deeply personal, nearly intimate. They separated again, each thinking of the warm pressure from the other's hand as they sat; staying until the sky started to lighten with the first blush of sunrise and then heading home to sleep.