Okay, this isn't a chapter fic, and I'm a very bad girl for writing it when I have so many other stories I have to update. Arghh! I'm writing it anyway! Enjoy. M-rated for a reason.
Disclaimer: Don't own HP, or Sev, or Siri. The world is so cruel sometimes.
Things to Prove
Sirius stalked into the South London bar, angry and raring for a fight. The Muggle occupants glanced up at the slam of the door, saw his murderous expression, and hurriedly went back to their drinks. Sirius ignored them and strode directly to the bar. He ordered up a healthy whiskey, and set about getting drunk with a will.
How could Remus? How dare he! How dare he insinuate that Sirius ... played for the other team. Just because any of his relationships with girls lasted maybe a day. Just because he let his gaze wander after Quidditch. Damn him! Sirius was as straight as the next man! Well, given the suggestive leer his neighbour sent his way, maybe not the current next man. But dammit, that wasn't the point! How could Remus think that of him?
Maybe because it's true? A little voice in the back of his mind whispered. He snarled at it, and took another swipe of his drink. It was not true. Dammit, it wasn't! And there was a way to prove it. Despite his reputation as a playboy, he'd never actually taken a girl to bed. Not that the lads knew it. Even Sirius himself didn't know why.
Because you know they're not what you want, and you're afraid that you'll fail. This time the growl was out loud, drawing the brief, nervous attention of the patrons. A sweeping glare, and all eyes were once more fixed on various liquids in various glasses. Damn them all to hell! He'd show them! He'd show that know-it-all werewolf, and that stupid little voice.
"Hey barkeep!" The rotund little man appeared cautiously at his elbow. "Barkeep, where's the nearest brothel? Now, man!" Smothered gasps ringed the room, but Sirius was in no mood to care for propriety. The man bobbed his bald head nervously, and gave him shaking directions. Sirius didn't wait for the wavering warnings, but leapt up and stalked back out. He'd show Remus!
When he arrived, however, he began to wish he had waited to hear what the man had had to say. The building itself was unassuming. It'd have to be. No, what worried him were the people that filled the street. Definite red light zone, this, but it looked like the darker end of things. Blatant clients and battered hookers flitted through the shadows, most of them male. No. All of them male. Dammit it all to hell! That bloody bastard had sent him to a gay brothel!
That seemed to be the least of his problems, though. He was attracting attention. A couple of the hookers came towards him. He shook his head, and the pair turned away. As they did, the flickering red light of the whorehouse caught the livid bruise on one's face, and the absolute lack of expression behind it. Something turned over in his stomach. Spinning on his heel, he made to leave. Through red-splashed vision, he caught sight of a familiar face.
Blond hair swinging, Lucius Malfoy apparated into a side alley, pulling another, darker figure with him. Sirius cursed, and ducked back into a doorway. The last thing he needed was to be caught by a Death Eater, and here of all places. Concentrating, he shifted, going dog. A moment getting used to his new perceptions, and he slipped back out, skulking past on the other side of the street, his only intention to get out of there. And a choked gasp caught his attention.
He swung his gaze back to Malfoy and his companion. Except it wasn't a companion. Smirking cruelly as he left the alley, Lucius tugged viciously on the rope he held, and the dark man behind him pitched headfirst into the street. Unceremoniously dragged back to his feet, the prisoner shot a venemous glare at his captor, and the light caught the hooked nose and unmistakable pitch black eyes of Severus Snape. Shit!
Lucius' flamboyant swagger drew attention, and he gathered quite a crowd in a matter of moments. Sirius slunk around the edges, watching the proceedings warily. He wanted to leave, but Snape was an Order member, and if he was Malfoy's prisoner, then he'd been found out, and nothing good could come of this. The bound man showed no fear, frowning fiercely, eyes glittering with rage over a twisted gag. But in his canine form, Sirius could smell the sour tang of panic and pain coming from him. There was anger, all right, but it was a thin veneer over bone deep fear. Still, no-one else could tell, the act was that good.
"I have something to sell, Ladies and Gentlemen," Lucius smirked. "A little problem of mine, a little fighter for sale. Cash now, you keep him, do what you want with him, and forget you ever saw me. Any interest? Hmmm?"
"What's a skinny piece o' shit like that got to offer us, pretty boy?" A hulking mass of a man stepped forward, an already ugly face twisted further by a sneer. Murmurs of agreement followed his question. Lucius met his challenger's gaze head on, smiling secretively. In answer, he threw Snape forward, and at the same time caught hold of the man's robe, ripping it half off with a flourish. Snape pitched forward, landing awkwardly on his face with his arms tied behind him, and his torn back free for all to see. The sudden burst of bloodscent caused Sirius to back off with a whimper, clawing at his nose.
The crowd closed in as Lucius crouched elegantly down over his captive and traced one bleeding cut with a delicate hand. Snape refused to shudder, even when the action drew appreciative murmurs from their audience. The blonde looked up at his customer and smiled. "Why, anything you want, my friend," he enticed. "He's a plaything, nothing more. He'll do whatever you want. I should warn you, though, that he does bite. And claw. He won't make it easy. No-one yet has made him scream." The huge man's eyes followed his stroking hand laviciously, and sparked at the description.
"How much y'askin'?" he muttered hoarsely, hypnotised. Lucius disguised a triumphant smirk.
"How much you got?"
"One eighty do ya?"
"That depends, my friend," the Death Eater murmured. "I want him to go to a good home, you see. One where he can spend the rest of his life, yes? What do you think? Can you give him a good time? 'Til death do you part? I need to be sure, you see, that he's going to the right place."
The prospective buyer grinned darkly. "He'll be grand with me, pretty boy. Oh, aye. I'll show 'im a good time. You up f'rit?" At Lucius' nod, the rest of the crowd dispersed. Only Sirius, skulking in the shadows, witnessed the exchange of money. Once it was stowed, the Death Eater handed Snape's leash over, and slipped away. His customer ignored his exit.
"Just you an' me now, boyo," he growled, reaching down to haul the smaller man up, slinging him over his shoulder like a sack. Snape grunted in pain through the gag. Sirius followed closely as they lumbered off into a maze of alleys, mind ticking over. What the hell did he do now?
The answer was suddenly provided for him in a filthy little alley some distance away. Snape, who up until then had lain quiet and placid, jerked to one side all of a sudden, twisting his body and ramming his foot into his captor's groin. Awkward though the blow was, even Sirius whimpered in sympathy for its accuracy. As the hulking brute released him to clutch ineffectively at his family jewels, Snape threw himself clear, landing in a heap with the rapist between him and Sirius. Not even waiting to recover, the captive spy launched himself straight from a supine position, shoulder aimed at the exact same spot, bowling the man over to a howl of anguish. Scraping his hands clear of the rope that bound them, he arched upwards on top of his enemy and latched onto his throat in a spirited attempt to strangle the bastard.
Sirius barked stunned encouragement, caught as utterly by surprise as the man under attack. In the latter's case, though, the shock wore off quickly, and two great hams of hands clasped his prisoner's slender wrists and forced them inexorably away from his throat. Not bothering with dismay, Snape responded with a knee shot to the now battered groin. Roaring with pain and fury, his opponent released one wrist to open-hand him across the face, flinging the spy to one side, an arc arrested by the painful grip on his arm. The blow knocked the wind from him, and almost the consciousness too. In a trice, as his captive lay stunned, the rapist swung on top of him, his huge bulk grinding his smaller prey into the ground. Snape used his freed hand to jab at the man's eyes, and as his face jerked upwards to avoid them, Sirius leapt to the attack himself.
Snarling furiously, he rushed the pair, teeth bared and snapping for the bastard's throat. The man gave a hoarse scream and leapt backwards. To gain purchase for the retreat, his knee plowed into Snape's chest, and the sickening crack of bone breaking catapulted Sirius from calculated attack into raging bloodlust. This man would die! Riding on the influence of his own bloodlust, the brute recognised the killer fury, and ran. Legs pounding the concrete, he cut loses and simply fled. Sirius leapt to the persuit, and might have left Snape altogether had the man not cried out hoarsely to him.
The sound of his name checked the murderous impulse, and Sirius skidded to a stop, four paws splayed to halt his forward movement. Panting, he swung his head to stare at the battered man lying in a bruised heap at one side of the alley, waiting for the fury to drain.
"Black? Dammit, is that you or not? Black?" Rather than listen further to the man's entreaties, Sirius shifted. Human-formed once more, he darted over to the other's side. Snape recoiled on instinct, and Sirius forcibly checked his approach. Moving slowly, he knelt beside Snape, looking him over.
"Merlin," he breathed. "Did they do a number on you! Shit!"
"Astute as ever, Black," Snape panted. "But that aside, may I ask what the hell you are doing here?" Sirius paused, flummoxed. It wasn't that he hadn't expected the other's incisive questioning not moments after fighting for his life. Should Death himself come for Snape, the man would probably be tapping his foot, with that damned eyebrow raised, and asking what had taken him so long. No, what troubled him was how the hell he was going to explain that the entire string of events that led him here had started in a misguided attempt to prove to Remus that he wasn't gay.
"I beg your pardon?" Snape's incredulous voice from beside him let him know that at least some of that had been out loud. "What ... Why ... No! I don't even want to know! Just ... Argh! Never mind how you got here. What do you intend to do now?" Which was a damn good question.
"I, uh, didn't actually think that far ahead," he admitted. Snape snorted.
"Why am I not surprised?"
"Hey!" Sirius burst out, stung to defend his reasoning. "Listen, chum, I was just out to have some fun! You're damned lucky I showed up at all, or you'd be listening to that brute whispering sweet nothings in your ear for whatever was left of your life! You owe me, and I don't have to listen to any of your condescending bullshit! You hear me?"
"Oh, indeed," Snape purred venemously. "I am so grateful that some mangy mutt took time out from his quest for straight relations in a gay brothel to rescue poor little old me from that awful man. Oh my, kind sir, I'm so flattered by your concern for my virtue! Thank you so much."
White rage eclipsed Sirius' vision. "You ... You ... bastard! I oughta ..."
"You ought to what, precisely?" Snape snapped back. "Be careful how you answer, Black, because if this has taught you nothing else, it should have shown you that I am never helpless! Your aid aside, had he tried to force me, his dick would have joined me in the afterlife for his troubles. Try anything, and yours might venture there instead, and it won't matter what side you play for. Do you hear me?"
The fury drained comletely away. Sirius stared at the other man, laying battered and bloody in a filthy alleyway, bright distrust in his eyes, alone and injured with a man he had no cause to trust, and still spitting defiance. Anger slipped away, replaced by a grudging respect.
"Merlin, I'd hate to be the Death Eater charged with breaking you," he murmured, shaking his head and smiling slightly.
"As Lucius informed them, none have yet succeeded," Snape retorted testily.
That jogged a memory. "Shit, yeah! Malfoy! So you got found out, huh?"
"No," came the short reply.
"What? What d'ye mean, no? If you weren't caught out, then what the hell were you doing as Malfoy's prisoner?" Sirius burst out in shock. Snape looked away.
"That, Black, is absolutely none of your business." The tone warned clearly that pushing would have consequences, but Sirius couldn't have cared less. He'd pulled the bastard's fat out of the fire, and he was damned if he wasn't going to get an explaination as to why! But before he could demand as much, the other man pulled away. Winching in obvious pain, Snape pulled himself upright, clawing at the wall for purchase to stand. Sirius leapt up after him.
"What the hell are you doing?" he yelled. "The bastard broke your ribs, at the least! You can't walk!"
"I beg ... to ... differ, Black," Snape panted, beginning to drag himself along the wall. Sirius grabbed his arm, pulling him up.
"You are not walking away from me," he said, slowly and dangerously. The thought that Snape would have the absolute gall to simply walk away, and leave him standing, was too much. He stared fiercely into the other man's furious night-coloured eyes, measuring the will ranged against him, and something caught his breath. Snape stood stiff and furious, clinging one-handed to a wall to hold himself upright, and something about this skinny bundle of bones and rage and desperate will quite stole Sirius' breath. Something turned over in his chest, and it was only too late that he realised that what he was feeling wasn't anger. He released the grip on Snape's arm, and spun away, but not before the other saw.
"Well," Snape murmured after a moment's stunned silence. "It would seem that Lupin was correct in his estimation of you." Sirius drew in breath, and turned back to face him.
"No," he stated, as firmly as possible. Snape raised an eyebrow incredulously. "No," Sirius repeated. "I'm not gay. I'm not turned on by girls, but I'm not turned on by men, either. I just ... Just now ... I'm just attracted to you, just now."
"Really," Snape drawled. "And if neither men nor women do it for you, but I apparently do, I wonder what that makes me?"
"Breath-taking," Sirius gasped abstractedly, caught by the sudden realisation. Snape recoiled.
"You're breath-taking," Sirius laughed. "I just realised. You're absolutely, stunningly, breath-taking."
Snape backed away. "Did you hit your head, Black? Wake up! Do you even know who you're talking to? Dammit, stop staring at me, and wake the bloody hell up!" Sirius smirked, and advanced slowly, reaching out suddenly and seizing Snape's arms.
"Severus Snape," he pronounced, clearly and unmistakably. "I, Sirius Black, find you to be the single most stunning creature I have ever seen. Only you could stand there, battered to shit, and challenge me as if nothing had ever happened. Only you would try to walk away with broken ribs to salvage pride. Only you would calmly promise to bite my pride off for threatening you. Only you, Severus Snape, would brazenly stand in the path of violence and have the nerve to sneer at it. Damn you, man, only you are so damnably Gryffindorish while maintaining a completely Slytherin mindset. And, dammit, I think you're beautiful!"
Snape froze, stiff as a board, staring at Sirius with an expression too complex to read. There was shock there, wariness, anger, and the barest sliver of hope. It was that last that Sirius latched onto. He leaned in.
"I betrayed him," Snape said out of nowhere. Sirius drew back, looking at him. "Lucius. I betrayed him. I poisoned his son's mind against him and his dogmas. It was a private matter, that the Dark Lord cares little about. Whichever of us survives to serve him, he doesn't care. It was a personal grudge between Lucius and myself. The Order's spy is safe."
Sirius measured him. "And you? Severus Snape? Are you safe?" Snape shrugged, and Sirius bit back a frustrated howl, trying instead for reason. "Look, if the Dark Lord is willing to let Malfoy kill you for a personal grudge, then your position with him can't be secure. How much risk do you run, to keep going back?"
"Amazing," Snape drawled.
"What?" Sirius snapped.
"Not only does it speak, but it voices an intelligent supposition. Wonders never cease." Sirius growled, and Snape smirked. "But it doesn't matter, Black. What risks I run are necessary, so don't worry your pretty little head. I'm fine."
"Says the man with a smashed ribcage and a shredded back," Sirius muttered sourly.
"Indeed," Snape shot back. "A man who would also like to get those problems seen to some time in the near future." He was drawing back, Sirius realised. Not physically, but emotionally. He was trying to put distance between them before his feelings, the one truely vunerable part of him, were wounded. And, to his surprise, Sirius found he couldn't bear to allow that to happen.
"Soon," he promised gently. "Soon. But first ..."
"Sirius," he responded gaily. "My name's Sirius." Snape snarled tiredly at him.
"Fine. Sirius. What do you want?"
"This," he said brightly, and caught the delicate man up in a desperately gentle embrace. Severus jerked back, but Sirius only shifted slightly to keep hold of him without hurting him further. "Shhh," he whispered. "Let me. Just this once, at least, let me hold you. Severus Snape, please. Don't pull away from me. Just stay, this once. Please." The smaller man sagged against him, suddenly limp, as if all the leashed energy had deserted him and left him to cling to Sirius' meagre support in desperation.The slender arms wrapped around Sirius' neck, and the dark head slumped against his shoulder. Again, Sirius' breath caught, and he lifted Severus, holding him as if he were made of fragile glass. He dipped his head to lay it atop the black crown against his chest. "Ah, Severus," he whispered.
"Why the hell would you want something like me," Severus murmured thickly against his chest.
"I don't know," Sirius answered truthfully. "I just do. More than anything. I didn't even know it two hours ago, but now it makes so much sense. I wondered why no-one, not one girl, or man, ever made me feel like ... well, like this. Guess I know now."
"Hmpf. Guess you'll forget again in another hour," Severus whispered, trying to sound dismissive, but failing miserably.
"No," Sirius confided gently. "Not this. You don't forget something this ... awesome. Stay with me. Please. I don't want to lose it just after finding it. I don't want to lose you. Let me protect you." At this, Severus did pull back, frowning.
"It's my job to protect you lot," he stated fiercely. "Do you imply that I'm no good at my job?"
"Merlin," Sirius gasped, stunned to startled laughter. "You turn everything into an insult! No, I don't mean to imply that. We've already established that you're the last spirit a Death Eater should try to break. But that's just it. I don't want them to get a chance to try. I want you to be as safe as you make us. So, whether you like it or not, I'm going to be looking out for you from now on. Deal with it."
Severus pushed weakly against him. "Put me down, Black! I am not helpless! Get it!" Fear flashed in his dark eyes. Sirius frowned at it, and pulled the slender man closer. Severus struggled for a moment, but it lacked the ferocity with which he had fought the rapist earlier, something for which Sirius was profoundly grateful.
"Hell in a handcart, Severus! I know you're the toughest thing on two legs! I know you're not helpless! I just want to give you somewhere where you don't have to be. I ... Dammit, I don't know how to deal with you! I never did! Just ... whatever you want from me, tell me and I'll try to give it to you. Whatever you want. Just stay with me."
The bundle of nerves and will in his arms shook, and Sirius realised with a frisson of shock that Severus was crying. He clutched him, holding him tight, and rocked. "What's wrong, Severus?" he whispered.
"Damn you, Sirius. I've nothing to give you. Nothing worth taking. Not anymore. Everything I ever had is caught up in this stupid war, or lost to me and everyone else." Severus' breath hitched, and he clung desperately to Sirius, as if he feared at any moment Sirius would throw him away in disgust. "Not ... Not even what that bastard tried to take earlier ... He was too late. Years too late. I don't ... I don't even have that, anymore. I ..." He trailed off, and waited for whatever he thought was coming. Sirius stood stock still, clutching him, white hot rage boiling through him. Who ...? It didn't matter. Whoever had dared, Sirius wanted their blood in his throat. He wanted to rip them to tattered shreds. He wanted blood.
"Black? Sirius? Let me go. Please." Sirius swallowed his fury to look down at the fragile, battered man in his arms. Severus looked back fearfully, braced for injury.
"No," Sirius told him. "I won't, Severus. Ever. I can't, you see. I love you." Severus jerked in reaction. "And if what you've said is true, then I've only one choice." Again, Severus tensed. "Once your injuries have been seen to, we're going to talk to Albus. You're not going back."
"What?" Severus gasped, stunned and furious. "You can't ..." Sirius cut him off.
"Yes! I bloody well can! You are not running that risk, or any other that might lead to it! I protect what's mine!"
"You bloody arrogant Gryffindor!" Severus exploded. "I am no man's property! Release me! How dare you! I am not yours!"
Sirius shushed him. "Yes, you are. You're my love."
"You decided that all of two minutes ago! I hardly think it reason enough!" Severus snapped.
"Yes, well, I am an impulsive Gryffindor. I don't need twenty odd years to make up my mind." He pressed his forehead against Severus'. "I love you, Severus. I won't see you hurt like that again. You know I'm right. If Lucius is against you, then it won't be long before all of them are. It's too dangerous now, and I won't sacrifice you for another week's worth of dubious info. Stay with me. Help me."
A solitary tear found its way down Severus' cheek. "Damn you, Black. You've no right to be right." Sirius smiled. "What do you have to be right?" Severus finished plainitively.
"Come on," Sirius commanded. "Let's go home, eh? Or as near as we've got to one, anyway."
"Whatever, Black. Just get my ribs fixed, right?"
Sirius laughed. "Sure thing, Severus. Sure thing."
As he carried Severus, to loud protests, back to Grimmauld Place, his only worry was how the hell he was going to explain to Remus that he wasn't gay. No, he just happened to be in love with Severus Snape. Yeah, that was going to easy.
Okay, I've never written anything so long before. Maybe, at some stage there'll be a sequel, but for now, this is it. What d'you think? R&R?