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Nick/Darlings (But not in a crazy orgy way).

Warnings – Slash. Slight spoilers for the illegitimate child. A little AU.

Leticia kisses Nick on the cheek when he is nine years old. She's warm and her fur coat is cosy and she smells like jasmine, and her mouth leaves a glossy mark. Since his mom left Nick has missed being touched, and he knows she is trying to comfort him, but all he really wants is for this family to give his dad back. He's the only parent he has left.

Karen kisses Nick when she's sixteen, sweet and seductive. The kiss is chaste, but it doesn't stay that way. She kisses him everywhere, any time, marking her place on him in lipstick and love bites. They spend lazy days at family hideaways, sun warmed and serene, and despite himself he can't help but remember how happy they were, and how cold she seems now.

Patrick kisses Nick sloppily, landing it clumsily somewhere near his ear. He laughs against Nick's neck as he stumbles into him, warm breath smelling of spirits. Nick steadies the older man, disengages from the awkward embrace, and reminds himself it's a bad idea to offend the heir of New York's ruling family. He smiles at Patrick's drunken statements of friendship, deftly hands him off to waiting chaperones, and leaves the event as quickly as he can. He is doing good work, living a good life, and he won't let the Darling's bring that down. They are his father's problem, not Nick's, and that's just how he wants it.

Juliet kisses Nick gently. She's not hesitant, she never has been once she decides what she wants, but it is slow and exploratory. He lets her discover him for a few long moments, until she finally eases back with bright eyes, and licks her smile. She thanks him with a dimpling grin and leaves the office in her typical whirlwind, leaving Nick slightly dazed. He feels oddly used, sticky sweet gloss still lingering on his lips, and takes a moment to appreciate the absurdity. Then he remembers; it's just another day with the Darlings.

Jeremy kisses Nick with a practiced confidence, slow and seductive. It should leave Nick burning with need, but instead he's gagging on the taste of stale alcohol and trying to catch his companion's wandering gaze, hoping the kid will stay conscious until they reach the mansion. Nick is reluctant to get there knowing the disappointment Tripp is waiting to express, and when Jeremy finally meets his gaze and gives a resigned shrug, clearly familiar with his father's displeasure, Nick has to look away before he interferes. Sometimes he hates this job, watching a father destroy his children, an ugly reflection of his own upbringing. But it's not his family, not his responsibility, and all Nick can do is promise himself he will never do the same to his daughter.

Brian kisses Nick forcefully. It all seems oddly inevitable, full of fury and hate and emotion, greedy and lustful and angry, and Nick dimly wonders if all priests sin as well as this one. The embrace is desperate, like it's the only chance they'll ever have, rough and selfish, a fight, like everything else between them. They both leave as bitter as they began, nursing injuries and old untended wounds. Two days later Nick fingers his bruises with a hollow sense of loss, and thinks about his brother.

Tripp kisses Nick on his forehead when he leaves. He is solemn and disappointed, given to long speeches about how the family will cope without a George to keep them in line. Nick wants to tell him that maybe Tripp could start doing the job. That Dutch may have accepted playing father to a rabble of rich kids instead of his own, but Nick won't make that mistake. He wants to advise the great Darling patriarch to enjoy his children while they're still around, and while he is, but he never will. He smiles, accepts the farewells, refuses the cajoling offers, and breathes deeply when he leaves the mansion, glad to be away from the family tearing themselves apart.