Disclaimer: I do not own HINABN, the lovely Tessa Stone does (sorry for butchering your characters!)
Ain't Gonna Ask Twice
Note: this can be read as a stand alone story or as a prequel to 'Ya Look Good', which can be found in the stories section under my profile
Conrad wasn't sure when Worth had started turning up to his place regularly rather than vice versa, but he sure as hell wasn't going to complain considering it saved him from making the trip to and then hanging around in Worth's 'office'. The blond had just dropped round one night after Conrad hadn't shown his face in the grungy clinic for a week and from there had simply kept coming back. He remembered that he'd almost jumped that night when he had pressed the buzzer, wondering who the hell was ringing his bell at two-thirty in the morning because he certainly hadn't expected a gruff voice to reply to his question of 'who is it?' with a sarcastic 'trick er treat, princess'.
"Worth!" he'd asked incredulously, letting the man in for some stupid reason he couldn't recall. Maybe it was out of sheer surprise. "What the hell are you doing here?" he'd continued when Worth had come in and began squinting critically at his furnishings.
"Had ta check yer weren't lyin' dead in a ditch somm'ere," Worth had offered with a nonchalant shrug before tapping a shiny piece of metal artwork with one of his long, thin fingers with dirt under the nails, a disdainful smirk plastered across his face, "Well, yer place certainly lives up ta yer reputation, Confags. A right little artfaggy apartment yer got 'ere."
Ignoring the jibe, Conrad had retorted coldly, "I thought I couldn't die anymore."
"Believe me, puppy," Worth had said with a condescending chuckle, giving Conrad an affectionate slap on the cheek, "Yer suck enough at bein' a vampire ta make anythin' possible."
Conrad had swatted away his hand with a growl, and made his way back to his computer where he'd been working before he was so unpleasantly interrupted. Worth had sauntered over, hands shoved in his coat pockets, and leaned over his shoulder to observe the computer screen where a logo he'd been commissioned to design was almost finished. He had been rather proud of it really, having worked on it all damn week and having finally got it to a stage where he was happy with the design, the colours and the overall look.
"S'ugly," Worth had said flatly, causing Conrad's eye to twitch.
"Well, no one asked for your opinion, did they?" he'd snapped back, saving the file before Worth could possibly hijack it and fuck up a week's worth of work. Because, knowing him, it wasn't beneath his dignity to do so. In fact, there was very little that was beneath Worth's dignity, if it even existed.
"Free o' charge fer you, Fagula," the hack had replied with a devious grin that just knew he was already annoying the bespectacled man from the way Conrad rubbed his eyes with a superfluous sigh and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose, grumbling something along the lines of 'what would you know about aesthetics anyway'.
"So," a voice had ghosted over his pale flesh and suddenly the blond had been far too close for comfort. Conrad's muscles tensed and he could feel the quickening heartbeat, smell the blood flowing steadily through Worth's veins and suddenly remembered just how darn hungry, in more ways than one, he was after a week of nothing. "Were yer gonna wait 'til ya starved half ta death before comin' back t'see me?" the doc had asked, running his teeth along Conrad's pale neck suggestively.
"D-don't," he'd managed to get out, his voice hoarse, fingers clenched tightly around the mouse.
"Mm, why not?" the other had asked teasingly, fingers running along Conrad's collarbone.
"Because I'm fucking starving," he'd said, turning to pull Worth in.
Looking back, it probably was his fault that Worth kept coming back because, really, instead of giving in that first night, he should have told Worth to fuck off and kicked his sorry, skinny ass out the door. But he'd been hungry and had a feeling that it was probably due to the discovery of his hot water system more than anything that kept the blond returning several nights a week anyway. Because it seemed that Worth, though he usually looked like he'd been dragged out of some alleyway trashcan, enjoyed long, hot showers. He probably also derived some enjoyment from spiting Conrad, who of course ended up with the water bill, which was much higher since Worth had taken to dropping by for harmless 'visits', and a fogged up bathroom, though that didn't matter so much because it's not like he could see himself in the mirror anyway. That being said, it still annoyed him but, seriously, what did Worth do that didn't annoy him?
One thing Worth didn't like though, and again maybe it was to spite Conrad though he suspected there was something deeper to it, was closeness between them. It was amazing really how someone who usually had no concept of personal space and actually seemed to enjoy violating people's sense of it, could hate being physically close to another person so much. Conrad suspected it was the underlying motive more than anything because, as previously stated, if the intent of the closeness was to make people uncomfortable or pissed off, Worth seemed to be quiet content to stand centimetres from someone's face, but if it was for the sake personal intimacy itself, then Worth was suddenly the one who was uncomfortable. Apart from the times when Conrad was feeding from Worth and the blond was getting off on it, which to be honest was the kind of thing that it was hard to put any physical distance between them because frankly how can you get any frigging closer to someone than by screwing them; besides those moments of abandoned self-awareness, the doctor imposed a barrier of distance at all times. In fact, physical distance didn't even matter, Conrad realised, because with one word, one look, Worth was able to turn mere inches between them into thousands of miles.
Once, in the blissful afterglow of being sated, Conrad had made the mistake of sleepily throwing an arm around the other's waist and curling up to the warmth of his side. And it had felt nice for all of two seconds before Worth threw him off and rolled over to the other side of the bed, saying sarcastically but with a vicious undertone that made Conrad's skin crawl, "Le's not make this any gayer than it has ta be, Confags." He'd lain there in the dark, counting the numerous scars and protruding bones of Worth's back, the numbers of his bedside clock slipping away until the doctor decided somewhere closer to dawn to get up and take a shower, leaving Conrad to wonder why the blond bothered staying for those in between hours at all. He doubted Worth was actually sleeping because, damn it, that man seemed to sleep less than the living dead. But really how was he to know when they lay there in silence, a thousand miles between them? He'd fallen asleep listening to the sound of running water and woke just before sundown, a clockwork mechanism he attributed to his vampirism, with an extra blanket thrown over him that he didn't remember being there before.
From then on he tried to close the distance between them, slowly, subtly, but was met each time with that same eerie grin plastered on Worth's face like some cheap, flimsy mask as he pushed Conrad away with some sort of insult. But the longer he knew Worth, the more often he caught a flicker of something else lurking behind those dark eyes as the hack slapped Conrad's hand away or pushed him off the couch or generally rejected any other sign that could be interpreted as affection without abuse. There was something in Worth's defences that equated kindness with weakness and Conrad suspected he'd only ever got so far past these barricades because he was the only one who could match each of Worth's inflicted insults and injuries during their encounters, removing any trace of possible friendliness.
Sometime later on, when he'd known the hack for at least eight months (not that he was counting, mind you), he'd accidentally made the same mistake but had seemingly caught Worth at a vulnerable moment. The blond had been lying on his stomach, head resting on his arms as he watched Conrad curl up next to him. Without thinking really, Conrad had pressed a kiss to the taught flesh along Worth's emaciated arm, not noticing the dark eyes that regarded him curiously.
"Why d'yer like bein' near me?" he'd asked quietly, with no insults, no sarcasm or accusation. Just a simple question that left Conrad floundering, opening and closing his mouth like a suffocating fish as he wracked his brain for the answer. Why? He wasn't sure why. He was well aware that his desire to be close to Worth wasn't logical. In fact, he was pretty sure that wanting to be affectionate to someone who usually kicked and punched and bit you until you bled and who you returned these favours to was the exact definition of 'illogical'. So why did he crave to give and receive those little, intimate gestures of affection that Worth hated so much?
"Because you're warm. I…miss being warm," he'd offered lamely, knowing that, though it was true, it was only a half truth. If he was really being honest, then he would have said that it was because he saw, lurking in those dark eyes, the hint of loneliness that he felt was reflected in his own and which made him want to reach out to run his hand through tawny hair. There was a void in each of them screaming to be filled yet never was because of the distance. The distance between them and other people, the distance they created through Worth being a jerk to pretty much everyone and Conrad being a reclusive loner (and now, on top of that, a vampire). He realised that he'd never wanted to close the distance between himself and anyone else before but, faced with a mirror in those eyes, he wondered how he'd never noticed before how much it ached to be alone.
Conrad sought to be close to Worth, not because he liked him and not because he loved him (he had no delusion there, knowing well how much they actually didn't like each other), but because he wanted to be wanted; he needed to be needed. And there was no one else on the planet who would ever want or need him now.
Without Worth, he'd be alone forever. They would be alone forever. Because if no one could stand Conrad enough to need him, then certainly Worth would never be able to find anyone who could stand him either.
But he'd never say all this to Worth, who probably understood their situation to the same extent anyway. A jerk, the hack may be, but he certainly wasn't an idiot. The blond had stared at him a little longer, breathing slowly, his eyes unreadable. Eventually, he'd turned his head to face the other side of the room but hadn't, however, pushed Conrad away as the vampire had expected him to. So letting his arm fall just a little further across Worth's back, the vampire had gloated over his small victory with a smug smile in his head, for fear that doing so verbally would earn him a good kick to the side from the doctor.
That hadn't been too long ago, but Worth hadn't been as candid again since and they'd returned to their usual bickering, screwing routine. To be fair, Conrad could get away with a little more than before considering he was currently lying in bed with an arm draped casually over Worth's lean torso. His arm slipped away easily though as Worth hoisted himself out of bed, leaving Conrad to lie there alone and wonder if the other man ever ate as his eyes scrutinised the other's skinny, albeit blurry (where the hell had Worth thrown his glasses this time?), frame. Worth was picking up some of his clothes, rustling around in the pockets by the sound of it, probably looking for his cigarettes. The audible click of a lighter seconds later confirmed Conrad's theory. The vampire had given up long ago trying to convince Worth not to smoke in his apartment and it was only when he was feeling particularly ill-disposed towards the blond that he kicked him out to the balcony. Once he'd lit up, Worth usually fell back on to the bed in that cavalier yet graceful way he had, and which Conrad loved to hate, but for some reason tonight he sauntered over to the bathroom to run the water in the shower aimlessly, probably waiting for it to heat up while he smoked.
"For fuck's sake, if you're going to keep doing this you may as well save a bit of water and take a bath," Conrad called out, irritated to no end by Worth's casual indifference to the value of the environment and Conrad's wallet.
"Tha's a good idea, Connie," Worth's voice drifted back to him in its usual sarcastic tone, "Who knew yer actually had a brain rattlin' 'round up there?"
"Fuck you," he muttered weakly in response, curling in on himself and pulling the covers higher over his shoulder. It had been a long, hard week involving a faulty power supply, annoyed clients and an incident with Hanna, the zombie and a griffon that he'd rather not recall if possible; all of which meant he simply wasn't in the mood to argue with Worth for once. The water stopped for a moment and Conrad heard the taps of his fairly unused bath squeak as they were turned. He shut his eyes forcibly, ignoring the sound of Worth coming back into the room to scrounge another cigarette out of his jacket. There was a pause before he heard the flick of the lighter and he vaguely wondered if the feeling of eyes resting on him really was just a feeling. He waited for Worth to throw the usual insult about him being pathetic and feminine, but nothing ever came, steps retreated and the flow of water stopped with an abrupt squeal of metal.
"Oi, Connie, yer gonna fuckin' join me or whut?"
Conrad opened his eyes and blinked in surprise. Had he fallen asleep and imagined that? Or…? Getting up slowly, he made his way over to the bathroom, pausing at the door to peer into the dim area. They never really had much need for light and, currently, only a solitary lamp on Conrad's beside table was casting a dull glow around the room, creating just enough light for Conrad to make out Worth's figure in the tub.
"I ain't gonna ask twice," he continued, voice low but not impatient. It was more like…an offer, really. And Conrad was never really thrown many breaks so he supposed he'd take what he could get and, crossing the tiles, carefully stepped into the bath. Sitting there uncomfortably and rather self-consciously, not facing Worth, he wasn't really sure what to do next and so curled his arms around his legs rather pitifully. He almost fell back in surprise when arms wrapped around his shoulders and drew him back, as Worth said with a chuckle, words slightly muffled by his cigarette, "Ah puppy, yer really are useless at this, aren't ya? S'kinda cute though."
Conrad thought about protesting, really he did, but Worth's skin was warmer than the water surrounding them and as he leaned back against his chest, he felt as though he could dissolve into that kind of warmth. And he wasn't quite sure what Worth meant by 'this', though he had a feeling the blond was referring to whatever the hell it was that existed between them. Relationship was definitely not the right word and friends with benefits only worked if you actually were friends to begin with. And not everything they did was beneficial, the puncture marks across Worth's shoulders being testament to that. So he remained contentedly quiet as Worth moved his arm, taking the cigarette from between his lips before wrapping it back around Conrad's neck more closely. Even without his glasses, Conrad could see the scars riddling Worth's arm from this distance. Because it was so close. He let his eyes fall shut lazily with a smile, wondering when he'd managed to close the distance between them so thoroughly.
"I thought you hated being near me," he said quietly, though there was a dormant challenge lying in the depths of his voice.
Worth's head was resting against his and he could feel chapped lips brush against his hair as the blond replied with a sly grin, "Maybe I ain't so adverse t'it as I used ta be."
Conrad grinned, victorious and obnoxiously so, launching into a confident rebuke, "You're such a damn hypocrite. You know-"
"Connie," the blond said curtly, cutting off the rant that would inevitably follow.
"What?" he snapped, turning slightly to regard the other man with a glare. Worth was stealing his moment of victory from him and Conrad really didn't appreciate it.
"Just shaddup for once, will ya?" he said in exasperation, roughly capturing Conrad's chin with his free hand to pull him into a kiss. And damn it, Conrad couldn't argue with that.
Inspired, especially that last scene, by the drawing "Bath Romance – Collab" by Yasu-Aibu on DeviantArt [http:/yasu-aibu(dot)deviantart(dot)com/gallery/#/d2o5eqe]. Go check it out.
I don't know why but I imagine that this pair don't like each other, and argue like it's frigging world war three because frankly the way they do is hilarious, but they'd be nice to each other sometimes just out of pure necessity for human contact.