by Jane Davitt

Mike stands in the shower, quietly still, his hands by his sides, his feet far enough apart that his balance is secure. He bends his head down and lets the hot water beat like drumming fingers on the back of his neck.

He opens his mouth, gasps, his eyes closing as he shudders, hardening from nothing more than a memory and the way the streams of water, pouring down his chest, feel like a stroke from a warm hand.

He's not trying to get clean. The marks on his neck won't wash off and if they could be erased by water and soap, he'd take a bath not a shower, and make sure his neck stayed bone dry.

He just wishes he could see them.



Mike touches his newly shorn and definitely uneven hair self-consciously, and then realizes his mistake. He pretends to scratch his ear -- the other one is suddenly itchy, but he can't scratch that, too, so he suffers through it -- and meets Harvey's raised eyebrows with a blank look.

"There's this place where you can get a cut half-price because it's a trainee doing it."

"A real act of charity on your part," Harvey says without noticeable approval. "Of course, paying a professional to tidy it up will cost you three times that, so it was definitely a false economy."

Mike shrugs. "It'll grow out."

Harvey leaves his chair in a smooth move, so predatorial that Mike flinches back instinctively. "Not fast enough. Let me see."

Before Mike can process events, Harvey's circling him, frowning, examining his hair strand by strand. He pauses behind Mike, out of sight, which makes Mike's breath come quick and shallow.

"I suppose you get yours done at some fancy salon," he offers to break the silence.

Harvey snorts. "Please. I go to a barber shop on Dillon. Dan's been cutting my hair since I was a -- for years."

There's a pause, then Mike's mouth opens on a soundless gasp of shocked pleasure as Harvey blows across his neck, a sharp, directed puff of warm, damp air.


"Hairs. Lots of them." A wet finger -- has Harvey licked it? -- dabs against his skin, presumably dealing with a stubbornly clinging strand, and Mike closes his eyes. He will not come from this. Will not let Harvey see how close he is to begging.

Harvey closes his hand around the back of Mike's neck, his clasp firm, collaring Mike with his fingers. "Don't ever change any part of your body without my express permission again."

He's too aroused and resentful of it to be sensible. "What about trimming my toe nails? Want to watch me do that too?"

Harvey's breath hisses out and his hand hurts now, his fingers digging in as his grip tightens, all possession, no aggression. It's over in a second, Harvey's self-control slipping back into place, but Mike's not looking for an apology. He feels like he owes Harvey one, though. They just can't do this here, but he keeps pushing...

"I'll see you tonight," Harvey whispers in his ear, a low growl of a promise. "We're going to have a lot to discuss."

Mike smiles, unseen, and submits to having his head pushed down so that Harvey can brush the last of the tickling, intrusive hairs away.

The shower water cools and Mike straightens.

Time to get ready.

He touches the back of his neck, lightly, carefully.

He can still feel the marks.


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