by Arbitrary Delight
“I’m taking you out to dinner, so wear something nice,” Evil said, and now he was on one knee with a ring in his hand.
Everyone was watching. They were the centre of attention, which was ruining Hart’s meal: an eight-course tasting menu currently on dessert. He’d been looking forward to the Valrhona chocolate tart too, because he liked sweets the most. According to the city’s top food critic, the first bite was supposed to be rich, smooth, and not overly sweet. The restaurant was known for subtle indicators of good taste like that. Fine dining at its finest.
The reservation was under Evil’s name. To be precise, it was under Eveline’s, even though he insisted that Evil was the proper shortening. Getting a table wasn’t easy when the seats were booked months in advance. Hart couldn’t tell if Evil had waited that long or if he pulled a few strings. Back when Evil was only an Associate at their firm, he used to bully Hart into booking tables for him and his dates. Now he was the Director of Finance and could get any of his subordinates to give up theirs.
His intentions were impossible to tell. He had never talked about marriage before, up until the ring was thrust into Hart’s face. Evil didn’t even say it as a question, just a forceful “Marry me,” like he expected Hart to agree.
Too bad marriage was the last thing on Hart’s mind. He thought it was patently stupid, had never wanted to marry Evil, and it wasn’t what their relationship was about. Mostly, their relationship was about sex to ease the burdens of everyday life. It had been years since Evil first bent him over a desk and fucked him, and since then, they did it in the office, the bedroom, and everywhere else. Business as usual. A convenient arrangement—you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours—and a good way to vent their frustrations.
It wasn’t that he liked Evil, and he didn’t think he loved him either. Actually, Hart wasn’t sure if he loved anyone or ever did. He wasn’t even sure if he had the capacity to love.
Love was just using people and being used, and being okay with that. Even though he’d be nothing without Hart, Evil used him but not the other way around. Hart was the one who helped him at work, who wrote his reports and told him what his boss wanted to hear so Evil said the right words every time. In return, Evil was supposed to take him places, except he didn’t, so Hart remained a secretary. All the while, Evil kept getting promoted and might one day make it to the C-suite.
Hart gave up on his own ambitions for Evil’s sake, and bitter didn’t even begin to describe how he felt. Now Evil was content with his life, like a farm animal with satisfaction dripping from his bones. Yet Hart was still hungry, still jealous, envy rolling off his back every day he stepped into work in fine leather shoes.
The shoes were a gift from Evil. Many things he owned were from Evil, like his designer clothes, his expensive watches, and the car Evil gave him even though he couldn’t drive. With his yearly bonus, Evil got him a personal driver, which at the time was humiliating but now was just convenient. He must’ve felt like a big man seeing Hart live off his goodwill.
Now Evil wanted to own him too. The ring he held glittered in the light, a large diamond with smaller stones along the sides. Size mattered, so the diamond was at least three carats—Evil knew Hart wouldn’t settle for anything less. Hart didn’t even care that he chose a woman’s ring, since the men’s were all ugly bands of metal.
Conventional wisdom said to spend two months’ salary on the ring. Evil could afford a diamond on just a week’s, but this looked to be four, maybe six months’. Since money was the exception to everything, Hart didn’t stop to think about whether Evil cared too much. He didn’t consider the possibility at all.
“Hart,” Evil said quietly, and Hart realized he’d been sitting in silence the entire time, probably looking horrified and dreadful. Evil’s face was pleading, if not for him to say yes, then to avoid embarrassing him in front of the entire restaurant.
Oh well, Hart thought. There was worse he could do than marry Evil Batlet.
The city lights were dazzling by the time they left the restaurant, Toronto a blur of colour and glass. Hart looked up at the skyscrapers that remained lit even now, and not the dirt-stained ground littered with cigarettes and the occasional Tim’s cup. The ring was heavy on his finger, Evil’s hand interlocked with his, and they walked in the dark with their breaths steaming from the cold.
Hart Batlet. Eveline Lovelace. Hart and Eveline Lovelace-Batlet. Batlet-Lovelace. Their names together sounded like a new type of disease. He itched with the urge to find someone else—a hookup for the night, anyone but Evil would do. But he’d only been fucking Evil for the past few months: six, which was his longest record. Evil couldn’t be seeing other people either because they were together so often, there wasn’t enough time. Shit, maybe they really were exclusive.
Marriage meant being tied to each other forever, or until one of them walked out. Evil could always get cold feet and flee in the night, or Hart could decide he was intolerable and demand a divorce, whether that was in one year or fifty. The worst would be if Evil left and took everything with him. Hart would have to get a favourable prenup and a better lawyer than his.
No matter what happened, Evil was the first to debase himself by getting on his knees and begging for Hart’s hand. Saying yes didn’t feel like swallowing his pride as much as it was taking what Evil was giving. How embarrassing for him that he wanted Hart so much, he was willing to tie himself down to commitment.
They walked in silence, Hart adrift in his thoughts, when Evil spoke up. He stared at the street ahead of them and said, “You meant it, right? When you said yes.”
Hart nodded. He supposed so. Some people said yes only because there was an audience, but he wasn’t going to take it back. There was no harm in being with Evil until they got tired of each other, and the ring really was nice. Their life together would be so easy.
“You’re happy about our engagement, then? You’re smiling,” Evil said and squeezed his hand. The tone of his voice was so fond that Hart felt a shiver run up his back. He didn’t realize he was smiling. That there was something to smile about.
“So are you,” he bit out, but Evil just laughed in his face. Hart was struck by how life was so easy for him. Already, he was unhappy with himself. He must’ve sat there for ages looking like he was going to refuse. “Did you get someone to take our pictures?”
“Of course,” Evil said, sounding smug. “I knew you would bitch me out if I didn’t, so I planned everything. There was a professional photographer at one of the tables.”
Evil was right. If there were no pictures, Hart would’ve bitched him out and demanded they redo the entire night over. With how long he took to say yes, he still wished they could try again. “Did I look okay?” he asked. “I sat in silence for so long, did I at least look happy about it? I have to look like the happiest man in the world.”
For the photos, he meant, but Evil’s smile grew wide and flattered. “No, that would be me,” he said and pulled him farther down the street, each step more impatient than the last. “You were fine, Hart. All you needed to do was sit there and look pretty. And say yes at the end, which you did. I’m sure she got a good shot.”
“Oh.” Hart thought about the two of them on camera, Evil in his black blazer and him in a blue sweater. “Well, our clothes didn’t match.”
“Are you kidding me?” Evil stopped and turned to him. Of course he didn’t see any issue with their clothes, Hart was wearing Evil’s favourite outfit.
Hart shoved his free hand into his pocket, his coat new and too thin for the cold. Beneath, he wore what Evil liked the most: a slim-fit shirt with a cashmere sweater and tight pants, his hair in a braid all nice and pretty. Evil liked him prim and proper so he could dirty him personally. Hart did too, so he kept a trim silhouette and took care of himself. Give and take was part of any good relationship, which was why Hart let Evil leer at him all night long, stripping him with his eyes and later, his hands.
“We look good together. We’re a damn fine couple, everyone says that,” Evil said with conviction.
Hart raised his eyebrows. He wasn’t aware people talked about them. “Who does?”
“Your parents, your brother, my brother, and Fran.”
That was a lie. The one time Evil met his family ended with stony silence at the dinner table. Hart’s parents had been quietly disappointed in his choice of men while his brother kept telling Evil he was a cop. Fortunately, Evil’s parents were dead and his brother was estranged. As for Fran, she hated their guts.
It was a sad truth that they were lacking in familial affection and had no friends. Hart laughed and pulled Evil along the sidewalk. “Fran wanted to marry you, though.”
“No, Zimmerman wanted her to marry me.”
“You wanted to marry Zimmerman,” Hart told him with no small amount of annoyance.
“So what? He’s dead now.”
Evil didn’t deny it, though. Zimmerman might’ve been going grey, with a wife, a daughter, and a knack for keeping dirty little secrets in his closet—but up until he died, Evil was always leaving his office with messy hair and rumpled clothes. Afterwards, he would be pent-up and frustrated, but that was what Hart was for. His life was neatly arranged: he chased Zimmerman, used Hart, and ignored Fran.
Looking straight ahead, Hart tightened their hands together. In the chill night air, Evil’s fingers twitched like he was craving a smoke. This was when Evil would take out a cigarette, except he was trying to quit. These days, Evil was worried about lung cancer, although if Hart had known Zimmerman was going to die from it, he would’ve delivered the cancer sticks to Zimmerman himself. Still, cutting the habit was good.
“And if he was alive?” Hart asked cautiously.
When Evil met his gaze, there was a smile on his face, fond and tired like he was done with Hart’s bullshit. “It doesn’t matter. He’s not and we are. Just come home with me, sweetheart,” Evil said and kissed him in the middle of the sidewalk.
Evil owned a condo in the financial district so he could walk to work every morning. Hart himself had to ride the subway for fifteen minutes, which wasn’t that far but was unbearably crowded during rush hour. He preferred Evil’s place to his, and was intimately familiar with the layout by now. Hart liked to stand by the glass and envy the view from the 44th floor, where buildings were billion-dollar behemoths made of steel. In the future, he supposed he would wake up to the skyline every day.
The door was key card activated. As soon as Evil let them in, they were on each other, their jackets thrown by the side and shoes kicked to the ground. Evil pushed Hart against the door and kissed him with all his pent-up lust, suffocatingly hot and bursting with need. Hart sagged against the wood and held on for dear life. He clutched Evil’s neck, his shoulders, his back as Evil tried to eat him alive.
Thank god Evil pulled away, because Hart would die if they had sex in the entrance. Evil pawed at him one last time before untangling their bodies, stumbling into the living room on unsteady feet.
Hart followed. They made it as far as the sofa before Evil pushed him down onto the cushions, his face hitting the leather. He tried to kick Evil off, but Evil rolled him onto his back and got on top. His weight was like a cage keeping Hart pinned in place.
“I’m not having” —Hart drew in a breath— “engagement sex on the couch.”
“D’you think we can make it to the bed?” Evil muttered. He sat back and started to unbutton his shirt, fumbling at the collar before the garment came off. The clink of his belt was next, and Hart squirmed below him.
“Fine, then get mine off too,” he said and bucked his hips to make a point. Evil was stupid to think he could fuck Hart with his pants still on. He was even more stupid if he thought Hart would settle for anything else tonight.
“Right, sorry. I’ll take care of it.”
Evil eased off for long enough to pull Hart’s sweater up and his pants down. He finished stripping himself with the same eagerness, then threw their clothes onto the ground. Sex was the only time his apartment looked lived in. Otherwise, he was at work and the maid spent more time home than he did. She came in to clean every Tuesday morning, which Hart discovered when he walked into the kitchen in Evil’s shirt and nothing else.
Hart didn’t think about that now. He didn’t think about the bed either, even though he’d prefer a mattress to lie on. The couch was suddenly good enough as Evil pressed their bodies together and rolled his hips. Lurching forward, he kissed him with tongue, cutting off Hart’s half-formed curse. Hart moaned into his mouth instead, and held him tight enough to leave marks on skin. When he felt Evil’s cock drag against his, he thought he could finish just by humping him like an animal.
All he could do was take harsh, ragged breaths and hitch a leg around Evil’s waist. “Inside me. Now,” Hart demanded.
Tonight wasn’t their first time and probably wouldn’t even be in their top ten. But hell, there was a ring on his finger and only their wedding night would be more memorable than this. As Evil used the lube, Hart braced a hand against his shoulder and watched the diamond flash in the light. When he squeezed his fingers, the rays scattered, shining in all colours of the rainbow.
Evil Batlet is mine. He loves me and I own him. The thought made him hungry, his greed endless and left wanting more. Evil wasn’t done giving him everything, right down to the last inch of himself. Hart marvelled at the ring and what it meant—he’d get all of him. When he stared hard enough, he could see Evil’s reflection in the silver, a skin-coloured shape.
“What are you doing? Look at me,” Evil said, and Hart blinked his vision back into focus. Evil was settled between his legs, Hart’s knees drawn up on both sides. He held them apart in a bruising grip and thrust into him.
As Evil did it again, giving it to him good and deep, Hart screwed his eyes shut. This—this felt like fucking. This felt like something he could live with for the rest of his life. Each time Evil pushed inside felt so good, reaching the deepest parts of him and dragging out his pleasure. Properly splayed out with Evil on top, Hart gripped the couch for purchase, but his fingers slid uselessly off the leather. Fuck, Evil was really putting his back into it, more than usual.
He could hear Evil talking above him, words that sounded like “I love you” or “stop looking at that damn ring,” but they were drowned out by his own moans. Hart turned his head so he didn’t have to look at Evil, just like how he didn’t need to hear him. The gleam in Evil’s eyes, which never strayed from him, left Hart unable to compose himself.
Then Evil was holding still all the way inside, coming into him with a deep groan of appreciation. When he finally pulled out and collapsed against him, Hart thought he might’ve come too. He was all shaken up, his body slack and his heart beating out of his chest. He sank into the couch with a languor he rarely experienced and felt Evil shift to get comfortable in the same way.
Evil lifted himself up by the elbows and smiled, happy for no reason. Hart hesitated before kissing him, wary about getting swept along by the mood. Even so, he couldn’t stop himself from the giddiness he felt. Their lips met softer than he intended to, and the kiss ended with Evil looking more enamoured than ever.
Once a dog got a taste of blood, it needed to be put down, but Hart couldn’t bring himself to do that to Evil. Instead, after they were both rested and thrilled at the prospect of another round, Hart got on top of Evil and rode him until his legs shook, then spilled all over his chest. And he thought it was the right choice after all, saying yes.