Picked Up Along the Way

by Okō ( 織工)

Morgan’s present caught up with him one afternoon while he sat in the local park and watched a pair of old men play chess, studiously ignoring the hipster moms and their screaming children on the tiny jungle gym to his left. The neighborhood was gentrifying slowly enough that Morgan could still sit in the park for hours at a time without anyone calling the cops, but he suspected that would change if the moms thought a random dude was perving on their kids, especially a dark-skinned, shabby-looking one.

Sercio appeared at his side, looming in a way that really shouldn’t have been possible for a man as skinny as he was.

“Hi,” Morgan said, when it became clear that he wasn’t going to be able to ignore Sercio forever. The man had the patience of a goddamn statue when he felt like it.

“What are you doing out here?” Sercio spat.

“Sitting?” Morgan gestured at the bench. “No one else needs the bench.”

“What–” Sercio ran a hand through his greying hair, close-cropped and thick. “That’s not what I meant.”

“It is what you asked,” Morgan said, because sometimes sassing Sercio was the only way to get him to say what he meant.

“You’re–” Sercio looked honestly baffled. “It’s freezing.”

Morgan shrugged. Brooklyn in November wasn’t that cold compared to Buffalo winters, and he had a sweatshirt and decent socks under his boots.

“I’m not bothering anyone,” he tried.

“Oh, for god’s sake,” Sercio said, grabbing Morgan by the wrist, “just come home already.”

He dragged Morgan several blocks, past the coffeeshop his granddaughter ran and up the narrow stairs to the fifth floor apartment he’d given Morgan a key to a week ago.

“You don’t have to lurk on the sidewalk,” Sercio said. “You can eat at the coffee shop, and just, I don’t know, hang out there, if you hate the apartment so much.”

Morgan stared at him.

“But first,” Sercio said, and Morgan noticed that he was carrying a bag when Sercio shoved it in his direction, “you need new clothes. You look like a vagrant right now.”

“I am a goddamn vagrant,” Morgan spat back, the word hitting a nerve. “Did you forget the part where you picked me up on the fucking sidewalk?”

He still had no idea what Sercio had seen in him. Going to the park had been Morgan’s way of staying out of Sercio’s hair, trying to preserve the roof over his head as long as possible. It had worked well enough at most of his foster homes, at one of his more long-lasting squats.

Sercio sighed, still holding out the bag like more of an accusation than a gift.

“You were homeless,” he said. “That’s a situation, not an identity.”

It was an argument they’d had before. Morgan figured as long as you looked like him and were homeless, it didn’t make much difference if it was temporary or not: you were still cold and hungry.

“Anyway, you’re not homeless anymore,” Sercio continued, “and you don’t have to look like some kind of weirdo hipster, okay? You’re dragging down the shop’s image, and I don’t need Paz getting on my case about anything this week. Wear the damn clothes.”

He dropped a bag on the couch and walked out, slamming the apartment door behind him.

Only Sercio, Morgan thought, as he opened the bag and found two pairs of jeans, new underwear, a thick sweater, and a handful of t-shirts, could make kindness seem like a cranky and self-serving act.

The bag was even from the local Goodwill, the clothes secondhand and worn enough that Morgan couldn’t feel that guilty about taking them. Compared to a roof over his head in New York City, thirty dollars’ worth of used clothing was practically nothing.

Compared to what he’d had before Sercio had taken him in, it was everything.

Morgan blinked. Then he folded everything carefully, and put it in the top drawer of the dresser Sercio had badgered him into using.

On second thought, he pulled out a change of clothes, and grabbed his towel off the hook on the back of the door. Hot water would help warm him up faster than anything else, and the wind had been pretty sharp in the park, worse today than yesterday.

Morgan was just out of the shower when someone knocked on the apartment door. He stepped into jeans, and had just stepped into the hallway, pulling the shirt over his head when he heard a key turn and the apartment door shoved open.

“Sercio?” a female voice called, “you’d better be here, you’re not answering your cell.”

It was Jane, Sercio’s granddaughter. Her long dark hair was bound up in a wrist-thick braid, her black shirt soaking wet against her bronze skin.

“Um,” Morgan said, because she was staring at him. “He went out.”

“You must be Morgan,” Jane said, and rubbed a square hand dry on her jeans, holding it out to shake. “Tell me you know how to fix plumbing, and you’ll be my new favorite person.”

Morgan shook her hand on auto-pilot. It was still damp and cold.

“A little,” he said. “I mean, if it’s not too bad.”

He shut up there: Jane didn’t need to know he’d learned from an alcoholic plumber in Buffalo, taken under-the-radar jobs to keep them both fed in the winter the year he turned seventeen, until the guy drank himself into hypothermia under a highway overpass and left Morgan on his own again.

“Thank god,” Jane said, turning and stepping out. “Come on, the kitchen is a mess.”

Morgan shoved on his boots and followed her downstairs, to a kitchen that was only not swimming in water due to the heroic efforts of a tiny white-haired Latina with a mop and bucket, who seemed to be taking things in stride.

“Oh, thank god,” a flustered baritone voice said, as Jane stepped in, “you found him — wait,” he said, as Morgan stepped in, “you’re not Sercio.”

Jane sighed. “You remain ever so observant, Chris,” she said, tone wry. “This is Morgan, and he’s going to help.”

“Hi,” Morgan said, and looked around. The source of the water was the dishwasher, that much was clear. “Okay, I’m going to need someone to shut off the water to the kitchen as a whole.”

There was silence.

“You’re telling me none of you know where the shut-off valve is?” Morgan asked.

“Um,” the flustered guy said, scrubbing a long-fingered hand through his brown hair, “not exactly?”

Morgan shook his head. “Okay,” he said, “when was the kitchen put in?” Depending on when it was plumbed, there were a few options. The worst would be the nineteenth century, because of the lack of access laws, but Morgan was guessing this building was newer than that, and the kitchen newer still.

“We ran new plumbing when we put the coffee shop in,” the pale-haired woman said, nudging Morgan out of the way and dumping the mop bucket in the sink. “That was … eight, ten years ago?” Morgan racked his mind trying to figure out whether Sercio had mentioned her before: she looked familiar.

Jane shook her head. “More like fifteen,” she said, “maybe eighteen.”

“Good enough,” Morgan said. “And you did it up to code?”

Jane shot him an offended look.

“Hey,” Morgan said, “I’m just trying to help, here.”

“Yes,” the other woman said, before Jade could open her mouth to reply, “Paz is very insistent about things being up to code.”

That fit with the few comments Sercio had dropped about his daughter, who seemed like a massive control freak. At best.

“Thanks, Faith,” Jane said.

“Then it’ll be….” Morgan looked around, situating himself toward the street. “Closest to the water main, which runs under the Avenue…” he thought for a moment, then walked out of the kitchen, and found the panel he was looking for. “Hah,” he said, pulling the panel out and finding the oval shut-off valve right where it ought to be. The sound of dripping water cut off from the kitchen.

“Wow,” the flustered guy — Chris — said. “Okay, how did you know that?”

Morgan shrugged. “I worked with a plumber for a while,” he said.

“No,” Chris said, “the water main, I mean, how’d you know it runs down under Nostrand?”

“All the construction,” Morgan said. Had this guy seriously not noticed? “They’ve been repairing it for weeks now, a few blocks down.”

“Okay.” Jane stepped in. “Focus, Chris. The dishwasher’s busted, and we need it working.”

“I can take a look,” Morgan said, because he’d figured that was what Jane had been asking him to do in the first place.

“You–” She looked surprised. “Yeah, sure.”

Thankfully, Chris knew where the breakers were, so they were able to shut off electricity to the appliances without turning off the lights entirely. Then he and Morgan pulled the dishwasher out from under the counter. Morgan was halfway under it with a wrench from his own kit when Sercio returned.

“Where have you been!” Jane snapped. Morgan startled and only just avoided braining himself on the counter.

“You seem to be doing fine,” Sercio said. “Morgan.” He nodded, and left.

“Your abuelo is as weird as ever,” Chris said.

You have no idea, Morgan thought, but he just held out a piece of cracked pipe.

“I need a replacement for this,” he said, “same length, same size. If you take it to the hardware store four blocks down on Bedford you should be able to get them to cut you something that I can jigger until you get a real plumber in here.”

“I’ll go,” said the older woman, who had apparently finished cleaning the kitchen and triaging all the affected food supplies. Morgan handed it to her, along with a valve.

“Get two of these,” he said. “The other one is about to go too, and then you’ll have this all over again in a month.”

She nodded, and headed out.

“So,” Chris said, “Morgan, right?”

Morgan nodded, tempted to invent some kind of reason he had to go back under the cabinets to keep tinkering with the pipes and avoid this conversation.

“You’re a lifesaver,” Chris said. “I mean, Sercio would have just called a plumber, I bet, made us wait a few days to get someone in.”

Morgan shrugged. “I’m not licensed,” he said, “you’ll have to call someone anyway. I’m not saving you any money in the long run, you know?”

Jane laughed. “You really are,” she said, “because if we don’t open tomorrow, we lose money. Monday mornings are one of the busiest times, you know?”

Morgan knew that – it was when he usually saw the highest traffic out of coffeeshops, but also the stingiest people, in too much of a rush. Beggars on Monday mornings saw a lot of credit card receipts and pennies, and not much else.

“Least I can do,” he said, shrugging awkwardly. “I mean–” He stopped. “I’m happy to help,” he said, feeling out-of-place again.

“Well, I appreciate it,” Jane said. “Come on, let’s go sit down while we wait for Faith.”

“Mom will be back in a flash,” Chris said, and Jane shot him a look.

“We can’t sell any of the baked goods that were out,” Jane said. “They might have gotten splashed. Make up a plate, Chris, and Morgan, I think there’s still some coffee in the vats out here, will you grab some mugs?”

She sounded like she was used to having people do what she said, so Morgan complied.

“There we go.” Jane said, settling them down at one of the circular tables and taking a sip of her coffee. Morgan sat across from her and took a muffin, eating it slowly, one small bite at a time. The dainty pastries looked tasty, but muffins were denser in calories than croissants or danishes, and the bran ones would hold him over a good long while.

“How’d you meet Sercio?” Chris asked. “Ow! Jane!”

“Ignore him,” Jane said, pretending she hadn’t just kicked Chris hard enough to wobble the table. “He hasn’t got the tact God gave a doorknob. You don’t have to tell us.”

Morgan shrugged. “He just sort of picked me up in Rochester,” he said. “Asked if I wanted a ride to New York City, I said yes.”

Morgan had figured it would be a hitch-hiking kind of thing, had been surprised when Sercio pulled over into a motel in Syracuse. It hadn’t been a sex thing, though, and Morgan had taken it in stride when Sercio had pulled off the road again in Albany, gone wandering and left Morgan in a room with two double beds and instructions to order a large pizza.

“Sounds like him,” Chris said, picking the nuts off of the top of a pecan danish and piling them on his plate. Morgan tried not to stare at the waste of protein.

“It does,” Jane agreed. “He travels a lot, meets a lot of people. Must have liked you more than most.”

Morgan shrugged again, and took a bite of muffin to keep his mouth full.

“Anyway,” Jane said, “you’re welcome to hang out in the shop if we’re not slammed, I know my abuelo can be a little overwhelming sometimes.”

Morgan nodded.

“Thanks,” he said, and took a second muffin, this one walnut-apple with real chunks of fruit suspended in the batter.

Faith returned as Morgan was finishing at third muffin, this one blueberry-lemon.

“All set,” she said, looking at Morgan quizzically. “They said they’re the only place in the neighborhood still has these parts, too.”

Morgan shrugged. “I like to know where to get things,” he said. “Old habit dies hard, I guess.” It had been necessary to know which hardware stores sold without questions and licenses when he’d been working with Paul in Buffalo.

Faith handed Morgan a bag, and patted his hand. “Why don’t you show Chris what you’re doing,” she said. “He could stand to learn something useful today.”

“Mama!” Chris protested.

“Yes,” she said, “I know, you have those fancy degrees. You still didn’t know how to turn the water off. You want to be a barista, that’s fine, but you’re going to know how to fix the kitchen, too.”

Morgan headed into the kitchen, and Chris followed after a moment. “I’m sorry about that,” he said. “My mom’s a little pushy sometimes.”

Morgan made an affirmative noise.

“It’s like she doesn’t even care what I want,” Chris continued, and Morgan knelt by the hole where the dishwasher had been, wrench in hand. “I mean, sure, biochemical engineering pays better, but the industry is soul-sucking, and I didn’t like where they were taking my work.” He sighed, and knelt next to Morgan.

“Okay,” Morgan said, because he had no idea how to respond to anything Chris had just said. “See that gap? That’s where the valve goes.” He connected the first one, then took the second, almost-failing one off. “You try,” he said, and handed Chris the wrench.

“Fiddly sonofabitch,” Chris said, forearms flexing with muscle as he tightened the connection.

“Yeah,” Morgan agreed, mouth a little dry. He went back to looking at the plumbing. Don’t get yourself beat up again he told himself, don’t wreck a good thing by hitting on a stranger.

“Okay, like that,” Chris asked, and sat back, or tried to. He slammed the back of his head on the edge of the counter, and yelped.

“What?” Jane came running in. “Oh,” she said, and pulled Chris out, resting his head in her lap. “You idiot,” she said, “what were you thinking?”

“Ow.” Chris complained, as her fingers spidered familiarly up his nape, through his thick brown hair. “Mom said to learn something useful.”

“You’re plenty useful,” Jane chided him, “now stay still.”

Morgan ducked back under the counter, even more glad he’d kept his eyes to himself. If the two of them weren’t dating, Morgan was blind. He connected the piece of broken pipe, checked the valve Chris had put in, and crawled back out.

“Thanks,” Jane said, and shooed Chris to his feet. “Can we get this hooked up again?”

Morgan nodded, and when they tested it, it didn’t leak.

“You’re a lifesaver,” Jane said. “I expect to see you tomorrow, so I can give you breakfast as a thank-you.”

Morgan nodded. He thought he felt eyes on him as he left, but that was probably his imagination.

* * *

It was easy, after that, to spend time in the coffeeshop when it wasn’t busy, which was a nice relief, because the first snowfall was only a few days later. Morgan was pretty sure he’d had all the outdoor snow-time he thought he ever needed before his seventeenth birthday, and plenty since then, too. He watched kids in bright jackets throw snowballs, and drank hot coffee and sat as far from the door as possible, out of the draft, wearing the sweater Sercio had gotten for him, and trying to stay out of the way.

Every once in a while Faith would drag him into the kitchen, shoving a baseball cap on his head and telling him to show Chris how to fix something, having him carry trays for her when she strained her back. They started having a cup of tea in the evenings, eating whatever baked goods were going to be put out for half-price the next morning, or given to the folks who knew to come by an hour after closing.

“I’m retiring,” she told him one evening several months in, when their evenings had become ritual, tradition. “I’m too old for this shit, what with my back, and Chris and his brothers will look after me, you know.” She sipped her tea. “He’s a good boy,” she said. “I give him shit, but he works hard, even though he doesn’t need to.”

Morgan made a soft noise, letting her know he was listening.

“He could be making buckets of money,” Faith said, “biochemical engineering PhD and successful patents like you wouldn’t believe, but he just came home and helped when his father died, put his kid siblings through college.” She looked at Morgan. “You seem like a good kid, too,” she said. “Jane’s going to offer you my job, and I want you to take it.”

Morgan blinked.

“You’ve been thinking about leaving,” Faith said, “I want you to give them a chance, okay?” She put a hand over his, and he saw suddenly how lined her skin was, how papery.

“Okay,” he said, and it felt like a promise, like she knew him better than he’d realized, like she’d been listening, putting together the puzzle pieces of his silences.

“Good,” she said, “now get me another tea, it’s freezing outside.”

Two days later Faith announced her retirement; three days later, Jane hired Morgan as a busboy and kitchen jack-of-all-trades. Mostly it meant the same things he’d been doing before, but with a paycheck.

“You’ll get health insurance once we can get the paperwork done,” Jane said, apologetic. “It should be soon, but there’s some kind of trouble with the company.”

“Oh,” Morgan said, surprised. He hadn’t had health insurance in more than a decade. “Um, thanks.”

“It’s the law, you weirdo,” Jane said, but she ruffled his hair, and sent him to bus tables with a familiar little shove.

After that, Morgan found himself spending a lot more time with Jane and Chris, especially when Sercio was out of town, which really did seem to be a lot of the time, leaving the top floor apartment empty and almost echo-y with just Morgan in it.

* * *

A couple of months later, when Morgan came back from Jane’s kitchen with more beer, Jane was sitting halfway in Christopher’s lap, and they were kissing, eyes closed and seemingly completely absorbed in each other. Morgan froze.

“Morgan?” Jane asked, looking up. Her lips were wet, and she licked them absently. Chris’s hands still framed her waist. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry,” Morgan said, “I’ll just—“ He put down the cans he’d just fetched, and started to head for the hall. He hated to waste food, or even reasonably crappy beer, but he really didn’t want to be here right now. He’d just go upstairs, see them tomorrow. They’d be embarrassed about being that drunk, but he’d seen worse.

“Hey,” Jane said, “Morgan, wait.”

“I told you this wouldn’t work,” Chris said, sounding as pessimistic as he ever did when Jane talked him into a ridiculous stunt against his better judgment. He stood, and Jane squawked as she was pushed aside. “Look,” Chris said, coming over and picking up a beer, “I’m sorry, just come sit down, okay?” He took a swig and made a face. “We have got to stop letting Jane pick the beer,” he said, “this stuff is terrible.”

“You’re such a beer snob,” Morgan said. “I’ve drunk way worse.”

Chris picked up a can for Jane and nodded for Morgan to follow him. “Don’t tell me things like that.” Chris mock-shuddered, and followed Morgan over to the couch, where Jane was watching them intently.

“It’s not that bad,” Jane said, taking the beer from Chris. “Besides, we drank the good stuff first.” Her cheeks were flushed, and Morgan couldn’t tell if it was from the beer or something else. “Come on, Morgan,” she said, “you’re blocking the TV. Sit down already.” She patted the sofa beside her with one hand, and he sat, feeling like he had stepped into an alternate dimension. Chris sat on her other side.

“So,” Jane said, taking a long drink of her beer, “sorry about that. I just—“ She made a frustrated gesture and almost spilled beer on Morgan’s shirt. “Sorry.”

“I’m really confused,” Morgan said, because sometimes that was the only thing that made them explain what the hell they were doing. “I mean, really, really confused.”

“Jane wants—“ Chris stopped. “I mean, both of us want—“ He looked at the bottle in his hand. “Hell. This is harder than I thought.”

Morgan realized he was still holding a beer and took a drink. “Okay,” he said. “Maybe we should just go back to watching Great British Bake Off and yelling at them for getting clafoutis wrong?”

“Fuck it,” Jane said, and leaned over, and kissed him, lips suddenly warm and wet against his. She licked at his mouth and he pulled away.

“You—“ Morgan stared. Chris was watching the two of them, but he seemed more interested than angry. “You can’t—“ Jane leaned forward again and Morgan put a hand out. “Wait,” he said, “I’m still really confused.”

“We both want you,” Chris said, words falling over themselves. “I mean, I know you’ve heard us talk about being poly before, right?”

Morgan nodded.

“So,” Chris said, “we both like you, and you don’t seem to dislike us, so—“ he trailed off. “Unless you’re not into guys?”

“We tried that before,” Jane said, leaning against Morgan the way she usually did against Chris, “it didn’t work out well, so tell us now, yeah?”

“No,” Morgan said, “I mean, I’m bi, but—“

“Oh, good,” Chris said. He slammed back the rest of his beer and set the can on the crates they were using as a coffee table. “I mean, I thought I saw you looking, but you never know.”

Morgan took another drink of his beer to buy time. It wasn’t great, but he hadn’t been lying: he’d drunk way worse, especially when he’d been living in a squat with would-be-brewers who had tried their hands at mead. That shit had been terrible, but it had also been free calories in the middle of a Buffalo winter.

“Morgan.” Jane sounded worried. “I mean, I know this is kind of sudden, but—“ When he looked over, she was looking at her hands. “I just — you’re down here a lot, and we really like you.”

“I’m just—“ Morgan had no idea how to finish that sentence. Some random homeless guy, he wanted to say, or not smart enough for you. Chris might be working as a barista, but he had a biochem PhD and more patents than Morgan could remember, and Jane was mostly killing time until she stopped hating the idea of taking on her mother’s real estate company. Morgan was just some stray Jane’s grandfather had taken in upstate.

“You’re not just anything,” Chris snapped. “So what if we only met you by accident? We like you.”

That was probably the kindest way to put it. Somehow, knowing that Chris had probably planned the wording of it made Morgan feel even worse.

“I don’t even have my GED,” Morgan said, feeling helpless to explain everything that made this a terrible idea.

“Do you need a GED to have sex, these days?” Jane asked, sounding a little wry. “Because last I checked, you really didn’t.”

“Man, am I glad I didn’t know that,” Chris said, “my high school boyfriend would have been so pissed at me.” He started laughing. “Morgan,” he gasped, “the look on your face.”

Morgan bristled. “Look,” he said, “not everyone is —“

Jane put a hand on his knee. “We’re not asking you to move in,” she said. “We’re just saying, if you’re interested, we’re interested, okay?”

Somehow putting it in those terms made it a little easier. Morgan nodded.

“Good,” Jane said, and handed her beer to Chris, who had stopped laughing. “Hold this.” She took away Morgan’s, too, and handed it to Chris, and then she straddled Morgan’s lap. “Tell me if you want me to back off,” she said, leaning close, “but I really, really want to kiss you right now.” Her breath smelled like beer, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Morgan took a breath, and she paused.

“Okay,” he said, swallowing. “Okay, yeah.”

Jane’s grin was almost blinding, and then she was kissing him like her life depended on it, plastered across his front. Her small breasts pressed against his chest, and he kissed her back with more hunger than he’d anticipated. His hands found their way to her waist, and she scooted closer when he tugged, rocked down against his growing erection and moaned against his lips. Moon heard a deep groan, and broke away from the kiss to see Chris adjusting himself, beer cans forgotten on the crate. Chris was looking at the two of them like a junkie looking at his next hit.

“You two are so hot,” Chris said, and Jane reached out and dragged him in for a kiss, working a hand between her and Morgan’s bodies to start unbuckling his belt one-handed.

“Whoah,” Morgan said, “um,”

“Sorry,” Jane said, and she sounded like she meant it. “I get a little—“

“She gets impatient,” Chris sounded amused. “Hey, Morgan.”

When Morgan looked over, Chris was leaning in, and Morgan let himself be kissed, then kissed back, trying to ignore the feeling of Jane sitting in his lap while Chris kissed him, slower and more simmering than Jane. When Morgan opened his eyes and pulled away, Jane had pulled her shirt off, and was unbuttoning her skinny jeans.

“I told you she was impatient,” Chris said.

“Oh, come off it,” Jane said, “I’ve been waiting for weeks.”

Morgan blinked.

“Um,” he said. He’d only been here for a few months, only been working for the coffeeshop for two. “Did you give me a job so you could get in my pants?”

“No,” Jane said, sounding offended, “I gave you a job because my grandfather said you’d be good at it. Besides, I didn’t want to get into your pants until after I had to watch you bending over to bus tables all day long.” She stood and shimmied out of her jeans. “Now come on,” she said, holding out a hand to pull Morgan to his feet. “You too,” she said, flapping her other hand at Chris.

She should have looked ridiculous, standing in her living room in boy shorts and a red lace bra. Instead she looked imperious and commanding, and Morgan let her pull him to his feet. “Oh, good,” she said, and went up on tiptoe to kiss him again, wrapping her arms around his back and working his shirt out from the waistband of his pants. Chris stepped around them and started down the hall toward the bedrooms.

“Mmm,” Jane said against Morgan’s lips, and then she stepped away, pulled his shirt and undershirt off and over his head, and tugged him to follow.

When they stepped into Jane’s bedroom, Chris was pulling back the sheets on the bed, shirtless and barefoot. Morgan paused to look, and Jane gave him a little push into the room. Morgan stepped up behind him and pressed a kiss to the side of Chris’s throat, right where his pulse fluttered, and Chris arched and gasped. When Chris turned in his arms, Morgan bent to kiss him, and Chris stepped in close, pressing their naked chests together and making Morgan groan in turn. Chris ran his hands down Morgan’s sides, then stopped at Morgan’s belt.

“Can I?” he asked. Morgan nodded, and Jane stepped up behind him, pressing her breasts against his back. As Chris unbuckled his belt, Jane ran her hands down Morgan’s abs, unbuttoning and unzipping his pants and then pausing.

“Huh,” she said, apparently surprised that Morgan wasn’t wearing underwear.

“Laundry day?” Chris asked, and Morgan nodded.

“Great,” Jane said, “I like it.” And her hands were on his erection, stroking long and slow while Chris pulled his pants down and helped Morgan step out of them.

“God,” Chris said, “look at the two of you.” He skimmed out of the rest of his own clothes and scooted to the far side of the bed. His erection bobbed as he moved, and Jane let go of Morgan to crawl across and kiss him. Morgan stayed where he was, unsure what they wanted him to do now. When Chris pulled away, Jane looked over her shoulder.

“You had a physical recently?” she asked. Morgan nodded. It had been the first time he’d seen a GP since he was still in the foster-care system. “And?” Jane prompted. “Anything we need to know about?”

Morgan flushed. “Um,” he said, “no STDs, if that’s what you mean.” He’d been borderline anemic and had awful teeth, but that hadn’t been a surprise. When the doctor had learned about his personal history, she’d ordered a full workup. “They did a ton of tests — more than they usually do.” He shrugged, feeling pinned by their combined gaze.

“Well,” Jane said, “that’s good, then.” She gestured for him to join them. “Not that we’d mind, but this is more fun.”

“We’re clean,” Chris said, “we got tested a few weeks ago, just in case you said yes.”

Morgan pulled away from where Jane was kissing her way down his neck.

“What, just like that?” He asked. “I could be lying. I could give you HIV or hep-C or something! You have no idea where I’ve been!”

Sure, he’d never done intravenous drugs, sure, he’d tried to be safe, but the fact that he wasn’t swimming in STIs was a miracle, plain and simple, what with the number of guys who’d decided the pretty ethnic kid would be a good trick. Morgan shook his head, trying to clear it.

“Morgan,” Jane said, and nipped his collarbone. “You can’t lie for shit.”

Chris leaned in and kissed him when Morgan opened his mouth to answer, and Jane was suddenly licking up the length of his cock.

“Ohh,” Morgan gasped, and Chris bit his lower lip. “Oh, god.” He squeaked when Jane deep-throated him, unable to prevent himself from bucking upwards toward her. Instead of minding, she hummed, and rolled them onto their sides, pulling Morgan closer, deeper.

“She wants you to fuck her mouth,” Chris said, “it really turns her on.” He kissed the back of Morgan’s neck, teeth sharp, and Morgan closed his eyes and just let himself thrust into Jane’s mouth. Chris settled next to him and pressed kisses to Morgan’s shoulders, ran a hand up and down his chest. When Morgan pulled back, he could feel Chris’s cock hard against his back, and when Jane swallowed, Morgan gasped, eyes flying open, trying to pull away.

“I’m—“ he managed, and Jane pulled him closer and swallowed again, throat muscles contracting around his cock, and Morgan shoved a fist against his mouth as he came harder than he had in years.

Jane crawled up the bed licking her red lips. There was come smeared across her cheek and her chin.

“I—“ Morgan managed, blinking at her and feeling completely wrung out. “Sorry.”

Jane just leaned in and kissed him. She tasted like his own come, which Morgan had never minded the way some guys said they did, and stretched against him like a cat stretching to claim a space.

“What for?” she asked. “That was fucking awesome.” She climbed over Morgan, who felt pleasantly boneless, and settled against Chris. “Ready for me?” she asked, and batted his hands away from his erection. “Watch this,” she instructed Morgan. “He makes the best faces.”

Chris opened his mouth, but as he took a breath to object, Jane pushed him down and lowered herself onto his cock in one practiced move. He gasped, and she groaned and leaned back, bracing herself on her knees.

“Come on,” she said, kneeling above him, “come on, Chris, you know I’m close.”

They fucked like dancing, like they’d been doing it for years, and Morgan watched, feeling oddly included. Jane reached out and took his hand as she came, and Chris made a surprised face before shuddering through his own orgasm, loud and unashamed.

Jane draped herself over Morgan’s chest after a few moments, and Chris kissed both of them deeply before curling up on his side facing the wall.

“I’m opening,” she complained, setting her phone alarm. “Just ignore me when I get up, okay?”

Morgan nodded, and she pressed a kiss to his collarbone before seemingly instantly falling asleep. Morgan rested a hand gingerly on her hair, petting gently, and let himself drift, enjoying the feeling of her against him, of Chris’s body heat radiating along his side.

Morgan was actually asleep when Jane’s alarm went off, and woke before her.

“Ugh,” Jane complained, but shut it off. “Go back to sleep, don’t tell me you’re a morning person, ugh.”

She stumbled, still naked, into the hallway, heading in the direction of the bathroom.

Morgan sat up, and an arm wrapped around his waist.

“We’re off today,” Chris said, voice rough with sleep. “Stay a bit?” He sounded almost wistful, so Morgan allowed himself to be pulled back down, let Chris spoon him despite the fact that Morgan was taller.

Jane smiled when she came in, drying her hair with a fluffy towel. “He’s like an octopus,” she said, and Chris snuffled against the back of Morgan’s neck. She pulled on her black jeans and shirt, braided her hair so it would fit under a cap, and pressed a kiss to Morgan’s temple.

“See you later,” she said, and closed the door behind her gently, as if she assumed Morgan would be around later; as if she wanted Morgan to be around later.

That sense of certainty, more than anything else, let Morgan relax enough to fall asleep again in Chris’s arms until the mid-morning sunlight finally slanted across their faces and woke them both.


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14 thoughts on “Picked Up Along the Way

    • Thank you! It’s going to be fits and starts for him, because he has well-earned trust issues, but I’m so glad his increasing comfort came across. :)

  1. For some reason this makes me think of Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, maybe because I can see that coffee shop adopting a stray and keeping them. This was so sweet and so hot!

    • Thank you! I can’t take full credit, because it’s very much inspired by other works, but I appreciate your comment so much!

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