D.I.S.E.

Stoke the Fire

“You alright?’

When there was no response, Thomas poked his head out of the window. There was a dark shape perched on the edge of the fire escape, just beyond the warm glow cast from the room inside, but it showed no interest in answering him. He ducked under the window frame and stepped into the darkness. Without the light at his back, his eyes adjusted more easily, and it was much easier to make out the being occupying his fire escape.

 

Even with Lockwood’s back to him, Thomas could tell he had one foot planted against the very edge, the other leg dangling between the bars, and an elbow resting on the raised knee. He was wearing that favorite leather jacket of his over a black hoodie. And most noticeable of all, he was very pointedly ignoring him. Thomas sighed through a lop-sided smile and took a seat beside him.

 

“Too much, huh?” A high-pitched shriek and deep, bellowing laughter from inside the apartment punctuated his question before either of them could say anything more. The hood turned toward him, revealing that eerily blank face the color of ink underneath. There was no expression to read, but he could feel the criticism radiating from it.

 

Thomas chuckled through a sheepish smile. “Yeah, they can be...a lot.”

 

Lockwood snorted through a nose he didn’t have and turned to face forward again. Thomas sighed. He dug a joint and a lighter out of the inside pocket of his jacket. He pinned the joint between his lips and lit it, blocking the wind with his free hand. He took a drag for himself, then offered it to the other, who met him with an incredulous look.

 

“...Seriously?” 

 

Hey, at least it got him talking. Thomas shrugged. “Good for anxiety. Takes the edge off for a lot of people.”

 

Lockwood gestured to himself up and down, expelling a pointed burst of white smoke - steam? Thomas hadn’t actually figured out what it was - from his mouth. “Seriously?”

Okay, point. He laughed again as Lockwood’s hand returned to his lap. “I dunno. Not like it’s gonna fuck your lungs up like it will mine, right?”

 

Thomas took another drag to fill the awkward silence and pretend he didn’t notice Lockwood still looking at him, until the demon - he refused to think of something so elegantly beautiful as a monster; at least “demon” ascribed an unknowable supernatural power to him - reached over to snatch it from his lips. He brought it between his own exposed teeth, ignoring Thomas’ look of surprise, and inhaled. The smoke from both his mouth and the joint disappeared inside, returning in a single gentle exhale, indistinguishable from each other. He let the hand fall again, joint still lit between his fingers.

 

Thomas raised a brow. “Am I getting that back?”

 

“No.”
 

He smirked. “Oh really.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What makes you say that?”

 

“I’m not going to willingly hand you back something that can kill you.”

 

He barked out a laugh before he could stop himself, earning a barely audible grumble from his partner. “We’re fugitives from an organization that operates outside the law and has no qualms about killing anyone. We routinely have tense negotiations with things several times my size with way more pointy things and supernatural powers, many of whom would probably like to eat me. And you’re worried about me smoking weed.”

 

Another snort and Lockwood took a second puff. Thomas rolled his eyes. “One or two here and there is not gonna kill me. I’m not smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.” 

 

“Whatever.”

 

He hesitated. Usually when Lockwood conceded, he just stayed silent. For him to say anything at all was unusually aggressive...at least by his usual standards. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing is wrong.”

 

“Lock…”


“Lockwood.”

 

“Lockwood.”

 

Lockwood sighed and turned to look at him in exasperation. Thomas looked deep into the void of his face, his own expression reading only concern and genuine care. Apparently it triggered something in him, because after a moment he groaned and tossed his head back. “Fuckin’...”

 

“C’mon, you’re my partner. Talk to me.”

 

Lockwood ran his hand over his face, pitch black fingers melting into pitch black face in the shadows. He huffed and dropped his head back down and his hand into his lap.

 

“I don’t trust her.”

 

“Who? Nina?”

 

“No, the blind old lady across the street whose cat we feed. Yes, Nina.”

 

Thomas tilted his head. “Why not?”

 

“She’s human.”

 

“So am I.”

 

“And a DISE agent.”

 

“Technically, so am I.”

 

“But functionally, you are not and never were.”


“And functionally, neither is she. They haven’t brought in any targets in months, and have been feeding DISE bullshit for almost as long.”

 

“That doesn’t mean she isn’t with them, it just means she’s bad at her job.”

 

“Lock, come on. I trust her. And you trust me, right?” he asked, resting a hand on Lockwood’s nearest knee. Thomas knew he hated when he did that. Because it always worked.

 

Sure enough, he groaned. “Yes, I trust you. That’s the only reason she’s still here. That does not mean I trust her. Did you see the look she gave me when she first came in? She was ready to pull her gun on me if I took one wrong step.”

 

“First of all, you were giving her the same look. Don’t tell me you weren’t. Second of all,” he gestured over his shoulder with one thumb and lowered his voice, “have you seen the looks she’s been giving him all night?”

 

That seemed to catch Lockwood off-guard. He looked toward the window, then quickly turned forward to shove the joint back between his teeth. “That’s absurd.”

 

Oh. Ooooh. This was not about trusting Nina. It wasn’t about Nina at all. Thomas glanced at the window himself before craning his neck forward to try to see around Lockwood’s hood. “...Is it?”

 

The silence stretched on for what felt like eons. Lockwood was the first to cave, turning his head only a fraction, just enough to catch a glimpse to try to read his partner’s expression. Thomas seized the opportunity and reached out to bridge the chasm between them, his hand finding Lockwood’s sleek face, his thumb the sharp edge of his cheekbone, his fingertips against the nape of his neck under the fabric of the hood. He was cool but not cold, each tendril of smoke brushing against his skin like the faintest breeze, belying the latent embers of the fire he knew was in there, somewhere. 

Lockwood didn’t pull away, as he half expected him to. Instead they locked onto each other, both seeking reassurance that they weren’t misreading the other. There was no resistance, but Lockwood seemed reluctant to take that next step. It was endearing.

The gap between them closed and Thomas’ lips brushed against Lockwood’s teeth before pressing against them more earnestly. It was a gesture he couldn’t quite return, but Thomas could feel him leaning into it, always with that edge of caution, as though he was ready to withdraw and disappear again. 

But he didn’t. 

 

It was clear he had no idea what to do. One hand came up to touch his face - no, his neck - no, his shoulder - but fled back to his chest before touching anything. Taking pity on him, Thomas lowered his hand from Lockwood’s jaw to take his arm instead and guide it gently back into place. The jet black hand pressed into Thomas’ chest and up over his shoulder, fingers curling into his shirt and nails catching on the threads until it slid further up to cup the back of his neck. Thomas could feel him leaning into it more heavily, apparently having found a new burst of confidence, and let him take the lead. He withdrew only enough to make room for his partner and threaded his arm between them to return to its home near his face. 

It felt like time had stood still, but his stupid human lungs sure didn’t. He broke the kiss to pant against his teeth, putting no more distance between them than what was strictly necessary. And again Lockwood defied his expectations by staying firmly in place. He hadn’t noticed when his energy changed, but there was no reluctance now, no fear, only a carefully measured eagerness, cautious hunger, and an almost child-like curiosity. It lit something in his belly, something that had been extinguished for a long time.

 

While Thomas caught his breath, Lockwood’s jaws opened, only enough to wrap his incisors around his lower lip. They didn’t close, didn’t squeeze or pinch or worry, just held it as he drew his head back and let it slide from between his teeth. Neither of them moved, parted lips and teeth just touching, sharing breath, and that heavenly white smoke drifted from Lockwood’s mouth to Thomas’. It too was cool, and wet, and didn’t taste like much of anything - there was that question answered, he supposed.

Something else wet - and this time warm - against his chin snapped him away from his thoughts. Lockwood’s jaws were open wider than he could ever recall seeing them, and he looked just in time to see that long, purple-black tongue retreating back behind those porcelain white teeth. It sent a chill up his spine, and there was a momentary struggle to keep his thoughts from getting way too ahead of himself. 

He was not about to let this rare glimpse at Lockwood’s boldness go to waste. With his breath regained and resolve renewed, Thomas leapt forward to lave across the front of Lockwood’s teeth with his own tongue, and was rewarded with a soft grunt and a subtle - but noticeable - burst of smoke from behind them. Those teeth opened to grant him passage, and Thomas seized it. With Lockwood’s confidence no longer in question, he was happy to take the wheel.

It was different, having to navigate around canine teeth like the tips of railroad spikes and a tongue the length of his forearm. Different, but far from unpleasant, Those teeth poked at his lips and his tongue, dangerous but never threatening. That tongue dipped under, wrapped over, coiled around his own like it was made for it. Inhibition seemed to seep gradually out of Lockwood, and he bracketed Thomas’ neck in the crook of his elbow, pulling him closer. He in turn grasped the lapel of Lockwood’s leather jacket, tugging on it as well. He felt a second hand on his back, followed by a third and fourth, and his heart began to race. 

A sharp ring from inside the apartment jolted both of them. They both looked toward the window like deer in headlights, and he was relieved to find it empty. 

“Thomas!” came a woman’s voice from inside, seemingly a room or two away. “It’s yours!”

A moment passed before he snickered, then turned into a fuller laugh. Lockwood was still fixed on the window, dazed. Thomas unhooked his partner’s arm from around his shoulders and leaned forward to graze his teeth against that cool, smoky cheekbone. 

“We aren’t done until you want to be,” he murmured against him, then planted a kiss and stood. He straightened his clothes, gave the bewildered Lockwood a wink, and dipped back into the window to answer his phone. 

Lockwood watched him go, and stared at the corner around which he disappeared for longer than he’d care to admit, then turned to once again face the street below. He looked at the joint caught in one of his disembodied hands, which he definitely did not remember dropping. He took a deep, shuddering breath, and flicked it down to the cement.