All of my Heroes are dead - MrsSimply (2024)

Chapter 1: Out of the Chaos

Chapter Text

Please just remember that… That whatever happens, I love you.


“f*ck this band. Not your crowd, not your noise, do your own thing.”

“Bastard, Tsh… Gonna miss you something awful.”

“See ya in the next life, friend.”

Johnny took a drag of his cigarette as Kerry gave him a sad smile and turned to the door. He had barely made a step out when Kerry stopped him once more with a firm hand over his flesh arm, turning him again.

“No,” he said, “I can’t. I can’t let you go.”

Glancing over his shoulder to the parking and the chopper on hold for him, Johnny saw Rogue, waiting impatiently. He sighed.

“Got no time for this sh*t,” he mumbled before shaking his arm free with a harsh movement. “Don’t ruin it,” Johnny warned, voice dangerous.

But in an unusual bout of iron will, Kerry only widened his stance and his jaw contracted.

“I don’t know exactly what you intend to do, but I can feel it Johnny, you’re not gonna come back from this and I just can’t let you go.”

Looking straight into his hazelnut eyes, Johnny experienced a moment of great rage, where he seriously considered punching Kerry’s pretty face. He reigned the emotion in, for old time sake, and because secretly he hated seeing his friend unhappy. Kerry was one of the few good people he had still around, like Alt had been: too good for him. And in his darkest nightmares, he saw him die, by his hands, just like Alt.

Trying for patience, he turned back fully to his bandmate.

“Listen, I have to do this,”

“No you don’t. You don’t, actually,” Kerry repeated, taking his face between his hands, and his visage was close. Johnny’s eyes flickered to the other man’s lips before settling back to his eyes.

“You don’t understand Kerry, that’s the problem. I’m already half-dead.” He whispered, like venom dripping between them. “And you are not enough. You can’t “save” me or whatever it is that you think you are doing.”

“I know, I know,” Kerry replied with desperation, but his hands only tightened around Johnny’s neck and jaw, forcing him to bend until their foreheads touched. “But it’s selfish, I just can’t let you go!” he repeated, voice trembling.

Feeling time was running out, Johnny forcefully shoved his friend off him and glared.

“Well, get over it, get over me, like I told you to do many times!”

And he walked outside. Instantly, his hair was blown by the wind produced by the chopper, and all sounds were drowned in the roar of the engines.

“You’re late,” he barely heard Rogue throw at him.

But before he could reply, another voice interrupted behind him.

“And you, why are you enabling him like this?!”

Kerry had followed him and was addressing the merc. She turned sharply toward him, with a surprised face. Her astonishment grew as the musician advanced on her, pointing an accusing finger to her chest. Johnny could barely believe the scene before his eyes, but his astonishment was quickly replaced by anger, all-consuming and terrible. Violence simmered in his blood; he was going to hurt Kerry badly.

“Hey, I’m just a merc, here!” Rogue declared, hands going up in mock surrender.

“Oh no, you’re not, you are responsible. If he dies tonight, it’s on you too!”

“Not if he follows the plan, he won’t” and that was addressed to Johnny as much as Kerry.

“But don’t you see it, Rogue? Don’t you see why he wants to blow up that tower?”

At this, the merc glanced at Johnny, who decided this conversation had gone on long enough. He grabbed his bandmate by the arm and turned him harshly before pushing his knee into his stomach in one swift move. When Kerry doubled over, Johnny kicked him behind the knees and once he was on the ground, booted him in the ribs. Kerry let out a shout of pain and curled on himself at Johnny’s feet.

“Let’s f*cking go,” Johnny spat at Rogue, not looking at his friend on the ground. But the merc was looking at him suspiciously.

“Johnny,” she started lowly, her face somber, “We are going there only to put a bomb inside that tower, is that right? We go there to put down their supremacy, and hopefully end their war. Right?”

He opened his mouth to lie, but Kerry had recovered enough to shout over him.

“It’s been ten years, Rogue,” he spat, “ten f*cking years, and he hasn’t grieved. It’s for her, it’s because he can’t get over it, because he is a f*cking COWARD who can’t face his own f*cking mistakes and DEAL WITH IT like an adult!” Kerry screamed, his gaze crazy and terrible as he looked at Johnny.

Said man stood rooted to the spot in the face of his friend accusation. Why was it that the day Kerry chose to grow a pair of balls had to be today, of all days? But the answer was obvious, even to Johnny. Kerry was exulting the same energy he had felt ten years ago when he had attempted to rescue Alt from Arasaka. He was fighting for love.

Now it was Rogue’s turn to face him with blazing eyes, full of betrayal and rage.

“Is it true?”

He said nothing, only looked at Kerry, still kneeling on the ground. Where he should have been pitiful, and trigger only scorn in Johnny, he actually looked strong and assured. Like he knew something Johnny didn’t, or had forgotten.

“IS. IT. TRUE?” Rogue repeated when no answer was forthcoming, and her tone broke no space for bullsh*t.

Johnny faced her, but his silence was answer enough. Rogue stayed still for a few seconds longer, her eyes shimmering with fury.

“Do you know, Johnny, how many lives are on the line tonight?” Rogue tone was strangely cold and matter of fact, but both men could see the storm coming. “Not just me and you here, asshole. Not just the team, but civilian lives too.” She paused, hands on her hips and she suddenly seemed way taller than she really was. Like a goddess of war appearing from the ether. “Weyland has been causing riots in Heywood and in Pacifica to distract Arasaka, and they are retaliating. Heavily. I agreed to that plan for a cause, Johnny. A cause that is greater than you, than me, than ANY OF US.”

Rogue grabbed him by his shirt, her face inches from his and he had no choice but to confront her fury.

“And you! YOU! FOR YOUR f*ckING INPUT, DEAD FOR TEN YEARS!” she was so enraged she was losing her words, “f*ck!” and the merc backhanded Johnny with the full force of her resentment. His face burned both from the blow and from anger. He spat blood before breathing deeply.

In an outburst Rogue couldn’t have blocked, he punched her straight in the nose. She cried out, reeling back with a curse. But she was not such a sought after merc for nothing; Rogue retaliated swiftly by pulling out her gun and coldly firing. The bullet grazed Johnny’s neck in warning. It was not a miss, not with Rogue.

They stood still, seizing each other but they both knew that there would be no fight but total annihilation if any of them started the hostilities. Breathing like a bull, more from the violence alight in his blood than the nearly fatal wound, Johnny held his hands up slowly.

On the opposite side, Rogue was still poised for another shot, but her lips were trembling.

“f*ck,” she exploded, and her face contorted in an ugly grimace. “I really HATE YOU right now! You selfish f*cking piece of sh*t.”

But then she reigned it and was suddenly all business again. Straightening, her eyes flashed and Johnny heard her call the gig off and order Weyland to delta.

The merc sent another glare at him before turning her back on him. With three strides, she was in the chopper, and the second after, it was raising without Johnny aboard.

From the corner of his eyes, Johnny saw Kerry raise himself, but neither men moved until the chopper had disappeared completely. Johnny tried, really tried, to cage the fury back, but he was failing. His friend must have felt it because when the wannabee terrorist turned to him, he was bracing for a fight.

That alone decided Johnny: he was going to f*ck Kerry up badly. He was going to hurt him terribly and enjoy it. One step was enough to bring him within reach of the other man. He swung his closed fist, and Kerry tried to raise his arms to block him, but there was no stopping Johnny now. The iron fist collided with the left side of his face and there was a sickening crack as his jaw dislocated. But Johnny was not satisfied when he heard Kerry’s cry of pain. Again, he kneed him in the stomach, before grabbing his long dark hair to make him look up. Kerry’s eyes were full of painful tears, but they kept their determination and that angered Johnny even more. He shoved Kerry back, before kicking him in the knee, making him fall to the ground once more. Johnny lost no time to straddle him and started punching him in earnest, left then right, then left hook again. And every blow with his metal hand was followed by a scream of agony from his friend.

Someone was roaring, screaming like an animal, and it took Johnny some time to understand that it was coming from him. Under him, Kerry was unmoving, not even trying to resist the onslaught. And as flying specks of blood fell on Johnny’s lips and he tasted the metallic tang of the hemoglobin, another emotion came like a tidal wave. It was sadness. Terrible and all-consuming sadness. Despair like he had never felt. The grief he had always refused to feel. The pain he had battled for ten years was coming back full force.

His blows became weaker and weaker, and something wet was trailing along his cheeks. It fell on Kerry’s lips, mixed with the blood there before it slid to the corner of his mouth and along his jaw and neck. Johnny focused on that for a second before Kerry, swallowing with difficulty, brought him back. Johnny found himself curled over his friend, who was barely moving and breathing wetly, shallowly, probably because of broken ribs.

Slowly, maybe in part because of the pain he felt, but probably also because he wasn’t sure of his welcome, Kerry moved his arms around Johnny’s shoulders and hugged him softly. His lips were right next to Johnny’s ear.

“It’s ok. If you hate yourself, that’s ok. I get it. Sometimes, hell, most of the time, I really hate myself too. Please just remember that… That whatever happens, I love you.” Kerry whispered.

And, like in a daze, Johnny titled his head until their lips were almost touching.

His eyes ran over Kerry’s tumefied face. His left eye was so swollen he couldn’t see anymore, and his cheekbones were profusely bleeding. His jaw had an unnatural angle that made it obvious it was disjointed. But Johnny couldn’t reconcile the man who had inflicted such terrible pain with himself. He felt removed.

But he knew only one thing. Kerry’s lips against his own were soft, a bit shaped because the man kept worrying them, but still, they fit against his own. The kiss was bloody and terrible in hindsight, but perfect nonetheless.

Eleven years later – 2034.

The show was going full swing. It was a rarity to see both Johnny Silverhand and Kerry Eurodyne on the same scene nowadays, both having their own solo career. But when they had announced the reformation of Samurai a year ago, for the 10th anniversary of the split-up, the hype had been total in the Rock world.

For the reunion, Johnny had categorically refused the Dark Matter, and Kerry had vetoed the Hammer, so they had ended up in Alternate World. It was packed, because they had decided on a free entrance policy and the club was clearly having trouble catering to all the fans.

From the original Samurai, only Denny had answered their call: Henry was still in detox, and Nancy, had definitely switched to journalism. Drausin, from the popular band Cutthroat, had been recruited for the concert, and maybe more if all went well. Kerry had introduced Lola, a skilled keyboardist that he had been coaching for a while now, after having met her in the sub, of all things.

They were in the middle of Chippin’ in when it happened. At the back, the sea of people parted strangely and Johnny saw the unusual movement from the corner of his eyes. The strobe lights and lasers were not helping seeing the public, so it was more instinct than conscious thought that made him move.

He stopped playing and grabbed his gun that, while he never again fired in the public, still accompanied him on stage. With one smooth stride, he was in front of Kerry, metal hand extended to serve as a poor shield and pushing his friend to the back of the stage, toward Denny. Always swift to react to situations, she was already on her feet, pulling Lola along. Drausin also backed off, eyes riveted to the crowd, and Johnny knew he had not hallucinated: something was happening.

Although the music had stopped, it was to be replaced with panicked sounds and screams of fright. Then Johnny saw the man, gun blazing, marching toward them, parting the crowd like the red sea. He heard Kerry gasp behind him:

“There!” the second guitarist said, pointing to his right. And Johnny indeed saw another man advance on the first from the right side of the room, his gun also at the ready.

The first man fired toward the stage, but Johnny had anticipated it and pushed Kerry and himself down, hoping the two others would have had the same reflex. His heart was hammering in his chest as he covered Kerry with his body, experiencing a moment of terrible fright, but not for himself.

Alas, Kerry was still as stubborn as the day he was born, and he was pushing Johnny from himself to look at what was happening. He watched as the second man, face set and eyes shimmering like diamonds in the low light, steadied his stance and pulled the trigger. The shot was perfect, the bullet traced a neat line to the first man’s head, and blew his brain left from right.

But it was not finished: following the steps of the first man, two others assassins were coming for them, and Johnny tried to make Kerry drop his head but his bandmate was mesmerized by the man protecting them.

With a chiseled face, large but soft eyebrows, sharp cheekbones and long silver hair pulled up to the side of his head, he looked like and angel fallen from heaven. The strobes lighted his face in shadows and stark whites, bouncing off the cyberware on his face that shone like liquid gold, highlighting his slightly pointed ears. He was of middle height, and stocky built, but there was no denying his presence: he exuded concentration and assurance as he crouched slightly to steady himself before he fired twice. And each bullet found its mark, killing the two other assassins in as much heartbeats.

This time, the silence was deafening. He stood like this for a few seconds more, before running footsteps coming behind him made him relax and stand. Another man, this time built like a wardrobe and as tall, rushed to the fallen criminals, kicking theirs guns away before crouching to check their pulse. But Kerry had no doubts they were well and truly dead.

The smaller man turned to the stage, and his cold pale eyes swept over the members of the band, assessing their status. As his eyes crossed with Kerry’s, the musician felt a lightning bolt zap through him. The gaze lasted only a second, but it felt like an eternity: all thoughts stopped in his head, and his breathing stuttered as well as his heart while a wave of heat passed over him. But all those sensations disappeared the moment after, replaced by the rush of adrenaline this situation had kicked in his organism.

Next to him, he felt Johnny get up, controlled and already bent on anger, per his default reaction in every unplanned situation.

“What the f*ck?!” he declared, addressing the younger man down in the dancefloor.

But it was the wardrobe man who replied.

“I’m private investigator River Ward, and you’ve just been saved from an assassination attempt on your person. Now if you would please get down so I can escort you to safety, we have much to talk about.”

But Johnny was still looking at the other man, who was holding his gaze placidly. It was like he hadn’t just rushed in and killed three men, for how relaxed he looked. But there was no fooling Johnny: this man was still on high alert, muscles tensed and adrenaline coursing through his blood like burning ice, ready for anything.

Someone from the club turned on the lights, and people started moving, coming out of their terrified haze. Chaos erupted all around the dancefloor, and Ward hopped on the stage, offering a hand to Kerry and Denny, who were still lying on the ground.

“Now, please,” he said, pointing to the backstage.

In the panic still unfolding down in the club, the smaller man had disappeared.

Mister Ward “Call me River” was explaining how he had been hired by Rogue a few weeks earlier to investigate a suspicious communication between Arasaka and the Tyger Claws. How the Princess of the Atlantis had come by this suspicious information, he was not telling, but he was being very serious about the threat still being out there.

Kerry was only hearing maybe half of the explanation, still in shock from what had happened. Not the shooting, because this was, all in all, common place in Night City. There was also a time in his life where shooting came from the stage, not from the floor. No, he was still reeling from the brief eye contact with the other man. Even though it was fading, he could still recall his cold silver eyes, probably cybernetics, and his sharp cheekbones, even the scar he had over his right eyebrow.

“Who was he?” he asked, interrupting whatever Ward was saying. “Who was the man with you, the one who shoot down the Tyger Claws?”

Ward paused, his cybernetic eye fell on Kerry, and the musician felt himself being weighed and found lacking for unknown reasons.

“V is a merc, hired by Rogue, to help me with your safety.”

“V?” Kerry repeated. “That’s his name?”

“A merc? Hired by Rogue?!” Johnny interrupted, incredulous. “f*ck that, last I was aware, Rogue could barely tolerate me, and by extension, all of us. Why would she spend any eddies on us? And don’t tell me it was out of her kind heart. Because she doesn’t have one.”

Ward’s lips twitched like he was repressing a smile, but the expression passed quickly.

“I can’t pretend to know Mrs. Amendiares’s thoughts, so I advise you to ask her directly. What’s important here, is that I’ll be with you until this treat is identified and neutralized.”

“Is V gonna work with you, then?” Kerry asked and Johnny shoot him a bewildered look. “Where can we find him?”

Ward looked at him with an unnerving calm.

“Again, I advise that you go through his fixer, which is Mrs. Amendiares.”

Both Kerry and Johnny exchanged a look: Rogue was in for an overdue visit from them, it seemed.

“Johnny Silverhand and Kerry Eurodyne,” Rogue pronounced when they sat in what was becoming her booth at the Atlantis. “A sight I hoped to never see again.”

Kerry couldn’t help but give her an eyeroll.

“What? In the end, you still blew up that f*cking tower.”

“I did,” she replied, “but I could have done without the drama. Still together, I see. Well at least it ended well for you.” The last part was addressed to Johnny, who gave her the finger.

In the years after nearly bombing the tower with Rogue, he had, at last and only in part, grieved and made peace with himself. He was still full of rage against the corpos, but he had matured and found other ways to fight: music, and political involvement, which was coming to bite him in the ass today it seemed. Because Ward had been quite clear on that: Johnny had been the main target, because of his more mediatic role in the resistance against the system.

Rogue and he had had worked again together, but they limited their relationship at that: business. She had definitely made a name for herself when she had bombed the tower, a few weeks after the first attempt. She had gone on because she still had a nuke on her arms so why not use it for its initial purpose? Rogue had, along with Morgan Blackhand, ended the fourth corporation war and became Atlantis’s prodigal daughter. Her name was now whispered reverently in Night City’s streets. And Johnny had had to accept that this fame had not been for him and make his own path with Kerry as his companion.

Was it better? He couldn’t say, but at least he could watch himself in the mirror with less and less self-hatred as the years went by, so he tried to count it as a victory.

“Back together,” Kerry rectified, “Samurai is back on tracks. Well, if Johnny doesn’t get killed. But I understand that we have you to thank for that?”

Rogue snorted.

“Well, if it was only me, I wouldn’t have lifted a finger. I might have regretted you Kerry, love your last album.”

Before Kerry could discern if she was being ironic or not, Johnny took the lead of the discussion.

“Then, pray tell, why did you hire a PI and a merc to protect my sorry ass?”

The Princess of the Atlantis watched them intently, arms crossed as she weighted her next words.

“It was not my initiative. The job came from and old acquaintance of yours, Johnny.”

That surprised both the men on the other side of her. Johnny had no “old acquaintances”, they were either dead or not wanting to hear a word about him.

The young fixer’s lips twitched in a grimace. She turned to Kerry.

“Promise me to keep him in check.”

“Whoa, you put too much faith in me! I have absolutely no control over him.” Kerry retorted, hands going up to emphasis his lack of responsibility in Johnny’s behavior.

“We all know it’s not true,” she replied with a soft tone that surprised them.

Kerry glanced at Johnny, but the man was resolutely looking at Rogue.

“Who?” he demanded.

She drummed her fingers on her arm before replying.

“Alt Cunningham.”

Chapter 2: The Temple or Apollon


So, I decided to put the interludes as separate works. For those you you who read the first chapter on tuesday, the second chapter was an interlude and has now be moved to part one of the series. You can read the sequel of the chapter in the piece title "Hekales and Orpheus", linked as a serie with this piece.
This is chapter two of the story, but I have added the second interlude, which is about Johnny and Kerry's first meeting in the other piece of this series.

And I'm sorry because the comments got deleted in the process ^^'

Chapter Text

Scream it harder, sing it louder, take it further.

Johnny had known that Alt was still… existing… somewhere. Back when he had planned to bomb the Arasaka Tower, his goal had been to free her from their network, where she was imprisoned.

Now, it looked like she had found a way out: as an engram, carefully encrypted on a biochip, kept safe in the head of a young, untrained but very skilled merc.

While still inside Arasaka network, she had intercepted a communication between a member of the Taka faction and the Tiger Claws, ordering that Johnny Silverhand be silenced. It had really been lucky that the mission to rescue her – a crazy scheme involving the Voodoo Boys, a doll and her BD, a paunchy fixer and two unknown mercs – had happened around that time, otherwise she might not have been able to warn anyone in time.

Rogue had delivered these pieces of information matter-of-factly, and had Johnny not known her for a long time, he might have though her crazy. But here he was with Kerry, smoking outside Lizzie’s Bar. Both men observed the place warily: neither had set foot in it, as it was quite recent, and particularly known for being the HQ of the Mox, a fairly new gang composed mostly of sex-workers, artists and other pellicular people. The Mox were famous for having opposed the Tyger Claws after Lizzie, the founder of the bar, had gunned one of them for hurting a prostitute. Of course, the Tyger Claws had retaliated and murdered Lizzie, but her people had fought back and emerged victorious.

Johnny admired the Mox, but by proxy of being a man, they were very cautious of him and had refused to associate with him. They didn’t want to become political, they had said.

Well, tonight he was here as a patron, and not the leader of the Silver Revolution Party.

Glancing at Kerry, Johnny stubbed the butt of his cigarette and lazily remade his half-bun before replacing his aviators on. He was dressed all in black, from the tank top to the leather pants. Only his jacket was of a dark red, nearly black in the poor lighting of the street.

Next to him, Kerry was also finishing his cigarette. Dressed in his usual white tank top, sleeveless leather jacket and dark blue jeans, he was very pensive, a stark contrast to his jittery attitude since they had talked to Rogue.

The neon lighting made the age lines on his face appear more pronounced, and the gold of his chains glitter softly. At forty-three, he was undoubtably a handsome man. They both had the privilege of aging well, but Kerry was the real heartthrob, with his charming smile and pretty almond eyes. Plus, contrary to Johnny, he could play coy for television, and that always scored well with the media. Following the changing fashion, he had cut off his mullet and shaved the sides but kept the wild mop of hair on top of his head, now marred with silver locks that shone under the sun light and reflected the lasers during his shows. He had also completed his tattoo on the left arm, a mirror image to Johnny’s silver arm, and had started working on the other arm with the Samurai logo. It looked good on him and Johnny loved to trace the artwork with his lips.

Feeling his friend’s gaze on him, Kerry looked at Johnny with a question in his eyes, but his companion only shrugged.

“You ready?” the older man asked.

His friend replied by flicking the butt of his cigarette to the curb and advancing toward the bouncers. They were given a terse lecture about the rules of the bar, the seriousness of the club policy highlighted by the heavy baseball bat that the bouncer swung lazily as she gave her explanation.

Johnny grunted in agreement and they were permitted entrance to the club. It was packed, full of dancers, but in the numerous booth and seats, they could also see the BD clients, lost in their simulation. Rogue had told them they could find V here, and both Kerry and Johnny had wanted to talk to the merc, although for different reasons. The first because he was developing an obsession with the merc, and had lost sleep over it already, the second because he hoped to be able to talk to Alt and make penance.

They scanned the bar, but didn’t saw him, so they started to make a tour of the room, looking in the different booths, but the merc was not found so easily it seemed. Deciding to wait and observe, they directed themselves to the corner bar and ordered drinks.

“Hey, do you happen to know of a man named V?” Kerry asked to the bartender once they had ordered. Said man looked back at him in suspicion.

“Who’s askin’?”

“Kerry Eurodyne.”

If he hoped that dropping his name would help him obtain answer, he was disappointed, because the bartender kept a good poker face.

“We want to thank him,” Johnny interceded, “It really is just a social call.”

That seemed to relax the barman slightly.

“Well,” he started, still assessing them slowly, “you’re in luck. You’ll just have to wait a few more minutes and he will be there.”

“Great!” Kerry replied, “we will just have to drink in the meantime.”

At that the bartender smiled before depositing their order.

“Wave if you need anything else.” And he was off to serve other clients.

Both men used the time to observe their surroundings, enjoying their drinks.

“So, have you thought about was Ward said? About canceling our shows until the threat is dealt with?” Kerry asked in a low voice, his proximity allowing him to be heard over the noise of the club.

“Yeah, I have, and you know perfectly how it’s gonna be.”

Kerry snorted and nodded.

“Think Rogue warned him we were gonna be particularly difficult clients?”

“Technically, we’re not the client, we are the job. Alt is the client. She is paying, even.” Johnny replied, unconcerned about Ward. The guy was certainly good at his job, and his advice made perfect sense, but Johnny was not going to back off so easily. This threat proved that his actions were working, and that his movement was gathering enough visibility to worry the corpos.

“Still, Johnny, you and I, it’s one thing, but Denny, Lola and Drausin didn’t ask for it.” Kerry commented, his eyes still roaming the club.

“You didn’t either.”

That was the part Johnny hated: by targeting him, they were also threatening his bandmates. And Johnny felt the familial anger simmer inside him. He wouldn’t let them touch a hair of his friends, and certainly not Kerry. He couldn’t afford to lose him now.

“Which is why we have to talk with this little merc, I wanna know what kind of guts he has.” Johnny concluded and next to him, Kerry shifted.

“I’m more interested in what kind of ass he has, but I get you.”

Johnny rolled his eyes skyward, but couldn’t help the smile that painted itself on his lips. Looking back at his friend, he said:

“He really did an impression on you. I don’t know if I should feel jealous? I thought I was the only man you were obsessed with.”

“Don’t worry Johnny, you’ll always be my number one,” Kerry joked, patting his friend’s cheek. The other man snorted, before letting his eyes tour the dancefloor.

“It’s just, I don’t know…” Kerry continued,” I mean, did you have a good look at him?”

Not really, he had been more concentrated on Kerry and his other bandmates’ safety, but he had also been struck by his gaze when they had exchanged a look. He was looking forward to meet him properly.

“Rogue spoke highly of him,” he conceded. “but I’m not even sure I could recognize him here, didn’t get a proper look, I think. So it’s on you to find him.”

“Oh, I will.”

There was a lull in their conversation, and Kerry asked for a refill before he turned to Johnny more fully.

“I have something to tell you…”

Johnny refocused his gaze, which had been struck on a particularly cute woman dancing, on Kerry. He raised an eyebrow in a silent question.

“Louise asked for divorce.”


He sighed, not surprised. About three years ago, she had started seeing someone else, and slowly, gradually, she had started seeing him more and more, leaving Kerry for weeks. In itself, it wasn’t a problem, because Kerry was seeing other partners as well, and having privileged moments with his kids when she wasn’t there. But Kerry had also confided that she looked more and more withdrawn as time passed. He suspected that this other man, which he had met several times, was offering something Kerry could never give her: being the priority. Because if he was honest with himself, Kerry had a lot or priorities coming before Louise: Johnny, music, the kids… She was a dear friend, his companion and associate in everyday life… But romantically she was far behind other things.

“Ker, I’m sorry.” Johnny commiserated in a low tone, and he felt his companion’s sadness as his own.

Louise had been one of the best things to happen to Kerry. And the kids were great. Ted was seven, and Kim going on five in a few months. Both were bright children and Johnny knew it would break Kerry’s heart to not be able to see them as often. Because there was no doubt they would primarily go with their mother: Kerry’s lifestyle as a musician was not conductive to raising children their ages.

Kerry tried to go for a casual shrug, but there was no denying this was weighing heavily on him.

“I had it coming. I’m mostly glad we had so much time together, that she accepted that and put energy in it. She gave me two amazing children and I…” he paused, suddenly overcome by emotion. Breathing deeply twice, he swallowed. “she deserves to be number one. That can’t be with me.”

In the silence that followed, both men battled against the guilt they felt in regard of this situation. Both wished for a minute that they could be more conventional, that their baggage was less heavy, and that their lives were simpler.

“I also need a place to stay for a while.”

Johnny tensed at that. Back in their youths, they had tried several times to live together, but it always ended in terrible fights of epic violence. Kerry saw his reaction and smiled wryly.

“Promise it’s temporary, I now it has to be. Just. She asked for space. It’s the minimum I can give her.”

Johnny sighed softly and nodded. He couldn’t say no anyway, and didn’t really want to. He was about to repeat to Kerry that there would be rules to follow, when the bartender interrupted them.

“There he is,” and he pointed to the central stage, were two dance poles were raising themselves from the ground. And indeed, a slender woman with blue hair and V were standing next to the poles. Johnny heard Kerry exhale like air had been punched out of his chest and glanced at him. His eyes were riveted on the man, and his expression turned carnivorous. It was a look Johnny knew well, having been the recipient of it several time, and he knew it was a heady sensation. V was probably too far to appreciate it, or even be aware of it, but to Johnny it was a sign of the want Kerry experienced.

Turning back to the man, he observed him more attentively. Naked but for a shorty barely covering his ass, the man was indeed a treat for the eye. His muscles were well defined, he was well proportioned but retained a slenderness that gave him a strong sensuality. A tattoo was covering most of his upper body, all black following his collarbones and descending to his abs and back, and to his biceps. It was crisscrossed by slim lines of naked skin, tracing geometrical pattern over the black, before melting in swirls as it touched his hips.

As he started to move, the tattoo was fully displayed, alive on his skin and mesmerizing the audience as well as Johnny.

His hair, which he had sported in a bun to the right side of his head when he had stormed their concert, was now braided in complex loops with strands flowing onto his shoulders. They were light gray and as such, reflected the many lights of the club and contrasting beautifully with his dark caramel skin.

So concentrated he was by cataloguing all this details, it took Johnny a minute to understand what was happening, and that V was not just a familiar at the Lizzie’s, but worked there. As a pole dancer.

The music changed to a calmer beat, and people stopped dancing to watch. Judging from the cheers, it was the apex of the night, and an awaited event.

Both stood behind their poles and smiled at the public. They glanced cheekily at each other before, in a smooth jump, mounted their poles. Once up, they mock-fell a few inches before turning upside-down on the poles and opening their legs in a wide stretch. Slowly, they began rotating, which gave the public a good view from their asses and f*ck, Johnny didn’t really know where to look because both had amazing asses.

As they completed their turn, V got back up and folded a leg around the pole, extending the other. All his moves were graceful and spoke of training and honed musculature. Holding himself in that position, he let go or the pole with his hands and extended them to the girl who was back upright. She extended her legs toward him and let him caress her, opening her legs for him and his fingertips reached just the inside of her knees. She threw her head back with a laugh and mock-battled his advances. In the next heartbeat, they smoothy transitioned back on the poles and arched backward in complete arcs. Holding on with one hand and the pole between their tights, they started spinning. The spins gained in speed and after one tour, they gripped back the pole with both hands to let their body hang off almost completely, continuing to revolve around their respective poles.

Johnny couldn’t help but being impressed by the strength it must solicit to spin effortlessly like this while holding your whole body with just your arms. Once more upside down, they flowed and curled to the ground before finding themselves face to face on their knees between the two poles. Smoothly getting up, the girl jumped slightly and V caught her before throwing her up back to her pole that she caught before spinning again, like she was walking on air. He followed her and soon they were at the same level, walking in circles, chasing each-other indefinitely. Then suddenly, he stopped and caught her with his legs, encasing her middle between his tibias. With her pelvis on the pole, and supported by his legs, she let go of the mast and arched back, catching her foot with both hand over her head. Then, he caught her with an arm behind her back, and she held the position as he slowly trailed down the pole to deposit her back on the ground. He executed a series of fast spins and moves while going back up the pole as the girl danced off to the other mast and climbed it effortlessly. One they were both back up, they curled on themselves and spin swiftly to the ground, in a blur of legs and arms. They touched the ground with hands first and pushed against the poles to cartwheel gracefully. The ended up on their feet in the middle of the stage, and the music stopped. The crowd exploded in mad cheers and next to him, Kerry was applauding so hard, Johnny feared for the skin of his hands.

“Did you see that?!” he explained enthusiastically, “it was amazing!”

And Johnny had to admit that it was neat.

“f*ck, he really is flexible.” Kerry added in a rough voice that transcribed his reaction to such feats. He had flashes of what it would be like, to have this man in bed, arching back like that.

Both dancers exited the stage and Kerry turned back to the bartender.

“Can you tell him that we would like to see him?”

The man seemed to hesitate once more, before he nodded.

“Go sit in that booth,” he indicated a corner to their right, which was empty.

They went with their drinks and Kerry promptly sprawled on the couch with a groan. A glance downward indicated to Johnny that he was hard, desire pumping in his blood, making his eyes turn glassy with want. It was, like always, a kick to Johnny’s own libido as his eyes roamed hungrily over his lover, cataloguing all the signs of his state.

Smirking, Johnny lit up a cigarette and relaxed back in the seat, watching Kerry hands nearly tremble with the desire to touch himself. Throat bared, said man sent a dirty look at his companion, well aware that Johnny was enjoying his predicament.

“Like it didn’t make you hot.” He accused, to which Johnny shrugged but didn’t deny.

“It makes me hot that it makes you hot,” he rumbled, watching as Kerry shivered in answer.

“f*ck, stop that.”


“That, looking at me like this, using your bedroom voice…”

Johnny barked a laugh.

“You’re a f*cking hypocrite, you love when I watch you like this, when I focus only on you. And… You love to be on display like that. The whole club could be watching you now and it would only make you harder. Attention whor*.” He delivered with a hint of a growl and Kerry bit his lip to refrain from moaning out loud. His hips canted forward, making him slump even more in the seat, legs falling completely open. And Johnny felt his blood simmer in answer, heading south and filling his co*ck.

A presence at the edge of their corner interrupted their little game, making Johnny sit straight in alert. V was standing a few feet away, dressed in a faded jean and plain black tee-shirt. His hair was still in its complex updo, enhancing his sharps features: the many loops around his slightly protruding and pointed ears, his high cheekbones and delicate jaw, his strong roman nose and full lips. And his eyes, indeed cybernetics, glowing silver as he looked at them, assessed them. They were sunken, giving him a serious and mysterious air, darkening his expression even though the glittering make-up around them softened his gaze.

Without waiting for an invitation, he climbed the lonely step to come into their booth and sat in the couch next to Kerry, who had also straightened, and was now devouring the young man with his gaze. Said man seemed to be either immune or indifferent to it, as he ignored Kerry to focus on Johnny.

“You wanted to see me?” His voice was deep, but soft, like hot chocolate and it zinged inside Kerry’s body, distracting him momentarily from the tension that seemed to inhabit both V and Johnny as they watched each other.

And indeed, Johnny felt a strange feeling simmer in the pit of his stomach: the urge to appear taller, bigger, and to wipe off the look of defiance from the young merc, preferably with his fists. V was giving him a cold look, a hint of disdain coloring his full mouth, and defiance flashing in his silver eyes, beaconing Johnny to a fight.

Kerry, always finely attuned to Johnny’s mood, perceived at last the tension and intervened.

“We wanted to thank you for, you know, saving our lives.”

Still watching Johnny from the corner of his eyes, V glanced at Kerry, giving him a flash of his liquid silver pupils.

“It was my job.” He replied neutrally, but reclined in the seat, relaxing slightly.

“Well, thanks anyway,” Kerry repeated. “Though we could offer you a drink for that.”

Again, with a corner glance, like he couldn’t look longer at the musician, he nodded and said artist beamed, gesturing to a passing waitress. But instead of coming to them, she only nodded and went to the bar. Seeing Kerry’s confused look, V let a small smile appear on his face.

“She knows what I want.” He explained, and Kerry turned his attention back to him, catching the end of the smile as his heart beat faster.

“So, merc by day, and pole dancer by night?” Johnny inquired with a sarcastic tone, which had Kerry inwardly groaning. It was obvious that the merc was skittish, reminding Kerry of a fox that needed taming before he could relax, and Johnny antagonistic attitude was clearly not helping.

V smiled again, but this time it was cold and acidic.

“I’m merc day and night, I dance to help the Moxes.”

“How do you go from joytoy to merc?” Johnny demanded and Kerry gave him a look of warning.

V blinked, his smile taking on a harder note, and the tension grew up a notch.

“You play the corpo game and lose.” He replied, his eyes never leaving the other man.

“sh*t, you were a rat!” the older man exclaimed with disgust, but V only shrugged, like the insult was beneath him. “Which one?”

At that question, Kerry felt sure he heard the Armageddon and knew the answer when he saw V smile grow and his eyes turn to slit.


Kerry reacted before Johnny could.

“Shut the f*ck up!” he said to his friend when said man opened his mouth, expression colored in anger. “Don’t say anything, go take a walk.” He ordered and V couldn’t hide his surprise when Johnny bit back the words he had intended to unleash. For a second, it looked like he would disobey, but in the end, he stood up rigidly and walked off.

When he was gone, Kerry felt some tension leave V and the young man turned to him with an impressed expression.

“I feel like I’ve just witnessed something illegal,” he commented and Kerry laughed, falling back to his charming self in a heartbeat.

“Well, Johnny is mostly bark.”

It was not true and they both knew it, but decided to ignore it for the moment.

“Please don’t mind him. Arasaka is a sore subject.” Kerry added after sipping a bit of his glass.

“I know.” V replied and Kerry was reminded that the was currently hosting Alt Cunningham in his head. Letting his eyes roam for a few seconds over the face of the young mercenary, the musician decided to take the conversation to a safer subject.

“So, Mister Ward told us you would be working with him on our security until the threat against Johnny is dealt with.”

V nodded: “Did you cancel your shows, then, like he advised?” he inquired.

Kerry smiled sheepishly and lit a cigarette to stall. He offered one to V, who took it with a small “thanks”.

“Nope. Johnny would never back off like this, and truthfully, me neither. We worked hard to reform Samurai, so we’re doing it anyway. Backing off would be letting them win.”

Behind the swirl of smoke, V looked at him with the shadow of a proud smile.


“More work for you?” Kerry joked but the young man shook his head.

“What you’re doing is important. It gives people hope.”

He was so earnest that Kerry felt his smile slip as warmth and pride flowered into his heart.

“Thanks for saying that… Sometimes I… Sometimes I doubt it has any impact.”

Putting his left elbow on the table and resting his head on his closed fist, V gave him a look from under his lashes.

“I used to listen to you, when I was a student, you know? Samurai.”

Kerry smiled once more.

“You a fan?”

V shrugged but didn’t deny it. His drink arrived at that moment, and the waitress flicked him on the nose as she gave it to him. He struck his tongue at her childishly while rubbing the spot she had hit. Her clear laughter was drowned by the club’s noise when she departed.

“Spend a lot of time here?” Kerry asked with a fond expression, sipping from his own drink.

“Kinda became my home after I was ejected from Saka. One of my good friends used to come here often. A real ladies-man, the girls loved him. He was big, like River, I mean Ward, but he was a real softie inside.”

Kerry didn’t ask what had become of this friend, because in Night-City you only used the past to describe your friends when they were dead.

“What happened, with the corpo?”

“The usual.” He started with a lazy roll of his shoulder, “My manager saw too big, and when he fell, I fell too.”

Kerry accepted the explanation for what it was: a very succinct summary of a tale V didn’t want to share at the moment.

“So, I gotta ask: how a fan of Samurai can end up working for the corpos? We kinda advocate against it in every of our songs.”

V smiled again, and Kerry was discovering he had a very charming half smile: it was coy and dangerous at the same time, like a fox would probably smile if it was trying to lure you into the forest. Kerry followed blindly.

“Well, nothing extraordinary. Was skilled at school, teachers always said I would go places… My parents were of modest income. We lived by, on the edge of Charter Hill: I never grew hungry or anything, but it was far from luxurious. My big sister was the real fan though, she made me listen to your songs over and over. But at the same time, both my parents and her encouraged me to study. I had a scholarship, and they worked their asses off for me to be able to continue. They died for it.” He concluded, and his voice stayed neutral, like he was just talking about the weather and not a personal drama. “So, for lack of a better thing to do, I went with it.” He concluded, flashing a disarming smile at Kerry and the musician knew he was in trouble.

“Must have been quite the revenge when you stormed the Konpeki, huh?” Kerry tried.

“Rogue told you about that, then. Well, in a way it was. I paid the price though.”

And he didn’t elaborate, but Kerry could gather the rest: ending up playing house to a powerful netrunner in the form of an engram was probably a price in itself, but Rogue had talked about two mercs for the raid on Arasaka, and obviously V was now very much alone.

“So, Mister Ward told us you were on a lead about the threat to Johnny’s life?”

At that, V laughed outright.

“He is cute, probably said that to be reassuring, but no, we have f*cking nil as leads right now. Tyger Claws are our best shot, but I need to infiltrate their HQ and dig deep into their network with Alt. That will take time.”

“The Tyger Claws, aren’t they affiliated with Arasaka? And Rogue said that how Alt came to know about it.”

“Yep, but from River and my investigation, seems like Arasaka was only part of it. Order came from somewhere else, higher.”

Kerry frowned; the threat suddenly seemed a lot more dangerous.

“It’s linked to his political involvement?”

V nodded; his face somber.

“He is making himself a target, and pulling you in with him.”

“You think he should back-off?”

At that, the young merc looked at him with the full force of his gaze, and it was like a hammer blow to the heart for Kerry. His breath stopped and he felt blood pump faster in his veins as V eyes looked straight at his soul.

“No. He should scream it harder, sing it louder, take it further.” He declared with fire in his voice. “And you don’t worry about your life, or his; I’m watching over you.”

Mouth slightly agape, Kerry dumbly acquiesced before drinking the rest of his glass in one go, just to stop the trembling in his body.

Watching him like a hawk, V drummed his fingers on the table slowly, and the musician distinctly felt like a mouse under his gaze. But then it softened and they both seemed to breathe again. Finishing his drink also, V gave him a small smile before getting up.

“I must go. But I suspect I’ll see you and Mister Silverhand soon.”

That last part didn’t seem to overjoy him much, but Kerry was no fool: there was admiration in V for Johnny. The man tended to do that to people, despite his abrasive personality. You couldn’t help but be drawn to him and ask for more.

“See ya” Kerry replied with a smile of his own, and watched the merc go and disappear in the crowd, joined by the blue haired girl he had danced with

Chapter 3: Good Bye, Persephone


Johnny goes back to talk to V, he oversteps boundaries, like always, and orchestrates a way for Kerry to see the merc again, regularly.

Chapter Text

My tool is my axe, and my hands are made to create, not to kill.

The following evening found Johnny back in front of the Lizzie’s, but alone. Yesterday when Kerry had joined him back at his flat, they had f*cked roughly, with Johnny needing an outlet for how the merc had riled him up and Kerry needing to exorcise what said merc had awakened inside of him.

Afterward, lying together in bed, Kerry had whispered: “I want him. I want him like I only ever wanted you.”

A strange sensation had come over Johnny, not jealousy, but certainly doubt, and fear at being, at last, replaced in Kerry’s heart and life. So, to Johnny there was two possible outcomes, one that promised a fun ride, and another which was full of drama, anger and hurt. Once, ten years ago, he might have chosen the second path just to wreak havoc around him, to bring chaos into his life and thus, to validate his unworthiness. Now, as he was crawling slowly but certainly toward forty-six, he decided to take the route that promised a pleasurable outcome, if he played it right.

He had come early, hoping to catch the merc dressed and himself sober.

The club was emptier than yesterday, mostly filled with BD watchers. This time, it was a girl behind the bar, with pink hair done in three buns arranged around her round face. Her skin was the color of dark chocolate and her golden make-up produced a pleasing contrast with it. In other circ*mstances, Johnny might have tried to charm her, but tonight, he barely registered her appearance.

Again, he found himself asking for V, and again was met with suspicion. But a promise of good behavior and simple intentions were enough to at least call him. The bartender then nodded as she received confirmation that V was coming, and told him to wait at the bar. Judging his sobriety level, he allowed himself a drink and ordered a tequila while he waited.

This time, V was again dressed in faded jeans and a plain soft-gray tee-shirt, hair back into its practical bun. His expression was neutral, but his stance told Johnny he wasn’t happy to see him. He asked the bartender – Mia – for a beer and while she retrieved it, both men seized each other. When Mia handed him the bottle, V told Johnny to follow him with a curt gesture of head. He led them to another room, one probably used for more private proclivities, but the stalls were empty at the moment.

“Can’t say I’m surprised to see you again.” V started.

Johnny lit one cigarette and deeply inhaled, sprawling more on the couch. On the exhale, he put his aviators up his head and watched V, who calmly returned his gaze.

“I come about two things.” The rockerboy stated after another second of silence. The merc gestured for him to continue with a wave of his hand.

“First, I would like to know more about the biochip, about the engram on it, more precisely.”

V shifted and put an arm on the backrest of the couch, before he drummed his hand on it.

“She said you might want to talk to her.”

This surprised Johnny.

“She told you about me?”

“Yes. And I saw her memories of you.”

Ah, Johnny thought, that could explain why the young man had been rather cold the other night. In the past eleven years, Johnny had had time to critically analyze his relationship with Alt and admit he could have done better by her.

“How does that happen?” Johnny asked, intrigued.

Again, V seemed to ponder his answer, and his gaze flickered to the side like he was listening to something and didn’t find it pleasant.

“She appears, kinda like a hallucination,” the merc explained reluctantly, “first time I had trouble understanding she wasn’t really there. And if she wants, she can share some of her memories. Then it’s like a flashback, like a very vivid remembrance. But we try not to do that often, ‘cause after I have a hard time separating hers from mine.”

He shifted, obviously uncomfortable with the topic, and it was like the words escaped him.

“But sometimes, when she has strong reaction to situations or…people… It just happens.”

The merc glanced at him and his jaw tickled. Then Johnny had an epiphany and couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

“So what? She remembered our good times together and you stood there like a voyeur?”

Obviously annoyed, V took a long gulp of his beer.

“I see her memories from her point of view,” he mumbled, looking at the wall to his left, and it took Johnny a second to get the implication. Smirking lewdly, he puffed heavy smoke into the room.

“Enjoyed the ride, didn’t ya?”

The look of pure contempt he received made Johnny smile bigger and meaner.

“What I saw convinced me you were a dick, and I can now confirm that you still are.” V delivered with an acidic tone. “But she also wants to speak with you, so I’ll give you five minutes with her.”

“You can give her the reins?”

V shrugged.

“It works more like a Doll, or a proxy.”

Johnny hummed; the tech really was a wonder.

Then V breathed deeply thrice and closed his eyes. His head suddenly fell backward and for a moment, the rockerboy thought something was wrong, until he raised his head again, his eyes shining icy blue.

“Hello Johnny.”

And the tone was completely different. Not warm per see, but something like fond.


The merc nodded, and Alt’s distinctive smile flowered on his face. Johnny felt his breath leave him and he got to the edge of the couch, straining toward her, hands nearly touching, but she recoiled a bit and he stopped, surprised.

“This body is on loan, and for the moment, he really doesn’t want you near him.”

The rockerboy rolled his eyes, but put his hands up in surrender before sprawling back into the couch. Silence fell upon them and Johnny tried to put his thoughts in order.

“You can start by the beginning, Johnny.” She encouraged softly. Her voice was warm, using the deep tone of the mercenary.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted, and she smiled gently. “I’m sorry for being an asshole to you, for being too self-obsessed that I didn’t see who you really were…” He paused, tried to, but the words kept coming, pouring from his mouth like they had a mind of their own. “I’m sorry for…” he gulped, closed his eyes before soldiering on: he only had minutes. “I’m sorry for killing you. And I’m sorry for not saving you when I knew they still had you.”

She said nothing, but her expression stayed soft, caring.

“And I told you not to come after me. You would have died. Rogue nearly did when she bombed the tower. And Smasher has something against you, Johnny. Well, you antagonize people very easily so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.” She was trying for levity, and he mentally thanked her.

“Alt,” he whispered and her laser eyes focused on him intently again. “Alt, I…”

In a breath, she was closer to him, her hand extended to his mouth to stop him.

“I know. I wish it too, sometimes,” she paused, her borrowed eyes running over his face. “age suits you…” she added, her expression turning regretful. “How many times did I imagine growing up old with you? But when I came to see you, at the concert, it really was goodbye. I had finally understood that I wouldn’t be the one to save you.”

Johnny frowned.

“I didn’t want to be saved, nor did I need it.”

Alt laughed, a low rumbling that turned into a joyful shout.

“You were planning a suicide raid to save me, of course you needed to be saved from yourself. And someone did, from what I understand.”

Betraying her own rule, she raised a hand to his cheek and Johnny felt the merc’s body heat course through his skin. He had large hands.

“I told you, I had finally understood it wouldn’t be me. I lacked the crazy needed for that.”

The hand fell, but she stayed close.

“In the end, I did save you, though. Without my intervention you would probably be dead at the hands of the Tyger Claws by now.”

“Yeah, about that, how did you catch that information, and how did you call for help?”

Her eyes twinkled happily.

“Oh, it was brilliant! For years I roamed Arasaka network. I was struck inside it, but I could still move, travel, and interact. It was a very long game of hide and seek, and a few times I thought they would indeed destroy me. But as time passed, I understood that I was changing. I… I absorbed data, and gained even more understanding of the net. I wasn’t just hiding anymore; I was able to attack.”

Alt paused, like she was reminiscing on good times and he couldn’t help but share her victorious energy.

“A few weeks ago, when I attacked, I breached on a subnetwork. I didn’t have time to pinpoint whose exactly it was, but I stumbled upon a communication between the user and the Tyger Claws. It was all crypted, and by the time I had it cleared, I knew I had to get out.”

She took a cigarette from Johnny’s pack, which was lying there, and lit it before continuing.

“I knew I couldn’t let them kill you, but I still had no way of contacting the outside world for help. So I had only one choice: launch the most powerful attack on their network I possibly could, and hope my S.O.S. would go through. I knew it would result in my capture, but I was ready for that.”

Johnny frowned, uncomprehending.

“I’m really not worth putting yourself in danger, Alt.”

“Oh, I didn’t do it for you, exactly, but for what you represent: a symbol of hope. They really are getting scared of you, Johnny.” Alt concluded somberly.

A part of him was viciously proud: it was the validation that his actions had meaning, and that his political endeavor was starting to bear fruits.

“So what now, Alt? You’re not exactly free, and the threat is not really gone either.”

She hummed around the cigarette in acquiescence.

“V will release me beyond the Black Wall. That’s where I need to go. But before, I want to destroy Arasaka, specifically their Soul-Killer Program.”

“The f*ck? The Black Wall? But – “

“What, Johnny, you didn’t expect me to stay here, V has his own life. He is a great kid, and I don’t want to steal more of his life than I have to.”

“But why not look for a body or…”

“Because that would make me just like them. Johnny, I died, in a way, twenty-one years ago. I’ve come to peace with that, and I really hope you did too. But I can feel that my place is beyond the Black Wall.”

Johnny looked at her, at V, and felt a wave of sadness, not of grief, but of nostalgia. He had come here hoping for closure and in a way, he was getting it, but it really was unsatisfying. A part of him had probably childishly wished he could undo the past and have her again. But she was like a faded photography, washed out color and blurred face starring back at him. Dead, indeed, and for over twenty years.

He let his head roll back again the backrest and watched the ceiling and the smoke from his cigarette swirl up and into the filtration system. Johnny felt her move and turned his head to watch her. It was so strange to see the merc looking at him with the same expression of nostalgia he felt for her.

“You have to let me go, Johnny.”

Silence poured between them, only disturbed by the basses of the music in the club.

“I…” he whispered at last, “I’ve been doing that for the past eleven years. I think I’m ready now.”

The smile she put on the young mercenary’s face was luminous and proud. Then, she bent to him even more, framing his head with her hands. He had half a mind to remind her she was clearly abusing her privileges in this body, but he acknowledged the selfishness in himself: he wanted to let her do it.

She kissed him. It was soft, a push of lips against his, but Johnny was not really a man who settled for softness. He craved intensity, and demanded passion from his partners. So he took charge of the kiss, gripping the back of the merc’s head and pushing their lips together with more force. His tongue breached the warm mouth, and she let him, opening and responding in kind to him. Johnny was really enjoying it, exploring the hard mouth yielding against his, when said mouth let out a moan of pleasure. But Johnny knew it wasn’t Alt anymore, because the next second, he felt V try to push him away. Yet, Johnny decided to be true to his reputation and refused to let go. He kissed him with even more ardor, caressing his neck and nipping at full lips. Then, under the onslaught, the merc seemed to lay down his arms and accept the kiss because his hands slid from Johnny face to his hair and he gave back the embrace. It lasted maybe two seconds of blissful pleasure before the young man seemed to come to his senses and this time when he pushed the rockerboy back, Johnny didn’t stand a chance.

V nearly stumbled backward, putting a good meter between them and Johnny smirked as he looked at him, at his flushed face and panting breath. He relaxed back into the couch, while the young merc touched his lips in an absent gesture. Then V’s gaze turned annoyed and he glared at Johnny, who only laughed mockingly, like the asshole he loved to be.

“Hey, it was not me who started it, take your complains to your guest.”

With another withering look, V regained composure and gulped his beer. His hands were shaking.

Taking pity on him, Johnny relented on the jerk attitude and cleared his throat.

“Thank you for letting me talk to her. I… I needed that.”

He only got a curt nod for his pain, as the mercenary still refused to look at him.

“You said you had two requests. What’s the second?” V asked, probably trying to find his footing again.

Drinking the rest of his glass, Johnny took the time to order another one before he replied.

“I’m actually taking this threat upon my life very seriously,” he explained with a tone that suggested the contrary. V was on the verge of an eyeroll when the other man continued. “Not because I fear for my life, but because of the possible collaterals.”

The two men exchanged a heavy look.

“Kerry,” V pronounced softly, and Johnny nodded.

“And the rest of the band. But I doubt they will strike during a concert again. It was a half-assed plan, probably cooked up by the Tyger Claw. Whoever is the brain behind it won’t do the same mistakes twice.”

Johnny paused as his order arrived: two glasses of his favorite tequila. He handed one to V, who sniffed it cautiously before sipping it. The musician watched as his eyes expressed a pleasant surprise at the taste, and smiled with satisfaction.

“But Kerry spends a lot of time with me, near me. People know we’re close.”

“You think they could target him?”

Johnny eyed the clear liquid, before confessing.

“That would be the smart thing to do. If they wanted to get at me, then Kerry would be the best way.”

He could feel V’s heavy gaze on him, could practically taste his surprise and feel his perception of him change at the revelation. Suddenly uncomfortable, Johnny glared at the younger man, and put his aviators back on, hiding the raw emotion from his gaze to the merc.

Said man was now watching him like a hawk, but his look was impenetrable.

“Did you tell that to River? River Ward?”

“No. That’s why I’m here. I want you to train Kerry at shooting and hand to hand combat. You’ll see, he has not a bad aim, but no reflexes, and no concentration, as for – “

“Hold on, hold on! What?”

Johnny sneered.

“What didn’t you understand? I thought it was pretty straightforward.”

“But why me? I know from Alt memories that you’re a good fighter yourself, army trained. Why don’t you do it.”

“I did. Well, I tried. But Kerry is verry…” he smirked, “distracting. And distracted, as I said, no concentration.”

At that, V stilled and looked at Johnny suspiciously.

“And you think I’ll do better?”

“Well, you get paid for making sure he concentrates. On you. And your teaching.”

f*ck, Johnny had to admit he loved making this man squirm. Not a lot transpired because he had a good poker face, but the rockerboy could feel how uncomfortable he was making the merc. And he f*cking loved it. He was cute.

“This is weird. You’re weird.” V decided.

“Weird but you’ll take the job?” Johnny once again leered.

Only this time the younger man didn’t let himself be unsettled, so he gave back Johnny a seductive smile, and it was like a punch to the gut. Because suddenly, the foxy attitude was back full force, with this razor edge feel, like Johnny was falling into a trap.

“Well, don’t complain if he can’t concentrate on anything else but me after I’m done with him.”

That was probably when Johnny decided he was going to f*ck the merc, roughly, until he forgot his own name and gave himself up entirely.

Still, V took the job, but forced Johnny to go through his fixer just to make this difficult. Rogue only sneered at him and warned him not to play with her toys, but agreed to carry the contract for V. The rockerboy was pretty sure she had overcharged him or V’s rates were really off the market for one so inexperienced.

Kerry didn’t bat an eye when Johnny told him that V would come to train him. He only watched Johnny with his arms crossed and an amused expression on his pretty face before agreeing.

Two days later, the merc met Kerry at the training complex near their recording studio. It was nearing nine p.m., so It was nearly deserted, which was probably the intended effect on V’s part: less people to watch out for.

This place had also been chosen because it was a full complex and as such, was equipped with a firing range in the basem*nt, where V was currently reassembling one of his guns. Kerry watched him do it in practiced moves with something close to awe. His gaze slid from the merc hands to his arms, which were tightly muscled and crisscrossed by strong veins that shifted with each movement.

V snapped his fingers in front of Kerry when he saw that the artist was no longer listening to his explanation.

“Damn, Johnny said you had concentration problems, but that’s way beyond what I imagined.” The younger man declared with a corner smile. His eyes twinkled in amusem*nt too, and Kerry couldn’t help but respond in kind.

“Well, I learn best by doing, so you should take that into account in your teaching strategies.”

V huffed like he couldn’t believe Kerry bad seduction technics, but in the end decided to play along.

“Then by all means, lets watch you do it.”

And he disassembled the gun in three practiced moves before handling the parts to Kerry over the high table they were stationed at. The musician took the parts dumbly at first, before he rewound what V had said and tried to follow the steps.

“I thought you were supposed to teach be how to be better at firing. Not how to take care of guns.”

“It goes hand in hands. No, this part first.” He interrupted Kerry, pointing to another part. “You need to understand what you’re handling.”

About a dozen of bad puns came to the artist’s mind, but he reined them in. He had a suspicion if he pushed V too hard too fast, he would flee, and that would be a shame. Trying to concentrate for once, he nearly jumped a minute later when V’s hand covered his to help him replace the chamber of the gun, pushing Kerry’s hand firmly against the metal tube that fell in place with a click.

“Don’t hesitate.” He commented, and his fingers trailed for a second over the other man’s as he let go. “Alright. Now, get in position.”

This time, Kerry couldn’t help but chuckle at the order, which he had heard many times in other circ*mstances. V only raised an eyebrow at him, and the musician cut himself abruptly, shaking his head with a smile. Either V still had some kind of innocence left in him, or he was doing it on purpose just to rile Kerry up. But he was betting on the first: V seemed too serious for that kind of jokes during work hours. Because for him, it was a job, Kerry firmly reminded himself.

Lazily going to the range, Kerry tried to remember the basics. He already had been taught twice in firearms. The first time by his father, and that had been a very unpleasant experience, and the second time by Johnny, which had been a slightly better experience. Still, he had no love for the thing, and no skill either, although he recognized the need to be able to defend himself in a city such as theirs.

Sighing mentally, he held out his arm, took aim and fired. But nothing happened.

“Are you purposefully making yourself appear worse than you are, or are you just a gonk? Wasting my time a game to you?” V practically growled behind him, making him jump. The merc appeared really annoyed, arms crossed and expression closed-off.

“Whoa, no, certainly not!” Kerry exclaimed before putting the gun on the tablet in front of the shooting range.

“Johnny told me you at least had the basics, so don’t play dumb.”

This really picked at Kerry, who stiffened. A second of silence tickled between them before the musician cleared his throat.

“Look, maybe we should have started with defense training, ‘cause I really have no love for guns so…”

“Why?” V interrupted; face still hard. For a second, Kerry wondered if this was a real question or some kind of test. Frowning slightly, he decided to answer truthfully.

“I get that in your line of work, it’s better to have an affinity with weapons of any sort, but I’m a musician. My call is to make people experience emotions though music, and not just piss their pants in terror. My tool is my axe, and my hands are made to create, not to kill.” He paused, surprised at his own honesty.

But it seemed to do the trick, because V relaxed slightly.

“That’s exactly why you have to at least put an effort into it. It could really save your life once. Especially while Johnny is under a threat of unknown proportion.” He walked to Kerry and took the gun from the table behind him, pushing into the older man’s space while doing so. He put the Unity back into Kerry’s right hand, and guided his left under it, softly pushing his fingers into the right position over the handle.

“You need to learn that, and to learn its importance. Guns should never be treated lightly. You said it, they are tool of destruction. So you should always respect them, because it’s when you forget that, that sh*t goes down.”

While he explained this, he pushed Kerry’s shoulders to make him face the range again. And the musician could feel every beat of his own heart as V’s warm hands guided his arms up, sliding under his biceps to perfect his stance. When he was satisfied, he kicked Kerry’s legs open, and the musician felt a surge of heat like pure adrenalin zap though his veins. The young merc’s pelvis was stuck to his backside as his hands went back to Kerry’s, and his face was right next to his pupil’s left cheek.

“Now, remove the safety.” He instructed in a rumble that reverberated against Kerry’s back. With a jolt that nearly made the musician laugh again, he understood that it was what he had forgotten before. He must indeed have looked like he was playing dumb on purpose to forget that… Trying to steady himself, he did as instructed.

“And now…” V trailed; his breath hot against the other man’s skin. “Aim, and fire.”

And it was exactly like in bed with Johnny: he ordered and Kerry obeyed, happily so. Although he didn’t like it, Kerry had fired enough guns not to be surprised by either the sound nor the recoil, but there was a new sensation to it, as if the tension in his body had gone into the bullet. He felt a strange kind of relaxation fill him.

“Not bad.” V whispered. Kerry turned his head slightly to him with a cheeky smile.

“You can say it’s good, you know?”

V’s eyes flickered briefly to Kerry’s mouth, so close they were and once more, Kerry experienced this raw want like he had only known with Johnny. But before he could act on it, V detached himself from him.

“Firing one bullet is easy enough. What we are aiming for his that you hit multiples moving targets. Preferably without killing any by-standers. Or yourself.” He added with a smirk and Kerry had a vision that this was going to be very frustrating, on many accounts.

Chapter 4: The temptation of Pandora


Seks happens. V is spooked.


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Propelling him to the end with each snaps of his hips, each drift of fingers on the axe.

Gun firing training didn’t last that long, because Kerry indeed had the basics and after that, he was instructed by V to practice, practice, and practice. They met twice a week and each session started by V reviewing Kerry’s progress in the shooting range, giving pointers and assignments for the following week. They moved onto hand to hand combat, as per Johnny’s request.

Kerry was an opportunist, so he took those classes with V seriously, but most often than not, used them for another purpose. The purpose was to know V, to tame this little fox and, hopefully, have a taste of his moans as Kerry made him come. That had not happened yet, but the musician could be patient if the challenge was worth it. So, as he begged for breaks, he would slowly but surely lead V into conversations about inane things that turned deep along the way. And Kerry could tell that each time V caught on what was happening, he promised himself to be more vigilant the next time, but Kerry was a master at this; he had had to drag Johnny into emotional conversations for over twenty-five years now. V was a piece of cake, with his tough attitude that barely hid his soft heart.

Another thing Kerry remarked was that V was not only distracted by their talks, but also by his body. When he was giving out instructions, he was all business and focus, impossible to joke with to the point of being a real downer, but when they took breaks or at the end of their sessions, Kerry would catch him watching him. He would glance from under his long lashes, or from the corner of his eyes as Kerry stretched, his gaze would sharpen when Kerry removed – on purpose – his shirt before changing back into his clothes. And most of all, he would completely lose speech when Kerry got too close on the parking lot, as they prepared to go back to their respective homes.

That sweet dance of seduction was making Kerry lose his sanity, and Johnny complained a lot about it. He had even started to complain about the sex, which was, and Kerry quoted, “too f*cking often, I have other things to do than making you come Kerry, I’m not a f*cking joytoy! Go get another output!”

Well. He was trying.

There were also downsides to this training thing, like the constant low desire steaming inside his body… And the even more constant ache his body seemed to be in, as he still hit the mats more often than not. He was learning how to fall more than he was learning to fight back in the case of an aggression on his person.

Three weeks passed in this fashion until one night, Kerry came home with ribs bruised and a wrist sprained that Johnny iced patiently as his bandmate (and current flat mate) vented his frustration.

“I know you Kerry, you’re being too kind. If you want to best him, you’ll have to mean it.” He paused, moving the ice pack a bit and stubbing the butt of his blunt. “He is a merc, it’s his job to neutralize people, kill them even. And I call tell from the way Rogue talked about him that he is good, serious. So if you want to impress him, you’ll have to be too.”

Kerry rolled his eyes heavenward. And Johnny sighed, annoyed.

“Don’t give me that attitude, Eurodyne. You know I’m right…” He glanced at his friend, his lover, his home. “Plus, if you pin him down, you can do whatever you want with him. I think that should be incentive enough for you to really get into it.”

Kerry stilled. It was like a switch had lighted up inside of him and he grinned at Johnny mischievously. Said man smirked in kind.

“So? Whatcha gonna do about it, baby?” he asked ironically.

Three days later, wrist still tender, Kerry mentally prepared himself: today, V was doing down. The merc eyed him suspiciously when he didn’t quip a joke or try to weasel his way out of their session with charming talk. Both men watched each other intently, and Kerry remarked that the younger man had new bruises: a colorful impact blemish under his right eye, highlighting his sharp cheekbone, a split lip, laceration marks on both his strong naked forearms and a barely noticeable limp on his left side. Kerry was even impressed with himself for catching such details, but intended on using them to his advantage tonight.

V eyes slitted, and his stance changed slightly, going from the relaxed parade pose to a more offensive posture. It was like a come-on and it ignited Kerry’s blood like lightning. He stepped to his right and attacked. V stiffened, obviously surprised but recovered swiftly, going lax and evading him to the side. His movements always reminded Kerry that the man was also a skilled dancer for he never lost grace as he fought. Yet, the musician had anticipated his and at the last moment, changed his weight to kick V in the ribs from the left, forcing V to take a step backward. Kerry charged forward, entering his space and aiming for his bruised cheek. V ducked like it was a second nature to him and caught Kerry’s arm before gracefully stepping under it to wrench the musician’s arm backward. But Kerry twisted, following the movement and used his momentum to push V back. Once again taken aback by his pupil’s seriousness, V stumbled and rolled away before getting back to his feet with a good meter between them. Breathing noticeably, he kept an attentive posture but smiled proudly.

“So, my lessons did get through,” he commented, and Kerry answered with a smirk of his own. The merc frowned, confused, and didn’t have time to ponder on that expression before he was once again forced to evasive maneuvers. It went on for a few minutes like that, until V had to take it up a notch like Kerry had hoped he would and stepped into attack, instead of pure defense. Kerry evaded him and put on a few good parades, before he saw the opportunity. V dived with his left hook, aiming for Kerry’s head and the musician ducked to his right at the last moment. He felt the air from the fist nearly landing, but moved on instinct, catching V’s forearm with his left hand and kicking his feet from under him. V twisted, his body like a cat’s, but Kerry was waiting for him and pushed forward, finishing to unbalance him. The merc fell on his back and the musician accompanied the fall to land heavily on him, pinning his left hand over his head, and pushing his pelvis into the younger man’s, closing on his legs with his own. With only one arm left free, V was still a force to be reconned with, but that was when Kerry used his secret weapon: he rutted against the man, pushing his half hard-on, which he had been sporting for days now – into V’s. The man made a chocked off sound, arching slightly back, but not to unsettle his adversary: it was an instinctive reaction of arousal. Kerry grinned like the Cheshire cat and did it again. V’s whole body became lax under his and his eyes closed in a pleasured expression.

Time stilled, both men panted in the silent room. Kerry waited for V to open his silver cybernetic eyes, and they were, like he had hoped, feverish with want. But still, a certain skittishness clung to them, and Kerry knew the fox was far from tamed. He relaxed his hold over V’s arm, hand sliding down to caress his biceps, before slithering to his head. Once more, he pushed his hips against V’s and the tiniest moan escaped from his full lips, an admission of desire that went straight to Kerry’s co*ck.

V’s eyes glanced downward at Kerry’s lips and his own opened softly, like an invitation. And who was Kerry to deny him? He bent over him slowly, giving him time for rejection if he wanted, but the merc only tilted his chin up so that their mouths touched further. Kerry surged then ignited. He devoured the merc’s mouth like he had dreamed so many times, his whole body going taunt over the younger man’s to better reach him. Both his hands went to V’s hair, messed up by their fight. His hand got caught in the bun and he impatiently unpinned the many hairclips to release the beautiful grey mane. All the while, he didn’t stop kissing him, drinking in his little moans. He gave a whine of his own when he felt the younger man’s hands slid down his sweaty back, to the edge of his black tank top and under, caressing his naked skin.

Their hips moved un unison, pushing and retreating in a rhythm as old as time. Their hard co*cks begged for more contact, so Kerry lifted himself slightly on one hand, straining to push V’s sweatpants back without stopping the kisses. V helped him, pushing the garment and his underwear before doing the same courtesy with Kerry’s. He then opened his legs to welcome the older man against him and they both sighed. Kerry only broke the kiss to trail his mouth to V’s neck, and the merc arched back, asking for more, which the older man obliged happily, biting softly and traveling down to his torso. He was hampered by V’s grey shirt and got on his knees to remove it. He took the occasion to watch V under him. The man was flushed sweetly, eyes shining and watching him openly for the first time. It broke something inside Kerry and his fire burned gentler, tender. He removed his shirt first and caught V’s gaze traveling freely over the expanse of his chest, hands tightening over his hips where they were positioned, like he wanted to touch but didn’t dare. Kerry took his wrists and moved them so the merc could indeed touch him like he wanted. V’s eyes flickered up and he swallowed, biting his lips before letting his hand roam over his abs. Kerry knew he was vain, and put too much importance into his appearance, yet in moments like these he was glad because he loved seeing V’s painted nails run over his pectorals and scratch at his nipples. He laughed deeply and rocked his hips, watching V gasp in a lovely expression of pleasure. He removed V’s shirt, watching his muscled stomach work to help him before he bent again to continue his path downward. Once more, V arched back, and his hands went over his head, trying to find purchase and coming up empty. He closed his fists, straining under the terrible want that Kerry was alighting in his blood.

The musician tongued his belly button, relishing in the squirm it elicited, before he continued once more toward his goal. At last, his tongue touched V’s erected sex and the younger man let out a sigh. Under normal circ*mstances, Kerry would have made a comment, because he loved to talk during sex, but he instinctively knew it was too soon. He had the merc enthralled and had to keep him from thinking too much or he would flee.

His mouth closed over the tip, tasting the musky flavor and tonguing the delicate skin. He didn’t tease, choosing instead to let his mouth glide as far as it would go. V had a pretty co*ck, well proportioned, thick but no too long, it fit perfectly into Kerry’s mouth. He started sucking to the sound of V’s chocked off moans.

Johnny watched them from behind the closed glass door, shrouded in the dark. He was leaning against a cabinet, arms crossed and attitude loose. His eyes, though, were devouring the scene. He had hoped for this outcome when he had edged Kerry on last night and he was not disappointed. V was a work of art in his demise. Body too slender for a merc, like he wasn’t eating and sleeping enough, it arched under Kerry’s tongue so sweetly it was painful to watch. This man was unravelling like it was his first time with an attentive lover, and maybe it was. His hair was a mess, catching on his reddening lips and flushed face. His eyes were closing and opening in rhythm with his sensations and his pelvis curved slightly every time Kerry’ mouth went down. His muscles strained to hold still where Johnny knew Kerry would love for him to f*ck his mouth. Then Kerry opened his legs more to make room for himself and took him deeper, and Johnny let out a soft groan, knowing perfectly what he was doing with his tongue. He was hard, but ignoring it; it was not his moment, yet. And V was indeed appreciative of Kerry’s ministrations because he threw back his head and shouted out before biting his lips to rein in the moans, but it was a lost fight, Johnny knew. Kerry glanced up at the merc and his face had that mischievous twinkle that meant trouble. The merc was done for, Johnny mused. Putting his hands under the younger man’s hips, Kerry encouraged him to f*ck his mouth and the merc did so, too lost to really decide, giving up to his instincts that urged him to chase his release. Kerry closed his eyes and hummed around the hard length. Johnny shifted; desire thick in his veins as he looked at his partner’s glistening mouth stretching around the lovely co*ck between his lips.

And then, V curled up, extending a hand toward Kerry in a gesture to stop him, but Johnny knew it was futile, and indeed Kerry only sucked harder, until the merc fell backward with a long moan of extasy. He came like that, red lips opening and closing as he tried to suck in air. His hips rolled into Kerry’s mouth once, twice and a third time before he stilled, boneless. Johnny’s bandmate swallowed like he always did – it was his own personal treat – before he released him softly, kissing the tip softly. He got on all four again and slithered to V’s level before settling next to him with a smile. His face was flushed too, and his lips red with saliva. Johnny groaned, but knew it was only a matter of patience: Kerry was coming home to him later, and he would make good use of that mouth too.

V turned to Kerry and tried to push up to return the favor but Kerry only caught his wandering hand and brought it to his lips. He kissed the knuckles like a goddamn Victorian gentleman, with a smile to match and Johnny couldn’t help but smile fondly. He knew what those gestures could do to an unguarded heart.

Deciding to let them have that moment, he withdrew stealthily.

Back in the training room, Kerry smiled, shaking his head to dislodge a lock of dark hair stuck to his sweaty forehead.

“I beat you”, he commented playfully.

V’s face went through several expressions: surprise, a hint of sadness, before it settled on a tentative joy.

“Yeah, you did.”

He sat up and glanced from under his lashes at Kerry.

“I don’t…” he started, and Kerry pushed on an elbow to straighten a bit too. He looked at him patiently. “I don’t usually…”

“I know.” Kerry cut him, voice low, “And I’m sorry if I pushed you too fast.”

Bringing his knees close to his chest, the merc turned toward him, scratching his dark beard absently.

“No I…” he huffed, obviously struggling, but Kerry waited for him to make up his mind. “I don’t know what you want. You and Johnny.”

Kerry sat and tentatively put a hand over the younger man’s biceps.

“V. I’m forty-three, going on forty-four so I’m past the time for dancing around truth. I’ll say it as it is: I want you, wanted you since you stormed the club, gun blazing. And every day I see you, I want you even more.” He paused, looking at the merc who was fixing the far away wall, hair falling over his face. Kerry pushed the locks away behind his ears delicately, and the merc startled a bit at the gesture.

“I want whatever you’re willing to give me. It’s an open proposition, there is no obligations or… Or commitment, if you don’t want it. As for Johnny, well, we’re an item so yeah, expect him to be in the picture but even though he can be an asshole, he will respect your boundaries.”

“Doubt that,” V commented with a wry smile, and then shrugged.

“No, I’m not lying. He likes to play the jerk, but he is quite soft inside. Like a hedgehog, you know?”

V chuckled.

“I’ll have to take your word for it,” he added, but a small smile graced his features, before it dimmed and he looked at Kerry with his terrible seriousness. “I don’t know about… You and I, or Johnny. I…” he swallowed, closed his eyes for half a second before soldiering on. “I can’t deny that something is pulling me to you. But there are so many things going on, and I’m a mess right now… My life is a mess.” He admitted, defeated.

Kerry smiled warmly and started to redress himself.

“Well, I’m quite familiar with messy lives so…”

Again, V laughed softly and hid behind a hand for a second.

“How are you like this?”

“Like what?”

“So… Chaotic? But…good? Good chaos.”

Kerry gave him a mysterious expression in answer, before winking.

“Come and find out.” He whispered. V raised an eyebrow and shook his head softly, but the smile on his face grew so Kerry counted it as victory. He allowed himself to steal a kiss and was surprised when V’s hands came to his cheeks fast to hold him there, taking control of the kiss to turn it into a much more passionate thing.

“Whoa,” Kerry murmured, “ok, well.” His lips tingled and when he looked back at V, he saw the man eyes alight for a second with true desire, before it was replaced by something else, something practiced and safe.

“Sure you don’t want me to take care of you?” V asked with a voice dripping with seduction, but Kerry saw right through it: it was an act, maybe perfected during his years as a corpo rat, and a good defense, but the older man wanted none of that.

“I’m sure,” he replied, hand caressing the short beard. With a grunt, he got up and put on his pants back. Holding out a hand to V, he helped him back on his feet.

“So, teacher, is the lesson over?” Kerry asked.

V huffed a laugh and nodded.

“But don’t expect to get out of it next time.”

“We shall see,” The musician declared mischievously, before smacking V’s ass as he went to the door.

In their solo career, Johnny and Kerry both toured internationally, but as the recently reformed Samurai, they were staying in Night-City until the end of summer, were the “Rock for Change” festival was taking place. It was a caritative event, and as such was closely watched by the public, seeing as such a thing hadn’t been seen in NC for the last thirty years. The organization committee had contacted Johnny about his potential presence a year ago, and when Johnny had talked about it to Kerry, his friend had suggested they reform Samurai for the occasion. It had basically launched their reunion on track, even if in the end, they had decided to do it outside of the festival. They were still going to be present, and it had been huge advertising for the event.

This, Johnny had gathered, suited V fine because it allowed him to still take other gigs in between, and to continue helping Alt with her own endeavor. The merc was Night-City through and through anyway, the musician wasn’t sure he had stepped outside of the town in his life. And then he remembered the guy had been corpo, so he had probably travelled a lot. Still, the city was written on him with the way he walked, talked, moved. He had tics and a perpetual frown on his chiseled face that gave him a grumpy vibe. Or maybe it was just when he was in Johnny’s vicinity, because from what the guitarist could tell of his training session with Kerry, the merc could lose the frown. In the throes of org*sm, for example.

V was there tonight for their first show since the interrupted one three weeks earlier. This time, it happened at Pandora’s, a club normally known more for its live sex shows than rock concerts, but the owner was a friend of Johnny. When Kerry had explained that to V, the man had raised an eyebrow and turned to the other musician with such a judgmental look that Johnny had laughed out loud and leered at him: “Wanna know what I learned while coming here? Meet me after the show at the back entrance.” But the solo had not moved an inch, his gaze only turning disdainful.

He had briefed them (for the third time) about the protocol in case an incident like last time happened, and had greatly emphasized to Kerry that he should duck and then run to the back without stopping should anything happen. Johnny inwardly agreed wholeheartedly with that directive, for he still remembered Kerry trying to lift himself up to take a better look at their savior, and it seemed V was well aware of that fact.

Ward was there too, with reports from the club’s chief of security, and the list of the preordered ticket’s names. His role was to monitor the whole club security, while V was his man on the field, and the merc was to be the group reference in case of emergency. Once everything was in order, the show was on the road.

As they came on stage under the hundreds of cheers from the crowd, Johnny saw from the corner of his eyes V position himself to the far left of the stage, a good spot to watch the entrance. He concentrated back on their show and exchanged a look with Kerry before walking to the edge of the scene. He took the lead mic to do the introductions.

“Hey, Night-City,” he drawled, hips co*cked to the side. “Hope this time we can get through this,” he smiled and the crowd roared.

“Yeah, I know, we’re not letting anything get in the way of our message… And of your party!”

And with that, he started the rift for A like Supreme, but as he went through the intro, he retreated back, to the surprise of the gathered fans. Kerry stepped forward and started on their new version of the song.

Over the years, they had made peace with each other’s talents. What had led them to break up the band was now fuel to its reformation. They had both needed to work alone, try their hand solo and make a name for themselves. If it had been obvious for Kerry, always relegated to seconds, it had been essential to Johnny too, in the end. Because he had had to exorcise things that were not suited for Samurai, but for him alone. Now though, their art combined and grew from their personal experience. And from the sound the crowd was making, it was working pretty well.

When the song ended, Kerry kept the lead mic to chat up the audience, and Johnny could easily admit he was better at that, all charm and funny anecdotes. Then he stepped back to let Johnny take the lead once more. When back in position, he glanced back to Denny, Lola and Drausin before leading them into Black Dog remastered version. Johnny let himself be carried by the heavy drifts and saw their audience move in sync with him. As the show progressed, the crowd became wilder and wilder, as were their songs. During the interlude, Johnny delivered a heartfelt cry out for rally against the system, and the crowd went wild, pushing against the stage. From the corner of his eyes, he saw V shift at that, but the merc didn’t do anything more. Even if he couldn’t see him for real, Johnny could practically feel the tension thrumming inside him.

Calming the game a bit, Kerry took lead again for one of their new songs. This one was more like a dark ballad, which Johnny had written some years back.

Approaching the end of their scheduled time, Johnny could barely feel himself anymore, which was his usual state after a show: adrenaline was coursing through his veins, and he was high on the lingering pot he had smoked with Kerry before going on stage and the communion with their fans. They were legion. Both Kerry and he were in front, back to back and hitting the notes faster and stronger. The song ended, but their impromptu jamming session kept on, and Denny carried them through. They answered each other in a furious race they knew perfectly well: it was like when they had sex. Kerry was goading him to higher peak, and Johnny was propelling him to the end with each snaps of his hips, each drift of fingers on the axe. Kerry moved to face the crowd and his bandmate turned slightly to see him better, knowing what he would find: a flushed face, cheeks glistening with sweat, eyes burning with fever and lips red with passion, like he was seconds from coming. And then Johnny twisted his next rift and forced Kerry to answer in a final note, ending the song. The club went dark for a second, allowing Johnny to hear Kerry pant next to him in the relative silence, and he smirked with satisfaction. Then the crowd roared again and the lights came back as the pit dissolved into cheers and mad applauses.

Glancing back, Johnny locked gaze with V and saw that the merc was actually smiling softly, leaned against one of the hidden pillars of the scene. The musician raised an eyebrow in a silent quest for approval, and their bodyguard of the night nodded, his expression growing to a frank smile.

Backstage after the show V was talking with Ward, probably debriefing the proceeding of the concert, but he told the group he would be with them in a minute.

A minute was all it took for Kerry to push Johnny into the closest bathroom and kiss him brutally, which he had been expecting because Kerry would get into that state after every concert. All the energy of the crowd singing back with them, dancing and jumping, pumped through their veins. But above all, it was the feeling of meaning that they experienced when they performed that fed their libido: they never felt more alive that when their songs resounded outside. With Johnny though, that energy could lead to either sex or brawl were Kerry defaulted on f*cking. The bathroom was small, with three stalls you had to skirt to access the sinks, which was where Johnny pinned Kerry, kissing back and putting his hands over Kerry’s ass, flushing their hips together. Kerry was shamelessly grinding against Johnny’s left thigh, co*ck hard and burning inside his dark ripped-off jeans. His kisses were sloppy with the concentration he was putting into seeking release, and Johnny bit him to make him recede from the edge he was chasing. Kerry whimpered at that, but slowed a bit, opening his mouth more to let his companion in, surrendering to the conquest.

“Johnny please,” he begged after barely seconds, hips bucking frantically again. His voice was rough from the screaming and the breathlessness and his partner had to close his eyes for a bit to regain control of the fire alighted in his veins.

Huffing softly, Johnny glanced down and undid Kerry’s pants before watching him again, drinking in his flushed face and glistening lips, his half-crazed eyes. Of course, he was commando under his jeans, and the second Johnny’s knuckles brushed his hard-on, he practically melted against the sink. And that drove Johnny crazy each time, the way Kerry relinquished control to his partner and showed every one of his emotions, letting his companion hear every breathy moans and stuttering breath. How he had denied himself so long, Johnny couldn’t currently understand, but his younger self had had good reasons. Probably.

That attitude was also what made Johnny worried every time Kerry had a new flick. In bed, he was bordering on dangerous, with kink as simple as light bondage and as crazy as public sex on the edge of megabuilding’s roof (and Johnny still had mixed feeling about that one). He loved danger, a right amount of pain and being treated like a slu*t. Johnny had stopped counting the times he had found Kerry with traces of violence on his warm brown skin after one of his lovers had not been careful enough and had hurt him for real. These ones, Johnny dreamed for nights about breaking their jaws. Because in the end, Kerry was a very generous lover: nothing pleased him more than seeing rapture written on his partner’s face, to the point he forgot himself and let them use him to their satisfaction. He had, in moments like these, no self-respect.

Right now, though, he was progressively switching to his other attitude during sex: the demanding drama queen. Johnny smirked as he heard his moan turn into frustrated groans. Kerry was working his hips harder and harder, but his bandmate refused him the right tightness around his co*ck, and was staying purposefully slow.

“f*ck Johnny, come ON!” he growled, hand going to Johnny’s hair to grip it harshly. But the other man only smiled meanly and put his metal hand over Kerry’s throat before squeezing slightly. Again, the second singer relaxed, but his hips were still begging for a faster pace.

Taking pity on him, Johnny untangled them and made Kerry turn around. Aauthoritatively, he guided his friend to put his hands on the mirror above the sink and arch back. He pulled the jeans under his ass cheeks and caressed him there with his metal hand.

“Yeah, please,” Kerry encouraged, ass tilting enticingly, “f*ck me.”

Johnny chuckled ironically.

“Nope. Don’t have time for that, we have a debrief with your new plaything after, remember?”

Kerry groaned, part in frustration and part in desire at the mention of V. Johnny smiled, circling the other man’s hole with a cold finger.

“Damn, I f*cking need it, Johnny!” the musician groused, pushing back against the finger, but Johnny forced him to be gentler on himself.

“Next time, take the lube with you, I told you already. Every damn time you get into that state.”

“I did!” Kerry nearly cried out as his legs shook under the want he experienced. “It’s in the f*cking changing room!”

Johnny snorted at Kerry predicament.

“Well, next time, put it in your back pocket.” He drawled before spitting into his hand generously. The spit helped his finger enter slowly and Kerry widened his stance.

“Touch me!” he demanded, taking his partner’s flesh hand to put it around his hard co*ck. Johnny obliged absently, still pushing a finger slowly in. When his finger was deep enough to graze Kerry’s pleasure center, he let the man move like he loved, clenching and unclenching around the finger, arching to find the right position. Johnny moved a bit further and pressed down, eliciting a deep moan of pleasure from the other man.

Kerry bent more, hands clenching on the mirror as his head fell between his arms, forehead against the cool surface of the sink.

“More Johnny, I need – “

“I know exactly what you need,” his partner bit back, voice low in a clear warning as anger tinted his tone “But I’m not doing it without lube, so deal with it.”

Kerry punched the mirror slightly and huffed indignantly, making Johnny roll his eyes.

“Such a slu*t.” He commented before starting to jerk his bandmate faster and harder while pushing his finger just a bit more forcefully. And that did the trick for this time: against the sink, the other man became lax. He whined long and deep, hips dancing back and forth as he impaled himself on Johnny’s finger and pushed into his fist. His partner grinded his pelvis against his left ass-cheek to relieve some of the pressure inside his leather pants, but Johnny reveled in delayed release, so it didn’t really bother him.

Distantly, the rockerboy heard the bathroom door open and he moved slightly to hide Kerry’s ass from view. Rounding the stall, V appeared, gun loosely held in his right hand as he took in the scene. Kerry was too far gone to have heard him, his panting breaths and little curses covering the noise of the door. The merc stood there speechless. Evidently, he had been looking for them and maybe starting to worry, hence the gun, but he might not have imagined falling on such intimate moment. Johnny raised an eyebrow and leered at him as he sped up his movements, making Kerry moan louder and tense up as he approached release. V’s eyes travelled along Kerry flushed back and then up to Johnny’s face, locking gaze with him. The singer felt a sudden urge to order him to kneel.

Under his hands, Kerry was fast approaching climax, so Johnny refocused on him.

“Head up, eyes open,” he instructed and like a good boy, Kerry did just that, looking at his partner and best-friend in the eyes through the mirror. Then, Johnny smiled meanly and whispered: “Seems like we have company.” Kerry jerked and looked to his right, eyes opening wide. At the same time, Johnny pushed down with his finger once more, ramming Kerry’s prostate spot on and tightening his fist around his co*ck.

The merc shifted, lips opening softly as he watched Kerry come like this. The musician stopped breathing as org*sm exploded through him, and his eyes closed against the explicit order he had been given. And then he shouted out, raw and rough and Johnny held him up as he sagged against the sink. Johnny’s hand dripped with come that he slowly raised to his mouth, sucking on his middle finger, all the while looking straight at the young bodyguard. Again, V shifted, taking half a step back but incapable of more. Then Johnny smirked and extended his come-covered hand to him in invitation. That seemed to do the trick because the merc suddenly turned around and fled the scene.

Under him, Kerry sighed and straightened before turning an annoyed gaze to his partner.

“You had to spook him, did ya?”

Johnny shrugged, still watching the spot where the merc had disappeared.

“Don’t worry, he will come around.”

Not knowing exactly why, the rockerboy was pretty sure of that: V wanted to be tamed.


So i'm going on holiday, so next chapter won't be until next thursday, but I proof-read it and the next, so you'll get two whapters at once, yay!
Don't hesitate to comment, don't be shy, would love to talk with you about anything!

Chapter 5: Seek the forge of Hephaestus


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

And that was how Johnny came home with a half-feral fox.

Kerry was mopping. There was no other word for his attitude as he strummed distractively on his guitar, seated on the couch in sweatpants and nothing else. It had been his outfit for the last three days, since V hadn’t shown to their training session. He was composing though, but it was a series of pitiful ballads that reminded his flat mate of Johnny Cash.

For now, Johnny had decided to ignore his mood, knowing it could pass as fast as it came. Kerry was prone to depressive bouts, sometimes not eating for days, barely able to get up, but the next week he would be up all-night composing songs in a nearly manic state. The drugs and the alcohol didn’t help with that, they both knew, but there was no stopping this habit after a life time of relying on it to go through a day.

Right now, it was six in the morning and Johnny had been woken up by another sad tune, indicating that Kerry had lost sleep tonight. He leaned in the doorway and watched him in the ethereal light of early morning. They rarely saw that hour, only if they weren’t asleep yet, but Johnny had been working late with Tallulah about their next action as the Silver Revolution. They had trouble getting everyone to calm down lately after twelve young people had died in an altercation against the NCPD. The police had shot in the crowd seemingly without reasons, although the official reports said that they had been provoked by “homemade projectile thrown at them.” Independent investigation showed no such “projectile”, though. Trying to calm down angry parents, relatives, friends and supporters of their cause was not really Johnny’s forte, so it took a lot energy out of him, trying to calm himself first. Yesterday, he had been out like a stone before nine, but as a result he was up early.

Kerry stopped his sad melody and glanced up at Johnny, giving him a soft smile despite everything. His companion walked silently across the room and joined him on the couch before starting to roll a blunt. Kerry rubbed his face tiredly before letting his head fall back against the head rest. He watched as his friend finished preparing the weed before giving it to him and lighting it. Kerry took a long drag without moving from watching the ceiling so Johnny got closer and made himself comfortable with his head on the other man’s lap. They shared the joint in silence for a while, before Kerry declared:

“I’m meeting with Louise for lunch. Kids are back from their grandmother, so we’re gonna tell them. Explain why I’m not living with them anymore. Why they’ll have to move to San Fran.”

Johnny didn’t comment, because there was nothing to say.

“I…” Kerry started again, “I get why we need to divorce. I owe that to Louise. She’s given me everything for fourteen years. Can’t ask for more. But f*ck I really don’t want to let her go.”

But they both knew it wasn’t Louise he wanted to keep, but the family she’d given him, his ordinary dream.

“I get that,” Johnny whispered. “So don’t turn to me for advice ‘cause I’m sh*t at letting go.”

Kerry chuckled tiredly.

“Wasn’t gonna, relax. Just… I know I can really descend into dark places sometimes and I feel like I’m just on the precipice, looking at it and fighting everything I can not to fall.”

“Good lyrics,” his bandmate commented, once again provoking a small laugh from the other man. Kerry trailed his hand in Johnny’s dark hair and played with the silver ones that peppered them. Where entire locks of hair had greyed in Kerry’s hair, Johnny was visibly aging more hom*ogenously, to the first man fascination.

“And I’m f*cking worried,” the sad musician admitted. “Keeps me at night. I don’t know where he is, he doesn’t answer calls. And I know he our glorified bodyguard, and we’re basically his clients but I just can’t help but feel drawn to him.”

Eyes closed and enjoying the scalp massage, Johnny took his time before answering.

“You said it, he is a merc. His agenda is imprecise at best. Prolly just finishing a gig.”

But truthfully Johnny was not that confident, he had a feeling the merc would have said something if it had been planned. They hadn’t seen him since the concert and their little impromptu session in the bathroom. V’s gaze still haunted Johnny’s dreams and plagued his morning showers with images of the young man on his knees before him.

Kerry grunted in a half-hearted agreement and they finished the joint like this before life caught up with them. Kovachek, Kerry’s new solo career manager, decided to check on him at eight, which made the artist positively mad, because he had specifically asked for a day off today. The man was probably getting his ass fired soon, Johnny mused as he checked his mails on his tablet while Kerry vented in the kitchen. Soon though, the man had coffee brewing and put a cup in front of Johnny before going to take a shower. How nice and domestic. Yet, Johnny had to admit that their cohabitation was going way smoother that the other times they had tried, like ten years ago when they had started sleeping together regularly. That had been a sh*tstorm that had lasted five months and had them both second guessing the whole friends-with-benefits thing. But two weeks apart, and the tension had receded, giving space for desire to return.

At eleven, Kerry was out, planning on a detour to do some errands for Louise before meeting her back at their house.

Johnny waited about half an hour before he called River Ward. The Private investigator answered after five rings, and he was slightly out of breath.

“Mister Silverhand, hello.”

“Am I disturbing you?”

“Not at all, was actually wrapping up. Don’t think about it,” he declared but Johnny gathered he was talking to someone else, maybe a suspect in one of his cases. “So what can I do for you?”

“Was wondering if you knew were V was.”

There was a pause, a car door slamming and a sudden quiet. On the other side of the line, Ward sighed.

“No. But it’s normal with him. I think he talked about a gig with the Aldecaldos, you know, the nomad clan?” Johnny grunted in ascent; apart from supplying him with good weed, he had spent some time on the road with them after Alt’s death. “It’s always longer, and he generally stays there a bit afterward.”

“Alright, thanks then.” Johnny replied, already thinking about who he could call to reach the Aldecaldos.

“Wait,” Ward said before hesitating, “Did… Did something happen, at the concert?”

Raising an eyebrow, Johnny couldn’t help his surprise.

“Why do ya ask?”

There was a pause, again, and Johnny got the feeling Ward knew he was overstepping. Still, his friendship for V pushed him to ask.

“Because two days after, he came to see me and asked if I knew someone else that could play bodyguard for you. Was in a right state too, never see him like that.”

“Like what?”

There, the private investigator nervously chuckled.

“I don’t know how to describe it but… he was down? Melancholic or something.”

Heartsick, Johnny heard even though Ward had carefully skirted around the word, and he smirked.

“Nah, nothing happened.”

With a sigh, Ward changed tactics.

“Listen, I don’t really know you, or Mister Eurodyne, but if you’re giving him a hard time then maybe I should really find someone else for your protection. V is a good guy, ya know? Heart on his sleeve and all that.”

Don’t break him, was the silent threat.

“So what? Did he withdraw from the job then?” Johnny cut off, not caring for a moral lesson at the moment.

On the other side, the man seemed to weigh his words.

“No… In the end he said he had to do it, but it didn’t seem to please him.”

“Well, I can have that effect on people, I’ll admit,” the musician replied in hope of getting the PI off his back.

“Yeah, I gathered.” And Johnny definitely heard the smirk in his tone. “Alright then, I’ll tell you if I hear from him. Did you want something in particular?”

“He missed an appointment, is all.”

Ward grunted and Johnny discerned a hint of worry.

“Strange. Ok maybe I’ll look into it. I’ll call you back.”

And he hung up, but Johnny couldn’t care less, he was already scrolling through his contacts to the letter R. With a sigh, he pushed on his screen to call Rogue. She was his fixer and probably knew where he was, but the musician hadn’t particularly wanted to confront her. Not only their personal history was terrible, she was also too perceptive for his liking. But hearing confirmation from Ward that it was unusual behavior from V, he didn’t hesitate anymore.

“Johnny Silverhand, always an unpleasant way to start the day.”

“Good morning to you too, Queen of Darkness.”

She chuckled and he knew he had scored a goodwill point.

“To what do I owe the displeasure of your voice?”

“Haven’t you guessed already?” he taunted and once more, she graced him with a snort, always eager to show she was a step ahead of them all.

“That little merc, huh? He must really be something special, because people are requesting him left and right, but I get the feeling it’s not just because he is a good shot. In fact, I have better shots than him waiting for a job.”

Done with niceties, Johnny went for the information.

“So, do you know where he is?”

At her silence, the musician knew two things: first, she knew, and second, she wasn’t gonna tell for free.

“Why do you want him?”

“He missed an appointment. Three days ago. You know the training gig you charged me twice the usual price?”

She had the gall to hum like she didn’t remember it.

“And why didn’t you call before, then?”

“Figured he was in the middle of a gig, so we waited.”

“And now you’re getting worried? Or Kerry is getting horny?”

“Rogue,” he warned but she wasn’t impressed.

“I really don’t like it when you play with my toys, Johnny, you know that?”

“He is not a toy, and certainly not yours.”

“Really? Then why are you playing with him? Anyone else could have trained Kerry.”

Johnny stayed silent, cornered and fuming in anger because of that. God, how could he have f*cked her? She really was the Devil Queen.

“Alright, what do you want?” he barked and she smiled.

“Tell me the truth: why do you want to know where he is.”

“’Cause I’m f*cking worried, ya ice cold witch.”

Rogue outright laughed, earning the witch reference fully.

“You’re right, I’m a witch. And this f*cking witch might tell you what you want to know. If you ask nicely.”

The payback would never end with her. Eyes rolling upward, Johnny called every deity for patience, and thought of Kerry sad face for motivation. What wouldn’t he do for love?

“Please, Queen of the Underworld, would you be so kind as to tell me where I could find the mercenary known as V?”

She hummed, but decided it was enough for now.

“Try a shop in Little China named Misty Esoterica. There is a ripperdoc behind it that’s named Viktor Vector. You might find your merc here.”

Johnny felt his blood stop in his veins for a second.

“And in which state will I find him?”

Rogue let a few seconds of silence pass between them. “Not sure yet, he just got back.”

The shop was not hard to find, and yet Johnny was sure he had walked past it several time before without ever registering its presence. Something mysterious and warm radiated from it, and now that he was paying attention, Johnny felt compelled to enter. Inside, it was smaller than it appeared, because it was clustered with silken drapes, colorful bowls, posters depicting the way to enlightenment. At the back, a beautiful shrine invited the gaze of anyone entering, and brought a sense of calm to Johnny. Or maybe it was the incense. A young woman came from the back. She had strange and large eyes, but her look was kind and welcoming. It half disappeared behind straw-like blond hair, and heavy make-up.

“Hello. Did you get lost?”

Johnny snorted to hide his uneasiness. True, he must have looked very out of place, with his red aviators even though he was inside, his dark gray V-necked shirt, his leather bomber jacket and black pants. Everything about him screamed anger and violence, from his jerky movements to the scowl of his mouth, without forgetting about the harness holding his gun. And the metal arm, even if only the hand was visible.

“I…” he paused and she raised her eyebrow.

“Maybe not, then,” she concluded softly. “You were looking for something, right?”

He nodded, feeling removed from his own body, like he was under a thrall. f*ck, between her and Rogue, he’d had his fill of witches for the year.

“V,” he let out, “I’m looking for V.”

At this, her face turned surprised.

“And who might you be?”

Johnny had an inkling she wasn’t asking for his name. He wasn’t so vain as to expect people to recognize him on sight everywhere, but he knew his face was familiar.

“I’m,” he started before pausing again. What was he to V? A client? A lover of his lover? A pain in his ass more likely. “I’m a friend,” he opted, but judging from the woman’s look, she was not fooled.

“Hum, I know most of V’s friends, and I’ve not seen you before.”

Johnny was about sure he was going to be nicely but firmly told to go away when the witch clasped her hands together and smiled gently.

“Always happy to meet new friends of V. Come along.” And she beaconed him to the back. He followed, like in a trance. “I’m Misty, by the way, I’m the owner of the shop.”

Johnny only grunted in ascent and blinked when they arrived in a dirty back alley, before plunging once more into the darkness of a basem*nt. Raised voices could be heard from here, and one was familiar, and in obvious pain.

“f*ck! f*ckING son of a bitch!” V cried out, followed by a long groan of agony.

“It’s ok, you’re good, it was the last one.” A low and calm voice soothingly intervened.

Panting and cursing could still be heard, but the intensity receded.

“Ready for the shoulder?” the second voice asked just as Misty pushed back the plastic curtain and Johnny took in the scene.

“No,” V replied but the doc didn’t heed him. In a move that Johnny had the unfortune of being well acquainted with, the ripper snapped back V’s shoulder into its socket and the merc roared in painful torment. He fell back against the medical chair, heaving as sweat broke over his naked skin. Johnny saw that he had at least one bullet hole on his right biceps, and a good chunk of missing flesh above the right hip, like he had taken a gunshot point blank. There was blood everywhere on his skin, mostly dried and hopefully not his alone. Fresh hemoglobin was running from the bullet hole along his arm, like a thin river of rubies slithering the path his veins created. His whole right side was covered in small gashes and deeper cuts. Maybe not a shot at point blank, but collaterals of a grenade explosion, Johnny rectified.

Then, V turned to the entrance, and the doc did too, following his gaze.

“Misty?” he wondered.

“A friend of V.” she explained and even though he looked half feverish from his injuries, V had the gall to snort and shake his head.

“Not a friend,” he groaned, closing his eyes against a wave of pain. “my personal walking nightmare.”

“I’m flattered” Johnny deadpanned and once again, the merc eyed him, but this time he was smiling and his eyes twinkled. The morphine might be kicking in then.

“Well, wait here then, I’m not finished with him, need to dress his wounds now.” The doc replied, turning back to his client.

With a small touch on his elbow, Misty indicated a battered seat to Johnny, who sat with a thanks. She then departed, not before sending a kiss to V. As the ripperdoc cleaned and bandaged his many wounds, Johnny looked at V, whose eyes were now closed and his face relaxed under the influence of painkillers. His hair was a mess, with his bun half undone, letting wild gray strands of hair lose over his forehead and cheekbones.

“Why didn’t you let the ripper at the Aldecaldos patch you up? How did you get back? Not by car.” The doc asked gently.

“It wasn’t with the Aldecaldos, it was after. Panam and I finished two days ago. Was makin’ my way back when Regina Jones called. You know she has a thing with cyberpsychos. She’s pretty sure they can be saved. One was apparently nearby so I went to investigate. The guy fell on me.” V finished.

“Couldn’t have Panam helped you with him?”

“He took me by surprise, I initially just wanted to do reco. Told you he fell on me. Literally. And he had rigged his camp.” He explained while weakly pointing to his hip. “Called Del to come and look for me after I had put down the guy. Didn’t think to call Panam.”

The doc sighed and shook his head slightly.

“Hey, you there, you can help me.” He shot at Johnny over his shoulder. Said man nearly jumped in surprise before slowly standing. “Can you change the water?” the doc said while giving him a basin filled with red liquid. With a hand, he indicated the far right of his practice and Johnny complied. As he made his way back with clean water, he heard V say in low tones:

“No, I know him Vik, don’t worry, it’s… It’s just complicated. But he is ok.”

The two men stopped talking as he approached, and he watched in a strange fascination as the ripperdoc – Vik – cleaned V in fast and clinical swipes of wet clothe. Still, there was a certain tenderness in his gestures. Glancing up at V, Johnny stiffened when he saw the merc was watching him with his piercing silver eyes. They were a bit duller than ordinary, due to the injuries and the drugs, but they still pierced Johnny’s skull like none had before. He crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow, expression purposefully mocking, but V didn’t relent for a few long seconds. Then he looked resolutely at a point over Vik’s shoulders.

It took a while, but at last, V was patched up and seated on the medical chair. He was very pale, and Johnny found himself strangely wanting to take him in his arms to help him upright.

“So,” the doc said, “Rest. I mean it, V. No running around Night-City’s streets for at least three days. The stims will do the rest.” V rolled his eyes upward but nodded stiffly. “And don’t move that shoulder.” Then he turned to Johnny. “It would be good if someone would stay with him, because he will need help redressing the wounds, and to make sure he doesn’t solicit his right arm too much.”

“Vik, for f*ck sake, I’m not a child!” V protested, but Johnny talked over him.

“That’s why I’m here. I’ll look after him.”

This seemed to render V speechless long enough for the doc to assess Johnny from under his dark glasses, before nodding. He pushed two bottles of pills into his hands.

“Antibiotics, three times a day,” he explained while pointing to the first, “pain killers, not more than one every four hours, got it?”

Johnny acquiesced stiffly as V started to open his mouth. But one challenging look from the rockerboy was enough to make him rethink that strategy. Instead, he looked at his impromptu visitor with slitted eyes and a calculating gaze.

“Now, shoo. You’re crowding my clinic,” Vik declared and V slowly got to his feet. He wavered, prompting Johnny to catch him in a smooth movement. The merc glared at him, straightened but stumbled on his next step. Johnny smirked before adjusting his grip on the younger man and marched him out.

V stayed quiet until they were in the back alley. Then, in a surprising bout of strength, he pushed Johnny’s back against the wall, and pinned him there.

“What the f*ck are you doing here?”

Skull still ringing from the encounter with the wall, Johnny grunted before snarling.

“Exactly what I said: looking after you.”

V shook him again, slamming him once more but this time the strain was too much on his shoulder and arm. He paled and groaned before doubling over as his body started to shake. Johnny caught him once more and held him against the wall gently. The merc let his head fall against the concrete, blurry eyes opening in slits to look at the rocker. He panted for a while before he got his breathing under control again, and Johnny waited patiently.

“f*ck, that psycho really did a number on you. You’re crazy to go alone against one,” the rockerboy muttered.

“I told you, I didn’t plan on it. And anyway, you should see the other guy.”

Johnny snorted, still watching the younger man closely.

“You ok?”

V nodded slowly, gulping twice before he pushed off the wall.

“Well, if you’re there, might as well get me back to my flat,” he admitted. “That be payback for all the sh*t you put me through,” he muttered, and Johnny wisely decided not to rise to that. V showed another way to regain the street and didn’t hide his wonder when he saw Johnny’s car.

“Man, she must have costed a fortune!”

“Yup, so don’t get blood on it.”

V got into the Porsche and was happily observing the interior when Johnny asked where to go. He gave directions before his gaze drifted outside. The ride was spent in relative silence, with only Johnny cursing traffic and other drivers while V chuckled. But as they neared the megabuilding, he was oddly silent and when the other man looked at him, he saw he was asleep. Deciding to let him rest a bit, Johnny lit a cigarette and turned the radio on before letting his thoughts drift.

What the f*ck had taken over him? As he glanced to the young man on the passenger seat, Johnny cursed himself seven way, then cursed Kerry and his obsessions, then cursed V and his f*cking cute face. Then he cursed everything else, just to pass the time.

V awoke with a start about an hour later. In the meantime, Johnny had started running a silent commentary on all the girls he saw on the street, but then decided to add some pretty males he had seen walking, before deciding to just rate the different asses he saw. The merc blinked slowly twice before his gaze focused and he zeroed on Johnny.

“How long was I out?”

“About an hour. You were exhausted. Hey, would you say this one is a seven or an eight?” Johnny queried while pointing to a middle-aged woman in a pretty flowery dress. V glanced at the woman, and then at the rockerboy before frowning and crossing his arms in disapproval.

“I love the judgy act, but I’ve seen you looking at Kerry’s ass, so quit it. Seven or eight?” Johnny insisted, lips stretching in a leer.

“That’s a nine.”

“No way,” Johnny replied, looking again. A guff of wind made the dress flow. “Hum,” the musician admitted.

“You could have woken me up… I didn’t want to impose.” V then mumbled.

Johnny looked at him from over his aviators. The other man’s face was black and blue, full of angry cuts and still peppered with dried blood. With his five o’clock beard and shiny silverware, everyone could tell he was a merc. And yet, there was a vulnerability in his gaze that made Johnny’s blood heat and his heart tighten. He looked away.

“So, let’s get some of your stuff, then head back.”

“Head back?” the merc repeated, and he was obviously slower on the uptake that normally, which made Johnny smile in amusem*nt. “Head back where?”

“Well, your doc said it would be best if someone stayed with you while you heal, and I’m certainly not coming over. I know these buildings; you live in a box.”

And he got out of the car. Slowly, still struggling and in pain, V imitated him before rounding the car, steadying himself on the hood. Already Johnny could see the protest coming, so he stalled it with a hand.

“Listen. I won’t lie. II wasn’t planning on that when I sought you out, I just wanted Kerry to stop drivin’ me crazy. I mean, obviously you’ve not yet had the pleasure of meeting Worried Kerry, but let me tell you, it’s not pleasant. The man is a drama queen, V, so imagine when he thinks he is being ghosted? He is infuriating.”

As he delivered his speech, Johnny was resolutely walking up the flight of stairs leading to the entrance of the building. He did his best not to look at the place too closely, on the risk of triggering some very bad memories of his own. All the megabuildings looked and smelt the same: of decaying food and human misery.

Panting and a lot slower, V followed. Like that, he had no breath to spare to contradict Johnny, so there was no other protest until they were in the elevator.

“Still… not… coming… with you.” V gasped, curling slightly over his injured hip.

“Cute how you think this is a negotiation.”

“f*ck!” V screamed, using his remaining forces to punch Johnny in the shoulder. “f*ck you and your controlling ways.” He suddenly looked to the side before snarling: “I really don’t care Alt, I’m not going with that jerk.”

“She is there?”

“She is always there,” V groaned before stilling and sagging again. Once more, Johnny helped him up, hands gentling on him.

“All right, if you don’t want to come with me, see it that way: I’m taking you to Kerry. It just happens to be at the same place.”

“f*ck, I don’t want to see any of you.” The younger man complained and he sounded on the verge of a breakdown. “You’re my clients, my charges, not…”

The lift opened at the right level and V huffed.

“I… My flat is one floor up. The lift doesn’t go higher.” He confessed and Johnny knew it costed him in pride. Trying for patience and gentleness when he was second from throwing the merc over his shoulders and carrying him to his flat, he offered a hand to V.

Too exhausted to protest now, V just took the given help and they slowly made their way up. Then the merc opened his flat and seemed to breath a bit easier.

He beelined for the bed, where he collapsed, shaking and covered in sweat. Johnny took in the place. It was small, like he had expected, but well maintained and clean, unlike his when he had inhabited such places. There were a lot of books, paper covers, and an assortment of knicks knacks that his curiosity died to investigate.

Reining it in, he walked to the bed and crouched next to it.

“If not me or Kerry, do you have other friends that can come here to watch over you?”

Opening blurry eyes, the second man glared at Johnny.

“I don’t need any f*cking help. I’ve managed before.”

And the rockerboy felt like he was looking at a mirror and seeing himself, on the verge of stepping into a chopper to commit terrorism. It was pathetic. At the end of his meager patience, his lips twisted in a grimace and he surged to push his thumb into V’s right shoulder. The man positively screamed in agony.

“Don’t need help, huh?” Johnny sneered, straightening. “Well, I’ll do you the same favor I was offered some ten years ago.”

He turned and walked to the closet, picking clothes at random. After, he made his way to the bathroom and took the toothbrush and toothpaste he found there, the deodorant and whatever was on display and seemed daily used.

“Ok, let’s go.”

On the bed, V had sat up and was looking at him with some sort of desperation in his eyes.

“You are a menace.”

“Yes, I’ve been told many times. Now there are two scenarios: One where you walk out of here, and one where I carry you over my shoulders. Second option ’s gonna be humiliating, let me tell you.”

At that, V snorted.

“I’m heavier than I look, you wouldn’t be able to carry me.”

“Watch me,” Johnny growled before advancing on the bed. V seemed to read his seriousness, because he held his hands up.

“Ok, ok! Just… Just five minutes, please. I can’t... the stairs will kill me.”

And that was how Johnny came home with a half-feral fox.


The cyberpsycho that fell on V is the one in the badland that had voodoo's paintings nearby. It fell on me as I was doing the optional reco around the camps. I chain died on this one, notably because he "activated" too early every damn time.

Chapter 6: Glimpses of Hestia


This is a double update, as promised, for don't forget to check chapter 5 before reading this one ;)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

It was soft, restrained, a butterfly touch with trembling lips. As if it was his first time.

When Kerry came back after nine in the evening, he was exhausted. The kids had cried, of course, and Ted had looked so wounded by the news. The words “abandonment” had been pronounced way too many times, on both sides. He could still see Kim puffy eyes as she had gone to bed, asking for a promise that he still loved her.

Then he had cried, Louise had cried, and they had drunk half a bottle of red wine while their tears dried up. But the only thing he truly regretted in that story, apart from his sweet illusion of a perfect family shattering without a scream, was that the kids would pay the price too. Louise deserved better than being eternally second, and she had made do graciously for fourteen years. She was entitled to her own grand romance, but Kerry couldn’t help but wish she would have hold on longer. He was so selfish.

With a heavy sigh, he checked his phone, but there was no reply to his tenth message to V. Another thing to make this day even worse. As he entered the flat, he was greeted by Johnny playing a soft tune on one of his acoustic guitars. It was a sufficiently rare moment for Kerry to be intrigued. He detoured by the kitchen to look for a drink, choosing one of Johnny’s good rums before taking the bottle with him.

The flat was a former industrial building, so the ceilings were very high, which had particularly pleased Johnny for unknown reasons. It was made of one big room which served as the living room with an open kitchen attached to the right. It was located directly behind the bookcase Johnny had installed to make a separation with the entrance. Then, by-passing the kitchen was a room Johnny used as an office, which had a spare bed that was never slept in because none but Kerry slept over, and he slept in Johnny’s bed. On the left of the central room was the bathroom, and the master bedroom.

The central room was divided in different spaces. In the middle were two big couches facing each other, and several chairs and poufs. On the far right was a small estrade where the guitars were displayed. The estrade continued to the left and gave way to the balcony. Johnny was seating on the couch facing the entrance and the kitchen and when he saw Kerry approach, he put his metal finger over his lips in a shushing motion. Kerry raised an eyebrow in surprise and approached slower, rounding the second couch with a frown. He stilled when he discovered V, asleep on it, covered in bruises and bandages. The man was snoring softly, dressed in an old white tee-shirt and soft gray sweatpants. He looked freshly showered, which only highlighted his many cuts and blemishes.

Kerry glanced back to Johnny and mouthed:

“What the f*ck?”

With a head gesture, Johnny indicated that they move to the balcony for a smoke. Johnny had a joint prepared for them, that he lit while the other man closed the glass door.

“What happened?” Kerry anxiously inquired. Johnny quietly recounted how he had found V’s trail and decided to bring him back home.

“But how did he end up like this? It’s like something blew up and he was too close.”

“Well, might as well be what happened, from what I understood.” Johnny replied. “A cyberpsycho did this, apparently?”

Kerry blinked, mouth opening slightly.

“A cyberpsycho? And he decided to go alone? What the f*ck was he thinkin?”

“Wasn’t planned, from what he says. The guy fell on him.” The other man explained while puffing the sweet smoke. Taking the pot absently, the second musician glanced back at the barely visible merc on the couch.

“He could have died.”

Johnny grunted in ascent.

“So what? He fled?” Kerry continued his interrogation.

“No,” his friend chuckled, “He dealt with him.”

And his bandmate opened wide eyes his both fascination and horror. Johnny could concur the sentiment.

“He’s no ordinary merc, Ker,” he declared. “I get why Rogue is so interested in him. She’s grooming him.”

Kerry frowned, worried, but he knew he couldn’t do anything about Rogue. They had been friends once, while she had been Johnny’s girlfriend, but that was fifteen years ago. Her reputation as a solo, then a fixer had reached him though: she was of the same blood as the legends of Night-City.

Shaking his head, he took a heavy drag and watched the city spread bellow. They were at the top level, so they had a bit of a view, but less than at his house in North Oak. His mood shifted; the house would have to be sold too.

They finished the smoke in silence, before coming back as stealthily as possible.

“He must feel good here, didn’t even wake up when I came home. But why didn’t you gave him the spare room?” Kerry wondered in low voice.

“I did. And he slept maybe three hours when we came in. Then he woke up, took a shower. We ate and he stayed, watching me play. He fell asleep right there.” Johnny rumbled.

Kerry eyed the younger man with a little frown.

“Do we move him?”

“Let him sleep here, I know from experience that the couch is comfortable. Let’s just throw him some covers.”

Kerry took care of that while Johnny took the pizza cardboxes to the kitchen. Crouched in front of the couch, he watched the merc. Sprawled on his front, with his hair loose, V really looked his age. The kid might not be a day over thirty, and it showed in every absent line on his face. His mouth was slightly open as he snored quietly, out to the world, and Kerry resisted the urge to steal a kiss. A warm feeling invaded his being, one he knew too well. He sighed inwardly at his own foolishness before straightening up. Suddenly, he was so, so tired.

“I’m going to bed,” he declared to Johnny who nodded, before seating back on the other couch and starting to strum a soft melody again. Smiling softly, Kerry let him be, simply happy to be the witness of his friend’s tender side.

Kerry wasn’t sure at which time Johnny had come to bed, he had been asleep at the time and barely remembered the bed shifting and his companion settling next to him. So by morning, after the first night of real sleep in three days, Kerry felt renewed. He lazed under the cover, simply watching Johnny’s chest rise and fall as he breathed in deep slumber. Sometimes he would snore a bit, or mumble, which had Kerry giggling like a teenager. Around ten thirty, he distinctly heard noise in the next room, and decided to investigate. Putting on a simple black tee-shirt and a pair of gray boxers, he smoothly exited the room, purposefully letting the door open behind him.

He found V in front of the coffee machine, trying to understand it’s working. Kerry smiled and walked to him.

“Don’t worry, only Johnny can make it work. It’s like it doesn’t want to make coffee for us, poor mortals.”

V stiffened before turning slowly and leaning on the counter. Kerry was once more taken aback by the state of his face. This morning, the bun was back but hastily made, letting strands of light hair flow freely. It made the merc look unguarded, accessible. Cute.

“I’m more of a tea person, anyway,” he replied, voice rough. “I only thought…” he stopped, suddenly embarrassed and the musician took pity on him.

“Well, if you like tea then that make two of us. Here.” And he leaned over V to one of the higher cupboards, retrieving a cylindric box of beautiful design, like a shadowy tree.

“I gifted that one to Johnny, from one of my tour. I was in Tokyo. He never drinks it, but I do when I’m over.”

He opened the box and checked the content.

“Well,” he sighed when he saw it was half empty, “This clearly shows I’m here way too much at the moment.” Then he shrugged and once more crowded V against the counter to fetch two mugs over him. “I’ll just have to plan another tour, then, with a stop in japan.”

The other man stayed immobile, barely breathing as Kerry filled an infuser with a pinch of leaves before turning to the boiler. As the water started to heat, the musician co*cked a hip on the counter, next to V and smiled gently.

“Too much?” he offered softly. V watched him with a carefully neutral expression, before blinking.

“It’s just… So weird. This situation.” He explained, hands gripping the counter tightly. “I don’t…” he caught himself and Kerry waited for him, attitude loose and welcoming. “I don’t understand what you want.”

Kerry shrugged.

“I want whatever you are willing to give, I told you. So the question is more – what do you want?”

And that seemed to be the crux of the problem, for V’s face shut down and he glanced downward. He had long dark lashes, that drew shadows over his cheek bones. Was anything on this man not f*cking breathtaking?

The younger man frowned, holding his right arm with the left, and drumming his fingers on his bandaged skin. He kept silent.

The water was nearly boiled, so Kerry stopped it as to not burn the tea. He poured it into the two mugs and gently gave one to V, startling him. His silver eyes fell on Kerry’s warm brown ones as he took the cup, only to put it back on the counter. Slowly, like he was still second guessing himself, he took Kerry’s own too and put it back before extending a hand to the other man’s hip, slowly bringing him closer.

Kerry followed him, staying lax and cooperative, smiling as he ended up between V’s legs. Then, tenderly, the younger man put his left hand on Kerry’s neck and jaw, tilting his head slightly to the side before kissing him.

V kissed like he was sure it was forbidden to him. It was soft, restrained, a butterfly touch with trembling lips. As if it was his first time. Kerry fought every instinct in himself not to surge forward and deepen the kiss, pretty sure it would spook the other man. But he responded, opening his mouth pushing just slightly. The merc exhaled, and his lips started moving more confidently as his hand twitched against Kerry’s neck, pulling him into the kiss.

Aiming for encouraging, Kerry put his hands on the younger man’s biceps and let them trail upward to his neck, minding his injuries. He tangled his fingers in V’s messy bun and nudged the man’s lips with his tongue. Said man let out a moan at that, opening his mouth more, welcoming the tongue inside, and that was about the end of Kerry’s atempt to show self-control. He pushed his whole body into V’s and devoured his mouth, hands roaming over his back to the edge of his shirt. V gave kiss for kiss and started to cant his hips, flushing their pelvises together. Kerry’s hand slithered under the shirt, but he abruptly stopped when he encountered the bandages, because V let out a moan of pain.

“Sorry,” Kerry panted, letting go completely, only to be brought back and kissed again by V. The man’s own hand went to his ass, which he kneaded with ardor, until his partner went back to where he had stopped, only paying more attention to where he put his hands this time. Kerry was starting to get pretty worked up, his hard-on barely covered by his underwear as he felt a responding hardness grow in V’s sweatpants, when the man suddenly stopped and turned to watch something on the left.

Surprised, Kerry turned too and saw Johnny, naked as the day he was born and proudly erect, make his way toward them with a swagger.

“Please, don’t mind me,” he said, voice dripping with amusem*nt and Kerry sighed, letting his head fall on V’s uninjured shoulder.

Still, V’s hand on his ass never let go, and after a tension-filled second, he started to move his hips again, slower. Surprised, Kerry glanced up and saw that the merc was looking straight at Johnny, eyes defiant. It shouldn’t have, but it made heat pulse in Kerry’s veins to feel both men’s tension, and to be caught in the middle.

He started peppering kissed on V’s neck, before tonguing behind his ear and biting the lobe, eliciting a small shudder. His hips were having a mind of their own as he propelled himself more harshly against V. He felt Johnny move, approach until he was right behind him.

“Wanna hear how to rock his world?” Johnny taunted, before putting his hands over V’s. They all stilled, waiting for the younger man, and Kerry could feel how his muscles were straining as he battled with himself. Still, after a while, Kerry felt him nod, barely a brush of beard against his cheek.

Johnny’s hands travelled to Kerry’s hips and he pulled him two steps back before addressing V.

“Get on your knees.”

Now that he could clearly see the merc, Kerry understood something that Johnny had probably picked-on a long time ago. It was written plainly on V’s face, from his flushed cheek, to his feverish eyes that barely held their challenging attitude. He was so wound up trying to hide how affected he was, how much he wanted it, how terribly he needed that. Needed to get on his knees and be told what to do. But the internal war was far from over, so Johnny gave him another incentive. He kissed Kerry’s neck and shoulder tenderly while his hands caught the boxers his lover was wearing and pushed them down, slowly. It caught on Kerry’s hard-on, bringing his co*ck down and pulling a deep moan from the man, who let himself sag more fully against Johnny. When the underwear was under his dick, Johnny caressed Kerry back up and down twice, before fisting Kerry’s proud sex in his flesh hand. That seemed to end V’s internal struggles, because he fell heavily on his knees and brought the boxers all the way down before looking up at them. His eyes flickered from Johnny to Kerry and the man in between had to close his eyes because the sight was too much.

“Open your pretty mouth,” Johnny instructed, voice low and strangely kind. Again, it was a struggle for a few seconds before V’s lips parted. Kerry strained against Johnny to be able to put his co*ck in that mouth, but his friend had an iron hold – so to speak – over him.

“Look at him, V, look how turned-on he is, and you’ve not touched him for real yet.” The rockerboy commented to the man on his knees, who glanced up. His gaze was way too raw, it made Kerry’s heart do painful somersaults inside his chest.

At last, Johnny pushed Kerry slightly, guiding his co*ck to V’s awaiting mouth.

“Don’t take him yet, use your tongue underside, and over the slit. Don’t hesitate to push in.”

And Kerry groaned, lost already because after ten years of sleeping together, Johnny indeed knew him well.

V did as advised, all the while looking up at Kerry and Johnny in turn. Head over Kerry's shoulder, Johnny watched attentively. His co*ck was an iron rod between Kerry’s ass cheeks and the man keened with the need to be f*cked. Johnny made him arch backward, and as a result, V’s lips finally closed around the musician’s hard dick.

“Go on, take him. As far as you can. Don’t force, he doesn’t like when his partners gag.”

Kerry cursed, looking at the ceiling. Johnny could probably write a treatise on the art of f*cking him, and it was as hot as it was embarrassing. Johnny smirked against him and playfully bit his cheek as he started moving his own hips to mock-f*ck Kerry. Said man clenched his ass cheeks around him in retaliation, winning a small grunt for his effort. Whatever image he tried to maintain, Johnny was as much turned on by this than him.

V sucked him gently, hands on his upper legs to steady himself. His mouth was warm and his tongue a delight under his sex. But he was so serious, still.

“Open up,” Johnny whispered, voice rough as his pleasure over the scene grew. This time, V obeyed without question. He stilled and his lips stretched as far as they could. Kerry knew what was coming and it made his blood boil. Johnny started to snap his hips back and forth, forcing Kerry to follow the rhythm and f*ck V’s mouth.

“No,” Kerry uttered, “please,” he begged, but for what he wasn’t sure. Certainly not for them to stop, but he could feel his org*sm rising way too fast. Yet, they had no mercy, or Johnny didn’t, and V followed his lead.

“Yes,” his long-time friend said. “I know you Ker, you’re right on the edge, just from your co*ck being sucked. But I’ll admit he has a pretty mouth.” His own hard-on was sliding over Kerry's hole with each push and pull, helped by the sweat between them and it drove Kerry crazy with want and pleasure at the same time.

“Come on V, suck him.”

And that was it. As V’s mouth really worked him, Kerry saw that, at last, he was letting himself go. His expression, so neutral before, turned anguished as he sucked harder and harder, his hands turning to grip Kerry’s thighs. He moaned around the co*ck in his mouth and his head bobbed in sync with Johnny’s hips. This, more than the physical sensation, sent Kerry over the edge with a long keening shout. His come landed in V’s mouth, and then all over his lips when he drew back slightly. Behind him, he heard Johnny groan low as he continued to push his hips against Kerry’s ass.

As he sagged against Johnny, his friend held him steady before gently pushing him the side, and Kerry stumbled until he reached the back of the couch and leaned on it.

Over the kitchen, Johnny delicately reached down to help V to his feet, who was still panting and hard. The man let himself be pushed against the counter and, like in slow motion, Johnny kissed him softly on the corner of his mouth. Kerry watched as the merc closed his eyes, body going lax against the cupboard. He let Johnny kiss him and clean the come on his lips before, slowly, he gave back the embrace. His hands, which had been dangling by his side, came up to tangle into Johnny’s dark hair gripping it softly. Then, the rockerboy, still moving unnaturally slow for him, reached to the sweatpants elastic and pushed them a bit. He took both their co*cks in his flesh fist and started jerking them. His movements were deep and slow at first, until V arched back in a deep moan, hips trying to canter inside Johnny’s fist, but prevented by his injury. Stilling him with an authoritative hand, Johnny accelerated his movements over their dicks. And Kerry could see his face in his mind, even as Johnny’s back was to him. How he would watch V’s face like a hawk, drinking every little tic of pleasure, every breath of joy, every moan of ecstasy from his lover’s lips. He could also see how his ass contracted to push his hips into his fist in cadence, and the slight tremble of his legs: he was close. They both were.

Then, V became still and bit his lips to contain his moans as he reached his peak, eyes closed in a deep frown of pleasured agony. It provoked a zap like a lightning bolt through Kerry’s spine at the sight, and it must have had the same effect on Johnny because he roared and bit V’s jaw as he climaxed, his fist covered in both their come.

As they regained their breaths, Kerry approached, reached down for his discarded boxers and put them on again. He then made his way to them and gently kissed Johnny’s shoulder. The man grunted and moved, releasing V from where he was sagged over him. The younger man opened bleary eyes that closed immediately as Kerry deposed a kiss over his cheekbone. The merc let his head fall to the side, forehead touching Kerry’s.

“f*ck, I love mornings like this,” Johnny commented with his usual ironic smile as he went to the sink to rinse his hands. Kerry chuckled, nosing under V’s jaw who stayed silent, but smiled softly.

Victory, victory, both musicians thought as they saw it.

After breakfast, they left V to go for a record session at their studio, and the man was already half-asleep when they departed, exhausted from his injuries and from the morning activities.

When they came back around five in the afternoon, Kerry swept the main room with his eyes and experienced a moment of worry when he didn’t see V. As Johnny went to the balcony, still deep in a phone call with Tallulah, who was his second in command at the Silver Revolution Party, he walked to the second room and his worry grew when he didn’t find the merc here either.

“V?” he called, going to the master bedroom. But the voice of their guest responded from the bathroom. Kerry detoured and was on the verge of barging in when he restrained himself, trying to rein in his enthusiasms and think of privacy and other such concepts mostly foreign to him.

“Can I come in?” he inquired and a pained chuckle answered him.

“Yeah, I think I’ll need your help anyway.”

Frowning, Kerry opened the door. Inside, seated on a chair he must have brough from the second bedroom and placed in front of the sink, V was trying to change his bandages. The old ones where bloody and thrown carelessly into the sink. Next to it was a bottle of disinfectant, a tube of cream and clean gauze waiting to be used. But V couldn’t change them alone, although it seemed he had given it a good try. A trail of fresh blood was pearling from the one at his hip. It really was a nasty lesion: slightly charred in places, and digging a hole deep into V’s flesh. The ripperdoc had stitched the outer gashes, and applied a lot of healing cream, but it was going to take a long time to properly heal and the scar it would leave behind would be just as awful, shaped like a terrible star.

Kerry eyed all this before gingerly making his way to the mercenary. He was pale, obviously in pain, probably from touching the wounds to clean them again. In silence, Kerry washed his hands and made his way around V to kneel next to him, at level with the damaged hip. He glanced up before reaching for the gauze, that he imbibed with disinfectant.

“Brace yourself.” He muttered and heard the merc breathe deeply.

He poured the betadine over the open flesh gently before softly patting the raw skin. V tensed and bit his lips to keep in the groans of pain that wanted out. Kerry concentrated on making sure it was properly treated, before he took the tube of cream from the counter and uncapped it. Looking up to check on V, he saw that the man was staring to the other side, hiding his face.

Slowly, Kerry put his finger on the edge of the injury and applied the cream. He tried to do it touches by touches, and every time, the merc tensed and his respiration blocked for a second. The musician did it efficiently, unfortunately familiar with these proceedings. V relaxed when he saw Kerry take the gauze again to cover the gash.

“Hold it there, please,” Kerry whispered, before his hand reached for the bandages. V’s hand was trembling as he put it over the gauze and let the other man cover it with the white cloth. Kerry enveloped V’s waist in the bandage to secure the gauze, and as it forced him to get verry close to the man he was helping, he allowed himself a kiss on the merc’s shoulder. Then, as it was finished, he let his lips there, kissing softly up to his neck as he got up. The skin was feverish, and so unnaturally pale, it made Kerry’s heart ache.

“Need your shoulder done too?”

“No, Vik said this one could be changed every two days.” V replied, voice low and eyes closed.

“Ok,” Then Kerry went to lean back on the sink and watched the man with a frown. “Why didn’t you wait until we were back home to ask for help?” he wondered.

“Kerry likes to ask stupid questions,” Johnny drawled from the entrance of the bathroom, hip co*cked on the doorframe. His bandmate glared at him but his expression cleared when V chuckled softly.

“I don’t really like asking for help,” he declared in a murmur directed at Kerry. “In the past, when I did, I paid a price I’m not ready to pay again.”

Kerry sighed and glanced at Johnny. Their gazes crossed and the older musician’s eyes were hooded, reflecting a shared past: different circ*mstances but echoing in the places that hurt the most.

“I just hope that you know that we’re just happy to help, V,” Kerry said in a serious voice and the merc leaned back in his chair, staying silent.

Johnny picked himself from the door frame and silently left. This was too close to home for him, like seeing a movie about his own life, watching how pathetic it was from the outside. Because he could say it now, accepting Kerry’s help time and time again had been the best decisions of his life. Letting go in his arms, falling between his sheets, coming between his thighs… All of that had, at last, calmed his mind, grounded him and he could see that V needed just that. He just wondered what the price would be. For Kerry.

Back in the bathroom, V slowly started to clean his supplies, and Kerry once again helped him. They slowly made their way to the couch after that, and V laid on it nearly horizontal, sighing deeply.

“Did you take your pain killers already?” the older man asked, and the second nodded tiredly.

“My tolerance is too high, I’m nearly at the highest dose in one go.”

“Can I do something to ease the pain?”

V opened bleary eyes and tried a smile.

“You can distract me.”

Kerry answered with the same expression and got up to pick his guitar. He strummed absently for a moment before settling on a song, not one of his own.

“I don’t know this one,” V muttered, eyes once again shut.

“It’s old, Johnny Cash. Does it ring a bell? It’s called Solitary Man.”

V snorted.

“Is there a message somewhere?”

But Kerry didn’t answer and started singing, voice rich and deep like it rarely could be when he sung for Samurai. When it was finished, Kerry continued to strum the cords idly, trying to choose another song, when he heard Johnny join him. Both musicians exchanged a glance and Kerry led them to a faster pace, which Johnny followed for a moment before taking it higher, harsher, heavier. Flawlessly, the first musician blended in, and V listened to them play each other, goading one another into more and more difficult finger play. Then, suddenly, Kerry guided them into a softer tune, gentling their game and to the merc surprise, Johnny’s own drift coalesced and incorporated it, like a baritone choir to Kerry’s alto solo. It came to an end with a last pinched cord from the older guitarist, and they all shared a comfortable silence. Then, Kerry leaned back into the couch.

“Can I ask you a personal question?” he requested and both he and Johnny saw V tense a bit.

“You can ask. I might not answer.”

“Fair enough.” Kerry accepted, and Johnny tried not to show too much interest in this interaction. It was strange to see his bandmate’s magic work on someone else.

“What is your full name? V, it’s for what? Vincent, Vaughn? Valerian? Viktor?”

V actually chuckled.

“None of them. But I won’t play guesses, you would never find it.” He paused, breathed in slowly and deeply before turned his face to the window, evading both men’s gazes. “My real name is Five.”

There was a silence.

“What?!” Kerry exclaimed, outraged, “Who give their child a number as a name! Or is it foreign or something?”

“It’s not foreign,” V declared softly. “It was given to me by the people who birthed me, and they didn’t really care about me.” It was said in a matter-of-fact tone, like a very old wound that was now healed and forgotten.

“I don’t…” Kerry started, frowning, “But when you talked about your parents, I always had the impression that…”

V cut him, fiercely.

“The people who birthed me are not the one who raised and loved me.”

Ah. Johnny thought, bracing for the tragic story he was sure he was about to hear. But the younger man stayed stubbornly silent.

“Come on, V,” Johnny grunted, “You can’t leave it at that.”

But there was such a tension inhabiting the man that the musician wondered how he had not already dispersed into pure energy. V put his hands over his face and rubbed his eyes with his palms. He stayed like this, as if it was easier that way, and Johnny could concur: it was.

“Do you, per chance, remember about a scandal in 2005, about an “allegedly” independent lab who conducted illegal researches in eugenics?”

“2005? I was fifteen,” Kerry said, “and I had a difficult year, so no, doesn’t ring a bell.”

“I do…” Johnny whispered, eyes slitting as he looked at V. It had been right before he enrolled, a curious affair that Johnny had listened to with half an ear as he prepared for departure. V lowered his hands and offered a glimpse of his eyes to the older musician, who continued: “They had tried to build a baby from scratch with selected DNA. They wanted to create the perfect human being.”

V laughed a bit, a terrible sound full of bitterness and disgust.

“Well, they didn’t try, they succeeded, and it was not one baby, it was babies. Nine to be exact. And I’m number five.”

Kerry first thought was that it at least explained V’s maddening perfection. But it seemed that now that he had started, V wasn’t planning on stopping.

“My parents where one of the foster families that welcomed us while the trial happened and our fate was decided. Because there had been a moment when they actually considered “terminating” us.” He explained with irony, but Kerry’s blood iced at those words. “In the end, they decided to integrate us to society, let us be normal children. My parents adopted us right away, my sister and I. She was number Three.”

Johnny really wanted to know what had happened to number four, but he reigned it in. Instead, it was Kerry who asked:

“So, they changed your name at that moment?”

“No.” he paused, gaze soft, “I spent the first four years of my life in that lab. I have barely any memories of it, only that it was cold, but I was never hurt, I think. Then it was a three years trial. Biotechnica was the main accused, but they denied having anything to do with it and they won in the end. The trial was conductive to anti-eugenics laws, but it also proved it was possible.” He sighed, and Johnny could understand the tiredness: corpos always won in the end. “Anyway, for the first seven years of my life, I was designated either by my number, or by “V”. So, they kept it that way. At least V could be mistaken for a nickname. That’s what you assumed.” He finished, looking at Kerry with a small smile.

But the man was showing confusion all over his face.

“Ok, I now I’m not the brightest crayon in the box, but I still don’t get why V?”

“It’s the roman letter for five, isn’t it,” Johnny guessed in a drawl that hid his anger well. He suddenly wanted to put his hands on thermonuclear charges again.

V nodded and drew the letter in the air.

“That’s how they referred to us in their study.”

Kerry opened his mouth, obviously outraged, but then another thought came to him, pushing the first away.

“What was your sister called then?”

V looked up at the ceiling, eyes dry and unmoving.

“We called her Dom… Three-Dom.”

Kerry and Johnny exchanged a glance, but stayed silent. Then, softly, Johnny started on a new tune, and Kerry followed him. Soon the flat was filled with guitar chords vibrating, and V relaxed.


The fact that my V is named "Five", is a reference to the movie "V for Vendetta".
I was actually pretty sure at first that it was also an easter egg in the game, but then in Automatic Love I discovered V stands for Vincent/Valerie and was REALLY disapointed because I hate both names. So, naturally, in that fiction, I took the opportunity to include that reference. V for Vendetta is a damn good story (go read it (it's a comic) or watch it if you didn't already. The movie is by The Wachowskis, who did Matrix and it has Nathalie Portman and Hugo Weaving and it's... just go watch it.)

Tomorow of the day after, I will post the back story of my V as a separate work belonging to the serie. It will be three chapters, that I will release at once.
It's not compulsory to read it to understand the story, it might just shine some light on his fears and motivations. The last chapter will explain how he got out of the Konpeki Plaza and didn't do to Deshawn, but to Rogue, if you're interested.

Chapter 7: Don't fear the tides of Poseidon


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

It’s not something that you can do alone, but it’s not something others can do for you either. It’s done together

The days passed in the same vein: V slept a lot when Kerry and Johnny were out on business, and by night, they talked and the rockerboys played songs for him. They had discovered his absolute lack of music education, and deemed his tastes awful, so they basically gave him a crash course in rock. But V continued to affirm that chrome-rock was outdated, and that he liked synth-pop better, to their absolute outrage. The mischievous smile gracing his lips was the only thing that saved him from being booted out of Johnny’s flat. That smile, Kerry decided, was a danger to his sanity, for it made his heart swell with something akin to giddiness, and he was not a thirteen-year-old child. They didn’t touch him like the first morning, or even tried. Although some looks had been charged with want, the merc was also giving very obvious vibes of uneasiness every-time Kerry or Johnny came too close. They had pushed to the limit for now.

They watched over him at a distance, enticing him slowly, but irremediably.

On the morning of his third day of recovery at Johnny’s flat, V awoke with a gasp as Alt spoke in his mind.

“Time’s up, V. Go see the devil.”

He got to his feet, packed his bag in silence, and slipped away without a sound. As he closed the door of Johnny and Kerry’s flat discreetly, he had the distinct impression of crossing a threshold. He was back in hell.

The following day, Johnny was having a smoke at the window of the storage room of their recording studio. The first Samurai album in ten years was definitely on its way, they were even ahead of schedule. He had let the door open, so he distantly heard the news in the breakroom, where the rest of the band was having a respite before recording continued.

It was about one in the morning as he watched Night-City’s streets bellow, and his thoughts wandered to where the little merc might be at the moment, roaming the shady back alleys of this monster of a town.

Today, Kerry and he had woken up around midday, which was early for them, and while he was taking five more minutes, Kerry had gone to make coffee. When three in the afternoon had run by and they had to take a move on to go to the studio, Kerry had gently knocked on the spare room’s door. When V had not answered the repeated knocks, Kerry had finally opened the door, and they had discovered he was gone without a word.

Johnny wasn’t really surprised: the ripperdoc had said three days of rest, and the merc was not one to rest more than absolutely necessary: his thin frame spoke of it. There was not an ounce of fat on his body, only bones, over used muscles, and battered skin.

These two days had been a footnote for him, an exception in his too fast life. But he had seemed to enjoy lazing on the couch, with Kerry and Johnny chain smoking on the other side of the couch as they watched reruns of a popular show.

Johnny butted the cigarette in the ashtray with an inward sigh. Now Kerry was back to being maudlin and worried, a dreadful combination. Yet, the musician had poured all of his emotions and frustration into their recording, and it had done wonder for their upcoming album.


Speaking of the devil… Said man made his way to the restroom, intrigued by the note of urgency in his bandmate voice. In the room, Denny and Drausin were riveted to the screen displaying the news, and Kerry, standing nearly right in front of him, looked like he had seen a ghost.

Feeling a spike of adrenaline at the tense tableau they presented, Johnny concentrated on the news.

tonight, during the Matsuri Festival, we learned that Hanako Arasaka had been abducted. Her captors had her sequestrated in an unfinished building in Vista Del Rey. At the moment, the Arasaka forces are storming the building to rescue her, and we are following the event live, so stay tuned.”

She had barely finished talking that Kerry was right in Johnny’s space, his almond brown eyes anguished:

“It’s him, I’m sure of it! He is gonna get killed Johnny!”

Hearing his voice shake like this was unbearable, Johnny discovered.

“Calm down, Ker, we don’t – “

“Johnny,” he cut him off, “I know, I can feel it in my bones, V is right at the center of it. Please…” he begged, for what exactly, neither were sure, but Johnny moved. He took his leather jacket from where he had casually thrown it over the back of the couch and put it on.

“Don’t move, you stay right here whatever happens. You’re not trained for this, and you would only be a hindrance.” He firmly stated and Kerry nodded like a good boy. “But you can call the ripperdoc, his name is Viktor Vector, his shop is behind a shop named Misty Esoterica. Call him, see if he knows anything.”

Again, Kerry nodded. Behind him, Drausin and Denny watched them with troubled expressions.

“What is going on here?” Lola asked, having just returned from the bathroom, but Johnny turned his back, leaving to Kerry the care to explain. He jogged down the stairs and found himself running to the Porsche.

The streets blurred as he made his way toward Vista Del Rey as fast as possible. The perimeter, when he arrived, was in lockdown, which was not surprising. He decided to circle around, on the small chance V had gotten out and was running from the scene.

Johnny was scanning the pedestrians, and felt his heart miss a beat before he knew exactly why. Looking more closely, he found V limping dangerously along the wall of the buildings under the unfazed gazes of the numerous people still walking the street at this hour. No one was paying attention to a man bleeding out, even here. Johnny parked the car half on the sideway, eliciting a few cries of indignation that he promptly ignored. He rushed to V and caught him by the arm. The merc might have been grievously injured but his reflexes were still sharp, and Johnny barely escaped a deadly kiss from a knife the merc had gotten out in a second. He stilled when he recognized Johnny, and his face, feverish and unfocussed, frowned in a quizzical expression.

“This way,” Johnny indicated before pulling him toward the car. Distantly, he heard sirens, and cars moving too fast. He half carried V to the passenger seat: “get in” he tersely said and the merc half fell on the seat.

f*ck, there was going to be blood everywhere, Johnny irrationally thought. Back behind the wheel, he lost no time and stormed the streets at high speed, taking the road to the clinic.

“No,” V gasped when he recognized the path. “Get out of the city.”

And Johnny experienced several thoughts at once: “what the f*ck?” and “he is right, can’t involve anyone else, too dangerous,” and then “but where to?” Yet the answer appeared clearly: in Aldecaldos territory, they would at least find friends. He recalled V’s conversation with the doc, and if need be, he might still know a few of them from the six years he had spent in their company.

Because nobody would suspect a Porsche like his, nobody stopped them and it was quite apparent that no one was tailing them. Comforted, Johnny took a chance and glanced at V. He was pale, eyes closed, breathing labored and wet. He was covered in blood so it was difficult to say which quantity was his.

“How bad are you hurt?” Johnny asked, voice strangely calm.

“Bad.” Was the soft reply and Johnny cursed under breath.

“The Aldecaldos – “

“No. Go to Rocky Ridges.” V whispered before coughing up blood.

“You need a ripperdoc, V,”

“You’ll have to do. Can’t risk…” he coughed again, “pulling the Aldecaldos in.”

Johnny laughed manically.

“You’re crazy, I can’t patch you up.”

“Then just drive away.”

The rockerboy suddenly wanted to punch him in his pretty face. Instead, he furiously called Kerry. The phone barely rang once.

“Did you find him?”

“Yeah…” Johnny declared somberly, throwing frequent glances at the merc who was slumping more and more on the seat.

“How bad?” said another voice, which Johnny recognized as Viktor, the ripperdoc. Kerry had found him, then.

“Unclear. He is covered in blood.”

“Put me on speaker.”

He did, before storming on the highway toward the eastern badland.

“V?” Called the doc.

“Hey Vik,”

“Tell me everything.”

There was a silence, where V seemed to gather his strength.

“My side wound reopened.”

“Ok, and?”

“And I got a deep gash in my left leg. Katana.”

“Alright. Come on, Kid, I can hear your voice, you’re coughing up blood, aren’t you, so what is it?”

Again, a silence.

“Bullet ‘n my right side. Might have pierced under my lungs.”

“Might have, yeah.” The doc repeated ironically. Behind him, Johnny distinctly heard Kerry whimper in worry.

“And I took another bullet in my right shoulder. Again,” V added with a trace of sheepishness. Viktor sighed, but didn’t offer any comments.

“Where are you headin’?”

“Rocky Ridge. They have a clinic, it’s deserted but they have the equipment. I saw it once, with Panam. You’ll have to guide Johnny, though.”

“I’m not playing ripperdoc,” Johnny repeated harshly.

“Well, then he will die.” Vik declared with a matter-of-fact tone. “Can you stop on the way? You need to do first aid now. He might not survive otherwise.”

Johnny eyed the highway.

“Call you back in five minutes.”

First aid consisted of cutting off most of V’s clothes to assess the extent of the damages and transform them into cloth for bandages. He garroted the “gash”, which was more like a canyon, on his leg. His side wound was indeed open again, but it gently pearled only, so both Viktor and Johnny decided to ignore that. The bullet in the shoulder was also relatively clean, and the bleeding could be constrained. The real worry was the bullet lodged under his lungs, which had probably more than grazed them. There was no exit wound. Following Vik instructions, who guided the rockerboy while being on visio, Johnny covered the wound in cloths he had disinfected with a vodka bottle found in his trunk (and wasn’t his alcoholism getting in handy, suddenly?). It was far from ideal, but it allowed them to continue on their journey.

V was unconscious by the time they reached the ghost town. The clinic was easily found, thank any deity for small mercies. He heaved V into it, cursing all the way, before calling Vik back. The man guided him to use the antiquated scanner, and soon the bullet appeared on screen. It had indeed transpierced the edge of the lung, and was now lodged right above his hip in his left side. The lung was filling with blood, thankfully slow because of where the bullet had pierced. Calmly, like they had all the time in the world, Vik instructed Johnny to look for decompression needle, and plastic tubes. Johnny really had little hope of finding them, the places had obviously been raided several times over. But one cabinet had been thrown down, preventing from accessing the inside. With the help of his metal arm’s enhanced strength, Johnny pulled it upright and scanned the contents. There was not exactly what they needed, but Viktor spotted alternatives that could match their needs. Then came the fun part. Turning V sideway and harnessing him so he wouldn’t move, Johnny Inserted the needle between two of his ribs, like told. Immediately, blood started to pour out, but Johnny also remarked that V was breathing a little easier.

“Did you find any anesthetics?” Viktor asked and Johnny darkly replied by a negative. That might have been the first thing stolen from the place. “Well,” the doc said, voice tired, “is he conscious?”

“Not at the moment.”

“Did you secure him good?”

“As best as I could.”

“Alright. Got a good knife?”

Johnny closed his eyes and breathed deeply.

“He has.”


No, not good.

“Do it then.” The ripper deadpanned.

Sitting on the small stool next to the medical bed, Johnny took his time to disinfest the knife with the vodka.

“It’s simple, Mister Silverhand, I’ll tell you were to cut, and you won’t hesitate. It’s not deep inside, and it’s only muscles and skin here, so don’t be afraid. One clean cut and it’s over.”

Putting the tweezers next to him on a small table, Johnny took a gulp of the vodka, then another one, before looking at V’s side. His caramel skin was pallid, making the bruises stand out. He was a mess, and Johnny was about to cut him open.

He put the knife about where the bullet was on the screen.

“Higher,” commented Vik. Moving an inch, he checked with the doc, who nodded. “Try more on the right, cutting to the left.”

Pushing aside all other thoughts, Johnny plunged the knife about three centimeters in. V spasmed but Johnny steadied him with his other hand as he cut through the flesh.

“Alright, that’s enough.” Vik said, and Johnny heard him like through deep waters, but he stopped. His blood rushed in his ears as V’s ticked down his hands.

“Now take the tweezers.”

The rockerboy felt flashes of the war blink at the edge of his consciousness, but he fought them off stubbornly. Not now. Taking the tweezers, he pushed aside the flesh, and fresh blood tinted the metal red. V whimpered in a half-conscious state, but didn’t move. Crouching a bit more, barely breathing, he searched for the bullet and it appeared, shining unnaturally inside raw flesh. Pulling the flesh open with his hand, he stuck the tweezers in and caught it.

“Slowly,” Vik stressed out, which was a good reflex because Johnny had been on the verge of yanking it out. Heart hammering, he gently pulled the bullet. It clattered on the ground.

“Stay focused,” the ripperdoc’s voice sternly said, “disinfect and stitch it up. You need to do the others too.”

Like an out-of-body experience, Johnny did, distantly remarking that his hands shook. But he did all the stiches like in a nightmare, not thinking anything except the next loop of thread, pulling the skin taut and closing the wounds.

“Good, you did good. He is out of the woods for now.” Said the doc when at last, V wasn’t leaking anymore blood, and Johnny sagged, taking his head in his hand and groaning in anger and stress.

“He must have speedheals in his bag, did you find them?”

He had, along with the tweezers, bandages and, thankfully, antibiotics.

“Give him one now, and let him rest. You should too. I’ll tell Mister Eurodyne that it went well. Call me back in two hours.”

And he hung up.

Like a robot, Johnny went to take a Bounce Back and injected V before he collapsed on the floor and shakily lit a cigarette.

His phone rang, it was Kerry. He picked up with trembling hands.

“Hey Ker,” he rasped, cig between his quivering lips. The panic attack was right on his doorstep, and Kerry knew it.

“Breathe Johnny,” Kerry voice was kind, but firm. He was using his Eurodyne voice, the one he had inherited from his sister-in-law, the therapist, and used regularly to calm Johnny. Like a good pavlovian dog, the man did.

“In,” Kerry said, breathing in himself, “now block,” a few seconds, “and out.”

They breathed in sync for a while, like this, and then Kerry started singing softly, until Johnny said.

“Ok, I’m ok.”

“Yeah you are, you did great Johnny-boy, I love you,” Kerry whispered, cooing. And any other time, Johnny would have hated these words, too cheesy, to vulnerable. But at the moment they were perfect.

“f*ck,” he groaned, “f*ck this sh*t!”

“Yeah, but you did it, so it’s ok now. You can rest.” Was the kind come-back.

There was a moment of silence before Johnny said.

“Doc says he will be fine.”

“He told me, yeah. Thanks to you.”

Another moment of quiet.



“He is a f*cking gonk.”

“I know, but a cute one, right?” Kerry replied, voice so soft it was like a duvet feather. “Go rest. I’ll call back with Vik.”


Letting his head go against the wall, Johnny continued to breath. In. and out.

V came awake in a haze of pain. He whimpered and spasmed, which enhanced the pain tenfold. Every part of his body was a mess. Tears gathered in his eyes and a sob escaped him, which prompted movement in the rest of the room. A large hand touched him on his forearm.

“V,” said the voice, low and rough. Johnny. “can you hear me?”

He tried to answer, but it was like air was too rare. He opened his eyes, but everything was made blurry by the tears.

“Ok, don’t try to talk, listen.” Johnny continued. His tone was calm, grounding. “We are at Rocky Peak like you asked, in the old clinic. You were badly injured, but I mostly patched you out. I will help you move on your back. I have pain killers for you but you need to swallow them.”

It all seemed excessively complicated, but at least V was a bit prepared when Johnny’s strong arms moved him. Still, the pain in his back, in his side, in his thigh… Everywhere, was excoriating. He cried out, biting the sound as soon as it came out.

Hushing him softly, Johnny caressed his forehead. He let him rest for a few seconds before he lifted him slightly and once more, flashes of terrible agony burned through V’s veins.

“Open your mouth,”

Johnny demanded, firm but kind. He put the pill between the merc’s lips, and then slowly let water drip inside his mouth. V swallowed with difficulty, concentrating on doing it right so as to not choke on top of everything else. Then he was laid back down and for a few minutes, nothing happened. He flickered in and out of consciousness, but the pain receded gradually, clearing his mind.

The dark interior of the clinic indicated that it was nighttime again. With a jolt, V remembered his fight with Oda, and Takemura abducting Hanako Arasaka. And their mad dash out of the building. Turning his head, he observed Johnny who was smoking seated on a plastic chair next to the blind covered window.

“How did you find me?” V rasped.

“Kerry.” Johnny simply replied, and the merc had the distinct impression that the rockerboy was very angry. “Kerry saw the news on TV and just… Knew it was you.”

Not knowing what to do with this information, the man stayed silent.

“It really was a stupid scheme,” Johnny grunted, and rage simmered in his tone, “What the f*ck were you thinkin’? Capturing Hanako Arasaka?!”

V would have snorted, but it required too much energy, so he just winced.

“Not my plan… My associate kinda improvised. Wasn’t really overjoyed bout it either.”

From the corner of his eyes, he saw Johnny scoff and roll his eyes upward before taking an aggressive drag of his cigarette.

“And who this associate might be?” he growled, but V stayed silent. Less the rockerboy knew, the safer.

Johnny seemed to come to the same conclusion because he let it drop for the moment.

“What the f*ck were you hopping to accomplish?” he asked instead.

Once again, the merc’s mouth stayed closed and Johnny felt his anger mount. But as he was on the verge of going out for a walk to discharge his pent-up energy, V spoke.

“I have something that both my associate and Hanako want, and she might be the key to get to the Soul Killer. There is this thing, called Mikoshi. Alt wants it destroyed.”

Johnny frowned, arms crossing over his chest.

“You doin this for Alt?”

V nodded.

“What’s in it for you, V?”

And wasn’t that the question V had carefully avoided. He had been swept up by Alt own’s quest after Jackie had died, and it had given him a purpose. Something to think about apart from the grief of loss.

Rogue had talked about glory, about making a name for himself. “Join me on top of this world,” she had challenged him and… And at the time, it had felt like an interesting goal. Then Takemura had stormed in his life, with his own request for vengeance. All that together, he had not really thought, he had only acted.

“People need my help?” he tried, and that sounded about right. In the end, he analyzed self-consciously, he had not learned a thing since the last time; he was still the fool with his heart on his sleeve. Because neither Takemura, nor Alt, and certainly not Rogue really cared about him; he was a mean to an end, a tool, a body to use.

That revelation, in this moment of exhaustion, painted itself clearly on his face: his eyes widened and he shook his head in disbelief at his own stupidity.

“f*ck, you really are a mess…” Johnny murmured, seeing the anguished face of the younger man.

V tried to raise his hands to his face to hide his turmoil, but moving his arms made him keen in pain. He heard Johnny get up and approach him. Gently the older man stroked his cheek, looking at the mercenary with understanding in his eyes.

“Just sleep it off for now, we will see about the rest tomorrow.”

His hand trailed delicately from the younger man’s cheek to his neck, along his arm and to his hand before slipping away. He went out of the room, giving V some privacy and pretended not to hear the wet sigh as he crossed the room to exit the clinic.

It was eerily calm, so Johnny decided to chance a small walk to clear his thoughts. He was so angry, he recognized. Although he was very familiar with the emotion, he was enough self-aware to recognize he couldn’t always pin-point the cause easily. At the moment it was diffuse, directed at many targets. First, there was V, of course, for having no regard for his own life, for giving out pieces of his soul to everyone when they didn’t deserve it. Which made him aware that he was also angry at himself for caring so much. He couldn’t afford that, or more likely, he didn’t want to. Like all attachments, it called for worry, anguish and suffering. Pain, said a voice that sounded suspiciously like Artemis in his head, but also joy. Mostly joy.

Then he was angry at Rogue, for grooming V and sucking him into her underworld without any regards for the merc’s own needs. But then again, Rogue was a pragmatic: she knew the limit of her own responsibility and caring for V wasn’t one. Then he was angry at Alt, and that was so familiar it nearly made him laugh. He had been angry at her for always keeping that distance between them, for refusing him, breaking things off between them, for keeping secrets, for getting killed, for telling him to let her go. And now he was angry for the way she had sent V into her personal war. Being angry at her for that was refreshing, he could now see her as she was: as selfish as him, as driven as him. Maybe that was why he had loved her so much, and hated her with such passion.

He finished his tour of the town before calling Kerry, who picked up immediately.

“Is everything ok?” he asked, worried.

“Yeah. He woke up. He’s in pain, and emotionally he is a mess too, but apart from that, seems ok.”

“Why is he a mess emotionally? What did you do?”

“Hey! I didn’t do anything? More like you did something to him, with all the caring and kindness. You know how that make people feel, Ker.”

On the other side, the man was strangely silent.

“You talking from personal experience?” he tried to joke, but it fell flat.

“You f*ckin’ open dams, and after you’re surprised when you get swamped.” Johnny snapped, before gentling, “anyway, he will be fine in the end. I know.” He added, a confession.

Kerry didn’t say anything to that, only breathed shakily.

“Is the doc still with you?” Johnny asked to ease the emotional tide between them.

“Yeah, I’m still at the shop. Hey, that Misty girl is amazing, she gave me a tarot reading and it was really interesting!”

“Sure it was, Ker. Should probably update Viktor, can you give him the phone?” Johnny sidestepped, uncomfortable speaking about Misty, well aware of her powers.

Kerry let it slide and went to fetch the doc. Johnny told him of his observations, and the ripper hummed neutrally as a comeback.

“Just check his temperature regularly. The main risk now is infection. He should try not to move for forty-eight hours. Then he might be able to sit, or go shower.”

“Ok. When do you think he will be able to be transported back to NC?”

There was a moment of silence.

“Three days is the bare minimum,” he declared, knowing full well neither Johnny nor V would wait any longer.

“Great,” Johnny said ironically, while mentally planning a supply run to Red Peaks. They would need to eat, and Johnny was nearly out of cigarettes. He also desperately needed a drink, and all the vodka had been used as disinfectant.

“Alright, if that’s all, I’m going to bed. Try to do the same, but please check on him every three hours.”

“Will do.”

Then the doc gave him Kerry back, and they talked for a while before Johnny sent him to bed. He went back to the clinic and checked on V, but the man was once more asleep, traces of tears drying on his cheeks.

Johnny sighed and idly replaced a lock of hair, caressing the delicately pointed ear. Then he went in search of things to create a makeshift’s bed.

When morning came, Johnny was in a foul mood. Awaking every three hours to check if his charge was still breathing triggered his insomnia so he had barely slept at all. Every part of his body was sore from the bad bedding he had made, and the awkward position he had dozed in. And now, his anger, acidic in his belly, was directed at Kerry who was lucky he was far away. Why did he have to collect strays?!

When V stirred around eight, silently gasping as the various pains in his body awakened too, Johnny tried to gather an ounce of patience. He approached the bed and put a glass of multifruit juice he had found in V’s backpack next to two pills: one was an antibiotic, and the second a pain killer.

He just put the items on the side table, making sure the merc saw them.

“I’m going to Red Peaks for supplies. It might take a few hours. If, when I come back, I don’t find you in that bed, I’m killing you myself, with my bare hands. Is that clear?” he growled.

Glancing up at him, V’s tired silver eyes shone with amusem*nt.

“Yes, sir.”

“Don’t do anything stupid that could reopen your stiches, because I’m not sewing you up again.” He added in the same voice.

“All right, not moving at all, then.”

“And quit the sassy attitude,” he finished before turning his back on V. But he couldn’t help the twitching of his mouth. Mornings truly made everything better.

In Red Peaks, Johnny bought food, medical supplies, alcohol to muster a siege, a card game, several scream sheets, a young adult novel that seemed full of angst, and new clothes for V. He let a bit of his anger go into that last purchase, voluntarily choosing the most horrendous items he could. Then, as he was walking back to the Porsche, he saw a man with a banjo and bargained for it.

Feeling calmer, he made his way back to Rocky Ridges and found V in the medical bed, both pills having disappeared, as well as the content of the glass. He was awake, eyes half lidded as he looked out of the window. He barely reacted when the rockerboy entered the room, which made Johnny frown. Approaching the bed, he put his hand over V’s forehead to check for temperature, or tried, because V caught his hand in a reflex move. There was a tense moment where Johnny waited for his hand to be released. Even injured, the man had a tight grip over his wrist. Slowly, V relaxed his fingers and let Johnny check. Indeed, his skin was feverish so he checked with the thermometer, but even if it indicated a rise, it was still within the acceptable parameters given by the ripperdoc.

“You hungry?” Johnny asked, to which the merc shook his head. “well, too bad, ‘cause you have to eat.”

He went to the bags he had brought with him and searched until he found a little jar of baby food. He put it on the side table next to the bed and watched as V took it in. The merc frowned, affronted, before sending a glare Johnny’s way. That only made the older man smile manically.

“What? Thought it was spot on, for a big baby like you.”

“Get f*cked.”

“Hum, if only it happened every time someone told me to,” he replied with flippancy. “Joke aside, Viktor said you needed to eat, and to eat soft food. So, eat.”

With a long sigh, V extended his arm to the small pot and Johnny handled him a spoon. Judging from his face, it was as disgusting as Johnny imagined it was, worse for it was cold, but he dutifully ate it all. It seemed to drain him through, because the jar was barely finished that his body went lax and his eyes closed.

Eating an energy bar himself, Johnny sat back on the plastic chair with the banjo and played idly.

“Why are you doing this, Johnny?” V murmured after few minutes.

“Doing what? Playing the banjo? Because I’ll get stir crazy if I don’t do something while you heal. And trust me, you don’t want to see me crazy.”

“I’ve seen you crazy, Johnny. I’ve seen you shot into the crowd from the stage.” He reminded the rockerboy, vaguely gesturing to the biochip in his skull. “I’ve seen you beat people bloody just because they had looked at you funny.” He added, eyes unfocussed. “That’s why I don’t get it, you’re not the man she remembers.”

Johnny continued to play the banjo, forcing himself to stay relaxed.

“It’s been eleven years. I’ve changed.”

“She didn’t think you could. Sometimes I… Sometimes I think she is disappointed.” V whispered, looking at something on the left of Johnny. “She looks angry, she won’t say it but I think she hoped that if she couldn’t save you, then no one would. She is jealous of Kerry.” He continued, like in a trance. “She is jealous of me.”

That surprised Johnny and he rose his head to look at the merc, who read his surprised expression and concurred it with his own grimace. But then his eyes flickered to the left again.

“She is jealous that I get to know you now, when you’re, at last, the best version of yourself,” he recited and his face changed to something naked and raw as he listened to Alt. His mouth opened to say more, but he suddenly clamped down and looked back in front of him, obviously embarrassed.

Chuckling, Johnny changed his tune on the wooden instrument.

“what did she tell you?” but without surprise, the merc refused to translate the end of his exchange with the ghost.

Continuing to play, Johnny also lit a cigarette and felt himself definitely relax. Maybe these three days wouldn’t be so bad after all.

“Johnny, you didn’t answer me: why are you doing this?”

Rolling his eyes upward, Johnny ignored him, but the younger man seemed intent on getting an answer.

“I get that Kerry has a thing for lost cases, but you?”

“I have a thing for Kerry,” he replied gruffly.

“You’re doing this for him, then?”

Anger once again filled Johnny’s veins, irritating, making his skin itch. He put the banjo against the wall, seeing as it didn’t deserve to bear the man’s anger, and got up to walk to the bed.

“What about we cut the chase and you tell me what’s eating you up? I’ve got no patience for that kind of game, f*cking corpo bitch…” the rockerboy groused, heat filling his eyes.

The merc’s face became just as stormy, and he snarled.

“What is it you want from me? Sex? That I distract your output because he is bored? Am I a little experiment for you two? Is this a mid-life crisis where you suddenly need a charity project? WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT. FROM. ME?!!!”

He had straightened up, and his face blanched as he pulled on his injuries. Johnny pushed him back with force, and his face was furious.

“I’m really tired of this sh*t,” he hissed, low and dangerous, fisting V’s lose gray hair. They were nearly nose to nose and Johnny had a fleeting moment where he thought about just kissing him to shut him up. “I’m really past the age to deal with drama like this. It took me ten f*cking years to sort through my mess, and it was not so that I could slide through yours.”

“Then you should just f*ck off, I don’t need you to baby-sit me,” he spat back, cheek rosy with anger and eyes like storm clouds over the horizon. “I’ve managed on my own enough times.”

At this, Johnny laughed meanly, but let go of the merc and turned away.

“Really? In your state, stranded in the middle of the desert, without a car? Come on! Face it, you need help. We all do,” he added softer.

Drained from his outburst, V panted in the bed, face scrunched up in pain.

“But I barely know you and Kerry, and I don’t get it. You welcomed me into your home, invited me into your bed,” and he said that with such longing that Johnny had to close his eyes against the echoed pain inside him. “And now you’re risking your life to stay here with me while I heal once again. Why?” He wondered, desperate for an answer.

Johnny turned toward him with a sad smile.

“I know it’s difficult to accept, but sometimes people are just kind. Kerry is one of them.”

“But you? You’re not kind.” V retorted with an acidic tone.

Sitting back on the plastic chair, Johnny lit another cig. He took a deep drag before replying.

“You remind me of myself.” He confessed, “And maybe by helping you, I’m helping myself too. Sparring you some of the mistakes I made, showing you the path to happiness…” he trailed off, looking outside.

The silence that answered him was filled with volatiles emotions. Then, in a soft voice like a baby bird, V asked.

“Are you happy?”

Exhaling the smoke pensively, Johnny wondered about it.

“Yes,” he admitted, “most of the time I’m happy.”

The merc was looking at him with resigned envy, like it wasn’t for him but he still wanted it.

“Don’t say I don’t have bad days, but compared to the place I was ten years ago, definitely happy.” Johnny continued, feeling suddenly old, but in a good way. “I got help to get there, true, but I also fought for it, every day. It’s not something that you can do alone, but it’s not something others can do for you either. It’s done together.”

V looked sharply the other way, and Johnny knew it was to hide his tears. It pinched his heart uncomfortably to witness it, but he let the feeling traverse him, like the river's flow.

He finished his cigarette before V spoke again.

“Don’t know if I deserve it.”

Johnny once again chuckle humorlessly.

“Welcome to the club, get in line.” He muttered ironically.

“No but I’ve done things… I’ve let things be done to me that I…” but the younger man stopped there, unable to continue. And for the first time, Johnny felt what Kerry must have experienced with him many times: that certainty of being on the threshold of something terribly important and that his next words or actions would tip the scale one way or another.

“In my experience,” he tentatively started, “you don’t get to choose if you deserve it or not. People decide that you’re worthy of their help.”

On the bed, V’s hands clenched over his half naked body. He had large palms, roughened by gun calluses. Hands that had killed and would do so again. Beautiful fingers that would grip the sheets as he arched back in ecstasy, Johnny couldn’t help but muse.

“That’s because they don’t know – “

“They don’t care, V,” Johnny cut him with a gentle voice. “People that decide to offer you help don’t care about what you’ve done before, they only care about what you’ll do with their help from now on.”

Johnny slowly walked to the bed again, and sat at the feet, crossing his arms and looking at the younger man with an open expression. On the bed, V was stubbornly looking at his hands over his lap, face still anguished.

“Your responsibility is to try to be worthy of their help and trust. Doin’ the best you can, trying to learn each time from your f*ck-ups.” Johnny continued, tone as kind as he could.

“You’re talking from experience, aren’t you?” V taunted, looking up at the rockerboy. “It’s f*ckin’ ironic, being lectured by the biggest f*ck-up of NC,” he spat, but Johnny only saw a feral fox cornered and baring his teeth to appear tougher. He ignored the outburst, like the mature middle-aged man he was supposed to be.

“You think everybody doesn’t sometimes feel unworthy? You think Kerry has nothing to be ashamed off? You think he doesn’t daily doubt himself and feels like sh*t, like he can’t wrap his head around the fact that he has all this success and still drowns in darkness half the time?” Johnny hotly jeered, eyes struck to the merc’s battered visage, suddenly very close.

You think I don’t? he didn’t say, but judging from V’s wide eyes, he heard it all the same.

“I think maturity is living with that doubt and still moving forward, trying to better yourself. I think self-worth is knowing that you’ll f*ck up, but that you’ll learn from it and that people will forgive you if your intentions were true.” He concluded, bent over the man.

Looking at him closely, Johnny could tell his words had come through. He leaned back, putting a hand through his hair tiredly.

“Whatever you do, if you try your best then that’s good enough for the people who love you. That makes you worthy of their help, of their love.” He whispered, to himself as much as to V, watching the decrepit wall of the clinic.

He felt the man move and turned slightly, seeing him slowly raise his arms to cover his face with his hands. He sighed wetly and Johnny felt a jolt go through him.

“Are you gonna cry?” he couldn’t help but blurt, panicking a little because it was already too much emotional display for him. Hearing his tone, V stilled for a moment before his shoulders started to shake and the older man understood he was laughing.

“Oh, really?!” he said, now a bit put upon. He reached for one of V’s hand to uncover his face and glare at him properly. The merc’s eyes were wet, but he was indeed smiling.

“Didn’t know tears were your weak spot.” V muttered and his other hand raised to Johnny’s jaw, tentatively. The rockerboy let him, and allowed himself be pulled toward the younger man. He closed his eyes and sighed in contentment when he felt V’s lips against his own, dry and shaped, and he suddenly understood how much he had wanted it. Not for the physicality of it, although it was nice, but for the proof of trust it represented.

He groaned softly and pushed a bit more, kissing back and letting himself fully feel the younger man’s mouth. V opened his lips just enough to let Johnny’s tongue in, but he caressed it with his own without restrain. Soon the bedded man had both arms around Johnny’s neck and was straining to deepen the kiss. Johnny noticed V’s legs opening more, like the was preparing to welcome the other man over him, and that stopped the rocker.

Slowly, he gentled the kiss, and parted from the other man with a small bite. V tried to chase him but one firm hand on his plexus prevented him.

“Rest,” he admonished, and V huffed. His eyes were feverish, but for a good reason this time, and his body simmered with a low want. In a bout of self-indulgence, Johnny let his eyes trail along V’s partially naked body. Even covered in bruise and bandages, he was a work of art. But it also cemented his resolve. He got up and back to his spot on the chair, taking the banjo back in hand. He ignored V heavy sigh and after a while, the younger man stopped moving on the bed, probably asleep once more.

Johnny was drowsing, lying on his makeshift bed in a patch of sun like a big cat when he suddenly heard the distant noise of a car coming their way. Instantly wide awake, he sat up and groaned as his entire body screamed at the sudden movement. f*ck, growing old really was sh*tty at time.

He didn’t need to look at the bed to know V had also heard it, for he moved too. Before he could try to sit up, Johnny was across the room, pushing him back. The merc struggled, of course he had to struggle, but in his weakened state, he was no match for Johnny’s metal arm.

Gesturing for silence, V accepted to calm down so that they could see if the car was just passing through or stopping. It stopped. Johnny moved stealthily to the other side of the room, taking his gun in hand. He retrieved V’s too and gave it to him before going to the door. Or trying to, because V’s had gripped his wrist in a tight vice.

“Don’t,” he whispered.

Gently, Johnny forced him to open his fingers.

“Let me handle it.”

“If you get hurt…”

But Johnny waved away his concern. Truthfully if Johnny got hurt, V’s life would probably be very short afterward, so no need to worry about it. The rockerboy positioned himself behind the closed door and waited. Steps resounded in the deserted town. The person didn’t hesitate and walked straight toward them.

Whoever was on the other side, they knocked politely.

“V?” they called. A feminine voice.

Glancing at V, Johnny saw that he was straining on one elbow trying to watch the door. They exchanged a look and V confirmed that he didn’t recognize the voice.

“I have a message for V, please let me in. I’m unarmed,” the woman added as an afterthought where she should have started there.

“Message from whom?” Johnny growled even as V shook his head, trying to tell him to stay silent. The merc closed his eyes, irritation coursing through them.

“From Hanako Arasaka.”

At that, both men stilled. This time it was Johnny who tried to convey his opinion through a look, and V who ignored it.

“Stand back, we will open the door,” he shouted. Johnny heard the woman take a step back and he glared at V, cursing him seven way to hell inwardly. He opened the door while holding his gun at the ready.

The woman calmly raised her arms above her head, looking supremely unconcerned, which irritated Johnny even more. Yet, he stepped aside to let her in.

“So, what’s the message?” he growled once the door was closed behind her. She looked at the room in disgust, her long black braid swinging behind her oval shaped head. Her eyes were sharp and assessing, but her clothes spoke of her profession clearly: she was a doll.

She eyed V on the bed before dragging the medical stool next to it and sitting on it.

Johnny turned around her to be able to see her face, and saw her eyes shine bright pink.

“Hello, V,” said the doll, but her mannerism had changed, going from disdainful to a more neutral expression.

“Hanako-san,” V replied and Johnny snorted at the “san”. You could take the rat out of the corpo, but not the corpo out of the rat, as V definitely illustrated.

“I must make one thing clear; I still think you are mad, but I can fool myself no longer. I believe you.” The doll said, or the Arasaka heir, apparently. And wasn’t that a sentence that ringed like the Armageddon?


Dears readers, this is a friendly reminder that comments are essentials to a fanfiction author: it keeps us motivated, it keep our link with the community alive. We do this for fun, for free, that's true, we do this for our own enjoyement, that's also true. But I also do it to bring you joy, emotions, and your daily dose of sexyness ;) so don't hesitate to comment. Kudos are nice, bookmarks are a sign you liked it enough to want to keep it, but comments help me to know that this story is good or not. Because I know some of you are just shy, here are pointers to what you can write about: what part did you like best? On the contrary, what did you like less, did any of it made you uncomfortable? Did some dialogues made you laugh? Do some appear OCC? What emotions did you experience while reading it (if any)? This is what I really would like to know :D.

I know my chapters are reaaaallly long, and I'm sorry. I do this because I want to cut the story where it make sense to cut it, not just because I've reached a confortable number of pages. I'm an overwriter, I know (I write a lot of details, and that makes for lonnnngg chapters), so I can understand it makes reading, and commenting, arduous. But still, I live for the interractions in a fandom ;) !

This story is finished writing, that's true, but it doesn't mean I don't need feedback, and most of all, I just want to talk with you, and rant about our beloved characters!!!

Next update will be double, but it probably only be late that week. Stay tuned ;)

Chapter 8: The taste of Aphrodite's delights


Well, looks like I've found the time to publish earlier than expected! Yay!
I also changed the summary, so that it could match the summaries of the rest of the serie better.
For those interested, I also published V's back story (part two of the serie).

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

He let go, falling into them as their hands caught him and erased every other lover from his skin.

Johnny stopped the car in front of the back entrance to Viktor Vector’s clinic. The silence was thick and tense in the car, as their interactions had been since the visit of Hanako. Johnny burned with an old anger, one he was tired of feeling but couldn’t control. Of all the corpos, Arasaka was the worst to him, because it was personal. The simple fact that V was even considering accepting the help of the heiress to the empire made Johnny’s skin crawl. But the merc had been stubborn, determined to at least meet her at the Embers like she had proposed.

Currently, he was holding his middle, and a thin sheen of sweat covered his body, speaking of the pain he was experiencing from the car ride. Johnny refused to look at him, knowing he wouldn’t be capable of being nice anymore. He had restrained himself for the past forty-eight hours for V’s sake but he had reaching his limit.

On the passenger seat, the younger man sighed and let his head rest against the cool glass of the door.

“You can go,” he said, “I’m not coming back with you.”

The rockerboy only reaction was to tighten his hands over the wheel. Protests, questions, insults pushed at Johnny’s teeth from the inside of his mouth, but he kept it clamped shut. His silence seemed to prompt V to give explanations anyway, because he continued, breath short and labored.

“I need time… Alone. To think.” The merc offered as justification. “I’m not… I’m… I will…” he tried several time and Johnny gruffly cut him, annoyed.

“Just write to Kerry. Don’t ghost him like last time.”

“Not ghosting him. Just…” he closed his eyes, brows furrowed, “I can’t think when I’m near you. Any of you.”

The admission softened Johnny a bit, for he knew how intense Kerry could become, and he had no illusions about himself either. They had forced V wildly out of his comfort zone, but he still tried to connect with them. Trust them. Johnny shifted, putting his elbow on the opened window sill, he lit a smoke, but still refused to look at the other man, who continued.

“I won’t be alone, Misty agreed to help me during my recovery, and I’ll be at my old friend’s house. I don’t know how long I’ll need, but I… I’ll…”

V cut himself, unsure of how to end that sentence. Johnny eyed him from the corner of his eye, and saw him shuffle his feet nervously, before he seemed to decide it was too much for him. He opened the car’s door and started moving to get out when Johnny’s hand caught his wrist. V turned to him, expression surprised and maybe a bit hopeful. Letting the smoke drop on the pavement, Johnny used his second hand to catch the merc’s head and kissed him. Not just a peck on the lips, a full kiss where he coaxed the younger man’s lips open and asked for entrance, which he was granted. V sighed, hands tentatively falling on Johnny’s wrist to hold him here gently, and he kissed back in slow but deep sweeps of his tongue. Then, just to get the upper hand, Johnny pushed him back and watched the young man pant slightly, his trademark smirk appearing on his face.

“Go,” he ordered, giving a slight push to the merc, who was still looking at his lips with hooded eyes, full of want. With a groan, he turned his back to the Rockerboy and climbed out of the Porsche, minding his various injuries.

“And V,” Johnny called him, “don’t be a stranger.”

With a nod and the ghost of a smile, V made his way to the dingy metallic door, limping dangerously.

He spent the two following days mostly asleep. Vik had checked him, but apart from stronger antibiotics and pain killers, he had deemed Johnny’s work good enough. The only thing he had done before falling asleep in Jackie’s old bed was writing to Kerry, telling him about the same thing than to Johnny in the car. Kerry’s reply had been immediate: “Glad you’re mostly ok, you scared me. Take all the time you need, I’m here if you need to talk.”

Simple, straight to the point, no pressure, but a clear invitation. Could it be that simple? As he was contemplating writing something back for the fortieth times, Misty knocked at his door. He knew it was her because Mama Welles still didn’t come to the room. Misty was probably coming to get him for diner, and maybe also to avoid Guadalupe. Since Jackie’s death, their relationship had gone from cold to stifling, it seemed. Seeing his face, Misty closed her mouth and entered the room.

“You’re troubled,” she diagnosed.

In answer, V let his phone fall over his face, hiding behind the device. She smiled.

“Tell me about it?”

He hesitated, but there was no denying that outside help would be welcome at that point. He was lost on his own.

“It’s about the rockerboys, right?” she guessed, doing half the work for him with her usual perceptiveness.

Removing the phone from his face, he also sat up a bit to better watch her and nodded. His hair was completely loose, falling over his shoulders in soft gray waves. It strengthened his sharp face and full mouth, Misty noted, analytical. He was handsome, but mostly ignorant of it. His body being pleasing to others was a concept that made him famously uncomfortable and that Jackie had used many times to get the upper hand on his friend.

“Hum,” the card reader said thoughtfully, “what about them, then?”

V opened his mouth, then closed it and looked to the side, frowning.

“How do you know you can trust someone?”

Interesting question, she noted and let a small smile grace her lips.

“I don’t know… How did you know to trust Jackie, or Vik, or me?”

The man seemed puzzled by her question, and searched his memories for an answer.

“Jackie saved my life.”

“Mister Silverhand saved your life too, I think. Yet you don’t seem sure about trusting him.”

V bit his bottom lip, looking at the room.

“Jackie…” he started, “Jackie was like an open book. I could feel he was a good person. And I knew he would only gather people he deemed worthy of his trust around him. So I trusted his judgement about Vik, and about you. He loved you so much.” He added in an undertone and they shared a few seconds of grief-ridden silence.

“But with them it’s not that simple. Plus, I didn’t… I mean I’ve never wanted Jackie… that way.” He finished lamely and covered his face with his hands in embarrassment. “f*ck, they make me feel like I’m eighteen again, and that’s exactly what scares me sh*tless: eighteen was the point where my life fell apart, and now that I’m back on track, I don’t want to lose everything again.”

Misty felt his anguish like her own. She didn’t exactly know what V was talking about, but she knew he had shared this with Jackie, for the man had sometimes hinted at V’s past to her, saying that misery had certainly a different taste elsewhere but was essentially the same everywhere.

“I think that’s the trial of life, V. You can’t really know if a person is trustworthy until you’ve let them the opportunity to hurt you and they either acted on it or not.”

He man curled more over himself with a pitiful groan. Gently, Misty scooted closer to him and hugged him.

“But you’re not the same person than eleven years ago. You’ve got other friends now, and you’ve learned so much. You’ve rebuilt your life so many times, you fought for it and came out on top. Whatever happens to you, you’ll be able to overcome it, I know.”

He chuckled darkly.

“Wish I was half as sure as you are.”

“That’s because you can’t see yourself like I see you: brave, strong, kind, with a surprisingly sweet sense of humor under all that seriousness, and nerves of steel. All these qualities are what draw people to you, and that’s what will allow you to do whatever you want with your life.”

Letting out a shuddering breath, V shrugged but raised his head to let it rest against Misty. They stayed like this for a bit, and the woman was on the verge of moving to get back downstairs when V spoke again, in a low voice.

“When I’m with them I… I just want to let go. I want it so bad I can taste it, and I know they can feel it. But instead of looking at me like I'm some kind of prey, they look like excited children welcoming a new playmate. I feel like, if I let them, they would engulf me in their chaotic fire, but it’s… Ya know. It’s a fire that light the dark, not one that burn the flesh. And I want that so…so much.” He finished in a shaky exhale.

Misty smiled in understanding.

“Trust me, that kind of fire, that burn bright and warm without hurting or consuming is a rare and wonderful gift. I don’t say you should take it, but I can understand the appeal. To me, Jackie had the same feel.”

“But what if I’m mistaken again and they…” he stopped, unable to say it.

“It’s a risk each time. My conviction is that it’s always worth it. The greatest strength is keeping a heart open, even when it has been hurt.”

At her words, V stilled and stopped breathing. Surprised and a bit worried, Misty leaned back to look at his face. His eyes were wide and anguished.

“It’s…” he whispered, “it’s just that… My father used to say the same thing.”

“A wise man, your father,” she replied gently. She watched him for a few seconds longer before standing up. “I’ll tell Mama that you’ll be down in about ten minutes. Take your time.”

And she exited the room, letting V with his thoughts.

Taking his phone back, he opened Kerry’s message again and started to type.

“Did you continue to train yourself while I was busy? When I’m healed, I expect to see progress with that second sequence I showed you.”

There, he though. Neutral, but still an opening for the man to reply. He had barely gotten up to follow Misty that there was a reply:

“Expect to end up on your back, pinned to the mat, in less than ten minutes. I’ve been practicing on Johnny ;)”

And V couldn’t help but snort.

The next days were…happier. It seemed that one message was all it took for Kerry to open the dam entirely. He was constantly texting, and most of his messages had double entendre that were either so hard core or so cheesy V had to close his eyes and breath to exorcise the second-hand embarrassment he felt reading them. The man had no inhibitions. And he loved to take photos of everything and share them with V, it went from the menu of the take-out he was contemplating for diner with a “what do you think?” caption over it, to nice shots of Lola and Drausin smoking on the balcony a night they were over. V’s favorite for now was the most recent, and a consequence of the last evening party with the band. It was of Johnny taking a nap on the couch, face completely relaxed in sleep, hair fuzzy from drying while being slept on, and beard a mess of pepper and salt that shone in the ray of sunshine falling over him. The picture was taken at an angle that suggested Johnny was entirely naked, but the frame cut strategically to hide anything not safe for work. That photo did terrible things to V’s imagination.

At night, as his body healed and pain receded day by day, his idle mind would take either of two routes. The first one led him to Hanako and her proposal. He was going to meet her tomorrow night, and Alt was barely containing her impatience at hearing what the heiress of the Arakasa empire had to offer. She was deeply suspicious and concurred most of Johnny repeated warnings about the corpo, but she was also more pragmatic than Johnny. Her pragmatism was a trait V had loved in her from the beginning and one of many they shared, as he had observed during their cohabitation. “Johnny has a type,” she had said when she had overheard the thought, “Too smart for him, and way too pretty for his old carcass.” He had snorted, silently agreeing, at least with the first part.

The second route led him back to the flat in Little China, ten minutes from the Riot on the river docks, where he would let himself take fire in theirs arms. In his mind, he let go, falling into them as their hands caught him and erased every other lover from his skin. They would wash away the blood, the grit and the guilt. They would open him slowly, unravel him kiss by kiss and undo him with each press of their hips. He would let them, falling in cadence with their breaths and with the movement of their bodies against him. They would leave no room for thoughts, just the feeling of pure ecstasy, and of that terrible emotion he would sometime experience when he thought of them.

V laid in Jackie’s old bed, covered in sweat, so hard he trembled with it, and wondered why he still fought it.

The following night, as he came out of his meeting with Hanako, V tried to block Alt, who was losing patience about how to get into Mikoshi. Yet, she was not fond of accepting the heiress proposal, for it reeked of double play and V couldn’t help but agree with her. He stopped just in front of the Kusanagi and turned toward where his mind made her appear.

“Just… Just one night.” He muttered, gaze imploring. “Please.”

She looked at him, her gaze assessing and hard. Her attitude was strict, like a professor tired of her student’s antics. Then, she relented.

“I hate to say it, but I think it might be good for you… And Johnny might be the key to our problem, although I hate to say it.”

He decided to ignore that for the moment, only watching her intently as she sighed.

“Go.” Alt then smirked, “Go get the best night of your life.”

And he did, pushing the bike to the limit, taking sharp turns and ignoring red lights. He slalomed between files of cars as his heart pounded and wondered why he had resisted so long. In a week, he might be dead.

He stopped the Kusanagi at the bottom of the building and suddenly… lost all composure. He had not called any of them in advance, maybe they weren’t there, or didn’t want him (Alt snorted at the back of his mind), or were already asleep (this time she raised her hands in defeat). But the low simmering want that had been swirling in his blood for the past days made him open his contacts’ list on his holodeck and call Kerry before he could overthink it.

“Hey, V!” the man cheerfully said as he took the call.

“Hey,” he replied, and then there was a silence as he didn’t know how to proceed.

“You alright?” Kerry asked and V heard him shift, like he was getting on his feet.

“Yeah. Yeah I…” he swallowed. “I’m outside.”

“Outside?” the musician repeated, then: “You mean outside like, downstairs?”

V chuckled and pinched the bridge of his tone.

“Yeah,” he breathed back lamely.

“Preems! Well, don’t you stand out there like a gonk, come up! Hey Johnny, V’s here!” he shouted away from the phone.

“Nova,” was the laconic reply, “took his sweet time.”

But Kerry spoke over him. “Come up, come up!”

And he hung up. Shifting from foot to foot, V closed his fists and opened them again before walking to the lobby. The elevator ride seemed very long and very short at the same time and soon he was in front of the door, that Kerry had let open to allow him to come by himself. He crossed the threshold and instantly felt himself relax. This was a safe place; he instinctively knew it.

He closed the door behind him and made his way to the main room. In the kitchen, Kerry was pulling various bottles from a shelve: “what do you prefer?” he asked, holding a bottle of tequila and one of vodka in his hands. He was, V noted, dressed all in black, from his ratty tee-shirt to his training slacks, the same one he used to wear when they trained.

“Tequila,” V replied with a small smile.

“Good choice,” Johnny drawled, “only choice.”

He was on the left side of the couch, sitting sideway to watch the TV screen which was displaying some sort of show. He had a smoke in his hand, but judging from the smell it wasn’t tobacco, and was only wearing a pair of gray sweatpants.

“Hum, maybe we should start slow,” Kerry was muttering to himself, taking two bottles of beers from the fridge that he handed to V. He then took the tequila and glasses before bouncing to the couch.

As V followed him, Johnny shifted to give them space, and the younger man couldn’t help but remark that his pants slid lower on his slim hips, clearly allowing V to see he was not wearing anything underneath. It occurred to the merc, between a flash of potent lust and his next breath, that he clearly had barged in on their cozy night.

“We’re watching the competition,” Kerry explained while sitting next to Johnny, and said man scoffed.

“Competition is a big word; they are barely ok.”

“Don’t be mean, Johnny,” Kerry sing-songed before pouring himself a glass. V slowly put the beers on the table and removed his heavy coat, putting it on the couch’s backrest before he sat on the far edge, still reeling from his own decision to come here.

“It’s a live of Perishers in Chrome,” Kerry continued his explanation, “Relatively new band, very successful.”

“Same label as Kerry and making covers of his best songs, is what he is not telling you,” Johnny supplied with a smirk before passing the joint to Kerry. Said man grimaced in acquiescence and took the smoke with a heavy sigh.

“You want to make sure they don’t twist them too much?” V asked, taking his beer.

“Oh, they are twisting them, but I can’t do a thing. My songs belong to the label for a third. It’s part of the contract.” He finished, rubbing his forehead tiredly before concentrating on the screen.

Johnny stayed strangely silent, but the atmosphere told V that there was an argument somewhere in there. A few minutes later, the younger man recognized familiar rifts, but it took him a while, so much they were deformed.

“That’s one of yours, no?” he asked for confirmation and Kerry groaned while hiding behind his hands in sheer embarrassment. The merc chuckled softly at seeing his dismay, and Johnny petted him on the back in mock-commiseration.

“At least they can’t do that with Samurai,” Kerry’s muffled voice continued.

“Like I would let them anyway,” Johnny muttered darkly.

“Samurai is on another label?” V wondered, suddenly curious.

“Doesn’t have a label, it’s self-produced.” Was the drawled reply from Johnny between two drags of weed. “Well, we had a label at first, but then I got into so much sh*t they were tired of us. We made a deal: we agreed to sign the termination of contract and they gave us the songs’ rights back.”

“First of all, you signed it without talking about it with the rest of us, and second, it put us all in deep sh*t.” Kerry retorted, but it was without traces of annoyance, like they had had this talk many times and penance had been made.

“Nah, Nancy took care of everything.”

“Nancy was great,” Kerry agreed, taking the pot from Johnny. He took a drag before handing it to V, who accepted it. It was like no other he had tasted and judging from Johnny’s smug look, he knew it. V tried to reign in his enthusiasm, but it was hard.

“Good, huh?” The rockerboy commented. “Your friends the Aldecaldos smuggle it in.”

“Really? They sure didn’t share with me!”

“Nah, you have to live with them before they share it. It’s their best kept secret.”

V scrunched his eyebrows, dubitative. “You lived with the Aldecaldos?”

“Hum hum,” he mysteriously replied.

“Congratulation V, you’ve just started the Silverhand bragging box, it’s like a jukebox, but it only spews Johnny Silverhand’s most improbable stories.” Kerry jokingly declared, eyes still on the screen.

“More likely it’s all lies,” the merc taunted and Johnny’s eyes slitted. “Let’s hear it,” V added with a smirk.

And so it started, but soon detoured to Samurai anecdotes that Kerry contributed to, and V was given a recalling of the band’s modest – very funny and embarrassing – debuts. They carefully went around the less savory stories, not wanting to turn the evening dark as the merc smile grew.

Then, so caught in the stories he was, Kerry got up and started miming parts of it, recruiting Johnny as a second actor. The older man indulged his friend only to the extent of standing up in the right places and delivering lines in a mocking manner.

As the alcohol and the drugs – for Johnny rolled another joint for them – coursed through V’s blood, he started to really relax, and forgot why he had worked himself up so much. He watched them like one admired a master’s painting: covetously, with a point of envy but most of all, wonderment.

Then, a story about a concert where they had played first part to a very-hard core band came up, and even Johnny couldn’t help but get into it as it evolved from Henry (for once not Johnny) having a brawl with one of the other group’s members, to being chased through the venue and outside, running in different directions to make it harder on their pursuers, and ended with Johnny and Kerry covered in pink paint as they hid into a storage for hours.

“We discovered only too late that the paint was phosphorescent. We glowed pink for days.” Kerry concluded with a dismayed expression that had V laughing out, full bellied, with his head thrown back.

The mood suddenly shifted, brimming with tension as both rockers looked at V. Laughing and carefree, he was breathtaking.

“I can’t,” Kerry murmured, glancing at Johnny in despair before he crossed the short distance separating him from V and sat astride his thighs. V barely had time to put his hands on Kerry’s hips before he was being kissed aggressively, the older man’s mouth devouring his and sucking on his upper lip between bites on the other. Hands tightening over Kerry’s waist, V sighed softly, giving back the kiss with every swipe of his tongue. Kerry got closer, chest against chest and he started grinding like he couldn’t help himself, hands caressing V’s short beard, thumb stroking his sharp cheekbones.

“Ker,” Johnny’s voice rumbled behind the other musician, and he suddenly pushed himself back.

“Yes, yes… f*ck,” he breathed against V’s lips, dying to taste them again, especially when said man tilted his head to chase the kiss. Inhaling deeply to calm his frenzy, Kerry drew back and looked at V’s silver eyes, half-lidded and blown out by the weed and the lust.

“Do you want this?” Kerry asked.

Panting, V nodded, already trying to close the small distance between their faces.

“More specific,” Johnny instructed, and his voice was like a lash against their skins.

“Yes I want this,” V whispered, eyes travelling behind Kerry to look at the second man.

“Do you want anything else?” the man still standing continued, unrelenting. And wasn’t that a loaded question… V glanced at Kerry, still on his lap, almond eyes full of desire but waiting patiently for an answer.

“I don’t know exactly what I want,” V managed to deliver, “But I know I want you, both of you.” He added. “And right now; I want it very much” he finished in a breath, gaze slipping momentarily to Kerry’s lips. Still, neither moved until Johnny declared:

“Ok. Then get to the bed.”

And Kerry moved so fast he nearly tripped on the low table, taking V’s hand to drag him to the room. Johnny watched them go lazily, finishing his cigarette.

V’s thoughts had stopped, his head was silent, at last. He barely had the time to remark on the bedroom, a place he had avoided even thinking about when he had been recovering there. It was utilitarian and bare, the only concession to style being the black wall inlaid with thin silver plates that reflected the lights. The bed was massive, pushed against said wall and facing a huge window that overlooked the river, just like the balcony in the main room.

V was shoved against the bed, on which he fell seated before Kerry once again straddled him to take his mouth in a searing kiss. As he did so, his hands slithered under V’s shirt, stroking softly above his freshly scarred skin and behind, pressing their bodies together. Kerry separated them only to make V remove his shirt and nearly ripped his in his haste to get rid of it too. Once they were half naked, he started kissing V’s neck and clavicle, open mouthed and wet, tasting the caramel skin like he had wanted to since the merc had removed his jacket. V saw Johnny come in the room, gaze covetous and predatory as he watched Kerry cover V in kisses. He walked around the bed, ending up on the other side behind the merc, who twisted his neck to continue watching him. But he was soon distracted because Kerry was sliding down between his thighs and opening his jeans without much ado, clearly driven to reach his goal. He made V lift his hips to slide both the pants and the underwear off, and groaned in annoyance when he reached V’s shoes.

Both V and Johnny chuckled, and the rockerboy was suddenly closer, right behind the merc. Slowly, he bent over to put his lips under V’s right ear, nudging his head to the side to make more room for his small bites. The younger man shuddered and let himself fall against Johnny’s chest. Said man’s hand came to V’s hips and slid to his front, enveloping briefly his hardening co*ck in heat and cold. V hissed, surprised by the metal, but experienced a spike of desire so violent he buckled. Kerry rid him of the rest of his clothes and slapped Johnny’s hands away to replace them with his lips and tongue, just sliding over the length a few times. Johnny used his freed hands to lift V a bit and pull him backward so they were more in the middle of the bed, and Kerry followed, crawling over younger man’s legs.

Then, he stopped there and watched Johnny with a small smile. Soon, V felt both of Johnny’s hands delicately pulling at one of the many pins that held his bun in place. He shuddered, not knowing exactly why. Maybe it was the utter delicacy with which Johnny removed pin after pin, like he knew what it symbolized to V: control, rationality, detachment. Every morning he would do it, and with each pin came a part of his armor. An armor that Johnny was unraveling piece by piece, under Kerry hungry gaze. He felt his hair loosen and held still, eyes closed with a frown, trembling slightly. All the while, Kerry’s hands brushed his arms and climbed up to his torso, stroking his tattooed skin in reverence before sliding down again, stopping shy of his co*ck. He was waiting. Then the last pin went off, and V’s long grey hair fell on his shoulders, brushing his febrile skin. Johnny pulled them over his left shoulder to kiss the right and at last, Kerry took his hard-on into hands. He then bent to kiss V once more, drinking in his moans and sighs of pleasure. He could feel V’s trembling lips against his own, and his full body shudders caused by Johnny feather-like bites.

Then, like they were connected to one another, both older men sped things up. Johnny put his metal hand over V’s throat and made him arch against him while Kerry slid down on the mattress to suck on his co*ck for real this time, putting his arms under V’s legs until he was half lying back against Johnny.

“Open your eyes, V,” said man whispered and V did instantly. “Look at him sucking your co*ck like a pro, ain’t he lovely with his lips stretched wide?”

But V could barely glance down as his blood caught fire under Kerry’s tongue and his hips were moving on their own, softly f*cking in sync with the man’s sucking. Kissing right behind V’s ear and biting the lobe, Johnny received a whimper and let his flesh hand travel over V’s body, stopping to pinch a nipple before sliding downward until he could touch Kerry’s lips over V’s co*ck with his thumb. Kerry tongued it playfully, which provoked another moan from V at the spectacle. Then, still as slowly, Johnny caught V’s right thigh and pulled it against his chest so that Kerry had more access to his hole.

Kerry stopped sucking and detached himself from his lovers to get the lube before coming back, kneeling on the bed. V watched him with half lidded eyes, one hand tangled back in Johnny’s hair, and the second tightening over his own leg. Kerry coated his fingers in lube and looked up at V, poised to take him.

“This ok?” he asked gently and V nodded, mouth opening slightly. He had dreamed of this, so when Kerry’s first finger circled his hole before breaching just a bit, he closed his eyes with a long moan, neck arching back and letting his weight fall on Johnny.

With a breathy laugh, Kerry let his finger slide in more.

“f*ck Johnny, he takes it so well,” he muttered, before bending once more to plant bites-kisses on the inside of the merc’s thighs.

“Get worked up pretty easy, dontcha, V?” the other man breathed against his neck and V found his voice again.

“No, no… It’s you both,” he muttered while his hips followed Kerry’s lead, trying to take the finger deeper and guiding his partner to where it was the most pleasurable for him.

“Doing nothing particular,” Johnny replied with a smirk that V felt against his cheek. The younger man turned his head and bit the rockerboy’s jaw, hard, and got his throat squeezed a bit harder in punition. “Careful,” Johnny warned but it was an invitation to disobey more than anything else.

Kerry used the moment to add a finger, while he started sucking V again, moaning around his co*ck as he imagined being f*cked by that hard length. Then suddenly, V’s hips lifted off the bed, and he tensed with an explosive moan. Kerry keened in answer and relaxed his mouth, using his free hand to urge V to f*ck him like this. With a breathy sigh, the younger man did slowly, and Kerry kept his fingers there, against V’s sweet spot they had just found.

“f*ck Ker, look at him,” Johnny whispered reverently as he observed the younger man’s body ripple with need, but he was still in control, still holding out. Johnny let him seek his pleasure with Kerry for a moment longer before he simply said “stop,” and they both stilled in trembling tension.

He removed himself from V, letting him fall completely on his back. Kerry kneeled too, following Johnny’s cue like they could read each other’s minds. With just a gesture, Johnny told him to lie next to V and he got over his lifelong friend, slowly lowering himself as to cover Kerry with his body. He kissed him as their proud co*cks aligned and Kerry moaned, hands viciously going into Johnny’s hair. Gone was their carefulness, V observed, getting on his side to watch them better. It was animalistic and raw as Johnny hissed against Kerry’s lips half in pain, half in pleasure and snapped his hips forward in retaliation. Kerry only opened his legs wider, gaze challenging and hips pushing up to meet every thrust. Johnny made his lover turn over and get on all four before pushing his head against the mattress and slapping his ass cheek once with his metal hand. Kerry buckled with a harsh cry of pleasure, head buried in the sheets and V stopped breathing. Another slap and Kerry arched back with a long groan of ecstasy. Johnny stroked the abused cheek softly and retrieved the lube. He unceremoniously poured it directly over Kerry’s hole and pushed two fingers in without preamble. And Kerry took it, only arching further and widening his legs so as to be nearly able to grind against the sheets. But Johnny blocked him with his metal hand over his stomach, forcing him to be still. Kerry’s face expressed impatience between flickers of bliss. V watched all that like a starved man at a feast and his fingers itched.

“Go on,” Johnny said, “give it to him.”

So the younger man did: he got on his knees in front of Kerry and put his hands under his jaw to make him straighten-up and kiss him. The older man panted against his lips, tongue pushing over the edge of his lips in his need to suck something, anything. When V’s mouth definitely wasn’t enough, Kerry shoved him back a bit and took his co*ck back in his mouth.

“f*ck his mouth, V,” Johnny ordered, “That’s what he wants”.

He did, holding Kerry’s shoulders to steady himself as his hips rocked forth into the musician wet mouth. They both moaned and Johnny smirked before synching his movement with V’s. He had three fingers in, so Kerry was nearly ready and vibrating with impatience, like always. Fed up with that attitude, Johnny reached and pinched his nipple, prompting a moan but above all, it made Kerry sag, letting go at last.

“There,” his friend murmured, “just take it.”

V’s eyes were agonized, like it was already too much but he couldn’t help wanting more. Watching him closely, Johnny could see that he still held back, he was still fighting it, but he wasn’t worried: before the end of their love-making, he would be undone.

When Kerry’s moans turned more wanton, Johnny delicately slid his fingers out and pulled Kerry off of V, who moaned pitifully. Once again, he made his long-time lover turn so that he was on his side. He then sat next to him, casually leaning back on his hands, co*ck proudly erect against his thigh.

“All set,” Johnny indicated to V who didn’t seem to get it.

Panting and trembling with the need for release, Kerry groaned and reached for V’s hand, pulling him gently behind him. The younger man let himself settle like Kerry wanted him and his hands travelled reverently over the man’s skin to his ass. He glanced at the musician under him, who just looked back at him expectantly and in the next heartbeat, he guided his co*ck inside. Johnny watched it happen like in slow motion, and he had to be honest with himself that he wasn’t really sure where to turn his attention, for each of their face was a particular wonder. From Kerry finally getting V inside him, eyes scrunching up in absolute pleasure as he adjusted to the intrusion easily, to V, whose expression bordered on adulation as his co*ck slid into Kerry’s ass. His mouth opened, jaw slack as bliss spilled over him. And then V started moving in short jerks, one hand gripping Kerry’s thigh and the other his waist. He had a beautiful sinuous movement to his hips, which Johnny attributed to his dancing and judging from Kerry’s noise, he appreciated it for reasons other than the aesthetic of it.

“f*ck!” he shouted, “f*ck,” he repeated, voice breaking in a groan.

“Too much?” Johnny taunted him and Kerry still had the presence to give him the finger in answer. But then he moaned and watched V f*ck him, enjoying the ride.

With Kerry all set, Johnny moved again and found his place back behind V.

“Ok?” he asked in a low voice. The merc stilled for a second before nodding and finding his rhythm back. Johnny let his fingers trail the black band of the tattoo covering the merc’s spine, eliciting a shudder. Then, between one thrust and the next, V widened his stance and arched a bit more in a clear proposition. It went straight to Johnny co*ck and he bit-off a deep moan.

“Sure about that?” he still confirmed.

“Yeah, wanna feel your co*ck inside me.” And Johnny had to close his eyes and count to five. “Do it now,” he merc added in warning. He wouldn’t last.

Once more reaching for the lube, he coated his fingers and easily slid two from Kerry ministrations earlier. That’s when V started to let go: Johnny saw his pelvis crash against Kerry’s ass when his stance widened again and he wasn’t rocking forward anymore, only panting softly, swept in the tides of bliss created by Kerry’s tightness around him and Johnny’s fingers inside him.

The rockerboy experienced a moment of hysteria where he suddenly doubted he would actually last enough to properly f*ck V, but he steeled himself and added a third finger. The younger man keened long and deep, eyes closed in a frown of pleasure. Johnny saw Kerry watch the merc intently, drinking in his face. His eyes reflected how wrecked V must appear and it was like a kick to Johnny’s belly. He sped up, scissoring his fingers and kissing V’s sweaty nape, nudging his hair away to bite the tender skin here. Both his lovers had stopped moving, waiting for him, but V hadn’t found the strength to straighten-up and was bent over Kerry, kissing his side, licking his salty skin as the man under him caressed his hair gently.

And finally, Johnny breached him, and V moaned deep and long again, pushing back to take more of him in one go. Johnny growled, grip tightening over his hips to still him.

“Stay put,” he growled before starting to thrust in shallow moves.

V and Kerry groaned un unison, both feeling it as Johnny gave a slightly more powerful shove. Seeing their mirroring reactions fueled Johnny’s lust and he started putting more weight in his thrusts until V… V broke down, letting a continuous flow of little sounds out of his panting mouth as Johnny’s hips drove in and out of him. Johnny was f*cking Kerry through V, said man barely holding himself upright over his lover. Kerry chuckled softly and helped him by moving for him. Struck between them, V lost himself in the sensations of being taken from behind, and taken inside Kerry with each push and pull. His throat felt tight as he sucked in breaths that turned into whimpers every time Johnny hit his prostate. And the man was relentless, driving his co*ck in at just the right angle so that it was stimulating without being overwhelming. After a moment, he found his bearings somewhat and started moving on his own again, propelling his pelvis against Kerry’s ass in counterpoint to Johnny’s thrusts.

“Johnny,” Kerry rasped, “Johnny if you could see his face,”

V barely heard it as something rose inside him and he knew what it was, but this one was different from all the others: it came from deep inside of him and it advanced over his body like a million horses charging the battle field.

“f*ck,” he pleaded, “Just, please, I can’t, I’ll…” he babbled “I…”

But he had nothing to tell anymore, and the wave crashed over him before exploding into millions of small pieces of rainbow. He couldn’t breathe anymore and sucked in air like he was drowning as the org*sm rippled through his nervous system.

It was Kerry’s clear laugh that brought him back, and he felt Johnny gently get out of him and push him off Kerry. Still reeling, he opened his eyes to watch them, knowing that they had yet to reach completion. He wasn’t disappointed.

Kerry shoved Johnny on his back and got over him with a no-negotiation face, but Johnny was in no position to try anything, and he just arched back with a moan when Kerry sat back on his hardened length. He held his arms bent so that Kerry could use his hands as leverage to push up. The other man intertwined their fingers before starting to move with wide rolls of his pelvis that made his ass tighten over Johnny’s co*ck. V watched them, breath calming down as the endorphins overtook his body and he floated in rhythm with their expressions of pleasure.

“Come on, do it right, please Johnny, f*ck me.” Kerry begged, voice ravaged and Johnny snapped his hips up, taking him with deeper thrusts. His stomach rippled with the effort, but it seemed worth it for Johnny bowed back, tension brimming in his body and shouted out his pleasure, unleashed.

Kerry encouraged him with a series of yes that became more and more pleading as their bodies found the perfect cadence to take them to their own peak. With a cry that was nearly a sob, Kerry arched back and his co*ck twitched as he came in three spurts, eyes opening wide imploringly. Johnny’s grip on his hands became bruising while he buckled wildly, face caught in a snarl that suddenly cleared. His whole face became slack with pleasure under V’s watchful gaze as the org*sm took him at last.

Their movements stopped, and the silence that followed bubbled in a laugh. V didn’t understand at first that it was coming from him, but when he did, he couldn’t help but laugh harder, joyful and free.

Facing the ceiling, he felt them move more than he saw them, but soon, Kerry’s lips were kissing his throat with a smile, and Johnny bent over him to playfully bite his thigh.

“Stay the night.” He declared, tone brokering no arguments.


A note about safe-sex : please, use protection. They don't do so here, because turthfully I forgot and when I realised, I started rewriting the scene but then I remembered that they already had sex without protection earlier in the fic, parts I had already published so in the end I decided to just ignore that issue. But seriously, this is not a light matter: when having sex with new partners, it's important that you protect yourself. If you want to remove condoms from the equation, get tested beforehand. And don't forget: protection against STD is not protection against pregnacy : two different things, and only condoms act as both.

Last but not least: enjoy sex, if you like it (if you don't, that's great too!!!). For those of us who like to have sex, respect yourself by being clear with your partner(s), listenning to yourself and to your body's needs. AND ENJOY, because it's good, it's cool, it's nice. Sex is good. There. I said it. Amen.

Chapter 9: A dance of Eros and Thanatos


This is a double update: don't forget to read chapter 8 before this one ;)

Chapter Text

Mad at you for being so sweet, so f*ckin’ innocent and for the way you unravel under my hands.

“Wake-up, V.”

It resounded in his skull like she had taken the habit of doing, and f*ck, it didn’t get any less weird with time. With a small gasp, he opened his eyes and saw that it was still the middle of the night. They had been asleep for a few hours max. Next to him, Kerry was resting on his belly, snoring lightly, face slack in slumber.

“Johnny is awake,” Alt continued, “Go talk to him.”

“Couldn’t it wait until morning?” V replied in his mind with a mental groan.

“I’m tired of waiting. I’m starting to get fed up with being in your mind. It’s a pretty mind, don’t doubt it, but still, I’m too dependent on you.”

V tried not to think it was rich coming from her: she didn’t have to play chauffeur to a vengeful witch. She heard it anyway, and her smile kissed his brain with irony.

Looking past Kerry, V saw that the bed was indeed empty on the other side. Slowly as to not disturb the sleeping man in the middle, V got up. He vaguely searched for his boxers but couldn’t identify them in the mess, so he just padded out naked.

Localizing Johnny wasn’t hard: a wisp of smoke came in the flat from the balcony. V made his way to it and leaned on the doorframe, watching Johnny smoke. He was bent over the railing in just his sweatpants, his metal arm reflecting the never-ending lights of Night-City. He turned when he felt he had company.

“Did I wake you up?” he grunted, voice raw with unuse.

“No. Alt did.”

Johnny raised an eyebrow, taking a drag of his smoke.

“We need to talk.”

“Breaking up with me already? Damn that was fast, I’m wounded,” the rockerboy drawled in sarcasm and V couldn’t help but smirk.

“Wait til you’ve heard what we have to say, you might have preferred a break-up speech.”

At this, Johnny gaze turned serious and he straightened a bit. He eyed the merc up and down, eyes glinting int the dark and V had to consciously control his body not to react. Being watched like this by Johnny made his blood heat.

“Concentrate!” Alt snapped her invisible fingers, exasperated. Once again, he refrained from pointing out that she had fallen under that exact same gaze, so she perfectly knew how empowering it was. And once again, she heard it anyway, but waved it to the side. Indeed, this cohabitation had gone on too long.

Johnny offered his pack of cigarette to V who took one, making his way to the railing. The night was pleasantly cool on his skin, the breeze trailing between his legs and over his bare back.

“We went to see Hanako,” V started, ignoring how Johnny twitched at the name.

“Not Hanako-san anymore?” he taunted. V ignored him.

“But neither Alt nor me are particularly reassured by her deal. Truthfully, it’s more out of sympathy for Goro that I went, but it was worth hearing.”

Johnny snorted at that, and Alt tutted in answer.

“So, there is only another way: storming the Arasaka’s Tower.” V concluded, releasing the smoke between his lips.

Johnny shifted his hips to turn toward the other man.

“Are you telling me this because you want pointers? Last time I did it was over twenty years ago, and it wasn’t the same tower. Rogue and Blackhand saw to that.”

Brushing his bottom lip with his thumb in a nervous gesture, V tapped the cig’s butt before answering.

“When Alt and I talked about that plan with Rogue, she refused to do it – ”

“Well then you have your answer: if she’s not doing it, no one can help you.” Johnny cut with a growl, not knowing exactly why this annoyed him that much.

“She said she would do it on one condition.” V soldiered on, looking straight at Johnny. It took maybe five seconds for the rockerboy to get the pieces together.

He raised an eyebrow as his mouth opened in a sardonic smile.

“On the one condition that I came along, aww, she feeling nostalgic?”

V co*cked his hip against the railing and crossed his arms.

“That’s when Alt and I pushed the option aside. But it seems it’s our only option.”

Johnny’s eyes slitted as he thought it through.

“Why does Rogue wants me?” he asked, always quick to get the heart of the problems.

“She said she is not pulling anyone else with us, that her last raid nearly killed her whole team, so she is not putting her own on this gig. She’s ok to come as merc, if you come too. Said only you were crazy and good enough.” V recited with a frown of worry. “But personally, I’m not keen on that. When was the last time you fired a shot?”

“Afraid my hands will shake? They won’t.”

“Answer the question.”

It took a moment for Johnny to come up with the truth, and his own surprise showed on his face.

“Several years,” he breathed. Many times, he’d had to pull out his gun, but it never escalated to the point he had to shoot.

V sighed and shook his head. Then Johnny witnessed a very strange manège on the merc face, like he was having a conversation with himself, and the negotiation was arduous on both parts.

“One week,” he finally spat. “I think your ex-inputs both want you dead.” He added with venom like it was Johnny’s fault if they were crazy witches. “Alt is giving us one week to put you back in shape, then we storm that f*ckin’ tower with Rogue.”

Johnny laughed, not at all concerned.

“How much time did you ask for?”

“Six months,” V bit back in reply with a snarl “That how much I think you would need to not be a complete hindrance.”

That got Johnny’s hackles to rise and he advanced on the merc until he had him crowded against the railing, profiting from the few inches he had on the younger man.

“I’m not Kerry, V, I’ve killed before.”

Jutting his chin up in defiance, V eyed him with cold calm, but then his face changed in a flash and he surged up, shoving his lips against Johnny’s in a painful clash of teeth’s. The other man caught up fast, hands cradling V’s jaw to transform the kiss in something more comfortable but no less passionate. V’s own hands went to Johnny’s hair, gripping the black and silver strands hard as his mouth opened under his lover’s and their tongues tangled. Johnny pushed his thigh between the younger man’s legs and rocked, eliciting a moan from them both.

Then the merc tugged on the hair until Johnny had to draw backward, growling lowly.

“Maybe you’re better at this than Kerry, but you’re still flesh and bones, and so very mortal for it. I’m not letting you walk in that tower without doing all I can to make sure you come out alive.” He breathed in the silver of air between their faces before nudging Johnny’s lips with his own once more, but softer.

The rockerboy let himself be kissed as the words registered, and their implications. Cutting off the kiss with a sigh, Johnny let his forehead rest on V’s.

“Ok. But I’m coming anyway.”

“Think I could prevent you if I tried?” V joked, and Johnny felt the answer ring like a bell inside his skull: no. He discovered with surprise that he would walk in hell with that man. How had he gotten so attached, so fast? It was a disaster waiting to happen, but Johnny was self-conscious enough to know he loved tragedies. He stayed silent and kissed V again, rolling his hips once more against the younger man’s pelvis.

V lets his hands trail from Johnny’s hair to his neck, embracing him closer and grinding on the soft fabric of his pants. It went on for a while like this until V’s moans started to change in nature, and Johnny kind of snapped. He drew back just enough to turn the merc over, pull down his own pants and thrust his co*ck again V’s ass. The younger man laughed at the rough change of pace and bent more, displaying his butt playfully. Johnny gripped one hip with his metal hand, and used the second to take V’s co*ck in a tight tunnel. The merc moaned and started f*cking his lover’s fist with abandon. He widened his stance to have better liberty of movement and opened his eyes in slits, watching the other side of the docks and the many glass covered buildings. It was like making love to the city.

“f*ck, I really want to take you again,” Johnny mumbled, voice rough.

Glancing over his shoulder, V offered him an impish smile that only fueled the fire in his veins. With a grunt, he stopped his shameless grinding and took off his pants completely before dragging V back inside and throwing him toward the couch. With a small gasp, the man fell on his back and could barely get his bearings back before Johnny was on him. The man positioned him to his satisfaction with legs bent over his chest. Johnny kissed down a path from the inside of V’s knee to his ass that he playfully bit. Above, the merc had covered his mouth with one hand to stifle his moans, not wanting to wake Kerry up. Johnny paused for a second and bent to the low table where he retrieved a small tube of lube.

V raised an eyebrow.

“Convenient,” he noted.

“Exactly. You try living with Kerry for more than five days, and you’ll put lube in about every room. Man is part incubus, I swear.”

V snorted, but it became a moan as Johnny breached him once more with his finger. He started gyrating his hips as soon as the finger was in, wantonly seeking his pleasure. Johnny swore and his hips rocked in the air, so badly he wanted to f*ck the man. Instead, he kissed V’s knee again, and added another finger. The younger man was still relaxed from their earlier love-making, so the stretch was easy. Looking at the hole eating his fingers, Johnny groaned in impatience and wished he had eaten him out before putting lube. Too bad, he thought, next time. Because there was no doubt in his mind that next times were coming.

When V muffled moans changed again, and his hips slowed, transforming into deeper rolls, Johnny added a third finger and V arched back, hand gripping the backrest of the couch.

“Ok, ok, please f*ck me now,” he whispered, eyes scrunched up in bliss.

Still, Johnny didn’t remove his fingers and smiled deviously, scissoring them inside and playing them like they did on his guitar chords until V pants became whimpers.

“Come on,” the merc urged, clearly losing his mind with need. “Why don’t you – f*ck, I hate you.”

Taking pity on him, Johnny at last pulled out, taking his sweet time. V watched as Johnny finished coating his sex in lube and shifted on the couch. On this, at least, he didn’t tease and just shoved his co*ck in one slow thrust. V let his head roll back with a long blissed-out sigh and his legs fell open even more, leaving Johnny all the space he needed to bottom out completely. Said man was biting his lip hard no to make too much noise, but a shuddering breath escaped him anyway. He started moving, taking V’s knees over his elbows’ bends to add leverage. Under him, V pelvis was moving in sync with him, meeting thrust for thrust with sweet abandon. His mouth was half open, tongue pushed against his teeth and calling for a kiss. Johnny bent over him, shoving himself deeper and took his mouth like he was taking his ass, drinking in V’s little moans.

Soon, the younger man pulled away to pant out in need, sucking oxygen with soft moans. He stood on one arm to better push against Johnny and f*ck himself on the rockerboy’s big co*ck. Johnny was mesmerized by V’s hips dancing to meet his, his moves so fluid as he grinded on his hard-on with abandon. V was shattering with each brush again his prostate, gaze glazing over, face slackening in pure bliss and Johnny felt himself speed up in response to such spectacle. They were f*cking roughly now, hurtling toward a violent end but desperate to get there. Then V started clenching his ass around Johnny’s co*ck and the man gasped, feeling a lightning bolt struck his spine and alight all his nerves.

“f*ck,” he muttered, “f*ck I’m coming,” he admitted, surprised. And the org*sm crashed over him as V’s hole fluttered once more. His balls tightened as he came deep inside the younger man.

Even if Johnny couldn’t move anymore, swept in his own pleasure, V continued to grind against him and took his co*ck in hand to jerk himself fast. His breathing shortened and his little moans pitched higher. He arched back, asshole spasming as he cummed all over his stomach, under Johnny’s blissed out gaze.

The rockerboy waited until V came back from his peak before he pulled out as gently as he could and, with a grunt, let himself fall backward against the other armrest of the couch. Sweaty and short of breath, a minute passed before he could find the energy to reach for his secondary pack of cigarettes on the low table. He lit one with a sigh and watched as V moved to crawl over him before settling against his chest and subtilizing the smoke.

Johnny let him, playing instead with V’s long grey hair. Untied, they fell past his shoulders and felt silky under the rockerboy’s touch. He watched the merc blow out the smoke from his full dark lips and pushed up to kiss them softly. V hummed in appreciation and they shared the cigarette like this, until it was finished. V then yawned, prompting a small laugh from Johnny.

“Go back to bed.” He murmured, to which V opined.

“Why were you awake, besides?”

“Bed is too small, couldn’t sleep.”

V experienced a moment of guilt and frowned softly.

“I could go back to the other room for the night.”

“And risk Kerry having a panic attack when he doesn’t find you next to him when he wakes up? Nah, thanks. I’ll come back in a few minutes.” He whispered with a tender tone, “We have f*cked up sleeping habits anyway, you’ll have to get used to it.” He added, uncaring of the effect it had on V.

Hiding his confusion, the man raised himself off the couch and stretched like a cat, strong but lithe limbs offering themselves to Johnny’s hungry gaze. Still, as the man started to go to the bedroom, Johnny stopped him with a hand on his wrist.

“Tomorrow, let me talk to Kerry about the gig, ok?”

The merc’s gaze turned cloudy, but he nodded in agreement. Then he bent to kiss Johnny once more before joining their sleeping lover in the bedroom.

When V awoke again, it was to the unmistakable sound of Kerry’s soft moans. He blinked awake several times, facing away from the other man. His head was heavy from all the drinking, smoking and not sleeping of the night, so the clouds were thick in his brain.

“You’ll wake him up if you don’t control yourself,” came Johnny’s voice in a gruff whisper.

They were moving against the sheets softly, V perceived.

“Can’t help it,” was the reply from Kerry in a high-pitched whisper. “’specially when you do that.”

Now V was curious, but his body was still not responding properly from having just woken up. He had a hard time keeping eyes open.

“You love the sound of your own moans, more likely. It turns you on, hearing yourself keen like a slu*t.” Johnny drawled, amused.

“Shut the f*ck up, I loved it better when your mouth was otherwise occupied, asshole.” Kerry hissed before he suddenly slapped a hand over his mouth as a particularly loud moan escaped him. With a sweet sigh, V turned on his other side and forced his eyes open.

Johnny had Kerry on his back holding his own legs bent over his torso as the other man laid on his stomach, sucking his co*ck. Not sucking his co*ck, V remarked with a jolt of lust: eating him out. Kerry cried out from behind his hands as his lover’s mouth moved over him, and he tried to thrust his hips up, but Johnny held him firmly.

Now awake, V pushed on one elbow and delicately took Kerry’s hands off his mouth, intertwining their fingers instead. The man turned his head to look at him and smiled before his expression turned once more anguished. Whatever Johnny was doing down there, he was doing it good it seemed, because Kerry looked like he was on the verge of breaking at the seams. His hand clenched around V’s nearly painfully. With a laughing breath, V bent his head to kiss Kerry’s shoulder and nudged him to better access his neck. The older man sighed happily and let go of his hand to touch V’s jaw, bringing him in for a kiss. It was broken by yet another moan as Kerry jerked his head backward, arching as much as he could. His free hand drifted toward his co*ck, but Johnny caught it and pushed it back in position to hold his thighs. V continued his kisses, moving slowly downward. As he did so, he pinched Kerry’s nipple between his lips, and then his teeth when it garnered him small pants of pleasure.

V continued downward, until he was nearly level with Johnny.

“Hey, Beloved,” said the rockerboy with a wry smile. The nickname sent a rush of heat through V’s body. Eyes wide, he kissed Johnny to hide his trouble, releasing the lips with a bite. Kerry groaned at the sight and closed his eyes: they were going to end him for real.

“Wanna taste him there?” Johnny asked innocently, but his eyes told a different story. Although tempted, V shook his head:

“I like watching you do it.”

With a shrug, Johnny went back to playing with Kerry’s hole, first with a finger, and then with his tongue. V traced his path in reverse to kiss Kerry’s neck, biting him softly as the man moaned nearly constantly now.

“Please, please, please,” he chanted, his hands trembling over his thighs. V and Johnny exchanged a look and the rockerboy nodded. The younger man let his hand travel over Kerry’s side and diverge to his co*ck. V took it in hand and started stroking him, following Johnny’s rhythm, matching every lick with a jerk. He watched Kerry’s face as he did so, looking for every flash of pleasure on his expression: how he bit his lower lip, how he scrunched his nose, how his mouth got suddenly slack with pleasure. He opened his eyes, tears of bliss falling on the corners and his pants suddenly stopped. His co*ck twitched in V’s hand and the man smiled, tightening his grip and speeding up his movements until, with a shout, Kerry came and his co*ck pulsed.

He swallowed several times as he came down under V and Johnny’s caresses. With one man on either side kissing his neck and his side, he couldn’t stop the trembling of his limbs and skin, but he wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

“Good morning, Baby,” said Johnny with a smug smile, and Kerry smacked him in the face, making V snort.

Morning was actually already mid-day, a rarity for V. But Johnny and Kerry had not a care in the world for such lowly concepts as “loosing time”. The ex-corpo in V was very uneasy with that, but thankfully, both musicians were distracting enough.

It was like V had opened the door to a realm made of sensuality and lust. Now that Johnny and Kerry knew V was open to their advances, it seemed that they were catching up on every other occasion where they had restrained themselves. He hadn’t had sex so many times in a row since he was fourteen and discovering the joys of a good wank.

“How do you get anything done?” he asked between pants as Johnny jerked him off in the shower while Kerry restrained him from behind and kissed his neck with a smile.

“Well, you know us artists, we don’t live in the same space-time continuum as the rest of you mere mortals.” Johnny replied as he twisted his wrist. And V sagged against Kerry, letting go completely.

Around five in the afternoon, V finally succeeded in staying away from them long enough to dress. He had to go see Rogue. A look exchanged with Johnny was all they needed to understand each-other: the rockerboy should use that time to let Kerry know about their project.

He was putting on his shoes when Kerry approached, barely covered by a dressing gown that he kept open anyway.

“Will you come back after?” he asked. His tone was light, but V could hear the underneath tension anyway.

V smiled a bit enigmatically.

“Maybe,” he playfully declared before kissing Kerry’s cheek. “I like it there,” he whispered.

The man smiled, co*cking a hip against the wall leading to the door.

“See you soon, Beloved,” Kerry murmured as V walked out of the door.

Again with that name, V thought with a shiver as it unleashed terrible emotions inside him.

Rogue sighed when she saw V, but he could tell it was more for show than real sentiment. He knew she liked him and she reminded him of Margaret, his first manager at Arasaka when it was still Hakuchō. Before Arasaka took over, and Margaret died. Pushing the thought aside, he smiled cheekily and sat next to her in the booth. She listened as he told her that Johnny had agreed to be on their team to raid the Arasaka Tower once again. Rogue was surprised, not by Johnny agreeing, but by V and Alt coming back to that idea. They had been quick to discard it the first time. Well, V replied darkly, the Takemura’s trail had not born the fruits he had hopped.

After a second of silence where Rogue examined him shrewdly, the Princess of the Atlantis started to launch into their plan. She had thought about it extensively it seemed. Maybe she had always knew it would come to that, for it seemed she had done her research in the last past weeks. Rogue pulled up the plan of the building, one that was precise enough to display water, electricity and security grides. V was impressed, and so was Alt. The plan didn’t look so suicidal with that kind of intel.

They poured over the map for several hours before making a break to eat something and have a drink as they finished for the night. V checked his phone and discovered he had a text from Johnny that lasted from about twenty minutes ago.

“Kerry’s coming your way,” was all it said.

And indeed, he saw that he also had a missed call from the second musician. So he was not as surprised as Rogue and the rest of the patrons when they saw Kerry Eurodyne storm into the club, obviously in a right state.

He was dressed in black knee-high boots, pants of the same color and a cream sweater with a large U-neck. Over it, he wore a long coat with a hood that he generally used to conceal his appearance when he went out. Black sunglasses completed his outfit, but it did nothing to hide his stormy expression. He scanned the club, half full of mercs and fixers, and half full of wasted people. Since they were at the bar for their break, both Rogue and V saw him before he found them.

“f*ck,” V muttered and Rogue sneered, smelling the drama.

Then he was onto them. Surprisingly, he addressed Rogue before V.

“f*ck you,” he shouted, and although the music drained most of the sound, his face said it all. Rogue raised her hand up with a disdainful expression.

“Well, that’s just rude, Ker-bear.”

“What is it to you? Spite? Revenge? Pure love of destruction or is it just funny to watch?” he continued, stabbing her with his finger once. He tried to do it twice, but she slapped his hand and her face turned dangerous.

“Why is it that when Johnny does something stupid, it always ends up biting me in the ass? Getting’ real tired of this sh*t.”

“Ten f*ckin year, Rogue!” Kerry screamed, removing his glass and V opened his mouth in shock. His eyes were red and puffy, make-up a mess under them, giving him a gaunt appearance in the neon-lights of the club. His gaze burned raw with anger that badly masked the terror he felt.

“Ten years,” he repeated, “that’s how long it took for Johnny to finally get better, finally grieve, finally move on! And you had to rope him back in, huh?” he spat, looking demented. “Why him? Don’t tell me you don’t have gonk-brained mercs here who could take the job and even be better at it than him!”

Rogue took Kerry by the collar and V stood up, making an abortive movement toward them.

“Listen to me, bitch,” she seethed, while he gripped her wrist in an attempt to push her back “I raided this tower twice already. And if it made me a legend, it also nearly killed me. I’m f*ckin done with Arasaka. Now, if we have to go in hell again, then I’m not bringing any of my team in it, understand? Johnny has to learn to clean after himself.” She released him and stepped back, suddenly cool again and crossed her arms. “Point the blame were it really belongs, Kerry.”

The man scowled but turned to V, who recoiled from the look he received.

“Is she there?” Kerry asked and it took a moment for V to understand. “Can she hear me?” he insisted and V nodded, dumbfounded. Alt appeared dutifully next to him, arms crossed but a small frown on her pretty face, clearly curious.

“I really hate you,” Kerry hissed, “You’re always bad news. Like… Like a f*ckin harbinger of death. And if he dies because of your dumb plan for revenge, I’ll…” but he stopped, obviously at loss to what he would do in that case. Then his face changed, the anger receding like the surf to uncover a great void in its wake, and dread filled V. “I’ll follow.” Kerry finished, at last.

They read the words on his lips more than they heard them. Then Kerry send another wounded look at V before tuning heels and practically running out of the club.

Heart beating fast and breath short, V exchanged a look with Alt who looked strangely sad. She closed her eyes and turned, disappearing.

“f*ck this drama, I don’t know how you can stand that kind of sh*t!” Rogue cursed, turning to finish her drink in one go. “Go after him, ya gonk,” she then spat at V, who jolted out of his paralyzed state. He rushed after the musician and busted out of the club.

“Kerry!” he called, running in the parking lot without seeing him. He couldn’t have gone far. Turning back, V saw a crouched figure a few feet on the right, somewhat hidden by a garbage tank. V made his way to him and stood there, suddenly unsure.

Kerry was smoking frantically, barely waiting between two drags to breath. V squat and tentatively placed a hand over his knee, but it got slapped away with violence.

“Don’t think that because I didn’t say anything to you, I’m not mad at you too.” The man growled and V hung his head shamefully.

“You barely know us, V. But me and Johnny, we have a f*cking complicated history. And we were finally good. Then you had to storm in and f*ck-up everything. You and f*ckin’ Alt Cunningham,” he muttered darkly.

It hurt, and V felt all his past fears come back to haunt him, turning his skin sweaty with anxiety, and tying knots with his tongue. With an enormous effort, he opened his mouth.

“I’m sorry,” he dropped, and a thousand words pressed themselves at the back of his teeth, but couldn’t find a way out.

Kerry snorted, throwing his finished smoke away before lighting a new one right away.

“Don’t lie to me. You’re just like Johnny: if you don’t save the world daily, you lose any sense of self-worth.” He looked to the side and the flickering lights of nearby panel thrust his face in the neon, showing fresh traces of tears on his cheeks.

“I’m so mad at you,” he continued when V didn’t say anything else. “Mad at you for being so sweet, so f*ckin’ innocent and for the way you unravel under my hands. I wish I could have ignored you, stayed away from you and not gotten f*ckin attached so fast.” He chuckled darkly and V stopped breathing, “Because you know, that’s the worst, I’m not just risking losing Johnny there, but you too. Either or both of you could die in that damned tower.”

“Or we could get out alive, both of us.” V at last found his voice. He scooted closer, using this strange moment of inspiration to get his words across. He delicately cupped Kerry’s jaw in both hands and forced himself to bear the anguished look of his lover.

“I tried every other way, I promise you. Neither me nor Alt wanted to drag Johnny in. But…” he hesitated and Kerry’s eyes turned so very sad.

“But it feels right to go with him. Offer him closure. At last.”

“Yeah. Maybe?” V whispered, eyebrows frowning. “I think it makes sense to him too.”

Kerry snorted.

“Oh yeah, he was very keen on the idea. Very stubborn. And I f*ckin’ get it. Closure. I had to have it too myself.”

He roughly pushed his palms against his cheeks, wiping the tears tracks.

“But it’s so hard for me, it feels like a life loop. Like I’m back ten years ago, trying to prevent him from killing himself in that stupid f*cked-up raid. And now he is back at it and I…” he trailed off, looking to the side. V just wanted to take him in his arms and make a promise he couldn’t keep, so he stayed silent, only caressing Kerry’s nape in a comforting manner. “I can’t lose him. Or you.” He whispered before turning back to V: “If you die, I’m not staying here alone. I’ll follow you.”

“No please, Kerry – “

“You won’t be here to prevent me from doing it, anyway,” he spat venomously. “So just… Just don’t die.”

And he kissed V, aggressively, and the merc had to stop his fall by gripping Kerry’s jacket. He moaned in surprise but kissed back, pushing closer and pouring all he could in that kiss. He didn’t want to die. Not anymore.

When they got back to the flat, it was dark and for a minute V though Johnny had left to f*ck knows where, but then he appeared from the balcony, backlit by the hundred lights of the city behind.

Kerry crossed the distance between them in broad strides and put his arms around Johnny’s neck before kissing him. The man caught him, hands going around his waist and into his hair. V watched them and keenly felt the connection they had together, one to which he was still a stranger. And yet, when they separated, Johnny’s dark eyes found his and beaconed him to them. Like on autopilot, V went to them and embraced Kerry from behind, putting his head on his shoulders as Johnny kissed his lifelong friend forehead.

Then, slowly, they guided Kerry back to bed, undressing him tenderly and covering his skin in kisses until he sighed in contentment. Between them, he fell asleep as they watched over him. When he was out, exhausted by the emotional roller-coaster he had gotten himself into, Johnny whispered:

“You and Rogue better have a really preem plan, because I ain’t dying there.”

V’s gaze turned analytical and cold, a mean smile flowering on his lips as he told Johnny of what they had devised so far with the Princess of the Atlantis.

The following morning, Johnny and V prepared to go to a training ground while Kerry had a meeting with Louise and their lawyer to finalize the divorce. Soon, the screamsheets would be made aware of the end of their marriage and Kerry had no doubt the coverage was going to be brutal. Louise planned a small lock-down for herself and the kids in their North Oak house before moving to San-Fran with her new partner. V couldn’t help but notice he looked withdrawn and sad, worse, depressed. But the analytical part of his mind that sounded suspiciously like Alt at the moment urged him to concentrate of the priorities, which was training Johnny to have a competent team for their raid on the Arasaka Tower.

As V was tying the laces of his combat boots, Kerry approached, silent to the point of being stealthy.

“Are you coming back with Johnny tonight?” he asked and V winced: his voice sounded so flat, and faraway, like he was talking through water.

Straightening, V shook his head.

“It’s been two very intense days, and I really need so time alone…” he declared gently, and Kerry nodded, face carefully neutral like he had been expecting it. He was looking off to the side, not meeting V’s eyes.

“I need time to think… Be by myself, sort things out. But I’ll be back,” V added gently, brushing Kerry’s wrist with the pads of his finger. The man glanced up at him, but his face expressed nothing, like a great gnawing void that sucked the light around it. V felt his heart miss beats at the sight of such display of despair. His hand rose to the musician’s jaw and he bent to kiss his cheekbones.

“I promise.”

Still, Kerry said nothing, he only stepped back, eying the merc before turning his back on him to get back into the bedroom. The flat, which had been so warm and welcoming, suddenly felt like a tomb. Johnny joined him in the entrance, face set in seriousness and movements practical. Their best chance at making Kerry smile again was getting out of this gig alive, so it was time to focus on getting prepared.

Chapter 10: Cross the river with Charon


Fair warning, I added an illustration for the sex scene in this chapter. It appear toward the end of the chapter, I put lines before and after to help you skip it is you want.
It's not overly graphic, a little bit of co*ck is showing, but it's mostly sex faces, and my talent isn't that great ^^'

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“I love you,” he murmured, and his words ricocheted in the silence like atoms colliding: invisible but of tremendous significance.

Training with Johnny was indeed very different from doing the same with Kerry. Rogue had given them an address to take their sessions to, since it wasn’t just self-defense and shooting exercises they would do there. The place, removed from the city and overlooking Charter Hills, was fully equipped with a long shooting range, combat robots (who nevertheless had seen better days) and complexes military parkours, as well as a tactical operation simulator.

And even if he was rusty, there was no denying that Johnny had been military trained. More than that, V admitted that he had something in him that he himself lacked. It was like his body had been made for war. Where V had been gifted with an analytical mind and cleverness, Johnny had been gifted with strength and sharp reflexes. His moves were flawless, economical but efficient.

V’s only advantage was his quickness and agility over Johnny’s stiff from unuse muscles. But as soon as the rockerboy put his hands on V, it was game over as he was thrown to the mat like he weighted nothing. And f*ck if Johnny wasn’t smug about it.

At about six in the afternoon, they called it quit and both men went to their vehicles with a limp, several sores and muscles that would ache come morning. After scheduling another training session on the morrow at the same hour, they went their separate way.

Back in his appartement, V felt himself relax at the same time as a diffuse feeling of emptiness filled him. It had been a long time he hadn’t felt it. Since Jackie’s death. And before that, it had been right after he had been transferred under Jenkins after Margaret’s “lay-off”.

Still, he reveled in the privacy and quiet. As he showered, he wondered about the chaos that Johnny and Kerry could unleash around them. Not necessarily bad chaos, but exhausting. Emotions ran high around them, and explosive where V had carefully built a world around him where they came only heavily filtered and in few numbers. The merc felt like he had been drained of his quota of the month, or maybe of the year, even. And at the same time, there was no denying the sweet thrall this chaos put over himself. Feeling and eliciting that kind of emotions was heady like a drug, and V recognized the addict in himself that only begged for more. He was hooked on their love already.

Beloved, he thought as water ran over him. They had both called him that. Spontaneous, uncaring of the effect it had on him, freely given as a proof of affection. Was he? Beloved?

Later on, as he laid in his bed, experiencing its emptiness cruelly, a text notification popped on the screen of his phone. It was Kerry.

“Johnny says that he made you eat dirt several times today. Find it hard to believe. Whatcha say?

With and unchecked smile, V replied:

“True enough, he might be a bit rusty but he still a force to be reckoned with. Threw me to the mat twice.”

Another message soon appeared.

“Ah! The said it like it was at least five times, I knew he was boasting off!”

With a chuckle, V ran his thumb over the screen, missing them both as he laid awake under his sheets. A thought ran through him and he hesitated only a few seconds before sending:

“You could come by tomorrow, see for yourself?”

And then, because it felt like he had asked Kerry on a date and how stupid was that, he added:

“How was it with the lawyers?”

He waited for a long minute, watching the small dots indicating Kerry was typing appear and disappear, like he was hesitating.

“Lawyers are awful, turning something emotional into procedures and protocols, into rules and contingencies. Louise and I got drunk together afterward. I swear it looks like it’s ours lawyers divorcing and not ourselves. Guess I’m lucky that it goes well… Celebrity break-ups are not always that healthy, but Louise is amazing. Hope you can meet her sometimes, and the kids.”

It was several messages, like once Kerry had sent the first, he couldn’t stop adding details. The proposal about meeting the kids had V feeling out of breath as warmth exploded in his body. And also fear, because V had never seen himself in the position of the “step-dad”.

Then, another message came in.

“I will come with you tomorrow, yeah, great idea.”

And then:

“Always love to see Johnny get his ass kicked.”

Laughing again, V carefully typed his own answer.

“Think I would love to meet Louise and your kid. Ted and Kim, right? And I’ll see you tomorrow with Johnny then ;) He will probably be full of muscles aches, so make him drink water and if you have massage oil, that would be a good idea to use it now.”

He put his phone on the bed next to him, still smiling as sleep came to take him off.

Suggesting that Kerry came to see them in training was actually a very good idea: it seemed to reassure him to see how they handled themselves in fights. He even got into it as they raced each other in the parkours. He cheered for them from the finish line, and made commentaries to rival sport channels. Johnny lost to V, but he kept arguing it was due to his rustiness, and his various muscles aches. And truthfully V was believing him because the man, like in everything else, didn’t manage himself, so V could imagine how his body responded to such a sudden activity.

Another thought came to the merc: Alt had been right. Johnny wouldn’t need more than a week to get back in shape. She smirked at that and pinched V’s cheek playfully. He rubbed the spot, feeling the echo of her touch on his skin.

But even distracting him and involving him in their training didn’t prevent Kerry from slipping into in anxiety more as the days went on and the due date was approaching. Sobriety seemed like a long-lost friend: he was perpetually drunk. It was, he explained to V, the only way he knew to appease the dread he constantly felt. And when that wasn’t enough, he resorted to pills, which turned him floaty but also completely detached from everything which was, he hissed when Johnny pointed it out, the goal intended.

On the evening of the fourth day, they came back to the flat around four, and it was bathed in the declining light, coloring everything in soft orange and vivid pink. It was warm and V couldn’t help but smile as he took in the sight.

“Ker? V’s here with me.” Johnny called as they made a few steps into the flat. “Kerry?” he repeated when no answer was forthcoming. He frowned and V suddenly felt cold, hairs raising themselves on his nape.

Johnny went to the bedroom in three strides, and V followed him a pace behind. Passing the couch, he had the reflex to sweep the room and that’s how he saw him, lying on the furniture, hidden as first glance by the backrest.

“Johnny!” V called, spinning toward the couch, but Johnny beat him to it, sliding to his knees as he reached his longtime friend.

“Ker? Baby?” he called gently, but the man stayed unresponsive. On the low table next to them, V spotted a bottle of tequila, one of the good one Johnny kept covetously for special occasions. There was no glass next to it, and it was nearly empty.

V turned to Johnny with wide eyes.

“How much was left in the bottle?” he stressed out.

“It was unopened.” Johnny replied while glancing at the bottle to assess its content. “f*ck!” he exploded, before turning back to Kerry, shaking him.

“Ker, baby, open your eyes!” he asked again, slapping the man’s cheeks. Feeling like air had turned to lead, V took his phone, ready to call for help and watched as Johnny shook him until, at least, Kerry groaned and his eyes fluttered open.

“f*ck!” Johnny exclaimed again before he sagged against the low table at his back. Kerry’s eyes were drowsy, and he couldn’t seem to be able to focus his gaze.

Kneeling next to Johnny who had put his head in his hands, V spoke gently to the man lying on the couch.

“Kerry? Can you hear me?”

“Hey, Belov’d,” Kerry slurred and he reeked of alcohol. Ignoring once again the flutter in his chest at the endearment, V raised hands to the lying man’s face. Kerry’ eyes flickered all over V’s, incapable of focusing on one point.

Next to V, Johnny took the tequila and checked the content again. He was shaking, V distantly noted.

“What the f*ck, Ker?” Johnny growled and the man on the couch glanced down at him. “What were you thinkin’!!!”

“I just wanted this to stop…” Kerry garbled while raising his hands to his head, touching the sides like it was the localization of his pain. “I constantly feel like something bad ‘s gonna happen. I don’t want any o’you t’ die.” He continued as tears fell at the corner of his eyes.

Johnny surged on his feet and stormed to the balcony, taking his pack of smoke out as he went. Kerry watched him go with a glazed look before it fell back on V.

“why d’ya always look s’ sad? Did I do something wrong?” he slurred once more, “I just want you to laugh again, like last time.”

V forced a trembling smile on his lips and stocked Kerry’s cheek tenderly.

“I’m sad cause you’re sad, Kerry. I’m sad that you’re sad.”

But the man was closing his eyes again.

“I was sadder, once. Now I’m mostly ‘appy. Just don’ wanna lose it.”

“You won’t,” V heard himself promise stupidly. At that Kerry opened his eyes again and very slowly raised his hand to V’s lips. His fingers fell roughly on the younger man’s bottom lip.

“I was born to love.” He said, eyes brimming with tears, “Just let me.” He begged and V swallowed with difficulty. He took Kerry’s hand in his and kissed the knuckles, heart squeezing painfully inside his chest.

The next day, Kerry was withdrawn. Neither spoke about how scarred they had been, but Johnny put the empty bottle in front of him with a pointed look. Eyes downcast, the musician caught his head in his hands and breathed shakily. They all stayed like this in silence before Kerry looked up. Shame and regret were plainly written on his face, and he opened his mouth several time, but no words came out. In the end, he only lit a cigarette from his own pack. With his bathrobe opened and falling over his shoulder, he appeared more vulnerable than ever, like a diva stripped of all their gold. His age lines were more apparent than ever, but where they usually added to his charm, this morning they made him look gaunt and so very old.

He then got up, took the empty bottle to put it in the trash and went to the bedroom without saying anything. This cemented Johnny and V’s decision: they needed to act now.

That night, they reviewed the plan, which was about complete.

“Part one is storming the lobby,” Rogue explained, addressing Johnny in particular “you and I need to cover for V as he connects to the tower network to let Alt in. If we achieve this, we’re halfway done.”

“She is positive she can take control of the network for us. We won’t have to trouble ourselves with cameras and automatic security: she will disable it right away and lock doors as to allow us maximum security.” V added. Then he pointed to an elevator at the center of the tower. “Alt thinks this one can lead us bellow.”

“Think?” Johnny zeroed in, eyes slitting suspiciously, “what do you mean, think?”

“That’s the difficulty,” V patiently explained, “We don’t exactly know where the access point to Mikoshi is. It’s a very well-guarded secret, so it’s not appearing on any plans, and nobody seems to know where it is exactly. But we inferred from my talk with Hanako and Rogue’s various intel that it’s deep bellow the tower. And that elevator seems like the best candidate to reach it.”

Johnny nodded, bending forward to look at the map more closely. He didn’t seem particularly worried though, and his eyes were analytical. With a grunt, he retreated back into his seat and lit a cigarette before addressing Rogue.

“We’re doing it tomorrow night,” he deadpanned. The Princess of the Atlantis raised an eyebrow. Her mouth pulled down and a tick made her face spasm.

“I thought we said one week.”

“Yeah, but I’m ready now, we’re are ready.” Johnny tried to by-pass her examining gaze by puffing a heavy cloud of smoke, but V could tell Rogue wasn’t going to be deterred like this.

“Is this about Kerry?” she asked shrewdly. “Because I really don’t care about your output’s mood swings and drama-queen temper. I’m not planning my Ops around him.”

“Well, seems like you are: we’re doing it tomorrow night.” Johnny repeated with aggressiveness. Thunder flashed on Rogue’s face and deformed her traits in a snarl. She went straight for the jugular:

“You really should get help for that co-dependency thing, you’re both f*ckin’ crazy bitches!”

“WE DID!” Johnny hollered, and his voice boomed even over the music as he punched the table with his metal hand. Several patrons around them turned to their direction. “We f*ckin’s did, Rogue! For the last ten years he and I worked hard to get better and find closure, forgiveness, self-worth and all that dumb sh*t that supposedly brings happiness.” He growled, nearly nose to nose with her, face set aflame by anger. For a split of second, Rogue looked scared before her mask of coolness fell over her features once more. But Johnny wasn’t finished: “And what did you do during that time? Huh? Still running away from your own emotions like you did with Santiago? You wanna blame me for that Rogue? Well do it, I f*ckin’ don’t care, but. Don’t. judge. Me. You’ve got no right.” Johnny sat back in his seat with one last curse and drowned his drink before going for V’s.

Rogue stayed silent, gaze turned down. Her attitude tried hard to maintain impassivity, but V could read the sign of tension in her body. Johnny had stuck a nerve.

“So let me handle Kerry, and as it is all the same for you, I’m asking that we raid that tower tomorrow night and not wait a day longer.” The rockerboy demanded, voice still dangerous.

Feeling Rogue was ripe for the deal, V intervened.

“Think about it Rogue, tomorrow is gonna be Saturday night, you know the tower will be the emptiest ever. Not even the international team works in the office on Saturdays.” This was part of the inside information he had shared, having seen the working of the firm personally and closely. “It’s the ideal time to do it. And as Johnny said, we are ready.”

Speaking to her analytical mind was the right move, for she calmed down and eyed the merc with her usual scrutiny. But his poker face had been built by Margaret, head manager of cybersecurity at Hakuchō, and there was no better. The Princess of the Atlantis leaned back, relaxing once more.

“You really impress me V, how can you tolerate them with a mind like yours? They would drive me crazy.”

But V knew it was a rhetorical question, meant as a jab directed at Johnny. The man kept his temper, recognizing they were on the verge of winning her over.

“We should storm in at four a.m.,” V added, turning back to the map and she nodded.

“Agreed. Weyland will provide support from outside. He will be waiting with a car for when we get out. Then we directly go to your ripper’s clinic. Sure about that? It could put him in danger.”

“Trust me, if I don’t doubt we can make it all alive, I’m less than confident about none of us getting injured. Plus Alt said she didn’t know if connecting to Mikoshi won’t have side effects for me as she destroys it. I might really need a ripper after. Vik is good and discrete; his clinic is well hidden so we will be safe for a few hours until we can safely make our way to the safe-place.” V explained before taking a gulp of his drink. “And I really think following us will be the least of their problems. If Alt is successful, it could drive Arasaka to the ground.”

At this, he glanced down and pushed aside all thoughts of Takemura, Oda or Hanako. He couldn’t warn them about his plan, for they would obviously try to stop him, but he vowed to help them in the aftermath if he could.

“Well, that’s settled, then,” Johnny mumbled, drumming his metal fingers on the table. “And don’t tell anything to Kerry,” Johnny ordered both V and Rogue, who once again raised her eyes skyward.

In the morning, V observed Kerry sleep, tracing the bags under his eyes, his decolorated lips and the furrow of his brows. He had fallen asleep, at last, two hours ago and only after Johnny had proposed he took anxiolytics to help him settle. It was difficult to believe this man, lying next to him in bed, had been the same who had pinned him to a mat and gotten down on him. Kerry chaotic energy, so luminous before, had turned dark. Deep down, V feared that this darkness would never dissipate.

“You worry too much,” Johnny whispered from Kerry’s other side, blinking awake groggily. “Kerry sometimes spiral like that. But he bounces back. Always. That’s his strength.”

Looking up at him, V fervently hoped Johnny was right. The man raised himself on his elbow and watched their lover with soft eyes before turning the other way and sitting up.

“Let him sleep, he needs it.”

So they prepared themselves silently, took a light breakfast and Johnny left a note saying they would be back by four.

Seeing as it was their last training day, V reviewed everything with Johnny, and concentrated on the shooting range. Five days had been more than enough for him to fall back on his best-days capacity. He was evenly matched with V, maybe just a tad slower and less precise, but it was more due to the fact that to V, it was essential: he couldn’t let the enemy close, accuracy when shooting was his best defense.

When they came back, Johnny stopped the Porsche (cleaned from V bleeding all over it) in front of the building, but didn’t get out.

“Can you take care of him for a few hours? Need to run some errands.”

Not thinking much of it, V nodded and got out of the car. He had been thinking about how to distract Kerry from his mood and had the beginning of a plan. Back in the flat, he found the musician on the phone with him manager, so he settled on the couch and watched the news. They were still going on about Hanako’s abducting, and still spewing lies about how they had stopped the culprits, but were still looking for associates.

Kerry hung up with a heavy sigh before falling to the couch next to V.

“How was your day?” the younger man asked, but Kerry only shrugged nonchalantly, starting to roll himself a joint.

“You’re back early. Where is Johnny?”

“He had to run some errands; he will be back soon.”

V watched him prepare his smoke in silence and waited until Kerry was settled.

“I thought we could go shopping and make dinner.”

The other man zoomed in on him, expression surprised.

“I don’t know how to cook sh*t, V.” he declared.

“Well, fortunately for you, I do.”

“You know how to cook?” Kerry repeated, suspicious. But a slow smile was appearing on his lips. The same kind he used to give to V when in full seduction mode. It changed his face, erasing the ages lines and brought color to his eyes. “You’re a man of many talents.” He added.

“Don’t expect chef’s cuisine, but I can get by. I thought pasta with a sauce? Something uncomplicated but hum… homey?” he tried, unsure on how to describe it.

“Homey…” Kerry repeated with fondness. “Ok.”

And so they went shopping in Kerry’s car. It was a sleek expensive thing that he hated to drive, it seemed. Several times, they nearly crashed it on street lamps as Kerry took too sharp a turn, and V was having panic attacks every time they overcame another car, so close Kerry took them to the neighbor lane.

“I’m driving on the way back,” he announced categorically and Kerry nodded, sighing in relief.

He had driven them not to a shop, but to a dainty market in Charter Hill. It actually was not so far from where V had grown up, his parents having a flat on the edge of the district, where the rents were much cheaper. They had never come to the market though; it had been too expensive. Everything was organic and pretty, but so overpriced that V started to think his casual menu was going to be very high end. He had to rein Kerry in, seeing as he wanted to buy about everything, and was obviously easy target for the vendors. In the end, they went back with arms full of honey, wine, artisanal beer, biscuits of three different kinds, chestnut flour, two small block of cheese (only one needed for the night recipe) and no less than five kinds of tea. And of course, zucchini, onions, cream and fresh pasta, which had been the only items on V’s list. Several people recognized Kerry, and asked for autographs that the musician signed good-naturedly. He talked with the fans as V stood a few meters off, carrying their groceries like his own personal valet. But still, the merc preferred that to appearing on selfies.

When they came back home, Kerry was in a very good mood. Of course, he wanted to try the teas first, so they made water boil and shared a cookie over the hot beverage. When V started preparing the dish, Kerry became some sort of butterfly, going from watching him, to being bored, to drinking tea, to idly playing guitar and back at V. Exasperated, V gave him two onions with the order to mince them.

Concentrated on something at last, calm descended in the kitchen as V was grating cheese and peeling the zucchinis before cutting them in small squares. He was looking for the aromatic herbs they had brought at the market when he heard Kerry sniffle. Turning sharply toward the older man, V saw that he was crying, fat tears falling over the threshold of his pretty eyes.

“Kerry?” he called with a note of worry, placing a hand on the man’s shoulder. The musician turned toward him, eyes red and puffy as the tears ran along his face.

“It’s the onions,” he said with a watery voice.

They looked at each other in a strange stalemate before Kerry put the knife down and ran his arms around V’s neck. He hid in the merc’s neck as sobs wracked his frame and V tentatively brough his hands around the man’s back and tightened his hold.

“It’s ok,” he murmured, “The onions won’t hurt you anymore,” he tried to joke. It worked because Kerry’s sobs turned into a hiccupping laugh for a second before he pressed closer.

“I’m sorry,” he cried, “I don’t know… it just came over me and I can’t stop it!” he explained, clearly distressed, but V simply kissed him behind the ear and swayed softly from side to side.

“Sometime it’s just good to cry.” He whispered back and felt Kerry nod.

Then the man leaned back, still holding on V and kissed him wetly, sighing against his lips as their mouths slotted and their tongues met. When Kerry ended the kiss, he mumbled against the younger man’s lips.

“It’s just I’ve never been so happy before and I can’t stop thinking about how it’s gonna get ripped away from me.”

Putting both hands around the musician’s head, V forced him to look in his eyes.

“Why are you so sure we’re not gonna come back huh? It’s starting to bother me: I’m good at this, Rogue is good at this and Johnny will be just fine too!”

This, strangely, seemed to calm Kerry a bit.

“It’s just… Every time it has to do with Arasaka, it feels like doomsday. When Johnny was about to get into that chopper years ago, I felt as if part of my soul was getting ripped away from me.”

“Alright, and what do you feel now?”

“I don’t know! It’s all jumbled and… I can’t think past that thing, it’s like I’m choking on my own blood.”

“That’s the anxiety, Ker.”

“I know!” he shouted, face red and eyes tortured. V tightened his hold back, bringing him in again. Kerry tried to resist, but in the end sagged against the merc.

“To me and Rogue at least, it’s just another gig, like a hundred before. We all want to come alive, which I think is the main difference from last time. From what I understood, last time, Johnny didn’t really want to come back. This time he does, I can assure you. And I will make sure he comes back to you ok?”

Calming a bit again, Kerry nodded, and let his head rest against V’s shoulder as they swayed again.

After about a minute, his shaking had abated, and his sobs evaporated, as well as the tears.

“What would you do, if you were not a merc?” he wondered and V was surprised at the sudden change of subject. But he recognized it was probably a way for Kerry to regain control over the situation, so he played along.

Sighing, he detached them and nervously started on the zucchinis again.

“I don’t know.”

co*cking a hip against the counter, Kerry watched him while wiping his eyes with a paper towel.

“What would you like to do?” he asked again.

“I don’t know I… I can’t get back in the corpo world. I… I don’t…” he stopped, tongue tying up and concentrated on the knife in his hand for a moment. “I don’t… I haven’t really thought about what I like to do. It’s always been about survival,” he declared, expulsing the words from where they wanted to hide in his throat. “I like to dance, but I don’t want to do it for a living, it… it brings bad memories.” He added. Of course, that got Kerry curious, but he read V’s tense frame and refrained from pushing, for which V was grateful. “and truthfully. I think I like being a merc. It feels… useful. Meaningful… I like being on this side of the law.”

“Which side it is?” Kerry asked, knowing the answer.

“The right one.”

The musician couldn’t keep a laugh from bubbling past his lips.

“No wonder you and Johnny got along so well. Typically one of his line.”

V only smiled enigmatically and transferred the zucchinis in a pan with the minced onions.

“But don’t play innocent; I know why you ask. It’s a dangerous job, a merc’s life-expectancy is short.”

Kerry didn’t deny it, only crossed his arms and looked to the side.

“I just got you, Beloved, I wanna keep you as long as I can.”

V froze, heart beating fast. He detached his hand from the pan’s handle finger by finger.

“What… What’s up with that name?” he murmured, eying Kerry sideway. Said man looked confused.

“What name?” but when V didn’t add anything, he rewound his last sentence, “oh, Beloved? You don’t like it?”

V faced him, feeling tension inside his body like before a fight.

“Didn’t say that.”

Kerry looked straight at him, enthralled by his eyes. The musician could feel that the other man was bracing himself for something, but he wasn’t sure what exactly.

“I just think it suits you.” He started slowly, carefully observing V’s possible reactions. “That’s how I think of you. I think Johnny used it first but it just felt right. But if it’s too soon for pet names, we can stop.”

“No I…” V replied in his usual way of his. Kerry had noted early in their acquaintance that V often started sentences but cut himself in the middle, like words had escaped him and he wanted them back in with all his heart. So Kerry waited patiently for him to make up his mind about what he wanted to say.

“I like it.” He ended up with, obviously a compromise from what it was initially supposed to be.

“Well, you are.” Kerry affirmed, “You are beloved to me.”

Closing his eyes, V turned back to the pan and Kerry smiled knowingly.

“Pass me the pepper?” the merc asked, ending that emotional conversation firmly. He had his quota for the day, it seemed.

When Johnny came back, he was suspiciously empty handed, but only V seemed to remark this odd detail. Kerry was too busy taking him by the hand and leading him to the kitchen island where V and he had laid out diner. A bottle of good red vine from the market was breathing out next to big round glasses. And it smelled awfully good: of rosemary and garlic, of cream and pepper.

Johnny raised a surprised eyebrow and turned to V, pretty sure Kerry couldn’t have cooked all that.

“Kerry minced the onions,” V said with a mischievous smile and Johnny smirked at his lifelong friend.

“Look at that, doing something with your hands, did it feel good?”

“I do plenty of things with my hands that feel good, and you know it.” Was the witty reply. “come seat now, I’m f*ckin’ starving. Been for an hour with all the smells!”

V experienced a moment of stress when he suddenly realized both the rockerboys would try his cuisine and bear judgement on it, but he waved it away, confident enough in this skill.

And he wasn’t disappointed. On first bite, Kerry’s eyes widened and he let out a surprised little moan that turned long and blissful on second try. Johnny reaction was on par with it.

“f*ck, it’s pretty good!”

V smiled smugly and tasted it himself, allowing pride to show in the twinkling of his eyes. It was well done.

Between that and the wine, the atmosphere was pretty relaxed and light, a good change from the heavy aura of the past days. Kerry regaled them with stories of all the restaurants he and Johnny had tried while on tour, but as it often did with them, the stories soon segued into more and more crazy shenanigans.

The evening progressed like this, until they ended up on the couches, drinking another bottle of the same wine. From the other couch, V saw Johnny eye Kerry with a fond smile: it felt good to see him like this. V was sprawled with a bent leg on the seat and his other feet resting softly on the floor. He felt relaxed and at ease, a stark contrast to his first nights here. In ragged jeans and a tank top that said “f*ck” un big red letters, no one could have guessed he had been a corporat. Facing him, both older men looked the rockerboys’ part, in leathers pants and short-sleeved tops. Johnny’s was black, visible under his opened dark gray light jacket, and Kerry’s, in stark contrast, was cream-colored and soft looking. It made his tatts stand out, the ink dancing on his muscled arms.

“Y’a know what Johnny? We should install a pole here, so that V could dance just for us.”

“We are not putting a pole in my flat. You can do that when you have your own place.”

But V knew it was empty threat, because from the look of things, Kerry was not going to find his own place.

“Hum, wish I could see you dance again,” Kerry still wondered, eyes fond.

Maybe it was the alcohol, the spirit of that domestic evening, or just wanting to keep Kerry happy, but V got on his feet under the thrall of an unknown courage.

“I don’t need a pole to dance for you.” He softly said. “Pick a song,” he added with a mischievous smile.

On the couch, both men froze and watched him with uncertainty. But Johnny, ever the opportunist, took his phone and activated the sound system, browsing for a suitable song. It started in a low beat that recalled traditional South-American music, repetitive and sweet, perfect for tonight.

As it started, V let his frontal lobe shut down and his lizard brain take over, guiding him to sync with the song and his hips started swaying slowly left to right and back again in a hypnotic rhythm. Kerry was sitting very still on the couch, straight-backed and holding his smoke a few inches from his face but it was like he had forgotten about it.

Closing his eyes, V got into the music, shoulders slowly rotating in counterpoint to his hips. His naked feet started flowing in a small circle around himself and he turned his back on Kerry. As he did so, he started playing with the hem of his tank top, raising it to his lips to hold it with his teeth as he completed the turn, and let his lover admire how his tattooed abs shifted under his skin as he spined effortlessly. Facing Kerry, he started caressing the button of his jean in a tease and couldn’t help but smile when he saw that the musician was still wide eyed, smoke finished and ashes falling on his jeans. Next to him, not less affected but hiding it better, Johnny alternated between looking at V and his bandmate, wanting to see his reactions. When, at last, V opened the button of his jean, Kerry started breathing again. He put the smoke in the ashtray and leaned back on the couch.

Letting his hands trail over his abs, V continued to beat the rhythm with his pelvis before getting back to his jeans, undoing the zip down until it fell a bit on his waist, revealing his white boxers. He came closer to Kerry and took his hands to put them over his jeans’ loops. Then he spun and shimmied, pushing Kerry’s hands down. His lover took the hint and helped the pants get to the floor. V stepped out of them gracefully and in the same movement, got rid of his top. Now clad only in his underwear, he turned again and straddled Kerry’s lap, putting his arms around his neck and gyrating his hips over Kerry’s crotch in the low beat of the song. Kerry’s eyes trailed over his face, serious and mesmerized and lips slightly open. His hands clenched, hovering above V’s waist, like he didn’t know if he could touch or not. Grinding down on him, V approached his face very close to Kerry’s and gave him that secretive smile that drove him crazy. The one that made him want to reveal all that was V. It spurred him to move, hands going to V’s face but before he could touch, the younger man had retreated, back on his feet. He danced away, legs taunt with tension to slow his movements and display all of his fit body to his audience. Kerry let out a frustrated groan and his eyes blazed with want. V made a tour around the low table before stopping in front of Johnny. Bracketing the rockerboy’s legs between his, V thrusted his hips slowly in the air. Johnny didn’t have the same hesitation as Kerry, he confidently put his hands on the underwear and started pulling it down. V stopped him and turned in a fluid move, presenting his ass as he arched back like a cat. Once again, Johnny hands went to the last garment and this time, V let him pull it off of him. When he was naked, he crawled on the couch to Kerry who had turned to him. He slithered to his lover, forcing him to scooch backward until he had a foot on the couch and the other on the ground. He was now seated sideway and facing V, and by extension, Johnny. Then V kissed him: a shy, restrained touch of lips, the kind that felt like precious gift to Kerry and he moaned under his young lover’s trembling mouth. With the same tenderness, V pushed butterfly kisses on Kerry’s neck, who arched the other way to let him have all the leisure he wanted. With hots puffs of air, V continued down, pulling Kerry’s tank top up as to kiss his stomach and the skin shivered under his lips. And slowly, he undid Kerry’s belt and zipper. Arching all the way, with his ass high on display for Johnny viewing, he mouthed over Kerry’s hardening co*ck, still trapped in his pants and the man couldn’t help but buckle upward, pushing against V’s face. Said man let him with a small moan that went straight to Kerry’s balls. Without the finesse of his dancer lover, Kerry pushed his pants and boxers under his ass to free his dick. And V got the message: he put his lips coyly over Kerry’s head, the shadow of a tongue teasing the slit. Kerry sagged against the armrest with a long moan.

“Wish you could see yourself, Ker, all worked up and he hasn’t put his mouth on you fully yet.” Johnny commented, powerless to keep silent. His words made V shiver and look up at Kerry, whose face was caught in a beautiful expression of rapture, like he couldn’t believe what was happening.

Still gazing at him, V opened his mouth and took him in a long slide down. Kerry shouted out and pained to keep his hips still, thankfully helped by V, holding them down.

“f*ck,” Johnny muttered, “f*ck you both, you drive me crazy.”

And V felt him move before large hands fell over his ass, stroking him leisurely. He continued to suck Kerry in long pulls up and down, taking him deeper each time. And each time, the musician would moan loudly, and his abs strained to chase the pleasure higher.

V felt Johnny nudge his thigh with the bottle of lube and caught it. He shifted a bit and released Kerry’s hips, using one hand under his waist to indicate to his lover that he could f*ck his mouth. With a drawn-out whine, Kerry started moving, pelvis rocking upward.

Now hands free, V scooped a bit of lube on his fingers and put them over Kerry’s hole, circling it in a sensual caress. He felt Johnny get the bottle back between his legs, and soon the rockerboy was doing the same to him, prompting a muffled moan at the sensation. Soon, Kerry was f*cking himself on V freely, pushing against his finger and then shoving his co*ck deep in his mouth. His hands drifted toward V’s face, simply holding him as he moved with abandon.

For his part, V had a hard time concentrating on what he was doing, lost between the sensation of his mouth being used and the tantalizing pressure against his entrance. It dawned on him that with all that had happened, their sexual endeavors had stopped all together, but desire was crashing back full force now, driving them wild. Johnny movements were rough, like he already was at the end of his patience, and V couldn’t blame him. He nudged his finger deeper inside Kerry and let a second one push against the rim. With a shout, Kerry firmly sat on the fingers and started gyrating his hips madly.

“Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me,” he begged desperately, so V, albeit a bit surprised, released his co*ck and went up to him, offering him his reddened lips. Kerry put both arms around his neck and took his lips in a devouring kiss, shoving his tongue in and sucking on V’s, biting his bottom lip as his hips started moving uncoordinatedly. He was close, V realized. He twisted his fingers, finding the angle that worked best and moaned long and deep when Johnny did exactly the same to him.

“f*ck, V, touch him!” Johnny ordered and V obtempered, slithering his other hand to Kerry’s co*ck and stroking it. The man arched back, pushing up in V’s thigh fist before sitting heavily on his fingers. He lost all coordination and was keening wantonly without interruption, moans turning high pitched as the org*sm grew and grew and grew again, rising in a low but devastating tide. V panted over him, fascinated as Kerry’s face turned desperate and anguished, every muscle straining to come. It looked painful, but so good at the same time. Twisting his wrist, V saw Kerry’s eyes open wide and his mouth slacken in a shocked O as he released, co*ck twitching madly in V’s hand.

He panted, eyes far away and V kissed his neck softly to bring him back to earth. Behind him, Johnny had stopped his caresses for the moment, waiting until their lover was back with them to continue. At last, Kerry eyes fell back on V and he smiled, soft and relaxed.

“Damn, that was good. I really love when you dance for me.”

Laughing, V kissed him on the cheek and Kerry caught him for a quick one on his lips before releasing him, watching his face closely.

“I wanna see you come.” He whispered before his eyes travelled to Johnny: “Make him come for me?”

With a smirk, Johnny lubed his finger again and as he breached V again, his metal hand slithered to the merc’s throat, pulling from behind until he was on his knees on the couch. Kerry shifted, legs sliding between V’s and scooting closer. He took his hard length in hand and stroked lazily, looking up at V’s reactions. In the meantime, Johnny had once again destroyed V’s corpo hairdo, viciously throwing the pins away and V couldn’t help but laugh at the hate Johnny exulted for them. When his hair was once more flowing freely, Johnny gripped it and used it to make the younger man arch back. At the same time, he unceremoniously shoved two fingers back in V’s hole, scissoring them. He bit on the younger man’s shoulder, his rough beard ticking the sensitive skin of V’s neck. Said man breathed shallowly, feeling himself go as Johnny unleashed his passion on him. The rockerboy seemed to be in a frenzy, and it showed in the roughness of his gestures. Feeling him like this and knowing he was the one causing it unleashed a wave of heat in V’s blood, and he keened, biting his bottom lip.

“Go on, take him Johnny, I can tell he wants it.” Kerry breathed, watching V closely.

With a groan, Johnny didn’t need to be told twice. Widening his stance on the couch, he kicked V’s legs more open and put his large hands over his lower back and waist before driving in. Both men groaned un unison, making Kerry smile at them. He continued stroking V’s co*ck, which twitched in his hand and leaked precum over his fingers. V’s thighs trembled as Johnny penetrated him in a series of thrusts that started shallow and ended in deep rolls of hips, just like he preferred. Johnny harshly bit V’s shoulder again, muffling his needy groans against the tattooed skin and the younger man buckled wildly, falling forward. His fall was prevented by Kerry, who pushed him back softly, forcing him to meet Johnny’s pelvis. Said man took V’s right arm in hand to hold him and used his metal hand to caress V’s throat, pressing against it to make him feel it.

“Come on,” he growled, “just take it like a good boy,”

V’s mouth slackened and his eyes scrunched as wave after wave of heat busted through him.

“Let go.” Johnny ordered and so V did, sagging a bit against him and riding the flow of emotions and sensations that the man unleashed inside him. He felt the fullness inside his ass and the tight tunnel of Kerry’s hand on his co*ck. Then, he felt the musician’s other hand slide under him to reach his stretched hole. Kerry’s finger pushed a bit against it and it was like he had been electrified. He whimpered and pushed down against the finger, making Kerry breath faster.

“You love to be stuffed, huh? Like feeling full?” he whispered, devouring V’s expression. Behind him, Johnny chocked off a moan at the sensation of tightness increased and his hips started losing rhythm as he got caught in the sensation of heat surrounding him.

Kissing V’s tight stomach, Kerry licked a path from his navel to a nipple and felt V clench around his finger and Johnny’s co*ck.

“f*ck!” Johnny exploded, he gripped V’s waist tighter and pounded into him with abandon, chasing his high seemingly without a care for his younger lover who just let himself be used. But there was no denying V’s pleasure as it happened: mouth slack, lips shinning with spit and brows furrowed in troubled agony, the man panted faster and faster, caught between his lovers and unable to evade their touches. He was right on the edge, teetering, hesitating between the sweet release waiting for him on the other side, and the bliss of making it last longer. But one look at Johnny behind V informed Kerry that the man wouldn’t last any longer, seeing as he was nearly cross-eyed in the delights caused by their coupling.

“Come on Beloved,” Kerry cajoled, “Cum for me?”

And V did, eyes opening wide at the endearment, ass fluttering around Johnny and milking him. The rockerboy bit off a curse, but then couldn’t stop the next one as he shot deep inside V, enhancing his pleasure at the sensation of being filled.

With soft moans and pants, Johnny and V sagged against one another, and Kerry pushed on his knees to bent over them and kiss them soundly, smiling in pure, unaltered happiness.

All of my Heroes are dead - MrsSimply (1)

When they all went to bed after a collective shower where they took care of each other gently, Kerry fell asleep within minutes, which was a relief. Johnny and V looked at one another in the dark, mentally counting the hours separating them from their raid. V knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep, but he dozed, flushed against Kerry, holding him in his arms and taking comfort in his heat.

Around two in the morning, Johnny got up, cuing V that it was time to move. He untangled himself from Kerry as slowly as he could. It went fine until they crossed the threshold of the room. It was like the sleeping man had been wired to them. The moment they had a foot outside of the safe zone of the room, Kerry jolted awake. It took him a few seconds to find his bearings, during which Johnny moved to the bathroom. But V only distantly heard him do so, too concentrated on Kerry wounded eyes.

“You’re going.” The man on the bed said, and his face was full of anguish and betrayal. “What… Where you planning on leaving a note or something?” he spat lowly, getting to his knees. V could tell he was working himself up into a frenzy very fast, so he marched back to the bed.

“We might have come back before you even awoken. You were sleeping so well, we just hoped – “

“So that’s what it was huh? Diner and goodbye sex? You f*ckers!” he shouted, eyes wild as he conjured anger to mask how terrified he was. Johnny was back in the room with them and Kerry zeroed on him. The man moved to the bed, kneeling next to his lover.

“Don’t go,” Kerry begged automatically and f*ck, V was not prepared to resist that. He felt his resolve dissolve as fast as ice under the scorching sun of the badland. “Don’t do it, don’t leave me behind, please!” he continued, catching Johnny’s face between his hands.

“I’m not leaving you behind, baby, I’m coming back. Tonight, we will all sleep in this bed again, so please, calm down.”

“No, no, I’m not calming down!” he cried out, distressed beyond measure, “I can’t, I’ve tried, but I can’t let you do this, please, please, please.”

But Johnny just shook his head.

“I have to do it and you know it.” He replied, eerily calm. Silence followed that declaration, and V saw Kerry resign himself.

“I’m coming with you then,” he said, getting up and it was V’s turn to panic. He caught the musician’s arms in a tight grip.

“Don’t be a gonk, you can’t come with us.” But Kerry wrenched himself free. “Ker, please, be reasonable.”

“No,” he shouted back, “you be reasonable and not go on this f*cking raid. Why can’t you let it rest?! Others can do it.”

V shook his head sadly and looked at Kerry in the eye.

“You know it’s not true. We have to do it Ker.” He declared sadly, stroking Kerry’s cheek with a hand softly. Still breathing hard, the man seemed to relent.

Then, slowly, Johnny took Kerry’s jaw in his metal hand and turned him toward himself.

“I love you,” he murmured, and his words ricocheted in the silence like atoms colliding: invisible but of tremendous significance. Kerry’s eyes widened and his mouth opened as his expression turned anguished. “and we’re coming back to you later, ok? This not goodbye.” Johnny persisted over that look before kissing him. Kerry let himself be embraced and V breathed, reassured.

Which was how he nearly missed it: Johnny, raising his hand to his life-long friend, holding what looked like a Bounce Back. Gently but firmly, he stabbed Kerry with it. It hissed as it released the drug in the blood system of the victim.

Said man stiffened and moaned in pain. His expression turned uncomprehensive as he detached from Johnny to look at him with betrayal in his eyes.

“Johnny!” he choked, face full of fear. “Johnny!”

“I love you Ker,” the rockerboy breathed against Kerry’s lips, “but I don’t trust you with yourself. I’m taking you someplace safe ‘k? When you’ll wake up, it will be finished and I’ll back by your side with V.”

Still looking wounded, Kerry nonetheless nodded and V saw him sag against Johnny, eyelids heavily closing. He fought it under V’s flabbergasted expression, but whatever Johnny had given him overpowered his resolve. He closed his eyes, asleep once more.

V’s eyes slowly went up to Johnny’s.

“What that really necessary?” he spat while checking Kerry’s pulse. It was steady, but slow.

“What, you wanted him to barge in the tower with us? I know him, and you’ve seen him. You’ve seen how worked up he can get. I’m not giving him a chance to f*ck himself up, one way or another.”

Still disapproving, V couldn’t really contradict Johnny either. He huffed, shaking his head in resigned disapproval.

“How did you get that?”

“Your ripperdoc. And we’re bringing Kerry to him. He and Misty agreed to take care of him. Misty said she’s seen how he had gotten when you were injured after your dead-brained scheme at the parade, that he needs to be with people who can help him calm down.”

Feeling outmaneuvered, V only grunted and sighed.

“Well, let’s dress him up a bit, and get a move on, we’re gonna be late.”


So... Did you like this chapter?
I must confess I spend a lot of time torturing myself over it, deleting and rewriting whole bits, or putting back parts I had removed, and still I'm not satisfied.
I thought it might be overly dramatic, but I really wanted to show how Johnny and V decision affected Kerry.
I really hope it was ok...

Next chapter later today ;) yay double update again!

Chapter 11: Enter the Realm of Hades...


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

I fell in love again.

Because of Kerry’s episode, they were running late, so V used the car travel to do his usual hairdo in front of the small mirror of the passenger seat of the Porsche.

Johnny eyed him sideway, mouth pulling down.

“I really hate when you do that,” he commented, turning left in NC’s mostly deserted streets.

“I know,” V replied. He had pinpointed the rockerboy’s pellicular fascination for his hair early-on.

“It’s like you become someone else when you wear it.”

“I know,” he repeated, pushing the last pin in.

“As if you were wearing a mask.” Johnny concluded in a soft growl. V paused in his examination of his gun’s ammunitions to glance at his companion.

“See it that way, Johnny. You and Kerry are the only ones to see me unmasked then. Should feel privileged. But if you want everyone to see me undone, then I live to please you.” He declared, voice descending to sultry notes at the end like a professional. For all he didn’t like it, he knew how to play that game.

Johnny shifted and cleared his throat but said nothing, so V just smiled, leaning back in his seat.

“And I know how you love to f*ck it up as soon as you can. Don’t wanna rob you of that pleasure.” He concluded with a smirk and once again, watched as the other man squirmed in stubborn silence.

They arrived at Misty’s shop, and V turned to check on Kerry, who was still unconscious. The dose had been high, it seemed. Johnny stopped the car and went to retrieve Kerry as V opened the way. Misty welcomed them with a whisper and directed Johnny to place the sleeping man in one of her meditation’s seat.

He did so, very gently and his hands trailed over Kerry’s sleeping form, stroking his cheek with two fingers before he stepped back. V watched it with longing eyes. Witnessing that kind of love was like a punch to his gut, and it left behind the strange sensation of life being just a little bit worthy of its trials. When Johnny turned toward him, V experienced a moment of suspension, like the earth beneath his feet opened. The man’s intense gaze spoke louder than his words, and V understood that he was part of that love, even if it was too early to say it out loud, for fear it would shatter in their hands. Resolute, both men turned to the back of the shop, walking to Vik.

With their medpacks filled, guns and ammunitions accounted for, and protective gear in place, they arrived to Corpoplaza right at four. Rogue was waiting for them at the Arasaka memorial, hip co*cked against one of the black granite blocks. When she had bombed the tower with Blackhand, it had been empty, but what neither her nor Johnny had accounted for was that the blast would be a lot bigger than anticipated. She was the murderers of thousands, and that was not counting people who had, like V’s parents and sister, died of radiations later. Nomads and poor people essentially, whose names weren’t on the monument. Yet, looking at her from afar, no one could have thought that a petite woman like her had wrecked the city like this, and upturned millions of lives. Meeting her, in a way the culprit behind his parent’s death, had been a staggering experience for V. She was not without remorse, genuinely wishing fewer innocent people had died, but just like Johnny she was relentless in her quest for justice. She still slept well at night, impervious to the moans of the thousand ghosts she had created.

Next to her, V had felt hollow, without purpose as he fought the undercurrents that tried to drown him several time. But as thirst for vengeance should have made him hate her, he couldn’t help but fall under her thrall. Destructive on one side, she was also the firm hand that shaped him now. He was but a human at the feet of goddesses like her, who could upheave the earth and the oceans of his life with one word. V was the kind of man that fell to his knees before such power and begged to serve.

Seeing them approach, she straightened and with one simple gesture, both Johnny and V fell in line behind her.

The guards in front of the tower were dead before they could utter any sound of alert, each with a bullet in their skull, as silent as it had been swift, courtesy of Rogue. The security cameras were off with a blink of V’s eyes. They stormed the lobby, like shadows in a storm.

There was a moment of confusion as both guards and hosts took in the situation. Half of them were dead before they could regroup as Johnny and Rogue rained hell on them with terrible accuracy. V ran to the counter, fluidly jumping over it and disarming the two hosts with perfunctory moves, preventing them from giving the alert or to shut down the access to the intranet.

Crouching low as bullets continued to rain over him, he hijacked the computers, unleashing Alt in their system. They hit their first snag here, earlier than they wished.

“it’s a parallel network,” Alt diagnosed, tone disappointed and frustrated. “I can’t access the main frame from here.”

“Can you at least block the security systems? Block the entrance?” V asked but he felt the answer before she formulated it.

“Negative. You need to find another port.”

Silence resounded around him and he felt Johnny’s presence behind him.

“We need to go up, find another access point,” he delivered the news coolly. Both Johnny and Rogue shrugged. Although it was not ideal, they had though it might be the case. In their contingency plan, they had suggested going up to the 33th floor, which had been V’s back when he was working in counter-intelligence, and the one he knew best.

Moving fast, as time was now their worst enemy, they went to the elevator. V hacked the authentication system with Alt’s help and they went up without a stop. The doors opened to darkened corridors. On the far-right corner, blinking dots above cubicles indicated they were occupied. At this point they could just sneak in without disturbing the few employees still working at this hour. It was not really Rogue nor Johnny’s style, for they judged any corporat guilty, but V didn’t let them the choice, guiding them stealthily to the left. Crouching in front of his former office, he quickly bypassed the locking system and entered. It hadn’t changed a bit, it’s new occupant not having taken the pain – or the time – to customize it. The merc brought the computer to life and jacked in. This time it did the trick and Alt was back in Arasaka’s network, flowing through the well-known lines of code. All at once, the light flickered, the cameras shut down and more importantly, the doors locked.

They got out and back to the elevator at a sprint, being just blurs to the employees trying to see what happening and why they were now locked in their cubicles.

“Mikoshi’s access point is at sub-level seven. But this elevator won’t bring you down. You need to find this one. It on another network, so you’ll need the access protocol to enter it”

The map of the tower appeared on V’s holodeck. Instead of punching down, they went up to the exec atrium, on level hundred and ten.

“Careful,” Alt warned, once again a flickering image next to V. He crouched, imitated by Rogue and Johnny and they flattened to the sides of the elevator as the doors opened. The floor was swarmed with security, but they were battling on two fronts: against the three intruders in the elevator and against their own automated defenses turned rogue by Alt.

The Princess of the Atlantis and Johnny picked them one by one while V hacked into them, trying to find the access to the hidden elevator they needed to reach the lower levels. Going from body to body swiftly, he suddenly had to roll sideway, only just evading a woman with a katana. He felt the blade caress his cheek but the second after, she was dead, a bullet in her head courtesy of Johnny.

“f*ckin’ pay attention,” growled the man in V’s ear over their radio canal.

“Do your job better and cover me,” V spit back, but there was no heat behind the word. He was already onto the next cadaver after checking the woman.

Observing the floor over a decorative planter, he identified a woman at the back, obviously giving orders as she disabled the automatic turret Alt had been using to rain bullets over the Arasaka’s personnel from this side.

“Take her down,” he ordered the other two, pinging her position, before he proceeded to clear a path for himself to her. Three times he pulled the trigger of his gun, and three bodies hit the ground. V slid behind a couch and counted the bullets the nearest opponent fired. At twelve, it ceased and V took it as his cue. He went over the couch, rolled agilely and fired between the man’s legs. As he fell, V turned to the left and fired again, not waiting to see if he had hit, confident in his ability. The woman was right before him, still alive and V had a moment of doubt when she raised her hand to shoot. She never got the occasion as she froze over, knee exploding when the bullet Johnny fired went through it. Flattening himself to the ground next to her and trusting Rogue to cover for him from behind a decorative panel on his right, he subdued the woman. She struggled for a bit, but he was quick to put his fingers in her mouth to prevent her from killing herself using the little bomb inside her molar. She stiffened, obviously surprised he would know about it, but V hacked into her brain and the fight turned inward. She was good, but V was just better, reading into her mind like in a rebellious book. He let her go, getting out of her mind with the intel needed. Not giving her a moment of reprieve, V chocked her up before snapping her neck coldly.

Around him, the floor had been pacified by Johnny and Rogue, and the man came to check on his lover, offering a hand up. As V took it, he pointed to the left of the atrium where an inconspicuous panel actually hid an elevator, invisible to the unknowing eye. Now that Alt had the access protocol thanks to V, the panel slide open, inviting them in.

Breathing out softly, V ordered the lift to start its descent. In the elevator, they stayed silent, concentrated, but V took that time to let his eyes roam over Rogue and Johnny. She had a small cut over her left eye, and flickers of blood covered her face and white shirt like as many freckles. It would look cute if it wasn’t the blood of her enemies. Instead it looked fiery, like delicate war paint. Johnny sported several cuts on his right arm that bleed profusely, but nothing too deep. Crouching as they continued their descent, V took out the cauterizing spray Vik had given them from his pack, and shook it before using it on Johnny. The man jumped, so concentrated he had been on the moving numbers. He looked even more surprised when he discovered his injuries and his eyes traveled softly to V’s face as he covered the gashes with the healing spray. Behind them, Rogue observed the scene with a strange expression, but stayed silent. As the numbers reached zero, V quickly put the tin can back in his back pack and reload his gun with swift movements. Mind once more on their mission, he waited until the door opened.

The laboratory that greeted them was eerily silent, lighted only by small diodes flickering on the ground and leading the way to the other side of the space.

Rogue breathed out a frustrated huff and Johnny concurred with a grunt: this was surprising.

“Alt?” V asked as they slowly made their way across the room.

“Security was mostly automated. I don’t see any human movements here. You are clear.”

Relaying the information to his two companions, he continued to scan the area, deeply suspicious. A sentiment shared by the other two who nonetheless followed him.

They reached a heavy iron curtain and V once again addressed Alt, asking her to lift it up.

“Manual only,” she replied, surprised. “It’s been deactivated.”

This rose Rogue suspicions higher and she crouched low, slithering to the left.

“It’s a trap.” She whispered. Johnny and V only had a moment to brace themselves before an explosion came from their right and something busted from the opening created.

It collided with Johnny, taking him and slamming his body against the wall. Rogue fired reflexively, but the bullets bounced back on the armor. Grunting and chocking, Johnny kicked his opponent who stayed disturbingly unmoving: the rockerboy had proved time and again that his strength was to be accounted for and V had experienced it firsthand. Reacting on instinct, V rolled further away, trying to assess the situation in the half dark. He had barely finished the thought that the lights came on, thank to Alt. Their opponent appeared and Rogue snarled like a dragon.


The man, cyborg was a more accurate descriptive, turned to her with a sneer. But his hold on Johnny didn’t relent and his victim was losing colors and movements. V hacked the borg, overheating his components and the creature grunted, doubling over with a howl that was barely human. Johnny fell at his feet, panting and incapable of moving yet, still reeling from being slammed against the wall.

V fired his whole magazine at the monster, which at least drew his attention away from Johnny. The half-robot half-man was surprisingly fast, and V had to roll and scramble up to evade him. He jumped over a computer station for cover. But the thing smashed right through it, and his cyberarm punched V’s in the face before he had time to regroup, projecting him to the left. His vision flickered, optics firing up in alert under the shock and he couldn’t breathe. He heard the heavy steps come toward him but was powerless to protect himself, still blinded by the blow.

Bullets flew to the man, the heavy fire of a shotgun, and the barely human machine roared as the cartridge pierced his armor and fried the circuity. Then V felt strong arms heaving him up, and the pinprick of a booster plunged right next to his heart. His vision suddenly cleared as the adrenaline pumped through his veins. Johnny pulled him by the arm behind a huge server before crouching again, hands covering V’s face worriedly.

Panting, V’s eyes focused on Johnny’s dark ones and he gave the man a little smile, going as far as quickly pushing his lips against his lover’s before he nodded, signaling he was mostly alright.

“Get out of your little rat’s holes!” the giant bellowed, advancing between the rows of data servers. Johnny’s finger pointed up as he mouthed “Rogue” and V understood that the Princess of the Atlantis was covering them from the platforms over them.

V knew of Smasher, he had had the displeasure of meeting him twice, thankfully from afar. And he knew the man was ninety-percent cyberware and implants, his only weak point being his brain. They would have to aim directly for it. Understanding each other with a look, they knew their best chance was to split to come at him from two ways. V turned to the right, ready to go again when he felt Johnny’s hand take him back in and he kissed him before pushing him up.

Stealthily, V moved behind Smasher and again quick-hacked him, short-circuiting his chest piece. Once more, the beast roared in frustration.

“I don’t know you, punk, but I know your little companions. My sweet princess Rogue, and that f*ckin’ asswipe of a rockerboy, Johnny Silverhand. Long time no see, f*ckers!”

“Your face has become too ugly, Smasher, it’s unbearable!” Johnny replied sarcastically, drawing the borg attention to his position. Rogue fired, and both her shots hit the lower back of the monster, making him stumble.

He turned toward the origin of the firing, but couldn’t seem to locate her, so he raised an arm and just discharged in the general direction, unleashing bullets like a rifle. But V once again cut him off by overloading him, and the cyborg screamed as he took his head in his hands. Coming out of their hiding places at once, both Johnny and V fired at him. Johnny’s malorian hit the right shoulder joint of the beast, dislocating his arm. With an inhuman roar, Smasher got to his feet once again and ran toward Johnny. Both men ended in lockdown, but it was apparent that for all his strength, Johnny was going to be crushed under Smasher enhanced force. The rockerboy buckled under the assault and screamed as his opponent’s hands tightened around his biceps, crushing the bones and the metal.

Another shot from Rogue hit the robot’s kneecap, and he faltered just enough so that Johnny could push him off him and slid to the side, behind a crate. Heart beating fast, V widened his stance and aimed at the head of the monster just as he once again turned to where Rogue was hiding. When he saw his eye, V fired and the bullet… took off part of his skull as it punched through, but it didn’t kill him.

“f*ck,” the merc muttered, still reeling from the terrifying proof of the borg’s immortality.

“Don’t get distracted, V,” Rogue said over their radio in a low voice, “he is still part human. Do it again.”

And like a good dog, he fired again, with the same result. Only this time the giant turned completely toward him and unleashed two of the small missiles he carried over his shoulders. V gasped and only quick reflexes allowed him to jump out of the way and behind a workbench. He felt the blast hit the floor where he had been and the metal of the furniture crack and explode, pushing him forward. He slid on his stomach and pain exploded in his shoulders as small shards of metal pierced the skin not covered by his bulletproof vest. Grunting, he forced himself to move, turning toward the f*cking borg and hacking him once more with overheat.

Bellowing a terrible sound, half mechanical and half human, a hundred percent psychotic, Smasher lost patience.

“Son of a bitch!” he fumed as his armor regulated the overheat. Still, his movements had lost coordination and he was slower. V backed off, scrambling to his feet, hacking him again at the same time he fired. He hit him at the hips, cutting though circuity to impede him even more. His quick hack disabled the right arm completely and the cyborg stopped when he remarked it. With a grunt and a huff, he tore off his own arm and threw it as V, who only just dodged. Heavy fire came from both Rogue shotgun and Johnny’s, behind Smasher, hitting his other arm, his legs and even the back of his head, but he didn’t stop advancing on V. The merc found himself backed up against a pile of metallic crate and experienced real fear. He felt himself freeze as the borg suddenly grabbed him by the right arm. Smasher crushed his wrist, snapping it like it was barely a toothpick. V bellowed in absolute pain, throat raw with the force of his scream. The borg twisted the broken wrist harshly and V fell to the ground on his back. His vision flickered as shock made his brain scramble to deal with the torrent of agony he was experiencing. Then the monster put his foot over his chest and pressed. V felt his ribs crack one by one, and his breath was stolen out of him. But it wasn’t what had him sweating in debilitating fear. Because Smasher was pulling on his arm and the pain was terrible. Then, a bullet hit the half-robot once more in the neck, and the borg grunted in frustration. It all happened very fast: with a growl of anger, he turned and wrenched V’s arm off his shoulder, ripping the flesh, snapping the tendons and pulling off veins and artery. V howled in torment.

Johnny was reloading when he saw it happen. He watched it in slow motion, his face draining of all colors and his stomach clenching in abject horror as V’s arm was ripped off of him like one of a doll. Smasher threw the arm away, like he had done with his, and Johnny saw V sag, scream cut off as he fell unconscious under the killing pain and blood started to pour out of the torn flesh. Then the borg lifted his remaining arm and prepared to shot.

Johnny’s blood ran cold and rage filled him in. He fired, the malorian ringing and heating with the force of his shots. He was barely aiming, but he knew all bullets ran true, all six of them ending in Smasher’s head, piercing his brain and turning his gray matter into mush. Silence followed as the cyborg froze, arm still poised to end V’s life but never shooting. And then he sagged and Johnny ran toward him, pushing him to the side to prevent him from falling over V and crushing him.

He didn’t stop to check if the man was dead, falling to his knees and taking V’s in his arms. His heart was beating wildly in his chest, and only one thought ran through his head: “don’t die, don’t die, don’t die.” It overpowered all others, so that he stayed dumbly there, stroking V’s unconscious face.

Then, the merc’s eyes opened, but they glowed golden and his voice, thought it had the same tone, didn’t carry the same fluctuation. Alt had taken control.

“Johnny, you need to stop the flow, he is going to die of blood loss if you don’t act soon.”

He starred at V, uncomprehending. Rogue appeared panting behind him. She checked Smasher with a grunt before concentrating on Johnny. Seeing how lost he was, she took matter in her own hands, opening her bag to get a small syringe of synthmorphine out of it, punching V’s with it.

“f*cking stop the blood, Johnny!” she ordered and that seemed to snap him out of it. Rogue passed him the emergency tourniquet and suddenly, Johnny military training came back to him full force. He passed the device over V’s shoulder before tightening it. Then for good measure, Rogue sprayed V with the coagulant agent. Lastly, Johnny took the bandages from the bag and started covering V’s stump with it, encasing the tourniquet to secure it. With Rogue help, he wrapped V shoulder against his torso, feeling like he couldn’t breathe the whole time.

At last, Alt spoke again.

“You need to hurry, you might have staved it off but he is not out of the wood. Get to Mikoshi.”

“What?!” Johnny exclaimed, “No, we’re getting out of here and back to Vik now!”

“No,” both Rogue and Alt declared at the same time, “you’ll carry him but we go on. He knew the risks,” Alt continued.

“I’m not doing this again, Johnny, it’s now or never,” Rogue added, face drawn. And he was suddenly aware of her injuries as well: a bullet wound was obvious under her hastily bandaged thigh. He himself felt his various aches and fractured bones. Hitting himself with a booster, he nodded grimly before heaving V up, cradling him to his chest. They limped to the heavy iron door.

Tiredly, Johnny put V on the floor and both he and Rogue strained to lift the curtain. With a shout of frustration, pain, and mostly, anger, Johnny put his back behind it and at last it bulged, lifting. Swiftly, Rogue pulled herself under before reaching for V. Then Johnny pushed it up and bent under it before releasing it. It fell with a clang.

“I’ll be able to unlock it from here, I think”, Alt indicated.

Once more picking his injured lover in his arms, Johnny advanced in the room. It blinked with various lights, and a strange door-like monument greeted them, suspended from above over a pool of coolant. It shone from within with a red light, giving it an ominous look. A steel bridge allowed them to access it and they slowly walked the distance.

“Take the link, Johnny, and put it in his neural port.” Alt indicated with V’s lips. Johnny did so as Rogue posted herself in front of the way they had come from, ready to welcome any unwanted visitors.

“When he is hooked, I’ll start the process of destroying Mikoshi. I’m unsure of the consequences on him, so don’t freak out if he starts spasming. I promise I’ll do anything in my power not to harm him. You should put him in the coolant, it will help.” She explained and he felt a flicker of annoyance that she had waited until now to explain all this. But V had known: he had hinted at it during their various briefings. “Do it,” she urged when he hesitated. Feeling tired, and still reeling from the abominable scene of Smasher tearing off V’s arm, he just did as she asked. His heart bled as he did so, knowing he was hurting his young lover once more.

V’s eyes stopped glowing golden and for a second, Johnny saw the silver shine instead. There was a flash on cognition behind them, a moment of lucidity before V was gone again. Slowly, reverently, Johnny cradled him close and, using the scale next to the machine, immerged himself in the cooling liquid. He gasped, a sound vaguely echoed by V before he was limp once again. Letting him float in front of him, Johnny stroked his cheek, eyes worried.

After a moment, he lifted his head, looking for Rogue who watched him back, eyes unreadable. But Johnny still got the impression that she was distressed. Worried. Sad. The complexity of her emotions escaped him, but he felt the urge to ask for forgiveness.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured, and it echoed in the silent room.

She breathed out.

“I’m sorry too. I… I wish I had been like him, or like Kerry, better able to understand you and what you needed.” She confessed.

He chuckled, a sad and desperate sound.

“We were too alike, Rogue. That’s why I loved in you: you were like a mirror, one as deformed as me.”

The Princess of the Atlantis acknowledged this with a twitch of her mouth, her eyes filling with acceptance.

“But you changed.” She said, and it was an accusation and a praise at the same time.

“I let them reach to me.”

And it was the end of that conversation, there was nothing else to say.

A few minutes later, the room turned icy blue as the machine changed color. At the same time, V opened his eyes and gasped, uttering a small pitiful moan that slowly grew to became a full scream. Both Johnny and Rogue watched it happen without any idea on how to react. As Johnny was seriously considering wrenching the cable out of V’s head despite having done so with dire consequences twenty years before with Alt, it stopped and the room turned white. All the lights came in at once as the same time as the machine turned black. Nothing happened for a while before V’s eyes twitched open, pained but aware.

The young merc moved his lips.

“It’s done,” Johnny read.

Getting out of the tower was child’s play. From Mikoshi, Alt really had access to the rest of the Arasaka network and she unleashed her revenge on the company full force. Every room they passed uncovered dead security agents and military personnel. They had been close to raiding the place, a minute more and Johnny and Rogue would have faced a small battalion on their own. As it happened, they were all dead or unconscious. Alarms blared and garbled warning messages repeated in loops. Alt guided them out by a side door and Rogue had Weyland pick them up a few seconds later. As the car drove toward Little China, they saw entire trucks going the other way to battle Alt and take back control over the tower, not knowing the fight was already over. The NCPD was following behind, but with no clear idea of what was happening.

The sun was raising over the city: it was going to be a bright day.

In the car, V came and went, and Johnny didn’t let his face out of sight, attentive to every sign. Then, as they approached the clinic at last, V lips trembled again.

“Johnny?” he mumbled and the rockerboy bent over him.

“Yeah Beloved, ‘m here.”

“I just… I feel so cold.”

“It’s the blood loss, but soon you’ll be under Vik’s care, everything will be alright,” he breathed, not knowing if he was trying to convince V or himself. The bandages were soaked red.

“I really… It was the best days of my life,” the merc continued, voice shaking terribly. Tears gathered under his eyelids, and Johnny stopped breathing, feeling a responding sting at the back of his eyeballs. “With you and Ker. Never been happier.”

Then a fresh wave of pain wracked through him and he feebly grunted, face whitening even more if it was still possible.

“Wanted to thank you. And… ask you to tell Kerry – “

“Shut the f*ck up, V, this sound like goodbye and I’m not saying it.” Johnny hissed, panic rising in his chest.

Huffing, the merc opened his eyes and the tears fell on his cheek. He lost his voice, so Johnny had to read the word on his lips.

“I fell in love again.”

Johnny watched him, hands trembling on V’s cheek. He saw the moment the younger man’s eyes stilled and his lids fell again, with a definitive air this time.

“V?” he called irrationally, “V?! f*ck!” He turned to Weyland: “f*ckin’ drive faster!”

“We’re nearly there!” Rogue replied as their driver accelerated yet again. When they stopped in front of the side entrance of the clinic, Vik was waiting for them. He and Weyland helped Johnny take V off the car.

Viktor’s face was grim as his fingers pressed against V carotid. He didn’t say anything but gestured to Weyland and both men started taking V downstairs. Johnny was on the verge of barking at the doc, demanding answers as terror, rage and despair mixed inside him in a toxic hurricane of destructive emotions when Misty’s cool hand over his arm stopped him.

“You should come in,” she said as Vik and Weyland whisked V away. With a flash like lightning in the dark, he understood her implications and was running ahead of her, nearly busting in the shop. He slid to a halt when he reached the main room where he had let Kerry hours before. Said man was standing, a cup of tea in hand, eyes still groggy and most of all, worried. In the ethereal light of the shop, as the early sun infused Night-City’s streets with a cotton-like atmosphere, almost soft, Kerry shone like a beacon. His back was bathed in tentative yellows and whites, calling Johnny’s soul forward. When their eyes met, Johnny felt part of the horror of the raid melt away and Kerry only had time to put the beverage on the counter before Johnny took him in his arms, squeezing hard.

“Hey Baby,” he said, kissing Kerry’s head.

“Johnny,” the other man gasped roughly, giving back the embrace as they shook together, “Johnny,”

“here, ‘m here, ‘m ok, we did it, he was amazing, we got Smasher, and Mikoshi is destroyed…” He was babbling, tiredness and stress making his words stumble over themselves with lack of coherence.

He felt Kerry draw him closer, and the man kissed his neck as wetness fell over his cheek.

“V is badly injuried,” Johnny continued, “Smasher…” But he couldn’t. He couldn’t say it out loud, nor could he stop the images from coming back, haunting him. “He lost an arm.” Johnny concluded in a breath.

At this, Kerry stiffened and pushed Johnny off him. He looked at his lover with wet but serious eyes.

“He lost an arm?!” he repeated, like it was a difficult concept to grasp.

“The right one,” Johnny stupidly added, as if it was important.

But Kerry just shook his head and pulled Johnny back in a hug.

“It’s becoming a pattern,” he mumbled and Johnny felt a hysterical laugh bubble at the back of his throat.

“We’re gonna be a matching pair.”


As a reader, I hate cliffhangers... As a writer though... >:)

Chapter 12: ...And reach the Elysian Fields


I wanted to thank you all for the kudis you're regularly leaving on this work!
Thank you for taking the time to read this piece, and I hope you continue to enjoy it ;)

Next update will be double, and the next one too, and after that, it will be the last chapter. So in about a week, this story will be complete!

Chapter Text

In the desert, alone for miles, their souls called for their wayward lover.

The house was an abandoned supply relay, once built to welcome a road that never reached it. Rogue had it prepared as a safe place for the post-raid lie-low. But she had never imagined it would turn into a high-end clinic as V recovered. If “recover” was the right word. Fighting for his life more like. He had been touch-and-go when Vik had taken him in, stabilizing the young merc after hours of pumping blood into him as he worked to clean the atrocious wound at his shoulder. Other than that, V was relatively unscathed, but this was a wound that added to the others, barely healed from his raid at the Arasaka’s parade, and from his encounter with the cyberpsycho before. His body just couldn’t keep up with all the injuries, spending so much energy to heal at the same time as V went into danger, collecting more wounds.

After twenty-four hour, he was out of the wood, but not waking up. They moved him to the safe place like this, but it soon became obvious that he would need a more exhaustive follow up than what Vik could do remotely.

So Johnny called the Aldecaldos, to Rogue great dismay, and Santiago was there to welcome them at the safe house, the clan’s ripperdoc in toe. Both street doctors had been in contact, Vik passing Biron all of V’s history. Biron had taken a look at V before shaking his head with a frown, as skeptical as Vik. Kerry could have shaken him, going crazy with worry. But it was nothing compared to Johnny’s state, that oscillated between rage and an equally disturbing silence.

On the third day here, Johnny and Rogue were on the verge of tearing each other up, so Kerry had called Santiago again, asking to come take either one of them, or better: both. The man had laughed, but he actually had complied. Two more set of hands were not something the nomad could refuse.

When he came to fetch the Rockerboy and the elite merc, he was accompanied by a young woman, a man just a bit younger than him and the ripperdoc.

“Johnny, you remember my niece, Panam?” Santiago introduced her.

Judging from the way Johnny’s mouth opened in shock, he didn’t. The woman didn’t really let herself be observed, for she rushed in the house and made a beeline to the room were V rested.

Surprised, both Kerry and Johnny turned to Santiago, who shrugged.

“V has helped us with a few gigs before. He and Panam became fast-friends.”

“It was that Panam?” Johnny exclaimed; arms crossed against his chest. “I heard V and Vik talk about her when I went to retrieve him the first time,” he explained to Kerry at his raised eyebrow. “Didn’t connect the dots, to me Panam was still fifteen.”

“Well, she’s grown up to be a pain in the ass,” Santiago declared, co*cking his hip against the banister of the pergola.

“She was already very… spirited,” Johnny settled on, “when I was traveling with you.”

The leader of the clan raised his hands in a gesture that translated his hopelessness over his niece’s character.

“And this is Saul Bright, one of the best men of the clan,” he continued, more for Kerry and Rogue than for Johnny who seemed to recall the man perfectly, contrary to Panam.

“So, ready for a little ride?” Santiago asked Rogue and Johnny with a slow smile. They looked at one-another, surprised. Seeing their faces, he chuckled and pointed to Kerry.

“This one seems to think you need a distraction from all the nose-biting you’ve been doing.”

Both accomplished fighters turned toward him with razor sharp focus, prompting the singer to raise his hands in a placating manner.

“I just thought you needed to get out of here, I can see you becoming crazy with being cooped up here.”

They had the decency to look guilty, glancing at each other from the corner of their eyes. Johnny sighed and crossed his arm, turning to Rogue:

“You should go.”

The merc opened her mouth to protest, but Johnny stalled her:

“One of us has to stay here with Ker, he can’t protect V all by himself. You should go.”

Kerry felt that their exchange was more profound that he could grasp, and Rogue relented.

“Alright. I’ll be back soon.”

“Three days, me thinks,” Santiago said with a slow smile, and his attitude was definitely seductive.

She shrugged, unperturbed by his smoothness.

For the moment they seemed to settle for a chat, Saul bringing out beers from their truck. Biron asked to see V and Kerry led him inside, even though the doc knew perfectly were his patient was stationed, having come every day.

Panam was perched on V’s bed, softly caressing his hand and whispering things to him that sounded suspiciously like insults and orders to get better. She stiffened when she became aware of their presence, practically jumping to her feet. Her attitude was one of a lioness in front of her cub, ready for an attack at the mere sign of threat to her charge. Seeing Biron, she relaxed and stepped to the side, still eying Kerry with suspicion.

“Erm,” the musician said, “I’m Kerry?”

She crossed her arms, eyes slitting.

“I know who you are. I’ve heard of you.” She said it like Kerry was of the particularly disrespectable sort. Maybe in some circle, but definitely not to the nomads.

“Well, I haven’t.” he replied with an edge of warning in his voice. If they were going to become territorial over V, she was in for a surprise. Not jealous or possessive with his lovers, it was still in his nature, only tempered by a lifetime with Johnny and the exercise of letting him go over and over again, of sharing him through the years with many inputs.

Next to him, Biron snorted, bending over V to examine him. She glared at Kerry before relaxing slightly.

“V said you were trouble…” she admitted, her pretty face turning sharp, “but maybe it was good trouble, in the end,”

Kerry smiled, relaxing too.

“Hope so.”

Biron finished his round and straightened:

“Come outside with me,” he addressed Kerry, but Panam followed, sensing the doc had interesting conclusions to share.

Once outside, everyone turned toward the doc.

“He is still in coma. Viktor said V flatlined twice while he worked on stabilizing him. He was dead for a few seconds each time, so coma was to be expected.”

“How long will it last?” Johnny asked, arms crossed and a hip co*cked against the banister.

“Can’t say. He is in a light coma, responds to stimuli. He twitches when he hears familial voices, or when we touch him.” He shrugged; eyes worried but attitude calm. “As long as it’s stable and stays light, his chances are good. The longer he stays in that state, or if it deepens…” he trailed off, but they all understood him implications.

“So what do we do?” Kerry asked, worry evident in his voice.

Biron shrugged: “We wait. But you need to move him, work his muscles regularly.” He turned to Santiago: “Marina could help them, show them, she’s better at it than me.”

The clan leader nodded: “Ask her to accompany you tomorrow. If you’re done then we should go.” He eyed Panam: “are you staying here?”

She shook her head, obviously worried too, but recognizing she could do nothing for the moment.

When they were all left, Johnny and Kerry found themselves at loss. They were very bad at waiting.

Kerry strummed the guitar chords with an absent mind, looking at the desert stretching for miles below the little hill the house was stationed over. It had been three weeks and V had not improved. Daily, Johnny and Kerry relayed each-other to exercise V, preventing his muscles from wasting away as he slept. Marina was a former PT who had joined the clan after falling in love with one of the nomads. She was a no-bullsh*t woman, but very kind and optimistic. She talked continuously to V while she worked him, seemingly unbothered by his lack of answer. Following her example, Kerry had started playing guitar next to him: old songs, and new. He had lyrics and melodies to fill two solo albums, and that was without counting the ones he composed with Johnny. They worked remotely, having visio-conferences with Denny, Drausin and Lola to finish the drafts for their album, and, unfortunately, with Kovachek for Kerry. The man was an asshole, but it seemed there was no getting rid of him for the moment.

He saw clouds of sand appear over the horizon, signaling that the Aldecaldos were coming back with Johnny and Rogue. Panam had stayed here as protection for V, allowing Santiago to use both his old friends for his gig. On that occasion, Kerry had discovered that the young woman had a sweet voice when they had a jamming session together the night before.

She appeared when the noise of the engines reached her inside the house and they waited together for the convoy to stop. Johnny jumped out, but Rogue stayed in the car. She was coming back less and less, spending more time with Santiago where she could, and frankly should, have gone back to NC. It was never a good idea to leave a space vacant when you were a merc and a fixer. But the way Santiago looked at her told Kerry she was enjoying the excuse of staying for V.

Johnny was holding a long box under his arm and Kerry straightened, hoping it was what he thought.

“Hey Panam,” Johnny drawled as he reached them on the flight of stairs.

“Silverhand,” she replied, arms crossed. If she had warmed up to Kerry, Johnny hadn’t found grace in her eyes yet, but Kerry was ready to bet it was more due to the memories she had of Johnny when he had lived with the Aldecaldos than whatever V had told her. The Johnny of back-then was a pure asshole, Kerry knew it firsthand.

Supremely uncaring of the young woman’s scorn, Johnny beamed at Kerry like a child before Christmas and patted the box. “It’s there!” he added, superfluous, before sauntering into the house. Behind Kerry, the cars honked, calling Panam. She sighed, exasperated, but waved bye at Kerry before joining her clan to get back to camp. He waved back, laughing softly. She was growing on him, like a hissy kitten softening under a warm blanket.

Back inside, Johnny was opening the box reverently. Inside, a cyberarm was cushioned by a dark pink satin pillow. It was a work of art, made of dark bronze metal to match V’s skin. The different plates forming the limb were delicate, slotting just right to allow for smooth movements. Starting at the shoulder, a band of gold sparkling like the sun shining over a river spiraled over the arm. It ended by encircling the wrist, forming a gold gauntlet with the hand. The nails were platinum white, delicate pearls over strong fingers. Reverently, Johnny took it off the case and turned it in his hand to look inside the wrist. Delicately chiseled where the veins would be prominent on a flesh arm, was one word: Beloved. Johnny traced it with his thumb, eyes turning pensive.

“What if he never wakes up?” Johnny murmured in the silence of the desert. But Kerry refused to consider the thought. He came up to Johnny, kissing his flesh shoulder tenderly. Both men exchanged a charged look before the rockerboy put the arm back in its casing. Then, slowly but firmly, he pushed Kerry back until they hit the wall, and covered his mouth with his. His partner moaned, soft and needy as he parted his lips to deepen it.

In the sudden rush of desire, Kerry realized how long it was since they had made love. It actually was with V, before their raid on Arasaka Tower. Afterward, they had been so focused on their young lover’s healing, eaten up with worries, and in close quarter with Rogue it hadn’t even really crossed Kerry’s mind. This in itself was concerning, because sex was more or less constantly at the back of his thoughts. Johnny pushed forward, really caging his bandmate in, hands going to the mop of dark gray hair to take a grip, forcing him to arch back at the same time he snapped his hips forward.

“f*ck…” Kerry whined, baring his neck to the other man, stance widening to welcome him more comfortably between his legs. With a growl, Johnny started grinding against Kerry, nipping at his neck as he did so. His metal hand pushed under Kerry’s cream tank-top, flattening over his stomach before sliding behind to take a handful of his bandmate’s ass. Mewling like a cat in heat, Kerry pushed his pelvis out, arms around Johnny’s shoulders as he rode the wave of desire that morphed into pleasure. Johnny went back to kissing him, getting impossibly closer, like he would have fused them if he could. His kisses turned to bites, and he clamped down on Kerry’s lower lip until it bled, releasing it with an animalistic growl. Leaning back as Kerry panted, tongue playing with his abused lip, Johnny unfastened their pants, taking their co*cks in his organic hand and starting to stroke with a punishing pace. Kerry could only moan and keen under the onslaught. It went from too much to not enough fast, his whole body coming alive and asking for more. He pushed Johnny back, falling to his knees to take his friend’s hard length in his mouth. Practiced in sucking co*cks as he was, he used only half his concentration to do it, using the rest to unzip Johnny’s boots. Holding on to the wall with both hands as he f*cked Kerry’s mouth, Johnny still helped him remove them. With a growl, he gripped Kerry’s hair, and fed his co*ck to Kerry in hard rolls of hips. Out of breath, the other man just relaxed, taking it and feeling his balls tighten in his jeans as he reveled in being used like this.

Johnny watched his length being engulfed in the mouth of his best-friend, lover, partner, everything. His thighs trembled as he chased his high. Then, something broke in him and with an animalistic growl, he retreated, and pulled Kerry up. In harsh movement he undressed him until nothing was left between their skins. Hands under Kerry’s ass, he lifted him up against the wall, making the man gasp. Surprised, Kerry let out a laugh that turned into a moan as Johnny’s co*ck glided against his hole. They were past the age to f*ck like this, but Johnny seemed determined, and his training with V and then running with the nomads had really buffed him up. He hiked Kerry up further, placing his elbows under his knees and pushed forward, his co*ck brushing Kerry’s entrance once more, making him keen again. Johnny was working himself up to a frenzy fast, eyes wild and face desperate, and it fueled the beast inside Kerry that liked it rough to the point of being painful and dangerous. Crushing their lips together, he clung to Johnny’s shoulders, moving up and down to try and deepen their contact. With a frustrated groan, Johnny stopped, slowly released him down before pulling him to the sturdy table in the room, covered in gauzes, bandages, creams and other various medical devices. Johnny swept them all away before practically throwing Kerry’s against it, the edge of the surface digging into the musician’s stomach. Bending to retrieve the massage oil, Johnny poured some over Kerry’s ass before unceremoniously pushing two fingers in his hole. The other man tensed reflexively and panted open mouthed against the table, drool flowing from his lips.

“Take it, just take it, please,” Johnny practically begged, fingers twisting inside roughly. He kicked Kerry’s legs open, pulled his ass cheeks apart and finger-f*cked him with abandon. Completely sagging against the table, Kerry concentrated on the sensation of fulness inside him, pushing back against the digits for another.

He felt himself slip into that state of mind, sweeter than any heroin, when the only thing he wanted was to be f*cked and filled with cum until he forgot his name.

“Johnny,” he called, “Johnny, f*ck me,”

With a curse, the other man got his fingers out, gripped Kerry’s waist to turn him around, pushing his shoulders against the table and bringing his legs around himself. He guided his co*ck in, pushing slowly but relentlessly, watching as his lover’s neck arched back and he keened in ecstasy.

Johnny didn’t wait any longer, setting a punishing pace between them, drinking every expression of pleasure on his companion’s face: how his eyelids fluttered, how his mouth slackened, how his tongue touched his teeth, how his lips reddened and covered in spit.

It urged him on, and he raised Kerry’s legs over his shoulders, using his not meager strength to f*ck in deeper. Kerry cried out, bellowed out in rapture, and his co*ck pulsed once, like it was undecided if it should release now.

“Harder!” the musician demanded, gripping Johnny’s arm. But the man didn’t, feeling he was already at the limit for his partner. So Kerry slapped him, not hesitating to throw weight behind it either. Johnny stilled; face knocked to the side. He breathed once before looking back at Kerry with thunderous eyes. His metal hand went to Kerry’s throat and pinched his artery to cut the blood flow. Hard.

Sucking air, or trying to, Kerry relaxed, going pliant around Johnny, who started f*cking him again, purposely slow now. But it didn’t matter, the lack of oxygen threw Kerry to tremendous highs nearly instantly. Huffing a small laugh, Johnny looked at him as he took him harder, vicariously experiencing his high. He released the trachea, allowing the rush of blood to get to Kerry’s head before he pressed once more. Again, the other man relaxed further, allowing Johnny to use his body as he wanted. He snapped his hips slowly but deeply, f*cking little sounds of pleasured agony out of his lifelong friend with each pass. Johnny felt the telltale signs of pleasure as they ringed like bells at the back of his teeth. He bent forward, kissing Kerry’s open mouth and slowly moved his hand from around Kerry’s neck to his chin, turning his face toward V’s bed.

“Come on, Ker, let him hear you cum.” Johnny whispered, once again f*cking him harder. His abs rippled with the effort as he held his partner half off the table to have more room. “Let him hear you sing as I f*ckin’ fill you up.”

And it was like a switch activated in Kerry’s brain, he closed his eyes with a voiceless moan, ass clenching in reflex to the promise and he used all his strength to meet Johnny thrust for thrust, chasing his release with renewed force. And Johnny gave it to him: with a shudder that started low in his belly, he snapped his hips forward and exploded inside Kerry’s awaiting hole. His groan, more like a roar was echoed by Kerry’s long keen as he shouted out his pleasure, covering himself in thick ropes of cum.

Hiking down from his high, Kerry’s glazed eyes focused on Johnny again, panting. Their joining took a more tender tempo, Johnny hips still twitching as his co*ck softened. Kerry’s breathing went from fast to heavy under the onslaught of emotions. Then, he turned his head toward V’s bed again, eyes clouding as he ached for the other man. Johnny let his head fall on his lover’s chest, breathing deeply against Kerry’s skin.

In the desert, alone for miles, their souls called for their wayward lover.

The following morning, Kerry was making V do his stretches. He bent his knee and pushed against the leg until it touched the sleeping man’s chest and counted to ten, like Marina had instructed him. On the radio, Never Fade Away was playing, the later version, softer with Johnny warm voice giving it a melancholier twist. It suited Kerry’s mood perfectly, so he sang along absentmindedly.

He was releasing the leg when he heard it: a soft moan, a puff of air half-consciously released past shaped lips. Kerry stilled, his eyes going to V’s face and he stopped breathing for a second. Behind his closed eyelids, V’s eyes were moving. It had happened before, but this time Kerry could tell it was different. And the next breath, they fluttered up, and V’s silver eyes appeared.

“f*ck,” Kerry whispered, struck immobile as he didn’t dare to hope. “V?” he pronounced, moving up to the bed and V’s head turned toward him. Their gaze met and the younger man blinked, vision still unfocussed. But the echo of a smile graced his lips and Kerry couldn’t help the broken laugh that escaped him. He put a trembling hand over V’s cheek.

“Hey, Beloved,” he murmured. Another thought came to him and he straightened to turn to the door: “Johnny!” he bellowed, and immediately heard quick footsteps make their way to him. V’s eyes followed the sound and when Johnny appeared, practically falling in the room for his haste to get there, he found the eyes of his younger lover. He came closer, hands catching on V’s neck, thumbs stroking his cheek as he sat on the edge of the bed. Johnny smiled and V’s grew in answer as his gaze jumped from one man to the other in silence.

Then, he tried to raise his right hand and stiffened at the strange sensation it produced. That spurred Kerry into action.

“Damn, how do you feel?” he asked before catching himself, “no, stupid question, I need to call Biron, and Vik.”

But V was already turning his head to look at his right shoulder under Johnny’s attentive gaze. He could relate to the experience, and it wasn’t pleasant.

When V discovered the absence of his arm, surprise painted itself on his features before it was quickly schooled back into neutrality. Johnny sighed, seeing the man’s defenses rise up, closing like a shell over him.

“Hey,” he called softly, bringing V’s face toward him once more. “Don’t,” he ordered gently and V swallowed. He opened his mouth to say something, but no sound came out, which surprised him. Kerry was quick to fetch him water and a straw, and the merc gulped three time before his lover took the water away.

“Slowly,” he indicated before offering some more. But it seemed that V was already out of energy for he sagged back against the pillow.

“Where are we, and what happened?” were his first questions.

Both older men exchanged a glance and Kerry bent to kiss V’s cheek.

“I need to call Biron to come check up on you, Johnny will answer your questions ok?”

The younger man nodded and concentrated on Johnny, clearly awaiting answers. As Kerry got out of the room, Johnny asked:

“What do you remember?”

After calling Biron, Kerry called Vik and the doc asked V to be put on the phone, So the musician went back to the room, finding Johnny at the end of his explanation. V looked up when his lover came in. His face was carefully blank and seeing it made Kerry wince. But he also knew he needed to give V time to come in terms with everything that had happened.

“It’s Vik,” he indicated, holding the phone closer to V so that both ripperdoc and patient could see each other.

“Hey, V,” the doc said, so very gently, “how you feelin’?”

The merc’s eyes twitched, like he wanted to look elsewhere, but he blocked the reaction and smiled a bit.

“All things considered, I think I’m ok.”

“Any pains?”

“Not if I don’t move.”

“No headache, nausea? Vision is good?” The man took the time to check himself before he answered: “no, no, yes.”

“That’s good,” the doc praised. “Apart from your arm, you were relatively ok, only metallic bits in your shoulders, but I expect the injury is nearly gone now. It’s your head that had us worried.”

V’s jaw clenched and he tried to raise his right arm to check on the chip, too late remembering he didn’t have one anymore. The movement made his muscles twinge and he grimaced slightly. Seeing this, Viktor tone was gentle.

“When you get back, we will see about implants, and then reeducation. Until then, try not to move it too much, it’s still healing. And rest. No exhausting activities. Of any kind.” The ripper insisted, and V couldn’t help but smile slyly at Kerry who gave him his most innocent face.

“Did you remove the chip?” the younger man asked, to which they all shook their head.

“We thought you might want to do it, when you’re ready.” Johnny explained, voice low, and V’s looked down, hand spasming in a shudder that he controlled immediately.

“It’s empty, she is gone.” V replied, like it was not of any importance. “It’s just a shell.”

“Alright,” Vik acknowledged, “Then you can remove it when you want. About that, though, if you remember, I would really like to know what happened in Mikoshi. Johnny couldn’t tell me much.”

At the question, V’s eyes clouded and he glanced to the side.

“When she broke the prison, all the… souls, inside, leashed out in all directions. I was connected to it so some came my way. Alt fought them off, but it was… Very painful. For a moment.” He admitted.

“V, you were in a coma for three weeks, do you know if she could have done anything to provoke that?” the doc insisted, but V came up blank.

“I don’t think so. I’m sorry I got you all worried, but I really feel fine. Tired and everything aches but other than that, I’m ok.”

Sighing on the other side of the line, Viktor let it rest.

“We will do a scan when you get back in NC. Don’t wait too much.”

That last part was directed to the other two men as much as the one recovering. Saying his goodbye, V once again promised to rest, before the call ended. Putting the phone on the side table, Kerry sat on the other side of V.

“Are you really, though?” he wondered with a frown.

At that, V leaned further into the pillow and glanced up.

“Physically yes. But it’s like…. I have this sensation of… loss?” He tried to articulate; voice tight. “And I’m not even sure why…” he breathed. When his eyes found Kerry’s again, they looked frightened. “I don’t know what I’m gonna do now.”

The confession hit Kerry like a punch to the gut and his face melted in empathy.

“Oh, baby…”

But just as he tried to touch V’s cheeks, the man turned his head sharply to the other side, a clear no. The silence that followed was heavy, Kerry’s heart beating faster in pain and V’s eyes suspiciously shinny. Johnny shifted, getting to his feet and reaching for his pack to light a smoke.

“For now, you just rest,” he whispered on the exhale. “And I know it’s way too early to say this, but It will come your way, V, it always does.”

Maybe it was too early to say it, but Kerry distinctly observed V relax at the words, and he was suddenly reminded of all the ways V and Johnny were similar. He really had a type: men that needed to be sought in hell and brought back.

As the merc unclenched, tiredness took its place again so Kerry tentatively put a hand over his thigh, making V look back at him. The musician smiled tenderly at him.

“I met Panam,” he informed his lover who raised a surprised eyebrow. “The Aldecaldos have been helping us, Biron, their ripperdoc is on his way. I think she will come too. She often does.”

“Oh yeah, that remind me,” Johnny exclaimed, “did you have sex with her or something? ‘cause she’s been f*ckin’ cold to me.”

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Kerry sighed.

“We had a thing, yeah,” V replied, surprising them both. “But it didn’t work out. Couldn’t. She is Aldecaldo through and through, and I have the city in my bones. So it lasted maybe a week before we saw how impossible it would be to make it work. But we stayed friends.”

Johnny turned triumphantly to Kerry: “told you!”

“But that’s not why she is cold to you, that’s ‘cause you were an asshole to her back when you lived with her.”

“Man, she was fifteen, and damn hissy like a feral kitten. You should have seen her; it was impossible to take her seriously!” Johnny tried to defend himself, hands raised in innocence.

On the bed, V chuckled.

“She never told me she knew you. I f*ckin’ complained about you for days on after our first meeting.”

“Maybe she didn’t connect the dots. I sure didn’t when you said you had friend at the Aldecaldos. I was no rockerboy when I joined Santiago, tried to keep a low profile.”

“We all know how that’s impossible for you, poser!” Kerry edged in, faking exasperation.

“Poser? How old are you Ker?”

From the corner of his eyes, Kerry saw V continue smiling and counted that as a victory. Life was going to be good, he could feel it. He suddenly perked, remembering their gift.

“Hey, before everyone gets here, we…” he stopped, suddenly unsure. Shifting, he turned toward Johnny, still smoking, half leaning on the table where they had f*cked last night. It was now once more covered in medical supplies. Johnny nodded, so Kerry helped V to sit straighter as the third man brought the box to the bed.

“We have a gift.” Johnny simply said, putting the box on V’s lap.

Frowning at it, V lifted his valid hand to open it. It took a bit of help from Kerry, that V accepted gracefully. He pushed aside the silk cloth covering the item, and stilled. Johnny watched him intently, catching the myriad of micro-expressions that ran over V’s face before he could hide them: surprise of course, then sadness and lastly, doubt. Doubt that he was worthy of it. Johnny was familiar enough with the sentiment to recognize it. Kerry for his part seemed blissfully ignorant of this and gently lifted the arm so that V could see it better.

“If you want it, Vik will do the surgery. It’s a good model, well, it’s the best actually. Custom made, of course,” he said with childlike pride as he held it for V to touch. And tentatively, the merc caressed the chrome surface reverently.

It was painful to watch, Johnny found, reminding him so much of his own wake-up with the metal arm. He had been unconscious for a week, the trek back to the rear camp having sapped most of his strength. And when he had woken up, it was with this new weapon integrated to his arm, a foreign object that he had wanted to rip off as soon as it had moved. He had been adamant that they wait until V was awake so he could decide whether or not to take the arm.

But it was also painful because, try as he might, V couldn’t hide the emotions it unleashed in himself as he obviously took in the care with which they had designed the arm to not just be practical, but also beautiful. It was a declaration of love, loud and clear, that V couldn’t ignore or downplay.

“It’s not weaponized,” Kerry whispered, having finally caught up with his lover’s mood. “But it’s compatible with a lot of modules, if you want to add them.”

V nodded and slowly turned the arm. Both Kerry and Johnny saw the moment his eyes took in the inscription on the wrist, for he stiffened, eyes going wide. His face went through a strange emotion, and he opened his mouth, lips trembling, but no words came out.

Softly, so very delicately, Kerry raised a hand to V’s jaw, thumb barely brushing his cheek.

“If it’s too much, you don’t – “

But he couldn’t finish, because V had let the arm fall on his lap and reached for the man’s head, bringing it to him and delivering a full-mouthed kiss. Passed the surprise, Kerry co*cked his head to the side and used both hands to cradle V’s face, kissing him back tenderly.

When they separated, Kerry smiled, tucked back a lock of gray hair behind V’s ear and mouthed: “You are beloved.”

And it seemed to echo in the desert, like the beating of their hearts.

While they waited for the Aldecaldos to arrive, V dozed off and ended up asleep again. He came about once more with the sound of Panam’s cursing in a low voice next to him. He smiled before he even opened his eyes. She was tinkering with something that was obviously not cooperating, and that always frustrated her to no end. He shifted and she heard it, turning toward him.

“V! hey!” she beamed, hopping off her perch at the windowsill. She sat on the bed and bent forward until their foreheads touched, hands light over each of his ears.

“Hey Pan,”

She leaned back, still smiling and he responded in kind. Sleep was dissipating slowly, and he felt good under her gaze.

“How do you feel?” she asked with a little crease between her brows.

“Thirsty.” He seemed that he always was. She found the glass with the straw on the side table and brought it to him, helping him to seat properly.

“When did you get there?” he asked after drinking several times.

“Twenty minutes ago, or so. Your output was over-excited, started babbling nonsense about a party. So they are all outdoor, preparing a bonfire of something, and I was tasked with watching over you.”

“Hum, you drew the short straw or..?” he joked and she lightly punched his chest.

“I wanted to be there when you woke up. I missed you.”

“Missed you too Pan,” as he said it, he felt how true it was; it had been too long.

“Well, can see you’ve been busy,” she declared in a serious tone again, her eyes trailing over his half naked body, stopping at the stump of his shoulder before going back to his face. “You scared us all.”

“Scared myself too, I think.” He mumbled back, and his hand twitched. He kept trying to move the right one, and kept being reminded he had none at the moment. He pushed the thought away, for every time he did, a strange sensation fell over him: like he was suddenly small in his own body.

Again, Panam let her fist connect with V’s side playfully.

“So, are we not gonna talk about the fact that you’ve got two outputs?”

And he couldn’t help but laugh.

“f*ck, I’m sorry, I didn’t try to hide it or anything, it just… It just kind of…Happened.”

“Hum, I really want to hear about how you went from cursing them to the seventh circle of hell to f*ckin’ them. Are they that good in bed?”

Wincing, V closed his eyes, embarrassed. Still, he didn’t deny it and when he slitted his eyes open, he saw she had a devilish smile, alight with curiosity. Stalling her, he sidetracked the conversation.

“You never told me you knew who Johnny was!”

She shrugged, and took on her frowny face once again. It was her default expression.

“I really didn’t connect the dots. When he lived here, he was just “Johnny” and most often, we just called him “asshole”,” she explained. “I knew he was a rockerboy, but because he was here with us, I assumed he was sh*t at it.”

He pictured a fifteen-year-old Panam calling Johnny asshole and couldn’t help but laugh.

“He really was an asshole back then, and from what I saw here, he hasn’t changed much. Kerry is cute though.”

And V couldn’t help but agree with a tender smile.

“You really are in deep, huh?” she commented, seeing his face and he shrugged, trying for nonchalance. V shifted and looked to the side. His eyes fell on the box with the cyber arm and he had to turn the other way. He couldn’t think about that either. She saw him do it and a twinge of worry appeared on her pretty face.

“It’s a piece of art,” she commented, gesturing to the implant.

V nodded, hand clenching over the sheet.

“I can’t,” he started before clamping down, nearly biting his tongue in the process.

Panam got to her feet and rounded the bed to reach the case.

“Can’t what?” she prompted, knowing full well the answer.

“Can’t accept it,” he nearly spat. “I could never have bought something like this for myself.”

“Which is why it’s a gift.” She replied with a matter-of-fact tone. She pulled the arm out and turned it in her hands, stopping when she saw the inscription. “Damn, can’t say if it’s cheesy or f*ckin romantic.” She muttered and V let out a bark-like laugh. It was verging on hysterical.

Panam put the arm back in.

“You should take it.” She declared. “It’s f*ckin’ obvious they adore you. Both of them. And f*ck, I never would have thought I would see Johnny-the-asshole looking at someone like that, other than his own reflection, I mean.”

V looked up at the ceiling, breathing harshly as something bubbled inside his throat. Panam felt it and waited, letting it boil over and spill.

“I’m f*ckin terrified.”

She didn’t say anything, but her eyes filled with a tender sadness.

“Last time I let myself fall like that, it nearly destroyed me. I don’t know if I could survive it another time.” He man confessed, expression tortured.

“V,” she whispered, “It’s not the same, they are not like Roma.”

And hearing the name, strangely, didn’t make V flinch like it used to. One night, around a campfire while it was just the two of them, he had spilled his whole life story to Panam. Maybe it had been the comfort of her warm skin as they laid on top of each-other, warmed by the fire in the silence of the desert, maybe it had been her deep soulful eyes, but he had felt the urge to tell her the whole disgusting thing, from his parents and sister’s deaths, to the clients the had whor*d himself to, to Roma and their betrayal. And she had only tightened her hold over him, and welcomed him inside her body. Warm and safe inside her.

“They don’t even know me real well. I haven’t told them about that.”

“That won’t change a thing, and you know it. They have their owns demons, we all do terrible things to survive and most of what you did, you did out of love…”

He breathed, eyes stinging with unshed tears. Panam went back to the bed, sitting on the edge once more and putting her hand over his.

“Maybe.” He admitted. They had proved it, time and time again. Welcoming him inside their lives, making space into their unit for him, offering the warmth of their smiles and the respect of their regard. “And I want it so bad, I’m not sure I can’t really resist or… Get out, anymore. When I’m with them I can… Let go. I want to let go.” He finished; voice rough.

“Then let go, V. You deserve it.” She whispered back, once more bending over him to rest her head against his. “It’s ok, you’re worth it.”

And he let out a shaky breath, deepening the contact in search for comfort.

Indeed, the party was more for his caretakers than for V, who fell asleep a few minutes after Biron’s inspection. The man said that it was normal, and that he would probably sleep a lot more in the next few days. But he was clear to head back to NC.

It was long overdue for everyone involved: Rogue had a pile of contracts waiting for her, most of them a direct consequence from Alt attack over Arasaka. She could have gone back two weeks ago, but seemed strangely reluctant. Johnny and Kerry had rehearsals and recording to attend, and they couldn’t push it back more. As for the situation back in the city, it was chaos and mayhem, enough that no one was seriously looking for them, too busy trying to reinforce the black wall against a newly unleashed army of AI. At their head, Alt Cunningham, who had led them into safety.

Kerry was fitfully sleeping next to Johnny, curled on himself and pushed against his lover’s side. He was too keyed up by V’s awakening, but also stressed about their return to the city. In a way, they had lived out of time and space here.

Johnny was looking at the ceiling, unmoving next to Kerry. He felt like he was waiting for something without really knowing what. He tried to relax, but couldn’t help straining his ears to listen to V, asleep on the other room. The door was open, as it had been for the last three weeks, but between Kerry’s soft snores and the natural sounds of the desert at night, Johnny couldn’t hear him.

He was about to get up for a smoke when the noise wafted to him: pained whimpers. He stilled and listened closely, but he didn’t need to, for the next moment the whimpers turned to frightened cries that evolved into a scream.

Kerry jolted awake as Johnny was scrambling to his feet, pushing toward the door. V was trashing in the bed, trying to fend off an assailant that didn’t exist. His eyes were open and it was all Johnny needed to know what was happening.

Coming to the bed, he gripped the younger man’s arm firmly, but not tightly.

“V,” he called, “V, listen to my voice.” He instructed with a calming voice, loud enough to talk over V’s screaming. “Don’t fight it, V, listen to my voice, hear me, come on Beloved, you can do this, just don’t fight it, let it happen, it’s not real, it’s done and passed, nothing can hurt you there, you’re safe, come back to me…” he declared in a continuous flow of words, delivered in cadence like a poem.

“Breathe,” Kerry’s whispered, “tell him to breathe, and breathe with him. Slowly. In… and out.”

And Johnny shuddered, suddenly reminded of how many times Kerry had done it for him in the past, over the phone or between their sheets. He was probably better suited to do it than Johnny, but both men understood the importance of the experience for the veteran of war.

In the meantime, V’s eyes had lost some of their fright, and he glanced at the man on the bed with him, still drowning in anxiety but at least willing to connect and find his way back.

“Breathe, V,” Johnny ordered firmly, but gently. “Come on, breathe in.” And the rockerboy did so too, like he had done so many times under Kerry’s guidance. V’s anxious pants slowly transformed from hiccups to short intake of air. His hand was gripping Johnny’s arm back, thumb moving over the thin skin of his elbow bend, grounding himself back with that touch.

“And out,” Johnny exhaled, “Come on Beloved, in…”

And this time, V responded, following Johnny, eyes glued to his lips like he could see the air get in and out of his lover’s mouth. They continued like this for long minutes, until V’s eyes cleared completely and although he was still wracked by terrible shudders, he was obviously calming down. And Johnny knew that the trembling was actually from the aftershock, he could taste all of his own experience with it at the back of his mouth.

Then finally, V nodded, lips shivering as he tried to say something. On his other side, Kerry appeared, holding a cup of hot tea. He had disappeared a while ago to make it, when he had been assured that Johnny had it under control. He put the cup on V’s lap and the young man detached his hand from Johnny’s arm to take it. Its warmth was welcome.

“Talk about it?” Kerry whispered. It was routine for him. V was already shaking his head no when Johnny intervened.

“You should. I lost precious time not talking about it, don’t be like me.”

Glancing up at his second lover, V bit his lower lip and closed his eyes with yet another shiver.

“Smasher,” was all he got out before he tightened his jaw, clamping down to control the trembling.

“Don’t fight it,” Johnny murmured, “Let it wash over you, don’t hold it in.”

And strangely, V did, he consciously relaxed his shoulders, unclenched his teeth and leaned back into the pillow as tremor after tremor quaked through him. Kerry was steadying the cup, but otherwise stayed silent and immobile, just as Johnny.

Finally, it stopped, and V let out a breath that sounded heavily tired.

“I saw Smashed rip off my arm.” He pronounced; eyes closed. “It was so real. I could nearly feel my skin ripping off…” he trailed, and Kerry let out a whimper of compassionate pain. “I can’t really remember the sensation,” he continued, “but I know it was beyond everything I experienced. I couldn’t handle it.” He concluded.

“When my arm was ripped off, I also fell unconscious.” Johnny admitted and V’s eyes found his.

“How did it happen?” he asked after a moment, while trying to raise the cup. Kerry helped him discreetly, with just his fingertips under the ceramic.

“A bomb exploded near me. A shrapnel ricocheted into it, with the force of the explosion. I was lucky it wasn’t my head.” The last part seemed scripted, like he repeated something he had been told many times. “But the only thing I remember from this moment is Mel’s face when she understood the bomb was going to fall right on her.”

Heavy silence welcomed the confession.

“I… I keep seeing Smasher’s face right before…” V breathed, “He smiled.”

Anger flashed over Johnny’s face.

“I put six f*ckin’ bullets in his skull for that.” He growled, protective and both V and Kerry couldn’t help but smile softly.

“Yeah. Thank you. For saving me.”

Johnny only closed his eyes and bent forward, kissing V on the forehead.

“You should come sleep with us,” Kerry declared after that. “I know sleeping with someone helped Johnny.”

“Yeah, ‘k,” V replied, drinking the tea before giving it back to Kerry.

“Think you can stand?” Johnny asked.

“We will see.”

He was wobbly on his feet, but managed to walk to the other room with help.

“My balance is completely off,” he complained when the rockerboy deposited him on the mattress.

“Yeah, I know. You’ll get used to it fast, trust me.”

V hummed and relaxed in the middle. The two other men laid down on either side of him, with just a silver of space between them, respectful of V space. He turned on his good arm, back to Johnny and pushed back so he could be spooned. Following his lead, the man let his arm go over his waist. Then Kerry smiled and snuggled closer with a contented um.

“I missed that.”

“We really need a bigger bed.” Was Johnny’s conclusion.

Chapter 13: The omens of Hermes


I ended up rewriting a whole chapter, and cut the story differently, which is why there is now 18 chapters instead of seventeen.
I can't help but think my chapters are too long, so I tried to reduce them a bit.

We are entering the second (and last) arc of this fiction, which contains my favorites chapters, so I hope you'll enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. Don't hesitate to let me know what you thought of this work!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“I won’t risk it.” V breathed, eyes shining with fervor. “I won’t risk losing any of you.”

When they got back in Night-City, a flurry of activities was awaiting the two rockerboys: recording kicked-off at a speed, and Johnny had about a million subjects on his metaphorical desk at the party, with Tallulah breathing down his neck. She wanted him to run for city council, which he found ludicrous. As a compromise, they started looking for someone to run the next-year election for the party: someone young, humble, intelligent, focused, ethical… The list of their prerogative was infinite, so the search for the right candidate was taking a lot of time. For his part, Kerry was also called by MSM to have a talk about how he couldn’t disappear for three weeks without notice, that he turned to a brainstorm meeting for his next solo album, helped by the dozens of songs drafted during V’s long sleep.

So V was mostly left to himself, and took that time to meet with Misty and Mama Welles over lunch. He got berated by both, although they expressed it in different style. Feeling sheepish, he took it with good grace, recognizing for what it was: worry for someone they cherished. Of course, Mama Welles asked him about his love life, nagged him, more like. So when she started talking about the nice new girl she had hired to help Pepe, who was soon to be a father for the third time, he let out that he was already in a relationship. From there, lunch turned into a military grade interrogation until V cracked under the nice but firm questioning of both women. V tried to stay vague, but in the end, they had both his outputs’ names, age and profession. If Misty wasn’t surprised, Mama Welles couldn’t hide her expression. For a moment, V thought she might disapprove, but then she smiled, declaring that V deserved two lovers, to compensate for the lack thereof in the past years. He laughed nervously and drank more wine than he had planned. His nightmare continued when both women started speculating about his sex life, and was only saved by Vik calling, indicating he was free to meet up with V to talk about the arm’s surgery.

After Misty and Mama Welles, he spent some times with Judy, helping her by playing lab rat for her new Braindances’ project. When not at Judy’s they met at the Lizzie’s, and nearly all the staff fawned over him, asking him where he had been, and how he had lost his arm. It was a strange feeling: like he was visiting twice removed cousins.

The night before surgery, Kerry and Johnny met him at the Lizzie’s after a recording session. Both of them were high on their music, brimming with an explosive energy V felt himself respond to instinctually. It made his skin heat, and his heart beat faster. It still amazed him how barely a look from either of them could make his blood race in his veins, and the right kind of smile harden his co*ck.

Still, they all enjoyed the club’s atmosphere and free drinks that kept coming to them. Some people recognized Kerry, and Johnny by proxy, but this crowd was definitely more Eurodyne inclined than Samurai. He gave time to the fans with genuine smiles and a twinkle in his eyes. In the meantime, Evelyn had joined them, having gotten back to work at the Lizzie’s after the Arasaka Heist. But because she had earned her due from the Voodoo boys, she wasn’t a doll anymore, and actually found herself bored after a while of enjoying her newfound wellness. She and Johnny hit off like a house on fire, and there was definitely something of a sexual tension in their exchange. V knew he would be the one to reap off the fruits of their little banter later on. Always an intense lover, Johnny really reached his potential when he was worked good beforehand, for nothing had him going stronger than delays in gratification. It was that conversation that led Johnny to offer Evelyn a job as Samurai’s manager, to Kerry complete surprise. The musician had kept nagging Johnny about a replacement for Nancy from the day of their reformation. Until now, Johnny had categorically refused, taking that role with mixed results and a lot of tension. Evelyn had smiled, and just to be difficult, had told him she would think about it, but V could tell she was interested.

After surgery, Viktor advised five days of rest before V could get back to mercenary work, to let the new arm settle and neurological pathways consolidate. But Kerry and Johnny could tell it wouldn’t be more than three days before V would turn crazy. They had already been back for a week, a week during which he had only rested, seen friends and met with River and Rogue about their on-going investigation regarding Johnny’s attempted assassination. And indeed, they watched their young output go from drowsy due to the lingering anesthetics and pain medications to restless in two days.

He disappeared on the third day, hours before either of the older men were even up, with just a note about how he was going to follow a lead with River. He didn’t come back that night, but called them to warn them it was taking longer than expected. He didn’t elaborate on what exactly he was doing, but his voice and general tone was calm and collected. Reassuring.

When Kerry and Johnny came back around five around five the next day, V was asleep in their bed. Naked and obviously recently showered for his long gray hair were still damp, his caramel skin glowed in the afternoon sun, making for a beautiful picture. Kerry used his holodeck to take a photo.

“I have something better,” Johnny softly told him from behind. He rummaged for a second in the dressing before extracting an old polaroid. Kerry chuckled when he saw it: it was actually Nancy’s, a gift they had all participated in, but it seemed that Johnny had made it his along the way.

“Does it still work?”

“Oh yeah, I still use it sometimes.” And he snapped a picture to show Kerry. They waited together for the photo to appear as Johnny shook it softly. When at last the colors appeared, Kerry looked at it and smiled fondly, taking the small snapshot delicately between his fingers. It was true that the polaroid gave it a particular sheen as it highlighted V’s round muscled ass and tattooed back.

Then, his smile turned wicked and he glanced at Johnny.

“Keep that close, ok?”

Johnny raised an eyebrow at him and watched him saunter – literally – to their sleeping companion. Kerry undressed with slow movements, and the rockerboy snapped another picture when he was proudly standing in front of the bed, nude as the day he was born. Then, he crawled over V, kissing his spine from the small of his back to his neck, then detouring to play-bite an ear. The sleeping man shifted, groaned and sighed, but still didn’t move. Undeterred, Kerry went back the way he had come and gently spread his lover’s ass-cheeks.

Slowly, Johnny joined him on the mattress, reclining against the wall at the top of the bed to just observe. He alternated between Kerry, who was now kissing the inside of V’s thighs, to the still mostly asleep man, whose expressions showed he was waking up. V gasped when Kerry put his mouth on him for real, his eyes fluttering open as his body instinctively pushed into the pleasure.

“Hey, Beloved,” Johnny murmured and the merc glanced up, a droopy smile on his lips, that turned into a sweet “O” of pleasure as Kerry continued to go down on him. “slept well?” the rockerboy continued with the shadow of a smirk. But V was not listening to him anymore, he was pushing himself up on his knees and elbows, a clear sign that he wanted more.

Ever the artist, Johnny’s eyes detailed the scene as his fingers itched not only to photograph but to record their love-making. Unfortunately, he was about sure the merc was not ready for that. Yet. Gently, he put his metal hand on V’s jaw, caressing his cheek and stroking his bottom lip with his thumb. V closed his mouth around it and sucked on the cold iron, tongue lapping at it in intermittence. Johnny groaned, feeling how tight his pants were becoming, and he couldn’t resist opening them. V saw it and crawled closer, forcing Kerry to follow with an annoyed groan.

“Learn to share, Ker,” Johnny taunted, which garnered him a raised middle finger from his long-time friend. But it was soon forgotten as V’s full lips closed over Johnny’s erection and his tongue flattened underneath the head. The rockerboy sighed and shimmied his pants down more to give V the space he needed to take him completely in, which the younger man did after a few ups and downs. He was sucking in counterpoint to Kerry’s tongue and finger opening him up, pushing his hips back to chase his high, and Kerry moaned at that, stroking his lover’s co*ck in rhythm. It was still slow progress, but V was relaxing faster and faster into their lovemaking, showing his needs more clearly and being more respectful of his own limits now that he felt safer to reveal them. It was a spectacle Johnny was not tiring of.

Hips bucking softly into V’s mouth, Johnny extended his arm to the side table to throw the lube at Kerry. It fell next to V’s knee, and the musician didn’t lose time in catching it to continue the preparations. As he gently introduced two fingers in V’s hole, the merc sagged forward with a groan of ecstasy which made both his lovers smile wickedly: they now knew how to touch him for maximum bliss. Johnny put both his hands in V’s hair, massaging his scalp softly, tracing the slightly pointed ears and his sharp jaw before going back to his temples and the back of his head. V stilled as Kerry worked him faster, his mouth opening and losing concentration as sparks of pleasure ran up in his body. Then he couldn’t suck anymore, needing his whole mouth to pant out as Kerry stuffed him with three fingers.

“Too much?” Johnny asked gently, but his young lover shook his head.

“It’s always intense,” he whispered back, “but good, don’t stop.” He asked and Kerry huffed a small laugh.

“Up,” he said, which surprised V. He still did it, straightening up and turning an inquisitive gaze toward his second lover who said: “I wanna f*ck you against the window.”

V closed his eyes as a shudder of want went through him.

“And,” Kerry continued, “Johnny will watch as I take you hard and fast. And take photos,” he concluded with a devilish smile.

This last part made the merc stiffen, and he turned to Johnny who pointed to the polaroid. “Light really is perfect,” said man commented playfully before his expression turned serious: “You ok with that?”

V licked his bottom lip, clearly hesitating. Then, in a fluid movement, he took the polaroid and brought it to him. He snapped the picture before Johnny could react, and the machine was soon printing the black glossy paper. V took the shot and waited for the image to appear: Johnny, with his pants open and his proud dick displayed under the declining light of the city, his face reddened by pleasure and his eyes heavily lidded. The picture of debauchery.

“The light is good,” V concurred before putting both the still and the polaroid back on the bed. He then crawled up to kiss him. It was domineering, passionate with the touch of despair their joining usually took. The rockerboy brought him closer by the back of his head, surging up to battle him with lips, spit and tongue. He felt V start to surrender as his body arched and rested more on him, but the characteristic sound of the camera going off again interrupted them.

“Hum,” Kerry sighed with a smile as the picture revealed itself. “hot.”

“You both really are f*cking voyeurs.” V only commented, but his tone was amused. He took the camera from Kerry and passed it back to Johnny: a silent agreement. Then he made his way to the window and after a second of hesitation, placed both hands on the glass over his head. He then arched his back and looked behind at Kerry:

“You comin’?”

It jolted the man into action, lost as he had been into the show of his lover submitting so beautifully to his demands.

“Oh yeah, he gonna,” Johnny predicted with a smirk that both lovers ignored.

Delicately, Kerry traced V’s veins on his arms, the caresses becoming firmer as he reached the neck and went down all the way to the younger man’s ass. Kerry put his chin between V’s shoulder plates, kissing his spine and softly biting the thin skin there as he penetrated V. Said man shifted to accommodate him, bottom lip between his teeth as the pressure ceded inside him and Kerry slid home. His left palm was sweaty against the glass, and the right clinked against the window, the gold shinning bright under the warm rays of the sun. He let out a moan of contentment and his breath fogged the cold material. Behind him, Kerry let out a curse and started moving, his rocking soft and careful at first but as V arched more and pushed back against him, the musician let himself go with the flow. He gripped his lover’s hips tight, leaving shapes in the pretty skin, right over the scars V had on the right one. His fingers stroked the uneven skin gently but absently as he was putting more weight into each roll. V let his forehead rest against the glass, heavy lidded eyes fluttering over the city bellow as he spread his legs further to encourage Kerry. He tilted his pelvis just the right angle so that the musician would brush his sweet spot on each pass, making him sigh and keen softly.

“f*ck, if you could see yourself,” Johnny’s voice sounded wrecked and a glance backward showed him on his knees in the mattress, pants still halfway on, co*ck still hard as rock as he snapped yet another picture.

“We will,” Kerry panted, “You’ll see yourself, V, how f*cking pretty you are when I f*ck you.”

Johnny rose from the bed, discarded his clothes before picking the device again, changing angles to take one more photo. His eyes looked feverish and it was like a kick to V’s belly. He suddenly wanted to see though his eyes, see Kerry take him as the city thrummed under them.

With a particularly hard snap of his hips, Kerry wrenched a shout from V’s lips, mouth opening wide and face scrunching up in pleasured agony as electricity coursed through his nerves. Johnny cursed and activated the polaroid again as V rose on tip-toes, trying to get a better angle. Then Kerry’s hand started stroking him long and deep, like his thrusts. It was perfect and V clenched around him, loving how full he felt.

“I want to feel you cum inside me,” he whispered, voice trembling and mouth dry and he couldn’t help but gasp and gasp again as Kerry continued to drive into him.

“f*ck, I will, I will.” The musician promised with a reverent tone.

Nudging closer, Kerry completely covered V, and as his hand continued to stroke his co*ck, the other caressed his sweaty abs and pinched his nipples.

“Again,” V begged, “Again.”

And so Kerry did, feeling his legs tremble as both exertion and his org*sm mounted inside him in a fast race.

Then Johnny took V’s chin in his hand, forcing the man to face him. His dark eyes seemed to take in every details of his face before he kissed him. And that was it. V gasped, a moan that Johnny drank as he came, cum landing on the glass and the floor messily.

Kerry cursed behind them, the sight of them kissing sending him over the edge as he spilt inside V. His hips crushed against V ass and he buckled one more time before he couldn’t anymore. They stilled for a handful of seconds before, still joined, they slid to the floor.

“f*ck,” Johnny said, breathing hard. His eyes couldn’t stop taking in the magnificent tableau of their intertwined legs, of their skins, so much darker than his, glowing in the orange light. Yet he corralled them to the bed, where they fell one on another in a pretty display of relaxed limbs, sweetly kissing each other between happy smiles.

He pressed the button once more. It was the last photo of the stash.

Putting the device on the floor gently, he joined them, covering them both in kisses as they turned to welcome him. They laid him down on the bed, on his back, and alternated in sucking him. Johnny closed his eyes and after a while, couldn’t really say which one had his mouth on him. It was only pleasure, wet and hot over his co*ck.

Later that night, as they had just finished eating dinner, Kerry asked how his gig went. Sighing, V leaned back on the high stool.

“We’re struck. We raided the Tyger Claws’ headquarter in search for the other end of the communication Alt intercepted. But someone got to it first. Whoever gave them the order covered their traces good, and I took too long. Was too busy with Alt…” he finished with regret.

“Maybe they will drop it off,” Kerry suggested, “I mean, if they’re Arasaka, they have others things to deal with, obviously.”

Both V and Johnny could tell Kerry knew it was wishful thinking, but they acknowledged the hope gently.

“Even when she was loose on the network when we raided Arasaka to destroy Mikoshi, Alt couldn’t break into that sub-network. It means it’s one of the best protected of the company. Rogue, River and I agree it can only mean one thing…” V explained before glancing at Johnny.

“Means it’s either Saburo’s or, more likely, Yorinobu’s personal network.”

The merc nodded softly.

“Plus, Alt hinted it was connected to another bigger secure network: it’s not just Arasaka in that deal.” He added despondently.

Swirling the wine in his glass, Johnny eyes V with suspicion.

“I feel like you’re trying to prepare me for something I won’t like. Spill it.” He ordered and V rolled his eyes up, but didn’t deny it.

“We only have one solution left: I must reach to Hanako again, and make a deal with her.”

Putting the glass back on the kitchen isle with force, Johnny crossed him arms, face set in a snarl.

“What is it with you and deals with Arasaka?! I mean, haven’t they already proven they can’t be trusted? And just a reminder: you were a key player in the destruction of their empire, think they will react kindly to you reaching out to them for help?”

Keeping calm, V blinked and drummed his hand on the countertop. Between them, Kerry watched the ping-pong go with a worried frown.

“I’m not asking for help, I’m offering a deal to Hanako: she still needs her brother taken down, and I can still do that. If she couldn’t break into Yorinobu’s network, Alt could access Smasher’s…” he trailed, a mean smile flowering on his lips. “And, although well hidden, there was a file with all the proofs Hanako would need to make her brother fall.”

It didn’t seem to calm Johnny, but he couldn’t help but be curious.

“So what, you give her that against an access to Yorinobu’s personal network? She might not be able to grant it to you.”

“Which is why it’s not an access to the network I want, it’s an access to Yorinobu.”

The resounding silence that followed lasted for two full, long seconds before Johnny exploded:

“Bullsh*t V!” he got on his feet, both hands slamming on the table “That’s way too dangerous! It’s gonna be a f*cking trap!”

Kerry had wisely taken his own glass off the table and was clutching it near to his body, but his face expressed his own agitation as he looked at his younger output. Perfectly still and face impassive, V watched Johnny in the eye without blinking. His attitude was verging on condescending, like the rockerby was overexaggerating.

“I don’t have a choice.” He hissed back. “It’s the only way to find who wants you dead.”

“Yes, you have one: drop it!” Johnny literally hollered.

And V’s mask cracked, no, shattered, like fragile porcelain. His whole body tensed and his eyes flashed before he breathed:

“Drop it?” His tone, so cold and dangerous, made both his outputs pause. They were suddenly reminded that V was a merc, and a f*cking dangerous one at that, an accomplished killer even if he tried to spare lives when he could. He was a man used to deal with Maelstromers, Tyger Claws and Valentinos daily, and getting out on top.

But when he was in that state, there was no stopping Johnny, Kerry knew, so it was no surprise when the rocker didn’t back down.

“Yes, V, drop it. I can defend myself in everyday life and you know it!” he accused before continuing: “Plus I’m pretty sure they won’t try to kill me in public again, and certainly not during any event to do with the party, ‘cause that would only make me a martyr and they don’t want that!”

V got to his feet too, like a cobra raising itself from the ground and Kerry felt dread course through his body.

“If I hadn’t been there the last time, you would be dead, Kerry too, and maybe the rest of your band, Johnny.”

“I was surprised, V, it won’t happen again, and if you’re there – “

“But I might not always be here, Johnny.” V countered, voice barely raising but his eyes shone crazily for a second, chilling Kerry to the bone. “You said it yourself, they won’t strike again in the open: they will wait until you’re alone, without me, to kill you.”

Johnny dismissed it with a wave of his hands but V’s face turned into a snarl as he spoke over whatever the rockerboy had planned on saying.

“And think! Johnny, Think! The first time you came to me, what did you ask me and why?” he demanded, voice strong and authoritative.

That made Johnny pause, and Kerry frown in question. A glance from the older man to his life-long friend told V he remembered well. Still, he clarified to get his point across:

“You asked me to train Kerry in self-defense because you were pretty sure they would use him against you. If they can’t kill you outright without turning you into a martyr, then the next best thing to do is to pressure you into quitting your political involvement.” V exposed, voice going softer, taking on a desperate edge. “And you only have one known pressure point, Johnny.” He finished, anguish coloring his voice.

That seemed to shut Johnny up: a reminded that it wasn’t just his life on the line. None of them looked at Kerry, but the three men didn’t need to voice it aloud for it resounded in the room like a gong.

“I won’t risk it.” V breathed, eyes shining with fervor. “I won’t risk losing any of you.”

Then he shut his mouth with a clink of teeth, and his jaw worked like it did when he refused to let out the words pressing at the back of his teeth. V turned away, pushing a hand into his hair and disturbing his hairdo in an uncharacteristic gesture of stress. By an ingrained habit from his corpo days, he usually never touched his hair.

With slightly trembling hands, he went to his jacket and retrieved his pack of smoke, lighting one as both his lovers watched him in silence. V made his way back to the kitchen isle and leaned both hands on the counter, head low between his shoulders as the smoke drifted upward.

“I don’t think I could take it if anything happened to you.” he murmured; face hidden down. “Last time I felt like this…” he started before once again stopping like he couldn’t pronounce the words. Lifting his head, his eyes crossed with Kerry’s pretty brown pupils, which turned from worried to supportive, full of an affection V sometimes still couldn’t believe was directed at him.

Anger still swirling inside him, Johnny nonetheless felt the importance of what V was trying to articulate and uncrossed his arms, sitting back down. He lighted a smoke of his own and watched the younger man intently.

“f*ck,” V muttered, glancing down at the table, “How do people even stand feeling like this?” he implored.

“Feeling like what?” Kerry asked gently.

“Feeling like I couldn’t breathe without you.” he admitted in a rush. Johnny’s hand spasmed, disturbing the ashes of his smoke and he seemed to take pity on V, for his lips twitched up.

“Because it’s worth it for all the moments when you are with us, and you feel like breathing has never been more amazing.”

Chuckling wetly, V bit his lower lip before he soldiered on.

“Last time I felt like this, it was with Roma,” he pushed out and felt more than he saw both men stiffen: finally, a name to put on that mysterious figure from V’s past. The one he had never talked about but whose presence was so potent they had felt it nonetheless. “At the time, I had lost both my parents, and was starting university. It was…” V interrupted himself, swallowing before clearing his throat. “I know it will sound f*ckin’ rich, but it was really difficult. I was on scholarship, estranged from the lot of them. I was from a modest family and suddenly I was swarmed by privilege and I just… didn’t know how to fit in, and they saw it, took advantage of it. Like sharks. I…. I was too kind,” he finished lamely. “I struggled even to breathe; it was like I was drowning all the time. Then my sister started to get sick, same as my parents. I vowed not to let her go like them, that I would find the money. I started working in a bar. Well, it was not just a bar,” he added and they both understood what he was implying: bars were often brothels in disguise in NC. “but I was only bartending at first. Soon it wasn’t enough, so I started dancing. That’s how I learned pole dancing,” V confessed. “And when that wasn’t enough either I…” he stopped, feeling that last confession get struck in his throat.

“You did what you thought you had to do, to survive, to save your sister.” Johnny mumbled, feeling the last of his anger dissipate in front of V’s monologue. The younger man nodded, still refusing to meet their eyes.

“She died anyway.” He continued with a shrug that both older men saw right through. “But during all that, there was Roma, the… light, in all that dark.”

V paused, hands clenching and Kerry couldn’t stop himself anymore and took his flesh hand between his, thumbs stroking the thin skin of his wrist.

“We were nearly graduating when they changed completely: one day they came to my flat and told me that my project would be theirs. I know it must look really petty for you but it was like… the only thing I was proud of, the thing that held me, gave me a goal, an out. The only thing that made sense. And they took it.”

“But didn’t your professor..?” Kerry trailed off, unfamiliar with that world.

“I slept with him, in exchange for some parts I needed for my project, and I had told Roma, so they used that as blackmail. In the end, their name was added as lead of the project.”

V took back his hand from Kerry to put his head in both of them.

“I loved them. With all my heart. And what they did, it was nothing really, I couldn’t have cared less, I would have given it to them freely. Out of love.” His voice was slightly muffled from behind his palms, and Johnny could see the tension in his back. But, because V wanted to please and appease Johnny, he pushed through his own discomfort. “It’s that they changed, or more like, revealed themselves at that moment. It was like everything we had had been fake. They became cold, mean. They acted disgusted every time they saw me. I lost everything in five minutes.”

He concluded, voice barely above a whisper.

Kerry and Johnny exchanged a look, but they couldn’t relate: this was not part of their history. Love had been differently complicated for them, but never had they been betrayed like that. In Johnny’s case, he had been closer to Roma’s place, sometimes. As for Kerry, being used was familiar to him, but it had been his body more than his feelings they had targeted. Still, they felt his pain like theirs, and anger that someone could have hurt V like this. Their sweet little fox.

V raised his head and Kerry saw that his eyes were red rimmed, but dry.

“Roma didn’t die, but I lost them anyway, on top of everything else. It nearly broke me.” He breathed and his eyes were haunted by the all too familiar edge. An edge both Johnny and Kerry had stood at and bent over to watch the devouring darkness under their feet. They had walked back, like V, at the last moment, but they still felt its alluring call. “And I keep losing the people I love: everybody dies around me. My parents, my sister, Jackie… I just – I don’t think I can take it anymore.” V admitted like it was a weakness. He paused, eyes still downcast and fixed, absent. The two other men let the silence run its course before slowly, V’s gaze flickered to Kerry’s once more. “So, I don’t think I would survive if I were to lose any of you… Sometimes…” he stopped for a second, but the dam had opened and the words couldn’t be stalled anymore, “Sometimes I feel like I’m going crazy, it’s just… Too much. Don’t really know what to do with that…” He gestured to his heart, trying to describe the sensation, “feeling.”

He addressed the last part to Johnny especially, and the man smiled sadly, hand going to V’s cheek.

“I know.”

And Kerry knew it was one again one of their similarities, something they shared that he couldn’t relate to. But it made his heart clench painfully to witness it. He wished he could ease their pain more, mend their heart with his love, fill their being with the strength of his sentiments for them.

“Which is why I have to do it, regardless of the danger.” V breathed like he was begging Johnny to understand. The man sighed, closed his eyes and leaned back.

“Did it occur to you, V, that it’s exactly the same feeling on this side of the relationship?”

The merc had the decency not to reply anything. He knew intellectually that yes, they cared about him, but he still couldn’t believe it completely. At the same time, his own feelings and emotions seemed to grow by the minute, reinforcing that sweet addiction he was grooming about them.

“I’m doing it anyway, Johnny,” V insisted, and the rockerboy turned his face sideway.

“Just don’t do it alone.” Was his only breathed out reply.


Johnny loves to watch ;) I think it's one of my favorite sex scene that I ever wrote.

I really love Evelyn, great character, was really sad when she died, so I decided to give her a small role.

For those interested, just a reminder that you can find V's complete back-story as the second work of the serie this fiction is part of.

Chapter 14: Follow Ares on the warpath


This is a double update, don't forget to check chapter 13 before reading this one ;)

TW: scene of ritual suicide, as in seppukku

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Ah, V… A man as close to Silverhand as yourself knows he only has one weakness.

Three weeks later.

V waited, breathing calmly. He was crouched behind the parapet, with the rifle already in place, waiting for the right moment. He observed the building opposite to him, over five hundred meters from his position. He had a good vantage point here, and the lowering sun at his back. The wind was the main problem, swirling and shifting between Night-City forest of metal and glass. Right at the center of the city, but still above the chaos, V relished in the moment of calm before the kill.

It was the last one on the list Hanako had given him. He had reached out to Takemura, with the dreadful thinking he was coming too late. But the man was still alive although it was clear he wasn’t planning on remaining so for long. Yet, he had allowed V to convince him that all was not lost, and that if the corpo couldn’t be saved, Hanako could be, and Yorinobu could still pay for his treachery. They met over breakfast at Tom’s Diner, in a reminiscence of the first time Takemura had asked him for his help. The conversation was stilled, the tentative trust between them scattered by V’s actions against Arasaka. But in the end, Goro agreed to carry V’s offer to Hanako.

Hanako, when he met her at the Embers once more, was not so easily convinced. Her cold anger at V was understandable, and since the last time they had talked face to face, she seemed to have aged a century. Clearly, she was fighting for her life.

So in the end, she bargained for more than just proof of her brother’s guilt and requested that V took care of several member of the Taka’s faction before she could even consider planning a meeting between the merc and her brother. Like an olive branch, she added that for the moment, her precarious position didn’t allow her to grant V his request, and that killing the members of her brother’s entourage was actually just to ensure her survival. Her tone implied well that she though V owed her that. Feeling cornered, and with no other option, he agreed.

For now, he waited. Someone was to open the window soon, as per the plan, and he wouldn’t have a lot of time to take the shot. Looking though the visor, he adjusted the rifle to the right, checked his instruments one last time before shifting into a more comfortable position.

Suddenly, movement appeared behind the glass panel, anecdotical if you weren’t looking for it, but V was. It opened, giving V a silver of opening to take the shot. Once more looking through the visor, he breathed deep and slow. The target was seated, head bent over a tablet. On his right, his assistant was pointing things on it. The subordinate was close, and would probably be covered in his boss’s blood in a second.

V breathed in, held and put his finger on the trigger. He released his breath slowly and pulled. The shot rang, clean and clear.

In his ear, a second later, he heard Takemura’s voice. The man had been hiding on another roof, closer and observing the kill to make sure V didn’t miss.

“Well done, V. He is dead.”

V didn’t wait to assess it by himself, thrusting Takemura enough on that. He was disassembling the Overwatch riffle in practiced moves, putting everything back in the bag. In less than ten seconds, he was crawling back down the roof emergency exit, gracefully jumping down before making his way to the elevator. He by-passed the knocked-up security woman he had dealt with earlier. She was still twitching from being fried.

“I want to speak to Hanako, Goro. Now” V practically growled. He was still sore about the deal, clearly thinking her an ungrateful bitch as he had practically given her what she had needed on a silver plate. But she was not Saburo Arasaka’s daughter for nothing, she was as cunning as him, and maybe a better people reader: she had felt V desperation right through his carefully built poker face.

On the other side of the line, the old bodyguard, soon to be shipped back in japan, stayed silent a few seconds. “I know, I’ll call her right after we end this call. Expect to hear from her soon.” There was a pause where V hummed, tone hard as steal. “V…” started the other man, “for what it’s worth, thank you.”

This mellowed V’s heart a bit, but it was tinted with the knowledge that soon, Goro and he would be back on each of their side of this war. And that the next time they crossed path; V might have to put a bullet through his eyes. Before he could reply, the line cut: Takemura was well aware of this too.

Signing, V took the stairs down one level and entered a bathroom. He caught his reflection in the mirror: dark gray turtle neck top, black jacket, inlaid with shinny sequins of the same color, black jeans of good quality, fashionable sneakers that he usually never wore. The clothes were ersatz of his corpo days. Straightening, he looked at himself in the bathroom and it was like looking at an old photograph. He dusted his black jeans, checked his makeup but it was still pristine enough: he was just passing through anyway. He redid his hair in practiced movements, more of a testament to his agitation than necessity.

Then he opened the door and walked into the open space. Just when he had passed through an hour ago, no one paid attention to him. Corpo rats were stressfully running around the office that he crossed, face carefully down and keeping an eye on cameras. He walked confidently to the other elevator, the one that would bring him down to the lobby. No one asked about his big bag either.

He was out of the building in no time, kept his pace even as he rounded the corner to find his ride. The Caliburn welcomed him with a purr and he swiftly drove it in the traffic. He was rounding CorpoPlaza heading south to the Atlantis, when he received a message: “Meet me at the Arasaka’s residence at nine tonight.”

As per Johnny’s request, V asked Rogue to come with him, which she begrudgingly accepted to do. Yet, V suspected she was actually a lot more interested in being there than she let on. Since V had come crashing into the fixer’s life, her grudge against Johnny had mellowed out and their friendship had rekindled.

“You know we are literally walking into the snake nest, right?” Rogue murmured as they approached the residence on foot. They had two cars parked strategically for escape, one down the road, and the other at the foot of the small hill. Their guns were loaded, and their senses on high alert. Unbeknown to the Arasaka family, V had an ace down his sleeve: while Alt had still been with him, he had visited the Arasaka Manor with her, in the off-chance they would find something interesting. At the time, the mansion had been mostly empty and V had entered the domain without much trouble and the engram had installed a small back door. It was coming in handy now, as V already had access to the security network of the house.

While they continued to walk serenely, he checked the surveillance cameras and couldn’t hide his surprise when he saw what was waiting for them in the main room.

“Might be that Hanako ’s playing fair,” he breathed back and Rogue raised an eyebrow. But it was too late to elaborate. At the door, both Takemura and Oda were waiting for them. They were escorted inside the house politely, and even allowed to keep their weapons, which was another surprise.

A glance exchanged with the oldest bodyguard told V all he needed to know: Takemura had obviously advocated in their favor and made sure V’s help was repaid. Following the Arasaka personnel like it was the first time he had entered the house, the merc eyes fell on Hanako the moment she became visible. Behind him, Rogue couldn’t surpress a small gasp at the picture offered to them. The heiress was standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by the various couches, her attitude serene and relaxed. At her feet, on his knees with his hands bound behind his back, was her brother Yorinobu Arasaka.

He didn’t look particularly harmed nor drugged, so V concluded she had brought him here under false pretenses and that the brother had underestimated his sibling. His expression of disgust as he looked at his sister seemed to confirm this.

Hanako made a small gesture with her hand, like an invitation to seat, but it was clear nobody in the room wanted to do so.

“I delivered, as promised.” She declared and V nodded. “You asked for a meeting, and here he is. I’ll give you ten minutes, after which I have a need of my brother for another matter.”

“I’ll have as long as I need,” he countered, “I didn’t ask just to meet your brother, I said I needed info only he has.”

On the floor, Yorinobu smiled, which V saw from the corner of his eyes. He turned his attention to the heir and crouched in front of him.

“Why are you smiling?” he wondered in seemingly genuine curiosity, and the kneeling man couldn’t help the minute frown that twitched on his features at V’s tone. Still, he recovered.

“I think we both know I won’t give you what you’re looking for.”

“Really?” V asked as his eyes shone and Yorinobu chocked, doubling over as his cyberware glitched. “It’s so simple, really. I just want names. It’s nothing compared to what awaits you after.” He concluded, chin briefly pointing up to his sister. Eyes going back to their usual grey, V watched Yorinobu recover.

The man lifted his head and spit at V, wet saliva ending up on his cheek right under his eyes. V’s face hardened, but there was no other reaction for a long second before Yorinobu paled, spasmed and started screaming again as V once again hacked into him, destroying his automated defense like a knife into butter.

“So, tell me, who else wants Johnny Silverhand’s dead?” he whispered as he relinquished his hold on the heir.

The man panted and heaved, but his first answer was another sly smile.

“Even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you, that would be signing my death sentence.”

“Hum,” V said, unimpressed, “I think you signed your death sentence the day you killed your father. I was here, did you know? Watched you choke him. Very nasty.”

The man on his knee huffed and shrugged, like it was of little importance. V got even closer, so he could utter the words directly into the man’s ear.

“You know what’s gonna happen when she takes you to the board meeting, right? Because I do, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”

This seemed to surprise the heir, for he recoiled slightly and turned his head toward the merc. His eyes slitted. His nod was minute before he slowly got closer to V again.

“I could give you an honorable out.” V informed him, still as low.

Next to them, Hanako shifted, coming closer to them.

“Louder V, so I can hear.”

Retreating a fraction, V continued to look intently at Yorinobu. The man’s expression was calm, pensive, before he nodded again, nearly imperceptible but V saw it all the same. The merc got to his feet slowly.

“I’ll talk to V,” Yorinobu pronounced, voice strong. “Alone.”

His sister’s eyebrows raised and she shook her head with disbelief.

“Absolutely not.” She replied, looking at V with slitted eyes.

“But actually,” the young mercenary breathed, eyes shining, “this is not a negotiation.”

And suddenly, the automatic turret in the room came on-line and very obviously pointed to the heiress, at the same time as the drones swirled inside the room and the characteristic sound of the defense robot walking toward the room could be heard. Every automatic defense in the house was under V’s control, courtesy of Alt’s backdoor. Behind him, V felt Rogue shift, as well as the two bodyguards take a step toward them, hands on their weapons.

Swirling swiftly, V raised his gun at Oda: “I wouldn’t, if I were you. I did it once, can do it again.”

He then glanced at Takemura: “Won’t harm her if she cooperates,” he indicated, and the man’s face was full of loathing, but he still acknowledged V’s promise. Rogue had drawn her gun at the old guard too, deeming him the most lethal of the two, with good judgement.

“So,” V said to Hanako, lazily pointing to the door with his gun, “out.”

She tried to school her face into her usual poker face, but a glimpse of the angry little girl inside her still shone through before, head high, she marched to the entrance. Both bodyguards followed her silently, only sending V a look of clear warning. Rogue posted herself at the door, gun still trained on them until they were well out of earing range. The army of drones and bot followed them.

Concentrating again on the heir, V raised an eyebrow. On his knees, the man looked downward before his eyes found V’s.

“I should thank you, V. You helped me greatly: by destroying my father’s work, and then by saving me from an awful fate. How did you know?”

“When we stormed Arasaka, Alt found your father’s engram. At the time, we were a bit busy to do anything about it,” he explained, “She told me when she gave me proof of your guilt.”

V paused with a sigh.

“They say I’m quite an intelligent man. Didn’t take long to draw conclusions. The engram tech was invented to allow your father to reincarnate, and who better than his son to offer his body as vessel? The ultimate proof of a son’s loyalty to his father…”

“Yes, that is probably how they would have framed it.” Yorinobu acquiesced. “Don’t blame my sister for any of this. She is just doing what is expected of her.”

“I know.” V offered, “I have nothing against her. She will have the ashes of your company to play with. I just don’t want to hear about your father anymore.”

Yorinobu nodded before taking a deep breath.

“I suppose it is now the part where I tell you what I know?”

V’s still glowing eyes blinked before he gestured to the man to start talking.

“I don’t know the name of the others: that’s how the group meets. But I can tell you it is composed of board members of every powerful corporation here in Night-City. Of course, I made my little investigation, and I’m pretty sure Greta Thulenberg is the liaison for Militech. She is the head of counter-intelligence here. Recognized her voice. I’m also positive that it’s run by the first adjoint to the City-Council, that the maire is aware of the group’s existence but doesn’t know anything else, to protect himself.”

V grunted in ascent.

“Why did you target Johnny?”

Yorinobu’s mouth twitched at the name.

“Arasaka and Militech have personal grief with Mister Silverhand, as for the others, it’s because contrary to what the media try to make the people believe, he actually is gaining weight. The next election for City-Council approaching, we couldn’t risk him running for a seat. If he won one, then anyone could do too: it would rise too much hope in the population.”

The heir paused, before turning to watch out of the windows in a strange bout of melancholy.

“Did you know people are starting to see him as a messiah? His image goes beyond the political: the masses are ready to pray at his altar.”

V could only swallow at this information, because it was a feeling, he knew all too well. There was something holy about being on your knees for Johnny Silverhand.

“Killing him would only have furthered that.” V countered, “why the assassination attempt?”

The heir to the Arasaka’s empire chuckled at that.

“A miscalculation on our part. We had misjudged his importance, we moved too late. And frankly, it was not the instructions I had given the Tyger Claws: they were supposed to be more discreet, but…” he trailed off, making it clear what he though of the gang’s capacity for brain work.

“But you didn’t back off, after that botched job.”

“Oh no, quite the contrary.” Yorinobu confirmed. “So we decided to hire someone with more skill. To do the job cleanly, and with a change of strategy too.”

Cold sweat pearled at the back of V’s back, and his hand shook slightly.

“Tell me,” he breathed.

“Melissa Rory.” Yorinobu confessed. “She is supposed to find Silverhand’s pressure point, and use it to make him back-off.”

The name rang like bells in V’s brain, but he couldn’t replace her. She was no one he was familiar with, yet…

“What did she find?” V asked, knowing full well the answer. And judging by the kneeling man’s face, he knew V had it figured out already.

“Ah, V… A man as close to Silverhand as yourself knows he only has one weakness.”

“Kerry.” The merc murmured, which Yorinobu confirmed with a small smirk. “What does she intends to do?” V asked in a bark.

“This, I don’t know. The less we know…” the man explained and V felt he was telling the truth. “But I’ll tell you this: your head was part of her contract. We asked for you to be removed after the first time.”

Silence stretched between them for a moment, and V was starting to feel the strain of keeping the manor’s defense system under his control. A task made more difficult by the fact that Hanako was a skilled netrunner herself, and he had to fend off her attacks while doing so.

“I think we reached the end of this conversation,” Yorinobu noted and V’s mouth pulled down in confirmation. His eyes trailed to the Katana in the middle of the low table of the room. He walked toward the ancient weapon and reached for it, pulling it out of its sheath. The blade was sharp and well maintained: only the Arasaka would have decorative weapons like this lying around in their house.

Yorinobu watched him with a surprised expression.

“You would grant me the honor?” he asked in a low voice, and V nodded.

“Told you I would.”

He crouched before Yorinobu and took out a long knife, about the size of a tanto that he put in front of the man. Then, he unbound the heir’s hands and straightened again, taking the Katana in both hands.

“Ready when you are.” He breathed.

Yorinobu took the short blade and swirled it in his hands.

“Samurais used to compose a poem before their ritual death.” He pronounced in the silence, watching the knife. Then, he shrugged, and in a fast move that surprised even V, he stabbed himself in the belly. With barely a grunt he pulled the knife to the side, opening his stomach in a deep and wide gash before turning the blade and making it surge up to his heart. Blood gushed out of his guts as he finished. Shaking and white, he let the knife in, hands falling limp at his sides.

Knowing his part, V approached again and Yorinobu looked up. His eyes were anguished from the pain, but there was an undeniable serenity deep inside them. Gripping the handle tightly, holding it in the right form, V took his time to make sure he wouldn’t miss, before sharply drawing the blade down.

The head of the Arasaka’s heir rolled with a thud on the wooden floor.

Behind him, Rogue had turned and was watching him with calculating eyes. There was surprise in her gaze, but also another kind of respect: where she had always seen his potential, she was now perceiving him as an equal.

V took his time cleaning the blade and putting it back in his sheath, before depositing it next to Yorinobu’s sagged body.

Without a look at him, he turned to the entrance and called the bots and the drones toward him, bringing back the heiress and her two bodyguards. Rogue let them through with calm and cold eyes. When Oda and Takemura took in the scene, surprise painted itself on their features, then anger, and lastly, respect: because in the end, Yorinobu had died with honor thanks to V, and it still held importance in their eyes.

Hanako for her part was clearly unhappy, as her downward mouth indicated. But V didn’t let her the time to say anything. His tone was cold as ice as he addressed her:

“You really thought I wouldn’t know about your plans? This is my last warning, Hanako: if I discover that you tried to hide anything from me, or if you’re involved in any way in hurting Johnny Silverhand or Kerry Eurodyne, I’ll kill you. If they die, I will kill you. If I hear a whiff about your father returning, I’ll kill you. And if I cross any of your goons in my path ever again, I won’t spare them, even if it’s Takemura or Oda.” He declared, hands encompassing said men still waiting unmoving for an order on her part, “I’m f*ckin’ done with Arasaka, and I won’t hesitate to rain hell on you if I feel in any way threatened by you. And you know I can.”

Hanako wisely didn’t reply, only blinked before nodding. V held her gaze for a moment longer before marching out of the room, Rogue stepping in behind him. The automatic defenses still in his control ensured they made it out of the manor safely. The moment they were in the car, V sagged, hit by a wave of nausea.

“Drive,” he breathed before he lost consciousness.

He woke up at Vik’s clinic about an hour later, and was surprised to see Rogue was still here.

“You passed out from exhaustion, nothing more,” she explained. Vik was not here for now, maybe on a break.

“It was a bit too much,” he concurred.

“You always push yourself too much, V. One day, you’ll break.” She said, her tone matter-of-fact. She knew it was useless to lecture him, and she was no better when on a job. So they both let the subject drop.

“I’ve been speaking with a few mercs and fixers. Morgan Blackhand mostly.” Rogue indicated, legs uncrossing before crossing again the other way.

“Did you find her? Melissa Rory.”

The fixer nodded.

“Her name sounded familiar to you too. That’s because she is the cyberpsycho that killed fourteen people back in 2013, before disappearing, allegedly killed by MaxTac.”

And suddenly, a face appeared in V’s brain from old footage: he could remember her nearly to perfection, from he long wavy black hair, to her porcelain skin and slightly beaked nose. What he remembered the most was her eyes: light green and without a hint of humanity behind them. She had been dressed in white at the time of her arrest: her ivory bodice a perfect canvas for the patterns of blood she had painted over it in her killing spree.

“She left Night-City actually, and made a name for herself in Europe. She hasn’t been sighted back here, but we weren’t looking for her. I’m positive a lead will come up soon now that I sent words about her whereabouts.” Rogue continued. “Her best known feature are her mantis blades, a very old Higurashi 20-13 line that was removed from market for causing psychosis. Everybody confirmed that she is batsh*t crazy, completely psychotic, a cold-iron bitch – Morgan’s words, not mine. He also said she is very old-fashioned in her field work, and has few associates. They tend to get killed fast. By her hands.” Rogue concluded with a tired sigh, like this was a bore.

V sighed and let his head rest back on the medical bed. He saw that he had notifications on his holo-deck: texts from both his outputs asking the same question with very different style. Kerry was clearly worried but trying to hide it behind humor, while Johnny was suspiciously aloof, nearly disinterested. But another text a few hours after the first one belied his relaxed attitude. Reaching for his phone on the side table, he texted them back with reassuring words.

“You should rest,” Rogue said, “we can’t do anything but wait for intel to reach us.”

V nodded, even if he itched for action, something to do to take off his mind from the looming threat above Kerry and Johnny’s heads.

“And don’t leave Kerry alone.” Rogue added, before getting up. She waved him goodbye and V weakly responded before closing his eyes again. Kerry was with Johnny for the time being, at the recording studio. With a grunt, he sat up, fighting off a wave of nausea. Gingerly putting his feet on the ground, he pushed himself up-right. He would rest when he was sure none were in danger.

A week after, V was watching over them as they played at The Riot. Nothing much had happened, and Rogue’s intel about Melissa Rory was slow in coming. She was good at hiding, but several informants seemed to have seen her, disturbingly close to Kerry and Johnny usual spots. V had made them change habits: they went out in other restaurants and bars, and were barred them from their favorite music store. V shadowed Kerry like a smothering mother hen, but the musician was actually liking it. Having V on hand meant more casually affectionate touches, kisses sneaked behind a door, and heated make out sessions when he had a down time.

The concert went on without interruption for an hour, and V had trouble keeping his attention on anything else than his two outputs, burning bright on stage and having the time of their life. Even Drausin seemed to come out of his shell tonight. Denny and Lola were clearly making the show too, pulling faces behind the two rockerboy when they became too full of themselves, for the amusem*nt of the crowd. It was the positive side of small venues; they were closer to theirs fans, even if it made the gray hair on V’s head whiten even more.

With a gesture of both hands, Johnny asked for calm.

“You’re lucky tonight,” he crooned in the mic,” We have a little surprise for you.”

He turned to his other half, who winked at him, and then at the crowd, eliciting a few high-pitched cries from women in the audience.

V exchanged a look with Evelyn, on the other side of the backstage and she smiled mysteriously at him.

“This is a song from our up-coming album, in exclusivity for you tonight.” Johnny’s voice had dropped an octave, really taking on a rich and smooth tone that made butterflies flutter in V’s stomach.

The older man waited for Kerry’s cue and said musician nodded to Denny, who started a slow rhythm.

Then, Kerry opened his lips and let out a war cry that sent goosebump into the crowd, and made hairs rise at V’s nape. As it ended in a pained note, Johnny took the relay with his guitar, followed by a heavy line of bass from Drausin. Then, Kerry cried out again, this time doubled up by Lola, their voices echoing off each other nicely. Once more it ended like a ripped-out scream, and this time Johnny started singing, voice raw and powerful.

“As sun sets over rust

Bring in the asphalt rats

Wearing tanned skins

Wrinkled by the winds”

“I wonder, did you suffer?” Kerry overlapped in a higher pitch.

“Blazing hot, engines roar

The exode, on the road

Tales of a simpler living

With much more meaning”

“I wonder, did you suffer?” Kerry sang again, before being joined by Johnny for the chorus. This was new, V though, for they had nearly never sang together. Alternated yes, answered each other yes, but in unison? V wasn’t sure.

“As the clan breath

In synchrony with earth

I strain my empty ears

To hear the desert sings

And I rest my weary heart

As I wait for you to wake

I want to feel you arch again

Under my hands, free of pain”

V felt his heart beat faster as his brain understood they were singing about him. Like she knew, Evelyn watched him with knowing eyes, and now V was blushing as well as feeling feverish.

But the band continued on, unaware of the song’s effect on V.

“Far away, dust clouds arise

Like a signal for the eyes

That storm, over the horizon

Says it’s time to move on

I wonder, do you still suffer?

Tonight, I will see the stars

Tomorrow, the rain will start

It’s the rhythm of their lives

They follow the sand tides

I wonder, do you still suffer?

As the clan breath

In synchrony with earth

I strain my empty ears

To hear the desert sings

And I rest my weary heart

As I wait for you to wake

I want to feel you arch again

Under my hands, free of pain

We are just passengers here

Welcomed, stripped of fear

Lost in the middle of nowhere

Never have I felt a love so fair

I wonder, ain’t it enough pain?

Far from the wicked city of dreams

My throat raw from screaming

I want to kiss your parched lips

Hear you breathe as you sleep.”

And once again, Kerry joined him for the final of the song, as Denny pace became faster and Drausin bass line took a heavier tone.

“I wonder, did you suffer?

I wonder, do you still suffer?

I wonder, ain’t it enough pain?

Oh, tell me, so I can ease your strain”

Both guitars went on and on, the dramatic notes mounting to a higher peak until abruptly, silence fell upon the stage. All lights went out. A second, another, and Kerry once more cried out the same war like roar as the beginning. It resounded in the dark like a primitive howl. And thus, the song concluded, and the lights came on again, under a thunder of applause and screams.

Amidst the chaos, Johnny laughed in the mic.

“Thank you all for tonight, you were great. That song was called The Desert Sings, and you’ll soon hear it on air.”

He tried to say something else but the crowd was crazy, and security had a hard time keeping fans off the stage. His booming laugh, however, went through and V watched him, mesmerized by the way his body seemed to shine as he fed off the crowd reaction. He was a born leader, made to rule and guide, to be worshipped and obeyed. To be knelt before. V shivered and shook the mood off, just as Evelyn was moving forward in the stage. Lola saw her and nodded, catching Kerry’s eyes to signal him to wrap it up. The musician took the mic from Johnny and talked over the roar of the audience, starting the encore.

Afterward, when the debriefs were over, and the band was still riding their high, they decided to go dancing. Well, Kerry and Lola wanted to, Drausin only shrugged, and Denny declined, citing family, but Evelyn decided to go with them too. They went all the way to Japantown, heading to the Atlantis.

At the entrance of the club, they let Drausin and Lola in first, taking the time for a smoke with Evelyn. Johnny took out pills from his back pocket and shook them enticingly to the rest of them.

“As your new manager, it is my job to tell you no to overindulge and cause a scandal,” Evelyn deadpanned, but the twitch of her lips indicated she didn’t really care. She took the pill with a mischievous smile.

“See, Ker, this is why I didn’t want a manager,” Johnny replied, overdramatic on purpose. He turned to V, who shook his head. He wanted to stay clear headed, the threat on their lives never far away.

“Have fun though.” He murmured with a smile.

So Johnny at last turned to Kerry, who only opened his mouth, letting Johnny place the pill on his tongue. He sucked he finger with a show, eyes glinting heatedly. But the scene was over in a second, not wanting to risk paparazzies as Kerry’s divorce was just around the corner and he didn’t want Johnny pulled in the scandal.

They went in and V’s eyes scanned the crowd. He recognized several mercs here tonight, mingling with the patrons. They went up-floor, to the dancing area and Johnny made a bee-line for the bar while the others rejoined with Lola and Drausin, already seated in a booth. The conversation flowed between bandmates and their new manager, replaying the concert again and again.

“Did you like it, V?” Evelyn asked innocently and the merc smiled coyly before shrugging.

“Liked the new song, yeah.”

Across from him, Kerry eyes twinkled in happiness and Johnny snorted as his hand slid over V’s thigh under the table.

Another drink later, Lola and Evelyn got up to join the dance floor and V could see that Kerry was also pulled toward the music, he couldn’t help drumming the beat on the table and watched the girls get lost in the crowd with a fond smile. It was a welcome contrast to his mood from before the raid on Arasaka, so V caught his hand over the table and pulled him up, guiding him to the edge of the packed circle of dancers. Kerry looked down at their intertwined hands, V’s golden cyberarm reflecting the lights of the club, and he moved them as to caress the inside of the metal wrist. V shivered, although he couldn’t technically feel the touch. Gently, he brought Kerry against him and started moving, taking him into the rhythm while keeping his hands on the musician’s hips. Slowly, as Kerry followed V’s steps, they got swallowed by the rest of the crowd and soon found themselves tightly pressed against Evelyn and Lola, surrounded by strangers.

Kerry was a regular at dancing and clubs, so he was soon getting lost in the atmosphere and into the beat. It was heavy, sensual with a touch of joy that had the quartet smiling like fools as they pulled their best moves. Then, the track changed to a slower beat and Kerry watched as V adapted flawlessly, moving in sync with Evelyn. It was obvious both of them were dancers, or had been once in their lifetime, for their bodies seemed to read the music differently: hips swaying artfully, stomachs rippling as their pelvises balanced forward and back again. They spun against each other, hands embellishing their movements as they brushed against the other’s skin. It was a spectacle of its own, one that reminded Kerry of the first time he had gone to the Lizzie’s with Johnny, in search for V. At the time, even if he had fervently hoped for it, he wouldn’t have imagined the high of emotions the younger man would pull him through.

Feeling his gaze on him, V turned to Kerry, leaving Evelyn to dance with Lola as his hands found the musician’s hips once more. Drowned in the pack of wild dancers, they could be as close as they wanted with the excuse of being pushed against one another by party-goers. Kerry put his arms around V’s neck as he followed his partner’s rhythm and his eyes traced the soft smile at the edge of V’s lips, his irises shinning in intermittence with the lights. He wanted to kiss him and brought their faces closer, until it couldn’t be anything else than a lover embrace. But V, ever reasonable, pushed Kerry away softly with a small shake of his head: not in public. At least not until his f*cking divorce was passed, and forgotten by the media, replaced by another juicier scandal.

With a despondent groan, inaudible in the noise of the dance floor, Kerry bent to V’s ear, screaming over the music: “I need a drink!”

Chuckling, V nodded and pushed him in the general direction of Drausin and Johnny before pointing to the bar, indicating he was going to fetch one for Kerry. He turned to Evelyn and Lola to ask them if they wanted anything and received negative answers. With a last push at Kerry’s back, V made his way to the bar.

It took quite a long time, because of the sheer amount of people, but it was just a normal night for the Atlantis. The bartenders, although very efficient, were overcome by the demands. Still, V waited for his turn patiently, and even got in a bit of a chat with a fellow merc. As he made his way back to their booth, he frowned. He had a clear visual of Johnny and Drausin, who had seemingly been joined by Rogue in the time V had been dancing, but there was no sign of Kerry.

As the merc put the drink on the table, nodding at Rogue, Johnny looked behind V with a raised eyebrow, and both men asked each other the same question: “Where is Kerry?”

“What do ya mean, where is Kerry?” Johnny barked, “he was dancing with you!”

“I went to fetch him a drink, so I sent him back to ya,” V replied as he half turned to watch the dancefloor, but it was packed and he couldn’t really see anything amiss.

“He didn’t come back,” Johnny replied, getting to his feet. Next to him, Rogue imitated him, eyes seemingly calm but worry danced deep inside them.

They had little doubt about what had happened.


Yes, I wrote songs for this fiction. Well, more like poems, because I have absolutely no musical talents, so I really concentrated on the words.
I think this is also more of a "french" structured poem, because I have NO IDEA of how poetry works in english, but this is how it work in french, with a focus on end-of-sentences's rhymes. And even in French, I'm pretty bad so I really don't know WHAT CAME OVER ME But here we go. I even wrote another one in a later chapter ^^'.
Hope this diosn't reflect too badly on Johnny and Kerry writing skills...

ALSO: Melissa Rory is the girl from the 2013's trailer ;) you can meet her in game too, in a mission that happens in the city-center clothes store. In game, she is recruited by the Max-Tac and chase cyberpsycho herself.

Chapter 15: The wrath of Athena


In this chapter, you get another fanart. This one is pretty SFW... Mostly? A bit of blood, gun firing. It's of V, illustrating the last scene of this chapter.
This chapter is also my favorite, featuring badass V.

Next time will be double update again I think... I'm having a bit of trouble finding motivation to edit this work, I must confess ^^'. But we will get through this!

Once again, thank you all for reading, leaving kudos and comments.

Chapter Text

It was a song so strong, etched in the marrow of his bones, a material so substantial it overflowed the fire at the tip of his fingers.

An hour later, Kerry was still nowhere to be found, and calls to his holo didn’t get through, which worried V even more. Rogue was now on a bender and V joined her and Johnny in the club owner’s office.

“What the f*ck do you mean, the cameras were down?” she was saying as V arrived. Her tone was calm but icy cold and the owner was clearly uncomfortable.

“f*ck, I mean what I mean, they just… stopped working like, and hour and a half ago, I’ve called the hotline but you know how it is…”

“I know perfectly well, which is why I told you, repeatedly, to upgrade the security procedures and put someone at the front too, but you. Didn’t. Listen.”

The owner raised his hands up in frustration, agitation clear on his face.

“f*ck you Rogue, they might call you the Princess of the Atlantis, but you’re nothing but a merc here, and this is my club – “

“Shut the f*ck up!” she growled back, fists closing in his shirt, “you’re very happy to welcome us every week of the year, come hell or high water. Using this place to meet up with clients and fixers makes half your business, and I know it. But you can’t have us and not invest in our security when it’s clear that this place needs it. Twenty years ago already I told you exactly the same when – “

The owner pushed her back harshly.

“It was your fault, well his fault!” he replied, pointing at Johnny, who snapped. He slammed the owner against the door, raising him off the floor effortlessly.

“Listen, f*cker, whatever you think about me, I really don’t care, but now my friend is missing and you’re telling me that we have no security footage?” And for good measure, he slammed him again, “Because you were too lazy and stingy to upgrade your systems?”

The guy who, V judged, had poor survival instincts, spat on Johnny. There was a silence, a moment suspended in time before Johnny punched him with all his strength. The guy fell, knocked out and the rockerboy turned to V again.

“You are full of bullsh*t!” he accused, metal finger poking V in the chest, “you said you would protect him – “

“Five f*cking minutes, Johnny,” V roared back, his own golden hand slapping the finger away. “I let him out of my sight five f*cking minutes, I sent him back to you and I…” he cut himself, breathing hard as fear and guilt battled in his throat. “f*ck!” he finished, turning his back to Johnny.

“Ok, calm the f*ck down both of you!” Rogue intervened, “you’re not helping Kerry by fighting.”

Recognizing she was right, both men made and effort to reign their emotions back and V turned to her.

“Five f*cking minutes, and ten meters, that’s all she needed.”

“She had been planning it for a long time,” Rogue replied, “she must have seen you come in while we were planning the raid on the tower.” Then she pointed to the computer on the desk. “You’re better at this than me, so you should check but I’m ready to bet whatever shut the cameras down was here for at least a week.”

V made his way to said device to confirm it as Rogue continued.

“It was a good idea, she knew you felt safe here, surrounded by mercs, and it was a familiar place. And so much easier to break in than your flat.”

Johnny exhaled loudly in frustration.

“So what do we do now?”

“We should just wait and prepare, that merc will contact us.” Rogue added. This surprised the rockerboy who raised an eyebrow in question.

“They want to use Kerry to get at you, Johnny, so she will need to talk to you, that’s how it works: she will make demands and if you refuse to obey, she will hurt Kerry.” V calmly clarified before taking Johnny’s hand in his, pulling him to the couches on the left side of the room before making him sit.

“When she calls, you’ll put her on speaker.” V started, business like. “She will probably ask us both to come: her contract stipulated I should be removed from the picture; from her point of view she is in a very good position to kill two birds with one stone.”

Johnny opened his mouth to protest, but V stalled him with a small shake of his head.

“We play along, ok? We need to cooperate until we can assess which state Kerry is in. So it will resort a lot on improvisation once we get there. Rogue can probably back us, but that’s all. We are going in mostly blind.”

“f*ck.” Johnny sighed, letting his head fall into his hands. “I’m getting tired of this sh*t.”

But V continued on, although he acknowledged the sentiment by putting is hand over Johnny’s knee, stroking small circles over his leather pants.

“We need to establish general rules for our actions, ok? First, we both keep calm, whatever she does, we don’t try to act as heroes, understood?”

Johnny gave him a nasty look from between his fingers.

“I’m not making promises.”

“Any stupid moves on our part and she will just hurt Ker, Johnny. It’s important to think about him: if he is in a little discomfort, it still better than seriously injured or dead so as long as it’s not life-threatening, you go along with what she asks.”

At last, the rockerboy nodded.

“Second, you try to keep the exchanges with her to a minimum: don’t give her anything she could use against us, she already knows too much, let’s not give her more bullets to hurt us with.”

“Yeah, ok.”

“Third, we try to keep her alive.”

“What?! Why?”

“Because I’m pretty sure she knows who hired her and I want the names on her list.”

Johnny looked at V fully and noted how tense was V: he was a man at war, a feeling the rockerboy recognized in himself.

“Alright.” He said at last.

And they waited.

The call came three hours later. When Johnny’s phone connected, Rogue and V listened silently as she demanded he come at six this morning.

“I’ll flick you the address, and you’ll wait in front of the building, an associate of mine will come fetch you. It goes without saying that you should come without weapons, and without back-up. Should I spot any of the Atlantis’ mercs, I’ll kill Mister Eurodyne, but I’ll take my time and make sure the whole of Night-City hears him scream. Bet he has a nice voice when he is in pain. Do you understand, Mister Silverhand?”

“Yeah, I get ya,” Johnny grunted.

“Good,” she continued, witch a falsely chirpy modulations that gave her cold voice a crazy edge. “And of course, your little merc is invited too. Did he told you I have to kill him? The heartbreak never ends in that city, but you know that, right?”

Johnny eyes shone in the neon lights of the room, looking wrecked.

“He told me.”

“Oh, interesting. So, you gonna let him sacrifice himself? Such drama. I love it.”

Seething, Johnny growled into the phone.

“You are a f*ckin’ crazy bitch.”

“Oh, I know! I am! So, tell him to come, I’m so excited to see him on his knees before me.”

And she hung up. Johnny was breathing hard and fast, hands clenching and unclenching as he tried to rein in the abject rage that had filled him at hearing her words.

He raised his gaze to V, sitting across the table, but the merc’s own expression was blank, contemplative. Next to him, Rogue had her serious face, the one that meant she was plotting.

“Let’s review our plan,” she said, composed. It calmed Johnny too.

In front of the building, Johnny’s hand tightened over the wheel.

“Sure about that?”

V eyes fluttered to him from their observation of the entrance.

“Do we have a choice?”

Johnny sighed.

“V… I… I don’t want to lose you. Any of you.”

The younger man’s leg was bouncing with nervous energy and he was holding his golden wrist, thumb stroking the engraving continuously. He didn’t reply, still watching the warehouse’s entrance and the deserted street in front of it.

“V,” Johnny tried again, extending his hand to put it over V’s. The man turned to him then, and his face was set, carefully neutral.

“’m not letting any of you get hurt.” He breathed, and for a moment, something crazy shone in his eyes. It made Johnny heartbeat strum faster and adrenaline surge through him. He knew that look, had seen it too many times while facing mirrors.

He opened his mouth to say something more, but before he could, V’s lips were covering his in a passionate kiss that wrenched a moan from Johnny. He was raising his hands to frame V’s face when the younger man broke the embrace, swiping his metal thumb over Johnny’s lips once before exiting the car.

Scrambling to follow him, the rockerboy cursed internally.

“Remember: keep calm.” V only whispered before crossing the street with determined steps.

For a moment, Johnny thought about running toward the abandoned warehouse with guns blazing, conflicted between wanting to find Kerry as soon as possible, and preventing V from putting himself in harm’s way again. He hated feeling like this, with no control over the situation, alone with that anxiety sitting in the pit of his belly. Drugs, alcohol and a good f*ck had been the most effective way of ignoring that tension, a few years back. He had worked hard to confront that sensation and to come to term with it, accept it, let it flow. But right now, that familiar anger threatened to boil over in his veins, barely contained, barely controllable. He wanted to snap, break something, get completely smashed until he forgot he even had emotions in the first place. Forget he even cared.

But… Another voice was screaming louder over the noise in his head now. It was a song so strong, etched in the marrow of his bones, a material so substantial it overflowed the fire at the tip of his fingers. It had taken him such a long time to find it, nearly half a life-time, and he knew some people never got to hear it: the song of happiness, real and durable. To him, that song had the intonation of Kerry’s voice, and the harmonic of the thousands he led behind him when they marched through Night-City. And recently, it had gained a new beat, like a bass line he never knew had been missing. It matched V’s beating heart, and echoed with the sound of his pleasured moans.

Which was why happiness was so complicated, Johnny mused as they waited in semi-darkness at the entrance of the complex: to be truly happy, one had to learn to live with the threat of loss and accept it as part of life. It required that one concentrated not on the risks, but on the joy of the moments. So Johnny just did that, and let his eyes roam over V’s profile, his softly bulging forehead, his roman nose, his full lips and dark short beard, the clean line of his throat that merged into that dip just above his collar bone. A place he wanted to kiss again and again.

The merc felt his gaze and turned to him slightly, their gazes meeting in the low light. V’s lips opened softly and his expression turned surprised. His irises expressed a twinge of worry and deep down, cautious hope.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” he whispered.

“Like what?” Johnny asked, just as low.

“I don’t know, like that!”

“Like I love you?”

V’s head recoiled and he took a step back, like Johnny had slapped him in the face. His mouth worked without sound and his expression was so terribly full of surprise that Johnny experienced the urge to laugh. He was suddenly reminded of how young V was, and how little he had been offered love like this in his life. Johnny wondered how many times, and in how many shapes they would need to express their love before V really believed it.

“I think I do,” Johnny continued, lightly touching the inside of V’s golden wrist.

But V was spared from having to deal with that development by the arrival of a man. He was blond, with hair so light they appeared white in the night. Everything on him seemed washed up, like he had been drowned in bleach at birth. But apart from his face, barely anything was visible, covered in a protective armor. Without a word, he handled Johnny a pair of handcuffs and pointed to V. Obediently, the merc put both hands behind his back and offered them to Johnny.

“Don’t worry,” V whispered, “not my first time being handcuffed.”

Johnny knew he was trying to lighten the mood, and he played along, snorting.

“Well it’s a good look on you, might have to dig out my leather pair.” Johnny said as he clicked the handcuffs shut. It was an electromagnetic pair, which V thought were a gross oversight from Melissa: he could hack them. It gave him hope for maybe there was one thing she had overlooked: Alt.

“Hold you to that later,” V replied, looking backward at Johnny and offering him a reassuring smile.

“Shut up, both of you.” The third man said, his voice heavily accented. It sounded French.

Pointing his gun at the two men, he gestured for them to precede him and they entered the warehouse. Located at the border of the oilfields, this was obviously an out-of-commission storehouse. It had three levels, and they went up to the last. They followed Albinos – for it was how Johnny thought of him – into a room that looked like an old office. Melissa Rory had turned it into a command center, full of computers that V looked at in passing.

They rounded a corner made from storage shelves and there she was. Dressed in a white leotard and just as white skinny pants, it contrasted beautifully with her dark wavy hair. She looked like an angel, down to the otherworldly expression she wore: something fixated and cold.

Behind her, kneeling on the hard ground was Kerry. His eyes conveyed his relief as he saw them approach. The woman was holding her gun lazily toward him, ensuring compliance for he was not bound at all. This translated to Johnny as overconfidence. She didn’t suspect Kerry could hold his own.

“Welcome,” the mercenary chirped with a big smile, like they had come here for diner and party.

There was another man, very similar looking to the one who had led them here. Johnny labeled him as Junior, for he looked a bit younger than the first one.

The bitch and Albinos exchanged a brief look before she concentrated on them again.

“Come here,” she indicated to V, pointing to a spot on her right, opposite to Kerry. Glancing backward at Johnny in a last attempt at reassurance, V complied and stood where she had pinpointed.

“Kneel,” she ordered and as Johnny watched V turn to her, her smile grew manic. His eyes fluttered briefly to Kerry, but his friend’s attention was also solely on their little merc. It was like watching a fox and a cat together. She was vicious, but he was smarter.

Slowly, and without losing any of his serene attitude, V obtempered. He looked straight at her as he bent his knees and lowered himself in front of the merc. Johnny had the clear feeling he was watching something obscene for how excited she seemed to become.

“Oh, look how pretty he is on his knees,” she cooed to no-one in particular, before turning to Johnny: “Must be a heady feeling, having them both at your feet. That one also kneels very prettily,” she added, gesturing to Kerry with the gun. Johnny couldn’t help but notice that the safety was off. She got closer to V, to the point her c*nt was right in his face. The woman dropped a hand on V’s head, caressing his hair in a mock-loving gesture before she took the bun in hand harshly and pressed V’s face into her crotch. She let out a loud and obscene moan as she used his mouth to relieve herself of the obvious excitation she was getting from the situation. V’s eyes never closed, even when she bucked into his chin aggressively.

“Hum, maybe later.” Melissa Rory mused, “So, let’s cut the chase,” she continued, and her voice turned icy, eyes glinting with sadism. “Do you know what my clients want?” she asked Johnny, who nodded.

“They want me to stop my political involvement, they want me to abandon the Silver Revolution.”

“Hum, yes,” she mused, “but they were a bit more specific. They want you to discredit the movement as you go. They had quite the scenario.” Melissa concluded, moving to a table nearby where she retrieved a pad. “It’s all scripted here. They wanted me to read it to you, but frankly, I couldn’t care less. I expect you’ll read it very carefully anyway.” And her eyes glowed blue, sending the file to Johnny.

“So, here is how it goes: today is a warning. If you don’t comply with their instructions in the timeline they gave you, which is three month, then I’ll have to once again hurt Mister Eurodyne.”

The woman circled Kerry, who was still looking resolutely at V, though his gaze sometime flickered to Johnny. For his part, said man was stuck on the word “again” she had used.

“Today, I must prove how serious my clients are, how serious I am,” she continued to explain, and her tone appeared regretful, bordering on sheepish, but Johnny knew it was all an act. She was enjoying the situation too much. “Don’t move,” she added like an afterthought directed at Johnny. She pointed her finger and struck out her tongue, like they were playing a game and not balancing the lives of the two people he held most dear in her psychotic hands.

Melissa went to a machine on the left, that Kerry eyed warily. She turned it on and took a long metal rod from it. Then she rummaged through a little box next to it, taking a small piece that she stuck to the end of the rod. Next, she put the thing into the machine that lit up with bright blue heat.

“I’m sure you’re a good boy, Mister Silverhand, but my clients wanted to make sure you understood how serious they were. So I’ll start small, only four letters. But if you don’t comply, then I’ll have to add another word.”

She then addressed Kerry.

“Lift your head, show me that pretty throat of yours.” Eyeing her with disgust, Kerry’s gaze danced to V, who nodded discreetly. So the musician did, baring his neck to her. “Beautiful,” she commented, stroking his beard and the hard tendons, letting her fingers drift to the hollow of his collarbone. She stepped back, taking the rod and Johnny’s breath cut off as he saw the other extremity shine bright red. Kerry’s eyes widened as he understood what was going to happen. From the corner of his eyes, Johnny saw V shift, like he had to consciously make an effort not to move.

For his part, Johnny stopped thinking and stepped closer to Kerry, teeth bared. The shot resounded in the relative silence and emptiness of the warehouse. It froze the rockerboy’s heart, icy claws sticking into the muscle as his brain scrambled to understand.

“Next time, I will shoot his pretty co*ck, and it would be a shame so don’t tempt me.” Their captor declared, voice dripping with acid covered by honey. She had released a bullet between Kerry splayed legs, and the scorch mark was very visible between his knees. For his part, the musician seemed stunned: it had been too fast for him to really have time to fear for his life, but the rush of adrenaline in his blood still made him wobble on his knees.

Once again, she put the rod back into the machine to reheat it, before bringing it to Kerry’s level. Feeling like his stomach was in his throat, Johnny glanced V’s way and saw that the younger man’s face was deformed by an expression he had never seen: anger and disgust intertwined, but so, so cold it was frightening and eerie in its intensity. Still, he didn’t move as Melissa Rory brought the rod to Kerry’s neck. Involuntarily this time, Kerry bared his neck, trying to get away from the heat.

“No.” Johnny whispered, “No!” he roared as the metal touched Kerry’s neck.

The musician screamed, body jerking away from the pain reflexively, but she followed expertly, like she had done this before. She pushed the rod against the delicate skin until the unmistakable smell of burn flesh filled the space around them. And all the while, Kerry continued screaming in fear and pain.

Then it stopped, and all they could hear was the loud breathing of the victim. Feeling like he was floating out of his body, Johnny watched as Kerry sagged and his eyes filled with tears.

But she was not finished. The bitch took a piece of cloth to protect her hand, taking off the little piece and rummaging again for another one. And Johnny suddenly understood her cryptic statement from before: she was writing something, letter by letter, on Kerry’s skin.

“Stop!” He tried, refusing to beg yet but he wasn’t far off.

The woman ignored him, concentrated again on heating the next letter. Kerry was whimpering, waterline full to the brim. She approached him again and he recoiled, but the move made him keen in agony as each movement pulled at the fresh injury.

“I’m gonna kill you,” V breathed, and Johnny felt chill run across his skin at the tone his output used. He had never heard V sound so calm and so cold. The psycho turned to him briefly, smiling crazily but not replying anything as she applied the burning letter to Kerry’s skin. He howled again, the sound reverberating into the empty storage house and into Johnny’s bones.

Tears broke down on the corner of Kerry’s eyes and his lips trembled as the second letter was etched into his flesh. But again, she took off the metal bit to look for the next one.

“No, please, stop….” Johnny begged, jerking forward. But Albinos pushed his gun between his shoulder blades, a reminder not to move.

The machine buzzed again, heating the iron bright white. The woman waited until it was hot to her satisfaction before turning to Kerry again. This time he scrambled back, trying to evade her and Junior stepped in, fisting his hair harshly to bare his neck once more. The musician cried out as the skin was pulled back with the movement. And again, she applied the burning metal to his epidermis. Kerry sobbed as the smell of scorched flesh reinforced, making Johnny sick.

He saw his long-time companion slide to the side, delirious as his body tried to manage the agony. But the bitch was not finished. Four letters she had said and Johnny could now see the words appear before his eyes: obey.

As she prepared the y, Johnny turned to V once more but the man’s eyes were struck on the mercenary, gleaming with revenge.

She approached the heated rod again and Kerry recoiled again, held firmly by the goon. As he howled in terrified anguish once more, Johnny felt himself drop to his knees, and he knew he was begging, asking her to stop.

“There,” she said with satisfaction as she took off the metal from Kerry’s throat. “Beautiful. Well aligned,” she commented, like an artist reviewing her own job. Her victim was lying at her feet, released by Junior and fallen completely on the floor, his breathing harsh and labored.

The woman stepped back with a hum.

“That’s how serious my clients are. So let’s review,” she continued with her cheerful tone, turning back to Johnny. “What will you do now, hum?”

Johnny worked his mouth without sounds, heart hammering in his chest and sweat covering his body.

“Come on, you can do it,” she softly encouraged, eyes full of false pity, “be a good dog and tell me, what are you gonna do now?”

“S-step back,” he spit out, “I’ll will abandon my work as leader of the movement,” he recited like in a trance.

“Yes, good,” She praised. “Don’t forget to read your script,” she reminded him. “Alright. Let’s get those two out.” Melissa intoned, suddenly back to business.

Junior jolted Kerry on his feet, half supporting him as he was still delirious from the pain. Johnny felt Albinos tug him up too and turn him back to the way they had come.

“V,” he pronounced, as another distress was filling his vein.

“Go, Johnny,” V replied, eerily calm, and it was like being stuck in a nightmare.

“No!” Kerry plaintively pronounced as he was marched past their young lover. His eyes had found a sudden clarity as the situation downed on him once more: the torment was not finished.

But both rockers were marched out by the goons, and as they rounded the corner, the last thing Johnny saw was V, on his knees, and Melissa Rory raising her gun to his head.

They were getting down the stairs when they heard it: a gun shot, loud and clean, resounding in the silence.

“NO!” Kerry shouted, suddenly struggling in the hold of Junior. Without thinking, Johnny jerked too. It happened very fast, helped with the adrenaline of the moment. Johnny reached backward, caught Albinos’ hand and pulled, throwing him over his shoulders and down the stairs. The man tumbled downward with a sickening crack, head lolling at an awkward angle. Next to him, Kerry made good on V’s lessons and freed himself, enough for Johnny to ram Junior to the side and against the wall, smashing his head to the concrete.

There was a moment of stillness as they took their bearings, before Johnny reached down to take Junior’s gun laying nearby. Kerry spotted Albinos’ own weapon, dropped when Johnny had thrown him off. Both musicians then rushed back to their wayward partner.

Back with V, they saw him in a struggle with the merc. She still had the gun in her hand, and it was obvious V had freed himself of his bounds earlier and used that to surprise her, diverting the shot at the last moment and using his momentum to catch her. Her Mantis blades were out, the knives very close to V’s head. He had a gash across his right cheek bleeding profusely.

Johnny fired without thinking, and even though the bullets ripped off the subdermal armor of the woman, it still surprised her enough to give V the edge he needed. He hacked into her forcefully, eyes blazing as he did so.

But Johnny could tell something was wrong: she was resisting the hack. So he fired again, trying to at least distract her. Which was how he didn’t see it coming.

He vaguely heard Kerry shift behind him, and then there was a gun shot, followed by another, that he barely registered as he fired again in the woman’s kneecap. He watched her sag with satisfaction. But V was not looking at her anymore, he was looking behind Johnny with horror plainly written on his face. It lasted a second because he had to dodge the mantis blade coming at him once more from under, but Johnny turned, following his gaze.

Kerry was standing a few feet away, facing Junior who had seemingly recovered and followed them. And, like in slow motion, Johnny saw Junior drop down, with a bullet hole in his head. But then, strangely, Kerry fell too. He had his back to Johnny, gun still raised as his knees hit the ground. That’s when the rockerboy saw it: red, flowering over Kerry’s white tank top, like a death rose blooming just above his left kidney.

Someone was roaring, it was a powerful sound, animalistic and terrible. It felt like it was shaking the earth. Floating next to his own body, Johnny distantly realized it was him who was making that sound. He moved fast, catching Kerry as he reached the ground and cradling him in his arms.

Behind him, he vaguely heard the woman cry in agony. There was a dull sound and moments later, V was by his side, pushing his hands away as they had been fluttering over Kerry uselessly. Lying down in Johnny’s arms, Kerry’s eyes were wide, his breathing fast and shocked. It was, as surprising as it could be for someone born and raised in Night-City, his first bullet wound.

“f*ck,” Johnny heard V mutter, but his voice still retained that strange serene tone. “Pick him up, Johnny, we need to get him to Vik and fast!”

That set the rockerboy into motion. He gathered Kerry in his arms and ran down the stairs. In his arms, Kerry was getting heavier and heavier.

“Johnny,” he tried to say, but his lips were uncooperative.

Johnny hurtled out of the building and his eyes fell on Rogue, who was anxiously waiting for them by their car, here as back-up. She saw Kerry and made a jerky motion to the driver seat, but V’s voice cut her.

“No, we will deal with that, I need you to get upstairs, find the merc and bring her to the Atlantis. She is out, but alive. I want to talk to her; can you do that?”

Rogue only nodded, but Johnny was not listening, he was putting Kerry on the back seat, stroking his face with a shaking hand.

“It’s gonna be alright, babe,”

Kerry nodded, eyes glossed by tears and the threat of unconsciousness right at the corner.

“Get in with him,” V intoned, “And put something on the exit wound.”

Then V got to the driver seat and started the car just as Johnny clambered next to Kerry. He removed his jacked and his shirt, bundling it up and pressing it to Kerry’s back. Said man raised a hand to Johnny’s shoulder, right above his metal arm, and gripped it tightly as he gulped air wetly.

Johnny gaze found his, before his eyes flickered to his neck, reddened by the ugly scars of the word “obey” carved into his flesh. He looked back up, and Kerry’s pretty brown irises were still struck on him.

“I love you,” he mouthed as fear wracked his body, making him shake. Or maybe it was the shock, or both.

V’s driving was hellish, as he hurtled through Night-City’s deserted streets. Overcoming any car on the path, he made his way to Viktor clinic fast, calling the doc beforehand so that he was ready to welcome them.

“Kerry, you have to hold on,” V said, and his voice cracked at last.

The musician glanced at the front of the car, nodding obediently, but his eyes were dimming, eyelids fluttering softly. V turned to watch him as he accelerated into a straight line.

“I love you Ker, please, you need to hold on,” he repeated and the musician’s eyes opened once more, but he was struggling. Looking into the rearview at Johnny, V’s face was white and haunted as he whispered again:

“I love you.”

An answer, a confession and a wow all at once.

V walked in the Atlantis as the clock reached eight thirty in the morning. Rogue saw him approach all the way from the entrance, the club empty of any patrons as it had been requisitioned to hold Melissa Rory captive. She was tied to a chair in the middle of the dancefloor, and her smile never once dimed from the moment she had awoken to this point. It gave Rogue the creeps, and even Morgan Blackhand, there for the show, couldn’t deny she was unsettling.

Apart from Rogue and Morgan, three other people were there: the club owner, who looked particularly pissed, and two of Rogue’s usual associates: Weyland and a woman V couldn’t remember the name of.

As Rogue watched him approach, she saw that he was still covered in blood: from the dried-up gash on his face, hastily pinched shut with butterfly stitches, to his hands, which were drenched in it so much it looked like V was wearing a red glove on his flesh hand. The gold one appeared tinted in rust, but it was no less daunting. His clothes were also marred by pinkish stains, and his jeans were forever dirtied by deep brown smears. His hair was a mess, locks of grey hair dyed red were flying around his face, some struck to his forehead by the dried-up blood.

The dire tableau was completed by the way he held himself: his expression was closed off but he exulted danger, like a great energy was coursing through his spine, invisible to the eye but so very present anyone could feel it. He looked like a man with nothing to lose anymore, and that made Rogue’s blood ice in her veins.

“V..?” she asked, but he was not looking at her. He had stopped a meter away from Rory, and was looking at her with cold eyes. She gazed back, attitude serene and face twisted with insanity.

To Rogue's left, Morgan Blackhand shifted and grunted, like he knew exactly what was going to happen. Then suddenly, V turned and made his way toward a discarded chair, that he brought back to the center, making it rail on the floor noisily. He sat perpendicular to the psycho, but very close.

“Untie her right hand, please,” V pronounced but Rogue didn’t move. So V lifted his head up to her and blinked. A shiver ran through the fixer at his gaze: it was like looking into a void. Morgan Blackhand moved before her, holding the captive right arm as Rogue bent to untie the left. Of course, the moment she was free, Melissa Rory took out her mantis blade, aiming for V, but he caught her wrist in his golden hand, diverting her. Her strength was apparent in the way he had to bunch up his muscles to hold her off, but he did so without losing the emptiness in his eyes.

Slowly, he raised his other hand and pressed something inside her arm, making the blade retracts forcefully. It was the first time the psychotic woman seemed to lose her smile. When Rory was once more firmly tied up, Rogue retreated a bit to watch the scene unfold next to Morgan.

Still holding her tight, V reached into his back pocket with his flesh hand and took out a small kit, full of little screwdrivers.

“I have a deal for you,” V pronounced as he chose a thin tool from the case, precariously balanced on his knee. “You tell me who your employers are, and I let you walk free.”

She laughed, a manic sound that echoed off the vast room of the dancefloor. V watched her do it, and softly moved his flesh hand to her arm. He pressed the inside of her wrist, making the mantis blade case open. Then he brought the screwdriver to it and started working on the blade.

“What are you doing?” Melissa breathed, a silver of fear coloring her voice.

“You love those blades, don’t ya? They made you who you are.” V replied, “I remember, I was eight at the time but I still recall the news coverage. You were smiling too.”

She tried to jerk her arm back with a growl, her eyes flashing with anger. He stopped and looked up at her.

“Well, you tried to take something precious from me so I’m taking something precious from you. Except I won’t fail.”

And he continued to unscrew the little pieces that held her mantis blade in her arm. He was methodical, unmoving even when she started struggling. It was like she wasn’t even there.

“Stop!” she asked, and he did, gazing up at her and waiting. Breathing hard, she opened her mouth.

“Yorinobu Arasaka.” She pronounced. V waited on her but she seemed to clamp up, so he started working on the blade again. They all heard when it detached from its support in her arm and the psycho’s eyes widened in horror as she watched V throw the weapon away like it was garbage.

“Untie her other arm,” he simply ordered and this time, Rogue moved without pause as V changed side. The captive woman put up a bigger fight this time, and it took Morgan and Weyland to hold her down and retie her. V also had to request someone to hold her arm for she seemed determined to slice him up with her remaining blade.

But V clinically started on her second arm, ignoring her snarls.

“You know what’s worse here, Melissa?” V breathed conversationally, “the result will be the same at the end: if you don’t tell me, I’ll just take the information from you.”

And f*ck if his tone didn’t send absolute dread through Rogue’s veins. The psycho for her part seemed to find this very funny.

“You can’t, you barely could hack into me back then!”

“You’re right, you’re well protected, I’ll admit. But last time, you weren’t tied to a chair, deep in my realm, and I didn’t have access to that pretty face of yours,” he explained, stroking the side of her skull where her access port was barely visible under her mane of dark hair. She stiffened, looking like a deer in headlights.

“No,” she breathed.

“Why not, Melissa?”

“You wouldn’t, you’re not like this! I’ve watched you and you’re not like this. I know you!”

“You’re right, usually I don’t take things by force… But now, I’m in love. Ever felt that, Melissa?” he asked, voice barely above a whisper that he poured straight into her ear. “Ever loved someone so deep you wouldn’t hesitate to die for them? Kill for them?”

She shook her head, and buckled, but his grip on her was still firm.

“Well, I would burn that city to the ground for them. I will.” V prophesized. “Love made me f*ckin’ crazy, it would seem.” He concluded, his hot breath on her skin before he retreated to continue working on her blade. As the second snapped free, her mouth started to tremble.

“I’ll give you the list,” she said, looking like a little girl lost in the woods. “Just put them back.”

“Oh, I’m not putting them back, but I’ll let you take them with you. A good ripperdoc should be able to reattach them for you.” V replied before getting up to place his chair in front of her. “So, that list?”

Breathing harshly, with teeth grating, her eyes shone blue as she transferred the file. V took it in, and it matched with Yorinobu’s infos. All the names were here, from different corporation ranging from Militech to Allfoods. The only exception was indeed the man from city council, head of PR.

“Thank you,” V said with a smile as crazy as hers had been. It chilled Rogue to the bones to witness it. With a gesture, V indicated to Weyland he could detach her. Melissa got to her feet, trembling like a foal and V gave her back the blade he had just removed, folded at the joint. She made her way to the back of the dancefloor were the first one had landed, then walked to the entrance, slowly.

As he watched her step toward the exit, V slowly got up and took out his gun. Rogue and Morgan looked at him with quizzical faces until V raised his arm.

“No, V!” Rogue cried out at the same time as Morgan said “You don’t need to do that, kid!”

But the shot rang, and the bullet flew across the room under the cry of distress of the club owner. It lodged firmly at the back of Melissa’s skull, the special bullet breaking through the subdermal armor like butter and exploding in her brain.

All of my Heroes are dead - MrsSimply (2)

Melissa Rory fell, dead, a few feet from the entrance. The club owner was saying something, screaming they were all crazy and probably shooting a few empty threats, but Rogue couldn’t hear him. She watched in stunned silence as V made his way to the door, walking past the fresh cadaver without stopping and disappearing in the alley.

Chapter 16: The wild child of Demeter


All actions have consequences.

Chapter Text

So I killed them all one by one. And I couldn’t rest until it was all done.

A month and a half later.

V had disappeared. Well, it was not completely true. They heard about him indirectly in the news as he went through the list of people involved in Johnny attempted assassination and Kerry’s abducting. But he had not reappeared at either the Atlantis nor his lovers’ flat, nor his for that matter.

So Johnny had taken the habit of listening to the news nearly continuously, on the off-chance that another death would indicate V was still alive, still hell bent on his vendetta. Rogue had got the list out of Melissa Rory dead body, so they knew V was down to six names out of the seven the list had counted. Barring Yorinobu, Greta Thulenberg from Militech had been his first victim and the guy from city council the last one. Out of Rory’s intel, it seemed only the woman from DMS was left standing, and words on the street said she was barricaded in a heavily secured building. But both Rogue and Johnny knew it wouldn’t stop V.

The rockerboy glanced at Kerry, asleep on the couch. He was still recovering from the surgery which had installed the vocal implants in his throat, removing the ugly scars he had gained in captivity. After he had been stabilized by Viktor, Johnny had driven him to the hospital. As a legitimate and lawful citizen of Night-City, Kerry could go to hospitals and they were better equipped to deal with his kind of injuries. As he had done so, V had gone back to the Atlantis.

Little had Johnny known it would be the last time he saw V for a long time.

At the hospital, they had looked at Kerry’s scars and delivered the news: the burns were deep, not deep enough to damage the vocal cords, but he would probably still always experience a disturbance when singing. Aesthetic surgery could remove the scars, but it risked damaging the vocal cords by making the skin lose elasticity. Plus, the medical team had added with a reproachful tone, Kerry’s smoking wasn’t helping him either, so it was a matter of years before he would have to consider replacement. Kerry had decided to get it over with and chose to have the implant installed now.

It was beautiful, and a wonder of technology: made of dark borosilicate glass casing for resistance, it was framed by golden lines that covered circuity to Kerry’s chest, capturing the vibration of his sternum. Inside, nanites and and synthskin were keys to the wonders of the implant, allowing Kerry much more range than before, and variation of pitch. It would be cheating, but Johnny knew it was just another instrument in Kerry’s hands. One that would produce songs and sounds of pleasure with him.

He replaced a lock of dark hair from Kerry’s forehead and the man shifted softly, but he was in deep slumber thanks to the lingering pain medication and general exhaustion of the past period. He had been worried about V, like Johnny, like Rogue, like the rest of V’s friends, and worry always translated in lack of sleep in Kerry. For all their agitation, no one knew how to contact V. Every merc Rogue had sent to try and make contact with him had come back without finding him. He was like an ethereal ghost, and sometimes Johnny wondered if he hadn’t just been a dream.

With a pad balanced on his knee, Johnny looked at the last draft of their new songs. A last-minute addition to the album. They had had to reorganize the whole thing to make space for that one, but both Kerry and Johnny had been adamant about it. Evelyn had worked her wonder with both the recording studio, the production team and the distribution partner to make it happen, but there it was: another declaration of love. Like the rest of the album.

The rockerboy sighed and looked at the ceiling.

“f*ck V, f*ck you and all that sh*t. When are you gonna come home?” he whispered.

Mary Ann Lotherman had always been a ruthless woman. She was not afraid of men bigger, older or more powerful than her, for she believed her intelligence surpassed them greatly. She was cunning, had a strategic mind and good instincts. She was also one of the most beautiful women on earth, which never hurt when you were head of DMS in Night-City. So it was with a serenity that impressed even her security detail that she had ordered a lockdown on herself after Adam Pryce death. He had been the third to die from their little secret organization and she was no fool. Melissa Rory’s reports had stopped coming a week prior, so she had been prepared. But the first two murders could have been for entirely different reasons, so she had waited: Yorinobu Arasaka was in the middle of an internal crisis as well as the crumbling of his empire, so when news of his suicide reached her, she wasn’t surprised and didn’t think much of it.

Greta Sullenberg’s death happened in that context too, where Arasaka was accusing Militech for the attack on the tower, like it had happened eleven years ago. As head or counter-intelligence, her job was on the line in that kind of affair, so again, Mary Ann hadn’t been overly worried. But Adam Pryce’s death was a lot more suspicious. Allegedly, he had died in a robbery gone wrong, but it reeked of a cover story. Mary Ann would know, in her journalistic career, she had time and time again written ones to save influential people from scandals in exchange for favors. So she had not waited any longer and organized her own safety.

Placed in the penthouse of a city-center building, it only had two access: by the air, but her security detail would spot it a mile away, and the elevator, which was protected both by bodyguards downstairs and a top-notch security protocol. Two security men were touring the perimeter of the penthouse, helped by no less than seven drones and two combat robots. In the lobby and her room, automatic turrets had been installed as well.

She carried a gun at all times, sleeping over it when she rested at all. Tonight though, she was so exhausted by stress and the lack of sleep that her body just shut down as soon as her head touched the pillow. She awakened in the deep of the night with anxiety simmering in her belly.

Taking the gun from under her pillow, she turned on the lights, or tried to, but the system didn’t respond and the room stayed dark. That when she saw him: a dark shadow seated in the chair opposite to her bed, in the room.

“Slept well?” he asked and her blood iced. Sitting up, she tried to discern his face, but he was shrouded in shadows. His voice sounded strange though.

Keeping silent, she waited, wondering if it was even worth trying to call for help. Tightening her hand over her gun, she raised it toward him.

“I’ll admit, you were more prepared than the rest.” He noted and the light turned on with a flicker of his silver eyes.

May Ann couldn’t help but gasp silently: he looked nothing like in the photograph Miss Rory had added to his file. On these, he had been a healthy man, of average size, with the well-defined musculature of one used to run, jump, crawl under fences and climb walls daily. A man you would call cute more than handsome, but with obvious charm. Dressed to disappear in a crowd, clothes practical and neutral in colors, far from the shine expected of the Arasaka employee he had been. Kindness had been written all over his face, a strange feature for a merc, and his prize list as a gun for hire indicated as much: he didn’t kill unnecessarily.

Now though, he was just the ghost of said man. His face had lost all flesh, and his once caramel colored skin was morbidly pale, with deep shadows under his eyes. He was thin, with hardly any meat left on him, like he hadn’t eaten a good meal in…say a month and a half. His clothes were stained with blood, cut and teared up in several places, allowing the woman to see various bandages. The only thing that was the same was the arm, a last addition to Melissa Rory’s notes, probably gained after a gig turned wrong. But the worst was his gaze: cold, sharp, with a glint or mania that chilled Mary Ann to the bones.

He smiled, but it was more a grimace than an expression of joy, having none of the warmth.

“Sorry for the appearance. Was kinda busy with the rest of your little friends.” His voice was rough, and low, like he couldn’t really speak normally anymore. “So. How do you want to die? In your bed? Standing in your room? Kneeling there?” he asked, pointing to a spot to his left.

Mary Ann clenched her hand over the gun, well decided not to die.

“What happened to you, V?” she asked, and that seemed to surprise him. “Have you looked in a mirror lately?”

For a moment, his façade fell and he twitched. As her eyes roamed over him, she spotted the various scars left by too many Bounce Back and MaxDocs, and maybe others substances. He was obviously not in his normal state.

“You’re doing this for revenge, right?” Mary Ann continued, “But last I heard, both Kerry Eurodyne and Johnny Silverhand were alive and well.”

She didn’t broach the subject of the recent surgery undergone by the first musician. Getting a vocal implant at his age was suspicious, and she had an inkling it had been in part to hide what Melissa Rory had devised to deliver their message to Silverhand.

“Well is a matter of perspective. You put them in danger. Hurt them. Twice.” V explained.

“Come on, the first time barely count, it was a blotched job.”

“Because I was there. Unfortunately for you. As I am here now.” He kept his sentence short, like he had no energy for longer ones.

“Congrats, then. You’ve neutralized us, so, no need to kill me. You could keep me alive so that I can dissuade that kind of initiative in the future.”

He snorted and got to his feet, walking to her with his gun loosely held in his golden hand.

“Did you know all of your friends tried that too. And look where it led them?”

“Look where it led you, V.”

Again, he twitched and she knew she was onto something. She smiled, testing his shields to find the break.

“Not very professional of you, I should say, f*cking your clients.” She continued, gun still at the ready. And he looked at her with calm eyes. “Must say I was surprised when Miss Rory added that to her reports. She implied you were f*cking both of them, must be quite the experience with their reputations. Did you f*ck them good?” she taunted and his hand jerked around the gun. “No,” she rectified, “they f*cked you.”

He raised his arm, targeting her, and her heart beat even faster, but she knew the key to this whole thing was lying at her finger tips.

“Did you like it? Being taken care of by them? Did they make you feel good?”

“Stop,” he warned, but Mary Ann felt the giddiness she associated with finding a good scandal alight in her body.

“Did they make you feel loved?”

He faltered at her words, the weapon wavering slightly, and she smiled triumphally.

“Oh god, that’s so good, you fell in love with them!” She got to her knees and then up on the bed, advancing on V with confidence. And he stepped back as she continued to call him out.

“Think they will allow you back in? A cold murderer like you? What did you tell yourself at night? That you were doing this for them? But look at you! Look what you’ve become, lost in that quest for revenge.”

“Stop!” he said again, but this time it was a more of a plea. She cornered him again the wall and his eyes were clearly showing the desperate insanity he was in.

“Ah, you felt yourself slip then? Does it keep you up at night? To see that you’ve become a monster?” she literally spat again his lips. “Think they can still love a monster like you?” she breathed. “All this for what? To keep them safe?”

That was the wrong thing to say, but it was too late. His face transformed again, this time turning into a snarl and he caught her by her hair, wrenching her head backward. He slapped her gun away and put the barrel of his under her chin.

“I don’t care what I’ve become, as long as they are safe. I don’t care if others try to hurt them again because I’ll be there to make sure NO ONE gets to them. I’ll burn that City to the ground if I have to.”

And he fired. So close they were, his face was covered in blood and grey matter as her head exploded. He let her body hit the ground, half her face gone. Then he stumbled to the side, catching himself on the wall with his shoulders.

His mind was blank but for one though: he had to get out of here, go back to the safe house. Like a robot, he felt himself moving, gone without a trace.

Strangely, he didn’t go back to the squat he had been using as safe house, but back to his own appartement. He had followed the news enough to know he had done the jobs right: even if it was clear they had been murdered, no one had a clue by whom, because the official versions of his murders were very different from the actual circ*mstances. Officially, the deaths were not even linked but several journalists had remarked on the strange thrall of death that seemed to have fallen over the mighty and powerful. Good, he wanted them to look over their shoulders and fear him.

The door to his flat opened at his approach and he stepped in before stopping in the middle. His legs suddenly gave out under him and he stumbled to the bathroom, barely catching the toilet bowl before he was retching into it. Nothing came out, for there was nothing but bile to vomit. He couldn’t remember the last time he had eaten, having lived off of stims and various drugs for the last weeks. Sitting back, he practically fell into the shower and breathed deeply as a very strong sensation was invading his body.

It was like getting out of a trance. Suddenly he felt the tiredness, deep in his marrow, and the weight of the past month and a half fell over him. He caught his head in his hands and moaned in pain and distress, not knowing where he hurt exactly and why but it was barely endurable. His hands, he distantly registered, smelled of iron, body fluids and sweat. He started trembling, shaking uncontrollably as everything came crashing down.

Disgusted by the smell of his clothes, feeling like his skin was on fire, he undressed with jerky moves, tearing off his shirt off when he couldn’t master enough coordination to remove it normally. V then crawled to the shower head and turned the knob to the max pressure, letting his usual heat setting do the rest. He then sagged, and curled up in fetal position as water poured over him.

What had he done?

Flashes of the last months were dancing behind his eyelids: the planning, their faces as he had coldly killed them, the dirty mattress he had been lying on when he couldn’t stand anymore, the empty drugs containers and the face of the dealers he had regularly met. Never the same one twice because he knew Rogue was on his heels, trying to prevent him from doing what he had too.

No, his head cleared, trying to prevent him from turning monstruous like that psychobitch.

When the water turned cold, he got out and stumbled to his bed, still wet and only half clean, but he couldn’t stand anymore. Exhaustion took over him the next instant.

V was awoken by shouts outside of his flat. He jerked awake, heart beating fast, hands looking for his gun without success. Then he remembered he had left it at the entrance, like a fool. He got up to retrieve it, or tried to, but every muscle in his body screamed in agony. He pushed through and got up to get his gun with shaking hands and felt calmer. He realized that the shouts outside of the flat had actually been the usual noise of the megabuilding at this hour, it was five thirty pm, he had slept the whole day.

Breathing softly, feeling clearer of mind, he also experienced a sensation he hadn’t in weeks: he was hungry. Still trembling a bit, he went back to the shower and really cleaned himself this time, washing his hair and the grit and blood of the past month. Memories continued to flow in his brain, unbidden: the co*ckroaches in the sh*tty flat, the face of Ziyan Ren Liu when he had offed her, the corridors leading to Adam Pryce flat… Johnny asleep on the couch, bathed golden by the late light of the day, Kerry singing softly next to him before he raised his eyes to V and smiled.

He turned off the water and stepped out. In front of the mirror, he hesitated to look, but knew he had to.

He barely recognized himself. Mary Ann Lotherman had been right: he looked like a ghost. Closing his eyes as a new kind of pain wrecked his mind, he bit his bottom lip to stave off the moan that tried to escape him. “Think they can still love a monster like you?”

“I just wanted to keep them safe,” he whispered out loud, but the mirror had nothing to answer.

His hands were still shaking, and he distantly recognized in himself other signals: sweat that was breaking over his skin, the headache, and the tightening of his belly. It was not just exhaustion or anxiety, it was withdrawal. With trembling fingers, he went to his bag and rummaged for the prepacked dose of lace he still had. He would deal with that later, for now he just needed to calm down. As the drug hit his system, he felt himself relax, even when his mind suddenly brought him back to his uni days. That was when he had started on drugs the first time, to keep up with the demands but mostly to forget about his grief. He kept the habit through his days at Arasaka, only losing it with the help of Jackie, once off the corpo. And now he was back at it, it seemed. Temporary, his heart screamed, it’s only temporary.

He got dressed and the shirt felt strangely soft on his skin. He was rediscovering the feeling of clean clothes. It was great. Smiling just a bit, he rapidly did his hair before he got outside, hunting for food. Downstairs, at the thaï shop Jackie had loved so much, V ordered his usual and the man holding the stand even commented on his absence.

“Been on vacation?”

“No,” V chuckled, but it came out more like a sob, “Been busy.” Wisely, the man didn’t add anything and let him eat in peace.

V was ravenous, but three bites in, an unpleasant sensation filled his belly, like he was full. He forced down another bite before he understood. He had not eaten solid food in weeks, so he needed to go slow. Pausing, he let his attention wander and caught the television over the stand.

It was speaking about him, although unknowingly. Lotherman’s body had been found then. The news circled about the mysterious circ*mstances of her death, citing a strange sickness that had removed her from public eyes weeks ago. She had died peacefully in her bed, it seemed.

V asked for a doggy bag and made his way back in his appartement. He felt drained and sat on the couch. Before he knew it, he was asleep again.

It was mid-morning the following day when he awoke again, this time because he had to pee, and because he needed another dose of lace. He knew he should go to Viktor, as the ripperdoc could help him with that by giving him substitutes. That was how he got rid of the habit in the first place, thank to him and Jackie, but he couldn’t confront the doc yet. He was also hungry again. He reheated the left-over from yesterday and tucked in while sitting back on the couch, in front of the TV. He flipped through the channels idly, but stopped dead on N54 News when he saw the Samurai Logo.

Heart racing in his chest, he raised the volume up.

The journalist, a cute girl with skin as black as the night was smiling to the whole band, seated in mismatched chairs. The camera zoomed on each of their faces as the presentations were done, and V frowned when he saw Kerry’s throat, harboring a new implant.

“So, after the band reformation, it’s a new album release we’re looking at, starting next week, right?” the presenter said, white teeth shinning as her expression conveyed warmth.

“Exactly,” Kerry replied with one of his most charming smiles, one that V knew well for he had received it many times. It made his heart clench.

“Excited?” she asked.

“Very,” he replied, eyes crinkling at the corner. But as the camera closed up on him, there was no denying he looked tired. Make-up couldn’t completely cover the dark circles under his eyes, nor the exhaustion lines on the rest of his face.

“It’s a good album for a comeback, very polished, we can feel how both yours and Johnny’s solo career influenced this work.” The presenter commented.

“Yeah, there is no denying it’s a more mature album, that’s what you’re saying,” Johnny intervened with a soft smirk. His dark eyes were serious though. “But it’s also because we had to adapt to Drausin and Lola, who have very different skills than Nancy and Henry used to bring into composition.”

“Better, you would say?” she asked with an edge.

“Different,” Johnny replied. V could tell he was itching for a smoke and that made him smile. Johnny looked good. He always did, but there he looked relaxed and happy. They continued to talk about the album, it’s production, and the band reformation, the concerts planned. Both Lola and Drausin replied to questions too, only Denny stayed silent, although she was nodding and laughing at the answers of her bandmates.

“It’s your fifth album, right?” the interviewer asked.

“If you count the concert ones, then yes.” Kerry acquiesced.

“Is that why it’s called Five? Very minimalist for a band like you, I would say.”

V’s heart skipped a beat.

“Among other things yes. Five has been a particular number for Johnny and I this year. Seemed fitting.” Kerry continued mysteriously, charming smile well in place.

“Hum, this smells like there is a good story behind all that.”

“Might be, too early to say.” Kerry once more replied, but his smiled dimed a fraction.

“A lot of the songs seems to be written like poems addressed to somebody,” the presenter continued, obviously trying to get more information about this. “lover of yours, maybe?”

This was directed to both Johnny and Kerry. Although the later was still officially married, he had never hidden the openness of his couple with Louise. He only kept his other lovers’ identity well hidden, seeing as one was seated right next to him, inconspicuous.

“Maybe,” Johnny took that one, but his tone well implied the discussion was over. She then tried to take him to talk about his political involvement, and he answered truthfully but curtly, obviously not wanting the interview to diverge too much from the album.

As the interview’s allowed time advanced, she changed the subject.

“You seem to have decided on a new addition, Mister Eurodyne, care to tell us about it?”

Kerry’s hand twitched, but his smile stayed unwavering.

“Well, you know me, can’t resist trying new tech when it can improve my music.”

“So this is purely professional?”

“’course, it’s like another instrument to wield. It will allow me to try new things.”

The journalist was obviously not convinced, but before she could nag Kerry about it more, she received a signal off-screen and discreetly nodded.

“So, huh, to launch the album, and in exclusivity for N54 News, we will have the pleasure of hearing another of the album songs, right?”

“Yeah,” Kerry continued on, “it’s the fifth track.”

“Hum hum, Hey Beloved, it’s called, right?” the presenter rhetorically asked. “very romantic, do we have to prepare ourselves for something like Never Fade Away?”

V stopped breathing, eyes wide.

“Oh, it certainly has the vibe of Never Fades Away, but I think you’ll find it less romantic than that.” Kerry explained.

“Well, let’s hear it live then!”

And the band moved to take place to the stage on the right of the room. After last minute adjustments, Johnny nodded to Denny, who launched the beat. It was smooth, at first nearly jazzy before it segued into a harder rhythm when Drausin joined her and Lola added her touch.

They Kerry started singing, voice raw and edgy, like a morning after a party.

“Hey, Lover,

When will you come back home?

Heard the count for today’s toll

Hopin’ your name ‘s not among them

I keep waking screamin’ in pain

Hey, Sweet one,

Which corpo bitch did you blitz?

How many bullets d’ya have left?

Which dirty streets did you roam?

Like a shadow in the early smog”

And Johnny took the lead for the chorus as both guitars joined the rest of the instrument, playing a heavy rift that reminded V of shots fired by a gun: loud and regular, with a metallic tang at the end. Lola was also singing, punctuating the lyrics Johnny sang.

“Did you hear them out?

Night-City? (City of dreams, city of death)

The boys and girls

That can do anythin’

For eddies and for glory

They be stealing your car

Making you bleed

Taking you for a spin

Down the barrel of their steel

But mine does it for love

(Beloved) Does it for free

(Beloved) Does it for me”

Kerry continued alone.

“Hey, Honey,

Have you seen the news today?

Everywhere, they singin your praise

But I’ve not heard of you for days

Praying for a sign you’re still there

Hey, Darling,

Been dreaming ‘bout torrents of blood

Red rivers flowing from your mouth

Hope your enemies bled out on you

It’s not yours, tell me it’s not yours

Did you hear them out?

Night-City? (City of dreams, city of death)

The boys and girls

That can do anythin’

For eddies and for glory

They be stealing your life

Making you bleed

Taking you for a spin

Down the barrel of their steel

But mine does it for love

(Beloved) Does it for free

(Beloved) Does it for me”

Here, Johnny went into a solo, that Kerry echoed in the key notes to highlight them, before he joined him for the last part. The pace of the song slowed down, Denny stopping the drums until only Drausin and both guitarists played. Kerry’s voice was softer, but also a lot sadder as he crooned into the mic.

“Hey, Beloved,

They say Midas had a touch of gold

I know yours is a touch of death

I don’t care what those hands do

As long as you run them over mine

As long as their touch stays warm

As long as you make me come

Like I want you to come home”

The song then faded, until Johnny added the last stanza, not singing but breathing them like a poem:

“Hey Beloved,

I stay like this

Alone with my anxiety

Waiting to see

If the bell tolls for thee”

V felt like he had been stuck by lightning as his skin tingled and his breathing was wet and ragged.

On the screen, the band got off the stage and back to the couch to discuss the song, but he heard none of it. He stood up suddenly, thoughts about yesterday all but gone. He wanted to see them, be held in their arms and forget all about this f*ckin’ nightmare he had nearly drowned in. But V was familiar with drowning, he had done it several time, and as it was true this time too, he always resurfaced.

Putting his jacket on, he practically ran down the stairs to the elevator and to the parking.

When he got to Johnny’s flat, riding the elevator, he suddenly realized they probably still were at the N54 studio. So he prepared himself to wait at the door, for he couldn’t even consider going back down to eat something – he was constantly hungry now – in the off chance he would miss them. But when he approached the flat, the door unlocked, recognizing his biometrics. Stunned for a second, he came into the appartement, which was indeed empty.

V felt residual tension leave his body as the atmosphere of the place got to him. Happy memories echoed on every surface: a kiss over the countertop, laughter on the couches, a caress over his arm passing the doorway. Dry tears chocked him as he stumbled though the room. He had been such a fool. He removed his jacket, and then his shoes without thinking about it, as he had done a hundred times.

Shuffling his feet to the bedroom, he raised an eyebrow when he saw the bed had been changed to a bigger one, like Johnny had said he would do many times. Smiling, V went to sit on it and observed the city by the window: the dragon of metal and glass seemed to sleep for now. He felt good here, at peace. He relaxed back into the bed and just closed his eyes for a minute.

V felt hands stroking over his cheek and sighed softly. Then, the same hands turned his face up and lips covered his gently. The kiss was slow, but deepening until V groaned and arched softly into it. But it stopped then and he struggled to open his eyes. Before he could, different lips touched the corner of his mouth once, before drifting to the center and kissing him more fully. This time he was able to open his eyes a slit, and saw Kerry retreating with a smile. His eyes were wet, and tears fell over his cheeks, dripping to V’s, who blinked.

“Hey Beloved,” Kerry mouthed before glancing to the side. Following his gaze, V saw Johnny leaning on the bed, his metal hand covering his and stroking the gold softly. “Welcome home.”

Kerry’s hands were everywhere, starting at his jaw and sliding down is collarbone and over his shirt to the hem. He slithered his hands underneath, pushing the shirt up and his eyes turned sad as he took in the spectacle. V’s skin was covered in blueish bruises, cuts and stitches he hadn’t sported before, that now marred his tattooed torso. Johnny watched him too, counting the ribs bare eyed, taking in the constellation of needles scars that covered V’s chest, neck and arms.

“sh*t, V,” Kerry breathed as his eyes discovered all this, “What have ya done to yourself…”

But V couldn’t care less about what his body looked like, he was floating in contentment, feeling weightless between them. His flesh hand rose to Kerry’s cheek, stroking it and wiping away the tears. Then his hand dragged down to the musician’s throat, over the cyberware. It was warm under his hand, vibrating alive and he couldn’t wait to put his palms there the next time he made Kerry come, just to feel the tech shake under his hands.

“I heard your song.” He murmured. They both looked sad at that, strangely. So he continued: “I missed you.”

“f*ck, you missed us?” Kerry cried out, “then why didn’t you come back before?” he accused, sitting up and turning his back to his younger lover. Johnny’s eyes danced to Kerry hunched form and back to V, whose expression was contrite but unrepentant all the same.

“Couldn’t,” he mouthed, so low it was nearly silent.

Kerry turned back to him, face thunderous.

“Yes you could have! You can always come back here, whenever you need to!”

“Needed to do that, Ker. Needed to make sure you were safe.”

“Safe?” Kerry repeated in a breath, his mouth twisting down, “At what cost, V? Have you looked at yourself?!” he finished, anguished.

And all V heard was Lotherman saying : “Think they can still love a monster like you?” It rang in his mind like a thunderous bell. Pushing through the sudden fog in his ears, he replied:

“I did what needed to be done.”

“Why didn’t you call, text, anything? You might have been dead and we would never have known! I was f*cking WORRIED!”

Lotherman’s cruel laughter resounded in V’s skull, and he closed his eyes, trying to fight off the anxiety coming with it: what if she had been right? What if he had gone too far and lost them in the process?

His tongue moved like molasse in his mouth.

“I… You would have tried to stop me from doing it… I needed to focus and you’re a distraction.”

A sweet, lovely, wonderful distraction, one he could lose himself into, one he wanted to drown in. But he distantly knew it had been far from the right thing to say. It had come out wrong, but his tongue seemed to cement with his teeth and he couldn’t say anything else.

It was too much for Kerry, who raised his hands to the ceiling and stormed off the room, flipping the door close behind him with a bang. V watched him go, his heart squeezing painfully.

Then Johnny shifted next to him, bending over him to kiss behind his ear. The simple gesture allowed V to breathe again.

“Give him some time, he was really worried.” Johnny reassured.

“You weren’t?” He teased and the other man smirked without giving a clear answer.

V turned back to his second output and extended his arms in a silent plea for a hug, which Johnny delivered, taking the younger man against him and tightening his hold.

“You changed the bed,” V murmured after a while, as Johnny’s hands were blindly removing the pins in his hair.

“Huh-huh, said I would. And now I’m keeping you in there forever,” he lightly joked and V breathed out the ghost of a laugh against his neck.

They stayed silent for a moment, and V was drifting back to sleep when Johnny voice woke him up again. His voice was cautious, delicate.

“V, what happened?”

Gulping, the younger man shifter closer, feeling suddenly cold.

“I… I snaped,” he confessed, “when she…” rage was simmering once more in his blood as he remembered Melissa Rory’s terrifying smile as she had etched each letter into Kerry’s neck. “She f*cking hurt him. I killed her.”

“I know, Rogue told me. She also told me how.” And there was maybe a hint of reproach here.

“Couldn’t let her live, Johnny, she was too dangerous.”

He replied, and his voice felt distant, like it wasn’t really him saying this.

“Don’t do that,” the rockerboy gently chided, “don’t close up.” He felt V shake slightly in his arms at the words, like he was fighting against himself. Waves after waves of conflicting emotions were swamping over the merc, in a co*cktail so explosive he had a hard time processing each individually. Guilt, fear, love, doubt, vicious pride, anger and sadness were mixing and dancing with one another, too fast for V to follow.

“I got f*ckin scared,” he finally analyzed, “scared of losing you. Five minutes was all it took for Kerry to be ripped off our arms and I couldn’t…”

He pushed Johnny off of him and sat up, putting his head in trembling hands and breathed deeply to calm himself. He felt Johnny hand caress the small of his back in soothing circles, which grounded him.

“I wanted the whole city, the whole world, to know that you were under my protection, that touching even just one of your hair was calling for death. So I killed them all one by one. And I couldn’t rest until it was all done.”

A moment of silence followed his confession, until Johnny tugged him softly back to lie on the bed, encircling him with his arms again.

“I get that, V. That’s how I felt when Alt died. But it nearly destroyed me, and nearly did the same to you. You can’t go on like this.”

“I can’t…” he rasped, “I can’t control it, it’s like this huge monster inside me every time I think about…” V stopped as a vision of a red rose flowering over Kerry’s white tank top raced through his brain.

“I know, I’ve felt it too. It’s fear, V. Fear of loss. But you have to learn to live with it, accept it. ‘Cause you definitely can’t let it drive you. It’s too self-destructive, I would know.” Johnny continued, tone low and confidential. He never stopped stroking V’s skin.

The bedroom was filled with V’s harsh breathing for a while, until it calmed down under Johnny’s regular touch.

“How…?” V asked, “How did you..?”

Putting a silver of space between their face, Johnny looked at him, dark eyes full of compassion and love.


It was so incongruous, that V couldn’t help but laugh: “You? You went to therapy?”

Johnny smiled too, more a smirk than anything else, but his eyes shone with pride.

“Yeah. Well, I kinda was threatened with painful emasculation if I didn’t.”

“I don’t believe it, someone threatened you to go to therapy?”

Johnny nodded, eyes crinkling.

“Who? Kerry?”

“Kerry’s sister’s wife. Artemis Eurodyne. She told me if I ever wanted to be worthy of Kerry, I had to get better, to be a functional person on my own.” He stopped for a second, reminiscing, before continuing: “Love isn’t a therapy, it’s a bonus, it makes your life shines brighter, but your partner, or partners, aren’t there to heal you.”

V’s eyes, red from tears he refused to let flow, were fixed on Johnny’s.

“That sounds like it’s coming from a book about self-love or something.”

“Well, it’s not from me, that’s for sure. But I still think it’s true. Kerry and I have needs in that relationship too. For example, I need you to tell me when you intent on killing seven f*cking high-end corpo and won’t come back home for a month.”

It was said in a light tone, but V heard the warning all the same: they had suffered from his lack of communication, worried about him needlessly because in his rampage, he had forgotten about them. Damn, the epiphany wasn’t kind: it had been for them, to protect them, but he had hurt them in the process. And if he was completely honest, he had done it more for his peace of mind than theirs.

“But I can’t talk to a therapist about what just happened, they would sell me out to the cops.”

“No but you can talk about your parents, your sister, the circ*mstances of your birth, and about Roma, and Jackie, and all the other people who helped you become who you are today. All those people you’ve lost one way or another.” Johnny added, tone uncharacteristically gentle, “The fear is coming from there, so you should start with that.”

Heart beating fast, V hid in Johnny’s neck again, but felt calmer and although he experienced a strange kind of sadness taking place inside him, it was the healing kind. The one that came after all the denial, all the anger, all the bargaining, and preceded acceptance.

“f*ck, when did you get all old and wise, huh?” he muttered against Johnny’s skin and felt the rumble of his laugh.

“I was always very wise, just lazy.”

Huffing, V shook his head, but didn’t add anything else, taking the joke as it was: a way out of that heavy conversation.

“I need to make it up to Kerry.” V breathed after a while.


“I really f*cked up.”


“I’m sorry.”

“Well, you could start with that.”

Chapter 17: Hecate's powers are mighty


(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

You painted the city red all the same, and everyone saw it for what it was: a claim.

He started shaking in the middle of the night, and his body felt like it was on fire. He tried to get up, but felt Johnny’s hand on his chest, telling him to stay put.

“You still have some on you?” he asked in a low voice, having recognized the signs easily for he knew them intimately. He wasn’t surprised either.

“Left it at my place,” V succeeded in saying between numb lips and the shivers wracking his body. He felt hot and cold at the same time.

“Ok, what was it? Lace?”

V nodded, “and stims, boosters. The-the whole pack-package…”

“sh*t… I’m calling your doc.”

V didn’t have the energy to stop him, and he knew he had waited too long. Johnny got off the bed and V turned the other way, finding only emptiness: Kerry hadn’t come home for the night. The realization made his heart squeeze painfully and dark thoughts spread in his head.

Monster said the voice of Lotherman. Rogue’s face when he had killed Melissa. Kerry’s eyes full of tears, his back as he stormed out. The unseeing eyes of Adam Pryce as he laid at his feet. the shock on Morgan Blackhand’s face. Roma bright red hair, and their shiny green eyes, like emerald and just as stone cold. Johnny’s eyes at the back of the car, with Kerry bleeding out over him. He was drowning.

“Come on, sit-up,” Johnny whispered and V tried, really tried, but felt so weak. His golden hand grasped Johnny’s neck and he opened his mouth to gulp air uselessly.

“Drink that,” Johnny ordered softly, pressing a cup of warm tea against his lips. It smelled strongly of weed, but didn’t taste much when the hot liquid touched his tongue. Or maybe he couldn’t taste it anymore. He chocked a bit on the water, but Johnny slowly made him drink the whole cup. At the end of the process, he was already breathing easier.

“It’s marijuana tea,” the other man whispered before releasing V back into the pillows. “Should ease up the pain a bit until Viktor can come in. I called him, he is on his way.”

V nodded, eyes feverish and skin still clammy but at least the sensation of fire in his body had abated. Johnny stayed right next to him, stroking the skin of his ankle and speaking soothing words when V was wracked by another shaking fit.

Viktor arrived some thirty minutes later, with, surprisingly, Misty on his heels. When she saw V, her eyes widened and she couldn’t help but gasp. He tried smiling at her, knowing full well what he looked like: a corpse. She knelt on the bed by his foot, where Johnny had been sitting, and put a warm hand over his leg.

Viktor grunted before seating on the bed and taking V’s neural cable to plug it into his pad. The readings streamed fast on the screen, making Vik sigh and frown.

“So what’s the diagnosis? Gonna live?” V tried to joke, concentrating on stopping the shaking of his jaw. It made Misty smile a bit, teary eyed.

“Diagnosis is you’re a mess, and a gonk. But you’ll live.”

He rummaged in his bag, taking two containers of pills, white generic ones.

“You’re underweight, dehydrated, and your body doesn’t know what hormone balance means anymore, but nothing rest, healthy eating and a bit of science can’t cure.” He shook both containers in front of V. “You know the drill, same as last time.” He said, while indicating the first pill container. This one was filled with dopamine substitute. “Three per day on the first week, then two for two weeks and then one for three weeks, then one every two days and so on until the withdrawals symptoms and sensations disappear completely.” Then he addressed Johnny who was leaning in the doorway: “make sure he doesn’t stop too early, or reduce too fast.”

V let it pass for this time, knowing full well Viktor was babying him as revenge for worrying him like this. The doc turned back to his patient and shook the second carton.

“These are vitamins. Two with each meal, and that four meal a day for you. Light things, with lots of proteins, your muscles need it…”

“Roger that, doc.” V smiled as he replied, and let Viktor help him take the first substitute pill.

He was exhausted once again, wanting nothing more than to close his eyes and fall back into slumber.

“V, kid…” The ripper started, “what happened to you?”

Pushing back the fatigue, V raised his silver eyes to Vik.

“Killed some bad guys,” he offered, eyes flickering to Johnny.

“The corpos? That was you?” Vik inquired, but V refused to answer. The less Vik knew, the better. Sighing, the doc wiped his face tiredly.

“Had us all very worried, V.”

“I’m sorry.” He murmured back.

“Can see that you are. Just… Don’t do that again?”

Breathing calmly, V glanced once more at his lover behind Vik, then at Misty.

“I know I need to sort through my sh*t, yeah. Intend to do that now. But that city better behave in the meantime.”

“We will tell her so,” Misty joked, “dragon slayer.” She added and V’s eyes fluttered, losing the fight against sleep.

Kerry had taken refuge with his ex-wife, back in North-Oak. In all the sh*t happening with the Arasaka falls-out and consequent internal war, the “mysterious” death of several high-end profiles, and the general mayhem of Night-City, the Nordin-Eurodyne divorce was but a footnote, contrary to the big blow up the ex-couple had expected. Kerry’s label was disappointed, and had tried to ramp-up the news a bit, so it made the cover of several scream-sheets, but didn’t make it past minor news on different channels. More than the divorce, it was Kerry’s new cyberware that had people talking, going from wild theories about space-lizard supremacy conspiracy, to trachea-cancer, to guesses closer to the truth, like an accident damaging his throat and vocal cords.

It suited Louise just fine, as she had planned on a personal lock-down in North-Oak with the kids while the storm passed. Ted and Kim were a bit puzzled as to why their father was suddenly living back with them, since it had been explained to them several times that it wouldn’t happen again, but like all kids their ages, they seized the moment.

Johnny and V entered the house with the help of Louise which Johnny had called beforehand, explaining the situation.

“Can I leave you with them for like, three hours? Could really use the me-time,” Louise whispered to Johnny as she closed the door.

“’course,” replied the rockerboy while making his way into the house like it was his place. V stood a bit dumbly on the threshold.

“You must be V,” Louise inquired, and her smile was warm and charming. She was beautiful, and exulted such kindness V had the odd urge to hug her, or fall to his knees and ask for her blessing.

“Yeah,” he breathed, like a deer in headlights.

She extended her arm: “Nice to meet you. Kerry can’t shut-up about you. Well, lately, it’s been more curses than sweet words but before that, all compliments.”

He took her hand, which was soft and small, uncalloused. The hands of someone how had lived a tranquil life. A happy life.

“Likewise,” he replied and tried to smile, but frankly, he was still in shock. How could Kerry choose people like Johnny or V over her? But the answer came just as fast: because she didn’t need to be saved like them. She was a well-adjusted adult, and Kerry liked crazies.

“Well, have fun!” she chirped, “will be back for diner.”

“Yeah,” Johnny said, “be back at eight, ‘cause V is cooking and it’s freaking good!”

“I am?” V muttered, frowning and Louise laughed before putting on her jacket and leaving with a wave.

Taking V’s hand in his, Johnny dragged him inside the house. The entrance gave way to a monstrously huge room, covered in windows overlooking the city. A table the size of a car was occupying most of the space, and to the left, it gave way to what probably was a lounging area over a small stage, but had now been converted into a painting workshop. Kerry was seated with the kids on the floor in the middle of an enormous paper sheet, covering nearly the whole space between the two angles windows. Tubes of color and brushes of all sizes were lying around them, some still pristine, other already covered in paint to the handle. Kerry himself, dressed in faded jeans and a soft-gray V-necked shirt, had paint up his elbows, and a small handprint on his cheek, courtesy of Kim.

The girl was seated bracketed by his bent knees, dressed in a cute white painter apron, which was slowly being covered in all the colors she worked with. She was babbling to her father, explaining her drawing as she did it. On the opposite side, Ted was crouched low over his own part of the fresco, tracing neat lines with his tongue struck between his lips.

Both kids had a dark mop of thick curly hair and bronzed skins. When Ted saw them approach, he raised his eyes and V saw he had Kerry’s: almond shaped and hazelnut colored. He had freckles too, a lot more than his father, which gave him a cute air even as he frowned when his gaze fell on the stranger.

“Who’s that?” he said and his father turned with a surprised expression that lit up when he saw Johnny and soured when the caught V behind.

“Uncle Johnny!” Kim cried out, putting paint covered hands on her father’s shoulders to steady herself as she practically ran to Johnny. The rockerboy evaded her smoothly, catching her dirty hands in his before they could touch his clothes, and god forbid, his leather pants. Her hair was neck-length, curlier than her brother, and her eyes were rounder, probably Louise’s. She had an adorably heartshaped face and a pink mouth that showed her white baby teeth. They were beautiful kids, waiting to become handsome young persons.

“Hey Kimmy!” Johnny replied, voice warm and low as he kissed her forehead.

Ted marched across the paper to Johnny but his gaze was fixated on V. Said man crouched, to be more at level with the young boy.

“I’m V.”

“V?” Ted repeated while turning to his father. “that’s not a name. It’s just a letter.”

“Well, V is quirky like this, but it’s his name so be respectful, Ted.” Kerry gently scorned and the boy turned back to the stranger, hands catching behind his back.

“Hello, my name is Ted, nice to meet you.” He recited with the air of someone used to meeting other adults.

Johnny chuckled and ruffled the young boy’s air, eliciting an outraged noise.

“Relax Teddy, V is cool. Friend of your dad.”

While trying to replace his hair correctly, Ted glared at Johnny before huffing and going back to his drawing. But V was not done, because Kim was now looking at him too with huge blinking eyes.

“Your eyes are weird. But you’ve got a pretty arm. Uncle Johnny, why don’t you have an arm like V? His is prettier.”

Smirking, Johnny looked at Kerry as he replied.

“V’s arm if a gift from your father and me, but seems like your daddy doesn’t love me as much, ‘cause he never gifted me a new arm like that. Unfair, right?” he added to Kim, expression turning to mock-hurt.

She seemed outraged by the news and turned to her father.

“Daddy, you have to give Uncle Johnny a prettier arm!”

Kerry’s gave Johnny a non-plussed expression and crossed his arms.

“We will think about that, dear. Wanna paint some more?” he tried to distract her, still ignoring V completely.

“Can V paint with us?” she asked, obviously intrigued by the newcomer.

“No he –“ Kerry tried, but V cut him.

“Sure.” And he knelt next to her. “What were you drawing?”

The father sighed and glared at Johnny who shrugged before making his way to the other side of the room, where Kerry’s guitars collection was displayed. V took the brush Kim gave him, and glanced up at Kerry, crossing his gaze. He could see emotion simmering in the chestnut irises, but Kerry turned his head, sitting back next to his daughter to continue the fresco.

It appeared that V was better than Kerry at painting, mostly because he actually liked it were Kerry was just doing this to please his kids. He had no affinity with colors, and little interest for the painted arts, even though his house was full of it due to Louise.

Kim and Ted caught on V talent very fast, and he was soon asked to draw several things. As Kim lost interest in the activity and had to take a shower to remove paint from her hair, V was left alone with Ted. Now that he had relaxed, he appeared like a cool kid, pretty funny and lively, with a very driven mind: he knew what he wanted and was giving V precise instructions.

Which was how V found himself drawing two houses next to each other: one was clearly more like a castle, perched on the hill, and the other of futuristic architecture, surrounded by other, smaller houses in the distance.

“Here, that’s mom,” Ted explained as he traced long hair on one of his characters. It was childish, but demonstrated potential for the future, V noted. “And this is Lawrence. Mom’s boyfriend.” He added for V benefit. Both characters were lounging in the garden of the castle.

Then Ted asked V to help him draw a car. Inside, he added two small people: Kim on the back seat, and himself at the driver’s spot.

Finally, he added two other characters on top of the futuristic house, one who was clearly his father and the second with a robotic arm, unmistakably Johnny.

V watched him do it with fascination, feeling that this was no ordinary drawing but therapeutic for Ted. The car was placed between the two houses, and the boy traced a neat road between them before sitting up. “there.” He said.

V turned to him and smiled. “That’s amazing, Ted.”

The boy shrugged before turning shrewd eyes to V.

“Are you like Uncle Johnny?” he asked and V chuckled nervously.

“Not sure what you mean here,” he stalled, playing for time.

“Do you love daddy?” the boy explicated like V was a bit slow.

He opened his mouth without a clear idea of how to respond, heart pulsing at the back of his throat, when Kerry called.

“Ted, time for shower!”

With a dramatic sigh, Ted rose to his feet and dragged himself to the other side of the fresco, minding the various paint stains.

Left alone, V watched the two characters on top of the futuristic house, eyes burning strangely. Turning his head, he looked outside to the city, to the great dragon he had defeated for a while. No doubt, it would rise again, it always did, but for now the beast was resting, and V was sitting on top of the treasure. The metaphorical riches felt like ashes between his fingers at the moment. He couldn’t deny that Kerry was good at being cross, and sulking, it really made V want to crawl at his feet and beg just for a look, let alone a smile.

He startled when he felt a presence to his right. Kerry slowly crouched, observing Ted’s drawing with sad eyes. He still didn’t look at V, but slowly took up the abandoned brush. The younger man frowned as he saw Kerry awkwardly draw another character next to the one representing himself. He was barely better at this than his son, V noted. The musician bent over more, and his tongue struck out between his lips, just like Ted, as he concentrated. It blocked V’s view of the drawing, so he had to wait until Kerry was finished. When the older man sat back, the third character on top of the house was sporting grey hair and a gold and silver arm. There was an interrogation mark above it.

Heart beating fast, breath harsh in his lungs, V turned to Kerry with wet eyes. The man was looking at him with a hard stare, jaw clenching, but V saw his hands were shaking softly.

“Yes,” V breathed. “Yes please.” He repeated. “I’m sorry, please I… I just wanted to keep you safe.” He implored in a quiet voice. It cracked at the end and his hands clenched over his knees with the need to reach for Kerry. But said man was still closed off, expression thunderous.

“When I woke up at the hospital,” he started, “I asked where you were. And Johnny told me he had no news of you since Rogue last saw you. I had just taken a bullet, got f*cking tortured, and you weren’t there when I woke up.”

V shook his head, eyes closing in shame.

“I know, I didn’t think.” He apologized, “I couldn’t think.”

“Do you know what this is, V?” Kerry asked pointing to the drawing, voice aiming for steely but tone wavering. V could tell Kerry’s state of mind mirrored his: too full of contradicting emotions. “This is family, my family.” Kerry answered his own question when V stayed silent. “Do you want to be part of that? ‘cause if you do, really do, then you’ll have to start talking to me, trusting me, opening to me, to us!” his voice raised, anger getting the best of him and V looked down at the drawing, feeling like a schooled boy.

“You disappeared, V!” Kerry cried out, “without telling us where you were, or what you planned to do. Why did you do that? Couldn’t plan your little assassinations at the flat?” he seethed, voice low as tears finally spilled over his cheeks.

“No, I couldn’t,” V replied calmly. “I didn’t want the flat to become a place where I planned cold murder.”

“But why didn’t you come back in between?!” Kerry continued, still trying to keep his voice low as to not alert Kim, who was playing guitar with Johnny on the other side of the room.

“Because I didn’t want you to see me like that!” V hissed back, face turning angry in a flash before despair took its place again. “I couldn’t rest until it was all done, Ker. I realize it’s not healthy, but that was how I always did things. And I know it’s frightening to witness!” He tried to explain, raising a hand to try and catch Kerry’s tear with his golden hand, but the musician recoiled, slapping the hand away. The merc let his arm fall back to his knees, head low.

“What about a call, or even replying to my messages?!” Kerry countered once again.

Raising tired eyes at his… output? Were they still that? Had they ever been? V had no answers.

“I’m sorry I hurt you.”

“It’s not just me you hurt, you hurt yourself, look at the state you’re in!” Kerry once more exploded in a low snarl, arms flaying around him to encompass V’s terrible appearance.

“I’m sorry,” said man repeated, for it was true and he had nothing else to offer. He looked at the drawing, at himself, shakily drawn by Kerry’s hand and at the question mark over it.

“Ker… Do you still want me in there?” he murmured, gesturing quietly to the scene on the paper. “’cause if you don’t, if I messed-up too much, that’s ok, I underst –“

But he was cut off by Kerry’s hand on his jaw, right before the man covered his lips with his own. V stayed stunned there for a moment before a sigh escaped him and he encircled Kerry with his arms, drawing him closer and kissing back with fervor. His hands tangled in Kerry’s salt-and-pepper hair as his mouth moved, trying to devour the other man’s face, tongues tangling sensually. Then Kerry pushed forward, making V lost equilibrium and he found himself practically lying on the floor, in the paint. Kerry crawled over him, never stopping his kisses that turned more passionate by the second.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Johnny interrupted from the other side of the large room, “Keep it PG boys!”

With a frustrated groan, Kerry wrenched himself from his younger lover and sat back on his haunches. Under him, V panted, lips red and cheeks flushed by the sudden bout of passion.

“Don’t think I’ve forgiven you,” the musician growled, “but yes V, I’m mad at you because I want you in my family. That imply trust, and communication. Sure you’re ready for that?”

But there was no doubt in V’s mind: “yes,” he breathed again, with the same reverent tone as before. And at last, Kerry offered him a small, but genuine, smile. He kissed V again, softer this time.

“Dad?” Kim called, “why are you kissing V.”

“sh*t,” Kerry muttered as his daughter made her way toward him, having abandoned Johnny to his guitars. On the other side of the room, the man was smirking, fingers still plucking the cords softly, obviously very proud of himself.

“Hum, remember what mom and I told you, about special friends?” he said as he got up, discreetly adjusting himself before making his way to the small girl. He picked her up with a grunt.

“Yes,” Kim replied, “the friends that you can kiss because they are very important, like Uncle Johnny.”

“V is like that too, ok?”

She shrugged, before nodding.

“I’m hungry.” She indicated.

V smiled and his eyes caught the drawing once more. The question mark had been smudged a bit in their kiss. He took some red paint lying there, and transformed it into a heart.

“Well, I told Louise V was cooking,” Johnny drawled from his spot. “Think it’s only fair, as punishment.”

“Why does V needs to be punished?” Kim asked, looking back at the younger man making his way toward them.

“’cause he was a jerk. Shi-ze, cheese” he caught himself, “Don’t repeat that to you mom, ok?”

She smiled mischievously and extended an arm innocently. Grumbling, Kerry made his way to the kitchen with her in his arms and opened the candy jar to give her one.

“Little demon.” He grumbled with obvious affection as she stuffed the candy in her mouth.

“Do you even have anything I can cook?” V asked as he made his way into the kitchen and opened the fridge. But he didn’t need to worry, for it was packed full of food.

“Can we go watch TV?” Ted suddenly asked, coming out of his shower.

“Yes, until diner,” Kerry replied and the boy whooped, followed by his sister as they made their way upstairs.

Johnny lazily appeared too, catching three beers in the fridge over V’s shoulders that he opened with his metal thumb. V was still rummaging in the fridge, trying to find inspiration when he was suddenly yanked back, pushed against the central isle of the kitchen as Kerry caged him with his body, lips covering his. Finding his bearings, V kissed back, hands framing Kerry’s face and he let out a small moan when the musician grinded against him, the hardness in his jeans very present. V sagged against the counter as waves of desire made his blood warm up, and he opened his legs more to allow Kerry to come even closer, which he did. The musician’s hands pushed under V’s faded pink shirt, and his thumbs went under the edge of his pants, which were sitting low on his hips due to the weight loss. But instead of dampening Kerry enthusiasm, it only seemed to fuel him, as he could easily reach downward to take V’s hardening co*ck in hand. The merc whimpered, jerking his head back and opening his eyes in slits. On his left, Johnny was leaning on the kitchen isle, elbows on the counter and a smirk at the corner of his lips. He was lazily drinking his beer while enjoying the show.

“Missed that,” he commented with a chuckle. V opened his mouth under a new assault of pleasure when Kerry twisted his hand, and Johnny pushed on his arms to lean over him, kissing his mouth and biting his bottom lip before retreating.

“f*ck, stop,” the merc muttered. But his plea was ignored as Kerry fell to his knees and tugged his pants off a bit, not even needing to open them. He didn’t waste any time in taking V’s co*ck in his mouth, barely pushing his boxers to the side. The younger man thumped his fist on the counter, griping the edge tightly with his flesh hands as Johnny chuckled.

V raised his eyes to the ceiling, biting his bottom lip to try and not make any noises, conscious that the kids where just up floor, watching TV and could stumble in the kitchen any time. Kerry didn’t seem worried, knowing full well the power of TV on any child. He still sucked V with the intent on making him come very fast, pulling all the stops. Johnny got closer, and his lips grazed the younger man’s neck, tongue tracing the tendons and biting at an ear lobe.

“f*ck,” V muttered again, letting his head fall on the other side to leave more room for Johnny. His hips were moving softly into Kerry’s mouth, driving his co*ck in little goings and coming. The rest of his body was shaking, in a mix of pleasure, lingering exhaustion and tension.

He knew he wouldn’t last long, especially as he glanced down and saw Kerry’s lips stretched around his dick, hands drifting up and caressing his stomach. And Johnny’s metal hand was joining in, stroking his side under his shirt until he reached his nipple and twisted it. His mouth was still covering V’s neck in soft bites and kisses. Closing his eyes, the merc let himself get caried by their touches, let the current of pleasure take him down the stream.

“I…” V said after a while, before swallowing as suddenly Kerry massaged his perineum and it was over. “I’m coming,” he whispered and Johnny covered his mouth with his, drinking the noises he couldn’t stop from his lips. Both older men had to help him stand after, because his legs turned to butter as oxytocin and dopamine released into his blood system.

With a grunt, Kerry got to his feet, grimacing because of his abused knees. Watching V’s post-org*sm face, he smiled, bending to kiss the corner of his mouth.

“Hum,” Kerry groaned softly, “gonna take advantage of the fact I’m stronger than you right now, and make you come again and again, until you can’t even think about leaving the bed anymore.”

Next to him Johnny laughed mischievously.

“Can I help with that?” he asked slyly.

“’Course Darling, gonna have to f*ck him hard and deep, and no one is better at that than you,” Kerry replied, hands trailing down Johnny’s body to his leather pants that concealed his erection well. The man groaned, pushing his pelvis against his friend’s hand and V keened.

“Please stop, I can’t… Have to prepare diner, and the kids,” he stuttered while his two outputs were making out in front of him. Still, with a heavy groan, they separated, foreheads touching as they breathed the same air.

“Kids, right, no more f*cking in the kitchen then,” Johnny despondently whispered.

It was Kerry turn to laugh, stroking Johnny’s neck in an attempt to appease him.

“Nope. Come on, let’s get on with diner, ‘cause Kim already said she was hungry.”

With a last sigh, Johnny nodded, taking a sip of his beer.

In the end, diner turned to be a filet mignon that Kerry had brough on a whim that day while at the market with the kids. They cut carrots, potatoes, onions and zucchini to go with it, and V took care of the seasoning for the meat. The other two men proved their uselessness in the kitchen by basically being unable to concentrate on one task for more than a minute. Johnny took care of the onions since Kerry still remembered crying from it last time, and Johnny manfully sniffed as the vegetable got to him, to Kerry never-ending laughter. When it was cooking in the oven, V heavily sat on one of the bar stools, feeling dizzy. He couldn’t tell exactly what caused it, between the exhaustion and the withdrawal. With shaking hands, he took out the med carton and tried to open it but his hands were trembling too much: definitely withdrawal then.

“Here, let me,” Johnny murmured, opening the containers and taking out one pill. He gave V a glass of water to go with it and watched as the younger man gulped it uneasily.

“Waited a bit too long for that one, huh?” Johnny observed, stroking V’s nape. The merc nodded before resting his head over his folded arms.

“Withdrawal?” Kerry breathed from the other side of the isle where he had observed the scene with caution.

Turning slightly to look at the musician, V grunted.

“Told you I didn’t want you to see me like this. I really was on a bender.”

“So what, you survived on coffee and drugs or somethin’?” Kerry drawled, trying for nonchalance and failing spectacularly.

“Exactly like that,” V replied as his eyes closed.

“Come on, V, not here,” Johnny nudged him awake, then proceeded to half-carry him to the couch in the first living room to the right of the mansion. He was barely horizontal when he fell asleep, his body crashing from exhaustion again.

Kissing his forehead, Johnny straightened and turned to see Kerry leaning against the corridor wall, arms crossed. He went to him, taking his cigarette pack as he did so and, with a head gesture, lead Kerry to the downstair patio.

Seated under the waterfall, Johnny lit Kerry’s cigarette before his own. The two men smoked in silence for a moment, before the musician burst out.


“You said it, yeah,” Johnny rumbled. He shared the sentiment, even if it didn’t translate in the same way.

“How can someone get into that state of mind for so long?!”

“Don’t know Ker, but he hinted he had done it back at uni. For a longer time.”

“f*ck!” Kerry exploded again, getting up to pace.

Johnny gave him an eye-roll, leaning back further into the seat.

“Stop that, I know deep down it speaks to your inner princess that he would go to such lenths out of love for you.”

“For us, for us Johnny. You were the primary target.”

“Ok, for us.” Johnny wisely acknowledged, refraining from pointing out that V had snapped when Kerry had been abducted. He vaguely noted that his friend didn’t deny it secretly pleased him to have a partner ready to sacrifice everything for him, for them. Johnny knew, they both did, that it was unhealthy. Meh, the rocker thought, they still had a long way to go before they could describe themselves as adjusted anyway.

“So what is it with the withdrawal?” Kerry asked brusquely.

“Lace, mostly, and too much stims and boosters. Viktor came yesterday night, gave him pills, it’s substitutes. A month and a half at least, if he doesn’t relapse.” Johnny explained. The other man stayed silent for a moment before he snorted, to Johnny’s surprise.

“Man, I really got a type,” he muttered, “You were exactly the same.”

“I know, which is why I’m way more tolerant.”

Kerry eyed him sheepishly.

“I wasn’t, really, huh?”

“No, but I think he gets it. I do. You’re older, and maybe just a bit more tired that you were when you did all this for me.”

Extending his hand toward his life-long friend, Johnny beaconed Kerry to him, making him sit over his lap. He caressed his jaw with his metal arm, face serious.

“That’s what you get for taking a lover so young and abandoning old Johnny.”

Kerry shook his head with a smile and bent to kiss him softly on the lips.

“Abandoning no one, just making sure no one gets bored.”

Smiling against his lips, Johnny breathed.

“But you’re not alone this time, I’m here with you. We’ll get through this.”

Louise came back right on time for diner, finding the table set and her children running around her in excitement. V was up again after a power nap interrupted by Kim who had wanted to show him her collection of toy-ponies. V was now proudly sporting a “my ponies are pretty” badge on his shirt. His eyes were still a bit glazed, but he seemed to be able to function again. He stayed silent most of the diner anyway, happy to just listen to Louise and Johnny banter and gang-up against Kerry. The children were to be accounted for too, fighting for attention and rivaling each other for the best stories they could think of.

But it seemed diner had been the last of what V could offer for the day, because he was struggling to stay awake by the time desert was cleared. So Johnny decided to drive them back home, Kerry staying behind to say good night to the kids and Louise.

When Kerry reached the flat, V was fast asleep in bed, with Johnny watching a movie on his pad next to him. It was all very domestic. He showered and joined them, watching V sleep for a moment.

“Think we tamed that little fox?” Kerry asked Johnny.

“Looks pretty tamed to me.” The second man replied after glancing at their companion, deep in slumber.

And the musician could only concur as V slept on, curled up between them, relaxed at last.

V woke up with a start and the urge to throw up, skin clammy with sweat. It was bright outside, and the bed was empty. Turning on his side, trying to muster the strength to get to the bathroom, his feverish eyes found a note on Kerry’s pillow.

“Gone to the studio, be back for diner only :( But you can come and say hi if you want!” was the first sentence, written with Kerry’s curvy handwriting. Then under, in scritch-scratch: “Take your meds.” And then there was a drawing of a little fox, curled up asleep. Johnny’s touch.

It made V smile despite how sh*tty he felt. The respite was short lived as he struggled to get up. His eyes fell on the bed side table and there was a glass of water and his box of substitutes. V could have cried in sheer gratitude for either of his lovers to have thought about that before leaving. Whole body trembling, he sat up and crawled on his knees. Heart beating fast, he had to consciously slow his breathing and concentrate completely on every gesture to get one pill out of the box, and then not to spill the water. As he put back the empty glass, his strength deserted him and he sagged on the bed, face first in the pillow.

V tried to count his breaths, like Kerry and Johnny had taught him after the raid on Arasaka, when he had flash-backs. It took twenty minutes for the pill to start kicking-in, and in the meantime, V stayed put, only turning on his back when he found the courage. It was horrible, the way his body seemed to melt from the inside, how every nerve screamed in pain, and even breath poured torrents of agony in his lugs.

When the tremors abated and his body’s blaring alarms calmed down, he got up and slowly made his way to the shower, and after that, to the kitchen. The hunger was back full-force, and he ate two full bowls of the healthy cereals Kerry loved to buy, but never ate. He was resting on the couch when a call popped on his holo-deck. Rogue. He let it go to voicemail, like the hundred others before. She sent a message that he didn’t open either. When he had been on his killing spree, he had deleted all their messages as soon as they came in to make sure he wouldn’t be tempted to reply. Of course, Kerry had been the one to write the most, and the longest, but in the end even him had let it go when he received no answers. It was what had made him start taking Lace in the first place: to forget about the pain he knew he was inflicting to Kerry, and Johnny, and the rest of his friends.

Another message pinged in, from Johnny this time.

“The Queen of Darkness has ordered me to tell you to reply to her, lest she seeks her minions on you.” V smiled as he read it, and another came in right after.

“Might have told her you were back. Didn’t think she would want to see you so soon.”

And then a second later: “Please call her back, I’m scared she will curse me if you don’t comply.”

Chuckling softly, he opened Rogue message with a sigh.

“Heard you were back. Can we meet? Want to talk to you about something.” It reads.

Tired even thinking about moving, V was sorely tempted to ignore her, but now that he had read her text, he felt compelled to answer. Like a good employee to his boss.

“Yes I’m back. Where and when?”

The reply didn’t wait.

“I’ve been informed succinctly of your current state, so I’ll come at yours, in an hour.”

“Not at mine. Johnny’s. And ok.” He sent back with a grunt. Hopefully, he would feel more human in an hour.

Tea and a nap indeed helped him. He was at least dressed and hair done when Rogue came in. She took in the flat with cold eyes that turned judgmental as she discovered the grandiosity of the stylish den.

“And you live here?” was her first words, incredulous. V chuckled.

“Don’t like it?”

“Lacks the efficiency I prefer. All that wasted space… It’s… Very Johnny though.”

V could only concur to that, so he made his way back to the couch, trying to look like he was sitting back and not half-falling in it.

She gingerly sat on the opposite sofa, and he gestured for the cup of coffee he had prepared for her.

“Thoughtful, thank you.”

“Used to do that for my manager.” He explained, taking his own tea-cup with slow movements.

“I’m not your manager.” She pointed out.

“No, but you remind me of her.”

Rogue let her eyes roam over him, her piercing gaze missing nothing and certainly not how he had thinned, nor the dark spots under his eyes, or the slight shaking that coursed through him.

“You really did a number on you.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Do you know what they say on the streets?” She asked, putting back the cup of coffee and watching him like a hawk. V shook his head slightly with a shrug.

“They say a young merc went on a vendetta against the corpos. That he killed them all bare handed and left behind a warning, written with their blood.”

“Didn’t kill them bare-handed,” he commented casually and the ghost of a smile lifted her mouth.

“They say he wrote “Night-City is mine” in bold red letters.”

This made V pause and frown with an amused expression.

“Are you making that sh*t up?”

Leaning back in the couch, the Princess of the Atlantis, Queen of Darkness, Fixer extraordinaire and one of the better merc of the city crossed her arms and shook her head no.

“When I bombed Arasaka, there was also this kind of… amplification, shall we say? In time, the story grows without you, and a story like yours will be legendary. Fact is, they know your name now. Everyone knows it, even if few can’t put a face behind it. You’re part of the Major Leagues now. Welcome to the top.”

V opened his mouth, working his tongue without finding the words. Heat flashed in his body as a strange mix of embarrassment, unworthiness and pride coursed through him. She seemed to read him like a book and her gaze softened.

“I know the feeling: they don’t know what price you paid for it, they don’t know why you did it, nor how… So how could they commend you? If they really knew the sacrifices, the pain, the horrors, they would not find you legendary, not even worthy.”

Rogue looked to the side as she said so, her face lit by the bright day outside. V suddenly wondered what sacrifices she had consented to stand where she was now, because he could tell she spoke of experience.

“But you don’t get to choose. The only thing they know is that you killed seven exec-level corporates without getting caught, without leaving traces behind that could legally link you to it. The NCPD got nothing, and the corpo don’t even want to look at it, because they received your message loud and clear: don’t f*ck with me, or mine.”

She paused, getting up to walk to the window. V stayed on the couch, breathing shallowly as a myriad of emotions chased one another in his mind and through his heart. But the only thing he could see was his sister and parents’ faces, smiling at him as they prophesized his bright future. He would never have thought said bright future would look like this, but he couldn’t deny it was now a bright present.

“You might not have written anything in blood next to your victims, but you painted the city red all the same, and everyone saw it for what it was: a claim.”

The fixer turned back to him and snorted when she saw his face.

“Aw, if they could only see you, the dark killer they imagine, too thin for his clothes, looking like a kicked puppy, they wouldn’t believe their eyes.”

Blinking fast, he raised his head to her, looking just like she had described. It was how he felt. Sad and f*ckin elated, for he had made it in the end.

“Now, let’s talk about your future.” Rogue declared, coming back to the couch, where she sat back. She didn’t give him the time to absorb all she had delivered, not wanting to be the one to deal with his emotions probably. And in a way he was grateful because he didn’t want to either. Not right now anyway, not in front of her.

“You’re banned from the Atlantis,” Rogue continued, not batting an eyelash. “We all are, actually, after what happened last time.”

“f*ck, I’m sorry,” V breathed. He really had not thought about this at all.

“Well, that gonk decided he could do without the mercs in his bar. It’s not just you and me: no mercs at all anymore, that’s the new policy.”

“It’s still my fault.”

“Well, I took it as the sign we were waiting for. It will at last gave us the incentive to make our own place. I’ve been thinking about it for some time, and I think I got the place. And the name.”

The woman stopped there and watched V intently, like she was waiting for an answer.

“Why are you telling me this?” he asked, suspicious.

“I want to create a safe-place for us. Don’t want what happened to Kerry occurring again. I want our own HQ, a place where all mercs, but only mercs and their clients, could meet safely. And I want you to help me with it.”

Shock rang through the younger man.

“Help you with it how?” he whispered.

“Manage it with me, co-own it. Actually, I’ve talked to Morgan Blackhand about that too, and he is in. Three legends of Night-City opening a club, what do you think, V?”

That night, as they finished eating at the kitchen isle, and Kerry was done recounting yet another exhausting meeting with his stupid manager – his words – Johnny sighed fondly and turned to V.

“What did the Evil Queen want?”

“You talked to Rogue?” Kerry interrupted, and the worry and anger in his voice was apparent, “You’re not getting back on the field already?!” he sounded outraged.

“Calm down,” Johnny tried at the same time as V said: “She offered me a job.”

But seeing Kerry’s eyes widening and his mouth opening to burst out what was probably another lecture about V not taking care of himself, the younger man stalled him with a hand. “No, I mean, not like that. Seems like all mercs are banned from the Atlantis, so she wants to open her own thing. A club, just for mercs, a safe place. And she wants me to manage it with her.”

Properly stunned, Kerry closed his mouth and Johnny made an impressed face.

“So what did you said?” The rockerboy asked.

“I said yes. Morgan Blackhand will be in on it too.”

Both older men looked at him with small proud smiles and V felt his face heat up.

“Stop looking at me like this.” He pleaded, catching his head in his golden hand.

“Like what?” Johnny taunted and V knew, he just knew what he was going to say: “Like we love you?” the older man finished, just like he had done before they went on to rescue Kerry.

“Yeah, that,” he grumbled from behind his fingers.

“Does that mean you’ll be a fixer?” Kerry asked, and although he tried to hide it, both Johnny and V heard the hope in his tone.

“Yeah. But I’ll be like Rogue, Ker, I won’t stop merc jobs. I’ll actually only be doing the strategic ones.” V explained, not wanting to lie or downplay it. “You’re gonna have to accept that, Ker.” He added softly, hand extending to his output across the counter.

“I know, I just…”

“You care about me, you worry, you don’t want me to get hurt.”

“Yeah.” The musician admitted, looking to the side.

“But it’s what I do. And actually, I… I like it, I told you before.”

“I know.”

“So yeah, I’ll probably get hurt again. Come back with bullet holes, with cuts and bruises. Some so insignificant I’ll ignore them, others that will put me back on Vik’s table.”

“f*ck this!” Kerry shouted, “f*ck this!” he repeated before getting up and crossing the room to the balcony, snatching Johnny’s cigarettes in passing.

The Rockerboy and the merc watched him go in silence. Then, Johnny turned to V, eyes contemplative.

“It’s hard, you know?”

V glanced up at him before his gaze flickered back to the balcony’s entrance, still trying to decide if he should leave Kerry alone of not.

“I might deal with it better than Ker, but it’s hard to know that each morning when you leave us, you might not come back.”

“I’ll come back,” V declared fiercely. “I will come back.” He repeated, voice heated. And Johnny really wanted to believe him. He let himself believe it, at least for tonight. Nodding, he caught V’s head and bent forward, pushing their forehead together, breathing the same air. Then, he kissed him softly, thumb dancing on his cheek as their tongues brushed.

They separated when they heard Kerry come back.

“Three months,” he said, and his two lovers looked at him with puzzled expression. “I want three months now, before you take on any new job. Three months with us, for us, only us.”

Eying Johnny from the corner of his eyes, V saw that he wanted it too, now that Kerry had suggested it. Demanded it.

“Ok.” V replied. “Ok.”

It was such a small price to pay for redemption, for a chance at being with both of them again. And truthfully, for the first time of his life, V wanted to slow down, and enjoy life. Enjoy what he had.

They read it on his face, for their expressions turned soft and Kerry raised a hand to V’s cheek.

“I love you,” V mouthed, looking at them one after the other.


Damn, this really is self indulgent ahah. I really wanted V to meet the kids :D
And also: Creation of the Afterlife, gents! And I think that's why I put the story in 2034 and not 2077, because I wanted the Afterlife not to exist yet. I couldn't find the exact date of creation, so, I did as I thought.
Rogue is now Queen, and not just Princess. Bend the knee! >:)

Next chapter will be the last. Well, because I'm an overwriter, you'll get two, ideally three bonus chapters, but it's practically just sex. I'll post them as the fourth part of the serie.
Please don't hesitate to share yours thoughts on that story, as we are reaching the end, I would really like to hear what you felt as you read it, what you experienced...
Thank you for reading!

Chapter 18: Under Dionysus's thrall


We're now complete!!!!
Thank you all for reading this and commenting (special thanks to Strandhai who left a comment on each chapter, thus allowing me to experience the story through their eyes!).
I must admit that writing a trouple was not a first for me, but writing threesome p*rn was and... The logistic of sex with two partners are really complicated. I just hope it was clear, and maybe a little bit hot ahah.

I must say that nothing happens in this chapter, it's just hapiness in all disgusting forms, and sex. Because they are happy so they are having sex. Lots of it.
Did I mention everyone is versatile in this story? Because everyone is. Even Johnny ;)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Happiest I’ve ever been.

Six months later.

“f*ck,” Johnny cursed, head thrown back under the shower spray. “You gonna make me late.”

Behind him, V smirked but didn’t stop working his hips in the fast and deep pace he had going on.

“Should have thought about that before you teased me,” the younger man replied, before snapping his hips forward with more force, wrenching a deep groan from Johnny’s throat.

Hands on the tiles of the wall, back arched and legs splayed wide, with rivulets of water gliding down over his pale skin, he was in the ideal position for V to pound into him like he deserved. He had woken V up by eating him out until the merc had been incoherent with pleasure, on the verge of coming under Kerry’s half-asleep gaze. And then, Johnny had just stopped, slapped his ass playfully and gone to the shower, leaving him strung-up like a coil.

So V had followed him in the shower, caged him against the wall and proceeded to get revenge. Down on his knees, he had prepared Johnny with his tongue and fingers, never letting him a moment of respite. Every time the rocker had tried to push V away and turn the tables on him, he had found himself manhandled back, face shoved to the tiles and neck bitten in warning.

It was rare for Johnny or Kerry to be able to get V in such mood, for he was more of the sensual type than rough, and loved the long game more than a quick f*ck between two tasks, but it seemed Johnny had done the trick, to his secret delight.

He loved feeling the power of his lover as the man took him, gripping his waist in his hands, gold metal unyielding against his skin.

So when, at last, V had quickly lubed up and fed his co*ck to Johnny, the man had smiled in contentment and pushed back. In consequence, V had gripped him tighter, pushed him forcefully against the shower wall and immobilized him by sheer force, so he could take his f*cking time entering him.

And now, V was getting his revenge.

“Harder,” Johnny ordered, “come on, f*cking take me harder,” he growled, so V, of course, slowed down but deepened his thrusts. “f*ck,” the rocker barked, thumping the wall with his metal hand in frustration.

“Beg,” V replied, tone mischievous as he bit Johnny’s earlobe, tonguing the soft skin behind it.

Johnny laughed, but it came out as half a sob.

“Go f*ck yourself, V.”

“Hum, might have to, if you continue to play difficult.” The man replied, before changing the angle a bit, kicking Johnny’s legs open even more and pushing in deeper. His co*ck felt absolutely amazing, and the way he moved his hips – moves the rockerboy had only seen dancers and p*rn-actors do – was sending electric discharges in Johnny spine every two pushes. But he wasn’t about to tell him so.

V stopped, panting, kissing Johnny’s back softly. The other man tried to press back, but V followed his move and retreated until only the tip of his co*ck was still inside.

“Beg for it.” He repeated, voice low and dangerous, before snapping his pelvis forward, at the exact force and angle Johnny liked best. Johnny shivered, head hanging low between his shoulders. Damn, he was so hard, his peak right at the corner. He smiled, feeling the tendrils of his resolve crumble. He wanted it, and he knew V knew it too.

“Come on Darling,” V whispered with a wicked smile, “I can feel you f*cking shake with how much you want it. Just ask nicely.”

Snorting again, Johnny looked back at V over his shoulder, and the man seized the occasion to kiss him. He had to get closer for that, shoving his co*ck deep in Johnny’s ass again, making the man groan in pleasure.

“Ok, ok,” Johnny ceded, at last, “please,” he whispered again V’s lips, “f*ck me hard and deep.”

Laughing like the happiest child on earth, V obtempered. He gripped Johnny’s hair in a fist, and let his other hand curl over his lover’s waist, fisting his co*ck but not stroking it. Then he started moving again in earnest, and Johnny just rode it. Each thrust pushed his co*ck in V’s tight fist, in counterpoint to the sparks the merc ignited with each snap of his hips.

“Want it harder?” V asked, and he was panting now, from the exertion and the pleasure mounting inside him too.

“Gonna make me beg for that again?” Johnny grunted between soft sounds of pleasure.


“Next time I’m f*cking you, you’ll regret playing that game with me.”

“But right now, I’m f*cking you, and if you want it harder, beg.” And he punctuated that with a well-placed shove.

“f*ck, f*ck, f*ck, please,” and this time he wasn’t playing anymore. Johnny could taste his org*sm, explosive and hard-gained, at the back of his throat and the delay was killing him. “Please f*ck me, f*ck me, f*ck – ah!”

And, at last, V gave in and let the reins loose on himself. Biting his lower lip, he rammed into the other man in cadence but with all his strength behind it.

“Yes, please don’t stop, please,” Johnny babbled as his co*ck throbbed and his ass clenched around V. The younger man grunted, but it turned into half a sob as he felt Johnny start shaking under him with the first pulse of his org*sm.

“Oh, sh*t,” Johnny breathed before a long groan spilled from deep within his throat and V felt the rocker’s co*ck pulse in his fist, and his hole tighten even more. He didn’t relent his rhythm, pumping through it until Johnny keened from over stimulation. V started to slow down, but the other man caught him.

“You close?” he asked and V could only nod against Johnny’s back, eyes screwed shut as waves of pleasure still crashed into him from being inside Johnny.

“Then go on, come inside me. Wanna feel your cum drip when I talk to these f*cking gonks.”

With a shudder of want, V started moving again, picking up his pace but changing the angle to be nicer on Johnny’s prostate.

“Like that, huh? Knowing I’ll think of you, maybe even get hard for you, while I’m meeting the lawyers?”

Huffing, V bit Johnny’s shoulder as little moans kept escaping him.

“Gonna come back later, and you can see for yourself the mess you’ve done, and fill me up again.”

It was all V needed, he stilled with a long keen, hugging Johnny tightly to him and coming in three shots. Smiling with satisfaction, Johnny turned back to look at him over his shoulder and caught him with his eyes closed, cheekbones flushed and mouth red and open again the rocker’s skin. He was f*cking handsome, with locks of hair falling over his face.

With a grunt, Johnny shook him slightly and V got out delicately before slumping against the opposite glass wall. Johnny stretched his arms, happy and relaxed, arching backward to shake the residual tension from the position. He moaned in bliss, letting the water fall over his head.

“You f*cking exhaust me, Johnny.” V commented, still catching his breath.

“Hey, you’re supposed to be the healthy young thing in that relationship. I’m the old one who needs to pace himself.”

Laughing out, V shook his head.

“You’re mostly high maintenance.”

Coming closer to him, Johnny kissed him, slow and languid.

They washed each other, and the older man cleaned himself up – because if it was hot to fantasize about it, Johnny knew dripping cum was actually not a great feeling during a meeting.

When they got out, Kerry was sitting at the kitchen isle with breakfast, bleary eyed. He had made Johnny coffee in his to-go cup and buttered three toasts. The Rockerboy kissed him on the forehead as a thank you, and took both the cup and the toasts with him before leaving in a hurry, just stopping to put a kiss on V’s lips.

After watching him go, V turned to Kerry and hugged him from behind.

“Couldn’t get back to sleep?”

Kerry shook his head, relaxing against V.

“You came to bed late, though,” the merc continued.

“That f*ckin riff won’t let itself be caught on paper.”

Nodding, V kissed Kerry’s neck, trailing his lips upward teasingly and the man sighed lasciviously.

“Hum, thought you would be tired after that.” The musician observed with a smile, feeling himself awaken in parts. Well, one part of him was awakening, the rest was just shocked they were up this early after so little sleep. But Kerry could tell V was wide awake and brimming with that particular energy he sometime got. It had a nearly manic edge to it and was generally synonymous to sex marathons. The merc only got into these moods when he was particularly happy, so Kerry smiled too, feeding off his joy unabashedly.

V let his hands trail under Kerry’s robe, caressing his stomach and further down, brushing against his stirring co*ck before going up again until he reached the cyberware and squeezed softly, just to make the man feel it.

“I wanna make love to you too,” he whispered.

Combing through his young lover’s hair with his hand, the musician nodded with a smile.

“Take me back to bed, then.”

In a flash, V was between his legs and catching Kerry’s thighs to lift him up. Obediently, the musician laced his feet behind V’s back and let himself be transported back to the room. He peppered V with kisses the whole way.

Soon he was keening sweetly and arching back in pleasure as V took him, slow and lazy, keeping him in that place just before completely awake where everything was pleasantly fuzzy. And he came like this, taking V with him.

At around five that same day, V walked the threshold of the Afterlife, covered in blood. At the entrance, Emerick was already there, going through a pad before the start of his first service ever. On the pad were files about the mercs known by Rogue, Morgan Blackhand and V, with photos and data about their whereabouts.

“Hey boss,” the man said with a smirk when he took in V’s appearance. “Great style for tonight!”

In a foul mood, V still couldn’t help but giving him a small smile. “New trend here in Watson.” He replied.

“Your outputs are there,” Emerick added like an afterthought as the heavy armored doors slid open.

“f*ck,” V muttered, but it was too late, as he had entered the empty club with big strides and was already midway into it when he heard Emerick. He would have to talk to him about that: it should have been his first words.

“Hey Belov –“ Kerry’s voice, which had been flirty and light, cut off to take on a worried pitch “V?!”

“Not my blood,” he stalled instantly, raising both hands up in a placating gesture.

Both Kerry and Johnny were seated at the bar with Rogue, in a chat with their new bartender, Claire. Passed the fright of seeing V covered in blood, Johnny laughed, full bellied.

“Man, you should see your face!”

“f*ck you Johnny,” the merc replied, making his way toward them like his feet had a mind of their own where a second before he only wished for a shower. He had his bag of change in hand, and the bathroom of the club was just a door behind, but now that they were here, his attention couldn’t be diverted.

Smiling goofily, he extended his hand to Kerry, but the man jumped back.

“Don’t even think about it! Urg, I think you’ve got bits of flesh in your hair.”

Raising a hand to his head, V found it was as wet and disgusting as the rest of him.

“That’s really gross, V.” Johnny added, and both him and Rogue had smirks that promised photos had been taken already.

“What happened, I thought you were supposed to do it discreetly.” Rogue turned serious, worried about business now that she was sure V was unharmed.

“Oh, the job went fine. But then, these Maelstrom gonks were trying to take my bike for parts. I swear they can smell it, every damn time I have to get into their f*cking territory they try that sh*t.”

“Well, it’s a pretty piece of machinery,” Johnny admitted, “very sexy when you ride it.”

“The bike or V?” Kerry asked mischievously.

“The bike of course. V is a good accessory for the bike.”

Giving him the finger, the young merc continued to talk to Rogue.

“One got a tad too close, so I had to blow his brain and it f*cking went everywhere.”

“Everywhere on you, mostly,” the fixer observed.

“Yep, and then his friend had f*cking Mantis Blades. I really hate those.” He continued with a shrug. “Anyway, need a shower.”

“You do,” Rogue concurred, “Go, I’ll take care of these two a little bit longer.”

So he went, cleaning himself thoroughly, and it took time because of the bits struck in his hair. When at last he deemed himself clean, he got out only to discover Kerry waiting for him out of the stall.

“Got bored of Johnny and Rogue talking about the good old days?” he asked with a smile and getting into his output’s space to kiss him, at last. Still naked and slightly damp from the shower, his skin tingled pleasantly where it met with Kerry’s clothes, the textures rough against his pores.

“Wanted to make sure you were really ok. You said Mantis Blades.” Kerry replied, eyes roaming over V and falling on a shallow cut to the right side of his neck. “They got really close.” He commented, touching the cut. V raised his hand to check it, he had not felt it. Shrugging, he tightened his embrace and nuzzled Kerry’s face, catching his lips in his. The kiss quickly turned from sweet to heated, and V pushed Kerry against a sink, grinding his rapidly filling co*ck against his clothed leg.

Moaning, Kerry put his arms around V’s shoulders, deepening the kiss even more and starting roll his hips too, but then he abruptly stopped, breaking the kiss and V tried to chase him. Chuckling, Kerry pushed him back a bit.

“Door’s not locked.”

“Didn’t stop you before.”

“Me no, but you on the other hand… Sure you want the mercs of Night-City to see you on your knees, sucking me off?”

V snorted, lightly kissing the other man’s lips.

“First of all, that’s what you thought was gonna happen? And Second, I would be very proud to be caught sucking off Kerry Eurodyne.” Then his voice dropped lower, “telling the world you’re mine.”

Kerry smiled, heat filling his eyes, but shook his head with regret.

“It’s nearly time anyway.”

With one last kiss, V turned to the bag of clothes but his output stopped him and gave him another one.

“Put this on.”

Suspicious, V peered in the back, but it was mostly dark materials.

“What’s this?”

“You’ve got no sense of fashion, so I brought threads more suited for the Prince of the Afterlife.”

“Prince of the Afterlife?” he repeated with a mocking tone.

“Well I figured, Rogue being the Queen and Morgan the King, that make you the Prince, or do you prefer to be a Baron, or a Lord? Think Prince is cuter.”

Rubbing noses with Kerry, V shook his head.

“Don’t want any of that.” He declared before starting to put on the clothes brought by Kerry. There was a fitting black t-shirt, and pants of the same color, but inlaid with silver and gold threads. It was discreet but gave the outfit a classier feel.

“Not sure you get to choose.”

“Yeah, so don’t start to spread that one please.” V replied, rummaging through the bag. “No underwear?” he asked and could feel Kerry grin.


Sighing in mock-exasperation, V put on the pants. They were soft inside, the fabric sliding nicely against his skin. It was so rare for him to be able to wear that kind of things he couldn’t help his surprised face. Then he put on the boots, relieved to see these one where simply his best pair and not anything fancy. They were combat boot with metallic bits on the front: perfect to smash heads and break bones.

There was also a light jacket, made of soft grey demin. It had the samurai logo on the back.

“I’m a fan now?” he joked.

“Worse, you’re a groupie, f*cking both lead singers.” Kerry replied, getting closer again for a kiss on V’s neck.

“Man, I really fell low.”


Pausing in his preparation to kiss his output languidly, V was interrupted by thumps on the door.

“V, are you ready yet?” It was Johnny’s voice. “Kerry with you?”

Instead of replying, the musician in question went to open the door.

“Look at him, I made him all pretty.”

Leaning on the door frame, Johnny’s eyes racked over V with approval.

“And look!” Kerry made V turn around, displaying the Samurai’s Oni on the back of the jacket, making Johnny snort, but he was fooling no one: he loved the picture of V branded like this. If the merc allowed it, he would tattoo his and Kerry’s names on his skin.

Used to their hungry gazes, V started combing his hair with apparent detachment and redid his bun. He had a few scratches on his forehead and the cut at the base of his neck was pearling softly, Johnny observed, but other than that, he was perfectly healthy. The three months of rest Kerry had imposed to him had really helped putting him back in shape, and as the withdrawal from the drugs had gone on relatively smoothly, he was now back to his former self. His figure was back to those of a fighter, with the grace of the dancer inside him. And he was, if possible, even more handsome than before, but maybe Johnny had bias.

Glancing at Kerry, Johnny saw the way his friend was devouring their partner; with an edge of despair and too much passion in his eyes. A feeling he shared, although he hid it better.

V turned to them, ready at last and smiled charmingly, prompting Johnny to get to him, pulling him closer for a gentle kiss.

“Come on, your worshippers await you.”

Rogue was standing on the bar, with Morgan Blackhand and V leaning on the counter on either side of her.

“Welcome all, tonight is a very special night for me, and for my two associates, because we’re very proud to announce that the Afterlife is now open!”

There was a concert of cheers. The guests were mercs, of course, but for the opening, plus ones had been invited. As a consequence, V could discern River, Evelyn and Judy at a table, right next to the complete band of Samurai, and Viktor and Misty to their left. Even Nancy, alias Bes Isis, the old friend of Johnny and Kerry and ex-member of the group, was here. Rogue had invited her herself as a journalist, because she wanted everyone to know what the Afterlife was supposed to be.

Near the entrance, standing out without trying, were part of the Aldecaldos: Santiago and Panam, with three other members V didn’t know as well, but he was pretty sure one was Saul. In that moment, as Rogue continued to explain what the Afterlife was to be, and represent, V couldn’t help but be struck by the thought that he was not alone anymore. Of course, people were missing tonight: Jackie, first and foremost, but he had gained so much in the last year without realizing it.

As his eyes crossed with Johnny and Kerry’s, he couldn’t help but smile fully, carefree and happy. At the table, receiving that smile, both men smiled back.

“Something has changed in him, no?” Kerry heard River ask Evelyn.

She snorted and glanced at the rockerboys, making River follow her gaze.

“He fell in love.” She replied.

It seemed that everybody wanted to see V. Even Rogue and Morgan didn’t get as much demands. All the mercs in the newly opened club wanted a word with V, and a drink. He soon started to only sip at the glasses bought to him, and passed them on to his friends discreetly. They loved the free drinks, and he hated the attention, but weathered it with grace and charming smiles. Tonight was a special night, for him and for the mercs of Night-City. And when it became overwhelming, one look at either Johnny or Kerry calmed him down. Both of them were also in high demands, Kerry from fans mostly, and Johnny for his political investment, which seemed to garner a lot of curiosity from the solos. V saw multiple people make pass at both of them, only to be let astray gently but firmly. It was fun to watch.

The Afterlife was not equipped with a dancefloor, but the space around the bar still became one as the night went on. Soon, Rogue was pulled in, but V had taken refuge behind the bar with Claire and was playing bartender to avoid the many people trying to get into his pants. After the third time, V had had to take measures. His friends seemed to have a good time though; Evelyn and Judy were dancing close to each other, and River was talking to a girl V knew was a skilled merc recently in from Atlanta. Johnny was being surrounded by two women grinding against him, for it couldn’t be called dancing, that he entertained with amused smirks. As for Kerry, he had been challenged to a drinking contest by Morgan Blackhand, but the solo was so sloshed the musician had an easy time cheating: he was actually throwing the content of his glass in an ice bucket every time Morgan drank. Lola and Misty seemed to have the time of their life on the dance floor, and Viktor was talking shop with Biron. Panam was seated at the bar, bitching about Night-City in general, but her smile belied her words as she watched the assembly with curiosity. Then, she snorted as she saw Johnny having to fend off the wandering hands of the two girls he had been “dancing” with. The aldecaldo pointed him to V, commenting that he probably needed help. They both watched the rockerboy disengage from their heavy petting with laughter, and were interrupted by Kerry, shinning lightly from the heat and the alcohol.

“Let’s Delta,” he said, looking straight at V. His eyes were feverish and V could practically feel the arousal pouring off of him.

Panam laughed before patting V on the shoulder.

“Have a fun night,” she declared before getting up and walking to where Santiago and Rogue were close dancing. V watched her go with a small smile before reporting his attention to Kerry.

“Need to save Johnny first.” He pointed out, but there was no need, said man had finally escaped the wandering hands of the two mercs and was making his way to them.

“Let’s go,” said Kerry, and his order was not contested. V only took the time to inform Emerick he was going, pretty sure Panam would tell Rogue about his departure, and Morgan was too wasted to care anyway.

The three men piled in the car, with Johnny at the wheel, and V on the backseat. Once inside the Porsche, they all sighed in relief.

As Johnny drove them through the fifteen-minute travel, Kerry glanced in the rearview at V, seeing him shift relentlessly.

“You ok?” he asked, but the younger man only grunted and sagged in the backseat.

Johnny smirked.

“Worked up, pretty boy?” he drawled, and V sent him a glare through the mirror, but didn’t deny it. Truth was he had been thinking about coming back to the flat for the best part of the former hour.

He stroked the inside of his thigh, knees bouncing perpetually. He wanted them, now, under him. To distract himself, he started undoing his bun, pins taken off one after the other in practiced moves. Glancing up in the rearview, Johnny licked his lips, responding unconsciously to the situation. They crossed eyes in the mirror and V sent him a heated gaze.

It took all of Johnny concentration to get them in the parking safely. The three men practically ran to the elevator, and Kerry had only just punched the button for top floor that Johnny had V pinned to the wall in a passion fueled kiss. The musician watched both his lovers get into it with hungry eyes, torn between the want to join them and continuing to watch the show.

As the elevator crossed the tenth floor, V suddenly moved, using Johnny’s distraction to reverse their position and grind against the rockerboy, who let out a curse as his hips responded in kind. Kerry watched the number rise anxiously, wanting to be in the comfort of the flat and in their bed this instant.

Still pinning Johnny against the wall with his legs and pelvis, V pulled Kerry to him and kissed him as fervently, tongue seeking entrance and lips wet from his kiss with their partner. Kerry felt Johnny’s metal hand sneak under his leather vest, caressing his back and bringing him closer so he could kiss his neck.

It got pretty heated from there with heavy petting that elicited moans from the three of them, and laughter as V couldn’t seem to stop kissing either of his partners for even a second. The moment the elevator pinged and they had reached their level, Kerry took V’s hand and pulled him in a run to the flat. Johnny snorted behind them but followed at the same pace anyway.

V pinned Johnny to the door again, a continuation of what had started in the elevator. He had the metal wrist in his golden hand, pushed against the wall, and a grip around the dark hair of his lover, making Johnny arch back. That way, he was sagging a bit, eyes closed in pleasure even as he smiled slyly. V turned to Kerry, who was standing next to them, overwhelmed by V’s powerful thrall.

“Get in the room. I want you naked on the bed. Start to prep yourself.” The merc instructed, voice rough. And it was not his tone that made Kerry obey, but the look of his eyes. Like in a trance, Kerry obeyed and both his partners watched him go with slitted eyes. Then, V turned back to Johnny and pulled at his hair.

“Get down,” he whispered, a command. Still smiling, but this time more affectionately, Johnny let himself slid to the floor. He undid V’s pants and snorted when he saw the man had no underwear.

“Kerry forgot to take one, huh?” he declared, but V was past jokes. He canted his hips forward, a clear indication for Johnny to use his damn mouth otherwise. The man did happily, hands raising to V’s waist as he took his co*ck between his lips. Hands on the door above him, V closed his eyes with a sigh, feeling the tension recede a bit now that he finally could have them. Glancing up, Johnny observed his face change from focused to languid, lips trembling as pleasure started to fill him up under Johnny talented mouth. The rockerboy loved oral in any form, for there was something heady at having such power over his partners, and there was no one as beautiful as V when he finally let go of the controlled facade he wore in his daily life.

After a particularly deep suck, V groaned and put one hand back in Johnny’s hair, holding his head as he started f*cking his mouth gently. The man on his knees could feel the tension in his partner: how his stomach was taut with want and the tension of holding back. Relaxing his throat, Johnny urged him on and relished in the moan it earned him. V’s rhythm changed, becoming faster and harder, and Johnny wondered if he would come here and then, but the merc stopped with a long sigh of pleasure mixed with frustration. Stroking Johnny’s hair gently, he retreated. V then started removing his shoes, hoping out of his pants and making his way to the bedroom as he lost his shirt. Slower, Johnny followed him.

In the bedroom, Kerry had obeyed like a good boy, and was kneeling naked in the bed, f*cking the air as he played with three fingers in his hole. V was already kneeling in front of him, kissing him hungrily. When Johnny approached the bed, V turned to him, ignoring Kerry little frustrated whimper.

“Lie on your back.” Was the instruction, so Johnny did as asked, relaxing against the covers. V manhandled Kerry to position him over Johnny and both men didn’t lose time starting to kiss each other as V poured more lube over Kerry’s asshole and slicked his co*ck.

Slowly, for he was always delicate when it came to the first penetration, V entered Kerry’s body, thrusting back and forth shallowly. The musician sagged a bit against Johnny and earned a slap on his ass from said man. The goal had been to make him straighten, but it only made him moan. Chuckling, Johnny pulled him up so he had access to his chest and started playing with his nipples, to Kerry’s delight.

V shifted a bit, and Johnny felt his trusts change in intensity. Kerry, who had been singing moans and whimpers until now, suddenly fell silent. He seemed to be barely breathing. Johnny glanced up at his face and saw he had wide eyes and an ecstatic expression, mouth open and split covered. Johnny knew that face: it generally preceded his lover’s most powerful org*sms. Probably worried about his silence too, V started to slow down.

“No, don’t stop, he is good,” Johnny intervened, gaze rapt with wonder. “very good even.” So V continued at the same cadence and angle, steadying himself with both hands over Kerry’s waist.

Johnny continued to caress Kerry, fascinated by the way pleasure crashed in waves over him and reflected in his eyes. It was like he wasn’t there anymore, but adrift in a sea of bliss. Then, Kerry tried to take himself in hand, but Johnny gripped his wrist with authority, making the musician sob out and drop his head on his partner’s chest. But he didn’t resist.

“Again,” Johnny whispered to V as he could tell Kerry was getting closer, “don’t stop!”

With a huff, V widened his stance but never changed a thing. He was biting his bottom lip and sported an expression of intense focus, so much that Johnny wondered if he was even feeling pleasure. But a sudden shuddering keen made it clear he was actually having a blast too.

“Gonna come like that?” Johnny asked V, “Fill him up?”

It made the young merc shiver again, but he shook his head.

“Wanna ride you after.”

Smiling, Johnny was robbed of any comment by Kerry’s sudden long keen. It started low in his throat and rose inside him at the same time as his org*sm. It even seemed to surprise him, for his face scrunched up and he threw his head back as the sound escaped him. Behind him, V let out a chocked-out groan and curled a bit over Kerry, but never relented in his thrusts. It made the musician cry out, high-pitched and wet as pleasure spread through him like a heat wave: full-bodied, unrelenting, inescapable. Johnny watched as it rolled over his partner.

With a glance, he told V to stop moving as he reached for Kerry’s co*ck and started stroking it hard and deep. It was rare, but Johnny had known Kerry could org*sm without cuming, and on the rare occasions it had occurred, the rocker had literally ruined his partner with consecutives releases, which what exactly what he planned to do now.

Kerry keened again, gaze focusing on Johnny as he tried to escape what was nearly overstimulation, But V held him firmly, forcing him to take it and he started to really cry in pleasured agony.

“Please, please, please,” he begged as V pulled him on his knees against him and kissed his neck, catching his tears with his tongue. The merc was breathing harshly, tensed up with concentration as to not move, but Johnny could tell he was feeling every twitch of Kerry’s ass around his still hard shaft, and it was making him slightly crazy, judging by the despair in his eyes.

“No, I can’t” Kerry said, eyes going wide, chest heaving as another org*sm was speeding toward him from Johnny’s hand on his co*ck. “f*ck,” he muttered, and it turned into a long shuddery moan as his abs tensed, and his co*ck vibrated as he came over Johnny’s fingers.

V bit Kerry’s neck to try and distract himself from the feeling of the musician coming again around him, tightening in little spasms. Gently lowering Kerry next to them on the bed, V kissed his back and sweaty neck as shivers of pleasure still wracked his body. Johnny pulled V toward him, pushing his come-covered fingers into his mouth. The younger man took them with a happy sigh, straddling Johnny’s hips and grinding his lubed-up co*ck against his partner’s. Johnny took them both in hand, but V slapped it away, it was already too much for him.

He reached for the lube, abandoned near the head of the bed and started prepping himself. Johnny used his flesh hand to help, playing with him as he did so. He reached V’s sweet spot and massaged it mercilessly, just like V had done to Kerry with his co*ck. Cursing and swearing, V started grinding against Johnny’s stomach with abandon, under said man’s fascinated gaze.

Then suddenly, he wrenched Johnny’s hand away from him and pinned both wrists above the rockerboy’s head.

“Stay like this,” he ordered, an intention that was going to be disobeyed very quickly, they both knew. That was without counting on Kerry, who was back with them and who crawled up to Johnny’s head, taking both hands in his and effectively restraining him.

“Go on, Beloved,” He whispered to V, eyes still heavy lidded.

Johnny tested Kerry’s strength and found it resisting him. He huffed, but resigned himself to take the ride like V wanted. The younger man sat himself on the rockerboy’s co*ck with a long moan, gyrating his hips left and right, using him as a glorified toy.

But soon, his stance changed, and he focused on Johnny as he moved, changing rhythm and angle until he saw the man under him open his mouth and frown as pleasure racked over him. V smiled and continued like this, clenching and unclenching his ass with every thrust.

Johnny moaned, long and deep, arching back and pulling at Kerry’s hands over his, but his friend only chuckled.

“He is in a mood tonight, huh?” he commented to his prisoner, who couldn’t spare any attention to reply because V was moving just the right pace for him to lose his mind very fast.

V was positively glowing over him, backlit by the city-lights that reflected over his grey mane. His silver cybernetic eyes glinted in the semi-darkness, and the lines of his cyberware shone when he turned his head slightly. His mouth opened in a mischievous smile as he looked at Johnny, who watched him back covetously, unaware of the curses that spilled from his lips. V’s thighs tensed in cadence with his canter, taut abs rippling under his dark skin, the tattoo shifting mesmerizingly as he worked to bring his companion and himself to the edge. And it was efficient, for Johnny was now snarling in anguished pleasure, arching back as much as he could and struggling against Kerry’s to free himself, fervently wishing he could just throw the merc down to the bed and f*ck him properly. Instead, he was enduring the regular but not-fast-enough pace V had imposed both of them. It made heat rise in Johnny, but instead of bringing him to org*sm, it only continued to climb, and it was as f*cking frustrating as it was delightful.

Then, V threw his head back with a long moan that turned halfway to a laugh as pleasure zinged through his nervous system. He raised himself a bit and put his hands, which had been resting over Johnny’s pectorals to impede him, next to the rocker’s head. It allowed Johnny to finally snap his hips up to f*ck his lover.

The rocker let out a long growl, for it couldn’t be qualified as anything else, and started thrusting up, eyes wide as he watched V unravel over him. Kerry laughed above him, still holding his hands tight, and both musicians exchanged a look full of heat and pride.

“f*ck, Johnny,” V muttered, not really moving anymore and just letting Johnny take him. His face was scrunched up in blissful anguish, eyes closed and mouth panting as his body became vessel for only one sensation: rapture.

“Touch yourself, V, he is close,” Kerry indicated and V did, taking his co*ck in hand and jerking himself in tempo with Johnny’s thrusts. The sight, and the realization that he indeed was close, hit Johnny like a star going supernova. He sped up his movements and put more power behind it, closing his eyes to concentrate on the sensations, and on V’s chocked-off sounds.

“Wanna feel you cum in me,” the merc demanded, and Johnny huffed, struggled against Kerry to no avail and sagged against the bed. With an amused laugh, V continued: “Come on, Johnny-boy, take me, f*ck me, make me come,” V breathed and this time, Kerry let go of his friend’s hands. It was all it took: Johnny gripped V’s waist and held him still as he drove his co*ck inside him in hard and short thrusts.

Under a litany of “yes”, “more” and “again” from V, Johnny chocked out a groan, half a sob as, at last, the heat sparked and transformed into that familiar current. He came inside V, pumping his co*ck deep inside and watched his lover arch back, throat exposed to the skies. V came too with a clear shout, like a Tibetan bowl.

Then, the young merc sagged against Johnny, their mouths colliding messily in the process, half-kissing, half-panting into each-other’s mouths. As endorphins coursed through the rocker’s body, he lazily stroked V’s back and felt Kerry’s warm hands join him. Gently, they pushed their younger lover on his back, settling around him as he came back from his org*sm.

“Hum, love seeing you both come like this,” Kerry murmured and their eyes opened to watch him tiredly. They stayed like this for a moment, until Johnny extended his hand to the side table for his cigarettes, but Kerry stopped him.

“Have a better idea.” And because he was the only functional member of the trio, he got up and went to take the good weed. He rolled the joint expertly and lit it before taking two long drags. Relaxing against the pillow, he gave it to V. As said man breathed out the smoke, Johnny bent over him, catching it between his own lips. It prompted a smile from V, who gave him the dope before stroking his jaw tenderly.

“So, the opening was a success,” Kerry said after a while and V nodded, looking at him with sparking eyes.

“It’s going to be a great place, a safe place. Legends will start here.” The merc declared.

“Legends are already written there, V. Yours among them.” Johnny observed, to which the man shrugged, bashful. “Don’t play coy, everyone wanted to talk to you tonight. You were the main attraction.”

“Well, I seem to remember you having success too. I can introduce you properly tomorrow if you want. But beware, they are fierce.” V countered.

“Nah, thanks, already have a half-feral fox at home.”

“What is it with you and foxes? If I’m a fox, what does that make you?” V asked playfully, turning on his stomach.

“Well, I’m a wolf, and Kerry is a puppy.”

“I’m a puppy?!” said man burst out indignantly. “f*ck you Johnny, I’m not a puppy, I’m a f*ckin’ lion!”

“No, I think Johnny’s right, you are a cute Labrador puppy even.” V added with a mischievous smile. Kerry looked at him, affronted, before jumping over him to start tickling him. V squirmed and tried to stop the laughter from bursting out of his lips, but it proved impossible.

“Stop, stop, stop,” he begged between guffaws. Johnny sat up a bit, holding the blunt away as to not accidently let it fall on the blanket while both his lovers battled childishly. He chuckled as he took another drag.

“Why me, Ker, Johnny started it!” V complained with a laugh.

“You decided to gang up with him, bear the consequences!” the musician replied, but V couldn’t take it anymore and bucked up, unsettling Kerry easily to reverse their position.

Pinning his bedmate to the mattress by holding his wrists, V smiled slyly.

“Whatcha gonna do now?” he whispered, but Kerry only smiled and kissed him languidly. V let out a little pleased moan, releasing Kerry’s wrists to caress his arms before continuing onto his sides.

Johnny watched as V pushed up on his elbows to kiss Kerry’s neck, then his collar-bone, following the gold of the cyberware to his sternum. Kerry stayed put, enjoying the attention with a soft expression of contentment. Johnny stubbed the joint in the ashtray before sliding down the bed again. He kissed Kerry’s cheekbone, then combed through V’s hair, pushing them off his face. V nuzzled his hand for a second before returning to kissing Kerry stomach and downward.

“Again?” Johnny asked with a smirk as he saw the younger man start to get in the mood once more. Kerry only moaned lowly, eyes closing as V reached his still soft co*ck, which gave a valiant twitch of interest.

“Gonna die of pleasure,” he breathed.

Johnny glanced at Kerry, smile gentling as he kissed the corner of his mouth before gazing back at their young partner.

“V?” he asked, “Are you happy?”

Stopping his kisses to glance up at his companions, V smiled against Kerry’s skin.

“Happiest I’ve ever been.”

All of my Heroes are dead - MrsSimply (3)

V with his hair undone. It drives Johnny crazy ;)


Prostate org*sm ;) been doing a lot of research on that recently, and it sounds absolutely amazing, so boys, please try it, don't let prejudices come between you and pleasure. Look at Kerry, he is having the time of his life ;).
I think there are not enough cases of prostate org*sm in gay fanfiction. From what I'm reading, it's actually pretty common in gay sex? Well, here it is anyway, hope you liked it.

And on this note, I'll stop talking.
Just a reminder that you can expect at least two bonus chapters, which are gonna be basically p*rn. I'm sorry, I just love writing p*rn.

You can also find me on Tumblr, same user name: @Mrssimply.

All of my Heroes are dead - MrsSimply (2024)
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