Title: Releasing Tension
Pairing: Karl/Harry Sinclair
Summary: Harry's been so wound up and stressed out lately that it's starting to affect his health, and Karl's worried. He has an idea that might help Harry let go, but he's not sure Harry will go for it, or that it'll even work if he agrees to try. Karl thinks it's worth a shot, though, and it'll likely be fun regardless.
Karl knew it'd been another bad day when he didn't hear Harry come in.
On good days, the rapid-fire thudding of boots up the wooden steps, the rattle-clatter of the screen door and the creak-slam of the back door -- on good days, all those noises in quick sequence told Karl that the day's shoot had gone well and that Harry was in a good mood. A relaxed and upbeat Harry was open and noisy, as though the good mood had to spread to the world around him.
Quiet meant Harry was holding it all in.
When a flicker of movement caught the corner of his eye, Karl looked up from the sofa and watched Harry close the door, then cross the room slowly to the closet. He took off his jacket, the old tan one that Karl had threatened to throw out who knew how many times, and hung it up, each move precise.
Watching Harry like that -- eyebrows and mouth and shoulders and arms, everything slanted down -- made Karl twist up inside.
He got up and moved behind Harry, wrapped his arms around him and squeezed. It was like he was helping Harry hold everything in, and Harry always seemed to appreciate it. He leaned back into Karl's embrace, tilted his head up and gave Karl a tight smile.
"It's good to be home."
Karl nodded, because saying that it was good to have him home would've been just way too fifties sitcom. Instead he asked, "Did you eat?"
"I grabbed something at the craft table," Harry said with a vague nod. Karl knew that could've been hours earlier, maybe even lunchtime.
"Are you hungry? I made a couple of steaks -- there's one for you, and some salad."
The grimace on Harry's face gave Karl the answer before Harry said, "I don't think I could eat anything. I'm just tired."
He didn't look tired. Or rather, he didn't look like his body needed sleep. It was the exhaustion of keeping everything locked onside, of not yelling profanities, not throwing anything, not punching through any of the walls of the set, when things were going pear-shaped and the frustration roiled and fizzed, struggling to get out in an explosion that would send everyone scurrying for cover.
Harry never let himself go off when he was working, though. Considered it unprofessional, an inexcusable indulgence. Karl had worked with one or two directors who did it regularly, but he had to agree with Harry that it didn't make for a pleasant set. Nor did it create an atmosphere where the actors felt safe sinking into their characters, thinking and experimenting and letting their performances flow. Some directors liked to have everyone on edge and jumping to give exactly what the director demanded, no more and no less.
Harry wasn't like that, though. He was great to work with, for actors with enough confidence to play with the part and accept the failures that inevitably came with experimentation, knowing the director would accept them too. That was what multiple takes were for, after all. Well, one of the things, but in Karl's opinion, one of the better things.
It didn't always work out, though. There were always bad days, and that was when Harry ended up standing tense and tight in Karl's arms, unable to let it all go even at home.
Karl'd been cooking up an idea for a while, a possible way to fix things, but he'd never tried to get Harry to go along, or even mentioned it. It wasn't the sort of thing Harry was into, and Harry would be reluctant at best, possibly pissed of, and maybe even offended to the point of making things really awkward for a while. Karl had bought the stuff he'd need to do it -- wasn't the internet great? -- but he'd never actually got to the point of discussing it, much less giving it a shot.
Harry'd never been quite so wound up since the idea had appeared, though, so Karl thought that night was probably a good time to try. If Harry was too tense to eat, that was the start of a downward spiral that led to exhaustion and collapse, and Karl wasn't about to let it go that far. Not again.
He gave Harry another squeeze, then rotated him around and nudged him in the direction of the bedroom. Harry went along, didn't really notice at first, most likely, then asked, "Where we going?"
"Bed," Karl said. "You're going to let me take care of you.
"I am, huh?"
"Yeah, you are." Karl aimed them to Harry's side of the bed and stopped, then got busy unbuttoning Harry's shirt.
Harry shrugged but let Karl keep going. "I don't know if I have enough energy for much more than a blowjob, but I'll give it a shot."
"I don't think a lack of energy is the problem right now."
"In case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty damn tired." Harry glowered down at Karl, who'd knelt to undo the buttons on Harry's jeans.
"I know you are," Karl replied, keeping his voice calm and even. "But that's not the main issue. You're all wound up, so tense you're about to snap." He squeezed Harry's thigh, poked his belly, tried to knead his forearm; every place he touched was rock-hard.
He saw Harry glare down at him, like he was about to snap out something harsh. Then Harry's face went blank and he looked away. "Exactly. Stress."
No you don't, Karl thought. Harry was hiding again, suppressing, building up more pressure.
Shoes and socks came off. "There, sit." Karl urged Harry back onto the bed, then bent down and kissed him. It was a slow exploration to see how he'd react, how much of himself he'd let out for a kiss. When he was relaxed and in a good mood, Harry'd try to take over a kiss, and they'd end up battling for dominance in a way that was fun no matter how it turned out. Right then, though, it felt like Harry was phoning it in.
When Karl backed away, Harry sighed and said, "Sorry, I'm tired. Maybe in the morning?"
You're not that tired, thought Karl. Aloud he said, "Just relax a minute. I want to try something and I need some stuff."
Harry swung his legs up and flopped back onto the bed. "Stuff? What kind of stuff? I told you, I'm not up for anything fancy. I'm sorry if you had plans, but can it wait?"
Karl dug a plain cardboard box out of the back of the closet and set it on the floor next to the bed. "The whole point is to do it now. The problem isn't the tired, it's the tension, and we're going to take care of that." He fished a wide, leather cuff, padded on the inside with sheepskin, out of the box and dangled it where Harry could see it if he opened his eyes.
Harry opened his eyes and sat up so fast he bounced. "What the fuck, Karl? You want to strap me down or something? Where the hell did that come from? We never even talked about getting kinky that way, and you want to try it out now?"
How to completely fuck up an offer....
Karl sat down on the side of the bed and tried again. "That's not the point. I mean, I don't want to get kinky or anything, not like that. Well, maybe later, but-- Okay, look. You've been holding in all the frustration and anger all day, and for however many days before this, and the pressure's built up in you like a bomb and you're fighting so hard to hold it all in, you're about to crack."
"So what? What am I supposed to do?" Harry snarled. "Is this stuff for you, then? You want me to strap you down and let all that tension out on you? Fuck that! I'm not putting you in hospital just so I can let off some steam!"
"No!" Karl looked away and pushed a stiff-fingered hand through his hair, trying to figure out how the hell to explain. "No. See, that's the problem -- you're a big, strong guy and you're afraid -- you know -- that if you let go on someone when you're mad, you'd end up hurting them, probably pretty bad, right?"
"No, shut up a minute. You need to be able to let go, but you need to feel like whoever you're with is safe when you do it. The stuff is for you, but I don't want to whip you or whatever. I want you to feel like it's all right if you let go, like you can struggle or thrash or kick as hard as you want, because you can't hurt me. This--" and he held up the cuff again "--is for you to fight against, something you can use all your strength on without hurting it, or anyone else."
Karl paused, but Harry didn't say anything. He was scowling, but there was an odd look in his eyes.
Karl went on and added, "You need this. You're tense and you're not eating and you can't sleep and you're going to be the one in hospital if you don't figure out how to let off all that steam. This'll do it. Try it. Just once. If it doesn't work, then fine, we'll think of something else, but it's the only thing I could--"
He stopped when Harry reached over and squeezed his wrist.
They just looked at each other, then Harry said, "You know you're a nut, right?"
Karl couldn't suppress a smirk. "It happens to people who hang out with you for too long."
It was his standard come-back, one of those auto-play exchanges they acted out regularly. The very commonness of it made the tight, nauseous fist that'd been clenching in Karl's own gut relax some, though. If Harry felt like playing one of their old back-and-forth routines, then he couldn't be really mad. Anymore. That was good.
"So, how's this supposed to go?" Harry asked. He looked kind of skeptical and kind of intrigued and a whole lot wary. "You strap me to the bed, and then what?"
"Well, then whatever you want. You can talk about all the shit that's been bugging you that you couldn't yell about on set, and just let go when the mad comes back." That'd been pretty much the extent of what Karl'd been thinking, but Harry had that look in his eye and suddenly a few other ideas were popping up. As it were. "You can struggle, fight, thrash, try to hit -- whatever you want. Whatever you need. You can let go and stop trying to hold everything in, and I'll be right here but you won't have to worry about hurting me."
Harry sat there and looked at him for what seemed like a long time. There was a question on his face, like he was trying to figure out what Karl really had planned, or what it all meant.
Everything Karl meant had pretty much been said, though; if Harry was assuming Karl had every step planned out, with multiple levels of hidden goals, he was giving Karl way too much credit.
Finally Harry shrugged and held out his wrists. Karl felt a weight vanish off his back at the gesture; at least Harry was willing to try.
Karl unbuckled the first cuff and wrapped it around Harry's wrist. He buckled it on, careful to get it snug but not tight. The skin on Harry's inner arm was fine and smooth, and Karl couldn't help pressing a kiss to it, just above the cuff, before turning to get the next one.
They both stayed silent while Karl cuffed Harry's other wrist, then both ankles. He got four lengths of heavy cord from the box, fed those through the rings in the cuffs, then tied each one to one of the bedposts, using a quick-release knot he'd practiced. If anything went wrong, if Harry got hurt somehow or panicked or anything at all, Karl wanted to be able to release him within a few seconds, without having to unpick knots or fumble around with a knife or scissors.
When he was done, Harry was spread out on the bed in an X shape. He looked down at his still-basically-clothed body, then eyed Karl and asked, "Not planning to have any fun later on? There's some distance between whips and canes and basic sex, you know?"
Karl scowled at him, then kicked the mostly-empty box into a corner and sat down next to Harry once more. "I didn't want you to think this was just some sneaky way to get you to...." He trailed off and waved a hand at Harry's cuffed limbs. "You know, just for sex. Just for me. It's not for me."
"If you think it's just for you when we have sex, you haven't been paying attention."
"Cut it out!" Karl smacked Harry on one thigh. Harry was still holding in the anger, burying it under teasing. He was trying to just skip the whole letting loose part by distracting Karl with sex, and he was doing a decent job of it.
Fine. If Harry was going to fight dirty, Karl could fight back.
He stood up and yanked his T-shirt off over his head, then shucked his shorts and briefs. Ignoring Harry's wolf whistle was tough, but he managed, and half a second later Karl was straddling Harry's hips and leaning forward, his own hardening cock grinding into the unfastened but not quite open fly of Harry's trousers.
A low grunt escaped Harry's tight lips and he tried to thrust up to meet Karl, but he couldn't move enough to make much difference, between his stretched-out position and Karl's weight pinning his hips to the bed. Karl smirked down at him and worked on getting Harry's clothes out of the way.
He pulled the shirt open as far as it'd go, then shoved Harry's T-shirt up until it bunched around his shoulders. It wasn't pretty, but it exposed a nice swath of chest, and the very awkwardness of the look -- obviously not something Harry'd ever have chosen -- was kind of sexy.
"Now what?" Harry was still maintaining, but Karl could see stress lines around his eyes and the tight muscles in his throat.
Karl raised an eyebrow and cocked his head. "What what? It's up to you now -- I'm just hanging out, waiting for you to get started."
"Don't be a prick. You've got me here, at your mercy and half naked -- and the wrong half, by the way -- so I'd say the next move is up to you. And the one after that, and probably a few more. You wanted to be in charge, so do something with it."
"You're still thinking this is about me," Karl said. "It's all yours."
Harry glared up at him and jerked at his tethered wrists. "Not much I can do from here."
"You just did." Karl nodded toward one wrist, then the other. "Keep going."
"Oh, fuck that!" Harry jerked again, arms and then legs, sharp and powerful. "Come on, I get enough frustration on set, I don't need more at home! You've got me where you want me, so get going already!"
"Still not about me." Karl smirked, suppressing a full-out laugh. Harry was obviously chasing the wrong rabbit, but that was fine, the frustration would work as well as anything else. "What's up on set? You never gripe about it, but it's obviously something major."
"We're going to talk about the project now? This is bullshit and I don't appreciate being messed around like this. I need one fucking thing to go right today -- is that such an impossible request?"
"I don't know, is it? What went wrong?"
"I'm not going to give you a list of every piece of annoying shit that rained down on me today. Are we going to fuck or not?"
"Later. And I don't need a list. What I need is to see you raging about it. Come on, Harry, you're furious! I can tell." Karl bounced up and down a couple of times, taunting more than tantalizing. "Let it out!"
"Oh for the...." Harry opened and closed his mouth a few times, like he wanted to slash Karl to ribbons for being a dumbshit but he couldn't think of anything bad enough. Karl watched the frustration build until Harry squinched his eyes shut, opened his mouth and bellowed.
There were no words, at least no full words. Karl could make out a few syllables here and there, but most of it was just pent-up rage and frustration exploding outward. Harry's body thrashed, his muscles bunched and strained, and his head flailed back and forth. The bed jolted and creaked under them, but it was sturdy and Karl was sure it'd hold fine no matter how much Harry needed to vent on it.
After about half a minute, though, Karl started to worry that he might not've had such a great idea. He leaned down with a hand on either side of Harry's head and got as close as he could without being in danger of being knocked out by a head-butt. "That's it," he murmured. "Let it all go, get rid of all that shit...." Low and coaxing, encouraging but not inciting, he tried to give Harry something else to focus on and hoped the outflow of emotional putrescence would wrap up soon.
The outburst finally peaked and the noise eased back to intelligible words. It was mostly cussing, but that was okay.
It wasn't all about work, either. Every dumb-ass little thing that'd gone wrong or just pissed Harry off had joined the pile and it was all pouring out -- the damn transmission going out eight days after the warrantee expired, the pizza place being out of shrimp, Karl forgetting to do the fucking laundry, and okay maybe he hadn't forgot about it exactly, but who the hell knew it'd be such a huge deal?
Sweat poured off Harry's forehead and ran down his chest. His voice was rougher and Karl could see that his wrists were all red around the cuffs, even though they were supposed to be soft enough not to chafe.
Guess anything can do damage if you fight it hard enough.
Which was exactly what Harry'd been doing. He'd been fighting against all the shit going on, big stuff and little stuff and whatever else came along, instead of dealing with it and then letting it go.
He's slown down to an occasional jerk and a stream of low muttering. That was good, right? Karl wasn't sure, but he thought it might be.
Karl leaned on one arm and reached up with the other to brush sweat-darkened hair off Harry's forehead, then ran his knuckles lightly down one cheek.
"Sodding wanker," Harry muttered.
He looked wrung out, but refreshed at the same time. Relaxed instead of wound up. Perfect.
Karl leaned down and kissed him, and Harry kissed back. At first he let Karl take the lead, but then he seemed to find some new reserve of energy, and he strained up against his bonds to reach him.
One more kiss, then Karl reached up to yank on one of the knots, but Harry snapped out "No!"
Karl blinked down at him and Harry looked away.
"Leave it. Please?"
"If you want." Karl kissed him again, on the cheek that time, then bent down and aimed a playful kiss at his nose.
"It's just, it's like I'm... not really tired, you know, but mellow. I'm fine right here, basking in my newly achieved relaxation. You can do the work this time."
Karl snorted out a laugh. "There's the bottom line -- you just want to be able to lie there and make me pleasure you."
Harry shifted again, flexing his hips under Karl's. "Or maybe you could let me up so I can get undressed, then, you know, put it back?"
Of course, that suggestion bought Harry only an evil grin.
"I don't think so. You want to just lie there, you can lie there as you are." Karl scooted down a little and ducked down to lick a line up one salty-damp collarbone, then kissed the depression between the two. His free hand shifted down Harry's chest and started pushing aside his open trousers.
Karl ignored him and jerked on the trousers. They went about a third of the way down Harry's thighs before hanging up on the spread of his legs. Boxer briefs followed, and made it down about half as far as the trousers. That was fine; everything important was in the clear.
Harry's swelling cock got a light rub, then the hand skimmed through wiry hair and up onto Harry's belly, while Karl kept most of his attention on Harry's chest. His lips brushed through more hair, enjoying the rough texture against the background of smooth skin.
"Karl? You've gotta be fucking kidding me!"
"Kidding, no. Fucking, yes. Eventually." Karl gave him a teasing glance, then sucked hard on a stiff nipple that just happened to be within easy reach.
Harry regressed to inarticulate noises and jerked on his bonds again. Karl pulled back just long enough to check that everything was okay -- confirmed by a "Don't stop, dammit!" from Harry -- before going back to his previous occupation.
"Other one! Come one, I've got two! I'm sure you noticed at some point?"
Karl snickered, which resulted in a bite harder than he'd ever tried deliberately. Harry yelped, then moaned long and low, so Karl followed his lover's not-terribly-polite request and turned attention to the other nipple.
A now fully hardened cock poked at Karl's belly, and he could feel Harry straining to thrust. Harry wasn't getting much friction -- Karl knew that much for sure because he wasn't either -- but he was giving it a shot.
More bare skin called Karl farther down. He kissed and sucked, drawing up a trail of dark dots, marks that'd stay a while. Harry's navel got a long tease with the tip of Karl's tongue, and the familiar scent of perspiration and musk and pure Harry enveloped him, sending a heated throb all the way down to his balls.
Harry's cock brushed a sticky streak across the underside of Karl's chin. He wiped it off with a quick swipe of one hand, then looked up to meet Harry's bright, passion-dark eyes while he licked his fingertips carefully clean.
Harry gave another groan and a hard buck, brought up short by the cuffs. "Fuck me already! Now!"
Karl didn't even bother to squelch his laugh that time. He shifted into position while remarking, "You're not really into this whole submissive thing, are you?"
"Who the fuck is submissive? You kept saying this is about me and I'm in charge, so fine, do what I tell you!"
"All right, damn, hang on!" Karl grabbed the lube from where it lived on a night table, slicked up with a couple of practiced jerks, then lined up and pushed inside, slow but steady. Harry never needed or wanted much prep, and after about half a minute of slow persuasion, his inner muscles finally got with the program and relaxed. Karl slid home, then paused before withdrawing just as slowly. The pressure was maddening; it sent a fizz of excitement out from his cock to every nerve in his body and back again, and he revelled in it.
Karl choked out another snicker, but pushed in a little harder. Then again.
"Karl! Ferfucksake, faster! Like you mean it? Some time today?"
"Next time I'll just get you a damn dildo!"
"At least it'd do what I told it!"
"Not if you were fucking tied down!" Karl pulled Harry's hips up to a better angle and thrust in hard. Harry's harsh cry of startled pleasure echoed off the ceiling and filled the room.
Karl rode him hard, his whole world shrunken down to just their bedroom, then just himself and Harry on the bed, then just the tight space where their bodies locked together, rocking in urgent spirals of frantic passion until Karl pressed his forehead hard into Harry's neck and spasmed his climax into Harry's clenching ass.
"Don't you dare stop now you bloody wanker!" Harry jerked and thrashed under Karl, and managed a feeble forehead bash -- wrong angle to do any real damage, which was probably just as well for the both of them -- and kept up a stream of curses and demands until Karl gathered enough brain cells into one place to figure out that, oh yeah, he still needed to take care of his partner.
Harry was so close to going off that it only took about twenty seconds of blowjob to get him spurting into Karl's tight mouth. The sweet-sour-musk flavor was as familiar as his own spit, and Karl lapped it up like chocolate syrup while Harry collapsed back onto the bed, eyes closed and body limp with afterglow.
Karl's own body was insisting that it needed to go sessile, like, immediately, but Karl climbed back onto his knees long enough to reach the four corners of the bed and release Harry's bonds with four quick jerks. The cuffs were still on, but they weren't too tight and could stay for a while.
Hell, Harry was free; if he was that eager to get rid of the cuffs, he could damn well do it himself.
Harry apparently was no such thing because he didn't move at all aside from heavy breathing, and a languid shift to flop an arm over Karl's back when Karl snuggled in with his head on Harry's shoulder.
"My turn next time," Karl mumbled.
"Like hell." Harry opened one eye and gave Karl a sleepy, suspicious glare. "This was your idea, so you can just stick with it."
"Fuck." Karl gave Harry a sour look, then suggested, "Flip you for it?"
"Poker," Harry muttered.
Karl wasn't going to win that one, and in his current state he didn't even feel like arguing anymore. He'd created a monster.
A relaxed, soundly asleep monster. He watched Harry breathe for a minute or two; the smoothed-out lines and slight smile made him lean over, slow and careful, and kiss Harry's lips -- lightly, so as not to wake him up. He needed the sleep.