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Echoes of Last Tuesday

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Raj sighs contently as Stuart’s thumbs sink into the sore muscles of his back, a tiny shiver running down his spine as Stuart deftly picks up on one knot after another, working them back to a relaxed state and leaving a trail of pleasant soreness in his wake.

“Is this helping?” Stuart asks tentatively, like he’s afraid the answer is going to be worse than a no. Raj can only bring himself to nod and let his head hang forward to give Stuart better access to his neck.

“You have good hands,” he murmurs without really meaning to. One moment, it’s a thought--Stuart has nice hands--and the next he’s said it out loud. He’s not sure if the silence that follows is awkward, embarrassed or offended, but it’s probably some combination of all three. One part embarrassed to one part offended, rounded off with two parts awkward because how else would any conversation he ever has turn out?

Stuart coughs, but doesn’t stop working magic with his fingers. “Thanks,” he says softly.

Raj is already half-lost in thoughts of how delicate and precise he should have known Stuart’s hand would be. The man is an artist, after all. He would have to be good with his hands.

“I’m not much of an artist,” Stuart replies, and Raj realises he’s been thinking out loud. Or that Stuart has developed telepathy, which would be cool to study but also potentially compromising. He’ll stick with thinking out loud if there’s a choice.

“I think you are.” Raj raises his head again, but only to roll his neck.

Stuart makes a tiny, unsure sound. His lack of confidence in himself is sad, but Raj isn’t really sure what to do about it, not being the master of self-confidence himself.

They’re still not talking about sleeping together last Tuesday. All the same, this sort of feels like part two of that story and for once in his life, Raj is inclined to actually attempt to move that forward.

He tilts his head back to look up at Stuart and smiles as seductively as possible, which he hopes is at least not terrifying. “We should find out what else you can do with your hands.”

Stuart swallows and looks down at them, wets his lips, and then nods. “Okay.”