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A little sincerity (is a dangerous thing)

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Silas sighed and leaned on the counter. The shop had been quiet all day. Rebuilding in a slightly larger space allowed him to carry more different books, which was nice, but it also increased his overhead, so days like today made him nervous.

In truth, his ill-temper wasn’t just about the lack of customers. Things with Dom were strained, and it wore on him. They were still seeing each other on Wednesdays and Saturdays, occasionally risking meetings in between those days as well. The sex was still amazing--it kept getting better as time wore on, which Silas never would have thought possible. But the tension between them was heating up again, in a way that made neither of them precisely comfortable.

When Dom got his knighthood, Silas had, for the most part, choked it down. It meant so much to Dom, made his eyes soft, squared his shoulders in a way Silas had never seen. Horseshit as it clearly was, Silas couldn’t begrudge it. Since then, though, Dom had slowly begun to slip back into the skin of his Home Office Tory self. He’d never stopped being a Tory, of course. Never stopped disagreeing with Silas’ every political opinion. But after the horrors of the Cato Street Conspiracy, his mind seemed to have opened. Now Silas was watching it close again. They argued more, and given the high price people now paid for holding opinions like Silas’, it was far less enjoyable than it used to be.

Silas stretched. His back ached. Happy as he’d been to leave the service of Lord Richard Vane and return to a room of his own, his hard bed was no match for his previous lodgings. It was worth it to be on his own two feet again, but he’d not say no to a night on a feather mattress. If he weren’t feeling so torn about Dom, he might allow himself the luxury of a stolen night spent with him, but he was not presently in a place to be showing weakness.

Silas was nearly ready to close the shop for the night when his first customer of the day came through the door. Or maybe not a customer at all. The man hardly had the look of a purveyor of political literature. He was fashionably dressed, reminding Silas immediately of Julius, Harry’s fop. This man didn’t go for the bright plumage, though--his perfectly cut clothes were in somber tones. His breeches laid close to his body, tucked into perfectly shined boots. His cravat was perfectly knotted and pristine white. His bearing, too, was elegant and spare, as if he never made an unnecessary move.

The man didn’t speak, so Silas took another moment to observe him. His hair was severely styled, full of the wax Silas found disgusting, but his face was lovely. He was a few years Silas’ junior, with the soft, smooth skin of a man who had never worked. He had sharp features, dark eyes, heavy brows. His body was lean and hard under his fine clothes. To his surprise, Silas felt a stir in his groin. It had been months since any man, save Dom, had lit a fire in him, and now he was reacting to this dandy? Silas swallowed in disgust at himself before he spoke.

“Somethin’ I can help you with, sir?” His voice came out gruff--he hadn’t spoken to anyone all day.

The man turned to him with a look of surprise, as if he’d not noticed there was a shopkeeper on the premises. “Perhaps,” he said. His voice was cultured, as Silas expected, but his accent was not of London. “I am looking for...rare books.”

Silas frowned. “Rare books?” He wasn’t certain, but thought the accent might be American. “This is a working man’s bookshop. If you’re after fancy books, you’ve come to the wrong place.”

The man shook his head. “You’re Silas Mason, correct?”

Silas’ frown deepened. “Who might be askin’?”

The man smirked and took a step forward, extending his hand. His fingers were long and tapered. His skin was soft against Silas’ rough palm as they shook. “Arthur Goldstein,” he said smoothly. Jewish? Silas wondered. Interesting.

“What manner of rare book are you looking for, Mr. Goldstein?” Silas spoke sharply. He had no quarrel with a Jew in his shop, but was suspicious of the class of men who wore clothes as fine as this. “Like I said…”

“Yes, of course,” Mr. Goldstein interrupted. “A working man’s shop. And yet, I’m told that you have in your possession several original John Blake works, among other precious volumes. So maybe not such a plain shop as you pretend?” He raised one immaculate eyebrow and waited.

Silas glared. “Those are my personal books.” He gestured to the shelves around him. “What you see here is what I got for sale.” His brain did not like this man, no matter what his prick had to say about it.

Mr. Goldstein smiled, or more sneered. His look reminded Silas of imperious Francis Webster, the least likable of Dom’s group. “What I am looking for, Mr. Mason, is less a book and more a...bookmaker.” His eyes flitted about the room, as if Silas might be hiding one somewhere among the shelves. “I have a colleague who is the business of...creating rare books. And sometimes making them disappear. I have reason to believe he’s come to London, and I need to find him.”

Silas shook his head. He ought to have known. This cove was some manner of law, after a thief or a forger. As if Silas would ever turn someone over, even if they were engaged in the unmanly business of fraud. “Can’t say that I know someone of that description,” he said gruffly, walking past Mr. Goldstein as if to show him out.

Mr. Goldstein did not move. “You would not know if you’d seen him,” he said. “Mr. Eames is quite good at not being noticed until he wants to be.” He met Silas’ eyes. His were brown, but harder than most brown eyes, with little warmth to them. “If you do happen upon Mr. Eames,” he said, pulling a card from his coat, “come and find me. It will pay handsomely to do so.”

Silas did not put his hand out to take the card. It was only his fear at being apprehended for assaulting a rich man--American Jew or not--that kept his fists at his sides. Mr. Goldstein looked down at them, clenched, and smirked again. “Of course,” he said, voice still smooth. He put the card down on Silas’ counter. “We will likely be seeing one another again, Mr. Mason. I bid you good day until then.”

It took Silas some time to calm down after the strange American left the shop. He locked the door, then took up the card. It was, as expected, a rich man’s card, the stock heavy, the printing pristine. The address listed was Hanover Square. Silas tried to place what about the man gave him such unease. It was unusual for a man of means to lower himself to visit Silas’ shop, but there was something beyond that, something more sinister.

Silas wondered of this Mr. Eames, the book thief and forger. Given the nature of his sales, forgeries weren’t something about which Silas was overmuch concerned. Still, it was a hell of a thing, imaging someone making false books. Silas thought of Dom’s beloved books, or even Lord Richard’s family library--he’d be sorry to know any of those beautiful volumes came from the hands of a swindler. Why, then, was his impulse to protect this mysterious Mr. Eames from his pursuer?

Silas was still puzzling over it as he began his walk toward Millay’s. It was pleasant, the trouble having all died down, to be able to meet Dom in their old place again. They didn’t always have their trysts there, but something about it seemed special when they did. Despite all their recent arguing, Silas was looking forward to seeing his lover. Business had taken Dom away for a few days, so it had been nearly a fortnight since their last meeting. Probably why his traitorous prick had reacted so to Mr. Goldstein, Silas thought as he walked. Likely it was nothing more than lack of use. He imagined what he and Dom might get up to as he made his way through the crowded evening streets, and by the time he entered the molly house, Arthur Goldstein had been forgotten.

Dom looked tired. He often did, these days. His position at the tax office was intended to take less of him than he’d given to the Home Office, but that hadn’t proved to be the case. In reality, it wasn’t in Dom to give less than his all. Tired or not, he was a beautiful man. Silas sometimes forgot, in between times, just how fine his Tory was. As his curly hair silvered more at his temples, as the lines around his eyes grew deeper, he only got more attractive.

Even after all their time together, Silas had to tamp down his first instinct, seeing the exhaustion on Dom’s face. He wanted, as was natural for a man faced with someone he loves, to take Dom into his arms, to pet and comfort him. But that wasn’t what did for Dom, and it wasn’t what did for Silas anymore, either. So, instead, Silas drew himself up to his full size as he entered the room and locked the door behind him. “Wine, Tory,” he said, keeping his voice low and gruff.

Dom was silent while he poured, then handed Silas a glass. Silas drank, eyes still on Dom, looking at his posture for clues to what he needed. Then he began.

“Not accustomed to having to wait so long for things that belong to me,” Silas said. He barely allowed Dom time to place his wine glass on the table before grabbing him hard by the shoulder and jerking him forward. “You were gone so long, I nearly had to go to Sodomite’s Alley to find some other whore to service my prick.”

Judging from Dom’s shiver, Silas was on the right track. “Undress,” he ordered.

Dom had learned to wear clothes that were easy to take off when he met with Silas, but today he’d likely come directly from his journey, as he was dressed is his regular work attire. Silas chuckled as he struggled with his buckles and squirmed out of his gentleman’s jacket. He was reminded again of Arthur Goldstein. He’d be sure to ask Dom what he thought about the man later--when they were finished.

Dom stood naked in the center of the little room. Silas let him wait, then rose and walked a slow circle around him, examining his pale flesh. “Such a soft one you are, Tory,” he mused. He picked up one of Dom’s hands, then let it fall. “Never done a day’s work in your life.” He shook his head, then lifted one dirty boot and pressed it against one of Dom’s legs, hard enough to force Dom to steady himself on the table or fall over. It left a sooty mark. “Tonight, I think, you’ll do some work.”

Dom watched Silas’ face, still silent, as Silas pushed him roughly to his knees. “Hands behind your back,” Silas barked.

Dom put his hands behind his back, each grabbing the wrist of the other. It didn’t need to be said--it never had, between them--but his hands were the sign of his assent. Were he to unclasp them, Silas would immediately stop.

Silas opened his trousers and withdrew his prick. He was half-hard, hardening further as he pumped himself lazily and watched Dom’s face. Dom’s eyes were half-lidded, caught between apprehension and attraction. He fought against the pleasure for as long as he could on these nights, so Silas expected it would be quite some time before he’d see those eyes wide with undisguised need. He could just as well take the edge off for himself in the meantime.

“Mouth open,” Silas ordered.

“No,” Dom said, his voice far smaller than it would be in a normal conversation.

Silas laughed. “No?” He reached down and grabbed Silas’ chin, forcing his jaw open. “I think yes.” He shoved his prick in without any further warning, wrapping his hands around the back of Dom’s head to keep it steady. The clean silkiness of Dom’s soft hair tangled around his fingers, catching on calluses as he began to move his hips, feeding his prick into Dom’s mouth, now opened obligingly wide.

Dom gasped and gagged, but maintained his position. Silas checked his hands and saw they were firmly wrapped around one another. Good. He began to thrust a bit harder, a bit deeper. He moved his own hands to Dom’s red cheeks, holding there firmly while Dom desperately tried to keep up, to keep from pulling away.

“You know what happens if you move, you whore,” Silas muttered. He used one foot to wrap around Dom and pull him closer. “This will look like a kindness.” He paused. “Answer me!”

Dom made a choked noise--all he could manage with his mouth so full. Silas nodded, as if he’d said something logical. “Good,” he muttered, and began to move even faster.

Dom hadn’t always been able to take it like this. At the beginning, after Silas had learned what Dom was after, this had gone much less smoothly--once ending in an accidental bite that Silas reacted to with this fist. Now, though, after so much time, Dom could manage this well, if uncomfortably. Silas was amazed by his ability to take it, and by the handsome erection that bobbed between his thighs as he did. More even than that, though, Silas was floored by how good it was for him. It took his full will to continue for several minutes, before pulling his prick roughly from Dom’s mouth and pumping it hard, then spilling over Dom’s upturned face.

After he’d regained his footing, Silas turned and grabbed a cloth, tossing it to Dom to wipe his face. He fastened his trousers. He’d likely go again, but on this side of forty, it didn’t happen as quickly as it once had. No matter, it gave him time to do the rest of what was needed.

Dom remained in the middle of the floor on his knees. His prick appeared aching, but he did not touch it without permission. He’d wiped his face hastily, but Silas could see his spend still clinging to Dom’s lips. He walked back over, used his thumb to wipe it, forced it into Dom’s mouth. Dom licked enthusiastically, sucking his thumb in hard until every drop was gone.

“On the bed,” Silas ordered. He looked around the room briefly to find the oil, then, after consideration, another implement--one not often used. He felt Dom’s eyes track him, then heard Dom’s low groan when he picked up the ceramic phallus.

Dom was sitting on the bed. “Lie down,” Silas ordered. “On your back.” He gave Dom his sharpest smile. “Since you’re such a filthy thing, Tory, I’m not sure I even want to put my prick in you tonight.” He shook his head. “But you’ve got to be filled up, don’t you? Got to be used. It’s what you need.”

“No, I…” Dom trailed off. His eyes were on the items in Silas’ hand.

Silas laughed. “You what? You’re going to get up and leave? Sir Dominic is going to put an end to all of this?” His voice was cruel. “I would dearly like to see you try.” He reached forward and pushed hard against Dom’s bare, blushing chest. Dom fell back against the bed.

Silas put the items in his hands down and reached for Dom’s cock. Instead of stroking it, he flicked hard against it with his thumb. Dom let out a sharp gasp. “Look how hard you are,” Silas mocked. “Choking on my prick, and you can’t get enough of it.” He sighed. “Maybe, when I’m ready, I’ll let you do that again.” He gave Dom another hard flick. This time, Dom expected it, and his jaw tightened, but he remained soundless. “Maybe,” Silas said, his voice considering, “I’ll just do it myself, spend all over you again and leave you here like the whore you are.”

“No, don’t. I’ll…” Dom trailed off again as Silas gave his weeping prick another flick.

Silas shook his head. “You’ll what?” He didn’t wait for an answer. Instead, he took hold of Dom’s knees and shoved them apart. Not liking the angle, he grabbed a pillow from the head of the bed and pushed it under Dom’s hips. Such a waste, he thought briefly, kneading the feathers--much better stuff to sleep on here that what the people on his street had, and yet sleeping was so rarely what happened in this room.

Silas shook the idea from his mind. Not now. Not when Dom needed him. “Up,” he ordered, positioning Dom on the pillow with his legs open. His prick leaked against his stomach. Silas slicked his fingers with the oil, then pushed two inside Dom, not pausing when Dom squirmed and gasped. “Fuck, no, stop!”

Silas glanced up to check. As he’d fully expected, Dom had gripped the spindles of the bed tightly and showed no sign of letting go. Silas twisted his fingers mercilessly.

Silas took his time at it, letting himself enjoy the way Dom’s body resisted him, then welcomed him. He thought idly, as he sometimes did, of working his whole hand inside. He knew Dom wouldn't stop him, but he wasn’t precisely sure what the consequences might be, so he didn’t dwell long on it. Instead, after opening Dom wide with three fingers, getting him slick and sloppy with the oil, Silas turned his attention to the ceramic dildo.

Silas wasn’t typically all that keen on using props--at least, none beyond the handcuffs he sometimes engaged to keep Dom’s feet and hands still. That said, the fact was that Dom could simply take more, harder, and for longer, than Silas’ prick could give--especially after a fortnight’s drought. On nights like tonight, when he couldn’t resist having Dom bring him off right away (it was selfish, and Silas tried not to do it often), it was necessary to get creative in order to keep Dom going until Silas was ready again.

The object seemed to excite Dom, in a way Silas didn’t precisely understand. He’d not had one used on himself, but it seemed the cold and unyielding nature wouldn’t be pleasant. That said, a lot of what Dom liked was beyond Silas’ understanding. Silas figured to each man his own pleasure. He slicked the device and pushed it inside, ignoring Dom’s protests.

For a few minutes, Silas worked a fast rhythm. The device was a bit longer than his own member, though a similar thickness, so he had some idea how to twist it to hit the spot deep inside Dom that made his hips jump from the bed. He did it, eventually, and then kept doing it as Dom gasped and groaned from overstimulation. “Silas, no, please…” Dom whined. Silas watched Dom’s cock bounce, so hard against him that it must hurt every time it hit his belly.

The turning point, when Dom stopped refusing and started begging, was always one of Silas’ favorite parts. It happened suddenly tonight, Dom gasping “no!” in one breath and “please, oh, please!” the next. If Silas hadn’t been paying such close attention, he may have missed it. “What’s that, Tory?” he asked, continuing the relentless pressure with the phallus. “I didn’t quite hear you.”

“Please, Silas, please!” Once Dom broke, he didn't stop. The begging sounded natural now, as if this man--this Knight of His Majesty’s Realm--was used to begging gutter scum like Silas for his pleasure. “I can’t...I can’t hold on…”

Silas was fully hard again. He didn’t hesitate, just pulled the device from Dom’s body and threw it aside, then unfastened his trousers again. He coated his prick with the oil, but it wasn’t really necessary--Dom was stretched wide and ready as he pushed in.

The didn’t often do it this way, facing one another. For the first months, it felt too intimate, and then Silas just preferred other angles. Sometimes, though, he couldn't help but want to watch his Tory’s face as he fell apart. Silas pushed Dom’s knees out hard, opening his legs as far as they could go, and thrust in with abandon, chasing his own pleasure, knowing that Dom was ready.

“Please, Silas, touch me?” Dom’s eyes were closed, his head thrown back. Silas took a moment to appreciate the deep scarlet of his cheeks, his neck, his chest. He knew that the exhaustion would return to Dom’s face when they finished, but for now, it was gone. His shop was gone, the tax office was gone, King and country were gone, all of their friends and enemies were gone--there was nothing but them, nothing but Silas’ body inside Dom’s, nothing but Dom’s fallen angel face.

Silas wrapped one rough hand around Dom’s cock and jerked, fast and graceless. It took only a half dozen strokes before Dom cried out and spent, covering his own belly and chest. Silas didn’t stop, fucking him through it hard, knowing the shaking, frantic overstimulation was a part of what Dom liked. By the time Silas finished, Dom was limp, eyes open but unseeing, no resistance in any part of his body.

They laid together a moment, catching their breath, before Silas got up for more rags. He cleaned himself up facing away--no matter how close they got, Dom still didn’t like being observed washing the evidence of their sins away. Silas fetched both of their wine glasses before returning to the bed and sitting next to Dom again. He held them carefully aloft as he leaned in and, for the first time that night, kissed Dom’s mouth. “Hello,” he said, handing Dom his glass. “How was the trip?”

Dom’s face was still tired, as Silas predicted, but he was relaxed now, smiling and soft against the fancy bed. “Long,” he said. “And fruitless. How have you been?”

They talked quietly for some minutes, catching one another up on the missed days. Silas laid one hand against Dom’s bare knee, rubbing small circles into the flesh as they spoke. Dom tried not to give many details about this work--he was still painfully aware of the chasm between his politics and Silas’--but he told stories all the same. Today’s was about a mysterious fugitive, a man who had apparently defrauded the Crown out of a great deal of money and disappeared, possibly to America. The tax office had word he’d been seen in England again, and was looking for him, but it was to no avail.

“That reminds me,” Silas said, reaching over Dom to place his glass on the table, “I had an odd visitor to the shop today.”

“Oh?” Dom’s eyelids were drooping.

“An American,” Silas said. “At least, I believe that’s what he was. Fancy sort. Reminded me a bit of Harry’s lad.”

Dom looked curious. “Reminded you of Julius? How so?”

Silas’ mouth twisted in thought. “Tight trousers, cold eyes. Upright like that. Looked down his nose.”

“Hmmm…” Dom considered. “Military man, perhaps. What did he require?”

“That’s the odd part,” Silas said. “Cove said he was looking for rare books. Or, looking for a man who made rare books.”

“Made them?”

“Aye. Forged.”

Dom’s lips pressed together, as Silas knew they would. Dom’s love of laws and order and his love of books combined would mean he looked down especially on a forger. “Mr. Eames, he said,” Silas continued. “Seemed intent on finding him.” He shrugged. “Must be, to have crossed an ocean to do it.”

Dom nodded, still looking curious. “Americans are a strange lot,” he finally said. “No respect for the natural order of things.”

Silas sighed. This could, he knew, be the start of a rehashing of any old argument. Dom’s insistence that the way things were was the way they ought to be, Silas’ equally intense notions of the need for change. He was too tired for it. Looking at Dom, he knew Dom as too tired as well. He’d said the words from habit, not heat.

“Not tonight,” Silas said, letting his voice go soft.

Dom looked surprised, but then nodded. “Alright.” He moved closer to Silas, resting his head against Silas’ chest. “Not tonight.”