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Paris, After

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Even once Olga had departed with Martín and locked the front entrance, Bruce stayed where he was. Jeremiah’s skin, warm beneath Bruce’s lips, smelled like lavender and clove cologne.

“Are you going to hang there and kiss my neck all night,” Jeremiah sighed, turning his head so Bruce’s next peck hit the corner of his mouth, “or are you going to tell me about your day?”

“In my defense, we’ve only been married twenty-four hours,” Bruce said. “Honeymoon period.”

Jeremiah had insisted that all he wanted for his birthday was a Cartier platinum band for his left ring finger, and maybe one for Bruce so they’d match. Bruce had taken a hint and arranged for the proper civic officials to be present while Harley and Ivy witnessed.

Bruce had ordered the bands’ interior engravings such that they would echo the traditional format of his parents’: BTW to JVW 5-21-21 and JVW to BTW 5-21-21. Something old, something new.

Jeremiah’s name-change wasn’t official yet, at least not on paper. He’d said he would be patient as long as they could ditch their work plans for the next few weeks in favor of the trip to Paris he’d been promised over tea more than a year ago.

“Martín noticed this the instant he arrived,” Jeremiah said, removing his ring, idly toying with it.

Bruce let go of Jeremiah, took a few moments to remove his shoes, and climbed over to join him.

“Did you have a middle name before?” Bruce asked, placing the band back on Jeremiah’s finger.

“My mother took her mother’s surname because she thought it sounded better for stage-work,” Jeremiah said. “That’s how I ended up sharing a name with my maternal grandmother—halfway dignified—instead of with my soup-slopping uncle.”

Bruce nodded, listening, working his arm between Jeremiah and the sofa so he could hold him.

Jeremiah rested his forehead against Bruce’s temple, pressing a soft, shivery kiss to his cheek.

“To answer your question, though, no,” he finally concluded. “We didn’t get middle names.”

“Kind of you to keep Valeska in your mother’s memory, at least in some capacity,” Bruce said.

“Not just in hers,” said Jeremiah, gravely, “lest I forget by what means you came into my life.”

Turning his head, Bruce kissed him questioningly. What do you need right now? What can I do?

“We should have dinner and finish packing,” Jeremiah said when they broke apart, sliding his hand from Bruce’s belly down to rest between his legs, “but I want to welcome you home properly.” At the involuntary jerk of Bruce’s hips, he pressed with the heel of his hand. “Today was more stressful for you than it was for me. I could—” he rubbed a slow circle, making Bruce flush hot with want “—take your mind off things.”

“You asked to hear about my day,” Bruce replied, shifting appreciatively beneath the touch.

“Looked like you and Alfred were being civil,” said Jeremiah, slowing his pace, “when I passed by.”

Bruce nodded, moving his hand from Jeremiah’s hip to his inner thigh. “We’re speaking again.”

“An encouraging sign,” Jeremiah murmured breathily, nuzzling Bruce’s neck. “Is that all?”

“All that needs saying for now,” Bruce said, realizing that Jeremiah was harder than he was.

Jeremiah caught the chain of Bruce’s pendant between his teeth on accident. “Mmm. Yes.”

Disengaging carefully, Bruce maintained steady eye contact with Jeremiah as he pushed back the coffee table. He nudged Jeremiah’s knees apart and knelt between them, stroking up and down Jeremiah’s thighs. Taking the time to read his reaction was crucial.

“If you knew,” Jeremiah said roughly, running his thumbs up Bruce’s jaw, “how early on I was thinking about your mouth, how often I wanted…”

Bruce leaned forward, smiling. It wasn’t unusual for Jeremiah to frame his desires in terms of suggesting he enact them on Bruce first.

“Probably as early as I was imagining what you’d sound like if I blew you,” he said, unfastening Jeremiah’s trousers. “What’s your point?”

“Never mind,” Jeremiah replied, head already tipped back against the supple leather of the sofa.

“No, keep going,” Bruce said, unbuttoning Jeremiah’s underwear. He slipped two fingers inside, rubbing the heated softness of him until Jeremiah closed his eyes and shuddered. “I want to hear everything you thought about during those weeks we worked together—between the day we met and the night the city got cut off. During all of those walks we took in the woods to give you a break, with the backs of our hands brushing.”

Jeremiah licked his lips as Bruce continued to touch him. “How often I wanted to kiss you, just like—like you admitted you wanted to, across my desk.” He sucked in his breath, swallowing a gasp as Bruce carefully drew out his erection. “Bruce. I thought about you coming around to my side, pinning me to the wall, touching me like this to—” his voice broke when Bruce stroked him in earnest “—to get me off while we kissed.”

Bruce ignored how fiercely he wanted to climb into Jeremiah’s lap, grind him into the cushions, and make them both shatter in a heartbeat. He worked back Jeremiah’s pale foreskin, lapping away the dampness that had already gathered at the tip.

“I thought about sitting on the desk while you did this to me as often as I imagined doing it to you.”

Jeremiah squirmed, his grasp tight on Bruce’s shoulders, panting harshly as Bruce sucked him in.

“Do I sound—” he whimpered, cupping Bruce’s jaw again, his other hand urgent at Bruce’s nape “—the way you hoped I might?”

Bruce concentrated on what he was doing for the next several minutes, until it was clear that Jeremiah couldn’t hold back any longer. The salt-surge at the back of Bruce’s tongue wasn’t a shock, not with how desperately Jeremiah was moaning his name.

“You sound like yourself,” Bruce said once he’d used a handful of tissues from the coffee table to clean them, “so, yes. Dinner?"