Bare. Exposed. Vulnerable.
He had never felt like that before, separated from the rest of the world by the thick overalls he would always wear, like an armour that protected his deeply hidden feelings, his vulnerable body, everything he wanted to hide.
John Steinbeck wasn't ashamed of his body, not exactly. He knew on some level that the human body was a beautiful thing that deserves to be cherished and admired as the intricate miracle that it was. That was how he tried to look at it, at least. And yet, there was still something terrifying about exposing himself to another person.
It shouldn't have been a big deal, really. Mark Twain, his partner, wasn't shy about his own body, after all, always keeping his shirt unbuttoned in order to expose his chest. If there was anybody who wasn't going to judge his body, it was him, logically. His eyes said as much when they watched John undress, taking in every movement of his body.
John desperately wanted to hide. Lying back on the mattress, he covered his eyes with his arm and sighed. It was pointless to try to cover anything else, even though he was uncomfortably conscious of his groin, of every scar and every imperfection. Every embarrassing detail that could give away his arousal or, worse yet, his insecurity about it. His other hand hovered hesitantly over his stomach.
Mark, lying on his stomach beside John, watched him with an amused but loving expression. He reached out his hand to grab John's and brought it up to his lips, planting a kiss in the middle of his palm. John blushed noticeably, but he didn't resist the touch, glancing at Mark from the corner of his eye.
'Hey,' Mark called out to him with a smirk, pressing the hand against his cheek, 'I thought we were supposed to fuck, but you won't even look at me. I mean, if that's how you like it, I'm not judging, but…'
John chuckled, removing his arm from his face and finally looked Mark in the eyes with an apologetic expression. 'It's not so much that I don't want to look at you,' he explained awkwardly, stroking Mark's cheek, 'as it is that I'd rather you not look at me.'
Mark raised his eyebrows, tilting his head. 'Why, though? You're almost as hot as me, dude.'
John laughed again, shaking his head. 'I don't know. I guess I'm embarrassed.'
They lay in silence for a few moments, Mark's eyes focused on his face, a look of concern all too obvious in them. 'No need to be embarrassed. I'm as naked as you are,' he pointed out, wiggling his eyebrows. His legs were swinging up in the air, slowly, back and forth, as he leaned into John's touch.
'You're used to showing off. I can't say the same.'
'Hey, it's not like I swing my dick around or something!'
'You would if you could, though.'
'Can't deny that.'
They both laughed, though there was still something strained about John's laughter, a hint that he wasn't entirely comfortable yet.
Mark puffed out his cheeks. 'How about I warm you up to it?' he asked, scooting closer to John. 'I can take it slow no problem!'
John blinked, knitting his eyebrows. 'Warm me up? How?'
'Leave it to Mighty Twain! I don't have to hop on your dick yet, you know? I don't even gotta look at it! There are other parts of you I like,' he admitted almost shyly.
John felt warmth in his chest. A stinging yet pleasant pain. He inhaled and exhaled sharply. 'Other parts, huh? I guess…'
Mark leaned forward to kiss his cheek, his lips curling into a smile. 'Yeah, like this part. It's pretty cute!' He then kissed the bridge of John's nose. 'This one is pretty neat too,' he added, giggling.
John scrunched up his nose, smiling shyly. He continued to stroke Mark's cheek, too embarrassed to say anything back. Instead, he just nodded slightly, a sign of permission for Mark to proceed.
And so, he did. His lips kissed along John's hairline, across his forehead behind his ears. There was not an inch of his face that went unloved, no bit that was ignored, as Mark continued to whisper words of praise against his skin.
His lips moved down onto John's neck, initially planting chaste kisses on it, then slowly starting to press his tongue against it, licking and gently nibbling at the skin with his teeth.
The more he did that, the more noticeable John's gasps became. His neck was one of the most sensitive areas of his body, partially due to the use of his ability. There were faint scars on the right side and the nape of his neck, and while Mark couldn't access the latter at the moment, he gave the former all of his attention, running both his tongue and his fingertips over the scars.
'Man, I guess this is going to become my favourite part, huh?' he remarked, pulling away for a bit. John bit his bottom lip. He was aware that he had been gasping and squirming for the past few minutes while Mark was definitely leaving hickeys on his neck. His heart skipped a beat when he realised that he was going to see them in the mirror later.
'You have so many freckles,' Mark noticed, running his fingers over John's shoulders. 'I should kiss them all someday to count them!' he added excitedly, kissing his collarbone before moving onto his shoulders.
John sighed deeply. Funny, wasn't it? Mere fifteen or so minutes ago, he didn't want to be seen, let alone touched. Now, just like that, he was melting under Mark's touch, craving more and more, with his hand sliding down from Mark's cheek onto his neck, then his shoulder, then his side.
Mark must have noticed the change, too, because he grinned, looking down at John cheerfully. His fingers stroked up from his stomach, up his chest, finally stroking his cheek.
'You're warmed up already, huh?' he remarked, his eyebrows riding up his forehead.
John gave him a satisfied, half-lidded smile. 'I guess so. Leave it to Mighty Twain, huh?' he teased, stroking Mark's sides gently. 'Still…don't look down there yet, okay?'
Mark smirked condescendingly. 'Is that you still trying to be a good Christian boy or something? I can touch your dick as long as I don't look at it?' He burst out laughing at his own words, leaning down to kiss John's nose.
'Maybe it is that,' he admitted, scrunching up his nose with a smile. 'Or maybe that's just how I like it. I know you want to look, so it's almost more fun this way, making you look away.'
'I forgot how mean you are,' Mark said with a pout. 'I could just look and hope you don't notice,' he suggested, his eyes lighting up.
'If you did that, I would notice. My dick would shrivel up,' he informed, poking Mark's cheek. 'Either you look or you touch, Twain. Maybe if you're a good boy about this I'll let you do both later,' he added, his thigh rubbing against Mark's hip.
Mark squealed, blushing deeply. 'You're so mean, dude. What the hell.' He laughed nervously, his hand sliding back down his chest. 'How am I gonna find it if I can't look?' he tried one last time, tilting his head.
John raised his eyebrows. 'I guess you'll have to touch around, huh? Not like that's a problem for you, is it? Mighty Twain?'
Mark looked at him with his mouth wide agape his hand drawing circles on John's chest. 'What the hell happened here? Five seconds ago, you were an untouched virgin. And now…'
John purred, watching him from behind half-closed eyelids. He spread his legs slightly in an unsubtle invitation. 'I guess you warmed me up properly.'
Mark snorted, sliding his hand down onto John's stomach. 'You're just horny,' he said, watching John's flushed face with amusement. 'Never thought I'd see that. John Steinbeck, horny!'
John groaned as Mark's hand slid down onto his inner thigh. 'You could call me repressed, huh? I can't blame you for not expecting it, but trust me, it's nothing new.'
'Your overalls hide that well.'
'Stop trying to be funny and just touch me, Twain.'
Mark's hand slid down and back up his inner thigh, making John moan softly. He continued to watch Mark, partially to make sure that he wasn't peeking, partially just to enjoy the view.
Finally, the hand grabbed onto his dick, stroking up and down softly. On impulse, John cupped Mark's cheeks and pulled him into a deep kiss, clinging onto him desperately as he continued to stroke.
Once the initial shock wore off, Mark kissed him back, his movements getting faster and more erratic. John moaned against his lips, pulling him closer, his crotch rubbing against Mark's hand.
Knowing that it was physically impossible for him to look down made John more comfortable, and much less embarrassed. He was moving shamelessly, moaning loudly, enjoying every second and craving more.
He came easily, all over Mark's hand and stomach, clinging onto him more desperately than before, breaking the kiss. His chest was rising and falling quickly, his heartbeat and breathing wildly out of control.
Mark slid his hand up John's side and onto his chest, his face resting against John's shoulder, his warm breath tickling his neck.
'Can I look already?' he asked impatiently.
John smiled softly. 'What's the rush, Twain? I think you need to warm up more before you look.'