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Midnight Blue Corvette

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The bachelor party was in full swing at the third strip joint when Jack, still adroitly nursing his second beer while making it appear to be his tenth or eleventh, noticed the quietly dazzling man across the room.

He was sitting with a woman at a table off to the side. They had a good view of the dance stages but weren't close enough to interact with the dancers. At first Jack saw the man only in profile. It was a stunning profile -- strong jaw and chin, slightly turned-up nose, full lips, hair cut in a short, stylish tousle. He saw only the profile because the man was focused more on the woman he was with than on the dancers on the stages; he threw them barely a glance, although the action was wild and getting wilder. The woman was mesmerized, with a kind of roadkill expression Jack was familiar with from the service. She would nod every now and then at something the man leaned in to say, but her eyes never left the dancers. The look on her face was somewhere between terror and rapt desire.

Jack's buddies were raucous. They'd been here maybe seven minutes, and already half of them were up at the edge of the various stages brandishing singles and fives; most of the rest were seated at one large table in the center, reserved in advance by the best man, doing the wave with shots. Jack had played along at the first two places, 'til most of them got a load on, but this time he found himself a solitary stool at the bar. At some point, he would slip away unnoticed. They'd fill him into the empty slot in their memories the next day, assuming he'd been there to the bitter end, and nobody would hassle him about not drinking, about not suffering the lap dances they bought each other, about not slipping off with any establishment employees who made further services available.

The man finally turned his head towards one of the stages, giving Jack a good look at his face. It was bathed in reflected, colored spotlights. He was more stunning from the front. Movie-star handsome, with a chiseled symmetry to his features, but boyish, and with striking eyes. He examined the nearest dancer with something like professional assessment. There was appreciation in it, but it wasn't sexual. The dancer herself felt the man's gaze, and faltered, and he smoothly averted it, moving his focus back to the woman he was with. He spoke to her; Jack saw his jaw move. The woman's eyes widened slightly, as though whatever he said was enlightenment or epiphany, and nodded, with a slow -- and very sexual -- smile spreading her ordinary mouth into a shape of beauty.

As though whatever she'd found here, through her escort, had opened her to something, she became supple and attractive in that moment. Transforming right before Jack's eyes.

He was good, and she didn't see him see it. He'd been a commando for a long time before bad knees and personal shit gave him sufficient excuse to separate without the military hassling him about letting go of someone with his level of clearance. He had a field awareness that didn't require direct stares. He could take in more with one oblique glance than most people could by peering right at something.

So the woman didn't see him looking. But the man did. He didn't look over right away; he gave it a few minutes, waited until the woman had finished talking -- a bubbling flood of talking that gushed out of her on the heels of whatever transcendent realization she'd had watching the dancer and listening to the man's commentary. Then, after he got up and pulled the woman's chair out for her, while he was holding her coat for her, he looked casually over at Jack.

For a vertiginous moment it was as if the rest of the club had literally disappeared. The quiet curiosity in the man's gaze, sharpening into keen interest, sent a flutter of skipped heartbeats through Jack's chest, made his breath come shallow. He hadn't been hit by the sight, the acknowledgment, of someone else this way since he was a teenager. The jolt of sexual electricity was blindsiding.

Slowly, the man cocked his head. The hint of a smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. He came just short of nodding to Jack, and then turned, pulled by the ready-to-leave shift of the woman's weight, and put a light hand on her back.

He guided her out through the tables of rowdy, shitfaced construction workers and stockbrokers with the quiet, muscular presence of a bodyguard. Jack saw potential altercations ignite and die around him. Four, five times before they got to the door, there could have been a problem -- but there wasn't. The man looked gentle, unassuming; he struck Jack as more like a professor than a security operative. But he was six feet tall and all buff, trim muscle under his casual, stylish clothes, and he moved like Secret Service.

In the man's wake, the space closed in, darker and emptier. Vacant, without the charge of his quiet occupation of it, off to the side. The planes and angles of his face, the shadowed clarity of his gaze, hung in Jack's vision like afterburn.

A fist pounding on his back, a roar of Vern's voice in his ear brought him reluctantly out of it. He wanted to stay in the near-dreamy reverie, savor this feeling -- the feeling of arousal after the many months of numbness, going-through-the-motions, walking coma. But Vern wanted him to come back and chaperone the groom's last fling before the wedding. Of all of them, despite his own state of inebriation, he'd pegged Jack for the least drunk of the bunch.

"Naw, need a smoke," Jack said. "Gil looks to be in pretty good shape, you go on and grab him."

Vern had served under Jack for a couple of years, and the habit of taking orders never completely left you. He went off to grab Gil. Jack stopped by the groom's table on his way towards the side exit. Told him he was going for a smoke, told him congratulations again, and then leaned in and said, "Kenny, remember this party is for your friends, not for you to fuck around on that sweet lady of yours. You don't need this shit. You've got better at home. Tell Gil to do the dancer for you, right?"

He slid out the side door because he knew he wouldn't be coming back in. A minivan waited across from the front entrance to chauffeur them all back to the hotel and drop the locals home; he wasn't needed as a designated driver, and he'd come in the van, left his truck in the hotel lot. He'd grab a taxi from outside one of the restaurants a couple of blocks away. He looked forward to the walk in the winter air.

The street was nearly dead quiet after the deafening combination of music and crowd inside the insulated, windowless establishment, only the low rumble of an immaculate old-model midnight-blue 'Vette idling at the curb. He pulled on his jacket, fished for cigarettes in the pocket, lit a smoke. The car's passenger-side window was rolled down. It shouldn't be, in this weather. It didn't set off his threat detectors; he just noted it, the way he noted everything around him, all the time.

"Need a ride?" said a rich, low voice from inside the car.

He recognized the voice, even though he'd never heard it before. Even though the man inside didn't lean forward to show his face, and all Jack could see was one strong-boned, long-fingered hand draped casually over the stick.

"I hear it's a bad idea to take rides from strangers."

"I'm not a stranger," said the voice. "I'm a guy you met inside whose name you don't know yet."

Jack suppressed a smile. "What happened to your date?"

"It wasn't that kind of date," the voice said. "I saw her into a cab."

And she went home to her husband went through Jack's mind, in so many words, as if the voice had said them. In the service, he'd learned to trust his hunches, guesses, intuition. He was right about this, even though it didn't add up yet.

Dance instructor, maybe. Weird kind of lesson, to take a student to a strip joint, and the dynamic hadn't exactly been pupil-teacher, but it was possible. Bodyguard had been ruled out by the way they interacted at the table, and sending her home alone confirmed that. But he didn't carry himself like a dancer. Or a schoolteacher, despite the slightly professorial air. It was a mystery.

"I'll just tell you, if you ask," the voice said. "Rather do it over coffee someplace. Or a cocktail, but the way you were stretching that beer I don't see that being an incentive."

Jack was planning to walk down to restaurant row anyway. There was an espresso place there, if he remembered right. Used to be open 'til two, and quiet for the last hour of the night.

"Antonio's?" the voice suggested. Naming the place Jack had been thinking of.

He hesitated for a long second, and then thought fuck it and said, "I'll meet you there."

Without further acknowledgment, the man put the 'Vette in gear and pulled smoothly away. He drove like a pro; off-duty chauffeur was another vague possibility. Maybe he was the woman's driver, the woman's and her husband's, in service to them so long he'd become more friend than employee, almost family; and there was some problem at home and he'd taken her out to watch strippers as some kind of weird therapy. It fit better than anything else Jack could come up with as he walked the two and half blocks in the bitter wind. The chill burned the alcohol out of him, and he found himself craving the rich warmth of a cappuccino cradled in his hands, the frothy sweetness on his tongue.

As he neared the little bistro, his heart pounded hard, then calmed. He was intensely attracted to this dazzling stranger, and the potential offer was clear enough, a slow burn of availability. In the end, if it came to it, he'd say no, because he'd be there in bad faith, and he didn't want to confess to the issue that would stop him. But he hadn't wanted anything at all in longer than he could remember. He wouldn't walk away from this. Not yet.

The man was already seated at a table inside, by the little gas fireplace. Jack smiled at the owner, shouldered out of his coat, and sat down without looking directly at him.

"Daniel," the man said, and pushed an ashtray towards him. "You can smoke here if you want."

"Yeah, thanks," Jack said, already knowing that. The waitress came over as he sat down, and he and ... Daniel (the name pulsed in his mind, resonant with sound-shape and connotation, daniel daniel daniel) ... said "Cappuccino" in perfect unison.

He looked over then, and smiled. Daniel smiled back. It was a friendly smile, a shared amusement, nothing sharp or seductive or even happy about it, but it was the most beautiful smile Jack had ever seen. The eyes were an astonishing clear blue, crinkling around the edges with the kind of lines you acquired squinting into the sun in equatorial places. The face was a shock of handsomeness, younger-looking than it was, and older, too, etched with experience. It was complex, a fascination. He held Daniel's gaze for an extra moment, long practiced at conveying calm, affable strength no matter what was going on inside him, and said, "Jack."

"Jack," Daniel said.

It was a quiet, almost thoughtful echo, as though Daniel was evaluating the name for suitability, deciding whether it fit, deciding it did. But his name shaping that mouth -- the tongue arching into the J, palate rounding the vowel, throat closing softly on the closing consonant -- flooded Jack's penis with blood and left it stiffly and uncomfortably erect, throbbing against his groin, at an angle inside his slacks, balls tight and hard against the seam.

It was the first erection he'd had in two years, and it shocked the shit out of him.

He should have flushed; he could feel his face blanch instead, all the blood in his body collecting between his legs. He cleared his throat, gaze dropping to the table, and hiked his chair closer to make sure it wasn't visible.

"Hey, can I bum a smoke?" Daniel said, placing his long-fingered hands lightly on the table.

Jack glanced up, almost sharply. The gentle, easy smile on Daniel's face was -- comforting. It said that he was aware of Jack's situation and casually offering him something to occupy his hands, his attention. Jack's head came up. "Sure," he said. Wary of that easy comfort; wary of a man this observant, this smooth. His eyes stayed on Daniel's face while his hand found the pack of Winstons in his pocket, fingers curling around the lighter, while he brought both of them out to place in the middle of the table.

"Thanks," Daniel said, and after just an extra nanosecond looked down, took the pack, shook out a cigarette, lit it. He took a deep, satisfied drag, exhaling with a soft sound so reminiscent of sexual pleasure that Jack's cock gave a twitch, and then smiled and turned the cigarette in his facile fingers, offering it to Jack.

The phallic imagery and the visceral craving to put his mouth where that mouth had just been was so strong that Jack shook his head and said, "I'll hold off."

"In more ways than one?" Daniel said.

"Haven't decided yet."

Their coffees came. Jack's boner gradually eased away. They dispensed with the strip joint in short order -- "I was there with a client"; "Stag night" -- and moved on. Despite his offer from the car -- or because he'd said "if you ask," and Jack didn't ask, not straight-out -- Daniel was deftly evasive about what he did for a living, but he defined himself as a perpetual graduate student, two PhDs and counting. Psychology and anthropology, he said, now slowly but surely making his way through a master's in some flavor of sociology Jack didn't quite catch because he was distracted by the rich voice and the supple movement of lips. Jack said he'd separated from the Air Force two years ago, and yeah those were old service buddies at the party, and these days he worked with at-risk kids at a city youth center. He didn't mention Special Forces, he didn't mention his family, he didn't mention that one of those two years he'd spent crawling down into the bottom of a bottle and then clawing his way back out, he didn't explain that the kids he worked with had blown so far past the 'risk' part of 'at risk' that only a few people like him would have any part of them, people who knew that people like them were not always irredeemable, because they were those people; but he could see the guesses and deductions slotting together behind Daniel's brilliant, too-beautiful blue eyes, the same way 'psychology' had set a whole train of detectivework going for him.

After not too long, the conversation got easier, more wide-ranging. Jack relaxed, had a smoke, had another coffee, started enjoying himself. Really enjoying himself; enjoying himself more than he had in anyone's company in a long, long time. This is happy, he thought, with an odd estrangement, in the middle of an easygoing debate about the pros and cons of the designated hitter. I remember. This is what happy felt like.

It was nearly two, they were the only ones in the place, and Antonio would be wanting to call it a night. They split the check for appearance' sake, and left the full amount as a tip. They walked out into the bitter winter night in step, unthinking until they paused on the sidewalk and Jack realized that they were in some kind of sync, the way you got with some men that you served with for a very long time, easy in their company.

"So I won't push," Daniel said, his breath pluming the air in front of them. "You have a cell on you? I'll give you my number, then you can call or not."

"You do this much, Daniel?" Jack asked. They were both facing the street, not facing each other. His body ached with yearning to turn, take Daniel by shoulder and chin, taste his mouth. Push into the warmth of him, with the bitter knifing air around them.

"Never, actually," Daniel said.

"Really?" Jack turned, despite himself, to look.

Daniel smiled, a little color staining his cheek, and didn't look back. "Really. I don't just mean men. I mean at all. But anything else I say will sound like a line, or manipulation, so let's leave it at that, OK?" He dug down in the pocket of his jeans and came back with a cell phone. Older model, just like his car. And his clothes, come to think of it. Classy, giving the appearance of being vintage rather than old, but everything well maintained maybe more because replacing it was outside his means. "You want the number?"

You could just tell me, Jack almost said, taking his cell phone from the jacket pocket that didn't hold his smokes, but then something clicked in his head, a fundamental appreciation for circumspection, discretion; he wouldn't have said his phone number out loud either, even on a deserted street at two in the morning. He looked at the display Daniel held out and entered it into his flip phone. He set his to display his number, and after a blink, Daniel keyed it in. Then he folded it off with a click and put it back in his pocket, put both his hands in his pockets.

"I'm at a hotel," Jack said. "Big wedding, military types. We can't go there."

"OK," Daniel said, neutrally. Breath pluming. Facing the street, not Jack. Making no move towards his car.

"And there are two things you should know about me."

"OK," Daniel said again.

"Unless I'm misunderstanding something here, what we're talking about is something I may not be able to deliver on. When you said my name earlier, and I got hard? That was the first time in two years. Something ... happened. Two years ago. I haven't been able to get it up since then."

"OK," Daniel said. Quietly. Waiting for number two.

"The other thing is that I'm a very dangerous guy. My military service included a lot of specialized training and ground experience that's probably not what comes to mind when you hear 'Air Force.' I can tell you that you're safe with me, and it's the truth. But you might be smarter not to take my word for that. What I'm saying is, I'm not the kind of stranger it's wise to bring home."

"Special ops," Daniel said softly. "Black ops, if I read it right."

Jack straightened, deeply surprised. From long habit, he didn't confirm or deny, but his silence said enough.

"I hope what happened two years ago was unrelated," Daniel said, even more softly, so softly that the wind almost took the words away.

Jack's insides clenched. The gentle, desolate sadness in that near-whispered guess made something close to tears sting his eyes, more shocking than any erection could ever be. "Not unrelated," he said. "My son ... " He swallowed. He wasn't going to do this, except he already was. "Shot himself with a sidearm I kept loaded in the house. He's OK now, but he was in the hospital for a long time, rehab after that. His mother took him to another state. I didn't fight it. It was the right thing at the time." Five sentences he hadn't said to anyone since it all happened. The people around him found out somehow and told each other. The ones who didn't steer clear of him then, the ones who thought he needed help and they could provide it, he drove away slowly. The ones who hovered with manufactured sympathy he drove away fast. "She's remarried. He's a good guy. The kid's happy. I see him sometimes." Four more sentences. Not enough to make up for what almost happened. For what did happen, as the paranoid darkness closed in on him. "Shrinks all say it was accidental. Kid says he doesn't remember." He took a deep breath, freezing air burning his throat. "My fault, either way. Job fucked me up."

"You've been alone for a long time," Daniel said.

"Yeah," Jack said, more in surprise than anything else. No That's terrible, no I'm so sorry. No How do you mean, fucked up? It was all there in what Jack had said, but not just anyone would have listened well enough. Daniel got it the way somebody on the job would get it. A soldier, a cop ... someone who'd been around. Jack turned his whole body to face Daniel. He meant to say something like Who are you? What are you? What came out was "So have you."

Daniel smiled, wanly, into the night, and nodded. "Not the way you mean, maybe," he said. "But yes. Very much so." He glanced over and slightly up -- Jack was a couple of inches taller than he was -- then looked back out across the silent, gusty street. "I was divorced around the same time. It was a green-card marriage, the divorce was planned in advance, but I'd fallen in love with her, so ... " He shrugged. "We should get out of this wind."

"Yeah," Jack said. "OK."

Daniel turned, with a dull jingle of keys collected in his hand inside his pocket, and Jack followed to his car. They sat inside. The seats were old, gloriously comforable and broken-in, but the interior was as pristinely maintained as the exterior. Daniel turned the ignition so that he could run the heater, but didn't put the car into gear.

"I've had a lot of sex since then," Daniel said, after they'd sat for a few minutes, when warmth was finally starting to seep in. "But under ... controlled circumstances. I haven't ... made love to anyone in a couple of years, and before my wife, pretty much never. Erectile function isn't an issue for me, but emotional attachment is. That's too much to lay on you, and I'll drop you back at your hotel in a minute, leave the rest up to you. You know, whether to call. If you're still in town. But I just want you to know. I don't ... do this. You're the first person I've ... " He shrugged again, and smiled, blue eyes distant, focused on nothing somewhere way past the windshield. "I saw you sitting at that bar and it was like a bolt of lightning. I've never experienced anything like it, ever. You're a ... well, 'attractive' is an understatement. So probably you get this all the time, and maybe the compliment won't matter to you. I just want you to know."

Controlled circumstances. Doctorate in psychology. The guesses that weren't guesses but penetrating insights. The woman who wasn't a date but a client. The rapt desire, the epiphany, the sexuality blooming from her in response to whatever words Daniel had said. "Sex therapy," Jack said. "You're a sex therapist."

Got it in one. Daniel didn't say the words, but Jack could hear them, like telepathy. Read them in the smile visible in his peripheral vision.

Jack knuckled his brow, grinning without mirth, in amazement. "And me with my wilting willy. How fucked up is that?"

Daniel's smile widened and darkened, and his gaze slid over to Jack in a way that no health professional's ever would. "I already solved your dysfunction problem," he said, in a low voice that couldn't be mistaken for anything but seductive. "Jack."

"Christ," Jack muttered. Again he felt the stirring in his crotch, though he was too off kilter, too exhausted from self-revelation in the biting wind, to achieve a bona fide boner. His heart was pounding, his breath was coming short. The fucker was literally breathtaking.

Daniel took the wheel, released the handbrake, took the stick, eased back into the relaxed casualness that Jack was beginning to recognize as his default state. "I'll drop you off," he said. "This got more complicated than either of us expected. Which hotel is it? Or I can drop you at the Marriott, if you don't want me to know."

"Wait," Jack said. He lifted a hand to cover Daniel's on the stick, then didn't, struck by the symbolism and not knowing what to do with it. "Wait, Daniel."

Daniel waited with the clutch in, his foot on the brake, the stick in first.

"I don't want to go back to my hotel," Jack said.

"OK," Daniel said. "I don't want you to either. I'd like to stay the night somewhere with you. Do you want to stay somewhere with me?"

"Yeah. But ... not as a -- "

"No," Daniel cut him off, "not as a. But my offices are in the front of my house. Like a dentist's or a massage therapist's. There's an office and a library and there are two rooms with beds. You won't see them if we go in the residential entrance, but you'll know they're there. If that's going to make you feel like a client, there are some motels on the other side of town. Far from where your wedding party will be."

"Fine," Jack said. He knew those places. "That's fine. That's ... "

Daniel paused with the engine idling, his gaze coming away from the side mirror to rest squarely on Jack's face. "That's what?"

"Safer than bringing me to your home, and more -- tawdry than I ... want for you."

Daniel's wariness at what he thought Jack might be about to say bloomed into a genuine, surprised smile. Abruptly Jack understood something that wouldn't have occurred to him, or maybe had been lurking in the back of his mind, something about confusing what Daniel did with prostitution, and that probably a lot of people did that, probably a lot of people assumed things about Daniel, and what Daniel was available for, that ... hurt him. "I appreciate that," Daniel said, and he really did; he seemed suddenly warmer, more human than he had at any point up 'til now. "But it's OK with me if it's OK with you."

Come home with me, Jack thought, his heart clogging his throat with longing so intense no words could get out. Clear your schedule, I'll blow off this wedding, get on the interstate, it's only two hours' drive. But that was two hours longer than he could stand waiting to feel Daniel's skin against his, Daniel's warm, muscled flesh in his arms.

The strangest thing was that he could feel Daniel reading the words on his still lips, reading the longing in his eyes.

"How far?" Daniel asked softly, with a glance at his gas gauge. Still holding the car in neutral with the stick in first.

"Two hours," Jack said. "Right now, that's too far."

"I'm starting to think that for this nothing is too far," Daniel said, almost to himself. He looked at Jack again. "Would you be open to a compromise?"

"A pitstop?"

"Yeah."

"This part of town's not a great place for that kind of activity."

Daniel eased into gear and pulled almost silently out onto the deserted street. "I'll show you," he said. "Then you can threat-assess."

He took the last alleyway on the block and killed the headlights, creeping around behind the row of restaurants, down to where there was an open loading bay. He slid them into its enveloping darkness. The car would be completely invisible in here. He angled it so that even the direct shine of a patrol car's headlights wouldn't illuminate two silhouettes; it would look like an owner's car left here overnight.

"How do you know about this?" Jack said.

"This seafood place, La Mer? The manager's an old school friend of mine. We hang out sometimes, come back here to get high. The door on this bay has been broken for about a month. The owner never bothers having it fixed." He killed the engine, then turned to Jack, hooking an arm around the headrest of his own bucket seat. "So? Thumbs-up?"

"Ex-commando says 'Good choice, Daniel.'" Jack's heart was pounding so hard his chest hurt. "Thirty years since I tried to do this in a car, though."

"Doesn't everybody want to feel like a teenager again?" Daniel said, with a glint of teeth just visible in the dim glow of streetlights bounced off the opposite buildings.

Jack reached for Daniel's left hand, turned it, and took the watch off his wrist. He peeled off his own and put them both in the glovebox. Now nobody would catch a reflection off glass face or polished metal.

"God, you are a commando," Daniel said.

"Was," Jack said. "Yeah. For real." The feel of the skin of Daniel's hand was still tingling up his arm; the feel of the fingers curling in, reflexively, at the arousal of his touch. "Daniel," he said, leaning forward, blind. Hungry, terrified, and blind. "Daniel -- "

Daniel found his mouth by the sound of his voice. Daniel's lips touched his. They both froze, on the barest brush of breath. Then Daniel moaned, low and pleading, and leaned in just a little more. Offering, not pushing. Begging, not taking.

Jack's mouth melted into his, Jack's tongue melted into his. His body swelled with so much yearning it felt like it would burst through its own skin. He swallowed a groan and let out a muffled gasp and pushed into the kiss, opening wide, licking and probing, pushing, pleading, starving. Their tongues slid and stroked and tangled; their mouths sucked at each other, then tried to push past each other. He was starving, so starving for this, and he'd never tasted anything as good as Daniel's tongue, Daniel's spit. He groaned again and pulled back to swallow and then pushed in again, taking a handful of jacket and sweater, his tongue exploring deeply, too fast and too deep, the ridged palate and smooth gums and the fleshy muscle underneath the tongue, teeth and the inside of cheeks, trying to penetrate as far as the uvula; moaning, trying not to moan. He pulled back again with a gasp when he couldn't control himself or the sounds he was making. He mumbled "Sorry" and Daniel said "No, god, no, don't stop," and Jack kissed across his lips, kissed one corner and then across to the other in fierce, tender nips, and said, "Will you let me? Please let me," his hand dropping down to brush Daniel's belt through his sweater, to explain what he was trying to ask for.

"Yeah," Daniel said, a breathless gasp, and his hands fumbled down, and between them they got his sweater and shirt up and his belt undone and his jeans open. Jack hesitated then, hesitated to put his hand in, and Daniel pushed at his bunched briefs and pants to free himself and then offered it to Jack. Didn't take Jack's hand and put it on him; took himself in his hand and nudged against Jack's hand.

Jack closed his hand over Daniel's instead of seeking lower, to grasp the shaft, and squeezed, and into Daniel's soft grunt said, "Can I use my mouth?"

"I'll come in your mouth. I can't hold it."

"That's OK," Jack said, hungry to taste, hungry to swallow.

"I don't -- you won't believe this, but I don't have -- "

"Neither do I." He kissed chin, cheek, upper lip. "I haven't had sex in two years, and before that I was monogamous and military, faithful to my wife, tests comin' out of my ears. Your line of work, you probably play safer than anyone I know."

"Well, yeah, except now, if I ... let ... if we ... "

"Your choice. I want to taste it."

"There's a handkerchief -- my pocket -- if you can reach -- you can spit -- "

"Shh," Jack said, against Daniel's lips, silencing him, and then shoved his hip down in his own seat to angle his body, got himself braced on an elbow behind the gearshift, and lowered his head.

Daniel's hand fell away and Daniel's penis came into his mouth like velvet, like satin, like iron. He closed his too-dry lips around the shaft just under the head and tasted him, stroking the tip of his tongue lightly around the crown. Daniel pushed back in the seat and gasped, "God, oh my god, oh," and thoughts of clients and what they did and the verbal responses Daniel gave them evaporated from Jack's mind as his senses were overwhelmed. The rich smell, the salt sweetness of vulnerable flesh. He drew off to wet his lips and went down in a long pressing slide of tongue, 'til he had the glans nestled against the soft part of the roof of his mouth. Up again, down again, long and slow and easy. Down again, getting his head angled better, relaxing his throat -- down as far as he could go, trying for the root, stopped short of it by bunched clothes. The head bumping the back of his throat was really good, want-to-do-that-over-and-over-again good, well worth the mild tap on his gag reflex. He held there as long as he could. Daniel's jacket creaked as his arm came up to cover his mouth; Jack heard teeth sink into leather. The nearer hand clenched in Jack's collar. Jack drew back up again to tease the head with soft lips and light tongue, and then closed his mouth on it, sucking gently.

Daniel made a high, choked sound. His penis pulsed. Intensely bitter fluid flooded Jack's mouth. He gulped down what he could, taking air with it, a bubble that hurt his chest as it went down. He kept tenderly suckling. He couldn't remember putting his fingers on the shaft, but he was stroking through a creamy slippery mix of come and spit now, a sweetly erotic texture. All the flesh inside his mouth was contracted with the indescribably strange taste, his throat tightened against the burn. Daniel was taut as a bow against the seat, feet jammed into the well, legs shaking, pleasure singing through his body. Jack had been hungry for that too. He drank it all in, breathing deep.

After forever, the ejaculations eased off, but Daniel's penis stayed hard for a while. Jack explored it with his whole mouth, lips and tongue and throat, lightly, paying careful attention to the small jerks and shudders that came from Daniel. Some were aftershocks of orgasm and some were reactions to Jack's touch on hypersensitized places. Jack learned, with care, where the hot spots were, where it was too much, and where it still felt good while Daniel started to come down.

He didn't ever want to stop doing this. But he couldn't spend the night with his face buried in Daniel's crotch, and he didn't want Daniel to think he was afraid to come up, make eye contact. He came up, but eye contact was iffy in the deep darkness; so he took a chance, and brushed his face against Daniel's, a gentle nuzzle. Daniel let out a low, overwhelmed sound, and his lips sought Jack's. Jack gave them to him, tensing a little because his mouth was coated in Daniel's come; but Daniel moaned, deeply, and sucked Jack's tongue into his mouth, and a high whine came out of Jack's nose as his arousal went off the scale.

"Jack," Daniel murmured, husky and throaty, when he finally, reluctantly drew back. "Jack, oh, god, Jack, Jack," he said, into Jack's lips, pressing the shape of Jack's name there. "Oh god, please tell me that was OK for you. Please."

He got lost in it, Jack thought. If I were a client he'd have ignored whatever he was feeling and concentrated on me, and he --

"I have no words for how good that was," Jack said, throat thick with semen, tongue thick with satiation and arousal. He kissed, mouth and then jaw, and then pushed his face in close against Daniel's to say, "I'm in love with you, Daniel. Honest-to-god love at first sight. I don't want to freak you out. I won't ever say it again if you don't want me to. But that's what that was for me."

Daniel groaned, low in his throat, and gripped Jack's shoulder, and buried his face down low against the side of Jack's neck. "Don't say that because it's what I want to hear."

"I said it because it's true. You wanted to hear that?"

"Yes," Daniel said. It sounded like despair.

"Hey." Jack pulled back, got his hands around Daniel's head, held it, kissed his face, his lips. "Hey. This is good. This is a nice thing. You sound like your heart's breaking."

He couldn't see Daniel's lips curve but he could hear a smile in the shaky breath he huffed out. "Yeah. It is. Nice, I mean. I'm just ... That was kind of overwhelming for me."

And this from a guy who makes a living with his dick went through Jack's mind. It was triumph and pride and satisfaction, but he didn't like the thought, and he didn't like the way it turned him on and speared him with sharp, unearned possessiveness at the same time. "This is happening very fast," he said. "It's been two hours since that club. We'll figure it out. Whatever we need to figure out. If you want to. I want to."

"Jack." Daniel pushed back from him a little. "I haven't come like that in years. I don't think I've come like that ever. For so long, like that."

Jack swallowed, and took a breath, and said, "Do you come with your clients?"

"When it's what they need," Daniel answered, quietly. "If it's not, I don't. I prefer not to."

"You know that was the first time I ever did that," Jack said, just as quietly. "I mean, I figure you're probably pretty good at assessing that kind of thing."

"I am," Daniel said. "I thought that was the case. But then ... you were so good at it, I thought I might have misjudged ... but then it was just you, it was just ... god, Jack, that was so good. I can't -- It's completely different. I can't even think about it that way."

"That's good, right?"

"Yes. I didn't know, if I ever met ... I didn't know if I'd ruined myself for this."

Jack reached up and palmed the side of Daniel's face, ran his fingers back and up into the soft, tousled hair, a silken tease running through his fingers. "I've never sucked dick before, but I've had a lot of sex in my life and I never felt anyone come like that."

"Did you get hard, at all?" Daniel asked, fast, as though if he did it quickly enough, before he thought about it, it would just be a question, not a diagnostic tool.

"I don't know," Jack said, honestly. "I don't think so. But I was more turned on than I can remember being for a long, long time." He looked up, wishing he could see Daniel's face. "Is that weird? I mean, it's possible to be intensely aroused without getting an erection?"

"Yes," Daniel said. "It's actually not uncommon. I ... "

"What?"

"That's my professional answer. Part of it, anyway. If you want to pursue that, in that mode, I will. I was just ... Plain old me just wishes you'd gotten hard."

"Well, that's good, right? For you to say that. I mean, you wouldn't admit something like that to a client."

"I wouldn't wish something that with a client. Self-esteem isn't an issue in the office. I know what's attractive about me, physically anyway, and I know how to assess if I'm not what a client needs. It doesn't affect me; it's a clinical assessment."

"God," Jack said, suddenly. "Your job must ... " He laughed at himself, the juvenile indecision between 'really suck' and 'be really hard.' " ... be challenging."

"Thanks, I think," Daniel said, a smile in his voice. A smile, and relief; and his body was calming, where Jack could feel it under his hands, and he so badly wanted to feel it all up and down his body, to feel every inch of him, to be able to clearly see his face. "No more challenging than what you used to do, I expect. The aspects of a job you have to ... remove yourself from. But now's not the time to talk about that."

"Another time," Jack said. "I mean that. I want to tell you. I've never ... told anyone. A lot of things. But no. Not now." He smoothed Daniel's hair, smoothed his sweater, pulled back into his own seat. "I think I can stand those two hours now," he said. "If you're up to it."

"I'm up to it," Daniel said. He tucked and zipped and buckled. "I need some more coffee, though."

"There's a truck stop a mile onto the interstate," Jack said. "But, ah ... your place is fine, Daniel. If you -- trust me to know where you live. It's OK if you don't. I might not trust me."

"I trust you," Daniel said calmly. "As long as the premises don't do a number on your head."

"It's what you do," Jack said. "It's who you are. Lot better than what I used to be. You help suffering people feel better, right?"

"Yes."

"Helluva lot better, then."

"Jack, um ... "

Jack smiled. "It's OK."

"It's not fair."

"I got as much out of that as you did, believe me. Daniel, the truth is -- what I really want right now is to get naked with you in your bed. I don't care if I can't get it up as long as I can sleep with you. Make love with you? I'm afraid to say the wrong thing here."

"You're saying all the right things."

"Good. OK. So, that's what I want. If you try to get me off here and I let you down, I'm sitting alone in my seat in a car in the dark in a loading bay. If it happens in your bed, it doesn't matter, because I have everything else I want."

Daniel started the car and pulled out of the bay, slowly, lights off -- he'd make a good driver in the field, Jack thought -- and then came out of the alley, swept for police, flipped the headlights on and pulled out onto the street. "You can smoke now," he said.

Jack chuckled. "Yeah." He fished out his smokes. "Thanks."

"Can I tell you something? Before we get there?"

Jack cranked the window down partway, enough to suck the smoke away, and held the cigarette up to it without blocking the side mirror. "Sure."

"I get the impression that you don't know, deep down, how attractive you are. I think you see the effect it has on other people, and you know how to use it when that's necessary; I think you know how to be very charming when it suits your purposes, and I think you're also a goodhearted guy who doesn't manipulate people that way without good reason. I don't think you see, in the mirror, what other people see. I'm probably also not the first person who's said this to you."

"Right on all counts so far," Jack said, waiting to see where this was going, waiting to see where the car was going.

"I also have a feeling that not too many men have hit on you. You present as very straight. I think you probably always did, but being in the military you got especially good at concealing or suppressing whatever level of bisexuality you were aware of in yourself."

"I know what I am," Jack said, quietly. Taking quiet pleasure in saying it out loud, for the first time, and savoring that pleasure more than he expected to. "I've known that male bodies got me going since I was maybe, I don't know, eleven? Same time I was learning that about girls. But it wasn't something you advertised in 1960s Minnesota, and once I went into the service whatever choice I ever had went away. I never told my wife, but I'm pretty sure she knew. The kind of sex she pushed for us to have sometimes. She was trying to be everything I needed."

"You declined?"

"Yeah. I ... felt bad, saying no. But it was too close to what I wanted without being what I wanted. I was trying not to want that stuff at all. Just shut that part of me down. Eventually she backed off. I should have told her." He took a drag from the smoke, smiled. "So, no. Not a lot of guys have hit on me. And, since you're being too polite to ask, I've never had that kind of sex. Not with another person. My own fingers, that's the extent of it."

"OK," Daniel said. "Thanks for telling me."

Jack offered him the cigarette; he shook his head. "What were you getting at with this?" Jack said. "Was that it?"

"No. What I was getting at was that I don't know if you've developed the ability to gauge cues from men the way you have from women. Because I've been giving off major infatuated-with-you vibes, and I don't know if you're picking up on them. If you are, I want you to know that it's more than just how ... good-looking you are. It's more than just sex. I want to know you. For yourself. If you want to just sleep next to me, hang out, talk, socialize, whatever -- that's OK, I'm OK with that. I'd like that. I just want to spend time with you." He hesitated, then said, "I hope this doesn't scare you off, but I also want to say that if you can't get hard I'd actually totally get off on just sucking on your soft dick for as long as felt nice for you, if you'd let me. Maybe that sounds crazy."

"No," Jack said, slowly, and swallowed. "That gets me really freaking hot, if you want to know." He flicked the cigarette butt out the window and looked over, watched the streetlights strobe in slow rhythm over Daniel's calm, beautiful face. "Did you tell me that to reduce my performance anxiety?"

"No," Daniel said. "I said it because I'm very oral and I want to make love to you and I feel bad about what I said before about wishing you were hard and I want you to know that I ... just want you. However you are, whatever we can manage, physically. It's a kind of craving. I've never felt this before."

"Me neither," Jack said. "It's ... the same here."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"That's good."

"Yeah."

They merged onto the interstate, the drive satiny smooth, a tactile pleasure that Jack found calming. He liked to drive almost as much as he liked to fly, but he wasn't used to taking pleasure in it as a passenger. "We are going to your place, right?" he said.

"I'm the second exit," Daniel said.

As a show of good faith that he figured was unnecessary but couldn't hurt, Jack rattled off his full address, in a suburb of the neighboring city. With no qualifiable reaction, Daniel perceptibly perked up when Jack described the youth center, but didn't ask for details, didn't offer to talk some kind of shop. Jack switched smoothly back to more basic personal information. "I grew up outside Minneapolis. Still have a cabin up north. I think about moving back sometimes, but it's never the right time. I'm glad now. I might not have come in this weekend if I had to deal with the airlines."

"The wedding's Saturday?"

"Yeah."

It was the wee hours of Thursday night, technically Friday morning. "You won't miss it."

"I'll get out of your hair before start of business," Jack said.

"Work's the last thing I want to do right now," Daniel said. "But I appreciate that. There's only one client today. Late afternoon." He took his exit, downshifting around the turn, smooth as silk. At the stop sign at the bottom of the ramp, he glanced over. "You can ask me, Jack."

"It's none of my business."

"Ask."

Jack sighed. "The client's coming for sex?"

"Nope. Talking. Long way from any kind of sexual contact."

"A man or a woman?"

"A man."

"You have a lot of male clients?"

"About fifteen percent. I don't have sex with all of them, and when I do it isn't always intercourse. Most often it's touching, relaxation. Helping them get over their aversions and tensions in the bedroom, or helping them explore an aspect of their sexuality that's been problematic for them. Mostly, really, what I do is listen to people." He looked over his shoulder before proceeding onto the service road, checking his blind spot, and briefly checked Jack's expression too. "TMI?"

"No. I want to know." He started to say more, and stopped, and Daniel didn't push him. After a while, though, he said, "And ... outside of work?"

"I had a lot of sex in college and early in grad school. Men and women, pretty much equally. A couple of threesomes, some experimentation. I got very good at giving other people what they wanted, but I never got what I felt I needed from any partner or any relationship. I seemed to be incapable of falling in love. When I realized I was in love with the woman I married, it was a huge relief to me. To find out I was capable of ... feeling. Worth the heartbreak, in the end. She loved me, but she was never in love with me. Better for her, given what I do, I guess. We did sleep together. Sex with her was very sweet but not, you know, mindblowing. We ended the marriage as planned, and she found the right guy a few months later. Since her I haven't had sex outside work, at all. Until half an hour ago in this car." He smiled, checking the rearview mirror, three-quarters profile to Jack. "And yes, it was mindblowing."

"Yeah," Jack said softly, pleased and embarrassed, not even sure if Daniel could hear him. "Here too."

"I'm down in this development coming up," Daniel said. "You want anything from the twenty-four-hour place? I have lube and condoms and stuff, personal stash, not work-related. Coffee and tea, cereal, juice. Not much food. Spare razor and toothbrush."

"I don't need anything," Jack said.

They pulled up to a corner house that looked like an ordinary corner house, in a neighborhood of mixed residences and professional offices -- dentists and massage therapists, as Daniel had said, and a couple of chiropractors and an internist. From the garage side of the building, the office wasn't visible. Daniel pulled into the garage, pulled the door down, and let them in through the side connecting door.

The house smelled like home, instantly. It smelled like Daniel; it smelled like that morning's coffee, a tart bitterness in the back of the throat; it smelled like steam heat and an ocean-scented bathroom air freshener and something indefinably warm and familiar.

"I'm glad we came here," Jack said, and shouldered out of his coat, and hung it on a peg by the garage door. Daniel was toeing out of his shoes, so Jack bent down and unlaced his and did the same, leaving them at the end of a line of sneakers and hiking boots, one pair of dress shoes, one pair of loafers when Daniel added the pair he'd had on.

"I'm glad you're glad," Daniel said, smiling -- god, it was fantastic to be able to see that smile -- and then said, "Should I play host? You want a drink or anything?"

"Glass of water next to the bed," Jack said. "Which I wouldn't mind heading straight for, if that's OK. Or I can shower first if you want. Or, ah ... "

They'd been more than straightforward about everything else, but he found himself at a complete loss as to how to broach the subject of digestive tracts.

Daniel crossed the space between them in two steps, took Jack firmly in his arms, and kissed him, softly, on the mouth. "What would make you the most comfortable?"

"That's a Doctor Daniel question, right?" Jack's lips were tingling, like an explosion of tiny stars. As though he'd kissed the night sky.

"I don't know. It's the question I need answered right now. Is it important to you for me to penetrate you? Would you feel less anxious about it if you have an enema first?"

Jack winced; this had managed to tip past his TMI threshold. "I want to do whatever I'm supposed to do," he said gruffly.

Daniel's eyes were roving over his face; instead of answering, as if he'd forgotten they were having a conversation -- as if that bit of the doctor in him clicked off -- he kissed Jack again, harder, maneuvering his mouth open, and thrust a little against him, hardening; and tipped him back against the wall, over the line of shoes, and tilted his head and probed deeply, hungrily, into his mouth, his hips pushing at Jack's hips, his erection pushing between Jack's legs. Finally, with a low groan, he pushed off the wall with his arms. "I don't have any enemas in the house. If you decide you want one, I'll go get you one. I don't want you to shower. I just want to go to bed with you."

"Simple 'I' statements," Jack said, breathless from the kiss, from the humping, from the control Daniel exerted without trying, from how much he liked that.

"Always a safe default," Daniel acknowledged. "Bed?"

"Yeah," Jack said.

"This way. Turn the lights off while we go."

He followed Daniel into his bedroom. It was brimming with papers and journals and books and the bed wasn't made, which he found deeply erotic. He wanted to put his bare body where Daniel's bare body slept, fit himself into the tangle of bedcovers where Daniel spent his nights, read, dreamed, jerked off. He stripped down fast, forgetting thoughts of shaving, brushing his teeth, and Daniel followed suit and then they were sliding into the bed together, long legs under the ruck of sheets and spread, and he was push-pulling into Daniel's arms with a groan, smooth warm skin, muscle over bone, a slide of limbs and flesh and tongues and he was so turned on he couldn't see, he rolled on top by instinct and habit and thrust and felt his dick caught up between Daniel's legs, under his balls, his hard dick in that tight, hot, humid space -- hard, he was hard, he was so fucking hard --

"Fuck, fuck," he gasped, and pushed up. "Daniel -- "

One of Daniel's hands snaked up and stroked his sideburn, a frisson of pleasure, light fingertips between his cheek and his ear; the other hand closed on his ass cheek, pulling him into that tightness and heat. "Yeah," Daniel said, an expulsion of breath. His eyes were hot and misted. "Jack. Unh."

"Ah, god," Jack said, and dropped his mouth onto Daniel's, licked, sucked, moaned, pulled back. "God, I want you."

The clawed hand left his ass and groped away towards the nightstand. "I can't get it," Daniel said. "Wrong angle. Get the stuff out of the drawer."

"I don't ... " Jack started, but he followed directions and opened the little drawer and there were condom packets inside and a tube, and he brought them onto the mattress and then didn't know what to do, with them or with himself.

"Up," Daniel said, giving his chest a push. "Up on your knees."

Jack got up on his knees. He stared down at his penis as if he'd never seen it before, and then groaned, his eyes closing. He hadn't been hard, really hard, like this in so long, and now he'd go off at the first touch, all or nothing, fuck, he used to be good at this, he used to be able to --

The sound of the condom packet tearing open made him open his eyes. Daniel was reaching to stroke his penis. "God," Daniel said. "Jack, you're ... " He moved the condom against the tip. "Can I? Will you?"

"I don't know how," Jack said.

"Of course you do." Daniel rolled the rubber down over him, flipped the cap up on the lube, loaded the condom heavily with gel, set the tube aside. "Knee back," he said, and lifted his legs while Jack shifted. "Help me. Push on my legs 'til I've got them."

Jack did that, blinking, mute with need and fear, and pained by Daniel lifting his legs, opening them, to think he did this, for people who paid him --

"I don't do this," Daniel said. "Stop thinking that. Never this position. God -- Jack, I want -- " He took a deep breath. "You can't hurt me. I promise you. Just ... " He flushed, and said, "I just want to feel how you ... "

Daniel had a good grip on his own legs, so Jack chanced letting go of one and took hold of his hard dick, like a stranger to him after two years, he couldn't understand why it hadn't gone down, nerves and inexperience and -- he positioned it carefully, right up against the hole, it looked tight, too tight, but he had to trust -- he pressed, just slightly, and Daniel moaned his name and pulled his legs up higher, pulled himself open, and Jack eased his hips forward, then lowered his butt for a better angle and leaned in and pushed --

They both grunted, loudly, as he popped in. Daniel said, "Don't stop don't stop, push," and Jack pushed, and he could feel Daniel pushing back, bearing down inside and then easing up, working the muscle on him, helping him, and suddenly he believed that Daniel wanted this, he stopped being afraid of causing pain, and he eased slowly in, push-rest, push-rest, until suddenly he sank the last inch and his balls came up against Daniel's ass and he was in, all the way in.

"Jack?" Daniel said, eyes open wide, as if he were asking some kind of a question, and Jack wanted to answer but he didn't know what the question was or what to say and an ecstasy so extreme that it was almost numbing was spreading up his body and down his legs, and he couldn't speak.

"Jack," Daniel said, softly, something like intense pain creasing his eyes, "I can't, I have to -- oh god -- aannh -- "

Jack felt the spasms around his cock before he saw Daniel shoot, as if the inside of Daniel's body communicated the orgasm into his before it became visible. Daniel's cock was smooth and lightly veined, curved slightly towards his abs; it twitched up on the first shot and creamed his chest, then kept spurting over his ribs. Jack didn't know if he should reach for it, stroke it. He held Daniel's legs instead, to free Daniel's hands, but Daniel didn't reach for it either. He curled up at the peak of the orgasm, a high, helpless cry pushing out of him, and then fell back and grunted through aftershocks that shook his whole body. Jack could still feel it inside him. When Daniel went limp, inside and out, his panting breaths switched to long, hoarse groans that began to take on, again, the shape of Jack's name.

Jack watched it all; watched it all happen with his hard cock up Daniel's ass; watched in awe and disbelief and a spreading ache of tenderness and deep, desperate need. He had to move. He had to thrust. Focus on Daniel had kept him still but he couldn't, he had to --

"Jack," Daniel said, in a slur, lifting his head with effort. "Fuck me."

Jack pulled very slightly and then pushed, very slightly, and it was OK, he could move, a little, and so he started rocking, gently, testing. He concentrated on the way the inside of Daniel's body received the movements, and when he felt some play, some room to move, he started to thrust, long and slow. His lower back relaxed and his hips and thighs and abs caught the rhythm, a motion so old he thought he'd forgotten, so primal he couldn't have forgotten. Slow, slow ...

"More," Daniel said, clear and strong now. "Lean into my legs. Fuck me. For real, Jack."

Jack leaned in, got more freedom of motion, it was all slippery and slick and easy, but he blurted, "I'll hurt you."

"You won't hurt me. Come on. Bottom's in charge. Harder."

"But ... you came ... "

"I'll come again."

"You're just ... saying ... that ... " Jack said, speeding his strokes but not pushing any deeper, not thrusting any harder.

"I will never lie to you about a thing like that," Daniel said. "Never. Ever. Ever. God, Jack, come on, it's -- oh. Oh. Yeah."

Jack had given a hard push, hard enough to send sparks up his own spine, and when Daniel responded with unfeignable pleasure, some kind of safety slipped off his brain. He knew this. He knew how to do this.

He caught a rhythm again, but harder, faster. He pushed deeper until his balls were slapping right below the hole on every thrust and grunts were pushing out of him from the diaphragm. He let himself go, let himself revel in the continuous flowing jolts of pleasure through his balls and up his backbone. This was the tightest, hottest thing he'd ever had, never felt anything like this, ever -- and the harder and faster he gave it to Daniel the lower and more sexual Daniel's sounds became, until his hands clenched on his own legs and he growled, "Oh fuck, fuck yeah, fuck yeah ... " and came again with a curling gasp.

Daniel's ass gripped him again, squeezing and stroking in fast, sharp contractions. The climax was catching. Jack felt it coil in his balls, in his cockhead, in his ass, at the base of his spine. The holy shit, holy shit of recognizing that he was going to come. It would be massive, two years, it would rip him apart -- or it would be a twinge, a muscle spasm, over before he knew it, a thing his body didn't remember how to do. Oh god, he thought, I'm coming, and then it was happening, surging up through him, bowing him back, curling his toes, sweet and sharp, so good he could only grit his teeth against the unbearable pleasure of it and whimper. He should keep still, he thought, he didn't think he should keep moving in Daniel, but his hips were snapping against the cushion of ass, quick sharp thrusts he couldn't stop. He pumped into Daniel's body until he was empty, and then his hips stilled but his balls kept squeezing, his dick kept pulsing. The last of it was ecstasy so intense it was close to pain, and he sagged when it eased off. Relief and release. A spread of warmth through his chest and down his limbs, a bloom of endorphins. Daniel's legs slid down to cradle his lower body and Daniel put arms around him and pulled him down onto his chest. His dick pulled free to dangle into the crack of Daniel's ass, and he wanted to reach to get the condom out of him but he had no muscles and Daniel had him too tight. So he sank into the safety of Daniel's arms, breathing openmouthed into the slime of tears and come on Daniel's chest, and after a minute, or two minutes, or five, he lost consciousness, somewhere between passing out and falling asleep.

When he woke up, or came around, he was stretched out on his side, with Daniel's arm and leg over him, the sheet over both of them. He was dry and didn't feel sticky. He managed to get his eyes open, focus on Daniel's face. He meant to say "Are you OK?" or "You cleaned me up" or "Crap, I went out like a light" and what he said was "Holy christ you're beautiful."

"You too," Daniel said, stroking his head. He had the most wonderful fucking hands. Gentle and experienced and knowing. "So handsome the whole world turns toward you in a kind of shock, like nobody can believe that someone that handsome exists. And you barely even know it."

"I know I'm in love with you," Jack said.

"I'm in love with you too. Do you believe me?"

"Why shouldn't I believe you?"

"We haven't known each other very long."

"I've known you all my life. I've needed you all my life."

"OK," Daniel said. "Yeah." He smiled again, and Jack thought the world could not be sweeter than when it was lit by that smile.

"God, it's like I'm drunk," he said. "I'm sorry I conked out."

"It was a pretty explosive orgasm. Blew the head off that rubber, by the way."

"Oh, crap -- "

"It's OK. We had this discussion in the car. I'm not worried."

"I did you too hard."

Daniel laughed, a real laugh, a belly laugh. "It was fantastic. You are fucking fantastic when you let loose."

"I bawled like a baby."

"No you didn't. Flooding, that's all. A little snot. It washes off."

"You probably have clients break down on you like that all the time."

"Nope."

"Don't say stuff to spare me, Daniel."

"Sometimes they cry afterwards. It's never on me, and it's never like that, and I haven't done anyone in that position in ten years, so stop."

Jack closed his eyes. "Sorry."

Daniel's hand stroked over his head again, wondrously gentle, affectionate. "Yeah. Me too. You're going to keep having questions. I'll keep answering them."

"You must have questions too."

"Some. I won't ask them in bed."

"OK."

"OK."

"OK."

"OK, I do have one. You were totally shitting me about the erection thing, right?"

Jack opened his eyes, surprised. "No."

"Huh."

"'Huh'?"

"Well, I mean -- you noticed I came pretty much as soon as you got in, right?"

"Yeah, noticed that."

"And pretty much as soon as you put your mouth on me. In the car."

"Noticed that too."

"If it's been two years since you had penetrative sex ... well, you must have amazing control. As a general rule."

"It's been more than two years. Marriage was rocky before the accident. My job did number on me. Still does, I should probably warn you. Ahead of time. You know, for when the bloom's off the rose. If ... you know."

"If this goes on."

"Yeah."

"Hasn't even been a whole day."

"Hasn't even been a whole night." He shifted a little. "About the control thing, I don't know. It didn't feel like control. It just happened. About the impotence, no, I wasn't shitting you. Really couldn't get it up all that time, alone or in company. I could have tried pills, I guess. Never did." He looked over, suddenly. "You did not come twice."

Now Daniel was laughing. "You think that's something I could fake?"

"Nobody has that kind of turnaround time. It's biology. You can't come without a load to shoot. I watched you shoot."

"Dry ejaculations," Daniel said. "It is physiologically possible, with sufficient stimulation. You felt the contractions, right?"

"Yeah."

"So, proof positive. You ... " Daniel's gaze dropped, and he flushed. "Like I said. You fuck really well."

The compliment thrilled through Jack. Doctor Daniel turned him on more than he probably should, the clinical expertise, but blushing Daniel, shy but honest about what turned him on ... "I'm glad," he managed. "I'm glad I do it in a way you like." He looked down, himself, and picked at the covers. "How come it didn't hurt you?"

He winced as soon as he said it, realizing that Daniel must keep himself prepared for any client he'd be taking that way, feeling stupid, then jealous, then stupid for feeling jealous. Daniel watched the expressions play across his face, waited for him to make eye contact again, and then said, "Because I masturbate with sex aids. For myself, not my job. You can see if you want, they're in the big cabinet in the nightstand."

Jack did want to see. That added embarrassment to the mix. "Later, maybe."

Daniel smiled, reading him easily. "It's an assortment of vibrators and plugs, a couple of dildos, and a prostate massager. Mostly I use the plugs. I like the anal stimulation while I jerk off. I like to feel some pressure there. Your ego will be pleased to hear that you're bigger than what I usually use, but I like the extra stretch. I save the dildos for when I want the extra stretch. When I have time to enjoy it." He moved a little closer and combed fingers down through Jack's chest hair. "I get in that position we were in, and I move the toy in and out a little bit, just gently stimulating the opening until I'm really excited. Then I push it in and stroke myself and fantasize that it's you up in me."

"You didn't know me yet," Jack said, a little hoarse, more than a little mesmerized.

"A guy a little taller than me, a little older than me, a little stronger than me. A guy who could force me if he decided to do that. Ruggedly handsome. Virile, masculine, but a little boyish sometimes, a little shy. A guy who's as smart as I am, a guy who's had as much life experience as I have, maybe been to some of the crazy places I've been to, someone who doesn't think I'm a total alien. A guy with a dick exactly the size and shape of yours who fucks really, really well."

"You're reverse-engineering this fantasy."

"Would that be so bad? I'm not, though. I swear, that's my dream guy. You. I already knew you, I already wanted you. I knew you were out there, somewhere. I just didn't think I'd ever meet you." Again, the heart-melting smile. "I won't get that mushy or ... metaphysical again if that turns you off."

"It doesn't turn me off." It awed him, mostly, and made him feel he'd already come up short. "I'm not ... all those things, though."

Daniel grinned. "Name one point of divergence."

Jack huffed out a laugh, but he said, "I'm not as smart as you are."

"Yes. You are."

"Three doctorates?"

"Two. Getting degrees is just jumping through the right hoops and paying through the nose for the credits on a transcript."

"For you, maybe. For someone as smart as you."

"What rank were you? Are you allowed to tell me?"

"Colonel," Jack said, feeling a weird mix of pride and loss and exposure. "Full bird."

"So, what was your master's in?"

Jack blinked up at him.

"You don't make major without a master's, right?"

"Aeronautical engineering. I like airplanes."

"Cool. I could barely squeak by on the math required for something like that."

"Why do I feel that 'squeaking by' for you would be summa-cum-laude for someone else?"

"The job you did requires high intelligence and an extraordinary gift for tactical analysis. I don't need to know that to figure out that you're a smart guy, but that's because I'm a smart guy."

"You're a smartass."

"That doesn't take brains to figure out."

Jack laughed again, softly. He'd laughed more in the past few hours than the past few years. Daniel had a sly wickedness that delighted him. And aroused him. Pretty much everything about Daniel aroused him. He knew this was happening way faster than it was supposed to, and every time he started to examine that he discarded it, because there was just nothing wrong with this. Nothing wrong and everything right. He wasn't even waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Daniel said, "So you didn't call me on the life-experience thing."

"I want to hear more about that. But no, I wouldn't call you on that. You're pretty obviously not some ivory-tower academic, all that sheepskin notwithstanding." And there was way more to the story of the green-card wife, and where the money from a thriving practice was going, because he had no doubt that it was thriving, and feeding an academic addiction didn't quite explain the patina of age on the flashy car and jacket and phone. He squeezed a biceps. "Doubt I'm stronger, though. How much you bench?"

Daniel quoted a weight about twenty pounds more than Jack would be comfortable with, and then said, "But you could force me."

"I would never do that."

"But you could."

Jack cocked his head. "That's an important part of this fantasy?"

Daniel looked down again, and nodded.

Carefully, Jack said, "I could take you. Physically. If I had to. I might have to injure you to do it; I might not be able to restrain you without damage. And by the way I'm massively uncomfortable making that assessment. You ever do any wrestling? Judo?"

"I have a blue belt in aikido."

"Good. Good for you. In your line of work, I'd recommend that. If you asked my professional opinion. Still training for the next belt?"

Daniel nodded.

"Good. Keeps you in shape, keeps your skills sharp." He watched Daniel waiting for more, and sighed, and said, "Daniel, I signed up to fly planes, and somebody decided I had more talent for jumping out of them than flying them and I spent two decades surviving in some of the worst live-combat situations there are. I've saved some people, I've helped some people, but I killed a lot more than I saved. I'm very good at killing people. You'd have to be extraordinarily lucky to come out on top in any kind of confrontation with me, armed or unarmed. I could sit behind a desk for the next ten years and that would still be true. Does that turn you on?"

"No," Daniel said, simply, easily. "But it's something I wanted to know." Again his gaze dropped and his cheeks pinked. "It does turn me on, a lot, that you could hold me down. Immobilize me. If you chose to."

"If it was something you wanted."

"It is something I want."

"You want to feel forced."

Daniel nodded. "I don't want to be forced. I just ... respond very intensely to the prospect of ... not having to be the strong one. Having someone I want and trust take charge of the encounter. Not just do the work. Make the decisions. Take control of me so I can feel it."

Jack relaxed as comprehension dawned. "OK. I see. Yeah. Of course." He'd never needed that in bed to counteract the demands on him in the field, but he knew people who did, and he'd needed it in other ways, nonsexual ways. He knew what Daniel meant.

"I'm sorry. That's too heavy. It's too soon for that stuff."

"Not at all." Jack squeezed closer, wanting to feel more skin against him. "I can do that for you. If it excites you, I'd like to do that for you. What I can't do is -- get off on it, myself. I'd get off on your pleasure. Not on the act of controlling you. I don't know if that's part of what you need. Somebody who, you know, likes that."

"No. I mean, it would be fine if you did, but it would be ... well, I'm not a submissive. I was going to say that it would be complicated for me, if you were that kind of top, because I'm not that kind of bottom. And if I were, that might be complicated, because of your military background. But it's about active and passive, for me, not dom/sub. Not orders, or rules, or punishment. Just ... sharing the weight."

"Then we're good. As long as no means no and stop means stop. I can't ... pretend, about that kind of stuff. I've heard people scream and beg for real. I've been tortured, for real. There's nothing erotic about it."

"Some people eroticize it to cathart it," Daniel said, slowly.

"You do that for your clients?"

"I have colleagues who do."

Jack nodded. "I probably know some of their clients." He smiled grimly. "Small world."

Daniel glanced past him at the clock. Jack's internal timekeeper said it was about five. "You hungry or anything? Need a smoke?"

He did kind of need a smoke, but nowhere near enough to drive him out of this bed. "You said you don't have any food."

"I have Wheaties. Frosted Flakes. Two-percent milk. Maybe some cheese."

"Later I'll buy you breakfast. Brunch. Whatever."

"So ... sleep?"

"You sleepy?"

"No."

"Tired?"

"No ... "

Jack pushed in as close as his body would go and said, against Daniel's lips, "I recall something about sucking me while I'm soft. You mind being in control one more time?"

Daniel's lips smiled against his, then slid away. Daniel's hands turned him onto his back. Daniel's fingers lifted his chin up, and Daniel's mouth closed over his throat. He arched and groaned, flooding hot with arousal when Daniel sucked, deeply, right over his trachea and windpipe, hot pressure of bottom lip on the carotid artery. What Daniel had said about control came clear to him in a way that words could never have conveyed. It was incredibly hot to bare his throat and let Daniel suck it. He felt the lightest brush of teeth, just the suggestion of a bite, the potential of a bite, at the same time that Daniel's light fingers trailed over his lower abs, and he groaned more deeply. His legs opened, a kind of begging, and Daniel's hand slid down between them, cupping his penis and testicles, rolling them gently in his palm. Then Daniel shifted down and touched his tongue tip to a nipple.

For the next half hour, Daniel tongued and sucked him. Nipples, armpit, the soft depression inside his hipbone; it felt as though his body had multiple mini-orgasms from the erotic attention of Daniel's mouth applied to parts of him he'd never known were erogenous. A bite on the side of his pec; suction and a flutter of tongue just below his navel and above his groin; a lick and a suck in the hollow of his elbow. The teasing touches of tongue and fingertips to his nipples deepened into wet, sucking kisses and wet rubbing, then firm tugging pinches and deep, rhythmic bites, until they were so swollen and hypersensitized that the lightest brush of touch sent a moaning quiver through him. He'd never thought he was wired to feel pleasure there. He'd never bothered to look for pleasure anywhere but between his legs.

Daniel was nothing but tender with him below the waist, exploring endlessly with fingers and tongue, proving to him how sensitive and responsive and arousable his genitals were whether the erectile tissue filled or not. He looked down to see Daniel wince and moan in oral pleasure, and he got light-headed, seeing his own legs spread wide, Daniel's face in his crotch, Daniel's mouth on his penis. Then Daniel turned him on his side, and braced his leg up bent, and palmed his cheeks apart, and rimmed him, and he began to think it might be possible to experience this dry-ejaculation thing himself. Long, wet swipes, light swirling licks; Daniel's thumbs pulling his anus open wide; Daniel's tongue dabbing and teasing and finally penetrating, hot and muscular and sweet. Jack's body was humming but deeply relaxed. Nothing was required of him here except to enjoy this. He was in capable hands, great hands. He could lie here and trust that Daniel would give him pleasure without needing guidance, direction, orders. He understood what that told him about what Daniel wanted to feel, about the break Daniel wanted. He could give him that. He'd love giving him that.

Daniel sucked his ass, face buried in the crack, delivered undulating tongueful suction in and around his anus, until involuntary contractions were running up his rectum and he was whimpering into the pillow. Then Daniel eased off, ran light, soothing fingernails down his body, said, "I'll be right back," and went to gargle and brush his teeth. When he came back into the bed, Jack was lying in the same position, floating, euphoric. Daniel rolled him gently onto his back again and asked him to open his eyes.

"I want to slide a finger into you," he said. "Stroke your prostate for a while and suck you. Is that OK?"

"Yeah," Jack said, muzzy and dreamy.

Daniel licked his nipple, spread his thighs, produced the lube from somewhere and greased his fingers. "I think this might make you hard," he said. "It's OK if it doesn't -- no pressure, right? But if it does, I want you to come. Are you willing to come like that?" When Jack nodded, he said, "Are you OK with me swallowing?"

Jack nodded, but said, without thinking, "Why wouldn't I be?"

"Safety," Daniel said.

"I swallowed in the car."

Daniel leaned up, face close to his, and breathed into his ear. "I'm just checking," he said, and ran his tongue around the inner curve of cartilage, then dipped into the hole. Jack groaned in a kind of disbelief. He couldn't even tell anymore whether his dick was responding or not. It was about so much more than his dick now.

Daniel moved back down his body, leaving his hot, husky voice in Jack's ear. Daniel tongued his limp penis into sweet, wet heat, and tenderly stroked and probed his throbbing, pleading asshole. When his index finger finally, finally eased in, Jack moaned and flung his arms over his head and flopped his legs open wide. Daniel's thumb stroked his scrotum while the finger inched up into him, massaging and lubing. He withdrew twice, painstakingly slow, to re-lube, and twisted his finger the second time, screwing it in. Jack groaned, "Chruuh, yeannnh," and then the pad of the finger pressed his prostate, and his voice shot up half an octave and cut off.

Shivery sweetness spread from that exquisite point of contact. It thrilled through his balls, up his ass, up his spine, down into his thighs. Daniel's touch was alive and aware, seductive, expert. He caressed and outlined the gland until Jack imagined he felt it swelling in response. He wasn't aware until the shape of Daniel's mouth changed, until the way he was sucking changed, that his dick was filling. The radiating pleasure and increasing fullness didn't feel like hardening; it felt like enlarging, engorging. As if it would never end, even if he came; only ebb back to the gentle ecstasy of tonguing and stroking, then surge again towards orgasm, and ebb, and surge, forever, like the sea.

Daniel's head began to bob, a spit-soaked, full-lipped friction up and down the shaft, while his tongue played around the head. His finger put more pressure on the gland, more rubbing than stroking now. His thumb massaged Jack's testicles, and after a couple of minutes his free hand moved up and across Jack's chest, the heel of it roughing circles around one nipple, then the other. Jack started to shake. He couldn't control it. It was like a quake deep in the earth, unstoppable, vast. Daniel scratched nails around one nipple and then took the other between thumb and fingers and tugged and twisted, sending a continuous flow of pleasure-pain down to Jack's tightening groin. He deep-throated Jack's dick, then pulled back to suck and bob and tongue. His index finger pressed the prostate; his thumb curled over, and the knuckle pressed behind Jack's balls.

"Gonna come," Jack choked out.

He didn't know what Daniel did then. The sensations blurred into one unbearable stimulation, pain and pleasure, slickness and friction, pressure and movement. Orgasm lifted him like a storm surge, rough and engulfing and enormous, and he cried out, the loudest and most naked sound he'd ever made during sex.

He was aware of Daniel matching the rhythm of the pulses up his shaft, strong suction just ahead of each spasm and gulping swallows in between, sucking the come out of him. He was aware of the sound Daniel made after every gulp, a voiced, breathy mpf through his nose, the primal pleasure sound of slaking your thirst when you were parched. He was aware of Daniel's forefinger fucking his ass, still moving in him with everything else going on. He was aware of Daniel's hand flat on his chest, his own heart trying to pound out past it. The rest was just climax, mindless, soaring, expanding ... and ending, already ending, ending too soon. Everything Daniel was doing slowed down, gentled, stopped. Daniel's finger rested quietly inside him; Daniel's mouth held him softly. Then Daniel was withdrawing with exquisite care, disengaging without disconnecting, moving up to lie on top of him.

Daniel weighted him with his body. Heavy muscle and bone damped the shaking. Squeezed between Daniel and the bed, his body released the last neuromuscular twitches and melted into a warm lassitude. Daniel's hard cock and balls were comfortably cushioned in his softening groin.

"What do you want me to do?" Jack said.

"Lie there and bask," Daniel said. He rolled his hips, just the suggestion of a thrust, and moaned at the sensation on his cock. "Let me go on indulging my soft-package kink."

It felt good to Jack too, the gentle pressure on his wet, limp penis and testicles, the focus of Daniel's arousal right up in his spent private parts, feeling the pleasure Daniel got from pressing his erection there. His flesh was cool and soft, Daniel's hot by comparison, and very hard. The intimacy was as breathtaking as Daniel was.

"This OK?" Daniel said. "You're OK?"

"Thirty years of fantasizing about this and now I've got a hard dick between my legs that isn't mine, and it's connected to you. It doesn't get much more OK than that."

Daniel pressed again, moaning softly, and Jack spread his legs some more, soaking in the helpless gasp Daniel let out, savoring the sweet, effortless way Daniel's body adjusted. They could do this forever, he thought, make love nonstop, continuous sex with breaks to sleep and eat, because soft was just as sexy as hard, soft felt just as good as hard.

He pressed his face against Daniel's face, eyes closed. He ran his hands over Daniel's ass, up his back, over his shoulders; ran one back down to cup his cheek, gently and idly kneading, and the other up into his hair. Listened to the soft music of Daniel's moans, lulled by the easy, rocking rolls of Daniel's hips, the warm, slow presses between his legs. Thought about the lifetime of fantasies that were going to come true, one after another, and then come true all over again, and keep being true; all the fantasies Daniel would share with him, let him make real. Watched the bedroom window lighten from indigo to pearl to gold, thought about what they might have for breakfast, or brunch, or lunch, whether Daniel would let him stay in this part of the house while he worked, stay the night again; when he'd pick up his truck. Wondered whether he could handle a commute, who he'd trust to take over his hours if he found a place here to do the same kind of work, whether he'd split his time or move. Thought about how perfectly the curve of Daniel's cock fit between his balls, how good the smooth hardness felt cradled in his sac; how good it was going to feel when Daniel put that smooth, curved cock where he'd put his finger, how it was shaped so that if he lay on his back the head would rub right into his prostate. Decided to offer his hand, see if Daniel would brace up, let him lift his package and press Daniel's shaft into it while he squeezed him, teased the glans; see if Daniel would tell him how he liked to be touched, how he liked to be brought off, or if he'd want Jack to find out for himself. Figured Daniel would go for the exploratory option, appreciate Jack doing it for him; discarded the decision to offer, and decided to turn Daniel on his back, straddle his hips, and bring Daniel off into his soft genitals -- bring Daniel off with them, a private, improvised lap dance. In a minute, he'd do that. In a minute, he'd say something. Right now this felt too good, exactly the way it was.

He cradled Daniel's head and Daniel's ass, rocked into Daniel's rocking pushes, murmured low and soft in response to Daniel's moans, floated on the buoyant sea of pleasure that stretched to infinity in all directions. Then he moved his hands to cup Daniel's rib cage and said, quietly into Daniel's ear, "Turn over."

"Mm?" Daniel said, surfacing from his pleasure trance, and lifted his head to look Jack in the face. His eyes focused, and brightened in delight and something like surprise, as if he'd caught sight of Jack unexpectedly, across a room, after a long absence. His gaze turned wondering, enraptured; it dropped to Jack's mouth, Jack's jaw and throat, roved back up to his eyes, his brow, his hair, then met Jack's gaze directly. The shared look sparked a sizzling heat, a jolt of exactly what Jack had felt in the club, what Daniel had described feeling, a crackle of electricity, white lightning; but it was warmed with the familiarity and affection of longtime lovers, and it held, this time, for a long time.

"Turn over," Jack repeated, and softly kissed Daniel's smile, gazing into Daniel's bright, adoring eyes. "My turn to drive."