Hi, Society: Savin' All My Love for You

by Riley Cannon

"Hi, Society: Savin' All My Love For You"

I don't go out late
Don't care to go
I'm home about eight
Just me and my radio
Ain't misbehavin'
Savin' all my love for you...

Monday: July 17, 1939; 5:45 a.m. - Oak Hill, Long Island



Chris smiled, tugging his sleepy lover a fraction closer. "Sleep well?"

"Umm hmm." Toby's sweet, dopey smile testified to that. He stretched slowly in Chris' arms, slipping one of his own around Chris to rub along his shoulder blades and the back of his head, ruffling the short dark hair. "So we like mornings now, hmm?"

"The company makes a difference." Chris brushed his fingers back through Toby's wild hair, kissing his forehead, an eyelid, his lips. Content with that for the moment, he nestled his head on Toby's shoulder and sighed, idly skimming his fingers up and down Toby's arm. "Sleeping in's good, too."

He heard a soft laugh and felt Toby give him a squeeze. "We'll do it again sometime."

And funnily enough Chris did believe that. Even so, he had to ask, "When?"

Toby laughed again. Then he sighed, a trace of frustration in the sound. "You could come over to the house tonight."

Scootching back just a bit, Chris gave him a doubtful look as he tried to picture them having a romantic rendezvous at the Fifth Avenue mansion while dodging three small children, Angus, and Harrison - and could only conclude that had all the makings of a Marx Brothers farce. "I don't think so. Why can't you come out to my place?"

Toby propped his elbow on the bed, leaning his head on his hand. "I think I should spend some time at home with the kids, not be off gallivanting. Not," he hastened to add, "that I would not love to be gallivanting with you, but I feel like I've been neglecting them the last couple of weeks."

Stretching out on the mattress, hands hooked behind his head, Chris gazed up at the ceiling and tried not to be disappointed. He knew the kids came first, no matter what. That was even one of the things he loved about Toby. All the same... "How are we gonna do this?"

"I don't know," Toby admitted, settling beside him and stroking his chest. "We'll figure it out. We got this far," he added on a wry note.

That was true, and Chris really had no room for complaint. Not when he'd just spent two perfect weeks out here with Toby. Well - mostly perfect, he amended. "I'll probably be busy learning the lay of the land down at the Dispatch," he said, trying to sound enthusiastic about that. He did want the job and really appreciated Palmer Grey taking a chance on him like this. Reality had just turned up a bit sooner than he had expected. There was some irony rolling around in there that he wasn't quite prepared to appreciate, too, given he'd been the one forever pointing out things were going to be different back in the city.

"Well there you go -- Palmer will keep you so busy you won't even have time to think about me."

Chris checked to make sure he was joking, and then grimaced. "Fat fucking chance of that." He turned on his side, facing Toby, a thumb rubbing back and forth over his collarbone. "We could get a room, have a rendezvous," he said, voice dropping lower and drawing out each syllable of rendezvous.

"Yeah?" Toby looked back at him, wide-eyed, the early morning sunlight gilding his hair. "An assignation?"

"Sure, one of those, too." Chris smiled, cupping his hands around the back of Toby's head.

"How would that work?"

A corner of his mouth quirking upwards, Chris told him, voice caressing his skin, "I'd book a room at this place I know-"

"Is it seedy, kind of rundown?"

"Uh-huh. No respectable person would ever go there - not without a good reason."

Toby licked his lips. "Like a clandestine meeting with a lover?"

Chris watched that pink tip glide along Toby's lips, greedy for it in his own mouth. "Exactly like that. And then I'd call you. You'd be in a meeting at the law firm and you'd need some convincing to slip away and meet me-"

"How would you convince me?" Toby was watching him avidly.

Tilting his head closer, whispering against his ear, Chris told him, "I'd remind you of what was going to happen as soon as you hit the door." He pushed Toby over on his back and bent to kiss his throat, tonguing that hollow at the base. Threading the fingers of one hand through Toby's where it rested on the pillow by his head, Chris slipped the other one underneath the cool, soft sheets, stroking his hip. "I'd tell you how I was going to kiss you and touch you," and always willing to provide a demonstration, he drew his fingers slowly up the inside of a lean thigh, purposefully avoiding the main attraction, "and you would excuse yourself and come to me."

"Uh-huh." Toby gazed up at him through his eyelashes, a smile tugging at his mouth. "Because I am putty in your hands?"

"It's a two-way street, baby," Chris assured him. And no lie there: just imagining that little scenario playing out was enough to get his interest ... up. He sighed and pressed his head against Toby's shoulder, pressing into him, against him as Toby's legs parted. "Would you do that, Toby? Would you come meet me in some cheap hotel?" he said, breathing the words against his lover's heated skin.

"In a fucking heartbeat," Toby said, voice soft and needy. He reached for him, drawing him closer and kissing his mouth - soft and tender for a moment and growing hungrier. One arm tight around Chris' shoulders while the other hand gripped and pulled at his hair, Toby's hips bumped up and his knees clamped around him. "We'll figure it out," he said when they parted for air, making a vow of it.

Chris believed him and let himself be pulled back down to Toby's sinfully welcoming body, oblivious to any reality but Toby's hands and mouth, the whole world narrowed down to the push and thrust of their bodies as the soft morning light filled Toby's room...


~Part One~

Friday: July 21, 1939; 7:30 p.m. - Jackson Heights, Queens

Shedding clothes as he hit the door, Chris tossed his suit coat across a chair and tugged his tie loose as he carried the mail through to the kitchen, dropping the length of blue silk and the post on the table before getting a Coke from the icebox. He tossed the bottle-cap in the trash and took a long drink of the cold soda, then finished unbuttoning his shirt. Draping that over the back of a chair, he pulled out another one and sat down, undershirt clinging damply to his skin, letting his suspenders dangle for the moment. Tiredly rubbing the back of his neck, Chris sighed and reached for the mail, sorting through it. Bills, a postcard from Uncle Mike saying he and Aunt Kate were really enjoying the Grand Canyon. There were also two letters - one was from Gerry, postmarked Paris, and the other was from a Miss Wanda June McGee. He debated the wisdom of opening the one from Wanda June, supposing she could simply be writing to let him know his cuff links had finally turned up. Even that much was likely to arouse extreme curiosity from a certain quarter, however, so all things considered - he got up to drop Wanda June's letter in the trash - it was probably best to let it remain forever a mystery. Besides, a friendly girl like Wanda June couldn't be missing him too badly out in Hollywood.

He had to rate that as a good sign, though, that despite everything he had faith Toby would eventually be on the premises to snoop one day. Everything being the thousand and one things conspiring to keep them apart since Monday morning. They hadn't even gotten to drive back to the city together because of Palmer and his great idea. 'Keller,' Palmer had said with his chauffer-driven Rolls idling in the Beecher's drive, 'let me give you a lift to town. It'll give us a chance to get to know each other and have a nice long talk about your job.' That had seemed harmless enough at the time and Chris hadn't been too heavily weighed down with regret at having to wave goodbye to Toby and the kids and watch them drive off without him. After all, he'd had every reason in the world to believe he would meet Toby later that day for dinner at least.

Well - he took his Coke along with Gerry's letter out to the living room and turned on the fan - he had always suspected Fate was a capricious bitch at heart and these last few days had just confirmed that. He peeled out his undershirt, losing his shoes and socks as well, and stood in front the fan in just his pants, suspenders stretched over his shoulders once more as the cool air hit his skin. Too bad it wasn't that easy to cool down a few other things.

Christ, he was going to lose his mind if he didn't get to see Toby soon. Telephone calls snatched here and there, even late at night when they could speak with some real intimacy, just were not enough. Chris counted that as another very encouraging sign, though, how those talks in the wee hours were becoming increasingly frisky, with no indication Toby cared if some operator was listening in and getting a thrill. Good as that was, however, it did not make up for five days of not being able to look into those blue eyes and touch him, kiss his mouth, feel his body tremble as he came and hear his voice, soft and husky with satisfaction after they made love. Being deprived of all that, and more, was fucking killing him. And he didn't give a damn if he was getting kind of dramatic about it all. He needed Toby, his body ached for him. He longed to have Toby in his arms, in his bed...in his body. Spending day after day in the city, knowing Toby was only blocks away but that he might as well be on the moon for all it mattered - it was too goddamned much to take.

Tonight's cancelled plans felt like the last straw. After a week of one rain check after another it had really looked like they finally it all coordinated to get together tonight for dinner - and more than dinner. He had even gone ahead and booked a room at the Chelsea Hotel in anticipation. Right at the last minute, though, Toby called to say something had come up and he couldn't make it. All because Harrison was being honored at some shindig tonight, getting checked out by some VIPs for a run in politics, and Toby thought he needed to be there to give his dad some moral support. If it hadn't been for the frustration and disappointment coloring his lover's voice Chris might have really believed Toby was blowing him off.

But no, he knew this was getting to Toby just as badly. He'd known exactly how to interpret that huff yesterday when the shoe'd been on the other foot and it was him calling Toby to cancel. Maybe that was a fucked up form of consolation, but Chris had really liked knowing Toby didn't think Palmer's last minute editorial meeting was any damned good excuse for not getting away to see him.

Had Toby thought about crashing that meeting? Chris had certainly given considered to how he might finagle his way into this event for Harrison. He still thought a case could be made for it's being highly newsworthy given all the political luminaries who would be in attendance, from the Governor to Mayor LaGuardia and some folks up from D.C. Given he was still learning the lay of the land down at The Dispatch, not to mention his boss would likely be among the attendees, that had belatedly struck Chris as a lame brained idea in the making.

He just had to believe Toby was right and they would find a way to make this work. Five days apart was nothing, not really. He had lived most of his life never knowing Tobias Beecher even existed, after all. Being separated for a few hours, even a few days did not really qualify as a form of torture - it just felt that way.

With another sigh he sat down at his desk and tore open Gerry's letter, taking out several neatly folded sheets of paper and some photographs. Gerry was in the mood for playing, 'Remember when...?' it seemed, and Chris found himself growing a bit impatient as his friend went on and on in that line. The black-and-white snapshots with dates scrawled along the scalloped edges were all of their old haunts in Paris, and Chris did linger over one, of the house in the Latin Quarter. Gerry had gone there to close it up - 'As though one can lock out the Nazis,' he had written with a quiet irony as if imagining Nazi troops and tanks already moving down the Champs-Elysees. And Chris guessed wanting to dwell on happier times was sort of understandable under those circumstances. On the other hand, no amount of wishful thinking was going to make that prospect go away.

That was the topic of his debut column for the magazine, in fact, and maybe he should send Gerry a copy when it came out. He had owed him a letter for quite a while now and was surprised he didn't feel guiltier about neglecting him. Tucking Gerry's letter into a corner of his desk blotter, he supposed he could take another shot at writing to him now, given he didn't have anything else to do tonight. He'd started to write several times, wanting to tell him about Toby. So far every attempt had ended as a wadded up ball of paper lobbed at the trashcan. As certain as he was that Gerry would be happy for him and very curious about Toby, he also knew a certain degree of tact was required. That was proving a shade more difficult than anticipated. Well, he'd also like to find a way of describing Toby that didn't sound like the gushing adoration of a love-struck goof. Although he was about ready to concede there wasn't a lot he could do about that part.

On second thought, though - he put the stationary back in the drawer and closed it, opening another one instead - if he had to spend Friday night alone and frustrated maybe could direct all of that restless energy into something a bit more creative. He sat there for a couple of minutes, however, just gazing at the fat accordion file, held snugly together by a rubber band, that was the sole item in the bottom drawer. This was a familiar game, one Chris had played far too many times these last two years. Sometimes he even got as far as taking it out and opening it up, spreading the contents across the desk and not getting any farther because of not being able to decide where to start, what to look at first.

Letting go of a pent-up breath, he went over to crank up the Victrola and load some records on the spindle, fixing the arm in place - and looking over at the desk every few seconds. As the needle settled into the grooves of the first record, the sound of Bix Beiderbecke's sweet cornet drifting through the room, Chris went back to the desk and took another drink of his Coke before setting the bottle aside and lifting out the portfolio. He removed the rubber band and then carefully extracted each item tucked away inside, doing an inventory of the contents as he went: an assortment of notes, all paper-clipped together, and a tatty-looking notebook filled with more scribbled thoughts and ideas - snatches of dialogue, of narrative, what he called an outline but someone else might call a pixilated ramble in search of a point. His map of Spain was tucked away there as well, worn and ripped in a few places now, stained with the ring left by a cold, water-beaded bottle of beer.

Chris unfastened the clasp of a small manila envelope and shook out a handful of snapshots, sorting through them and thinking Toby might like to see a few of them. That one, taken by an elderly priest just outside Barcelona, and with him looking hot and dusty astride his bike, would probably evoke the romance Toby liked to imagine had surrounded him during that time. He had a feeling Toby wouldn't care for this other one, taken just a few weeks later by a pretty nurse who had promised to go dancing with him as soon as he was well again. They'd never kept that date and Chris had to marvel at her optimism, given how pale and gaunt he looked, sitting by a window in a bathrobe that looked two sizes too big for him.

Shaking hands with the Grim Reaper wasn't the only kind of experience that kind of changed your whole perspective, though. Sometimes all you had to do was look into a pair of sky blue eyes for your whole world to shift on its axis.

Chris drew out the loose, typewritten pages of the novel - all two hundred and seventeen pages -- feeling highly motivated to discover just how deeply Toby had affected him. The novel had stalled at about the midway point, Steven Garibaldi's story grinding to a halt as the author's life was disintegrating.

It was never going to have a happy ending, not exactly, but when he'd started it - back from Spain, alive if kind of shaken up, wanting to make things work with Kitty and thinking the baby might make all the difference - there had been cause to believe the ending would strike a hopeful note. If Steven hadn't found the love of a lifetime in Madeline maybe comfort would do. Funny how Chris had actually thought that could be enough. Or was that why the ending had kept evolving, first acquiring a more bittersweet tone when he and Kitty lost the baby, and growing gradually bleaker and cynical after that? Because even when he'd been content and comfortable he'd known that wasn't enough?

And now that he'd found someone who made his world spin like a crazy kaleidoscope?

He planted his elbows on the desk, resting his head in his hands as he contemplated the pile of typewritten pages. Suppose... Suppose when Steven was on that ship, coming back to New York after his brush with death, he were to meet someone, call him... Tobias, Tobias ... Thaddeus? Call him Thaddeus. Handsome and charming, maddening, the last person in the world Steven would ever have imagined himself drawn to - Fuck.

Chris swiveled his chair around, glaring over at the door as someone leaned on the bell again. If it was Miss Howell from next door, pestering him again...

Crossing quickly to the front door as the bell sounded a third time, he yanked it open, prepared to tell whoever it was to fuck off. The words never reached his lips as he drank in the sight of Toby lounging there, against the white column of the small porch. He was decked out in one of his tailored, expensive lawyer suits - navy, with pinstripes - and looking ever so slightly wilted in the heat. His collar was open and his red silk tie was loosened, his hair was curling a bit more than usual from the humidity, and Chris had never seen anything more deliciously fuckable in his life. And if the light in those blue eyes as they raked him up and down in turn was anything to go by, the feeling was entirely mutual.

That blue gaze came back to his face, meeting his eyes and letting him see everything going on in that gorgeous head. The days of frustrated desire and the longing for each other, a flicker of disbelief that despite everything they were standing there now, drinking each other in - that was all there. Lurking behind it all was the love, the warmth that always washed over him like a summer rain whenever he looked in those eyes.

Chris wanted to tell him that. He wanted to kiss him and hold him and never fucking let him go again, and the only words that popped into his head were, "You're here."

Some flippant, smart-ass remark would have been entirely warranted, but that must not have been what Toby wanted to say because he replied just as goofily, "Yes, I'm here. We're both here."

But since Chris couldn't be sure this beguiling apparition standing on his doorstep wasn't merely a symptom of impending heat stroke, not without touching - he touched. His fingers brushed over the lips he'd been dying to kiss, and along a smooth and warm cheek and up into the silky, golden hair at Toby's temple. Oh, yes, this was real enough all right.

"Thought you couldn't get away," he murmured, leaning closer to nuzzle that same temple.

"I did," Toby breathed, reaching for him. Sliding a suspender strap down, Toby's fingers possessively traced the lines of the tattoo as if he'd been missing it, curling his fingers around the muscle as he nuzzled along Chris' jaw. "I'm all yours," he whispered, soft and low. It was the voice Chris had been craving all week, the one he wanted to hear every night when his head hit the pillow.

"How long can you stay?" Chris' voice was hoarse, husky, and he shivered as tender lips ghosted along his throat.

"All night," Toby's wicked tongue flicked against the hollow of his throat, one had stroking along his chest and pulling at a nipple. "And all day tomorrow," the golden head dipped lower, "and another night," he whispered, dragging his tongue over the other nipple.

This was better than winning a fucking Pulitzer. Chris threaded his fingers through Toby's hair and pulled him back up, seeking his mouth, needing Toby's mouth on his. This was contentment, he thought as his tongue plunged into Toby's welcoming mouth, contentment with a kick. Hands buried in Toby's hair, kissing his fill at last, Chris groaned as Toby's open mouth grazed along his cheek, that diabolical tongue licking at his ear. He whimpered, wrapping his arms tight around his sweet tormentor as Toby's bit his earlobe and trailed some more soft, wet, nibbling kisses along his throat. Good, he'd have marks again, he wanted marks again.

He drew Toby's face back to him, feasting on his mouth, kneading the back of his neck, wanting him out of that fancy lawyer suit right this minute. But they had already put on enough of a show for the neighbors. Chris dragged him inside, shutting the door after them, leaning back there as they looked at each other again and drew breath into oxygen-starved lungs.

Toby reached out first, pushing the other suspender strap down and running his hands along Chris' shoulders, his neck, coming closer, a teasing light in his eyes as he drawled out, "Well, if that's how you greet the milkman and postman I bet this a really popular route."

Chris winked, playing along, saying, "Wait'll you see how I tip," as he tugged Toby's tie all the way off and flung it away. "All night?" he repeated, wanting to hear it again as he got him naked, letting the expensive suit drop, piece by hand-stitched piece, to the floor.

"All night," Toby confirmed, not seeming to mind his wardrobe's ill treatment.

"And all day tomorrow?" Chris kissed his throat.

"Yes," Toby sighed, running his hands up Chris' back, fingers digging into his hair. "And another night. I mean, unless you had other plans and all."

Chris sighed and buried his face against Toby's neck, loving the strong, wiry arms that enfolded him. "No, no plans." Steven and Thaddeus could just wait their fucking turn.

"Well in that case," Toby pushed back just a bit and flashed him an impish smile, reaching for his zipper, "I seem to remember you have a bed somewhere in this place, soooooo...." To make his point entirely clear, he insinuated a hand inside Chris' pants, pressing against him.

"Fuck the bed," Chris said, growling the words against his ear and guiding him over to the couch. "It's too far."

Breath whooshing out of him as Chris pushed him down on the sofa, Toby gripped his shoulders and pulled Chris after him. "Yes, way too fucking far," he said, voice going softer and huskier as he pulled at Chris' hair and kissed his mouth, leaving no doubt he had been needing this just as much, that he'd been feeling just as starved for it.

This much obsession over someone couldn't be good - but Chris was going to worry about that later, maybe in thirty or forty years. All he cared about now was right there, tumbled across the cushions of his sofa, tousled and rumpled and still wearing far too many clothes. "Hurry up and get out of this," he said, pulling at the dress shirt Toby was still half-wearing.

"Let me up for a second," Toby urged him, kneeling on the cushions as Chris sat back and gave him room, watching hungrily as Toby took his sweet time about unfastening each cuff before peeling all the way out of the shirt. "Better?"

"Almost." Chris leaned in, licking that hollow at the base of his throat, bending his head to swipe his tongue across a nipple, fingers pulling at the other one while his free hand caressed over Toby's hip and firm little ass. "Naked - I need you naked, right now," he whispered against his throat, tasting the skin, tasting that mix of soap, sweat, aftershave, and Toby - all the aphrodisiac he'd ever need.

As Toby slipped off the couch, Chris tried to snatch at him, afraid he might slip away completely. But Toby told him, "Settle down, I'm not going anywhere," and Chris stretched out over the couch, watching him get out of shoes and socks, and as he shimmied out of his pants.

With one thumb hooked in the waistband of his white boxers, Toby hesitated, looking at him, not like he'd gotten shy all of a sudden but more like he thought this was a little bit of a game and he was waiting for Chris to up the ante. Very willing to play along, Chris hooked up arm behind his head and touched himself, just lightly stroking his other hand back and forth over his chest, trailing his fingers down his torso and slowly, slowly tugging his zipper down. All the while Toby stood there, watching, licking his lips - pulling the boxers down over his hips and letting them fall around his ankles, kicking them away before he reached to catch Chris' hand, stilling his movements.

Chris quirked an eyebrow at him, looking his own fill - wanting to feel the heft of that cock in his hand, dying to get his mouth on it again, to feel it filling him. When Toby made to pull his pants off him, Chris obligingly arched his hips off the couch and lifted his legs to give him every assistance. His own boxers were quickly whisked away, and Chris groaned with deep satisfaction, arms wrapping around him as Toby settled on top of him. Yes, perfect - "Oh God, you feel good," he said, hands running up and down over Toby's beautiful, naked back, just wanting to bask in the sensation of Toby's body pressed against him.

"You feel pretty good, too," Toby said between kisses all along his throat.

"Yeah?" Chris ran a hand up into Toby's hair, bringing his face up so he could kiss him.

"Oh yeah," Toby groaned, lips parting to Chris' eager tongue, fingers bent and pressed into Chris' scalp.

Chris reached up for one of those hands, brushed his lips over the wrist, feeling the frantic pulse beating away. "I missed you so goddamn much," he growled, shifting underneath him, wrapping a leg across Toby's hips.

"Missed you," Toby groaned into his mouth, tongue flicking against the roof. "Every day," he raised up a bit, catching hold of Chris' hands and stretching their arms out against the armrest. "Every night," he bent and snatched another kiss, licked his ear. "I wanted you there with me, beside me, so damn much. I dreamed you," he ran his tongue over Chris' throat, "every single night."

A deep moan welling up from his throat, Chris pushed his head back into the cushions and offered all of his neck to Toby. "What did you dream?" He buried his hand in the golden hair, petting him. "Tell me."

"One dream," Toby ran his tongue over the vein in Chris' neck, as if he needed to feel the rapid, excited pulsing there, "we were back in the country, we'd been out riding - God, you looked so good." He came back up to kiss Chris' mouth, long, deep, square hands framing Chris' face. "You were in those jodhpurs and they fit you like a glove," Toby went on, looking into his eyes and stroking his hair, "and your boots were gleaming, your sleeves were rolled up past your elbows, and your shirt," he moved his hand, fingers trailing down his chest, "was unbuttoned alllll the way down to here," his fingers circled Chris' navel. He was speaking softly, as though revealing deep confidences. "It started to rain, soaking you through. Your shirt was transparent and clinging to your skin. It looked like your nipples were poking right through the fabric, like they were begging me to suck them."

Chris shivered. Maybe it was only from the fan blowing air against his flushed and heated skin - but he didn't think so. "Jesus ... Toby." He sighed, the sound breaking off in a tiny whimper as Toby dipped down and showed him that part of the dream, that maddening tongue lapping one sensitive nipple, sucking at the other, every brush of lips and tongue shooting straight to Chris' groin. "What," he struggled to catch his breath, to maintain some faint presence of mind, "what happened then?"

"We were in the gazebo again," Toby flicked his tongue over his left nipple, looking very pleased with himself as Chris shivered against him once more. "I don't know how we got there, but it was still raining, and we wanted to get out of our wet clothes.

Yes, Chris could see how that might happen. He had fond memories of that gazebo.

"We started undressing each other," Toby continued. "I stripped your shirt off, tugging it down your arms, to your waist. A drop of water was sliding down your chest," he slithered down, "and I bent to lick it up." He demonstrated that, too, his tongue catching a trickle of sweat, licking it up, back to his throat. "I kissed you - here," his lips brushed along Chris' collarbone, "and here," they ghosted back down the center of his chest, "and here," he kissed him right on the belly button, swirling his tongue around. "Then I opened your pants and pushed them down your hips," his thumbs stroked over Chris' hipbones and he licked along the crease, "and I went to my knees and took you in my mouth," he finished, with a flash of a wickedly happy smile at him before acting that part out as well.

Chris groaned loudly, bucking his hips as Toby knelt between his legs and sucked him.
"Ohhhh...fuuccck...to-beee" He reached down, tangling his fingers in Toby's hair, pulling at it. "Toby," he growled it now, low, hungry, every nerve on fire and aching, "fuck me...please...I need you in me." Now, he needed that now. "Show me this isn't a dream," he gasped out as his lover's tongue danced over his cock.

"Oh, yes," Toby came back up to kiss his mouth, "fuck yes." He groaned it, kissing him hungrily, kissing him sweetly. Retracing his route along Chris' body, he pushed his legs up, turning to nuzzle along a thigh, licking and nipping at that tender skin. Toby's mouth hummed along Chris' balls, and he licked further, along the perineum and circling the opening, wetting him.

"Toby -- now, do it now," Chris urged him along, feeling nearly frantic.

"Shh." Toby rubbed his cheek along Chris' thigh, kissed him there. "Not gonna hurt you, baby."

"Won't hurt me. Fuck me!"

Something a like a manic cackle was smothered against Chris' body, and then Toby was pressing his fingers against Chris' mouth, shuddering as Chris licked them. "Now? You want it now?" Toby crooned against his ear, a devilish chuckle still in his voice. "Is that what you're trying to tell me?"

"Yeah," Chris said, breath coming hard, trying to play along. Toby liked it this way, needed it this way. "I want you," he managed to get out as the fan swerved back and forth, its slight breeze not enough to dry the sweat on their bodies. "I need you, Toby," he said, dropping his voice low, looking up into Toby's face as those blunt, steady fingers worked into his body.

"Are you getting hot, baby?" Toby whispered, fingers - slowly, tortuously slowly - moving in and out, drops of sweat falling from his face to spatter Chris.

"Oh," Chris shuddered, stretching just a bit, flicking his tongue against Toby's chin and tasting that salt, "Christ, yeah, baby."

"Will you come for me?" Toby kissed his forehead, his nose, pushing Chris' legs back further as he settled between them, entering him at last.

"Always... ohhh, Christ...Toby..." Chris arched his back, angling his hips up even more, taking Toby deep, only believing it one hundred percent then when he could feel Toby inside him, filling him, drenching him with sensation. No dream - this was no kind of dream. He wrapped his arms around Toby, his legs, holding him inside, moving with him, his own cock trapped between their bodies and leaking onto their skin.

The fan whirred and the records played on, and all Chris knew was this: Toby's luminous eyes gazing down at him, face scrunching up with pleasure, with ravaging desire. All Chris knew was the feel of Toby's body under his hands, the muscles of his back and shoulders, bunching, trembling, slick with sweat, hot - so fucking hot with every thrust. Harder, faster, the whole world narrowing down to that, to them, tangled and wet, Toby's hand on his cock.

"Come for me," Toby whispered against his ear. "Chris, come for me." Toby kissed his lips and fucked him, and Chris came, spilling into his hand, onto their bellies, while Toby's body grew rigid as his came inside Chris.

"...oh god oh god oh god..." One of them, both of them, kept chanting, and Chris didn't even mind the slow ebbing away of all that wonderful feeling, Toby's sprawling across him like all his bones had melted. This was real. This was real, and it was just the start.

"That..." Toby had to suck in air, rubbing his cheek against Chris' shoulder. "That...hit the...spot?"

"Oh, fuck yeah," Chris purred, stroking his wet hair, very content to lay there with Toby wet and sticky, plastered to him.

And Toby just nuzzled into his neck, idly stroking his side, apparently very willing to go along with that.

"You know," Toby said, when they had scootched around some and were laying side by side on the couch, "you should probably call my dad and say thank you."

Chris quirked a dubious eyebrow at him and said, "Run that by me again?"

"Well," Toby rubbed his hand along Chris' arm, tracing the tattoo, "this was his idea."

"Your dad sent you over here so we could fuck our brains out." For some reason Chris sounded like he found that a bit hard to believe.

Toby only smiled and nodded. "Umm hmm. Well," he stretched over and licked the tattoo, "not in so many words perhaps, but the germ of the notion was there."

Even if he didn't quite believe him, Chris gave him an indulgent smile, stroking his hip. "What happened? You said you had to go to some event for him."

"I believe I made my displeasure in that development somewhat obvious."

"Nah - you?" Chris said, teasing sarcasm in his voice and laughter in his eyes.

"Hmph. Yes, me. Words were said--"

"What words?"

"Mmm, something about, 'Why can't these goddamn sonsofbitches throw you a party tomorrow?'"

Chris gave him an impressed look. "You said that to your dad?"


"And he didn't let that go unremarked?"

"No, he did not. He called me Tobias--"

"Ah, bad sign."

"Yep. He said, 'Tobias, if you're going to throw a tantrum like a three-year-old I can do without your company tonight.'" He frowned, lips pooching out a bit. "Of course it sounded more impressive when he said it."

"I'm sure it did. And then he told you to come over here and fuck me?" Chris said, somehow giving the impression he was making a real effort not to laugh.

"Not in so many words," Toby reminded him, "but yes, he suggested my time might be better spent visiting a friend." He leaned in and whispered confidentially, "I think he was being discrete because of the servants."

Chris nodded solemnly. "It's the sort of thing people do."

"Yes, it is." Toby sighed, nestling his head on Chris' shoulder, clasping his hand and weaving their fingers together. "So I took the kids over to stay with Genevieve and, voila, came to see you." He looked at him. "Are you glad to see me?"

Brows drawing together, Chris thought it over, finally giving a slight nod. "Yeah. Well, I was going to sort out my sock drawer tonight, but I can get to that some other time."

"You're sure? You're not concerned you might have to dress hurriedly and wind up wearing one blue sock and one argyle?"

"Nah, I'm willing to run the risk," Chris said, not quite able to hold back the laughter any longer. He moved in and kissed his mouth, lingering over it. "Yeah, I'm glad to see you, Toby."

Glad that was settled, Toby shivered a bit as a breeze hit his skin, and he stretched up to look over at the fan steadily moving back and forth. About to ask if they could turn that off - and perhaps continue things in a more comfortable setting - his gaze fell on the desk, on an assortment of items scattered across the top. He was particularly intrigued by an impressive stack of typewritten pages parked over on the blotter. "What is that?"

"It's a desk."

He huffed. "On the desk."

"A typewriter."


His lover chuckled then, pulling him back down. "What do you think it is?"

"I think it's a manuscript. I think it's the manuscript. Am I right?"

"Could be," Chris said, casually, like it might only be an excessively long grocery list.

"May I see it?"

"Umm," Chris looked more serious now, his feelings about that appearing to trouble him, "I'd rather you didn't, not now."

"Oh." Toby settled back down, not sure how to take that. "Why not?"

"It's not done."

"I don't mind."

"I do."

Oh. And half-wanting to smack himself, but knowing it would just eat at him all weekend if he didn't ask, Toby said, keeping it as mild as possible, "Has Gerry seen it?"

Instead of the exasperated impatience he had anticipated, Chris laughed instead and said, "No, he hasn't seen it. No one's seen it."

Well - that was all right then. Although he didn't quite understand why Chris always got a bit shy when this subject came up. "I'm sure it's wonderful."

Chris made a face like he might not share that opinion. "It's...something. I don't know." He gave his head a shake. "It needs work."

"It will be wonderful, then." There wasn't a doubt in his mind anyway.

With a wry quirk of his mouth, Chris shrugged and settled back, stroking his shoulder lightly. "Maybe." Toby gave him a thoughtful look, caressing his face. "It's really personal, isn't it?"

"Yep." Chris sighed, looking at him fondly again. "It was all set up to be a tragedy, I can tell you that much." He looked like he meant that, too.

"Is the past tense significant?"

"Oh yeah." And Chris slid both hands around the back of Toby's head, drawing him close and kissing his mouth. "I think Steve's whole world is about to get rocked on its foundation," he added when they parted.

Curious, Toby rubbed a thumb over Chris' lips. "Who's Steve?"

"The protagonist."

"Steven with a 'v?'"

"Umm hmm." Chris' tongue darted out to lick the pad of his thumb.

"Your middle name's Stephen, with a 'ph.'"

"Yes it is."

He smiled, knowing it was likely pretty silly to be tickled that he knew this man's middle name now, that he knew all sorts of little things about him now. There it was, though - it made him happy. And since he'd made this much progress... "And might he know anyone like, oh, I don't know," he said nuzzling his temple, "a fair-haired young lawyer?"

"Umm, well, there might be someone like that named Thaddeus."

Toby drew back to give him a hard look. "Thaddeus."



Looking like he was struggling not to laugh again, Chris nodded. "Uh-huh."

"So, do I have this right? You get to be Steve, and I get to be Thaddeus."

Not doing a very good job of hiding his laughter, Chris nodded once more. "That's about it, yeah."

"Hmph." He settled back down, thinking he might have to digest that for a while. "Why you can't you use my middle name?"

"You really think Fergus would be an improvement?"

Well... He did have a point there.

"I'll make it up to you," Chris promised, nuzzling his ear.

Toby slanted a grumpy look at him. "Talk's cheap."

Laughing now as he struggled to get disentangled and sit up, Chris said, "Not mine, baby." He finally managed to get off the couch and reached down to clasp Toby's hands, drawing Toby up and into his arms, gliding his hands along Toby's back and over the smooth curves of his ass. "Did you say something about the bedroom?" he said, rumbling it against his ear as Toby wrapped his arms around Chris and pulled himself even closer. Chris' nose brushed against his hair, he licked his ear, and rumbled again, "I want you upstairs, Toby, I want you in my bed - I want you there now."

Oh boy. Feeling out of breath even though they hadn't done anything, Toby swallowed and nodded. "Sounds good," he said. Oh yeah, everything was blas and casual here. He stepped back, bending to retrieve his shirt from the floor. "Just give me a mo--"

Chris pulled the shirt out of his hands and threw it across the room. "Now."

"But I need something to put on." He couldn't go traipsing around buck-naked.

"No, you don't," Chris said in a tone of voice that allowed for no argument. "Toby," he softened his voice, seduction seeping in, "if anyone was watching they already got their show."

Toby couldn't argue with that, but, still... He stood frozen for a few moments, watching Chris move easily, walking over to turn off the record player and the fan. On the whole he would far prefer to be an appreciative audience, watching the supple shift of muscle in the other man's body, the ease with which he walked around bare-assed naked, as if that really was what God intended.

He noticed something else, too, just the slightest hint of stiffness in Chris' gait. "Did I hurt you?" he said, worried.

"Nope." Chris was at the foot of the stairs now, looking over at him with hot, sultry eyes. "Come here."

Toby bit his lip, uncomfortable with the idea. Of course it wasn't as if he were being commanded to walk naked through Times Square - it just felt like it. "Happy now?" he said with a trace of genuine grumpiness when he had briskly crossed the short distance between them.

"Mmm," Chris' arms looped around him, snagging him close, "yeah." He kissed his throat, leisurely, tasting him.

"We can't all be shameless exhibitionists," Toby returned, although it was difficult to get any real rancor in the words given how much he was enjoying the feeling of Chris' tongue rasping along his throat.

"Well," Chris kissed his jaw now, his mouth, and looked into his eyes with a mischievous smile, "we'll just have to do something about that, won't we?"

Toby looked back at him with a glimmer of suspicion, not quite sure what he was letting himself in for here. Was this how the rabbit felt when it had gotten cornered by the big, bad wolf?

Maybe - but somehow the prospect of this particular wolf eating him alive wasn't scaring him off. "Bed?"

Chris nodded and snatched a kiss - hard, hungry. "Bed," he commanded and started up the steps, bringing Toby with him.

He managed to lag just a step behind, however, so he could enjoy the view.

Chris stood behind Toby in the bathroom, swiping a damp cloth over his flat, hard belly. The washcloth was warm and soft and Chris was content to take his very sweet time over the procedure. He brushed his nose against the curls clustered on Toby's neck. He kissed him there, soft and lazy kisses. Dropping his head, he kissed one broad shoulder, and then rested his head there, smiling at the way Toby gazed so raptly at their reflections in the mirror.

He wasn't crazy about the pensive look in those blue eyes, though. He especially didn't like the probable source, that Toby was comparing the two of them and finding himself wanting. Funnily enough - Chris ran his open mouth along Toby's shoulder, savoring the salty, musky flavor - he did have a number of ideas on how his lover might be well and truly enlightened as to the many charms he possessed.

In the mirror, Toby was craning his neck, trying to look at him. "What are you smiling about?" Suspicion laced his voice and only made Chris smile more.

He tossed the washcloth away, stroking his hand along Toby's waist and hip, and giving his ass a quick squeeze. "I don't know," he kissed his shoulder again, the nape of his neck, the silky curls tickling his nose, "you're here, and I've got you all to myself. That's plenty to smile about." It was, too. He especially liked having Toby under his roof. It felt like proof that what they had started out on Long Island was something very tangible. It was something that could last - if only they could work out a few practical logistics. Goofy, maybe; but maybe it was the same reason why the tiniest things could make Toby happy, like knowing his middle name was Stephen and his birthday was August 17. Funny how ordinary, almost incidental things could carry so much import.

"You could get used to this?" Toby said, voice turning soft as he leaned back into Chris.

"Yeah," Chris' voice was huskier, nuzzling his throat, "I could." He wasn't sure why that made Toby look extremely pleased with himself - but a smug Toby, happy secrets in his eyes, was the most appealing creature in the world. Dipping his head, he licked between Toby's shoulder blades, bending his knees and going a bit lower, licking along the ridge of his spine. "God, Toby," he breathed against the warm skin, "you have the most beautiful back I've ever seen." And that was no lie. He'd seen sculptures that wished they were as perfectly formed and alluring.

He crouched lower, gripping Toby's slim hips and rubbing his check against the small of Toby's back and over one smooth globe, loving the downy peach fuzz against his lips. Smiling, he took a tender bite of that hard peach. At the half-hearted admonishment from above - "Hey." - he planted an apologetic kiss there and commenced his return journey. With lips and tongue he mapped his way up along Toby's back, pushing his face into the soft waves of hair and inhaling deeply.

"Are we cleaned up enough?" he said, having his own answer in his much he loved the flavor of Toby's skin against his tongue, that mix of salt and a lingering tang of their mingled orgasms. The scent was intoxicating, too, and he snuffled into Toby's hair again.

"Yeah, uh-huh."

Chris smiled some more at Toby's quick assent.

He considered their reflection in the mirror - his left arm laying across Toby's chest, Toby's eyes drifting shut as Chris stroked his chest and belly. Those blue eyes opened wide as Chris grasped his cock. "I dreamed about you, too." He spoke the words softly, incredibly excited by the flesh his fingers were caressing, Toby's cock so alive and eager in his hand. This was how he loved Toby best. This was how he wanted Toby all the time, so sensual and erotic. If that wasn't entirely practical, however, he would take it when he could -- like right now.

"What did you dream?" Toby said, looking like he needed to know. Chris nuzzled his shoulder again, kissed him there. "I'll show you," he said, blowing a puff of air against his ear. "I want you, Toby." He bumped his hips, his cock, against Toby's ass, and gripped his shoulders rumbling, "You feel how much, baby? You feel how much I want you?"

"Oh, Christ yeah," Toby said, voice just as low and needy. He pushed back, ready for Chris to take him right here.

Tempting as that was... Chris kissed his throat and stepped back. "So get your ass in bed," he commanded, following it up with a smack on his ass.

Toby gave him an aggrieved look that would have been more convincing without the excitement gleaming in his eyes, but obeyed the request. Chris would have liked to see more of a confident swagger in Toby's step - but first things first.

"Nice bed," Toby said, admiring the four-poster.

"Yeah." Chris' hands were on his waist again, fingers gliding over Toby's ribs. He licked behind an ear, said, "I don't wanna talk about the bed."

"No?" Toby turned, hooking his arms around Chris' neck and coming in for a kiss. "This dream you had," his tongue flicked along Chris' jaw, "what were we doing? Were we in this big bed together?"

"Yes." Chris moved his head, capturing Toby's mouth again, pushing his tongue inside after Toby's. "We were naked, like this," he told him, maneuvering him on over to the bed, "and you were kneeling on the mattress," he kissed Toby's temple, an eyelid, "and you were holding onto the headboard."

"Is that all?" Toby's eyes were bright with expectation.

"There was more." Chris rubbed their noses together, kissed his lips. "There was a lot more." He sat down on the mattress, bringing Toby with him, content to let Toby sprawl across him for a few moments as they kissed and touched. Downstairs - that had been good, that need to consume each other on the spot. Taking their time, lingering over each touch, wasn't bad.

The lamplight casting its soft, warm light over the bed, Chris lingered. He stretched Toby out underneath him and sampled everything on display. He kissed a wrist, running his tongue over the veins pulsing with blood. He nuzzled into an armpit and made him laugh, and made him whimper the next instant, his tongue circling a nipple, sucking it. He caressed Toby's exquisite collarbones and kissed them, and buried his hands in Toby's hair to hold him still and feast on his mouth. And when Toby, looking sleek and smug, lazily remarked, "Are you going to nibble me to death?" Chris swallowed his cock and sucked.

"...oh dear sweet lord..."

Chris heard the murmured words and felt Toby's fingers digging into his hair, pulling, urging him to go harder and faster. This once, though, Chris wouldn't give him what he wanted. He raised his head, smiling down at him. "The rest of the dream," he said, as Toby drew one leg up - pausing to kiss that pale thigh, licking a trail along it from knee to groin that made Toby's belly quiver, "starts here."

Toby's eyes widened. "I'm on my knees?"

"Holding onto the headboard, like this," Chris tugged him up and arranged him just the way he wanted, curling Toby's hands over the cherry wood post, polished so smooth it felt like satin. "Is that comfortable?" he said, licking the rim of his ear.

"Yes. What happens then?"

Chris smiled and buried his face in the crook of Toby's neck, kissing him there and down over his shoulders. "This," he slipped a hand around, caressing his stomach, capturing Toby's cock in his hand once more. "And this," he kissed his way all along Toby's back. "And this," his hands flew along Toby's sides, gripping the narrow hips, running his tongue along the crease and teasing over the anus as Toby groaned and trembled and braced himself against the headboard. "Do you like that, Toby?" Chris nuzzled his hip and caressed the backs of his thighs, and took those deep, throaty groans as his answer.

Rocking back on his heels, Chris looked at him, wanting to commit him to memory, every line of his lean, pale body. His arms braced against the headboard, muscles and veins standing out, shoulders squared, and his beautiful back arched. He wished he could paint him like this. He wished he had a camera handy.

"What are you doing?" Toby's voice was impatient, and he sounded like he'd just run up six flights of stairs. His skin gleamed with sweat as if he had.


"At what?"

"The most fuckable being God ever created," Chris told him, spooning up behind him, holding him and kissing his throat.

Toby replied with a huff, followed by, "If I'm so goddamn fuckable what are you waiting for?"

Chris chucked against his neck and kissed his jaw. "Don't move," he said, stretching over to open his nightstand drawer and rummage inside until he'd found what he wanted.

"What are you doing?" Toby craned his head around to see.

Chris stroked his back. "Just wanna make it good." He kissed his way down Toby's back once more, lapping at the opening. Coating his fingers with lubricant, he licked, and worked his fingers inside, slowly, one by one, his own excitement increasing at Toby's ardent response, his lover's cries and whimpers driving him crazy. He had to pause a moment, pulling in some deep breaths as he tilted his head against Toby's back. Another second ticked by and he fit himself along Toby's back once more, whispering in his ear, "I love you."

Toby angled his head around, searching for Chris' mouth. "Love you... love you," he whispered back, finding Chris' lips.

Chris stroked his back and kissed the nape of his neck as Toby folded his arms along the headboard and rested his head there. He pressed back into Chris as if yearning for him. Taking it slow and easy, Chris entered him at last, thrilled by the deep-seated groan of satisfaction that welled up from his lover then, but ignoring the desperate pleas to go faster, harder. "Wait...wait," he urged himself as much as Toby, and once he had settled into a rhythm Toby quieted - almost. If words became elusive, they barely missed them, saying everything they needed to by touch. Chris' hands were never still, scrabbling over Toby's ribs and rubbing along his thighs, fingering his nipples and grasping his cock once again. Toby cried out, loud, angling his head around. Chris kissed his open mouth, their tongues slipping against each other. Letting go his prize, licking Toby's neck as the blond grunted in protest, he reached over and pried one of Toby's hands loose from the headboard. "Touch yourself, baby." He gasped the words out, wrapping Toby's hand around that big, sweet cock. Thrusting into him, watching his lover thrust into his own fist, the wet tip appearing and disappearing, Chris' hips pumped harder and faster as the pressure built, as Toby moaned and stroked himself. Shouting as he came, Chris shuddered against his lover's body, his head dropping to one broad shoulder - hot skin, slick with sweat - and watched the only thing better than his own orgasm: Toby coming into his own hand, come spurting over his fingers. "...oh god..."

They both collapsed against the headboard, sinking onto the bed, exhausted, drenched with sweat and come. They stayed like, Chris slipping out of him but maintaining the connection with lips and fingers grazing along wet skin, nuzzling into damp curls and inhaling the rich, musky scent and loving it. Loving the way Toby shifted around to face him, touching him the same way, kissing his face and neck, massaging his back and shoulders.

"Love you," Toby said again, looking into his eyes and kissing his mouth so sweetly Chris wanted to cry out again.

Perfect - this was perfect, to rest there, touching, nuzzling and kissing each other's face as their skin cooled. This was everything he had wanted all this long, awful week, and Chris smiled with the sheer joy of it, wrapping Toby in his arms and holding him close to his heart.

Toby sighed happily, like he was exactly where he wanted to be.

Rolling his head on the pillow, Toby smiled, enjoying the view: Chris stretched out beside him, head pillowed on an arm, bathed in moonlight and shadow. Without having to move too much he could just make out the clock on the nightstand - he had to squint to be sure, but it looked like it about two o'clock. This beat the hell out of all the other times he'd been awake at two in the morning.

And probably he should just go back to sleep and not disturb Chris. That would certainly be the thoughtful and considerate thing to do, especially since his lover looked so content and comfortable. Come to that, he should be a lot sleepier himself given how very, very energetic they had gotten there. He smiled at the memory and scooted over, fitting himself along Chris, snuffling into his dark hair. They had found just enough reserves left to clean up a bit before collapsing into the big bed, but it made him ridiculously happy that Chris hadn't wanted to immediately wash away every trace of their loving. Toby hadn't even known that was something he wanted, and he wondered what magical powers this scrumptious man possessed that let him divine all of his deepest secrets and needs.

Whatever it was, Toby knew he should thank his lucky stars for having found him.

Beside him, Chris stirred, eyes opening and gazing sleepily at him. "Hey."

"Hey," Toby said, smiling some more.

"How you doin'?" Chris said, voice sounding sleepy, too.

"Can't complain." Toby petted his hair, planted a lazy kiss at the corner of his mouth.

Chris smiled and moved his head so Toby was kissing his lips. The moment was somewhat ruined, however, at the rumbling sound from Chris' stomach.

Drawing back, Toby gave him doubtful look. "Is somebody hungry?" he said, rubbing him there.

Chris made a face at him, but then sighed as it grumbled again and rolled over on his back, arms folded behind his head. "Kinda, yeah."

Toby bent down and kissed his belly. "Haven't you had anything to eat?"

"Only you." Chris reached for him, pulling his head down for another, longer kiss.

"Mmm, that's sweet, but we want you to keep your strength up."

"We do, huh?"

"You bet your ass, baby," Toby told him, pleased with the surprised look on his face. "I seem to remember you do keep food on the premises."

"Yeah," Chris reached up, trailing a finger along his chest, "you were sober for that much," he said.

And once upon a time Toby might have bristled up at that. There was no accusation in Chris' voice or eyes, though, just a pinch of concern and curiosity. Toby nodded, saying, "It was a rough week - but not that rough."

Chris nodded, serious. "I'm glad."

"Was I really that obnoxious?"

"Oh yeah."

Unable to help it, he huffed. Toby followed it with a rueful shake of his head, though, saying, "Guess I shouldn't ask unless I really want the answer."

"You're catching on." Chris sat up, snagging him close for another kiss. "I'll love you no matter what, Toby. It's just that I love you best like this," he said, looking so seriously into his eyes.

"I think I do, too," Toby said, touched by how important this was to him and by how very much Chris meant every word. "I love you." He still wished there was more to say, some better way to show him, because those three words never seemed enough.

Looking like they were just right to him, Chris combed his fingers through Toby's hair, kissing him again - pulling back with a wry grimace as his stomach rumbled again. "Sorry."

Toby laughed. "Let's get you fed," he said, sliding off the bed with him and looking around for something to put on. "Do you have a robe I can borrow?"


"Oh. Well..." Fuck. "Pajamas, then, or...?" he said, noticing Chris wasn't moving to put on anything at all.

The same answer came, something utterly implacable in that one syllable. "No."

Huffing with some aggravation, Toby said, "Well, I need something to put on." Since he wasn't going to get any cooperation, he decided to help himself, turning on the light and pulling open dresser drawers and finding a pair of boxers in the second one he opened.

He was about to pull them on when they were pulled out of his hands and tossed across the room. "Excuse me?" Toby did not want to spoil the mood with a dumb fight, but for crying out loud. "Is this some house rule you forgot to mention?"

"Yeah. You, me, alone - no fucking clothes."

All right, Toby realized he probably meant well, but... "Chris, I can't. No one in my family's ever been naked," he added, trying to inject some distracting humor. He might as well have saved his breath. Chris just looked at him, looked him up and down, slowly, lingering over him, making him feel excited and nervous. "Stop that."

"Stop what?" Chris said, voice as sultry as the summer night. "I'm just looking."

Uncomfortable, Toby tried to get past him to get to the discarded shorts. "There's nothing to look at, Chris. I'm not like you."

"You're exactly like me, Toby," Chris said, catching hold of him. "You like to watch me." It was a flat out statement, no trace of doubt.

"Yes, but--" You're a living, breathing work of art. That's what he would have said if Chris had let him.

"But nothing." Chris drew him over to the full-length mirror near the closet, planting him in front of it. "Look," he said, the words caressing him as much as Chris' hands as they traveled along his ribs, "look at how beautiful you are."

"Chris--" He wanted to humor him, but... Glancing once and then quickly looking away from the glass, Toby tried to squirm free. "It's not the same, Chris. Please let me go." Whatever Chris was trying to prove, Toby wished he'd stop.

"No." The denial was still firm and non-negotiable, but Chris' voice was softer now. "Just look and tell me what you see," he crooned against his ear, one hand cupping his chin and making him stare at his image in the glass - both of them captured there.

What did he see in that mirror filled with moonlight, the lamplight almost an afterthought? A Greek god come to life, dark and sculpted, effortlessly and endlessly desirable ... and some other guy, pale and thin, and looking more fretful by the second. "Chris ... I'm nothing to write home about. You're the--"

"Keep it up and I'm gonna smack you," Chris said, voice still low, no rancor in it. "I want to look at every bit of you," he said, "and you're going to stand here and let me." He nuzzled Toby's ear, left hand caressing along Toby's shoulder and down his arm. "You're so sexy to me, Toby - here," his fingers trailed along Toby's bicep, curling around the muscle. "Silk and steel, that's how you feel to me, Toby." His hand moved and Toby watched in the mirror as those tapered fingertips grazed along his collarbone. "And here -- every time you take your shirt off, I want to lick your collarbones. You're beautiful right there."

Toby swallowed, licked his lips, trying to see it, but not able to. "Can I borrow your rose-colored glasses when you're done?"

Chris smiled and kissed his throat. "Not wearing any, baby." He nuzzled the crook of Toby's neck, kissed his shoulder. "Here, this," he kissed again, "this is perfect, too."

"It's just a shoulder," he said, not quite sure why he was having trouble catching his breath.

"It's your shoulder, and it's fucking hot." Chris' hand moved, sliding down Toby's chest, splaying over his left nipple. "I can feel your heartbeat," he whispered, a note of awe in his voice, as if this was something rare and precious.

And in the mirror Toby watched those fingers circle his nipple, pull at it, feeling the delicious jolt of pleasure racing through him. He wanted to close his eyes and savor it - but he couldn't take his eyes off the mirror as Chris touched him and told him, "Your nipples are perfect. They get so hard and stiff against my fingers and tongue," he teased the other one now. "I could suck them forever," he murmured and Toby felt those words shoot right to his groan, his knees feeling a bit weak. Chris licked his ear and asked, "Does it feel good when I do that, baby?"

He couldn't form words. He could only nod, gaze locked on the mirror.

"It feels good when I touch them, like this?" Chris pressed, fingertips swirling over the stiffed flesh. "When I lick them and suck them?"

He nodded again, and Chris smiled against his neck.

"Do you see how sexy you are now?"

Maybe...maybe just a little. He saw himself flushed with more color, aroused from the way Chris was touching him and talking to him. "It's..." He had to draw in more air and lick his dry lips. "It's only temporary, because you're..." Chris' hand slid down his torso, those amazing fingers circling his navel, "...stimulating...me..."

Chris smiled again. "No. You're always like this, Toby. You're always this," his fingers slid along the crease between hip and groin, "stimulating. Always." He kissed the back of his neck again and said, "Do you know much I wanted to fuck you the first time I saw you in court?"

Jesus. Toby gave a start at that, trying to look around at him - gently pushed back to stay focused on the mirror. "Defending Giles? You're nuts."

"Nope. You were confident and in control and so goddamn sexy I could have jumped you then and there." He buried his face in Toby's hair again, breathing like he wanted to capture his scent.

Crazy - that was crazy ... but, God, it felt good.

"Want me to show you more?"

Wordless again, he nodded. He couldn't promise to believe it, but he wanted to know how he looked when Chris was loving him. Head resting back against Chris' shoulder, Toby shivered as Chris stroked him, those long, beautiful fingers gliding along his throat and chest, rubbing his nipples again before slipped down along his ribs and to his hips, dancing along his thigh, the indentation, and creeping - creeping with maddening slowness inward.

"...Chris..." He moaned the name, sighing deeply as his lover's tongue flicked against his ear.

"Shh," Chris' voice brushed his neck, "just watch."

Oh God, he couldn't have moved or looked away if his life had depended on it, not as Chris cupped his balls and squeezed, not as Chris' hand surrounded his cock, stroking up and down, thumb circling the tip every time it emerged from the tight, warm grasp of Chris' fist.

"Oh God..."

"Shh. See - do you see how hot you are, Toby? How just a look from you makes my pulse race because I'm seeing you like this?" He let go of Toby's cock to stroke along his waist and hip. "How I can look across a room and see you like this, want to kiss your mouth and suck your cock and just fucking drown in you?"

He wanted to say something. He wanted to make a joke. It was too much, thinking he could have that much power. Chris did that - to him, to everyone. He'd seen it, people coveting Chris with their eyes, some of them not even knowing why. He'd never seen anyone look at him like that - no one but Chris. And wasn't that enough?

"I...I do that to you?" he said, seeing the answer, the absolute truth in Chris's eyes as they watched him in the mirror.

"Every fucking time I see you, Toby," Chris rumbled against his throat, licking him there and behind the ear.

Shivering in his arms, Toby caught his hand and put it where he needed it, folding Chris' fingers back around his cock. "Finish..." He bit his lip, glanced at Chris and found only hungry anticipation in that deep blue gaze, "finish what you started," he commanded, and watched, absolutely riveted as Chris fondled him and made him feel so incredibly fucking good with every touch.

He watched it all in the mirror. He watched Chris kiss his shoulders, the back of his neck; he watched Chris open his mouth wide and felt the wet swath of his tongue. Toby bit his lip, shuddering as Chris caressed his nipples and stroked his cock and rubbed against his ass. He watched Chris - so concentrated on him, as if nothing else mattered in the world; breathing hard, moaning, as if he was the one getting all this attention. Toby tore his gaze from Chris and watched himself - lips parting, pressing together again; his tongue wetting them. He watched his cock leaking over Chris' hand and shuddered, growing rigid with the pleasure that built and built and gushed over Chris' fingers, spattering the mirror. Frozen to the spot, Toby watched his orgasm tear through him, watched his body tremble with it as Chris' hand continued to move, pulling one more spurt from him, and he sank back into Chris, watching as the last of it spilled over his lover's fingers.

"Oh God..." Toby looked away at last, needing Chris' mouth. Reaching back, his orgasm still warm on Chris' hand, Toby put his hand on the back of his head, fingers scrabbling through short, dark hair as he strained around to kiss him. There - that finished him, Chris' lips against his, Chris' tongue filling his mouth. He didn't need to breathe. He only needed to kiss Chris - long and deep and wet. When Chris drew back for a moment Toby drew him back, whimpering, only content when he reclaimed his lover's mouth.

He didn't know how long they stood there, desperately kissing, like neither could ever get enough. Toby only knew that after a while he could look into Chris' eyes, still stunned by the love and desire he saw there, but with no whispering doubt that he deserved all of it. Turned to face him, he kissed him once more, soft and sweet now, rubbing their noses together before stepping back. "Don't I owe you something?" he said, playfully running his hand down Chris' belly, surprised at the profuse wet, stickiness he encountered.

"Baby," Chris growled against his temple, "you already took care of it."

Toby looked back at him, wide-eyed. "I did?"

"Touching you like that," Chris kissed his cheek, "that was enough." He looked at him now. "You see? You see what you do me?"

He was getting a really good idea, yes. Casting him a coyly playful look, Toby said, "I might need to be reminded every now and then." And he wasn't entirely joking.

"That can be arranged."

And Toby got the distinct impression that wouldn't be seen as any kind of hardship. "Wow."

Chris laughed, a flash of white teeth in the pale light. "That's all you've got to say?"

"Give me time - I can get insufferable." He wasn't entirely joking about that, either.

Chris kissed him again. "Bring it on, baby," he said, looking at him like there could be no greater delight.

"Still hungry?" Toby said, rubbing that hard, flat belly.

"Only for food." Chris nuzzled into his hair again.

Toby laughed, loving him like crazy.

That was better. Chris was thinking that as he followed Toby downstairs, deliberately lagging a couple of steps behind and never taking his eyes off the other man. Toby was well aware of having his undivided attention, too, but there was no squirming discomfort now. If he didn't precisely swagger, there was undeniably a bounce in his step, that conveyed he was getting it, getting how it felt to be that comfortable in your skin, sure you had someone's attention and that you absolutely deserved it. And if Toby had been dynamic in court before, he should be on his way to being an unstoppable force now.

"You really wanted me in court?" Toby said as they reached the kitchen and turned on the light.

"Not just me. I bet half the men there had hard-ons and the women all dreamed about you," Chris kissed his shoulder, "taking their...statements."

Toby gave him a scrunched up look of disbelief - but he seemed to like the idea. "And I suppose I had the jury in the...palm of my hand?"

Chris winked at him, kissed his mouth. "Absolutely."

"Mmm, that's very sweet," Toby opened the refrigerator, "but you'll understand if I'd like to think the merits of the case matter, too."

Taking glasses and plates from a cupboard and setting them on the table, Chris gave him a thoughtful look, understanding that. "They did, and they do. Toby, no one's ever going to dismiss you as not being serious just because you've got charisma and sex appeal coming out your ears."

Toby gave him a troubled look then. "Like they've done you?"

He shrugged, the sting hardly a memory now he'd found Toby. "If I have to earn some respect now there's no one but myself to blame. You live and learn and with a little bit of luck you actually get smarter," he added, wanting to show things were all right now. "I should be on the verge of being a fucking Einstein by now."

That got a small laugh from Toby, and a tinier huff. "Palmer respects you," he said, taking out the pitcher of ice tea and the remainder of a loaf of bread. "How old's this chicken?"

"Mary Pete sent me home with it yesterday," Chris told him, pouring the ice tea. "Yeah, Palmer's going out on a limb - I appreciate him taking the risk."

Toby set the whole roasted chicken on the table, only missing its drumsticks. "Palmer doesn't take risks, that's why he and Dad didn't get wiped out in the 'Crash. He hired you because he knows you're going to be an asset to the magazine. You got a carving knife?"

"Ah... Maybe. Check in there," Chris indicated one of the drawers. "I don't know, it feels like I'm on probation even if no one's said anything."

"And I'll bet it's all in your head." Toby found a knife and fork that suited him and set to making short work of the chicken.

"You do that very well," Chris said, admiring.

"Wait till Thanksgiving. Of course," he made a comical face, looking down at himself, "I generally have more clothes on then."

Chris smiled, having to admit there was a trace of the absurd in the situation. That Toby could be so unselfconscious, however, showed he had made his point. "I suppose you and your family make a big fuss about Thanksgiving?" he said.

"And Christmas, and birthdays - get used to it."

He just fucking might.

As Toby fixed the sandwiches, slathering on the mayonnaise with reckless abandon, he said, "So what's Palmer got you doing that's had you all tied up?"

Chris watched him assault the head of lettuce he'd found in the ice-box, tearing away three quarters of wilted leafs until finding some that suited him. "Lots of discussions, editorial meetings - looks like I'll be working with Yood again."

"Are you enjoying that?" Toby was ransacking the tomatoes now, tossing all but one in the trash as beyond hope.

"Yeah, it's good. Al got me to show Palmer the Giles interview, and it looks like they're going to run that," he said, suspecting he wasn't doing a very good job of keeping the pleasure out of his face.

As if to confirm that, Toby gave him a happy look. "I'm glad."

Trying to put some diffidence into his shrug, Chris sat down at the table. "Yeah, thanks. Anyway," he watched Toby finish assembling the sandwiches, slicing them cleanly across, and pushing one plate over to him, "I'm making my debut with a column about what's shaping up in Europe."

"Am I allowed to read that?" Toby said, sitting down and giving him a humorous look.

Chris laughed. "Yeah, you can read that - Monday."

"So," Toby took a bite of his sandwich, "you're doing this column, and the interview - what else?"

"Not sure yet. Palmer wants to try me out a couple of ways."

"Bet that's not the first time you've heard that, huh?" Toby remarked, laughter sparkling his eyes.

"Keep it up," Chris warned, trying not to laugh.

"Yeah?" Toby shot back, challenging - and Chris immediately felt a foot sliding up his leg. "So," he went on casually, just as if they weren't sitting there naked, playing footsie, "what are these couple of ways?"

"Well," Chris sobered a bit, taking a drink of tea, "he had wanted to send me overseas, to cover what's going on in Europe, but I turned that down." And that had been a fairly dramatic moment, holding his breath and waiting to see if he'd jeopardized the whole job by being particular.

Looking more serious as well, and putting his foot back on the floor, Toby said, "You did?"

"Yeah. I," he shrugged again, giving him a crooked smile, "I don't want to be away from you."

And apparently that bowled Toby right over because he sat there for a couple of moments, actually speechless. "Chris ... I know you've missed that. I know you loved it," he finally said, studying his face so intently.

"Yeah," he couldn't deny that, that had been one of the best times of his life - well, aside from almost dying that one time, "but I love you more."

Looking like he was prepared to feel guilty about this, Toby said, "Are you sure?"

Chris leaned over to kiss him. "Not a doubt in my mind, Toby."

Toby searched his eyes and nodded after a moment, kissing him back. "Is it okay if I'm kind of happy about that?" he asked after another moment.

"Yeah, it's okay." Chris sat back and took another bite of the sandwich. "Anyway, Palmer wants to see if he can use me to cover a combination of current and cultural events."

"What does that mean?"

"Don't know - we're working it out. I'm interviewing Mrs. Roosevelt on Wednesday--"

"Tell her I said hello."

Chris gave him a hard look. "Yeah, I'll do that."

Toby smiled. "You have to go to Washington?"

"Yeah." Chris smiled back. "That's better than Berlin, right?"

"Vastly. What else?"

"Ah, then I interview Philip Barry on Friday, but first I have to go see his play - you know, stuff like that."

Toby nodded. "What play?"

"The Philadelphia Story, some kind of comedy."

"Umm, it's gotten good reviews."

"Have you seen it?"

"No - but I would be willing to accompany you if you think that would make the experience more bearable."

Chris thought about it. "I don't know. I might have trouble concentrating on what's happening on stage."

"That is a risk, I suppose. I can pay my own way, though, if that helps."

"I'll let you know. So, what about you - what's been going on at Beecher and Beecher?"

"And Abercrombie, don't forget." Toby sighed, sitting back and shaking his head. "Our oldest client - well, formerly oldest; I guess Jonas Gould has that privilege now - died while we were off frolicking on Long Island," he smiled, as if remembering some of those frolics; Chris was glad the memory made him happy. "Mrs. Audrey Farraday-Phelps."

"I didn't even know she was still alive."

"Yep - she was sooo lively for a while there that she had taken a lover half her age--"

"Which would make him - what? Seventy?"

Toby bit back a smile. "Forty-seven, actually. Kenneth Colbert."

"Calls himself a art connoisseur, gets invited to all the right parties, lots of pomade in his hair?"

"That'd be him. You know him?"

"Seen him around. See," Chris leaned in a bit, trying to keep a straight face, "that's a gigolo."

"Mrs. Farraday-Phelps's extensive family, by birth and seven marriages, may be calling you to give a testimonial in that case because that's what they think, too. It seems Audrey made a second will, leaving everything to Kenny. He's beside himself - or was, until the family decided an eighty-two-year-old woman couldn't have simply died in her sleep, and called in the police to investigate."

"So things are in an uproar?"

"Like you would not believe," Toby said with feeling. "Other than that," he shrugged, "it's been fine. Lonely," he added, looking at Chris and stroking his leg under the table again, "but otherwise fine. The kids keep asking after you."

"I'll bet," Chris said, not believing it for a moment.

"They have. I had to explain the reason we weren't seeing as much of you now was because you live alllll the way out here. They agree with me that this is excessively inconvenient."

"They do, huh?"


"And," Chris stretched his foot out until he'd found Toby's well-muscled calf, "did they propose a solution?"

"They wondered why you couldn't come live with us."

"Not in your wildest dreams, Beecher."

Pouting, Toby said, "It's a big house."

"It's Grand Central Station, according to you."

"Adjustments could be made."


"Killjoy." Toby sighed, stroking his foot higher. "Bet I could make you change your mind."

"Bet you can't," Chris returned. "Come on, can you really see that working?"

"Well, do you have an alternative?"

"I was thinking," Chris ventured, voicing an idea he'd been toying with, "of getting a room down at the Chelsea Hotel again. That's where I lived before I married Kitty."

"Yeah?" Toby's ears almost visibly perked up. "I suppose there are lurid and sordid stories attached?"

Chris smiled mysteriously. "Could be. Could be I just spent a lot of time with my typewriter."

"Uh-huh, try selling me the Brooklyn Bridge now." Toby frowned, thinking it over. "That would be good, but I think we could do better."

Chris was willing to explore the idea, so long as everything was fifty-fifty down the middle because he wasn't having anyone pointing fingers and whispering behind their backs about Toby keeping him - but he could think of some other, much more enjoyable things they could be doing right this minute. "Finish your sandwich," he said, scooting back in his chair.

"I'm done." Toby pushed his plate away, just a couple of bites left. He gave Chris a curious look, as if suspecting there might be more afoot than Chris wanting to avoid this topic of discussion. Getting up, he carried his plate and glass over to the sink, walking with an easy, sensuous grace that was a joy to behold. Dumping the remains of the sandwich in the trash, he cast a look over his shoulder at Chris, as if to say, 'What are you waiting for?'

Pushing his chair back, Chris didn't keep him in suspense for long. Sidling up behind him at the sink, he wrapped his arms around the lean, hard body, saying, "I don't know, I think you want some more." His voice was pitched low, seductive, and he accented it with a swipe of his tongue along Toby's throat.

"You think so, huh?" Toby said, his voice gone huskier already, tilting his head to give Chris better access.

"Umm hmm." Chris kissed his throat, his shoulder, the nape of his neck.

"You are aware we're in the kitchen?" Toby said, as if that had any bearing.

"It was good enough for our first kiss," Chris murmured against the back of his neck. "You do remember our first kiss?"

"I might have some recollection of that, yes."

"What do you remember?"

Sounding a bit out breath, Toby said, "I remember being aware of you, everything you did or said. I remember not wanting to let you go away again." He turned in Chris' arms, gripping his shoulders and kneading them. "I remember wanting to kiss you more than I've wanted anything in my life."

"Funny," Chris nuzzled his temple, "that's just how I remember it, too." And thank God their memories matched up. "Do you ever think about that night, about what would have happened if your dad hadn't come along?"

Arms going around him, Toby pulled himself closer. "Some such thought may have crossed my mind, yes - you know, six, seven thousand times."

Chris smiled and kissed his mouth, maneuvering him along down the counter. "Shall I show you what I think would have happened?"

Eyes bright with desire that belied the note of merely academic interest he tried to put in his voice, Toby said, "If you feel utterly compelled to, I suppose it would be all right."

Chris nipped at his ear and hoisted him up on the counter. "I believe we were like this," he said, moving between Toby's legs, loving the way Toby's arms wrapped around him, just like that first time. "I would have gotten your shirt all the way off," he whispered, confiding in him, and kissing his face and down along his throat. "Your pants would have been next," his head moved lower as Toby stroked his hair. He lapped at a nipple, feeling it harden against his tongue, and then traced a line straight downward. "And when I had you like that..."

"What?" Toby's voice was quiet, purring, his hands busy ruffling through Chris' hair and massaging his back.

"This - I would have done this," Chris said, bracing himself with one hand against the counter as he wrapped the other around Toby's cock and lowered his head to take it in his mouth.

"Oh, Jesus fucking Christ!"

Chris raised his head, letting the cock slip from his lips and giving the head a lazy lick. "Want me to continue?" he asked, knowing he sounded smug and insolent and utterly sure of himself.

Toby's reply was a sweet and endearing threat, "You quit and I'll murder you."

Chuckling, Chris swiped his tongue over the tip again and on down as Toby obligingly hooked his legs over Chris' shoulders. Held securely in place by that and the hands alternately holding his head, pulling his hair, and rubbing his back and shoulders, Chris gripped his lover's hips and took him deep, getting almost as much out of it as Toby. Licking and sucking with all the enthusiasm his lover demanded, responding eagerly to Toby's demands and tasting the first spurts of come on his tongue as Toby shuddered into his mouth.

He barely got to enjoy the taste, the feel of Toby coming in his mouth before his lover was slipping off the counter and pushing him back to lean against it. Chris wasn't given any better chance to gather his wits before Toby had dropped to his knees and swallowed his cock, deliciously determined to return the favor. It didn't take him long, and Chris regretted that - but only a little. Hands buried in Toby's soft hair as that wicked tongue explored him and those lips he loved to kiss sucked and caressed him so perfectly, regrets were very few and far between as Toby brought him to the edge and over, and he came in that mouth he so adored.

Sagging together against the counter, nuzzling each other's face and throat, Toby said, "It's probably good," he had to suck more air in before he could go on, "Dad didn't walk in on that."

"Yeah?" Chris stroked his hair and kissed his face.

"Yeah. I'd hate to be an orphan now."

Chris laughed, kissing his mouth. With a deep, deep sigh, exhausted muscles trembling, he pressed their foreheads together. "You know what'd be good now?"


"Bed," Chris confirmed, meaning it an entirely different way now. "Providing we can make it that far."

They made it all the way back up the stairs, finding just enough energy to make it, sliding between the soft cool sheets and turning off the lamp. With only the moonlight spilling the room, they snuggled together, sublimely content.

"All day tomorrow?" Chris said, voice sleepy.

"All day."

"Good." Chris kissed him, unable to keep his eyes open one second more. "Love you."

"Love you," Toby said back, nestling his head into Chris' shoulders.

They slept, twined together, no need to wish for sweet dreams tonight.

Stretching comfortably and turning on his side, Chris had to wonder if he'd died and gone to heaven. It was certainly easy to believe he had an angel sound asleep behind him - an angel with a diabolical tongue and a body created for sin. An angel all worn out from their particular version of breakfast in bed; Chris still felt a bit sticky from his lover's inspired uses for honey and orange marmalade.

He propped himself on an elbow to watch him as the rain fell outside, pattering against the windowpanes. The summer heat had broken and it was cool in the bedroom, the light was gray and watery as it fell across the bed, across Toby. The covers had slipped down, baring everything but one leg to view, and Chris liked the view very much indeed.

He wished he could paint him like this, too - turned on his side, head pillowed on an arm, one leg drawn up just a bit. Chris visually traced the lines of his body as if seeing it for the first time. Every time was just like the first, always something new to discover. He'd never noticed that scar, for instance, that white, long-healed gash just above the left knee. What was it from? he wondered, wanting to run his fingers along it but fearing he'd wake him - and he wanted to enjoy this quiet, selfish time when he could just look his fill and relish every moment. Even if he could paint him, even if he could snap his photograph without disturbing him, that picture would never be enough to say everything he felt, everything this meant to him.

Words might capture it, if enough existed in any language he knew. And assuming he could weave them together just so. A lot to ask of mere words, to define and contain all that he was feeling, but he felt an irresistible itch to try.

He watched some more, committing everything to memory. Toby's skin pale against the dark blue sheets, the only color the red and gold of his hair - tousled silk on his head, coarser but no less appealing curls at his groin. He wanted to bury in face in it all and breathe him deep, taste him again as if for the first time.

The wonder of it all was that he could. This - this was his, to have and to hold, forsaking all others, till death did they part. How did you sum all of that up in one hundred words or less?

Quietly slipping from the bed, Chris carefully pulled the covers up, not wanting him to catch a chill. Shivering a bit himself, he tiptoed over to the dresser and pulled out a pair of boxers and a wifebeater, taking them with him into the bathroom.

Downstairs, he put the bits and pieces of his novel away again - knowing it wouldn't be for long this time - and sat down, taking his journal from another drawer. Uncle Mike had gotten him in the habit of keeping these, telling him the only true training for a writer was to write, to put down whatever might be passing through his head. There had been a time when he had managed to fill up two journals like this in the course of a year, the content evolving from how much he didn't like arithmetic to how he needed a solid grasp of mathematics to work out how many people he'd slept with in a year. What the hell he'd do with most of them was anyone's guess. He had a few packed away upstairs with contents that would likely get them banned from Boston to Bakersfield.

He'd never lost the habit of keeping a journal, but he'd had this same one for almost three years now. The last time he'd written anything of substance had been when he and Kitty finally admitted it wasn't working and they should call it quits. It was only very lately that he had felt moved to record more, and he turned the last few pages, reading his words, earlier attempts to capture Tobias Beecher with mere words. His failure to do so was illustrated by the snapshots he'd tucked away between the pages - Toby at the beach, playing tennis; both of them at the party, decked out in top hats and white tie-and-tails.

Turning to a fresh page, he smoothed his fingers over the paper, feeling challenged by its blank, white expanse - but not intimidated by it. The first words were always the hardest, but he had those already, and taking up his pen he wrote them down, the black ink recording his thoughts. He paused, frowning over the words - 'He looks like an angel sleeping beside me - a gloriously carnal angel, wandering down from Heaven for a night of debauchery in my bed.' Too much? Well - maybe, but these were his thoughts, for no eyes but his own, so what did it matter? Mind made up to that, he continued, determined to get it right this time.

Almost awake, Toby listened to the raindrops hitting the windows and opened his eyes to watch them streaking the glass. Not really wanting to move, he stretched against the soft sheets and pulled the covers higher, up to his chin, feeling the kind of lazy gratification that could only come from having been thoroughly, perfectly fucked. He might never move again.

Then again... Something was amiss. He was fairly certain there ought to be someone sprawled out beside him, rumbling like a big cat. He ran his hand over the cool, empty sheets, curious but not alarmed by the absence. His lover, his very own personal sex god was undoubtedly off doing whatever it was he did in this big, empty house all by himself.

Thinking about that made him sad, though. All this long week of missing Chris, that had been uppermost on his mind. As much as it killed him not to be with Chris, at least he had his family around him. He wasn't left to rattle around, alone in a big, lonely house crowded with too many sad memories. Well - he could laze here in bed, worrying about that, or he could get up and track down that sex god and make sure he was never lonesome again. Resolved to this, he kicked back the covers.

Shivering in the rain chilled air, he considered that house rule about nudity as he padded into the bathroom - bemused to discover a bit of marmalade sticking where it really didn't belong. As he stood in the bedroom once more and regarded the blanket folded on top of chest at the foot of the bed, he decided no one could raise objections if he only wrapped that blanket around himself for warmth. It had nothing to do with modesty, he just didn't want to freeze his ass off. That struck him as only good sense, and he shook out the blanket, wrapping it around himself toga fashion.

He hadn't been drunk as a lord during the entirety of his first visit. Stepping out into the hall he distinctly remembered that these other rooms were empty, or used for storage. The most vivid memory was of that room, right across the hall, with one wall half-painted pink, and a small, white dresser pushed up against another wall, with a crib that had never been used. He didn't want to go into that room again, not today.

He walked on along the hall, stopping to peek into another room and feeling a terrible compulsion drawing him in and over to the trunks and boxes crammed inside. Most of them were locked or taped shut, and was it his fault if someone had forgotten to more thoroughly secure the lid of one trunk so that when he accidentally nudged it, it popped open? And could he help it if, in the process of closing it again, a few things carelessly left loose on top fell out on the floor? He could hardly leave them there, getting all dusty.

Picking the items up and sorting them by the gray light coming through the window, he squinted at postcard greetings written in French and Italian, from people named Jean Louis and Carlotta. Hmph. He tossed those back in the trunk without another thought, more interested in the other items, a handful of photographs. They confirmed what he had been suspecting for sometime now: that it never crossed Chris' mind to politely decline whenever someone pointed a camera at him. There was also no denying that the camera loved him. Well, why should a camera be different from all the rest of the world that way?

And if he had a pocket he'd tuck that one away and take it with him. He held it up to the light, taking in all the details of a younger Chris, longer hair being ruffled by a breeze under a hot, clear Egyptian sky. He looked elegant and sexy, and in Toby's opinion was giving the Sphinx there in the background a run for its money when it came to being enigmatically beautiful.

He put everything away, frowned at his tell-tale footprints on the dusty floor, and went on his way. Pausing on the stairs, he settled down on a step and watched through the railings as Chris leaned over his desk and scribbled away at something. Even with the rain it was quiet enough that he could hear the scratching of pen against paper. That was a sound he could get very used to, just like that
clack-clack-clack of typewriter keys.

Chris had been aroused, watching him in court? That didn't strike him as so unlikely now as he sat there and watched Chris at work. There wasn't a lot to watch, no, but it pleased him just the same. Chris was completely focused on whatever he was writing, in his element and in command of it. Sometimes it mystified him that Chris didn't always act like he was confident of his abilities, and yet he did understand that. It was like him preparing a case, wanting to get every detail right so that he could know his client was being well-served, and that justice was being done. That only made sense, didn't it, to hold yourself to a high standard when you had a passionate love for what you were doing? It was exciting to see that passion in Chris, to see how it invigorated Chris to write with so much pleasure again. God, they had to find a solution to this living situation, they had to be together under one roof, because Toby wanted to be able to watch him like this all the time. He could already anticipate the electricity that would be generated when Chris got his novel going again.

Toby watched him sit back, stretching his back as if it ached a bit, and had to restrain himself from going over there to massage away the ache. He didn't want to disturb him, not yet. He wanted to keep watching as Chris read back over what he'd written, looking thoughtful and rueful by turns, but appearing satisfied for the most part. Watching him close the book - a journal? - and put down his pen, Toby thought it might be all right to make his presence known now. "Hey."

Chris turned, looking over at him with fond surprise. "Hey. How long have you been there?"

"Just a little while." He got up, gathering his improvised toga around him and proceeding on into the living room and over to the couch. "I notice you're not naked anymore. I only have this," he indicated the blanket.

"Yeah?" Chris tilted his chair back, watching him. "Show me."

And that was a challenge if Toby had ever heard one. Not even sparing one cautious look around, in case someone might be looking in, he unfolded the blanket and gave his lover a quick - and he hoped provocative - flash of the goods. "What were you writing?" he said, sitting down.

He'd thought that was a simple question, but Chris evidently found underlying meaning in it because he took his time thinking it over. And his answer was nothing like Toby had expected.

Getting up, Chris picked up the journal, turning the pages as he walked over to him, and handed it to him. "Here," he said, sitting down beside him.

It was another moment when Toby couldn't think of a thing to say. Not for a few long seconds anyway as Chris pulled the blanket free and then arranged it around both of them, snuggling close, watching him all the while. "Are you sure?"

Chris nodded, once. "Go ahead."

Still not quite knowing what to say - thank you seemed incredibly inadequate when the man you loved had just offered you a glimpse of his most intimate thoughts like this - he bent his head over the journal, the leather soft and warm in his hands as he read the words written there:

'He looks like an angel sleeping beside me - a gloriously carnal angel, wandering down from Heaven for a night of debauchery in my bed. And I want to remember him like this forever. His body - so lean and hard and strong, and the way he feels in my arms. The way I feel in his. Vulnerable? No, not vulnerable; he doesn't make me feel weak or exposed. He makes me feel powerful. I've never felt more powerful than when he's inside me, drenching me with his love. I've never felt less exposed and found wanting than when he looks at me, wanting to know all my secrets, wanting to lay my soul bare so that he can find all the old wounds and heal them. And he's always delighted with the smallest thing I share, as if it's all rare treasure that he will hold dear for the rest of his life.

'Him ... this ... I never expected it. I didn't even know I wanted it so badly. Something was missing, I had known that a long time - forever. I wanted something that I had begun to doubt even existed. I could never put a name to it. It didn't come in my work. It didn't come in anyone I took to bed. And I wasn't even looking for it anymore when it walked into my world and I knew it was Toby.

'He's a miracle and a maniac - and I wouldn't have it any other way. I surrender everything to him, and find I've lost nothing, only gained. Every single time we touch feels like we're discovering each other all over again. Every time there's something new to find.

'I can trust him with everything, and I never knew I even wanted that.'

He sniffed, trying to swallow though his throat felt tight. "The maniac part might be true."

Chris slid an arm around him, whispering against his cheek, "It's all true. Keep reading."

He did, upset to discover he'd been right: that Chris had been rattling around this house, wanting him there because the nights were too long and all the memories were quick to reach out and grab him. 'Now he's here - in my house, my bed, and I know he is all the home I will ever need. His scent will cling to my skin and fill the air I breathe. His passion and energy will surround me and renew my own. I watch him sleeping in my bed, the rain falling outside and the pale light painting shadows across his skin, and I feel like I've loved him since time began. And I've only known him three weeks.

'A lifetime together won't be enough. I want to know how he got that scar on his knee and what it felt like to hold his babies in his arms the first time. I want to give him everything, even the things I've hidden from myself. I want to tell him what it felt like to know I would never hold my child in my arms. And I want to tell him what it's like to look into his eyes and see more love than I ever dreamed existed.'

Toby closed the book and set it on the coffee table, reaching for him, bring his face close and kissing him long and deep, wanting to say all those same things to him and only knowing how to do it with this kiss. He sank back into the cushions, pulling Chris down with him, loving him beyond words.

His miracle shifted around on top of him, warm and sticky, and said, "I'm hungry."

Chris laughed, pulling him in for a kiss. "Well I guess you would be. I think we polished everything off for breakfast, though."

Leering down at him, Toby said, "That's not all we polished, as I recall." He sighed, happily, resting his chin on Chris' chest. "We could go out, I suppose." He didn't sound like that would be his first choice, however.

Chris offered an alternative. "Or - we could order in." Yep, that perked him up.

"You know a good place around here?"

"In Manhattan - Chinese. That okay?"

"Yeah," Toby said, thinking it over. "That'll take a while. What will we do in the meantime?" He kissed Chris' throat as if he had a few ideas.

"Well," Chris brushed his thumb along Toby's lips, "it might be a good idea if we got cleaned up and dressed before the food got here."

"Oh, yes?" Toby arched an eyebrow at him. "And what happened to 'We're going to be naked alllll the live-long day?' Hmm?"

"If you want to answer the door bare-ass naked, I won't stop you."

"Wellll... I suppose it wouldn't kill us." Toby sighed again. "We have to get cleaned up first?"

"Umm hmm."

"And can we," Toby traced the tip of a finger around one of Chris' nipples, "do that together?"

"Do you think you'd like that?"

Thinking it over seriously, Toby nodded after a moment. "I think I might, yes."

"Maybe we should test it, just to make sure?"

"Maybe even more than once."

"Absolutely." Chris pulled him in for another kiss.

He was glad he'd shown Toby the journal entry even if the words still weren't quite right. He'd keep working at it. After all, there was no rush; he had all the rest of their lives to perfect it. And it looked like his inspiration would be in infinite supply.

The water was warm, sluicing over their bodies. They moved together under its stream, lathering each other with soap and working it into every nook and cranny they could find. Chris held still, trembling as Toby kissed a path along his throat, tongue swiping across his nipples. He gripped Toby's shoulders, then his hair, and back again as his lover knelt and sucked him. Chris shuddered, breath coming in desperate moans as Toby's lips and tongue worked at him, Toby gripping his hips, his ass, fingers slipping between the cheeks and working inside.

"Oh Christ..." He dragged Toby up, pushing him against the tiled wall and kissing him, tasting himself on Toby's lips as the water poured down. "Toby, oh... that's good...good..." he chanted over and over as he pushed into Toby, rubbing against him.

Toby ate at his mouth as if starving for kisses more than food, working a hand between their bellies to grasp their cocks and pressed them together. "Yes, Chris...oh God, that feels so good..."

"...yes..." Chris flattened his hands against the tile as Toby held him tight and set the rhythm, their slick, hard bodies rubbing and pressing, Toby stroking their cocks as they came, the water gushing over them and swirling their come away down the drain.

Spent - deliciously spent and satisfied - Chris slumped into Toby, against the wall, only Toby's strong arms keeping him on his feet. Feeling the water growing cool, he burrowed his face into Toby's shoulder, just holding on, trusting Toby would never let him go.

"This is nice," Toby remarked as they sat on the porch-swing out back, finishing their food and watching the sun finally come out just long enough to light up the clouds so they looked like pink cotton candy as the sun set.

Chris munched an egg roll stuffed and canted a curious look over at him looking all cozy in borrowed blue jeans and a gray sweatshirt - the sight of Toby wearing his clothes making his stomach do one of those little flips. It also made him feel guilty for regarding him with some suspicion. "Yes, it is," he said, seeing no harm in agreeing.

"It would be good to do this all the time."

Ah, Chris thought he had a glimmer of where this was going now. "Yeah, it would."

It was Toby's turn to shoot him a quizzical look, popping a water chestnut in his mouth and crunching with enthusiasm. "But...?"

"But," he wished it didn't have to be an issue, but they both knew it was, "it's gotta be fifty-fifty, Toby."

The predictable huff came. "Chris, money is no object."

"It fucking is - and you know it. I don't want people pointing at us and whispering about how you're keeping me."

"No one's going to do that," Toby said, sounding awfully sure of himself.

"They aren't?"

"Nope. Because you are very soon going to be a best selling author making heaps of money--"

"Oh, you know that for a fact?"

"Fortune cookies don't lie," Toby said, perfectly serious as he picked up the one Chris had gotten, reading it again, "Big things come to those who have waited. See?" he held it out to him.

Trying not to laugh, Chris said, "You know, I can think of a few other things that could be referring to."

"I'm sure you can but I like my version best."

That wasn't exactly a news bulletin. Chris sighed, finishing his coffee. "Do you ever not get your way?"

"Mmm, once, every other leap year. So...?"

"So... We ain't living on Park Avenue." He was sticking to his guns on that no matter how goddamn sexy Toby looked, sitting over there in the fading light.

"Has it ever occurred to you I might not want to live on Park Avenue?"

"I don't hear you talking about moving in here."

Toby looked at him really seriously then, scooting closer along the seat. "Is that what you really want?"

He didn't really have to ponder that a long time. "No." He shrugged, his shoulder brushing against Toby's, and admitted, "I've been wanting to get rid of this place and move back to the city for a long time." He scooted around to face him, deciding to put all his concerns out there. That's what trusting Toby was all about, right? "Anyway, never mind what we want to do - what about the kids? They barely know me, and little or not they're gonna be wondering about things. You know, unless we have separate bedrooms and all."

"Oh, yes, like that's going to happen." Toby moved around to face him as well, one arm resting across the back of the swing. "The entire point of us living under the same roof is to never sleep apart again. But," he sighed, "you're probably right about them needing some more time to get used to you being part of our lives."

Chris cocked his head, cupping a hand around his ear. "Say that again? You admitted I might be right about something?"

"Oh, knock that off," Toby scolded him playfully. "Can we compromise? You get that room at the Chelsea, or wherever, like you were saying, and we start being a family. We can take it slow," he added, as if seeing some doubts in Chris' eyes, "just everyone getting settled in."

A family. Of course he'd always known that's what it meant, but it was still a jolt to have it laid out so matter of fact like that. "You, me, and the kids," he said, needing to hear it out loud.

Toby watched his face and nodded. "Yeah," he said, voice soft. "You up for it?"

"Can we do it?" he said, wanting to believe they could. Wanting that more than he'd known.

"Won't know unless we try."

"What if they don't like me?"

"That's isn't even a remote possibility."

"It isn't?" Chris wished he could be as sure of it.

"The boys already think you're the cat's pajamas--"

"Holly doesn't."

"I think you might be surprised there. She doesn't invite just anyone to her tea parties." Toby sat back, looking at him with fond amusement. "Can you invent anymore impediments?"

"These are real concerns," he said, doing his damnedest not to be the one getting huffy. After a moment he shrugged again and confessed, "It's scary."

Toby leaned in again, cupping his face. "Yeah - but I'll be right with you all the way."

With few options but to give in as gracefully as possible, given it was what he wanted after all, Chris said, "I suppose you'll be on your knees asking me to marry you next."

Head cocked, like he was giving it some thought, Toby said, "Wellll...I might be on my knees anyway," running a hand up along the inside of Chris' thigh.

"Yeah?" Chris returned, trying to shift gears to keep up with him. "And on your back?"

"Anyway you want me, baby."

Chris flashed a grin at him, shaking his head. "What am I gonna do with you, Beecher?"

"Don't know," he said, pooching his lower lip out. "Love me like crazy?"

Searching his eyes, stroking his face, Chris nodded. He could do that. There was nothing else he wanted to do more.

On his back was a very good place to be. Toby was thinking that as he stretched out, Chris straddling him and doing it again - just looking at him, slowly, raking his gaze up and down, as if Tobias Beecher was the more delectable thing he had never seen. This time Toby believed him. Believed it and reveled in it.

"So," Chris bent down and brushed his lips along that scar, "how did you get this?"

"Fell off my bike and landed on a sharp rock," Toby said, savoring that light caress.

"How old were you?" Chris ran a hand up Toby's leg, stroking behind the knee.

"Twelve. It hurt - a lot."

Chris smiled and kissed it again. "Better now?"

He nodded, then sat up, coming in to run his lips across that scar, trailing his fingers over it as well. "I've told you I'm glad you didn't die from this?"

"You've mentioned it once or twice."

"Good," he kissed his again, "because I'd hate to have missed you." He sat back on his heels, looking at him, idly touching. "I do want to know everything, Chris."

"Like what?" Chris knelt there, watching him, game for anything.

"Like..." he ran his hand along Chris' ribs, tickling lightly, "what makes your toes curl?"

Catching his breath, smiling, Chris said, "You're on the right track."

Toby pressed his hands flat against Chris' chest, over the swell of pectoral muscle, and kissed him. He slid his arms on around him, making a thorough job of it and settling back on the mattress. "What you said about wanting to lick my collarbones?" he said, looking up at him. "That sort of does it for me."

"Yeah?" The dark head dipped down and he sighed, feeling Chris' obliging tongue stroke him there, tonguing the hollow at the base of his throat. "That feels...really good," he said, one hand on the back of Chris' head, fingers digging into the short hair. "What..." He swallowed, tried again. "What about you?"

Chris looked at him thoughtfully, then caught one hand and placed it over the butterfly. "I like it when you touch me here."

"Yeah?" He traced the fluttery wings and antenna. "Just when I touch it?"

Chris shrugged. "It's good when you...lick me there, too."

He just bet it was. "Scoot up - come on," he said, wanting to lick his chops as Chris straddled his chest, stretching up over to him hold onto the headboard, and shuddering as Toby flicked his tongue out and licked across the butterfly. His tongue dipped into the crease, tasting the musky flavor, loving it, lapping at his balls for good measure

"Oh Christ!" Chris let go of the headboard and slid down to the mattress. "Yeah," he managed to get out, drawing some quick breaths, "that works."

Toby smiled, leaning over him and running a hand down his body, cupping it between his legs. "You get the idea, then?" he said, lowering his head to kiss a freckle on Chris' hips.

"I'm getting the picture."

"Thought you would." Toby pushed at him, wanting him to roll over, and rocking on his heels when this was achieved. Sitting up beside him as Chris rested his head on his arm, turned to watch him, Toby stroked his hand up and down what he considered the world's finest back, feeling the muscles ripple under the smooth skin. And if there were to be any dispute on that, there could be none whatever regarding an even more prominent feature. He leaned over, kissing the back of Chris' neck and licking a slow trail along the ridge of his spine and on over the rich curve of an ass that could only be regarded as the ultimate of its kind. It surely set the standard for all others.

"What are you grinning like a lunatic about?" Chris grumbled, twisting around to look at him suspiciously.

"Nothing," he said, and kissed that most sacred object again.

"Come up here," Chris commanded, and he obeyed, stretching out again as his lover moved over and kissed his mouth. "Do you like this?" he whispered, moving back, running both hands down his stomach, fingers dancing over the grooves at his groin, tasting the same spot with his tongue.

"Yeah," Toby reached out, stroking the back of his head, "feels nice." He gasped and bucked his hips as he felt a hand wrap around his cock, felt a tongue swipe across the head.

"That feel nice, too?"

He looked up into the smug, handsome face and pulled him down, kissing him anxiously, hungrily, digging his fingers into the short, dark hair and licking Chris' ear - rewarded with a loud, throaty groan as he flicked his tongue into that ear. Panting against it, he demanded, "Fuck me - make me fucking scream."

"Ohhh... Christ, yeah," Chris said, mumbled into his mouth, scrabbling for the lube.

He didn't take it slow and easy this time, and that was fine, that was fucking perfect. Toby didn't want it sweet now. He wanted it hard and furious. He pulled his legs up, grunting as Chris settled between them, inside him. He pushed up into Chris, moving with every thrust, the bed-springs creaking right along with them. Pulling Chris' face to him, Toby kissed him, mouths open, needy, tongues matching the frantic rhythm of their bodies.

He didn't scream when he came. He couldn't get enough air in his lungs for that. But he clutched Chris to him as his lover jerked and came inside him, as his own climax spurted between their bodies. They stayed tangled together like that for a long time. They could have stayed there forever, wet, deliciously worn out, fucked to the hilt.

He'd bet their toes had curled, too.

Chris hadn't wanted the morning to come. Morning meant Toby had to leave and this would all be over. He had been lying on his side, thinking about that and resenting the sunrise until Toby had spooned up behind him, kissed his shoulder, and lovingly told him to go the fuck back to sleep. He had obeyed -- somewhat. Mostly he had dozed like this, facing Toby, their heads only inches apart on the pillows and their hands clasped between them. He could sleep anytime. Lying there and watching Toby sleep, watching the sunlight filter inside and warm his skin -- that was something that didn't come along every day.

He watched him stretch and yawn, eyes drifting open and gazing dopily over at him, and knew this was what he wanted to see every morning for the rest of his life. So, his list of errands today would include: go to the store and pick up some groceries, call Mary Pete and confirm she'd gotten the photos to go with the Giles interview, and -- most important of all -- look up a realtor and put this house on the market first thing tomorrow. That all ought to keep him from missing Toby for an hour or two today.

With another expansive yawn, Toby snuggled closer, sighing against his shoulder. "What time is it?"

Trying not to mind that question, Chris looked over at the bedside clock. "Almost eight."

"Mmmm." Toby took a deep breath, as if inhaling him, then rolled over on his back and rubbed his knuckles against his eyes. He smiled at Chris before stretching across him to get at the telephone, dragging it over to the mattress and dialing.

Chris also tried not to pay much attention to the brief conversation that followed, although he gathered Toby was speaking to Genevieve and making plans to pick up the kids. Washington Square Park, at eleven o'clock appeared to be the agreed upon time and he rested against the pillows, thinking about that as Toby put the phone back. Three more hours - no, not even that, two and a half, tops, and then this was over. Only over for a little while, though; he knew that, he believed that, but still...

Toby made himself comfortable again, stroking his arm and smiling. "Do you take the Sunday paper?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"I thought," Toby moved back and sat up, "we might make some coffee and get the paper, and bring it all back up here."

Well - that would not have been Chris' first choice of how to spend the little bit of time left. Still, if that's what Toby wanted he'd save a lot of time by just agreeing now. "Okay." He let Toby get up first, enjoying the easy way his lover moved, the supple grace of his body. "I suppose you want something to put on?" he said, finally getting up and opening his closet, taking out his robe and handing it to him.

Toby examined the black silk robe with interest, but then tossed it over on the bed. "I'm fine," he said, and walked on out and headed downstairs.

Curious, not entirely sure he believed it, Chris followed and leaned against the railing at the top of the stairs as Toby approached the front door. He wasn't...? Jesus Christ - he was. Chris watched, grinning, as Toby carefully opened the door, poked his head around and then, the coast evidently being clear, popped right on out to retrieve the paper from the doorstep. If he popped back in just as quickly and hastily shut the door behind him, Chris wasn't subtracting any points. Although he did wonder how it would have gone if the paper had been thrown further down the walkway. He'd created a monster. A charming and brazen monster, whom he ought to have remembered never did anything in moderation

"So," Toby looked up the stairs at him, "are you going to make the coffee or do I have to do everything around here?"

"Where's the arts section?" Chris said, rummaging through the mess of newspaper scattered across the bed.

Toby leaned over to get it from the floor, handing it to him and resuming his own section. "Are you aware there is a World's Fair going on practically in your backyard?"

"Might've heard a whisper or two about it." Chris looked away from the Hemingway article he was reading, giving Toby a thoughtful look. Was that really just a casual comment, or a gentle nudge in a particular direction? Going with that one, he said, "You think that might be something the kids would like?"

"Umm hmm. Their dad might like it, too."

"He would, huh?"

"He's very open to new experiences."

"You know, I've noticed that." Chris leaned in and kissed his throat, smiling at the bruises left from earlier kisses. He settled back, sighing.

Toby cut a look at him. "What?"

"What else do they like to do? I mean, if we're going to do things as," Chris had to pause a moment, the idea still so huge, "a family, what kind of things would that be?"

Giving him a tender smile, Toby leaned in and kissed his mouth. "Just ordinary things. You will never go wrong with the zoo and the circus, Coney Island, stuff like that. Although you should be warned if you let them get on the rides they will insist on repeating the experience a minimum of three times. Once around is never enough."

"Wow, wonder they get that from," Chris said casually, resuming his reading - yelping quietly as he got elbowed in the ribs. He glanced at the clock again, wishing its hand would freeze right there at 9:25. But no, the minute hand moved on remorselessly, not even willing to run a few seconds slow.

Toby leaned in, checking to see what he was reading. "So what's up with Ernest?"

"He's being brilliant."

"And you don't even say that with sarcasm."

Chris grinned and Toby scooted closer, resting his chin on Chris' shoulder and reading the article. "His next novel's going to be about Spain," he said after a few moments, sounding concerned about

Chris shrugged. "Spain's just the jumping off point for me. They're two different stories."

"Steven's story is far more sprawling and epic?"

"Don't know about epic, but sprawling - yeah."

Toby snuggled even closer. "How does it start?"

"On page one." Chris fought back a grin, feeling those blue eyes boring into him.

"Hmph. Be that way, see if I care," Toby grumbled, moving back to his pile of pillows and picking up the crossword. "Let's see," he said, "what's a six-letter word for obstinate spoilsport - starts with a `k?'"

"Dunno," Chris said, grinning as he read on. He couldn't help glancing at the clock again and figuring he may as well give into the inevitable as gracefully as possible. "It's almost a quarter to ten."

"Is it?" Toby checked the clock.

"Yeah." Chris kept his eyes fixed on the newsprint. "You should probably be thinking about going." There, that hadn't been so hard to say.

Toby filled in some more crossword squares, not appearing to be in any particular hurry. "Yes, guess we should." He scrunched his face up over another clue. "What does `it's not Constantinople' mean?"

"Probably `Istanbul,'" Chris said a bit absently, shifting around to face him and not quite sure he'd heard that right. "Did you say `we?'"

"Hmm," Toby filled in the squares, "fits. Yep," he tossed the crossword aside and got out of bed, "you're coming with me." He marched on over to the dresser and began pulling drawers open, helping himself to whatever he found. "May I borrow this?" He held up a navy blue fisherman's sweater.

"Yeah. What're you--"

"Here," Toby tossed another sweater, a white one, over to him, "wear this, it's chilly."

"Yeah?" Chris looked at the sweater and tried to keep up with him. "Who says I'm going anywhere?"

"I do. So move your ass. We'll take my car and then I'll drive you back here later. How's that sound?" He frowned over at Chris still sitting cross-legged on the bed. "I don't see your ass moving, Keller."

Feeling he should make some sort of stand here, however futile it might be, Chris said, "Will you slow down and hold your horses for a second?"

"I'm sorry," Toby came back over to the bed, not looking in the least contrite, "did you have plans?"

Chris watched, watched him with a great deal of interest. "There's that sock drawer."

Toby raised his chin just a bit and Chris caught his breath for a second, watching as he consciously, deliberately, turned it on. Oh, yes, he had unleashed something all right, and it was wonderful to behold. "Fuck the sock drawer."

Chris pushed a bit more. "Yeah, well, you could give a guy some warning."

"Oh, I see," Toby knelt on the bed, "you wanted a formal invitation. How gauche of me to overlook that." He reached out, caressing Chris' shoulder. "Can you ever forgive me?"

"I don't know," Chris said, enjoying that touch, enjoying all of this. "Maybe just this once."

"So," Toby moved in closer, both hands curving around Chris' head, "we can consider the invitation sent and received?"

Chris closed his eyes and tilted his face up into Toby's kiss. "Yeah."

Toby kissed him again and tugged at him, urging Chris to get up on his knees. He kissed him again when this had been accomplished, and said, "And can I speed up your RSVP?"

Their noses bumped and Chris kissed his mouth. "How would you do that?"

"Gee, I don't know." Toby brushed his fingers through Chris' hair and brought him in for one more kiss - long and slow and deep this time. "Maybe a little bit of that," he said, moving back and trailing a hand down Chris' chest to his cock, taking it in his hand, "and a little bit of this." He stroked, taking his time, up, down, and back, thumb rubbing over the tip.

"Yeah," Chris thrust into that touch, his own hands buried in Toby's hair, kissing him almost frantically, Toby's tongue never quite filling his mouth enough, "that, lots of that." He ran his hands along Toby's back and ass, trying to pull him down to the mattress. His efforts were met with resistance, however, and Chris found himself being wrestled down into that softness. He lay there, gazing up at Toby, wondering what was on his mind now.

He wasn't kept in the dark for long.

Toby settled over him, between his legs, clasping his hands and stretching their arms out on either side as they kissed. Arching up into him as Toby's tongue explored his mouth and jaw and ear, Chris tried to free his hands, desperate to touch him. Frustrated at being denied this, Chris growled, "Damn it, Toby," and his lover drew back, kneeling up. "Come back. Toby--"

"Shh." Toby ran soothing hands along his chest, his thighs. He leaned down again to snatch another kiss, just tasting his lips for an instant. "Let me have you," he whispered against Chris' ear. "Surrender."

Chris looked into his eyes, searching them and finding absolutely no reason to resist this tender command. He nodded, relaxing into the pillows and mattress, and waited. "Toby--" he gasped the name, already tremendously excited.

"It won't hurt a bit."

"I know." He didn't even have to think about that, and he saw that knowledge dawning in Toby's eyes and warming them even more.

And it didn't hurt, not a bit. It was glorious and luxurious to do nothing but let Toby have him. To lie there and revel in his lover's voracious appetite for him, soaking up every sensation as Toby made love to him. Nibbled to death - he smiled, thinking that was how it felt, Toby kissing him all over, that astonishing tongue lingering to taste every spot. And no spot was neglected as Toby's mouth and hands explored and memorized. Chris thought that was heaven for a few moments, Toby lying between his legs and kissing his throat, fingering his nipples. Then Toby scooted down and circled one nipple, then the other, with his tongue, over and over, and that was fucking paradise. Just when Chris thought Toby would finish it, the blond would change course and find something else - sucking the pads of his fingers, the inside of his wrist, tickling the hair under his arm and burying his face there. And talking, talking all the while, the words blending into a soft, surrounding murmur that told Chris he was loved, he was desired, he was beautiful, he was so goddamn sexy Toby wanted to kiss and suck and fuck him every minute of the day.

"I'll be in a meeting with a client," Toby was saying, stroking the outside of his thigh, licking a lazy trail inside, "and I should be taking notes," he raised up, swirled his tongue over the butterfly, "but all I'm thinking of is you - naked, sprawled across my desk, your hard, beautiful cock in my mouth." He pushed one leg up. "Like this," he whispered, fingers circling the opening, teasing, as his head lowered and his tongue danced around the head of Chris'cock, "it's like this, and I swear I can feel the heat of your skin, I swear I can taste your cock and your come." He took it in his mouth as Chris groaned and bucked up under the sweet, wonderful, double assault. "Good," Toby murmured, letting the cock slip from his lips for a moment. "It always tastes," he licked at the slit, gathering up the wetness, "so fucking good."

Unable to speak, unable to do anything but feel, Chris moaned as Toby came up and kissed his lips, and groaned, clutching handfuls of tangled sheets, as Toby's head lowered over him again. There was nothing else in his world. Only Toby's wicked, agile tongue. Only Toby's wondrous, decadent mouth. He threaded his fingers through Toby's hair, watching as Toby sucked him and stroked him with that tongue. Chris felt mesmerized now - and like he'd come undone any moment just watching his cock slipping between Toby's lips, watching Toby's tongue lap at him like a cat drinking cream. He shuddered and whimpered as Toby's fingers pressed into him. He wanted it to last forever, and he couldn't have taken one split second more as Toby made him come, fucking him and sucking him. He watched his come spurt onto Toby's tongue, watched him swallow it, and collapsed into the nest of pillow, unable to stand it. Chris threw an arm over his eyes, sensation rippling through him, ebbing slowly and leaving him drained.

"I can't fucking move," he said, once he could form words again. He thought his bones must have melted.

Fitting along his side, petting him softly, Toby chuckled, satisfaction rich in the sound. Chris didn't begrudge him that, not for a minute. He had just enough strength to wrap an arm over him and pull him closer as they rested.

...concluded in part two...

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