Reception Conversations

“Well now, congratulations.  Quite a celebration here,” says an older man in a stiff black suit and dark tie.  He looks funereal, gaunt.

“Yes, thank you,” Dance says, looking up sharply.  A cloud of odor hangs around the man, pungent as a cigar-smoker.  Sugary, metallic, stale machine oil.  Dance wants to back away, gagging, appalled at how excessively his nose has been reacting to odors all day.  Instead, Dance chokes down the impulse and holds out his hand, grips the man’s damp, cold fingers.  He’s careful.  The man smells ill.

b/w picture of man's hand extended
man’s hand, source unknown

“Nice, for queers.  No big drag queen show.  Don’t care who’s pitching or catching, if you get my drift.  Big guy musta picked up lots of porn pictures of Asian boys in aprons, huh?”

Dance keeps his smile muscles locked, lips stretched.  “Thank you.  We could never do proper justice to a drag wedding ceremony, so it never crossed our minds.  Did you have a chance to try the appetizers?”

“Well, I found the fizzy first thing.  Pretty mild stuff, y’know.  My name’s Turner.”

“We are so glad you could come.  Are you a friend of Drin’s?”

A snort.  “In a manner of speaking.  I know his boss, one of the Board members, Bud Innes.  Lost track where Bud’s got to.”

“I think he’s organizing the wine-tasting,” Emma says, popping up at his elbow.

“Well, hello, pretty lady, would you like to help me score some wines?”

“I’d be delighted to,” Emma says, with a glance over her shoulder at Dance, who is hastily wiping his dampened hand on his pants, worrying that his fingers feel strange, all stinging and tingly, and hoping that nobody else notices.  Then she’s steering the man away.

The next person in line is giving Dance a highly offended look.  Dance finds his pocket square, wipes his disgusting fingers as dry as he can.

“Did he really mean that?” says Rose, the percussionist with the tats, holding out a hand in fashionably ripped black lace gloves.

“I assume he did,” Dance says, and bows while air-kissing over her hand.  She smells of patchouli over lousy pot, cheap weed tainted by some oil-based pesticide.  The same odor hangs on other musicians too.  Compared to the pampered weed that Robert smokes to calm his nerves, with Bud’s blessing, this stuff smells like rotten hay.  Not the time to say so, however.  The pesticide odor pokes his dizziness, makes it worse.  Hastily he lets go of her gloved hand.

She’s got a new tat on her upper arm, a reddened pattern of drumsticks.  He compliments her on that, so she shows it off to everybody around them, apparently delighted with the wincing sidelong looks from those older people she’d call ‘muggles’.  He demurs over discussing proper tattoos to memorialize his wedding.  Not the time for that conversation, either.

“You have a great long life with your sweetie,” Rose says fiercely, and then she’s grabbed him in a hug. She gives him a kiss on either cheek and a pat on the back.

“Thank you, this is no small blessing to give,” Dance says warmly.

“Hey, we can all use all the blessings we get,” Rose says.

actress smiling, possibly photo from a screening of Inglorious Bastards
b/w picture, source unknown

The next guest is a petite woman wearing bubblegum pink and black, with skull jewelry and black bows everywhere.  He’s never seen her before, but she starts talking as if resuming an earlier conversation.  “Well, I played fairy godmother and wished Drin prosperity, and he just laughed.  I guess beyond a certain point that much money just gets to be more of pain than a pleasure, but really, you guys could use some plain old good luck too.  So hey, best of luck to you!”  She bounces into a curtsey, flouncing out her ruffled black skirts until it shows the striped stockings beneath.  The girly gesture is so unexpected that she starts to giggle at his expression.  He thanks her, she nods, and then she moves off, humming.

“She said it right,” says the next woman in line.  Amalia’s sister rustles around in a crisp, noisy blue fabric.  She smells of perfume and the chocolate from the appetizer tables.  “I always like a garden wedding, anyway.  You guys look great.  Best wishes for a peaceful life together.”  If she’s referring to her own divorce, it’s certainly not the time or place to ask about that.  So many rules.  It worries Dance that he might mix things up, the way he bumbled around on things when he first came to the Metro.  Dance receives a hug from her that drags him nearly off-balance, but he manages to blink away the increasing dizziness.

He breathes a sigh of relief when Robert is next in the line.  Robert doesn’t hug.  Robert stays out of Dance’s reach if he can.  He is wearing a piratical frock coat, a poet’s shirt with soft collar, a wide belt hung with coins and gears and cogs and watch parts, big floppy buccaneer boots, and a red scarf at his neck.  He’s a one-man source of the kind of atmosphere they totally failed to provide.  He wanted them to do it all up righteously steampunk, and he is still striving to provide proper drama.

Muted slubbed silks and perfect tailoring and a nondenominational service run exactly on time by a former Army chaplain wearing a rainbow stole, this is all far too fuddy-duddy old-school for him.

But then, Robert didn’t see the real show.  He arrived too late.

The chaplain roared up on a Harley right in front of the waiting couple, escorted by a pack of  vets on bikes dismounting at the back of the park, all kinds of burly senior leathermen come to bless Drin’s wedding.  The chaplain parked the bike, clapped his gloves together and held up his hands to quiet folks, who were whistling and whooping while applauding.

During the ceremony, the rest of the bikers loomed at the back with longhorn beers in hand.  When the vows were spoken and the recessional music began, the leathermen lined up along the aisle, making an arch of the bottles for the new couple.  Then the leathermen swaggered through the reception line, rumbled their good wishes at the newlyweds, gathered up the club flags and their bikes and their chaplain, and departed in a roar of exhaust.

This surprise presence was in response to Drin’s support for their club’s veterans, and also for an incident where he kept order among some ‘poorly disciplined pups.’  Truth be told, he kept younger leather club members from wrecking Kane’s bar a few months ago.

The barman told that story at their rehearsal dinner.  Kane stood up and thanked Drin for saving his bar from getting trashed.  He framed it as a dire warning to Dance.  Kane told them all that he wanted Dance to know what he is really in for, marrying a guy who can stop a bar brawl.  With a look.  A brawl with sailors, in a Navy town.

He reported that Drin walked up to the drunk Naval desk-jockey who started it, just clotheslined the guy, tipped him right over on the floor.  Then Drin just stood there, looking at everyone.  Stopped everything cold.

It must have been a helluva look.

When things got quiet, then Drin barked the leather pups into cleaning up the bar.  Who needs a swagger stick when you have a mouth like that?

Kane said the big man stood over them, giving them that horrible, old-time, personally-detailed, intimate Army sergeant hell about scrubbing down every last dirty corner, and he drove them at it until their leather daddies showed up to take charge of them.  Kane said his bar got those corners scrubbed cleaner than it’s been in years.  Kane reported the senior guys spanked the ever-lovin’ snot out of those poorly-disciplined pups, too.

So every month since, the pups come back to clean his bar to the same exacting standards, as just another part of their on-going discipline.  Sometimes Drin drops in to make sure of it.  Punishment, or pleasure?  After seeing them today, at his wedding ceremony, Dance is perfectly sure, both.

Drin mumbled into his dinner plate about losing his temper, and everybody laughed a lot.

Dance had to stand up and reply that he was very sad to miss it.

Kane said that was a damn good thing, which made all the musicians laugh.  Oh, they knew.  For the others, Kane explained Dance might not be a huge guy, but he’d have taken everybody apart for threatening his Drin–  more laughter.

Kane was just getting warmed up.  He told some really embarrassing stories about Dance’s history as an informal bouncer– a warning to Drin what he was in for.

Some of those made Drin’s eyes pop open in outrage, and everybody laughed in delighted suspense as Kane built it up.  “So, what you got to say for yourself, Mister Dance?”

Into the microphone thrust in his face, Dance admitted sadly that he only bent that shotgun into that steering wheel because he’d leaned on it too hard.  He didn’t intend to.  Too showy.  Not boring enough to get the brawlers to just go away and sober up.

People laughed at that, too.

Kane closed by saying he really wasn’t joking that, between the two of them, Dance and Drin had saved his stupid thankless goddamn business.  That got general applause.

Dance is still sad that he didn’t see his husband in action, making pups clean things up.

Emma, as mistress of ceremonies, commented that nobody could be expected to follow a show like that, but they were welcome to try, and made them all laugh again.

Now, Robert’s name is called, and he turns from the reception line.  While Robert is chatting to one of the passing guests, a breeze swirls around them.  Dance takes a pleased breath.  His nose twitches at a gust of scents from the wedding’s bar, a gust of orange juice, pineapple and coconut.  Kane is moving around inside an open door nearby, setting up bottles and running the blender at the bar, chatting happily with his customers.  He’s gossipping about morning TV talk shows, showing off his technique pouring fruit syrup for the row of Metro ladies perched in front of him. They’re all wearing fluffy straw hats and sherbet-colored summer dresses and impractical shoes.  Most of them would never guess Kane’s bar turns into a leatherman dungeon on alternate Fridays.

Robert follows his glance.  “Oh, wonderful, Joscelyn’s ancient gang of maenads will get smashed and start baying for blood.”  He sighs that put-upon performer’s sigh that he’ll go over there and throw himself on the altar of duty, if he has to.  They both know he’ll love wallowing in the clouds of attention from the Metro ladies, as he always does.  The guest swats him on the arm to behave, nods to Dance, and departs, leaving them to talk.

“Hey, ya big bully,” Robert says.

“Hey brat,” Dance says solemnly.

“You really did it!”

They both grin.

Dance taps fists and goes patiently through the finger-snapping routine Robert has initiated in the past few weeks.

Robert leans in closer.  The pot scent on him is like a punch in the gut, but it’s familiar.  “So, you guys couldn’t even talk the leather dudes into sticking around a little longer, just for me?”

No point in reminding steampunk diva Robert that it’s his own fault he only got to admire the burly biker honor guard as they left.  That made Robert’s face fall in dismay.

Dance shakes his head.  “No, sorry.  The chaplain had two other ceremonies with members of his congregation, so he had to run like the wind to add ours.”

Dance had liked talking to the man.  The chaplain had been happy to counsel all concerned, sternly, in the weeks prior to the ceremonies.  Emma said she’d been thinking hard about points brought up in her conversations with him.  She said he was good at drawing things out of a person, and Drin agreed, looking very sober about it all.  Dance was mystified by this;  it hadn’t been a burden to answer his questions.  The man had laughed at his answers, and clearly enjoyed teasing him, and he gave Dance a big hug every time they finished another session of questions.  Drin said that was because he was being especially cute.

Robert says, “Hey, Bud told me to pass on an invitation, he says you guys can always come over to our place if you ever want to run away from home.”

Dance smiles wider.  “That is a very generous offer.  Please thank him for me.”

Robert gives a nod toward the wine-tasting tent.  “If that weird old guy Turner knows Bud, it’s from a long time ago, before we got together.  You bet I’d remember him.”

“Yes, he did make himself stand out to the memory, goodness knows why,” Dance agrees.  Then he smiles at Robert.  “By the way, if I ever get offended at Drin about rude pictures, it would only be for not sharing them.”

Robert laughs, and makes a sour face.  “TMI, dude, I don’t wanna know!”

Emma reappears at Robert’s elbow.

“Hey, you’ve lost the memorable Mister Turner,” Robert says.

“Yeah, suddenly he decided to visit the men’s room and then he was gone out the back way.  Bud said the guy wasn’t a freeloader, but he didn’t look happy.  Left me wondering if the guy used to be a business partner or a creditor or something.”

“I’ll talk to Bud,” Robert says, ominously.  Bud must be resigned to Robert’s curiosity since he’s started using Robert’s help at parties.  He might call Robert the Elephant’s Child sometimes, but he has been teaching the boy discretion.  Robert stil blathers, but it’s a wall built to deflect questions about those events, as if the littlest things might betray too much about Bud’s interests.

Emma nods.  “Mister Turner talked a good game but he skipped the drinks and ran off.  Speaking of drinking, do you need some more water, Dance?”

He waves it off.  “I’m good, thank you.”

“Right, I’m off to check on Amalia.  She was fussing about the jazz quartet taking a break.”  And she’s gone, apricot silk fluttering in her wake.  She probably won’t sit down for hours, meaning she’ll be in pain tonight.

Drin joked about that at the rehearsal dinner, when he gave her a gift certificate for a massage and spa.  Amalia got a matching certificate, so the two women can relax and talk after today’s event.  Dance hopes they will be very happy hashing over the details and gossipping about what people told them.

Ms. Edna Lewis, Southern cooking expert, chef  and cookbook writerDance turns to a slow-moving elderly black lady.  She has a grip as soft as a ghost.  He finds himself laughing with her on jokes about Emma and Amalia beating up on slow musicians, like they’re a couple of cane-wielding grannies on a tear.  She pats his hand, saying, “Oh, call me Susan, sweetie, we’ll be talking again one of these days, probably at some Metro event, but nothing like as nice as this wedding of yours.  Hey, sweet boy, you be good, now!” and then her attendant is there, unfolding her wheelchair.

He’s still chuckling when he greets the next Metro patron in the reception line.  The restauranteur, Shura Khorachevnik, introduces his friends with Russian, Armenian, and Polish names, all of them solemn, enormous men in dark expensive suits.  They say they are businessmen, but they stare at people rather than talking.  They stare down at Dance the most.  They don’t blink looking  at Dance, either.  They are very polite, and soft-spoken, and they go off to put some serious cash into the donation bins for the Metro’s charities.  Dance promises happily he will listen to all the new music Shura gifted him, along with the new music player.

When he looks up, he sees the line is slowly dwindling in front of his husband.  His husband.  Drin has his tuxedo jacket unbuttoned, one hand resting on his hip, bending forward and listening, with a grin.  His face looks sunburnt.  The pale shadow of goggles hangs in those freckles around his eyes.  Trimmed and groomed into a well-cut suit, there’s still that craggy Victorian wildness to him.  He’s speaking Spanish to one of the Metro’s staff ladies, and then he solemnly bends to shake hands with her little boy, who giggles.

Drin looks like he belongs on a sailing ship, or climbing mountains, or studying Iraqui architecture or strange primates in a jungle somewhere.  He’s beautiful.

Dance takes a shallow breath.

It’s surprising, the rush of pressure squeezing in his chest, the swoop of emptiness in his belly, as if he’s pushed himself out of an airplane and he’s just pulled on the release cord on the parasail, the way he did just two days before.

source unknown
source unknown

As Robert had said:  Trust Emma to arrange a stag weekend where everybody had to fall out of a plane!  Or else, after the daring parachutists returned to the main party, the noncombatants had to provide very amusing fake stories about why they couldn’t do it, couldn’t get there in time, or couldn’t find the airport at all.  Amalia’s story had been voted “Most Inventive Invective,” which has left her in a pleasant mood ever since.  Robert had achieved “Best Excuses.”

There’s a camera flash.  Dance blinks, refocuses, and catches a delighted grin on the face of the camera-wielding person in front of him.

The woman chuckles.  “Well, clearly this relationship has a lot going for it.”  She thinks it’s adorable.  He’s being cute again.  People have been teasing him about that.  There will be endless pictures of him making cow-eyes at his husband.

Dance can feel the heat coming up all the way from his belly, pounding in his ears.  He’s blushing all over when the lady takes another picture of him, and finally pockets her camera and pats his arm.  Their new Metro Librarian has only been three weeks on the job, and she’s become a firm personal favorite with Dance.  But he also dreads what she’s capable of.  She smells of old books and paper dust, as Emma does after work.  Like Emma, she’ll be able to retrieve those pictures at any excuse, embarrassing him for years to come.

She shakes his hand, saying, “Best wishes for a long, happy marriage, my dear.”  She’s still chuckling as she gives way to the next person.

The next person is their favorite violist on maternity leave, Miss Twillzer, who is wearing her empty infant-carrier.  When he asks, she gestures distractedly at a circle of women on benches nearby in the shade.  They are holding quite a healthy crop of babies and squirmy toddlers.  The whole area smells of baby powder, zinc ointment, and bagged diapers.

Miss Twillzer herself looks good, clearly tired but much more relaxed.  She smells completely different than she used to.  She’s gained muscle bulk, she has freckles on her pale skin now.

“Yes, of course you must go take care of her.  I am glad to say, you do look so good,” he says, waving her off.

The last person in line is a staff lady from the Metro office, who’s grinning like a Halloween pumpkin.  She says nothing at all, just holds out her arms and gives Dance a big, hard hug.  Lavender-scented, one of his favorites–she wore the scent he’s told her he likes best on her.  He thanks her, holding her hands a moment, feeling that odd new pressure on his finger, from his wedding ring.  They both look down at it, up again, and just smile at each other.

When he looks around, the last of the other patrons are shaking hands with Drin; then the patrons all head off toward the bar, and Drin is just standing there alone, grinning at him.

Dance’s husband.

Dance looks up at the big man, feeling bruised, breathless, and completely out of his limited supply of social blather.  “You–” he chokes, waving his hands.

“What, have I got champagne all down my front?” Drin says, teasing.

Dance rests his ringed right hand on the shirt front in question.  “There,” he says solemnly.  “And there, and there–and there–” and then he’s completely unable to stop himself from tickling Drin.

Drin roars out a laugh, wraps both arms around him, and hugs him too tight for tickling.  Then he folds himself over, leaning in close to Dance’s head, and he murmurs, “I could just eat you up with a spoon.  And I’m going to, tonight, dammit.”

Dance hears himself humming something distractedly–he can’t stop that, either–and he leans into the bigger man, hugging him back until he can feel ribs creaking, but Drin doesn’t complain at all.  He lets the grip ease until he isn’t hurting the man, and he says, “Drin, I am so– so full, the words go away and I just lose it– Drin, you are very beautiful.”

Drin chuckles again, surprised, as if he’s not used to such compliments.  “Thank you.”

“And I want you so much right now it makes me crazy.”

“Even after all this extremely public fuss?”

“Even in the middle of people saying incredible outrageous things to us, very much I love you and I think I cannot be so lucky ever, yes,” Dance says.

“I think you’ve got the right words just fine,” Drin murmurs, leaning in and kissing Dance first on one closed eyelid, then on the other.  Slowly Dance opens his eyes, looking up into the frowning, tiger-yellow eyes of his husband.  Who tells him, “I think I need practice saying this, Dance.   It’s hard for me.  I can say, I want you.  I can say, I admire you so much, all that music in you.  I can say, I want to wake up and look at you every morning.  I’m totally soppy about you and I keep thinking of things I want to do with you, and do to you.  I want to buy suits for you, and give you cool things and show you wonderful places and– and–”

Dance touches a finger on the bridge of the man’s nose, tracing up onto the bushy browline.  “I know this from you every day.  Words are so much easier than to do all these things for me.  For both Emma and me.  All the time.”

“I love you, Dance.”

“Not so easy to say at all, but worth it, yes.  I love you to bits, my husband.  When do we get to run away?”

“After drinks and dinner,” Drin says, with a sigh.  “And cutting the cake.”

“Oh, there must be cutting of cake.  Tradition.  Have you decided on the protocol of the cake going neatly in the mouth, or all over the face, or what?”

“Oh, I was going to go with an impulse decision.  Even if you insist on smooshing it on me right back, and then licking every crumb off my face.”

“With no hands.”

“Like I could stop you,” Drin says, smiling.

“It’s our secret,” Dance says, which makes Drin crack up.  It has been a running gag through the whole event, from the very first days of preparation.

At a noise, he looks up, and sees Emma laughing, her shoulders shaking as she hugs herself.  She says, “They sent me out to break up the clinch.  I think they were afraid you guys would run off right now, and they wouldn’t even get fed.”

“If the speeches take too long, I don’t promise anything,” Drin growls, hugging Dance again, and then gathering in Emma and hugging her too, while they’re both laughing.  “Thank God we already did most of the pictures, I’d expire if we had to go through that too.  All right, all right, in we go, I’ll behave.”

The exchange of cake, it transpires, does not become a messy smoosh on the face at all.  It becomes a rather silly braggart’s display of just how much cake that each man’s mouth can accommodate, which makes the guests laugh.  Emma cracks jokes that Dance has a very big mouth.  Bud Innes replies that he doesn’t have to prove it quite that well, and Drin just bestows such a smug look on the company that everybody bursts out laughing harder.

So does the throwing of the bouquet–both men solemnly take off their green carnation boutonnieres, pin them together with a lot of big fake green flowers, and toss the thing over their shoulders, together.  It goes entirely past the ladies jockeying for it.  Behind them, of course Robert catches the green blob reflexively, the fastest hand in the lot.  He looks outraged at his own speed, but people cheer, making him blush happily at being the center of attention.

Then there’s the silly neon-green garter–Dance makes a slapstick display of getting the garter off of Emma, revealing to observers that he himself was wearing it as a sock garter all along–and that Drin was wearing another like it.  He pulls them both onto his wrist, and then twists it around Drin’s wrist too, acting like he’s going to drag Drin off to the restrooms, which makes the big man roar with laughter.  They play keep-away, and eventually Dance tosses away the garter-knot at the men standing around Bud.  It’s Bud, of course, who comes out grinning with it in hand, to claim Robert officially as the bouquet-catcher for their dance later.  Robert clearly doesn’t mind a bit when Bud hugs his stuffings in public very hard.

After that, they hold a contest for best soap-bubble-blower and best bubblegum blower.  Bud and Emma emcee various silly guessing games, and people start queuing for several pinatas hung up in the courtyard.  Drin bashes down the first pinata with a well-timed thwack of a foam pool-noodle–he claims Dance isn’t trying, but honestly, together Drin and a blindfold and a floppy bit of foam, playing at literally slapstick comedy, make it impossible to stop laughing.  As Dance is caught in repeated camera flashes, he’s giggling too hard at Drin’s gangly long-limbed antics to even put his own blindfold back on.

They’ve tried to provide other points of interest for the day.  There’s the usual tables for their guestbook, scrapbook donations, a thumb-print tree for folks to sign, and a table for gifts, where Amalia presides. There’s a picture-taking booth, a nerf-ball batting cage, some pinball machines and old video arcade games brought over by one of Drin’s coworkers, a raffle for performances by various Metro groups, a penny wishing-well, a prosperity tree that donates for Metro charities.  After the pinatas are demolished, Emma drafts teenagers to unfold a ping-pong table in the courtyard.

Drin and Dance go around the tables talking to people, shaking hands with new guests they missed before, standing in pictures that people want of them together.  Dance feels his spine start to ache from standing that long, but dismisses it.  He is too busy to notice exactly when Shura’s caterers get the food tables set up and start serving beverages.  People start settling in place.

At last Bud, as the best man, and Emma as the best woman, stand up together to call for order.  They do a marvelously rehearsed vaudevillian patter together, complete with silly Spike Jones noises banged out by the jazz quartet.  More funny speeches carry into dinner, involving as many musical in-jokes as Robert and Amalia and Shura could come up with.

When dinner seconds have been finished and plates cleared, people start clapping rhythmically, and the quartet shifts instruments.

Drin stands up from the table, bows to Dance, takes his hand, and leads him out on the floor in front of the jazz quartet.  There’s a moment of stillness, poise.

Everyone knows this is a special part of their wedding.  Instead of being a favorite tune, this one is new to everyone.  Their first dance will be a waltz to music they’ve never heard before.  The tempo is all Dance knows.

It’s a gift composed for them by the jazz quartet.  This was Amalia’s idea, buoyed by Shura’s offer to pay the quartet for rehearsal time if they tested it out in his various public venues.

Dance settles one hand on his husband’s shoulder, the other on his waist, and finds himself taking lead as the music starts, shifting direction as easily as if they were dancing in the kitchen at home.

Shura’s support gave the quartet working time to develop the piece, to practice it.  Since various musicians at the Metro have heard bits of it, the great Metro teases knew better what to expect from it than the new couple.  Robert has been collecting all the gossip, too.

As the second and third bars slide like honey from the saxophone, Dance knows it is important.  More, it is brilliant. This is not just a piece of sentimental wedding cake ruffles, it’s not like the schmaltzy two-minute pop chartm ,,  favorites that get featured in karaoke bars for years to come.  This makes his insides tighten, his eyes prickle, that spooky thrill runs down his spine, twingeing down in his tailbone.  Dance relaxes, trusting the music.  This is good.  He moves cautiously at first, conscious of both his own aching spine and his husband’s bigger, slower mass, and finds himself grateful for all the kitchen dancing they’ve done, just enjoying themselves.  The tempo is solid under the complicated exchanges between the bass and the piano, making it easy to stay with it.

The clarinet slides into a jazz theme with an slinky, arch quality that leaves no doubt who it portrays, and then the piano does complicated arpeggios, climbing a backbone of lightning key-changes like a mathematical exercise, reference to all that arcane genius in Drin’s auditor’s brain.

Dance starts to smile.

hands playing piano, source unknown
hands playing, source unknown

As it goes on building, teasing back and forth, finally expanding into achingly soulful flights on the sax, Drin starts smiling too.  They alternate lead without even thinking about it, a little squeeze of the hand for guidance from whichever one can see better where they’re going.

The themes work together so beautifully that, as it slows toward the end, it makes Dance sigh and lean his head happily against Drin’s chest.  His eyes tear up because he is feeling so happy.

Drin leans down and kisses the top of Dance’s head.

There is very loud applause when the quartet wraps it up with a tortuous set of bars thundering up and down the width of that piano keyboard.

“By God that’s beautiful!  I want the rest of it, that’s just the overture.  It’s a goddamn ballet waiting to happen!”  Bud bellows out, clapping.

“Yes, of course.  The sketch for beginnings, yes?  Entirely appropriate for such an occasion,” Shura says, showing big square teeth in a grin, and he picks up his champagne flute and clinks it in a toast with Bud.

Bud’s videographer grins, capturing that, and turns his camera back to the newlyweds.

“You two are conspiring already?” Drin exclaims.  Then he bends down and gives the pianist a kiss on the cheek, making her laugh, and he shakes hands with the clarinet, the sax, and the bass.  Dance bows to them, deeply, and he wipes his eyes, and then he too solemnly shakes hands with them.

Instantly, the quartet strikes up a very pompous John Phillip Sousa waltz.  That sets off both applause and laughter.   The quartet gathers up half the party onto the dance floor when they start doing swing dances, some jitterbug, a medley of classic Louis Armstrong, some big band-era slow dances.  More of the guests move onto the floor when they start doing Argentinian salsas and tango, one of the quartet’s specialties.

The newlyweds each dance with Emma and with Amalia, and after Bud has claimed his dance with Robert, Dance too accepts a turn around the floor with Bud, who gives an excellent lead.  Dance reclaims his husband to do the slower jazz pieces, skipping the faster tangos, as much due to fatigue as to being overstuffed on Shura’s excellent food.  Between the friends of Bud and Shura, there’s plenty of dancers who’d like more floor space anyway.

“You okay?” Drin asks eventually, touching Dance’s lower back.

Dance murmurs that maybe he stood up too long.  The sharp ache in his lower back runs deep into his tailbone.  A bit alarming, professionally, but not a huge surprise.  It’s been a long few weeks.

Some of the guests are getting tired too.  The older fragile guests, the people with babies,  and the folks with other obligations start departing even though it’s only mid-afternoon.  Occasionally new faces show up, signing the guest-book and marching over to shake hands with Bud or Shura.  There’s a lot of back-slapping at the corner where the two businessmen are holding court together.  Emma is flitting everywhere, carrying things, an apricot blur who only slows down when she’s talking to older folks.

Everybody else lingers, the music is good, the snacks and drinks are holding out well, knots of people are talking among the scattered chairs, other people are on the floor dancing, the games seem to be holding the attention of the teenagers.

Eventually, when Emma slips over to tell Dance that the limo has arrived, his first impulse is to feel relief rather excitement. That’s probably traditional too, but he feels that it’s hardly the appropriate way to start the more intimate part of their marriage.

red-haired woman smiling
actress Christina Hendricks

When he says so, fumbling for words, it makes Drin and Emma laugh.  She gets them out the door just as sunset colors the walls in salmon and pink tints.  She snaps a quick picture of them in that gilded light, and takes more snaps as they slide into the open car door.  At last Drin gives her a final wave, and the driver closes the door.

“Ugh!” Drin says in the limo, first thing, and kicks off his shoes.

Dance can’t help it, he starts to laugh.  He pulls off his own tie, and then Drin’s, rumpling the man’s already messy hair, but he’s still laughing.

“What?  First time today I get you in private–well, relative privacy–and you start laughing at me?” Drin says, making a ridiculous face.  “Gimme those feets, I know those fancy shoes were giving you grief all day.  C’mon pretty boy, shift your ass, I’m gonna rub your feet while it’s still easy to reach you.  Oh ho, you still have socks!   So you did cut down those deadly sharp toenails, didn’t you?”

That just makes Dance laugh harder, and flop over on the long seat.  He offers to reply in kind.  But once Drin is done with the feet, the big man shakes his head, not wanting to move.  He just slouches there, stroking Dance’s legs.  He teases Dance about idly humming, but Dance feels the same vibration murmuring in the big man’s body.  It’s the waltz that the quartet composed for them.  Drin looks out the windows and sighs, and pats Dance’s shins, as if he can’t quite believe it’s real.

The ride is smooth enough that neither of them worry about the driver on the other side of the opaque glass, reputedly part-owner of the company, and one of Shura’s buddies.  The only distraction is when he clicks on the intercom, murmurs an inquiry about a rest stop, and responds to Drin’s request for the classical radio station.  It plays some nice things, too, recordings Dance has never heard.

When the radio dj says he’s playing a request, and says the names of the donors involved, Dance kisses his husband.  “You big silly,” he says, hugging him, and Drin gets out his pocket square and wipes Dance’s face and says gruffly that he didn’t mean to make Dance cry.

Eventually Dance curls up on his side, his head in Drin’s lap, feeling the big hands stroking along his neck and shoulder.  He sighs contentedly.  Even the the ache in his tailbone quiets, at last.  He stops worrying that he won’t be able to walk far tomorrow, or to perform any conjugal duties tonight.  He had plans for that.

“Christ, and now you’re gonna fall asleep on me,” Drin says, making that face again.

“Oh, you might have to wake me up,” Dance murmurs, looking up under his brows, and feeling Drin’s hand unbuttoning the tuxedo shirt at his neck.  “It might take awhile.”

“Oh, I don’t think it’ll take long at all–” and the other hand is sliding into his clothes and finding ways to make him very happy.  He’s not going to make it out of the limo without making a mess in his pants.  He figures it’s simply traditional to return the favor.


Getting in a shower, or taking a swim first thing at the hotel, seemed like a reasonable plan back when Dance didn’t know where they were going for their first night.  That was another of Drin’s secret gifts.  It turns out their first night requires four hours’ drive up scenic coastline, with Drin hugging him and pointing out landmarks in the declining sunset light.  It’s absurdly luxurious, even in sweated formal shirts and very sticky, wet pants.

Drin hits the intercom again, chats with the driver, retrieves sparkling water from the limo’s bar.  There they find gift bags from Shura, fragile lemon meringues and almond cookies and dried fruit and powdery rich truffles in fancy upscale wrappers.  They feed each other crumbly bits, gobbling it up like children ruining their dinner.  Drin pulls out a tiny pocket camera and snaps pictures of Dance smeared with cocoa, laughing, and after he loses the tickle fight, he allows Dance to return the favor.

By the end, the coastline is all invisible in the dark, outlined only in lights shining on the water, while the road switchbacks over invisible drops.

Drin sits sideways with his arms around Dance, breathing drowsily, but not asleep; he kisses Dance now and then, grinning.  It always prompts Dance to start idly humming again.  He doesn’t even realize he’s doing it, sometimes, until it makes Drin chuckle.

Drin’s choice of accommodations is not a hotel.  It’s a cottage at the base of rugged, twisty cliff roads.  The driver opens the limo door for them under the powerful driveway light, grins at their sleepy expressions, and unloads their luggage inside the house while they struggle back into their shoes, stuff straggling ties into pockets.  Once they’ve hoisted themselves out of the limo, the driver salutes Drin with a touch to his cap visor, hands Dance several rings of keys, shakes hands with them both, and drives away.

Clicking the first fob gives no beep noises; it opens the sliding garage door, revealing a red sportscar waiting inside, under the lights.

“Bud’s idea.  Close it up again, we gotta check out this place.  I asked Shura to find somebody to stock up the kitchen so we’ve got stuff to eat right away.  We won’t have to go shopping, or even cook, if you don’t want to.”  Then he pauses, ceremonially, on the winding front sidewalk.  The front door lock clicks open audibly.  “Okay, you got the door, you still wanna– okay.  Is this trick gonna hurt your back?”

“It’s fine now,” Dance says, bending his knees, holding out his hand, and lifting one foot.

Drin lifts his own opposite foot, wraps that leg around Dance’s waist, grips Dance’s shoulders in both hands, and allows Dance’s leg to slide around his hip.  Dance grips the big man’s upper arms.  They rock in place, and the balance settles.

During rehearsal practices, they had joked about each of them trying to lift the other one over the threshold.  Kibitzing by the ladies resulted in trying out this stunt.  Falling over on the lawn in many varieties of potato-sack-race silliness made all of them laugh a lot.

“Okay,” Dance says, grinning.  “You?”

“Solid as rock,” Drin says, sounding surprised.  He frees one hand, pulls his tiny camera from a pocket, and takes a downward picture of them.   “Pictures, or it didn’t happen,” he says, grinning.  Then he tucks it away, chuckling, and he takes a firm grip on Dance’s shoulders.

He lifts and swings Dance around, Dance gets his one allowed foot on the ground, and then they’ve taken a joint step forward on the pathway.  Odd, how the biomechanics depend on the tightness of the grip with the arms, how the pull of lifting muscle has to come from tension higher in the body.  Thankfully, it’s no great effort to swing Drin’s balance around on the pivot of one support leg.  “Your turn!”

“Step up here,” Drin says.

“Got it,” Dance says, and he’s laughing.  “You cheated, you got the threshold!”

“Gotta time these things,” Drin says solemnly, lifting Dance around.

Dance’s shoe gains the dark slatelike tile inside.  “Got it.”  He lifts Drin around–it’s getting easier as they get used to the motions–and stretches up to give him a kiss.  Drin is laughing then, lifting him around, and they’ve got enough room to close the door.  A little push of Dance’s lifted foot closes the door with a click behind them.  Then they’re each standing on their own two feet, arms still holding on tight.

There’s a pause, a check in Drin’s muscles.  His hand flips the deadbolt shut.

“Yes, I know, you did not go look through the whole house first to see it is safe,” Dance says, smiling slowly.

“No, but I had… house plans,” Drin growls at him, bends swiftly, loops one arm around Dance’s knees, and hoists him up bodily over one shoulder with a shout.  “Now, this is more like it!”   Ten quick steps and he’s dropped Dance into a broad soft surface, yanked off the shoes, ripped open his shirt, unzipped him, and yanked off pants and shorts alike, and crawled up between his bare knees.

He’s chuckling as he blows the world’s biggest, wettest raspberry right onto Dance’s belly.

“Arrrgh,” Dance gasps, sock feet flailing.

“I am so going to–” Drin says, flinging himself down onto Dance, blowing tickly raspberries everywhere he can reach.  When he sits up again, his hand pulls out the camera.  He snaps pictures of Dance.

“Yeah?  Promise?” Dance gasps, and rolls them both over.  “These clothes go–now–”

Drin’s socks, shoes, pants, cummerbund, the camera, it all goes flying.  The shirt gets yanked down Drin’s arms, pinning him a bit.  Dance gasps, fighting with the man’s cufflinks, while Drin lays there grinning up at him, trapped between Dance’s bare thighs.  Then the big man twists, bringing Dance down onto his side, wrapping Dance’s hands in the shirt while his own hands magically slide free.  He rolls Dance flat on his back, puts one hand on Dance’s cock and the other slids down, grips hard on butt muscle.

“Oh, oh–” Dance gasps.

Drin whispers into his ear,”Oh, yeah, that’s a promise, you oughta just open wide now–”

“You just let me get my mouth on you–” Dance gasps, jerking, but Drin’s hand keeps pulling on his stiff cock.

“Oh no, I’d never last if I let you suck me,” Drin says.  He lets go of Dance’s cock, pulls up Dance’s hands, shoves something into his fingers.  A packet of lube, another of a condom.  “Fuck me, sweetheart.”

“You had those in your pocket!”

“Of course.”  He grins down at Dance, his skin flushed.  “There’s plenty more, too. Fuck me, sweetheart.  You need it bad right now.”  He slides his freckled knees around Dance’s thighs, crooning at Dance’s cock jutting up in front of him, teasing it with his fingertips.  “You want it, you do.  Get your fingers in me, I want to feel it inside me.”

Dance groans, tearing open the lube, getting it slathered on and into the hot, moist hole poised so close.  Drin tears open the other packet, rolls the condom onto Dance’s cock, gripping him at the base.  He’s straddling Dance, knees sliding up around Dance’s hips.

“Oh, yeah, hello.  C’mon, yell for me.  Give it to me.  Fuck me.”  Drin rocks forward, and then his weight is all along Dance’s body, and he’s got his mouth wide open on Dance’s, and they’re kissing, the man’s mustache bristling against Dance’s nose.

“Oh,” Dance says, arching up.  “Oh. Oh now.  Now.”

Drin gives fast little grunts at the helpless reflex lunges of Dance’s hips surging up, and he’s pushing back hard onto him.  But the angle isn’t right for Drin.  Drin is doing it out of knowledge, out of love, liking it, but he won’t come properly.  He’s trying to make it last.  Dance isn’t hitting the right place inside to make him really orgasm hard, and both of them know it.  Deliberate, damn the man.

Dance growls.  He’s not settling for a one-off when it would be so much better together.

Dance braces his belly muscles against the weight of Drin’s hips, pushes up with his arms, gets his head and chest up, gets them both sitting up, hugging each other.  Drin is kissing him frantically, trying to distract, but Dance gets them shifted.  Gets the angle he knows they need, even if it finishes them off much faster.

“Oh God yes, yes, there,” Drin gasps.  Then he is pushing himself down onto Dance’ cock, fucking himself onto Dance, crying out each time Dance is hitting that sweet spot, his whole body tightening around Dance, his butt muscles wringing hard against Dance’s cock, and in moments they’re both locked in place, not even breathing.

“Oh,” Drin moans.  “Oh.  Oh.”

“Yes,” Dance says softly, leaning into his husband, holding him up.  He’s suddenly feeling the whole massive weight of Drin’s body resting firmly on his own pelvis, pushing his ass deeply into the mattress, which ought to hurt like hell, after so much standing today.  But it doesn’t.  Something in his upper back crackles like a worn part, something else unknots, his shoulders ease all over, and something down in his tailbone gives a soft, satisfied clunk! as perceptible as a switch being pulled.  He sighs, relaxing, rests his head on Drin’s shoulder, feels Drin stroke his back.

“What was that? That bone noise?” Drin whispers into his hair.

“No idea, but it is feeling good.”

“We can do that some more.”  Drin hugs him tighter.  “Hell, we could do that a lot more.”

“If I didn’t tear up your ass,” Dance says, worried suddenly.

“Oh, it’s happy,” Drin says, laughing with little puffs of breath into Dance’s skin.

“How about later?”

“Well, aren’t I supposed to be walking funny for two weeks after we get back?”

Dance chuckles.  “Hey, supposed to be me, yes, my silly raw ass hanging out of my apron?”

Drin sighs.  “Hate to disappoint you, sweetheart, but stupid porn is not that great.  Yeah, Robert tattled all over about that old guy being offensive to you.  Hell, I wouldn’t mind sharing sexy pictures with you.  I’d love to make some with you.  I mean, more than the snaps I took just now.  I’d love to get you all wound up on a fantasy.  That’d be fun.”

“What kind of fantasies do you want?” Dance asks, licking the sweat on Drin’s hot shoulder.  God, he tastes good.  All day in a suit, being patient, enduring things, and finally, at last, reeking of sex.  Dance could lick that off him all day.

“Fucking on the beach, right outside there,” Drin murmurs.  Then he sighs.  “Cold, though.”

Dance smiles.  “Get you standing up against a boulder, pulling your jeans down, sucking you down until you come.”

“I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of boulders out there, too.”  Drin lifts his weight onto his knees, drawing himself up, and Dance grabs onto the condom, waiting as his penis is released.  He slides the latex off his cock, lets Drin take it away in a tissue.  The big man gets off the bed, tosses the trash out with a thump in the bathroom nearby.  Water runs in a sink, the toilet flushes.  Then Drin stands in the doorway, scrubbing at his eyebrows and yawning.  He puts his big hands up on the door jam and stretches, naked.  He’s been taken, and Dance hasn’t even got started on what he wanted to do.  Every patch of hair on the poor guy’s freckled body is rumpled, twirled, crinkled, wet, or rubbed backward.

b/w picture man's nude muscular back
man’s back, source unknown

“Are you tired?” Dance asks, getting up.

“No, just very, very relaxed,” Drin drawls, blinking at him.  Then he smiles.  “What are you thinking, you wicked boy?”

Dance chuckles.  He wants to cherish all the coppery fur on the man, massage it in all kinds of crazy directions, lick his armpits, rub himself off between those furry thighs.  Absurd, really.  His penis is bobbing, still hard, as he walks.  “Get oil on my hands, rub it all over you, massage you all limp, lick it off.  Bend you over the kitchen table, fuck you a lot.”  He gets his hands on Drin, slides his sticky cock against the man, marking him.  He grabs handfuls of the man’s lean butt muscles.  He leans up into the man’s ribs.  In return, those big hands cup his ass, slide up and span his waist.  Such big hands.  He murmurs into the furry chest, “Get you in the shower, beg you to take me standing up– Oh, my– this tub is big enough to fuck sitting down together–”

“It is,” Drin agrees, looking pleased.  “C’mon, let’s shower off first, then get a good hot soaking.  This thing is a whirlpool tub, you know.”

The tub is massive.  The molded recliner shape at one side is big enough to accommodate Drin, far too big for Dance.  He’ll have to float in Drin’s lap, held in Drin’s arms.  Feel Drin’s cock brushing at his butt.  “Big enough to have good sex in the water.”

“Oh hell yeah.  Get bubble bath all up your sweet little ass, right?”

Dance nods.  “Better than sand.”

Drin laughs.  “Want to just soak awhile together?”

“It won’t end up just soaking,” Dance warns him, bending and turn on the taps, fiddling to get the temperature right.  Big fingers brush his bare ass.

“Oh?” Drin gives him an innocent look.

“You know me better than that,” Dance says, hands sliding onto Drin’s hips.

“Do I?”

Dance sighs, accepting the big sweaty arm resting on his shoulders.  “Oh yes, you big horny dog, you know how much I want you.”

“It’s good thing I brought along toys to keep you busy then,” Drin says fondly, with one hand gripping Dance’s entire butt.  The other one is pulling a familiar toiletries bag out of a bathroom cabinet.  It’s a bit outrageous that the driver unpacked that much for them.  “What?  Why are you rolling your eyes at me?  Isn’t this supposed to be about getting your little man run so hard you can think straight again?”

Dance sighs elaborately.  “Hopeless, this thinking straight,” he says sternly, waiting for the roar of laughter.  “I can think queer all you like, you know?”

Drin bends down to hug him, smiling.  “Okay, okay, you’re absolutely correct.  Where’s the soap?  All right, soap it up, horn dog.  I know I asked for them to get steaks and some good fish into the fridge, so at least there’s plenty of meat to keep you happy.”

Dance growls,”This is the meat I wanna eat,” and he’s kissing down the big man’s chest before Drin laughs, squirming about it feeling ticklish.  Dance fumbles at the taps, turns the flow of water to stream out of the showerhead.  They step into the warm water and settle to soaping each other at length, and then massaging shampoo into each other’s hair, and rinsing it.  By the time Drin wants to fill the tub full and soak himself in the heat, Dance is feeling quite content to settle back in his lap and pull the long arms around him and close his eyes, boneless, almost asleep.

That is, until the big hands start wandering over his skin, learning him all over again, exploring his neck and shoulders and skull and nipples and thighs and ass, moving off the hot zones and hushing him when he starts getting too excited too fast.

The water sloshes a lot when he starts rocking in Drin’s grip on his cock, and Drin chuckles and holds his hips dead still until the sloshing eases down.

“You have to lay still and let it happen,” Drin whispers, kissing his neck, his ear, licking his cheek.  “Lay really still, I’m doing you right, you’re gonna come so hard you scream.”  And then the long arms have moved, doing something to one side, and then they’re under him, and Drin has locked a cock ring on him, captured his balls in a firm hand grip, and a slick, easy pressure is sliding into his ass.  Dance feels the man chuckle as he gives a little mewling sound, his back arches up, and his eyes open very wide.  Drin has deployed the toys already.

“How’s that?  I do love me some waterproof lube.  There’s the first knot on the dildo.  Take it, take it in so easy, yeah, there you are.  Now just relax, I’m stroking you.  Feels good?  Can you take a little touch under your cockhead, down along the vein, yeah?  Good?  Harder?  Tell me.  You like that?  Good.  It’s not too much?  Just let it happen, sweetheart.  Okay, there’s the second knot going in.  I’m pushing it forward, talk to me, tell me when it hits that sweet spot for you–”

Dance gasps, arches, and everything happens at once.  Drin tugs open the cock ring, pulls down on his balls, and pushes inward with the dildo.  Then he pulls it out of Dance in one long drag.  Dance gives a whistle through the tightness in his throat, bucks wildly in midair, flails at the wall, and comes so hard that it feels like everything is letting go.  He makes a high, clenched sound that only small dogs should be able to hear.  Strange spaces in his head are orgasming too.  Stuff comes spurting out from his sinuses, emptying somewhere behind his molars.

And then he’s limp, hanging in Drin’s grip, the man is laughing in delight, and it is completely dark.  The lights have gone out. There is no buzz of power in the place.  All is dark and quiet.

“Now that’s what I call an orgasm!  Sweetheart, you blew out the lights!”

“Did not!”  Dance’s ribs are going like bellows, grabbing for air.  He hangs there in the warm water, feeling the other man’s ribs jerk with laughter under him.  “Um,” Dance says, tilting his head up, heaving for air.  “But we… have to agree, that was… that was…”

“You’re brainless,” Drin says, delighted.  Then he puts his hand on Dance’s mouth, slides his thumb into Dance’s lips.  “Wow.  Tingly.  You came at this end too.”

“Oh yeah.”  Hot fluid sloshes in his mouth under Drin’s touch, runs down his chin, hotter than the bathwater, not as thick as semen but like it in taste.

The thumb spreads it down his chin.

He turns over, straddles Drin, rubs his balls against Drin’s cock, kisses him at leisure, licking at his face, lapping fluid along the man’s forehead and nose and cheeks.  Then he’s kissing Drin again, and the man is rubbing his tongue into Dance’s mouth.  He might be the queen of safe sex whenever he’s meeting Dance’s needs, but crazily, he doesn’t seem to mind getting painted with this odd musky stuff drooling from Dance’s mouth.

“Crazy stoner,” Dance murmurs, and licks it onto the man’s hand.

A week  ago, Dance asked Emma for help looking at his mouth to find out why.  Of course Drin walked in on the middle of it when Emma was poking around his hard palate with dental tools, a magnifier, and a light.   He knew he had plenty of odd bulges at the front of his lower jaw, under his tongue–he always had those.  She had a name for those:  tori.

But nothing showed on his upper palate, where the fluid has been pouring out between his molars.  No shadows, swellings, divots, holes, slits, or puckers.  She even took pictures to check on that with the zoom from a graphics program.

Drin runs his ring finger between Dance’s lips, rubs that fingertip along the roof of Dance’s mouth.

“Oaaah,” Dance says, leaning into it.  It feels really good when the fingerpad touches those places where fluid is still draining out.

“You like that?  Right there, huh?”

“Oh ehh,” Dance makes an affirmative noise, moving his head to rub harder on those spots.  They’re a little tender, the same way his dick feels raw when he’s been masturbating a lot.  Which he has been doing, lately.  Embarrassing, after how much he’s been demanding all kinds of sexual attentions from Drin.

“It’s tingling really strong this time,” Drin says.

“Ah uh?” Dance asks, pausing.

“Hell no, it feels great, don’t worry.  Em looked up more dental stuff about those lumps under your tongue.  She says tori are perfectly normal stress growths in people’s jaw bones, not a problem unless they get in the way, push up the teeth.”  The fingertip brushes at the rounded shapes inside either corner of Dance’s lower jaw, below the gums.

“Uh aa,” Dance says, and the finger withdraws obediently.  A little thickly, he says, “Yes, but the cum thing can’t be tori.  Bone can’t blob out cum like my dick.  And the cum from my dick– my semen– it doesn’t tingle like that.”

There’s silence.  Not even breathing, from the big man under him in the water.

“Right?” Dance demands.

“Um.  Sweetheart, you don’t feel it from the mouth-cum.  You don’t feel any tingling from your dick-cum either, so if it’s the same thing–”

“There is no tube running from my balls up to my mouth!”

Drin is chuckling.  “Hey, not arguing.  We got your basic test case in hand.  Push up these hips for me, let’s get your dick out of the water.”  Drin shifts under him.  The other big hand pulls hard on Dance’s cock, gathers up a final ooze of semen from his slit, and that crazy man slathers it up behind his ears, as if he’s dabbing on perfume.  “Hmm mmm de dum- um, Dance?”

“What?”  Dance clutches at his shoulders in the dark.

“Umm, this isn’t definitive, you understand–” the man’s breathing has speeded up.


“It tingles.  A lot.”

Dance grabs harder.  “Are you all right?  Is it hurting–”

“Hell no, it feels great.  Jeezus fuckin’ hallelujah, I keep telling you, it’s wonderful.”

Dance groans, and leans into the man’s chest, feels long arms come up around him.

“Sweetheart, I just want to tell you. I may have been a bit of a stoner in the Army, but I didn’t marry you just for your truly amazing cum.”

Dance can’t help it, he starts to laugh.  He smacks Drin’s chest with both hands.  “We didn’t know about it when you asked me to get married!”

“Shoulda asked you sooner, huh.”  He sounds amused.

“You think that’s what set it off?”

“Or some damn thing.  Hey, maybe it’s all that new kimchee, huh?”  Drin has been joking that it’s all that chili-heavy food Dance has been craving lately.  They haven’t found any better explanation.

“Okay, yes, I admit it, wanting your insatiable dick and your truly superior ass did have something to do with it,” Drin adds, which gets him another smack.

“Oh no, I know why you asked, really,” Dance says sternly, and smacks him again.

“Oh?  Yeah, what’s that?”

“Because I cook.”

Drin dissolves into roars of laughter.  Really, it’s out of all proportion to the joke, but Dance lets him take that exit out of serious conversation… this time.

Drin appears to be taking it all completely for granted–as in, of course Dance has this fabulous mouth thing he does, it’s nice.  He’s not worried even when Dance licks it onto his dry cock and his balls until his skin buzzes, making him orgasm two or three times in a row, getting hard over and over again.  He laughs at questions.  “Hey, what’s not to love?”

Well, Emma warned him about that, too, maddening woman.  While she had Dance’s mouth full of dental tools, she reminded him that it wouldn’t be easy to pin down the big man for this conversation.  She said Drin always displayed a truly alarming ability to deny, compartmentalize, retcon history, confabulate, and outright lie about things.

Dance told her dryly, “Hey, Army vet,” which just got him smacked on the arm.  Hard.  Then she’d stomped off, yelling he wasn’t any better, which hurt his feelings.

Just one of those days where he’d wondered if trying to get married was the worst decision he’d ever made in his life.

“Crazy stoner dude,” Dance mutters, and resumes licking his husband’s face.  He thinks about lapping all over other parts of the man that he hasn’t had the leisure to work on.  Like all those scars on his legs, and his bad arm.  He did that one night last week, as a painkiller, and it worked better than any of Drin’s usual pain pills.  “I want to lick you all over and see if it makes your toes tingle too and–”  He licks sticky fluid along Drin’s thumb, licks it up onto the web of his hand, in his palm, along the back of his fingers, sucks the fingers in two at a time, bites down on them, gnaws at them gently.  Then he licks mouth-cum upward around the slick burn scars on the man’s forearms.  More of it keeps leaking out into his mouth as he works.

“Tingles.  Jeezus fuck, that feels–so good–”  Drin arches up gently under him, and comes, as easy as that, cock trembling against the inside of Dance’s thigh, rubbing against his balls.

“I am such a lazy husband, I lick you to make you come,” Dance says.

Drin’s ribs tighten into a chuckle.  His other hand comes up, strokes Dance’s back.  He says, “But then suddenly in the middle of it you’ll get starving hungry and can’t even wait.  You’d eat raw steak if I let you!  And if it’s daylight, then you’ll want to go run on the beach.”

Dance turns on the tap, cups up water, rinses his mouth clean.  “Oh yeah.”

“You want to make my toes tingle?  Really?”  Drin splashes both hands, rinses sticky drying cum off his face.

“Yes please.  Lots.”

“Okay.  Maybe later?  It’s a deal.  How about, we get out of the water and figure out getting some food into us when the power is still out?  There’s supposed to be a big fireplace in the living room, and a barbecue kettle in a closet off the deck.”

“Right,” Dance says, climbing out.  He grasps a towel, helps steer Drin out onto the bath mat.

“I’m blind as a bat,” Drin says, while Dance helps him dry off.

“Oh, no worries.  I can see a little.  The curtains are open in the bigger room.  It’s not too dark, I can find things.  And you know how to cook on real fires, too.  Here’s the suitcase, some clean pants, yes–underpants here–” he gets them both into old soft jeans in the dark, gets Drin safely parked in a chair by the big cold fireplace in the main room.

“There oughta be some flashlights.”

“Yes, I will find them, probably in the kitchen.  Where do you think the breakers are?”  Dance keeps talking as he moves.  “The kitchen is brighter, there is some moonlight, it’s bright outside there.  I’m going to save opening the fridge, so the food stays cold.”

Drin says, “There might be a circuit breaker panel behind one of the doors, or in a closet.”

Dance rummages behind kitchen doors for awhile, and returns, pressing things into Drin’s hands.  “I have matches, I have a flashlight that is rather dim, I have some tinder, here.  Okay, let me go look for breaker panels while you work on the fire.”

After awhile, Drin has a fire going in the log grate in the fireplace, and Dance has felt his way round the kitchen and the living room.  He hasn’t found the breakers.  “Do you think maybe they were silly and they put the panel somewhere outside in the weather?”

“Possibly.  We can try the garage in the morning.  Do you suppose they plan this, so newlyweds have adventures?”

“Well, these newlyweds are not panicky sorts who need adventures to tell stories about.  We are just going to pretend we planned barbecue cooking as we put our steaks on these pokers and get them blackened a bit.  We just growl over our dinner and feel very happy to be here inside, in the dry and the warm,” Dance says firmly.  He’s in the kitchen when he says the most ridiculous part.  “So long as we don’t dribble meat juice all over the big fur rug there.  Because of course you must ravish me all naked on that fake fur, I insist.  Maybe later, when we’re not so full of meat.”

“Well, you’ve got our priorities sorted out,” Drin says, smiling in the firelight.  He always likes the word raaavish when Dance says it that way, careful and exaggerated and silly.

“Besides, there are plates and napkins and silverware and champagne and even glasses to drink it from,” Dance says, returning with his hands full, and eventually dragging over the living room table to hold things.  He guides Drin’s hand onto the skewers and the oven mitts and pads to hold them.  He returns to the kitchen while Drin is still laughing.

The fire is going quite well by the time he returns with another load.  “They have stocked up kitchen tools and food very well for Western tastes,” he reports happily.

Drin just looks up at him, chuckling, in the early uncertain light of their new fire.

“I am cutting up steaks for you to go spearing onto those skewers–” Dance drags over another chair.

“Like filet mignon is just some blob to chop up for shish kebab?”

“If you do not want it raw, yes.  And sooner.  The very best meat goes into very thin slices for Korean barbecue–” Dance starts sorting and chopping his materials, putting things into bowls.  “Right, there’s pearl onions, there’s green pepper, there’s potato slices very thin, there I am putting the meat.  A pinch of  black pepper on it, some salt, simple.  If you are hungry we can cook a second batch.  This is excellent lean meat.”

Drin starts threading pieces onto the skewers while Dance chops.

Dance says, “Emma would love this.”

“Oh, yeah– that Aussie love for chowing down kebab after closing hour.  Pretty funny, we end up eating her favorite stuff on our wedding night.”

“Except it is not lamb, and not greasy enough!”  which makes Drin laugh.  He and Emma are always visiting Emma’s favorite döner kebab meat and chips place, waiting for Dance to get done with night rehearsals.  Those two say it gives them time to unwind and chat.  Dance teases it is about really about eating enough grease.

Drin is still giggling to himself, which means it’ll show up in some story later on.  The laughter is still in his voice when he says, “The potatoes take the longest, I’m putting that end in the hottest part of the fire.  It smells good already.”

“It does.  Very good planning,” Dance says.

“Oh to hell with planning for awhile!  Hell, I asked Em at one point, why is everything about getting married something to do with serving more food?”

“Let me guess–she swatted you, and she said any big ceremony, getting bored, it is like Army life, small moments of terror with lots of waiting.”  Dance shrugs, holds out open hands toward the fire.  “So, waiting around, bored people think about the next time they get fed.  Bad as slobbering dogs begging at dinner, is that how she was saying?”

“Yeah.  But that doesn’t explain why I’m wanting to take you out to dinner and feed you fabulous stuff all the time.  As much as I want to make love to you.  Or find things you like, or getting distracted at work, just looking at pictures of you when I’m supposed to–”

“–or wanting to lick you all over,” Dance says solemnly.  Dance looks at the man’s moist lips, gleaming in that reddish beard.  “Especially the furry bits.”

“Yeah, I’m kinda fond of your furry bits too,” Drin says, his eyes crinkling up.

“But really, it is not just anybody’s fur, anywhere.  I am not fond of anyone else’s furry bits,” Dance says, wrinkling his nose.

Drin slaps his knee noisily and starts to laugh.  “Goddamn, Dance, you– you just–”

“Well, Emma tells me I am very rude,” Dance says, slicing up more potatoes and scooping them into a bowl.  “Then she hits me.  I think she likes any excuse to swat her boys, you know.  Very hard, on the butt, if she can.”

“She does!”

“I never spank her back, but I think she might like that.”

Drin blinks at him, surprised.

“I only tickle, careful, so I don’t hurt her.  But you could spank her, if she likes it.  I mean, if you want to do small happy things for her.  That makes me happy too.  I don’t think I say it very well, but–”

“Oh, sweetheart,” Drin says, resting one hand on Dance’s knee.  “I know you want Em to be happy too.  So do I.  It’s just that… I guess you’d call it pride… gets in the way sometimes.  What she thinks is right or proper or something.”

“Yes, I know.  I don’t care what is proper.  I want to make you happy, and I want to make Em happy too, however she will let me.  Like cooking.  I like cooking things for you to try.  As you say, to watch you.  It pleases me to give you something you like.”

“Yeah, that’s it exactly.”  Drin puts aside another filled skewer in a bowl.

For awhile they sit quietly working in the dim light.  “If the power is off tomorrow, I can make soup on this fire, I found a cast-iron pot.”

Drin smiles at him.  “You’re not even phased by this.”

“We have food, we have water, we have fire, we have spices and pots and pans–”

Drin starts to whoop with laughter again.  Dance mistrustfully packed a bag full of groceries and condiments that he figured would be hard to find.  The limo driver had put it away in the kitchen for them.

Dance gets up, taking away his chopping board and knife.  “–we have soap, we have tools, we have the awesome Drin who cooks on open flames and barbecues all the time, we are all good.”

He diverts for some moments into the dark bedroom, finds the bathroom, washes his hands, grabs the toiletries case, brings it out with him.  By then the food is sizzling gently, skewers propped at careful angles across the grating that holds the logs.  Drin is sitting cross-legged on the fake fur spread in front of the hearth.  Dance gives him hand wipes from the toiletry kit, since they both had handled raw meat.

Drin says, “C’mere, sweetheart,” and Dance settles sideways with his knees over Drin’s thigh, one shoulder resting against Drin’s bare chest.  Drin sighs, kisses his forehead, and hugs him.  “Perfect.”

wineglass on wood floor in front of fire in a fireplace
wineglass by the fire, source unknown

“Fairytale,” Dance says, looking into the flames.  He leans his head back against Drin’s chest, and feels suddenly, profoundly grateful.

“You want me to ravish you right out here on this rug, huh?”  Drin’s hand strokes his chest.

Dance smiles slowly.  “Oh yes, I do.  I know, this is not a terribly new fantasy, and this is very fake fur, but–”

“We’ll manage,” Drin says, amused.  His hand drifts down, strokes up the fabric over Dance’s thigh.  “Yeah, I was right, I thought I saw your little man was ready to come out to play again.”

Dance squirms.  “Now you’re teasing–”

“Oh, am I?  Doesn’t feel like teasing to me.  Lay down, get the pants off.  You’re going to lay there all naked and hard and gorgeous, while I deal with the food.  And then I’m going to feed you scrumptious hot bits of food and kiss you sometimes, and you’re going to like it.”

“Can I kiss you sometimes too?” Dance struggles to get his cock disentangled from the shorts, which makes his husband laugh at him.

“Of course.  But only after I get you fed and and get some champagne in you.  Now, there you go, a toast–to the most gorgeous husband on earth.  No, I meant you, not me, but that’s okay.  Just lay back and let me look at you.”

Dance drinks some of his champagne and shifts on one hip, finding a more comfortable position.  The fake fur is a bit lumpy, to be honest.

Drin smiles at him, teeth gleaming in that rumpled beard.  Dance starts to sit up, but Drin pushes him back down, putting Dance entirely prone on the rug, and looks down at him a long time.  He strokes Dance’s hair back from his eyes, cups his face, strokes a finger along his jawline, onto his lower lip.

Then he turns suddenly back to the fire, lifts a skewer handle with a kitchen mitt, pokes the potato with a fork, and pronounces himself satisfied.  “I’ll let it sit across the bowl a moment, it’s still hot.”  In rapid succession he pulls off the other skewers.  “Right, now let’s see if this one cooled off enough.  Nope, gotta wait.  So you can get out the lube and the condoms and put them handy.  Do you think regular missionary penetration, me on top of you fucking your queer guts out, my dick stuck up as far as it will go in your nice ass, is gonna make you really, really happy tonight?”

Dance stares at him, a little perplexed at the harsh tone.  “Yes.  I like having you on top of me.  I like you banging me in my good place inside me, it makes me feel good.  All warm and covered and held tight and filled up.  I like feeling full of great big man cock.”

Drin exhales noisily.  “Oh.  Like you’re all hugged, safe, or something?”

Dance moves one knee, making it more obvious that parts of him are in terrific agreement with all of this idea.  “Like I can just trust it to happen to me.  When I–” he takes a deep, hard breath, “–when I started to fuck you, that made me feel different.  Like I must do things carefully, make it right for you.  Make it feel really good for you, not hurting things when I get so tight and I start to come.  I must stay in myself and be careful, I must feel it all happening.  That feels so good too.”

Drin tilts his head.  “I’m still having trouble believing you really want it up the ass.”

Dance smiles wryly.  “Do you want me to not give it to you?  Should I stop doing that?”

“God no, it feels terrific, if God forbid my dick fell off and I never got to do anything else I’d want you to keep fucking me.  Just fucking me, just like that.”

“Then where is the problem?”

“I don’t want to hurt you, sweetheart, being selfish, banging you too hard on this very first night, getting carried away.”

“Oh.  Well, you can just lay on me and rub me, and that will feel good too, it will give me that warm held-tight feeling, I like that too.”

“What else do you like?”

It isn’t the first time he’s asked that.  It isn’t even the fortieth time.  But he goes on asking.

Dance really likes how he keeps asking.  He says so, and lays back, smiling, with his fingers laced together under his head.  “I like you feeding me shish kebab burnt off the fire when I’m naked and I can rub my cock on your jeans and you are asking me sexy questions, reminding me how much I like you taking me.”

Drin starts to chuckle, and to pull bits off the skewer into a clean bowl.  “What else?”

“I like you hugging me behind me, when I wake up, and you rub your dick onto my balls, and you’re so hard you come right away.  Then you’re all relaxed and I’m all hot and wanting to walk this little man and you can do anything to me, it is making me come.”

Asian man standing, nude back, source unknown
standing nude twisting, source unknown

Drin chuckles.  “Not such a little man there.”  Drin settles on the rug beside him, runs a fire-hot hand up along his ribs, and with his other hand holds a lump of meat in front of Dance’s waiting mouth.  Slowly, lasciviously, he lowers it into Dance’s open lips, and tucks it in with a fingertip.  Dance bites down into the steak bit, gets the flavor of it across his tongue.  He swallows, and moans.  “Oh, this is good.”

“Piece of green pepper now, it’s got a bit of char on it.  Don’t be greedy, take your time on it.”

Dance starts to sit up, but Drin puts his free hand down on Dance’s chest, keeps him still with a touch.  “No, this skewer is all yours, and I’m feeding it all to you first.  Don’t worry, you get to feed me the next skewer.”

“Will you take off your pants for me?”

“Oh yeah.  You like seeing me take off my pants?”

“Yes,” Dance says, around a lump of onion, and he lips the fingers that give it to him.

“Cheeky boy,” Drin says, with a smack of the palm on Dance’s chest.

Dance doesn’t try to sit up. Instead, he lifts his foot, slides his ankle up onto Drin’s shoulder, and rolls his other knee wide onto the rug.  The offer is perfectly plain.

Drin shifts his free hand onto Dance’s tensed thigh, grips it, and lifts it aside, so Dance’s knees are sprawled wide on either side of his husband.  Drin leans down into him, resting those worn soft jeans across Dance’s belly, putting his forearm down across Dance’s chest, and then with his other hand, he delicately pops a bit of pearl onion into Dance’s mouth, and lays a big finger squarely across his lips.  Dance squirms, swallows, licks the finger.

“I think you don’t feel very hungry now,” Drin says, with the firelight catching those amused tiger-yellow eyes.  He takes the finger away, and feeds him another bite of steak, watching him.  “Too many cookies in the car, huh?”

“Can I feed you too?” Dance asks.

“Oh, and let you rub on me like a cat in heat?”

“Mmm,” Dance agrees, squirming some more.  “I am in heat.  Please let me rub on you.”

“You’re amazing.  But I’m going to do everything you want.  Everything.”

Dance feels himself panting.  “Oh please.”

Drin gives him a wide smile, and wiggles against him ever-so-slightly.  “Eventually.”

“Aaaaarghh,” Dance moans.

“All right, all right, let me get out of these things.  Didn’t want to cook naked, with the way that wood snaps out sparks, but I don’t mind getting naked now for my beautiful husband to feed me bits of steak and see how turned-on he’s got me already.”

Drin stands up, slides off the pants and shorts in one elegant motion, steps out of them, cock jutting upwards.  He kneels between Dance’s legs, puts out one hand, lowers his upper body over Dance.  He twists his hips almost sideways, his cock does not touch Dance’s hips, and Dance wiggles, frustrated.  But no, Drin presses his torso down on top of Dance, resting that forearm across his chest again.  Then Drin pins down one of Dance’s wrists to the rug, tickling the palm of his hand with his thumb.  “Uh-uh, one hand.  Here’s the bowl, can you reach it?”

“Yes, but I can’t tell which kind I am giving you–”

“I’ll tell you.  God, you have such beautiful muscles.  Yeah, that’s an onion. Caramelized.  Oh God, that’s so good.  Give me the next one. Jeez, that’s ridiculously good– oh man.  Steak.  Oh that is good.”

Dance smiles.  Brushes his thumb over the man’s lips.  “You keep saying that.  I think you like it.”

The man swallows, licks off his lips, and lowers his head to breath across Dance’s mouth a moment.  “If you aren’t the world’s best cook, then I don’t know who is,” and he kisses Dance, filling his mouth with tongue.  He leans up in a moment, saying, “Okay, I’m heavy, I know.  Get some air.  Breathe, here.”

Dance rocks his hips a bit, smiling, and Drin says, “You keep that up and dinner’s gonna get cold.”

Dance laughs, arching in place, and relaxes again.  He picks up another unseen bit from the bowl, lifts it to Drin’s mouth, feels the man’s lips wrap around his fingers.  Dance asks,“Got it?  Do you think we can eat our way through eight skewers without losing our minds and–”

“–and fucking like rabbits?” Drin says, grinning back.  Dance suspects he really likes the feel of Dance squirming under him, the feel of cock rubbing against the tender skin at his hip joint.  Dance is desperately trying to shift his cock over next to Drin’s, to get more friction from the maddeningly harsh curly pubic hair rubbing against his own, but Drin is not letting his hips angle right, refusing to make it easier for Dance.  “I doubt it, but we can try.  Give me another.”

Drin has to pull himself away to empty the other skewers into the bowl, and Dance thinks he will get a chance to mesh their hips together.  But Drin lays down on him in the same way as before, not allowing Dance’s wiggling to take advantage.  Keeping Dance pinned under him, Drin feeds him a skewers’ worth, and then Dance feeds the big man another skewer’s worth, slowly, one-handed.

By then Drin is kissing him a lot all over his face and down his neck, grazing his way down Dance’s chest and kissing his nipples until he shakes in place, rubbing at the little peaks with greasy fingers.  Normally, at home, their earlier intercourse would have satisfied them both for hours, possibly for days.  Tonight Drin clearly wants more.  Dance feels the heartbeat pounding in his own cock.  It’s drooling, ready to go.

“Okay, sweetheart, are you up hard?  Yeah, I am too.  I’m putting on a condom.  Give me that lube, let me see you.  Here, get your feet up on my shoulders, that’s it.  Spread your legs wider, pull up those balls for me.  I’m warming it up for you, don’t get impatient.  No, don’t stroke yourself, you’ll get me going too fast.  Here it is, rubbing it on, nice and thick.  How tight are you, after I loosened you up earlier?  Okay.”

Dance gasps.  The lube is still cool, but it’s not brutally cold, either.

“Slide those legs up higher on my shoulders.  Is it okay on your back?  Good?  All right, if you wanna brace your arms out, that’s good.  Now relax, sweetheart, I’m gonna take you.”  And then Drin’s hips are twisting round, he’s up on his knees, his chest is leaning across Dance, and his cock is stretching Dance wide, a sliding rush of pressure and heat.  He stops moving, buried balls-deep inside Dance, his hips sealed tight all across Dance’s ass.  Dance’s balls and cock are pushed tight against the man’s powerful gut muscles.  The big man gasps,  “God, you’re so– hot inside–”

Dance gives a whimper of need, rocking, and Drin pulls out a little, shifts his hips downward toward the floor, and that strange little pulse of muscle twitches his cock to pointing upward inside Dance.  Then he’s sliding it into Dance, pushing upward, banging hard into that infuriatingly sweet spot that Dance cannot resist, ever.

Dance gives a high noise, and then Drin is sliding away.  That makes Dance give a different noise, panting for breath.  Then he’s giving the high noise again–Drin is pushing into him until Dance is rolled halfway up up onto his shoulders, his knees hooked over the man’s broad shoulders, and he begs for it.  It’s hard to breath, rolled up almost onto his shoulders in that position.  Usually it doesn’t matter, two strokes of Drin’s hips banging into him will finish him in this position, even when he wants to last.  Tonight, he is lasting.

Drin snorts, and the man’s hips start moving, smacking at his ass, the cock sliding in and out of him fast enough to make Dance’s sounds turn to gasps.

“Yeah, give it to me, sweetheart, yell it out, tell me what you like.  There?  Right there?”

And Dance is yelling.  He doesn’t even know what he’s yelling.  He just feels a big hand slide bruisingly between their bodies, grope at his balls and close tight on his cock, cupping the head of it in the same rhythm of the force smashing into that sweet spot and making those silly noises come mewling out of him.  “Yeah, right there, give it to me, come for me, sweetheart, I want you to come so hard.  Come for me, don’t worry.  Just come for me.”

Dance comes so hard, he curls up so tight, that his shoulders lift right off the rug.  He pushes his arms straight up from his hands, locks his elbows, slams his mouth open wide, put his mouth onto Drin’s shoulder near the neck, grips his front teeth around the bulging edge of muscle, and bites him.

Something clicks inside his head, somewhere deep behind his nose, between his back molars.  Something that’s been tensed for hours in his head finally relaxes, and he comes, and comes and comes.  His front teeth are holding Drin in place while thick pale ropes of drool slide past his lips, draining down Drin’s skin.

Drin is shaking in place, hips twitching while he groans, and his cock shudders inside Dance.

Then there’s a tug of something coming free in Dance’s mouth, and Dance opens his jaws, and then somehow Drin is lowering him back onto the rug, where he is panting too hard to move.

Drin is leaning on his hands above Dance, panting heavily.  “Goddamn, Dance.  I don’t… jeez, I’ve never felt anything as good as this.  Are you all right?”

“I bit you,” Dance says, a little slurred with the fluid still oozing out on his tongue.

“Oh, you’re sweet, giving me that mouth cum thing, I got you going really hard.”

“Drin, I put holes in you–”

“Really?  Huh, didn’t feel that part.  Just the cum tingling me.  Feels… wonderful.  God, Dance, it’s wonderful.”  Drin lowers himself, panting, and kisses Dance on the mouth, licking into that sticky fluid, coaxing him to kiss back.  “C’mon, give me a taste of that wedding surprise cum.”  When he’s kissed Dance silly, he shifts one hand, grabbing onto the condom and drawing his cock slowly out of Dance.  That sensation makes Dance shudder in place, groaning, and a final load of semen-tasting goo comes drooling from the back of his mouth.  Drin rolls onto his side on the rug, pulling Dance over with him..

“I bit you,” Dance says, worried.  He can’t see much but bruise marks from his front teeth in the uncertain light.  That’s not at all the safe sex he promised to Drin.

“I love it.  Okay, if you say you cut some skin, I believe you.  Can’t feel it right now.  I know, I know, if you did, it’s not being careful at all.  But damn, you can do that any time, sweetheart.  Aches and pains all gone, I feel great, like I could fuck you all over again.”

“You want to?”

“Sure.  Do you?”

“Yeah, but.. more food maybe.. rest.. don’t want to hurt you.  Not biting you!  Wanting to try… kissing you… somewhere else.  Toes,” Dance says dazedly.  “Maybe give you a hangover?”

“Stop worrying, it’s been fine every time you licked that cum on me before.  I feel great.”

Dance leans over, takes a deep breath of the man’s sweat and he starts licking his way down Drin’s body.  He pulls the condom off Drin, sets it aside on the table, and shifts away from the man’s cock in spite of how much he wants to taste it in his mouth, trying to honor their agreement to keep himself safe.

The taste of sweat tells him how far he’s pushed Drin tonight.  The man’s body is honestly tired, under the artificial stimulus of whatever his mouth-cum does to the man.  Working his way up from licking the man’s feet–and yes, Drin reports it tingles there too–he takes his time, kneeling over Drin and licking thick layers of it upward on both shins, along all those scars, lapping it on over his knees, up his thighs.  He feels Drin shiver when he starts to lick the man’s right hip joint, as if it’s too much finally.

“Tingles,” Drin murmurs.

“Okay, enough pushing ourselves, I should just stop it, get over my silly self and let you rest.  Get you over to bed, and let me put the food away for tomorrow–”

Drin smiles up at him.  “Now you want to take care of me?”

“But I always want to,” Dance says, and gets up to put things away.  He looks down at the monumental figure sprawled out on the rug in complete relaxation.

He’s so big.  The man’s feet stick out well beyond the rug, wiggling his long toes comically in front of the fire.  “Do you want more to drink?  Some water?”

“Dance,” the man says, and a warm hand comes up and rests on his ankle, slides up the calf of his leg.  “Yes, water would be great.  God, you’re so beautiful.”

Dance pats the hand touching him, pulls it up enough to kiss the knuckles.  “So are you.”

“It’s the dim lighting, really improves a scruffy old guy’s looks, don’t you think?”

Dance says, “Oh, no, I think I will like your looks even better in good bright morning, all this big naked man with his big cock fucking me silly.  Maybe I will get on the rug on my knees, waggling at you like a cat and yowl at you a lot to fuck me.  Or you bend me over the end of the bed and fuck me.  I don’t know if it is the right height, but the bed is much softer.  I will check in the morning if there are enough sheets for changing to sleep nice and clean.”

Drin gives a huff of laughter, pats his calf.  “Don’t worry.  There’s a washer and drier somewhere.”

“Oh good,” Dance says.  He steps free, gathers up the food and the trash from the table, starts putting things away in the fridge, rinsing the dishes.  There’s a dishwasher that he can use when they have power, in the morning.  He hears movement in the other room, metal scraping sounds, while he washes his hands.  He twists back and forth, using wet paper towels to wipe his crotch and his ass in the dim light.  He returns with damp paper towels and a glass of water for Drin.

He half-expected Drin to be asleep on the rug, but he isn’t; his husband is sitting up, looking at the fire.  In spite of being naked near the burning logs, he’s been tending it, using a little shovel in the rack of fireplace tools, and closing the little mesh spark-arresting curtain.

“Oh, thanks,” Drin says, and wipes himself clean without embarrassment.  “We can leave the fire to die down now.  Steer me to the bathroom, sweetheart, and then I’ll sort out how to brush my teeth in the dark.”

Dance retrieves the toiletries bag, sharing with Drin the wry thought that it is doomed to follow them all around the cottage.  Drin just laughs.

“Okay, here’s toothpaste, here’s your brush, here’s mine,” Dance says, rummaging in the dim firelight.  Then he takes Drin’s hand, and leads him back to the bathroom, helping where he can with the unseen routine.  Drin kids around, patting at him when he doesn’t really need to.

“Okay, I’ve got the size of the bathroom down, at least,” Drin says, and takes his hand.  “Take me to bed, sweetheart.”

“I thought you’d never ask.  Is it the right height?”

“Well, I don’t know yet.  How about you bend over the bed, get down on it there, and let me check on this.”

They fumble around in the dark, skin on skin, laughing, and determine that the bed is rather low for Drin to stand up behind Dance’s butt, but perfect for Dance to line up on Drin’s.  Drin astonishes him by making the renewed offer, but Dance just pats him on the butt and hugs him.

They curl up under the sheets and figure out they aren’t going to need the blankets for quite awhile in spite of the current lack of heat.  There are plenty of pillows, and they fit elbows and mesh feet together just as they do at home.  Normally Drin would have a bedside light on, reading, with one hand stroking Dance’s head or shoulder as Dance went to sleep, but with the power out they just sigh and turn together and breathe in the quiet.

nude man on bed, source unknown
nude man on bed, source unknown

Dance ruffles the man’s chest hair with a deep sigh.  “You smell so good to me.”

Drin chuckles.  “Hah, knowing you, that probably means I should’ve got another shower.”

“No, I like your smell like this.”

“What can you hear?” Drin murmurs, half of it a vibration in his chest.

“Heartbeat,” Dance says.  “Nice.”

“What else?”

“The ocean,” he says, idly stroking down Drin’s chest.  “There’s rocks, I think.  That splash when a big wave hits rocks.  Wind is getting stronger.  I don’t hear any birds, but I think there will be gulls, at least.”

Drin smiles.  “I brought a guidebook, if you want to go look tomorrow.”

“And we have boots, I know,” Dance says, kidding him.  “Are there hiking trails?”

“There are.  And sea kayaks.  There’s a rental place with guides.”  He chuckles when he feels the twitch of interest in Dance’s muscles.  “Yeah, I thought you’d like that a lot.  Have to get an orientation first, so we reserved a whole day for that, a little later on.  After you’ve had a chance to run around on this beach, look at things up close, get a feel for the place.”

We means that Emma and Drin worked it out together, as they have for most of the three weeks ahead.  Dance submitted general ideas for Emma’s organizational mojo to work on, within the limitation that it’d been a secret from him about just where they were going.

Three weeks is a long time away from the Metro.  The sea air is going to be wetter here than at home, he will have to keep retuning, allowing his two practice violins to adjust to the humidity before he makes any heavy physical demands.

In the days running up to the wedding, he was afraid he would either want to bury himself completely in his music for days on end and bore poor Drin out of his mind, or else he’d cast it aside completely like a bad, bad schoolboy in favor of running wild and never practicing at all.  Emma just told him not to worry, Drin would just spank him if he was too bad.  He will, too, Dance knows that.

Drin chuckles again.  “Amalia said you’d need a good five hours of practice every other day to work on that new stuff you wanted to learn, and to drag you away from it if you went longer.  She said you don’t get any benefit from longer hours, the way other folks might.  So we scheduled in regular blocks of time where you can do that, or walk on the beach, or just sleep.  She said you could use some rest too.”

Dance thumps his chest, with a noise like a melon.  “You, reading my mind again.”

“No mind-reading about it.  I just asked her what I needed to do, that’s all.”

“No, right now,” Dance says, and thumps him again.  Then he’s playing percussion on Drin’s chest with his fingers, sitting up and leaning over him, drumming on him, while Drin laughs soundlessly.  Then he finally drags Dance over onto him and smacks him on the butt, and hugs him.

“Goddamn, musicians.  Settle down, sweetheart, I didn’t mean to get you all riled up and excited all over again.  You need to rest too.”

“You must tell me if I am tiring you out,” Dance says, stroking the man’s beard.  He feels the smile under his fingers.

“I will.”

“This is a vacation, I must not be wiping you out,” Dance says, worried.

The smile widens.  “Sweetheart, it’s a honeymoon.  If it’s gonna make you happy, I’m doing it, I don’t damn well care if I get tired.  And yeah, I’ll try and use common sense so I don’t get myself injured, that’d be a waste.  But let me tell you, I feel great.  A lot better than I figured I would, tell you the truth.”  He puts up a hand, touches the ring on Dance’s finger, then the dragon pendant on the necklace that Dance wears all the time, even showering.  Both of them are Drin’s gifts to him.  Dance wraps his hand around the man’s fingers, so their rings brush together, and then Drin’s hand is stroking down his back and shoulders, and he relaxes.  “Shhh, don’t worry about me, sweetheart.  I’ve got you.  Go to sleep.”

“Kayaks,” Dance murmurs happily, and then he’s asleep.

From One Cliche To The Next

Devil in a Blue Dress

“Don’t do it,” Emma says.

The man is too smart to pretend he doesn’t know what she means; she’s caught his considering look far too often in the past week. And now he’s wearing that caught-in-the-cookie-jar expression, as if she needed any proof. Plus his quick glance in the direction of Dance’s room, where unending repetitions of some Baroque phrase have long since stopped being entertaining.

Drin is wearing carefully pre-torn jeans, the kind of thing a rich man would wear when he’s feeling Boho. But that feels like a disguise too– as if he’s pretending to be a rich man who’s pretending to be clueless. And that’s part of the peculiar charisma that Emma is currently fighting against. Because if he tried to take her to bed, she really doesn’t think she could say ‘no’.

“I’m really trying, Emma,” Drin says softly. “I–”

“You’ll do more than try, damn your eyes! If you step out of line, I’ll throw you out on the sidewalk.” She squeezes her eyes shut; “I won’t let you harm him in any way. And–”

Losing Drin now would hurt Dance. It would cripple his soul, and she won’t say that out loud to the man.

“How did you do it?” Drin asks. “And why? He was a virgin. At his age, how is that possible?” She hears a tremor in his voice, looks up into eyes as stormy as her own. “He never even noticed the wall you put up around him, he thought he was.. un.. unloveable.”

“He is un-loveable.” The lump in her throat is making it hard to speak loudly. She waves a tired hand and Drin gets out of the armchair and joins her on the sofa. “I don’t know why. You’d think, that face, that body, not that anyone ever sees it, that sweet kid, bloody hell …” She rests her head into her hands. “I never put that wall up. I’ve watched him slam into it, little pieces break off his heart, over and over, and he doesn’t even notice it happening!”

Dance’s arpeggios mutate into ‘G’ minor.

“That’s… You’ve been roomies for what, two years?”

“And let me tell you, I’ve worked damn hard– there’s not many men good enough for him as it is, and of them all, you–”

“I didn’t decide for the pretty second cello.”

“You didn’t.”

“I still don’t. Emma, where are your lovers?”

Oh, you blasted man you! What– are you expecting the two-for-one deal? Dance needs everything from you, and if you need more than he can give you, and I have my doubts, you’d better never let him find out. Or tell me now, so I can… make a new list, I suppose. Hell.”

“That would be an impossibly short list.” That would be Drin’s most infuriatingly autocratic intonation.

“Fuck,” she says wearily, “Off.”

“Dance is…” Drin’s chest expands and releases in a huge sigh. “He’s a miracle. I’ve never… Christ, I’m closer to.. to whole than I’ve ever been in my life, because of Dance. I’ve never… been given this before. Been given to. This sounds like an egotist, right, but I’m being given the gift of…”

“Body and soul.”

“This enormous responsibility, right.” Drin, Emma notes, does not disagree.

“So don’t look at me like that, damn you.”

There is another long pause, during which the violin stops playing– making both of them jump– and a viola takes up its duties. Locatelli, in moody ‘A’. It’s a short piece, but at least Dance is likely to play it in its entirety, before he disassembles it into repetitive single bars.

She and Drin begin a very civilised staring match. He breaks first.

“If that’s so, I’ve got to ask you for something.”

She stays silent, inviting him to continue.

“And it’s incredibly rude of me, in your home, but I can’t ask Dance to stay with me, you know. Leave his garden…”

Emma, quite suddenly, knows that Drin’s agents are discreetly purchasing, at that very moment, the house she’s been renting. She can see two young men in business casual leaning over a desk with papers awaiting her landlord’s signature, so clearly that the scene hovers in the air before her. She blinks herself back to here. Drin is saying;

“It’s not your problem, it’s mine, and it rather horrifies me. I can control myself, I solemnly swear. But you do know that the glimpses of you in the shower– I know that room steams up– Men are so damn visual, you see.” Drin is… blushing? “I’m slipping from one cliche to the next, aren’t I.”

She won’t help him out, her lips pressed together.

He strains out a laugh; “I need him, I want you, it’s hardly your fault for being so gorgeous, but I can’t help it– Christ!” His big hand slaps down into the upholstery, and Emma immediately thinks– her insane, highjacking imagination– -cut it out-, she orders herself.

woman in pants spanking
Are You Ready?

Drin is saying; “And it isn’t only me.”

“Oh, stop.” Automatic response, the flirtatious smack on the arm.

“You affect Dance, too. He doesn’t know what to think about that.”

Neither does Emma, but she isn’t looking away from Dance’s sugardaddy’s tiger-yellow eyes. One memorable afternoon last week, sitting on a restaurant balcony off the sea-cliffs, Dance turned his head, laughing with Drin, and their eyes caught the very same sunset light. It was like looking at brothers laughing.

She should look away. She knows, by now, the gold eyes can go as pale as flame. She’s seen Drin sort a few things out during audits he’s just done for the Metro. To quote the lady in the witch costume: He’s not fair. He’s not nice. He’s just right.

She knows all about that one.

“He gets hard-ons looking at you.”

“Hell, Dance gets hard when he’s digging up dahlias for little old ladies, for chrissakes,” Emma snaps. “He’s young.”

“It goes both ways, you’re teasing us, too.” The big hand turns over, lays palm up. Emma stare at it, the long, deep lifeline creasing the very capable palm. It’s not your typical rich man’s hand.

“Who was your last lover, Mizz Librarian?” He’s asking that unforgivable question as if he had every right to.

“Who has the bloody time?” she snaps.

“Oh yes, because your life is a non-stop whirl of work and music,” Drin retorts. “But you can always find three hours to spend in the kitchen with Dance. I’m willing to bet you haven’t gone out with a potential significant for, ohh.. two years or so.”

It’s easier to listen to Locatelli, honestly.

“Why didn’t you fuck Dance two years ago?”

Emma rolls her eyes; “I am not in the habit of seducing gay men.”

“Why not?”

“Because– I don’t have to tell you everything, now do I?” She’s feeling teary again, dammit. She can’t hold her anger, can’t keep it going. “Bastard.”

“Emma,” Drin reaches out a long coppery arm to take her hand. “You can have that, now. It’s safe– he’s not a virgin any longer, he’s… imprinted. God, that’s the wrong word, but I can’t think. Another damn cliche, the magic kiss. Christ.”

Emma lets herself move closer, her hand resting lightly in Drin’s. He never grabs. He never hangs on. He never forgets, with Dance, or with her, to keep those fingers relaxed, his hands open.

So she yields to impulse. She grabs onto his hand, and she grips tight, as tight as book-wrestling hands have ever grabbed anything, very fierce.

“Yes,” he says, as if she’s spoken. “Freed, maybe. Let out, so he can fly.”

She opens her mouth, but the sardonic voice in her head has dropped silent. Her mouth is waiting, but for once, nothing comes.

He seems to get words from it anyway.

“I know what I have, Em, and I know what it means, I promise.” Neither of them want to say;  for the rest of his life, this man is your possession and responsibility. Civilised people don’t talk about… owning other people. “You can have him, or me, any time you want. You’ll be better at that than I am. It’s safer in your hands.”

“Can I have you both?” She doesn’t miss his quick shiver at that, the tightening in his face.

“Shameless woman,” Drin says with relief, wonder, and something that sounds a little bit like love.

“Shame-free,” she says firmly.  “Much better.”

Just Keep Her Busy, Okay? Really Busy.

Dance’s stupid lover, his stubborn man, is still sitting at his desk, even though Dance told him it was bedtime, right now, two weeks of rehearsals from hell and no time for anything but quickies in the shower, god don’t make me wait. Five months it’s been, since Drin… — Took me— Dance thinks with a little shiver.

chin and arms, bearded man asleep
very relaxed

Two months since Drin gave up his luxury apartment and moved into this cramped hovel with Dance and Emma. But he’d been spending most of his time at the house from that first night on, taking his place in the kitchen, learning his and Emma’s ways. One month since they got married, taking advantage of the California supreme court decision. His Husband.

Emma seems really glad about it. Drin can talk her around on almost anything, Dance has never seen anyone so close and easy with her besides himself. She has, Dance knows, several other modes that Dance simply can’t fathom. He loves it when they start talking like that, where the words stop mattering– to him, at least, although they get very intense sometimes– and he can tune that out and simply be with the two people he loves most in all this world.

There’s Drin’s gift, the queen-size bed, in his room now, and just enough space for him to stand when he practices. Dance doesn’t mind that he’s given up his pacing-path in there. Drin is worth it. He loves the nights where they both come in to be with him, bringing books and laptops with them. Their feet lean on each other’s, while he does scales like a serenade.

What is so horribly important that you have to ignore us, our husband?” Dance demands now. “You are leaving in two days. Come and get laid while you can, please.”

“I think it’s you leaving in two days, actually,” Drin returns, “You wanna go?”

“That’s very sudden,” Dance says doubtfully.

dark blue poster of cave formations
vintage poster

Drin is frowning at his laptop, jabbing his way through about a hundred windows at once, “Well, I’ve got this sudden defend-your-program, justify-your-salary, you know the kind of silly business that always comes up at the last minute. I was looking forward to this trip, I really wanted to visit the caves, we talked about it for a month. But now I can’t get away, and she’s gonna be pissed off at me. At least I bought a grownup air ticket. I can convert it over to you, if you’d like to go. Somebody should. Did you see her emails on the conference?”

“It’s always dangerous to let our Emma get bored,” Dance says.

Before she left, she’d discussed, in her scarey quiet voice, ways to murder that damned committee who decided to switch the conference to a cheaper venue than Madrid, and declared themselves fonder of Kentucky-style barbecue anyway. So she had declared it was a trip to enjoy food every night from one or another Spanish city they’d planned to visit. So far she’d found Basque and Catalan and something she claimed came from the Azores.

Drin turns his head from the computer, grins, and starts to laugh. “Oh man, Dance, you are way too right. As always.” He stretches, leans back, sighs.

Dance takes the liberty of resting his hands on Drin’s arms, sliding his hands up Drin’s shoulders, lightly stroking his neck muscles. Dance winces at what he finds. They’re in terrible shape, the poor man must have been up clenching his jaws and hunching into the keyboard all night. He clicks his tongue in disapproval, and starts stroking his fingers along with slightly more pressure, just to assess the knots, not yet working on them.

Drin shuts his eyes. “I will do anything if you can make that little twitchy thing in my right shoulder blade just shut the hell up. I am your slave. Command me.”

“Come to bed,” Dance says, being sultry, “and I’ll make you warm putty in my hands.”

Drin sighs. “I’ll never wake up.”

“I will wake you up, and you’ll feel so happy.”

“Promise?” Drin says, in a pathetic voice.

“Oh yeah,” Dance says, and pummels him a bit harder about the spine.

“God, you’re sexy when you beat me up,” Drin says, but he doesn’t move.

“You’re not exercising enough now,” Dance says, frowning. “Look at you! I should have made you come for a walk when we got up this morning. What shape are you going to be in if I go away for a week?”

“Malnourished, neglected, unshaven, over-caffeinated, and smelly,” Drin says. “But it’s only three days.”

Dance hesitates, lifts one hand from his husband’s rumpled shirt, and flips open his pocket weekly scheduler. “What, three days? Starting what, tomorrow afternoon? Appalling. Bad bad musician, see, we have no engagements to keep us paid and out of trouble. Can you see, we have blank spaces here. Hmm. We– I was going to read scores and learn things. We can postpone this one practice. Yes, we can do it. Yes, we shall take some scores and our new little midi keyboard present that our Drin gave me, so useful and bourgeois. We all knew this weekend was going to be quiet.” Then he puts it back in his pocket.

Drin starts to chuckle. “You’re so amazing.” He puts up his hands and touches Dance, loosely clasping his fingers on Dance’s wrists, drawing his hands down where he can kiss them. “You can use the word bourgeois, and still make me think you’re the hottest thing I’ve had going for me since I bought my car, which is saying something.”

“Hey, if having me isn’t hotter than your car, our Drin can go fuck your leather seats instead,” Dance says.

Drin squints up at him.

Dance can feel himself smirking. “While I watch.”

Drin frowns. “Well, no question there. But you gotta admit, those are also very good seats to fuck in.”

“Yeah,” Dance says. He knows he’s looking at Drin with that goofy look. He’s seen it in the mirror. There’s that happy little smile playing on his mouth. “There’s probably something illegal about those seats. God, the next time we get our Emma in that blue evening dress of hers into that car…”

“That little silk wrap number where it shows off some shocking underwear, unless she’s careful?”

“She’s never careful,” Dance says.

“Not around us, certainly, the woman is a devil. She does it on purpose.”

Another little shiver. Emma has been known to prop up her legs on the couch in such a way that the view goes all the way up her shirt, very deliberately looking at them both when she does it.

“Yeah, we know,” Dance says, his eyes alight. “And we say, there is something else hot going for our Drin too. Someone else.”

“In spite of knowing that my, ah, dance card is a little full right now? So to speak.” Drin tips his head back.

Dance strokes the copper-flecked arms. “She’s… we… I think you should have time for her.”

Drin looks at him a moment. “You say it’s okay to sleep with Emma? You want that?”

Dance nods, ignoring the sudden flare of heat curling up his belly.

“I’ll be careful about it. As much as I’m able to.”

“I know you will, and she does not take us away from each other. I mean– she only wants us to be happy. We want her to be happy too.”

“I know what you meant, my love– only I can’t leave this weekend. So, someone else has to fill in. And Dance, you would be good at making Emma happy.”

“I have our Drin, our husband! you make me happy!”

“I’m glad to hear it.” Drin is glad to hear it, it shines from every inch of him, this happiness.

“You think our Emma is not really happy now?” Dance says it in a rush.

“Uh huh,” Drin agrees, eyes not quite shut, looking at him. Then he cocks up an eyebrow. “I think she’s happier than she’s ever been in her life before, tell you the truth. But not as happy as she could be.” Then he sits up, and he puts both around around Dance’s waist, and hugs him very tight. “She’s that happy for you.”

“Yes,” Dance says. “I know.”

“Is it the same as being happy to kiss somebody yourself?” Drin asks then, and he tugs Dance down to be kissed on the mouth, at some length.

When Drin releases his mouth, Dance is sitting on his lap, sprawled across the chair, and Drin is stroking his ribs in long, smooth, gentle motions. Dance turns his face into the man’s middle, and takes in a deep breath, scenting Drin’s skin, and he gives a long sigh. “No,” he says.

Drin shifts his hand down onto Dance’s hip, strokes up his thigh. “What do you see, in your head, when Emma is wearing that blue dress in my car?”

There is no way a lover like Drin can mistaken the pulse that jumps in Dance’s erection. “Uh,” he says, blinking. “Well, that.”

“That,” Drin says, and he strokes lightly along the underside of Dance’s penis.

“Mmm,” Dance grimaces. He says, “This wanting–girl parts– it is so strange–”

“This is all fine,” Drin says, and he leans down and kisses Dance, arms going around Dance’s shoulders, taking some of his weight. When he draws back, he looks at Dance. “So you want to see under the dress?”

Dance nods tightly. “I’m queer! Why would it–” he gives a little hiss as Drin starts stroking up and down his thigh. “–why would that turn me on?”

b/w woman in stockings man in suit
Imagination is no help

“Emma is a very, very–“ Drin is kissing in little wet, cool, touches down Dance’s chest, pushing open his shirt, “–attractive woman. Believe me, I know how people hate that bi label, and I gotta claim it anyway, just admit it, the woman gets me hot. She gets you hot? I’m not surprised. If that was all there was to it, I would keep my knees together like a nun, trust me. Hell, I’m in love with you, why would I be looking at your best friend? But I see her looking at you. And you looking back, love. That longing. It’s not just touch or massage or skin hunger, although that pushes it harder. What do you think?”

“I want to do all kinds of things with her, things she likes, I want to — just like I love kissing you all over,” Dance says. “I mean, at least I can do that. I just don’t know if it would make her happy.”

“Most people love being kissed all over, the way you kiss me,” Drin says softly. He devotes some time to Dance’s nipples, loving the sharp little sigh that comes out of his husband.

“Oh. Yes. Oh. Well, then there’s me,” Dance says. He’s finding it hard to think. “We don’t know if I– if our queerness– if I won’t live up to– making any promises for her.”

Drin gives a little smile. Dance’s hydraulics are normal enough to fail him under total exhaustion or stress, like anybody else. It amuses Drin. Drin says that Dance is young enough that it sure doesn’t happen to him very often compared to other folks.

Dance doesn’t mind struggling with such failures so much when he can relax into meeting the other man’s needs, kissing Drin, urging Drin to take him just as he wishes. Some of those are the most powerfully sexual of his memories, remembering so much more clearly what Drin’s body does to his.

Dance struggles on. “There she is in bed waiting for– for us to service her, to give pleasure like the man is supposed to, and if we can’t handle touching her as a girl likes, and–”

“Dance,” his lover says. “Have you ever run away from Emma?”

“No,” Dance says, frowning.

b/w curve of woman's shoulder and neck
woman's trapezius muscle

“You massage her sometimes. You fasten her bra straps for her some mornings, right? You give her a little kiss on the back? On her neck?”

“Of course.”

“Does it feel bad or weird or like cardboard fake stuff, or anything?”

“No! She smells good, it makes me happy to help her! I like how she smells. I tell her I do. She likes me to kiss her.”

“Would you like smelling her, the same way you like to lick me? Ahh, I take it that’s a yes?”

“Umm,” Dance says. No point in arguing, his prick has spoken for him.

“What would happen if, one morning, you took that bra off her arms, instead of fastening it?”

“She’d smack me,” Dance says.

Drin starts to chuckle, as if he can’t help it. “And then what?”

“I don’t know,” Dance says.

“I don’t know either,” Drin says.

Dance looks up into the wide amber-colored eyes staring down into his. Then Dance asks, seriously, “You want Emma a lot, I know this, but you want me to go alone? Me to go there for her. You ask her to give herself to me first?”

Drin smiles. “I would love to see you give yourself to her, first. I would love to be there to hold both of you.”

“Should we wait?” Dance says, and feels a coward for even asking it.

“Well,” Drin says, and closes his eyes briefly, and sighs. “If someone isn’t there when the conference is over, those legs go walking around Mammoth Cave all alone, that bodacious booty is getting into all kinds of trouble and thinking up all kinds of–”

“–Scary things to say to me!”

Drin looks at him.

He doesn’t even have to say it.

Of course.

Dance knows when he’s made the decision. Or had it made for him. “Okay, okay, I must go.” He spreads his hands out on Drin’s chest, hugging him. “I will tell her, our husband can’t sleep with you tonight too, so I will try very hard to make her happy. I think I can.”

Drin smiles. “You’re very brave. I salute you.”

“You can salute me in bed,” Dance says, and tugs on him.

Miles to Go

Emma the outrageous tourist
Emma makes an outrageous tourist

The guide says, “Is everybody ready? Is everybody hanging onto the hand of the person next to you? Okay, we’re turning out the lights, so you can experience what it is like in a cave without human interference. Hang on tight!”

Emma smiles at Dance. She has decided that she wants to stand facing him, each of her hands holding one of his, not sharing him with anybody in the rest of the group. She’s been feeling a bit possessive about him. He’s been getting odd looks from people. It might be partly because he doesn’t look like anybody else, he’s been careful to be his more subdued but still sparkly concertmaster self with people who come up to talk, and he’s clearly her friend, her boyfriend, something. All the Japanese tourists with the cameras kept wanting to catch him in shots with his arm around her, embarrassing their interpretors with demands to make sure it’s clear that she is taller than he is. Apparently they want pictures of her as one of those giant-thighed American beauty queens, or something, which annoys Dance.

The lights go out.

There are squeals from little kids, there is a general ahhhhh sound, there are sighs, and chuckles. After a moment the guide begins to talk, in the dark, and the dimmer on some of the lights gradually comes up at one side of the cave, illuminating the flowstones and stalagmites on display.

Emma is not dismayed by the later display additions that augment the original formations.

For one thing, this area is wheelchair accessible. It is on a shorter park trail that the disabled can take to see something of what it’s like in other, further areas underground, in locations where they will never be able to go for themselves. She approves of that chance. There are a lot of people leaning on canes or walkers on the group about the guide. It’s clear many of them are in pain, but they’re out there, seeing a cave in spite of everything, slow but determined.

The additions to these displays are rather whimsically fake, probably done back sometime in the forties or so, judging by the general style of the reproduction. It’s always interesting to see what repeated and clearly artificial texture that some hopeful model-maker or plaster-cast-maker of years ago thought would will look convincing in dim light. In some displays, she’s seen what were clearly carpet-fragment blobbings used to add interest to concrete stalactites and stalagmites.

Say what you will about how it looks now, measured against the kind of careful special effects mastered for the unkind eye of the movie camera, these are not bad. One simply has to admire the effort they went to. She is looking at the work of a dedicated museum artist trying their very best, for the time period.

The guide talks, and the group moves to the next display, and the lights dim down considerably where they’re standing. At the next pool of light, the guide talks about safety rules for visiting outlying areas and other caves on their own.

“Was it carpet or bricks or wood planks this time?” Dance says, his eyes crinkling upward at the corners.

“Might have been a scrubbing pad of steel wool over some rough wood, I think,” Emma says, smiling back.

His hands feel warm. He looks at her in the dim light, tips his head a little to one side. “Real flowstone now?”

She nods, and points down a different passageway from that taken by the guide’s group. One of the startling things about the national parks is that they don’t try that hard to protect people from themselves. It’s not Disneyland. If you want to get lost in some distant branch, you’d better have told somebody ahead of time to come looking for you if you weren’t back by a certain time. Otherwise, nobody will ever know. At least, not for the next few years, until the next person has reason to go there.

There’s more lights on the side-branch, which have sensors. They come up automatically as Emma and Dance pass, and then go down again after some time. In front of the display of fluorescent lichen, Emma says, “It’ll take a little while for your eyes to adjust to see them,” and after the lights dim, Dance draws her arms forward around him. Emma leans forward into his back, resting her chin on his shoulder, cuddling into his warmth. Her hands brush down his chest and settle into his jacket pockets. She can feel the weight of his flashlight in one of them. Hers is in her own pocket, zipped up safely.

He murmurs some sound, and she answers, “I’m good. You good?”

“I’m good,” he says.

She leans forward a little more, and kisses the side of his face. “I’m really glad you came.”

He smiles. “So am I.”

Almost in his ear, Emma murmurs, “I think half the point of visiting cave displays is the bit where you get to wait in the dark with your sweetie, all cozy.”

“It’s a great excuse to hug your favorite person,” Dance agrees.

“Am I being obnoxious, girl-mauling you all day?” Emma says then, very softly.

He lifts one hand into his pocket, closes his warm hand over her wrist, draws her hand out, lifts it, and kisses the back of her hand. She feels his lips touch her skin. Then he brings up his other hand, and cups her cool fingers in his own warm ones. “No,” he says softly. “You’re fine. It’s me that has a problem.”

Emma feels herself grow very still. “Mmmm?” she says.

“You know, for a boy who likes boys, who says so all the time, it’s really weird to find out it’s not true. Not at all.” He speaks so carefully that, even though it’s soft and it doesn’t carry more than a few inches from her ears, it’s clear as a bell. “I’m just… I never met a girl who… who makes me feel like…this. So I sound like really bad… stories. You know, ‘I’m not queer after all!’ things. Stupid things.”

Emma is hugging him closely enough that she feels the changes in his breathing as he speaks. When he stops talking, his body is poised, tense, ready to move. Emma pulls her other hand out of his pocket, flattens both of them on his middle, and feels him draw in a deep breath.

Before he can say anything, Emma leans in and kisses his cheek again. Amused, she says, “You do know it’s not an on-off switch at all, it’s more like a dimmer switch on sexuality, right?”

“So if you say I’m a little on the dim side, I do not argue,” Dance says then, picking up her hands and holding them in his own.

She chuckles. “You can be a lot queer and a little bit girl-crazy if you want.”

“It’s very confusing,” he says.

“It’s all right,” she murmurs. “Look, can you see the lichens yet?”

“Yeah,” he says. They hear noisy feet running along, and people passing by, but they don’t come down the branch where she and Dance are standing. He says, quietly, “The lichens are wonderful.” After they’ve gone, and it’s quiet again, Emma wraps her arms around him more closely, and kisses his cheek again. He turns his head to make it easier for her to do this. He says, “Only, now– I think I’m not queer for men, either. Only one. Only one girl. I guess I like Emmas and Drins.”

She smiles. “Well, that works out then, because I like Dances. And Drins, too.”

“A lot?” Dance murmurs.

“Oh yeah,” Emma says. “I think he knows it, too.”

“Oh. Well, yes. I told him you– that you were asking about him, that you might be–” Dance says.

“Interested?” she murmurs. “Interested in Drin?”

“Yeah. And of course he’s… interested in you, a beautiful woman with a brain, and…”

“Umm, yeah,” she says. “You’re right. We… talked a little bit, a couple of weeks ago.”

“Oh.” Dance doesn’t move, but he’s gone very still.

“You know what’s really funny?” she says. She draws in a deep breath of the odd, dusty, dry air of the cave. Up close, that is overlaid by the scent of Dance’s hair, the lavender odor of the shampoo he uses, the familiar smell of Dance’s sweat from the day’s traipsing about. At home he works out hard enough to sweat a lot, which means that today he hasn’t needed to make that much effort. She hasn’t made much of a dent in his capacity to hike. She can feel the strain in her own legs, exploring a couple of different sites. She does love to go through a museum or a park exhibit or an historical site thoroughly, mostly at speed, looking at every corridor and every branch, exclaiming over the weird things left in the back dusty corners. It made Dance smile at her poking around so consistently.

“What’s funny?” Dance asks, with a little catch in his voice.

She smiles. Drin told her bluntly last night, in an email of all things, that she could have him any day of the week she asked. He said he was a little concerned, though, because he knew Dance would be right there in her line of fire, too, should she be in the mood for that talented young gentleman instead. He asked her to be kind to the poor guy, whatever she decided to do about the both of them, and he was going to leave it in her capable hands.

She replied with a protest that Dance was queer, he wasn’t the slightest bit interested in her physical attributes, of whatever sort, and– and Drin calmly exploded that little theory to bits.

Drin told her if she left the bathroom door open to vent the shower steam, they kind of… both…reacted to it. They didn’t want to intrude on her privacy or anything, but it was quite a turn-on for him, and it was just as distracting to Dance, which nobody expected, least of Dance himself. So, erm, Dance might… not be quite as… calm as usual. She might not be able to go on taking Dance for granted, best buddies and galpal girlfriend, in the future. Which had made her wince a little bit.

He said other things too. A little sharp, in places. Maybe she knew she was having an impact on Dance and she just jerked on the poor guy’s chain, making sure she still had him.

She hadn’t been very happy at seeing that reflection in Drin’s emails.

Emma says, “Drin said that you happened to see too much of me hanging out of that blue silk dress of mine, a couple of times, and you got… a little upset with yourself for… reacting.”

“Yeah,” Dance says, at length. “Guess I was. Not exactly what we thought was in the specifications, is it? Sorry.”

“I’m not,” she says, laughing a little. “God, you two are the hottest pair of boys I’ve ever seen, just sitting around the house in your tee shirts, yelling at Wii games. I knew you were trying not to flag anything in my face. But trust me, I could eat up both of you without a spoon, and die happy. It’s just– it’s like it’s floating around in the air or something. Dance, I’m just fine with you ripping that damn blue dress right off me, okay?”

Dance turns his head and shoulders and looks at her. He can’t possibly be seeing anything, but he’s still looking at her. Then he lifts her hands and kisses her across her knuckles, gently, one hand and then the other, right where she’s skinned them crawling around. Then he says, softly. “Oh, I don’t want to rip the dress. That’s a fine dress. You can get more of those any time you like. I bet Drin will be happy to buy you more dresses like that.”

“This is supposed to be kinky, isn’t it?” she says.

“It feels pretty kinky to me to want to–”

“To want to do this?” Emma says, letting her hands slide down his jacket and onto his pants, sliding along that amazing belly of his, and back up again, and she can feel his ribs jerk still. “To feel like that?”

hands, light woman and dark man, photo by Christania
photo by Christania

His hands cradle hers gently, his fingers warm on hers. “If you want me to come right in my pants, yeah,” he says, amused at himself. “It doesn’t take that much, feeling like this.”

“Like you want to make out right here in the dark?” she breathes into his ear.

“With the screaming kids in the next cave branch and everything,” he says wryly.

“Well,” Emma says, “the guides are probably used to catching people making out right around here. It’s too handy.”

“You got somewhere better in mind?” Dance says, and there’s a husky note in his voice she’s only heard a few times, lately, when he’s been speaking with Drin.

She chuckles. “I’ve got maps, and I know how to use ’em,” she says.

“Now I know why you like caves so much,” he says.

“Only with the right person,” Emma says gravely. “With you. With both of you. I trust you two guys.”

“I take it you came prepared?” Dance says, amused and disbelieving.

Emma chuckles. “I am a librarian.”

He sighs. “Do we need to go back to the car and get the helmets?”

“Or back to the hotel.”

“Something to be said for soft beds.”

He turns, sliding in her hands, and then he’s kissing her on the mouth, silencing the words. He breathes into her cheek, and her neck, and then his hands are remembering that her pants are too loose at the waist and too tight across the butt. He’s got his hands down that gap at the back, amazingly hot. “God, you have such soft skin,” he gasps.

That’s when the passage light comes on, of course. There’s a group coming traipsing on a tour toward them. Emma blinks, and scowls. “You have to turn the lights off and wait about ten minutes if you want to see the glow from the lichens.”

Dance chuckles, turning away, as if he’s never had his hands near her. But he says, “We can call him tonight, let him know how it goes.”

With people passing by them, chattering among themselves, Emma stares at him.

Dance turns then, about ten feet from her, looks at her, and gives a little shrug. “I mean, I don’t know if I can make you happy, or if I’m just– or if it’s going to work for you, or anything. He’s involved.”

Emma blinks. “Yeah,” she says. “You’re right.”

Then Dance gives her a crooked little smile. “I’m sure gonna try my best.”

“As always,” she says and smiles back.


writers’ notes: This is part of a story begun off some prompts here and in doll photography, “Vita Ersatz.”

Tango a Deux

hands on legs of a woman in underthings

They’ve shared hotel rooms before. They shared this one, last night.

It’s late afternoon, and the conference-supplied bus ride back is excruciating for its lack of privacy. Dance rides on the window side, with Emma’s thigh pressing against his as if she’d squash him into the wall, pushing at him on the curves and grinning at him sometimes, with her lipstick all licked away, and they hold hands, ridiculously hot and sweaty. Emma’s hands are strong from handling books, and the hot precise feel of her fingers makes him flash on how it’s different, still bossy but tighter, than the way Drin’s hands always feel, pulling him close.

They catch little glances at each other in startled flashes. He keeps wanting to look down her shirt, which is silly, because he’s seen her in sports bras for two years now, but it’s different.

Emma’s hair smells absolutely like herself when the breeze lifted it across his face. He takes shallow, open-mouthed breaths, unable to get enough of it. He’s always loved how she smells when she’s wearing no perfume at all, when she’s just come out of the shower with little damp tendrils trickling down her neck, and she always swipes at it impatiently, too busy to stop to dry her hair properly. There’s a little sweaty shine like that on her neck, in the bus, and he dares lean in one steep curve and brush his cheek on it, as if the swaying of the bus had pushed him there.

It makes her gasp, as if he’d done something very personal indeed. She’s jumpy.

She walks so fast, crossing the lobby, that the group heading on their way out gets flustered, startled away and scattered, with Dance offering an apologetic smile in her wake.

Dance shuts the door and watches Emma turn on a heel and come back to him. He’s never seen her like this, never seen her eyes so blackly dilated, her mouth all closed, round and soft. He’s never seen Emma hesitate, unsure, looking at him.

But he knows what to do about it–he pulls her in.

“Oh, God, Dance,” Emma whispers from where she’s buried her face in his hair. Her arms hold him with harsh urgency.

Dance shifts his hold on her, learning all over again how to hold her, the angle that you take to embrace a woman top-to-bottom, without crushing her breasts. He’d imagined that a woman’s wider hips would enfold his, but her pubic bone is as hard and demanding as Drin’s. He strokes down her spine, feeling her back arch into his touch as his hand sweeps down, slips under her waistband once more to the satiny, firm flesh there. It’s all want, and nerves, and relief.

nude woman sitting silhouetted on end of bed
Back at the Room

“God, Dance, oh God.” Emma might not even know she’s saying it, over and over. Her body rides hard against his, rubbing him up and down; the weight of her breasts remains still, and that’s another thing he’ll need to get used to. He puts a hand to her head, offering the touch to guide her round so they can kiss again. Dance had wondered if he could tango with another partner, and how it would feel; and the answer is yes, and oh yes.

“Oh,” Dance says. “Oh.”

Then she pulls her head back, and blinks at him, and one of her hands is groping in her pockets. It’s a familiar posture, one that makes his eyes widen. The silly tearing sound of a condom packet has become an intense turn-on long since, and of course she feels the jolt through his body, and smiles. The knowledge is there in her eyes. You’re going to do this, and I’m going to like it.

Then he’s asking it, the phrase vivid from two days of waking up hard as a rock, breathing as quietly as he can in the same room while she sleeps; “Where do you want me, inside you?”

She’s laying under him, her belly jumping with her breath, that tight little ribcage tilting as her shoulders push down into the bed; “Front, just like your prostate, you’ll know when–” Her bare thighs rise up around him and he feels her heels at the small of his back, she’s folding herself around him and her legs are grabbing him into her like the bed under them, and the heat and welcome of her cunt are more than he’d even begun to imagine.

She doesn’t want him to be as careful as he was expecting. She’s as abrupt as Drin is sometimes, as demanding about touching him and kissing him back, making him meet her eyes and acknowledge what she’s doing, what she wants him to do, that she wants him, by God. Right there, right now.

It takes him three hours to figure out exactly how to get that little expiring moan to come out of her that he knows has to be there. She’s got the most incredible physical stamina for this, it’s not like her limits on hiking at all. She keeps rising up again, her climaxes are noisy and spectacular, but it’s more as if she’s stopped for a brief view at stations on a mountain railway. It’s not the total collapse that finishes off himself, or Drin, for a couple of hours, leaving them placid and peaceful and totally, utterly, relaxed.

She’s much more interested in him, in his responses, in what he looks like, than he expected. He gets to lay back and let her look at him, study him, as carefully as Drin has ever done. She likes looking at his penis, learning how it reacts, how it looks, how he arches his back when she touches him. Finally, laying between his thighs, studying how he’s put together, using gloves and lube with the careful scholar’s touch he was almost afraid of–God, it’s so intense for being so deliberate, the way she leans into him, runs her fingers all over him and into him–finally, she’s relaxed enough to start talking again. That’s a good sign. Emma not talking is worrying.

“I think I must have been a queer boy in a past life,” Emma says, licking him a little bit, and watching him gasp. “I just like boys. I like boys fucking boys. I like boy bits. I just don’t have any myself.”

Which is so strange, coming from a woman adorned with the most fabulous girly bits he’s ever seen.

She certainly reacts with the girly bits in a thoroughly convincing way.

woman prone partly nude, 'untitled', photo by better-than-history on Flickr
'untitled', photo by better-than-history on Flickr

He’s done his homework for months now, almost against his will, and it whispers suggestions as he learns his way through her responses, as he gets smacked for trying things that are too intense, as he gets startled himself by his own responses to her.

She has stomach muscles he never realized were there, there’s muscles inside her that grab him and feel like nothing on earth. He can feel her clench them down on his fingers, when he explores, wonderingly, wearing the gloves that she bought, if only because he cares to assuage her anxieties. She tells him about safe sex with a woman, with those serious eyes, and she does it so well that she makes him groan in protracted arousal.

Kissing his way down her, delighting in the taste of her, is nothing like the disturbing pictures of anatomy, the inner shock, some kind of nasty surprises, the cool disengagement that he was braced for, as a gay guy sadly realizing that yes, this is a girl and he doesn’t do girls. None of that happens.

It just seems right. She smells good. Of course this is how she ought to be. It’s a new taste to him, licking the folds and turns of her body, but it makes him want to roll in it and get it all over him. God, her armpits are so amazingly soft, he could just curl up between her thighs and breathe into all that springy, dense hair for weeks. Women smell so very different than men, and he wasn’t expecting to love that either– that her sweat, her juices call to him the way Drin’s do, is nothing short of miraculous.

He learns things that make her happy. She says so. She yells it. She yells rude things. She yells unladylike things. She means it.

She’s got a wicked tongue on her. It gets rapidly more wicked too, as he tells her things, as he can’t help but react when she swoops down on him, as she figures out that he’s got no resistance at all.

He learns some things that make him happy. He yells a bit too.

She says rude things about liking the taste of his semen, which she’s not supposed to be doing at all–what was the point of condoms if she’s– but then she is, and he’s letting her, dammit, Drin is going to be mad at him for that– and she teases him about how he thrashes when she goes after the vein on the underside of his cock, and it’s probably just as well for the sake of her jaws that she doesn’t ever need to deep-throat him. He’s long gone just from the sight of her familiar mouth opening up and pushing back his foreskin and licking him, taking him in.

“That’s a nice frenum,” she says, when she’s brought him, shouting, and she smiles, her lips glossed with semen. “Nice corona, too, of course. Aaaaaand look at this nice long corpus cavernosum–”

He shouldn’t be so surprised that she’s prepared for an extended siege, and he’s the castle. She’s bought toys, God only knows where, probably the same night she knew he was flying in, because he knows those weren’t in the luggage he helped her pack–and she knows how to use them.

She was aware that he might not react to girly parts, that it would take experimenting to learn what makes him happy. When he turns out to be blindingly, magnificently happy with her girly parts, indeed totally overcome and almost in tears he’s so relieved, that he’s totally prepared to worship girly parts as long as she’ll let him, then that’s when the researcher in Emma kicks in. She can’t bear to leave the toys untested. She’s got a willing experimental subject, and she knows what to do with those.

“Okay, I’m not queer, I’m just greedy,” he says, wryly, looking up at her reflection behind him in the bathroom. Her face is flushed, her lips determined, the upper slopes of her breasts bright pink with arousal. She’s not allowing him to kiss her nipples any more, she says they’re getting sore. He kisses around them instead. He’s careful. His hurt too, because she isn’t. Careful, that is. She figured out what it does to him, and took him to school on what you can do to a man’s nipples.

“Bend over,” she says. “That’s good. God, you have the most luscious butt muscles, I just want to chew on you. Just making sure I’ve got enough lube on this glove, trust me, I am not going to let you get rubbed raw down here, that would be a crime– okay, now tell me when I’ve got it.”

“Oh,” Dance says, eyes opening wide, and not for the first time.

“You know,” she says, panting a little with effort, “male anatomy is so odd. It’s so fabulous that you like this–“ and he gasps; “Oh there, there, oh–” and she grins.

“Gotcha,” she says, and takes him apart. Again.

He’s a little bleary-headed when he surfaces from that one, surprised to find how they’ve staggered onto the bed. She’s curled up across the small of his back, with one hand still cupped under him, stroking him gently, just because she likes touching his genitals. She seems to like reaching out and stroking him. She brushes her hands and her mouth on him whenever she’s in reach of him, just because she can, whether she’s aroused or not. His genitals can’t help wanting to give her things to do. Even now, it’s making him twitch, making him think about hardening up again, which ought to be totally impossible.

He lets himself lay there and breath for awhile, blinking. Her other hand is cupped around his ass, stroking his skin, squeezing a little, as if the muscle is like those ergonomic wrist rests with a gooey filling, and she just can’t resist tightening her fingers on it.

This is totally unfair of her, because she laid down the absolute law on squeezing her wiggly bits: No Jello Wiggler tricks. None. No blobbling or woogling or wibbling or shaking her bits. She says they embarrass her. She claims her butt is fat when it’s not, it’s just what it should be. She says it’s not right that it moves at all, it should be tight as a drum. This leftover fragment, this women’s-magazine distortion of reality, is fascinating to him. He points out, as gently as he can, that he’s got a fairly tight set of muscles, and his ass wiggles a little bit too, it’s what meat does–and that ends in her tackling him back onto the bed to find out.

So he turned it on her. He grinned, and he asked what he’s wanting to ask for a year.

“Show me,” he says, softly. “Show me how you like it yourself, I want to watch you come,” and just at hearing the words, she gives a huge loud groan that alarms him, shoving her knees wide, arching her butt almost off the bed, hands straining at him, grabbing bruises into his back. Girls can smack you around as badly as any guy, if they’re really coming hard. And they do it more often.

A lot more often.

He can’t think where women ever got the idea they should stop looking wiggly. He loves it on Emma. They’re perfectly gorgeous wiggly bits, but no. Millions of years of fascinated male genes want to watch her butt jiggle whenever she walks away into the bathroom, want to tighten their grip on that breast pooling with such hot weight across his back, but no.

No. She says girls don’t like to feel jostled. They don’t like feeling their wiggly bits shaking around so much. She told him she doesn’t even like getting joggled around in the bus, with her boobs bouncing around visibly in the open collar of her shirt, no matter how fascinating he finds it.

He’s known for two years now that breasts are heavy, that they get hot, that they’re a pain to carry around when they’re that big, and that brassieres are the invention of the devil, but also, sadly, that such stupid contraptions are the best that most women can manage. Now, there’s corsets of course, but not common. He spent quite some time learning about her breasts with his mouth. It’s nothing like what he expected. He’s not sure now what he was thinking. They move and they breathe and they loll like cats when they’re pleased.

She’s talked to him there from the bathroom, washing her face and her hands after he’s left her a mess. She’s told him about modern corsets, and gotten him hard as rock at the thought. She’d love to get one, a properly fitted corset that props up her damnable big blobby boobs in a nice tidy pile, it’ll take the weight off her shoulders for a change. Of course she hasn’t ordered one so far, because that’s going to be expensive, and she has better uses for that kind of money, but damn, there’s seamstresses these days on the Internet, making silk brocades into the most amazing confections with steel boning and–

He’s certain that the image of her skin pooling in a creamy pile atop an expensive silk relic of history deserves to be right up there with his bloody hateful much-cursed Locatelli.

He knows what that is going to do to poor Drin’s brain.

Hell, his brain is locked up, while other bits wave helplessly in the wind for attention.

He’s never thought of himself as a tits-and-ass type of guy. Never. But here he is, with her incredible legs tangled with his, and his brain can only come up with those weak fritzing noises. The legs came in for some mouth-time, too. They’re strong. He gets hard just kissing her thighs, and the shoes make her calves stand up in smooth curves as maddening as abstract art. He wants to howl at the moon.

“Okay, now you show me yours,” she demanded as soon as she’d caught her breath from that undeserved climax, rolling onto her knees, and shoving his knees wide with her own. He hadn’t learned anything about what she does to herself, and he wonders now if it’ll take a campaign of his own to find out. She’s stained bright pink from the shoulders down, irresistibly cute, as if he’s thrown a bucket of flesh-colored paint on her. If that isn’t proof of a climax that should have finished her off for at least twenty minutes, then all that homework was in vain. But her eyes are still dilated, her face intent on his body. Looking at his cock as nakedly as any queer man would do. Which is, by God, totally rigid with interest.

“Show me how you like to masturbate,” she says, caressing the word. “Show me how you stroke yourself.”

Dance laughs. “Just looking at you like that is going to do me for a couple of hours! Don’t make me–oh– oh don’t, no, easy, easy, no tickling, no, I’ll come–” and of course he does.

Oddly, that is what seems to finally satisfy her, and lets her lay back and be at rest, while their hands twine together.

Emma is humming a little, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. She’s a deep enough alto that she’s off on the high notes. Dance smiles. He’s learned that he gets to wiggle her blobby bits quite a lot if he’s doing it with his mouth.

He likes doing that regardless of whether his poor abused little man is up to anything. He knows she likes being licked all over like an ice cream cone on a hot day. He can make her amazingly happy doing that.

Look, Drin, what I found out, he thinks, and grins against her skin.

Postcards from Friends

woman in party clothes on phone
So is the shack an utter wreck yet?

Tourists often get their pictures taken at the cheaper attractions, standing behind silly pictures painted on tall boards, with their heads showing through holes. This apparently gave Emma the idea of pulling off a higher-brow version of this. She has been sending Drin cell phone pictures imitating famous paintings, at various stages of her journey, and sending him very annoying hints as to what the original was.

“Get your culture vulture on,” Emma says on the phone, laughing, when he speaks to her.

Well, she is bored.

But time away at the conference is good for her, she speaks a little bit slower than she has been, she’s more relaxed, she’s talking about things besides work. Talking about the food. Insisting that she is eating paella, or Basque food originally from the Pyrenees, in the middle of Kentucky. He wouldn’t be surprised to find that she really is, given her mad research skills.

The pictures are totally devastating, of course.

He’s delighted, and saves them up on his computer, going through them on breaks, and laughing again as he replies with jokes on the wild side-trips in research he finds when he tries to figure out what they are.

She doesn’t get a new painting done every night, but she does every time she hits a new hotel on the trip.

At first she does the easy ones, classic Spanish painters, with her face always laughing. There’s entries such as Somebody imitating La maja vestida, with a comment that her lonesome little hotel room is bloody hot, and maybe she should send him the matching picture of her in matching desnuda mode.

He replies in text mode that Somebody is a very cruel woman, tormenting a poor working stiff who’s been at the computer for too long already–stiff being the relevant word.

He can hear how she will laugh when she reads it, she’ll know he’s afraid to hear her laugh on the line.

And she does. She leaves him a voicemail instead.

It’s quite a marvelous voice, gurgling up through the scale, and ending with wheezy breathless noises, not at all girly, robust as all hell. He saves the message, and replays it every once in a while.

The night he explained he had to send Dance along instead of himself, she does Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith beheading Holofernes, with a toy teddy bear as the maid helping Judith, a very fake plastic sword, and a cabbage for the head, with a scarf like that in the painting bunched on the hotel bed. But she’s laughing, and threatening to send him the Klimt version of Judith instead. He understands that when he finds the picture online. It looks quite…intense. Judith is a long tall woman, one breast showing, hugging the sad dark head to her hip with an orgasmic expression.

Of course Gentileschi is not a Spanish artist is at all, and he says so. She texts him back that she would prefer a different head anyway. Which makes him laugh out loud in a very elegant restaurant.

When Dance shows up, she sends Drin their version of the Rokeby Venus, although she’s wearing some kind of nude bodystocking whose sleeves give her away, and not actually nude as in the painting, a cheat that he calls her on–and Dance is grinning too much to be convincing as a very small Cupid with the mirror. He looks wicked enough, that’s for sure.

The next night is even worse — Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare. Emma sprawls dramatically on the carefully-draped hotel bed, her hair spread out on the folds as best as they can manage. Dance crouches, hovering over her supine form — never mind how, it looks like he’s perched atop her, but that can’t be right — and looking totally deranged and evil, frowning thunderously to hide the smirk that threatens. They’ve gooped his hair up into evil little horns.

It’s Dance’s voice on the message with that one. He speaks clearly and crisply, clearly used to bad cell phone connections. “I’d jump you, but you’re not here. Can I have her instead?” And from the background, that laugh.

He actually leaves a voicemail that time, risking that they’ll pick up. “Sure–remember to take off the body stocking first. Don’t forget to send pictures. Love, D” And he gives them a laugh.

And the last one they stop to send him, their last night, is a version of Manet’s Olympia that would probably amuse the sarcastic artist a lot.

Behind the bed, Dance is holding a pile of bright-colored bras in an open suitcase, with a bra cup in his mouth and a wild look on his face, and he seems to be nude–not at all like the black maid with her flowers, but it’s clear what they meant–but the hotel room behind is remarkably similar. Emma must have seen it first thing, and planned to make use of it.

Emma lies half-sitting up, nude, on the rumpled bed with a black ribbon on her neck, a condom pinned in her hair, a dildo loose in her front hand, and her ankles most elegantly crossed, her deadly black stiletto reception heels dangling on her feet. Her most imperial gaze is aimed at the camera, with her other hand curled down in her crotch, clearly busy entertaining herself. “Yes?” she says on the voicemail that came with it. In her most French accent. It still sounds Aussie to the French, she says, but really, he can’t tell–and she knows what it does to his libido. “Victorine Meurent here, fuck off, I’m busy putting on henna or something.” And she laughs that laugh.

“Gaaaaaahhh,” Drin says, and hastily flips it off of his screen, blinking. He shakes his head. It doesn’t help. His eyes have been scalded. “Yaaaahhh,” he says, squeezing his head. “You are in such deeeeep poo–” he says out loud. His text alarm chimes again, and it’s Dance.

“Went well,” is all it says. But Drin can imagine that it went very well indeed.


Author’s note: More collaboration, and definitely much the better for it!

me=Nagasvoice, and GreenJudy, Kiyakotari, Stella_Omega and numaari

Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

Drin gets a kick out of standing in the Metro Airport waiting area in his dark suit. He’s holding a sign emblazoned with Dance’s name in the Korean characters, and he’s pretending to be a chauffeur waiting for his pickup.

And god, they look beautiful together. He can see them walking together, a long way back through the safety doors; the tall amazon of a woman and her miniature, elegant, boyfriend. Not your normal happy-ever-after, Drin thinks to himself, and feels one of those flashes of pure joy that have been upsetting his equilibrium lately.

Emma is smirking, when she sees him; Dance has dropped into one of his satirical foreign expressions, with a devil dancing in his eyes.

“Mr Dance Gum-Moo?” Drin says in a flat, midwestern accent. “Welcome… back to our town, sir and miss. Do you have luggage? Yes? Right this way, sir, I’m afraid the carousel will delay us a while. How was your flight?”

Dance is purse-lipped and dimpling, trying not to laugh. Emma takes up the slack; “It was un-exceptional,” she uses braying, Aussie tones, “And the takeoff was difficult, wasn’t it, darling?”

“I do not care for the Kentucky airport,” Dance agrees. “And we did not go a mile high.” The dimple deepens for a split second.

“The plane was so bloody crowded,” Emma explains. “Children with earaches.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Drin steps forward to hoist Emma’s Samsonite off the carousel, and is able to snag Dance’s soft roller bag right after it. “I can drive you straight to your residence though, and I’m sure the management will gladly assist you in going a mile high… or even a little higher.”

“This is good to hear!” Dance displays his white teeth.

“We aim to please, Mr Dance.” Drin tucks his precious pair into the back seats, and looks frequently into the rear-view mirror as he guides the car out of the Airport maze.

Emma talks about the conference high points, waving off huge chunks of it as irrelevant to the interests of her listeners. The restaurants come in for more detailed analysis than the lectures on conservatorship advances that she went to see in the first place. “Same old, same old,” she says, annoyed. “If we’d all trooped off to Spain, as originally planned, we’d have heard from a lot of the Europeans we don’t get to see much over here, we might have learned something for a change.”

She talks excitedly about introducing Dance to old friends, and tells stories about the restaurants they visited, and that day’s adventures in domestic traveling. “And of course Dance has to cause a scene, we nearly didn’t make it through security!”

“What were you smuggling?” Drin wants to know.

“Nothing! It was the security, it went off each time I went through it. Three times. And three times–”

“They sent a more higher-up higher-up, each time, to wave those stupid wands. And the wands never buzzed, not once.” Drin can hear the familiar smack as she slaps Dance’s arm. “You were just doing it for the drama. Admit it.”

“Oh, yes, because one handsome man is not enough for me. ” Dance agrees. “Now I must have every man, even underpaid security guards.”

Emma rolls her eyes. “And apparently you’re so irresistible that each higher-up level had a great need to see that much more of you each time, too! Where the hell did they take you, the restroom?”

“It was a little room with a little crooked chair and a big mirror and a lot of very large men, and I am very small and looking very silly in my shorts and my socks and I am not wanting any arguing!” Dance says, wryly. “I am sure I disappointed all of them. They really wanted somebody to hit them. I tell them they should hit each other, they would enjoy it much more.”

Emma opens her mouth, staring at him wildly. “You didn’t tell me that.”

“Tell me you’re making all of this up,” Drin says, and fights down a little ember of doubt. Habit, nothing more. Worry is nothing but a bad habit.

“Anyway, the most highest up of them even apologized. And they gave us a very fast cart ride to the gate.”

“With your shirt hanging out and your pants unzipped.”

“Madam, you didn’t mind looking,” Dance says, but he’s grinning.

“And feeling, either,” she says, with her eyebrows going up.

“I warn you, Drin, she’s very sneaky– arghhh!” and then they’re tickling each other in the back seat, giggling.

Drin grabs glances, while he works through the mid-town traffic, at her lush mouth and all its expressive motions. He sees a blue eye, half obscured by caramel curls and, as the two bob and bounce like children, Dance’s flying black hair and golden forehead.

Drin feels his chest squeeze in breathlessly tight. It almost hurts to look at them laughing together in his car, with that slanting coastal light striking gold everywhere, absurdly lush as a Renaissance landscape. The air is cool, the odor of sage from the cliffs riding along with that of the sea. Their laughter bursts out like sprays of music.

“The caves, oh, tell him about the caves!” Emma exclaims then, calling truce, and bouncing around in the back seat as if seat belts don’t slow her down one bit. She slings her arm around Dance’s shoulders, while he smiles into the mirror broadly at Drin.

“We wanted to make out like horny teenagers in the caves,” Dance says grinning.

“Doesn’t everybody?” Drin says, just to hear Emma roar with laughter.

“It causes quite the crowd, yes,” Dance agrees. He turns his head and regards Emma, as she’s laughing, and then he leans in and kisses her ear. When he draws back, smiling, his eyes are dark and warm and at peace. He looks into the mirror again, and says, “We agreed we would just have to settle for beds. No limestone fucking.”

“You just like making suggestive remarks about stalagtites,” Emma says.

“Who needs to suggest? I am away from my husband for three whole long days listening to lectures on crumbly moldy paper, I am lonely, I have an armful of beautiful woman I should not be drooling on if I am queer like I say, all I can see for miles are rock formations in these– shapes–

“The perceptive tendency towards phallic imagery is a nearly universal–”

“It was linghams everywhere. It made me so crazy horny.” Dance says with great finality. “So we had to go to the hotel.”

“Believe me, lover, the relief was all mine!”

“I blame it on linghams affecting her yoni,” Dance confides.

“And yonis affect your lingham huh– after all?”

“Emma’s does!” Dance rolls his eyes, shakes his hand in the air as if he’s burned his fingers.

Emma smacks him on the chest.

“This woman’s legs go on for miles, you know that, right?” Dance says.

“Ye-eess?” Drin drawls it out.

“So does her stamina. You think I can tire you, you just wait–” it’s a little muffled by Emma grabbing him and covering his mouth with hers, with noises.

Drin is suddenly sorry that he put both of them in the back seat, out of his reach. There’s a ruffle of cream-colored something or other lacey drifting across the dark leather seats between her thighs, where her skirt has joined the rest of her wardrobe in the maddening habit of sliding apart at the slightest excuse. Oh, there’s an excellent excuse this time–Dance’s hand is sliding up into the lace.

Drin jerks his attention back sharply to the road.

Emma draws back and says, huskily, “You know you only do it to tease,” and she looks up, bright-eyed, into the mirror. The same devil is dancing in her eyes as in Dance’s, as he grins back at her.

“This is a little rough on the chauffeur,” he suggests.

“Thaaaaat’s the general idea,” Emma says, and leans in and runs her tongue slowly up Dance’s neck, up his cheek, along his temple, and then tugs on his hair with her teeth, leaving bright red lipstick marks on his forehead, to match the ones smutched across his mouth. Then she begins unbuttoning Dance’s collar. “You think the chauffeur gets off on seeing you get kissed, Dance?”

“I think I do,” Dance says, shifting his hips in a way that Drin doesn’t need to see twice.

“Not fair,” Drin mumbles. “If I have to stop this car and separate you two–”

“We’ll all be arrested for indecent exposure. So don’t stop the car.”

“I’ve had enough fuss from large men in uniforms,” Dance says. “I just want you to — oh. Oh.”

“Airport security brought in large men in uniforms?” Then he gulps, because Emma has placed her curly head in such a way that Drin can tell exactly what her teeth are doing to his husband’s nipple. Dance leans his head back, eyes drooping shut. His mouth opens then, rounding into the blissful welcome smile that Drin has missed very badly the last week.

Drin forces his own eyes forward, where the freeway interchange should be taking up all of his attention. Should be, and does not. But Emma’s in no hurry at all. She takes her time, torturing Dance properly. And she has come up with the startling habit of leaning back well out of the way, showing off what she’s doing to him, showing it off to the mirror.

“I’ll give you some lingham worth looking at,” she growls, with her lipstick all over her chin like warpaint.

Dance looks very, very relaxed. He looks like he’s been trampled by this woman. There are hickies. There are bite marks. And she’s got them too, where her clothes are falling off her creamy round ass–

“Arresting?” Drin manages to get the words out. “Uniforms?”

Dance rolls his head on the seat slightly, and sighs. He looks like he’s about to fall asleep. Oh, he’s very happy.

Emma leans up between the seats then, with her arm resting confidentially on Drin’s shoulder, and she says, huskily. “You wouldn’t happen to have some extra condoms on you, now love? We’ve run out.”

“I am not very sorry to say this, and no I don’t.” Drin says. “You will just have to wait till we get home. Which is only fair, goddammit, you’ve been gobbling each other without me–”

She pouts. “Oh, that’s sad. I was thinking about sitting down on that lingham right there on your lovely leather seats–I just love how that leather feels on my bottom, rub it around like that, oooh, that’s buttery, that is–and having fun with it. Oh well, needs must, and all that.” And she leans into Drin, and she kisses him on the jaw just in front of his ear, lingeringly, with just the lightest, lightest touch of her tongue. “I’ll just have to suck on it instead. Pity. My jaw’s gone quite tired, propped open that much. He just tastes so damn good.”

“Yes, he does,” Drin agrees. “I’m not a jealous man, but I find myself to be very, horribly, envious right now. Please, Madam, have mercy and we’ll be home in five minutes…”

“Liar, we’re a good hour away still,” she says, and tugs on Drin’s earlobe with her teeth, lightly. “I bet you taste pretty fine too.”

“Ah,” Drin says, “Now that is mercy.” He tilts his head invitingly.

She licks the back of his neck, up into his hairline. “Mmm,” she says. “Mmm, I could be having with more of that, oh, that’s lovely. I just love that little hollow–”

Drin gives a startled yelp at being licked on the back of his ear without warning.

“Oooh, watch the road, love, the trucker there is staring at us,” Emma says, nibbling. Then she chuckles, looking past him, and she sticks out her tongue at somebody outside the car, and she parts her knees, and she drags Drin’s hand back onto her thigh, and she wiggles–where somebody outside is probably seeing all of the show.

“Jeeesus–” Driving one-handed is more interesting when the trucker looming over them is just as distracted as he is. Drin’s hand has been dreaming of this, the hot silky wetness of Emma’s pussy.

Her hand slides up onto his thigh, and goes for his fly. “Jesus, Emma!”

But that’s not Emma going after his other ear. That’s Dance, leaning up on the other side of the driver’s chair, licking his neck, and the hand coming round by the door sliding up his ribs, that’s Dance’s hand sliding into his clothes, going up his chest, and that’s Dance growling into his cheek, licking him. “You can stop here,” Dance growls, and he’s not sounding tired at all. “God, I want to fuck you so bad it hurts.”

Drin stops the car quite acceptably, under the circumstances, at a rest stop that ought to be designated specially for drivers getting molested in their chairs. He wouldn’t be surprised if Emma planned for that. Maybe she knew she’d need it even more, because she’s the one who comes first, groaning under Drin’s fingers, with Dance leaning over her and kissing those astonishing pale breasts.

Then Dance is lunging under both their hands, yelling out as if he’s been turned on for hours, restraining the impulse, even harder than Drin waiting for them in a fever of exhaustion and need. It startles him, that kind of drive on their part, because he’s never found air travel sexy–just dull. Get on the bus, wait a lot, get off the bus, wait some more. Well, he didn’t have company like this to entertain him, either. “Your turn, big boy,” Emma growls, and dives in on his mouth.

It’s a busy few moments before he thinks to look around for interested truckers or station wagon drivers with kids peering out the back windows or teenagers giggling in their mom’s cheesy little economy box–or all of the above. Maybe it’s all that froth of lace under the otherwise ordinary clothes Emma is wearing, waggling about in the back passenger window as she moves.

It’s just as well there’s no condoms handy. Public interest in their kissing him is plenty high enough.

“I could fuck your mouth so much,” Dance says into his neck, going down his chest. Drin can’t think how he’s managed to squeeze in between him and door, but there he is, with his hands in Drin’s pants right along with Emma’s. “God, and have you up the ass, and–”

“Yeah?” Drin gasps.

“Yeah,” Dance says, calm again. “I want to fuck you so bad. I want to fuck you for a long time. But I might be too hard, I come too quick like this.”

“Oh, take the edge off a couple times first. You’ll last better, love,” Emma says, airily, and grins at them. “It could get busy, couldn’t it?”

“Good,” Drin says. “Talk dirty, and we’ll sit here all night. I think you must be a very bad influence on my husband, Emma. You should see his emails!”

“We’ll talk about fucking you up every orifice you got, lover, if it makes you get this hard,” Emma growls.

“Dinner will keep, I figured we might– we might want–” and Dance is sliding up impossibly between the door and the seats and kissing his neck, his ear, his belly–

“Good,” Emma says.

“What is that?” Drin says, touching her breasts gently as she leans between the front seats.

woman's torso in turquoise corset
Firmly Laced

She smiles. “It’s a corset, on top. Dance was a bad boy and talked me into it. It makes my back feel…maaarvelous. Of course, amazing to find out, apparently having sex makes it feel pretty damn terrific too.”

“Sounds like a great investment to me,” Drin says, and he can’t stop touching her. Her nipples are right there.

“Told you, ” Dance murmurs, chuckling. “Seventeenth Century underwear, from people who knew what to do with those.”

“And this?” Drin moves his hand. It rather invites fumbling around in there, without stopping him getting at the important bits. She arches into it, making it even easier. And she gives that little sigh. There. Right there.

“Matching frillies, on the bottom.” With a little wriggle of the bottom in question, as if bits of her really like the leather car seats… quite a lot.

“Dance talked you into– of course he did. Dance, you are very bad. You are so bad, you have excellent taste in ladies’ frillies.”

“He tried them on first,” Emma says.

Drin’s mouth has trouble figuring out what to do. The image is… astonishing. More than it ought to be, but the idea of his silky, dignified musician all frilled out in lace is… so surprising. That butt, decked out in a bit of silk nothing– with Emma’s pale round dimpled bottom mated fiercely to it– he banishes the thought for later, when he’s not in the driver’s seat with his pants tangled up. “He did?”

“Turns him on something fierce.” Emma says.

“That’s nice to know,” Drin says, slowly. It’s very… distracting. He can see Dance grinning at him, too, knowing that it’s distracting.

“It turns you on too,” Dance says, and his hand is in a position to know.

“Hell, it turns me on, getting at that cock drooling through a bunch of lace. So now I finally get why lingerie makes money. Hey, sometimes I’m slow,” Emma says.

“Okay, I’m bad,” Dance says, smiling. “The airport people laughed a lot at my suitcase.”


“They laughed. They told me to have fun with my toys in the suitcase. I said I would need them to please Emma, now my little man is all frightened for a week.”

Emma just roars with laughter. “No wonder they looked at me funny!”

“Well, you did tell them I was much, much better than toys,” Dance says gravely, and he flings back his head, laughing, when she splutters.

Emm sniffs. “Let’s get back on the road, shall we? Miles to go, and all that. With condoms at the end of it, and I daresay a nice stew or something?” Emma says. “If you want, Drin– I’ll be the chauffeur the rest of the way.”

“I’m starving,” Dance says then, smiling again, and he kisses Drin’s ear. Lingeringly. With nipping.

“I’m definitely not safe to drive.” Drin opens the door, as Emma clambers over the seats, plopping neatly down into the bucket, and tugging her skirt back in place. Dance pops the back door open, and Drin climbs in, into his lover’s welcoming arms. “Home, Jeeves.”

Emma puts it in motion, with a little extra rumbly growl from the engine, and slides it up through the gears as smoothly as if she’s been driving it for years. “Now this,” she says, grinning into the mirror at them, and turning on the sound system with a rumble of bass, “is the way a car ought to be tricked out. I got my boys in the back with their underpants down, I got my shades, I got my tunes–“

It’s gutbucket blues that Drin likes best she’s got blasting out on the speakers, all the windows are wide open for the sea air, and Dance’s hips rise up as silky and hot and damp to Drin’s touch as the mouth that is making wordless promises to him.

The woman in the wraparound glasses and the silk corset puts her foot down on the gas. The acceleration shoves Drin over harder into Dance’s body, and he doesn’t seem to mind at all.

nude woman on bench oral sex by man
anticipated pleasures

Greet the Ragged Stranger at the Gate

Aztec Serpent Goddess
An Aztec Serpent Goddess

You must always remember, Drin tells himself, to greet the old man at the crossroads in the morning. Acknowledge the crone at the railroad crossing.

It’s always surprising, the results you get when you do.

And even more so when you don’t.

When you forget.

Worse yet, if you were rude, or hasty, or hostile, for some reason.

That leads to…troubles.

The symphony has an over-abundance of weird old ladies who…watch things.

He’s sneaked up through the folding chairs. He’s listening to a rehearsal go badly. The conductor calls a break, and the noise shifts over to the seats where the audience sits.
The musicians aren’t talking much. Dance is going through the sheet music steadily, marking things, with his jaw set in a perfectly neutral position. The other first chairs are muttering over theirs.

The folding seats are hard. Drin picks a seat next to an aisle, where he can come and go without making too much fuss. He smiles and nods at the clump of older women in jogging suits and sweats and sneakers. Some of them know him, and smile back approvingly, but most of them are busy waving their hands and overriding each other’s conversations. Most of them have wild hair dragged up in scrunchies. They’ve clearly come from the gym down the street, and they’re just as clearly going to gossip their way leisurely through the rehearsal, and then they’re going out to dinner. There’s comments about committees. It’s unclear which of the musicians, if any, will be going with them. There are diamond tennis bracelets flashing on mottled wrists. It’s not like they need to be anywhere.

man's shoulder with bag strap
shoulder strap

“My goodness,” she says, blinking up at Drin in a deceptively old-lady way as he sits down. “Now that is a man-purse!”

Just in time, Drin remembers her name is Joscelyn. He shakes hands with a few of the others too, only those who offer. He heaves the strap off his shoulder and gives a little shrug. “Work, you know how it is.”

Always greet the rude old goddess at the crossroads.


It’s stood him in good stead before, and got him in more trouble than he cares to remember.

“You just go ahead dear, don’t mind us yelling at the top of our lungs,” Joscelyn advises him.

She turns back to her knot of friends, and waving her blue-veined hands in a vast gesture, she says, “Anyway, so Gladys just gets in, puts her stuff down, and totally forgets she still has her driver side door open. She backs out of the driveway like a shot–” there are groans from the other ladies, as of people who know Gladys and her lead-footed ways, “–and she hits the mailbox.”

There’s a groan. The old bitch points her forefinger at them, warning them there’s more to the story. There always is. The finger gets used for this a lot. It bears a huge Navajo ring with a turquoise. Her other hand bought Zuni, entire pavé sheets of tiny turquoise chips, beautifully set. Emma could glance at it and tell him where it came from and who made it. She gets annoyed sometimes at galas, growling when she sees stuff she knows was stolen from some museum back in the forties.

Drin opens up his leather bag, pulls out the work, finds his place, and listens with one eye cocked to watch. He can do sums without thinking on these, he’s done it so much by now. He’s brought work with him a lot lately, reading and taking notes while he waits through protracted rehearsals. As a conductor, Maestro Young is one of those who fancies himself in the model of Georg Solti or Herbert von Karajan, taskmasters with hearts of flint when it comes to getting musicians to make the sound balance right. Richard Young intends, some day, to get somewhere better than the Metro, and he’s been showing his true colors now the party is over and it’s time to work, but Dance wasn’t there to mediate for the other first chairs. Or to soften the man’s abrupt changes of direction. Dance was off seeing caves, with Emma. Three days off, that’s all, is enough to make everyone scream for his help when he returns. They’re not grateful at all, just demanding his time. Especially Richard Young, who had no idea of the true size of Dance’s shoes.


Dance refuses to say a bad word about Young. “He knows his stuff,” Dance says, with that grim little line to his mouth that means, God help us all.

And by God, they all hate to say it, but this is helping the performances. Dance has been working his ass off, and hitting the older scores he hasn’t looked at for awhile. The other night Dance made them both laugh when he read out an old clipping he found: “Explaining why he preferred conducting the Berlin Philharmonic to the Vienna Philharmonic: ‘If I tell the Berliners to step forward, they do it. If I tell the Viennese to step forward, they do it. But then they ask why.'”

Poor man, the conductor is clearly trying to do the traditional style with unsuitable material. Robert, the pretty second cellist, has been coming in for very sharp remarks on his timing.

The audience is awfully rowdy too. Joscelyn is waving both hands. “Now, that’s bad enough, right? She takes down the mailbox, bam! But there’s the mailman’s truck right there, too, her door hits the end of the truck–” there’s more gasps than groans this time, “–and the poor guy in the mail van, he dives out the far side, you know those open doors they have. Dives right out on the street.”

Drin looks back down at the sums. Another saying that he’s been remembering a lot: Render unto Caeser what is Caeser’s. Pay effing attention, as Emma might say sternly, and get your bloody work done. Caeser is currently being a greedy landlord, as it happens, and Drin is not happy about all the work he’s taking home these days. It didn’t use to bother him. He’s got better things to do these days. Including nothing. Absolutely…nothing.

He doesn’t dare look up at the musicians. He braces himself to ride out one of those acute memories that live more in the body than in the mind. Remembering Dance moving under him.


man's torso muscles tensed
torso, muscles tensed

It still hits him hard, at the damndest times. Sometimes, if he’s careless, when he looks up, he sees Dance is staring at him blindly with exactly the same expression, and it’s incredibly hard not turn the both of them into slack-jawed idiots, right there in public. So he’s learned to be careful where he turns his eyes, during rehearsals.

“And she damn near drives up over him–” she holds up the finger to still the other ladies, “–because she’s still turning. Her car is still moving. Thank God, she told me later she panicked and swung the wheel round so hard the other way she’s skidding, but at least she missed him–” and there’s more exclamations of horror, “–so the poor man only had scratches and scrapes from falling in the street.”

Drin doesn’t get to sleep in late with Dance curled up in his arms every morning, the way he’d like. Dance is living at the Metro, working with young musicians who’ve been reduced to tears. He’s very patient. Drin knows what he has to do about that–he gets to live at the Metro too, if he wants to see more than an exhausted hug out of Dance. At least here he gets to wallow in Dance’s playing. And God, is it so much more worth falling into than he knew, than he had any idea, when he first started coming. This extended struggle has opened his eyes to entire other aspects of his lover’s personality. But here, he doesn’t even get to kiss him, not in front of people; it wouldn’t help the concertmaster and disciplinarian, to show his keeper.

He senses eyes on him. Automatically, he says, “So was Gladys hurt?”

“Oh no, a couple of bad scratches on her legs, that’s it. Can you believe it? Totals her car, the mail van, and the other car that she swung into, instead–oh yeah, there were two other fender-benders right there–bang, bang!–here’s the car door flung off into somebody’s yard like a goddamn Frisbee–and she walks away with a few scratches. My God, it’s always like that with her. I don’t know how she gets away with it. Strews wreckage in her way, and toddles along like some gray-haired little Weeble or something. You remember those?”

Drin nods. “Inflatable punching bag toys.”

“That’s what she makes me feel like doing!” Joscelyn the Queen Bee roars, shaking her fists in the air.

“You’re not the only one,” exclaims another. “Did you hear what she did to my poor old committee last week?” and they’re off.

He rakes his hair back out of his eyes. It’s hot in the hall, which is great for some instruments and not so great for others. The old ladies in their jogging suits love it, and given the aches they talk about, he can’t blame them. But it’s not so wonderful for the musicians who have to work hard and think about what they’re doing. Dance is wiping sweat from his face and hands with a rag, and drinking from a bottle of water. Drin glances up when some of the ladies nearby start leaving.

“You know, that’s a lovely shirt,” Joscelyn’s rings flash at him, and her departing friends wave their hands at her, and giggle in embarrassment.

Drin glances up at her. “Thank you,” he says.

“But it shows how your nips harden up when you look at your boyfriend,” she confides to him, not blinking.

He stares back. “Ah,” he says.

She taps him on the forearm. “It’s a little casual, let’s say. Lovely, though.”

“Thanks, I didn’t realize.”

“Goes with your eyes. Did Emma pick it out?”

He blinks again. “No.”

“Oh, then it was Dance,” she says, nodding in satisfaction. “Such a strange young man, so serious. Nobody knows what you see in him. He gives me the creeps, frankly. You should have seen Brian Ericson yesterday. My God, he storms in, accusing Dance of seducing his wife, says there’s pictures, my God–he swings at Dance–”

“What?” Drin says, focusing both eyes on her. Brain Ericson, second violin, his tired mind supplies the information.

“Oh yeah,” she says seriously, nodding and touching his arm again. “Poor little Brian, he gets these rages, you wouldn’t believe. Every month, you can tell when his wife’s on the rag, he loses it. So, hey, we’re all used to it, you know, except faux-Solti Mister Young there, who gets all wound up, just makes it worse. Everybody’s shouting, and Brian squares up like a damn boxer, he comes around and tries to punch Dance, right in front of everyone. Doesn’t work, of course. Never does. I don’t know why he always goes after Dance, who’s maybe the one person in the building could handle it without somebody getting hurt.”

“Maybe because he knows Dance can handle it?” Drin says, and Joscelyn laughs. Dance has said it’s a huge advantage to a concertmaster to know some kind of martial arts. He just hadn’t realized how literally Dance meant it. But then, Dance is often more literal than the laws of physics should allow.

“So yeah, then he has to go drag Brian-boo off and have a nice long talk where the guy screams like a girl–we all heard him start crying, my God, try to run a rehearsal through that–especially without Dance to make them pull themselves together–and Dance comes back with his shirt all ripped, and he tells everyone the second violin is going home because he’s ill, Dance apologizes to everyone, and he sits down and he gets out his music and that’s it. Is he going to press charges?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen the shirt yet.” It sounds weak; he has to clear his throat before he can get the words out.

She cackles, and pats his arm, and settles back to pay attention to the rehearsal, leaving Drin thoroughly unattentive.

Things don’t improve when time winds on and other people settle around them.

One of the younger men who sits down near Drin leans close, introduces himself–making it clear he’s the younger son of somebody important in a law office that does pro bono for the symphony–and he nods significantly toward Dance, and he confides, “You know, you really could update the poor man’s training methods. Drills to Locatelli, can you believe it? So Eighteenth Century. I mean, I realize the organization is strapped, but surely we could afford more modern training than that. Not the best fingering, is it?”

Having helped with the annual audit that very month, Drin knows that no, the symphony can’t afford to send their strings for more modern workshops, not for some time to come. They can’t even pull themselves together well enough to send Dance by himself. Emma’s tried, God knows. “I’m not sure any of the instruments are fingering well when they put in these kinds of hours.”

Which is a joke on the demands of the conductor.

The younger man smiles, simpers, and taps his arm. “Naughty!” he says, as if he’s been flirted with. “I like it!” and he moves on to chat with the next person, just like that.

Drin looks back at his work. If he flirted with anybody, by God, they’d know he was doing it when he got done with them. He’s annoyed. He knows it’s going to get back to Dance, and he can see how it will get there, and he knows he may have to explain. Well, if Dance bothers to worry. Drin’s not sure if he will or not. Which is a strange sensation. In his mind, though, he hears the thunk of Dance’s bedroom door — and he knows that there is one thing in his life he’ll never doubt. Which is, also, a strange sensation.

Dance is flexing his wrists oddly in the car on the way home, grimacing. His jacket is soaked, his hair is as spiky as if he’s been sprinting, and he’s clearly unhappy. He hunches in the passenger seat, which is not like him.

“Do we need to take you in for tendonitis or anything?”

“No, no, it’s just bruises from–”

Drin lifts a brow.

Dance looks guilty. “I saw Joscelyn giving you an earful. I assume she told you about poor old Brian going berserk yesterday. Poor guy loves his bloody stupid twit of a wife, and that’s how he proves it to her, that’s all. God. True love.”

Drin lifts the other brow.

“Oh, not you. That’s not what I meant.”

“Oh,” Drin says, neutrally. “How come I never saw Brian going off on you when I was mooching around, watching things?”

“Because nobody does stupid shit like that while money is in the house.”

“Oh,” Drin says again. “And Joscelyn isn’t money in the house?”

“Oh, she loves it, she eggs him on. Gotta feed Joscelyn something for her adrenaline, or she’ll find something to make up. Drama is her business.”

“Yeah, I got that,” Drin says. “Funny as hell. Provocative is her middle name. Is there one in every group of humans?”

“We have at least four of them,” Dance says, in comic despair, and he finally lets his head sink back into the support of the leather, and he sighs, and closes his eyes.

“The sound of success, as Emma would say.”

“What, that we’re large enough to support that many vampires?”


“Jesus Christ on a pogo stick fucking a koala bear. As Emma would say.”

Drin laughs. “Better him than me. You ever see the claws on one of those bears?”

“Yes, I have,” Dance’s hand slides across the gearbox to rest on Drin’s thigh. “I still need to take you to the San Diego Zoo. I have cycads to show off.”

Drin glances over at the sharp angles of exhaustion in that face. “How bad is the shirt?”

“I’m not showing it to you, I threw it away,” Dance says, opening his eyes.

“You threw away a good dress shirt?”

“Yeah,” Dance says, with a sort of fury. “I damn well did.”

Drin smiles. “Good.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know, you’ve been trying to rip me out of my ratty old sweats, you see what bad habits you’re getting me into now,” Dance says, and looks at him.

“Joscelyn says this shirt shows off how my nipples tighten up when I look at you,” Drin says.

Dance opens his mouth wide, in disbelief. “She didn’t.”

“Oh yes.” Drin smiles. “Maybe I should keep this shirt for more … personal moments.”

“I liked looking at you in that shirt!” Dance says.

“And now we all know why,” Drin says, grinning.

Dance tightens his knees together and hugs himself, as if he’s in pain. “Oh God, maybe she’ll forget,” he says. “In a few months. If we behave ourselves.”

“That seems very unlikely,” Drin says. “She saw the illustrious Mister Eldred Charles the Nineteeenth or whatever it is sit down confidentially with me and get his flirt on, too. I assume you’ll hear about that.”

“He doesn’t do it very well.”

Drin cocks up the brow again.

“He leaves slime behind, like the snails on the sidewalk,” Dance says, austerely.

“Oh no, snails still have quite a lot of structure to them. Shells, all that. I’m thinking slugs.”

“Yes,” Dance says slowly. “Yes, you are right. You ever get tired of being right all the time?”

“Do you?” Drin flips it back at him. “Drills on Locatelli are so much work, my boytoy of the week is all tired out. It’s time to replace him– with a lawyer’s son.”

“Slimier than slugs,” Dance says.

“Makes me wonder what Charles the Eighteenth ever did to deserve a child like that,” Drin says. Hey, he can be a bitch with the worst of them, when it makes his musician laugh like that.

Dance squints upward at the soft interior of the car’s roof, and says, “Not pretty enough for sea slugs, not smart enough for octopus or even squid. Hmm.”

Drin says, “Dearie me, are we down to the liverworts?”

Dance opens his mouth, and Drin holds up a hand briefly, knowing he’s going to say something incredibly rude about Eldred Charles the Nineteenth, and he doesn’t want to miss it.

“Hold the thought,” he says. “We’ve got a bad-tempered archivist to pick up here.”

“This late?” Dance says, blinking at him. “She was working this late? Oh Jeez. Potty-mouth is in the house.”

“Fucking believe it,” Emma says, banging open the car door, and slinging her cloth grocery bags of books in the back seat. She always has groaning armloads of them. They trail around after her, Drin finds them everywhere she’s been, in neat tidy little piles. Emma-spoor. At one point Drin asked if they mew and ask to be fed, and she yelled at him. “Move your ass, Dance,” she says. “You’re gonna sit in my crotch, and I’m getting my hands all over something good for a change, and then Ima gonna get my–”

Dance doesn’t sigh, or grunt, or complain. He just gets out, lets her in, and lowers himself gingerly, settles himself between her thighs in the nice wide seat. It takes her about twenty seconds to find the bruises on his forearms.

“What the hell?”

“It’s okay, love, just sparring.”

“My ass, Dance, you haven’t been at the dojo in a week, what happened?”

“It’s normal concertmaster wear and tear,” Drin puts in.

“Like hell it is!”

“Brian Ericson is having his period,” Drin says.

Of course she knows exactly what he’s talking about. She never forgets anything. “Sparring, hell, last month he brought a knife in–”

“Sparring,” Dance says gently. “Like Don Quixote. He knows I’ll win.”

There’s a silence that has quite a lovely texture. After awhile Drin turns on the radio. Civilized things caress their ears. Until Dance says, “Shit, did you hear that b-flat?”

“Shut up, you bitch, I was liking that.” Emma growls, holding Dance around the neck, and shaking him gently side to side, and he lets his head roll as if she’s strangling him. They seem to find this amusing. They’ve played like this since they first met, Drin knows. Dance lets Emma smack him, twist his arm behind his back, wrap her hands around his neck. It was how they could touch. “Give me some excuse to beat you up. You think you’re getting away with this? You diiiirty raaat–”

“You tattled,” Dance says.

“Did not,” Drin says.

“I’ll tell on you about Joscelyn liking your shirt,” Dance says.

“You know, that’s what I like around here, a nice grownup conversation–” Drin begins.

“I don’t see any grownups, do you see any grownups? Where’s the grownups?” Emma says, rather wildly. “I don’t have any grownups at work, why should I have them at home?”

“Don’t tell me, it was Tour Day,” Dance says, letting his head flop back into her shoulder. Drin hears him sigh. Then Drin feels Dance’s hand slide onto Drin’s thigh, come to rest over his knee, tired, just resting there as he’s driving, and it feels… damn good.

“Why, how’d you guess?” Emma says, in that crisp brittle voice, fragile as some lacy glass confection from a lampworker. “There were quiet, well-behaved little children with bladder issues. There were large children with beards starting, who go, ‘duuur hur huur hur’ a lot. There were screaming children. There were children with communicable diseases, there were–”

“You know, it’s kind of hot to be laying on your boobs and hear you say, ‘commmuuuunicable diseases,’ like that,” Dance says.

“Hell, it’s kind of hot to see you laying there getting words like that out of her,” Drin adds, because he knows it’ll make her happy.

Her voice is getting louder. “–there were children with psychological handicaps, there were children with sociopathic tendencies, there were children who touch inappropriately and giggle in the stacks, there were children who look at you and tell you wierd shit that you were thinking anyway– what are you laughing about, dammit?”

“You can go on, if you like,” Dance says politely.

“Like you’d effing stop me!” Emma growls. “Like you effing could stop me from–”

Dance looks over at Drin. “Oh yeah, I could,” he says, smiling that little smile.

Drin says, “And her diseases are catching.”

“I like sharing Emma’s communicable diseases,” Dance says, making no effort to stop her talking. She’s saying something that Drin thinks may in be German, something rude about Freud. It is staccato and throaty. It doesn’t quite come out fluid enough for Italian.

“Hell yeah,” Drin agrees, and pulls the car into the driveway of the house. Their house. The house with Dance’s garden in it. The house that is still nowhere near big enough for all of them. There’s no place to put a bed big enough for three people. He’ll bring up the possibility of renovations, soon.

3 figures with open mouths, Trio by Ruta Elze
trio by Ruta Elze

“What about her weird shit?” Drin says then. “You like Emma’s weird shit too?”

“Well, you don’t have to go looking for extra, got enough of your own to stock a couple warehouses,” Dance says calmly.

“How about you?” Drin says.

“Oh, me? C’mon, look at this gorgeous front yard. Look at this stuff. You want the weird, I got it. I got enough wierd shit to hand it out for free.”

Dance and Emma go up the path on each other’s heels, stumbling and squabbling. Drin walks behind, watching through weary eyes. Those numbers he works on are leading him to some conclusions he’s not real happy about. Joscelyn’s comment rings in his ears; “Nobody knows what you see in that boy.”

Wierd shit, indeed.

===Challenge: respect/disrespect
Writers’ notes: Well, this chunk started off from the prompt, anyway. This is part of a story begun off some prompts in doll photography. It’s gotten completely out of hand by now…It was also run through more collaboration, and definitely much the better for it!

me=Nagasvoice, and GreenJudy, Kiyakotari, and Stella_Omega