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The kiss is a mere mingling of sighs, unexpectedly gentle. Gentler than Toby had ever imagined it would be... but Jesus fuck, everything about this night has been a surprise.

He’d thought, at best, that he would be letting Chris fuck him. Out of love, out of gratitude, out of a whole slew of complex emotions that he wasn’t even ready to analyze yet. He knew damn well that his body responded to Keller, had known that since the days of wrestling in the gym, but even in his most desperate, drunken moments, when he’d wanted nothing more than to use Chris’s body to block out the view of his own personal living hell, the past was a wall Toby hadn’t really been sure they’d be able to scale.

But, ironically, fucking Chris had had a way of restoring perspective. Touching him, touched by him, so filled by him he’d felt stretched to the point of bursting with it, there was simply no room for any close encounters with ghosts of the Aryan kind. This was nothing like that; Chris was nothing like Vern. Toby had understood that, absolutely, in the moment Chris brought him to that first, blinding orgasm. That moment when Chris gave him everything, and took nothing back.

He’d also realized that if they had done this back then, back when he had been drunk and desperate and begging for it, he would have missed out on this. He might never have known about this.

They drift apart slowly, gazing at each other, and Chris surprises him once again: a slow, generous smile, sexy, slightly wicked, and somehow, undeniably sincere. Only Keller can smile like that. Only Chris can make love look and feel like sin. And suddenly, desire is gnawing away at Toby’s edges again; a slow burn, a craving, like so many others he’s known.

But it’s more.

God, it’s more.

*

He starts to rise, but Chris knocks his arm out from beneath him, sending him toppling back onto the bed.

“Stay here.”

“I’m just getting a washcloth.”

“Don’t.”

“Chris...”

The next kiss is not gentle. It’s greedy and frantic and hard and it’s still nothing like Vern, nothing like anything else. Memories from the course of the night break over Toby like a rough wave and suddenly he’s gripping Chris’s face with both hands, sucking on his tongue, wanting him all over again. And it’s like discovering this gigantic secret, this fucking amazing impossible secret; Christ, it’s huge, this thing that he knows that he didn’t used to know.

Chris is rolling him onto his back, impatient hands already roaming, but no. This secret is too big not to share.

Toby pushes at him. “Wait.”

“What?”

“I want —”

“Jesus. What?” Chris’s voice has an edge to it, almost like pain.

“It’s my turn.” And Christ, the words are hard to say, even now. “To touch you. Chris, I want to touch you.”

A short silence, filled with surprise... but Chris, being Chris, recovers quickly. “So, touch.”

And Toby laughs. Because Chris has a way of making things simple, even when they’re not simple at all.

*

There are things that you learn just by being told, like looking both ways before you cross the street. Someone tells you, and you believe.

And then there are other things no one can tell you. Things you have to find out on your own.

He wants to tell Chris to stop moving, to stop making those sounds, because having him like this is almost too much already, and he wants it to last.

But Chris is sprawled across the bed, growling in pleasure, oblivious to everything but Toby’s touch, and Toby likes that. Likes knowing that he has been able to tame that strength, that danger that lies just beneath the surface of Chris. Likes knowing that Chris could easily stop him, stop this, but he doesn’t. He won’t.

Once, Toby might have thought that was just because Keller really, really, likes to get laid.

But he isn’t naďve enough –- anymore -- to believe that sex alone can account for this. Nor is he willing to attribute his own newfound sexual enlightenment to Vern, at least not entirely, or even to Chris’s seemingly omnipotent sexual allure.

All of that is a part of it, yes. But there’s something else.

Something more.

He brushes his fingers across Chris’s lips, watching that mouth open just a little, just enough to encourage him. A bit further now, down over the curve of Chris’s chin: so foreign, that stubble. Another first. Down the length of that neck, and Chris arches his head back against the pillow, baring his throat. Christ. Toby has seen women do that -– has made women do that -- and it had always seemed so... feline. Feminine.

On Chris, it’s reckless and slutty and just fucking hot.

It’s difficult, but Toby forces himself to slow down. Every new sensation is a surprise, and that’s a surprise in itself, that there had been so much to learn. So much he didn’t know. The way Chris feels. The texture of his skin, just this side of rough; the leanness, the flatness, the hardness of him. The way his muscles bunch under Toby’s fingers, the way his hips strain upward, seeking more. Toby’s hand dips into the hollow at Chris’s throat, rises with the slow curve of pectoral muscle. His fingers trip over a stiff, pebbled nipple and he rolls it between his fingers, briefly. Chris makes a sound that Toby wants to taste. To swallow.

All his life, he’s worn labels. Husband, father, lawyer; just words, which, when put together, created a fairly accurate picture of who he was. Later, after he’d taken on new ones -- prag, pussy, cocksucking bitch -- he’d told himself that such labels are meaningless, that human beings can’t be forced into cubbyholes of behavior. That whom he loves doesn’t change who he is, doesn’t redefine him at all.

Watching his own hand ride the slope of Chris’s skin, he’s beginning to think he may have been mistaken about that. There are scars beneath his fingers, half-healed wounds deep within. Battle scars, many that mirror his own. The foundation of everything they’ve become, everything that brought them here.

You hurt me, I hurt you. But somehow, we didn’t break, not completely. Somehow, instead, we ended up here.

At peace. For once.

For now.

*

Later, he turns his head and finds Chris watching him. Studying him, like he’s trying to gauge Toby’s mood. Because nothing between them can ever be taken for granted again, Toby realizes, not even in moments like this.

Especially not in moments like this.

“You okay?”

“Yeah.” Toby nods. “Yeah, I’m good.”

And it’s true. Tangled up with Chris on a tiny prison mattress, sticky with sweat and saliva and come, he is, inexplicably, good.

 

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