Alice In Chains blares from the Bose speakers concealed above the china cabinet, and Ryan moves to the beat, swiveling his hips and nodding his head. It's old-school Layne - none of that new faux shit - and the words come back to his memory easily, spilling from his lips as he sings along. Setting a colander in the sink, he begins to thoroughly rinse the handfuls of fresh herbs he selected from the garden.
"Nice system," Luke calls out from behind the island, a pair of black jeans slung low on his hips, revealing a thin line of boxer briefs, and a thin grey t-shirt clinging to his chest and stomach. He grins at Ryan. "Can I help with anything?"
"Yeah, totally!" Ryan smiles at his guest, and turns down the music to a level they can talk over without having to shout. "It's on Pandora shuffle right now, so it'll be some other random song in a minute," he says, just in case the current choice isn't to Luke's taste. "I was thinking I'd pound the chicken breasts and roll them around an herb paste, then cover it in cream sauce and bake. You know, for a start. But you can make whatever you want. Got any signature dishes?"
"That sounds so good," Luke says, his stomach already grumbling a little. "What kind of vegetables do you have for sides?"
"Asparagus, potatoes... Got to have potatoes," Ryan explains with a shrug and a grin. "And I plan to do some bacon-wrapped scallops for an appetizer. Should those have cheddar too, do you think?"
"Not if you're doing the chicken in a cream sauce," Luke says with a laugh and a hand to his stomach. "We could roast the asparagus with some olive oil and salt, keep it simple, and roast the potatoes too but do them with some butter, sage and orange zest if you have any oranges. Or sage." He smiles at Ryan. "Or you can just tell me what to do. I'm easy."
"Oooh," Ryan murmurs, his eyes big. "That sounds awesome. Oranges," he points to a large bowl of fruit on the counter, "and there's sage in the garden if you want to go snip some." He remembers that Luke loves to cook, and is apparently quite talented at it; he's happy to share his kitchen. Lord knows it's big enough.
Luke beams. "Have you ever seen the herb garden Alex planted for me?" he asks, taking the scissors from Ryan.
"No. ...Did he really?" Ryan asks after a moment, trying to picture it. "Is he a green thumb kind of guy?"
"Not really. He just did it for me. He knows I love cooking and he loves being cooked for, so..." Luke shrugs, smiling widely, incredibly happy with everything in the world right now.
"Perfect symbiosis, got it. Well, welcome to my kitchen. Make yourself comfortable," Ryan says with a smile. "I'm working my way through a beer right now, but there's plenty of wine and juice or whatever." He adds in a confiding aside, "I've learned that if I drink wine while I'm cooking dinner, then I'm asleep before dessert."
"I'll take a beer too when I come back," Luke says, heading for the doors and Ryan's incredible herb garden, his balls still aching something fierce. "I haven't been drinking much lately and I'll be asleep with you if I start on the wine now."
Ryan nods and grabs his own bottle for a swallow. Which reminds him that he'd better not have more than two beers, or the friendly culinary dynamic might start to get a bit... complicated. Awkward, anyway. But fortunately, Sam is around somewhere, if Ryan gets to the point where he desperately needs to kiss someone.
Luke snips some sage in the garden, taking the time to check out the other herbs Ryan has growing. They're gorgeous and the weather and soil here are perfect conditions, but he has such a soft spot for his own garden, planted for him by his husband. "Here we go," he says, coming back into the kitchen and taking a turn at the sink to wash the herbs and then set them on a tea towel to dry. "Do you like the skin on?" he asks, pulling the bag of potatoes closer.
"It's your call, mate," Ryan replies with a quick grin. "Make 'em however you like. Believe me, we eat pretty much anything. I will, anyway," he confesses, a bit rueful. "Sam is really picky in general, but I don't think there's anything you could do to potatoes that would truly turn him off." He pops the cap on Luke's beer and sets it by the man, then pulls the chicken cutlets from the fridge. "Did you lot sleep okay last night?" Instantly, his face flushes. "I mean, not in a nosy way. I mean that, like, I'm trying to be a good host. That way."
Luke grins. "You don't want to know all the details of our hot honeymoon monkey sex?" he teases, washing the baby potatoes.
"I absolutely want to know all those details, I'm just trying to be polite," Ryan tells him with a laugh. "And if you inspire me to jump Sam from a new angle, so much the better."
"We made use of your playroom earlier," Luke says, blushing a little and busying himself with the potatoes, tossing them in some olive oil and sea salt for the first step before sliding them into the oven. "And the sawhorse."
"You-- seriously? Man, we haven't even gotten to use the horse yet," Ryan grumbles, taking another pull of his beer. It's only a second before curiosity overwhelms any natural courtesy, though. "How was it?"
"I'm sorry. Sam said to use whatever was in there. It was amazing though," Luke admits, snapping the ends off the asparagus before he looks up at Ryan, biting at his lower lip before he confesses, "But I'm really sore now. My balls hurt so much."
Ryan can't help the snicker that escapes. "Yeah, I'll bet." He attempts to focus on the chicken, but somehow the process of tenderizing meat right now just keeps leading him back to... "If it's not too much, can I ask if you came more than once? Just because I've heard, you know, that sometimes men do," he says, hoping he's not over-stepping with the question.
Luke nods. "Yeah. I pretty much don't have a refractory period," he says softly, torn between being embarrassed and thrilled that they're talking this... openly about things. "But I also," fuck, feeling the blush start in his cheeks and move steadily downward, "I can come without being hard. Like when Alex puts me in a cage. I can still come if I get aroused enough."
Any chance of politeness completely evaporates when Luke reveals that. Ryan lays down his knife - totally ignoring for the moment that his hands are covered in raw chicken - and stares. "You can... you can do that? I mean, not like... I've read about that. But, like, you can do that?"
Luke's pretty sure the blush has reached his toes by now. He nods. "Actually, Alex gave me permission to come like that whenever I can," he says, setting the asparagus in a separate roasting pan. "He teases me about it being a party trick."
"Wow." Now Ryan stares out the wide window, absently watching an afternoon haze settle on the hills. "That's... Damn." He looks back to Luke. "What does it feel like?"
"Like a normal orgasm," Luke says, leaning back against the counter, beer bottle in hand. "Although it builds a little differently, I guess, more in the base of my spine and it's more centred, um, in my hole." Another flush of heat spreading through him.
All right, so maybe it wouldn't make one bit of difference whether Ryan has nine beers or just one. When Luke talks like that, and Ryan's imagination - not too shabby to begin with - kicks into fevered overdrive, it forcibly drives home all of Sam's speculative words about Alex and him watching their two boys play together. "...Did you ever get to try out any of that stuff you bought? You know, from the Citadel boutique?"
"Did I not tell you?" Luke asks, before realizing that no, probably he hadn't, their schedules all so crazy. "I used the stepped plug and the harness on Alex's birthday last year. We went away for the weekend and the place had a playroom with a sling and I was finally able to take his fist," he confesses.
"Holy fuck!" Surely it's a measure of a true (if unexpected) friendship: Ryan is beyond excited to hear that. He swiftly washes his hands at the sink and then all but tackles Luke, wrapping him in an embrace while his hands are still wet. "Okay," he says, self-conscious a moment later. "Is it totally lame that I just hugged you?" Ryan laughs at himself and steps back. "I'm really happy for you, though. I know you said it was bothering you, that it hadn't worked yet."
"I don't think it's lame at all," Luke says, beaming and blushing at the same time. "And thanks. I was starting to get a little freaked out that I'd never get there, and meanwhile, you were able to take two."
Ryan's face heats as well. "I really don't remember it," he mutters, wondering whether that negates the whole experience. "And don't compare yourself to people like that," he says, gently chiding. "Because there's always some way to not measure up. God, I compared myself to you for a bit, you know? Made me miserable."
"Me?" Luke's taken aback. "Why?"
"Because you were with Sam first," Ryan points out, and it's nearly a mumble. "And you're... y'know. You."
"And you're you," Luke says, gesturing at Ryan. "You're gorgeous and you're talented and from what I've heard, Sam fell for you like that," snapping his fingers.
"No, he didn't really." But Ryan can feel the goofy smile on his face when he says the words. "I had to chase him a bunch. He only chased me back much much later." But once they finally caught each other... Well, they're certainly solid now. He picks up his knife again, but then abruptly lays it down once more. "What about you and Alex?" he asks, incredibly curious, and finally feeling comfortable enough to ask, now that he and Luke are talking like this. "Did it happen fast?"
Luke nods. "For me it did, and I think it did for Alex too but he was busy fighting it and I wasn't. I just wanted him so badly - and I knew I'd be good for him."
"You are really good for him," Ryan agrees, thinking back to the first time he met - and played with - Alex, all that time ago at the London Citadel. "He used to be very... actually he still is... Never mind," he tells Luke, giving up with a shake of his head. "You're obviously very good for him. And everything else is, obviously, just Alex." He grins cheekily. He likes Alex, truly he does -- but he can't imagine having to be around him 24/7. They'd probably kill each other.
"Used to be very what?" Luke says, poking Ryan in the side with a wooden spoon he plucks from the counter. "What's with the two of you?"
"Nothing! Nothing's with us," Ryan protests with a laugh, falling back a step so he's out of range. "Just, I only ever played with him and Sam at the same time, so I couldn't help but compare them. And Alex..." He checks over his shoulder in a flash of paranoia, and speaks more softly. "He kind of always made me tense. You know? Like, I wasn't even contracted to him - or involved with him - and I still had this undercurrent of fear that I was going to make a mistake and he'd be, I don't know. Furious." Giving Luke a little smile, he continues, "I've only ever seen him really relax when he's with you."
"That's because he trusts me," Luke says softly. "But I know what you mean. I used to be scared of disappointing him, or making him angry with me, but it's this shield he puts up. Mostly."
That fetches a raised eyebrow. "Mostly?"
Luke laughs. "Well, he really doesn't care what most people think of him and he'd never second-guess anything he was going to do unless it affected me or his family. So there really is this level on which he's kind of intimidating because he doesn't put up with /any/ shit from people and doesn't really get why anyone would."
Ryan rolls his eyes. "Must be nice being eight feet tall," he mutters through a grin. "You can get away with shit like that." A thought occurs to him and he sets the pan of chicken in the fridge for later. Growing more serious, he washes his hands and then boosts himself to a seat on the counter so that he can watch Luke's response to his next question. "Has Alex mentioned anything to you about the two of us playing together?"
Luke almost chokes on his next mouthful of beer, his eyes going wide as he shakes his head. "Us playing together?" he coughs out when he can speak again.
Fuck! Ryan thinks, and an instant later the curse spills from his lips. "Fuck. That's a no. I am so sorry." He slips back to his feet. "Forget I said it. I'm just going to see if they need anything," he says, swiftly turning to head out of the kitchen.
"No, Ryan, hold on," Luke pleads, stepping forward to grab his friend by the arm. "What did Sam say? Did he and Alex talk about it?"
"Um. I thought they did, but I must've gotten that wrong," Ryan says with a shrug and an embarrassed smile. Damn it, he can't lie for shit. "It was probably just something I thought about. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, really."
Luke gives Ryan a look. "Seriously? You expect me to believe you made a mistake about something like that?" He shakes his head. "I don't why Alex didn't say anything, and it does surprise me, but it doesn't make me uncomfortable. I'd be happy to play with you if our sirs wanted that."
Ryan's shoulders slump, although he appreciates that Luke is trying to make him feel like less of an idiot. "I'm sorry," he says softly. "I figured that if Sam mentioned it, then Alex probably did too. Don't be pissed off at him because of me."
"I'm not and I won't say anything to him," Luke promises. "As I said, I'm just surprised. Alex is... really possessive," which might be the understatement of the century, "and usually when anyone shows any interest in me, he wants to deck them." He laughs. "But he and Sam must have something up their collective sleeves."
Rolling his eyes at the thought, Ryan sighs. "Yeah, that's all we need, the two of them plotting together," he mutters, then looks up at Luke in curiosity. "Have you hooked up with anyone else since the two of you got together?"
Luke shakes his head. "No. I've been off the market completely and Alex still had the right but he told me at the wedding that he wasn't going to hook up with anyone else again - not unless I was there and it was something we both wanted." Which, really, was the best wedding present he ever could have asked for, even better than his gorgeous new car.
"Whoa, seriously?" Ryan's eyes are wide now, and he has to remind himself to close his mouth. "He...? Wow." He wants to inquire how Alex has been handling his hetero side of bisexual, but it would probably be less than tactful. Irrelevant, as well. "And how's that been for you?" he asks instead, because fuck knows Luke's sir probably wouldn't. "Being off the market like you said, when the two of you are separated by work so much?"
"It's been fine. I expected to be off the market once he decided he wanted me," Luke says, a little confused by the question. "And we talk on the phone, skype, fly back and forth..." He frowns. "You don't get to fuck around, do you?"
"Not without Sam's specific permission, no, but... I wouldn't have energy to go around if I did, you know?" Ryan grins. "Work keeps Sam really busy. And I keep him busy the rest of the time."
"Yeah, and you get to be with him all the time," Luke says with a soft sigh. "Lucky you."
Ryan gives Luke a sympathetic half-smile. "Did you ever get to try that thing we talked about once? You know, like taking a few days to be sir and boy 24/7?"
Luke takes a drink of his beer and then nods. "It didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped," he confesses. "I fucked up with something and Alex got mad at me. Not actually angry but I was too far under to know the difference so I lost it and then he got upset because I was upset... at first he didn't want to keep going the next day but we talked it out and he let me do a bit more but I think he's still a little gunshy about doing anything more like that."
"Wait. He got upset because you got upset?" Ryan thought he understood the gist of the story right up until that point. "What's that about? Are you not allowed to get emotional? I mean, if you two are going to do something that runs so deep, he can't expect you..." he trails off with a shrug, not quite certain how to phrase what he means. But he knows that Luke's words made him uncomfortable, somehow.
"No, it's not that," Luke protests. "I often get emotional in scene but I was really beside myself and it scared him. He felt like he'd fucked up by not knowing that I'd get that upset. He was upset because he thought he'd really hurt me."
Ryan leans back against the kitchen island and considers this. "Did he?" It can be a tough question to answer, he knows, but it's also tough to ask.
"Really hurt me, you mean?" Luke clarifies.
"Right," Ryan agrees softly. "Like how he was scared that he did." Christ, is anyone even looking out for Luke? Ryan doesn't know him well enough to be sure.
"No, god no," Luke says, shaking his head. "I was just upset. I was under and I thought he was angry with me and that I'd really fucked up. The minute he took me into his arms, I was better. He loves me. He would never really hurt me." And then he adds a little more softly. "I know you don't know him that well, but if you did, you'd know that."
"Okay. I believe you," Ryan replies, but takes a moment before he speaks again. "Don't be offended that I asked. This is the first contract relationship that you've been in, right?" he asks quietly. "The rest of the world doesn't understand us, doesn't comprehend why we seek out the things we do. But I think I'm kinky like I am gay, do you know what I mean? I don't always choose to want what I want." He shrugs one shoulder. "I don't want you to feel like you're alone in this. You know, isolated by who you are."
"No, I know, thank you," Luke says, giving Ryan a smile. "I appreciate the concern, and I get where it's coming from. It feels good to have someone to talk to about all of this. I can talk to Alex, but it's not the same as talking to another sub, especially another boy."
"No, of course not," Ryan agrees, huffing a soft laugh. "Even if he weren't your sir, I don't think he could really get your perspective. I mean, some true switches, maybe... But Alex has never been someone's sub, has he? Just a guess."
Luke laughs and shakes his head. "No. What about Sam? How much do you guys talk about this stuff?"
"Not that much. I remember asking him when we were first getting to know each other. You know, like actually dating," Ryan says, grinning in memory. "I think what he said was that there have been just a few times in his life when he was on his knees and actually felt like he was submitting. But it was really rare." He thinks that's what Sam said? Yeah, right. Ryan suspects he recalls every word of the conversations they had in the very beginning. He was so desperate to know Sam.
Luke nods, smiling. Ryan is just so in love with Sam and it's wonderful to see. "What about fucking up? You seem like the perfect boy for Sam, but I'm assuming... I mean..." he says, struggling for the words for exactly what he wants to know. "Have you ever broken any of your rules? Or made him mad or messed up a scene when you didn't mean to?"
"Oh, hell yes." Ryan nods. "I've been punished so many times for coming without permission. I mean, you'd think my body would fucking learn already, you know? But it's like my self-control just disintegrates when I get far under... Oh man, and this one time I made Sam so furious," he adds, his voice quieter. He shivers with an unpleasant shock of memory. "He really pissed me off during a scene, but I wasn't able to articulate what it was that was the problem. Not even to myself, just then. So I said my safeword to get out of it, and he thought I wasn't taking it seriously. But I was, you know?" He glances up to meet Luke's eyes. "I was just so mad at him but I didn't even know why. I didn't know what else to do."
"Was that what led to you giving up your safeword?"
"Yeah, exactly," Ryan answers, thinking about when they talked that day at Citadel. "I didn't use it when I should have, and then I used it and pissed him off, and I was feeling, like, this is ridiculous. Sam knows me, he knows my limits. And I completely trust him to take care of me," he says. "So it's just simpler this way. He can safeword for me if he ever thinks it's necessary, and that takes a weight off me because I don't have to keep that continual awareness, you know? He didn't want to, though. I mean, at first."
Luke really can't blame him. The thought of being responsible for someone's safety, of having no way of telling his sir that something's too much... it terrifies him. "But what if you get pissed off at him in scene again?"
Ryan shrugs. "Then I react. And he deals with it however he chooses. Deals with me." His brow furrows and he studies Luke. "Don't you get angry with Alex?"
"Sometimes, but not usually in scene, and I find it hard to stay mad at him anyway," Luke confesses with a laugh.
"Well, yeah. But that's how it should be for all of us, right?" Ryan's smile goes crooked. "It makes me sick to my stomach when Sam is angry with me. But as long as we're still talking to each other... It would kill me if he dealt with shit by shoving me away." His voice is soft now. And it occurs to him that he doesn't really have anyone to discuss this with, either.
"Alex tries to," Luke says, finishing the last of his beer, "but I don't let him."
Ryan laughs out loud. "That's it, then. You're definitely a match for him."
"Were you worried that I wasn't?" Luke asks.
"A little bit," Ryan admits, and attempts to clarify, "I have no idea how you two are with each other when you're in a scene, or playing hard. Usually when I see you, you're pretty quiet, and he's overwhelming." He smiles. "I'm happy to be proven wrong."
Luke smiles at that. "Can I ask you something?" he says, before continuing anyway, because if they can't talk about this, well... "What you said about Sam and Alex wanting us to play together for them? Are you okay with that? Does the idea appeal to you?" The last thing he wants is Ryan to be pushed into something he doesn't want to do just to make their sirs happy. Especially if he doesn't actually find him attractive or still feels weird about the fact that Luke's been with Sam.
"Um." Oh fuck. The whole 'deer in headlights' look is really not how Ryan would prefer to go, here, but it appears to be his default expression at the moment. "Does it appeal to me?" he echoes, grasping at the least-volatile part of the question. "Yeah, of course. You're completely hot, and I really like you as a friend already, so if there's chemistry there, it would be easy to find out, and if there's not chemistry there, then I'd hope we could just laugh it of and move on without if affecting our friendship."
"Of course," Luke says, like anything else would be silly. "I wouldn't be offended at all."
"Great," Ryan says, nodding like one of those goofy bobble-head dolls. "But... the other?" He works to ensure that his phrasing is as tactful as he can possibly manage. "With guys like us - you know, who are used to D/s in all of our sexual relationships - then inevitably there'll be the question of which one of us is taking the more aggressive role. Unless," he adds, his face brightening a bit, "unless they just make that call for us." Maybe it's pure cowardice, but Ryan finds himself earnestly hoping for that last possibility.
"Alex might have some pretty strong opinions on that," Luke says, biting at his lower lip. "I'm not sure he'd want anyone else being aggressive with me. Would it bother you if I was the aggressive one?" Not that he really thinks that would go over well with Alex either so what the hell were their sirs thinking?
Ryan chuckles softly. "No, that wouldn't bother me at all. But... This is starting to sound more and more like something that gets talked about, but never actually happens. I'm just going to put it aside, mentally," he glances at the clock, "and work on getting dinner into the oven."
Luke laughs. "Maybe they're just enjoying fantasizing about it," he suggests, picking up a tea towel to check on the potatoes.
With a snort, Ryan nods. "Yep," he agrees. "I bet that's it exactly."
"Perverts," Luke says, flashing a grin at Ryan as he sets the potatoes on the counter.
Ryan snickers. "They completely are. Thank goodness they've got us, to be the normal people in the relationships."