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Mutual Little Thought Experiment

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It was always easy to tell when Caspar had something on his mind. He tended to, for lack of a better word, hover.

Of course, Linhardt didn’t especially mind the habit. He’d had plenty of time to get used to it, after all. He was perfectly content to continue his reading, chin in hand, flipping leisurely through one of the many books scattered across his desk, while Caspar paced about and shot him long looks and paused every now and then to read over his shoulder. He’d come out with whatever was on his mind eventually, as he always did, and there was no sense changing any of his own plans until then.

Besides, he thought he knew what it was all about, and he wasn’t about to go broaching the subject, himself.

He remained peripherally aware of him rustling about in the background as he skimmed through his reading, pausing occasionally to note something down, or to flip back and cross reference bits of information, or just to tilt his head back and stretch his arms overhead and yawn widely, blinking up at the ceiling.

“You know,” Caspar said, while Linhardt was in the middle of one of these yawns, “If you’re getting sleepy, you should just come to bed. I don’t want to wake up to find you all sprawled out across the desk in the morning, again.”

“Caspar, really,” he sighed. His aggrieved tone was at odds with the lazy little smile he felt creeping over his face, but Caspar was somewhere behind him and probably couldn’t see that. “I’ve had some of my very best naps sprawled out here, exactly how you describe. You’d take that away from me?”

“Someone has to stop you from drooling all over all your notes,” he said. Linhardt winced and straightened in his seat, blinking down at it all. Yes, he did have a point.

“All right,” he said, turning in his seat. They couldn’t put it off forever. “Suppose I do come to bed.” Caspar, it appeared, had already decided to do exactly that. Reclining as he was, all sprawled out atop the blankets, arms bent back under his head… loose nightshirt riding up over his belly… well, Linhardt wasn’t above taking a long look. Caspar seemed to notice this, judging by the way his brows arched and his lips quirked into a familiar, playful little grin. Linhardt scooted his desk chair around so that he was fully facing him and crossed his arms. “You seem comfortable,” he observed.

Caspar nodded. “It’s a comfortable bed, Linhardt, you ought to know. You use it often enough, don’t you?”

“Not nearly as often as I’d like,” he said. Caspar shrugged. His feet were bare, Linhardt noted, which was normal for bed, of course, but the way Caspar bounced his feet and curled his toes in place could be very distracting. He could never just sit -- or lie -- still, not in all the years he’d known him.

“You say that, but there you are, just sitting there…” Caspar lifted a hand from behind his head and gestured nebulously at him, like he was making a point. This, in turn, made his shirt ride up just the tiniest bit higher, and Linhardt couldn’t help but wonder if he was doing that on purpose. Surely not. It really oughtn’t have been so distracting, that one little strip of skin, but Caspar was, well, he was meticulous with his training, and it afforded a certain muscularity, and Linhardt still wasn’t exactly sure just when he’d started noticing such things, but…

He cleared his throat, dragging his eyes back to Caspar’s face, which was currently narrow eyed and focused entirely on him.

“Something the matter, there?” Caspar asked, the very picture of innocence.

He sucked in a little breath. Well. If he was going to be like this about it, two could play.

“Oh, no. Quite the opposite. I was just thinking about how very attractive you’ve become,” Linhardt said, both because it was true, and because he knew perfectly well that it would make Caspar blush. And blush he did, brilliantly, his neck and cheeks and ears all lighting up in pink and red.

“You say that like I haven’t always been,” Caspar said, in a bold sort of tone that was utterly at odds with his flushed complexion. He always postured like that when he was embarrassed. Linhardt sat back, arms crossed, and allowed himself a little smirk of his own.

“Oh, yes,” he said, rolling his eyes. “You were a most attractive six year old. I was especially swept away by your perplexing ability to always be covered in mud, blood, or both. Not to mention your persistent inability to moderate the volume of your own voice. Frankly, I have no idea how I resisted your charms for so very long.”

Caspar waved a dismissive hand. “Me neither,” he said. “Or how you’re resisting them right now, for that matter.”

Linhardt tilted his head. “Am I?”

“Well, you’re still over there, and I’m still over here, so…”

“Yes, but I assure you, I’m doing an awful lot of looking, Caspar.”

He seemed to puff up a bit at that. Like certain species of territorial lizards, Linhardt thought. He lifted his sleeve to hide an unexpected laugh.

“What?” Caspar demanded, because of course, he couldn’t hide such things from him. “What’s so funny?” He sat up. His cheeks were going very pink, again. It was the color of his hair that made his blushing so aesthetically interesting, Linhardt thought. Like a pastel painting.

“You are,” he said, dropping his arm and flashing a smile. “Don’t take it badly. I like the way you make me laugh.” He stood, then, and paused for a moment with his head tilted and a hand on his hip, the very picture of thoughtful consideration. “I like quite a lot of things about you. In fact, I might go so far as to say that I simply like you,” he said.

Caspar crossed his arms, brow furrowed. “I really have no idea how to deal with compliments from you,” he said.

“Sorry, sorry,” Linhardt laughed, and in one long stride he crossed the distance to the bed and flopped down beside him on his belly. The bed creaked and bounced. “It’s awful, I know. I really ought to just keep my mouth shut, whenever I get the urge.” He rolled over onto his back. Caspar was peering down at him, arms still crossed. “Forgive me?” he smiled up at him.

Caspar kept the severe look for another second, and then it melted away into a familiar, fond little smile, instead. And, oh dear. That did do strange things to his insides. His heart skipped a beat, his stomach fluttered, and a pleasant sort of warmth bloomed in his belly and spread out through the rest of him, tingling down to his toes. He’d like to bottle that feeling, he thought, absently. It’d be absurdly lucrative, the ability to make anyone feel this good on demand.

How very strange that it was Caspar’s affection that affected him so deeply. When had that started? Years ago, surely, and yet it still felt strange and new.

Especially lately. Their mutual little thought experiment with the single room and its single bed spoke volumes enough about that, not to mention all the kissing. Quite a lot of kissing. A properly distracting and yet somehow not quite satisfying quantity of kissing.

“Yeah, yeah,” Caspar said, blissfully unaware of the trajectory of his thoughts. He reached down and brushed Linhardt’s hair off his forehead, which sent another warm little wave cresting through him, especially when he shifted to lean over him, awkward though the angle was. “Hey. You want to make it up to me?”

“Not particularly,” Linhardt couldn’t help but tease him. “Sounds like it could be work.”

“Nope,” Caspar said, and then he leaned in a little further, and for a moment Linhardt thought he might actually just go ahead and do it, bold and confident and a bit dashing, really -- but then, of course, he stopped and shut his eyes and scrunched up his ridiculous, handsome face into something altogether less appealing, and then he made a plaintive, questioning sound. “It’s all right if I kiss you, now, right?” he demanded, too loudly.

“Yes, Caspar,” Linhardt said, with frankly saintly patience. “Also, as I’ve said before, you don’t have to ask every time.”

“I just like to be sure!”

“Caspar.”

He sucked in a breath, and then, blindly, darted his face down and forward. Linhardt caught him with one hand in his hair and the other flat across one of his warm pink cheeks, firmly redirecting his aim before he could knock their heads together. He’d had to endure more than a few bumps and bruises before that little trick had practically become reflex.

Of course, as always, once they got started, Linhardt was more than willing to let Caspar take the lead. And, for his own part, Caspar was more than adequate to the task. He moved his mouth with just the right blend of bashful uncertainty and brash boldness, shy and practically chaste one moment and anything but in the next, parting his lips and using his tongue.

In truth, Linhardt had never imagined he’d enjoy kissing quite so much. It had always seemed so very strange and messy and unpleasant, in theory. But he had never accounted for or even known about the quiet suggestion in it, the subtle invitation, the way all the heat and softness and moving parts all sunk languidly into his brain and made him think of other things, more daring things. Things which in turn made his body respond…

Well. Rather obviously. He looped an arm around Caspar’s neck, allowing himself to enjoy the broadness of his shoulders and the distracting way his muscles bunched and moved as he adjusted his position. The bed creaked again, and Caspar pulled away just a fraction and let out a nervous, breathless laugh, and Linhardt’s stomach did that distracting fluttering thing again, and it was all just so very… exhilarating, he thought, might be the best word.

“I will never understand why we took so long to start doing this sort of thing,” he said, because when his mouth wasn’t otherwise occupied, these feelings tended to make him say things that were very embarrassing, at best.

“Oh,” Caspar said, and then he laughed again, draping himself over Linhardt’s body, trapping him in place between his knees. “Uhm. My fault, probably. I mean. I can be sorta…” he smiled. “You know.”

“Dense?”

“You’re not supposed to actually say it!”

“Why not? I’m not sure that’s the full truth of it, anyway.” He ran his fingers up into Caspar’s hair from the back of his neck, enjoying the way it made Caspar’s eyes flutter shut and elicited a breathy sort of gasp, too. There was a lot to discover, as it turned out, when it came to touching another person like this. “I should have realized a fair bit sooner, myself.”

“No sense dwelling on it now,” Caspar said. “Hey…”

“If you’re about to ask for permission to kiss me again, I am going to be very cross with you, Caspar.”

He laughed. “No, I was… I mean, yes, but also, I was just going to ask… something, here.” He bit his lip. Linhardt blinked up at him, curious.

“Ah, yes,” he said. “You’ve had something on your mind all night.”

“Oh, uh. Have I?”

“Please. I can always tell. You’re an open book, you know. Out with it, then, let’s hear it.”

Caspar’s brow wrinkled, and for a moment Linhardt thought he might argue instead of divulging whatever had been bothering him to begin with. But then his expression smoothed, and suddenly Linhardt found himself nervous for entirely different reasons. Nothing good could come of Caspar looking at him like that.

“Okay,” Caspar began. “It’s just, I guess, I wanted to ask… are you happy with all of this?”

And he very nearly laughed. Not a good idea. Caspar was sure to take it the wrong way. “Excuse me?” he said instead, voice strained.

“You’re not, you know… just settling, or whatever, because there was never… I mean, this is good, right?” He ducked his head, once again coloring to a very compelling shade of pink. “I know it’s convenient, and that’s nice and all, but I just wanna know…”

“Well, my goodness,” Linhardt said, faintly. “Caspar. You’re actually insecure about this? After all this time?”

“Kinda?” He puffed up again in that territorial lizard way he had, blowing out his cheeks. It made him look younger than he was, more like he’d been long before Linhardt had ever noticed the shine of his lips or the broadness of his shoulders or the pleasing texture of the muscles over his abdomen. “Look.” he said. “You could go anywhere, do anything. You’re so smart, you’d be useful anywhere, and you’re so…” He gestured, nebulously. Ah. Disappointing. Linhardt found he very much wanted to know what word Caspar had wanted to use, there. “You could make anyone fall for you, I think, if you really put your mind to it. And so I guess I’ve just been wondering, if this is just… the path of least resistance, sort of?” He blew out a breath, hard enough to stir Linhardt’s hair. “Because if that’s what it is, I’ve been thinking, I shouldn’t be holding you back like this! You could do so much better than just wandering around with me, forever, letting me drag you into trouble all the time, or…”

He trailed off, blinking down at him.

He licked his lips.

“Yeah, that’s all,” he clarified. “You get what I’m saying. I’m all out of words, now, I think.”

Linhardt closed his eyes and let out a long, loud and much aggrieved sigh. “Oh, thank goodness,” he said. “That’s quite enough of that. Even though I suppose this is at least partially my fault, too.” He opened his eyes, blinking up at him. That odd nervousness was back, making his heart behave entirely inappropriately, stuttering in his chest. “Very well, then. I’ll just say it now, I suppose.”

“Say… what?” Caspar frowned. Linhardt held up a hand, forestalling further comment.

“Really, even when we first ran off, back before we knew if we’d be able to so much as find a safe place to sleep, at night…” he reached up and squished Caspar’s distracting face between his palms. “I should have just said this back then. Though to be completely fair, I only suspected, at the time. I wasn’t sure.

“Suspected what?” his frown only deepened, suspicion writ all over his face. “Sure of what?

He hesitated. Silly, really. There was no chance, by now, that the feelings weren’t mutual.

“That I loved you, of course,” Linhardt said, directly and matter of fact, like it was the most reasonable and obvious thing in the world -- because it was, even if Caspar’s little indrawn breath suggested that he hadn’t expected it. And if he was talking too fast, what of it? “But I’ve been quite sure of it for awhile, now. It’s just been, ah, easier? Not to say it.” And as though to underline the point, he could feel his own face flushing horribly. “Also, there was the matter of your never having said it to me,” he added, a touch defensively. “I always assumed that you would say it first. You’ve never been shy with wearing your feelings outwardly for everyone to see.”

Caspar was just staring at him, eyes wide, lips slightly parted, but at that statement all his features tightened up again into an outright glare. Linhardt blinked up at him. Hm. Unexpected.

“Excuse me!” Caspar cried, far too loudly. Simultaneously, he took hold of Linhardt’s hands and dragged them away from his face, linking their fingers together. “I am pretty darn shy about some feelings, Linhardt, thank you very much! You think I’d just say something like that? Out loud? Out of nowhere?”

“I thought you’d say it soon after that first kiss, some time ago, in fact, but…”

“How was I supposed to know that’s what you wanted to hear!”

“Well,” he blinked, “I was kissing you, after all. I’d like to be kissing you again, soon, if you don’t mind. This conversation is excruciating.” There was also the fact that Caspar had moved their hands to pin Linhardt’s under his on the bed, putting them in an overall extremely compromising sort of position, and it was becoming difficult to focus on anything else.

Caspar let out a little laughing wheeze, and then, surprisingly obedient, leaned in to kiss him again. Linhardt made a pleased, approving little sound, a hum against his lips, and the tangled, awkward feeling in his belly dissolved with remarkable speed into a rush of sweet, hopeful heat. Much better, that. Caspar squeezed his hands and explored his mouth with a determined sort of ferocity he’d never really displayed, before, and Linhardt tilted his chin and squeezed his hands back and did his level best to be encouraging, because so long as they were kissing like this, awkward confessions and embarrassing conversations were the furthest things from his mind.

Of course, straddling him the way he was, Caspar couldn’t have possibly missed the way Linhardt’s body responded to the treatment. So when he startled atop him, jerking his face away and their lips apart with a wet and altogether scandalous sound, Linhardt worried at first that it was, well, because of that. And maybe it was, but he needn’t have worried. Slowly but firmly, Caspar rolled his hips against Linhardt’s, dragging his own body firm against the hard line of his arousal. Linhardt couldn’t quite bring himself to look, but, oh, the way it felt… and Caspar, it seemed, was similarly affected.

It should have been very embarrassing for the both of them, he thought. Strange how desire could so utterly fog up one’s mind. All he could really think about was how much he wanted him to move like that again. Maybe while kissing him, this time.

While he stumbled clumsily through these thoughts, Caspar just sat quietly, watching his face like he was trying to puzzle out all the mysteries of the world.

“Is that all right?” he whispered, eventually, and, oh, he did sound terrified! Fondness caught Linhardt in an iron grip and squeezed, relentless. He smiled up at him.

“You act like I’ve never encountered that particular part of you, before now,” he said. “I assure you, I have. On multiple occasions. Why, here in this very bed, once or twice. And do you remember, when we were thirteen, you --”

“Oh, no,” Caspar tried to cut him off, as though it were so easy. “No, hold on --”

“-- Came crawling into my bed, in the middle of the night --”

“It was storming,” Caspar wheezed, delightfully despairing. Linhardt snorted up at him, still grinning foolishly. He couldn’t seem to control the muscles in his own face, at the moment.

“Yes, it was a particularly bad one. You woke me up with your whimpering. I always thought that was odd, you know. Why did the sound of your distress wake me up so easily, when all that thunder and lightning couldn’t? Well. I suppose I’ve always just been attuned to your particular needs, haven’t I?”

Caspar slumped down to press his forehead into Linhardt’s shoulder, groaning. “I really didn’t think you remembered that,” he said, muffled into his nightshirt.

“Caspar, really. It was my first encounter with such things. At least, in the context of those things being something one could share with another person, so of course I remember. When I woke up, the sun was out, the day was pleasant, and there you were, snuggled atop me, snoring into my face.” He raised his eyebrows, nudging the side of Caspar’s face with his chin. “And practically impaling me with a certain, hm, bit of anatomy…”

“It wasn’t like that!” Caspar wailed, still muffled into Linhardt’s shoulder. “I mean, not like this! I was just -- you know how it is! In the morning! Sometimes…” He lifted his head, glaring down at him. “And I felt really bad about it, you know, for a long time!”

“Really?” Linhardt made a considering sound. “I thought you were just embarrassed. In truth, I found it very bothersome. I was quite bored throughout all that time you spent avoiding me.”

Caspar laughed, helplessly, letting his head hang back down against his shoulder. Linhardt’s fingers twitched, captured as they still were. It was nice, the feel of Caspar’s fingers threaded with his, but he really wanted to, oh, touch his face. Run his fingers through his hair. Things he was presumably allowed to do with impunity, now.

“You really aren’t making this easy,” Caspar complained.

“This?”

“Yeah, this!” Caspar repeated. He pushed himself up, and then let go of Linhardt’s hands and sat back, hands on hips. Hm. Linhardt took a quick breath and chanced a look down, and, well, indeed it seemed that things were not proceeding as he’d hoped. He frowned.

“I was actually trying to put you at ease,” he said. “My point was, there really is nothing you need to be nervous about. I already know how I feel about you. And I’ve had quite a number of years to reflect on what I felt that day, too, and why I thought about it so often, and more to the point, why I prayed to the Goddess every time you came to visit that there would be another storm…”

“Oh, you didn’t,” Caspar said, covering his face. “You did not!”

“Yes, I did! I didn’t understand it at the time, but…” Linhardt let himself flop back against the pillows with a breathy little huff, and yawned, wide and loud. “Well. Even more to the point. If you aren’t too embarrassed, Caspar, I have been waiting a very long time for you to just take my clothes off, already.”

Caspar peeked at him through his fingers. “Oh,” he said, softly.

“You don’t have to, of course,” Linhardt assured him. “I’ve waited this long. I can be very patient. Though, if you aren’t going to do anything about it,” he lifted himself onto his elbows with a little grimace. “I might have to excuse myself, for a moment --”

“No, hey -- hey, what?” Caspar put his hands on his shoulders and pushed him back down, and as ever, the thoughtless ease with which he overpowered him proved intriguing and exciting, indeed. Linhardt let himself collapse onto his back, again, and gave him a hopeful look.

“So, then, you’re -- ah,” he said, the barest, breathy hint of a sound, and then he was inhaling sharply through his nose, because Caspar was keeping his mouth fully and entirely otherwise occupied. He made a happy sound and let his eyes slip closed, and then, after a moment’s thought, remember he had the use of his hands again. He slid his fingers encouragingly through Caspar’s hair, enjoying the longer bits just as much as he enjoyed dragging his fingertips over the shorter, coarser parts, too. Caspar seemed to enjoy it just as much, from the way he groaned into his mouth, and there, yes, dragged his hips cautiously against him, teasing. Slowly, hesitantly, Caspar eased his hands down Linhardt’s sides, over his nightshirt, and halfway down he gripped it tight and tugged it up, exposing most of LInhardt’s stomach and bunching up the fabric between them.

He hadn’t actually thought his heart could beat faster, but the sensation of Caspar’s calloused hands flat against his bare skin -- oh. He felt a little light headed, actually, but maybe that was for a lack of air. He reached down between them and took hold of one of Caspar’s wrists, dragging his hand further up his chest, encouraging.

Instead of following his direction, however, Caspar just grabbed his hand again and lifted himself up, breaking off their kiss. Linhardt licked his lips and looked up at him, breathing hard.

“Hands up,” Caspar said, and it actually took him a moment to understand what he was talking about.

“Ah,” he said, when it finally dawned. “Right.” He lifted his hands, and Caspar yanked his shirt up and over his head. Linhardt opened his eyes again just in time to watch him toss it away, and it was ridiculous, actually, how just that made a little thrill spark its way down his spine.

“So, I,” Caspar said, running his eyes over him, like he hadn’t seen him like this plenty of times in the past. “I don’t know much about what I’m doing, so if you’ve got any ideas, or you want me to do something, just, you know…”

“Touch me,” Linhardt said, firmly, and Caspar shut his mouth so fast he actually heard his teeth click together. “And kiss me. Here,” he said, lifting his chin, exposing his neck. “Wherever you like, but definitely here. And…”

“Okay,” Caspar said, and that wheezing quality was back in his voice, again, which Linhardt was coming to understand was a good thing. “Slow down, hold on. I…”

Linhardt smiled at him, and then he fell back against the pillows once more and held out his arms, inviting. “You can’t back out, now, Caspar,” he said. “Now you’ve gotten my hopes up. Ah, among other things.”

Caspar laughed, ran his hands through his hair, and then grinned, fiercely. And then he lifted his own shirt up and off over his head, and tossed that aside, too. Linhardt felt his eyes widen, heard himself make a small, approving sound. Then Caspar was on the move again, shifting over him, moving one leg to press his knee -- there, between his legs, and Linhardt gasped and nodded and gestured for him to come closer, already, closer.

He held himself still, at first, even as Caspar ducked obediently in and kissed messily down his chin and up the line of his jaw, working his way up to his ear. He wound his arms around him, liking the way Caspar’s bare shoulders felt under his hands, enjoying the simple pleasure of feeling his muscles bunch and move as he angled himself to continue kissing as requested down the line of his throat, the side of his neck. It felt good, better than he’d imagined, and before long he found himself rocking his own hips up, making good use of the offered friction, there. It was good, very good, but also uncomfortable, trapped as he was in the confines of his own pants. He had no doubt Caspar was feeling the same.

“Caspar,” he sighed, coloring deeply at how very sweet he sounded when he said his name like that. It was hard to catch his breath, especially when Caspar pressed his nose into the soft skin beneath his chin and scraped his teeth over the crease of his throat. He shivered, rocking his hips up, pressing that hard, increasingly urgent bit of himself insistently against Caspar’s leg. “Oh, do that again,” he begged, and Caspar obliged him, pinching that thin, sensitive skin between his teeth, then following up those little sparks of sensation with soft, wet kisses.

He could have enjoyed this treatment all night, he thought. He’d have happily let Caspar go on kissing and biting and licking until the urgent heat in his belly lost its war of attrition with the hour and he dissolved on a cloud of warm contentment into sleep and pleasant dreams…

Ah, but he did want more. “Caspar,” he repeated, a little sharper, this time. Caspar looked up.

“Yeah?” he asked, his voice just a little hoarse, a bit unsteady. His eyes were wide and bright, his cheeks flushed that familiar pretty pink, and his hair was all mussed up and sweaty and sticking out at odd angles where Linhardt had pulled it out of place.

It may well have been the chemicals wreaking havoc in his brain, but Linhardt was quite sure he’d never seen anything half as appealing, before.

“As wonderful as this is -- and it is wonderful,” he said, quickly, liking the way the words made Caspar perk up and preen a bit, “I do seem to still be wearing clothes…” he trailed off, meaningfully.

Caspar swallowed, and nodded, and brought his hands to Linhardt’s waist, sitting up and sadly, dragging his knee back to give him room to work. “You’re sure about this?” he said, in a small voice, the sort of voice he used when he thought he was in trouble. Linhardt laughed, breathlessly.

“Very much so,” he said. “So long as you’re comfortable,” he added, and then he raised his brows in an implicit question. Caspar nodded. It wasn’t terribly convincing, but then he dragged one hand around to rest lightly over the very visible lump in the fabric between Linhardt’s legs, tracing around the obvious shape of him, and Linhardt sucked in a breath and held it, watching his face.

“I, uh,” Caspar began, not so eloquently, palming over him. Really, it shouldn’t have felt so good. There was no logical reason for a bit of clumsy pawing over his pants to feel that good, but he could hardly deny the way he rocked his hips and whimpered aloud and eased his legs open wider for him. More brain chemicals, he supposed. “I want to make you feel good,” Caspar said, a little more confident, maybe because of the absolutely shameless way Linhardt knew he was behaving, now. “I know you don’t like doing any work,” Caspar added, and there was a little glint of mischief on his face, now, a little thread of teasing in his tone that suited him very well, indeed. Linhardt laughed, breathy and a little bit embarrassed, now, himself.

“Now, just what are you saying, Caspar?” he teased. “Are you offering to do all the work, then? That suits me just fine. Shall I lay back for you, or would you prefer me to turn around?”

The pink dusting Caspar’s face bloomed into full scarlet, exactly the way Linhardt had hoped it would. “I’ll do it all, if that’s what you want,” he said, determinedly. “I’ll do whatever you want. I… ah.” He seemed to remember, then, that he was actually squeezing Linhardt’s cock through the thin fabric of his sleepwear as he spoke. His fingers stilled and he went redder still, and raised his other hand to scrub over his face and through his own hair. He shook his head. “Here,” he said. “You just lay back. Just,” and here his brows furrowed deeply, “Don’t fall asleep! If you fall asleep, I’m going to be, just...” he sputtered.

“I won’t fall asleep,” Linhardt promised.

Caspar gave him an uncertain look, and nodded. “And don’t laugh,” he added.

“Whatever are you planning to do, that you’re worried about such things?”

Caspar gave him another look, a bit exasperated, this time, and then he scooted a little further down the bed.

“Something boring? Something funny? Both? Is it possible for something to be both boring and -- oh,” he said, surprised, because rather than interrupting him with words or sounds or even just another kiss, Caspar simply leaned over and set doggedly about unlacing Linhardt’s pants.

Well then.

Satisfied with that development, Linhardt shut his mouth and moved to do as he was told, laying back against the pillows and focusing on remembering to breathe. Caspar tugged his pants down off his hips, and Linhardt lifted his backside off the bed to aid him in that most noble of endeavors. He heard Caspar exhale softly, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to look him in the eye as they shimmied his pants and underthings off altogether, leaving him entirely exposed. In fact, he closed his eyes entirely, then.

But he did enjoy the feeling, embarrassing as it was. He enjoyed it even more when Caspar wrapped a hand around his cock and gave him a slow, considering stroke, squeezing lightly from base to tip. He opened his mouth to tell him so, to say some witty, silly thing that might break up the heavy tension pooling between them, again, but to his great surprise, all that came out of his mouth was a soft, encouraging little moan.

Ah, but it did seem to have the intended effect.

Caspar went on touching him, sending thrilling little fingers of heat from that point of contact deep into his middle, spooling pleasure right into his very core. The bed creaked as he shifted above him, the angle of his ministrations changing, and a rough hand on his thigh pushed his legs further apart. Linhardt obliged him eagerly, bending his knees and opening his legs and blushing furiously at how utterly shameless it all was, but -- well, it was only Caspar. It was all right, if it was only for him.

“You’re really gorgeous,” Caspar said, hushed and entirely too solemn, considering. The bed creaked again, and Linhardt’s eyes fluttered open just in time to watch Caspar press his mouth into that little dip where his thigh met the rest of his body.

“Oh,” Linhardt gasped, his eyes opening wide. “Please, yes,” he breathed, flexing his fingers into the blankets beneath him. His breath actually hitched as he considered all the possibilities that one little gesture contained, and Caspar grinned up at him, his eyes so very bright. He slid both hands to rest on Linhardt’s thighs, holding him open, and then turned his face and exhaled loudly, his warm breath ghosting over him. Linhardt groaned, softly, tilting his head up, squeezing his eyes shut tight. He couldn’t possibly watch. If he watched, it would all be over too soon.

Caspar pressed his lips along the side of his cock, starting at the base and kissing slowly, sweetly toward the head, and Linhardt covered his face with his arms and tried to remember to breathe. “Oh, yes,” he groaned, softly, into the crooks of his own elbows. “Yes, Caspar, please, yes.” He barely thought about the words, but once they were out, he couldn’t help but examine them, foggy though his mind was. He’d never thought to be reduced to begging, but here they were.

“Keep talking,” Caspar suggested, and Linhardt shivered anew at the way it felt to have his breath against the very tip of him. “Tell me… just, tell me that you like it,” he said, speaking just a little too quickly, and then -- oh, and then.

“Oh, I do,” Linhardt assured him, punctuating the statement with a deep breath and a little moan as Caspar, presumably, took him into his mouth. The feeling was like nothing he’d managed to experience in all his long years of pleasuring his own self, that was certain. He swallowed, hard, his thoughts a buzzing, lazy whirlpool in his head. “I do, very much, I like that very much, Caspar, oh, please…” he gasped again, as Caspar took him deeper, adding his tongue, oh, his tongue, teasing his most sensitive places. He gripped the blankets even tighter, his body tense and rigid, his back arching up of his own accord. His breathing came fast and shallow and audibly ragged. Caspar moved up and down his length, the heat of his mouth rising and falling over him like a tide, and the sounds it made! The sounds were almost as good as all the rest on their own, slick and soft and matching the pulsing rhythm of his building pleasure.

It occurred to him all at once that he could be touching Caspar while he did this, and in a great hurry, he disentangled his fingers from the blankets and reached down to take tight hold of Caspar’s hair, instead. Caspar made a surprised, appreciative sound, and seemed to renew his efforts. When he moaned, it sent delicious vibrations all the way through him, shaking him to his very core. He moved his fingers in short, static bursts, first gripping and pulling and twisting, then smoothing through and soothing, then gripping again and crying out as he fought to keep his hips still.

In a moment of bold, brash weakness, he bent his neck and gazed downward, cracking his eyes open just a fraction.

Caspar, of course, was watching him. Linhardt’s breath caught as he watched his own cock glide between his lips and simultaneously felt himself sink into the heat of his mouth. Then their eyes met, their gazes locked, and that slow burning smolder in his belly roared up into a dazzling, all consuming flame. He tried to hold Caspar’s gaze, he really did -- there was something just so bone charringly intense about looking into his eyes while this happened -- but in the end it was too much, far too much, and he squeezed his eyes shut and cried out wordlessly, sweat rolling down the back of his neck.

It occurred to him, not so long later, while Caspar was coughing and slapping his leg in mild rebuke, that perhaps he should have given a warning.

Oh well.

He collapsed onto his back, utterly boneless, breathing deep and heavy. It was hard to feel any sort of regret, when he felt so very good. “Caspar,” he breathed, staring up at the ceiling, a little laugh bubbling out of him. “There, you see? If I’d have known… ah. I’d have forced this issue long before now...”

“Yeah?” Caspar asked, and Linhardt noted the raspy quality of his voice with another hot, delighted shiver. He really could get used to this. “You liked that, huh?” He sounded cautiously proud, which Linhardt supposed he had certainly earned.

“Very much so,” he breathed, with a contented little smile up at nothing. Caspar laughed at him, sliding his hands up the inside of his thighs in a way that made his spent cock twitch like it fully intended to muster itself back to full attention, again. He looked up, meeting Caspar’s eyes at last. Oh, yes. He was definitely proud. Linhardt recognized that expression, that hint of smugness. “Ah,” he said, softly. “But I must wonder. Now what do you intend to do?” He tilted his head. “You haven’t been satisfied, I see, but I do seem to recall you offering to do all the work…” he arched his eyebrows.

“I’m plenty satisfied,” Caspar insisted, and then he raised a hand and wiped his mouth with the back of it, leaving Linhardt to struggle mightily with how very appealingly erotic he found even just that simple gesture to be. Ridiculous, really. “Though, I guess, maybe…” Caspar blinked down at him, and his throat bobbed as he swallowed.

“You can have me, if you like,” Linhardt said. “I have a few things we might use for lubrication, but you’ll have to do that yourself,” he said, and as if on cue, his jaw cracked open in another mighty yawn. “I’ve always found it so unpleasantly messy,” he sighed.

Caspar’s face cycled through a few different emotions, too fast to really analyze, and then settled on what Linhardt thought was mostly incredulity with a dash of affronted sensibilities on the side. “Always?” he repeated, his voice high. “What do you mean, always? When have you ever needed… I mean, now, hold on.” He raised a hand, and his brow was good and furrowed, now. “When have you ever…?!”

“Don’t get too excited,” Linhardt chided him, grinning. “It has never involved anybody else. I’ve known what I like for a very long time, obviously. That can’t possibly still be a surprise!”

“I guess not?! But... “ Caspar blew out a heavy breath, and shook his head, hard. “Okay, look. None of that! I can’t… ah, come on! One thing at a time, okay?” He crawled over him, then, and Linhardt reached out to fold his arms around him, embarrassingly eager for that close contact. Caspar settled down atop him, still wearing that affronted stitch between his brows even as he pressed their bodies together, which… Linhardt frowned.

“Caspar,” he said, severely. “Regardless of what we are or aren’t doing, tonight, you really must take off your pants.”

“Oh,” he said, surprised, and then he puffed out his cheeks and nodded and set about doing just that, wiggling atop him. Linhardt touched him absently, running his fingers over his shoulders, down his chest, then up and over his arms… around the back of his neck… touching wherever he could reach, really. He seemed to enjoy it. When he settled down, again, his skin felt significantly warmer against him, though whether that was because of the touching or the recent disrobing, Linhardt couldn’t have guessed.

“You’re really surprisingly shy, after all this,” he noted, returning his fingers to Caspar’s hair. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Yeah, well…” Caspar tucked his face under Linhardt’s chin, and his shoulders shook as he let out a rueful, muffled sort of chuckle. “I guess I just haven’t had as much time as you to get used to it,” he said. “The idea of it, even.”

“What, being with me?” He clucked his tongue. “Or just being with a man, in general?”

“Both, I guess?” he sighed. “But even with girls, I never really thought about… I mean, I thought about it! But there’s a difference between just the idea of something all off on its own, and something like this, that’s like another layer on my actual life, you know?” He blew out a long breath, warm against Linhardt’s neck, and nuzzled in closer. “I’m not risking anything when I just think about, oh, you know. Random girls. Or, ah, guys. Or whatever. With you…

“You’re not risking anything, either,” Linhardt said, firmly. “How could you be? I want all those things, too.”

“I know, but…”

“But nothing. Here, now. You asked me if this was the path of least resistance, and to tell the full and honest truth… in some ways, it really might be. But is that really so bad?” He let out a soft little hum, working his fingers in little circles through his hair. “This is what I always wanted, you know. The freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, to make my own way in this world. And… you. I’ve wanted you for a very long time, too. That never would have been possible, without doing exactly this. Are you unhappy?”

“No!” He looked up, moving so fast he nearly smacked his head against Linhardt’s chin. “Opposite of that! Obviously!” Oh, he looked so annoyed. Linhardt couldn’t help but laugh.

“Then stop worrying about it, Caspar,” he scolded, gently.

Caspar made a wordless, considering sound, and eased back down flush against him -- and then jolted right back up again, eyes wide. “Oh, wow,” he said. “I’m an idiot,” he added, and he looked so very stricken that his sudden anxiety leeched right through and made Linhardt’s heart skip a beat or two, too.

“What? Whatever is the matter with you?” he demanded, searching his face.

“I didn’t say it,” he said, sounding absolutely wretched. He put his hands on either side of Linhardt’s face and leaned over him, so close their noses nearly touched. “I meant to say it! I just got all caught up, in, ah, what was happening…”

“Caspar,” Linhardt said, struggling to keep his voice even, “What are you talking about?”

“I love you!” Caspar blurted, with shocking ferocity, and then he slid his fingers into Linhardt’s hair and dragged his face roughly up to kiss him, hard. Linhardt made a muffled, surprised sound… and then sank happily into it, digging his fingers into Caspar’s shoulders and groaning all sorts of vehement approval into his mouth.

When they broke apart, they were both breathing hard, again. Caspar swallowed, audibly, running his tongue over his lips.

“I love you,” he repeated, softer, this time, his lips curving into a satisfied little smile.

It was as wonderful as it was absolutely unbearable, and it left Linhardt quite speechless, staring up at him. He carefully shelved the menagerie of feelings that marched through him, resolving firmly to analyze them later, when he was well rested and in a more scholarly state of mind.

There were a number of things that might have been appropriate to say in the silence that stretched out between them, after that, but they were all far too emotional, too messy, too much, so instead, Linhardt quirked his lips into a teasing smile to match Caspar’s and arched his brows, gazing up at him.

“You’re sure you don’t want to…?” he trailed off with a questioning little hum.

“Linhardt,” Caspar groaned, ducking his head all too predictably.

“You know I’m only teasing,” Linhardt assured him, though in truth if he’d said yes… well. Something to look forward to, then. He yawned, wiggling back against the bedcovers, more than happy to let himself sink into Caspar’s warmth and his own contentment, for the time being. “As I think I said before... I can be patient.”

Caspar nodded, clearly relieved. “I do want you,” he said, carefully.

“I know,” Linhardt said. “Well. If you do find the urge again in the next few hours, do wake me? Otherwise…”

“Right,” Caspar said, exasperated. “Good night, Linhardt.” He shifted above him, moving to his side and curling himself against him, and Linhardt reached out blindly, his fingers brushing over a shoulder and down an arm until he found Caspar’s hand and threaded their fingers together, tightly.

“Good night,” he said, with all his customary cheer, listening to Caspar breathe.

The restless thoughts could wait for morning.