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The Christmas Experiment

Chapter Text

It’s strange how we all find comfort in the familiarity of recurring behavior patterns. Take my pre-mission ritual, for instance. No matter what the mission consisted in or where I was being dropped, I always had the same way of approaching the critical moment when I’d have to leave the aircraft and just go-go-go.

Eyes closed. Slow deep breaths. Mental check-list. And then just letting my mind go quiet as the air whips my face and my heart thrums with the engine’s whine.

Today, I don’t know if it’s the chopper or what, but my eyes close on their own and I fall back into this reassuring habit on autopilot. The slow deep breaths. The quick mental checklist of small things – even though the plush cockpit is air-conditioned and the noise of the engine is tame and muffled. I fall back on my little ritual. A ritual that I like to think has kept me sane and alive through the vilest shit.

Today, as always, the mission is to get the guy. Every single mission I’ve ever been on has been about getting the guy. Whether for an unpalatable assassination or for a simple extraction, there’s always a guy to “get”.

And here, I really want to get the guy. Now I don’t want to kill him and I don’t want to abduct him… though I suppose the latter could be a last resort kind of thing. But I really, really want to get him.

Because I’m growing a little desperate here, to be honest. Now, I’m usually a rather patient angler, but there comes a point in any angler’s life where all you want to do is ditch the fishing rod and just throw a stick of dynamite in the fucking lake. Well, I think I’ve reached that point.

This is an opportunity I can’t let pass. I need to at least give this a try. I need to know. Of course, I could do nothing, enjoy the ride and be his fuck buddy for the next five or six years – until he finally wakes up one day, realizes his biological clock is ticking or some such crap, and decides to send me packing. Or… Or I could push my luck and see where it gets me. Faint heart never won fair lady and all that. What’s the worst that could happen?

I’ve survived too many Black Ops missions over my career to die from a stupid heartbreak in my retirement, right?

‘Megève Altiport’ the large sign says. It’s a small airfield perched on a nook, surrounded by the steep Alpine slopes on three sides, no less. Gives you a sense of cozy claustrophobia despite the blinding sunshine reflecting off the immaculate snow. The panorama is stunning, though, and I’m glad Daniel booked me a helicopter and not a plane: the mood I’m in I’d make a terrible backseat pilot.

Because, pre-mission ritual or not, I’m a little on edge. Been simmering for some time, in fact. The flight was long, the Swiss customs officers snotty and I’m pathetically nervous as fuck. I’ve been building up this twitchy mood for a few days now. A strange mix of anticipation, apprehension and sexual craving that means I’m not exactly Mr Suave at the moment.

I’ve thought about it long and hard. I’ve had a whole week to get myself ready, so I really gave it some good thinking, and the terrifying thing is that I have no idea how these few days are going to go, because I don’t know Daniel well enough.

I know his body by heart. The feel, the smell, the taste of his skin is imprinted in my very soul. But I don’t know him. I don’t know how he thinks, what he sees in me, why he invited me on this Anti-Christmas retreat in his chalet in the French Alps. I don’t know anything. And the more I try to figure it out, the less I understand what I’m supposed to be doing here.

There are so many possible scenarios for this little getaway, but they all tend to boil down to three main genres.

There’s the porn scenario, where we spend the whole stay in bed and I fuck the living daylights out of him until my body starts falling to bits. And as alluring as that scenario may sound, I can’t say that it’s exactly my first choice.

Then there’s this-was-a-bad-idea scenario, where we realize we have nothing in common and nothing to say to each other, and we spend the whole stay in awkward silence, just keeping each other company like a pair of uneasy strangers in an empty railway station. And you have to admit that this scenario sucks majorly.

And then there’s the Hallmark scenario, where I bring out the good old O’Neill charm, woo him ruthlessly and prove him that I’m the best thing since sliced bread. This scenario flawlessly results in his falling head over heels in love with me.

Guess which scenario has my preference.

As the opening credits finish rolling on the breath-taking scenery and the chopper lands smoothly, I’m happy to leave behind me the sleek, throbbing machine whose blades are beating the frigid mountain air, and even happier to see Daniel waiting for me on the snowy sidelines. I was afraid there’d be a driver involved or something equally off-putting, but once again, he’s gone the extra mile and is here in person. All sexy sunglasses and heart-stopping smile.

Fuck, but he looks good. Casual mountain wear and dusty expensive hiking boots. A pleased, but guarded expression on his face. I’m aware of our surroundings so our meeting is a sober though friendly handshake, but the contact is enough to make my hand tingle and my dick sit up and beg. I’m falling in love all over again, damn him.

He leads me to his ride: a sturdy, black Isuzu pick-up truck – certainly not a rental.

We buckle up and he drives us down to the fashionable village of Megève then out of it, through a well maintained road that snakes lazily at the bottom of the narrow valley. He knows exactly where he’s going and he hardly needs to look at the road. He’s at ease and in control and it’s almost as if the air in the truck is crackling with his pent up energy. Which is not doing my enamored condition much good.

We try a bit of small talk: about Geneva airport and its snotty customs officers, about the amount of snow on the slopes and the throngs of tourists in the ski resorts. It’s a little meaningless, but it gives us something to do instead of focusing all of our senses on each other. At a junction he takes a turn left and leaves the civilized world to start a steep climb through the forest, negotiating the hairpin bends flawlessly but a bit fast like someone who has better things to do than waste time on the road.

I agree whole-heartedly. The sooner we get to wherever it is we’re going, the sooner I can tear his clothes off, grab him by the hair and bury myself inside him – balls deep. Been thinking about little else since I landed in Geneva this morning, and now that he’s within arms reach, the urge is increased tenfold. All the polite small talk in the world will never blot out the fact that I can feel him. I can hear him. Can smell him. I can almost taste his presence on the air and it’s driving me insane.

“I need to buy a few things I didn’t have time to shop for this morning,” he announces apologetically, eyes on the road. “I hope you don’t mind. It shouldn’t take long. I’ll be as quick as I can.” He throws me a sidelong glance through his tinted glasses. The ice-blue eyes linger on my mouth a fraction too long, and his tongue peeks out to wet his lips.

I see we’re on the same page, here.

He steers the car into a small, unexpectedly busy parking lot that is essentially in the middle of nowhere. We’re surrounded by mountain forest and the only thing in sight is a small, grey, squat building that is apparently getting a lot of customer traffic. Daniel kills the ignition, jumps out of the truck, then leans back in on second thoughts.

“Want to come inside?” he asks ingenuously.

“You have no idea.” There’s just the tiniest hint of filthiness in my voice, I swear.

I hear him groan, then hiss a heartfelt “bastard,” before slamming the car door and walking away.

My, aren’t we impatient.

I’m glad I don’t have to get out of the truck, though. My stiff cock is killing me. He gets back after the longest 15 minutes ever, with a plastic bag, a remarkable boner and a scowl that probably means I’m in trouble.

“And now everyone here thinks I have a fetish for cheese. Thank you, Jack,” he snipes pettily, dumping the cold, dairy-smelling bag on my lap.

“I aim to please.”

The scowl turns into a feral half-smile as he maneuvers out of the parking lot.

“Glad to hear it,” he rasps evilly. “You’re going to have to do a lot of pleasing to make up for this embarrassment,”

Count on me, darling. It’s already planned. I brought enough lube to slick my way through a whole month of intense, relentless banging. A precaution that some people would consider presumptuous – but that I will only label as foreseeing.

The chalet, when we reach it after another quarter of an hour of driving steadily up the massif, is really nice and not as big and as impersonal as I feared. It’s a rustic but well-maintained mountain house perched in the middle of an ample clearing in the woods, away from everything. And I can see why Daniel likes the place: the neighbors won’t be an issue.

“Nice hut,” I drawl, throwing back his own words upon seeing my beloved cabin.

“I knew you’d say that,” he grins.

Daniel parks the truck straight into the garage, which is in fact the basement of the house. The doors close automatically behind us, leaving the place steeped in semi-darkness when he cuts off the engine and kills the headlights. We both remain seated, his hands clenching a little restlessly over the steering wheel as we enjoy the stretching silence.

I’m not sure what he’s waiting for. I’d like to say I know what’s going through his mind right now, but the truth is I don’t have a clue. This – all of this – is all unknown territory. He is not the easiest guy to read at the best of times, and there’s a lot I still don’t understand about Dr Jackson, but Daniel in the wild, so to speak, is a novelty to me.

I can feel him getting strangely tense and nervous for some reason. Is it because he gearing up to neck in the car like we’re a pair of goddamn sixteen-year-olds? I hope not, because I’m too old for this shit and he deserves better. I do have some style.

That and a massive, self-deluded erection that won’t quit.

I open my door, grab my bag and get out. The garage smells of a familiar and altogether masculine mix of concrete, wood, oil and gasoline that I find darkly alluring – which, again, doesn’t help. There are two doors leading out of the garage with presumably only one leading into the living quarters while the other leads to the second half of the basement garage. I walk to the front of the truck and wait for Daniel to show me the way.

He slowly gets out, a muscle jumping in his jaw. He leans on his door for a second, pulls his glasses off, pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a calming, steadying breath.

God, I’m weak. I know I am. And maybe he’s even playing on it, but I don’t care.

I plop my bag on the hood and go over to his side of the truck. He watches me intently as I gently close his door and crowd him against the bodywork. He looks hot and just a little desperate as his searing gaze travels from my eyes to my lips. His arms find a natural resting place around my neck and I settle my hands on his hips, my nails raking proprietarily over denim. My guts shiver and flip with sinful delight at how right the embrace feels, at how well he fits in my arms, while my heart purrs an endless, selfish chant of “mine, mine, mine.”

Surely he feels it too, doesn’t he? It can’t be just me, right?

And yet, his eyes are unreadable except for the growing lust telegraphed by the enlarged pupils and the butting erection. His highness is horny beyond the shadow of a doubt. But does he have feelings? Is he capable of falling in love? And more importantly, is he capable of falling in love with me? A fifty-year-old whore?

I’m afraid of getting the answers to these questions right now, so I stall. I take comfort in the fact that in this very moment in time, he seems more intent on kissing me than on having sex. My mouth is inches from his but I decide to tease him, try his patience. I lean in, engage him, part my lips, then withhold the kiss and nuzzle his cheek instead – I do it once, twice, just baiting the beast.

“Jack, I can still make you sleep outside,” he warns dangerously, and the grating asperities of his purr feel like a caress over my balls.

“Heartless,” I accuse wryly.

So I kiss him. I kiss him long and soft, like I’ve been meaning to do since… well, since I left him a week ago. A slow brush of lips that takes its time to spiral into a soul-stealing kiss. God, I’ve missed this so badly. And it’s a sentiment he seems to share – he moans his approval and drops his glasses behind his back on the hood before sinking his fingers into my hair.

Finally.

A part of me wonders if the soaring feeling building up in my chest will ever get old.

I grind into him and he arches and strains against me, his tongue rolling and curling luxuriously around mine. Fuck but he feels good. So good. And the sound he makes… Oh, the hot, demanding moan goes straight to my cock.

And it’s not the only thing that is aiming for my cock. His warm, capable hand grabs me through my jeans, squeezing me, working me. Tormenting me. Making me so hard I’m getting cross-eyed.

“Here, Jack,” he growls.

“Wha’?”

“Want you to fuck me right here, right now,” he says, his voice low and dirty. “Want you to do me against the truck.” Then he proceeds to further reduce my IQ by pushing his tongue so far down my throat it feels like he’s reaching for my heart.

And it’s my turn to moan because that’s as much coherence as you’ll get from me at the moment. He keeps doing that. Just bushwhacking me with stuff so filthy he should have to carry a license for it.

And I’m going to do him. Of course I’m going to do him. Because he’s ordered it and because now I can’t get the words out of my head and it’s what I want to do more than anything else in this world. Forget about the thousand and one cute scenarios I had in mind.

A quick, nasty, sleazy fuck against a dirty pick-up truck.

My blood-deprived brain currently thinks it’s a perfectly romantic encounter. I’m surprised I didn’t come up with the idea myself.

I fumble with the buttons on his jeans and after a few long seconds of fighting against the material, I finally reach… hot, smooth skin. Holy fuck, he went commando! The bastard, he’s not wearing anything under his jeans. I growl and grind against him, latching onto his neck, licking and biting in retaliation for doing this to me.

I am wearing boxer briefs, dammit. Because I had to go through customs and I had no choice but to encase myself in the appropriate extra layer that is now going to make things just that little bit more constraining. I push and twist my jeans down my hips and he gives a “helping” hand, groping my erection through the black material and smiling wolfishly at my frustration. Then his cool fingers peel the boxers down my thighs and close around my cock with proprietary interest.

I reach for my bag, open it and rummage in it single-handedly. His hand doesn’t slow its ministrations but he starts lapping at my throat: maddening little flicks of his lewd tongue that I do my best to ignore in my quest for…

“Lube,” I huff, reduced as I am to monosyllables.

“Not for me, thanks,” he whispers filthily against my jaw. And I swear to God, if I wasn’t professionally trained to exercise control, I’d have blown my load at those words.

By the time I’ve slathered myself with it, he’s assumed position: pants down, ass out, leaning against the fender. I press myself against him, my cock aligning and sliding between his perfect asscheeks. He’s down to a t-shirt and I slip my hands under it to caress his warm skin. My fingers must feel cold, but he doesn’t complain. Quite the opposite in fact.

To think I was hoping to instill a bit romance into our relationship.

Fuck, this is crazy. I only got here. Half an hour at most since the chopper landed. I haven’t even seen the inside of the house.

“Come on, Jack, just… ohhh fuckkk,” he breathes in amazement as I push into him.

Ditto.

We haven’t gone bareback in over a month and I’d almost forgotten how much more intense the drag of skin on skin feels. It’s such a rush. He’s tight and hot and perfect, and his ass must have seen some action not long ago because I haven’t prepared him, I’m the only one slicked up, and yet he takes me readily, inch after excruciating inch until I’m balls deep inside him.

“Someone’s been having fun without me,” I growl, finding strange pride in the fact that I know his body so well that I can tell he’s been toying with himself recently.

“Just enough to take the edge off,” he rasps breathlessly, bracing himself on the hood of the truck and grinding his ass back into me.

I pump my hips a few times, slowly, and his head tilts back in gasping pleasure.

“How do you want it?” I ask, keeping up the leisurely pace.

He gulps and pants, and arches into me helplessly for a few long seconds, then answers, “Hard and fast,” in one strained breath.

“Knew you’d say that,” I mumble, pulling at his hips and making him widen his stance as far as the jeans bunched around his knees will allow.

And for the next couple of minutes I go medieval on Daniel’s ass. I give him hard and fast and raging, and he loves it – swears and mewls and howls how much he loves it. It’s hot and addictive and I could spend the rest of the day doing this. Doing him. My cock feels raw and sweat is beginning to bead down my back, but the only thing that’ll stop me is his orgasm which eventually crashes through him and seems to shake him apart. He comes with a roar and a curse, obscenely splattering his release over the dirty bodywork of his truck, and I fall into the abyss right behind him, finally filling his ass like I should.

As I float back into the land of the living, all I can hear is the rush of blood pounding in my ears and his panting breath. I’m leaning against his back and I think it’s his heart I can feel hammering against my chest. I stroke a hand down his arm until it rests over his hand on the dusty hood. I mouth his shoulder through the damp cotton.

“I’ve missed you,” I rasp, trying to sound more in control than I actually feel. I have missed him. Pathetically.

“I’ve missed your cock,” he groans back honestly. A part of him probably means it in jest, but it still stings. He complains as I pull out of him not too gently. “Ow, ow... Hey, easy.”

No, sweetheart.

Loving you certainly doesn’t feel easy when you blithely trample all over my heart.

I slap his ass for good measure, hoping to make him feel a little cheap, and I pull my jeans back up, trying not to feel ridiculously used. My fingers are numb and a little uncoordinated, and I can just feel my teeth grind for no reason. There’s something dejected and bitter slowly coiling in the pit of my stomach and I’m scared it’s going to ruin everything. I’ve only been in the country for barely an hour and I’ve already had mind-blowing, kinky sex with the guy I love – what do I have to complain about? I wanted this. I wanted him. Couldn’t wait to get him out of his clothes and sheath my bare cock as deep inside him as it would go. And I just did that. I just did him. Had a nice quickie, and came up his oh-so-willing ass.

Everything peachy.

And yet, it’s left me feeling alarmingly empty and brittle – and sex with him has never done that to me. Something tells me that if this is how the rest of these five days is going to pan out, I’m not going to like it. And God, I want to like it. I so desperately want to like it and I want him to like it as well. This is my golden opportunity.

He turns around, parks his ass on the fender – avoiding the conspicuous wet, goopy spot – and looks at me with a sated, but puzzled expression on his face.

“Hey,” he breathes. A hand comes to cup the back of my head, fingers stroking through my hair; he observes me for a second and pulls me down into a kiss. A very soft and tender kiss that dissolves my stupid heart. “Thank you. That was amazing,” he whispers in his raspy, velvet voice.

“I know,” is all I can answer. It’s unfair how helpless I become when those ice blue eyes are on me. I could hate him for it.

He smiles and drags his jeans back up, pulling a slightly disgusted face as he only does the top button up. Yep, there’s no escaping that wet spot when it invites itself inside your pants. Serves him right.

He leads the way inside the chalet, walking up the flight of stone stairs – a little stiffly, I’m proud to say.

The place is nice: simple, functional and comfortable. Honey-tinted pinewood almost everywhere, anchored with a sturdy, pale granite hearth. The homely couch, the quaint armchair and thick, garnet-colored rugs give the living-room a very cozy feel. There’s a lot of light coming in from the wide French windows that lead onto a wide wooden balcony: there’s just enough of a break in the trees to get a beautiful view. The snowy landscape from the vantage point looks like something from a postcard.

Daniel goes straight to the open kitchen area that stands at the far end of the living-room. He puts his plastic bag in the fridge, tells me to make myself at home and goes back to the garage. When he comes back, his arms are laden with carrier bags filled to the brim with victuals.

“How many people have you invited to stay?” I ask incredulously. Seriously, the amount of food is nothing short of worrying.

“Heavy snow is announced. And I am not driving down to the village for groceries if I can avoid it,” he states, depositing what appears to be only the first load onto the counter. I grab a stray apple before it rolls off the counter top, then save some eggs from their precarious perch, while Daniel disappears again. The second load is just as impressive.

“You know, I don’t eat that much.” Really. I do enjoy a snack from time to time, but this is ridiculous.

“Something tells me you’re going to need the sustenance.” His grin is positively predatory.

Yikes. Anticipating much?

“Intend to get laid, do you?”

“Massively.” He surveys his handy work with a smugness that’s irresistible.

“Good to know,” I approve, throwing the apple at him to see if he’ll catch it.

He does – and with his left hand, too.

We then unpack the groceries and work efficiently together. He shows me where everything goes, and I take note, commenting on his choice of food and his insanely extensive range of coffees. And he snarks back when I get irreverent. It’s very… I dunno, domestic? Companionable? I don’t know what to call it. All I know is that it’s a whole new level of intimacy that I can’t seem to get enough of.

Daniel then proceeds to show me around the place, giving me the lowdown on everything a guest should know – from the amount of hot water available (lots) to the number of English-speaking TV channels on offer (next to none). I resist the urge to tell him that I’m most definitely not here to watch TV. We end the guided tour with the master bedroom.

“I assumed we’d share the bed, but there’s a guest room if you want,” he says, scratching the back of his head and sounding a little unsure all of a sudden.

I level him a look that I hope makes it clear I’m sleeping here with him. Or not-sleeping, with a bit of luck.

“Okay,” he says, a shy half-grin curving his lips. “I’ll, uh… I think I’ll grab a quick shower.” He opens the sturdy wardrobe and snatches a change of clothes, and leaves it open for me. “Just unpack your stuff and have a look around, I’ll be back in five.” He disappears out into the hallway.

I don’t know why he looks so surprised when I join him in the shower all of two minutes later. But he gets with the program fairly quickly and kisses me back greedily as I crowd him against the tiled wall under the spray of warm water. I’d like to make this about him, but I don’t stop him when he slides soapy hands down my body before kneeling in front of me, and I don’t stop him when he takes my overzealous cock into his hot, beautiful mouth. I just push my fingers through his soaked hair and let him do his worst. Which of course means I end up pulsing an impossible orgasm into his throat, grunting grateful curses as I try not to collapse on top of him.

He gets to his feet with a self-satisfied grin and an unsatisfied boner. And since Mrs O’Neill raised a polite boy, I’m about to return the favor when he clasps my shoulders to stop me.

“No. Just with your hands. I want your mouth for kissing,” he whispers, an infinitely sexy spark of desire in his lustful blue gaze.

So I do just that. I take him in hand. Fondle, stroke, cup and squeeze his heavy, slippery cock and balls – while he winds his arms around my shoulders and nips at my lips lazily. Under my expert touch, he gets harder, then harder yet, and as he gets closer, the kisses gain in fever and abandon. Sighs and gasps are now mingling with them, interrupting the play of his lips on mine, and it’s incredibly sexy. It’s like living the handjob from inside him, feeling him fight his labored breathing to keep the kisses going – and God help me, my cock is twitching hopefully. Daniel gives a disbelieving moan when he feels my half-erect dick knocking and rubbing against his own.

I know, sweetheart, but that’s what you do to me.

A final twist of the wrist and he comes, spurting long and hard, and stifling his mewl of pleasure against my mouth as the climax shudders through him.

He’s weak-kneed with the force of it, so I press him against the cold wall and hold him there. And it takes him an age to come down from his high. When he does, he opens eyes where the black has devoured most of the blue – he’s swimming in endorphins and it’s a good look on him.

“To think there was a time when you didn’t want to be kissed,” I remark, framing his face with my hands and pressing my lips over his with infinite care.

“There was a time when people thought the Earth was flat,” he slurs with a smile.

“Your point being?”

“Only fools don’t change their minds.”

“An easy cop-out if I ever heard one.”

“Maybe. Would you rather I told you I was wrong and you were right?”

“That would be much more honest,” I tell him, magnanimously licking a drop of water from the tip of his scrunched up nose.

“You’re hard,” he informs me cheekily, wrapping an appraising hand around my half–hard, suicidal dick.

“Ignore it. It’ll go away.”

“Why let a good thing go to waste?”

“Because you won’t get anything out of it. Stupid dick is delusional and running on fumes.”

“Is that a challenge?”

“No, basic biology.”

“Spoilsport.”

I drop a quick kiss on his evil grin and we head out of the shower on wobbly legs.

It’s 5pm by now. I’ve only been here for a couple of hours and I’ve come twice. If we keep things up at this pace for five days, I’m going to need sustenance indeed. Along with medical attention.

With the assurance of a man who’s just lost a few IQ points, Daniel starts lecturing me on the importance of respecting meal hours in your country of destination in order to fight jet lag. To which I reply, fuck that. I’m going to need the proteins if he wants me to keep up with his spritely libido. He sees my point. We end up having an early dinner of fresh, crisp bread and fragrant cheese with some fine red wine from his cellar.

I could get used to this life.

I could get used to this Daniel.

He’s… smiling. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile so much. He shows me how his behemoth of a coffee maker works and prepares us a coffee, and he’s got this radiant grin that turns my insides into mush. The ever-present frown that usually etches the chevron of doom on his brow is nowhere to be seen. It’s like it was never there. He looks carefree and it’s a wonderful look on him. If this is what vacations do to him, I think he should take a freaking gap year. Or better yet, retire.

I watch him light a cheerful fire in the hearth – and I like that he knows how to build a proper fire. He doesn’t need stinky, artificial firelighters. Just some balled up piece of newspaper, some kindling, a couple of small logs and he’s got a nice little blaze going in no time. He sits back on his haunches and gazes at the flames, the ghost of a smile on his lips.

Seeing him so at ease and so happy tugs at something deep in my chest and I can’t help but wonder what part I’m playing in his current state of happiness.

I’d do anything to make him happy like that all year round.

Comfortably ensconced in my armchair, I observe him retreat to the couch where he lies down unashamedly, one arm folded under his head as he stares dreamily at the massive wooden rafters criss-crossing the ceiling. And I realize it’s this place that makes him happy. Not me. He loves this house and it makes him quietly glowing to be here, away from his high-flying city life of brushed steel and business deals.

“How did you find this place?” I hear myself ask softly.

A little grin crinkles up his nose.

“It’s a bit of a long story.”

“We’ve got all night,” I assure him.

He ice blue gaze drifts down from the ceiling to my face for a second, trying to decide if I’m really interested or if I’m just being polite.

“I first came here with my parents when I was a kid,” he begins, his voice a low murmur. “We came here for Christmas two years in a row. The last two Christmases I spent with them: I was six and seven.” He rubs a finger to his eyebrow and continues with a little half-smile. “I really liked it here. There was so much snow – I’d never seen so much snow before.” He then glances my way and further explains, “My parents and I were traveling a lot of the time and mostly in the Middle East.”

“Snow must’ve been a bit of a novelty to you.”

“Yeah,” he admits, and his eyes get lost in the past. “It was magical, all that white, freezing cold stuff. I don’t remember many details about those two stays, but I remember how much I enjoyed the snow.”

“So you inherited the chalet?”

“No, my parents had only rented the place. After they died, I got bounced around in foster care, until I was adopted by Theodore, as you probably know,” he throws me a furtive look, and I give him a small nod. “And when I came into his inheritance, I started looking for this house to see if I could buy it. The problem was that I didn’t have any recollection of an address or even the name of a village. And no one seemed to know where it was, or even whether it existed – to the point where I began to wonder if I hadn’t dreamed it up.” He gives a small self-deprecating twist of his lips.

“No one could help? Not even your parents’ friends?”

“I don’t know that my parents had that many friends. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in that respect, I guess,” he says pointing a playful finger at his face. There’s something terribly lucid and yet very harsh in the way he judges himself. In some matters he’s aware of his incredible capabilities and skills – to the point of being arrogant. But in others, he ruthlessly condemns himself as sadly lacking.

“Took me three years to find it. I used to come to these parts as often as possible and drive around for hours, checking every conceivable nook and cranny of the massif. And then one day I found it. Belonged to a Parisian couple by then: it was their winter holiday house. It took some convincing, and probably three times as much money as the chalet is really worth, but I got it in the end.” There’s something closely resembling smugness in his soft voice.

I watch him sit up, stretch his arms lazily and roll the kinks out of his neck. “I come here as often as I can, which means only about twice a year. This place is my hide-out, my… uh, fortress of solitude?” he smiles at me.

“So it’s a nice story that ends well,” I note.

“It is. I hope to come to live here someday. Someday in the not-too-distant future, hopefully.”

“You’re not one of those workaholics who intend to run themselves down at the task and die at the helm?” I ask, curious to know how he sees himself.

“Definitely not,” he counters pleasantly. “This job I’m doing, Jack, is not something I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I’ve given enough years of service to that corporation. One of these days, I’m going to leave it all behind me, and that day I’ll come here to start all over again.” I can hear the iron certainty behind the words. It sounds like he’s had his mid-life crisis all planned out for a long time. Like he has a clear vision of where he wants to go and what he wants to explore. What I don’t get is why it sounds as though his current job is something that has been imposed on him.

I don’t know if I should push with the questions. I guess there will be other little chats by the fireside this week. Might as well keep some of the interrogations for later.

We fall silent and just listen to the fire’s peaceful crackling for what feels like a small eternity. Until I realize I’m actually dozing off.

He notices it, gets up and banks the fire in for the night. As he walks past my armchair, a finger traces a light path over my shoulder and I’m dragged to my feet by a not-so-unknown force.

We’re retiring for the night apparently, and a nice little knot twists my guts with anticipation.

When we reach the bedroom there’s a bit of an awkward moment. He looks at the bed, then looks at me, then looks at the bed again.

“What?” I yawn.

“Uh, which side do you sleep on?” he asks, obviously perplexed by this point of sleeping etiquette.

“I don’t care.” Which is not true. I sleep on the side next to the door. Always. But this is his bed, so it’s his rules.

“Okay. I sleep on the side closer to the door,” he says.

Crap.

I walk around to the other side of the bed and sit on the mattress. It’s barely 8 pm and I’m exhausted. I couldn’t catch a real good wink on the 11-hour flight so I’ve been up for over God knows how many hours and it’s beginning to take its toll. I can usually sleep in any sort of place, no matter how noisy and bumpy the ride, but lock me up with total strangers on a plane and I can’t switch my inner paranoid off.

I get rid of my clothes tiredly and lie down under the covers with a grateful sigh. He switches the lights off.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to go out like a light, too, but the mattress dips with Daniel’s presence and my libido is suddenly reminded of something too pleasant to ignore. I turn to him, my hand reaching for all the smooth, warm, bare skin it can get, when I hear him tut patiently.

“You need to sleep, Jack,” he tells me.

“Yeah, and I know of a few things that work like a charm to send me to sleep,” I try enticingly, stroking the fabulous expanse of flat abs under my palm.

“Just so you know, I won’t help you with any of these things, so you might as well forget about it.”

“You’re cruel.”

“You’re tired,” he argues with damning finality.

I groan theatrically as I take a nibble at his shoulder.

“Come on,” I wheedle – and hear him snort. Then I feel his abs tense and tremble until he starts chuckling helplessly.

“What now?” I huff.

“Nothing, sorry,” he wheezes, then bursts out laughing.

“Oh for cryin’ out loud… What?!”

And I have to wait a good, full minute for him to stop giggling like a schoolgirl and catch his breath.

“Nothing, I’m sorry,” he promises, virtually in stitches. “I’m so sorry, Jack,” he hiccups, putting his hand over mine in a placating gesture that misfires and makes me harder than he could possibly wish for at the moment. “I’m sorry. It’s just… This is just so surreal to me. I mean, we sound like an old married couple! You know: ‘not tonight, dear, I’ve got a headache’. How much more ridiculous does it get?”

Yeah, hysterical. I’d give my left ball to be half of that particular old married couple.

“Oh God…” the little sonuvabitch grins, then calms down. Then starts chuckling again, like this is simply the funniest situation he’s ever been in.

Okay that does it.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I roll on top of him, and pry open his thighs with my knees as I grab his wrists and pin them to the pillow above his head. The laughter dies in his throat and turns into a drawn-out moan as our cocks rub and align. He’s not as hard as I am but he’s not far behind.

“Something you want to tell me about, dear?” I growl dangerously.

“Nnngh… Jack,” he breathes, suddenly light-years from laughing. His fists clench, making the bones and ligaments in his wrists play under my hands.

“I like it when you say my name,” I purr, giving an experimental thrust that yields delicious friction. His wrists are still blocked but he’s not fighting me – more like stretching and writhing wantonly within my restraining grip.

“You’re tired,” he protests half-heartedly.

“Do I feel tired to you?” I ask, rolling my hips and grinding our eager cocks together. He’s getting harder and harder by the second, and in the near-darkness I can just see his eyes roll back in his head under the luxurious onslaught.

He gasps and arches beneath me, bending his knees and planting his feet on the bed to get leverage as he rolls his hips to meet my thrusts.

“Mmm yeah… That’s it, sweetheart,” I murmur my dizzy approval.

I transfer both wrists to only one hand as my restraining him is more for show than anything else, and use my free hand to brace myself, tweaking a perky nipple on the way. One of his wrists slips free, but instead of pushing me off his hand clamps at the back of my head and yanks me into a ferocious kiss.

“Fucking… stubborn… bastard,” he grunts with each surge of his hips.

“You say the sweetest things, dear,” I growl back, grinding hot and heavy into the cradle of his open thighs.

The rhythm of his halting breath escalates some more and then he arches up, his whole body going wire-tense as he moans in disbelief and comes in burning spurts between us.

“Oh fuck…,” I manage stupidly, giving the final couple of shoves that push me over the slippery edge.

Suffice to say I die a messy death and collapse on top of him, utterly spent and finally ready to sleep like the proverbial log. I’m pulled out of my stupor by his complaining of my weight.

“Jack,” he groans, thwacking my hip.

“Ssshhh. Sleeping,” I slur, pressing a couple of sloppy fingers over his mouth.

He gives a shove and I end up rolling off him bonelessly. I’m vaguely aware that he’s fumbling around with something and I finally get it when the mess we’ve made is wiped off my belly. It’s a strange reversal of roles and I’m uneasy with the fact that I’ve been selfish enough to let him do it.

“Thanks,” I whisper low in the darkness when he tucks himself against me.

“Welcome.” A hand slides over my chest, absently stroking a pec. “Can we sleep now?”

I mumble my agreement.

“We need to slow down on the fuckfest,” Daniel eventually mutters. “I’m going on forty, you’re going on fifty. We’ll never survive five days like this.”

What he said.

 

***End of Day One***