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A Little Taste of Death

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The Mystery of the Great Pyramid (after the ending)

 

"I expect you're furious," says Blake.

He'd intended to be, when there was time, but now when they are safely behind closed doors, Mortimer can't muster any anger. Shaking his head, he traces Blake's face with a hand that trembles slightly, lingering over the mouth. Lower down, the faint pulse of the neck, the collarbones.

"I know you're alive," he whispers, "but I'm still getting used to the idea."

"Any way I might convince you?" deadpans Blake. It is a slight risk, but Mortimer laughs.

"However you see fit."

Blake drops to his knees, rests his head against Mortimer's stomach, encircles him with his arms. Breathing slightly quicker, Mortimer reaches down, placing his hands on Blake's shoulders, then twining his fingers into his hair.

They stay there a moment, the hotel room a little unsteady around them. Then a hand, tentatively on Mortimer's trouser buttons.

Mortimer hums assent - he's more than ready, was before they closed the door, in all honesty, and Blake fumbles a moment (nothing is as easy as in books, he thinks hazily), before taking him in hand. His breath is warm, and maddening.

"Go on, then," he says, and Blake, never one to turn down a challenge, goes on. He's not as hesitant as he'd been in their first few months, and the pleasure is, above all, blissfully concrete and real.

Mortimer had had a dream something like this, the third night after the news, and had been sick when he woke up.

"Just a moment," he gasps, tightening his hands in Blake's hair. "Hold on."

Unsure, then understanding, Blake stops where he is, hands gently stroking the backs of Mortimer's thighs. Everything pauses there, Mortimer letting himself feel his pulse, the tension, the wet heat of Blake's mouth.

With a sigh, he relaxes, and Blake redoubles his efforts. It doesn’t take long before he’s gasping, shaking, and Blake gives a little half-cough, managing somehow to catch himself, his breath, and everything that can make this moment hazardous.

Mortimer pulls him to his feet for a kiss, ignoring a halfhearted protest. He reaches for Blake, for the hard length and the wet spot on the front of his trousers, but his lover catches his wrist. "Not now."

In his haze, Mortimer nods. "When?"

"Home. My own bed."

"My bed," amends Mortimer.

"Yours, then," Blake acquiesces.

"Aren't we leaving in a week?"

"And till then, I am thoroughly yours."

An odd sort of penance Blake has fixed on, but Mortimer is intrigued.

"In that case, you're not leaving my bed."

 

The Yellow M (after the ending)

 

"I don't count this," grins Mortimer, "among my favourite memories of Christmas."

"On the contrary," says Blake. "I'd say that retrieving you from the hands of that madman puts it above that first toy airplane." More seriously, he adds, "Did he harm you at all?"

"He mainly wanted to show off," says Mortimer. "Under other circumstances, it would have been fascinating. Septimus was a lunatic, but his theories…"

"I wouldn't give him too much credit," warns Blake. "He managed to break a man. It's been done before, and with less sophisticated equipment."

"Mmm," says Mortimer, not sounding fully convinced. Blake will have to file that away, return to it. It doesn't help that he isn't entirely sure what Mortimer really does - he keeps his work a secret, but Mortimer doesn't have to.

But it is Christmas, and the man he loves is safe.

"Forget about Septimus," he says, and looks pointedly down the hallway that leads to their bedrooms.

 

The Mystery of the Great Pyramid (after the ending)

 

“You can’t keep that up indefinitely,” murmurs Blake.

“If need be, I can stop.” Mortimer smiles a cat’s smile, self-satisfied.

“Will begging for mercy do me any good?”

“Not the slightest.” Mortimer catches another slick, sticky bead on his thumb. It will come in handy. “Although I would enjoy it.”

“It doesn’t come naturally, but I’ll do what I can…” Blake trails off at that. His shoulder, next to Mortimer’s face, is gooseflesh.

Mortimer slows down, drawing the moment out, but a hoarse "Stop" and he stills, holding gently, tight. Blake clutches him, letting his ragged breathing even out.

"Are you sure about this?" Mortimer asks, and Blake, shaky, answers, "More than ever."

 

The Francis Blake Affair (the last page)

 

There had been a car, but it had only taken them to the train station. It's better that way - the train to London is sparsely populated, at the beginning virtually empty, which means a privacy they'd never have in a car.

A fragile privacy, and one Mortimer hadn't even considered before Blake, positioning himself so that anyone even bursting in won't see clearly, seizes his hand and doesn't let go.

Not quite understanding, Mortimer gently strokes the backs of his knuckles.

"I thought I'd killed you," says Blake, conversationally.

That hadn't occurred to Mortimer for even a moment, and gives him pause. While he's still thinking of how to respond, Blake goes on, "Without you, all would have been lost."

"We've been in the opposite positions a dozen times," offers Mortimer, but Blake shakes his head. He's clearly not finished.

"I confess, Philip, on some level I've considered loving you to be a weakness," he says, the words clearly costing an effort. "For all the stupid reasons you know as well as I. But I was wrong."

Mortimer isn't offended, but he's stunned.

"I thought you were dead, and if not by my hands, then as good as," says Blake, with the same calm intensity. "And I'd never had the courage to tell you I love you, in so many words, for God's sake."

"You didn't need words," says Mortimer. "I understood."

"Even so," says Francis. "I love you, and when we get home I'll tell you a hundred times, and louder than this."

Mortimer desperately wants to kiss him there and then, but that's truly dangerous. He contents himself with nearly crushing Francis' hand.

"When we get home, you won't be able to form a coherent sentence, if I have any say in the matter," he promises.

Blake laughs, and Mortimer adds, "Oh, and I love you too."

 

The Mystery of the Great Pyramid (after the ending)

 

Blake is tall. Mortimer doesn't think about it, most of the time - he's just Blake, exactly himself, and Mortimer would have him no other way.

But it's hard to ignore when he's pinned against the wall like this, Blake towering over him, long lean body against his.

He presses his lips into Blake's neck, gently, a mark won't do, tastes the salt. Reaches up, traces the trail of sweat with his finger.

Blake pulls back a little, only to tug at his shirt buttons. One by one, the third nearly popping. Without bothering to pull it further off, Blake's hands are everywhere, soon slipping under his waistband, rattling the buckle of his belt.

"Should we go to bed?" he pants.

"Here suits me quite well," smirks Blake, and Mortimer can find no possible objection.

Leaning back against the wall, still half clothed, Blake mostly so, he sees stars. Blake doesn't release him, instead pushing further into him, erection pressing into his hip almost hard enough to bruise. Great, shuddering breaths.

 

The Oath of the Five Lords (after the ending)

 

"Will you stay?"

Barely a whisper, but Mortimer settles back down.

"Of course, dear. Are you all right?"

"As long as you're here."

Mortimer moves closer. "Excellent, because I'll always be here."

Blake doesn't answer. Mortimer pauses, thinking of the words.

"Francis, there is nothing you could tell me to make me leave. Nothing," he adds, with emphasis, "save the word 'leave,' and I'd argue with that till I was blue in the face."

"Are you so sure, then?" Francis asks. "There are a great many things I could tell you, if I dared."

"What, such as 'There are thirty thousand pounds hidden in the Toltec statue?'"

Francis half-laughs. "Touché."

Mortimer rolls over, pulling his friend tight.

"I know you, Francis," he whispers. "And I know you're a good man. As long as we both live, you're stuck with me."

 

The Mystery of the Great Pyramid (after the ending)

 

Slowly, slowly Mortimer kisses his way down skin that is shimmering with sweat by the time he reaches hair. Ignoring the cock that brushes up against his beard, he moves still lower, places his hand on a pale thigh. Pauses, considers, and bites down. No one will see a mark there. He feels Blake's breath catch.

Encouraged, he moves up, presses a kiss to the base. Inches his way up the shaft, still only kisses. Blake is still, aside from the shivers.

"Too much?" he asks, and Blake gives a strangled laugh.

"More."

"You're out of your mind," says Mortimer, affectionately, and takes the dusky red head into his mouth.

 

The Gondwana Shrine (sometime in the beginning)

 

"Have your headaches been any better?" asks Blake, perhaps hopefully, but his friend only grimaces.

"No - I may have to consider a change of altitude, perhaps."

Blake takes that in. "Whatever is best for your health, old chap - I hope we may see each other often enough!"

"No doubt," says Philip, with a smile that gives him pause, though he can't put his finger on why.

"You have made plans, or is it just an idea?"

"Not as such."

They are in the living-room - it has been weeks since it has been anywhere more private - but Mrs. Benson is out, so Blake takes a risk and places his hand on his friend's.

"I'll miss you terribly."

Philip is dreadfully still. It might even be better if he had recoiled, twitched - that, at least, would answer the question that has been plaguing Blake since Antarctica. But it seems that Mortimer has brought the ice back with him. Not that he could blame him - his friend had been forced to kill his first love - but if only they could have spoken about it, instead of this awful silence!

No, Blake thinks. He's deluding himself with any shred of hope, and the stillness is answer enough. Mortimer will not even take his hand; if such a platonic gesture is beyond him now, it is too late.

He doesn't sleep that night and many nights after, which is why it's no wonder that he hears the window opening, and the footsteps.

 

The Mystery of the Great Pyramid (after the ending)

 

Blake is content - an odd thing to say that his body is thrumming with tension, and he's rutting up against Philip in a half-hearted, stuttering sort of way. It's something like, he thinks, carefully measuring out your drinks so that, instead of embarrassing or sickening yourself, you remain in a stable, pleasantly buzzed state for the evening.

His thighs are wet, and he has no desire to rectify that, even if he had the ability at the moment.

Vicarious pleasure is almost better - there's a totality to it. The ability to experience his lover shattering to pieces without any urgency or distraction on his part. Philip, all over him, in every possible sense.

"Shall I do anything?" A murmur, somewhere in the vicinity of his ear.

"No," he sighs. "This is good."

 

The Affair of the Necklace (page 5, perhaps a bit earlier)

 

"I must admit," says Blake, "that Olrik is a very thoughtful man."

"What, now?" blinks Mortimer.

"Think about it," yawns Blake. "How often do we manage to get away together?"

"Every fifteen seconds," says Mortimer, calculating carefully. "If it's not America, or Greece, it's the Soviet Union, Antarctica, or Atlantis of all places-"

Blake smacks Mortimer, who yelps unconvincingly. "And how often do we get summoned to Paris, in the springtime, for a trial that isn't happening any time soon?"

"Fair point," says Mortimer. "Shall we toast Olrik, then?"

"I will if you get off me, dear."

"I think not."

"Very well." Blake resumes gently stroking his lover's back. "In that case, could you at least hand me my pipe? It should be on the nightstand."

"Mmm. In a minute, and then I'll join you."

 

The Mystery of the Great Pyramid (after the ending)

 

There's no hurry.

It's late, very late, as it always is for reasons of safety, and the English night is colder than they have acclimatized to of late.

Philip's bed is warm, and so is he. It must be the hair. Francis loves every inch of him.

"Can you keep this up all night?" he asks, half laughing.

Philip pulls back a little, searching his face.

"Heart of my hearts - I want to see you."

Francis submits, to hands and tongue and Philip's prick, and the heat that envelops him is stronger than the Egyptian sun.

“A little longer,” he begs, and Philip looks up, crawls up, and kisses him firmly.

“Whatever you like.”

It's not long, then till he's gasping, boneless in his lover's arms. Philip joins him, is there for every breath and heartbeat, and they don't let go till morning.