Story One

It all started with a message on the answering machine.

A harmless little message or it would have been had it occurred a year ago. But it didn't. It happened now and when George heard it, his world fell apart.

"This is a reminder to Rich Warren about his appointment with. . ." That's all George heard before the blood started pounding in his ears and the pain surged back. It had never really been totally gone, always there lurking in the background and finding reasons to become worse. This seemed like a damn good reason.

Rich wasn't here anymore. He wasn't anywhere anymore. No, that was wrong. What remained of him was buried in a graveyard in Boston.

Desperately George tried to summon up a memory of Rich, a happy one. The first time they'd met. The first time they had made love. The night they had pledged themselves to each other. The long days and passionate nights. . .but his final image of Rich always returned. Rich in the viewing room of a morgue, the hideous head wound clearly visible.

George took a ragged breath, suddenly aware that he was on the floor, arms wrapped around himself. With a desperate gulp, he lunged to his feet and snatched up his jacket, almost running from the all-too-empty house.


George woke up with a splitting headache and a sense of having no idea where he was. Then he opened his eyes and he knew for certain that he didn't know where he was. The décor was classic American hotel. But what was he doing in a hotel? On a bed in a hotel? Still fully clothed? What had happened? He shifted, trying to see more of the room then groaned, swallowing desperately in an attempt to keep from vomiting.

"I was wondering if you were ever going to wake up," An amused voice came from across the room and George froze, his heart sinking. The voice was deep and sexy and totally unfamiliar. What had happened? He took a bodily inventory. He was still dressed but that didn't mean anything. It didn't feel like he'd done anything he shouldn't have. . .

"Nothing happened." That deep, sexy voice said gently and a hand rested on his shoulder. "Here, drink this. It'll help you feel better."

George opened his eyes, blinked at a tall glass of orange juice hovering in front of him. Gingerly he reached for it, actually managing to grab it on the first try. Raising himself onto an elbow, he drank it down slowly but steadily. Once he'd emptied it, it was readily refilled. This time he pushed himself upright, swinging his legs off the bed to sit up before drinking,

A pale hand set the pitcher of orange juice on the nightstand between the beds. Yes, George saw with considerable relief, there were two beds and the other one had also been slept in. He finished the second glass and looked at the other man in the room. It was nice to see that the voice matched it's owner. He was tall and lean with silvering blonde hair and pale gray-blue eyes and attractive enough to make George wish something had happened. Or, better yet, would happen. He'd like to remember that encounter.

"Do. . ." George faltered and cleared his throat. "Do I want to know what happened?" He asked and that time his voice was pretty close to normal.

The stranger looked thoughtful. "Probably not." He grinned at George's pained look. "You got drunk. Very drunk and I didn't feel right pouring you into a cab to find your own way home alone."

George blinked. "God." He rested his throbbing head in a hand. "Thanks. Thanks a lot. I don't usually get that drunk."

"Yes, I got that impression." The other man stepped closer, offering a hand. "James Horne."

George took it. "George Fraley. Where are we?"

"The Hilton. And," he added with a twinkle in his eye. "It's Thursday."

George grimaced then sighed. At least he hadn't lost a day. "So, how big of a fool did I make of myself?" He asked reluctantly.

"Not as bad as one might think. You just. . .drank a lot."

"Oh, God." He mumbled again then looked up hesitantly. "Did I. . .?" He hesitated but James seemed to know what he was asking.

"Make a pass at me? Yes, you did."

George winced. "Sorry." He mumbled.

"Why?" James asked and George threw him a startled look.

"Are you gay?" He asked and James tilted his head thoughtfully at him.

"I've never had sex with a man, no." He smiled. "And you took no very well, even drunk as you were."

George flushed. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." There was laughter in James' voice and George smiled before dropping his eyes again. This time he saw his watch and what time it was.

"Oh, no. I have to call work! I'm late! I'm dead!"

"Phone's next to you." James said far too cheerfully for George's headache and he glowered at him as he reached for the phone. "I'd offer you a lift but I've a meeting in an hour."

"Oh, please, you've done enough. I really can't thank you enough. What I did last night was stupid,. Really stupid. I'm just lucky it was you who found me and not. . .someone else." George hesitated, pausing in mid-dial. "Look, I want to thank you for everything you've done. How about I buy you dinner?"

James blinked in surprise then smiled. "Sure, why not? I can't tonight. . .I'm having supper with my sister. . .but how about tomorrow night?"

George smiled as well. "That's perfect. There's a restaurant not far away. Mushrooms. Met you there about 6:00?"

"I know where it is. Or rather I will. That's where we're going tonight."

George started to say something but then the phone was answered. "Hello? John. . ."

"George?!" John's voice exploded into his ear and George winced, drawing the phone away from his ear. "Where the hell are you?"

"I'm. . .I. . .ah. . .I got drunk last night. Real drunk. It's. . .it's a long story. Look, tell Bailey I'll be in as soon as I can get home and change."

"You're gonna need a lift as well. Your car's in the impound." John said.

"Damn!" George muttered then frowned. "How do you know that?"

"You left your FBI ID in the glove compartment and they called. I'll pick you up. Where are you?"

"No, that's all right. I'll call a cab. . ."

"I'll pick you up." John said sternly and George knew he was going to get a lecture. "Where are you?"

George sighed. "Fine. I'm at the Hilton. You can drop me off at the impound yard. I'll be out front. See you in a little while." He hung up and rested his head in his hands, not relishing admitting how stupid he'd been.

"Your jacket's hanging up." James said, gesturing toward the closet by the door.

George stood up gingerly, thankful his head stayed where it belonged and walked over to pull his jacket off a hanger. He didn't bothering slipping it on, just draped it over an arm as he turned back to face James, who had followed him to the door. "Thanks again. See you tomorrow." He offered James his hand, resisting the urge to draw him into a kiss.


Twenty minutes later, George paced in front of the hotel, sipping from the cup of coffee he'd gotten from the hotel's restaurant, trying desperately to clear his head before John arrived. Too late, there he was. Swallowing the remains of the coffee, he tossed the cup into a nearby trash can and walked over to slip into the car. He busied himself with fastening the seat belt, not wanting to see the expression on John's face.

"How did you end up here?" John asked bluntly as he pulled away from the curb and George finally, reluctantly, looked up.

"I got drunk. Very drunk. A sympathetic soul brought me here to sleep it off."

"Oh? And what happened?"

George felt a surge of resentment that John apparently didn't think him capable of taking care of himself, resentment that faded when he realized that, last night, he couldn't have taken care of himself and if it hadn't been for James, he might not be here at all

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He poured me into one bed and took the other. I woke up this morning with one hell of a hangover and called you. End of story."

"Oh?"

George had a suspicion he knew what John meant by that remark but chose to keep quiet, looking out the window. After a moment, he heard John sigh. "Bailey's says that if you're that hung over, take a sick day but you sure as hell better be in tomorrow. You’re lucky we’re having a lull right now."

"Thanks."

They drove in silence for a long moment, a silence George knew wasn't going to last long. And he was right.

"What happened, George?"

"Nothing important. Something stupid." George rested his forehead against the window, feeling the familiar dull ache of loss. "There was a call on the answering machine when I got home last night. A call for Rich. An appointment he'd made days before. . ." He let his voice fade.

John remained silent for along moment before he muttered, "Sorry, George."

George didn't reply and the rest of the trip was made in silence.


George got his car out of the impound, thanked John for the lift and drove home slowly. He'd known something like this was going to happen when he left the house last night.. He vowed that next time he'd buy the liquor and just get drunk at home. No, there would be no next time.

He opened the door into his house and stepped inside to the squalls of a angry cat.

"Hi sweetie." George scooped up the cat. "What's wrong?" She bumped her head against his chin insistently and he walked into the kitchen to check on her food and water. Yes, still plenty left. "Just missed me, uh? I'm sorry, baby."

This wouldn't have happened a year ago. Rich would have been here, keeping Ginger company but then, a year ago, he wouldn't have gone out and gotten drunk either. There would have been no reason to. But a carjacker had put an end to that.

"I miss him, Ginger. Sometimes so much it hurts. Which is why I do stupid things like last night. Well, not too stupid. I met someone. You want some wet food?"

Ginger canted her ears at him, protesting the abrupt change of subject

"Wanna hear about him, eh? Don't get too excited." George set her on the counter and rummaged for a can of food. "He's straight. Which means he's not interested in me. Pity really. He's a hunk and a half." He laughed at himself. "Here." He set the dish in front of Ginger. "I'm going to take a shower and get some sleep."

George found those actions easier said then done. Sleep persistently eluded him and he tossed and turned until, finally, he admitted that he couldn’t sleep because he was horny. Really horny. He hadn’t felt like this. . .well, for some time. Certainly not since Rich’s death. And for someone he would never have.

Or would he? Horne had said he’d never slept with a man, not that he wasn’t gay. Maybe. . .

"Stop it." He said, startling Ginger enough that she jumped up, obviously trying to figure out what it was she was suppose to stop doing. "Not you, sweetie. Me. Papa’s thinking really stupid thoughts." He sat up, scooping the cat up in his arms. "Come on. I got a problem to take care of so you sleep out in the living room for a bit." He slipped Ginger out the door and shut it firmly, ignoring her outraged look.

George padded back to the bed, stripping off his boxers as he went. Laying back on the bed, he let his hand slip downward to touch himself, already hard and ready. He began to stroke himself, gently at first then harder as the needed release didn't come. With a whimper, he slipped fingers further downward and into himself but not even that was enough.

He gave up and rolled over to open the nightstand drawer, looking at the small collection of "toys" inside. He’d never been big on the so-called marital aids, preferring the real thing and for the last year, his hand had been all he needed. But now he wanted something. . .different. He picked up a dildo, not very big, but big enough and lubricated it thoroughly before laying back on the bed. It wasn’t the real thing but it was close enough and he positioned it carefully before easing it into his body. With his eyes closed, he could easily imagine a lover slipping into him and he moaned as the head nudged his prostate. He waited for his body to adjust to the presence inside him and then began to draw it out and thrust it back in, his other hand mimicking the dildo’s movement on his own hard cock.

In his imagination, George was encouraging a phantom lover, pleading with him to take him harder, faster, begging for more. His hands obeyed his pleas and he soon found himself curled up on his side, screaming into his pillow as he came. As the pleasure subsided, he pulled his face from the pillow, gasping for breath as he gently extracted the dildo.

He laid there shivering for a long time before standing to make his way into the bathroom to clean up all the while knowing that tomorrow night would be the longest dinner of his life because, try as he might, his phantom lover had been tall and lean with gray-blue eyes and silvering blond hair.


Having missed a day, especially with such short notice, George suspected he'd be working late to catch up and he'd have to go to the restaurant straight from work. He found himself in front of the mirror, fussing with his appearance, not his usual routine. When he realized what he was doing, he dropped the brush in the sink with a scowl.

"Okay, George, just remember. He's straight. He's not interested." His scowl softened. "But he didn't say he wasn't gay. Just that he'd never had sex with a man. Does that mean there's a chance. . .God, George, you're talking to yourself. In a mirror, no less." He took a deep breath. "Okay, all I have to do is remember I am not interested." He stared at his reflection. "Yeah, right." He stooped to splash water quickly on his face, still muttering to himself. "All right. I'll dress nice, I'll be good, we'll see what happens."

He stepped from the bathroom and reached for his jacket, pausing thoughtfully. After a long moment, he walked into the bedroom and pulled open the nightstand drawer, staring at a packet of condoms there. No, they'd been there for almost a year. It would be better to stop at a drugstore and buy some. Just in case.


It was as long a day as he thought it would be. There was a lecture from Bailey, a sisterly talk from Sam and a lot of concerned looks from John. George made it through them all and threw himself into his work, trying to get everything done but as 6:00 drew closer, he got more and more anxious. At one point, he looked up to see John at his shoulder and almost screamed, afraid that he had more work that needed to be done before he left. But John didn't drop more work on his desk; he just leaned against the edge of George's desk.

"So, what's up, George?"

"So what's up where?" George asked, checking over a file before closing it.

"I've never seen you so nervous."

"Nervous?" George paused, throwing his friend a side-long look. "I'm not nervous. I'm just. . .busy."

"George, you know you can talk to me. If this is about last night, about Rich. . ."

"It's not." Knowing very well John wasn't going to leave until he had a reasonable explanation , George decided to give him one. "Look, I wanted to thank the guy who pulled me out of the bar the other night so I'm taking him to dinner."

"From the way you're acting, I'd say you're expecting more." John said after a long moment.

George tensed then shook it off. "Maybe I'm just hoping for more. And don't say I hardly know anything about him. I know as much about him as any date you've ever had."

John winced. "Point taken."

"Good. Now go away. I have to get this done so I can meet him on time."

John slid off the desk. "Believe it or not, George, I hope you have a good time," was all he said as he walked away, leaving George staring at his back. He wondered briefly if John was going to report to Bailey or to Sam then he thrust it from his mind and concentrated on finishing his work.

Finally, with minutes to spare, he closed the last file and got up, grabbing his jacket. He pulled it on as he almost ran to the exit. Even so, he was almost ten minutes late. It was with great relief that he saw James sitting at a table, sipping what proved to be a beer.

"Sorry about being late. . ." was the first thing George said and James smiled.

"It's all right. I just got here myself. Want something to drink?"

"Ahhh. Beer." George said to the waiter and the waiter went away. He looked back at James, delighted at what he saw.

James was even more attractive then he remembered but then he had been looking through eyes clouded by one hell of a headache. He was dressed causally in black jeans and open-necked shirt with a sports jacket and George found himself wanting him. He firmly pushed those thoughts down and settled into his chair, cradling the beer that appeared at his elbow. They began to talk, starting off with minor things, working their way to more important things. James, it turned out, lived in Seattle, clear across the continent but was in Atlanta visiting his sister and checking out real estate. He had, he told George, every intention of moving to the East Coast but he wasn't sure where yet.

George hesitated to mention where he worked. . .most people got a little leery when he said he worked for the FBI. . .but James only smiled. He felt the wariness he had felt start to fade and he smiled back. They talked as they ate and George found himself telling James about Rich. Not much but enough to explain why he'd been out getting drunk the other night. In return, James spoke of his son, killed in a car accident three years previously.

They sat in companionable sympathy for a long moment and then shifted their conversation to happier subjects.

George found himself getting more and more confused by the minute. And more and more aroused. James, he realized, was flirting with him and doing it pretty good for someone who'd never done it before. He found himself responding and for several minutes, he basked in the attention, with the thought that maybe, just maybe,. . .

He cut that thought off and sobered, staring at James' pale hand where it rested on the table, surprised at how much he wanted to reach out and take it into his own. Slowly he leaned back, frowning.

"George?" James looked at him intently. "What's wrong?" He asked in concern.

George didn't say anything for a long moment. "James, do you want to go to bed with me?" He asked finally.

James tilted his head, studying him. "Yes. Yes, I do."

"Why? You said you weren't gay."

"No, I said I'd never had sex with a man. But then I'd never met a man I wanted to have sex with before."

George went perfectly still as James' words sank in and then he smiled, a small smile he seriously hoped didn't show how nervous he was.

"I was kind of hoping you’d say something like that." He glanced down at the remains of their meal. "Desert?" He asked and James gave him a look that actually managed to make George blush, something he hadn’t done in years. George hurriedly dug out his wallet and pulled out enough to pay for the meal, setting it on the table, ignoring James’ amused grin and suspecting he had left way too much. The waiter was going to get a big tip but he didn’t care.

"Did you bring your car?" James asked as they left the restaurant.

"No. No, I work more or less across the street. It’ll be safe until morning. You?"

James shook his head. "Beautiful night. I walked. Only three blocks."

George thought it was going to be the longest three blocks he's ever walked. Or maybe not so long as James resumed their conversation. He found himself almost surprised to suddenly find themselves in front of the hotel. They walked through the lobby and to the elevator and were soon on the third floor, in front of the door to James' room.

George was surprised to find himself nervous. He'd been pretty much celibate for almost a year. And James, he reminded himself, had never done this before. He looked absolutely calm. All right. George would be nervous for them both.

"Want something to drink?" James asked as he slipped off his jack and George shook his head. James nodded almost absently, draping the jacket over a chair as he stepped into the room. Once inside, he hesitated, looking over his shoulder at George. This time, George could see the uncertainty in the other's eyes. He smiled, feeling his nervousness fade.

Stripping off his jacket, George dropped it over James' and stepped close to him.

"Are you sure about this, James?" He asked quietly and James blinked. His hand came up to trace George's cheek gently, his eyes studying George's intently.

"Yes. Very sure."

"Good." George leaned close, his lips caressing James'. Hesitantly James opened his mouth, accepting George's tongue, caressing it with his own. Encouraged, George slipped his arms around the other, drawing him close, feeling strong arms encircle him. He felt something else as well, a guarantee that James was sure about this, a hardness that pushed insistently against his own.

That was thrown momentarily in doubt when James pulled away but then George felt soft lips on his throat, exploring and licking the pulse. Nimble fingers undid the buttons of his shirt and those teasing lips worked downward, finding a nipple to lick and nip gently, a sensation that went straight to his groin. George groaned, gripping the other's shoulders tightly. When that clever tongue made its way across his chest and to the other nipple, George's knees almost buckled.

"Bed." He managed to croak and James straightened, licking his lips and looking at George with eyes gone dark gray with passion.

"Bed." He agreed in a husky voice and they made their way toward it, arms still around each other, James' lips once again seeking out the pulse in George's throat. They were almost there when George stumbled to a halt.

"Damn." He said thickly. "Protection. My jacket. . ."

James was shaking his head. "Nightstand." His arms tightened around George. "I was hoping you'd come back with me."

George's smile broadened and his hands fumbled at James' clothing. James returned the favor and soon they were both naked. James moved to pull George close but George stepped back, hands on James' hips to hold him away, and slowly ran an appreciative eye up and down the long, lean body.

James had very fair skin, and George just bet he would sunburn very easily. One part of him wasn't fair at the moment and George admired his erection, dark and weeping. He cupped it with his hand, stroking it gently, feeling it twitch in his grasp. George smiled, tightening his grip and pressing his thumb gently against the head, a move that made James groan.

"George. . ."

"Bed." Was George's reply and James nodded jerkily.

Somehow they both tumbled onto the bed, reaching for each other. James ended up on top, astride George, his hands exploring the other man. George groaned as hands skimmed lightly over his chest, fingering the erect nipples; a move that made him gasp with pleasure then the hands were moving downward.

George watched as James first caressed his hardness then wrapped a hand around it to stroke him firmly. He groaned, hips thrusting involuntarily. He saw James lick his lips and lean forward, tongue caressing not the hard shaft but the sac beneath it. George gasped, his entire body twitching with the sensation then he felt that limber tongue on his cock, licking his way upward. . .

"Careful, James." He said thickly. "Protection."

James straightened with a rebellious look but nodded. "Better safe then sorry." He smiled, his hand stroking George gently.

George raised himself onto his elbow, reaching for the nightstand drawer. Inside he found a selection of condoms and lubricant. He started laughing helplessly, turning to look at the other man.

"I wasn't sure what to get." James mumbled, flushing darkly. "The pharmacist must think I'm nuts."

George managed to stifle his laughter and drew James into a gentle kiss. James responded hesitantly, embarrassed flush fading. The kiss deepened, mouths opening and tongues caressing. After a long moment, George reluctantly pulled away far enough to murmur. "I want you, James. Inside me. Please?"

James gave him an uncertain look. "I've never done this before, George. I don't want to hurt you."

George looked into the drawer then back at James just in time to see him once again flushing darkly. Both of them knew that James wouldn't have bothered with lubricant if he hadn't thought they'd be having anal sex.

"I didn't say I didn't want to do it. Just that I've never done it before."

George reached up to gently stroke the other's cheek. "It's all right, James, trust me. It doesn't hurt. Not if it's done right."

James hesitated then nodded. George looked back into the drawer, finally choosing a condom and lubricant. Opening the tube, he squeezed a small amount into his hand and reached out to stroke James' hardness. James groaned and thrust into his hand.

"Water-based. Good choice." George grinned at the look James gave him. "If we're going to do this, James, we're going to do it right."

"I. . .yes." James watched as George tore open the packet and prepared the condom, squeezing a small amount of lubricant into the condom before easing it gently onto James. James hissed in frustration as George's fingers caressed him lightly.

"Been awhile for you too, hey?" George asked in amusement and James managed to nod. Handing the lubricant to James, he laid back, knees spread apart. "Work some inside me." He instructed.

James lubricated his fingers and moved closer to George, letting his fingers slip downward, between George's legs to probe his opening. A finger worked into him gently, spreading lubricant thickly inside him. George sighed at the welcome feeling and hooked his hands behind his knees, drawing his legs even further apart and giving James better access.

For someone who had never done this before, James was quite thorough, using two fingers to gently loosen the tight ring of muscle. Ever now and again, his probing fingers would caress the gland deep inside George's body, making him moan with eagerness until he was literally pleading with James to take him.

Finally, the fingers slipped free of his body and James positioned himself. His hand rested lightly on George's hip while the other guided his hard cock to press against the opening. He pushed against the tight ring and George concentrated on relaxing, letting out a welcoming cry as the head abruptly popped into him and he felt the familiar pressure of a man's hard cock being pushed into him.

At first, there was some discomfort then the head of James' cock nudged George's prostate and George cried out again, writhing with intense pleasure. He released his knees and reached up to grip James' shoulders, his legs wrapping around the other tightly, drawing James all the way inside him.

For a long moment, they stayed like that, James' wide eyes staring into George's bemused ones. Then James removed his hands from George's hips and leaned forward to brace them on either side of the man beneath him. He began to move, drawing out and easing back in, his every move gentle. George realized that he was trying not to hurt him.

"It's all right, James. Trust me. You won't hurt me." His hands slipped from James' shoulders to grip the other's arms. "Faster, lover. Harder."

James paused for a moment then drew out so that only the head was still in George's body before thrusting back in hard. His cock struck George's prostate and he let out something quite close to a howl.

"That's it! Oh, God, James!" Then words were lost as James pounded into him without mercy, hard and deep, his cock scraping George's prostate with almost every stroke. He found himself scrambling at James' arms, crying out with pleasure then he thrust a hand between their bodies to grip his own moist cock, stroking it in rhythm with James' hard thrusts into his body.

"Yes." He groaned, looking up at James' pleasure-contorted face. Reaching up with his free hand, he drew James close enough to kiss then groaned again as he felt the familiar tingling in his balls. Liquid warmth spurted from him, covering both his and James' chests. He felt himself tighten around James' cock and James groaned in pleasure, thrusting jerkily as he came. He continued to thrust for a moment even when empty then stilled, gasping for breath. After a long moment, James withdrew from George's body and worked the condom off, reaching over to drop it into a wastebasket he had positioned near the bed earlier. Then he collapsed onto his back next to George, taking deep breaths.

"There's wet wipes in the drawer as well." He said once he had caught his breath and George laughed.

"No washcloth?" He teased as he rolled over enough to open the drawer again and get the wipes.

"I figured wet wipes would last better." James said. "I hate leaving a warm bed to re-wet washcloths."

George started to reply then felt a hand on his ass and paused, feeling James' hand slip between his cheeks to gently probe his opening, still distended from hard use. A finger slipped into him easily and he twitched as it nudged his prostrate.

"It doesn't hurt?" James asked, his breath caressing George's ear.

"It can but it doesn't have to. If you're relaxed enough and you want it enough. . ." He paused, sighing as James moved close enough to rub his cheek against George's, his finger moving inside the other's body and George wondered if they were going to have a second round right away. Not that he would mind. . .but then James slipped his finger free and reached over him for a wipe. The next minute, he felt wetness between his cheeks and shifted, giving James access to clean him completely. Once James had finished and laid back again, George rolled over to face him, grinning at his lover.

"Tease."

James laughed as he used another wipe to clean himself off. "We've got all night. And most of tomorrow as well."

"When do you leave?" George cleaned himself off and tossed the wipe into the trash.

"My plane leaves at 5:15." He caught George's look and grinned. "But I'll be back. In fact, Atlanta is looking better and better as a place to live."

"Oh, it is. Trust me." George reached over to pull James close, intent on proving his words.


It had been a long time since George had been in a session of marathon sex but he felt he did himself proud. He patiently taught James some of the tricks of making love with a man and James proved to be a quick learner, balking only when, during one of their lovemaking sessions, George gently started to slip a finger into him. James had stiffened and blurted a sharp "No!". George had backed off immediately, waving off James' red-faced apologies and assuring him that he didn't mind, that were plenty of ways to make love and he didn't need any explanations.

He showed James how he liked to be stroked and how good it felt to rub their cocks together, hands wrapped around them to create the best friction. In turn, James told him how he liked to be sucked and stroked. While James was in the throes of pleasure, George took the opportunity to slip fingers between his cheeks to gently finger and stroke the puckered opening. He made it a point not to enter him, just getting him used to having someone else touched him there. At first James jerked away then he relaxed into it, only protesting a little as George used his fingers to open him and press the barest tip of a finger into him. At that point, George backed off, finally bringing James to climax. Afterward, he eased the condom off the other man and cleaned him gently before climbing up his body to kiss him deeply.

"George." James said hesitantly as they finally pulled apart. "Do you want to. . .?"

"Not now." George interrupted, knowing what James was asking. "Later. When you're more comfortable with it." He stroked back the other's hair. "We have plenty of time. Now," He handed James a condom and rolled onto his back. "Your turn."

George couldn't help but laugh at James' expression when he first tasted the flavored condom, though James got back at him by later giving him another riding that had him steadily moaning "harder" with what few brain cells he had left by then and barely able to move when it was over. After that, they laid together just stroking each other lazily before shifting to the second bed to sleep. George hesitated at first then abruptly burrowed against James, stretching his length against the other man. To his relief, James chuckled and wrapped his arms around him.

"A cuddler, eh? Good."

With a happy sigh, George closed his eyes and fell asleep.


George woke hours later to the sensation of James slipping from the bed. It was obvious James was trying to be quiet, but George could hear him make his way across the room and into the bathroom. He must have picked up the phone on the way because, a few minutes later, there was the low murmur of James' deep voice then the soft pattering of bare feet making their way back to the bed.

George rolled over to see James setting the phone down gently. The other man looked at him, startled. "I thought you were still asleep."

"I woke up when you got out of bed." He smiled.

James returned to the bed, sitting cross-legged next to George. The room was still dark, even with the morning sunlight creeping through the curtains, and James' face was in shadow. George could sense his mood though and reached out to gently rub the other's arm, reflecting that, often times, acts done in darkness were regretted in the morning, especially when it was the first time.

"Regrets?" He asked softly.

"Of last night?" James chuckled, a sound the relieved George to no end. "No, never. Just wondering how I'm going to explain this to my brother."

"He wouldn't understand you being with a man?"

"Errrr. . ." Dark as it was, George could still see James blush. "Not exactly. Y'see, three years ago, I couldn't understand it when he fell in love with a man."

George blinked then began to laugh.

"They've been together three years and, frankly, he's never been happier but I'd never understood the. . .attraction of sex with another man before." James flopped down on his back next to George. "He's never going to let me live this down." He groaned.

George laughed again and rolled onto his side, raising himself up onto an elbow and reached over to gently stroke the other's chest lightly.

"And I haven't even begun to show you all the possibilities yet." He leaned down to kiss James' shoulder lightly, working his way toward his neck, hearing James' breath quicken with each gentle caress. . .

There was a knock on the door.

Startled, George jerked his head up, meeting James' laughing gray-blue eyes.

"I called down for breakfast. You might want to pull on some pants." He added as he slipped from the bed, reaching for a robe slung carelessly on a nearby chair.

"To hell with that." George grunted, slipping from the bed and into the bathroom, returning a few minutes later to see that James had set breakfast up on the table.

George was surprised at his appetite; for months he'd found himself picking at his food and had lost more weight then he should. Now he cleaned his plate and stole most of James' toast as well. As he finished the last piece, he looked up to meet James' amused eyes.

"Well, that should restore you strength." He rose, slipping off the robe. "You said something about possibilities. . ?"

George smiled, eyes drinking in that long, lean body.


"Where's my underwear?" George demanded as he gathered his clothes together, tossing them on the bed.

"You were wearing underwear?"

George threw him a dirty look. "Yes, I was."

"Try over there." James gestured toward the far corner then returned to packing.

George checked the indicated corner and finally found his boxers. He slipped them on and reached for the rest of his clothing. Now that their night was over and James was leaving, reality was setting in. He hadn't wanted a one-night stand, no, he wanted much more with this man. But was James ready to even consider a steady relationship with a man?

"James. . ." He stumbled over what he wanted to say then surged ahead. "I had a great time, James. The best."

"So did I, George." James paused in his packing and smiled at the other man. "One I hope to repeat soon." He stepped closer to George, obviously sensing his mood. "I don't believe in one-night stands." He said softly.

George felt his heart lighten and he reached for a pad of paper, jotting his number down. "Here. Call me when you get home. Please?" The last was almost a plea and James took the paper with a smile. He wrote down his own number and pressed it into George’s hand.

"Yes, of course I will. And I’ll be back, if only for a visit."

George’s smile broadened and he turned to scoop out the remaining contents of the drawer. Not that there was much left. "Here." He dropped the items into James’ suitcase grinning as James blushed. "Keepsakes."

James grinned back and snatched up a flavored condom, pressing it into George’s hand. "Keepsake." He leaned close enough to kiss George and he felt hunger stir. He returned the kiss for a long moment then reluctantly pulled away.

"If we keep this up, you’ll miss your plane."

"There’s worse things that could happen." But James stepped back. "I'll drop you off where your car is. And I'll talk to you tomorrow night."


But there was no call the next night nor all day Monday. Not that George expected James to call him at work but he called his answering machine and found no message there either. He tried to call the number James had given him only to hear a persistent "Sorry, this number is not in service". Dispirited, George threw himself into his work and left as soon as he could. Not wanting to go home to a depressingly empty house and a blank answering machine, he made his way to a local bar and ordered a drink.

That's where John found him an hour later, still nursing that same drink. He slipped onto the bar stool next to him and ordered his own drink. George didn't look up until John touched his arm and said his name sharply.

"How many of those of you had?" John asked and George threw him a sour look.

"This is my first one. I have no plans on getting drunk. I did that last Thursday. And look where that got me." He muttered the last bit and John looked at him.

"Where might that be?"

"Alone." The word slipped out before George could stop it and he raised his glass to take a hasty drink.

"It didn't work out?"

George shook his head jerkily. "I thought it had. I thought it would but he hasn't called and the number he gave me doesn’t work."

"I'm sorry, George. But you know. . ."

"Don’t say it. I know it’ll be all right. It’s just that. . .I thought he was special. That maybe what we had was special. . ." He let his voice trail off.

"James’ll love to hear that." A laughing voice said from behind them and both men turned in surprise.

Bailey was standing behind them, looking slightly bemused but he hadn’t been the one who had spoken. The woman next to him had.

She was tall, taller then most men, with warm cocoa skin, startling white hair and eyes such a light blue as to be almost silver. She was pretty enough for even George to appreciate and every eye in the place, whether male or female, was on her.

"James?" George said rather numbly.

"Oh, yes. My brother." Her voice, George noticed, was tinged with a slight accent.

"Brother?" George blinked, mentally comparing her warm cocoa skin to James' pale version. She noticed and grinned.

"There's some Mandinka in the family about three generations ago. It tends to pop up in unexpected ways."

Bailey cleared his throat pointedly. "Ah, George, this is Sable Horne. . .I think you know her brother."

George grinned at Bailey's wording. "Yeah, you might say that." His smile faded in sudden worry. "Is something wrong? I've tried to call. . ."

"He's fine. More or less. But his phone’s out of order." Sable took his elbow and guided to an empty booth. George hastily snatched his drink from the bar and trailed after her. Not that he had much choice; the woman had a strong grip. He slid into one side of the booth, Sable took the other, waving away the waiter when he came over to ask her if she wanted a drink.

"More or less?" George asked.

"Yes, well, he's royally pissed. . .at himself mainly. When he got home, he found that the house had flooded. Broken pipe. Anyway, I'm not sure about the sequence of events but by the time he called me, he'd managed to break his hand, received a concussion, was in the hospital and had totally lost your number."

"Oh, God. And my number's unlisted so. . .." George wasn't sure if he should laugh or sympathize.

"Exactly. Anyway, he was really upset because he was afraid you'd think he. . .well, I'm not sure what he thought. . ."

"I think I do."

"Good. Now, where was I? Oh, right. So he asked me to find you and explain what happened. He told me you worked for the FBI and where you worked and I went from there."

"Thank you." George said with feeling.

Sable grinned back. "You're welcome. Very welcome. Unless, of course, you do something to hurt him, which means I'd have to hunt you down and hurt you."

"The last thing I want to do is hurt him." George reassured her. "Well, ten minutes ago, I wanted to smack him, but that's because I thought he'd. . .mislead me."

"Nice way of putting."

George blushed.

"Anyway, James was still in the hospital earlier today but he'll be leaving tonight. Another brother went out there to stay with him for a bit." Sable dug into a pocket and pulled out a card, which she offered George. He looked at it and blinked.

"You're Interpol?"

"Yes, I am." She flipped the card over. "But this is what I wanted you to have. That's the hotel James'll be at. I don't know what room yet but if you ask for James or Steve Horne, you'll get him. A word of warning though. Steve and James are identical twins so they sound alike."

"In other words, don’t gush to the wrong one."

"Something like that, yes. They should be there in a couple hours." She leaned back, drawing a leg up and wrapping her arms around it, studying him thoughtfully. "You do know that this is James' first affair with a man?" She asked bluntly and George felt his face heat up.

"He told me. He said. . ." George stumbled to a halt then cleared his throat, looking down at his glass. "He said I was the first man he ever wanted to go to bed with."

"That sounds about right."

George blinked, looking up. "It does?"

Sable grinned. "Men in our family tend to fall for someone hard and fast. Love at first sight is the norm rather then the exception." She tilted her head, a teasing gleam in her eye. "Or maybe I should say lust at first sight."

George felt his blush deepen. "What about the women?"

Sable snorted. "We have more sense." She eyed George a moment longer. "James went through a messy divorce a few years ago. . .he told you that? . .and then his son was killed in a car accident, plus some other hard knocks he’ll have to tell you about. He’s been in an emotional tailspin for the last few years." She traced a dark spot on the table idly. "Last Thursday was the first time in a very long time that I've seen him actually excited about someone. Anyone." She grinned suddenly, a wide teasing grin. "And nervous. And wanting to ask questions without actually asking the questions."

George shifted uncomfortably. Discussing the merits of gay sex with his lover’s sister was something he'd never imagined himself doing. "What'd you tell him?" He finally asked.

"To call Steve and ask him how it all works. But, as luck would have it, the phones were once again down where Steve lives and even if they were working, I doubt he’d have called. So I gave him some recommendations as to what to buy and," She looked directly at George. "I told him if that’s what he wanted. . .if you were what he wanted. . .to go for it and to hell with everything else."

"Thank you," was all George could think to say.

Sable gave him a wicked grin. "Don’t thank me yet. James has never dated a man before. Hasn’t dated at all for some time now, in fact. It’s probably a good thing this is going to be a long-distance relationship, at least for awhile. Give James a chance to adjust to the idea."

George felt an uncertain twinge. "And maybe change his mind?"

"Oh, I doubt it. I’ve seen my brothers fall in love and James has all the symptoms. Of course, he doesn’t know it yet." She eyed George closely and smiled. "I suspect you don’t either." She shook her head. "He reminds me a lot of Steve when he and Jarod first met. And I expect James and Steve’ll do a lot of talking. . .Steve’s the brother out there with him now." She explained when George gave her a puzzled look.

"About. . ?"

"About everything, I suspect. After Steve gets done heckling him, of course. So don’t be surprised if, the next time you see James, he knows a lot more about gay sex then he did. In fact, that’s one reason I insisted Jarod stay home and not go with Steve to Seattle. Steve and James’ll just talk but I wouldn’t put it past Jarod to offer demonstrations." She burst out laughing at George’s expression. "Jarod is. . .different and he loves Steve with a passion. And neither of them are very shy when it comes to demonstrating it. It's a good thing they live where they do. Mooreland has always been very accepting of. . .unusual couples. Not to mention the occasional three- and four-cornered marriages that tend to gravitate there."

George blinked, trying to wrap his mind around what she was saying and finally giving up. "So you don't think James'll be leery of a same-sex relationship? He won’t change his mind?"

"Oh, he’ll be leery, yes. He’ll think it out and weigh the hassles against the benefits," she eyed George in a way that made him realize he was the benefit she meant. "And then he’ll toss common sense out the window and do what his heart tells him to do." She grinned suddenly. "But you’ll probably have to put up with a lot of stumbling and bumbling on the way. Like I said, it’s been awhile since James has dated."

George smiled. "I think I’ll survive. Now, if you’ll excuse me. . ." George slid from the booth. "I, ah, better go get something to eat and get home and. . .well, get ready. God, I sound like a seventeen-year-old."

Sable laughed.

"Thanks. Thanks a lot, Sable."

"Thank James." She slipped from the booth as well. "He's the one who was bound and determined to find you. One way or another. It's just a good thing I happened to be in Atlanta or there's no telling what he would have done."

George grinned at the thought. "I'm just really glad he tried. I'll see you again?" The last was more question than statement.

Sable offered her hand which George took readily. She had a surprisingly strong grip. "I certainly hope so. If it works out between you and James, most certainly."

George released her hand and walked over to retrieve his jacket. "I'll see you guys at work tomorrow. I gotta go make a call."

He heard Bailey and John's good-byes as he headed for the door then the sound of Bailey introducing Sable to John. Then he was out the door and heading home to a house that no longer seemed so empty and a future that was much brighter.

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