Chapter Two

Part One
of Two

Steve jerked awake, body stiff and still. Something was different. Something was. . .wrong?

Then it hit him.

There was someone else in his room.

Slowly he tilted his head back to look at the man in his bed. Jarod. The epitome of tall, dark and handsome. A part of him wanted Jarod desperately, another part was scared to death at the very thought. He shivered with indecision and slipped from the bed, careful not to disturb the sleeping man.

Dressing quickly in shorts and a tank top, Steve left the room, very carefully not looking behind him.


Jarod woke up alone.

He frowned, uneasy at the absence of his would-be lover. Slipping from the bed, he walked to his room and changed into his jeans before walking downstairs. At the foot of the stairs, he paused, listening for any sound of Steve then laughed at himself softly. He didn't have to listen for him! All he had to do was follow that feeling of "Steve" dwelling in the back of his mind.

He hesitated then slowly walked around the staircase and back toward what had been the ballroom. They were converting it into a large master bedroom, using plans Steve had borrowed from a cousin for the general layout. He opened the door and froze, blinking at the sight of Steve performing what looked like a kind of dance. At the moment, he was in a position that, from where Jarod stood, looked to be impossible. Of course, it did say good things about Steve's limberness. Which could be fun in future activities.

"Good morning." Steve said suddenly, looking at Jarod from his current upside-down position. He relaxed his back and lowered himself to rest on his shoulders then continued down until he was laying flat on the ground. He laced his hands behind his head. "You were sleeping pretty good when I got up."

"You should still be sleeping." Jarod scolded, walking over to stand over Steve. He hesitated then crouched, moving to first straddle Steve then stretch out on top of him. Crossing his arms, he rested his chin on them, studying Steve intently. The other man regarded him soberly.

"Thank you." He said quietly.

"For what?"

"For being there. For not judging."

"My pleasure." Jarod said almost absently. He was feeling something wrong. . .no, not wrong. Just different. Uncrossing his arms, he laid his head directly on Steve's chest, his ear pressed above his heart. He heard a deep sound and flinched then realized Steve was laughing softly. With a mock scowl he thumped the man on the arm then laid his head back down. After a long moment, he shifted his head slightly, frowning. "Your heart. . ." He said accusingly. ". . .is on the wrong side of your body."

"Says who?"

"I mean. . ."

"I know what you mean. Jim and I are mirror twins."

"Ahhhh. Is everything reversed?"

"Yep." Steve laughed, reaching up to idly play with Jarod's short hair. "You planning on letting your hair grow out some?"

"Maybe. It's never come up. Guess I'm just used to it being short." He raised his head to look at Steve. "Would you like it long?"

"Maybe." Steve entwined his fingers in Jarod's hair and pulled him closer, kissing him gently. Jarod pulled himself up and returned the kiss fervently.

"That's nice." Jarod sighed when they finally parted. He nuzzled the other's cheek gently, enjoying the feel of Steve's beard against his cheek. "What were you doing?"

"What? When you came in? A type of martial arts. I've been neglecting it terribly." He shifted absently then flinched. "Now I get to pay for it." He paused, eyeing Jarod thoughtfully. "I don't suppose you were ever a masseur?"

"How'd you guess?" He grinned.

"Good! I'll need you later."

Jarod grinned and Steve flushed at the double entendre.

"Come on. Up!" Steve slapped Jarod's arm lightly. "Let's get something to eat."

Jarod didn't move. "Let's talk."

"About?"

"About last night. About what happened to you. Don't look at me like that. I need to know."

"No you don't."

"Steve. I have a very vivid imagination. Extremely so. And well-trained as well. You would not believe what I can imagine. Knowing the truth is better."

Steve stared up at him, his thoughts visible on his face. Finally, he sighed. "Let me up and we'll go down to the beach. I can't talk about it here."

Jarod rose, pulling Steve up with him. Steve started to pull away but Jarod refused to let go of his hand, holding it as insistently as Steve had held his on his first day here. His first time down on the beach where he had told him about his time in the Centre. Now he lead Steve through the house and down the stairs to the water's edge.

"Hmmmm." Steve said absently. "Driftwood. We'll have to drag that up out of the water's reach." He caught Jarod's questioning look and smiled faintly. "A friend carves it into some beautiful furniture. In fact, he's making the bed for the master bedroom."

"Steve. You're avoiding the issue."

Steve remained silent for a very long moment then began to talk in a low, halting voice. It was Jarod's turn to listen quietly as Steve told him of a night of sadistic torture at the hands of a madman. The straight blade that left scars not only on his chest but on his face, an admission that surprised Jarod. Steve paused in his tale and reached up to run a thumb along his cheek.

"Plastic surgery. Three operations. He centered mainly on my chest and belly but apparently, toward the end, I wasn't responding enough to suit him so he started on my face."

"They couldn't do anything about the scars on your chest?"

Steve shrugged. "I was sick of operations. And why bother? Never thought anyone would ever see them except my doctor and Jim." He smiled shyly at Jarod.

"Keep going, Steve." Jarod said gently and Steve looked away, his face growing even paler.

"It's. . .I told you that he couldn't perform with men any better then he could with women but he could do other things." He gave Jarod a bitter, twisted smile. "Y'know, it's amazing how little sexual assault actually involves sex. He used. . .other things. Certain sexual aids. Frankly, I never knew they made them that. . .large." He looked ill at the memory. "I needed surgery for that as well. He managed to tear me up pretty badly."

"Steve. . ."

"It's all right, Jarod. It feels good actually. Talking about it." Then he continued haltingly, telling of the rest. The obscene things done to him, the sick things his captor made him do, the things he did to stay alive just a little longer. "One of the serious disadvantages. . .sometimes. . .of being the type of twins Jim and I are is that we can sometimes feel what happens to each other. Physically that is. When that psycho started on me, Jim felt it. Went and pounded on a cop friend's door. They found us before I bled to death. I ended up in the hospital for a month. After I got out, got my mind back, I couldn't handle the stress of profiling any longer. Aunt Hennah offered me this place if I fixed it up and I accepted."

Jarod paused, searching for what he wanted to say. "Steve. . ."

"Don't bother saying it. I know it wasn't my fault. I know I didn't cause what happened. Jim spent a lot of time telling me that and a whole lot of other people as well."

"But you don't always believe it."

Steve opened his mouth to deny that then saw the look on Jarod's face. "Sometimes. Sometimes I think if I did this or didn't do that or if I'd just fought harder. . !"

"You'd be dead. Or worse. You survived, Steve. That's what's important."

Steve stopped, looking out over the ocean. "I feel incredibly dirty." He said quietly. "Care for a swim?"

Jarod didn't answer, just released Steve's hand and quietly stripped off the t-shirt and shorts he wore, setting them neatly out of the water's reach. Steve set his clothes down nearby and hesitantly turned to face Jarod. His eyes drew downward slowly. Jarod smiled faintly, stepping closer to gently touch the scars on Steve's chest, a move that made the other man flinch slightly but he allowed the gesture. The touch turned into a gentle caress as Jarod stroked the pale hair on Steve's chest.

Steve's breathing changed, growing ragged. Jarod could see uncertainty in his eyes but there was desire there as well as he drew his hand ever so gently downward, never taking his eyes from the other's eyes. His fingers reached the curly hair at the base of Steve's belly then slipped even further downward until he was cupping his genitals tenderly. Steve's eyes widened.

"Jarod. . ." His voice was hoarse.

"Shhhh." Jarod breathed, stepping closer. He kissed the man gently, nuzzling his cheek. "It's all right. You know that."

And intellectually, Steve did. His emotions were another matter but he held himself steady as Jarod explored him with his hands. Jarod knelt in the sand, ignoring the grit grinding into his knees as he slowly stroked Steve to arousal with feathery touches, aware of the other man's wide-eyed gaze. He leaned forward.

"May I?" He murmured, his breath caressing Steve.

"I think you'd better." Steve said in a strangled voice then he groaned as Jarod took him into his mouth.

Jarod drew his tongue lightly along Steve's erection, circling the head tenderly before drawing what he could deeper into his mouth. One hand he kept wrapped around the base, the other supported and caressed the testicles. He thought back on his all-too-brief time with Nia, remembering what she had done to him that felt so good and tried his best to do the same with Steve.

Steve whimpered, raising his hands to rest them on Jarod's head, entwining his fingers in the short hair. The last time he'd tried to have sex with anyone it had been a disaster and it had cost him his then-girlfriend. His sex life since then had been pretty much non-existent until the dreams started three months ago. He hadn't even been sure he could function sexually.

Well, apparently he could. Instinctively, he began to thrust with his hips as Jarod used his tongue to increase his pleasure. He moaned, unaware that he was hoarsely begging Jarod not to stop, to take more of him, to make him come.

Jarod did his best, using the hand wrapped around the base of Steve's erection to keep him from thrusting too much into his mouth at once. A part of his mind was trying to remember if Nia swallowed or spat when it suddenly became a moot point. Steve let out a loud cry as he came, thrusting as deeply as Jarod would let him, his grip on Jarod's hair almost painful. Jarod gave a whimper of protest as he felt the warm liquid flood his mouth then fell silent, trying to swallow what he could.

Steve's legs suddenly gave out and Jarod drew back, catching him as he fell to his knees, drawing him close. Gasping with his own excitement, he moved closer to straddle Steve's thighs, rubbing against him hard. Steve's hands dropped to Jarod's hips, slowing him down to a steady rhythm, meeting him thrust for thrust. Their lips meet in a long, satisfied kiss.

Steve flinched slightly at the odd taste of himself on Jarod's lips then kissed him harder, his tongue teasing Jarod's mouth open. Despite his initial release, he was still hard and he pressed closer to Jarod, trapping their respective erections between their bodies. They moved against each other in increasing excitement until it was Jarod's turn to cry out with pleasure. The feel of warm semen splashing over his belly sent Steve over the edge and he gasped as he came again, less violently then before but just as satisfying.

They clung together, supporting each other, their bodies shaking from the intensity of their release. Jarod was the first to speak.

"Is. . .is this the first time since. . .?"

"More or less. Lisie and I tried but it was a dismal failure." He caught Jarod's look and elaborated. "Lisie was my girlfriend at the time. It wasn't serious though."

Liar, Jarod thought to himself but he said nothing out loud. Steve had apparently forgotten about their link or, most likely, hoped Jarod wouldn't notice the lie. A part of him felt anger at this unknown woman for hurting Steve when he was most vulnerable and he held the man closer. After a long moment, Steve stirred and pulled away.

"Come on, let's get cleaned up."

Hands still entwined, they walked into the surf, scooping up handfuls of water and washing each other off gently. Jarod studied Steve with a faint smile, enjoying the sight of muscle playing under smooth skin as he washed their combined fluids from his body then reaching over to help Steve.

"How do you feel?" He asked quietly.

"Happy." Steve said after a long moment. He smiled. "Satisfied. It's been awhile since I've done that." He bent to scoop up a double handful of water and dumped it over Jarod's head. "You?"

Jarod sputtered, shaking out his hair. "Wet." He grinned. "Happy. Horny." He hesitated. "In my dreams, we usually finished up our love-making with anal sex." He threw Steve a side-long look, biting his lip at the tight expression on the other's face.

"I. . .yes. In mine as well." He sighed and relaxed. "I don't think I could handle it, Jarod. Not yet. I mean. . .you on top. But I'd. . ." He fumbled to a stop and looked away, flushing.

Jarod smiled slightly. "But you'd like to try being on top."

Steve's flush deepened and he tried to pull away but Jarod wouldn't let him. "It's all right, Steve. I don't mind. Really."

Steve studied him intently. "It's not like the dreams, Jarod. It's painful."

"And fun. I'll take my chances. With you."

"I'm honored. I think." He brushed the excess water from Jarod's hair and tugged him from the water. "Come on. Let's get dressed and get some breakfast."

Jarod grimaced as he drew a hand down his side. "Gritty. Maybe we better shower first. Where are the dogs?"

"Hmmmm?" Steve blinked then whistled shrilly. A howl answered him and the two dogs appeared from around a cluster of rocks. "We probably scared the hell out of them." He paused then sighed. "So now what happens?"

Jarod smiled. "I think we're officially involved." He caught Steve's look and reminded him. "I'm new to this too, Steve. At least you've had girlfriends."

"True. Frankly I'm not sure if I should call my mother or if I should call Oprah."

"Oprah?"

"Talk show hostess."

"Oh." A long pause as the two men gathered their clothes and started for the stairs. "I'd like to meet your mother." Jarod said hesitatingly and was relieved when Steve laughed.

"Oh, you'd like her!" He eyed Jarod closely and smiled. "And, I think, she'd like you."

"She won't mind that you're dating a man?"

"After what happened, she'd just be glad I'm dating. Y'know, we'll have to go to Scotland and see her."

"Does she ever come here?"

A look of pain crossed Steve's face. "No. No, she and Da were in a hunting accident some years ago. Left her in a wheelchair. She doesn't travel much now."

"I'm sorry. Your father. . ?"

"Dead."

"I'm sorry." Jarod said quietly.

"So am I. I think he would have liked you."

The two men fell silent as they walked to the small shed off the patio. It was a new addition created to hold everything needed for swimming, including, Jarod had been pleased to note, scuba gear. There was an open shower attached to the shed and the two men used it together, washing away the grit left behind by the sea. They dried enough to pull on their clothes and walked to the house.

"What do you feel like for breakfast?" Steve asked as they entered the kitchen.

"Eggs would be good. Let's see what else we got." Jarod walked into the huge pantry.

Steve was scrambling a second batch of eggs when he realized that Jarod had not yet returned. He frowned and walked over to stick his head into the pantry. "What's wrong?" He asked.

"I just realized. You really don't have any of the kind of food I like."

"Uh?"

"Y'know. Ding-dongs. Donuts. That kind of food. What's wrong?"

Steve had acquired a queasy expression. "Is that what you eat? No wonder you were malnourished when you first arrived. Haven't you ever heard of a balanced meal?"

"That's what I had at the Centre."

"No, what you had at the Centre was their idea of genius-fodder. A balanced meal is something not totally composed of nutrients or of sugar." He sighed at the look on Jarod's face. "I'll tell you what. I'll call the grocer and have them add some treats to the delivery."

"Y'know, it might not be a bad idea to have them add condoms to the list as well." Jarod said absently. Silence greeted his words and he looked up to see Steve staring at him, face pale.

"Down on the beach." He stuttered. "We didn't use any protection. . ."

"You've been tested." It was a statement but Steve nodded anyway.

"Right after the assault and a few more times after. Just to make sure."

"I trusted Nia when she said she hadn't had any partners since. . .well, she was my first and only."

"But you got tested anyway."

"I'm not stupid. I got tested. Better safe then sorry. But we're still going to need condoms. And lubricant."

Steve went from pale to flushing. "Yes, I suppose so." He mumbled. "I'll give them a call." He turned to walk from the pantry.

"Steve." Jarod said suddenly, aware of the uncomfortable "itch" in the back of his mind. "Look, I'm really not used to any of this. I mean, at the Centre, I couldn't be modest. I know that my. . .bluntness disturbs you."

"Sometimes. Sometimes it's refreshing." Steve smiled.

"If it makes you uncomfortable getting this stuff from the village, maybe we could go somewhere else and get what we need."

"You mean sneak around like what we're doing is wrong? No, it's all right. I trust Lloyd. Let me make the call."

Jarod smiled, feeling the "itch" fade. Setting the plates on the table, he joined Steve, waiting for him to get off the phone before asking the question on his mind.

"So what's on the agenda for today?" He asked pleasantly.

Steve frowned, staring at his plate and Jarod got an uneasy feeling.

"Steve?"

"I want to talk to you about something important. I've been putting it off and I shouldn't have. Not if we're going to be honest with each other."

"What?"

"Where's that picture of your mother? The original one. Before you aged it."

Jarod stared at him for a long moment before he rose and left the room. Within moments, he was back, holding the picture. He handed it to Steve, who looked it over intently before looking over at Jarod.

"I had a copy of this made while you were unconscious and gave it to Aunt Hennah." He faltered, not looking at Jarod. "I think I know this woman and Hennah's working at confirming it."

"What!" Jarod stared at him in shock. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because I wasn't certain. I'm still not. But things are starting to happen between us and I can't have that kind of secret now. Jarod!"

Jarod was having trouble breathing. He gasped for air then Steve was next to him, holding him, murmuring to him.

"I'm sorry, Jarod. I'm really sorry. But I didn't want to raise your hopes. Come on, breathe!"

Jarod took a deep breath, forcibly calming himself. "Her name. What's her name?"

"Jarod, I'm not sure. . ."

"What's her name!" Jarod almost screamed and Steve jerked though he didn't release the other man.

"Miranda."

"Miranda." Jarod repeated, savoring the name as he relaxed. "Who is she?"

Steve hesitated then answered in a quiet voice. "She's Hennah's daughter."

Jarod's breath caught and Steve threw him a concerned look. "My god." He said thickly. "And you're not sure. . ?"

"Jarod, Miranda Moore vanished over forty years ago."

"What?" Jarod said numbly. "I don't understand."

"Miranda Moore vanished in 1958. She was traveling across county with two friends. A last fling before going to college. All three of them vanished while crossing the desert. Maybe nine years later, the car was found with one of the girls bodies still in it. Everyone assumed that the other two wandered into the desert and died but the bodies were never found."

Jarod stared at him, his thoughts in turmoil. To be so close. . !

"There are ways to find out." He said. "Blood tests."

Steve flushed slightly and reached for Jarod's arm, directing his attention to the crook of his elbow. Jarod blinked, realizing for the first time that there was a very faint puncture wound there.

"Oh." He said weakly.

"The tests are being conducted down at the village, using Hennah's and another of her daughters' blood for comparison."

"When will we know?"

"Soon, I should hope."

Jarod stirred in Steve's arms. "I want to speak to her." He started to stand.

"Don't bother. Hennah's out of the county. I was suppose to wait for her return. For her to tell you but I couldn't have that secret between us. Not when we. . ." He fumbled to a halt and flushed deeply.

Jarod said nothing, staring at the surface of the table.

"I'm sorry, Jarod."

"Are you really?" Jarod said bluntly, not looking at the other man. "Are you telling me now because you honestly care or just because you want to get laid?"

Steve jerked as if he had been slapped, his face going white. Releasing Jarod he stood and walked from the room, leaving Jarod alone.

Jarod didn't move for a long moment, his thoughts in a turmoil. He had said that to intentionally hurt Steve and he knew it. Shame overwhelmed the anger he felt and he rose, walking after Steve. He found him in the ballroom, dancing with quick, angry motions. No, not dancing. Fighting.

"Steve." Jarod said quietly.

There was no response.

"Steve." He said louder and stepped closer to the man. Steve spun, his eyes angry, a hand flashing toward Jarod. Jarod didn't think, just reacted, brushing the hand to one side then. . .

Part Two

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