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Rain Falls

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November 2011
London, England


It was a clear and brisk day, and Sören Sigurdsson was outside on his break. The twenty-six-year-old neurosurgeon was glad for a breath of fresh air, the coolness after the heat he always generated when operating, a chance to "dial back" from the surgery he'd just performed and take in the blue sky, the landscaping of the hospital grounds, though it was a bit less impressive in early winter. Here was a moment of peace, where he could just be before going inside for the last few hours of his shift. Nice and quiet. Blissful solitude -

"Sören Sigurdsson?"

It was an unfamiliar voice. Baritone register, Londoner if he had to place the accent - though he'd only been in the UK since the summer of 2010 and hadn't quite figured it all out yet, he was getting better at determining accents. Sören glanced over his shoulder, annoyed at being interrupted on his break by someone who didn't know him, even more annoyed that it was a suit. Although, the man in the charcoal grey suit was quite attractive - about two inches taller than Sören's six feet, broad-shouldered, trim, short dark hair, green eyes. On the pale side, clear-complexioned, clean-shaven. As pretty as he was handsome, with high cheekbones, a full, generous mouth, strong jawline, a bit of a smoulder to him. He looked thirtysomething at the oldest, probably not that much older than Sören.

"Jæja?" Sören tried not to glare, not wanting to come off as totally rude, but he couldn't keep the note of irritation out of his voice.

The man stepped forward. "I was told you'd be out here," he said, sounding somewhat apologetic, as if he knew Sören was on break and he was interrupting that precious time. He extended his hand - manicured, Rolex watch, long, elegant fingers... the kind of smooth, soft hands of someone who'd never done hard labor. Sören hated shaking hands with strangers, as a surgeon who had to wash his hands constantly, and also where if something happened to his hand, like a sprain or a break, that was very bad for his job. Not that handshakes tended to result in that, but Sören was paranoid, especially when he'd had to deal with hysterical family members of patients in the past. Nonetheless, Sören took the suit's hand. The man had a strong grip, both assuring and dominating.

"I'm Anthony Wyatt-Jones," the man said, giving a thin smile that did not meet his eyes. "Criminal defense barrister -"

Sören rolled his eyes and let out a deep sigh. "If you're here about Rafferty, I've already spoken to solicitors."

"Yes, Mr. Sigurdsson, I'm aware of that. I'm here to do a followup. I prefer to err on the side of being thorough, leaving none of the proverbial stones unturned. My colleagues may not appreciate that, but my clients do."

Sören pursed his lips. This was the last thing he wanted to do on his break; at least this Anthony Wyatt-Jones was easy on the eyes, and easy to listen to. Sören's eyes raked him up and down, taking him in. "Go on."

"I'd like to ask you some questions, and if possible, be taken on a tour of where Mr. Rafferty performed the operation he's being sued for. Have a glance at the lighting, equipment... that sort of thing."

Pete Rafferty had been suspended following a charge of criminal negligence - operating under the influence. The patient had died, which of course created a bit of a scandal for the hospital, and just the event of the death had been fairly traumatic for the entire staff, especially those who had witnessed it.

"We'll go on the tour first," Sören said.

"Thank you, Mr. Sigurdsson."

Sören narrowed his eyes. After living in the UK for over a year, he'd gotten used to the inevitability that he would be addressed by his last name, but it was properly a patronymic and not a surname - in Iceland everyone was on a first-name basis, no matter who they were, and it was seen as a bit of a faux pas to call someone by their last name. Sören was used to it now, but he still didn't like it, and being interrupted on his break increased the annoyance he'd otherwise feel.  And he really hated the British custom of specialists being called "Mister" instead of "Doctor". "I. AM. A. DOCTOR." he'd ranted privately to his cousin after he'd moved.  That was just the icing on the cake of his annoyance.

Anthony Wyatt-Jones was not kidding when he said he preferred to err on the side of being thorough, wanting a demonstration of the lights and all the equipment in the operating room, not currently in use. He took notes as Sören showed that everything was fully functional, and then Sören took him back outside, because he would be damned if he wasn't getting at least some fresh air. A little bit of wind was kicking up now, carrying the notes of Anthony's cologne, a cool, clean scent, rain or ocean notes, with a touch of warm musk underneath. It was likely expensive, and just enough to make a good impression without being overpowering. Sören liked it. Under other circumstances he would have asked what it was.

"The deceased had been to you for scans and advisement before the procedure. Were there any contraindicators for surgery? Any underlying health problems that would have made the surgery higher risk, a higher chance for dying under the knife?"

"No," Sören said.

More notes. "To my understanding, you reported Rafferty to your chief physician?"

Sören nodded. "We were doing two different procedures but we were scrubbing in at the same time and he seemed... off."

There was a pause, and then the next question. "What was your relationship like with Peter Rafferty?"

"Honestly? We weren't friends, we didn't like each other much."

This, of course, was exactly the sort of thing the shark was looking for, the "gotcha". Rafferty hadn't been blood tested before or after the procedure, so the intoxication couldn't be proven beyond doubt that way. All the prosecution had to work with was witnesses.

"Why was that?"

Sören wanted to say "none of your business", feeling uncomfortable discussing this sort of thing with a stranger, but he knew that if he withheld information that might actually do more harm than good, somehow. "I was at the Pride parade over the summer, marching with a few colleagues and other doctors from other branches of the NHS system. We had some photos taken of us, our names got on social media and in the newspapers. Rafferty of course couldn't say anything to my face without getting fired, but he, you know. Is a pretty outspoken Tory, telly would be on in the break room and he'd say stuff like 'what this country needs is a return to traditional values' and he'd glare at me. Passive-aggressive shite... er, stuff... like referring to me as 'you' and the other doctors by their names. A look on his face when he talked to me like he was smelling something foul or had just sucked on a lemon. Giving me a wider physical berth than he gave other people. Those little tells. All little things, but they added up. He didn't like me, I didn't like him, it was sort of a hostile work environment."

"And when you reported him... that was prior to his procedure?"

"Correct. He obviously was still allowed to perform, though my complaint may not have been noted until the operation was already underway. I really don't know."

"You said there was something 'off' about him. Off how?"

Sören closed his eyes for a moment, recalling what he'd seen in his mind's eye. He opened them to Anthony's watchful green eyes. "Unsteady gait, slightly slurred speech. He had beer breath. Not enough where you could smell him a kilometer away, but enough that up close..."

"And you're quite sure it was beer you smelled, not, for example, the breath of someone having a diabetic sugar episode or with another health condition."

"I'll never say I'm 100% sure on the 0.5% chance I might be wrong, but I've smelled glycemic imbalances before, dental conditions, other things... this wasn't that. Plus that combined with the way he was walking, talking..."

"So you've had experience observing people under the influence? Are you a bit of a drinker yourself, Mr. Sigurdsson?"

Sören normally wouldn't disclose something like this to a total stranger, but he bristled at the way that was worded, and reacted. "My guardians were alcoholics, I think I'm probably an expert on that subject."

Anthony's expression had been neutral thus far, but Sören noted a little frown and tightness around his eyes. There was a pause before he fired off his next question. "So you reporting him was strictly because of that, and not because his dislike of you being part of the LGBT community."

Sören nodded. "I would have reported him regardless of my personal feelings for him. Even if it was one of the surgeons I'm friendly with. If someone can do their job - and Rafferty was a damn fine surgeon up to this point - I don't care what their bloody politics are, I care that they can get shit done." Once again the swearing came out, and Sören felt a bit self-conscious, letting it slip in front of someone posh, cultured, but he wasn't here to impress the guy - handsome that he was - he was here to answer questions. "And if someone can't do their job because they're too fucked up on alcohol or drugs or they haven't gotten enough sleep or what have you, I don't care about their personal relationship to me, I care about the safety of that patient. I don't want blood on my hands because I'd rather score popularity points than listen to my conscience."

"Thank you for your honesty, Mr. Sigurdsson. And for your conscience."

Sören glared. "You thank me for my conscience, but you're defending this guy?"

Anthony's expression was no longer neutral. His nostrils flared slightly. He squared his shoulders. "It's my job," he said, his irritation cold rather than hot, lowering his voice instead of raising it. "We don't get to pick and choose our clients, no more than you get to pick or choose your patients. And in this country, people get a fair trial. Most people with a conscience would prefer it be so, even at the distaste of defending the indefensible, rather than someone being thrown in prison without a chance to prove one's innocence. In countries where that's done, it goes hand in hand with other human rights violations. I will defend ninety-nine guilty people to make sure one innocent isn't wrongly imprisoned. I will defend ninety-nine monsters to ask for leniency for one who chose the wrong path because they didn't have better choices."

That sounds personal. Sören decided not to pry. "Fair enough," he said. "I can respect that. Are you done with your questions, Mr. Wyatt-Jones?"

"Är du från Sverige? Jag tog några års ledighet från skolan till turné Västeuropa och Skandinavien var min favoritdel av turnén."

Sören was caught off guard, and strangely charmed by this question. Though the question had been in Swedish, he replied in Danish, his third language - he didn't speak Swedish, though Danish and Swedish were for the most part mutually intelligible. "Jeg er fra Island. Født i Akureyri, var kirurg på hospitalet i Reykjavik, før jeg kom hit for et år siden."

Anthony nodded slowly, taking it in. "Icelandic. I did think that was strange for a Swedish accent." He quickly added, "Not that your accent is strange. I quite like it."

"I've gotten that a lot." Sören's weight shifted from one foot to the other. "So anything else? Am I dismissed?"

"There is one more thing." Their eyes met. "Would you like to go out for dinner sometime? I know you've got rotating shifts, so the word 'dinner' is flexible - when we've mutually got some time off."

Sören cocked his head to one side. He was taken aback. "You mean... like, a date?"

"Yes. I'm gay."

It came out before Sören could stop himself. "Hi Gay, I'm Sören."

Anthony laughed - a genuine laugh, which made Sören smile. Which in turn produced a genuine smile from Anthony, smiling with his eyes, not the fake disarming smile of earlier. It was warm. Dazzling.

"Shit, you probably regret asking now," Sören said.

"No. I don't." The smile was softer, but still genuine. "If anything, I'm even more convinced asking you was the right decision. I needed that."

Sören smirked. "Hi Even More Convinced -"

Anthony raised an eyebrow. "Don't push it."

"Oh, but pushing it is fun. I push it real good."

Anthony caught the innuendo and turned a little pink, giving a guilty grin that all but shouted Mind, gutter. Sören's cheeks flushed too - he was surprised by the return of the devil-may-care attitude, the glimpse of the old him that he'd thought long since gone. And Sören felt a little flutter. He hadn't dated anyone since he'd moved to London - not only did he have a busy schedule, but the set of experiences that had prompted his exodus from his home country had put him off to bars, the club scene, and online dating services. He was wary. But he couldn't deny he missed companionship, he missed touch, he missed sex. And with dating another professional, Anthony would likely "get it" with being busy, and time being precious, so at least they had that going for them.

"So is that a yes, then?" Anthony looked a little hopeful.

Sören did some mental calculations. "It's Thursday the seventeenth... as things go, I actually have this Saturday night free, the nineteenth, and most of Sunday the twentieth. I'll have to be back at work in the evening, but I can either do Saturday night or Sunday brunch if -"

"Saturday night? Is 7 OK?"

Sören nodded. "Seven is good. You have anywhere in mind? I'm still getting a feel for London and what's good -"

"What part of London are you in? I don't want you to have to travel too far."

"Bromley."

Anthony thought for a moment, and suggested a restaurant. Upmarket, fusion cuisine. "We can go elsewhere if you've got any dietary restrictions..."

"I don't, so we can go there. Should I meet you there?"

"I don't mind picking you up, but if you'd rather meet me there that works. I'd like to pay for you, though, I'm a bit old-fashioned that way."

"OK." Sören smiled again. "Well, that made up for you intruding on my break."

Anthony gave a nervous chuckle. "This made up for me having to come out here to bother you."

They exchanged cell numbers, and then Anthony was on his way with a smile and a wave. Sören had a little spring in his step when he went back inside the hospital and he got through the last few hours of his shift without feeling ready to fall over. On the Tube ride back home, Sören was actually singing.

Chapter Text

Sören opted to walk from his flat over to the fusion restaurant where he'd be meeting his date, for once grateful for a walk and the chance to burn off his nervous energy so he wouldn't hem and haw over his outfit for the fiftieth time. When not in his medical scrubs, Sören was a T-shirt and jeans guy, but the restaurant was a little too upmarket to get away with dressing down completely - at the same time a suit and tie would have been too dressy, which Sören was grateful for. He certainly appreciated the way a suit looked on Anthony, but Sören loathed wearing suits himself. Sören's idea of dressing up was leather pants and some sort of flamboyant top, an outfit that was more Adam Ant or Jack Sparrow than GQ. After going back and forth between five different tops he'd chosen a black ruffly poet's shirt to go with his leather pants. He had his nape-length dark curls loose rather than in the man bun he kept them in at the hospital, and he took out the studs he wore in his ears when at work - not allowed more than stud earrings per NHS regulations - and replaced them with small silver hoops. It wasn't quite raining outside, but it was foggy and damp enough for Sören to forego the mascara and eyeliner. With the walk, Sören opted for his lighter leather jacket rather than the full-length leather duster, not wanting to be too warm.

He also wondered how the clean-cut lawyer would react to seeing him like this. But Sören figured that Anthony already got a look at him, bearded, seeing his hair was long enough to be worn up, pierced ears visible; he wore long-sleeved scrubs to cover the sleeve tattoos on his arms but he was sure the ink on his wrists had shown at least once when he'd moved around. So Anthony couldn't be too surprised if Sören walked in looking a bit more untamed. Sometimes posh liked a bit of rough, and Sören could go for a dapper gentleman when he wasn't going for longhaired rocker types like himself.

Sören couldn't remember the last time he'd been this nervous on a date. Some of the anxiety, of course, was the new normal that had crept up around the idea of dating in general since The Incident in early 2010, the one that gave him a strong shove out of Iceland. Sören felt wary around anyone and everyone - "Schrodinger's Rapist", he'd said to his cousin some months after the fact. But most of the anxiety wasn't apprehension of allowing himself to relax around a near-stranger. It was the funny little flutter he got in his stomach when he thought of Anthony, like his brain had decided to compensate for not having a crush on anyone in two years by really having a crush on someone. The way Anthony had met his challenge on Thursday had earned his respect, feeling the strength and solidity behind his words. He was articulate, intelligent. That, even moreso than Anthony's good looks, was compelling.

Sören's heart was pounding when he got to the restaurant, and not from the walk. He took a few deep breaths as he walked in. "You got this," he said under his breath.

Out of the glass foyer, the maître d' waited, giving Sören a glance as Sören stepped past the people seated on leather benches, waiting for a table to open. "Hi, I'm with Wyatt-Jones, party of two," Sören said.

The maître d' nodded and gestured. "Right this way."

Sören walked through a maze of stained glass and gold and silver lighting, to a wood-and-leather booth where Anthony Wyatt-Jones was looking at his cell phone. He immediately put it away and sat up straighter, his face lighting up at the sight of Sören. Heat flooded Sören's face, giving back a shy smile as he pulled up a chair.

"Sören, hi." Their eyes met. Anthony gave him the onceover before he sat. "You look... wow."

Sören took off his leather jacket and sat. "Wow good, or wow bad?"

"Wow good. Wow very, very good." Anthony poured him a glass of iced water and passed it over.

"You look nice too." Sören had noticed Anthony's outfit - grey blazer, black jeans, pointy black boots.

"Thank you." Anthony passed him a menu. "I hope you're hungry."

"Starving." Sören realized there was innuendo in there somewhere, confirmed at the wicked look in Anthony's eye as he opened the menu and glanced inside, and then kept glancing at Sören across the table. Sören had wondered, before he left the house, if he was getting laid tonight or if this was a "test the waters" date before more. Now, judging from the way Anthony kept looking at him, Sören thought to himself, I am definitely getting laid tonight. Already, his cock stirred.

Sören went with bruschetta tandoori chicken, and Anthony had the pad thai quinoa bowl. They split a hummus appetizer, and after their menus were collected, Sören felt the anxiety settle in again. This time it was his shyness, intensified by the feeling of being under a microscope, that Anthony was going to be as meticulous in inspecting him as a potential partner as he was in his court cases.

Anthony also seemed to be waiting for Sören to make the first move with conversation - which Sören supposed was natural since Anthony was a defense attorney. Even here he was defending, reacting rather than acting. Sören got the sense that Anthony would take the initiative later... but only just so.

Sören adjusted himself in his chair. "So... how was your week?" Sören raised an eyebrow. "Can you talk about the Rafferty case?"

"I cannot," Anthony said, "but the sooner this bloody case is over and done with, the better. Rafferty is insufferable, and now that I know he's also a homophobe..." Anthony made a face before sipping his water. "We don't pick our clients. I wouldn't have picked this one."

"Does he know you're gay?" Sören raised an eyebrow.

Anthony shook his head. "I'm out on a need-to-know basis. I don't hide it, but I don't proclaim it to the world, either. If it's relevant to bring up, then it comes up. If not... then no."

"Makes sense." Sören sipped his water. "Do your folks know?"

"Yes. I didn't come out to them until my twenties were almost over, but my mum, bless her, already figured it out much earlier than that. My parents are more or less fine with it."

"More or less?" Sören's lips quirked.

"I think it makes my father slightly uneasy. He's never given me a hard time about it - I don't feel like I can't bring a serious partner around them. He's just. Typical straight male about that sort of thing."

"You have brothers or sisters?"

"No." Anthony frowned slightly. "Always wish I did, but... no. Only child." His eyebrows raised slightly. "You?"

"I have a fraternal twin brother who's an astrophysicist -"

"So brains run in your family, then."

"My brother would beg to differ where I'm concerned." Sören gave a self-deprecating chuckle. "I could say the same about him on occasion. Brothers, man."

"Anyone else?"

"Já. I was raised by my aunt and uncle and their son grew up with us like a brother, he's a personal trainer back in Iceland." Sören gave a small, reluctant sigh. This was part of why he was shy about socializing much. "And I have an older sister. Well, had. She was murdered."

"Oh no." Anthony's face fell. "I'm sorry. I can see now why you seemed rather irritated with my profession -"

Sören waved his hand. "I know. You're fine, though. Let's... ah. Change of subject. You mentioned coming out when your twenties were almost over - how old are you?"

"Thirty-one. I'll be thirty-two in February. You?"

"Twenty-six." Sören nodded. "I'll be twenty-seven on Friday."

"I hope you're getting some time off on your birthday!"

"Jæja, I requested that entire weekend off. I don't normally take off an entire block like that. Some people buy themselves birthday gifts, I gave myself the gift of time."

"Do you have plans?"

"Sleep?" Sören gave a guilty grin. "I hadn't really thought that far ahead, honestly."

Anthony seemed to chew on that, as if he was considering making plans with Sören, but wanted to see how the rest of the evening went. Sören could understand that.

Their appetizer came, and there was a few moments of silence as they nibbled and waited for the next move. This time Anthony made it. "I take it you're out to your family."

Sören nodded. "I came out when I was seventeen. My aunt and uncle... did not take it well."

"The alcoholics."

Sören sighed again. "You remembered that."

"I remember things," Anthony said mildly. "So much of my job is that - listening, observing. Paying attention."

Sören didn't know how to respond to that. He felt vaguely exposed, like a vulnerability of his was being probed. But not in an exploitative, take-advantage type way. Anthony's eyes were kind, and one of Anthony's hands was close to his now, fingertips touching.

"The rest of my family knows. My brother and cousin are both bi like I am, so it's no big deal."

"Ah," Anthony said. "So you're bisexual... not strictly gay."

"Is that a dealbreaker?" Sören's stomach froze. It had been with some.

"No."

"Good," Sören said, before he could stop himself.

Anthony smiled. "It does make me wonder what your dating history has been like, though."

"Mostly nonexistent." Sören gave another self-deprecating chuckle. "I've never had a serious relationship. Not that I'm opposed to one, with the right person, but." Sören shrugged. "I was more into hookups when I lived in Iceland - men much moreso than women, if that's what you're asking about - but that hasn't been a thing since I left. I'm busy and I'm picky."

"Well, if you're picky, I'm flattered that you agreed to go on a date with me. To be honest, I wasn't sure that you'd say yes."

Sören's eyebrow went up at that. He cocked his head to one side. "You sure didn't act like you lacked confidence."

"Of course not. Attorneys learn early on that you never show doubt, once you've shown that it's all over. But underneath that calm, polished exterior, I felt ready to scream. I think I hyperventilated for a good five minutes after I got in my car after our encounter on Thursday."

Sören grinned. "I'm curious why you even asked, if you thought I might say no."

"A risk of you saying no doesn't mean that you automatically would. It was worth the chance." Anthony's eyes raked him over again. "You're nice to look at, and you intrigued me."

"Intrigued." Sören leaned back in his chair and sipped his water. "Now there's an interesting reaction."

"Mmm."

"So, what was it about me that intrigued you, Mr. Wyatt-Jones?"

"Honestly? The fact that you weren't instantly impressed by me being a barrister, unlike much of the populace. You looked at me like I was a piece of human shit when I told you I defend criminals for a living. I felt like I was on trial, for a change, having to justify my profession to you. There was a real audacity there which I'm not used to. I wanted to be offended, and act like your opinion didn't matter - I came very close to meeting your challenge with 'I don't owe you an explanation'. But I did anyway. Because you have heart, that shows itself in your choice of profession, your choice to continue working for the NHS rather than the private sector, that shows itself in you reporting Rafferty, that shows itself in you being willing to be out and proud in a world that isn't always so accepting. And that heart, combined with your being a neurosurgeon which requires a certain degree of intelligence and competency... and a dash of that charming accent of yours, and my fondness for Scandinavian men... well... I wanted to see more."

Sören smiled, genuinely touched - and a little turned on.

"Now I'm curious why you said yes," Anthony said. "Since you just admitted you're picky."

"Well, you're gorgeous and I haven't been laid in awhile." Those words came out before Sören could stop himself, and Anthony turned pink, not able to restrain a grin. Sören grinned too. "But it's not all physical for me. I've gone this long without and I'd just, you know, keep using my hand. Er, sorry."

"It's fine. We're both grown men..." Anthony's blush deepened. "Who do what grown men do."

Sören snickered. The thought of Anthony relieving himself sent a surge of heat through him, and his breath hitched. Then he went on. "The answer you gave to my challenge impressed me. It showed conviction. It showed purpose. Not too many people have that nowadays. And when you asked me a question in Swedish, even though I'm not, you guessed -"

"It was the name."

Sören nodded. "It's less common in Iceland than it is in Sweden. It used to be more common - I was named for my great-grandfather! Anyway... you guessed and you were trying to be respectful, and... I don't know." Sören shrugged. "It just felt right, to say yes and see where this goes."

"It felt right to ask and see where this goes."

Their eyes met, and held.

Their respective meals came and there was more silence - and more stolen glances - as they ate. Finally Anthony said, "I'm glad my response to your challenge was satisfactory."

"Mostly."

Anthony paused and gave Sören a quizzical look. "Mostly."

Sören nodded. "It actually raised more questions for me. Like how you even got into law in the first place. In that branch of law."

Anthony sat back in his chair. He looked at Sören again, had water, and Sören could see him collecting his thoughts, carefully formulating a response. Sören ate as he waited.

"My uncle was like a second father to me," Anthony said a few moments later. "Perhaps more of a father than my actual father, who's... emotionally distant. My father's family has tended towards at least one male in the service per generation, for some time now, and for that generation it was my uncle... and it was also why that tradition hasn't carried on with me. He was in the Gulf, in the 1990s. He came back... a bit damaged."

"When you say a bit damaged..."

"Post-traumatic stress disorder that had a tendency to get violent if he was actively having a flashback. In one of his episodes, he ended up seriously injuring someone without meaning to. And there was quite a bit less understanding of mental health disorders and the impact war has on veterans, back in the 1990s, than there is now. Even now, it's far from adequate."

Sören nodded solemnly.

Anthony went on, "The health system failed him... and the criminal justice system could have failed him, but he was fortunate enough to be represented by a compassionate barrister, which is why my uncle had some more years as a part of my life, until he eventually took his own life."

"I'm sorry."

Anthony nodded. Now it wasn't just their fingertips touching across the table again, but Anthony put his hand on top of Sören's. Just that alone sent a frisson down Sören's spine, and he wondered what it would be like to have that hand touch him elsewhere later. He felt somewhat guilty for his mind going right there after Anthony's own display of vulnerability, but...

"You get what it is to lose someone you love. I'm not glad it's a pain you've also endured but, it's something we both understand." Their eyes met and Anthony sipped water, frowning.

"I do."

"And that's the long and short of it, why I chose to specialize in criminal justice. For all of the rapists and thugs and murderers that I have to defend, there are, occasionally, people like my uncle. People like the clients I've had, plural, who've sold their bodies to feed their children. People like the clients who've fought back against abusive partners and they're the ones who end up in trouble rather than their abusers. I could go on and on, but you get the point. My job is thankless, apart from the veneer of prestige and the things it can buy me. Some days I question my sanity."

Sören let that sink in. Anthony had already earned his respect on Thursday, but this was a new level of respect. Sören raised his glass in salute. "That was really touching. It... restores my faith in humanity, a little."

"You know..." Anthony's eyes raked Sören again. "In the last few years I've been practicing law, you are the first person I've dated who's asked me why I got into criminal defense."

"Really." Sören could feel the confusion showing on his face. "Why wouldn't someone want to ask about that?"

"Because they'd rather talk about the money. I'm including fellow professionals in this. Doctors, lawyers. People in it for the money. I like the money, I wouldn't put up with this soul-sucking line of work this long if I didn't, but it gets... wearing."

"That's so weird." Sören blinked slowly.

"The fact that you think this is weird tells me rather a lot about you, Sören."

Sören felt disarmed again, but from the way Anthony was looking at him he could tell that statement was intended to be positive.

"And now I have to ask... how did you get into medicine? And neurosurgery in particular?" Anthony gave Sören a long look.

Sören took a deep breath. He hadn't wanted to get this personal on a first date, but since Anthony had lowered his guard a bit...

"When I was almost six, my mamma died from what I now know is a brain aneurysm. I was the one who found her body and had to call the paramedics."

"Jesus." Anthony winced like he was in pain.

"I'm sorry," Sören immediately blurted out. "I know that's dark. I already started this date down the path of darkness bringing up my sister -"

Anthony held up his hand for Sören to be silent. "Don't apologize. Please, continue."

Sören nodded. "So. You know. I felt so powerless. Blaming myself, wishing I was a grownup and was a doctor, could have done something to save her life. And it was one of the most defining moments of my life, if not the defining moment. Of course I realized many years later that it probably wouldn't have done me any good if I'd been a grownup and a doctor. She just lay down with a headache, took a nap, and died. Nothing could have been done, probably. But I decided then, at age six, that I was going to become a doctor. And of course when I got old enough and started med school I wanted to be a brain doctor. So..." Sören nodded some more. "Family tragedy put us both on our respective paths."

"Kindred spirits, in a sense." Anthony flagged the waiter. "Check, please."

"I'm sorry again for -"

Anthony gave him a look. "Sören, stop. You're fine," he said softly, and there was that hand on his again, this time rubbing, patting.

Sören swallowed hard.

Anthony finished his meal, and his water, and the check came. He looked at it and produced his wallet.

"Are you quite sure you don't want me to pay my half?" Sören asked.

Anthony nodded. "I told you, I'm old-fashioned in that regard." After selecting a card and pushing the check with the card off to the side of the table, he leaned closer to Sören. "The night is still young."

"It is."

"Would you like to come back to my place and watch something, maybe?"

"Something." Sören fought back a giggle as his mind went in the gutter. Then he said, "OK."

"How did you get here?"

"I walked. It wasn't too far, I needed the air."

"All right. I'll drive you over, if you're OK with that."

Sören decided he could risk getting in a car with this guy. He nodded. "Let's do that, then."

Anthony Wyatt-Jones drove a charcoal grey Audi A7. Sören knew he'd drive something flashy, though classic and elegant. Sören got in the passenger seat, feeling shy and a little giddy.

Before Anthony started the car, he took Sören's hand for a moment, giving him a pointed look. Anthony squeezed his hand, a simple, reassuring gesture that sent another flood of heat through Sören's body, a shiver down his spine, a little twinge from his cock. And then Anthony brought Sören's hand to his lips and kissed it.

It was raining now, and the rhythm of the windshield wipers cut through Sören's anxiety a little. Anthony had his car stereo on, jazz playing softly - Coltrane if Sören had to take a guess.

"Where do you live?" Sören asked, realizing he'd gotten in a car with a near-stranger without even asking that.

"Kingston upon Thames."

Sören didn't know what he was expecting for where the man lived. Sören just nodded, and watched the rain fall, every now and again glancing over his shoulder at the handsome man sitting next to him, driving, also watching the rain... also every now and again glancing over his shoulder.

Well, here we go.

Chapter Text

Anthony Wyatt-Jones lived in a spacious second-floor flat, riverfront. It was open plan kitchen and living room, with a large window giving a gorgeous view of the Thames. Sören was impressed just by the view itself, and then he got a better look at the first part of the flat when he got in. Anthony favored a muted grey, brown and blue color scheme that reminded Sören of the seaside, and was restful to the eye. The glass countertop in the kitchen matched the glass tabletop in the living room. There was some framed art on his walls - Sören approved of the Impressionist pieces he recognized, particularly Monet. A handsome bookshelf with a decent collection of hardbound books, a vinyl record collection and record player, a desk closer to the window. The appliances were all modern, but Anthony had a few vintage lamps, turning one on to produce a soft golden light as they walked in. His flat was tidy but also looked lived-in, which was a good sign to Sören.

"Please, sit down. Can I get you anything?" Anthony gave him a pointed look.

Sören was tempted to tell him to whip it out, but he behaved himself for now. "Whatever you're having is fine."

"All right."

Anthony came back with mineral water for each of them, and a bottle of Hennessy and two shot glasses. Sören felt a bit apprehensive - the last time he'd accepted a drink from a near-stranger, he'd woken up the next day in an alley used to the point of bleeding, cum seeping out of him, unable to remember what had happened, and he hadn't been able to press charges because he didn't even know the assailant's name or if the man who'd given him a drink had even been the only one who'd had him. Sören had gone out clubbing to cope with the grief of his sister's murder, which made this a one-two punch. Living in fear that he'd run into his assailant again had driven Sören to leave Iceland.

But the drink had been given to him in a club, he hadn't seen it poured. Anthony was pouring two shot glasses right in front of him, straight from the bottle. So Sören took the glass, and meeting Anthony's eyes, they did the shot together. Sören winced a little at the bite and burn of the drink.

Anthony laughed softly when Sören was done. "Cognac isn't your favorite, is it."

"No. Not a big fan of cognac or whisky. Brennivín, on the other hand, I can drink pretty much anyone under the table. Not that I drink much, or often, my guardians put me off to that. But once in awhile."

Anthony nodded. "I'm only an occasional drinker. Now and again." He turned on the television, and Sören looked at the large flat-screen TV. They looked at the guide together, and decided on a Bond movie. Sören was only half caring about it, his mind whirling with anticipation.

They started off just sitting side by side, Anthony's hand on his, gently stroking. After awhile Anthony draped an arm around him and Sören moved closer. Some time after that Sören leaned on his shoulder. When Anthony began petting Sören's curls, rubbing his scalp, Sören melted into his touch and stopped paying attention to the movie altogether. Sören found himself resting his head on Anthony's chest and now Anthony was rubbing his back, not just his head. It had been so long since Sören had been touched, and Sören couldn't remember being touched this sensually, tenderly, as if Anthony sensed how nervous he was and was soothing that tension away. There was so much relief flooding him just from being held, being pet, that it brought tears to Sören's eyes, tears that Sören fought back, not wanting to cry on the first date, especially not in front of the calm, cool professional. When Anthony's lips kissed the top of Sören's head Sören felt that urge to cry again, not used to what he was being given, needing it so much it hurt.

A few minutes later, Anthony said softly, "Sören, I have a question for you."

"Mmm?"

"Are you a top or a bottom?"

That was very forward, and yet they both knew as soon as they left the restaurant together where this was going. The movie was pretty much just a formality, a way to ease into what was about to happen. Sören still felt heat flush his cheeks. He picked his head up off Anthony's chest - Anthony was giving him a look that could drill through granite - and Sören felt himself grinning like an idiot as he just nodded. "Yes?" Sören said, giggling.

Anthony also nodded then, turning a little pink. "I see."

Sören felt like he was about to jump out of his skin with raw sexual need. Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip. "So, ah... when do we fuck?"

Anthony took Sören's chin in his hand, thumb stroking the beard, and the fullness of Sören's lower lip. Sören's cock was straining now, every movement sending electricity through him. "We're not going to fuck," Anthony said.

Sören's face fell, disappointment hitting him like a popped balloon.

But there was a wicked gleam in Anthony's eye now. "We're going to make love." With that, he pulled Sören's face to his, and their lips met for the first time.

Sören didn't like the taste of Hennessy, but he loved tasting it on Anthony, moaning into the kiss as their lips parted and their tongues met, slowly playing together, flirting, teasing. Then Anthony took control of Sören's mouth like he owned him, the kiss going from playful to passionate, hard and demanding. Sören let out a whimper, his cock throbbing, every nerve in his body screaming for release. Just one kiss was enough to make him crazy, panting with need like an animal in heat. He needed more. So much more.

Anthony got up, and Sören followed him. There was a short, narrow hall where they passed a closet, a bathroom done in cream and gold and silver, and then at last the bedroom. Anthony had a large king-sized four-poster bed done in dark wood, matching furniture. The bedcovers were grey and blue, the duvet pulled down to show silk sheets. Sören looked out the window - another large window with a magnificent view of the Thames - and then he saw Anthony step out of the bedroom, heard the sound of the shower starting in the bathroom. Anthony stepped back in and began undressing, and Sören took that cue to undress as well.

Anthony was trim, fit without being too sculpted - the body of someone with a sedentary job who worked out sometimes but wasn't fanatical about it. Apart from the hair on his head, the rest of him was smooth and hairless, and Sören wondered if he was a swimmer on his time off, as he had the right build for it.

Sören also had a hairless chest, but unlike Anthony, he had a fine growth of dark hair over his arms and legs, and a riot of dark curls like the ones on his head framing his now very hard cock.

But Sören knew that what made Anthony's eyebrows go up with surprise wasn't that. The sleeve tattoos that Anthony had only seen glimpses of on Sören's wrists, went all the way from Sören's wrists to his shoulders - flames on one arm, ocean waves on the other - and they led out to a firebird and waterbird on his back, a piece Sören had designed from art he'd made during a very difficult time in his life, when he almost didn't finish med school due to worsening depression and anxiety. Sören also had his nipples pierced with captive bead rings, and the pièce de résistance was a Prince Albert piercing in the head of his cock, a titanium captive bead ring. If they had met through a dating app, Sören would have made a note of having some "hardware", which would be enough for people turned off by such things to give him a wide berth and those who didn't mind or perhaps had a fetish for it to pursue. But they hadn't met via an app, and Sören's clothes covered up his piercings until they didn't. Sören knew there was a risk that the clean-cut lawyer could see the ink and piercings and be put off by them... but Anthony was a little open-mouthed, breathing harder, and Sören saw Anthony's already hard cock go up some more, a bead of precum forming.

"You like?" Sören asked.

Anthony nodded, looking like he couldn't even make words, and the story that he'd freaked out a bit with asking Sören on a date now suddenly was quite a bit more believable.

Sören smiled, feeling bolder. He strode towards Anthony, grabbed him, and drew him into a kiss. Another deep, passionate kiss, hungry.

Anthony roughly seized Sören by the arm and dragged him along to the bathroom. Anthony got in the shower and pulled Sören in with him. Now Anthony took the initiative again, hot, fierce kisses as they held each other under the spray.

The petting on the couch was nothing compared to the feel of Anthony lathering him, hands that were soft and elegant yet decidedly male touching him everywhere, exploring, caressing. Sören lathered him as well, enjoying the way his hands fit to Anthony's body, the shape of him, the way Anthony broke out in gooseflesh at Sören's touch and quivered.

They played with each other's cocks, and when it was time for more kissing their hard cocks bumped up together. They were roughly the same length and girth, which Sören found aesthetically pleasing and arousing. They were both uncut, which was Sören's preference, and when Sören's fingers brushed over Anthony's cock he made sure to give the foreskin a little love, which made Anthony produce deep groans into deeper kisses.

Anthony's finger hooked through the ring in Sören's cock, like it belonged to him. Sören's cock throbbed at that and he kissed Anthony back harder. The fingers of Anthony's free hand brushed a nipple, played with the nipple ring, and Anthony made a murmur of pleasure to discover that Sören was in fact very sensitive there. He finally found his words. "You are breathtaking," he said.

Sören had been called many things, but "breathtaking" was not one of them, prior to now. Sören gave him a shy smile, feeling that flutter in his stomach, a warm glow of pride. "Takk," Sören husked. He ran his hands over Anthony's chest, smile broadening as he felt Anthony shiver again. "You're pretty nice yourself."

Anthony took Sören's chin in his hand once more, thumb tracing along the beard and Sören's lip. Their eyes were locked. Sören was all gooseflesh now, aching like he'd never ached for someone before. Part of him wanted to get down on his knees and suck Anthony off right then. Sören found himself sucking on Anthony's thumb, as if to hint at that want.

Anthony's response was to take Sören's face in his hands and kiss him as hard as Sören had ever been kissed before, taking his breath away. Sören felt his back shoved up against the shower wall and Anthony pinned his arms up against the wall and seized his wrists tightly, Anthony's cock rubbing against his, rubbing and rubbing. A couple of minutes of being in Anthony's grip, kissed like this, cocks rubbing together, and Sören cried out into the kiss as his cock shot off, trembling with each pulse of orgasm.

"Oh god," Sören said when the kiss broke. He had been so pent up without sex for so long that he realized he shouldn't have been surprised that he'd go off like this, but he was just the same. "I'm sorry. I -"

"Don't apologize." Anthony gave him a smug little look that was also somehow sexy as hell, like he was delighted at something he'd won. "You'll last longer now."

Before Anthony could clean up the seed that Sören had spilled, Sören collected some of it on his fingers and shoved his fingers in Anthony's mouth. Anthony sucked Sören's fingers with that same smug look of ownership, and a frisson went down Sören's spine, cock hardening up again.

They kissed on the way from the shower to the bed. The crisp silk sheets after the shower felt good. Sören noticed as he climbed in that Anthony was prepared, a bowl of condoms and lubricant near his alarm clock.

For a moment they just looked at each other, Sören propped on one elbow, his free hand wandering over Anthony as Anthony's fingers walked over him. Sören realized that he'd been asked whether he was a top or bottom - and the answer was of course that Sören was both, he was versatile, and that had seemed to end that discussion though it wasn't really ended, Sören was curious as to Anthony's own preference. Before he could ask, Anthony said, "You should know that I normally don't do penetration on the first date, or not even the second, if there's more than once."

"Oh." Sören wondered what was up with the condoms and lube, then.

"But..." Anthony pulled Sören towards him. "I'm going to break my rule, this evening."

Time for the question. "And you are..."

"Mostly a bottom." Anthony nodded, as if most found that information surprising. "I can top, and do sometimes, but only sometimes."

"OK," Sören said.

"And..." Anthony pulled Sören closer. His voice was husky as he said, "I really want you inside me."

Sören's cock leapt at that. "I'd be happy to oblige," Sören husked back, and leaned in for a kiss.

It was less demanding and possessive than before. Inviting, sweet and warm. This time Anthony moaned into the kiss too, and Sören shivered at the sound of it. He wanted to make Anthony moan like that again. And again. He wanted this confident, suave lawyer to be a sobbing fucking wreck when he was through with him. He also wanted to come again. Sören felt like he was going out of his mind with lust, every little touch and sound and nuance threatening to make him go off like a rocket again.

The kiss deepened, heated. Sören felt their cocks press together once more, and then Anthony took them both into his hand, stroking. Sören's breath hitched, and again when Anthony started kissing his neck, his shoulder. When Anthony kissed the sweet spot where Sören's neck and shoulder met Sören shuddered and let out an "ohgod."

Anthony grinned, and the thumb of his free hand played with one of Sören's nipples as he resumed kissing Sören's shoulder and neck. Sören's neck was supremely erogenous, and the combination of neck kisses and having his nipples teased made Sören make inhuman noises, which Anthony seemed to revel in, giving deep groans of his own every now and again.

Then Anthony stroked his face, brought him into another sweet, playful kiss. Anthony's fingers went from playing with Sören's nipple rings to playing with the ring in the head of Sören's cock, thumb brushing the sensitive head.

Through the haze of his desire, Sören realized he'd told Anthony the bare bones of his dating history and knew nothing about Anthony's. They could get in-depth another time, but for now Sören needed to ask, since this made a difference in how he'd handle topping Anthony. "How long has it been for you?"

"You mean since the last time I had sex, or the last time I've been tested?"

"Both, I suppose."

"Three weeks for sex but just oral, a little over three months ago if you're counting penetration. As far as being tested, the last time for me was five months ago." Anthony looked up at Sören. "As much as I'm keen on feeling that piercing without a barrier, the condoms are non-negotiable until we both get tested and I do that once every six months. So before Christmas."

That satisfied Sören not just because he approved that Anthony was being smart about his health - though he found it amusing that even between the sheets Anthony was a lawyer, using the word non-negotiable - but also because he was reading into Anthony's words that even as they had barely started their first time, there would be more. There was a chemistry between them Sören couldn't deny. He wanted to see where this went. He was ready to test his wings, after having been cautious and guarded for so long.

"You should still be able to feel the PA somewhat through a condom," Sören said. "I speak from experience."

"Good," Anthony said, and kissed him.

"Am I your first Prince Albert?"

"Yes. First time seeing one in person, first time... doing more than seeing one." Anthony was playing with the ring again. "I knew I found you intriguing, but this is even more interesting than I'd hoped for." He smiled.

Sören kissed him. Now it was Sören's turn to kiss Anthony's neck and shoulder, grinning at Anthony's soft moans and sighs. Sören gently pushed the barrister onto his back and began working him over, lapping one nipple as his thumb rolled the other, suckling one as he pinched the other. He was pleased that Anthony was sensitive there too, and after a few rounds at his nipples Sören kissed his way down Anthony's torso, kissing and licking and nibbling the taut stomach. When Sören's kisses reached Anthony's thighs, Anthony spread his legs and Sören heard the catch in his breath, knowing he was waiting for something.

Sören didn't disappoint, starting with taking Anthony's cock into his mouth. Anthony smiled as he watched Sören's lips wrap around his cock, Sören bobbing up and down, sucking slowly. The little sighs and gasps of pleasure became deeper moans as Sören sucked harder, faster. Sören played with Anthony's balls as he sucked, not just as an additional form of stimulation but also to gauge the arousal, and when he felt Anthony's balls tightening, he stopped sucking and lowered his head to trace his tongue around the opening in slow circles. Anthony's breath caught, and Anthony let out a full-fledged cry as Sören's tongue slipped inside.

Anthony was fresh from the shower and tasted clean. Sören's tongue found the prostate right away and lashed at it, taking Anthony's hands and squeezing as Anthony bucked against him, getting more vocal. Sören smiled as he lapped, gratified by watching that composure finally break. Sören spent awhile down there, taking his sweet time - as much as he needed to come again, he also loved doing this, pleasing, teasing.

Finally Anthony rasped, "Sören, please."

"Mmmmm." Sören gave a few teasing licks around the rim of Anthony's passage again before dipping his tongue back inside, licking more slowly than before. Anthony made a guttural noise that made Sören's cock twitch, and Sören reached down to stroke himself lazily.

After a few minutes of slow, deliberate licking, Sören felt Anthony's fists grabbing his curls and Anthony ground out, "Sören, now." There was a commanding, take-no-bullshit look on his face, one that Sören imagined probably saw plenty of use in the courtroom.

Sören somewhat reluctantly stopped rimming - only somewhat reluctantly because he did like to see Anthony take charge. Anthony reached for a condom and Sören grinned as Anthony's teeth ripped the packet open. No chill. Sören loved it.

Anthony rolled the condom onto Sören's cock, and Sören added a coat of lubricant. Sören reached out to stroke Anthony's face before guiding his cock to Anthony's passage. "I know it's been awhile for you so tell me to stop if you -"

"Put it fucking in me."

Sören's cock leapt at that. Sören did as he was told - albeit slowly, not wanting to hurt Anthony, who was tight. Anthony took deep breaths as Sören went in, seasoned enough to know to push out as Sören pushed in, and ride out any first pain at being stretched. When Sören was all the way in he leaned in to steal a kiss, resting inside him.

Then Sören started to thrust. Three thrusts in, Anthony made a noise, his eyes rolling and glazing over. Sören knew he didn't just find that spot, but his PA did. "Jæja?"

"Oh. God." Anthony made another guttural noise, nails digging into Sören.

Sören went just a little harder and faster, kissing Anthony's neck. He kept his pace in check for now, still mindful of Anthony's tightness - deliciously tight. Then Anthony's embrace was tight, Anthony kissing him hungrily. It was harder for Sören to keep from banging away, and harder still at the look on Anthony's face between kisses. Again, that guttural sound as Sören's PA worked its magic inside him.

The kisses got more intense, Anthony's arms had Sören in a death grip, and they were both breathing hard, starting to work up a fine sheen of sweat. Sören's breathy moans and Anthony's deeper groans filled the room, Sören losing himself in the pleasure of rocking in and out, the sweet tight rubbing around his cock, the look of lust on Anthony's face as Sören got him closer to the edge.

At last Anthony kissed Sören's neck and rasped, "Harder."

"You sure? You're so tight -"

"I said." Anthony glared. "Harder."

Sören did as he was told, his lust fueled by the command. Anthony groaned and growled, rolling his hips back at Sören. "Oh god," he panted, hands grabbing onto Sören's hips for dear life. "Oh god, like that."

Sören kissed him, and they both cried out as Sören's balls started smacking against Anthony's ass. A few minutes of that and Sören grabbed one of Anthony's legs and hooked it around him, going even harder.

"Oh fuck. Oh god, Sören, oh shit." Anthony was trembling, his cock dripping precum, and he gave Sören a desperate look before another shudder went through him and he gave a wordless cry.

"That's it, elskan." The Icelandic endearment just slipped out. Sören reached down for Anthony's cock, stroking it in rhythm with his thrusts. "Almost there..."

"Oh god. Oh god Sören... oh god. Oh my fucking god." Anthony was panting harder - Sören could see now what he meant by hyperventilating. Just the sound of that alone was about to bring Sören off, never mind the deliciousness of those moans, their flesh slapping together, the grip on his cock.

"Yes, elskan. Let go for me. Show me how much you need to lose control like this."

Anthony's nails raked him. "Sören. Sören. Sören. Almost there... almost there..."

"Yes. Yes." Sören's free hand played over Anthony's chest, started rubbing a nipple.

A moment that felt like an eternity of Sören's savage, wild thrusts and Anthony's feral moans, and then Anthony looked into Sören's eyes and cried out, "Sören," and that was it, his cock blasting an arc of cream over Sören's chest. The feeling of hot cum on his nipples and Anthony's channel contracting around him and Sören's own orgasm hit, throwing back his head and crying out as his body gave in. Sören felt another set of contractions around him, heard Anthony moan as he sprayed Sören's chest and stomach again.

Sören stopped thrusting, too sensitive now, and rested on top of Anthony, letting the both of them catch their breath before a kiss.

"Good?" Sören asked.

"Oh god, Sören." Anthony laughed and nodded, looking a bit dazed. "That was amazing."

"Good." Sören kissed him again.

They rested for a few minutes, racing heartbeats slowing, the euphoric bliss of orgasm easing into peaceful coziness, listening to the rain fall. Then Anthony kissed Sören's shoulder and husked, "I want to go again."

Sören laughed. "All right."

Sören pulled out, peeled off the used condom, and Anthony put another one on Sören's cock. Sören lubed up again and eased his way inside. Sören kept it slow, not wanting to hurt him, and then Anthony growled, "Take me hard, Sören. Show me what you've got."

Sören obliged, putting Anthony's legs on his shoulders, and plowed. Anthony got even more vocal this time, and Sören loved it, loved it, giving himself over wholly to primal instinct, balls slapping wildly, answering Anthony's moans with deep animal noises of his own. Both of them having come - Sören having come twice now - stretched out the time, and Sören worried a little that Anthony would be sore and hurt the next day from the long, hard pounding, but Anthony had no complaints in the meantime, only urging Sören on with wild cries.

Anthony got more breathless as he got closer, and when he climaxed he couldn't even cry out, only gave a shuddery gasp that was so luscious to Sören that it made Sören come too, holding back his own shout of release until the sound stopped.

They laughed together, rocking each other through the ebb of their orgasm. "Wow." Anthony's smile was that of sheer joy. "Holy shit."

"We're good together," Sören said.

"We are." Anthony gave him a little kiss, and their noses rubbed together before they kissed again more deeply, smouldering embers left over from the fire.

At some point, Sören ended up pulling out, dispensing with the second condom, and snuggling into Anthony's waiting arms. And then he drifted off. In the middle of the night he woke to realize he was in someone else's bed, and he'd actually been sleeping. Usually Sören didn't actually sleep with the people he slept with, taking off soon after the sex was over, or at best, laying there restless, feeling too hypervigilant in a strange bed or with someone strange in his bed to actually sleep. It was a new, weird feeling, this business of letting down his guard enough to be able to go to sleep with another human being. Sören liked it, smiling to himself as he cuddled up to Anthony and went back to sleep.

Anthony's alarm woke them in the morning. Sören gave the clock a foul look. "I set the alarm for the same time every day whether I work or not," Anthony said, voice throaty from sleep. "That way my body clock doesn't get too disrupted."

Sören snorted. "What is this body clock of which you speak."

"Oh yes." Anthony rubbed his back. "I imagine you have rather an erratic schedule."

"My schedule is so erratic it can't even be called a schedule."

"Well..." Anthony looked into Sören's eyes. "How did you sleep last night?"

"Good," Sören admitted. "The best I've slept in awhile. Getting laid did me a world of good." He kissed the tip of Anthony's nose without thinking about it. "You?"

"Very good." Anthony's arms wrapped around him. "It was nice, holding you."

"Jæja, it was nice... being held."

They gave each other one of those long, meaningful looks, and then Anthony was stroking Sören's curls and his face. "It's nice waking up to you too."

Sören took Anthony's hand and kissed it, and then kissed Anthony's mouth. They were both hard again.

After being pounded last night, Anthony wasn't up to get penetrated again this morning, but that was hardly the only thing they could do with each other. They settled into a hungry sixty-nine, sucking and rimming each other, devouring at first, then slowing down to tease and savor, not wanting this time to be over just yet. Anthony was sucking him so sweetly that Sören felt the urge to cry again, and as if he could tell how Sören was feeling, Anthony took Sören's hand and squeezed. That simple, caring touch made Sören go to town, tongue fucking inside Anthony until he was making inhuman noises with his mouth full of Sören's cock. When Sören took Anthony's cock back in his mouth it wasn't long before Anthony flooded it, and the light, clean salty-sweet taste of him brought Sören over the edge, Anthony murmuring appreciatively as he tasted Sören as well. Sören swallowed down the cream and licked up what was still dripping, and when the two rose up and kissed, Sören thought that the flavor of them together was one of the best things he'd ever tasted.

Their legs braided together and Sören rested his head in Anthony's chest, relishing the way Anthony pet him.

"I'm keeping you," Anthony said.

Sören couldn't resist, looking up at him with a grin. "Hi Keeping You, I'm Sören -"

Anthony slapped Sören's ass. "Brat."

Sören gave him a little kiss. Then Sören breathed, still stunned, "So does this mean..."

"I'd like to be your boyfriend, Sören, yes." Anthony stroked Sören's face. "We're still getting to know each other, but... I want to keep seeing where this goes. I like what I've seen so far, very much."

"Me too." Sören kissed him again. "We can do this."

"It's too bad you have to work tonight."

"Jæja, welcome to my world. Relationships are work, and we're going to have our work cut out for us with our respective schedules."

Anthony nodded. "I'd still like to try."

"I'd like that too." Now Sören was stroking Anthony's face.

"What are your hours like this week?"

"Busy. I have Wednesday evening off but I'm working so much between tonight and Wednesday that I will absolutely need to crash. But like I said, I have my birthday off, that's this Friday. I have that entire weekend off."

"I'd like to do something for your birthday."

"Yes, please." Sören pet Anthony some more.

"And maybe I can drop by the hospital and we can do breakfast or lunch between now and your birthday?"

"OK. And we'll figure stuff out for next week. I should be able to squeeze you in for a sleepover or two." Sören couldn't resist again. "Or more like me squeezing in, heyyy."

Anthony laughed. "You're incorrigible." He kissed Sören's forehead. "I like it."

"You know what else I am?" Sören nibbled Anthony's neck. "I'm insatiable."

Anthony grinned. "Hi Insatiable, I'm Anthony -"

"Oh, fuck you."

Anthony laughed as he rolled Sören onto his back, kissing his way down.

Chapter Text

Sören was pulling a particularly long shift from Sunday evening through most of Monday, and after a brain tumor excision he was feeling pretty brain drained himself, chugging coffee to get through the remaining hours. Then he heard himself being paged to the front desk, something he wasn't expecting, hoping that it wasn't the family of one of his patients, asking questions.

There was a young man dressed in a bland, nondescript outfit, polo shirt and khakis, except his polo shirt had a logo from a florist on it. He was carrying a clipboard and held it out to Sören. "Mr. Sigurdsson? Please sign."

"What am I signing for?" Sören was confused.

Then he saw it - a dozen red roses with baby's breath. Sören's heart started racing as he signed. He picked up the bouquet and walked it to the break room, where he'd be putting a note out that they were his, to take home when his shift was done. In the meantime, there was a small card attached to the bouquet - Starry Night by Van Gogh on the outside, which happened to be Sören's favorite painting of all time, one that Sören had a framed print of in his living room. Either someone had done their research, or they really got lucky with their choice of card. Sören opened the card, heavy stock with a light blue inside. A careful, elegant hand wrote:

He walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in his aspect and his eyes.


That was a lovely first date, I can't wait to see you again.
-A


Sören actually squeaked out loud. His colleagues Pamela and Colin were in the break room; Colin gave him a look of amusement, perfect white teeth lighting up his chocolate face.

"Someone gave you flowers?"

Sören nodded, biting his lower lip. His face was on fire and his heart was turning cartwheels.

"Either someone really appreciates a procedure or you've got yourself an admirer," Pamela said with a toss of her red hair, "and I'm guessing from that look on your face it's the latter."

"Jæja, I think so." Sören's face burned even harder, and he could feel himself grinning like an idiot.

"Oooh, do dish, who's the lucky bloke?" Pamela raised an eyebrow.

"Lawyer," Sören said. "Tall, dark, handsome." Hung. "Very charming. We, ah, went out on Saturday. It was nice."

"Seems a bit better than nice from the look on your face," Pamela said.

"Yeah," Colin said. "Quite a bit."

"Our sweet little Sören has a boyfriend," Pamela said.

Sören made a "meep" noise like Beaker of the Muppets, and Pamela and Colin laughed like this was the funniest thing ever.

And even more than the caffeine, the roses and the card got him through the remainder of his shift, feeling like he was walking on air. Sören held the bouquet on the Tube ride home, nose buried in the flowers - usually commercial roses didn't have much of a fragrance but the perfume of this bouquet was downright heady, between that and the vibrant color and health of the roses it was clear Anthony had been careful about what to send Sören.

Once Sören was in his flat in Bromley and showered and changed into pajamas, before he curled up with his sketchbook, he dialed Anthony's number on his cell. It went to voice mail. Sören heard his deep, smooth velvet voice announce, "Hello, you've reached Anthony Wyatt-Jones. I'm not available right now, please leave your name, a brief message and a callback number and I will return your call at my earliest convenience. Thank you." Beep.

Sören was so flustered just hearing that voice, his stomach doing cartwheels again, that he let out a "meep" into the phone, followed by a dying whale noise that the "meep" had actually come out of him, followed by an "ó, skítur" that he'd now made two ridiculous noises, before he hung up, smacking himself in the forehead repeatedly, screaming wordlessly with frustration at himself.

Smooth, now you sound like the biggest dumbarse who ever lived.

Sören still hit the number again, waited through the voice mail message a second time, which gave him the flutters even more, and then Sören took a deep breath and at the beep he blurted out, "Hi, Anthony, this is Sören. I just wanted to call and say thank you for the flowers. That was really thoughtful and it made my day. I also really enjoyed the weekend and want to see you again. So. Ah. Takk. PS, that was me being an arse just now, please disregard that message, I got all... stupid and gooey. Ah. Bye." Then Sören ended the call.

He was hungry and with his hours he rarely cooked, maybe a big meal once a week to have leftovers for a couple meals at best. Tonight was one of those nights where he was going to have to get takeaway again. He dialed the Indian place and as he waited, he began to sketch. While he loved Impressionist art, his own art was strongly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, though on the occasions he painted it was a bit more photorealistic as well as a touch of surrealism, a touch of magic in the mundane. He hadn't had any energy lately for painting, though, and yet as he kept looking at the card with his bouquet, it nagged him. He'd been thinking about painting the weekend of his birthday, but he knew he wasn't going to have time for that with whatever Anthony had planned. That was OK. In the meantime he'd just draw, his latest sketch being a garden.

When he was a bit absorbed in his sketch, his cell went off, and he wondered if it was the delivery driver - usually they just came right up. It was also still a bit soon for them to get here. Then he saw Anthony's number. He answered right away. "Jæja?"

"Hi." Anthony's voice was warm, cheerful. "I just got your message." A soft chuckle. "Messages."

"Oh god, I'm sorry, I'm an idiot -"

"You're adorable."

Sören's face was on fire again. He felt himself grinning, biting his lower lip. "Awww, takk." Sören ran a nervous hand through his curls. "Thank you so much for the roses. And the card, with the poem. That's Byron?"

"Yes. I changed the gender for obvious reasons, but that is indeed Lord Byron."

"You couldn't have known this, I don't think, but Starry Night is my favorite painting."

"I saw you looking at the prints I have framed in my flat. It seems my observation you like that school of art was correct."

"Wow." Sören didn't know whether to be impressed or terrified that Anthony had been noticing Sören looking around his flat and taking mental notes on his reactions. "Well, I do. It was a nice touch."

"I'm glad you liked it. I was a little worried you'd find the traditional red roses a bit boring -"

"Oh no! I love roses."

"I decided to err on the side of caution rather than going for something more exotic like orchids, even though you're rare and interesting enough it seems that suits better."

"Classic is always a good choice. My flat smells heavenly right now."

"Sören... what are you doing right now?"

"I am in my pajamas waiting for takeaway. I worked over 14 hours, I was up all night -"

"Dear god. You poor thing."

"So I am going to eat and then I am going to crash."

"Well, shit."

Anthony sounded so disappointed that Sören felt bad, as well as that small elated thrill that Anthony really wanted to see him. "I'm so sorry. If I wasn't, like, dead on my feet I'd tell you to come over, but -"

"It's all right." A soft sigh. "When is your break tomorrow? Can I come see you?"

"If you can get to the hospital around 1 PM, I should be available unless a surgery goes catastrophically wrong. No, that doesn't happen much."

"Brilliant. 1 it is. Would you like me to bring anything?"

"Yourself, and coffee if you don't mind."

"I don't. How do you take yours?"

"Light cream, three sugars." Sören couldn't resist. "I like my coffee like I like my men, dark and sweet."

Anthony laughed. "I'll see you tomorrow, Sören. Rest well."

"You too, when you get there."

When the call was over Sören held the phone to his heart for a moment, giving a little wistful sigh. The sound of Anthony's voice, and thinking about him, made Sören feel a bit randy - unfortunately he really was too tired for sex and had to stick to his plan of eating, sketching till he had digested enough to go lay down and sleep without an issue. He really wished Anthony could come over tonight, if only just to hold him. But the way he was feeling, he wouldn't want it to be just cuddles. The thought of the passion they'd shared on Saturday night and Sunday morning made Sören crave more.

So much more. He could get addicted to their sex pretty easily.

I could fall in love with him pretty easily, too. Sören sighed again, and wondered if he wasn't already most of the way there.


_


One PM on Tuesday couldn't come fast enough. Anthony was waiting for Sören in the cafe for visitors, with coffee for each of them. As soon as Sören walked in, Anthony got up from the table to pull out a chair for Sören - charmingly old-fashioned - and Sören went right to him and gave him a hug and a little kiss.

It felt so good to be in his arms again, to feel his warmth, to breathe his scent. On the other hand all of those things and the heat in Anthony's eyes made Sören's cock start to wake up, which was a bit awkward being in his scrubs.

Sören also felt self-conscious about being in his scrubs when Anthony was so put-together, today wearing a dark navy pinstripe suit with a white shirt and blue tie. Sören realized that Anthony knew he was coming to the hospital and seeing him in scrubs was expected, but he still felt stupid just the same, in awe of this gorgeous, elegant man. Sören's face was on fire as he sat down, and it burned even more as Anthony pushed the cup of coffee across the table to him, putting his hands over Sören's and looking into his eyes before Sören could take the cup.

"Takk," Sören said. He felt himself grinning like an idiot again, reluctantly pulling his hands away from Anthony's to start on his coffee. "How are you?"

"Better, now that I can look at you."

Sören's stomach was turning flip-flops, his heart soaring. "I. Ah. Like looking at you too." Then Sören gestured to his scrubs. "Jesus, I'm a wreck."

"I did ask you out with you in your scrubs, Sören. You're cute."

Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip. He reached with his free hand to squeeze Anthony's hand as he sipped his coffee.

"When does your shift end?" Anthony asked.

"It doesn't," Sören joked, and then he shook his head and with a frown he said, "Late. Probably later than you ought to be staying up if you've got work tomorrow."

Anthony frowned too.

"I'm sorry." Sören hated seeing the sadness in his eyes. Then he sighed, wondering if this was fair. "Anthony, I'mma be real with you, I really, really like you, and I want to be with you, but I work at least sixty hours a week every week, usually closer to seventy-two. What free time I have, you can consider it yours, we'll find a way to make this work if you want it to work, but this is unfortunately what you're signing up for. I'll understand if you want to find someone with more compatible hours -"

"They're not you." Their eyes held. "I know what I want, and what I want is you, and like you said... we'll make this work."

A frisson went down Sören's spine. Anthony's words I know what I want, and what I want is you echoed in his head. And Sören wanted him, too, relieved at the reassurance. As soon as this was, with the two of them getting to know each other, it also felt right. Something clicked with them.

"We're doing my birthday this weekend, já?"

"We certainly are. When you say you have Friday off, you mean the entire day?"

Sören nodded. "I'll be getting off late Thursday, but if you want to start the festivities early and don't mind driving out at 11 PM to pick me up -"

"I don't."

"We can go back to your place? I'd invite you to sleep over mine but, ah, yours is nicer."

"We can stop at your place unless you can bring a bag to work, pack some things for the weekend. I'd like to take you on a little holiday for your birthday if that's OK with you."

"Oh my god, I'd love that." Sören's face lit up. "Where?"

"That's a surprise." Anthony smiled.

"Well, I'm sure I'll love it. I haven't been, ah, anywhere, really, since I came here last year."

"Did you want to go back to Iceland for your birthday?"

Sören shook his head adamantly. He didn't want to get into why he didn't want to go back to Iceland this soon into the relationship - eventually, that might come out, but not now, and especially not here in a public place. "I do not, but thank you for asking."

The look Anthony gave him suggested to Sören that he'd picked up on Sören's discomfort, but he knew not to press it now. Sören sipped his coffee, and now Anthony was the one to squeeze his hand, as if to say it's OK.

"Also, for future reference..." Anthony raised an eyebrow. "What kind of flowers do you like, besides roses?"

"Yes?" Sören laughed. "I love flowers. All different kinds of flowers. It's very hard to disappoint me." Despite Sören's discomfort with the idea of a return visit to his home country, he had to share this anyway. "I grew up in Akureyri, which isn't big at all, but it has a famous botanical garden, and I used to go there a lot when I needed to get out of the house, just to hang out and be at peace in the garden with all the pretty flowers. It was a good place to sketch, and a good place for me to learn how to sketch different kinds of flowers, trees -"

Anthony's eyebrows shot up. "You draw?"

"And paint." Sören ran a nervous hand through his curls and shifted in his chair, immediately wishing he hadn't said anything, remembering the way his aunt and uncle ridiculed his art and ripped it up, threw it out. "I'm probably not any good, but I like it -"

"Did you design your ink?"

Sören nodded solemnly.

"Then you're probably a lot better than you think you are. I'd like to see it, anyway, if you have a sketchbook or something you can bring this weekend."

"If you insist." Oh god, he's going to think it's stupid and dump me.

"I do." Anthony's eyes locked with his again. "So... that's what you do in your spare time? Is art?"

Sören nodded. "It's a bit of a passion of mine. I would have gone into art if I hadn't gone into medicine. But like I said, I probably suck at it..."

"I doubt that."

Sören quickly changed the subject. "What about you and your spare time?"

"What is this spare time of which you speak."

Sören laughed. "God, if that isn't a mood."

"Yeah, you get it." Anthony sighed. "I do a lot of things -"

"I bet."

Anthony gave him a wicked grin, eyes gleaming. "Besides that, you." He started playing footsie with Sören under the table, sending another frisson down Sören's spine. "I read -"

"Oh good. I mean, I kind of figured from the card you sent..."

Anthony nodded. "I like going to concerts. I have music on a lot when I'm home, I collect vinyl. I play piano, though I'm no virtuoso. I usually go to the pub with my colleagues once a week or so."

"If I show you my crappy art, you have to play piano for me sometime."

"You're on."

Anthony's footsie was getting more insistent. Sören's cock was wanting attention again, as his Doc Martens teased against Anthony's brogues.

"Should be interesting to see where this goes," Sören said.

"I can already tell I won't be bored, you'll be able to keep up with me intellectually. That's a big plus."

"It's a big plus to me that you say that," Sören said. Then he snickered. "Though, you have a lot of faith in my intellectual abilities, with the noises I made into your voice mail."

"It was precious." Anthony gave him a genuine smile. "Nobody's ever reacted like that to me before."

"Really? I find that hard to believe. Even now, I feel like I can barely string two words together."

"I feel the same way. I'm good at hiding it. Have to be, in my line of work."

Their eyes met again. "Really?" Sören facepalmed. "Wow, I say 'really' a lot."

"Really?"

Sören kicked him under the table. Anthony grinned into his coffee, and then his brogue slid up Sören's calf. Sören's cock was twinging again and Sören shifted in his seat.

"Can you do breakfast tomorrow?" Anthony asked.

Sören nodded. "Meet me here 6 AM?"

"OK."

I'd rather eat you. Sören didn't say that aloud. "I'm sorry that I won't be able to do tomorrow night, but at least we've got that, and you picking me up Thursday night for my birthday..."

Anthony nodded. "We'll make that work."

"I really - oh god, there's that word again..."

Anthony chuckled and gave Sören's hand another assuring squeeze, a pat... a scratch on the palm, as his feet played with Sören's under the table some more.

"I really appreciate that you're willing to give this a chance, with our crazy hours," Sören said.

"I don't meet someone like you every day."

Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip, face burning again.

"I unfortunately can't stay too long, or I would have offered lunch." Anthony looked at the clock and cringed.

"I appreciate that you came at all."

They got up from the table and Anthony took Sören into his arms, and he said, "Actually, I have one last question for you."

"Hm?"

That wicked look in his eyes again as Anthony leaned in and husked, "I'd like to see your equipment again... to make sure it's fully functional."

Somehow, they ended up in a supply closet, kissing feverishly as the door closed behind them. Sören moaned as Anthony yanked down Sören's scrub pants and boxer-briefs, his aching cock springing free. Sören moaned again as he watched Anthony get down on his knees and swallow his cock down to the root, sucking hard and fast, like he was starving for it. Sören grabbed Anthony's head and stifled a cry, not wanting to alert anyone passing in the hall what they were doing.

It was a power trip, seeing this high-flying barrister down on his knees, hungrily sucking him off. And yet, at the same time, Sören felt like he was the one being conquered - that there was nothing submissive in this gesture and Anthony was doing exactly what he wanted to do, taking what he thought was his. And Sören loved that feeling too. Sören began to gently thrust into his mouth, breathing harder. Anthony encouraged him along by humming "mmmmmm", and when he cupped Sören's balls and began to rub, Sören almost came from that, moaning again.

Anthony slowed down a little, teasing him, teasing more when he pulled back to focus on the head and first few inches of the shaft, working the rest of it with his free hand.

"God, I can't believe we're doing this," Sören rasped.

Anthony pulled Sören's cock out of his mouth. "I've been going out of my mind wanting you," he husked before taking a few licks at Sören's cock, a worshipful look in his green eyes. His eyes still locked with Sören's as he took Sören's cock back into his mouth, and Sören felt his own eyes rolling, glazing over as he got closer.

Sören bit his hand to stifle a cry when he climaxed, knees buckling, sliding a little down the wall as Anthony made a "mmmmmmm" drinking him down. He licked Sören's cock clean and came up to kiss him and Sören made a little content noise at the taste of himself on his lover's tongue. Anthony was rock hard and Sören fumbled with his belt, got his cock out, and started stroking it as they kissed. A moment later Anthony was done, moaning into the kiss as he trembled against Sören, shooting into Sören's hand. Sören reveled in knowing Anthony was so aroused sucking him off that it didn't take much. Sören brought his hand to his mouth and licked it clean as Anthony recovered, and Anthony groaned at the sight of Sören tasting him.

"God, I wish we had more time." Anthony kissed him deeply.

"Me too. But we will... this weekend."

Anthony's arms wrapped around Sören again and they kissed again, sweetly, a promise of more to come.

Sören walked him outside - peeking outside the supply closet first to make sure the coast was clear. On the way out the lobby Sören giggled like they were children caught being naughty. One last kiss, and Sören sighed sadly as he walked Anthony stride off, waving.

I already miss him. I've definitely got it bad.

But he couldn't be too sad, with that awesome blowjob in the closet, the shit-eating grin returning to his face as he went back inside, feeling the spring in his step. I've got it good, too.

That night, when he got home, he pressed a rose in a book and preserved some of the rose petals in a bowl from the bouquet Anthony had sent on Monday. He was sentimental like that.

Chapter Text

Sören being willing to meet Anthony for Wednesday breakfast was rather a sign that he was falling hard for this guy, as Sören was very much not a morning person. Early shifts were unavoidable as a junior surgeon with the NHS, but Sören didn't like it anyway, and usually preferred his mornings to be quiet, where he could be grumpy alone. But just being around Anthony was a balm for his soul - Anthony seemed to intuitively understand Sören wanted a quiet, mellow breakfast and that was what they did, watching the sunrise together, gently touching. It was nice. Sören reflected later that he minded mornings far less when Anthony was around.

He was already becoming a fixture in Sören's life, and that scared him a little, but it felt right just the same.

Sören still didn't know what Anthony's birthday surprise was for him, Anthony playing those cards close to his chest until Thursday night when Anthony picked Sören up at the hospital and drove to Sören's flat in Bromley so Sören could pick up the bag he'd packed for the weekend. Anthony elected to wait in the car while Sören ran up and got his bag - Sören was relieved, as he felt a little self-conscious about Anthony seeing the flat, compared to what Anthony's looked like - and before Sören got out of the car, Anthony said, "Make sure you have your passport."

Sören gave him the side-eye, and again when he came downstairs with his bag and his passport in hand. "Anthony, what did you do." He realized he couldn't be too surprised at this when Anthony had asked if Sören wanted to go to Iceland for his birthday and Sören had declined, that travel was still on his agenda somehow, but he was surprised nonetheless.

"We're going to the airport."

"Now?" Sören's jaw dropped. As tired as he was, there was a sudden jolt of energy.

"Now. Stansted. It's a bit of a drive -" It was an hour from Bromley to Stansted Airport. Anthony gave Sören a small, apologetic frown. "But a reasonably short flight. We're taking an overnight."

"To..."

"Flying in directly to Charles de Gaulles in Paris."

Anthony waited, and Sören's eyes widened. Sören let out a squeak, and then he threw his arms around Anthony's neck and began raining kisses over his face. "Oh my god. Oh my god. Ó guð minn ó guð minn..."

Anthony laughed and gently pushed Sören off him. "I have to drive, sweetheart -"

Oh my god he called me sweetheart. Sören screamed, flailing. Anthony laughed harder.

"You're so cute," Anthony husked, leaning in to give Sören a little kiss before he got back on the road.

"I... can't. Believe it." Sören laughed and cried at the same time. He shook his head at Anthony. Then he gestured to the clock on the dash. "But we're going at this hour? The flight couldn't wait until morning?"

"We only have till Sunday night, so I wanted to make sure we get as much time in Paris as we can." At breakfast on Wednesday Anthony and Sören had touched base about Sören's schedule - Sören had also given him a copy of his new schedule for the next fortnight, starting next Monday. They had to go back on Sunday evening for Sören to start on Monday morning early. "And... after we get there and go to sleep in our hotel room, I wanted you to be able to wake up in Paris on your birthday."

Sören gasped. That was incredibly romantic. Sören got teary again. Then he gave Anthony a playful little swat. "Anthony... this was a lot of trouble and expense to go to. You must have spent a small fortune to get tickets on such short notice, never mind booking the room -"

"The cost wasn't as bad as you might fear, but even if it was, you're worth it to me." Anthony took Sören's hand and kissed it, before putting both hands on the wheel again.

"Jesus." Sören shook his head in disbelief, laughing and crying some more. "I'm in shock. Seriously." Sören glanced back at Anthony. "I've never been to Paris."

"Really?"

"I never left Iceland at all until 2010. When I came here." Sören shrugged. "I come from nothing, I grew up dirt poor, couldn't afford to travel as a kid. Just going down to Reykjavik was a big deal. And all I've done since I've got here has been work, there's been no time to travel -"

"I'd like to start changing that." Their eyes met. "I'd like to show you places I've been, places you might enjoy visiting as I did. I was fortunate enough to have a pocket of time, years ago, where I got to see most of western Europe."

"Like Sweden." Sören smirked.

"Like Sweden. But I've been... around."

Sören snorted at that. Anthony realized the innuendo and rolled his eyes. "Not as much as you might think, Sören, though I did my share of sowing my oats as a young man."

"Same here, so I can't say anything. I was probably worse. I pretty much fucked half of Iceland."

Anthony turned pink and his laughter rang out.

"OK, maybe that's exaggerating it slightly." Sören chuckled. Then he said, "How did this conversation even turn into sex, anyway?"

"Because it involves you, and apparently your mind lives there."

"Uh huh. Something tells me you're just as bad."

"Probably." Anthony gave him a wicked look. "At least if you're around. Difficult for me to think of much else."

"I still can't believe you blew me at the hospital." Sören laughed. "God. A blowjob at the hospital... being whisked away to Paris... what is my life turning into."

"A life," Anthony said. "All work and no play, and all of that. Not that I can talk, either, but this will be good for both of us."

Sören leaned in and kissed his cheek. "Thank you, so much." Sören ruffled his hair. "I still can't believe it."

"Believe it. I want to spoil you."

Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip, watching Anthony's cheeks flush in the glow of the lamp on the roof. Sören leaned back in his seat - Anthony hit a button so Sören's seat would recline a little - and Sören hugged himself, relaxing as Anthony zipped down the highway. The car stereo was playing softly and Sören recognized it.

"Jamiroquai?"

"They're my favorite band." Anthony looked a little self-conscious. "More popular when I was coming of age -"

"Oh no, I like them too. My taste in music is all over the place."

"I seem to favor jazz and R&B, though I like classical and indie rock too. It's not unusual for me to go from listening to something like Marvin Gaye to something like Radiohead next song."

"Good, we'll get on. I like soul music a lot, though when I'm not listening to that it tends to be goth or industrial or prog metal. Sometimes classic rock too."

"I kind of got that sense looking at you."

Sören nodded. "I operate to stuff like Rush, Led Zeppelin, Tool. Or I do when Colin isn't picking the music, 'cos we take turns if we operate together. Then we work to shit like... Doctor Dre and Snoop Dogg. I'll never forget the time we had 'Keep Their Heads Ringing' during an awake surgery on some MP -"

Anthony wheezed. "Wow."

"That was an experience. Colin Traynor is my favorite to operate with, he's got a great sense of humor, good bedside manner, helps me calm nervous patients down."

"Traynor? Does he have a sister, Diana?"

"Yes. Colin talks about her sometimes."

"His sister is my EA. You'll meet her, eventually."

"Wow! It's a small world." Sören sighed. "And a big world. I still can't believe I'm going to bloody Paris for my birthday." He chuckled.

Sören had only flown once in his life, the flight from Reykjavik to London in 2010, and the relief he'd felt at leaving behind the constant fear that he'd run into his rapist or one of his rapist's friends somewhere was the thing that stuck out at him about that trip. But now the other remembered feeling came back to him - the panic as the plane began to take off and he could feel the g forces accelerating. Sören heard himself go "meep" and wanted to crawl under his seat and die.

"Shhhhh." Anthony took Sören's hand, stroking assuringly, and then he pulled Sören close to him and held him as much as the constraints of their seatbelts would allow. "Shhhhh, it's all right, darling."

God, he loved being called little endearments like this. Sören snuggled into him, let himself be held by those strong, comforting arms.

"Deep breaths." Anthony pet Sören's curls.

Sören got through takeoff with deep breaths in Anthony's arms, and was a bit less anxious in-flight, dozing off on Anthony's shoulder. Then the landing kicked up Sören's anxiety again and Anthony held him through that, too. Sören gave another "meep" in the descent.

"Sören, look." Anthony pointed out the window, which Sören was closer to.

Sören's breath caught as he saw a bird's eye view of Paris lit up at night, recognizing the Eiffel Tower right away. "Oh my god." Now he was glad Anthony had gone for an overnight flight beyond wanting Sören to wake up in Paris on his birthday. There was still a touch of anxiety as the plane continued to drop, but mostly Sören was just in awe looking out the window at Paris at night.

Sören's legs felt a little wobbly when he got off the plane - he was very, very tired after a long shift, and being kept up later than anticipated with the flight. But when he and Anthony got out of the airport and waited for the taxi that would bring them to the hotel, a giddy feeling of elation flooded him and Sören let out a whoop into the night air. He put his bag down for a moment, threw his arms around Anthony and kissed him hard.

"I'm in Paris," Sören said. God, that's dumb, of course we're in Paris. He couldn't stop the words bubbling out of him again and again. "I'm in Paris. Oh my god, I'm in Paris. I'm in Paris..."

Anthony grinned. He looked tired too - Sören stroked his face and felt a flutter, touched once again at the trouble he'd gone to, not just the expense of coordinating all of this on short notice but that he'd driven to Stansted late at night when he too had a long day, had gotten on a plane late at night to make this happen. Sören gave a wistful little sigh, feeling like he was the luckiest man in the world.

When they got in the taxi, Anthony gave instructions in French, and Sören felt all tingly, even though he didn't understand a word of what was being said. If this trip was going to involve hearing Anthony speak a lot of French, Sören was going to want to spend a fair amount of it in bed. Sören cursed feeling too tired to do anything but just pass out once they got to the hotel, but at least Anthony looked about the same amount of tired.

At the hotel Anthony again spoke French at the reception desk. Sören felt another frisson down his spine. Once they were given the key to the room and Anthony said his thanks in French they were off, heading towards the elevator.

Sören took deep breaths in the elevator - he was a touch claustrophobic, and even working at National where he had to use an elevator every day hadn't quite broken him out of it. Anthony seemed to notice Sören was nervous, and Sören felt heat flood his face, self-conscious about being a scared little baby in elevators, especially one that wasn't even all that small. But Anthony's arm was around him and he whispered, "We'll be there soon."

Sören started undressing out of his scrubs as soon as they got in the suite. It was a penthouse with a magnificent view of Paris - Sören's breath caught again with the Paris skyline lit up at night, the Eiffel Tower rising to greet him. His breath caught again when he walked into the bathroom to "scrub out", annoyed with himself for not doing that immediately in the hotel room, since he'd been on a plane filled with other people and their germs, and his annoyance was quickly replaced with awe at the sight of the jacuzzi in the room, black marble trimmed with gold.

"My god."

Anthony came up behind him and wrapped his arms around Sören's waist. "Hi."

"Hi." Sören tilted his face and gave him a little kiss, and a nuzzle. "The hot tub. Wow."

"You..." Anthony blinked. "You've never been in a hot tub, either?"

Sören shook his head. "I've been in hot springs, those are all over Iceland, but that's outside, that's different. I've never had occasion to be in a hot tub. You really have spoiled me."

Anthony gave Sören a kiss. "We better get some sleep."

They climbed in the king-sized bed together, laying on their sides facing each other. Anthony reached for Sören and pulled him close, and Sören made a noise of contentment as he curled up. "Thassnice," Sören slurred.

Anthony pet Sören's curls and kissed the top of his head. "You feel good." He rocked Sören a little. "So warm." He gave a soft chuckle. "You're like a living space heater."

Sören laughed too. "I always run a bit hot, yeah. Summers are brutal for me, I wilt."

Anthony kissed Sören's cheek and rocked him some more. "You feel so cozy." Their legs braided together.

Sören sighed and snuggled deeper. He could absolutely get used to this, being held... not just anybody, but being held by Anthony, at night. Logically, he knew that going off somewhere like this with someone he'd only met last week was probably not the safest thing to do - he'd been erring on the side of caution and paranoia since waking up in an alley in Reykjavik one Sunday morning a little less than two years ago. But it felt incredibly safe, here and now, that feeling like he'd known Anthony forever even though they were still almost strangers. Something had sparked between them and built a lovely fire.

"Oh, Sören, I have a question," Anthony mumbled, sounding half-asleep, yet whatever was on his mind prevented him from going under just yet.

"Mm?"

"What kind of cake and ice cream do you like?"

"Yes?"

Anthony laughed, throaty from sleepiness - Sören made a little noise, wishing they both weren't too tired for sex. "Is that going to be your answer every time I ask you a question about your preferences?"

Sören laughed too. "Depends on what you're asking. I don't know, I just... like variety. I like men, I like women. I like sex. I like all different kinds of music. I like... all different kinds of cake and ice cream."

Anthony laughed harder. "You realized you just described sex, drugs, and rock and roll, except... instead of drugs, it's cake." More laughter. "Sex, cake, and rock and roll."

"That's my idea of living dangerously." Sören laughed too. "That's a walk on the wild side right there."

"That's also a sign we should go the fuck to sleep, because this shouldn't be as funny as it is."

You dork. Sören sighed. That only makes me lo- Sören swallowed hard. Like you more.

Sören's heart raced for a minute. It was too soon to be saying he loved Anthony, and that terrified him. But there it was. And he didn't have to say or do anything with that feeling yet. Right now, he just needed to sleep. They both did. "Goodnight." They shared a little kiss. "And thank you."


_


Sören woke up and Anthony was already up. It was only eight AM, Sören hadn't gotten that much sleep with them coming in late, but it was also late enough that Sören knew Anthony had been up for awhile if he was keeping his regular schedule. Sören was also somehow not surprised Anthony was on his laptop, in a bathrobe, frowning at his screen as he typed - duty called.

Sören lay in bed for a moment looking out the panoramic window of the penthouse suite at the bright blue sky and the Paris skyline, letting it sink in. After only ever having been to England besides Iceland, he was indeed waking up on the morning of his twenty-seventh birthday in Paris.

"Oh, good, I was about to wake you," Anthony said, coming over to give Sören a little kiss. "Room service is on its way."

"Oh. Takk." Sören yawned, stretched, and returned the kiss.

Sören got up to go to the bathroom and when he came back, room service had arrived. Sören's face lit up and he gave into a peal of giddy, hysterical laughter when he saw their breakfast was pieces of rich chocolate cake served with generous scoops of coffee ice cream and whipped cream.

"Oh my god, we're having cake and ice cream for breakfast?" Sören gave a happy little squeak. He felt self-conscious about all these stupid noises he was making in front of a barrister, but Anthony just kissed the tip of his nose, smiling indulgently, which made Sören crinkle his nose and bite his lower lip in response.

"We're adults," Anthony said.

"I guess so."

"Here." Anthony put some cake on a spoon and held the fork to Sören's lips. "Happy birthday."

They took turns feeding each other spoonfuls of cake and ice cream, smiling at each other, touching, looking into each other's eyes. Sören was already starting to feel a little randy, and by the time the cake was halfway through, he was sucking sensuously on the spoon, pleased by the heat in Anthony's eyes as he watched, knowing exactly what was going through his lover's mind. A few bites later, and more teasing spoon-sucking, and Anthony gave Sören a mock stern look.

"You are a naughty boy," he said.

"Mhm." Sören sucked the spoon even more slowly and deliberately, and took a lick even though he'd sucked it mostly clean.

"No more spoon for you." Anthony smirked, and pulled off some cake with his fingers, for Sören to eat out of his hand like a pet.

He of course knew what he was getting into, because now Sören was sucking and licking his fingers as well, and when Sören fed Anthony from his fingers, Anthony teased him right back. They were both hard, and getting harder each moment, feeding each other the last bits of cake, sucking and licking each other's fingers more sensuously each time.

There was orange juice and champagne cocktails to go with the cake and ice cream, and Sören "accidentally" spilled some on Anthony, which he cleaned with his tongue. Anthony groaned, and grabbed Sören by the hair and kissed him hard. The passion of the kiss alone made Sören feel like he was about to come, going crazy with raw sexual need.

"That was lovely," Sören husked when they pulled back, breathing hard. He really was touched by the gesture - birthday cakes had been too few and far between in his life between the privations of childhood and then the intensity of his work schedule and not really having close enough connections to people. His cousin Ari had broken his regimen of healthy eating to eat cake with him for a few years in Reykjavik, but Ari had been across the ocean last year.

Anthony gave him a softer, sweet kiss. "You're lovely."

Sören felt his face flush. He gave Anthony a lingering, sensual kiss, his fingers walking down Anthony's chest and stomach towards the hard cock waiting for his attention. "There's something else I'd rather have in my mouth, though."

Sören's birthday breakfast ended with a passionate sixty-nine, the two of them hungrily worshiping each other's cocks in earnest, sucking, licking, stroking, kissing, devouring, as their hands played over each other's bodies, caressing where they'd already this soon learned they liked to be touched, teased. They came together, which felt wonderfully intimate, and they tasted good together as they kissed, holding each other.

Sören's orgasm was powerful - Anthony was talented, and Sören was very aroused by him. But as hard as he came, he still craved more. He started kissing Anthony insistently, and made a whine of protest when Anthony gently pushed him back, laughing softly.

"Now, Sören. There's a lot of Paris to see and we have limited time." Anthony gave him a mischievous look. "We can wait until later for more, and I promise, it will be worth the wait."

Sören gave another whine, but Anthony was right - Paris demanded exploring.

In what Sören thought of his "civvies" - today it was a Nine Inch Nails "Pretty Hate Machine" T-shirt over a deep navy turtleneck, faded and worn jeans, and his leather bomber, his ever-present steel-toed Doc Martens boots - he was on Anthony's arm, with Anthony flawlessly elegant in a a trenchcoat, steel blue cashmere sweater, dark blue jeans, expensive brogues that thocked on the sidewalk. They were very obviously a couple, walking around Paris hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm, and it amused Sören that they were such an odd couple, you could tell just by looking at them, but then, he knew this was a case of opposites attract.

And he was so very attracted, stealing glances at Anthony every few paces.

Their first day in Paris started with a visit to Saint Chapelle. The almost floor to ceiling stained glass windows were worth the queue, Sören's breath taken away as they walked inside. Sören kept pausing to stare and take it all in. Finally he took some pictures.

"This sort of thing makes me wish I'd taken up glasswork," Sören whispered to Anthony. "I have no time to learn that, though."

"If you like stained glass you'll love the home I grew up in. Some of the windows are stained glass. Not as magnificent as this, but still quite lovely."

That sounded like Sören was going to meet Anthony's parents at some point. That sounded serious. Sören did an internal happy dance but tried to keep calm.

Near Saint Chapelle was the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral. Sören made an excited squeak when he saw it - it was one thing to see pictures of it and another thing to see it live and in person. He made even more exuberant noises as they got closer, once again feeling self-conscious that he was being such an idiot. "Sorry," Sören said.

"You're adorable." Anthony's grip tightened on his arm. "I love seeing your joy in all of this."

"Have you ever been here before?" Sören facepalmed. "Er, that's a stupid question, you said you've been to Europe."

"It's not a stupid question, Paris isn't all of France, after all. But yes, I've been here before. My first trip here was as a teenager, my mum is an architect and she insisted I see some of the architectural marvels of the world."

"Oh wow, your mother is an architect?" Sören felt even more nervous now about showing Anthony his art.

Anthony nodded. "She designed our home. Well, hers and my dad's, now."

Again, that reminder Anthony came from money. Sören had a prickle of self-consciousness, remembering going to school in hand-me-downs from neighbors, especially "highwater pants" too short for his growing legs.

Notre-Dame in person was a transcendent experience. They walked around to appreciate the exterior, Sören taking in the towers and buttresses from different angles. Anthony had pre-booked a timeslot for climbing the tower, and Sören made more happy noises in the tower, looking at the view, feeling a bit surreal. "Wow. Wow. WOW. I'm in Notre Fucking Dame. This is an artist's wet dream." He realized there were other people around. "Meep."

Anthony's laughter rang out and he kissed Sören - not caring there were other people around. He tousled Sören's curls on the way out of the tower, smiling at him adoringly.

"If you think that was an artist's wet dream..." Anthony led them to the metro. "You'll love where we go next."

Sören screamed when he saw the glass pyramid of the Louvre. The queues were long but Anthony had a fast track advance pass so they didn't have to wait a ridiculous amount of time.

The Louvre was one of those places where Sören could spend hours if not days, but they decided to limit the Louvre visit to four hours. Sören broke down weeping when he saw the Mona Lisa in person. He felt so stupid about crying over it in public, but Anthony was understanding, pulling Sören into a fierce, tight hug when Sören finally was able to unglue himself from the painting. Sören fell apart all over again at the Venus de Milo, and when they walked away from that, Anthony kissed his tears and pulled him into a sweet kiss that made Sören want to shove him on the floor and take him right then.

Anthony opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, then thought better of it, and gave Sören a cryptic smile - Sören thought he could see a touch of longing in Anthony's eyes. He held Sören's hand tighter as they continued to walk around the museum.

There was so much to marvel at - Greek antiquities, Islamic art. Pieces of ancient history, something Sören had a keen appreciation for with all of the Viking-era history ever-present in Iceland. It also put Sören in a philosophical mood, which he reflected on as they made their way out of the Louvre.

"It's really amazing," Sören said, "the way the human impulse to create, make art, make beauty, is so consistent across ages, across cultures. It's the one thing that really unites us as a species."

Anthony nodded.

"It's so humbling, as an artist. I mean, my art is crap compared to anything in here -"

"Once again, I doubt that, Sören." Anthony traced the flames on Sören's wrist.

"But I make art anyway because I need to. It... it burns." Sören struggled for words to explain what happened to his mind when he got in "the zone". "When I see something in my mind's eye, it takes me over. It's like a fit. It's a special kind of madness, but it's one of the only things that keeps me sane."

"You know," Anthony said, "this is going to sound really strange, but in a number of ancient pantheons, the god who was the patron of artists was also frequently a healer. Like Brighid, the Celtic goddess, comes immediately to mind. There seems to be a connection there -"

Sören was delighted Anthony knew anything about that. He's smart, good. That might have been a given with his profession, but Sören tried not to assume anything about people.

"It's life." Sören struggled again to find words for it, and would even if English was his native language. "There is no life without life. Healing the body... art heals the spirit. Medicine defies death... art celebrates living. Even in its pain. Especially in its pain. We can't appreciate joy without sadness." And Sören of course wished he'd never experienced so much of what he had - the abuse of his guardians, the bullying from his peers when he was a sensitive, intelligent young boy from an obvious "trash" background, later the escape into partying and meaningless sex that got him literally dumped in an alley, not able to remember what was done to him except whatever it was hurt. "The sadness sucks, though."

Anthony's eyes darkened, and Sören knew that as much privilege as Anthony had known, he'd known heartache too.

Sören got self-conscious about his last choice of words. "The sadness sucks. God, that sounds... so dumb -"

Anthony grabbed him and kissed him hard enough to take his breath away. They both moaned into the wild, fierce kiss, the depth of what they'd just spoken to each other pulling them under, as if they were kissing and embracing with their souls, not just their bodies. When the kiss broke and their lips lingered, Sören was tempted to tell Anthony to take him back to the hotel.

Anthony had reservations for them at a Michelin-starred restaurant with prices that made Sören boggle. Sören also didn't know the first thing about French food, so he let Anthony order for them - in French, which got Sören hot and bothered again. He still wasn't entirely sure what he was eating when it was brought to them, something with goose and potatoes, but it was delicious, subtle nuances of flavor that made him slow down and actually taste his food instead of wolfing it down like he was on break or at home alone feeding himself out of exhausted hunger, about to crash for the evening.

The end of their first day in Paris was at the Eiffel Tower, which seemed rather mandatory. They watched the sunset fade into twilight and darkness from the top of the tower, kissing, touching, looking into each other's eyes between glimpses at the city of Paris. The whole wide world, it seemed to Sören, looking down at everything, everything. He'd known there was more beyond Akureyri when he moved to Reykjavik, and more beyond Reykjavik when he moved to London, but there was so much more, and he wanted it. He wanted to see the world. To live, beyond his job. To recharge his own skills as a healer by having these adventures. To fuel his art.

To strengthen the bond he was forming with this wonderful man who was spoiling him. They leaned on each other, Anthony petting Sören's curls, until Sören looked over and up at him again and they shared another hungry kiss.

It felt good to Sören to be in a place where they could be out without having to worry, remembering the shit he'd gotten in Akureyri in the early 00s before he moved to Reykjavik. Sören remarked on it as they finally left the Eiffel Tower, heading back to the hotel. "I like this. You being my boyfriend. Not having to hide."

Anthony nodded. "I was a teenager in the 90s. That was not a fun time to be gay."

"Jæja, I was a teenager for some of the 90s. I bet."

"Times are better now. Not perfect by any means, but... better."

"You said you came out to your parents in your late twenties? Was that coming out in general, or just to them?"

"A bit of both. I lost my virginity when I was 19, at school. Cambridge. It was a friend, it was... neither awful nor was it amazing. I took some time off from school following my uncle's suicide - he wanted me to see the world, so I did, in his memory, and because I needed to escape, with my grief. I found out to my surprise and delight that European men are much less inhibited and, ah, cold, than British and American men tend to be. And Scandinavian men in particular are fun." Anthony gave Sören a wicked grin.

"Jæja, Iceland is very... ah... libertine? Is that the word for it? You should have gone to Iceland." I wish we'd met sooner. But then, Sören wasn't sure that Anthony would have liked him as a med student and a fresh new doctor, a constant wreck of emotions.

"Mmm, visiting Iceland someday would be nice. Anyway, I was absolutely certain by the time I got back from Europe that I was gay. But it took longer for me to tell my parents, because. Well. It's my parents. My dad is a Tory - " Sören made a noise and Anthony did too. "Yes, yes, I know. I used to be one, when I was younger, but I'm not at all socially conservative. I held off telling my parents as long as I could get away with."

"So what prompted it? Relationship?"

Anthony nodded.

Sören was curious now - curiouser and curiouser, as if he'd fallen down a rabbit hole. "I've never been in a serious relationship, like I told you. I've had casual sex, friends with benefits... nothing more."

"So you'd never fallen in love?"

"Oh, I was in love once." Sören felt a tight ache in his chest, thinking of the grey eyes, the sweet face. Claire. "She was English, actually. We met at a pub, she was in Reykjavik for work. One of those, ah, stupid cliched love-at-first-sight things, but it was really real. And of course she never called or e-mailed me back." Sören gave a self-deprecating chuckle. "She was probably not actually interested, just being polite. I was probably too much of a dork for her."

"Her loss." Anthony's hand tightened in Sören's.

I've been in love more than once now, Sören wanted to say, but didn't. He stroked Anthony's hand instead.

"It's been awhile since my last relationship," Anthony said.

"When you say awhile..."

"Two years, roughly. I've had sex since then, obviously, but nothing I would consider relationship material until now."

"How long?"

"Not long. I've had a few other relationships, none lasted longer than a year. Most of them fizzled out, we just grew apart. The last one was ugly - he wasn't out, which I will respect for the sake of one's profession if necessary, but I found out at the end he was married to a woman, had kids and everything, so I was the other man and didn't know it, until of course, I did. I went on a bender."

"Oh god, Anthony, I'm sorry." Sören ached for him.

A rueful smile. "So am I." Anthony patted Sören. "I'm over him now. Have been for some time."

"Is it going to bother you that I'm bisexual?"

"No, you were honest about that from the beginning."

Sören stopped walking and took Anthony in his arms, wanting to reassure him. Anthony returned the hug, holding Sören tight.

As soon as they got in their hotel room, Sören and Anthony began undressing. Anthony turned on the hot tub and they got in together and spent awhile cuddling, drinking champagne. It was relaxing, all the tension in Sören's muscles from the long workweek draining out of him. Relaxation gave way to arousal, with the kissing and touching throughout the day teasing Sören enough that he was more than ready for sex.

More than ready for making love, wanting to explore those awakening feelings with being naked and vulnerable in his lover's arms.

Anthony, of course, wanted to tease Sören some more. When they got out of the hot tub and took a shower, Anthony's hands on Sören's body were slow and deliberate, kissing his neck and shoulder, amusing himself with the noises Sören made as he explored that most erogenous part of him.

Then he teased further, dimming the lights to a soft golden glow as he led Sören to the bed. He put Sade on the stereo and Sören saw that Anthony had packed vanilla-flavored massage oil, which he'd been warming in the kitchenette of their hotel suite. Anthony had Sören lay on his stomach and he proceeded to rub Sören down, kneading away the knots in his shoulders and biceps, his upper back, his lower back, his ass and the backs of his thighs. Anthony's hard cock rubbed in the crack of Sören's ass as his hands worked their magic, and Sören found he really wanted Anthony to top him, sometime. He wasn't quite ready for that, his body remembering that morning in the Reykjavik alley, but soon. When the time was right.

In the meantime, Sören moaned and sighed as Anthony worked him over like he had all the time in the world to spoil his lover. Sören also realized the vanilla-flavored oil had been deliberate, as he felt Anthony lean in to kiss and lick his shoulder blades, lips and tongue trailing down his spine, making Sören shiver and break out in gooseflesh, cock throbbing, hole twitching, wanting him more and more with each second of exquisite, delicious sensation coursing through him.

"If your art is like the ink on your back, it's not crap at all, Sören."

Those words were just as soothing, caring as his touch. Sören hoped he really meant that and when he eventually showed Anthony his work tomorrow. His eyes misted, stomach fluttering. His heart felt like it could fly when Anthony's fingers traced the birds on his back, and lingered on the scars the ink covered - Anthony could see them, and likely knew they were from his alcoholic guardians. Sören's eyes teared up harder when Anthony kissed them, reverently, fingers continuing to trace over Sören's ink, like he was worshiping Sören, committing his body to memory.

Anthony teasing the front of him was even better - and worse. Sören's moans got louder as Anthony's hands rubbed and caressed his arms, chest, stomach, his thighs and calves. His fingers "accidentally" brushed Sören's nipples and then more deliberately, playing with the aching nubs, playing with the rings, leaning in to kiss them, lick, suckle, nibble, sucking harder at Sören's cries, panting, arching to him. "Oh god, Anthony, please."

After awhile Anthony was playing with Sören's cock as he continued feasting on Sören's nipples, and when Anthony's head dove between Sören's legs to take him into his mouth, Sören let out a fierce cry. Anthony sucked slowly, sweetly, rubbing his tongue as he sucked, and he played with Sören's balls, fingers brushing the sensitive place between balls and ass. Sören grabbed Anthony's head and bucked, panting, gasping, writhing. He heard himself almost sobbing as Anthony slowly edged him closer, making "mmmmm" noises of pleasure, lust in his eyes.

Sören found himself gently fucking Anthony's mouth at the end, giving shuddery gasps, and then at last a cry of "oh god, Anthony, yes," as he let go, coming in his waiting mouth. Anthony swallowed and came up to kiss Sören fiercely, rock hard and grinding against his thigh.

They both reached for the condoms, and Anthony was quicker. "I'm tempted to say fuck it and let you breed me," Anthony rasped between kisses at Sören's neck, "but."

"No listen, as a doctor, I appreciate you being careful. We'll get tested."

Anthony nodded. "Things were scarier when I was young, dumb, and horny. I was very lucky." Then Anthony grinned. "Well, I'm still horny, and you make me stupid."

"Hi Still Horny And You Make Me Stupid -"

Anthony bit Sören's shoulder, which made Sören cry out and his cock leapt at that, which Anthony laughed at. "Well," Anthony said, petting Sören's cock, "someone has a fetish."

Sören giggled and quipped, "Who?"

Anthony grinned. "It's a mystery." He kissed Sören and then his tongue licked where he'd just bitten, soothing and arousing the skin, and he nibbled Sören's neck as they rolled a condom onto Sören's cock.

Anthony straddled Sören's hips and rode him, slowly. It had been a very long time since Sören had been ridden - indeed, Sören was usually the one to do the riding - and Sören gloried in it, watching him, touching him, being touched. It was incredibly sensual, with Sören's arousal fueled not just by the sweet vise-like grip around his cock and the silken rhythm of their bodies, but being lost in beauty, in wonder...

...in love.

He felt taken care of, tonight. He spent so much time taking care of other people, running on empty. Anthony seemed to understand that better than most, in his own line of work. And that Anthony was taking time and trouble to make his birthday this special...

Sören choked back the three little words. He sucked Anthony's fingers, tasting Anthony's precum on them, to make himself not say it, not yet, not wanting to scare him away, but god, he felt it.

When Anthony was riding him harder, Sören went from fighting off those three little words to not being able to make words at all, fighting off his own release. Watching Anthony in ecstasy, enjoying his cock as much as he did... Sören loved pleasing just as much as he loved to be pleased. And at last, when Anthony came first, as Sören wanted him to, seeing the look of what could only be described as euphoric joy on his face as he erupted made Sören come and come and come, a full-body orgasm that seemed to go on forever.

It wasn't enough. It would never be enough. Anthony lay on his back and they feverishly rolled another condom onto Sören's cock. Sören took him again, Anthony wrapping his arms and legs around him, holding Sören with all of him, the two of them kissing passionately with each thrust. A slow build, like waves, with the storm rolling in the distance, on its way.

You're ruling the way that I move
And I breathe your air
You only can rescue me
This is my prayer
If you were mine
If you were mine
I wouldn't want to go to heaven

I cherish the day
I won't go astray
I won't be afraid
You won't catch me running
You're ruling the way that I move
You take my air

You show me how deep love can be


"Oh god." Sören was almost sobbing again. He claimed Anthony's mouth again and again, like he was claiming all of him.

"Sören." Anthony kissed Sören's neck, hands sliding over Sören's back, hips rolling, urging him on faster. Not too fast, not just yet, but enough. "Sören..."

"Oh my fucking god." Sören shuddered, speeding up. Needing. Needing.

The kisses got hungrier, their hands more possessive. And finally Sören was pounding him, encouraged by Anthony's cries, Anthony's deeper kisses like he wanted to consume Sören. The bed rocked against the wall, Sören wondered if they'd get a complaint from the concierge about their noises and he didn't care. This was glorious.

Anthony came hard, looking like he'd seen God himself when he spent over Sören, making shuddery gasps that turned into deep moans, before he breathed, "Sören. Sören..."

Three thrusts and Sören gave in with a shout of "Anthony!", collapsing onto him, his whole body trembling, the pleasure almost terrifying in its intensity. No one had ever made him come like this. No one had ever made him want like this.

It was a shattering enough release that they both dozed off after a few minutes of sleepily holding and petting and kissing. In the middle of the night they woke up hungry again but were still in that drowsy haze - awake enough to consent, not so awake they wanted to get into something athletic. With sweet, sleepy kisses, Sören took them both in his hand, stroking their cocks together, and in the last few minutes, both of them trembling, breathing harder, Anthony took them out of Sören's hand and into his own, bringing them to the finish. Sören buried his face in Anthony's chest as he cried out and Anthony pet him, rocked him, legs braiding more tightly with his.

They had another sixty-nine with breakfast before they hit the city for their second day. This time they started with the Opera Garnier - they weren't going to an actual opera, but to see the building itself, which was the inspiration for "Phantom of the Opera". The tour showed them the grand theatre, the huge staircase, the chandelier and the balcony. Anthony kissed him there too, and Sören could have sung for joy.

The Musee d'Orsay was another high point, with Sören making giddy noises at the works of Monet, van Gogh, Cezanne and Renoir. The building alone was worth visiting, never mind the masterpieces within.

They strolled along the Left Bank after the museum, holding hands, kissing. They passed by an elegant older woman with hair dyed black in a bob, wearing a red coat, red lipstick and dark glasses, carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, who smiled and waved as if she knew them. Anthony and Sören paused, and the woman came over and said in a French accent so heavy as if to be comical, "It is so good to see two people so much in love. I just needed to say that to you, how beautiful the two of you are together."

Anthony took the woman's hand and kissed it. "Vos mots me touchent et une appréciation de la beauté vous a gardé belle, madame."

"Oh, bah, I am old enough to be your mother." She was clearly relishing the attention, and Sören was amused by it. She beamed at Sören, and then she turned back to Anthony and she said, "Prenez soin de celui-ci, oui? Il a quelque chose de différent en lui, quelque chose de spécial. Je pense que vous avez une idée de ce que je veux dire, peut-être." She quickly added, "Je l'ai vu pleurer au Louvre. Son feu brûle profondément."

"Je suis d'accord. C'est très bientôt dans notre relation, mais aussi étrange que cela puisse paraître, je pense avoir trouvé "celle-là"." Anthony looked at Sören and tousled his curls.

"Très bien." The woman waved as she began to stroll off. "Have a wonderful day, you two."

Sören raised an eyebrow at Anthony and said, "I have no idea what was any of that you just said, but it sounds sexy as hell."

Then Sören realized Anthony hadn't contradicted the Frenchwoman when she remarked on them being in love - at least not what he could understand in English - and Sören hadn't denied it, either. He still hesitated to say I love you, feeling shy, still wary. But the giddy flush of love made him giggle as Anthony pulled him closer, as they resumed walking along the Left Bank.

They had another expensive dinner out, with wine, and Anthony played footsie with him under the table again. Sören was feeling hornier and hornier, it taking every ounce of his restraint to not throw Anthony on top of their table and fuck him for all of Paris to see. He said as much when they left the restaurant. "I wanted to take you on the table."

"Oh my god, Sören." Anthony turned beetroot and his eyes twinkled. Then he leaned in, kissed Sören, and husked, "I wouldn't have stopped you."

"God." Sören giggled and kissed him back. "You could get me in real trouble with the law, Anthony Wyatt-Jones."

"I think I know a barrister who could defend you."

Sören snorted and gave him a playful shove, and Anthony ruffled Sören's hair and kissed him deeply. They made out the entire taxi ride back to the hotel, Sören feeling like a horny teenager again, and when they got in the hotel room Anthony dropped to his knees, yanked down Sören's jeans and boxer-briefs, and blew him right there just as he'd done in the supply closet earlier that week.

After he climaxed Sören dragged Anthony to bed and returned the favor, with Anthony being so aroused from going down on Sören that he came within minutes, crying out Sören's name over and over again as he lost control. That aroused Sören, but Anthony was going to need time to recharge, and Sören was perfectly content snuggling with him - he found he liked the afterglow cuddling as much as he liked sex.

He'd hoped Anthony would be wrecked enough from his orgasm to forget about Sören's art for awhile, but then, before Sören could doze off a little, Anthony started poking him, like he was a big kid wanting attention. "Sören. Did you bring it?"

"Bring what," Sören mumbled.

"Your sketchbook."

Sören made a noise.

"Awwww, Sören, come on, I want to see..."

He sounded so boyish right then that Sören had to indulge him. Jesus, it's like he's my little brother, even though he's older. Sören grabbed the sketchbook out of his satchel and sat up with Anthony, leaning on him. "I feel really stupid about showing this after we were in the bloody Louvre and Musee d'Orsay -"

Anthony shot him a filthy look and snatched the sketchbook out of Sören's hands like it belonged to him. He hissed like a cat, and it was so comical that Sören doubled over, wheezing. Then he sobered when Anthony flipped it open and began leafing through. Not reacting - ever the courtroom professional outside of the courtroom, playing his cards close to his chest. But finally he looked at Sören with something like awe in his eyes.

"Sören. Your work is fucking incredible."

"Oh, Jesus Christ, Anthony -" Sören ran a nervous hand through his curls.

Anthony grabbed Sören's face and kissed him hard. He began to flip back through the sketchbook to show Sören a few that stood out at him. "The detail in these is... it's remarkable. These flowers. That bird." He smiled fondly. "The faeries and elves."

"You don't think it's stupid?"

"Sören Sigurdsson, I swear if you call your art 'crap' or 'stupid' one more fucking time."

Sören couldn't help laughing at the steel in him, and felt a frisson of arousal at the same time.

Then Anthony flipped to a colored pencil portrait Sören had done of his brother, catching a falling star from the sky.

"That's my brother Dag. Twin brother."

"His personality comes off in this portrait almost like I know him."

"And that's my sister Margrét." Sören swallowed hard as Anthony thumbed to another page and lingered there. He had turned Margrét into a Valkyrie with a winged stallion.

"The one who was murdered."

Sören nodded. "She was a trans woman. She was stabbed to death -"

"Jesus." Anthony pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm so sorry, Sören. I don't know why people have to be so..." He struggled to find the words. "So fucking hateful."

Sören took Anthony's hand and kissed it.

"I see some very dark things in my line of work," Anthony said, looking off into the distance. "There are days when I have genuinely wondered if there is more evil than good in the world." Then he looked at Sören. "But you. Shine so brightly."

"You barely know me." Those words were directed as much at himself, falling for Anthony like he was.

"I already know more than you think I do. I watch. I observe. And you're not exactly a hard one to figure out. Like you crying in the Louvre yesterday. I'd wanted to make you happy, bringing you to Paris, when you told me you're an artist in your spare time I thought you might appreciate something like that, but I wasn't expecting to see..." Anthony made a vague hand gesture, looking for the right word. "Your soul, opened up."

"And what did you see?"

"I saw fire." Anthony took Sören's chin in his hand and his thumb traced Sören's full lips, eyes probing. "I saw light."

He kissed Sören hard, and put Sören's sketchbook off to the side. "Your work is beautiful." Anthony's fingers traced down from Sören's lips to his heart. "Who you are, is beautiful, and god help me, I need you." He grabbed Sören and kissed him even harder than before.

Sören took Anthony on his back, sweet and slow, lost in a dreamy haze of sensuality, melting, teasing, not able to stop touching, as if they were long-lost lovers reunited, hungering for each other's skin, needing the connection to last as long as possible. Kissing and kissing, eating each other alive. And at last Anthony kissed Sören's neck and rasped, "Take me hard, Sören. Show me fire."

Sören bit his neck and drove into him with abandon, Anthony's legs on his shoulders. He gave it as long as Anthony could take it - and he could take a good punishing for an impressively long time. When Anthony lost control, screaming Sören's name, Sören spent with a hoarse shout, laughing and crying as his body heaved, fingers and toes curling involuntarily.

"Sören." Anthony grabbed him and held him, rocked him. "Oh my god, Sören, that was..." He sighed. "Transcendent."

"What you said," Sören breathed, and giggled uncontrollably.

After they cuddled and dozed off, they woke up awhile later and took another soak in the hot tub. They ended up making out in the hot tub and stroking each other to climax there, and when they got back in bed they rubbed cock to cock, kissing, still hungry but sated enough to crave something more slow and sensual. Watching their cocks shoot together made Sören feel like the entire universe was exploding out of him, continuing to twitch and moan until sleep claimed him again.

It rained in Paris on Sunday which was just as well because their grand finale was spending the entire day in bed making love for hours, in different positions - Anthony riding Sören... Anthony on his back with a leg hooked over Sören's shoulder... the two of them laying on their sides sucking each other... Sören on his knees, taking Anthony doggy style, fucking him hard... later, Anthony on his stomach with Sören laying on Anthony's back and taking him from behind much more gently, kissing his neck and shoulder, tilting Anthony's face so they could kiss, holding hands... laying face to face, kissing, petting, rubbing cock to cock. There was something absolutely perfect, to Sören's way of thinking, about them getting sweaty and cum-soaked together as the rain fell outside, curling up between orgasms to look out the penthouse view at the city, still achingly gorgeous in the rain.

They showered and stroked each other to another climax before they had to leave for their flight back to London. Sören blew a kiss into the wind and rain as they reached the airport, and he looked out the window at takeoff, blowing a kiss at the Eiffel Tower before it disappeared into the fog.

Anthony invited Sören to spend the night with him and take him to work in the morning, with laundry facilities at his flat so Sören could wash and re-wear the scrubs he'd left London in. He was in no rush to get back, driving slowly in the rain, and when Sade came on the radio it reminded Sören of their lovemaking on Friday night and he found himself kissing Anthony, then kissing his neck, getting Anthony hard while he was driving. Sören had never done anything like this before, but he leaned over, got Anthony's cock out, and started sucking him off right then. When Anthony's driving started to be affected, swerving just a little - not enough to be dangerous, but enough to cause him alarm - he pulled over, and once he was safely pulled over he grabbed Sören's head and leaned back in his seat, shuddering and moaning. Sören sucked him to an ejaculation, savoring the taste of him as he swallowed it down, kissing Anthony and letting him taste himself.

"Jesus, Sören."

"You've never gotten road head?"

"That would be a no."

"I've never given road head, but I wanted to for you."

"God." Anthony laughed, still looking dazed and happy from the orgasm. "What's gotten into me?"

"My cock, for starters."

Anthony laughed harder. "Incorrigible."

"Takk." Sören reveled in it, loving that smile on Anthony's face as he resumed driving them back to Kingston upon Thames. This was what he wanted - he'd just come back from the most magical weekend of his life and he knew, somehow, there was even greater magic to come. They belonged.

Chapter Text

A modern day warrior
Mean, mean stride
Today's Tom Sawyer
Mean, mean pride

Though his mind is not for rent
Don't put him down as arrogant
His reserve, a quiet defense
Riding out the day's events
The river


Sören's last job of the day was a ventriculo-peritoneal shunt. He and Colin were currently attaching a valve to a proximal catheter, two sets of hands working together with precision, like they were playing a musical instrument, but that instrument was the human body.

What you say about his company
Is what you say about society
Catch the mist, catch the myth
Catch the mystery, catch the drift

The world is, the world is
Love and life are deep
Maybe as his skies are wide


Sören had done countless procedures now and no matter how many times he'd operated he still felt a quiet sense of awe that he could go in, cut open someone's brain and spine, twiddle around, and the person would be OK afterwards. He was fascinated by the marvel that was man, a machine that could be broken, taken apart and put back together.

On the occasion that Sören talked to strangers and was asked what he did for a living, the most common question he got about neurosurgery was if he was grossed out, or afraid of blood. Sören was relieved that Anthony hadn't asked him that, his partner seemed to have good enough sense to understand that if those things had been problems Sören wouldn't be in that profession. What Sören found gross, and fearful, was not the blood, not the open, raw meat and going inside to poke around, but the spectre of death hanging over people, and all too often, people too young to die, or people with too much life to give up on life. Sören understood that to Anthony, every client he had was potentially someone like his uncle, and to Sören, every patient he had was potentially his mamma. Every person he opened up, unraveled and knit back together, they were somebody to someone - parent, child, lover, friend.

Sören had felt so powerless the day his mamma had a bad headache, lay down for a nap, and never woke up again. He couldn't save her, but the strength of his will pushed him to do what he could for others.

To exorcise that spectre of death and re-quicken the spark of life... that was magic. At times, the artist in Sören would see in his mind's eye visions not unlike the paintings of Alex Grey, the human body electric with millions of wires of energy, color and light. His tools, his fingers, touched the weave of worlds within them, the brain the house of the soul, the patient on a journey on his table like the mythological journeys through the underworld and back. Sören was not a religious or superstitious man but as an artist he appreciated the poetry of mythology, its symbolism, fragments of a deeper, greater truth, and when Sören was operating he rather understood why in ancient times the healers were shamans. There was a magic in this, one that was hard to put into words but one that he felt, and each time he did an operation he was tapping into that magic, defying death once more, hallowing that weave of worlds inside each patient with a cleansing fire, a light that held back the darkness this time. Not today.

It was a magic that didn't just fix whatever was broken, here on his table, but it helped to heal that wound inside him, ripped open the day his mamma died. It would never be fully healed, Sören knew that, but it was better than it was, years ago.

When Sören had decided to go into neurosurgery in particular, knowing it was one of the most taxing specialties, he had heard it described as a calling, with the kind of brutal hours neurosurgeons put in, working on some of the most delicate, complex procedures in medicine. Sören understood that concept each time he operated. Some people had religion and a Higher Power, this was Sören's religion, this was what he dedicated his devotion to. Life.

His day was not quite done when the shunt was complete. Now he had a scan, and then he met with the patient's family to go over what he could of what he'd just done, necessities of aftercare and followup, and was ready to answer any questions they had. The discussions with family or partners was one of the best and worst parts of this job - best when it gave some good news that they badly needed to hear, worst if the family blamed him for what was outside his control, and especially when they misunderstood that there were limits to the miracle work that could be done and often the operating table was the beginning of the road back, not the end. Nobody liked to hear that there was going to be more scans, therapy, and possibly no such thing as "good as new", only a new normal of what was possible. Mercifully, today Sören had a family who was more grateful than entitled, thanking him profusely for his work, and it made Sören smile on his way out of the meeting, feeling relief at their relief, hope at their hope.

After Sören and Colin scrubbed out, Colin bro-fisted him. "You want a ride back to Bromley, mate?" Colin asked. "You look dead on your feet."

Sören laughed softly. "This is going to sound strange, but I like taking the Tube. It's just... a routine I have, I zone out. And it's raining. Those last few minutes walking home in the rain, it... it feels good." Sören felt a little sheepish, but he always got overheated when he operated, as if he were wielding fire, even though the operating theatre was climate controlled.

"I get it." Colin nodded.

"Thank you for offering, though! I'll see you tomorrow, já?"

"Yeah. You ready for hell?"

"God, about as ready as I'll ever be."

"Tomorrow" was technically "tonight", starting at 11 PM, with Colin and Sören both scheduled for an overnight shift that would last until 11 AM, realistically more like 1-2 PM. Sören didn't always work overnight but at least once a fortnight he'd have to pull an all-nighter. Colin and Sören joked about these shifts being "hell" because these were when the emergencies came in, with fewer staff to handle them - the overnight shifts felt more taxing than usual because they were.

It was one in the afternoon now - Sören having a shorter work day than usual today was to account for the fact that he'd be going back to work in ten hours. Rather than spending his evening with Anthony, he'd be going to his place in Bromley and basically eating and going to bed. But Anthony was going to call him when he had a break from work at his chambers later this afternoon, and Sören was so very looking forward to the sound of his voice. He had that funny feeling in his chest and stomach just thinking about it.

He thought about calling Anthony first, but he didn't want to interrupt, and he didn't want to come off as needy, desperate, clingy. Not that Anthony had given any indicator that Sören was behaving in such a way - just the opposite, Anthony was very attentive and warm and he basked in Sören's attention and warmth. But Sören still felt self-conscious about how hard he'd fallen. He still hadn't worked up enough courage to tell Anthony he was in love, which Sören realized was a holdover from his hookup days where signs of attachment were the antithesis of casual sex and would result in him being ghosted if he wanted more than a one-night stand, like an occasional fuckbuddy. This wasn't casual, especially not what they'd shared in Paris just over a week ago. Sören still worried about scaring Anthony away with things moving too fast, escalating with intensity. "You're too intense" was something Sören had heard more than once back in his hookup days in Iceland when he wanted cuddles, wanted raw, primal, insatiable passion. Sören knew Anthony was drawn to his fire, but nonetheless he didn't want Anthony to feel burned, with Anthony's own schedule being what it was, the adjustments he was having to make to his own life to make space for someone else.

On the Tube ride to Bromley, Sören put in his earbuds and began the process of decompressing from work, listening to a random-shuffle playlist of prog metal. He began to enter a lightly meditative state as "Rosemary" by Deftones came on, in the minutes before his stop.

There's no sound
But the engine's drone
Our minds set free
To roam

Time shifting
We discover the entry
To other planes

Our minds bend
And our fingers fold
Entwined, we dream
I know

Time shifting
We discover the entry
To other planes

Stay with me
As we cross the empty skies
Come sail with me

We slow down
As the engines stall
Our eyes catch sea
Explode

Time shifting
We discover the entry
To other planes

Time shifting
As we collide with the energy
In other worlds

Stay with me
As we cross the empty skies
Come sail with me
We play in dreams
As we cross the space and time
Just stay with me


Sören was in enough of a daze that he bumped into someone on his way off the train, hard enough for Sören to fall over into a puddle. Sören managed to break his fall so he wouldn't get injured, but still ended up getting jostled and drenched. He was startled enough to need his inhaler, and as he puffed he got bumped again.

There goes my good mood. At least hearing from Anthony would redeem this afternoon.

Sören went in his flat, changed into pajamas, scrubbed in, and set to work transferring food that had been in the slow cooker into a bowl for eating now and containers to fridge and reheat later. It was nothing fancy - a homemade stew with beef and vegetables, but it was good on a chilly, rainy day like this.

After Sören ate, he went to his leather duster hanging up to retrieve his cell phone in anticipation of Anthony's call. And then he found that his phone wasn't in his coat. At all. Sören recalled the fall in the puddle, then being jostled again as he was using his inhaler.

"Tíkasonur, blóðugur móðurfokk helvíti."

He was already in his pajamas, and would have to put his clothes back on and go for a walk on the chance that the phone was even still there - he had strong doubts that it was, and he knew with his luck he might have lost it even before that, maybe on the Tube or at the hospital. Meanwhile, it wasn't simply that he absolutely had to get to bed soon if he was going to be functional for his overnight shift, but even with a shorter work day today he was exhausted and his body needed to crash anyway.

Getting changed to go down to the chip shop or another place nearby and asking to use the phone wouldn't work because he hadn't memorized Anthony's number - he had too much information in his head to keep straight, things like phone numbers and e-mails had to be plugged in somewhere or he couldn't trust himself to remember. And he hadn't thought to ask for Anthony's e-mail, they'd as yet only communicated by phone. Sören was sure he could probably Google Anthony Wyatt-Jones and get an e-mail address, but then he wasn't sure if it was wise to shoot off something personal on his work e-mail.

"Ég hef ekki fokking tíma fyrir þetta... og hann mun halda að ég sé að hunsa hann..." Sören facepalmed and hit himself in the forehead. "Fokk, fokk, FOKK, skít, guð fjandinn, ég þurfti ekki þetta kjaftæði!"

Sören knew that while Anthony had common sense and might wonder if Sören had just passed out or perhaps lost his phone, there was also a real potential for Anthony to wonder if he was being ignored, and for that to create problems between them. Sören let out a wordless grit-teeth scream, angry with himself for losing his phone. I've fucked everything up now.

And there was nothing he could do about it right now. Already, he was going to be running under eight hours of sleep if he went to bed and fell asleep immediately. Sören continued cursing under his breath as he folded out his couch into a bed, made it, and got in.

I'll see what I can do to fix this tomorrow after work. Telling himself that gave him back enough of a tiny sliver of control, so he could go to sleep.


_



The overnight shift was even more chaotic than Sören and Colin had feared, and as upset as Sören was when he got into work, still fretting about his lost phone and Anthony's reaction, his thoughts were quickly taken over by emergencies coming in that had to be handled. It was close to one PM when Sören and Colin were finished, and just before Colin could head out, something from a conversation Sören had with Anthony came crashing into his head. Making Sören feel frustrated that he couldn't remember numbers but he could remember this.

"Colin, wait up a minute?"

Colin paused.

"This is going to seem a weird question, but, ah, where does your sister work?"

"Which one?"

"Diana."

Colin laughed. "Why? You stalking my sister, mate?" He playfully punched Sören in the arm.

"Ha ha, no." Sören pursed his lips. "Your sister is my boyfriend's EA or whatever it's called."

Colin's jaw dropped and his eyes widened. "That's who you're dating? Holy shit, mate."

"Jæja, I'm dating Anthony Wyatt-Jones."

"Jesus." Then Colin raised an eyebrow. "You're dating this bloke and you don't know where he works?"

"Obviously I know he's a barrister but I like... never... asked. It hasn't been that long we've been dating, just a couple weeks. Usually when we're together we talk about other stuff. Or we... you know. Don't talk."

Colin facepalmed. "Oh god, I shouldn't have asked that, I walked right sodding into that."

Sören grinned, not able to resist. "Emphasis on the sodding -"

"Yeah, piss off." Colin grinned, rolling his eyes.

"Anyway, I need to go down -" Sören continued the cheekiness, unable to help himself, because Colin was just as bad sometimes where women he was dating were concerned. They were professional enough to only be like this in private moments and not in front of other colleagues, especially not ladies, not wanting them to feel sexually harassed in any way, but it was one reason why Sören and Colin got along so well, they had a similar raunchy sense of humor.

"Good god, Sören."

"I need to go to his office because I lost my fucking phone yesterday and missed a call from him and I don't know how he'll take that."

And then Colin gave Sören a long, pointed look. "Wow, mate, you have it bad for this bloke, yeah?"

Sören looked down and nodded, face on fire.

Colin slapped his shoulder. "I wouldn't worry too much, Sören, these things happen, if you explain it to him he'll know you're telling the truth. He'll just know, trust me."

Sören realized that yes, Anthony would know, being well used to spotting lies and half-truths and evasions in the courtroom, but it felt comforting to hear it from someone whose sister worked closely with the man and likely had things to say about him.

"And yeah, Diana works at Lincoln's Inn Fields, in Temple, you want to go to Garden Court Chambers."

"Takk, Colin, you're a lifesaver." Sören raised an eyebrow. "One more thing... I need directions. Written down, if possible."

Armed with directions, Sören took the Tube. As he approached the law offices, he felt self-conscious about being in a place full of suits when he was coming fresh off of work in his scrubs - at least he wasn't still wearing a cap, and the little flashlight that he had to wear on his cap during surgery, though he and Colin made jokes about how they got to wear "the cool hats".

At the reception desk Sören didn't have to wait long. "Hi, I'm here to see Anthony Wyatt-Jones?"

"Do you have an appointment, Mr..."

"Er, no, I don't, but it's important. Urgent."

He was given a dirty look, but asked to sit down nonetheless. Sören's anxiety mounted at the expensive leather couch, the wood and glass all around, elegant, making him feel even more out of place in his duster and scrubs, his mop of curls a damp mess from the wet weather after being unleashed from the man bun he wore at work. He saw the crest in the lobby, and his eyes locked onto the motto: Do right, fear no-one.

A frisson went down Sören's spine. That's my Anthony.

And then a prickle: My Anthony? My Anthony. I'm thinking of him as mine now. Oh yes, I have it bad.

Sören did have to wait a bit of time, and then it wasn't Anthony who came out, but a pretty woman with brown skin, expressive hazel-brown eyes in a heart-shaped face, dark curls in a tight, sleek ponytail, a slim figure in a navy suit with a skirt and a white blouse, showing off calves that made Sören stare for a few seconds. This had to be Diana Traynor.

"Hello, you're here to see Mr. Wyatt-Jones?"

"Yes, hi... you're Diana, right?"

The woman gave him a "do I know you" look. "You are..."

"Sören Sigurdsson."

"Oh! You're that Sören, you know my brother!"

"Oh shi - er, oh, darn..." Sören saw Diana fight off a grin at the near-slip. "Does Colin talk about me?"

"He's mentioned you a few times. Always nice things. Says you're a funny guy."

Their eyes met, Diana flashed him a lovely smile, and if this had been a few months or even a few weeks ago, Sören would have gone against his usual shyness and caution and asked Diana to dinner or to have a drink and see where it went from there. He realized then that yes, he did crave a woman's touch sometimes, and he didn't want to take the risk of asking Anthony for an open relationship after Anthony's experience with being "the other man", so he was looking at being strictly gay in practice for the foreseeable future, even though he still found women attractive and felt desire for them. That was something he was going to have to live with, but... he'd do it for Anthony.

God, I really am in love with him. Jesus.

"Right, so, ah." Sören ran a nervous hand through his curls. He didn't know if Anthony had mentioned to Diana that he was dating Sören, and Sören got the distinct sense that was not something to discuss out here in the open regardless.

"Right, let me check his diary for when he'll be free and I'll be back in a moment?"

Sören huffed, not liking there was a possibility he'd be stuck here until Anthony got off work for the day, not knowing what his plans were after work, or he'd have waited. "I really need to see him today. It's kind of urgent. Please tell him Sören Sigurdsson is here, he'll understand just from my name."

"All right. I'll be back in just a minute."

"A minute" was more like five, but it wasn't as long as he had been waiting. And when Diana came back she made the "come along" gesture. Sören rose from the couch and followed Diana down a hall, past a series of doors. Sören's heart pounded with each one, pit of his stomach rising, afraid that somehow, Anthony would assume he'd been ignored and it would be all over...

Uh, no, idiot, he's a defense barrister. He's letting you present your side of things. Chill.

It was even the slightest possibility that things could go badly that worried Sören - desperately not wanting to lose him - and beneath that, the worry that Anthony had felt ignored, had been wondering what happened... Sören feeling awful that Anthony would be upset at something he did, even by accident, not wanting to cause him pain...

Fuck. Shit. I love him.

And there they were. Anthony was in an office with wood paneling, his desk long and made of dark wood, his chair high-backed leather. He was in a charcoal grey suit, white shirt, grey tie, ever the consummate professional. Diana gave a nod and then as she left Sören there, she closed the door behind her, giving them a knowing look on her way out.

"Sören." Anthony looked him up and down, his expression neutral, his voice neutral. "This is unexpected."

"I lost my phone," Sören said.

"Oh." And then Anthony's face and voice were less neutral. His eyes were suddenly too bright. "Oh."

"Oh god, Anthony, you thought I was ignoring you?"

Anthony closed his eyes and nodded, saying nothing.

Sören came right over to the desk. He put his arms around Anthony, pulled him close, and then he was mindful of the fact that his leather duster was wet from outside. "Er, I need to take this off..."

Anthony gestured to a coatrack in the corner of the office, where his own trenchcoat was hanging. Sören pulled off his duster, hung it up, and then he came back to Anthony and gave him a fierce, tight hug, cradling Anthony's head in his chest, petting his hair. He heard that sharp exhale, the little tremble that was a tell Anthony was crying a little.

"Oh my god. Anthony."

"Shit." Anthony pulled back, looking down, his cheeks pink, his eyes damp. "I... I don't cry, Sören. I don't cry, and I especially do not cry at work."

"I'm sorry -"

"No, it's." Anthony wiped his eyes with the heel of his hand. He looked up at Sören then. "I didn't know why you weren't answering your phone. I was afraid I'd lost you, and -"

Sören grabbed Anthony and kissed him. Sören's cock woke up at the kiss, twinging again at the moan Anthony made into the kiss, quivering against him. Sören's arms tightened around him even more, Sören kissing Anthony deep and hard and hungry, as if he were claiming him.

"I feel like an idiot for worrying so much," Anthony said. "I know these things happen. I just..."

"Shhhh." Sören kissed him again. And again. "I worried you were going to think something was wrong. I don't memorize phone numbers, I don't have your e-mail, and with me working overnight last night and being so bloody exhausted when I got home I didn't want to go back out and try to find my phone, and I felt terrible, I didn't want to upset you, but I didn't know what to do when I just needed to get to bed..."

"Sören." Now Anthony was the one initiating the kiss. "It's all right. I'm not angry."

Sören desperately needed some levity, overcome by emotion. Protectiveness. Wanting to be reassuring, nurturing. Falling in love with him all over again and those green eyes, the sensitive heart that he tried to shield from the world... "Hi Not Angry. I'm Sör-"

Anthony kissed him harder, and swatted Sören's ass. Sören's cock jolted at that, and he felt his blood boil. Mad with lust, not thinking, Sören found himself getting on his knees and under Anthony's desk. Before either of them knew what was happening, Sören had Anthony's cock out, hard for him, and Sören looked up at him with hungry eyes, searching to make sure Anthony wanted this, was OK with it. Anthony grabbed Sören's curls, guiding his head towards his cock, and Sören's own cock throbbed in response. But before Sören could start sucking, he looked into Anthony's eyes and he finally said it. "I love you." Then his lips wrapped around Anthony's cock.

Anthony gasped, shuddered, and he ground out, "I love you too, Sören."

Oh god, yes. Yes. YES... Sören's heart soared. He started sucking the cock in his mouth like he was starving for it, like his life depended on giving this man the best pleasure he could. "Mmmmmmmmm," Sören hummed, a happy noise at the truth being laid bare.

Between Sören's hunger and passion, and Anthony's need, Anthony only lasted a few minutes. He was quieter than usual by virtue of being at work, only giving a little groan here and there, but when he came he let out that shuddery gasp Sören had heard him make during orgasm before, which Sören found incredibly sexy, especially with Anthony twitching, the rapture on his face as he gave in. Sören was turned on enough by sucking him, watching and listening to him come, tasting him, that as soon as Anthony was finished Sören took out his own cock and began to furiously masturbate right there, on his knees in Anthony's office. Sören came in record time, collecting the pooling seed into his shirt hem which was going to be washed anyway. Enough of his cum got on his hand that when he stopped shaking and needed to get up from the floor, Anthony paused him and licked and sucked Sören's hand clean, so sensually, with such heat in his eyes that Sören was tempted to take him on his desk.

As hot as that thought was, Sören knew that Anthony would get vocal and that was probably a bad idea, not to mention that the man probably didn't keep lube in his office. But he should start keeping it... just in case.

Anthony seemed to know exactly what Sören was thinking. "Sören, you're too tempting."

"Takk. So are you." And then Sören pulled him close again, letting Anthony rest his head on him, rubbing Anthony's shoulders and upper back. "I should probably go before we get in trouble."

Anthony patted him and looked up. "What are you doing tonight?"

"Sleeping." Sören chuckled.

"What are you doing before that? I'd like to come over."

"Come... over... to my place? In Bromley?" Sören was in disbelief. He lived in a studio, it wasn't terrible but it was small, small enough that he slept on a couch that folded out into a bed.

Anthony nodded. "It would save you time, rather than having to pack an overnight bag and travel from your place to mine. We'd have more time, you'd get more rest."

Sören took a deep breath. He was worried about Anthony seeing his tiny, somewhat shabby little place, but he nodded. "All right. If you truly don't mind -"

"I want to see you." Their eyes held. "I miss you." Anthony reached up to stroke Sören's face. "I love you."

Sören's heart soared again. As tired as he was, he could have done cartwheels around the entire chambers, screaming for joy, if it wouldn't make a scene. "I love you too."

After Sören put his duster back on, Anthony walked him to the door of his office, stealing a kiss just before he opened the door. "I'll be there roughly around six."

"OK."

"What would you like to eat?"

"You."

Anthony laughed and turned pink, and Sören laughed too, before kissing the tip of his nose - Anthony was adorable when he was bashful, and it made Sören love him more. "Well, I made stew last night but if I don't have to eat the same thing two nights in a row... you mind bringing over fish and chips?"

"No." Anthony gave him a hug. "I'll see you then, love."

Sören was grinning from ear to ear on his way out. He tried to sober as he passed the receptionist, not wanting to give it away, but the grin came back as soon as he stepped outside.

Sören didn't go straight home, stopping at one of the stores of his cell phone provider to buy a new phone and get his plan transferred to the new phone, complete with keeping the same number. He had to charge it up when he got in, and set about getting in his red plaid flannel pajamas and making the place tidy, once again feeling bad because of how spartan his place was, apart from some art on the walls. He'd come from Iceland to England with exactly one suitcase, almost all of that clothing, and moved into an efficiency where buying furniture wasn't necessary. He'd accumulated very little in the way of personal belongings since then save some art prints, his television and stereo, and art supplies, because he wasn't home all that much - his flat was a place to eat and sleep. And now...

I want a home. This isn't a home. Sören swallowed hard.

He heard Anthony come up the steps. "It's open," Sören yelled.

Anthony walked in, bearing stargazer lilies with one hand and a bag from a chip shop with the other, with an overnight bag on the arm that carried the food. Sören ran to him to take the flowers, giving a squeak before giving Anthony a kiss. Then he went to put the flowers in Sprite and put on tea.

"I'm really sorry," Sören said as he took his place beside Anthony on the couch. "My place is, ah. It's not much."

"I came here for you," Anthony said.

Nonetheless, Sören could see him looking around, taking it in, and thought he detected a hint of sadness.

They ate together, curled up, watching a rerun of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was nice to just be, and Sören smiled when Anthony started feeding Sören from his fingers like Sören was his pet. When they were done eating, Anthony pulled him close and pet Sören's curls, rubbed his back.

"I have something for you," Anthony said.

"Mmmm, I hope so." Sören looked up and gave him a naughty look.

Anthony turned pink, laughed and rolled his eyes, and said, "That too, brat." He produced a business card from his wallet. "Here. That has my cell and my e-mail."

"Takk. I bought a new phone, let me grab it..." Sören went to the kitchen space in the open plan studio to grab his phone off the charger. He also grabbed a bottle of beer for each of them. He groaned a little at the prospect of having to reprogram all his contacts, but for now he'd take care of this. He glanced at Anthony's business card and then his eyebrow went up at the C. ANTHONY WYATT-JONES. "Oh, Anthony's a middle name?"

"...Yes."

Sören smirked. "What does the C stand for?"

"Could You Not."

"Oh, come on. I suck your cock, I fuck you in the arse -" Anthony turned beetroot at this. "And I can't know what your real first name is?" Sören started poking him. "Come on, tell me..."

"Sören..."

"It's not Sören. That starts with S, not C."

"Brat."

"Come on." Sören poked him harder, faster. "Tell me... tell me what the C stands for..."

Anthony gave him a look.

"C is for Cookie?"

"NO," Anthony said with such commanding force that it made Sören almost spit his beer, finding Anthony's reaction ridiculous and delightful.

"Cleopatra?"

"You're hilarious." Anthony's eyes narrowed.

"Crap? Cunnilingus? Cheese?"

"Sören, I swear to God -"

"Right, it would be one of those poncy British names you lot have like Clive... Colin... Cedric..."

"None of those names are poncy, Sören."

"They're all poncy to people who aren't from England. Really, Anthony, I don't know why it's so bad you can't tell me..."

"Fine." Anthony gave him another look. "It's Cassius."

"Cass-Cassius." Sören felt his head snapping back, his lips quirking involuntarily. "Wh-what... kind of name is Cassius -"

"This is exactly why I didn't want to tell you, and why I go by my middle name."

"Cassius. Cassius..." In his mind's repository of information that he'd retained over the years while simple things like memorizing phone numbers had flown out the window, Sören struggled to figure out why that name sounded vaguely familiar to him, then it turned on like a light switch in his head. "Oh, like Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay?"

Anthony glared.

Sören leaned in and gave him a little kiss. "I'll stop if it bothers you. I just." He giggled into his beer. "You poor dear, I don't know how your parents could see a tiny baby and decide to name it Cassius."

"I don't either."

Then Sören cocked his head to one side. "Do you go by Anthony all the time? Does anyone call you Tony?"

"Nobody calls me that."

I'll call you that once in awhile, and I'll get away with it. "Tony's a damn sight better than Cassius, though."

And then Anthony gave him a look that let him know he wasn't quite as annoyed as he was acting - as if he enjoyed the challenge that Sören presented, a good sparring of wit. "You're not really in a position to make fun of anyone's name, considering your own resembles an IKEA product."

Sören almost spat his beer. He howled and clapped appreciatively. Then he couldn't resist the troll impulse. "There are jokes about wood and inserting tab A into slot B here somewhere."

Now Anthony lost it, laughing, heaving, turning pink. "Goddammit, Sören."

They kissed, a sweet little kiss that deepened, heated. Soon they were making out on the couch, hands roaming. Anthony began to undo the buttons of Sören's pajama top, kissing and licking the exposed flesh. When his tongue lightly brushed a nipple, then lashed it, pebbling it, Sören shivered, gasped and cried out, bucking against him as his cock jolted and throbbed awake.

"Tony," Sören teased, and then said, "Anthony," at the mock stern look he was given. "This is... this is it, for what I have for a bed. It folds out, but I'm cautious about testing it with, ah, more strenuous stuff. On the couch itself, it's fine."

Anthony nodded. Sören once again got the sense that Anthony didn't know quite what to make of Sören's living situation, but the fact that he was willing to come here and spend the night at all said a lot. "Well, we can start on the couch, before you fold it out for the evening."

"All right. I hope you've got condoms and lube with you, because I don't have either here."

"I've got them, yes."

They undressed, with Anthony folding his clothes neatly on the coffee table. Sören lay back on the couch and Anthony got him ready by sucking him, kneeling on the floor as Sören had knelt on the floor of his office. "I've been thinking about this since you left chambers," Anthony husked when he let Sören's cock slip from his mouth.

"I've been thinking about... you, period." Sören swallowed hard, feeling that tight ache in his chest - a good ache. "About us." He stroked Anthony's face, pet his hair. "I love you."

"I love you too." Anthony sucked at the head of Sören's cock for a minute and then he rasped, "I really want to feel you."

They got into a position where Anthony could ride Sören on the couch without falling. As Anthony straddled Sören's hips, Sören wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into a kiss. Not breaking the kiss, Anthony sank down and they moaned together. When Sören bottomed out inside him they kissed harder, deeper, and Anthony whispered, "I love you."

"I love you." Sören kissed him again. "I will never get tired of hearing it."

"I will never get tired of saying it, or hearing you say it." Anthony began to ride, slowly. Sören's hands slid down from Anthony's back to his hips, guiding him. Sören watched his erect cock, feasted on the sight of his body, the look of lust on Anthony's face.

Their mouths met again and again, tongues swirling, playing, teasing. Their hands slid over each other, caressing, rubbing, exploring and worshiping. Anthony kept the ride languid, the two of them savoring just connecting, being together. Sören was glad that they'd mutually be getting tested soon and could likely do away with barriers then, wanting nothing to come between them. In the meantime Sören pulled him closer, held him tighter, devoured him with his eyes, loved with his touch, his kiss. And at last Anthony was riding him harder and Sören grabbed his hips and started to thrust, putting him to work, pushing them both along to that point of no return. Sören played with Anthony's cock when he started to make those telltale noises of getting close, and when Anthony called out Sören's name, erupting over him, Sören came a few seconds later, hearing himself cry out, "Anthony, ástin mín, ég elska þig."

Anthony kissed him hard - knowing somehow what those words meant. They kissed and kissed, and now Sören was crying, showing his own vulnerability in that moment of truth. Sören pulled him close and rocked him, still inside him.

After they rested for a few minutes they got up and Sören dispensed with the used condom, folded out the bed, made it up, Sören hit the lights, and after brushing teeth they got in, with Sören setting the alarm for five in the morning for both of them. Sören left a light on in the bathroom to provide them with a little bit of light in case they needed it - and because it was nice to have some light when they weren't going to sleep just yet. Sören and Anthony began kissing again as soon as Sören snuggled up next to him, and Sören smiled as he felt Anthony's hand reaching down to the stiffening cock.

The covers got peeled back as they settled into a sixty-nine, laying at each other's sides. With the urgency of mutually craving a fuck gone, they could take it slower now, sucking sweetly, lovingly. As they edged towards orgasm they were hungrier, Sören rubbing his tongue as he sucked, rewarded with Anthony doing the same. They came together, taking each other's hands as they spilled into each other's mouths, and never had it felt so intimate. When Sören came up to kiss him, petting, nuzzling, Sören felt that it was one of the most beautiful moments of his life. Their love confession that afternoon had been under imperfect circumstances with Sören losing his phone, Anthony had ended up coming over out of the imperfect circumstances of that, and Sören's flat was imperfect, not a home. And yet it was all perfect in its imperfections, accidents coming together to make something wonderful and real.

For the first time in a long time, years, well before the rape in Iceland, his sister's murder, Sören felt a return of the optimism he'd felt as a new med student. That life was an adventure again.

They tangled up together, holding each other, legs entwined.

"I like holding you," Anthony said. He'd said it before, but Sören never got tired of it.

"I love it." Sören sighed and snuggled closer, deeper. "I wish we could do this more often."

"Me too."

For a brief, flittering instant Sören thought about broaching the subject of them living together, but they'd been dating barely three weeks and it was way too soon for that - saying "I love you" might not scare Anthony away but Sören had a feeling asking to move in just might. But the ache was there, and it would solve the problem of wanting to see each other more often... a lost phone wouldn't potentially be such a disaster if they were under the same roof.

The fact that he already felt like this - so sure, so right... Sören felt the tears about to come on again. Sören needed to calm down, so he went to his default coping mechanism, humor. "I love you, Muhammad Ali."

"I love you, IKEA."

Chapter Text

It was Thursday, December fifteenth. Sören and Anthony had spent the late afternoon and most of the evening together at Anthony's flat, and after a passionate romp they were showering together before Sören had to go in for an overnight shift. Sören didn't want to go, but at least they'd have Friday night, all of Saturday, and part of Sunday to be with each other.

They lingered in the shower, holding each other under the spray, kissing. Though they'd made love to several orgasms earlier, they were hard for each other again, hard cocks sliding together as they kissed. At last Anthony pushed Sören back against the shower wall, took them both into his hand and stroked them, kissing more deeply and insistently than before, and a few minutes later Sören came with a cry, Anthony with a deep groan.

Toweling off and getting changed, in the bedroom, Sören and Anthony kept looking regretfully at the clock, the calendar, each other.

"Can I make you some tea before you go?" Anthony asked.

"I have a routine of getting coffee with Colin at the hospital cafe before our overnight shift starts. Usually I'd say yes to the extra caffeine but I'm more keyed up than usual so that's a bad idea." Sören pursed his lips.

"I know the overnight shifts are rough." Anthony gave him a sympathetic frown and a ruffle of Sören's damp curls.

"It's not just that. It's... what happens when I get off work tomorrow."

Anthony and Sören had mutually went to a clinic for a battery of tests earlier that week, and they had an appointment to go in tomorrow afternoon, once they were both done with work, and get their test results. If it was all clear, they were going to stop using condoms. Sören was on the one hand very eager to bareback with the man he loved, on the other hand he had anxiety about his own test results.

"I'm sure we're both fine," Anthony said.

Sören nodded. "You're probably right. It's... you know me. Doctor. Force of habit."

The studied look Anthony gave him told Sören that Anthony suspected there might be more to the worry than Sören being a doctor - and indeed there was, though Sören had yet to tell him about what happened in Reykjavik. Anthony wisely changed the subject, sensing Sören's discomfort. "I'm honestly more worried about it being Christmas next week than I am about our test results," Anthony said.

"Oh god." Sören facepalmed. He hadn't even been thinking about the impending holidays, even as reminders of them were everywhere and Christmas had been such a big deal in Iceland. "Oh god, how is that here already."

"Exactly." Anthony looked at Sören. "I have to clear some time for Christmas shopping."

"Ugh... oh no, I do too, don't I?" Sören had no idea what to get the guy who had everything.

Anthony tilted his head to one side. "Sören, what are your plans for the holiday? Besides working. Did you want to go back to Iceland -"

"No." The word came out more forcefully than Sören intended, and Anthony looked a little taken aback. Sören quickly added, "Sorry. It's..." He took a deep breath. "Please don't ask me anymore if I want to visit Iceland. I'll never say never to a return visit, but it's not anything that I'm keen on doing for awhile."

Anthony nodded, and then he gave Sören a look that Sören imagined people in the courtroom saw plenty of, like a predatory cat about to spring its prey. "Sören... it's not just because your sister was murdered, was it? There's another reason why -"

"There is." Sören nodded. "I don't want to talk about it right now, if it's all the same to you."

"All right."

Sören went back to the subject of Christmas. "My plans for the holiday involve you, when I'm not working, if that's OK with you."

"That's more than OK with me. I was about to tell you..." Anthony went from courtroom predator to looking almost bashful. "I told Mum and Dad about you, and they have issued an invitation for us to go over for Christmas dinner, 'Christmas dinner' being a flexible term since they know your hours may be crazy -"

"I work overnight on the twenty-fourth, but I'd like to get together with you before that, and then I have the afternoon and evening of the twenty-fifth and all of the twenty-sixth free. Amazingly."

"Good. That works out well, I can bring you by to meet the parents on Christmas Day."

Sören felt his anxiety kick up another notch, but it was balanced out by being touched and a bit tickled that Anthony had already mentioned him to his parents. "So, you really told them about me?"

"I did. Usually I don't before a certain point in time because, well, my relationship history has been less than stellar, so I'd like to make sure things look promising before I introduce them." Their eyes met. "As soon as it might be, I have that feeling about you."

Sören smiled. "So do I." His heart skipped a beat. He wondered if they'd be living together next Christmas. He wondered if they would, at some point, be married...

You've been dating this guy slightly less than a month and you want to get married. Calm the fuck down.

Sören's anxiety came surging back. "Oh no, I have to get your parents something for Christmas too, don't I -"

"No, you don't. The last few years, between the money I make and the kind of hours I work, where they know I don't have a huge amount of time for holiday shopping, my parents have told me to make a donation to charity in their names - "

"Not a gift card, at least?"

"Er, no."

And Sören once again realized that Anthony was from the sort of background where that wasn't a thing people did.

"They won't expect anything from you," Anthony added.

Sören still didn't want to show up empty-handed if he was a guest in their home, but not being able to get away with gift cards put him at a loss. Sören scratched his beard.

"That leads me to ask you, what do you want for Christmas?" Anthony poked his nose, making Sören grin. "I'd be happy to make some time to get something for you." A wry smile. "I have an appointment to get waxed, anyway, I'll be near some shops -"

Sören laughed. He'd assumed Anthony did some manscaping the first time he'd seen the man naked, but this was the first Anthony had explicitly admitted that he did, in fact, get waxed. "So that's a thing, then."

"That's a thing I do, yes. If I don't I get rather hairy, which is something I was teased about, and, ah." Anthony flushed slightly. "There's a certain expectation, with bottoms, to look a particular way..."

Sören fought back a small frown. He thought Anthony was sexy as hell, of course, he couldn't get enough of him - he'd like to take at least a week off and spend most of that time in bed - but he had a weakness for pelted men and the thought of Anthony with a healthy growth of chest hair, hair on his arms and legs... oh fuck, that's delicious. A shiver went down Sören's spine. He was torn between wanting to encourage Anthony to let his fur grow, and not wanting Anthony to feel like the way he was now, whether it was a genuine preference or not, was somehow inadequate, that Sören found him less sexy than men with body hair.

But what he could address was something else nagging at him. "Anthony, this is a personal question and feel free to answer if it makes you uncomfortable -"

"Sören, I ask uncomfortable questions for a living, and we're intimate enough that I assure you whatever you ask me probably won't be too invasive."

"All right." Sören took a deep breath. "You have a very dominant personality, why are you a bottom?" Then Sören realized how that came out and said, "Mind you, I'm versatile..." And Sören hadn't bottomed since what happened in Reykjavik - he hadn't had sex with anyone, period, Anthony being his first time after that experience. "So it's not exactly that I mind. I'm just curious. And I mean besides the obvious that it feels good - I know that. Prostate orgasms are wonderful." Sören's hole twitched then - the thought of Anthony fucking him, making him come that way... Don't get yourself all worked up again before you have to go into hell. You already had six orgasms tonight.

"Well, honestly? Being really, really honest? My own true preference is probably closer to versatility. The thing is... I like passion. I'm a power bottom, but I'm also a power top, when I do. And it's been my experience that a lot of queer men, or at least the ones who I would deem suitable as partners - guys who take care of themselves, who have some ability to communicate effectively in English - well, the bottoms tend to be what the gay community calls 'pillow princesses'. You've probably seen it yourself. They lay there and they get off, and the top does all the work, like the bottom is just entitled."

"I have been there myself, yes. Actually..." Sören chuckled. "That's why I usually bottom, too. Well, before now. Because you're right. It's boring."

"It's even more boring when I want to see someone completely fucking lose control. I like to make love and be sensual, but I also like to fuck, to rut like an animal, as nature intended."

Sören was getting horny again. It was one thing that could be said about sex with Anthony - he was very passionate, like fucking a force of nature. Passion met passion, fire met fire. Sören loved it. Down, boy, Sören told his cock.

"I like fuck too," Sören heard himself blurt out, and then he facepalmed, realizing that in his horniness he'd mangled his English. "Er. I like to fuck -"

Anthony lost it, shaking with silent laughter. "Sören, I love you."

"I love you too, you shit." Sören gave him a playful swat. "I'm sorry. My English got all -"

"Yes." Anthony leered. "Good."

Flustered, randy, Sören had a gigglefit at his slip-up. "I like fuck, já."

"I like that you like fuck, IKEA."

"Fuck you, Muhammad Ali."

When they calmed down, Anthony went on, "So, it's easier to get the sort of reaction I want from a top. It's rare to find a bottom who can take what I want to give and give that passion right back, who can keep up with me, who isn't going to lay there like a fucking prima donna, who will unleash just as much as I do."

Sören shuddered. Yes, he definitely wanted Anthony to take him.

"You," Anthony said, meeting Sören's eyes, "are an absolute beast. You make me come harder than I ever have, with someone. But I don't assume someone is the same way as a bottom, as they are as a top. I am, but many people aren't, if I even find someone who's vers to begin with."

"I'm no pillow princess," Sören said. He chuckled. "I've been told I'm a good ride."

"Good, I'd like to take you on... a test drive."

Sören grinned. "I think that can be arranged."

"I would have asked before now but you were so nervous the first night you were here that I thought I needed to tread carefully."

Sören nodded, sobering. "You weren't wrong."

Anthony gave him a pointed look, but Sören wasn't ready to tell him about what happened in Reykjavik. Not just yet. Soon. Probably very soon.

Once again Anthony knew to change the subject. "And you evaded the topic of what you want for Christmas, my dear."

"I don't even know," Sören said truthfully. "Surprise me. Just..." Sören narrowed his eyes. "Don't pull another stunt like what you did for my birthday. I know money isn't a big deal to you, but I'm still self-conscious about you going to that kind of expense so soon after you went all out for my birthday."

"Fair," Anthony said. "Causing you discomfort would be the opposite of a gift. I do want to spoil you, but I can take some time before doing so again."

"Good." Sören scowled to show he meant business. "Don't spend more than a hundred quid on whatever you're getting me."

Anthony's laughter rang out. "Sören, that's nothing -"

"Oh believe me, where I come from, it's not nothing." Sören swallowed hard, remembering weeks of having French toast for dinner two nights in a row because bread, eggs and milk was all his guardians kept in the house when they were low on money and drinking too much to go to the store, and it fell on Sören or Margrét to cook or they didn't eat.

"OK. Well, don't spend more than a hundred quid on me, then, either. And a gift card is fine, if -"

Sören got the sense Anthony would still find that tacky. "I'll think of something." He watched Anthony pull on a sweater, and he got the seed of an idea, one that he could make work if he put a particular spin on it.

"All right." Then Anthony smirked. "You've got a tent in your scrubs."

Sören flushed. "I was trying to calm down, but our topic of discussion..."

"Let me take care of it for you." Anthony patted to a space next to him on the bed.

Sören lay back, and Anthony took Sören into his mouth. Sören grabbed Anthony's head and gently fucked his mouth, moaning, Anthony encouraging him along with "mmmmmm". It didn't take long for Sören to come, being feasted on that way, and he cried out Anthony's name when he climaxed, getting teared up not just from the shattering force of his release but from the sweetness of it, Anthony taking care of him so willingly, generously.

Anthony swallowed and came up to kiss Sören, held him for a few minutes, knowing he was going to have to drive Sören to work very soon.

"God, I wish I could just curl up with you and doze off," Sören mumbled.

"I do too, but I understand why you can't." Anthony smoothed Sören's curls, kissed his brow.

"I appreciate that you. You know. Wanted to."

"I love pleasing you. I know what I said earlier makes it sound like a power trip, and yes, I get off on watching someone lose control to me, but it's... not just that." He stroked Sören's face. "You're beautiful when you come." He gave Sören a tender little kiss, his eyes soft. "There is nothing sexier in the world to me than those sweet brown eyes of yours, especially when you're in the throes of passion."

Sören felt aflutter, and kissed Anthony back, choked up. "Awwwww..."

Anthony kept stroking Sören's face, looking into his eyes. "What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life."

"Wow. That's... beautiful."

"Walt Whitman."

Sören held Anthony tighter, loving him even more fiercely for appreciating poetry like he did, the sensitivity in him that could appreciate something so lovely. "I've never read Whitman. Sounds like I should."

"He can be grandiose, over the top, but he's worth a read, yes." Anthony groaned at the time. "Right, on that note, we have to leave, right now."

"Fuck."

They were quiet on the ride down - Anthony had on the car stereo, listening to Jamiroquai, and Sören zoned out to the more mellow songs, a compromise to not being able to nap post-orgasm. It was nice, with good music, the car warm and cozy, someone he loved beside him, watching snowflakes falling in the night - Sören wished he could write poetry, capturing this moment somehow.

They lingered in the hospital parking lot, and Anthony gave him a kiss goodbye.

"I'll miss you." Anthony pet Sören's curls.

"Me too. But we have most of this weekend, at least."

Anthony took Sören's hand and kissed it, looking into his eyes again. Sören felt that giddy flutter and he said, "I still can't get over what you said about. You know. My eyes."

Anthony cupped Sören's chin in his hand, stroking Sören's beard, and then he said, "Your two great eyes will slay me suddenly; Their beauty shakes me who was once serene; Straight through my heart the wound is quick and keen." His mouth moved closer to Sören's and he whispered, "Geoffrey Chaucer," before stealing a kiss.

The kiss heated, both of them moaning into the kiss, and then Sören swatted him, laughing, tearing up, feeling like he could fly. "I'm really going now. I can't even with you, you beautiful bastard."

Anthony smiled. "I love you too."

Sören almost skipped on the way into the hospital.


_


Sören's shift ran over enough that he and Anthony went straight from National to the clinic without a stop for Sören to get changed first. Sören was tired enough from his shift that he dozed off a little in the car, not mentally spinning his wheels in anxiety like he thought he might do yesterday.

The test results were all negative, which didn't really surprise Sören but he was relieved nonetheless. He also tried to keep his reaction neutral while they were in public, not wanting to give any indicator that he doubted even for a second there might be a slight possibility he had something.

Sören continued to keep a poker face when they got back to Anthony's and Sören took a quick shower and got changed into something more suitable for them going out to dinner to celebrate negative test results and doing away with condoms. It was at the Thai restaurant when Sören's mask began to slip, not enough to make a scene, but enough that Anthony gave him a concerned look.

"Long day," Sören said. Long life.

When they returned to Anthony's and were sitting on his couch together, Anthony cradling Sören's head to his chest, petting him, Anthony finally said, "Sören, what is it. Don't tell me 'long day' again, that's bullshit." He cupped Sören's chin and tilted Sören's face, making Sören look him in the eye.

"Anthony, I have to tell you something." Sören swallowed hard. At the slight look of alarm in Anthony's eyes, Sören grabbed his arm and said, "No, don't worry, it's..." He didn't want Anthony to think something shady was going on. He took a deep breath then and said, "It's directly related to why I don't want to go back to Iceland."

A slight nod. "I'll put on tea." Anthony patted Sören and got up.

You are so British it's painful. It was also endearing, Sören giving Anthony a fond smile as he strode to the living room.

Anthony came back with hot tea for both of them a short while later, which was cozy and comforting on a cold, snowy night like this, and after a few sips of tea, Sören put his mug down and said, "OK. I'll come right out with it." He looked into Anthony's eyes. "I was raped in Reykjavik, that's why I left."

Anthony also put his tea down. He blinked slowly but otherwise didn't react. Not yet. He waited for Sören to go on.

"To back up a bit," Sören said, "I... struggle with depression. The kind that's difficult to medicate properly. I went into medicine as a calling, after what happened with my mamma, but it's still a very hard line of work for me to be in, it's a hard profession for anyone whether they've got mental health issues or not. I tend to self-medicate different ways, and the last couple years I was living in Reykjavik, a form of cheap therapy for me was to go out dancing. There's something very... cathartic... about moving your body, letting loose to music. One night I accepted a drink from a stranger, and the next morning I woke up in an alley in Reykjavik and I still don't remember what happened, I only know that I woke up... used."

"Jesus." Anthony winced as if he was in pain. "Sören." He grabbed Sören's hands, his voice husky with emotion. "Sören, I'm so sorry."

"I couldn't prosecute because I don't know to this day who did it. And I ended up leaving because, well, in a city of two hundred thousand people, there is a non-zero chance I'm going to run into whoever it was, and there was possibly more than one of them, judging from the, ah... evidence." Sören also winced now. He reached for his tea and spent a moment drinking it, the heat of the tea warding off the cold numb shock of reliving that morning. "I haven't had sex with anyone since that time - you were the first. I used to be able to do casual sex without a problem, but." Sören sighed deeply. "Wasn't just that I've been afraid of strangers but I felt so fucking dirty, and I felt stupid, like I should have known better, but Iceland is such a safe, quiet country -"

"Sören, it's not your fault." Anthony's eyes were stern but compassionate. "And you're not dirty. You're not damaged goods." Anthony's voice was husky again as he reached for Sören's face, stroked it, his eyes too bright. "I love you."

Sören's jaw trembled, and he felt his eyes burn with tears that he hadn't shed about the situation in months - he'd been beaten out of crying for himself by his uncle Einar years ago, though he could cry for other people. Anthony took Sören's mug of tea out of his hands and put it down and he grabbed Sören and pulled him close, held him tight. He began to rock Sören back and forth, petting Sören's curls, letting Sören fall apart in his arms. Those arms always felt so safe and comforting but never had they felt more safe and comforting as they did then, Anthony his fortress against the terror of the world.

"Shhhhhhh. I know it hurts, darling." Anthony continued to pet him, rock him. "You're in a safe place to let it out. It's OK."

"I never told anyone," Sören sobbed. "I'm so ashamed -"

"You have nothing to be ashamed of."

Sören cried harder, and Anthony's arms tightened around him. Sören felt a telltale tremble against him and when he looked up Anthony was shedding quiet tears for him too, and Sören broke down even more, ugly crying, overcome that someone else would cry for him over this. Anthony pulled Sören's head towards him and began to kiss Sören's tears, his own tears still flowing, and then he crushed Sören to his chest again, Sören sobbing, wracked with grief and rage and regret but also the gratitude of being loved and accepted this way.

Even though they'd had tea, it was late enough at night and Sören had at this point been awake for over twenty-four hours, that Anthony gently rubbed Sören's shoulder and said, "We should get some rest."

Sören frowned. "I'm sorry. I know you wanted to get laid tonight -"

"Sören, taking care of you is more important. You need to be held right now. Come to bed and let me hold you."

After they got changed and washed up, they settled into bed together. Anthony pulled Sören back into his arms, held him tight, the blankets swaddling them like a living burrito. Sören continued to cry for awhile into Anthony's chest and then, drained, he lay there and Anthony continued rocking and petting him, making soothing noises.

At last Sören looked up at him in the blue glow of the nightlight. "I'm... I'm glad you don't think less of me."

"Only an arsehole would think less of you, Sören." Anthony kissed Sören's brow. "I love you. All of you. Including the hurt places. I believe you, and what happened to you wasn't your fault, I don't think less of you, I'm not repulsed by you." He stroked Sören's face again. "And I'm honored," he husked, "that I was your first after all of that. I don't know what it was that made you decide -"

"It felt right," Sören said, looking into his eyes. "I felt like I could trust you."

Anthony took Sören's face into his hands and gave him a sweet, lingering kiss. "I hope I never do anything to betray that trust." His arms wrapped around Sören again, tight, safe and warm. "Your heart is a precious gift. I feel as if the universe dropped a rare, magical artifact and it's been assigned to me to protect."

"Oh Jesus." Sören started sobbing again, touched by that. "Dammit, Muhammad Ali, I was using those feelings."

Anthony chuckled with him, but there was a note of sadness in it, still haunted from Sören's confession. "Yes, it was a secret IKEA product..."

Sören gave him a playful swat, and then kissed his cheek, smiling through his tears. "I love you, you know."

"I do know." Anthony kissed him back. "I love you. And now you need to get some sleep." He put Sören's head back on his chest and started rubbing Sören's head, giving him a scalp massage that helped calm him down and roll the tension out of him. Their legs braided together and after a few minutes, Sören felt the ache leave his body and he faded into the night.


_


Anthony was up before Sören late Saturday morning - Sören cringed when he realized he'd been exhausted enough to sleep through the alarm, and Anthony had likely been up since the alarm went off which meant he hadn't gotten all that much sleep.

Anthony put on tea when he saw Sören putter out to the living room. Sören sat on the couch and put on the TV; Anthony was at his desk, his laptop open, a stack of paperwork. Anthony looked rumpled and sexy still in pajamas, hair disheveled from sleep, and he was actually wearing wire-rimmed glasses instead of his usual contacts. Sören thought Anthony in glasses was the hottest thing alive, and he kept stealing glances over at the desk as he began to wake up. Anthony was type A enough to be engrossed in what he was doing the first several times Sören stared at him, but finally he caught Sören looking and said, with a shy smile, "What?"

"You're so fucking cute. That's what."

Anthony blushed. "I am not cute, Sören."

"Hi Not Cute -"

Anthony gave him a look, but then he smiled, letting Sören know he wasn't nearly as annoyed as he pretended to be.

Sören felt hungover even though he'd had not a drop of alcohol yesterday - it was the familiar feeling of exhaustion and bodily achiness that always came after a big teary catharsis. He stretched out on the couch, not really paying attention to the TV, lost in that nebulous space of half-awake, until Anthony got up from his desk and stretched.

"You know," Anthony told him, "you can make yourself at home here. I don't care if you want to look around." He gestured at his collections of music, books, DVDs.

"Oh. I mean, I... I don't want to intrude by going through your stuff..."

"You're not."

After a few minutes of reservation Sören got up and went over to Anthony's books. He noticed there was a series of hardcover books tucked behind a row of classics, and, taking Anthony at his word that he wasn't intruding, he reached out for one of the hidden hardcovers, curious. His laughter rang out when he pulled it up and saw what it was, delighted.

Anthony gave him a look and then he facepalmed when he saw Sören had found Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Sören had a suspicion about the others, and he was right. "Why are you hiding these?"

"Because I'm thirty-one going on thirty-two."

"So?" Sören shrugged. "I like Harry Potter. There's nothing wrong with that. No such thing as too old to like it."

"I suppose not, but..." Anthony gave a small frown. "There are people in my profession who would disagree with you."

"And they can go fuck themselves with that stick up their arse."

Anthony shook with laughter, turning red. "God, Sören..."

"This is great, I have someone to geek out with." Sören clapped excitedly. "What House are you in?"

"Guess," Anthony said, sitting back in his chair, a look of amusement on his face.

Sören took a moment, stroking his beard, and then he said, "You want the world to think you're a Slytherin, but you're actually a Ravenclaw."

"I hate how accurate that is."

Sören grinned and clapped again like an excited big kid. "OK, do me."

Anthony leered, and Sören snorted, and then Anthony said, without hesitation, "Sören, you are so Gryffindor someone should sit on you."

"Yes." Sören nodded. Now it was his turn to leer. "Someone should."

Anthony blushed again, and Sören gave him a wicked grin. Anthony cleared his throat loudly, adjusting in his chair - Sören knew exactly where his mind was going, and then, after a moment of innocent whistling that wasn't innocent at all, Anthony said, "Well, I know it's been out for months now but part two of Deathly Hallows is still playing if you want to go see it?"

"I would. I actually haven't seen it yet."

Anthony looked aghast.

"You see how many hours I work?" Sören shrugged. "Going to the cinema isn't something I get to do often."

"All right. Well... I'm just about done here -"

"Hi Just About Done Here -"

Anthony glared, Sören stuck out his tongue, and then Anthony said, "10 points from Gryffindor. I'm just about done here, so if you want to start getting ready, we can go see the movie, grab something to eat... then come back here, and, ah... we can show each other our wands, if you're up for that."

"I'm up for that, yes."

"Hi Up For That."

"Jæja, fuck you," Sören laughed, grinning as he shuffled off.

When they were ready - Anthony in a dark blue cashmere sweater and jeans, Sören in a red plaid flannel shirt over a black turtleneck and faded jeans, Anthony in a wool greatcoat and Sören in his black leather duster - they went to the cinema together. It was lightly snowing again, and Sören liked seeing the snowflakes dust Anthony's hair and coat, which made him look almost regal. He wished that for once Anthony would forego the contacts and wear glasses in public - Sören's blood boiled recalling how delicious he looked that morning - but he understood the self-consciousness about it and didn't press it, and Anthony was still gorgeous to him. Sören felt that warm glow of pride at the handsome man on his arm as they waited in the queue for tickets.

Inside the theater room showing the movie, it had been out long enough that even on a Saturday afternoon there weren't very many people in the theater. Sören and Anthony had been affectionate in public before, within bounds of decorum, but now they were more uninhibited, snuggling together, and during the more difficult scenes Anthony reached out to touch Sören, assuring, comforting. The proximity and the touch got Sören's libido stirring again, and Sören fought back the urge to get on his knees and suck him off right there, not wanting them to get arrested for public indecency. The thought was on his mind as they went out for an early dinner, continuing to touch, flirt, tease. playing footsie under the table, and Sören's thoughts were racing with desire all the way back to Anthony's flat.

They wasted no time getting undressed and in the shower, kissing hungrily, caressing, playing with each other's hard cocks. Anthony led Sören to the bed, and when they were on the bed together they just lay there for a moment, looking at each other, aware of the gravity of what they were about to do, having unprotected sex for the first time. It was an act of commitment, of trust, of deeper intimacy.

Anthony was the one to reach out first, to pull Sören into a kiss. "We don't have to do anything you don't want to do -"

"I want to do... everything..." Sören said, his voice raspy with want, "but we'll start with what we're used to, tonight, if that's OK." He wanted to mentally prepare himself just a little more for being taken, though he was very close to being ready.

"That's... more than OK," Anthony husked, and kissed Sören again.

Sören grinned. "So you said I'm so Gryffindor someone should sit on me, já?"

Anthony grinned back. "Hi So Gryffindor Someone Should -"

Sören grabbed Anthony and kissed him hard, with a growl, and then Sören heard himself moan into the kiss as Anthony's hand wrapped around Sören's cock, stroking it slowly, teasing. A few deep, fierce kisses later, and Anthony stopped playing with Sören's cock, and, his face deadly serious, he rose up, and maneuvered to sit on Sören's face. Then he leaned over Sören's body and took Sören's cock into his mouth, sucking him hard as Sören's tongue slipped inside Anthony and Sören ate him with even more hunger and passion than usual, wanting to get his lover very ready and willing for the step they were about to take, because Sören knew once he was in Anthony completely bare, the beast in him was going to come out even more than usual.

He also wanted to make it very, very good for him, expressing his love with his tongue swirling, dancing, lashing, rubbing, love especially for the acceptance and tenderness of last night. He always loved doing this to Anthony - he was getting harder and harder at the noises Anthony made with his mouth full, enjoying what Sören was doing to him - but tonight he was especially into it, wanting this to be a night to remember. Anthony got more and more vocal as Sören feasted, and at last Anthony rolled off, panting, "That's too good, Sören. I want to come with you inside me."

Sören shuddered at that. He slapped his upper thighs, a "come here" gesture. Anthony grabbed the lube and settled over Sören, leaning down to kiss him, as Sören slicked his fingers and began to work them inside, and Anthony poured lube over Sören's cock, stroking slowly, teasing it. The kisses deepened, fire calling to fire. Sören's body was screaming for release, but even more than that the need to mate, to join, to give and to take, to fuck.

Anthony straddled him and sank down slowly. When Sören bottomed out in him their eyes locked and Anthony's breath came out in a gasp, and so did Sören's. They took each other's hands, feeling that sense of wonder that they were, truly, one flesh now.

Anthony started to ride, and Sören rolled his hips, rocking into him, grabbing Anthony's hips to steady him. They kept the pace just fast enough at first to get a good rhythm going - Anthony cried out as he felt the bead of Sören's piercing for the first time with no barrier. "Oh, fuck. Sören. Sören." He shivered. "Oh my god, that ring."

"That's why I got it done."

"Jesus." Anthony rode a little harder. "Sören. Oh god." He shivered again.

Sören was delighted he liked it that much, even moreso when he began to thrust harder, faster, and Anthony's moans got louder, panting for it, Anthony's hips and ass working harder on top of him, matching Sören's rhythm. Sören loved watching Anthony ride him, his cock going in and out of him, Anthony's own hardness, leaking precum, the fluid grace of him astride Sören's hips, the look of lust on his face. Sören got lost in the silken heat wrapped around him, the moans, that place of sensation and desire that felt like the only place that existed, nothing else mattered.

And at last the beast came out, grabbing Anthony's hips harder and driving into him, Anthony holding on tight and bouncing away, giving back as good as he got, making the most delicious grunts and groans, threatening to bring Sören off with each one. Sören finally seized Anthony's cock and stroked it in time to their fuck, and when he could feel Anthony's thighs quivering, saw that desperate look in his eyes, Sören ground out, "Come for me."

Anthony went off like a rocket, calling Sören's name again and again as he shot over Sören's stomach and chest. Sören climaxed a few seconds later, his orgasm even more intense than usual as he felt Anthony's passage squeezing his, pulsing, even more delicious with nothing in the way. "OH, fuck." Sören gasped for breath. "Anthony. Ó guð, elskan ástin mín, það er svo fokking gott..."

Anthony chuckled. "Brilliant, I made you lose your English."

"Þú lést mig missa helvítis fokking hugann."

Anthony came down and rested in Sören's arms for a few moments, the two nuzzling and petting, and then Anthony looked into Sören's eyes and asked, "Again?"

They rolled so Anthony was laying on his back, Sören still inside him, already hardening up again. Sören hooked one of Anthony's legs around his waist and began to thrust, more slowly than before. Slow, sensual, teasing, loving. Anthony wrapped his arms around Sören and they kissed again and again, savoring that feeling of being joined, connected, truly making love with nothing between them.

But soon enough the hunger rose again and Anthony grabbed Sören and worked his hips, urging Sören on harder, faster, and Sören gave him what he wanted, pounding Anthony into the mattress, balls slapping wildly, Sören hearing animal grunts and growls come out of himself as he drove with single-minded, blazing need, Anthony's cries and gasps, urgently clutching him, nails digging into him, stoking Sören's fire hotter, brighter, until it consumed them both, Anthony letting out a sob as his orgasm tore through him, coming all over Sören, his channel grasping Sören's cock and working Sören into a wrenching, so-good-it-almost-hurt climax of his own.

"Sören," Anthony called out as he shuddered, twitched, still throbbing around him. "Sören, my love."

Sören grabbed Anthony's face and kissed him with all the fire in him, heart soaring in the flames like the phoenix on his back. "I love you," Sören ground out, and kissed him again.

"That piercing is going to be the death of me." Anthony laughed and cried, wiping his eyes. "God, I came my brains out."

Sören kissed the tip of his nose, grinning. They rubbed noses and now it was Sören's turn to lay in Anthony's arms, sinking into glowing bliss after the blinding glory of his release.

At some point Sören slipped out of him, and Anthony made a little noise of protest. Sören, dazed and dozing a little, snapped back to wakefulness at the sound Anthony made.

"You want to go again?" Sören asked.

Anthony nodded, looking so eager and boyishly exuberant that it made Sören laugh. As powerful as his two orgasms had been and he could have gone for a nap, his cock woke right up again as Anthony grabbed him and pulled him close.

But Sören wasn't going to indulge him immediately. Once again, Sören wanted to shower Anthony with love, appreciation. He spent a long time kissing and licking Anthony all over, fingers wandering, brushing, exploring and teasing. He'd learned Anthony's body pretty well over the last few weeks, paid attention to where his erogenous zones were - though all of him was sensitive - and Sören focused on his nipples, the rest of his chest, hips, stomach, inner thighs. There was a place on the left side of Anthony's stomach, lower, where if Sören's hand touched it or he kissed there, it made Anthony buck and make a primal, guttural noise, and Sören loved that, giving it special treatment now, until Anthony's eyes were glazed over and he was making inhuman noises, precum flowing down his shaft.

Sören's tongue chased the precum, and he sucked Anthony's cock for a couple minutes, fingers slipping between Anthony's legs, lower, playing around the rim of his opening. When Sören's mouth left Anthony's cock he surveyed his handiwork, groaning at the utterly debauched sight of Anthony full of his seed, leaking out onto the expensive silk sheets. Sören split Anthony like a peach and pushed his tongue inside, Sören's cock getting even harder at the depravity of eating his own cum out of another man. Anthony grabbed Sören's head, pulled his curls, and gently fucked himself on Sören's tongue, lashing away, then less gently as Sören began to devour him, shaking his head, tongue like a hurricane.

Sören lapped up more precum before he came up, and this time he grabbed Anthony's legs and wrapped them around his waist. Anthony clutched at Sören and took it, wanting Sören to unleash, and Sören gave in to yet another hard, wild, primal fuck, loving it, completely lost and given over to pleasure and desire. They came together this time, and kissed through their orgasm, drinking each other's cries.

They both ended up falling asleep after that, completely shattered. A couple hours later Sören woke up, and Anthony did too, and they held each other, watching the snow fall over the Thames in the glow of London lit up at night, before falling back asleep.

Around three AM, two hours before Anthony's alarm was set to go off, Anthony got up, went to the bathroom, trying not to wake Sören, but Sören woke anyway, and found himself randy again, casually stroking himself as he waited for Anthony to return. Anthony had the same idea, going hard at the sight of Sören propped up on one elbow, cock out and ready to play.

Anthony got back in bed and after a few minutes of kissing and petting, Sören husked, "I want you inside me."

Anthony blinked slowly. "Oh. OK." He stroked Sören's face. "Are you sure? I don't want you to feel pressured -"

Sören grabbed him and kissed him harder. "I want to do this." Their eyes met. "I need to do this." Sören pulled Anthony closer. "I need you."

As hard as they both were, Anthony wasn't going to give Sören what he wanted right away, paying Sören back for his earlier teasing by lavishing the same love on Sören's body, kissing and licking and nibbling and caressing. Anthony had found out to his delight that Sören's pierced nipples were hard-wired to his cock, and he spent awhile going back and forth between them, rubbing, rolling, pinching and plucking one while he lapped, suckled, bit the other, teasing them into aching peaks. Anthony licking Sören's stomach almost brought Sören off right then, and again when Anthony nibbled on Sören's thighs and sucked at them. Sören knew he would have love bites there later, and he shivered, loving the way his lover claimed him.

What he loved even more was when Anthony licked around the rim of Sören's opening in slow, lazy circles, teasing him. Their eyes met and Anthony said, "I love you."

"I love you."

"Let me kiss it better, sweetheart."

Anthony's tongue had been in Sören before, but it was even more loving and deliberate now, like Anthony was taking special care of him now that he knew what had happened. The sweetness of it got Sören choked up, tears misting his eyes. It also felt wonderful, Anthony's tongue reminding him how good prostate stimulation was, making him crave more, to be filled even more completely.

At last Sören begged, "Please. Take me."

Anthony came up, readied them both, and kissed Sören as he began to push inside, slowly. It had been well over a year and a half since Sören had been penetrated and he was tight. Sören winced at the pinching, burning, and Anthony watched him with concern. "Keep going," Sören told him. "I need to do this."

Sören pushed out as Anthony continued to push in, and at last Anthony was all the way in him and they both gasped, their breath shaking as Anthony lay there for a moment, giving Sören a chance to adjust.

When Anthony began to thrust it was slow, gentle, holding Sören's hand with one hand, stroking his face with the other, looking into Sören's eyes, watching him. After a few thrusts Sören gasped and Anthony asked, "Are you OK?"

"Oh god." He'd found that spot. "Oh, fuuuuuuck."

Anthony smiled, kissed Sören, and continued to thrust. Soon Anthony's groans were following Sören's moans.

The silken rhythm on that sweet spot inside him and Sören was in tears of joy. He'd enjoyed being penetrated before everything had happened but this was something else entirely, Anthony making slow, deliberate love to him, wanting to please him, wanting to make it right. Sören's moans and sighs filled the room, and soon Sören was panting, gasping, rolling his hips back at Anthony, matching him thrust for thrust. "More," Sören breathed. "Oh god, more, please, more..."

That word was like kryptonite to his lover. Anthony went a little harder and faster and Sören grabbed Anthony's hips and continued to rock back against him. Soon Sören was clawing Anthony's back, bucking away underneath him, shouting "More, more, harder, faster, fuck me, fuck me..."

"You sure, love?"

He was trying so valiantly to be a gentleman about this. Sören kissed him hard and growled, "Fucking fuck me, I can take it. I need this. I need it. More."

Anthony drove into him, and the rubbing-rubbing-rubbing on his prostate sent Sören into a frenzy, writhing, howling, begging for more, lost completely in lust at his lover giving into his own need, fucking him as hard as he'd advertised claiming to be a power top. Together they unleashed, and with each thrust, each kiss, Sören felt like Anthony's cock was driving away ghosts, demons, everything haunting him, lingering and feeling unclean. The fire that burned through them both cleansed, purified, hallowed, a sexual rebirth, Sören's body coming alive again, singing for joy.

"More, more, more, more, oh god, don't stop, don't you fucking stop, more..."

"Sören." Anthony's voice was a growl. "Oh, Sören..."

"Oh, god. More. Please. More." Sören shuddered, whimpered. "I'm so close so close soclosesoclose -"

A couple of minutes later that felt like an eternity, Sören's body trembling, bearing down, ready to spring, and he climaxed, howling as his cock sprayed the both of them. Anthony grabbed Sören two thrusts later and called out his name, and the feel of Anthony quivering against him as heat flooded inside him made Sören let out another arc of cum with a deep groan.

Sören started to cry, overcome by the magic of what just happened, and Anthony cried with him. They held each other, crying, rocking, at last just kissing. "I love you," Anthony said between fierce, passionate kisses. "You did it. I'm so proud of you -"

"Hi, So Proud Of You."

Anthony swatted Sören.

"Thank you," Sören said, holding him tight. "Oh god, thank you."

They kissed some more, and the kissing got them hard again. Sören shoved Anthony onto his back, Anthony chuckling and Sören giggling. Anthony took Sören's hands as Sören got into position, straddling Anthony's hips. Now it was Sören's turn to ride, putting his money where his mouth was about being a good ride, bouncing wild and free, Anthony grabbing Sören and giving it to him as hard as Sören could take it, Sören riding him like he was a bull.

"You weren't kidding," Anthony rasped a few minutes into their fuck.

"No, I wasn't."

"God, I love you."

"I love you." Sören let out a moan. "And I love your cock."

"It certainly loves you, let me tell you."

Sören rode and rode, bucking furiously, not able to get enough. They hung on that edge as long as possible, not wanting it to be over, both of them needing this as badly as they'd needed anything. But at last Sören couldn't hold back anymore and threw back his head and screamed when his orgasm erupted, and a minute later Anthony made a wild animal noise as he shot another load into Sören, just before Sören collapsed on top of him, into his waiting arms.

"Oh god." Sören was sobbing again. "Oh my fucking god, that was good."

"I love you." Anthony held him tight, rocked him. "Dear god, I love you."

They tangled up together, napping off and on, until Anthony's alarm went off. "Fuck it," Anthony said, not getting up, arms tightening around Sören, who giggled before they went back to sleep.

They did have to get up in time for Anthony to bring Sören to work late that morning. Sören was only scheduled to work eight hours today, 11 AM to 7 PM, and had plans to return to Anthony's flat that evening. They had a furious, feverish makeout session in the parking lot of National before Anthony swatted Sören and commanded, "Go, before I don't let you leave," and Sören stepped out of the Audi and gave Anthony a sassy butt wiggle on his way out.

Sören was walking a little funny and moving gingerly during his shift, which Colin finally raised an eyebrow at and got a guilty grin from Sören, making Colin facepalm, laughing, "Jesus Christ, mate."

Sören was in reasonably good spirits during his shift, that sated, glowy feeling lasting throughout the day. But when Anthony came by to pick him up in the evening, the hunger returned, no longer sated, needing more.

Anthony was insisting on feeding him first. Sören was still in scrubs but Anthony didn't seem to mind, wanting to make sure Sören was taken care of. The drive to a restaurant in the snow was relaxing, moreso with Anthony playing jazz on the car stereo. Sören looked up at the last quarter moon shining on them just as Billie Holiday began to sing, and Anthony turned the music up, giving Sören a sweet, wistful look as he did.

I wished on the moon, for something I never knew
I wished on the moon, for more than I ever knew
A sweeter rose, a softer sky
On April days that would not dance by

I wished on the stars to throw me a beam or two
I begged on the stars and asked for a dream or two
I looked for every loveliness, it all came true
I wished on the moon for you


Sören got all choked up now, and Anthony was choked up too. He reached out and gave Sören a squeeze.

"When I was a lad," Anthony said, "my mum used to read me fairy stories. And at night, I used to go out to the garden and say goodnight to the moon and stars -"

"Hey, I used to do that in Iceland, too."

Their eyes met, and Anthony squeezed Sören again and continued, "And before I knew what 'gay' was, I just knew I liked boys and not girls, that way, I used to wish that I'd meet Prince Charming. Which sounds so utterly fucking daft now that I'm grown up..."

"It's cute." Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip. "That's precious. My god."

Anthony turned beetroot. "Anyway. I went through a lot of toads, I think, but..."

"You think you found Prince Charming?" Sören was touched.

"Not a prince." Anthony stroked Sören's face. "A king."

Sören leaned in to kiss him. Anthony ended up having to pull over, the two of them kissing passionately in the car under the moonglow, snow falling. At last Anthony pushed him back, chuckling. "Save that for later," he husked.

As soon as they got back in the flat after dinner Sören fell on him again, the two kissing and undressing feverishly as if their lives depended on it. Sören pulled Anthony down onto the bed and spread to him, needing to be filled again. He sighed when Anthony slid into him, when they were one flesh once more. Nothing had ever felt so right.

Chapter Text

Sören growled as he turned off the blaring alarm clock, and made a whining noise as Anthony patted him and he snuggled deeper against his lover.

"I don't wanna go to wo-o-o-o-ork," Sören moaned.

"I know, love." Anthony kissed Sören's brow. "And I don't want to encourage you to take a sick day -"

"No, that would... bother my conscience too much. As it is, the reason why I'm working Christmas Eve is because we need what help we can get." Sören frowned and sat up. Anthony sat up with him and stole a kiss.

It was Saturday, December twenty-fourth. On Friday the twenty-third Sören had the morning free and he'd done very last-minute gift shopping for Anthony; he'd gotten off work late last night but had told Anthony to come over in the morning instead. Anthony had assumed it was so Sören could go right to sleep after his shift, but what he didn't know was that Sören had no intention of going to Anthony's parents' house empty-handed on Sunday, so when he arrived home just before midnight he got right to work in the kitchen. At a loss as far as presents for Elaine and Roger Wyatt-Jones, Sören had decided on baked goods, since almost everyone liked those. And so he spent the next couple hours whipping up batches of traditional Icelandic holiday treats - piparkökur, spesíur and Sören's personal favorite, lakkrístoppar.

He got a few hours of sleep before Anthony came by his flat in Bromley first thing on this Saturday morning; Sören didn't even get a chance to fold up his bed back into the couch. Anthony didn't seem to mind. As he made coffee in the kitchen he noticed what Sören had done - stealing one of the piparkökur for himself while Sören scolded him and Anthony made an innocent face that wasn't innocent at all - and then Anthony had asked, "You made those?"

"Jæja, I... stayed up last night. I wanted to do something nice for your parents since they're kind enough to invite me, and they're insisting we spend the night." Mindful of the busy schedules Sören and Anthony kept and how precious their free time was, Elaine had told Anthony they were welcome to spend the night in Anthony's old room rather than go to a hotel or try to drive back. Sören felt a little awkward about sharing a bed with his lover under the same roof as his parents, but he knew it was more practical.

Anthony pulled Sören into a tight hug and rained kisses all over his face. He was visibly touched, knowing what it cost Sören with his constant exhaustion to do such a thing. "You dear, thoughtful man."

Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip. "I tried -"

Anthony kissed him hard, and it turned out to be just as well that Sören hadn't folded up his bed, because Anthony pulled him onto it and soon they were undressing and settled into a hungry sixty-nine. They spent the entire day of Christmas Eve in bed making sweaty, loud, messy, passionate love, sucking and rimming each other, taking each other, bringing each other to climax after climax. Eventually Sören felt like he'd been shot out of the sky, falling from the blinding glory of sex into a warm, cozy sleep, wrapped up in Anthony's arms, their legs entwined. Anthony had the sense to set Sören's alarm clock so Sören could wake up in time to get ready for his shift with enough time to spare to eat, shower, and do some last-minute canoodling.

After Sören showered, he called for takeaway from a nearby Indian restaurant that was open for delivery on Christmas Eve. As they waited for the food to arrive, Sören and Anthony folded the bed back into the couch and then Sören put on the stereo, selecting a station playing Christmas music, and he and Anthony danced around Sören's tiny kitchen, Anthony spinning him around and dipping him. Just as Sören saw the delivery car pull up from the window, Anthony stole another piparkökur, shoving one in Sören's mouth and nibbling one himself.

"Save those for your parents, you," Sören said.

Anthony grinned and playfully swatted Sören's ass. "I can't help it, they're so tempting. Like the man who made them." He leered.

Heat rose to Sören's cheeks and he giggled, swatting Anthony back. "Good lord."

"You could have become a chef if you hadn't gone into medicine," Anthony said as he nibbled the cookie. "Seriously."

"Oh come on, I mean they're good, I guess, but I wouldn't win any awards."

"I beg to differ. You are a man of many talents."

"Your mind is right in the gutter again, isn't it."

"Darling, my mind lives in the gutter, where you are concerned." Anthony leaned in and gave Sören a little kiss. "But in the gutter though I may be, I look at you and see the stars."

"That's beautiful."

"That's paraphrasing Oscar Wilde."

"Still." Sören kissed him back, hard, and gave a little groan, lamenting that it would be impractical for them to try to have more sex before his shift started. The knock came at the door and Sören answered, paying the driver and tipping generously since it was the holiday.

They sat on the couch together and ate, and then Anthony said, "Would you like your Christmas gift now or later?"

"Depends on what it is." Sören looked at the clock and then gave Anthony a pointed look.

Anthony's laughter rang out. "I'm clearly not the only one whose mind is always in the gutter."

"Hi Clearly Not The Only One Who -"

Anthony silenced him with a kiss. "It's an actual gift, Sören." A pause. "The kind you unwrap."

"That's still not helping."

Anthony glared. "With a bow on it."

"...That's not helping either."

Anthony lost it, turning red, doubling over. "Sören Sigurdsson, do you think I would put a bow on..." He couldn't finish the sentence, laughing too hard.

When they calmed down Sören said, "Well, Christmas Eve was when I opened presents... the years I got anything, anyway..." He watched Anthony cringe - Anthony still didn't know the extent of how bad Sören's upbringing in Iceland had been, but moments like this were telling, and Sören could see he felt for him. "So we might as well do it now, plus that takes pressure off me with your parents seeing what I got you and thinking it's not good enough or -"

"Oh, Sören." Anthony patted him. He reached into the overnight bag he'd brought and pulled out a navy-colored gift bag. Sören went over to the kitchen, opened up a cupboard - Anthony laughed that Sören had actually hidden the gift, knowing how he liked to poke around - and Sören came back with a long, narrow box, wrapped in red plaid wrapping paper with a gold bow.

Sören opened the navy blue gift bag and pulled out something cube-shaped and heavy, wrapped in deep blue sparkly wrapping paper with a curly silver bow. Sören shook it and it made no sound; Anthony seemed amused by this. "Go on," Anthony said.

Despite the careful wrapping job, Sören tore into the paper, to Anthony's greater amusement, Anthony laughing as wrapping paper went everywhere. Anthony had given Sören a set of hardbound books. One was Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. One was the collected works of Pablo Neruda. One was a book of Byron's poetry. One was Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot.

"Oh my." Sören felt that ache in his chest, a flutter in his stomach, that Anthony had observed how much Sören was touched by quotations he'd made from poets and thought he might like to read more - which Sören did. It was perfect. He threw his arms around Anthony and kissed him, laughing. "Thank you. I love it. I can't wait to read these." Sören gave a bitter little chuckle. "I can't wait to have time to read these."

Anthony stroked Sören's cheek and pet his curls. "Good, I'm relieved you didn't think this was..." He made a face. "Too nerdy."

"Oh my god no." Sören hugged him tighter, and wondered what prompted a statement like that, being they both had to be fairly intellectual to get into their respective professions. "No, it's not too nerdy at all. Are you kidding me? I think it's so fucking hot that you're well-read, that you appreciate poetry..." Sören's voice got husky with emotion. "It's art, with words. It takes depth to be able to connect with it."

Anthony smiled and kissed the tip of Sören's nose, blushing a little.

"Now you," Sören said, thrusting the present at him.

"Do you have a scissor? You did a nice job with wrapping this, I -"

"JUST OPEN THE FUCKING PRESENT," Sören yelled.

Anthony doubled over laughing again. He tweaked Sören's nose and then he tore off the wrapping paper like a big kid, to Sören's delight. The long, narrow box contained a tie - Armani, dark navy blue, herringbone design. Anthony didn't react when he saw it - neither registering pleasure nor disappointment.

"I know it's not exciting," Sören said, "but it's practical, and it'll go with the colors you usually wear, and it's... it's, you know, Armani." It had cost most of the hundred quid Sören had insisted on as a limit for spending, and Sören suspected Anthony had still gone over the limit with his books. "And it's... you know, a little piece of me to take with you every day..."

Anthony's eyes softened and he reached for Sören's hand and squeezed.

And then Sören put the spin on it that he'd been planning on when he got the idea in his head to just go with the safe, low-stress option of a tie. "And it means Jólakötturinn won't eat you."

Anthony's eyes widened, his eyebrows went up, and he said, looking amused and bemused all at once, "Yo-la... what? Eating me? What?"

Sören laughed. "So to back up a bit, back in Iceland, our Christmas is different. We have a troll couple, Gryla and Leppaludi, who live in a cave, and they cook naughty children in a stew. They have thirteen sons, the Jólasveinar or Yule Lads, and they come one by one to play pranks on everyone. If you're good, they leave you sweets or other small gifts in your shoe, and if you've been naughty, they leave a potato. But the Yule Lads are mostly harmless. It's the Jólakötturinn you have to watch out for. The Yule Cat will eat you if you don't get at least one item of new clothing for Christmas."

"Are you taking the piss?"

"No."

"Icelanders teach this to small children?"

Sören nodded vehemently. "We live on a tiny island with volcanoes that can kill us, it's made everything a bit dark, I think."

"That's seriously disturbing, and if I was a religious man I'd say I'm going to hell for finding that funny. Scaring children is awful."

"It's not really that scary, if you've behaved yourself and you've got new clothing." Sören gestured to the tie. "See? You're safe from Jólakötturinn... this year."

"Well, thank you." Anthony took the tie out of the box and gave Sören a kiss. "It's my color, and I will always think of you when I wear it." He snickered. "My hero, saving me from the Yule Cat."

"Wish I could save us from my fucking Yule schedule," Sören said, glowering at the clock.

"Right, I should bring you to work now."

Sören had packed a bag to bring to Anthony's parents' house in Blackheath for the weekend, and they brought the bag and the cookies down to Anthony's car so when Sören got off work tomorrow late afternoon they could just go directly from National to Blackheath without having to stop at Sören's flat in Bromley first. As Anthony loaded the cookies into his Audi, Sören scolded him, "Now, you leave those alone and save them for Christmas Day, or I'll take back that tie and let Jólakötturinn eat you."

Anthony chuckled and stole a kiss. "I love you, you know."

"I know." Sören kissed him back. "I love you too."

At National, Sören lingered in the car, not wanting to go. They shared a few last kisses, until the kisses got more heated and Sören was tempted to be late for work. They pulled apart breathing hard, flushed, and Anthony said, "I'll see you tomorrow."

Sören gave his shoulder a squeeze. "I'm sorry I have to work tonight."

"I am too, but it's not your fault. Do you want me to come by on your break -"

"You can, but you need your rest too, so it's OK if you just come by when my shift is done." Sören blew him a kiss and gave him a sad little wave.


_


Anthony didn't come by on Sören's break, which was fine because Sören was a bit frazzled and didn't quite want Anthony to see him like this on Christmas. He managed to calm down when his shift was over and Anthony was waiting for him in the Audi, all smiles when he got in the car.

Anthony gave him a big kiss as he slid in the passenger's seat. "Happy Christmas."

"Gleðileg jól til þín."

Christmas music played softly on the car stereo as Anthony drove to Blackheath, and Anthony had hot chocolate in a thermos for Sören, which he took with mumbled thanks as he sat back and let himself unwind in the cozy warmth of the car, watching gentle snowfall over London at sunset.

When they pulled into the neighborhood in Blackheath, Anthony said, "One thing to be aware of before we go in. Under no circumstances should you discuss politics with my father."

Sören laughed. "Wasn't planning on it."

"Sören, you'd be surprised what my father can turn into a political discussion. I love my father, distant though we are, and I wouldn't call him racist or homophobic, but he can be a bit clueless about how the rest of the world lives. I have no idea sometimes how my parents ended up together, I'm guessing a lot of alcohol was involved."

Sören didn't know what he was expecting when they arrived, but Anthony's parents' house was like something out of Mary Poppins or Upstairs, Downstairs. The villa was four stories with a grey stone exterior, manicured flowerbeds sleeping for the winter. When Sören walked inside carrying the wrapped-up plates of cookies, Anthony's arm around him, Sören felt painfully conscious of Anthony's flawless elegance, wearing a black wool greatcoat with a navy cashmere scarf, a steel-blue cashmere sweater and dark blue jeans underneath, and Sören coming to the house straight from work in a black leather duster over his scrubs and the long-sleeved T-shirt he wore under his scrub top to cover his tattoos per NHS regulations. Sören also cringed at the reflection in the doorway - the long hours under high pressure showed on his face.

But the woman at the door greeted them warmly, seeming delighted to see Sören regardless of what he looked like. She was tall, slim, steel-grey hair in a pixie cut, green eyes framed by glasses, handsome rather than pretty, wearing a chocolate brown pantsuit with a beige camisole and a strand of cream Akoya pearls. "You must be Sören," she said in a deep, rich, well-cultured voice, immediately pulling him into a hug. "I'm Elaine."

"Nice to meet you," Sören said.

"Mum." Anthony hugged his mother.

"Come in, come in." Elaine gestured.

They went from a glass-topped porch to a hallway with glossy dark wood floors and a large white staircase. Sören's breath caught at the sash windows and stained glass, again at the plaster flowers at the tops of the grey walls, metalwork repurposed as sculptures and wall hangings, and the chandelier.

"This place is incredible," Sören said.

"I bought it when Anthony was four," Elaine said, "repaired and redesigned it."

"Oh... you're..."

"An architect," Elaine said, nodding. Elaine looked at the tinfoil-wrapped plates Sören was carrying. "Those are for us, dear?"

Sören nodded.

Elaine took them and Sören and Anthony followed her to the kitchen, removing their outerwear to hang on a coat rack. Anthony was carrying their overnight bags and set them down by the coat rack as well. The kitchen was done in a wood finish and had all-new, glossy appliances in cream. Judging from the smell and what was sitting atop the stove and on counters, Christmas dinner had been timed to be ready for when they arrived.

Sören felt self-conscious again. "I hope I didn't keep you guys waiting too long if you're hungry -"

"Nonsense. Here, pick out what you'd like and I'll fix your plates if you go have a seat in the dining room."

Sören looked around. He thought the bird was probably goose, and he didn't recognize much of anything else apart from greens and herbed, roasted potatoes which looked good. "Um, I'll have whatever Anthony is having." That sounded like a safe bet.

"All right, dear."

Anthony's father Roger was sitting at the dining table when they walked in - glass-topped, big enough to sit somewhere between eight to ten people, sturdy wooden chairs with floral carvings on the back. Sören stared at another chandelier and the pretty windows and gauzy curtains, mouth open, and then Roger rose from the dining table. Anthony favored his mother in looks and coloring - Roger had a mix of auburn and grey hair, and cool grey eyes, with a rather square-jawed, disapproving face. He was also shorter than Sören and Anthony, though of a build that suggested he had once been an athlete, now halted by obvious arthritis in his joints. He wore a dark red blazer and khakis, and the red plaid slippers suggested he'd spent the day relaxing indoors. He took Sören's hand and gave him a genuine smile before reaching out to pat his son on the back. "Anthony. And... Sören, is it? It's good to finally meet you."

Anthony pulled out a chair for Sören, who said "Takk," beaming as he sat down. Elaine came out with Sören and Anthony's plates first, and Sören was hungry enough that he wanted to start right away, but Anthony stayed Sören's hand with a look that said wait. Elaine came back with a plate for Roger and she asked, "What would you like to drink? We have cider, egg nog..."

"Egg nog," Sören said.

"Cider for me, and I will take a shot of whisky if you have it," Anthony said.

"What about you, Sören? We have scotch, gin and tonic, ale..."

"I'll have ale, yes, thank you." Sören smiled and Elaine smiled back.

When drinks were served, Elaine came back with her plate and when she started eating, that was the cue for everyone else. "Oh god, this is good," Sören said as he tried the goose.

Elaine grinned.

"So you've just come from work?" Roger said, sizing Sören up.

Sören nodded. "Had to work overnight Christmas Eve."

"Goodness, that's a long shift," Elaine said.

"Indeed. They expect you to work on Christmas?" Roger scowled.

"It's not like we can help the emergency trauma cases that come in," Sören said. "Someone's got to be around."

Anthony kicked Sören under the table, whispered, "Remember what I told you in the car," and then he said to his parents, "Sören has tonight off, all of tomorrow, and tomorrow night, so there's that."

"Well, you boys are welcome to stay," Elaine said.

"You sure it's not any trouble?" Sören made a moue.

"Sören, we have plenty of space, and Anthony still has his old room," Elaine said. "Besides, it's nice having family around, since my mum couldn't make it this year. She's in Tahiti for Christmas with Donovan." To Sören she explained, "Her companion."

Anthony leaned in and whispered, "Boytoy."

"I heard that, Cassius Anthony," Elaine said, giving him a stern look though her eyes registered amusement, while Roger looked decidedly uncomfortable. "Donovan is a very nice young man who makes your gran very happy."

"I didn't say there was anything wrong with that," Anthony said, going on the defensive. "On the contrary, I think society makes too much of a big deal over things like age differences between consenting adults. But let's call a spade a spade. I bristle at the word 'companion' being used for someone's partner for what should be obvious reasons."

"Anthony, this isn't the courtroom, dear," Elaine said. "Try the plum pudding, I used Mum's recipe."

There was Yorkshire pudding, and plum pudding, and figgy pudding, and for Roger, black pudding. "How many things do the English call pudding?" Sören asked, examining a bit of plum pudding on his fork.

Anthony flushed and tried not to laugh, and failed, working on his whisky.

"What do you usually have for Christmas dinner in Iceland, Sören?" Elaine asked.

"Well, it depends." Sören decided to not get in the tragic story of his life with Elaine and Roger. "I like a good leg of lamb, myself, but this goose is to die for." Sören tried the plum pudding. "Hey, this is pretty good. But... there's no plums in this?"

"No, there are no plums in plum pudding," Elaine said, seeming amused rather than offended by Sören's confusion. "It's got raisins."

Sören had seconds of the greens, potatoes, and goose, and Elaine gave him some of the rich, crispy goose skin which Sören really enjoyed, raving about it to Anthony's amusement. After the meal Sören insisted on helping with dishes, wearing Elaine down when she initially refused, and Anthony came in to load the dishwasher when things were rinsed.

Elaine began to take the tinfoil off the cookies Sören had brought. "Oh, these look delicious."

"I baked them myself. That's piparkökur, ginger cookies, spesíur which is sugar cookies, and lakkrístoppar - meringues, licorice with chocolate."

"I'm taking one now." Elaine had one of the lakkrístoppar.

"Excellent choice, those are my favorite." Sören grinned.

Elaine leaned on the kitchen counter and made a face of bliss as she ate a cookie. "My god, Sören. This is wonderful. And so thoughtful!"

"I didn't want to come empty-handed," Sören said.

When the dishwasher was started, Sören and Anthony followed Elaine out to the reception room - Elaine brought the cookies - where Roger was having a glass of scotch and Anthony had a second one. Sören and Anthony sat on a couch together across from Anthony's parents, kicking their feet up, and when Anthony put an arm around Sören, Sören leaned against him.

"So Anthony tells me you met at National, when he was doing investigative research for a court case," Elaine said.

Sören nodded.

"How long have you been there? And in England?"

"The NHS sponsored my visa, I came over in mid 2010."

"Do you like it here? I've seen pictures of Iceland, it's a beautiful country, you must get homesick..."

"Now and again, but this is home now," Sören said, and took Anthony's hand as if to say you are home now. Anthony got the message and squeezed Sören's hand, thumb rubbing over Sören's ring finger.

"You think you'll be with the NHS for awhile, or go private sector?"

"Probably NHS as long as I can," Sören said. He skirted around the issue of Scandinavian values, not wanting to get into political discussion with Roger. "They work us hard, but it's... it's a calling. I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was small, and a brain doctor when I learned about the different specialties of medicine."

"That's quite a calling, to feel it so young," Elaine said. "Did anything prompt that?"

"My mother died," Sören said matter-of-factly. "Brain aneurysm. I was almost six."

"I'm sorry," Elaine said, and Roger nodded sympathy.

Sören hadn't wanted to be a downer on the holiday. "You're an architect, you said?"

"Yes," Elaine said. "Sometime I'll get out my portfolio and show you my work, if you're interested. Like you, it was an early calling, though for different reasons. I was gifted a dollhouse and it quickly got to be too small for the amount of dolls I had, and my mum said I had to wait till my next birthday to get one - she had money but didn't want to indulge me too much. So I made additions myself. I drew up a plan and constructed it from materials on hand. My friends were impressed and wanted me to make dollhouses for them. Then I was reading stories and my mind was visualizing everything I was reading and I drew the houses from my imagination. It took off from there, really."

"My story is far less exciting," Roger said. "I'm an accountant. Well, was... I'm retired now, though I can still help crunch numbers when it needs doing for family or friends."

"Not exciting but it paid the bills," Elaine said, "and left you with time for more interesting hobbies, which in my opinion is important, life is for living, after all." Elaine turned back to Sören. "When it's springtime you'll have to see Roger's garden."

"Oh yes." Roger chuckled. "That garden is my pride and joy just like this house is Elaine's."

"And all work and no play makes life dull," Elaine said. "I assume you have hobbies too, Sören?"

"I draw, sometimes I paint," Sören said. "I read. I liked to go hiking when I lived in Iceland, go out and be one with nature."

"Oh! Maybe if I show you my portfolio, you can show me your art sometime?" Elaine's face lit up.

"Maybe." Sören fidgeted in his seat.

Anthony elbowed him. "Sören, your art is good. It deserves to be shown to more people." He looked at his mother. "Mum, you have to see his work, he is very gifted."

"You're gifted in the kitchen too," Elaine said, having another cookie. She gave one of the sugar cookies to Roger, who brightened up and had more. "You baked these yourself."

"I'm glad you like them," Sören said.

"I feel a bit bad that we didn't get you anything for Christmas now," Elaine said, "but I take it Anthony explained to you we don't spend money on each other - I have everything I want, Anthony can afford to get himself anything he wants, so I'd rather a donation to charity be made in my name."

"He did tell me that and I'm OK with that," Sören said. He added honestly, "I'd just feel obligated to get you something for Christmas because then baked goods wouldn't really cut it, and holiday shopping is stressful for me even when I'm not working the kind of hours I do."

"Yes, that's part of why I instituted this policy a few years ago. Anthony already has to do little token shopping for his colleagues, I don't see the point of putting additional stress on him trying to guess what to get us," Elaine said.

"I still got Sören a little something," Anthony said.

"Well, good. For your partner, definitely that's the right thing to do."

"He wouldn't let me be extravagant," Anthony said, giving Sören a look, and then, smiling, he said, "Books of poetry. Whitman, Neruda, Eliot, Byron..."

"Oh, good." Elaine sounded relieved by that, and Sören was surprised, but didn't press it. "Yes, it's good that you have someone who..." Elaine seemed to catch herself. "Reads." Elaine sipped on egg nog. "What about you, Sören?"

"I got Anthony a tie," Sören said, feeling a twinge of self-consciousness.

"It was an Armani tie," Anthony quickly added. "It will go with every suit I own." Anthony grinned. "And the Yule Cat won't eat me."

"The..." Elaine raised an eyebrow, and the look of genuine puzzlement on her face made Anthony laugh, which made Sören laugh too.

Sören explained the Icelandic Christmas folklore to Elaine and Roger, and Roger looked a bit perplexed while Elaine clapped her hands and laughed uproariously.

"I can see why you're such a kind, thoughtful young man," Elaine said, "if you had the threat of being fed to hungry trolls hanging over your head as a lad." She winked, eyes full of mischief. Then she turned to Anthony. "Did you know about any of this beforehand?"

"He just told me about it yesterday," Anthony said.

"I know I said I didn't want gifts, but now I'm concerned the Yule Cat will eat us in our sleep," Elaine said with a smirk.

"Jæja, that's why I made all those Christmas cookies," Sören said, though it wasn't really. "We can't possibly eat them all in one night so there'll be enough left over and that will hopefully distract Jólakötturinn and he'll forget all about eating you."

"Oh, I love the sound of that," Elaine said. "Say it again?"

"Jólakötturinn," Sören said, amused.

"You have such a beautiful language," Elaine said.

"If you like the sound of that, we have a song," Sören said, feeling emboldened by the ale he'd had. "Should I sing it to you?"

"Please."

Sören took a deep breath, cleared his throat, and sang the traditional song in its haunting, melancholy minor key.

Þið kannist við jólaköttinn
Sá köttur var gríðarstór
Fólk vissi ekki hvaðan hann kom
Eða hvert hann fór

Hann glennti upp glyrnurnar sínar
Glóandi báðar tvær
Það var ekki heiglum hent
Að horfa í þær

Kamparnir beittir sem broddar
Upp úr bakinu kryppa há
Og klærnar á loðinni löpp
Var ljótt að sjá

Því var það að konurnar kepptust
Við kamba og vefstól og rokk
Og prjónuðu litfagran lepp
Eða lítinn sokk...


When the song was finished, Elaine stood up and clapped. "Bravo. You have a beautiful voice," she said.

Sören's cheeks flushed.

Anthony gave Sören a squeeze and tousled his curls. Sören grinned at him, and grabbed a cookie and put it in Anthony's mouth before he could be tempted to snog him in front of the parents.

That urge intensified as Elaine took Sören on a proper tour of the house, ending with the patio doors that led out to the garden, a winter wonderland glowing softly with fairy lights, and Sören noticed there was a mistletoe hanging right above the patio doors. When Elaine turned to go back into the kitchen, Anthony grabbed Sören and kissed him hard. Sören gave a little moan into the kiss, melting against him.

"What was that for?" Sören asked when they pulled apart.

"You and your native language." And as they marched towards the kitchen, Anthony's arms wrapped around Sören's waist, walking close behind him, and Sören could feel he was half-hard. Sören grinned.

In the kitchen, having a last cup of egg nog, Anthony stood behind Sören - who knew it was to conceal his arousal - and Elaine said, "If you boys need anything, help yourselves, all right?" She leaned in to kiss her son's cheek, and then she kissed Sören's cheek as well and patted him. "I'm so glad you came for Christmas and it'll be nice having you here tomorrow! Roger and I are going out for a bit tomorrow afternoon but we'll be home in the evening, you boys I'm sure can find things to pass the time, we have a large DVD collection, Anthony's old gaming consoles are in his room..." She strode off. "Good night, dears. Sleep well."

Anthony's old room was on the second floor, far away from everything else on the second floor except the bathroom. The second floor had a library and second sitting room with a home theatre and a grand piano and a liquor cabinet, large but more intimate than the reception room on the first floor. Sören let out a low whistle at the piano. "Who plays?"

"I do," Anthony said. He pushed Sören along from the sitting room towards his bedroom.

Anthony claimed that his old bedroom was left the way he'd had it when leaving for Cambridge in 1998, apart from the TV being replaced by a flat-screen. He had a bed that was just big enough to accommodate two adults with a somewhat tight fit, a dark wood frame and headboard that matched the wooden floor. The duvet had a print of a galaxy and nebulas, and the pillowcases and curtains matched, which Sören smiled at. Sören's smile broadened at the poster of Bush, prominently featuring Gavin Rossdale sweaty and shirtless - "that is so 90s it hurts," Sören said - and then he had a gigglefit, clapping when Anthony turned on two lava lamps and larger glow lamp that changed color as it rotated.

The flat-screen TV was on a handsome shelf unit that had several old gaming consoles and a bin of ancient video games underneath. Sören's laughter rang out when he saw Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. "Oh my GOD," Sören wheezed. "We totally need to play sometime."

"You want to play now?" Anthony grinned.

They got in their pajamas and Anthony set it up, and they sat down with two controllers to play Super Mario. "So what are the stakes here?" Sören said with a raised eyebrow.

"Whoever wins gets to top," Anthony said, smirking.

"You're on."

Two and a half hours later, Anthony won, and Sören felt heat flood him. Anthony wasted no time in claiming his prize, kissing Sören roughly, undoing his pajama top button by button.

When they were both naked, Anthony turned off the lights, put on the lava lamps and the color change lamp, and then queued up "Alright" by Jamiroquai, giving Sören a naughty look that made Sören howl, before Anthony joined Sören on the bed.

"Hi," Anthony said.

"Hi," Sören said.

They kissed.

"Come here often?" Anthony raised an eyebrow.

Sören gigglesnorted. "I do now, apparently."

Anthony pulled Sören into his arms and kissed him deeply, and Sören moaned into the kiss, cock springing to life. Jamiroquai played softly in the background as their hands roamed, cocks rubbing together, kissing sweetly and teasingly, then fiercely and hungrily, getting more and more lost in desire. Sören wondered if Anthony had ever done this with anyone else in his bed, and as if he read Sören's mind, Anthony paused and said, "I feel like I'm making up for lost time."

"Oh?"

"I didn't date, when I was younger and had this room. I wasn't going to try to date girls, that felt like lying, and I wasn't bold enough to date boys in the late 90s."

"Understandable." Sören stroked Anthony's cheek. "Well, you've got me now."

"And you are so much hotter than anyone I went to school with." Anthony kissed him hard. "By leaps and bounds." His voice got lower, huskier. "Plus, your accent."

"You really have a fetish for me speaking Icelandic, too, don't you?"

"I do." Anthony nibbled on him. "And..." He kissed the tip of Sören's nose. "It was so cute, the way you went on about the Yule Cat."

"Awwwww."

"Although..." Anthony chuckled. "It makes me feel bad I didn't get you a clothing item, as well. If I'd known about that part of your culture sooner, I would have gotten you... like... sexy underwear or something."

Sören giggled. "Oh myyyyy." He waggled his eyebrows. "So I take it that means you'd like to see me in sexy underwear?"

"Well, I'd prefer to see you out of sexy underwear..." Anthony's cheeks flushed, and they laughed harder. "But yes, I think you wearing something like a thong would be incredibly hot. Especially if you were... you know. Wearing that for me, under your work clothes, in anticipation of seeing me when your shift ended."

"Mmmmm." Sören kissed him, his cock twinging. "I like that idea too."

"Good." Anthony kissed him back. "Perhaps next year that'll be my gift to keep you safe from the Yule Cat. But in the meantime..." He leered. "The Yule Cat can't eat you if I eat you first."

Sören gigglesnorted, laughing so hard his sides hurt. He stopped laughing when Anthony began kissing and licking him all over, teasing his nipples, his stomach, his thighs, and he let out a loud moan when Anthony took Sören's cock into his mouth. Anthony let it slip and gave Sören a look. "We have to be kind of quiet," he said. "Mum and Dad are right upstairs. My music's not loud enough to bother them but that is."

Sören bit back a moan as Anthony swallowed him down again.

After a few minutes of Anthony sucking him, with mischief in his eyes Anthony let go of Sören's cock and kissed and nibbled Sören's thighs, making Sören fight off another moan. Anthony licked around the rim of Sören's opening a few times, Sören whimpering into his hand, and he gasped when Anthony's tongue speared him. It took Sören everything he had to not howl and scream as Anthony's tongue rubbed inside him, teasing the sweet spot just right, bringing him to that edge right away and keeping him there, Sören utterly lost in pleasure.

"Oh, god," Sören ground out. "Fuck, that's so good..."

"I love doing this to you." Anthony's tongue brushed around the rim of Sören's channel again before plunging back inside.

"You have the most amazing tongue." Sören gasped and shuddered. He clutched Anthony's head, and his hands slid down to Anthony's shoulders, nails digging in, which made Anthony shiver and moan into him, licking harder, faster. Sören gave a little whimper and Anthony slapped his thigh to say quiet.

Then Sören let out a moan, as Anthony's tongue slowed down, deliberately tormenting him. Anthony laughed softly. "Shhhhh," he cautioned before he slipped his tongue back into Sören.

"I can't help it," Sören whispered. Then Sören laughed too, at the surreality of this. "God, I can't believe we're doing this. It was one thing for your mum to say it was OK to spend the night, knowing we'd be sharing a bed, but this..." Sören chuckled. "You eating my arse in your old bed, that's pretty fucking kinky."

"Yes, it is." Anthony smiled at him before tonguing him some more.

"So kinky." Sören shivered. "So, so naughty. This is probably the naughtiest, kinkiest thing I've ever done."

Anthony stopped licking for a moment, a look of pure evil on his face. "Oh, I can make it kinkier."

"Can you now."

Anthony got up, with Sören making a whimper of protest. He grabbed his bathrobe, which made Sören whimper again and cry out, "Please," and Anthony gave a harsh "shhhh" before he left the bedroom, leaving Sören laying there frustrated. Sören heard the sound of Anthony going down the stairs, and then moving around on the first floor, and then coming back upstairs. Sören idly stroked himself, waiting, and Anthony came back in carrying the cashmere scarf he'd been wearing outside. Sören gave him a bemused look and Anthony gave Sören a look of mock disapproval as he closed the door behind him.

"Did I say you could touch yourself while I was gone?" Anthony asked.

"No, but..."

"Well, it appears my idea was prescient." Anthony took off his bathrobe, freeing his very hard, very slick cock - the sight of it made Sören lick his lips - and he got on the bed with the scarf, grabbed one of Sören's arms, and began to tie Sören's wrist to the headboard. "If this isn't OK, let me know -"

"Oh, shit." Sören laughed, his cock jolting with need, another bead of precum dripping out of him, sliding down the shaft. "Fuck, that's hot."

Anthony grinned, and took Sören's other arm and bound the other wrist. He surveyed his handiwork and then he said to Sören, "Try to move your arms, I want to make sure that isn't too loose or too tight."

Sören did as requested. "It's fine."

"Good." With that, Anthony dove back down between Sören's legs.

He ate Sören more slowly than before, and Sören desperately tried and failed to not cry out, only half-succeeding, making tiny moans and whimpers, gasping, panting. Anthony reveled in the power he had over Sören, teasing him and teasing him, dangling Sören helplessly at the edge of orgasm but not taking him over just yet, getting Sören more and more sensitized, watching him lose control as Sören bucked against his face, panting, gasping. Sören had never been tied up before - he'd certainly heard about it, and been curious about it, but he'd never trusted any of his prior casual sex partners for something like this. Here, there was trust, and being bound, Sören felt incredibly free, going even deeper into pleasure and lust, feeling more sexual hunger than he'd ever felt in his life, giving Anthony the gift of watching him transform in the throes of passion, Anthony's eyes watching him intently.

Anthony got Sören closer and closer to orgasm, and before he could bring Sören off just from his tongue, he stopped. Sören almost cried, as pent up as he was, and he gave a particularly loud moan as Anthony lapped up the precum flowing down Sören's aching, needy cock. Anthony kissed and nibbled his way up, and he reached for the lubricant he'd somehow grabbed when he got his bathrobe. He readied them both, and then he began to push inside Sören. He watched Sören's eyes as he worked his way in, Sören breathing harder as he was stretched. At last, when Anthony was all the way inside, he claimed Sören's mouth, kissing him fiercely, and they both moaned into the kiss.

"I love you," Anthony husked, and he began to thrust.

He went neither too slowly nor as fast and hard as he could go - just enough to build momentum and make Sören feel like he could come any moment now, but not enough to make him come just yet. Just enough to keep teasing, building on Sören's need. Anthony kissed Sören's mouth again and again, tongues teasing, tasting. He kissed and licked Sören's neck, kissed and lapped and suckled and nibbled on Sören's nipples, playing with the rings, in between his fingers walking, hands stroking over Sören's chest and stomach and hips and thighs. Feeling Anthony's hands on him reinforced that Sören was tied up, bound, fully under Anthony's control. When Anthony rose, propping up one of Sören's legs on his shoulder, fucking Sören harder, Sören looked up at him adoringly, worshipful, and Anthony reached to stroke Sören's face, his own eyes loving, before the fierceness returned, pounding into Sören even harder, and Sören matched his rhythm, rolling his hips back at Anthony, lost in the push and pull, the give and take, pleasure building higher and higher.

It didn't take long, once Anthony got going, for Sören to feel himself hurtling to that point of no return. Anthony's left hand wrapped around Sören's cock, stroking in time with his thrusts, as his right hand played over Sören's flesh, from his thigh to his chest. Sören heard himself whimper as he writhed against the binds, rocked his hips back at Anthony, giving as good as he got. When Anthony slowed down - maddening, a wicked look on his face - Sören let out a sob.

"Please," Sören pleaded.

"Tell me in your native language," Anthony growled.

"There isn't really a word for 'please' in Icelandic." Sören had to learn some social graces the hard way when he moved to England.

"Beg for it, then."

Sören shivered. "Láttu mig koma."

Anthony gave a deep groan - now it was Sören's turn to raise an eyebrow at the noise. Anthony still kept the pace slow, tormenting Sören, but Sören knew from the look in his eyes, and feeling Anthony tremble as he thrust, that it was tormenting them both.

Sören bit his lower lip, feeling a small glow of victory even as he was the one being conquered. "Ég þarf að koma. Ég þarf að fokking. Koma. Ég þarfnast þess erfiðara. Hraðar. Meira. Gefðu mér það."

"Oh, god." Anthony shuddered and gave another groan. Now he gave into Sören's pleas, slamming into him.

So much for keeping it down, Sören thought to himself with a small smile at the sound of their bodies smacking together. He too let out a moan at the feel of Anthony's balls slapping his ass, and sighed as Anthony's cock worked magic on his prostate. He was co close. "Ó, FOKK, bara svona. Bara si svona, ástin mín. Svo gott. Svo gott, næstum þar, rétt þar."

Anthony made a primal, guttural noise. "Sören." He was shaking now, his breath coming in gasps.

Sören moved his arms so the scarf tightened on his wrists, really wanting to feel the binds, reinforcing his surrender, his trust. "Rétt þar, rétt þar, taktu það, taktu mig."

"Oh god, Sören..."

"Taktu mig, taktu mig, ég er þín, láttu mig koma, láttu mig koma fyrir þig." Sören let out a whimper - he was shaking now too, thighs quivering, balls tightening, the rubbing on his prostate and stroking of his cock at last hitting that perfect note that was about to send him flying. "Fer að koma fyrir þig, fyrir þig, fyrir þig, fyrir þig, ástin mín, ástin mín."

"Sören." Their eyes met. "Come for me."

Sören opened his mouth and no sound came out, trying to contain his cry. His entire body twitched, pleasure surging through him as he shot over Anthony's chest, rewarded a few seconds later by the feeling of Anthony spending into him, hearing Anthony give a shuddery sigh, watching the ecstasy on his face as he trembled. Sören shot over him again, and again, sighing deeply as the release throbbed and throbbed inside and out, over and through. He had never come so hard, felt so radiant as he came. He felt the smile light up his face and Anthony smiled too as he settled down on top of Sören, tenderly stroking Sören's cheek, petting his curls, kissing his brow then his mouth. Anthony shivered with an aftershock, groaning into the kiss as he shot into Sören again, and Sören gave another happy little sigh.

Anthony unbound Sören's wrists and Sören flexed them before wrapping his arms around his lover, holding him tight. Anthony rested in him and their legs twined together. For a few minutes they just held each other in silence except for the thunder of their heartbeats, ragged breath slowing down back to normal. Finally Sören broke the silence by saying, softly, "That was fucking amazing."

"I've been wanting to try that with you for awhile but was waiting for the right time," Anthony said, kissing Sören's cheek.

"How long was 'awhile'?"

"Honestly? First night you were over I thought about it. Extensive body mods indicate a high pain tolerance and possible masochism, and there were certain tells in the way you were with me that you have strong submissive tendencies."

Sören laughed so hard he snorted. "Wow. Dude. Do you size everyone up, like, constantly?" He didn't know if he was impressed or terrified, or a bit of both.

"It is literally my job." Anthony grinned. "Sometimes, there are additional bonuses to being observant, beyond drawing blood in the courtroom."

"I guess so." Sören cackled. Then he raised an eyebrow. "So, like... how did you get into... this?" He gestured to the scarf.

"I told you Europeans are interesting," Anthony said. "I had some adventures during my time abroad in my very early twenties. I found out I like certain things, and am less keen on others."

"So you wouldn't want to be tied up yourself."

"I am not remotely submissive, no."

"And yet, you picked me up at my job and not, like... a BDSM club or something."

"No." Anthony took a deep breath and met Sören's eyes, looking ready to deliver a small speech, as if he'd been expecting Sören's curiosity and had been internally preparing what he'd say for this moment. "I like doing this once in awhile - maybe a little more than once in awhile - as a bit of novelty. It's fun. I haven't been looking for a submissive specifically because there's what we did just now and there's lifestyle BDSM, and I'm not really into the lifestyle. Trying to meet a partner via 'the scene' means weeding out people who want a full-time dominant, which isn't what I want - I don't want a full-time submissive who I have to give orders to constantly. Part of the fun for me is someone who's independent-minded, strong-willed, perhaps even a bit defiant, and getting them to submit, to surrender. And you, of course, challenged me right away, when we met." Anthony chuckled and said, "You still challenge me."

Sören stuck his tongue out to demonstrate Anthony's point.

Anthony smiled indulgently and went on. "Also, trying to find a partner via 'the scene', I also have to weed out people who want heavy pain which I'm not into giving, people who may not want a full-time dom or pain but may still be submissive enough to be 'pillow princesses' and expect me to do all the work in bed while they lay there. That, and having a bit of discretion about where I spend my time and in whose company, well... I decided that finding something like this would either happen organically or not at all. Tying someone up and having my way with them isn't mandatory for me to get my rocks off, it's just a nice to-have, sometimes."

"It's very nice." Sören laughed softly. "I didn't expect to be as into that as I was, wow."

"I had a feeling you would like it but you still surprised me with how much." Anthony kissed him. "A pleasant surprise, to be sure."

Sören kissed him back. "Very pleasant."

"Very." Kiss. "Very." Kiss. "Pleasant." Anthony tousled Sören's curls, stroked his face. "We'll have to do that again."

Sören was getting randy again. "How about now?"

Anthony laughed. "Right now?"

Sören nodded eagerly. Then he grinned as he felt Anthony's cock start to come to life again inside him.

"You are insatiable," Anthony said, kissing Sören.

"You make me insatiable." Sören kissed him hard. "Please."

"I don't know." Anthony propped himself on one elbow, smirking, the fingers of his free hand teasing Sören's nipple in slow, lazy circles. "I don't know if a naughty boy like you should get everything he wants on Christmas..."

"Oh my fucking god, Anthony, myndirðu bara gefa mér haninn."

Anthony growled and nibbled Sören's lower lip. He pulled out of Sören, with Sören making a little whimper of protest, and Anthony held a finger to Sören's lips. "Shhhhh."

"They've probably already heard us -"

"That doesn't mean they need to keep hearing us. Shhhh."

For some reason even that was turning Sören on, and Anthony watched with amusement in his eyes as Sören's cock wiggled at him. Then, in stern domination mode, Anthony ground out, "Turn over on your stomach, face down, arse up."

Sören did as he was told. Anthony took the scarf again, and Sören's hole twitched with anticipation, wondering if he was going to be tied up again - and then Anthony surprised him by tying the scarf around Sören's neck, and he gave it a little tug as he positioned himself behind Sören. With the end of the scarf in Anthony's hand, gently pulling on it, the scarf was now a makeshift leash. Sören loved that, moaning into the pillows.

Anthony took him from behind and when he was all the way inside he tugged on the scarf-leash with his left hand, slapped Sören's ass with the right. "So naughty."

"God, yes." Sören let out a gasp and rubbed his ass against Anthony.

Anthony began to thrust, slowly. He shoved his fingers in Sören's mouth, still holding onto the scarf-leash with the other hand. Sören moaned around the fingers in his mouth. "You want it all the time, don't you?"

"Mhm."

"Begging for it like a little bitch in heat."

He withdrew his fingers from Sören's mouth for a moment and Sören took that as his cue to beg. "Ó guð, já, ég get ekki fengið nóg af hananum þínum inni í mér, ég þarfnast þín svo mikið, þú verður að taka mig og ríða mér og láta mig koma og koma og koma og koma og koma og koma og koma."

Anthony gave a deep groan and shoved his fingers back in Sören's mouth, fucking him harder; Sören whimpered around his fingers and Anthony tugged on the scarf-leash, slapped Sören's ass. "That's right. You beg like a little bitch, you're going to get fucked like one."

Sören moaned around Anthony's fingers and rocked his hips back at Anthony, fucking himself on the cock gliding in and out of him, overcome by hot, feral sexual need. Nothing else mattered, just getting fucked, being taken.

Anthony leaned in to nibble and lick the back of Sören's neck, his shoulder, knowing how sensitive Sören was there, laughing softly at Sören's little whines around his fingers. "Yes. I love seeing how much you want this."

Sören nodded and let Anthony's fingers slip from his mouth. "God, yes. Need it so bad."

Anthony slapped his ass again. "That's because you're mine." He bit the sweet spot where Sören's neck and shoulder met.

That did it. Sören slammed against him, howling into the pillows until Anthony's fingers were back in his mouth. Anthony matched Sören's wild rhythm and overtook it, driving into Sören as hard as Sören could take it. It felt beyond kinky, doing this with his parents right upstairs, not caring, so far gone in their lust that it didn't matter if the entire world heard them and knew what they were doing. They still tried to keep the moans down, but their bodies slapped together, the bed rocked against the wall. Sören was right on that edge again, Anthony's cock beyond delicious at this position, this pattern.

"Mine," Anthony insisted.

Sören nodded and whimpered around the fingers in his mouth, whimpered again at the pull of the scarf-leash.

"Mine." And then he took his fingers out of Sören's mouth, tilted Sören's head to his, and kissed him, fingers stroking Sören's beard, tracing the outline of his lower lip. His hand slid lower, fingers grazing a nipple before his arm held Sören tight, hand resting on Sören's heart.

It was the perfect storm of sensation, feeling, and hotness. Three thrusts later Sören was gone, shaking as he spilled into the sheets, the world dissolving with every spurt of his cock. Anthony felt him contracting and another three thrusts he was done too, collapsing onto Sören's back shuddering, gasping.

"I love you," Sören whispered.

"I love you." Then Anthony shook with silent laughter.

"What's so funny?"

"...We're going to have to launder these sheets tomorrow."

"God." Sören gigglesnorted. "Like your parents didn't already hear us."

"Well, hopefully not."

"Admit it, you liked the forbidden thrill of it." Sören and Anthony kissed again. "Like I'm a date you brought home or we're... having a sleepover." Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip. "A naughty sleepover."

"So naughty I'd be surprised if... what's their names... that troll couple... doesn't come all the way from Iceland to put us in a stew."

"Well, Anthony, just remember... they can't eat us if we eat each other first."

They laughed at that, and Anthony stole another kiss before he pulled out, unwrapped the scarf from Sören's neck, and took Sören into his arms. Sören snuggled against his chest, being pet, and then Sören said, "Thank you, you know."

"For?"

"Well, what we did tonight but also..." Sören made a vague hand gesture. "I worried you'd think the tie was lame, but you were a good sport about it."

"It was from you, so that in and of itself makes it precious, and you made it memorable, too. That tie will forever be my good luck charm in honor of when you saved my life from the Yule Cat."

Sören giggled. "OK, well... so long as you're not secretly thinking it's stupid..."

"It's not. I would have politely told you not to get me anything next year if I thought that. To be honest, I was probably more worried about the books, than your worry about the tie."

"Really. Even though you quoted some of that to me and I loved it."

"Even though, yes." Anthony nodded solemnly.

Sören thought again about Elaine's reaction to Anthony's gift and Sören's reception, her obvious relief that Anthony was with someone who reads. He thought about asking about it but got the sense now was not the time or place. It was already starting to not be the time or place for words in general, Sören feeling the sleepiness settle in after a long day and two amazing orgasms.

"All I wanted for Christmas was you," Anthony husked, kissing the tip of his nose.

"You got me." Sören kissed him. "Gleðileg jól, elskan mín."


_


For once in his life, Anthony Wyatt-Jones had not set the alarm to get up, sleeping in. Sören saw it was just after eleven AM when he and Anthony mutually stirred. Anthony looked at the clock, said, "Jesus," and gave a guilty grin, chuckling.

They put on pajamas, since they had nowhere they needed to be. Anthony went down the hall to the linen closet, came in with fresh sheets, and he and Sören stripped the bed and put on new sheets, then carried the cum-stained bedding to the ground floor, where there was a washer and dryer in the pantry. Sören remembered that Elaine said she and Roger would be gone for a few hours in the afternoon, and sure enough, it was just the two of them in the house.

Sören assembled some of the assorted cookies he'd made on a plate and he and Anthony took it upstairs to the sitting room down the hall from Anthony's bedroom. "Sören, are you eating biscuits for breakfast?" Anthony gave him a mock stern look.

"We're eating cookies... biscuits... whatever... for breakfast, because we're motherfucking adults."

Anthony laughed, sitting next to Sören, and Sören put a cookie in his mouth.

They cuddled on the couch, watching TV but not really paying attention, both of them in that lazy calm space of finally having some down time from their respective jobs and just zoning out. Sören's gaze kept drifting to the grand piano by the window and finally he said to Anthony, "So, you play that thing?"

"Yes. It's... been awhile. I'm kind of rusty."

"I'd still like to hear it."

Anthony sat down at the piano, and Sören took a seat next to him. Anthony turned beetroot, smiling shyly, looking almost boyish rather than the suave, commanding professional Sören was used to. It was an adorable transformation, and Sören reassuringly took his hand and kissed it.

Anthony quietly considered for a few minutes what he was going to play, and then he said, "Ah," flexed his hands and fingers, and started. It took Sören a few seconds but then he recognized the piano instrumental to Billie Holiday's "I Wished On the Moon For You", which played in Anthony's car the night after Sören bottomed for him for the first time. It was not a coincidence that after the next big step of trust, Anthony was playing this for him now - trusting Sören in turn, showing him his heart, his soul - and it made Sören's heart soar, brought tears to his eyes.

When the song was over Sören pulled Anthony into a kiss. Anthony's eyes were damp too and Sören grabbed him and kissed him again, harder.

Fresh sheets on the bed be damned, Sören and Anthony stumbled down the hall to the bedroom, kissing all the way, not able to get their pajamas off fast enough before they sank down on the bed. Sören shoved Anthony down on his back, got the lube and readied them both, straddled Anthony's hips, sank down and rode him. Anthony looked up at Sören with all the trust and adoration in his eyes that Sören had tried to express through his, last night, and Sören tousled his hair, stroked his face, slid his hands down Anthony's chest to rest on his heart as he bucked on Anthony's cock, expressing his love and passion with his body, needing them to be one flesh, joined as deeply and intimately as two people could be.

They came together hard, crying out loud now that they were alone in the house, and they kissed passionately as they drifted down from their climax, holding each other, rocking. After petting and tender little kisses the need rose in them again and Sören slipped out of Anthony, kissing him feverishly as his fingers worked inside Anthony's passage, preparing him. Anthony guided Sören's cock to him and Sören took him, slowly. Laying atop him, looking into his eyes, Sören thrust into him, breathing his breath, at last kissing him hard enough to take his breath away. Anthony grabbed onto Sören for dear life and gave it back to him, and Sören stroked Anthony's cock in time with the motion of his own cock in and out of him, Sören hearing himself moan as the silken heat enveloped him, consumed him, too delicious to last much longer.

When Sören got to that point of no return, kissing and kissing and kissing him, he pulled back, met Anthony's eyes again, and growled, "Komdu fyrir mig."

"Sören." Anthony gave in and let go, coming with a cry.

Sören filled him a few seconds later, shouting with the force of his own release. They were almost sobbing as they shook and gasped in each other's arms, Anthony spending over Sören's sweat-damp flesh as Sören continued shooting inside him. When it was over Sören's head was buried in Anthony's chest, listening to the drum of his heartbeat, its fierce rhythm echoing Sören's own, pounding in his ears.

They snuggled up together, falling into a nap even though they hadn't been awake terribly long - their bodies knew they needed the rest. They were still sleeping when they heard a polite knock at the bedroom door.

"Boys, dinner's almost ready."

They looked at the clock again. It was quarter to five. "Oh shit," Sören said.

They got back in pajamas and shambled downstairs. Anthony threw the sheets in the dryer - Elaine noticed as she was walking past that they were laundering the bedding, but did not say anything. However, when they both sat down to dinner, both Sören and Anthony sat gingerly, and Elaine gave them a knowing look as Roger shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Anthony tried to keep a poker face, and Sören gave a guilty grin, feeling heat flood his cheeks. Elaine and Anthony spent most of dinner talking about Elaine's latest architect job and what Anthony could divulge about the case waiting for him after the holidays, but every now and again Anthony's and Sören's eyes would meet and they would try to not fall into hysterics, exchanging little smirks before Anthony continued conversation.

"I'm sorry," Sören told Elaine after dinner as he insisted on helping with the dishes again.

"It's quite all right, dear," Elaine said, patting him. "I knew when I invited you both to spend the night that you're adults. You didn't disturb us... much."

"Oh god." Sören's face was on fire. When he calmed down he said, more seriously, "I feel like I should say thank you, you know, for being so cool about... well. Me being your son's boyfriend."

"This is 2011," Elaine said. "Besides... as an architect, I have colleagues and clients who are gay or bisexual - aesthetes, you see - and my own mother was an artist, a bit of a bonne vivante, her very best friend was a gay man. So I've never had a problem with gay people, just the opposite. But even if I hadn't already had so much exposure to it where it doesn't phase me... you make my son happy. I can see it in his eyes, and the way he is with you. If you can give that boy some peace, I don't care if you're male, female, black, white, purple, from Iceland, India, or from the planet Neptune."

Sören couldn't resist, needing levity in the moment of heightened emotion, not wanting to get choked up around Elaine. "What if I told you I'm secretly all of those things at once?"

Elaine laughed, delighted. "This is why my son loves you, Sören." Elaine kissed his cheek.

After watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in the sitting room, Anthony spooning Sören, arms wrapped around him, they showered together and went to bed. As snow fell outside, to the glow of lava lamps, they made sweet, slow love together, first a languid sixty-nine and then Sören taking Anthony, at last Anthony taking Sören. Utterly spent, they snuggled, holding each other's hands.

"I have to work tomorrow morning," Sören grumbled, "so we need to set the alarm."

Anthony nodded. "My chambers re-open on Monday the second. I'm almost suspicious of this free time, I'm not used to it."

"D'you have plans for New Year's Eve?" That was falling on a Saturday night.

"You, if you're free."

"I am, I work overnight shift on Friday but I'll be out on Saturday afternoon. We should ring in the new year together."

"We should."

Sören snickered. "2012, the so-called end of the world."

"We may make that prophecy come true with all the earth-shattering orgasms."

Sören gigglesnorted, and Anthony laughed too. Sören kissed him, smiling, so happy to be with someone who got his humor and was very much the same way. "We're terrible."

"We are." Anthony kissed him back. "And so very, very good together."

Sören kissed him harder and the passion rose in them again, Anthony rolling Sören onto his back, Sören's arms and legs wrapping around him, opening to welcome his lover inside, needing to feel him - feel them, the promise of together - once more.

Chapter Text

Sören whined as the alarm went off. Anthony laughed softly and rained little kisses over his face. Sören gave another whine in protest as Anthony got up - he was so cozy - and then a few minutes later Anthony was gently rubbing his shoulder and Sören smelled coffee. He sat up and took a freshly steaming cup fixed the way he liked it, out of Anthony's hands.

"I woke up before the alarm went off and started a pot," Anthony said, sitting on the edge of the bed, tousling Sören's curls.

Sören scowled at the time. Then he managed a little smile for Anthony. "You're a love."

"Well, I love you." Anthony leaned in and kissed the top of Sören's head. "And I wish you didn't have to go to work tonight."

"You and me both. At least I get tomorrow night free." It was Friday, December thirtieth; tomorrow night was New Year's Eve.

"At least there's that." Anthony sat, watching Sören sip his coffee. "Any thoughts on what you want to do to ring in the New Year?"

"You?"

Anthony laughed. "Besides that."

Sören rubbed his beard. "I honestly hadn't thought about it, since I've been working so much this past week, haven't had much chance to catch my breath..."

Anthony gave a sympathetic little frown and rubbed Sören's knee. "It's been so weird, having time off. I barely know what to do with myself."

"Well clearly you've had some idea."

"Some." Their eyes met. "A lot of missing you, wishing you were there to share it with me."

Sören's heart ached. He felt himself get choked up, and didn't want to fall apart and cry when he had to be at the hospital in a bit. "Oh, elskan."

When Sören's coffee was finished he went down the hall and showered - alone, since it would be too tempting to call out of work and spend the evening in bed with Anthony; they'd already spent the day in bed, which was why Sören needed another shower. Sören came out in a towel and Anthony, who was reading in bed, groaned at the sight of him. Sören groaned too, looking at Anthony shirtless, wearing glasses.

"Jesus," Sören laughed.

"Mum called while you were showering," Anthony said.

"Oh, did she?" Sören began putting on his scrubs.

Anthony nodded. "She wanted to know if we were coming for New Year's Eve. I told her no."

"Oh... but why?" Sören pouted. "I like your mum."

"So, Christmas Day was small - just you, myself, my parents. My gran was in Tahiti with her 'companion'." Anthony made air quotes. "Christmas Eve, my parents went to see my father's surviving brother, Grant, and his second wife and his kids and stepchildren. Grant and some of my cousins are coming to New Year's Eve at my parents' house."

"OK?" Sören raised an eyebrow. "Why can't I meet the rest of your family?"

"It's not that you can't," Anthony said. He took a deep breath. "My only male cousin, Alistair - the only male cousin I have, it's all girls on my mum's side too - well... Alistair and I don't get on. At all. Alistair Wyatt-Jones is an Olympic fencer, he won bronze, actually, and he's quite a bit stuck on himself. I prefer to avoid family functions where he's present because it's that toxic. He'll be there at New Year's Eve tomorrow."

"I see." Sören frowned. "I'm sorry that your relationship with your cousin is that bad."

"I am too." Anthony looked down, a touch of sadness in his eyes. "I wanted to be his friend when we were growing up. He rather didn't."

Sören came over and gave Anthony a tight hug. Anthony wrapped his arms around Sören's waist and leaned on him. Sören ruffled Anthony's hair.

"Do your parents know? I mean, why do they keep inviting this guy if they know he makes you uncomfortable and you'll nope out of family functions if he's there?" Sören pulled on the long-sleeve T-shirt he wore under his scrubs, tonight a navy blue.

"That's just it. He's family. It's impolitic not to invite him. And of course, he will show up if he's invited and he doesn't have a prior engagement, like a match." Anthony got up and began to get dressed, since he was driving Sören to work. "I thought I would tell you about my mother's invite, and why I declined - but also that my mother thinks well enough of you to invite you along with me."

"Well, I'm glad." Sören smiled.

"Which leads me to the other reason why I brought up her call - in the same conversation she said that she and Dad would both like us to come to Sunday dinner at least once a month, schedule permitting, if you were OK with that."

"Awwww, that would be nice." Sören felt a bit of relief - he couldn't tell if Anthony's father liked him or not - and he also felt a bit of elation, as if the approval of the parents and wanting them to come around more, as a couple, solidified that this was real, this was serious...

"Good. I was in the habit of going there at least every other weekend before we started dating. Let them feed me." Anthony gave a sheepish smile, since his cooking skills were rather basic. "Mum adores you, and Dad approves of you."

"He does?"

Anthony nodded solemnly. "I know he's hard to figure out - even for someone like myself, who's skilled at reading people - but he does. He said when I was visiting a few days ago, 'You found yourself a good one.'"

Sören hugged him, and Anthony gave him a squeeze and a little kiss before they pulled apart.

Sören took a last glimpse at the gorgeous view of London lit up at night from the panoramic windows in Anthony's flat, before they headed out. When they were in the car, Anthony put on the stereo and asked Sören, "Do you have any preference?"

Sören thought for a minute. "Something to help me keep waking up." He chuckled.

Anthony defaulted to Jamiroquai. Sören began to do a little boogie in his seat, which Anthony smiled at.

"Ugh," Sören said, "this makes me wish I didn't have to go in tonight, even more. Makes me feel like dancing. Mind, I'd probably just... dance around my flat, tidying up. But still."

"You mentioned that you liked going to nightclubs when you were in Reykjavik. That it was therapeutic for you."

Sören nodded with a wistful sigh. "Jæja, dancing helped me get out of my head. I wasn't there just to cruise and find someone to shag - that was a nice bonus. I went there to unleash, to... perform an exorcism, I guess you could call it. It's a very ancient urge, I think, it's why shamans had the status they did in their tribes, they created that rhythm that got people moving, got them out of themselves and to another state of consciousness." Sören looked out the window but he wasn't really looking; he closed his eyes, remembering. "I miss it. I haven't since, well. You know. And you know why. It hasn't been safe."

"What if I went with you?"

Sören looked over at Anthony, who glanced at him before returning his focus to the road.

"You mean the two of us going to a club together?" Sören asked.

Anthony nodded. "I would ensure your safety. There's no pressure, only if you want to, but if you wanted to -"

Sören felt that tight ache in his chest again. "I... I'd like that." He swallowed hard. "You think we could do that for New Year's Eve?"

Anthony smiled. "Absolutely."

"I have no idea what the club scene is like around here -"

"I sort of do. It's not something I've done often, as I'd prefer to bring a date rather than go alone and, well, I've tended to date men not as free-spirited as yourself." He gave Sören's knee a little squeeze. "It's a refreshing change."

Sören's hand rested on Anthony's for a moment. I hope that novelty never wears off. Then he caught himself. Never? That implies there's an always. And, his heart skipping a beat, arms breaking out in gooseflesh under his long sleeves and his duster, despite the warmth of the car, he knew, then. This is the one. I want to grow old with him.

It was a realization that was terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

"Anyway..." Anthony's voice cut into his thoughts. "I assume you'd rather go to a gay club or at least one that's gay-friendly?"

"My experience tends to be pansexual-oriented clubs because, well. I'm bi, not that it really matters now, but back then it did." Sören would miss a woman's touch now and again, but he would miss Anthony more. "But if you're not into that, then a gay club sounds like a safer bet, já, if nothing else we're less likely to be harassed there."

"Yeah." Anthony frowned. "It's unfortunate that in 2011 this is something we still have to worry about."

Sören nodded. "So, yeah, gay club... and, oh shit, I'm going to have to stop home and get suitable clothing."

"Are you going to wear something like what you wore on our first date?"

"Já, that was the plan."

"If you give me the key to your flat, I'll stop there, pack up for you, and that way we can save time, you can just get changed at my place and we can go to wherever we're getting dinner, then to the club."

That was a huge amount of trust, but Sören trusted him. He reached for the keyring in his pocket and handed it over. Anthony took it, meeting Sören's eyes, seeming to understand what a big deal this was, that they'd achieved another next level of deepening trust and understanding.

When they got to National, Sören lingered in the car, as he tended to do. After a few kisses that left them flushed and breathless, aching for more, Sören muttered, "I better go before I get too tempted."

Anthony stopped him before he could open the car door. "One last question."

"Hm?"

"Do you care if we take the Tube? If we're going out to ring in 2012 at a nightclub I'd like to have a few drinks - just a few, not so much I lose agency in public, but enough to unwind properly, and enough where I'd prefer to not have liability hanging over my head with driving."

"Oh, já, that's fine!" Sören nodded. "Maybe I'll do a little drinking myself." That, too, felt liberating - knowing he would be safe enough with Anthony at his side that he could have a couple drinks in public and not worry about waking up in an alley, used and not able to remember what happened.

"All right. That'll also help me plan where we're going."

Sören gave him a last kiss, and then waved on his way out. "Love you."

"I love you, Sören."

Despite Sören's reluctance to go into work that night, and the usual stress of pulling an overnight shift, he was in good spirits, enough that Pamela the pretty redhaired, thirtyish neurologist noticed when Sören had a break in the morning and she was just getting in. "You're as giddy as a kipper," she said with a smirk.

"What?" Sören gigglesnorted into his coffee.

"Sorry, dear, my Yorkshire is showing. You're in an unusually good mood tonight, got a bit of a bounce to you." Pamela cocked her head to one side. "You still seeing that lawyer who sent you flowers?"

Sören nodded with a happy little sigh.

"It looks good on you," Pamela said.

"What does?"

Pamela grinned, flashing a toothpaste smile. "True love."


_


The club in Vauxhall was having a retro night for the new year - "retro" here being songs from the 80s and 90s and early 2000s, which made Anthony lament, "I feel old that this is considered old" as they walked in and "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan was playing, which came out in 1995 when Anthony was fifteen.

Sören patted him. "You're only as old as you feel."

Anthony snorted. "That doesn't help."

Sören could tell Anthony was definitely out of his element here, though he looked good - Anthony was wearing the Armani tie Sören got him for Christmas with a steel-blue blazer, black vest, black trousers, and black pointy boots - and he smelled good, Sören feeling a frisson of arousal just from the touch of his cologne, a little different than what Anthony usually wore, something more aggressive this time. Sören dragged Anthony to the bar, knowing having a drink right away would take the edge off, and on the way there he marveled once again that he felt safe enough to do this, with Anthony at his side.

Sören had a bottle of beer, and Anthony had a hard cider. They watched the men on the floor, and Sören put a reassuring arm around Anthony's waist. "We can't possibly look more ridiculous than that," Sören said, gesturing to some guys a few feet away who were wearing bright neon suits, rainbow feather boas, and lots of glitter. Anthony laughed and kissed his cheek.

Then Sören recognized the opening notes of an Aaliyah song he hadn't heard in years and loved. He made a squeak and grabbed Anthony, dragging him out onto the floor. "This is my jam," Sören said, as Anthony turned beetroot and laughed, but indulged him.

Anthony's self-consciousness at dancing in public quickly melted away as Sören began to sensually grind up on him, the two of them holding each other and finding a rhythm together, looking into each other's eyes as if it were just them.

Boy, you know you make me float
Boy, you really get me high
I feel like I'm on dope
'Cause you—you serve me on a regular

Boy, we need to tie this rope
Before we drift any deeper
Baby, now pull me close
Boy, let's take this overboard now

I want you to rock the boat
Rock the boat, rock the boat, rock the boat
Work it in the middle,
Work the middle, work the middle, work the middle
Change positions,
New positions, new positions, new positions
Stroke it for me, stroke it for me
Stroke it for me, stroke it for me


When the song was over Sören kissed him hard - turned on by the fluid grace of the way they moved together, and Anthony willing to let go, for him. "See? That wasn't so bad."

"I guess not." Anthony kissed him back.

The Aaliyah song was followed by something much older, "Outstanding" by The Gap Band. Sören and Anthony moved across the floor, continuing to let go, be one with the music and each other.

Girl, you're lookin' sweeter now
You got it every day, girl
Wish that I could love you now
In a special way

You light my fire
I feel alive with you, baby
You blow my mind
I'm satisfied

Outstanding (So outstanding, yeah)
Girl, you knock me out
Excited (I'm so excited, baby)
It makes me wanna shout (Baby)

Gee, I feel so lucky, girl
To have you all alone
I really love the way you love me
Forever I'll be yours

You blow my mind, baby
I'm so alive with you, baby
You blow my mind, baby
You blow my mind, baby, baby

You light my fire {You light my fire}
I feel alive with you, baby {I feel alive}
You blow my mind {You blow my mind}
I'm satisfied {I'm satisfied}

Outstanding


Sören laughed as Anthony twirled him around, dipped him as if they were alone in Sören's kitchen, no one to judge them. They kissed again at the end of the song, and Sören stroked Anthony's cheek, smiling at the light in his eyes, the way he was coming alive. Sören's laughter rang out when he recognized Earth Wind and Fire, and now Anthony took the initiative, leading him.

Yeah, hey
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams will take you very far, yeah
But when you wish upon a dream
Life ain't always what it seems, oh yeah
What'd you see on a night so clear
In the sky so very dear

You're a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you could truly be
What you could truly be


Both Anthony and Sören laughed at the opening notes of "Sexual Healing" by Marvin Gaye. Anthony got behind Sören and their hips rolled together, his arms around Sören's waist, hands sliding over him. Sören tilted his face so they could kiss, shivering as Anthony's fingers "accidentally" brushed a pierced nipple through Sören's shirt.

Ooh baby, I'm hot just like an oven
I need some lovin'
And baby, I can't hold it much longer
It's getting stronger and stronger

And when I get that feeling
I want sexual healing
Sexual healing, oh baby
Makes me feel so fine

Helps to relieve my mind
Sexual healing baby, is good for me
Sexual healing is something that's good for me


"You are so fucking hot," Anthony whispered, before nibbling Sören's neck. Sören moaned, feeling his cock stirring in his leather pants.

The next song did nothing to calm them down, as it was "Pull Up to the Bumper" by Grace Jones. They took turns grinding up on each other from behind, and at last facing each other, bodies close, hands roaming, and Sören could feel Anthony was a little hard as well, felt a frisson at the heat in his eyes.

Driving down those city streets
Waiting to get down
Won't you take your big machine
Somewhere in this town
Now in the parking lot garage
I found the proper place
Just follow all the written rules
You'll fit into the space

Pull up to my bumper baby
In your long black limousine
Pull up to my bumper baby
And drive it in between

Pull up, to it,
Don't drive, through it
Back it, up twice
Now that fits nice


They got hot and heavy enough that Sören decided they needed a break, bringing Anthony back to the bar, where Sören had a second bottle of beer and Anthony had a second hard cider. Anthony shamelessly grabbed his ass while they watched and waited to jump back in, and Sören was tempted to throw him on the bar, climb on, and ravish him. The endorphins had definitely started to kick in, and Sören grinned to himself as he finished his beer.

They took a few more minutes to canoodle, nuzzling and petting; Sören thought about ordering a third beer and then Anthony's face lit up when Jamiroquai came on. Now it was Anthony dragging him on the floor like an excited big kid, with Sören giggling at his exuberance, which was infectious.

You, give me light
So tonight, take me there
I, feel your sun
Start to glow and I know it
Let me show you that
I want your love
I need your touch
For the rest, of our time together,
Baby, come fly with me, eternally
You and me,
We were meant to be

Yeah hey
Alright (right now)
We'll spend the night together
Wake up and live forever
Yeah hey
Alright (right now)
We'll spend the night together
Wake up and live forever


"You're beautiful," Anthony said, stroking Sören's face, his curls. "Your smile lights up this entire place." He leaned in for a kiss. "The entire world."

Sören kissed him back, harder. "I love you."

"God, I love you."

They got emotional enough by the end of the song that when Luther Vandross played next, it seemed absolutely perfect for how they were feeling, everything about what had led them to this point in time.

I can't fool myself, I don't want nobody else to ever love me
You are my shinin' star, my guiding light, my love fantasy
There's not a minute, hour, day or night that I don't love you
You're at the top of my list 'cause I'm always thinkin' of you

I still remember in the days when I was scared to touch you
How I spent my day dreamin' plannin' how to say I love you
You must have known that I had feelings deep enough to swim in
That's when you opened up your heart and you told me to come in

Oh, my love
A thousand kisses from you is never too much
I just don't wanna stop

Oh, my love
A million days in your arms is never too much
I just don't wanna stop

Too much, never too much, never too much, never too much


Their eyes met and they stole another kiss.

Woke up today, looked at your picture just to get me started
I called you up, but you weren't there and I was broken hearted
Hung up the phone, can't be too late, the boss is so demandin'
Opened the door up and to my surprise there you were standin'


Anthony's eyes widened and Sören saw them mist, and knew without him saying it that he was thinking of when Sören lost his phone and went all the way down to Lincoln's Inn straight from his shift at the hospital, tired as he was, just to let him know that he wasn't being ignored - what Anthony feared. Sören grabbed him and kissed him passionately.

Well, who needs to go to work to hustle for another dollar
I'd rather be with you 'cause you make my heart scream and holler
Love is a gamble and I'm so glad that I'm winnin'
We've come a long way and yet this is only the beginnin'


"I think we found our song," Sören rasped.

Oh, my love
A thousand kisses from you is never too much
(Never too much, never too much, never too much)
I just don't wanna stop

Oh, my love
A million days in your arms is never too much
(Never too much, never too much, never too much)
And I just don't wanna stop


"I think so." Anthony pulled Sören into another deep, needy kiss.

They were both choked up now... and hard for each other. They hadn't been at the club terribly long, and Sören felt a little guilty about asking to go back home, but he felt like he was going to end up mauling Anthony in public if they didn't leave soon. But, as a compromise, Sören led Anthony back to the bar. "One more for the road, and if anything else comes on, we'll have one last dance?"

"Sounds good."

They drank through another few songs, Sören only half-watching the men dancing on the floor, looking over at Anthony again and again, blood boiling, wanting him. God, how he wanted.

Their last dance - still holding their bottles of alcohol, not through yet - was to "If You Love Me" by Brownstone, slower and more rhythmic, and also timely, another song that felt perfect with the emotions running high, and Sören thinking to himself this is the one, I want to settle down with him, feeling like they'd suddenly hit a crossroads in their relationship, things had escalated and brought them to another next level, a point of no return.

I don't wanna rain on this parade
But I'm starting to question the love that was made
I'm not looking for just an affair
I want a love that is based on truth, not just dare

You will not hurt my pride
If right now you decide
That you are not ready to settle down
But if you want my heart
Then it's time that you start
To act like you're mine, in the light and the dark

If you love me, say it
If you trust me, do it
If you want me, show it
If you need me, prove it


"I love you," Anthony said, as if he knew what Sören was thinking.

Sören kissed him, breathless.

You see now actions speak louder than words
So don't just say things that I've already heard
Don't want your body without your soul
I don't want a love who will come here and go


"I love you." Anthony kissed him again. "Love you, love you, love you..."

"Let's go," Sören growled, feeling like he was losing his mind with the lust and longing, need rising in him hot and fierce. It would be a wonder if they made it off the Tube without losing control somehow. They danced and kissed their way out to where their outerwear was being kept.

The chill of the night air was welcome after the heat of the club and Sören's own almost-unbearable body heat in his arousal. Sören watched as his breath steamed the air. Anthony finished his bottle of cider, tossing the glass in the recycling bin near the club; Sören was still working on his beer, though he was almost done. Anthony put an arm around him as they marched in the direction of the Tube station, and though they tried to calm down, it wasn't long before they were kissing each other again, laughing, nuzzling and petting, lost in a moment of perfect joy and wonder of the magic they'd captured together.

That was when trouble started. As they approached a bus stop, taking a short pause from kissing and petting, they saw four young white men - none older than thirty, most in their early twenties if Sören had to guess. Two of the four had heads shaved bald, and the other two had very short buzz cuts. They were all smoking cigarettes - Sören could smell them before he saw them, ready to retch. A couple of them were drinking cans of beer. Sören got an uneasy feeling from the four young men that he couldn't quite put his finger on, except that they were all staring as Sören and Anthony came closer, arm in arm. They'd definitely seen Sören and Anthony engaged in public affection a few meters back.

"Faggots," sneered one of the men.

Sören felt like he could spit. Anthony's grip tightened on Sören. "Just keep walking," Anthony muttered. "Eyes straight ahead..."

Then one of them chucked their beer can at them, which hit Anthony and spilled over his greatcoat. One of the bald ones got right in their path, blocking them.

"Going somewhere?" The bald one made a face. "Going off to bugger each other?"

"Clearly, you find the subject of interest," Anthony said without humor. He attempted to steer Sören diagonally so they could walk around the man blocking them. But then the bald man shoved Anthony hard enough that Anthony almost fell backwards. And when Anthony came forward, a look of pure fury on his face, fists clenched, and Sören could tell he was ready to fight back, two of the men rushed towards him.

"Þið huglausir, ógeðfelldir tíkur synir!" Not thinking, only feeling rage, heart pounding, Sören got between Anthony and the two men about to attack him.

Sören grabbed one, headbutted him as hard as he could, and when the man dropped to his knees, Sören punched him in the gut, shoved him to the ground, and kicked him when he was down. "Fjórir á móti tveimur? Lætur það þér líða eins og raunverulegur maður, já?"

The other lunged for him and got in a few punches - the side of Sören's face, Sören's gut - and then Sören looked at the beer bottle still in his hand and it came down over the bald head. "Rassgat! Veðja að þú sért bara öfundsjúkur að vinir þínir muni ekki ríða þér í rassinn!"

With the broken bottle in his hand, and the man's head bleeding from the glass cuts, Sören hollered, finding his English again, "Take one more fucking step towards me and I'll fucking shank you." He was a surgeon, after all, he knew where to stab someone to maim or even kill, though he was hoping it wouldn't have to come to that.

The bald man, of course, paid that no mind, grinning, and before Sören could stab him with the bottle, now Anthony pounced and grabbed the man's nose, hard, and with his free hand he tugged an ear hard enough to make the man cry out before a knee to the groin, dropping the man as the first one had dropped.

He fights dirty, Sören thought to himself, impressed. And he was a little aroused by the sight of Anthony fighting back, as well.

The bald man who had blocked them came back over to Anthony and threw a punch, with Anthony dodging, then he grabbed the man's arm and wrenched it before giving a hard shove, sending the man spinning into the fourth man of the group just before the other man could punch him. Sören rushed to them, watching them ready themselves for more, and before Sören could spring, Anthony said, his tone icy, "Step aside, please."

Sören did as he was told and watched as Anthony produced a tiny spray bottle. He shook it and just before the two men could fall on them and attack again, Sören watched as Anthony sprayed a red marker dye in one face, then the other, with the men having to protect their faces from the spray, reeling from the sting in their eyes, making noises. Then Anthony grabbed Sören and began marching them away as fast as he could, with the men jeering after them, "FUCKING FAGGOTS! FILTHY ARSE-FUCKERS! DIE OF AIDS, YOU FUCKING BUM-LOVERS!"

Sören watched as Anthony put the spray back in his pocket. "That's... that wasn't pepper spray, was it?"

"No, that's illegal here." Anthony then muttered, "Unfortunately." More loudly, he said, "I just used what's called a 'criminal identifier' spray, which is legal. That dye will be on them for a good few days, even if they try to wash it out."

"I take it you've had some experience using it."

Anthony gave a curt nod. "Once in a great while my job gets... interesting." Anthony pointed ahead. "The station isn't far, love."

"You're not going to call the police?"

"No, not this time - that might cause problems for us too. And hopefully they'll have learned from this experience that some of us faggots actually fight back, might make them think twice." Anthony glared in their general direction.

As they waited for the next train, Sören felt the sickening drop in adrenaline. Anthony's arms were around him as he shook, breathing hard; when Sören felt an asthma attack coming on it was Anthony who reached in Sören's pocket for where he knew Sören kept the inhaler, and handed it to him, petting him as Sören puffed. "There," he said softly. "Train is coming soon. We're almost home."

Sören leaned on him and Anthony's arms tightened around him. Anthony held him the entire ride home, rocking Sören in his arms, not caring who saw them, making little soothing noises.

When they got to Anthony's flat, Anthony told Sören, "Undress, I'll get you some ice for those bruises."

The adrenaline surge and the drop had been enough that in the fight and on the train home, Sören hadn't really felt where he'd been punched. But now he did, wincing as he stripped down. Anthony came in the bedroom with two makeshift ice packs and he handed them to Sören as he began to undress. Once Anthony was in pajamas he joined Sören on the bed and held an ice pack to Sören's stomach so Sören could better hold the pack on his face.

"You're going to have quite a rainbow on your face tomorrow," Anthony said, lips quirking. "I hope your colleagues don't think I beat you."

"I'll tell them you only beat me in the fun way."

Anthony's laughter rang out and he stole a little kiss. Then he gave Sören a stern look. "Sören. What you did back there..."

"You had better not be lecturing me about violence, Anthony Wyatt-Jones, since you got some licks in yourself."

"It's not that." Anthony's eyes narrowed. "You..." He took a deep breath. "They were coming at me and you got in the way. You shielded me."

"Don't give me that macho crap about how I shouldn't -"

Anthony silenced him with a kiss. Then Anthony said, his tone softer, "I'm touched that you were willing to put yourself in harm's way for me." He tilted Sören's face to his, stroked the non-injured cheek, his eyes soft and sad. "No one's ever done that for me before."

"You're my partner," Sören said, hoping those words explained everything, finding it odd that someone wouldn't do that for their partner.

Anthony kissed him again, harder. They kissed again and again, with Sören finally giving a moan into the kiss as his cock leapt. Anthony noticed and smirked, his free hand reaching to gently rub the bulge in Sören's boxer-briefs.

"It's funny you think I would lecture you in any way about self-defense," Anthony said, his voice husky. "Especially when you were so hot out there." He claimed Sören's mouth fiercely, and then he began to kiss Sören's neck, making Sören whimper and shiver, cock twinging again. Anthony's hand rubbed him more insistently. "I've got my very own Viking."

"You were pretty hot yourself," Sören rasped. "I didn't know you could fight."

"No, of course not. People don't expect the pretty lawyer boy to be able to hold his own. It can be useful when people underestimate me, just as it can be useful when people fear me." Anthony's eyes flashed. "For the record, I've taken some self-defense courses out of... necessity. Again, my job has been interesting at times."

"I bet." Sören stroked Anthony's face. "I didn't mean to offend you -"

"I know. And you didn't, really."

"If I did, you could just... take it out on me." Sören crinkled his nose and bit his lower lip.

Anthony kissed him roughly with a growl, shoving Sören back against the pillows. The sensuality of the nightclub and the aggression of the fight made a volatile mixture, exploding into passion as Sören found himself rending the fabric of Anthony's pajamas, giving Anthony an evil grin as the silk ripped and dropped to the floor. Anthony bit Sören's neck in response, and then nibbled and licked his way down before he took the waistband of Sören's underwear in his teeth and yanked it down in his teeth, Sören moaning as his hard, aching cock sprang free. When Sören's boxer-briefs were down his thighs, Anthony came up and snatched them off, kissing Sören feverishly as he removed the offending barrier between them.

It was Sören's turn to bite back, biting Anthony's shoulder, making him cry out. Then Sören rolled Anthony onto his back, Anthony giving him a feral look as Sören rose, reaching for the lubricant. Just as Sören was about to push slick fingers into him Anthony grabbed Sören's wrists and shoved Sören onto his side, and the two struggled for dominance, hard cocks rubbing against each other, kissing, biting, grabbing. Sören pinned Anthony on his back and smirked against the little whimper Anthony made into the kiss as Sören's fingers pushed inside him as intended, Anthony fucking himself on Sören's fingers once they found the sweet spot inside him.

A moment later Sören's cock was in him, Sören kissing him hard. Sören showed no mercy, rocking into him hard and fast. Anthony bucked underneath him, biting him, growling, making primal guttural noises, nails scratching Sören's back and ass and the backs of his thighs, the sweet sting of his nails driving Sören wild, fucking him harder. They didn't last long, Anthony shattering within minutes, screaming Sören's name as he shot over Sören's stomach, and Sören bit his neck, making Anthony sob as another load spent out of him. Sören hadn't come yet - close to it, as he felt Anthony contracting around him - and after more hot, fierce kisses Anthony ground out, "Again," and Sören propped a leg up on his shoulder and gave it to him even harder than before, his own voice rising with his lover's. Sören heard himself losing his English again as he rasped, "Taktu það eins og maður, eins og þú ert minn, sýndu mér hversu villtur þú ert."

"Oh god." Anthony's nails dug into Sören's hips. "Oh, shit..." His hips rocked back against Sören's, and Sören gave a deep, animal grunt, pounding into him harder.

"Það er það. Ég mun ríða rassinum þínum eins hart og þú getur tekið."

"Sören." Anthony shuddered. "Sören..." His breath hitched, and Sören could see it in his eyes. Anthony came again with a cry, and now Sören came too as he watched Anthony's cock spurting, felt the hot seed splash over his chest and stomach, felt the sweet clenching around him, saw the look of ecstasy on Anthony's face as he trembled, gasping for breath.

Sören settled down, giving Anthony a few kisses and then laying on his chest, listening to his heartbeat. He slipped out, and Anthony collected some of the still-leaking cum on his fingers and stuck them in Sören's mouth, Sören sucking his fingers as Anthony pet him. Sören felt arousal building again at the act of sucking Anthony's fingers, feeling his touch, and soon enough Anthony was ready to go again, taking his fingers out of Sören's mouth, grabbing Sören's curls, and maneuvering to get behind him. Sören gasped out "yes, yes, yes," as he felt lube poured over him, and gave a cry of "YES" as Anthony pushed into him.

Anthony took him hard, riding Sören's ass, pulling Sören's hair. "Oh god, fuck me," Sören cried, bucking underneath him. When Anthony sank down, his chest against Sören's back, his teeth on Sören's neck and shoulder, Sören screamed, working his hips and ass back at Anthony even harder than Anthony was fucking him, needing it, utterly consumed by savage lust. Anthony tilted Sören's face to his and kissed him hard, and bit Sören's lower lip. "I love you," Anthony growled, and kissed him hard again, overtaking Sören's rhythm, plowing into Sören with mad, fierce abandon.

A minute later, when Anthony kissed the bruises on the side of Sören's face, Sören climaxed, almost ashamed of the inhuman noises coming out of him as he gave in. "Sören," Anthony called out just before he spent into him, and Sören gave a shuddery sigh at the sweetness of feeling Anthony's molten flow deep within him, claiming him.

The euphoria of orgasm combined with all of the earlier emotions of the evening and Sören erupted into hysterical laughter. Anthony laughed too.

"Oh my god," Sören wheezed. "Oh my fucking god, what is with us."

"I don't know, but I like it." Anthony tenderly kissed Sören's bruised cheek.

Eventually they rolled onto their sides - Anthony still behind him - and Anthony reached for the ice pack that had been on Sören's stomach, melting but still reasonably cold. His arms around Sören's waist, he held it there, and Sören dozed off a little. He stirred, giving a whine of protest, when he felt Anthony get out of bed, and then Anthony came in with ice water and ibuprofen for Sören to take, and fresh ice packs. He turned off the light after Sören took the items out of his hands, the nightlight glowing enough for Sören to see what he was doing.

"My hero," Sören quipped as he downed two ibuprofen with the water.

"I feel that way about you, not jokingly." And then Anthony looked at the clock by the bed. "Wow, we got so caught up in... ravaging each other... that we completely missed it being midnight."

"Is it 2012 now?"

"It's 2012 now." Anthony settled in bed beside him. "Happy New Year."

"Gleðilegt nýtt ár, elskan mín."

They kissed, and laughed, and kissed again. Then they got back into a spoon position, with Anthony holding the ice against Sören's stomach with one hand and his face with the other, and sleepiness settled over Sören once more.

In the middle of the night the throbbing of Sören's bruises woke him up. Anthony was still spooning him, but had fallen asleep at some point and the ice packs were no longer in his hands. Needing to feel him as much as he could, Sören reached out to put his hands on Anthony's arms and they slid down to Anthony's hands. Anthony's breath hitched and he mumbled incoherently, then, "Sören?"

"Jæja, didn't mean to wake you, sorry."

Anthony's arms tightened around him. "S'OK." Anthony squeezed. "You're so warm and cozy."

"Mmmmm, I like feeling you snuggled close to me."

Anthony cleared his throat, and he reached to tap Sören's shoulder, which made Sören giggle, and then Anthony's hand settled back over him and he said, sounding slightly more awake now, "As you were falling asleep I was thinking."

"About?"

"I want you to move in with me."

Sören was not expecting that. "Oh."

"I... know it's soon, but -"

"No, Anthony, it's OK. I... I want to." Sören's heart soared, remembering the feelings he'd had earlier that evening - this is the one, I want to settle down with him. Living together was a step in that direction.

"Oh, good." Anthony gave a little sigh of relief. "It would be more convenient and practical, less travel time with having to go to and from your flat, and... well..." Anthony squeezed him again. "I need you with me."

"You've got me, elskan." Sören heard the huskiness in his own voice, and the tears came, silently. Yes. Yes, this is what I want, this is who I want, this is the life I want, yes...

Anthony tilted Sören's face to his and kissed him. What was supposed to be a sweet little kiss between two sleepy lovers in the middle of the night quickly heated and Sören moaned as he felt Anthony go hard against him.

"Make love to me," Sören whispered. "Just like this."

Anthony slipped into him, the passage eased by Sören being open and slick from earlier. He went much more slowly and gently than before, and it was just right, with Sören as sensitized as he is. Sören moaned, and Anthony did too, before he kissed Sören's neck and shoulder.

"We can work out details tomorrow," Anthony whispered. "Though I'd like to have you moved in by next weekend -"

"We'll work all that out." Sören patted him. "Right now is not lawyer time. It's lover time."

Anthony laughed. "Sorry." He tilted Sören's face and kissed his mouth, the two groaning as their tongues teased and played. Anthony's hand strayed lower, to stroke Sören's hard cock. Then the other hand brushed a nipple, pebbled in the night air, making Sören gasp.

It wasn't long before Anthony was moving inside him faster, tormenting Sören with kisses over his sensitive neck, rubbing his aching nipples, the pleasure around Sören's cock and inside him mounting. When Sören felt himself right there, he warned, "Anthony, don't stop, I'm gonna -"

"Yes, darling. Come with me."

They came together, kissing, moaning and crying out into the kiss. Anthony's fingers moved up from where he was teasing Sören's nipples to stroke his face, and the hand that had been on Sören's cock was on his heart, now, such tenderness that it brought tears to Sören's eyes.

Anthony squeezed him and whispered, "Welcome home."